Saturday, January 26, 2019 -
Yesterday evening I read “Never Say Die” by my friend, Doug Hsu, a biography of David Yon Moe, a helpless, dying drug addict and fearless gangster in Burma the doctors gave only a week to live, who God saved on his death bed, completely and miraculously, instantaneously healing him of hepatitis! He went on to lead a ministry to drug addicts, orphans, alcoholics, gangsters, lepers, and AIDS victims, bringing Christ to million throughout Burma, which was to become Myanmar. It is a story packed full of the miraculous hand of God. By the time of his death in 2003, Myanmar Young Crusaders was holding crusades in rural parts of his nation with 60,000 or more in attendance.
David Yon Moe, who Kathie and I were privileged to have known for 19 years before his death, and hosted in our home, was a fearless servant of the Lord. The boldness he developed during his life of crime, drugs, fighting, and alcohol abuse set the stage for the boldness he carried through in his approach to ministry.
The traditional church in his country for decades refused to come alongside him, yet nothing deterred him in his faith and perseverance to proclaim the redeeming power of Jesus Christ to his own people.
I encourage you to read the book, available from ANM Press, a division of Advancing Native Missions. There are many ministries such as Myanmar Young Crusaders I encourage you to get behind -- many who have few if any, prayer or financial partners here in the West. Yet they’ve been carefully vetted, scrutinized, and affirmed, clearing the way for individuals and churches in the West to come along beside them and become the miracle God uses to engage yet another unreached people group.
These effective ministries are now engaging more than 700 unreached people groups with the gospel of Jesus Christ and there is no better way to reach the remaining unreached, hastening the return of the Lord, than in this manner. It will bring joy untold to you and your family, especially as you see what God can do through your involvement.
This afternoon, we had our second Bible study, and while I was expecting five of us, we ended up being only three. Kathie had sent me notes from the message I had given at River Oaks church entitled “The Marks of a True Christian,” which can be found on YouTube.
For my fellow inmates, who have all been unchurched, I am taking a different approach, which encourages each one to surrender to God, the process of being “transformed” by the renewing of our minds, rather than being “conformed” to this world.
Both of these words – translated “transformed” and “conformed” – are in the present imperative active tense in the original Greek language. That means it is not a one-time event, but a continual process, taking place in the future. It never ends! To be conformed means to fall into the external and fleeting fads, or fashions, in this instance, of the world. The Greek word for transformed is similar to the word we use in English, metamorphosis. It means a deep inner change. However, unlike the metamorphosis of a butterfly, our process of change should last a lifetime, and will only happen as we commit ourselves to the “renewing of our mind” through God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of “renew,” in the Greek, is to make qualitatively different. Hence, one becomes a new creature in Christ (II Cor. 5:17). We become God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10), putting off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life, and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24). Yet we cannot transform ourselves, but we must surrender ourselves to God to do His work of change in us. If we try to change our habits of sinful behavior, or conformity to the world, in our own power, we will fail. I Thessalonians 3:13 says, “so that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God the Father.” II Corinthians 3:18 says we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” II Thessalonians 2:13 says we are sanctified by the Spirit and faith in the truth. Romans 15:16 says we are “sanctified by the Spirit.” Pray for these men, because I want to see them truly transformed by the Spirit, not just today, or tomorrow, or this year – but for the rest of their lives. And I want that for me.
We see in Galatians 5 the difference between one walking in conformity to the world, or the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit, one being transformed through the constant renewing of their mind. These are in opposition to each other (v. 17). Evidence of the works of the flesh are found in verse 19-21. Yet we find as God, through the Holy Spirit, works His metamorphosis in us, the fruit of the Spirit becomes evident – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control!
Paul in Romans 12 carries this further, beginning in verse 9, things we will further study in weeks ahead: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
“Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what’s honorable in the sight of all. If possible, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”