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Showing posts from August, 2017

An Open Letter to Closed Christians

This is an open letter to, or about, “closed” Christians. There are many kinds of closed Christians. One of the difficulties in this type of writing is that many closed Christians are so closed that they do not receive letters.

First, I will define the minimum of truth that defines a Christian.
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. (1 Cor. 15:1-5)Second, I will define the response to this truth. There are several works that are used in this response.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his na…

Loyalty & the Scriptures

Loyalty is a legitimate word. Bessie and I were married for 58 ½ years. I loved her as Christ loved the church the last 54 years. The first four, I loved her selfishly. In both cases, I was loyal to her.

Loyalty is a weak word. Bessie would not have liked to know I was loyal; she expected and got a lot more than loyalty.

In the Navy, I had to take an oath of allegiance, part of which says, “I will defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, public and private.” In grade school, we were taught the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. Those were required.

Where does Jesus require loyalty? Nowhere. He requires obedience. We don’t find loyalty in the Scriptures. That’s humanism. When I loved Bessie as Christ loved the church, that was obedience to God. God requires obedience.

Heb. 13:17: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not wi…

Health Update

When at Kootenai Hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, after several angina attacks, I had a pacemaker installed because my heart rate varied from 30 to 104. Nothing was wrong, so I could have left a week ago Saturday. But I could not stand up. Dr. Williams would not release me because I did not have the strength to stand. I had lost 17 pounds. He released me to Good Samaritan until I can stand and walk.

In the meantime, Rachel, my granddaughter-in-law, had her baby at my house. She was born at 9 lbs 10 ounces. Her name is Rhona Sophia. She will be called Rhona.

How God Taught Me to Forgive

This is another excerpt from Climbing by Rosalind Goforth.

“He that doth not forgive burns the bridge over which he himself must needs pass, for the Lord hath said, ‘If ye forgive not…neither will your father forgive you.’”

The tragic story of how, but for the mercy of God, that jagged rock of unforgiveness would have wrecked me, body and soul, is given as a solemn warning to others.

The first sad details of how and why the demon of hate and unforgiveness entered my heart cannot be given, for another is involved who has passed on. Suffice it to say that those who knew the facts agree that humanly speaking one can scarcely imagine a case where unforgiveness was more justified; yet my dear husband, who had equal reason with myself for feeling as I did, quietly and calmly laid it all before the Lord and left it there, begged me to do the same; but I could not, or rather would not, forgive.

For more than a year, while the source of trouble remained at our station, I would not speak to or…

Book Plug: Climbing

You may know that I am in a book ministry. I have been negligent in reviewing books lately. Here is an excerpt from Climbing by Rosalind Goforth, published in the early part of the 20th century. She and her husband were Canadian Presbyterian missionaries in North China 100 years ago. She has two other books, How I Know God Answers Prayer and Goforth of China and her husband, Jonathan, has a book, By My Spirit. They are all very good reads.
Our children were all away at school. We were together carrying on aggressive evangelism at a distant out-station. The room given to us was dark and damp, with the usual mud floor. The weather had turned cold, and there was no place where one could get warm. I caught a cold. It was a not a severe one, but enough to make me rather miserable. The third or fourth day, when the meetings were in full swing and my organ was taking an attracting part, I became possessed by a great longing to visit my dearly loved friend, Miss H., living at the Weifuifu …

Christian Marriage

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Matt. 19:4-6)The marriage service says that marriage is a “holy estate.” Christian marriage is more than physical, economic, cohabiting and child bearing and rearing. It is a spiritual fellowship; it is a picture on earth of Christ and His body, the Church.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing he…

Act Like It

Recently I have been meditating on Colossians 2:20-3:3:

"Therefore if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world do you subject yourselves to regulations—'do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religions, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against indulgence of the flesh. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

If you are dead with Christ and dead to the world, act like it. Do not conform to the world. If you are risen with Christ, act like it. Let your hearts and minds be on Heaven; that is where you are going.

Confessing Loyalty As Sin

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought…What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? (1 Cor. 1:10)Paul follows up this appeal with information on the divisions in the church. These divisions were not on theology or ecclesiology. The quarrels simply were about loyalties to teachers. To our knowledge, the teachers were even in fellowship with each other. These loyalties were sins and needed to be repented of and forsaken. They caused the disunity.

Today these loyalties are still one of the major causes of church divisions. However, today loyalty is considered a good word; it is a virtue. When it comes to following teachers, however, loyalty is not a virtue. It is a sin. I…

Great Things He Hath Done

It is relatively easy to believe great things of God as in Psalm 33:6, 9:
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth....
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.It seems to be more difficult to believe great things of God when it has to do with us. These things are true:
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us... (Eph. 3:20)

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Heb. 7:25)

Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Rom. 14:4)

That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I…

Alternative Forms of Worship

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)You would think this shouldn't be a difficult piece of advice to follow.

The voice of God thundered from Sinai in the second command. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Exod. 20:4-6).

Within the month, the people of Israel were busily building an idol, a golden calf. It did not last long.

Rachel, Jacob’s wife, stole her father’s household gods. All of Jacob's sons had idols. "So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your cloth…

Servant Leadership

There is a kind of man who has absolute authority in this world. He is the captain of a ship at sea. It makes no difference whether he is captain of a merchant ship or the captain of a navy ship.

There are two types of captains. One rejoices in the authority he has and becomes an autocrat, a dictator. The other uses his authority to become the servant of the crew. The U.S. Navy assigns the primary duty of the captain: it is the morale of the crew.

Christians in leadership positions should be servants of their followers. They should create leaders who are in turn servants of their own followers.

We Know and Rely On This

Some years ago, Bessie brought to my attention 1 John 4:16: "So we know and believe the love God has for us" (RSV).

What struck us was the two verbs know and believe. We know the love of God. We believe the love of God. The New International Version says, “We know and rely on the love of God.” Let me say it this way: We know and trust the love of God. The verse starts out with “So,” which means this conclusion is based on the previous verse. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:15-16). That is how we know, and that is how we believe.

Barb's Wire: Children with Disabilities - A Severe Blessing

Barbara Friedman was CCM's free personal evangelist in Moscow and Pullman and was on our staff from 1973 until her retirement last year. Here is one of her old ministry letters:

About two months ago, I met this mother and her blind and autistic son, his younger sister and baby sister. This family had previously been in America and had returned to their homeland. Now they were back in the States for their son’s sake. The schools in their homeland were not equipped for children with disabilities like his. The family knew that in America their son could get the help he needed. America attempts to make it possible for those who are handicapped to live as if they were not.

The mother asked me if God was punishing her because her son was born blind and with autism. Immediately I thought about that Jewish man who was born blind (John’s Gospel, chapter 9): "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that …

Not Wishful Thinking

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:13)We know that faith and love remain. Somehow we tend to have our doubts about hope. Perhaps it is because we have placed a 21st-century definition on the word hope. For instance, we may say, “I hope so,” meaning, “I wish it would happen, but it probably won’t.” To us, “hope” is wishy and doubtful. That is why it doesn’t sound like it belongs with faith and love.

In the Bible, hope is not wishful thinking; it is a sure thing.
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Heb. 6:18-19)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for…