NEED • CATCH
V I S I O N • TA K E
TSUNAMI Reports and Opportunities
A NEW BEGINNING?
The Welsh Revival S E E PA G E F I V E
FROM MY WINDOW
A NEW BEGINNING? “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months…” (Ex. 12:2).
t wasn’t, of course. The beginning of months, I mean. The nation of Israel would have a calendar year quite unlike ours. Our New Year follows the pagan celebration of the rebirth of the sun. Instead, the Jews to this day have a civil year much like our “school year,” beginning in September with Rosh Hashanah, the Blowing of Trumpets. Eventually when they would enter the Land, the Israelites’ field crops would be planted then, in the autumn, and harvested in the spring, beginning with the barley harvest. This statement in Exodus 12 comes, then, in the middle of the year—at the beginning of the seventh month, Abib. But these words of the Lord came not only at the end of the drab winter and at the first signs of spring; they came at the end of more than four centuries of oppression, since Ishmael began to mock the son of the free woman (the only way I can see a period of 400 years until the Exodus, Gen. 15:13; Acts 7:6). Our Lord is the Lord of beginnings. “In the beginning (or, in beginning) God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). But there were beginnings before that beginning: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (Jn. 1:1-2). In fact, our Lord declares, “I am…the beginning…, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come” (Rev. 1:8). And our Lord is also the Lord of beginning again! When the first creation lay in ruins, its masters now chained and enslaved by the rebel king, God proposed a new beginning: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1:1). It was to be a fresh start so miraculous, so stupendous, that it would make the Heir of all things poor in the process. Yet by it, humanity could hope again. It would be said of all who laid claim to His offer: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17). Oh, the freshness, the liberty, the song-filled heart of the newly freed slave who steps into this “beginning of months” and joins the redeemed ones’ chorus: “The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation” (Ex. 15:2). However, for the children of Israel, this first deliverance over their enemies would hardly be the last. That wonderful exodus from Egypt was only the first beginning of many needed beginnings again. And so it is with us. We love to sing, “From victory unto victory, His army shall He lead,” but the conquest is not one uninterrupted triumph. We at times find ourselves—whether individually or as local assemblies—desperately in need of a chance to begin again. We stand alone in the darkness with Jacob at the fords of Jabbok, or sit beside Nehemiah and grieve when we hear that the Lord’s people “are in great affliction and reproach” (1:3). Sometimes we even lie with David on the palace floor, fasting and mourning at our personal folly and sin, wondering if there is any hope for us again. Or like Peter, we have fled His sorrowful gaze and now weep in bitterness of soul. Yet we know there must be hope for us, because we know how these stories ended—every one of them with dramatic new beginnings! Yet such fresh starts are not automatic. As in type that first Passover night, there must be a new beginning of obedience to God’s Word, a new grasp of the deadly consequences of unforgiven sin, a new appreciation of the value of the blood applied personally, and a return to that simple trust that feeds on the Lamb to gain strength for the journey Home. If so, this could be for you, for me, “the beginning of months,” of a fresh start with the Lord. Will it be? J. B. NICHOLSON, JR.
UPLOOK / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
Founded in 1927 as Look on the Fields, UPLOOK is published monthly except for occasional combined issues which count as two issues, by Uplook Ministries, 813 North Ave., N.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Phone: (616) 456-9166 Fax: (616) 456-5522 Website: http://www.uplook.org E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 72 • Number 1
ISSN #1055-2642 Printed in USA. © Copyright 2005 Uplook Ministries
FEATURES SIMPLY WONDERFUL Arno C. Gabelein THE WELSH REVIVAL Staff Report CHRIST THE WISDOM OF GOD Mike Attwood GOOD SEED Via Magazine THE FELLOWSHIP OF TEARS L. W. G. Alexander TSUNAMI: Reports and Opportunities Special Section HOW CAN WE HELP? NOT READY TO GO AT 96 Bill Mierstra THINKING ABOUT CHRIST J. C. Ryle NO PLAN LIKE HIS PLAN H. P. Liddon IS HE A WILDERNESS TO YOU? Robert Lee WILL YOU DIE WELL? Donald L. Norbie HEARING AND SEEING THE LORD August Van Ryn
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DEPARTMENTS EDITORIAL: A New Beginning FRONT LINES WORLD VIEW Q & A: The Tsunami and a Loving God QUOTABLES: Family Prayers DIGGING IN SCIENCE & YOU: E. T., Please Call Home FINAL WORD: The Day of Small Things J. B. N., Jr. Subscription Information: The Uplook magazine mailing list is maintained on a subscription basis. There is no charge for a subscription, however you must renew your subscription annually in order to continue receiving the magazine. An initial subscription is for six issues. Thereafter any time you renew, your subscription will be extended a further ten issues. There are three ways to renew: 1) by using the reminder envelope sent to facilitate your renewal; 2) by using the form on our website at: http://www.gospelcom.net/uplook/magazine_uplook/subscribe.phtml 3) by contacting our office at any time, by phone, fax, mail or e-mail. Please advise us of any address changes at least six weeks in advance and include your customer number from your mailing label.
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UPLOOK magazine is intended to encourage the people of God in ﬁdelity to His Word, fervency in intercessory prayer, labors more abundant, and love to the Lord. Believing in the practical Headship of Christ and the local autonomy of each assembly, this is not intended to be an ofﬁcial organ of any group or federation of local churches. The editor and authors take responsibility for materials published. For any blessing which accrues, to God be the glory. UPLOOK is copyrighted solely for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the material. It is not intended to limit the proper use of articles contained in the magazine. Please include the words: “UPLOOK magazine, by permission” on photocopies made for personal use. For large quantities or other purposes, contact UPLOOK. Submissions Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with all unsolicited material. News items must be submitted at least two months in advance of issue requested. Selected news items will be carried for two issues (if time permits). The editor reserves the right to determine those items best suited for the magazine. Editorial decisions are final. Photos accepted. Please enclose a selfaddressed, stamped envelope for photos you wish returned. Postal Information US POSTMASTER: (USPS 620-640) Send address changes to UPLOOK, P. O. Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2041 Periodical postage paid at Grand Rapids, MI. CANADIAN POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UPLOOK, P. O. Box 427, St. Catharines, ON L2R 6V9 International Publication Mail Product (Canadian Distribution) Sales Agreement No. 40020782 British POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UPLOOK, P. O. Box 1163, Bristol BS39 4YA
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IT’S A CLASSIC
“…and His name shall be called Wonderful….” (Isa. 9:6) Arno C. Gabelein o mind can fathom, no heart can grasp, no pen describe, how wonderful the Saviour is. He is wonderful if we think of Him as the Only Begotten of the Father. He is the image of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory and the express image of His Person. How wonderful such a One, who ever was, with no beginning, one with God! How wonderful His condescension that He who created the angels should be made lower than the angels and lay His glory by, to appear in the form of man on earth! Wonderful is He in His incarnation, “that holy Thing,” as the angel announced Him, truly God and Man. Born of the woman, resting on the bosom of the virgin as a little child, and yet He is the One who ever is in the bosom of the Father. Wonderful was that blessed life He lived on earth. Wonderful are the words which came from His lips. Wonderful is He in His moral glory, His untiring service, His love, His patience, and everything which the Spirit has been pleased to tell us of His earthly life. The more our hearts contemplate Him, the more wonderful He appears. But still greater and more wonderful is it that He went to the cross to give His life as a ransom for many, that the Just One should die for the unjust. He is wonderful in His great work on the cross, the depths of which have never been fathomed. And how wonderfully He has dealt with us, with each one individually. How wonderful is it that He knows each of His sheep, that He guides each, provides for, loves, succors, stands by, restores, never leaves nor forsakes each who belongs to Him. How wonderful is His grace, the supply and fullness of it!
“One evening,” said C. H. Spurgeon, “I was riding home after a heavy day’s work, weary and sore depressed, when suddenly, as a lightning flash, came: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ And I said: “I should think it is, Lord,” and burst out laughing. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as if some little fish, being very thirsty, was trou-
bled about drinking the river dry; and Father Thames said: “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.” Or it seemed like a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt after seven years of plenty, fearing it might die of famine, and Joseph might say: “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.” Again I imagined a man away up yonder on the mountain saying to himself: “I fear I shall exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere.” But the earth might say: “Breathe away, O man, and fill thy lungs ever. My atmosphere is sufficient for thee.”
In His coming manifestation He will be wonderful. Wonderful He will be when we shall see Him and stand in His presence. What a day it will be when we see Him face to face! Then we shall know all the loveliness and wonder of His adorable Person and His wonderful ways with us. With what delight we shall then behold Him. And when He comes with His saints, when the heavens are lit up with untold glory, when He comes to judge, to establish His kingdom, to speak peace to the nations, to restore creation to its right condition, when He reigns and all His redeemed ones with Him—oh, how wonderful it all will be! He is altogether lovely, and He is altogether wonderful. Glory to His name! Well has one said: He pervades the whole of the New Testament with His presence, so that every doctrine it teaches, every duty it demands, every narrative it records, every comfort it gives, every hope it inspires, gather about His Person and minister to His glory. So dear does He thus become to the heart of the believer, that Luther may well be excused for exclaiming, ‘I had rather be in hell with Christ, than in heaven without Him.’ May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts and eyes with Him and reveal to us through the written Word more of the matchless beauty of the wonderful Person of our Saviour and Lord.
UPLOOK / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
LORD, DO IT AGAIN!
THE WELSH REVIVAL
November 1904 to August 1905 saw Wales awaken from its slumber. Staff Report
t is exactly one hundred years since the Holy Spirit swept, like a mighty wind, across the hills and valleys of Wales, bringing great blessing that would eventually be felt around the world. Despite certain aberations and excesses, much was clearly the work of God. What were conditions at the turn of the century in Wales and who was this young coal miner that the Lord used to light the fire? In his biography of Evan Roberts, An Instrument of Revival: The Complete Life of Evan Roberts (1878-1951), the author Brynmor Pierce Jones describes the times: A survey of the religious journals covering the last years of the nineteenth century would prove that the churches were socially, culturally, and educationally active, but spiritually inert and asleep. There were scores of singing festivals, preaching festivals, poetry circles, choral festivals, sacred concerts…and public lectures sponsored by each denomination. One could attend such events…all year round.…There were few who found time to cultivate the spiritual graces— fewer still who were interested in personal holiness, personal witness and discipleship. In the last few years of the nineteenth century, a small number of revival prayer meetings sprang up all over…People began to cry that something had to be done about the lost…The resounding success of the Salvation Army, the Forward Movement, and the first Torrey-Alexander mission caused many churches to sit up and get more decisive. So the Twentieth Century Fund and the Twentieth Century Mission were launched with open-air Evan Roberts work, visiting work, and student teams of witness. The results of these, however, were so small that one leader wrote, “This may not be the best method but we have a real need of revived churches.”…The last six months before the awakening in November 1904 were marked by almost desperate
seeking after the blessing… Things looked promising but the regular services were still very routine and formal. People seemed to be able to discuss the great doctrines intellectually but never feel the impact on their hearts. One… could see that there was a serious lack of power in the preaching because sermons were too objective and cool and because preachers were not trained to preach for the salvation of souls.
It was during this time that the Lord had been deeply exercising a young collier (coal miner) named Evan Roberts. Jones describes him in these words: He was living proof that God uses that which is base and foolish in order to accomplish His purposes. Here was a lad who left school at twelve, labored in coal mines for twelve years, undertook part-time study and a brief pre-college course. He was a twenty-six-year-old man who had no pastoral or evangelistic experience but did have a pure faith and a burning passion for souls.
The author gives nine outstanding characteristics of the kind of person God uses to initiate a revival (which he believes Evan Roberts emulated): deep earnestness, a desperate desire to see God work most powerfully, great faith, great patience, a willingness to expend energy and labor fearlessly, determination, deep spirituality, and fervency in prayer. It is interesting that there is no mention made of either gift or ability in his list. As blessing began to break around the ministry of the young coal miner, he wrote to his family: I know that prejudice will be strong against the movement. Therefore we must be armed with the Holy Spirit. Amongst many there will be levity and this calls on us to be very watchful with our movements and our words, and remember to keep our eyes from wantonness. There will be another class who will come out of curiosity and possibly to scoff. Therefore what will be necessary for us is to be strong in prayer. Oh that we could all feel we can do nothing without the Holy Spirit and, in that feeling, fall in lowliness before God with a broken heart, beseeching Him to show us His face…. It would be awful for us without God.
Obviously wherever the Spirit of God works in a mighty
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T H E W E L S H R E V I VA L
way, the Enemy is not far away, looking for some opportunity to neutralize what God is doing. As the apostle would write in the first century, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9). But there are battles fought just as fiercely in the heart with pride and self-sufficiency. So Paul would also tell us: “And lest I should be exalted above measure…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2 Cor. 12:7). Thus the Lord sees to it—if we are willing to co-operate—that the Enemy who seeks to undermine our work ends up being used as an agent of the sovereign God to keep us in a lowly and therefore useable condition! In this regard, as Evan Robert’s fame crossed the Atlantic, he received a letter from the esteemed American evangelist R. A. Torrey. It expressed thanks to God for raising a new instrument, but added a gentle warning, and that from a man who knew the trap awaiting success in the Lord’s work: I am praying that God will keep you simply trusting in Him and obedient to Him, going not where men shall call you but going where He shall lead you, and that He may keep you humble. It is so easy for us to become exalted when God uses us as the instruments of His power. It is so easy to think that we are something ourselves. When we get to thinking that, God will set us aside…May God keep you humble, and fill you more and more with His mighty power. I hope that some day I may have the privilege of meeting you.
Roberts had his share of personal struggles and problems and more than his share of critics—some deserved,
some undeserved. Yet one cannot help but long for evidence in our day of men of God who long for reality more than respectability; who want heaven’s power more than earth’s prestige; who spend themselves without counting the personal cost; and who long to do the Master’s will, whatever others may say. As we read the accounts of such stirrings, confessions, convictions, and conversions, when we see the world (and the devil) taking serious notice again of the Church, when we see repairing of broken friendships, paying of debts, sacrificial giving and living—in short, when we see the Spirit of God unrestrained and unrestricted, our hearts cry out, “Oh, Lord, please do it again in our day!” As the Rhondda revival mission drew to a close (three or four meetings a day were held, the spiritual hunger was so great), and Christmas of 1904 approached, Evan Roberts sent a message to the Rhondda churches: The Church has been sleeping but she is awake and is putting on her armour now, and marching triumphantly. But do not make a mistake. God cannot do a great work through you without doing a great work in you first.
It has been observed: “What is revival but a fresh beginning of obedience with God?” Though this is a primary ingredient, surely there must also be a deep longing for much more than the “mercy drops” that presently are falling. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him” (Ps. 62:5). “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Phil. 1:20).
WALES (Cymru in Welsh) is located in the west of the United Kingdom, bordered by England, the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel. It was politically linked with England by the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. With a land area of 8,019 square miles (20,761 sq km), Wales is a mountainous country; 25% of the land is above 1,000 feet (305 m). The coastline stretches for 732 miles (1,180 km), consisting of numerous bays, sandy beaches, peninsulas and cliffs. The Cambrian Mountains form the backbone of the country, the Berwyn Mountains cover the northeastern corner, while the Brecon Beacons dominate the south. The highest point, the Snowdon Massif, rises to 3,560 feet (1,085 m). More than half of the Welsh population of approximately 3 million reside in the south-eastern part of the country, in and around the capital city of Cardiff (315,000). Both Welsh and English are recognized as official languages, with an estimated 600,000 that speak Welsh exclusively. A large percentage claim the Anglican or Catholic religion as their own, but as with most of Europe, church attendance is low. The collapse of the coal industry in the last century led to high unemployment, and substantial emigration. Recent years have seen some economic recovery. There are 45 assemblies (many quite small) listed for Wales in The Assemblies Address Book published by Christian Year Publications. Town names include such tongue-twisters as Ynysybwl.
UPLOOK / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
F RONT L I NE S P R AY A R O U N D
WORLD • PRAISE AROUND
AN INFORMATIVE DVD: THE EPI STORY Publications has recently produced a DVD of this ongoing literature E veryday ministry. The work was started by Dr. & Mrs. R.E. Harlow in 1964 and celebrated its 40th anniversary in the summer of 2004. During those 40 years the number of books shipped to developing world countries is approaching the 3 million mark. This is an assembly work with a vision of supplying Bible study tools for missionaries and national workers in less fortunate areas. Many thousands of study books have been sent without charge to commended missionaries and national workers thanks to the prayers and financial support of the Lord’s people who help to make this work possible. There are more than 320 titles, published in Standard English and in “Everyday English” (which uses short, simple sentence structure for those to whom English is a second language), as well as in French, Portuguese, Spanish and Swahili. The DVD is available free of charge for interested individuals or assemblies by contacting: Everyday Publications Inc., 310 Killaly Street West, Port Colborne, ON L3K 6A6 Phone 905-834-5552 SE WORKERS’ CONF. The 54th annual Southeastern Workers’ Conferences is scheduled to begin Monday evening February 21 and end at noon on Wednesday, Feb 23, 2005. Shannon Hills Chapel, in Greensboro, NC will be the host. The theme will be Equipping the Saints. Speakers include Randy Amos (NY), Brian Gunning (ON), and Rex Trogdon (NC). Focused breakout sessions will include presentations by Anil Samuel on Short Term Missions, Jeff Buckles on Tent Ministry, Jonathan Peck on Evangelism Explosion, and Sam Thorpe on the Word Alive program. More information and registration can be found online: www.believersgospelchapel.org/sewcreg.htm Registrar: Harvey Shelley at 336-674-3926 Conference secretary: Warren Hylton at 706-737-0427
WORD ALIVE SOUTHEAST Christians within driving distance of Washington, GA, note Word Alive’s schedule for the Spring. Sessions from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Bible readings continuing in Colossians from 2:00–3:00PM. All meetings held at Washington Bible Chapel, 808 E. Robert Toombs Ave, Washington, GA. Lunch provided. Speakers: Mar 12, Dewitt Jones The Minor Prophets Apr 9, Mike Attwood Seven Sayings from the Cross May 13-14, J. B. Nicholson Jr. Christian Apologetics For more information, call: Sam Thorpe at 706-359-6297 Mike Attwood at 706-678-3180 website: wordalivese.org IROQUOINA RETREAT Men—take a break at the annual men’s retreat to be held at Camp Irowww.uplook.org / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
quoina on Saturday, Mar 12. Mark Kolchin (NJ) is the scheduled speaker. If you play an instrument, please bring it. We look forward to a wonderful session of music and fellowship. Friday and/or Saturday night lodging is available. Contact: Mark Thomas at 570-967-2577 email@example.com DALLAS CONFERENCE The 50th Dallas Area Conference is scheduled for Mar 18-20, Lord willing. J. B. Nicholson Jr. (MI) and Randy Amos (NY) will be ministering the Word. The meetings will be held at Wheatland Bible Chapel, 1303 W. Wheatland Road, Duncanville, TX 75116. For information: John Daniels at 972-424-9889 firstname.lastname@example.org OAKVILLE BIBLE STUDIES The Oakville (ON) Bible Study
series continues in 2005 with “The Conquest of Canaan” (Joshua and Judges). Studies at Hopedale Bible Chapel, 342 Sherin Dr., Oakville, ON. Studies commence at 9:00 AM, and finish at noon. Notes provided; tapes available. Still to come: • Mar 19, S. Burnett (ON) Gideon, Abimelech, and Jephthah • Apr 16, W. H. Burnett (ON) Samson; Review of the Study Year W. H. Burnett at 905-827-4842 email@example.com H. W. Allison at 905-336-8101 firstname.lastname@example.org (for registration and tapes) EASTER CONFERENCE The Vancouver Easter conference, sponsored by seven local assemblies, is scheduled for Mar 25-28, 2005. Friday and Saturday 3:30–5:30; 7:00–9:00. On Sunday at 7:00 PM. To be held at Granville Chapel, 5091 Granville St., Vancouver, BC. Speakers: Dr. John Lennox (UK) and Joe Reese (ON). Children’s programs Friday and Saturday. Supper served both days between meetings. Contact: N. Chandler at 604-271-1083
CONFERENCE IN INDIANA The annual spring conference at the Gospel Chapel, 321 Cliff Dr. Logansport, IN, is to be held Apr 9, Lord willing. Expected speaker: Ross Ragland (MO). Refreshments at 9:30 AM with sessions at 10 and 11 AM. Lunch provided. Brother Ragland will also speak at the Sunday morning meeting. Contact: Ralph Garver at 574-722-1012 e-mail: Leegar@Lneti.com SPRINGTIME IN ALABAMA The Christians at Hope Bible Chapel in Birmingham, Alabama invite you to their annual spring conference being held Apr 15-17, 2005, in the will of the Lord. Mr. Mike Attwood (GA) is the invited speaker. For further information, contact Peter Rosborough at 205-833-2380 email@example.com CHICAGO AREA CONF. The Chicago area Spring conference will be held, Lord willing, April 22-24 at the Palos Hills Christian Assembly (10600 S. 88th Ave., Palos Hills, IL). Speakers expected are
Keith Keyser (PA), Joe Mikhael (ON), and Alan Schetelich (NJ). Special sessions for children. Contact: John Daghfal at 815-886-4152 firstname.lastname@example.org LADIES MISSIONARY CONF. 28th Annual Ladies’ Missionary Conference, Saturday, May 7, 2005, at Turner Road Bible Chapel, 2100 Turner Road, Windsor, ON. Speakers expected: Elisabeth Aiken (Middle East), Hayley Cuthill (Greece), and Adina Dumitru (Peru). Registration: 9:30 AM; First session: 10:00 AM; Final session: 1:30 PM Lunch will be provided. Child care provided for children 2 and under. For further details: Jan Gillis at 519-977-5576 VESSELS OF HONOR 2005 A Young Adult Conference is being convened by East Tulsa (OK) Bible Chapel. To be held on the campus of Baker University, Baldwin City, KS on May 27-30, 2005. General session speakers: Mike Attwood (GA), Joe Reese (ON), and Sam Thorpe (GA). Seminar session
ALBANIANET Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We (Lorenc Tona and I) have developed a website for Albanian believers (news, literature, books, studies, preaching helps, etc.). Although most of the site is in Albanian, we developed a section for our English speaking friends. We encourage you to visit this site (www.asamblejabiblike.com) and look for “News in English” on the left side (the phrase “asamblejabiblike” means something like “the Bible assembly”). Or you can go directly to this English speaker’s page (www.asamblejabiblike.com/english.html). You will find news, pictures, prayer requests, articles in English, and also a PowerPoint-style presentation on
church planting and evangelism in Albania. We believe that this last item will be very useful for those of you who wish to pray more effectively for Albania. This is the initial release of this website, so we invite your comments and feedback in order to improve it. GEORGE & NANCY STURM Pogradec, Albania
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speakers, along with the general session speakers, will include Jeff Erb, Ann Reese and others. “…A vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use…” (2 Tim. 2:21). Contact: Jim Lindamood at 918-663-1121 email@example.com Dan Moffitt at 918-744-6484 firstname.lastname@example.org The Vessels of Honor website: www.vesselsofhonor.org OUTREACH TO ROTARIANS The 2005 Rotarian International Convention is to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, Jun 18-22, 2005. Stan Engle is arranging to distribute tracts at that event. About 30,000 people are expected from 300 countries. They will be giving out a trilingual tract Sunday afternoon, Jun 19 at 2 PM. Several assemblies have shown an interest in helping. Rotarians are businessmen from all professions and religions. They are also looking for someone to help us redesign the tract. Contact Stan Engle at: 405-236-5433 email: email@example.com web site: www.lifehouse.org COMMENDATIONS Abram Kidd It is with sincere joy that the elders, on behalf of the believers at Elmwood Bible Chapel in Renfrew, ON, commend brother Abram Kidd to full time service in the Lord’s work in Tanzania for a period of three years. Abram will go to Africa some time in early 2005. The assembly has benefited from his ministry in Renfrew and are pleased to see his desire for the Lord’s work in the mission field. They count it a joy to be a part of this brother’s ministry, and therefore
ask that you join them in upholding Abram prayerfully before the Lord, that he will continue faithfully and be used mightily by God. Roy Houghton The believers at Elmwood Bible Chapel, Renfrew, ON, also affirm their commendation of Roy Houghton to full time service in the Lord’s work in Ontario. Roy spent about six years serving in the Renfrew area. He is presently living in Matheson and working among the assemblies of Northern Ontario. Roy is engaged in prison ministry, youth work, and camp work in that area also. Those at Renfrew ask that you join them in upholding Roy prayerfully before the Lord. Junior and Constance Martin The elders and the saints gathered in the Name of the Lord at Bethany Bible Chapel, Conway, SC, wish to make it known that they are commending to the Lord’s work Elton B. (Junior) Martin, his wife, Constance and their family. Junior and Constance have been active and productive members of the fellowship there. They have a heart for God’s people and for evangelism and will be going on a short-term mission to Mexico beginning Feb 2, 2005 and continuing for at least six months. They desire that the Christians support them by prayer. MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES Rest Home Administrator The Administrator at Hilltop Manor is retiring in May 2005 and a suitable person or couple is needed to take over this salaried, live-in position. The work entails responsibility for the day to day operation of a small (ten resident) rest home on
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the Langley Gospel Hall property. Two additional staff members are employed, but a considerable amount of hands-on work, including food preparation, is involved. Remuneration is commensurate with qualifications and experience. The preferred candidate will have training and experience in food handling and senior’s care. A current driver’s license and first aid certificate or some nursing experience is required. Further details at our web site: www3.telus.net/public/dchesney/hilltop_manor.htm Contact: David Chesney Hilltop Manor, 4775 - 221st St. Langley BC Canada V2Z 1M7 Fax: 604-530-0280 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Food Service Supervisor Rest Haven Homes, an assembly nursing home in Grand Rapids, MI, has a need for a Food Services Supervisor. This is a paid, full time, head of staff position with benefits. Ideally the candidate should be a Certified Dietary Manager, but Rest Haven will provide training for a believer who has a desire to serve the Lord. Contact Brian Wilson, Administrator at 616-363-6819. CHANGES Mr. and Mrs. Mark Kolchin 735 Hill St. Lanoka Harbor, NJ 08734 Phone 609-693-3464 Mr. and Mrs. George Telfer email@example.com Hopedale Bible Chapel Hopedale Bible Chapel, Oakville, ON, is changing the time of its Sunday evening meeting to 6:00 PM effective Apr 3, 2005.
WO R L D V I E W T H E C H U R C H • T H E C U LT U R E • T H E C O N F L I C T
EASTERN EUROPE’S OPEN DOOR
he Ministry for Europe Trust (METrust), a work from assemblies in the UK, primarily to the impoverished countries of Eastern Europe, we believe is a ministry worthy of the prayers and consideration of the Lord’s people. They write: The countries in Eastern Europe are greatly impoverished with the average wage approximately US$150.00 (£100,00) per month. In Armenia, the pensioners receive US$6.00 (£4,00) per month and with that they should be in a position to buy one slice of bread and one tea bag per day. With 90% unemployment in Armenia and an average of 35-40% in the rest of Eastern Europe, it is clear that without the aid of the believers in the West, few of these dear people will ever have the honor of holding, never mind, purchasing a copy of the Holy Scripture in their own mother tongue. As noted above, we in The Ministry for Europe Trust, have been assisting in this work for a number of years. However, now we are able also to bring Children’s Bibles into Armenia, Macedonia and Serbia. For example, in the summer, 2003, we were invited by a local Muslim chief in Macedonia, to renovate his totally decayed and broken school building, which had been used by the Albanian terrorists during the recent uprising in the land. We stated that this would be our privilege on three conditions: i) that we would be permitted to give to every village child a Bible; ii) that we would be able to hang Bible verses on the wall; and iii) that we would be permitted to start a children’s work. To our amazement, we were given permission to do all this. This was accomplished in the summer of 2004. Similar opportunities have arisen in (Orthodox) Armenia. For example, we give school bags to the poor children, including pencils, pens, jotters, rulers, rubbers, etc., and, of course, the Children’s Bible. In both Macedonia and Armenia, we enjoy the full sanction of the governments, with the ministers of Education and Culture, respectively, coming to our distributions. We wish to extend this great work to the millions of bare-footed, virtually penniless children and families in Armenia and Macedonia, and to introduce a similar work in (Roman Catholic) Serbia, through the new assembly in Kanjisa. Kanjisa, Serbia is a Roman Catholic village, yet the Lord has been pleased through the instrumentality of The Ministry for Europe Trust, to plant an assembly and an outreach capability that was never there before. Having received such a blessing in Armenia from our school-bag work, we are anxious to extend this into Macedonia among the Muslim children and the Roman Catholic children in Kanjisa, Serbia. The simple school bags are filled with pens, pencils, jotters, rubbers, rulers, etc., and include a Children’s Bible.
These colorful Children’s Bibles, produced by visionary brethren in Germany, are made available in quantities to METrust for approximately US$4.00 each. METrust would like to distribute about 1500 Bibles each in Macedonia, Armenia and Serbia. METrust also has ongoing outreach plans for gospel distribution in the Shetland Islands, door-to-door outreach to every home in County Armagh (one of the most difficult and dangerous counties in Northern Ireland), and continue to reach out to Christian workers in various countries of Europe. Contact: Thomas Jennings, The Ministry for Europe Trust 39 Ardmore Road Holywood, N. Ireland, BT18 0PJ
Phone: 028-9042-6483 Fax: 028-9042-2263 email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.METrust.org.uk
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TYPES AND SHADOWS
CHRIST THE WISDOM OF GOD A devotional look at Proverbs 8 and 1 Corinthians 1:30
into that category and appears as “she” in this chapter.
Mike Attwood he Lord Jesus on several occasions told both His disciples and His enemies that He was the primary subject matter of the Old Testament scriptures (see Jn. 5:39, 46; Lk. 24:27, 44). As we approach the Old Testament, we need therefore to be looking for the Lord Jesus in prophecies. psalms and pictures (tupos, types). Modern scholarship seems to have overlooked this principle. Recently I was disappointed to see in two of the more recently published conservative evangelical commentaries a denial that Proverbs 8 speaks of the Lord Jesus. On the other hand, all of the older evangelical commentaries affirm this. For example,
We cannot doubt that the wisdom of Proverbs is identical with the incarnate Word of the New Testament” (A. M. Hodgkin, Christ in All the Scriptures).
When studying Scripture, we must constantly remind ourselves that its Author—the Spirit of God—loves to magnify the Lord Jesus: “He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you” (Jn. 16:15). Proverbs 8 is clearly Wisdom personified, but of whom does this speak? In I Corinthians 1:24, 30, we read of “Christ, the wisdom of God.” In Colossians 2:3, speaking of our Lord Jesus, we read, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” As we look briefly at this chapter, may “looking unto Jesus” be our basic principle of interpretation. Before we look at the overwhelming evidence that this speaks of the Lord Jesus, there is a minor difficulty to overcome and that is that Wisdom personified seems to be feminine. “She standeth in the top of the high places” (Prov. 8:2, etc.). How are we to reconcile this? The Hebrew language has only two genders, masculine and feminine, so grammatically speaking there are no “its” in the language. As a rule, concepts such as righteousness, wickedness, love, truth and law are feminine. Wisdom fits
Wisdom’s Cry (vv. I-5) In Proverbs 7, we read of the harlot going out into the streets to seduce a young man. Here in chapter 8, Wisdom is also gone out into the highways and byways, calling to the simple and the fool alike. Thus we have contradictory messages in the public arena; both are vying for the affections of men! In John 7:37, we find Christ, the Wisdom of God, calling to the sons of men, “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink!” So it is today. The public arena is the scene of competing voices. Men must make a choice and, as we shall see, there are far-reaching consequences to the choice which one makes! Beloved, let us not forget our responsibility to confront men in the streets and public places with their great need to chose Christ. Evil seeks daily to entice them and the stakes are high! Wisdom’s Speech (vv. 6-9) Again, in contrast to the deceitful words of the harlot, Wisdom personified speaks excellent things, right things—the truth. In fact, wickedness is an abomination to his lips! Surely this speaks of the One whose enemies had to conclude: “Never man spake like this man” (Jn. 7:46). His disciples, too, expressed the fact that there was something wonderful about His words. We often read statements like: “Thou hast the words of eternal life” and “neither was guile found in His mouth” and “Did not our heart burn within us as He talked with us by the way?” These indicate that “all the words of his mouth are in righteousness.” Do we love to listen to His voice? Are we availing ourselves daily of the vast treasury of His words found throughout the Word of God? Wisdom’s Reward (vv. I0-21) You are in the public places and you hear Wisdom’s speech. If you positively respond to what you hear, what
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CHRIST THE WISDOM OF GOD
then? The clear implication is that you will never regret embracing the wonderful words of Wisdom personified. There are great rewards involved here. The benefits are contrasted with items that are given great value in the world. We read that Wisdom is better than rubies (v. 11) and better than gold (v. 19). It is important to pay attention to the personal pronouns used in this section, I, me and my being particularly dominant. This shows us that the greatest reward is to know Wisdom as a Person: “I love them that love Me; and those who seek Me early will find Me” (v. 17). Getting to know this wonderful Person is reward in and off itself (see Jn. 17:3), and especially knowing that such a wonderful Person actually loves us! Other rewards include such things as: good counsel, sound judgment, leadership ability, and moral strength to do what is right. In a world of confusion, these bring stability and strength to those who embrace Wisdom! Wisdom and the Creation (vv. 22-31) Before us in these verses we see clearly the blessed eternal Son of God, in what Arno C. Gaebelein calls “a great prelude to the incarnation.” Here wisdom is represented as dwelling with God from all eternity. Of course, God— whom Scripture calls “the only wise God” (1 Tim. 1:17)— never existed without the attribute of wisdom. Here we have, then, the One of whom it was said: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). What was their relationship like? Wisdom tells us: “I was daily His delight,” and who can read this without being reminded of Luke 3:22? There the Father breaks the silence of heaven and expresses once more His delight in the Son of His love: “This is My beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased” or “in whom is all My delight”! As well as being the delight of the Father, He was also co-Creator, as the NIV renders verse 30, “I was the craftsman at His side.” Again our minds go back to John 1:3, “All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Yet perhaps the most staggering statement in this amazing passage is found in verse 31, “…and My delights were with the sons of men,” His delight was so great, that it caused Him to lay aside His glory and leave His eternal dwelling place to become a man and redeem man by the death on the cross. Such was His delight in the sons of men! Wisdom and its Consequences (vv. 32-36) As we confront the world in the highways and by-ways by wisdom personified or Christ the Wisdom of God, there are eternal consequences to the choice each individual makes concerning Him! “Whoso findeth me findeth life” (v. 35) or as the apostle John later would put it, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.” In contrast, we read, “He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (v. 36). Again let us allow John the apostle to clarify that statement: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” For those of us that have responded to Wisdom’s cry and delight in His words, the future looks bright. Sadly for many in the world the future instead looks bleak. Should we not then renew our efforts to take the message of Christ back to the public places. The harlots and purveyors of evil never seem to rest in their onslaught to capture the hearts of men with their deadly message. Is it not time to rise up and work?
WISDOM EXCELS THEM ALL Charles Wesley Wisdom divine! who tells the price Of wisdom’s costly merchandise? Wisdom to silver we prefer, And gold is dross compared to her.
Her hands are filled with length of days, True riches, and immortal praise— Riches of Christ on all bestowed, And honor that descends from God.
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Happy the man who wisdom gains; Thrice happy who his Guest retains; He owns—and shall forever own— Wisdom, and Christ, and heaven are one.
GOODSEED “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand…” (Eccl. 11:6).
VIA 2005 IS READY! Now available in both English and Spanish elievers in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, have readied another year’s edition of the beautifully prepared and biblically sound gospel booklet, Via. This useful magazine (24 digest-size pages) is available in both English and Spanish. In a recent letter, David Vanstone reports:
The total distribution (for 2004) is less than last year’s buoyant numbers. Just over 550,000 magazines have left our warehouse to be used by believers throughout North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, Venezuela and elsewhere. Eighty percent were English and 20% were Spanish. A good supply of volumes 31 and 33 is still on hand…. The new English magazine, volume 34 is now ready. As with recent editions, this volume is colorful, very attractive in its overall presentation and true to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. An article entitled The Passion of the Christ is sure to catch the interest of many who viewed Mel Gibson’s best selling movie in 2004. This article forms part of a cluster of stories dealing with the death of Christ. The True Way to God gives the testimony of a North American Indian and is valuable for presenting the gospel to our native people. Overall, Volume 34 contains a well-rounded collection of articles that will appeal to all ages and walks of life. Spanish Volume 3 has…been assembled by Donald Alves of Venezuela, has a true Latin American flavor. It too has a story on La Pasion de Cristo. The chart Los Dos Caminos (Two Roads) forms the center spread.
Distribution Policy Via is intended to be a free resource that Christians can use in reaching a perishing world with the gospel. You can use it in mass distribution or in specialized applications. We’ll gladly send you whatever quantities you can prayerfully use. You will not be billed for these magazines because they are supplied through the gifts of the Lord’s people. Since many of you are interested in knowing, the actual cost of printing and shipping within North America is about 12¢ Canadian per copy. The exact cost of shipping varies with each order. Volume 34 is packaged with 720 per box. Spanish volume 3 has 900 per box. Full, part or multiple boxes may be ordered. Order Information Main distribution: Box 551, Portage la Prairie, MB Canada R1N 3B9 Phone: 204-857-8435 Fax: 204-857-7728 Email: ViaMagazine@mts.net United States: Rick and Joanne Zahnow 1718 Deerfield Drive, Fergus Falls, MN 56537-4321 Phone: 218-736-3028 Email: email@example.com
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Please call for special pick-up sites in Toronto, SW Ontario, and the Vancouver, BC, area.
L O O K AT H I M
THE FELLOWSHIP OF TEARS God the Son has a face that has been wet with human tears. L. W. G. Alexander “
esus wept.” More wonderful words than these are nowhere to be found in Scripture. The verb translated “wept” is unique in its employment here, not found elsewhere. Literally it is, “Jesus shed tears.” These were tears of sympathy with the bereaved—heaven’s gems sparkling on the cheeks of Emmanuel, God with us, revealing to mankind the heart of the Eternal. The Lord stood by the tomb where a loved and only brother had been laid, and where two brokenhearted sisters mourned him. Could He not have prevented this sorrow? Yes. Could He have not come earlier and robbed death of its triumph? Yes. But this sorrow was permitted for the glory of God. In one sense the words of the sisters were true: “Lord, if Thou hadst been here my brother had not died!” Death cannot abide His presence. Here, then, we find it clearly taught that God permits death and sorrow to come upon His loved ones that He may be glorified thereby. This is a fact worthy of deep pondering. Had Lazarus not died, these words would never have been written, “Jesus shed tears.” Had Lazarus not died, these silent witnesses to the anguish that tore the Saviour’s heart in view of human loss and sorrow would never have flowed. Had Lazarus not died, this special revelation of the heart of God would have never been granted to men to support them in the hour of anguish and sorrow. The death of Lazarus has enriched the race with a vision of God, the glory of which can only be discerned through tear-dimmed eyes. These sisters had seen the Lord Jesus often. They had ministered to His wants. They had listened to His words. They loved to welcome Him to their home and to gaze upon His face. He brought the sunshine of heaven with Him, and diffused its peace around. They rejoiced with
Him, and He rejoiced with them. He touched them in their joy; can He touch them also in their sorrow? They had seen that face radiant with holy joy; they must see it likewise clouded with anguish and behold the teardrops coursing down. Thus would He teach them, and us, how to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:15). We reach a common bond in the brotherhood of tears. I weep with my brother at morn; he weeps with me before nightfall. May the tears of the Son of God at the tomb of Lazarus not appeal to our hearts in vain! He has placed a holy dignity on tears. The tears of the Lord are all the more wonderful as we contemplate the fact that He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead and restore him to these sisters, thrilling their hearts with unexpected joy. Not for them alone, therefore, were these tears shed. They were shed to assure our hearts that He sees and understands and sympathizes with us. Of nothing are we better assured from Scripture than that the Lord is still able to enter into the sorrows of His people, as He did during the days of His flesh, to sympathize with them in bereavement, and to send them divine succor from on high. To this very end did He suffer when here below. “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest….” (Heb. 2:17). The words of the angels to the disciples after His ascension were: “This same Jesus…” (Acts 1:11). He sits on the throne of God, having been absent in person from our world for two thousand years. But these words prove that He is unchanged, that He abides the “same Jesus.” True it is that He now is where tears can never flow. But the compassion that caused Him to shed tears in the days of His flesh remains unchanged, and by the Spirit He draws near to assure our hearts of His sympathy. And He promises that He shall soon wipe your tears away as well.
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THE RECENT TSUNAMI brought with it a tidal wave of people questioning the God of the Bible. In one form or other these were the words on a million lips: How could a God of love allow a wave to sweep away thousands and leave millions more to mourn in the wreckage of their shattered lives?
Death and destruction daily sweep across the lives of millions. Ten thousand children a day die of starvation in India. AIDS is wiping out a whole generation in Africa. Genocide decimates country after country. But when a horrific event like the recent tsunami hits—complete with graphic video footage—we all feel especially vulnerable and seek answers to the seemingly random tragedies of life. Is Someone at the controls? Or is this planet plunging through space, careening from one senseless calamity to another? Is it a flight of folly, without purpose? There are things we don’t know and we shouldn’t try to bluff our way through. We are not God and do not understand many of His ways with men. Better to sit and mourn in silence with this world’s Jobs than to say hurtful (and often untrue) things, as his “miserable comforters” tried to do. One of the most encouraging truths to be gained from the book of Job is that God does not remain silent during times of tragedy. We can be sure He is speaking directly to untold millions at this very moment. Let us pray that the world may listen and respond to His compassionate and convincing words to their hearts. But there are some very important things we do know. We know that, whatever the seeming evidence to the contrary, God is a God of love: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love…” (1 Jn 4:16). Not only do the words of Scripture declare it, but the death of the Lord Jesus proved it (Jn. 3:16). And, even though personal catastrophes strike all of us, our experience also affirms His loving care. We who believe the Bible know as well that no person has a life independent of God. He gives it in His grace, one breath at a time. As Jeremiah surveyed the wreckage of Jerusalem through his tears, he exclaimed: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22). We were “born in sin” so every day given to us is completely undeserved. Every time we sin we bring upon ourselves a sentence of immediate death. Thus every moment we live is by grace alone. We know that God is not alone in the spirit world. Though sovereign, He has allowed a measure of freedom of action to His creatures. These creatures include a super-human spirit, “which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon” (Rev. 9:11). Both the Hebrew Abaddon and the Greek Apolluon mean “Destroyer.” What we see around us is the wreckage of a massive civil war which shall rage until God makes the Lamb’s enemies “the footstool of His feet.” It is God’s intention to banish sin, sorrow and suffering from the universe entirely, but He has something He must do first. We know that God is presently engaged in a massive rescue operation in this world. Sometimes, like a lifeguard, He must use violent means to bring those who would struggle against Him to the point when they finally give up. Remember that He is not seeking those who naturally trust Him and willingly rest in His arms. He is seeking to save those at enmity with Him. He must disarm them first and leave them no other hope but He Himself. Some day millions (perhaps billions) will thank God for war, cancer, prison—yes, and this tsunami—because it was the very circumstance He used to bring them to Himself. Such times as these call the people of God to be ready to pray, especially for the believers strategically located on the ground. We should be ready to witness to the overarching plan and love of God. But we also should be ready to practically help: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Subsequent pages will show you how. JABE NICHOLSON
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Reports and Opportunities INDIA A land of more than a billion, and soon to surpass China in population, India is a land of dire need in every way. In spite of growing persecution, many Christians are resolute in spreading the gospel to all. They see the tsunami as another opportunity for good works linked with evangelism. Echoes writes: An excellent report has been produced by Ron Penny with several pictures of a visit made to the devastated areas by a Workers Together Team. If you would like to see this, visit the website that they have created to read this report:
MALAYSIA Eric Kirton (UK) reports: About fifty have died and about 90 are missing. Malaysia was spared the worst as we were sheltered by the island of Sumatra. Penang and Lankawi were the areas hit in Malaysia. The government is well prepared and handling the situation efficiently. No one I know of personally has been affected and I do not think any assistance is needed in Malaysia. MALDIVES We have no report from these devastated Muslim islands closed to the gospel.
THAILAND The assembly service agencies report: “Peter & Peggy Ferry have just returned to Phuket, so will be able to give first-hand information about the situation there, and plan to get involved in helping in the rebuilding phase. Once we have definite news we will be able to see how best we can help.”
We have had other reports from different parts of India and it seems the immediate relief operation is going well. Koshy Zachariah from Chennai reports that the needs in all places affected is for rebuilding or repair of houses, and means of livelihood which may have been destroyed. Therefore the long term rebuilding phase will be very important. They are assessing this and will produce a project plan. Winifred Jacob, at Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu, reports from her area that 300 lives were lost and 30,000 were left homeless. She said that no believers lost their lives, nor was there any loss of life among believers among two other groups of Christians a short distance away. When she wrote, the death toll in the state of Tamil Nadu was 14,500 but we know it has risen since then.
ANDAMAN ISLANDS & NICOBAR Echoes: Contact has been made with an evangelist in Andaman. He describes severe devastation and many deaths. He and his family and the believers in Port Blair were safe.…He referred to 25,000 deaths in the islands, larger than was being reported…He has some 30 refugees living with him and is anxious to offer facilities to the believers from the more southerly Nicobar Islands which have been harder hit. We are contacting our colleagues in India to try and get some relief funding to these people….
Ernest Poon (Malaysia Missionary Services) writes: “Yesterday, I was able to speak to brother Ramalingam from the AMK assembly in Singapore. Our brother has had a good ministry going for years in one of the small island in Nias (a cluster of islands).…I was told while the believers were having a prayer meeting in the morning, they felt an unusually strong earth tremor. Straight away the Christian fishermen…quickly gathered the whole Christian community (about 500 families) to construct small rafts…so when the tidal wave came they were all ready to ride the waves. They spent almost 40 hours in rough seas. Praise the Lord, all the families were saved, with only minor injuries, but the school, church and houses were all gone. Brother Ramalingam plans to visit the Nias Island soon, to help to rebuild the communities. The Singapore assemblies are coming forward with very generous gifts ready to help.”
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Reports and Opportunities MYANMAR (BURMA) In the Top 30 countries that persecute Christians, this land of 50 million has been turned into a prison by the military. Yet there is a hunger for the gospel among many Buddhist monks! Echoes writes: “From our contacts there we have heard that there has been considerable destruction with whole villages being destroyed. Due to internal circumstances, information is emerging slowly, but Christians there are seeing if they can give some practical support, and help to many who have lost so much. Pray that they may find means of doing this. If they can use appropriate help, this will be sent.”
INDONESIA Preliminary estimates by the World Bank for repairing Indonesian damage, especially Aceh and northern Sumatra: $4.5 billion. About 1.3 million buildings were destroyed. It’s estimated as many as 7,700 children may have lost both their parents. Future aid efforts need to pay particular attention to orphans. Indonesia, composed of 17,000 islands (4,000 inhabited) is listed as the world’s fourth most populous nation (213 million) and the largest Muslim country. In recent years violent persecution, especially against Christians, has broken out across the land. The following report was received by CMML from an American worker in Java: “We grieve as we watch the TV news where they continually show coverage of rotting corpses of the quake victims. With a very limited supply of machinery they are struggling to dig graves fast enough… “The island of Aceh has been under military lockdown for over a year and declared off-limits to foreigners after it sent in troops to crush the Free Aceh Movement. The ban on SRI LANKA foreign aid agencies has now been lifted… This large island 50 miles SE of India However, there are still struggles—aid work(formerly Ceylon) has a population of almost ers must register with the government before 20 million. About 72% Buddhist; 12% Hindu; 8% entering Aceh to monitor their movements… Muslim. War-torn through Tamil effort to establish an “In the first contact from the town of Meuindependent Tamil state. In spite of growing opposition to laboh (among the first hit by the tsunami), an the gospel, and a high rate of Christian emigration, the number e-mail from local police said that only 20 perof evangelicals has risen more than five-fold in the past 25 years. Sri Lanka cent of the town still stood. was one of the hardest hit by the tsunami with untold damage and loss of life. “The island of Nias (one of the few with a A UK assembly missionary wrote to Echoes: “Please pray for the assembly strong Christian presence), was under water relief effort. Next week, God willing, we will be sending four trucks with essen- for two days. Most people were saved as they tial supplies to the south and east of Sri-Lanka. We will be distributing these ran for the foothills, but they had no water or supplies to Christian families. Pray for the safety of eight assembly members food or communication for two days. The who will be travelling in trucks with these supplies as there are many incidents causalities were limited and stories of miracles of hijackings/thefts, etc., in these remote areas. Pray also for the next stage of continue to come out of this island which was the assembly relief effort, which is the reconstruction stage. We have identified the closest to the earthquake epicenter. a plot of land that is for sale in the area we are looking at, and we are praying “Pray that the Lord will use this to open about it. This Friday we are having a special prayer meeting at Bethesda to doors into the Minangkabau and Acehnees pray for our reconstruction effort.” people groups.” www.uplook.org / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
HOW CAN WE HELP?
If you say, “Be ye warmed and filled…what doth it profit?” (Jas. 2:16). Staff Report here are important issues to consider whenever we think about giving financial aid. We want to be good stewards, using our money (really the Lord’s money) in such a way as to yield maximum eternal benefit. 1. We must give. The Scripture is plain about that: “Give to him that asketh thee” (Mt. 5:42). But Peter shows us that we don’t always give what they ask of us (Acts 3:6), especially if we can give something better, as he did. However we ought to be generous in our giving since the Lord has been so generous with us, and “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Lk. 12:48). 2. We must give wisely. You can ruin a good ministry or a good man by funneling funds from abroad through his hands. In countries where some live on the equivalent of a few hundred dollars a year, money becomes a powerful instrument for great good or great evil. We also know that such tragedies that catch the attention and sympathy of the West attract con-men and opportunists by the thousands. Funds also given in good faith often end up lining the pockets of myriad government officials in countries where graft is a way of life. It is generally unwise (and often illegal) to send US or Canadian funds directly to workers overseas. 3. We have some great resources in assembly service groups and local workers on the ground. Unless specified for office and operating costs (always a good idea to add some in our giving), 100% OF ALL FUNDS SENT to ministries like MSC, CMML, and Echoes for missionary use goes to the designated workers or ministries. I daresay that this is unique in the world of charitable giving. If you or your local church are interested in giving to those affected by the tsunami, you should know that Echoes (UK), MSC
(Canada), CMML (US), and assembly service groups in Australia and New Zealand are co-ordinating both evaluation and placement of funds to the affected areas, in order to minimize overlap. Here is some contact information: Christian Mission in Many Lands, Inc. PO Box 13 Spring Lake, NJ 07762 Phone: 732-449-8880 Fax: 732-974-0888 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.cmmlusa.org MSC Canada 509–3950 14th Avenue Markham, ON L3R 0A9 Phone: 905-947-0468 Fax: 905-947-0352 Email: email@example.com Website: www.msc.on.ca Echoes of Service 124 Wells Road Bath, England BA2 3AH Phone: 01225-310-893 Fax: 01225-480-134 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.echoes.org.uk Gospel Missions of India, an assembly sponsored ministry also has set up a relief fund. They may be contacted at: Gospel Missions of India PO Box 1043, Warren, MI 48090
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Q U O TA B L E S
FAMILY PRAYERS Just a sampling of prayer and praise requests from tsunami victims.
Please pray for a sister Pushpa; she has lost her eightmonth child, who was swept out of her arms.
Steve Rusk (ND) received this email from a brother Anand: “We heard from Christopher today. He is staying with brother Sunny. Brother Sunny’s house is the only house surviving there (Andamans) among the believers, and all the believers are at present staying at their place. Most of them have lost all their belongings. There is a shortage of food for the people. Many islands have not yet been reached. The dead bodies are still floating on the water.”
DELIVERANCE! I contacted brother L. Rajendran of Tiruvarur near Velankanni and Nagapattinam (India), where casualties are very high. You will be glad to know that none of our brethren have lost their lives and all are safe.…December 26th being the Lord’s Day, all our brothers and sisters from fishing communities who lived by the seaside at Kanyakumari were up on the mainland to worship the Lord. We were much worried about one of our brothers, Selvakumar who is laboring in Campel Bay in Greater Nicobar and we have since received the joyous news of the protecting hand of our mighty God in keeping him and his family safe. —D. RAJASINGH SIMON
AND OTHERS… Don Robertson (CA) writes: A brother named Charles lives in Vauniya, 100 km from the [Sri Lankan] coast. He was not directly affected by the destruction. But Charles and my friend Andreas formed a team to visit assemblies along the eastern coast this past summer. During their evangelistic outreach they witnessed from house to house where the fishermen live. All these houses are now gone; many of the fishermen who heard the gospel have died. A week before Christmas, Charles traveled by bicycle to Mullilttivu (northeastern shore of Sri Lanka) with five brothers. They conducted gospel meetings…. The believers live only a couple of hundred yards from the shore, just meters above sea level. One brother, a fisherman who lived in a seaside hut, watched in horror as his wife and eleven children were swept out to sea…He lost everyone and everything. Please pray for Charles as he attempts to return to the area with literature, food, clothes and money. Travel is difficult due to the damage, but also because of the Tamil Tigers (rebel forces). Permits are required to travel into this region.… The towns of Trincomalee and Batticaloa are south of Mullilttivu and are under government control. A brother, Murelli has been training leaders in some of the small churches along the coast. He reports that in his town, Trincomalee, the believers escaped harm. But in Batticaloa six families have lost their houses and are currently living in the assembly building. These believers were spared from death because they were in the meeting at the time the tsunami engulfed the shore. Although they lost everything but the clothes on their back, they escaped with their lives. Many of their neighbors died. Please pray for the believers in Batticaloa who will need to rebuild their homes and lives. Charles and Murelli write: “Pray that the saints will not lose heart and that they will see opportunities for the gospel and seize them. Pray also that their love may abound to others around them who have lost family members and friends.” Pray for brothers Kanadasamy and Maniccam who lost everything.
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G R A C E AT W O R K
NOT READY TO GO AT 96
“The things which happened…have turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Bill Mierstra was walking home from class at New Tribes Mission in Durham, Ontario one day when someone came running out of one of the apartments yelling, “Tom’s having a heart attack!” I ran into the apartment to find Tom laying on the floor, holding his chest and in terrible pain. Sitting next to him was his wife Laurie who is a nurse, and she was trying to check his heart rate with a stethoscope. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. How could this be possible? Tom was just in his early thirties! They had a young family of three children and one on the way. Here they were, both in tears and terribly upset about what was happening. Quickly I got the car and we put Tom into the back and raced to the hospital. Needless to say, there was quite a flurry of activity when we got to the emergency room. In the confusion of the situation I thought it best for me to get out of the way and so I started to walk down one of the hallways, praying for Tom and asking the Lord to somehow spare his life. At the end of the hallway there was a doorway and standing there was an elderly gentleman holding on to a walker. “Are you my ride?” he asked. I told him I wasn’t but assured him that his ride would be there shortly. I introduced myself to him and he told me his name was Lawson. “How old do you think I am?” he asked. That question always makes me nervous; I’m never sure how to respond to it without offending the person. I finally told him I thought he must be in his 70s. He smiled and told me that he was 96 years old. I told him I was so impressed by his age because he was in such good shape and was still so clear minded. Then I told him, “Lawson, I believe more has happened in this old world in your lifetime then ever in its history.” He agreed, and we talked about going from horse and buggy in his early days to space travel these days and discussed many of the other changes that have taken place over the past years. Then he said, “I don’t care if I see any more changes. I don’t care if I drop dead right now.”
“That’s fine, Lawson, but where would you go?” “I don’t know,” he responded. I asked him if he would like to know. “Yes,” he replied. For the next few minutes I had the opportunity of sharing what the Word of God said about his need and what God in His grace had provided for him through the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. With tears in his eyes, he leaned back against the wall and said, “I have never heard that in my life.” And then after a few seconds of silence he continued, “I believe that is the truth!” Then his face lit up and he exclaimed, “That means l’m ready to go!” I wasn’t sure if he meant that he was ready to go back to the nursing home or to go to heaven. So I asked him. With deep feeling he replied, “I could die right now. Jesus is my Saviour and I could die right now!” We were both so excited and I shared some more of the promises of God’s Word with him, then told him that I would visit him soon in the nursing home. While all this going on, I was wondering what was happening with Tom. So I said goodbye to Lawson and quickly headed back down to the emergency room. Just as I got there, Tom and Laurie came out of the room laughing and just a little embarrassed. I couldn’t believe it! I asked them what had happened. “You won’t believe it, Bill,” Tom said, “but they think I just had a bad case of indigestion.” We all laughed and then I immediately realized that God had allowed one of His children a bad scare so a 96-year-old man in that hospital could hear the best news in the world. Excitedly I told Tom and Laurie what had just occurred down the hall where Lawson had trusted Christ as his Saviour. We all left that hospital marveling at God’s timing and His grace in putting us all in the right place at the right time—-even using what initially looked like a desperate situation to bring a soul into the family of God. Lawson went back to the nursing home. I visited him there a few times. He went home to be with the Lord about six weeks later.
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THINKING ABOUT CHRIST Who knows what the Lord can do with this magazine? J. C. Ryle e ought to think of Christ because of the office He fills between God and man. He is the eternal Son of God, through whom alone the Father can be known, approached, and served. He is the Mediator between God and man, through whom alone we can be reconciled to God, pardoned, justified, and saved. He is the divine Person whom God the Father has sealed to be the giver of everything that man requires for his soul. In His favor is life. There is no person of such immense importance to all men. All men ought to think of Christ because of what He has done. He kindly set His thoughts on humanity when man was lost, bankrupt, and helpless, and undertook to save sinners. In the fullness of time, He was born of Mary, and lived thirty-three years in this evil world. At the end of that, He shed His life-blood to pay man’s debt to God. He was made a curse, that man might be blessed. He died, that man might live. He was counted a sinner, that man might be counted righteous. If Christ had not died, we would await the wrath of God.
Good Reasons to Think about Christ Time is too short to set down all the reasons why men ought to think of Christ. Christ is the grand subject of the Bible; Christ is the great object to whom all Christians give honor; Christ is the end and substance of the ordinances; Christ is the great source of light, peace and hope. There is not a spark of spiritual comfort that has ever illumined a sinner’s heart that has not come from Christ. There is no one in whom the world has such a deep interest. There is no one to whom all the world owes so much—high and low, rich and poor, old and young, gentle and simple—all ought to think about Christ.
Common Thoughts of Many about Christ There were many strange thoughts about Christ when He was on earth. There are still many strange and wrong thoughts about Christ now that He is in heaven. The thoughts of some people about Christ are simply blasphemous. They are not ashamed to deny His divinity. They refuse to believe the miracles recorded of Him. They tell us that He ought to be ranked with great reformers and philosophers, like Socrates, Seneca, and Confucius, but no higher. There is not the slightest comparison to be made between Christ and any other teacher that ever lived. The difference between Him and others is a gulf that cannot be spanned. It is akin to the difference between gold and clay, between the sun and a candle. Nothing can account for Christ and Christianity but the belief that Christ is God. The thoughts of some men about Christ are mean and low. They consider that if they do their best, and live moral lives, and go to church pretty regularly, Christ will deal mercifully with them at last, and make up any deficiencies. Thoughts such as these utterly fail to explain why Christ died on the cross. They take the crown off Christ’s head. They overthrow the whole system of the gospel, and pull up all its leading doctrines by the roots. They exalt man to an absurdly high position; as if he could pay some part of the price of his soul. They rob man of all the comforts of the gospel, and place the cross in a degraded and inferior position. Thoughts of True Christians about Christ True Christians have high thoughts about Christ. They see in Him a wondrous Person, far above all other beings in His nature—a Person who is at one and the same time perfect God, mighty to save, and perfect man, able to feel. They see in Him an all-powerful Redeemer, who has paid their countless debts to God, and delivered their souls from guilt and hell.
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THINKING ABOUT CHRIST
They see in Him an almighty Friend, who left heaven for them, died for them, rose again for them that He might save them forevermore. They see in Him an almighty Physician, who took away their sins in His own blood, put His own Spirit in their hearts, delivered them from the power of sin, and gave them the right to become God’s children. Happy are they who have such thoughts! True Christians have trustful thoughts of Christ. They daily lean the weight of their souls on Him by faith for pardon and peace. They daily cling to Him by faith, as a child in a crowd clings to its mother’s hand. They daily look to Him for grace, comfort, and strength. Christ is the Rock under their feet and the staff in their hand, their ark and their city of refuge, their sun and their shield, their health and their light, their life, their hope, and their all. Happy are they who have such thoughts! True Christians have EXPERIENTIAL thoughts of Christ. The things they think of Him they do not merely think with their heads. They have not learned them from schools or picked them up from others. They think them because they have found them true by their own experience. They have proved them, tasted them, tried them. They think out what they have felt for themselves. There is all the difference in the world between knowing that a man is a doctor while we never have occasion to employ him, and knowing him as “our own” doctor because we have gone to him for medicine. Just the same, there is a wide difference between head knowledge and experimental thoughts about Christ. Happy are they who have such thoughts. Christians have HOPEFUL thoughts about Christ. They expect to receive from Him far more than they have ever yet received. They look forward to Christ’s Second Coming, and expect that then they will see far more than they have seen, and enjoy far more than they have yet enjoyed. They have the earnest of an inheritance now, but they hope for a fuller possession when this world has gone. Some of them know more of Him and some of them know less. But all true Christians have learned something about Him. They do not always find such thoughts equally fresh and green in their minds. They have their winter as well as their summer, and their low tide as well as their high water. In other things they may be unable to agree and see alike. But they all agree in their thoughts about Christ. One word they can all say, which is the same in every tongue: that word is Hallelujah! Praise to the Lord Christ! One answer they can all make, which in every tongue is equally the same: that word is “Amen,” so be it.
by E. M. Govan
You ask me why I see no charm nor glory In this world’s pleasures, or its wealth and fame? And why I love that Galilean story Of One who died upon a cross of shame? It is because my soul hath known its sinning, The grief and darkness of that cry undone, And at that cross has found a new beginning— Life through the death of that dear dying One. You ask me why I find no rest or gladness In paths where selfish ease would while my hours? And why I toil where hearts in bitter sadness Lie crushed beneath sin’s fierce o’erwhelming powers? It is because I know life’s thread is slender, But one short hour, one little stretch of road, Then yearns my heart with love divinely tender, To seek the lost and bring them home to God. You ask me why, what gifts I have, what graces, Are poured an offering at His holy feet, And why I brave the cold contemptuous faces Of those who love this world and find it sweet. It is because I see a distant morning When stand God’s sons around His jasper throne; I see bright crowns those holy brows adorning, And I, too, long to hear my Lord’s “Well done.”
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NO PLAN LIKE HIS PLAN
The thing that strikes this author is the seeming audacity of Christ’s plan. H. P. Liddon f it were any merely human plan, we should call it audacity. This audacity is observable, first of all, in the fact that the plan is originally proposed to the world with what might appear to us to be such hazardous completeness. The idea of the kingdom of God issues fully developed from the thought of Christ. Put together the Sermon on the Mount, the Charge to the Twelve Apostles, the Parables of the Kingdom, the Discourse in the Upper Room, and the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and the plan of our Saviour is before you, enunciated with an accent of calm, unfaltering conviction that it will be realized in human history. Generally speaking, an ambitious idea appears at first as a mere outline, and challenges attention in a tentative way. It is put forward inquiringly, timidly, that it may be completed by the suggestions of friends or modified by the criticism of opponents. The highest genius knows with what difficulty a promising project is launched out of the domain of abstract speculation into the region of practical life. Social reformers tell us despondingly that facts make sad havoc of their fairest theories, and that schemes which were designed to brighten and to beautify the life of nations are either forgotten altogether, or, like the Republic of Plato, are remembered only as famous samples of the impracticable. For whenever a great idea affecting the wellbeing of society is permitted to force its way into the world of facts, it is liable to be compressed, exaggerated, disfigured, mutilated, caricatured. In the first French Revolution some of the most humane sociological projects were distorted into becoming the very animating principles of extraordinary barbarities. Now Jesus Christ our Lord was in the true and very highest sense of the term a social reformer; yet He fully proclaimed the whole of His social plan before He began to realize it. Had He been merely a great Man He would have been more prudent. He would have conditioned His
design; He would have tested it; He would have developed it gradually; and then refashioned it before finally proposing it to the world. His actual course must have seemed one of reckless folly unless the event had shown it to be the dictate of more than human wisdom. He speaks as One who is sure of the faultlessness of His design; He is certain that no human obstacle can balk its realization. He produces it without effort, without reserve, without exaggeration. He is calm because He is in possession of the future, and sees His way clearly through its tangled maze. There is no intimation of need for modification. He did not, for instance, first aim at a political success and then cover His failure by giving a religious turn to His previous manifestoes; He did not begin as a religious teacher and afterwards aspire to convert His increasing religious influence into political capital. He develops with majestic assurance, with decisive rapidity, the integral features of His work; His teaching centers more and more upon Himself as its central subject, but He nowhere retracts, or modifies, or speaks or acts as would one who feels that he is dependent on events or agencies which he cannot control. A poor woman pays Him respect at a feast, and He simply announces that the act will be told as a memorial of her throughout the world (Mt. 26:13); He bids His apostles do all things whatever He had commanded them; He promises them His Spirit as a guide into all necessary truth, but He invests them with no such discretionary powers as might imply that His design would need revision under other circumstances, or could be capable of improvement. He calmly turns the glance of His thought on the long and checkered future which lies clearly displayed before Him, in the immediate foreground of which is His own humiliating death. He speaks as One who sees beyond the most distant possibilities, and who knows full well that His work is indestructible. “The gates of hell,” He calmly observes, “shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18); “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” But has the plan of Jesus Christ been carried out? The
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NO PLAN LIKE HIS PLAN
Church of Christ is a living answer to that question. Glance for a moment at the history of the Church from the days of the apostles until now. What is it but a history of gradual, unceasing self-expansion. Compare the Church which sought refuge and which prayed in the upper chamber at Jerusalem with the Church of which Paul is the pioneer and champion in the latter portion of the Acts of the Apostles, or with the Church to which he refers, as already making its way throughout the world in his epistles. But you say, this representation of the history of the Church may suffice for an ideal picture, but it is not history. Is not the verdict of history a less encouraging one? First of all, do Church annals present this spectacle of an ever-widening extension? What is to be said of the spread of great and vital heresies? Of divisions in the Church? Of the rising tide of Islam? Of rationalism and atheism firmly rooted in lands once dominated by the gospel? We Christians know full well what we have to expect from the human heart in its natural state; while on the other hand we have been told that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of the Redeemer. But, in speculating on the future destinies of the Church, this hopeful confidence of a sound faith may be seconded by the calm estimate of reflective reason. Modern unbelief may be deemed less formidable when we observe its moral impotence for all constructive purposes. Its strength and genius lie only in the direction of destruction. It has shown no sort of power to build up any spiritual fabric or system which, as a shelter and a discipline for the hearts and lives of men, can take the place of that which it seeks to destroy. Leaving some of the deepest, most legitimate, and most ineradicable needs of the human soul utterly unsatisfied, modern unbelief can never really hope permanently to establish a popular “religion of humanity.” For this reason modern unbelief, although formidable, is not so full of menace to the future of the kingdom of our Lord as may sometimes be thought by the nervous timidity of Christian piety. This will appear more certain if from considering the extent of Christ’s realm we turn to the intensive side of His work among men. For indeed the depth of our Lord’s work in the soul of man has always been more wonderful than its breadth. The moral intensity of the life of a sincere Christian is a clearer illustration of the reality of the reign of Christ, and of the success of His plan, than is the territorial range of any Christian empire. “The King’s daughter is all glorious within.” This hidden work tells the true story. Christianity has conferred a new sanction on civil and
domestic relationships among men, and it certainly infused a new life into the most degraded societies. Still this was not its primary aim; it was directed not to this world, but to the next. How complete at this moment is the reign of Christ in the soul of a sincere Christian! Christ is not a limited ruler; He is emphatically an absolute Monarch. His rule is welcomed by His subjects. High above the claims of human teachers the tremendous self-assertion of Christ echoes on from age to age: “I am the Truth.” And from age to age the Christian mind responds by a life-long endeavor “to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” But if Christ is Lord of the Christian’s thought, He is also Lord of the Christian’s affections. Beauty provokes love, and Christ is the highest moral beauty. He does not merely rank as an exponent of the purest morality. He is absolute virtue embodied in a human life, and vividly set forth before our eyes in the story of the Gospels. As such, He claims to reign over the affections of men. He secures the first place in the heart of every true Christian. To have taken the measure of His beauty and yet not to love Him is, in a Christian’s judgment, to be self-condemned. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” Ruling the affections of the Christian, Christ is also Master of the Christian will. When He has tamed its native stubbornness He teaches it day by day a more and more pliant accuracy of movement in obedience to Himself. In fact, He is not merely its rule of action but its very motive power; each act of devotion and self-sacrifice of which it is capable is but an extension of the energy of Christ’s own moral life. “Without Me,” He says to His servants, “ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5); and with Paul His servants reply, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Christ is Christianity. Detach Christianity from Christ and it vanishes before your eyes into intellectual vapor. For it is of the essence of Christianity that, hour by hour, the Christian should live in conscious, felt, sustained relationship to the ever-living Author of his creed and life. “I live,” exclaims the Apostle, “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” The time approaches when it will be seen that the purposes of Christ have triumphed. Then in that day the whole universe shall see that the plan He revealed when He appeared to be a common laborer from Nazareth was in fact the plan of God Himself. And in that day “…at the name of Jesus every knee [shall] bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and…every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
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DIGGINGIN ARCHAEOLOGY WITNESSES
Caesarea by the Sea
he seaport that was frequently used by Paul on his missionary journeys is slowly yielding its secrets to the archeologists’ careful work. Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital in the land of Palestine for 500 years, was an engineering wonder. In a recent Biblical Archaeology Review article entitled “Caesarea’s Mighty Harbor,” the unnamed author writes: The harbor was formed by two massive breakwaters that extended nearly 16,00 feet into the sea from the shore…. Both breakwaters were wide enough (at 150 and 200 feet respectively) to accommodate warehouses built on top and to give access to ships inside the harbor…. Herod’s men built the breakwaters by laying a series of immense concrete blocks on the sea bottom, forming a chain of artificial islands that were then joined by more conventional masonry. This was made possible by the Roman invention of hydraulic concrete, a mixture of mortar and large particles of pozzolana (which is volcanic sand imported from Italy) pumice and lime. Being three times denser than water, the mixture could harden beneath the ocean surface. The first step in the process of building the breakwaters was to construct 50-foot-long rectangular wooden boxes that were floated into place and then sunk, creating forms for the hydraulic concrete (Sep/Oct 2004 Biblical Archaeology Review, pp. 44-45).
Being a Roman administrative center, Caesarea was the home of Pontius Pilate who, on a holiday visit to Jerusalem at the Passover, condemned the Saviour of the world to crucifixion. A stone engraving with the name Pontivs Pilatvs gives an extra-biblical attestation to his existence. Caesarea was the home of Philip, the evangelist (whose four daughters prophesied, Acts 8:40). Also the home of Cornelius (10:1–11:18) and the opening of the door to the Gentiles. Paul made many visits here, first after his conversion to escape death (Acts 9:30). At the end of his second missionary journey (21:8-15) he sailed from Ephesus to Caesarea; and he also concluded his third missionary journey here (23:23-33). In Acts 23, Paul, through his nephew’s intercession, was saved from an ambush on the road between Jerusalem and Caesarea, being escorted by a phalanx of 200 foot soldiers, 200 spearmen, 70 horsemen and two centurions. It was at this time that Paul gave his defense before the Roman governor, Felix, who trembled at his preaching, but replied, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee” (24:25). No convenient season came, however, and Paul was left bound there for two years. Eventually Paul spoke before Porcius Festus (Felix’s replacement) who deferred judgment until the arrival of Herod Agrippa II. Festus declared Paul mad, but Agrippa sadly declared: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (26:28). Sadly, he turned away even though he had his father’s pathetic example. Agrippa I, died in the theater of this very city (Acts 12:20-23). He was smitten by an angel and died of internal parasites “because he gave not God the glory” (v. 23) when the people flattered him by calling him a god. Although the aforementioned daughters of Philip lived here, when God had a public prophecy to give concerning Paul’s destiny, He brought Agabus from Judea—at least 50 miles’ walk—to deliver it. And so it came to pass. The last sight Paul probably had of the land was looking back from the ship as he left Caesarea harbor to have his case heard by Caesar in Rome (27:1).
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IS HE A WILDERNESS TO YOU? Searching words from the weeping prophet Robert Lee n the first of Jehovah’s messages through Jeremiah, the tender-hearted prophet, and recorded in Jeremiah 2, there are a number of touching questions: “What is wrong in Me?” (v. 5); “Why not inquire of Me?” (v. 6); “The priests ignore Me, why?” (v. 8); “Is there any nation so whimsical as you?” (v. 11); “Why do you act as a spoiled servant?” (v. 14); “Why have you forsaken Me?” (v. 17); “Why do you hanker after Egypt?” (v. 18), etc. The whole of the message is a series of challenging and searching queries. But surely none are so pointed and full of meaning as “Have I become a wilderness unto Israel?” (v. 31). The Lord a wilderness to His redeemed ones? Repeatedly we find in the sacred records that graphic phrase, “all that great and terrible wilderness” (e.g., Deut. 1:19), by which an attempt was made to describe the dreary places Israel had to traverse in their desert journeys. A wilderness is an undesirable place where no one cares to be. Is it not tragic to find suggested here the possibility of the Desire of Nations, the Altogether Lovely One, the Chiefest among Ten Thousand, becoming unattractive and undesired? Yet such is the inference. One of the surest and safest proofs of a growth in grace is an ever-increasing appreciation of the finished work and the glories and beauties of the Lord. Trusting in the Lord should speedily lead to “Delight thyself also in the Lord” (Ps. 37:3). What a suggestive order is to be noticed there. “Trust” then “do good”; not “do good” and then “trust.” No, faith first; then works. But be sure to “do good” after trusting. “Trust in the Lord, and feed on His faithfulness” (RV). That is important. As I ponder and nourish my soul on the faithfulness of God, I soon, very soon, will begin to “delight [my]self also in the Lord.” That means goodbye to the wilderness view of Christ. The wilderness becomes a garden of delights.
The saddest fact of all is that He had become as a wilderness to many of His redeemed ones. Israel stood in that relationship. Not only had they in Egypt passed under the blood for safety, but through the Red Sea for deliverance. He had given them the land flowing with milk and honey for an inheritance. What more could He have done? Though punctilious in the performance of their religious duties, they had become empty formalists, missing and losing the Lord even in His own sanctuary. Neglect is the parent of desert lives. Only too well do we know that the less we pray, the less inclined we become to pray; the less we read the Bible, the less we desire it; and the more we neglect the Holy Book and prayer, the less we desire the Lord, and the further we drift away. Neglecting the daily and devotional study of the Scriptures, and spending less and less time in private prayer, the Lord becomes as a wilderness to us—nothing but a dry, unattractive, and thirsty land where no water is. But wilderness places can blossom again. The wilderness and the solitary place can become places of gladness, and the desert can rejoice and blossom as the rose. One stanza old Dr. Tauler wrote, and it would be well for us to offer it as a prayer to our Lord and Saviour, as follows: As the rose amid the briars Fresh and fair is found, Heedless of the tangled thicket, And the thorns around; As the sunflower ever turning To the mighty sun, With the faithfulness of fealty Following only One—
SO MAKE ME, LORD, TO THEE! In this way we will practically enjoy these two blessed realities: “That in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” “That Christ may be all in all.”
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THROUGH • BUILDING
IN • LIVING
WILL YOU DIE WELL?
“…Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20).
Donald L. Norbie
the quality of one’s life will be revealed. How important it is to live wisely!
he days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years...” (Ps. 90:10, NKJV). A hymn says, “Life at best is very brief.” Compared to eternity, our life is just a little blip on the screen of time. During 2004 a woman died at age 115, the oldest woman in the USA. She was reported as saying before she died, “Dying is so hard. I hope I do it well!” It was not stated whether she was a Christian or not. Kenneth Hildebrand wrote a song years ago in which he said, “If I live well, praise the Lord! If I die well, praise the Lord!” It is possible to die well, at peace with God and man, with a sense of having accomplished the will of God in one’s life. Paul wrote at the close of his life, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:6-7). He was executed for his faith, probably beheaded, in Rome. It was a triumphant entrance into the glory of heaven. Paul died well. The preacher in Ecclesiastes states: “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death better than the day of one’s birth” (7:1). Parents rejoice over the birth of their little one. It is new life, fresh and vigorous, radiant with hope. But who knows how that life will turn out? That baby may grow up, turn to the Lord and live a productive, fruitful life. But that child may go the other way, become a rebel, defying God and man. He may come to death early with a wasted life. What makes the difference? Remember Samson’s last days after a strong beginning. The beginning of a race is important and exciting, but it is the end of the race which will determine who ran well. The day of death is more important than the day of birth. Then
A Confident Death Hear again the words of Paul: “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). He is facing death but he radiates confidence. It is a triumphant cry. He has triumphed in the fight against the devil, the flesh and the world. It has been a fierce battle but he has won. Life has been a marathon race, requiring focus on the goal and strong endurance. Paul has run well and finished the race. He has not compromised God’s truth, obeying it and proclaiming it faithfully. He could exhort Timothy, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). A triumphant life is a faithful life, faithful to the Lord and to His Word. Will we finish life triumphantly as Paul did?
Preparing for Our Passage One needs to prepare for death from the day of his birth. An elder pleaded with young people to give themselves to God early. “Do not waste your life. Do not wait until old age to begin to serve God. Old age is a time of declining health, energy and vision. Make wise choices while young for a fruitful, meaningful life.” Good advice! A wise life will have wise goals. Our Lord urged us, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6:33). The Lord Jesus later said that the first and great commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” (Mt. 22:37). The decision to put God first in one’s life is the most important decision one can make after conversion. It will affect all of one’s other decision-making for eternal good.
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WILL YOU DIE WELL?
This decision to love God above all else will lead one to consecrate himself to God and His service. Paul pleads with believers: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). Years ago at a Bible camp in Minnesota, a young man came to me and said, “I’ve been saved for some time but I have never given myself completely to the Lord. I would like to do that now.” We prayed together and he poured out his heart to God. His life now for over forty years has been a blessing to the people of God. That decision set the course of his life toward God and the things of God. This decision should lead one to a disciplined life. One begins to realize that life is precious; it must not be wasted. Paul said, “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to other, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). Literally he says, “I beat my body and lead it about as a slave.” A disciplined life spells death to the sinful desires of the flesh. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13). All that would encourage the sinful tendencies within must be rejected. Be merciless here; avoid media and influences that arouse the flesh within. The thought life must be brought under Christ’s control, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). It is in the thought life where sin begins (Jas. 1:14-16). Evil thoughts must be banished and one must focus on thoughts of God and His love. A disciplined life will schedule regular times of study, meditation on God’s Word and prayer. There is no short cut to spiritual life and maturity. To love God is to love His Word. “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; for they are ever with me” (Ps. 119:97-98). A disciplined life will use time wisely. The good will need to be put aside for the best. Time will be scheduled with the help of a good calendar. Always the things of God will have priority. Every day will have opportunities which must not be wasted. For a healthy life one must also make room for exercise and relaxation. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time (literally, “buying up the opportunities”), because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16-17).
A godly life will be marked by a good conscience. “Now the purpose [goal] of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Sin must be confessed and put away if one is to maintain a good conscience. Sin will grieve the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30), defile the conscience and rob one of joy. Paul could say, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience” (2 Tim. 1:3). To die well, keep your conscience pure. A forgiving spirit is vital for spiritual health and blessing. An unforgiving, bitter spirit will sour one’s life and defile others. “Pursue peace with all people and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord, looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble and by this many become defiled” (Heb. 12:14-15). During the course of life one is sure at times to be offended by others and to cause offense. We must be forgiven by the Lord and by others; we, in turn, must be forgiving. Pray for the one who has offended you and refuse to cherish your hurts. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). It is sad to see a Christian come to the end of life with a heart loaded with bitterness. A bitter heart can lead to an early death. We who have been forgiven much must learn, by God’s grace, to forgive others. To die well one must be accepting of one’s lot in life. Paul could write, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). At that moment Paul was a prisoner in Rome awaiting trial. Some people are always complaining, unhappy about their work, the climate or their church. With old age will come physical limitations which are hard to accept. One may find his hearing going and his eyesight dimming; his energy is diminished and his aches and pains multiply. Maybe early in life he experienced some disabling handicap. He looks with envy at those who are well. Submission to the trials of life and acceptance is not easy. But to be resentful and to bemoan one’s lot only increases the pain. There are always others who are in worse circumstances. A man who is in a wheelchair is very thankful, saying. “I am so thankful I have the use of my arms. If my spinal injury were higher I would have been a quadriplegic.” His life is marked by thankfulness. To die well one must accept the circumstances of his life and realize God is working in his behalf for his good (Rom. 8:28). And glory lies ahead for the believer. “We are confident, yes, well pleased, rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Dying well means living triumphantly and knowing that heaven is just around the corner.
UPLOOK / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
S C I E N C E &YOU V I S I B L E C R E AT I O N S H O W I N G U S
E.T., PLEASE CALL HOME
ASA recently sent two probes to Mars to look for water. Finding water on Mars is important because believers of the evolutionary church understand that life is not possible without water. They must either find existing life, evidence of past life, or conditions that allow life to evolve outside of earth if they hope to convince unbelievers that life on earth evolved from nonliving chemicals by chance. Finding life outside of earth would bring instant fame, money, Nobel prizes and the thanks of the congregation who believe in the triune god of evolution—time, chance and natural selection. The homily goes like this: Earth is not unique. It is a small speck orbiting an ordinary star in a galaxy of billions and billions of stars that must also have planets orbiting them just as earth orbits our sun. Thousands if not millions of planets just like earth must exist in the vastness of space, and surely the conditions that gave rise to life here on earth must be present many places in the universe. If life on earth has had time to develop to the point we can explore nearby planets, then it is certain that this has also happened by evolution on other planets. In fact life must be common in the cosmos. Or so the argument goes. Thinking people may ask, if this story is true then where is all the life? Everywhere we look and as far as we can sense with our best instruments, there is no life. There are elements, energy, even water—but no life. Where would E.T. call when he phones home? Where is the catalog of earth-like planets with conditions that would have allowed for life to start and evolve? There isn’t one. If faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen (Heb. 1:1), then the faith of evolutionary believers is as immense as the heavens. They are sure that the life they hope to find is really there, even though they have absolutely no evidence that it exists. Recently a new evolutionary sect has developed which recognizes that wherever in space we look there is no life. But, rather than questioning their belief in evolution, they turn the problem on its head. In the book entitled Rare Earth, Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee1 suggests that the conditions necessary for complex life to evolve are more rare than the conditions necessary for “simple” life to arise. Therefore we would not expect to easily find signs of complex life. So our inability to contact life outside earth does not mean that life is not there. This simply begs the question and does not change the fact that there is so far no evidence to support their belief. Is life common or rare in the universe? The evolutionary church allows you to have faith in either idea as long as you don’t challenge the fundamental doctrine of life beyond earth. But unfortunately so far for E.T., there is no one home to take his call. MICHAEL G. WINDHEUSER, PH.D. 1 Ward, P.D. and Brownlee, D. Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. Copernicus. Springer-Verlag, 2000.
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HEARING AND SEEING THE LORD The sights and sounds of heaven. August Van Ryn “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). “They answered and said unto him: Thou wast altogether born in sin and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found Him, He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? “He answered Him and said: Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? “And Jesus said unto him: Thou hast both seen Him and it is He that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him” (Jn. 9:34-38).
These are the two blessed results of seeing the Lord.
wo blind men. The one was morally blind; the other physically and also probably spiritually blind. Both got their eyes opened, producing two distinctly opposite results. Listen to Job: “I have heard of Thee, but now mine eye seeth Thee.” I believe you can put all the emphasis on the second part of Job’s speech, on that word “Thee.” Till then, Job had been looking at himself almost all the time. In two chapters of this book (chapters 30 and 31) he says I, me and my some 200 times. It certainly did not make him very happy, for he pours out a lot of gall throughout those days. Self-occupation never produces any joy. But at the end he lifted his eyes higher and could say: “I only heard about you till now, Lord, but now I see you. My blind eyes are open.” Shall we say in a manner it pictures his new birth, for
except a man be born again, he cannot see (Jn. 3:3). Oh, to see Him; that brings peace, joy, life, light, to see the glory of God revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. The blind man of John 9 heard the Lord speaking to him, telling him to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. He did, and his blind eyes were opened. But as yet he had not seen the One who had healed him. When he was cast out for his faithful witness, Jesus found him and asked him: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” Instantly this previously blind man recognized the voice of the One who had healed him. So he said: “Lord, I’ll believe anything you say; tell me who is this Son of God and I’ll believe on Him.” And Jesus said to him, as it were, in so many words: “You have heard Him; now you are seeing Him.” And he believed. We, too, have heard His voice in God’s Word and thus were saved; and by faith we have also seen Him, the One once crucified, now seated on the throne of God. Note the revolutionary results in these two cases: Job said, “I see Thee and so I abhor myself.” The blind man responded, “I see Thee; so I worship Thee.”
These are the two blessed results of seeing the Lord: 1. Abhorrence of self 2. Adoration of Christ
The Old Testament has much to say about self; the New Testament teaches us that a vision of Christ blots self out of the picture, and fills the soul with adoring worship. I abhor myself as a sinner; I worship Him as a saint.
UPLOOK / JANUARY • FEBRUARY 2005
THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS Is this verse a refuge for times when we have a paltry harvest?
ecently I was discussing gospel farming with another believer. He told me of an incident some time before when he was discussing the same topic with my father. This brother had posed the question: “If the Lord said, ‘Look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest’ (Jn. 4:35), why do we have such little results?” The simple but sage reply: “Perhaps we aren’t working in the fields.” But many North American Christians find such an obvious answer too unnerving. Instead they look for some biblical reason. No, His arm is not shortened, His ear is not heavy. Yet some dare to suggest that the day of grace is pretty well over for this continent—that God has somehow withdrawn His Spirit from North America. Or perhaps hearts here are too hard and the seed can no longer penetrate. Yet the mighty harvest at Pentecost was in the very city where they had recently crucified the Son of God! Are we saying that our lands are more difficult than Muslim or Communist countries? Is the Word of God no longer alive and powerful? Of course God can save people like Saul of Tarsus and Nebuchadnezzar, but our neighbors are just too tough! I hardly think so. When all else fails, Zechariah 4:10 is called as a witness (a very reluctant witness, I should think). It’s first line reads: “For who hath despised the day of small things?” We are told that this implies there are days in the history of the world when we gather only small results, and at such times we should not despise such paltry returns. But what is the context of this query? Zechariah in his first six chapters is recounting eight visions he had one night. These visions are an overview of the climax of the age. The section that includes the “day of small things” quotation is describing the darkest night in human history. During this time, “Tribulation the Great One,” God will nevertheless have two witnesses shining for Him. They are called “two anointed ones” (v. 14) or “sons of oil” (margin). And they are portrayed for us in a most ingenious way. Two olive trees are growing. Not unusual, perhaps, except that they are flourishing in the dark! Well, not exactly—the olive trees produce olive oil from its berries. And the oil travels through golden tubes into a menorah which burns brightly in the darkness. It is the closest thing you will ever see to a perpetual motion machine. Not a sound is heard, but the trees grow and the light shines. Then the silence is broken by an angel. “Do you know what these are?” he asks. Zechariah needs help. The answer is well-known to us: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (v. 6). In other words, this is the simple but highly effective way the Lord will turn the tragedy of the Tribulation days into a breathtaking triumph! With only two witnesses! Almost 2500 years later, an elder in heaven asks John a question for which he also needs help. John had seen “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…before the throne” (Rev. 7:9). Who are they, and from where did they come? You know, sir, John replies. Do you know? They are the two witnesses’ harvest! The day of small things isn’t a day of small results but of small resources. Let’s discard our excuses and double our efforts. Let’s work harder, pray more fervently, and expect greater things from God. Oh, and let’s make sure we’re actually laboring in the fields! JABE NICHOLSON
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GIVE US THIS DAY… “EVEN THOUGH OUR OUTWARD MAN IS PERISHING, YET THE INWARD MAN IS BEING RENEWED DAY BY DAY” (2 COR. 4:16).
This story reminds us: you can never do a good thing TOO SOON, because you never know how soon it will be TOO LATE.
t was during a coal miners’ strike in my home village of Coalburn, Scotland. The Christians were not supportive of the strike but they also couldn’t work, and if you didn’t work in those days there was no income. My father was preparing for bed one night when he remembered he had bought a loaf of bread to take to another believer in the village, a miner named Jimmy Brown. But Mother said that it was too late to go; he could take it in the morning. It seemed the sensible thing to do. My father went to bed but he couldn’t sleep. He decided that, regardless of the time, he had to go to the Browns’ that night. So he rose and dressed and went out into the dark with the loaf of bread.
It was almost midnight when he approached the Browns’ house. He noticed that the lights were still burning. When he knocked at the door, Mr. Brown answered it, still fully dressed. “What brought you out at this time of night?” he inquired. “A loaf, Jimmy!” Looking at the clock over the mantle, Jimmy Brown replied, “Three minutes to midnight. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’” Jimmy told dad that he had asked the Lord for something for the children to eat that morning—they had had nothing to eat all day—and now he was just going to bed. He thought that the Lord had not answered his prayers, but the Good Shepherd had only been testing his faith!