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Real Truth Matters Magazine August/September 2012, Issue One


In This Issue To jump to an article, TAP the title or image below.

Sections

For pastors

Profiles

Articles and stories geared toward those honored with the gift of shepherding.

A peak into the lives of members of the body of Christ from around the world.

Christian Living Applying the Word of God to the daily life of the Christ follower through thought-provoking and challenging articles.

Making the SECULAR SACRED Stories of Christians living out the Gospel in everyday life situations.

ON THE MISSION FIELD Read of believers globally living out the great commission.

Editor’s Picks Suggested resources and reviews on what to approach and avoid on the “Christian” shelves.


Stories On the cover: Art by JT Crawford

How meek are you? Meekness isn’t weakness, but what does it have to do with nylon stockings?

The Gospel on a Milk Route Modern day milkman Bobby Scott struggled with hopelessness in his job before God showed him his work was more than just delivering dairy goods.

Relentlessly Pursued: whitt and Camillia’s Story The story isn’t only that God was merciful and saved two sinners; the story is in His unwavering pursuit to fully captivate their hearts.


rEACHING THE nATIONS: RTM mISSIONS cENTER RTM Director Michael Durham recently returned from Eastern Europe meeting with pastors and influential men while laying the groundwork for the future Romanian Missionary Fellowship.

fOR pastors: Are you trusting your commitment to God, or His commitment to you?

Stitched TOGEther: The Stricklands Through the care and adoption of disrupted and displaced children, Alan and Tedra Strickland have had the honor of watching God strategically knit together their family of 10 and counting.


fOR pastors: Pastors’ Fellowship A resource and ministry of Real Truth Matters to encourage, strengthen and equip pastors who may otherwise feel isolated or discouraged.

On the mission field: ROMANIA Editor Michael Durham returned from what he called his most important trip to Romania to date. His trip included conversions, a rare wedding vow renewal and much favor from the Lord.

on the mission field: blaCKEY, KY. Four churches traveled to Eastern Kentucky in June for a week of service and worship at Calvary Campus and returned after experiencing a miracle on the mountain.


wisdom from the ages Questions and answers with Audria Crawford on aging, marriage, and maturing in the faith as well as advice for the younger generation.

EDITOR’S PICKS Editor Michael Durham reviews books and other resources that have blessed his walk with the Lord, along with a resource to avoid, believing it to be contrary to New Testament Christianity.

ALL ABOUT THE CROSS A selection of quotes about “The lightning rod of grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of His love remains for believers.” -A.W. Tozer


About RTM

Pursuing New Testament Christianity by Pursuing Jesus Christ as the Gospel.

R

eal Truth Matters is the multi-media resource ministry from Michael Durham and Oak Grove Baptist Church in Paducah, Ky. Real Truth Matters is about encouraging a fascination with Christ Jesus. This fascination should involve the mind, heart and will. In too many cases fascination involves one or two, but seldom all three. However, the mind, heart and will must all be engaged! Our pursuit of Christ should not be academic alone, emotion alone, or action alone. The Word of God makes it absolute that what we learn of Christ should move the soul to feel deeply, which in turn will lead the heart to act. One of the existing problems is that truth is often seen separate from its power. Real Truth Matters believes the truth must be learned and proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit for it to have effect on the whole man. We pray we exemplify this New Testament principle and thereby promote the same.


based magazine has been a dream for a long time. The present workload with just two full-time men was already too much without adding another project, so I tucked my dream into my heart’s pocket and kept it there, and believed if the Lord wanted it to happen, He would make it happen. And He did! He brought us Sophie McDonald who in December will finish her journalism degree. Sophie said to me, without me asking her, “I know God wants me here, and I believe He wants me to make the magazine happen.” I love it when God puts things together. RTM Magazine will publish a bi-monthly issue with a little something for everyone: a pastor’s section, Christian living section, missions section, and much more. We scanned the Internet looking for other Christian web-based magazines and found very little, almost nothing. I believe this magazine is cutting-edge, and will lead to many other magazines like it being produced. Why a web-based magazine instead of hard copy? Two reasons: First, the cost of print is astronomical. The cost of publishing The Expositor continued to climb with each issue. We did not sell subscriptions, but offered it freely. With a lower cost we can produce the RTM Magazine, making us better stewards of God’s money. Second, more people will have access to a web-based magazine than a hard-copy magazine. I read this morning that the web offers Christian ministries access to Gospel-closed countries, especially Islamic countries. Last year, Internet users reached 2 billion in number. While I am sure 2 billion people will not read this magazine, it dramatically opens up the potential for more readers. For this reason we are discontinuing The Expositor and this will be our vehicle of information along with the website. Please help us by passing this magazine to others. We’re asking you to give us ten names and email addresses of people who could benefit from this exciting and new magazine. We hope you enjoy RTM Magazine and become a regular reader. Heartily yours,

From the Editor

Welcome to the first edition of RTM Magazine! This interactive web-


For Pastors


I

’m heartened that a revival of books, sermons, and discussions on the Gospel is occurring. Some excellent things are happening as a result. Anytime we focus on the truth of God’s redemption of sinners, it’s good. However, there is still a subtle but dangerous paradigm presented as the Gospel. In fact, it is so subtly pervasive in most people’s understanding of the Gospel that many readers will react negatively when I state the inaccuracy. What is it? It is this:

Trusting my commitment to Christ, rather than trusting Christ’s commitment to me. There is an overemphasis on our commitment to God as being the essence of conversion. You hear it all the time, “If you are to be saved, you must commit your life to Christ.” I don’t deny that statement; I even say it to others. I don’t begrudge commitment to Jesus; neither did Jesus. He said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Sounds like commitment to me! The sinner’s commitment to Christ is described in the Bible with words like, “whoever loses his life for My sake,” “he who hates his life in this world,” and “count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” These are hefty words describing a sizeable dedication. We must not neglect giving oneself to God. If we do, we risk eternal loss. I would go so far as to say most of the dysfunctional, American-style Christianity is not so committed to Christ. For the great majority of professing Christians, they have prayed their little committal prayers and the deal is sealed, in their minds. Do not talk to them about the kind of radical commitment Christ and His apostles preached unless you are ready to be given something akin to verbal “tar and feathering.” If evangelicalism continues its downward spiral, it may one day become more actual than verbal. People in churches don’t want to hear about a Christianity that sounds difficult or demanding.


So you see my concern is not that we shouldn’t be talking about self-commitment to Jesus. My concern is how we talk about it. For example, a well-known sports celebrity, one that I greatly respect, has stated his testimony this way: “The Bible says, ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’ It is my faith in Jesus Christ’s work in my life that grants me eternal life with God. Nothing more, nothing less.” Sound right? Yes, and that’s the problem. It rings in our ears as truth—but it isn’t. The Bible verse is certainly right; the problem is his sudden departure from it. The very next sentence is a u-turn from Gospel rightness: “It is my faith in Jesus Christ’s work in my life that grants me eternal life with God.” The Apostle Paul he quotes cries, “This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you” (Galatians 5:8). Faith does not save. Period. God saves. Salvation, as Paul says, is a gift of God. Grace is the act of God saving we who are undeserved. Our faith is only the conduit or condition by which the Savior saves. If you are ill, your faith in a particular doctor will or will not motivate you to go see his or her office. The doctor’s only condition is that you come to his office and let him help you. If you have no confidence in the doctor you will not seek his aid. However, if you do trust him you will get yourself to him. He will examine you, diagnose your problem, and prescribe a remedy. Your confidence in his word compels you to follow his prescription. It was not your faith in the doctor that brought you recovery—it was the doctor. Your faith in him made you compliant to him. The same is true with Christ. “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus saves sinners, Jesus alone. Even Ephesians 2:8 says that the faith we have in God is part of the gift of God’s salvation to us. Your trust in Christ makes you compliant to His command to come to Him. But today people are putting their faith in their faith. They are trusting that they are trusting. In most cases, they are trusting that they have trusted, past tense. There is no living, present, and continual trust in Jesus for anything. They have made their commitment to Him and that is enough. But this is not how the Bible describes the Christian or his commitment. It speaks of something dynamic, daily, and doggedly constant. The commitment of the believer is fluid and volatile and not static and stale. That is why the vast majority of professors of Christianity are nominal. They have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” While being orthodox in their belief about Jesus, they deny the reality of Jesus in their lives.


Another sad result of this overemphasis on our commitment to Christ is that some believers, if encouraged to focus on their faith, will wilt like a cut flower left in the sun’s heat. They see their faith being feeble or their commitment being frail, and consequently they are driven to despair and doubt. Recently, a young lady heard me speak and wondered if she was right with God. I shared the Gospel as thoroughly as I could, focusing on the truth of justification. Little relief came. But two days later she saw the light when she heard me speak again on the theme of this article. She was so focused on her commitment to Christ that she could not focus on Christ and His commitment to her. Faith in Christ arose in her heart, as she trusted in what Christ had done and promised her. When we say we trust in Christ, what are we saying? Are we saying we trust in His person, character, promises, or are we meaning we trust He died for our sins? Is our faith tied to an historical event only or is it based on Jesus Himself? The Gospel is good news. The modern-gospel today is bad news, very bad news. It puts the emphasis of faith in ourselves. Yet, the Bible is clear—there is nothing I can do to save me. It presents a Savior who will save me, and He does not just save me from my sin, He saves me from me as well. The Gospel is God’s commitment to all who do trust in Him. He has pledged Himself to us. He has committed His omnipotence to our justification, sanctification, and glorification. Listen to His commitment in this passage: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27) The good news is our God is not only committed to take away our sins, but to ensure our eventual commitment to Him. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” God has obligated Himself to all His children. He and His promises is the object of biblical faith. If I put my hope in my commitment to Christ, I will eventually become discouraged. I can make all the commitments and promises I desire, but I have a track record, and it’s not good. God’s track record of faithfulness is perfect. The Apostle Paul summarized God’s commitment to us and His faithfulness to keep that commitment in Romans 8:30-31 “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”


Are you God’s child? Well then, God is for you. He is committed to you. No matter what comes against you, your faith, and your commitment to Him, He has obligated to be for you. Paul’s climax says it all:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

I thank God for my faith in Him since He is the One who gave it to me. It is that faith that refuses to look to any other but Christ alone. But I am more thankful for the One who gave me faith. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.


An Invitation to {Rest} Pastors’ Fellowship

JT Crawford


Mark sits on the folding metal chair

in the middle of the room, sobbing. God buried the desire to preach the Gospel deep within Mark’s heart, but now he feels like the door has been slammed in his face. A week ago, the church he pastored voted him out because he refused to compromise on the truth of Scripture. Confused and crushed, he seeks God. Ten other pastors gather around him. They embrace him. They place their arms around his shoulders, and they cry out to God on his behalf. The scene is an uncommon one, especially for a group of pastors. “Pastors can be some of the loneliest people,” said Michael Durham, organizer of the Real Truth Matters pastors’ fellowships. “The call of God requires a man to walk with God in a way that seems lonely. There are burdens he can’t just readily share with his congregation. Having an outlet with men who understand is a huge blessing.” Many of the men who have been part of pastors’ fellowships will tell you so.


I found out quickly that others have gone through many of the same afflictions that I have gone through. They have helped me have more faith in God.

-Kenneth Johnson, a regular attendee These are exactly the kind of words Michael likes to hear. “It is so easy to get caught up in the profession of ministry and lose personal fellowship with God. I want to give encouragement to pastors in their walk with God. That should be our primary focus. Be spiritual men, not professionals.” While the need for such support is overwhelming and evident, groups such as these are rare. “This requires pastors to take off their masks and be transparent. That doesn’t usually happen when you gather a bunch of pastors together. Normally, egos are either stroked or stricken. If you aren’t doing well in the ministry, you feel inferior. If things seem to be going well, you are tempted to boast. We want a place of security where they can be prayed for and see God move—see God work in their lives.” Michael knows the need for such a ministry personally. “I tend to be more isolated myself, but I know the importance of meetings such as these.” It was a burden for other pastors and his own close friendship with fellow pastor Michael Morrow that God used to start the every-other-month meetings in 2009. “We really have a relationship of transparency, and we wanted to incorporate more men into that.”


Another benefit has been ongoing mentoring. “The Lord continues to prepare me for service as a pastor one day,” says Richard Davis, seminary student. “These meetings allow me to gain insight in the office of the pastor and the care these men provide for the souls of their congregations. Although school allows me to explore God’s Word academically, it is the pastors’ fellowship meetings that bring together academics and application. The discussions with men who have served for years as pastors encourages me in my walk as the Lord guides and molds me for His purpose.” Many times the words “I’ve never gotten this from any of my seminary classes” are uttered during roundtable discussions. “The church seems to have fallen into the trap of specialization,” says Michael. “Certain men focus on specific doctrines, teachings, or gifts. It seems that if you don’t specialize in the same way, fellowship is stilted. We are really more like general physicians. Brothers of like mind and faith can be encouraged and challenged on a broad spectrum of things.”


At the conclusion of the very first pastors’ fellowship meeting, one pastor, tears flowing down his cheeks, admitted he almost didn’t come. “I even sat in my car in the parking lot when I got here,” he said, “debating on just driving off and going home. I thought there were too many differences between me and some of the other guys for anything good to come of it.” While opening up one’s heart and soul, bearing it all before other pastors, is not the norm, it should be. This is how things work in the economy of God. We are fit together in such a way that God’s grace is active in our lives through one another. An isolationist who wears masks and pridefully holds his feelings and ego close to his chest cuts himself off from the very life of God. He has promised to provide grace, but He has His ways and means. We must avail ourselves of them. Pastors are no exception. Michael finds it difficult sometimes to convey to men in the ministry why they need this. “Preachers are too busy doing things that have no eternal value. They see another meeting as an intrusion on their schedules. “

The ministry isn’t just about what they do for God. God is interested in building a relationship with that man, and the ministry is one way He accomplishes it in that man’s life. Being busy for God isn’t the same as knowing God.

-Michael Durham, organizer of the Real Truth Matters pastors’ fellowships


{

Invitation

}

On Thursday, September 13, 2012 at Noon, Real Truth Matters will host its bimonthly pastors’ fellowship. Five times a year pastors from our region will gather at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Paducah, Kentucky for mutual edification geared to the demands of the minister. There is a desperate need for men of like mind and faith to gather and strengthen one another and to be strengthened. The day is evil.

Real Truth Matters has felt the need to extend an invitation to pastors, evangelists and young men who feel a call to ministry to come together and form relationships and bonds that will serve to strengthen one another and the body of Christ.

A speaker, round-table discussion, and fellowship in a loving environment will guide the afternoon together. Lunch will be provided. Register here.


Profile

She grew up in church, suffocating from sin. She needed to get out. He didn’t want anything to do with church; It was full of hypocrites. He wanted to live his own life. This is their story.

Relentlessly Pursued: :

whitt and camillia's story Sophie McDonald


Her Story

I thought, you know what, I’m not going to be a Christian... So I was just going to live like the world. -Camillia Madden

Camillia Madden was raised in a biblically sound church in Paducah, Ky., with loving parents who instilled the Word of God in her from an early age. She played the part of Christian and said the right things, but internally she could barely breathe from the weight of sin and the pressure to act like she had none. “I was in church all the time (but) was living— mentally—a double life,” she said. “I wanted so badly to please my parents and be able to do what I wanted all at the same time, and those two never coincided.” In attempt to release the pressure of perfection, she married at age 19 to get out of the house in which she felt so suffocated by God. Four years and two children later, the sense of not being accepted continued to pull at her. But instead of drawing closer to God, Camillia felt added distance and severe depression.

The Maddens on their wedding day, December 17, 2005.

“There was a point and a time where I thought, you know what, I’m not ever going to become a Christian,” she said. “I had prayed that prayer so many times and it never worked, nothing ever changed, so I said I was just going to live like the world and do whatever I want here because I’m going to burn in hell for eternity. So, sitting on a church pew, I told God I was done and consciously rejected Him.”


His Story Growing up in Cunningham, Ky., Whitt Madden was the rebel head-banger and longhaired social outcast who lived to make others uncomfortable. At age 10 he decided church wasn’t for him. “I saw a lot of people who contradicted themselves,” he said. “They were one way in church but as soon as the service was over they were completely different.” Because of the bad taste church left in his mouth, Whitt never fully believed in God. “I didn’t think He was interested in anything in my life,” he said. “Through several years I became very angry to the point it consumed who I was.” After high school, Whitt fathered two children by his on-again-off-again girlfriend. When things didn’t work out with her, he married another woman and had two more children, all the while struggling with addictions as his anger kept building.

I saw a lot of people (in church) who contradicted themselves. They were one way in church but as soon as the service was over they were completely different.

-Whitt Madden, on what turned him away from God

Their Story As depression, anger and bitterness overtook their lives, Camillia and Whitt found each other. Drawn to the other’s love for their kids and understanding of failed relationships, an office affair ensued, putting an end to the marriages they were still in and propelling a relationship based solely on sin. “I left my first husband and got together with Whitt, and through a series of horrible events involving the divorce and custody situation with my kids, God brought me to the end of myself,” Camillia said. Whitt’s story is much the same. “I seemed to have suppressed my anger for years, but through the first year of our relationship—which was a complete disaster—my anger reached its peak. I exploded,” he said. “I was not a good person to be around. And through a series of devastating events, God stepped in and saved us.”


A Relentless Pursuit Shortly after coming to the Lord in brokenness and repentance, Whitt attended a men’s weekend retreat. The next weekend newly saved Camillia attended the same retreat for women, and their lives were forever altered. Five years after sitting in church telling God she wasn’t going to be a Christian because He didn’t want her, Camillia found herself in the same position again—only this time with a new heart. “The retreat actually had a time of prayer at the same exact church where I had told God I was rejecting Him and would never think about Him again,” she said with tears. “He brought me there, to the same exact pew, again. It was like He was pouring all over me saying, You might have left Me, but I never left you and I never got done pursuing you.” Looking back with new eyes, Camillia now understands the suffocation she felt growing up. “I saw my parents’ quest for holiness and the rules and expectations at my house and I was never good enough,”


I saw my parents’ quest for holiness and the rules and expectations at my house and I was never good enough,” Camillia said. “But I didn’t realize God brought the law to show us we couldn’t measure up. -Camillia Madden

Camillia said. “But I didn’t realize God brought the law to show us we couldn’t measure up. That’s what the cross is for. “When we recognize we can’t do it, and sometimes it takes a while for us to get past the pride and control for us to have that full understanding, God steps in and shows us we can’t but He can,” Camillia said. Whitt’s experience at the retreat was different, but no less life-changing. For the first time he heard men simultaneously crying out to God in prayer, something God used to greatly impact him. “It was beautiful chaos in that room hearing those men pray,” Whitt, now 37, said. “To see men fall on their faces crying out to God—I had never experienced prayer like that before. It was just like (despite) all the condemnation I lived under—the anger, addictions that I’d struggled with over the years, who I was—God just picked me up and took me into His arms and He said, ‘I love you this much. You’re free from all this.’”


New Life Through sanctification, discipleship and conforming their lives to the Bible, the Maddens look completely different. However, they still suffer sin’s consequences. “There’s been a lot of understanding the difference between sanctification and the consequences of your actions,” Camillia, now 31, said. “We both left our marriages for each other, and that in and of itself, just hearing it—you cannot imagine the consequences that come with that. But God is sustaining us in the middle of our consequences and we know He is going to work these ashes together for beauty.” Their prayer is for that perspective to radically impact their children aggravated by the changes in their home as a result of conversion, something Camillia identifies with. “I understand what it feels like personally, because we’re probably starting to suffocate our kids with God like I felt my parents suffocated me with Him,” Camillia said. “But through obedience we have hope. My parents were obedient and stood so strong during those times and God never stopped pursuing me. It was a relentless pursuit and that’s the same thing we can hold onto with hope: God never stopped pursuing us so He’s never going to stop pursuing our children either.”

God is sustaining us in the middle of our consequences and we know He is going to work these ashes together for beauty. -Camillia Madden


Wisdom from the Ages Q&A with Audria Crawford Sophie McDonald


Seventy-one year old Audria Crawford sitsatherdiningroomtablewithBiblespread

open before her and her husband of 46 years, David, beside her. The coffee pot rests on the brown countertop half full, the crocheting supplies are sprawled on the couch, and fresh ham salad is resting in the fridge. As I joined the mother of five at the table, I saw the things that filled her every sentence (and would occasionally fill her eyes with tears): passion for her Lord, dedication to her family and desire to honor her Father in all things. These are the things that make her a wonderful example to follow, just as God designed—

“

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled. -Titus 2:3-5

�


Sophie McDonald: How long have you been walking with God? Audria Crawford: I’ve been saved for a long time, but as far as walking with Him, well, I didn’t know you walked with Him until a few years ago.

SM: What does that look like for you? AC: It’s going to Him with everything. I did that before during times when I knew no one else could fix this but God. But it’s been a closer walk since we’ve been going to Oak Grove; it’s been sweeter.

SM: I know that in your walk with God there have been struggles, trials, battles and even with health

stuff over the last couple of years. What was your mindset during all of those, and why didn’t you give up? AC: Because He promised that He would help me. One year there, if it hadn’t been for His promises [cries]—you’re going to get me crying now—I just couldn’t have made it. But He is faithful and what He’s promised He will always fulfill.

SM: What are some of those promises that you clung to?

[Her reply was the recitation of a verse that came without hesitation, proving the value of the Lord’s promises, which were as close as her next breath.] AC: Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, I will help thee, I will uphold thee with My righteous right hand.” And every verse I came to that said, “Trust Me.” Like Proverbs 3:5-6; there are just so many.


SM: What is God teaching you right now? AC: That we need to be totally surrendered to Him. Not just in our spiritual life but our physical life

too. Be dependent on Him for everything, even though that’s hard to do sometimes. We’ve been so used to depending on ourselves except when times are really hard and then we tend to run to God. But I need to run to Him daily, for every little thing.

SM: What are three things you wish you would

have known before you got married?

AC: 1. How to love. In the right way, the way God

meant marriage to be.

2. How to raise children. 3. How to take care of somebody else. I didn’t

know anything about that.

SM: What advice do you have for young moms

who are raising their kids now? AC: When we had children I didn’t know much about the Bible or what God said about training them in the way they should go. Always go back to Deuteronomy where He said you (should) teach (the Bible) to your children from the time they get up in the morning. You talk about it during the day and when you go to bed at night—that should be a constant thing. See, I didn’t know that. I wish I would have known it. But God is merciful.

SM: What do you see as the biggest obstacle of faith for the younger generation right now? AC: They’re not taught what faith is or what it means, and the world gets in. They have too much.

Kids nowadays don’t know how to play. They don’t know how to go outside and have fun without having some electronic thing in their hand. They don’t know how to pretend. And how can you have faith if everything is dependent on what you see and what you touch? Television, music, whatever, those aren’t faith builders, that’s for sure.

SM: What do you suggest to combat that? AC: Take it away, but then you have rebellion [laughs]. There’s books, there is playing house, playing

mom and dad. I didn’t have a lot of toys so when I did play, it was pretend. Faith is not a word I heard, so to instill faith in kids today they’ve got to learn what faith is and where it belongs. It’s all about a person.


SM: What do you suggest to combat that? AC: Take it away, but then you have rebellion [laughs]. There’s books, there is playing house, playing

mom and dad. I didn’t have a lot of toys so when I did play, it was pretend. Faith is not a word I heard, so to instill faith in kids today they’ve got to learn what faith is and where it belongs. It’s all about a person.

SM: What are five pieces of advice for the younger generation, not necessarily for kids, but for

younger moms, younger couples who are trying to figure everything out?

AC: 1. For parents, you go back to when (the kids) are little babies. Start teaching them very young

and you’d be surprised what they comprehend even at a very young age. And like Deuteronomy says, when you’re sitting at your house, you talk with them.

2.

Let your kids make their own mistakes. Even when they’re cooking, just let them make mistakes. Let them know they’re not always right in everything they do. There will be times they make mistakes, but God knows how to take care of them.

3.

The home is very important. Outside of work, God instituted marriage and the home and He should be the head of that home. Even if it’s just one parent, which we’ve been through that, God should always be the main focus, not yourselves.

4.

Keep Him first in everything, even your money. I learned even at a young age that whatever you give, you don’t have to give back to God, but you should want to give back to Him. Even if it’s your last penny, He will sustain you. I’ve been there and I have done that. I was by myself with four little kids and their daddy would only give me five dollars for a week, but I always gave God fifty cents of it. And those kids never went hungry, they always had clothes, and God always provided.

5.

Go to God in everything. He gives you the strength you need to fight the battle, even in sickness.

SM: Now that you have been walking with God for so long and you have aged so gracefully, what

do you find is the most important thing in life? AC: He is the most important thing. Sometimes you see your kids hurt or you see them having problems and things, sometimes you tend to forget who is in charge and who knows all about it before you do. He always brings me back to Him. He never fails.


The story of one family uniquely knit together by the designer of families Himself, God the Father.

Sophie McDonald


adopted to adopt After being adopted at birth and raised by a loving, Christfollowing family, 32-year-old Alan Strickland was seeking the Lord’s will for himself and his marriage when God revealed Himself on a clearance rack in a Christian bookstore in Sevierville, Tenn. “They had all these Focus on the Family cassettes and one of them was about a man by the name of John Croyle,” Alan said. “He ran a children’s ranch in Alabama. When I heard him speak about what he did in his children’s ranch I knew we were to pursue taking in unwanted children. I didn’t know what it was going to look like or exactly how to go about that, but we knew at that point that was something we were going to do.” However, his pregnant wife, Tedra, who was raising their 2-year-old son, had different ideas. “When he first came home and really shared his heart about adoption, and in his mind he saw us doing maybe a children’s ranch like John Croyle,” Tedra recalled. “But me in my selfish flesh—well, it wasn’t at all what I wanted to do, I was already stressed out with two little boys and thought there was no way I could handle more than these. It took a long while for me to get on board and it was the Lord. He really gave me that burden and mission too, and once we both knew we had that burden we knew we could move forward in it.


THEIR FIRST ADOPTION - LEEANA, 2003 After sharing their heart for adoption with a guest staying in their rental cabins, an unexpected twist occurred. “Their daughter found out she was pregnant and was going to give the child up for adoption when they asked if we’d be interested in adopting,” Alan said. “We said yes, and that’s how Leeana, our first adopted child, came about.” The couple wasn’t looking to adopt until their two sons (then aged 3 and 1) were older, but when the guests approached them, they sensed the Lord. “It was pretty cool because (the mom) was thinking and attempting really to have Leeana aborted and the Lord really intervened and ended up giving her to us,” Alan said. “It was just a blessing.”


added blessings - josh and chris, 2005 Coming as a package set, sweet bi-racial brothers Josh and Chris entered the Strickland’s family four weeks after the boys’ adoption to another family was finalized. “A family we knew had adopted them and for whatever reason it wasn’t working,” Alan said. “Three weeks after their adoption had been final they approached us to talk and sort of vented about all their problems but it was the next week they asked us if we’d take the children.” During this time, the Lord was teaching Tedra to be less critical of others, including Josh and Chris’ adoptive family who took them in for fear the boys would end up in the state system. “A lot of people do have good intentions, it just ends up not working out,” she said. “Maybe it’s because you’re doing something the Lord didn’t call you to do.”


The caLL The Stricklands, however, soon sensed clear direction from the Lord for their calling in life: taking in some of the 500,000 disrupted and displaced children in America.

Our culture is disposable. Even right now, our consumer products we use and throw away and that bleeds over into our pets. You look at the pet shops. They sell all these pets leading up to Valentine’s Day and Easter and then two weeks later all the shelters are full of puppies and bunny rabbits because then the work starts. That mentality has also bled over into children.

-Alan Strickland

`“The reason they’re put up for adoption is because they have issues in their life,” he said. “And just because you pluck them out of Africa and that bad situation and put them in your perfect, sanitized home doesn’t mean some of those issues don’t come with them.”

Those issues may not surface for years but when it does, most adoptive parents aren’t prepared for the time it takes to work through them. “It scares them; they’re busy and it requires time,” he said. “There’s a million reasons, but it is a huge problem. And those are the children it seems the Lord has brought to us.”


AN UNEXPECTED GIFT - JAMES, 2010 For five years the Stricklands were a family of five following the Lord and seeking His will for their lives. Then a family from their church began feeling a burden for fostering and adoption and shared their heart, and a picture of an 8-year-old boy from Haiti living in a children’s ranch in Montana, with Alan and Tedra. Tedra laughed as she remembered encouraging them to pursue applying for James, who had been with his wealthy adoptive family in Salt Lake City, Utah, for five years before they didn’t want him any longer and sent him to the ranch for unwanted children. However, because the family from their church was an all-white family, the agency wouldn’t let them apply for adoption. “The family that had him, one of the reasons they were giving him up was because he was the only black child in their home and they felt he resented that and they resented that, so it was their request that he be placed in a multi-race dynamic,” Tedra said. “And she said, ‘We just keep praying and we really feel like he needs to be in your family. Every time we think about him we think of you all. So we just want to tell you.’” The Stricklands, in the worst financial situation of their lives, almost laughed considering adopting another child, but sought the Lord and then watched Him perform miracle after miracle in bringing James into their family. “We kept praying and we said, ‘Okay, Lord. We’re going to send in the $200 application fee and You just shut it down or You provide for it,’” Tedra said. “Within a week of them having our application they called us and the Lord has provided everything we’ve needed.”

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it started with a phone call - naomi and judah, 2011 A few months after James’ adoption was finalized, Tedra made a call to the adoption agency regarding his citizenship papers when another surprising twist occurred. “She said, ‘I can’t believe you’re calling,’” Tedra recalled. “She said she had a sibling group from Ethiopia, and I said, ‘Please tell me one of them is a little girl, what is it with all these boys?’” One was a little girl, her future daughter. The brother and sister had been adopted less than six months before and brought to the United States by a youth pastor and his wife. “They had two other children and their reasoning (for giving up Naomi and Judah) was because the children got here and were older than they were originally told,” Tedra said. “They felt like it disrupted the natural birth order in their home and within five months of having them in their home they decided to disrupt.” After just calling about James’ citizenship papers, the Stricklands were faced with a completely different situation. The adoption agency had to know that day if they wanted to adopt the Ethiopian children. After Alan and Tedra prayed, they brought the decision before their growing family. “I said, ‘Guys, now is your chance to be totally honest with us. You’re one of six, do you even feel like you get enough attention and what you need as it is? Should we even consider bringing two more into this home?” Tedra recalled.


The response from their children overwhelmed the parents seeking to do the Lord’s will. “Leeana said, ‘Mom, is it about us or is it about another child learning about Jesus?’” Tedra blinked back tears and said, “We prayed about it and submitted and just trusted the Lord and within five days we met them and within 12 days Naomi and Judah were living with us.”


DOING LIFE TOGETHER “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” - James 1:27 The family, designed and stitched together by God, continues to run their small business, which allows Alan and Tedra, who celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary June 30, to both be involved in the homeschooling of their eight precious children in their three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Letcher, Ky. “We are very blessed to be able to homeschool,” Alan said. “If the Lord wants us to have more children, He knows we need a bigger place. But it’s not about having a bigger place, it’s about having a sufficient place.” Alan loves being a father, a responsibility he takes very seriously. “As I told one of ours who was in trouble the other day, ‘I love you and I’m glad you’re here, but it’s my job to equip you to be a man of God and make sure you understand who He is,’” Alan said. “’As the father of the home, it is my job to make sure they know about Jesus. And if the Lord just wants that for these eight for me, I’m happy with that. But if He brings me more, we’ll take them and throw a few more beans in the pot.” Until then, the Stricklands continue to serve the Lord by serving their family and ministering to those God puts in their path, including others interested in adopting. “There are a lot of details that we’ve left out of how He’s arranged and meshed everything so perfectly to bring them into our lives, we could share so many things,” Alan said. “It’s just amazing the tapestry He’s woven together to bring these children into our lives and that’s where we’re at. We know that He’s really defined in us in the last few months that this is our calling to take in the ones He brings us.”


Author’s note


Making the Secular Sacred

JT Crawford


The neighborhood is hushed and dark

as Bobby makes his way from the front door of his house to the white pickup in the driveway. It’s 3 a.m., and the only sound in the air is a lone dog barking in the distance. Bobby is on his way to work. It’s an hour’s drive to the milk plant where he will load 14,000 pounds of milk on a refrigerated truck and then distribute it to schools, grocery stores, and gas stations over hundreds of miles. He backs the truck out of the driveway and takes one last look at his home. He won’t be back until 6 o’clock in the evening. The long hours and hard work have taken their toll, but Bobby is thankful for his job. Even more, Bobby is thankful for God who has used the position of a modern day milkman in order to grow him as one of God’s sons. “I’ve been with the dairy for 11 years,” Bobby said. “I eventually became a route supervisor which meant I went on salary and spent most of my time working with our retail clients and trying to get our products in new locations.” For a time, Bobby’s job was fairly easy. His personality meshed well with his new responsibilities, he had a great deal of freedom in setting his own schedule, and through his leadership, route sales were up. The dairy, like most other companies, wanted to do more with less due to the financial strains of the current economy. Job positions were eliminated, and the office where Bobby worked was shuttered for good. He started working out of the corporate office, which is an hour-long commute from his home. The reduction of available drivers on the payroll took Bobby away from his supervisor responsibilities and left him filling the gaps on milk and ice cream routes. Eventually, Bobby found himself running routes continuously, working 60, 70, and sometimes 80 hours a week doing difficult physical labor. “It is a hard job,” he said. “It is physically demanding. Lots of guys who do work like this have back problems and sometimes end up needing knee replacements. When all this first happened, all I wanted to do was find another job as fast as I could. Not only is it is hard on my body, it took time away from my family and my time with my church body. I’m often so worn out that all I can do is come home, eat, shower, and go to bed. Then I have to get up at 2:30 a.m. to do it all over again.”


To say Bobby felt trapped hardly captures the emotions he experienced. “I needed time and energy to lead my wife and kids and be responsible at home. I needed time and energy to be a part of the body of Christ. I need to be ministered to, and I need to minister. It’s hard to do when you aren’t there or you’re so worn out you’re about to fall asleep.”

It was in the midst of Bobby’s hopelessness that God showed him that it was more than just a job. It was a tool in His hands to shape and mold Bobby into the image of Christ. “He started to work in me a spirit of contentment. I was like the Apostle Paul. I just wanted the thorn out of the flesh, so to speak. But God had given me the job, and I knew I should be happy with what He’d given me. And my despair was a lack of faith. I was saying that God wasn’t enough to get me through a really tough time.” As Bobby sought the Lord, he soon found himself happy in Christ and His provision, which led him to be happy in his job.


It was in the midst of Bobby’s hopelessness that God showed him that it was more than just a job. It was a tool in His hands to shape and mold Bobby into the image of Christ. “He started to work in me a spirit of contentment. I was like the Apostle Paul. I just wanted the thorn out of the flesh, so to speak. But God had given me the job, and I knew I should be happy with what He’d given me. And my despair was a lack of faith. I was saying that God wasn’t enough to get me through a really tough time.” As Bobby sought the Lord, he soon found himself happy in Christ and His provision, which led him to be happy in his job. Bobby also saw found a deeper appreciation for his wife, Tina. “It’s harder to fight against sin when you’re tired and worn out all the time. And I don’t get to gather with my brothers and sisters as much as I would like. But God gave me a wife as my helper. And she has been just that. She helps me fight against sin. She eases the load as much as she can. She’s been taking care of things around home like all the yard work. She keeps me in clean uniforms and even has my lunches ready to go for me every day. I don’t have to think about those things. I see her love and know that she is a love gift from God to me. Her love is an expression of God’s own love.” And Bobby sees his job that way now, too. “This job is a gift from God to me. I do appreciate it because many people are looking for jobs now. He gave it as provision for me and my family. But he also uses it to show Himself to me and conform me to the image of Christ. The job is a way for Him to teach me. He’s taught me about my pride and lack of contentment, and He’s lovingly changed my heart in those areas. It is a point where I grow in my relationship with him. I also see Him loving me not only through the financial provision but through my wife and my church body who support me and make what I do possible. That is God’s love manifest.”


Christian Living


N

ot long ago, my wife, Karen, asked me a question about a statement in a book she was reading. The book was Corrie ten Boom’s book, Tramp for the Lord. Karen asked me, “What do you think she meant when she said this?” She then proceeded to read me the following quote:

The event in ten Boom’s life that prompted this statement was being detained in an airport customs office. Crossing the border into an unnamed country to share the Gospel, Corrie ten Boom was asked by a customs agent if she had anything to declare. She laid a single pair of nylon stockings on top of her suitcases and told the agent she was declaring her stockings. Evidently, at that time in this country, nylon stockings had to be declared. She had four pair but she only put one pair on top of her suitcase to make sure the customs agent understood what she was declaring. When the agent found the other three pair he attacked her honesty by accusing her of declaring only one pair. She tried to explain that she was not declaring just the one pair but that it was only an example. But he refused to believe ten Boom and proceeded to carefully inspect all of her possessions in the luggage. This delay caused her to miss her next flight. She stated that she was very offended by the man for not trusting her. Her pride had been wounded. It was then she learned that it was less difficult to repent of vices than virtues. Ms. ten Boom put much value in her integrity and when it was attacked she became angry and defensive. I immediately knew the answer to Karen’s question—this is the definition of meekness. And it was the understanding I had sought for years. Up to this point I thought of meekness as gentleness, not quarrelsome, which is how many translations translate the word into English. But what is behind the surface of the gentle façade? What motivates a man or woman to be gentle? Some think its weakness. They define the word meek to be synonymous with wimp. One dictionary defined meek as “spineless or spiritless.” For years I have tried to show meekness was far from weakness. It has to be since Jesus said He was meek. Our Lord is many things, but spineless is not one of them. One explanation I have loved using is “velvet covered steel.” It is strength overlaid with gentleness. But in the end, what does that mean? More importantly, where can I look and see it lived out? Jesus said I could learn of Him—“learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” Jesus demonstrated meekness constantly, but the greatest example of it is before the cross when He was brought before His accusers.


Pilate was intrigued by Jesus, but nothing amazed him more than Christ’s meekness. Pilate could not understand Jesus’ lack of reaction to His accusers. Pilate knew the Jewish leaders were lying. He had had enough dealings with them in the past to despise them and not trust them. He said of Jesus that He was innocent, a man in whom he could “find no fault.” Why wouldn’t Jesus defend Himself? Pilate couldn’t figure Him out. Why would an innocent man not argue in His defense? In Matthew 27:12-14 we see the exchange between the accusers, Pilate and Jesus, “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?’ But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.” Why didn’t Jesus answer His accusers? We know it’s not because of a lack of wisdom, as if Jesus didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t this at all. Nor was it because He knew He had to go to the cross, therefore, He would not try to stop the inevitable. Why would Jesus’ answers have kept Him from the cross? Each time in the past when Jesus confounded them with His wisdom, His enemies wanted to kill Him even more. The reason Jesus didn’t answer is because He didn’t feel the need to do so. In other words, He took no pride in His virtue. Every false attack was an insult against our Lord’s integrity. Each charge was an assault on all He claimed to be. But no response He offered because none was necessary. Jesus took no pride in His holiness or goodness; therefore, He felt no offense. You can’t insult a man who has no pride. There has never been a man more virtuous than Christ. He was perfect in attribute and character. But in all His moral goodness, He felt no need to defend it. He was meek. Here we find the word’s definition. Meekness is the amazing ability, as well as quality, to be virtuous without feeling the necessity to prove it. It means to take no pride in one’s righteousness. It is to be right without insisting you are. It is to have the moral courage to stand for what is right without being wounded if you are accused of being wrong. Perhaps, the best way to say it is, meekness is the Christ-like attribute that only cares what God thinks about you and trusts Him with your reputation. Corrie ten Boom was saying it is easier to repent of the things we know are wrong about us than it is the pride we have in the things that are right about us. Repentance over every sin is less difficult than the repentance over the self-worth we derive from our integrity. We are to be honest, good, and righteous, but we are to take no pride in these things. To do so is to give glory to yourself that you achieved these things, and it is to rob God the glory who has developed these qualities in you by His grace. When we are right, we want to defend our rightness, but Jesus didn’t. He trusted that His Father would demonstrate His rightness when the time was right. Can you trust the Father also? The meek can and do. That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek.”


-Hudson Taylor

On the Mission Field

“The Great Commission isn’t an option to be considered, but a command to be obeyed.”


Real Truth Matters Magazine

Reaching the Nations

Romanian Missionary Fellowship


On June 6, pastor and editor Michael Durham set off on a very important preaching and teaching expedition to Romania and the Republic of Moldova, laying the groundwork for a new phase of ministry for Oak Grove Baptist Church. “We are establishing a training center for missions and church planting. We will work with pastors from these two countries to help them prepare young men for the work of full-time church planting in cities, towns, and villages that have no evangelical witness at all,” Michael said. “The missions center, under the leadership of Pastor Florin Vasiliu, will provide the more in-depth training that local church pastors may not be equipped to do.”

Romanian Missionary Fellowship =

a voluntary partnership of churches and individuals to fulf il the Great Commission. History Michael met Brother Florin in March 2001 and knew almost immediately the meeting was providential. After spending a weekend with Florin and his wife, Denise, Florin asked Michael to disciple them. Because 6,000 miles separated the two brothers, discipleship was carried out through phone calls, emails and numerous visits, with hours upon hours spent laboring over Scriptures. The marvelous technology of Skype—an internet voice/video communication system— changed the way the two were able to interact, and the meetings became weekly as they dreamed, talked and prayed about preparing young men for the ministry.


Michael Durham (far right) and Florin Vasilu (second from right) meet with pastors and church leaders in Balti, Republic of Moldova.

the need “There are two seminaries in Romania, but from the city of Iasi, in the northeastern corner of the country, the seminaries are far away and too expensive for many Romanian men to attend,” Michael said. “Besides the undue hardships it would cause for men to go to either of these schools, we believe the training of preachers was given to the church, mainly pastors and preachers to disciple future leaders.” This is what Christ commanded the apostles and it is what the Apostle Paul commanded Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul writes, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This method has served the church well for more than 1,600 years. “We want to primarily work with pastors and local churches and give them the resources to train their own men, who will in turn go out and duplicate the process as they plant new churches,” Michael said. “This is a very long-term strategic plan that cannot be measured in the next year or even five years. But what could happen over the next 20 years if a group of 20 to 30 pastors could be trained on how to disciple future pastors—and those who are trained also do the same? The result is huge. An army of men will have been raised and Eastern Europe could be changed forever as a consequence.”


Slava Domnului!

[Romanian for Praise the Lord !]

Michael’s Romania Trip Day By Day


itinerary Wednesday, June 6, 2:35 p.m.—Left Paducah Thursday, June 7, 2:50 p.m.—Arrived in Bucharest, Romania Friday, June 8—Preached to pastors and church leaders in Iasi, Romania Saturday, June 9—Traveled to Republic of Moldova; met with pastors, church leaders, and leadership of Baptist Union (equivalent to the leadership of the SBC here) Saturday, June 9—Preached at a youth rally in Moldova. Sunday, June 10 (a.m.)—Preached in a church in Moldova Sunday, June 10 (p.m.)—Preached in a church in Moldova Monday, June 11—Prayed and worked on missions center with Florin Tuesday, June 12 (a.m.)—Prayed and worked on missions center with Florin Tuesday, June 12 (p.m.)—Preached to parents of special needs children Wednesday, June 13—Preached an evangelistic service in a village near Iasi Thursday, June 14 (a.m.)—Prayed and worked on missions center with Florin Thursday, June 14 (p.m.)—Taught on the doctrine of the church to home group Friday, June 15 (a.m.)—Prayed and worked on missions center with Florin Friday, June 15 (p.m.)—Taught on the doctrine of the church to home group Saturday, June 16—Preached an evangelistic service in Iasi

Sunday, June 17 (a.m.)—Preached in Third Baptist Church in Iasi Sunday, June 17 (p.m.)—Preached an evangelistic service in Iasi Monday, June 18, 2:20 p.m.—Left Bucharest on return flight Monday, June 18, 11:17 p.m.—Arrived in Paducah

Day By Day Friday, June 8

Brother Michael preached a well-attended service in Third Baptist Church Iasi, Romania, with many young people present. After the service, many reported being affected by what they heard.

Saturday, June 9

Michael and Florin traveled to the Republic of Moldova. In the city of Chisinau, a youth rally was held at Holy Trinity Baptist Church. Several appeared to be stunned by the Word of God. Pastor Alexandru Melancea was very encouraged and expressed desire for Michael to preach the same message to the church on Sunday.


Sunday, June 10

Michael preached at Holy Trinity Baptist Church that morning, and reported it was an amazing time. There were many first-time guests to the church, most of which were unconverted. One lady approached Florin after the service and told him she had brought two guests with her. Both ladies were neighbors and unsaved. They told her they had never witnessed anything like this and were greatly moved by what they heard and wanted to come back. The lady said, “Now I know what the power of God is.” Another sister came to Florin who was not a member of this church and said that God told her to come here today; He had something special for her. She said God met with her today and renewed her heart and passion for Him. Many shared that they experienced the power of God Sunday. That night, Brother Michael preached at Jesus the Savior Baptist Church. He shared that the service was one a preacher longs for. He and Florin preached for one hour without notes yet with a lifetime’s preparation from Romans 3:19-26. They both reported feeling great strength as they preached. When Michael finished, people—without coercion—began to pray and cry out to God one by one. At that point, he simply sat down. Eventually the pastor of the church got up and asked if anybody wanted to repent of his or her sin and trust Christ as Savior. Immediately two men came forward and publicly cried out to God for mercy. Florin was able to speak to one of the men that came forward and believed he was very sincere. Immediately following the service the president of the Baptist Union of the Republic of Moldova took Florin and Brother Michael out to dinner. Michael found him to be a very warm and gracious brother. He shared with him the sermon was very powerful, and was exactly what his country needed. Many of the pastors in Moldova are not sufficient in the Gospel themselves. The president also lamented that they do not know how to make disciples. Michael and Florin shared their vision with him, and Michael reported he was greatly interested and asked many thoughtful questions. By the time they were finished, he was already suggesting pastors that he would like to recommend to work with Michael and Florin.


Tap for photo galleries.

Monday, June 11

The last day in the Republic of Moldova, was full of meetings with pastors and church leaders. Michael and Florin began the day with breakfast with the pastor of Holy Trinity Baptist church in Chisinau, Brother Alexandru Malancea. They explained the vision of raising up a church planting movement based upon pastors training men in conjunction with our Missions Training Center. Not only was this pastor excited about this vision, but men in his church already want to begin. From there they left for the city of Balti, where Michael and Florin met with Pastor Costel Cheptea and a few mission pastors and church leaders. Once again after sharing the vision of this new ministry, the brethren were very enthusiastic. But in this case, Brother Costel shared that he had a very similar vision to do this. In fact, he is already training about 24 men in a small school they started in his church, Emmanuel Baptist Church. He was very pleased to hear about the pastors’ fellowships to be formed in each area. He and his staff thanked the Lord in prayer and offered their cooperation to make this vision a reality in the Republic of Moldova. “I marvel at the grace of God that would give us such favor with these men,” Michael said. “Some of the men I knew from the years of doing pastors conferences. Some men I did not know. But wherever we have gone and shared our hearts, we have been warmly and enthusiastically received.”


Tuesday, June 12

Michael and Florin met with a group of independent pastors and addressed the subject of discipleship, mainly the fact that most pastors are not doing it. As one denominational leader once told Michael, “Most pastors don’t know how to make disciples.” The brothers took abundant notes as he shared and they finished by again sharing the vision of missions—to start a missions training center in Iasi, teaching pastors how to train young men for the ministry of church planting. Afterwards they did a Q and A. Several of the pastors shared that they didn’t know how to disciple others. The meeting was very profitable. That evening, Florin and Michael went to Osoi, a village 20 minutes outside of Iasi, to preach at a small church. Many of the members had invited unsaved friends to come, and the church was full. Michael spoke on the holiness of God and it was exciting as you could see several become uncomfortable. One young lady told Florin that she became very troubled as they preached and said her conscience was hurting. Florin explained to her the Holy Spirit was convicting her of her sin.

Wednesday, June 13

Michael was invited to speak at the Star of Hope, a Romanian nongovernmental foundation established in 1998. The mission of the foundation is to improve the quality of the life of children in need, especially those with disabilities and mainly children with Down’s syndrome and autism. The director of this foundation is aware of Michael’s daughter, Victoria, who is a Down’s syndrome child, and asked him to come and share their story. “The room was comprised of an audience of mostly unbelieving parents who have special needs children,” Michael said. “I was not asked to preach but to give Karen’s and my testimony concerning Victoria. With prayer I stood after being introduced and shared the awesome and blessed journey we have had with Victoria. The Lord gave me thoughts as I was sharing to point the parents to Christ. This I did. People began to weep, even some of the men, as I did. It was simply amazing! At the same time it was heartbreaking to see these parents and some of the children who do not have the wonderful services provided by local and state government like we have.” That night Michael and Florin preached to a church filled beyond capacity on the cross of Christ and the way to eternal life. “God was awesome to us as we could see Him work,” Michael said. “Not only were some sinners affected but even the saints said it was moving to be in the powerful presence of God. One brother with tears, said, ‘Because of tonight, I have a greater respect for God. I have seen Him to be much bigger than before I came.’”


Thursday & Friday, June 14 & 15

The brothers conducted a Bible study with a home group Florin meets with weekly on the topic of the New Testament church. Michael reports one of the weaknesses of the Romanian church is its lack of understanding of the biblical doctrine of the church. This is an area where much teaching is necessary. The Bible’s presentation of the church—what it is; what its nature, structure, and strategy are—will instill in true believers the desire to experience such a church, he said. “I cannot overemphasize my initial meeting of Florin 11 years ago,” Michael said of his dear brother. “I saw in him then the potential to be used of God in a very instrumental way. My intuition has not been proven wrong. Florin is the right man at the right time. Our discussions and planning for the new ministry of church planting and pastoral training remarkably demonstrated to me his growth and maturity since our first meeting in 2001.”

Saturday, June 16

“I had the high honor of performing a wedding vow renewal ceremony for friends, Leonard and Ivona Machucea,” Michael said. “They invited many unconverted relatives and friends to this event so they could hear the Gospel. This was one of the main reasons they wanted to renew their vows. It is so wonderful to see Christians serious about sharing their faith with others.”


Sunday, June 17

Michael spent his final full day in Romania in jam-packed fashion. In the morning he preached again at Third Baptist Church in Iasi. “Oh, the power that I felt as I spoke! The people were given the power to listen attentively and you could see God at work,” Michael said. “Several after the service told me they were moved upon by the Lord while I preached.” He called the finale of his trip the baptism of Florin and Denise’s oldest child, David. Florin asked if Michael would bring the message for this event and many unconverted people where in attendance, mostly students. “I spoke on the text, John 14:6: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, except through Me.’ Once again you could see the Lord at work,” he said. “Some were brought to tears, others left disturbed in their hearts. It was a remarkable evening. I am persuaded that service will produce much fruit.” Michael commented on the trip overall: “The Lord gave me much favor everywhere I went, and for this I am most grateful. I’m overjoyed by the fruit the Lord gave and look forward to see what will come from this most important trip.”


Redemption...

at

C

alvary Sophie McDonald


During the last week of June, four churches in the Western Ken-

tucky region traveled across the state to Blackey, Ky., to serve the Lord by serving with Meridzo, the ministry of Lonnie Riley. Nestled in a holler of the Appalachian Mountains is Calvary Campus, a former Presbyterian College given to Merdizo Ministries in 2002, now being remodeled and rejuvenated to be a college for the deaf. However, the main ministry of Calvary Campus is leading everyone who comes through the gates to Calvary and the cross of Christ.

Our desire is that when anyone comes through Calvary Campus they will experience and encounter God. It is God’s campus and He will use situations, people and relationships to draw them to Him. We see His work with believers and non-believers. - Paul Radosevich, director of the campus.


The week was filled with passionate worship, people exercising their gifts and talents to further the Kingdom, and growing together as the Body of Christ. In the midst of painting and landscaping, hanging insulation and drywall, and running a basketball and volleyball camp every afternoon, the Lord was at work at Calvary Campus. But He was not just working on the exterior of the buildings and the curb appeal of the property; He was at work in hearts. One of those hearts was Ty Howard, 35, of Paducah, who originally didn’t even want to go on this trip to Eastern Kentucky due to bad memories from that side of the state. He agreed to go because he wanted to help others, but he was the one who ended up receiving the greatest gift in the world. During a star-lit late night walk with a brother from Oak Grove, the Lord chased Ty down. “God used Joseph to push me and then he prayed and asked God while we were sitting on the front steps of that dormitory, to open my heart and let me see what it is that was stopping me,” he said. “I’ve used every excuse in the book—I hated God, if He loved me He wouldn’t have let my life turn out this way, so many excuses—but when Joseph prayed that it came to me instantly: it wasn’t any of those things. It was that I loved me. I loved the things I did and the world more than I ever gave a thought to God.” Ty then realized that for 35 years he has been looking for the life he wanted, but God showed him he could never have the life he wanted without one person—Christ. “After Joseph prayed, I prayed,” Ty said. “It doesn’t matter anymore where I want to be; I want to be in Him. And the trials and tribulations I face, whether I like it or not, whether I understand it or not, are what He has done to reveal Himself to me.”

He chased me all the way to the end. He chased me to Calvary to bring me to Calvary. - Ty Howard


The innate anger inside of him, the murmuring noise in the back of his head, and the hatred Ty felt toward the Lord were dissolved on the concrete steps of an old building as he surrendered his life to the Lord. “I know it wasn’t anything I did,” Ty said. “God used (Calvary Campus) to make me receptive to Him. When you come through them gates you could feel like a peace wash over you. It was a feeling I had never felt and I’ve been a lot of places. And He took those things away from me and I’m still me. I just don’t have the burdens and the weights that I felt like I had.” Paul knows where the power of the campus lies. “Prayer is the foundation of this ministry,” he said. “James 5:16 says, ‘The earnest prayer of the righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.’ We want to see people changed—ourselves included—and it all begins with prayer.”


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Top Pick:

Even though this is one of Real Truth Matters’ own productions, The History of the Modern Gospel gives the necessary biblical grounds for examining the teachings and methods of modern day churches. This video gives an overview of the series, what we want to accomplish, and an outline of the major false gospels prevalent today.

Editor's Picks

In each issue, Editor Michael Durham picks a handful of resources off the “Christian” shelves to review. The following are this month’s top recommendations along with one to stay away from.


Top Pick: The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer

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The first book I want to recommend is A. W. Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God. This is a small volume but it is immense in its inspiration. Tozer, 1987-1963, was a preacher, pastor, author, editor, and most important a prophet to his generation. His writings have preserved his voice, so that through them, “being dead yet speaketh.”

His prophetic message is still as penetrating, convicting, and helpful as it was when he lived. The Pursuit of God is his most famous work and it will speak to your heart in a way much modern writing will not. If you have not read it, pursue it, and you will discover the presence of God as you read.


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What to avoid: The Shack, by William Young

The book I want to warn against is The Shack by William Young. Published in 2008 it quickly gained popularity and became an Amazon best seller. These reviews are not intended to be lengthy, and for that reason it is hard to be critical without wanting to be detailed. In summary the book is a theological novel teaching the lessons Young has learned about God and relationship with Him. It presents a perverted view of both the Trinity and grace. It is a rejection of the orthodox view of Christianity in lieu of a post-modern view of forgiveness. Definitely not worth the time to read.


The newest resource from Real Truth Matters, Disciples Academy. Watch the intro video to find out more about this useful resource.


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