Thursday, October 22, 2020

Wow! Just WOW!!!


Have you ever been hit by something in scripture that just welled up within you such an excitement that you could hardly contain it?  This morning I had one of those epiphanies.  I confess, my education for ministry, my years of ministry, my ardent devotions, my numerous readings, did not prepare me for that feeling this morning.  I had prayed, as I do before reading scripture, a prayer similar to this: "Lord, move me! Let your Holy Spirit wash over me! Hold full sway in my reading of this your word.  I renounce Satan, his minions and handmaids, any who would thwart your most perfect will.  Silence within me any other voice but your own, and convict me of the way in which I should go!"  And then I read:

Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have
been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the 
word handed them down to us. So it also seemed good to me, since I have 
carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an 
orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the 
certainty of the things about which you have been instructed. [Luke 1:1-4]

Now maybe, like I have so often done, you read over that briefly knowing it is the introduction to the book of Luke.  But this morning words just jumped off the page.

 Many have undertaken - Apparently, it had become quite the popular thing for people to set about compiling a narrative; perhaps a reference to Marks having written and Matthews current attempt (contemporary with Luke); maybe there were others...

events that have been fulfilled - events that actually took place; events that completed something promised; factual, verifiable, matters that took place... 

just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us - a lliteral, restatement of the information shred by first hand witnesses, and those who served with Jesus...

since I have carefully investigated everything - Luke, the physician, a methodical, inquisitive, purposeful and well-educated person took it upon himself to investigate the matters, asking the important questions, calling the bluffs, checking the facts...

to write to you in an orderly sequence - recorded in an orderly, well-reasoned, clear manner these factual events fullfilled and witnessed by so many...

Theophilus - It is written to "Lover of God", possibly a particular person with that name, but more than likely anyone who considers him or herself to be a lover of God...He is writing to me, personally , across the centuries, and to those in his midst, those who would follow, and to you, if you love God.

so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed - written with the express intent of providing assurance about the teachings that were being passed on...


Interest in writing about the events of Jesus life, death, and resurrection was popular perhaps even common in Luke's day. People were eager to talk about the exciting events that had been fulfilled in their lifetimes.  The church was on fire and growing by leaps and bounds. Luke was eager to put down in writing what he had found in his investigation, that the matters that had been handed down to them were accurate, authentic, truthful, factual, and verifiable. 

We can read the words of Paul to Timothy that "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." And in faith receive it as the inspired word of God but, on the earthly side of things, here is Luke (writing somewhere between 5-25 years or so before Paul's letter) claiming, not inspiration, but factual reality.  Both inspired and factually verified.  WOW!

There are many other folks writing at the time, Paul, Matthew, John...The excitement was palatable.  
 
I don't know what this does for you this morning but it has brought me that great peace, yet again, that passes all understanding.  And so I will go forth and pray that you will be as blessed as I am by this reality, knowing indeed that we have every good reason for our confidence in this hope...

  

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fields White Unto the Harvest

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

We have made good and steady progress on our funding for ministry engagements for 2021.  We are currently at 23% of our goal.  You can stay current on  our funding progress by visiting https://www.givesendgo.com/GWK7 at any time.

Several folks, wishing to remain anonymous and choosing not to donate online, have mailed us personal checks which we then deposit into our personal account and make an anonymous donation on their behalf.  Some have chosen to contribute a  smaller amount periodically.  Others have chosen a major one time gift. We are trusting the Lord to provide as He sees fits and as you able able to discern and share that call.


We know it sounds a bit pretentious to talk about raising funds to go to the Bahamas, as if it were a vacation.  But that, sadly, is not even close to the devastating situation the residents of this island are facing. While many of the homes are second homes and are used as income generating businesses, many are not.  The indigenous Bahamians suffer the most with little or no insurance, many still staying with friends or families on neighboring islands unable to return to their home because it no longer exists.  The small and fledgling church community with which we shall minister has taken the proverbial bull by the horns and committed to rebuilding the island.  The Great Guana Cay Foundation has been set up by members and already has been provided a matching gift for up to $1,000,000 to help in the rebuilding effort.

Most of the NGO efforts which continue in the Bahamas, however are focused on Nassau, Freeport, and other large, well-populated areas.  We're seeking to focus on one largely forgotten area.  It is our hope that you would consider, even a small gift to this effort.  Would you prayerfully consider supporting us in our ability to secure funding for the housing expenses we face?  We will cover travel, food, medical, visa, and all other associated expenses out of our retirement funds, but we will need your help in securing housing.  The market is narrow and, in some cases booked 6 months to a year in advance.  We will be making an exploratory trip down in December to meet those committed Christians, and to help determine how best to proceed.  We also hope to be able to secure some housing for 2021 at that time, hence, your contribution now will help us move forward in this call.

Whether or not  you are able to provide financial support, we seek your prayerful support in this effort to meet the needs of the hungry, shelter those without homes, encourage the tired, worn and weary, and to reshape the entire culture of the island with the joyful sounds of a Christian living, Christ proclaiming, Compassion giving presence. The fields are white unto the harvest. Will you join us in gathering those in whom God has placed on our hearts?

You may donate here: https://www.givesendgo.com/GWK7 or mail a check to us at: 1360 Maryland Ct. Sanford, NC 27332.

In Him Who Reigns,

Glen and Carol Hallead


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Reflections on Week 25

This week Tozer puts into play the other three causes of religious confusion: Lack of Love; Unbelief; and Nonobedience

1. LACK OF LOVE - 

"The humble loving heart intuits truth as the Scriptures reveal it and the Holy Spirit illuminates it. The Spirit will not enlighten an unloving mind; and without His enlightenment the mysteries of Christian truth must forever remain a stranger to us."

It is quite clear throughout scripture that God loves the meek heart;  meekness being the inner strength of confidence, certainty, and clarity in such measure as to be comfortable in who one is before God.  It is at its core confidence in God to do and to act in accordance with His perfect knowledge such that we do not have to insist on our own way, bellow what we feel is necessary, but to live a life of integrity and witness, suffering, as necessary the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, all the while knowing "God's got this!" In that quiet strength we find true love for others, not some sappy emotional, feel good, disneyesque, pollyanna sort of love. But of a desire for that which is in the best interest of the other, faith, joy, peace, righteousness.  Not necessarily what they want for themselves, but what God would want for them. And loving them enough to risk rejection... Love clarifies our motivation.

2. UNBELIEF -

"But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that hear it."  

Too many people within and without the church lack the confidence that true faith brings.  Too many genuinely doubt whether or not God is able to do something rather than simply questioning why God would want to do something or how He might do something. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1).  It is absolute confidence in God's willingness and ability, without any sense of doubt.  It is complete trust in Him.  Conversely it is also, therefore, doubt in our own ability to fully comprehend why or to adequately understand how it may be God's will.  

The arrogant are puffed up and prideful, acting as if they are gods, believing they know better what constitutes justice, or who should receive grace (and who shouldn't), or how things should be.  God has clearly revealed, in His word, the answers if we would but trust in Him. Belief trusts God...


3. NONOBEDIENCE -

"Truth is given to be obeyed" not factual truth but directive truth. Jesus is Lord is a factual pronouncement.  Making that known to all ethnicities is a truth we are directed to obey.  Our failure to act on the directive truth, those things which God has clearly commanded us to do in scripture, prevents us from ever developing the full knowledge of this truth.  We must act upon that which scripture compels us to do if we are to rid ourselves of the confusion. When we learn to trust in Him, to obey His word, the way becomes so compellingly clear.  But a life lived in fear WILL  prevent us from stepping out, thinking we have to manage everything, that God may not provide as we think He should, and keeping us from ever developng the confidence, the certainty, the personal knowledge, of Him. Obedience is truth in action...

TRUTH

Truth is a spiritual reality that is not subject to intellectual reasoning or understanding but is a gift of the Spirit. It is may be shared with the intellect as well as the simple but it is only perceived by illumination of the Holy Spirit to the humble, loving, meek ones, to those dare to hope, to confidently believe and to trust, and who, accordingly, respond boldly, confidently, and obediently.

 Truth: He who is the Truth, erases religious confusion, builds character, and changes the world! 

There is no excuse for confusion, except arrogance, lack of love, unbelief, and nonobedience.  Where do I need to be more open to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

Sunday, October 18, 2020

An unapologetic request...

 

In 2019 Hurricane Dorian wreaked devastation in certain areas of the Caribbean. Many of the islands and islets are still seeking assistance in their recovery efforts. Electricity has only recently (Sept, 2020) been fully restored to a particular islet that has become a focus of our prayers over the past few months.  Many organizations have assisted in this effort but after a year, as so often is the case, other pressing disasters around the world have limited their ability to stay engaged. The rebuilding efforts on this particular Cay (pronounced "kee") continues with a surprisingly wonderful Christian focus. 

During the clean up operation (in which 2 million tons of debris had to be removed from the cay), a small church plant was begun with the assistance of Samaritan's Purse. Now both a small but growing resident population and a scattered few but mighty Christians seek to continue the effort of reaching out with the Good News to an islet with no formally established church presence.  Carol and I have been invited to engage with the leadership in this outreach to the community for the building up of the kingdom there.

Our plan is to make an initial exploratory trip in December to visit with the resident population to discuss potential involvement in the work.  We anticipate following that up with three trips during 2021, spending 1-2 months each time to help plan, organize, resource and provide pastoral support in this process.  (Visa issues and local cultural concerns will likely encourage these shorter stay terms rather than a longer term one.)
 

We are committed to covering the full cost of the initial exploratory trip as well as the cost of travel, food, visas, and other general costs for the three follow up visits out of our own personal resources.  Due to the high demand and scarcity of of adequate short term housing, however, the cost for the three followup visits is beyond our reach.  Accordingly, we are turning to family, friends, and other kindhearted Christians to help us in this effort to participate in this great Kingdom work.
 
We are seeking to raise a total of $15,000. These funds will be used to secure short-term accommodations of approximately 1-2 months on each of three trips in 2021, while we assist the church in its organizational, worship, rebuilding, and outreach efforts. Any and all residual balances will be donated to that local church effort.

Donors should be aware that 1% of the proceeds of this campaign will be donated to the GIVE-SEND-GO organization for their assistance in tracking and processing this fundraising effort.  Also, contributions are not likely tax deductible.  You should check with your tax advisor.  Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this matter.  We believe God has made us available for just such a work and just such a time as this.

Follow the link for additional details, updates and to make contributions: https://www.givesendgo.com/GWK7

 

 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Questions

The Causes of Religious Confusion – Chapter 24


1. What confuses me most about my faith?

Like Paul, I sometimes wonder why "I do the very thing I hate?"  I have indeed prayed for this thorn in the flesh, a messenger of satan, to be removed. But God in His infinite wisdom, has chosen to say, "My grace is sufficient for you."

2. In what ways have I allowed science or reason to limit my faith when scripture and my experience call for faith in things that defy reason or explanation?

I feel like I have moved beyond the science and reason excuses.  There are still times, all too often, when I wonder "how" God will work but I never doubt that He will.  It is far more often a question of whether or not I am rightly in His will when I don't more fully comprehend the situation.

3. How ready am I to give a simple, understandable defense of my faith?

Absolutely ready.  I was lost. Now I am found.  He took me from the clutches of satan and has NEVER failed to sustain me. I believe, because He is faithful.

4. How would I respond to questions such as  “why should I, an atheist/buddhist/wiccan... become a Christian”?

In order to save your soul.  In order to find true and lasting peace Because there is no other way to Truth.  Because it is not about you, or me, but about Him who was, who is, and who is to come.

5.  What is God saying to me about this? 

 The thought occurred to me this morning as I worked on these questions, that I would yet have the opportunity to share this precious faith in a situation unlike any other I have experienced to date...



Sunday, October 11, 2020

Religious Confusion


The next two weeks in this study will revolve around "Religious Confusion" - the causes of which will be stated to be a misunderstanding of the nature of truth, a lack of love, unbelief, and nonobedience (not disobedience).

Tozer spends an appropriate amount of time focusing on the first of these causes - misunderstanding of the nature of truth.

It is the height of hubris to believe that we can explain philosophically the nature of truth.  Academics and pseudo-academics have tried for years to construct approaches and processes to comprehend and to put into a system of classification types of truth.


Post modernism (something only partially envisioned by Tozer) seems to have given up on this pursuit and taken the easy way out by denying that there is any truth.  In postmodern thought truth is ultimately relative to each and every individual - your truth, my truth, his truth, her truth, this truth, that truth, the truth we choose to believe, etc.

The greatest of minds throughout history have long held (and continue to do so) that there is but one ultimate Truth, an infinite reality that we, with our finite minds can hardly comprehend, but which boils down to the idea that 1. there is a God, and we are not him, and 2. that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love one another.

Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life reveals to us that truth is a moral and a spiritual reality and not just an intellectual curiosity.

The choice for us is not between which truth we are to believe, but whether we take the tact of Pilate who asks "what is truth?" (the post modern conundrum) or whether we take Jesus at his word when he states to Pilate: "Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

Are we willing to be attentive to his word, to him who is the Truth?   



Thursday, October 8, 2020

Questions

 

  Let No One Rob You of Your Christian Confidence Chapter 23


1. What kinds of obstacles have I experienced in progressing in my faith?


2. How did I overcome them?


3. What obstacles may I be facing even now?


4. Have I truly and completely entrusted this year to God’s gracious care? Am I praying about that regularly?


5.  What is God saying to me about this?


God Speaking


So often lately I have noticed the invocation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 as if it alone were the answer to all of our problems.


It seems appropriate enough.  It certainly is a simple prescription. But one is left asking how, if we humble  ourselves through prayer, if we seek His face, if we turn from our wicked ways, how do we bide our time when God has obviously chosen to not heal our land.  Is it a simple matter of insufficient numbers not turning, or an insufficient depth humbleness, or a turning completely?  And what do we do as await God's healing of our land?  I continue to resonate with the thought of resignation, in all of its glorious notions of surrender, defeat, giving up, et cetera.  We surrender our understanding, our claims, our interests, our rights, our desires, to the Lord's will.  We accept the fact that He has chosen (in His Infinite Wisdom and Perfect Timing) to not act in the ways we have decided He should.  For the last couple of mornings, as a part of my assigned devotional readings, I have been processing Psalm 103.  But at the same time each morning, the word has come "Psalm 130." I wasn't able to shake it and so I resigned myself to turning to that and read: 

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

     Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

I suggest that if we should but pray this Psalm, as fervently as we insist the 2 Chronicles passage is necessary for us as a nation, we might be far better "resigned" to God's will. In fact the thought occurs to me that we might each benefit from actually taking the time to sit down and to compose a letter to God communicating our resignation to His will.

At the same time I am working on this Sunday's sermon.  It will unpack that great passage in Philippians 4:10-13 - Paul's confession: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."  The word content understood through the OT and NT reveals a far greater understanding of this concept of contentment.  It is a clear resignation, a willing obedience, and even a state of being pleased to abide in God's will irrespective of what it brings: suffering, misery, shame, punishment, disaster, and even great loss as well as wealth, joy, happiness, or health/healing beyond our wildest expectations.  When we truly abide in Christ, His Spirit dwells within us and we are able to rejoice always and to give thanks continually.  

It's a sermon, I am really looking forward to preaching.  And it is a truth I hope that I can experience in all of its fullness.  My prayer is that each of us will ever-increasingly experience the ability to rejoice in each and every one of our circumstances. EVERY. ONE. OF. YOUR. CIRCUMSTANCES. For that is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

HAVING GROWN WEARY...

  

Having grown weary of the daily check of Facebook, the perceived need to respond to peoples' comments, and all the nonsense being posted (including my own), I thought I'd move any conversations I have over to a blog format.

Blog posts take longer to compose and longer to read -

    a.  cutting down the urge to react to everything;

    b.  avoiding the ranting of drive by commentors;

    c.  forcing a more thoughtful processing of information; and

    d.  (I hope) a more engaged conversation amongst those who chose to engage. 

So here's to something different...at least until I get bored again.  😁


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Resignation...


Somewhat related to the idea of confidence is the idea of resignation.  You may be scratching your head right now, but stay with me, briefly.  When we have confidence in our God, of His standing in the breach for us, of His ability and willingness, His desire and commitment to love us, we become confident.  We need not fear such situations as Tozer suggests:

...the pastor who motivates us to pray by assuming that we don't...

...the pastor who artificially divides our faith into either love of God or missions for God...

You get the picture.

As I consider this issue of confidence I am struck by something I read in "The Practice of the Presence of God" yesterday.  One of the lessons that Abbe Joseph de Beaufort learned in his conversations with Brother Lawrence was the concept of "resignation" that is the idea of resigning ourselves to the reality in which God has placed us and finding peace in that.  

It is a difficult matter to resign ourselves to something less than what we want, less than even what we believe the Lord wants for us. And yet, if God is who we say He is, He has allowed us to be exactly where we are.  Brother Lawrence's secret in "resignation" is Paul's concept of learning to be content in all situations.

Further, Brother Lawrence shared with de Beaufort, the thought:

That to arrive at such resignation as God requires, 
we should watch attentively over all the passions 
which mingle as well in spiritual things as those of a grosser nature."

 It occurs to me that we may easily be distracted by the general things of God (things which are indeed good and holy and righteous) and so miss the particular matters to which He would have us attend. That is that we can be just as distracted by godly things to which we are not called as to the worldly things that are not of God at all.  We can become so enamored of the great things we want to do for God, that we completely ignore, become dissatisfied with, or never even pursue the simple calling He may so passionately desire for us.


This has been a personal struggle for me recently as I have chosen to decline to calls to serve as a pastor in light of my resignation to the reality that, for the time, I am called to just "be still and know that I am God."  Called to not labor in ministry but to pray fervently and to attend to my own spiritual matters??? And yet, yes. Resignation to God's greater will.

One person, trying to get me to ignore the call I long ago perceived to pursue international mission stated that he thought "God leaves the door open for what we want to do.  We can serve Him wherever we are, just as well in the USA as overseas.  Why not take care of America first?"

These sorts of thoughts can easily resonate with our sensibilities, human reason, and earnest Christian desire, but when we settle on resigning ourselves to God alone and His desires, when we develop the confidence in Him alone to lead us properly, we can better examine what genuinely constitutes a call - whether is it to simply wash the dishes or continue to till the soil or perhaps to take the next step to pastor a church, to witness to our neighbor or family member, or even serve on an international mission field.  When we allow ourselves to simply and graciously wait upon the Lord for His clear and particular/specific direction and only when it is clear to pursue it with appropriate passion, we can have the confidence that we are where we are intended to be, doing what the Lord intends for us to do, and not be moved.

My prayer is that we all might become fully resigned to His will.



Wow! Just WOW!!!

Have you ever been hit by something in scripture that just welled up within you such an excitement that you could hardly contain it?  This m...