The Glory of God – Bakht Singh

It is a very common prayer these days among God’s people everywhere, go to any part of India or any part of the earth and you find among the believers the common prayer: “Lord, send a revival.”

We are all conscious that something has gone wrong. Something is missing. The Lord gave me this message.

The biggest need today is learning how to pray in the mind of God.

Many people today spend hours in activity, they can sing beautifully, they can preach, they can do many hard things but they cannot find time to pray, they find it hard to pray long enough.

This is the first thing we must learn as gospel vessels.

The Lord Jesus Christ did not begin his ministry without prayer. We see this in Luke 3:21.

Luke 3:21
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened.

You notice, “and praying.”

Until that day the Lord Jesus had not performed even a single miracle.

John the Baptist says in John 1:33:

John 1:33
And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

Even John the Baptist did not know who He was until then.

The Lord Jesus Christ until that day had not given a single message.

He began by prayer.

He came in the world and learned how to pray to see the heavens opened.

When Jesus prayed, 3 things happened.

We see this in Luke 3:21, 22.

The heavens were opened.

Secondly, the Holy Spirit came.

Thirdly the Voice came.

That should be our daily experience.

He wants to do a new work in our midst and around the world, let us learn how to pray.

We read about Hannah, she was a very honoured woman, a very God-fearing woman.

God, for a purpose kept her from having a child.

God can never make a mistake.

Whatsoever God does, He does it for a purpose.

His ways are past finding out. His ways are higher than our ways.

Isaiah 55:8
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

At the same time we also know, as for God, His ways are perfect.

Psalm 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

His way is perfect. And verse 32.

Psalm 18:32
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

And he makes my way perfect.

Whatsoever happens in our lifetime by a loving Saviour happens to bring us into His perfect will.

And for that purpose God had kept Hannah waiting for a child, to bring her in His perfect way as His co-worker.

She prayed earnestly.

O Lord, take away my reproach.

Take away my barrenness.

Have mercy upon me.

The Lord was not punishing her.

The Lord was bringing her into a partnership.

Nowhere in the Bible do we read angels are called God’s co-workers.

From Genesis to Revelation you will not come across a single verse.

They are mighty angels.

Psalm 103:20
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

They hearken unto His Voice.

Yet they are never called God’s co-workers.

They remain our ministering spirits.

Hebrews 1:13, 14
But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

The angels are our ministering servants, taking care of us, serving us, the mystery.

God was bringing Hannah into a partnership with Himself.

Hannah thought in the beginning her own need was very great. She wept and prayed.

God was saying, Hannah, how about My need? I also want something.

Mighty God, the Great God, His ways are past finding out.

You and me, weak people, we are His need.

God wanted a vessel.

In those days there was great spiritual darkness.

A lot of sin in the house of God.

God’s glory was being robbed.

By servants of the high priest.

Many people came eagerly from many far places and brought their sacrifices to be offered in the house of God.

There were these servants, the sons of Eli, going about with their fleshhooks. We see this in
1 Samuel 2:12-16.

1 Samuel 2:12-16.
Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay, but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.

This was happening in the house of God.

Robbing God of His portion.

What a sin.

The same thing is happening today among God’s servants in God’s house.

The love for money, love for power, love for fame and name.

These are the three great fleshhook teeth today among God’s people and God’s servants.

Doing much for money’s sake, never satisfied.

Telling false stories for more money.

What a shame. Making God a beggar.

God is not a beggar.

The Living God, the Mighty God who says open thy mouth wide, I will fill it.

Psalm 81:10
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

God will fill it.

God told me in the beginning, I thank God for the message, “never tell any human being about your personal need of any kind.”

He has met every need. The Living Saviour.

The glory of God departs when sin comes into the house of God.

1 Samuel 2:22
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Sin entering the house of God, it is happening today.

Go to many Bible schools in America, Bible colleges and see how they behave there among themselves.

I have seen them behaving shamefully
and there is no sense of shame.

O what a spiritual barrenness we are coming to.

Our Lord is our standard of Christianity.

God is so long-suffering. He is so patient. He is so loving and kind, so faithful, so gracious, He waits, and He waits, and He waits but we don’t repent, He must punish.

1 Samuel 4:21
And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel.

The glory departed.

What a sad condition of God’s people.

We see this today.

Beautiful buildings, pastors have many degrees but inside, singing with no joy, earthly sermons, no message, people come empty and go empty.

The glory departed.

But God has a purpose, it must come to pass.

Malachi 3:6
For I am the LORD, I change not.

The Lord does not change. What He has purposes must come to pass.

What Adam lost through disobedience Christ recovers through obedience.

That’s why God came, to recover.

And He wants you and me to be his co-workers with Him in that recovery.

He has not given that privilege to the angels, He has given it to you and me.

William Farel (1489 – 1565)

William Farel (1489 – 1565) was a man of action who gave his whole life to spreading the Gospel of Christ. Farel was one of the most important leaders of the French Reformation from its beginnings.

While studying under Professor Jacques Lefevre at Sorbonne University in Paris, Farel came to faith in Christ. Professor Lefevre had published a Latin translation of, and commentary on, The Epistles of St. Paul. As he taught that it is God who saves by grace alone, Farel said his eyes were opened and his heart believed.

When Luther’s Reformation writings came to France, Farel was one of the most prominent leaders in the French Reformed movement. When persecution forced him to flee from France in 1523, he became the leader of a group of evangelists, who preached in French speaking Switzerland.

Farel’s energetic efforts were central in opposing Catholicism and promoting the Protestant Reformation in Basle, Bern, Lausanne and Geneva. Everywhere he proclaimed the supremacy of the Scriptures and the need to return to a purified faith, which was based on the Bible alone. Farel’s powerful preaching was described as full of fire and fury. The pope was antichrist. The Mass idolatry. His sermons were canon blasts. His oratory gripped whole cities. Farel was called “The scourge of the priests.”

Several priests attempted to assassinate Farel. After one attempt on his life failed, Farel whirled around and declared to the priest who had fired the bullet: “I am not afraid of your shots!”

With great skill in debating and evangelistic zeal, Farel succeeded in winning most of French speaking Switzerland to the Protestant Faith.

Many new churches were established and organised under his energetic leadership.

Although more of an orator than a writer, and a man of action rather than a theologian, Farel did provide the newly created churches with discipleship books in French. In his “Summary” Farel showed how Christian doctrine should be practically applied to everyday life, and he drew up the first liturgy for French speaking Reformed churches.

Farel crossed the Alps to participated in a Synod of the Waldensians. He recruited these believers to the Reformation movement, and convinced them to have the Scriptures translated and printed. This was the first French translation of the Holy Scriptures and was published in 1535.

After winning Neuchatel to the Reformation, he introduced the book publisher, Pierre de Vingle, to Neuchatel who, just between 1533 and 1535, published 20 Protestant books, which spread the Faith far and wide.

Farel was a man of deep devotion, personal piety and with a very practical faith. He taught that true Christianity functions through charity (love).

Farel’s practice was to go into the market places of Catholic towns and preach the Gospel. When attempts were made to arrest him, he challenged the local priests, or bishop, to a public debate. Inevitably, Farel won these debates. He then would appeal directly to the masses to vote on whether they were in favour of converting to the Protestant Faith, or whether they wanted to remain with Roman superstitions.

On such mission trips, Farel’s confrontational style and tactics provoked violent reactions. In one town, the bishop tried to have him drowned in the fountain! On occasion, Farel resorted to his fists to eject the papists and seize their pulpits. It is significant that in the Reformation Wall monument, in Geneva, Farel is the only one of the Reformers depicted with a Bible in his left hand (not his right) and his right hand is in a fist.

Farel was ridiculed, beaten, shot at and abused, but he never gave up.

In the summer of 1535, Farel seized the church of La Madeleine and the Cathedral of St. Peter (in Geneva). Farel declared: “I have been baptized in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost…I go about preaching Christ why He died for our sins and rose again for our justification. Whoever believers in Him will be saved; unbelievers will be lost. I am bound to preach to all who will hear. I am ready to dispute with you…”

In response to his vehement sermon against idolatry, there was a wave of destroying superstitious religious images, statues and idols throughout Geneva. Altars were demolished, the mass was abolished, and images were removed from churches.

On 21 May 1536, a General Assembly of the citizens of Geneva voted in favour of the Reformation and made the Protestant Faith the official religion of the city.

With Geneva in revolt against the Duke of Savoy and its bishop, waves of political and religious turmoil swept the city and emotions were high. Surrounded by mountains in the control of Catholic France and the Duke of Savoy, the Reformation in Geneva was very vulnerable. Farel knew his limitations, and he prayed for a man who would be capable of discipling this distracted and debauched city.

It was at this decisive point that 27 year old, French Reformer, John Calvin was forced by a local war to detour through Geneva. He only expected to be in the city for one night. But Farel heard of this famous scholar and author of “The Institutes” and he rushed over to recruit him.

But Calvin was not interested. The more Farel explained his plans and described the situation in Geneva, the less Calvin felt inclined to stay. He realized that to accept Farel’s challenge would involve him in controversies and conflict, and his timid nature shrank from such un-scholarly activities. Calvin’s mind was set on studying in Strasborg, bur Farel insisted that he stay in Geneva. Others observing this escalating argument could not have appreciated what a dramatic impact the result of this contest of wills would have on world history.

When, at last, Calvin pleaded his inexperience, general unsuitability for the pastorate, and his need for further study, Farel rose from his chair, and stretched himself out to his full height. As his long beard swept his chest, Farel directed his piercing eyes and burrowing into the young man seated before him. He thundered: “May God curse your studies if now, in her time of need, you refuse to lend your aid to His Church.”

Calvin was visibly shaken, and, as he said later, he was struck with terror. In Farel’s voice of thunder, Calvin had heard the call of God. There and then he yielded and consented to stay in Geneva.

Just as Barnabas was used to mobilise Saul for ministry, so Farel recruited Calvin.
Farel probably was Calvin’s closest friend through the years. They endured much together, including being expelled from Geneva in 1538. Again it was the persuasions of Farel that convinced Calvin to accept Geneva’s requests for him to return in 1541.

For the last 27 years of his life, Farel pastored the church in Neuchatel, one of the first towns that he had won to Christ. Farel’s dynamic faith, missionary vision and evangelistic campaigns had in large measure been used of God to win much of French speaking Switzerland to Christ. And it was he who ensured that Calvin became the pastor, educator and Reformer of Geneva.

Romans 15:19 – 20
In mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God…I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.

Anthony Norris Groves (1795-1853)

Anthony Norris Groves (1795-1853), “the father of faith missions,” deeply influenced the founders of the China Inland Mission, the North Africa Mission, and particularly his own brother-in-law, George Muller.

Anthony was the only son in a family of six. His mother was gentle and talented. His father was an aggressive businessman, who lost much of his wealth in ill-advised ventures. The Groves were staunch Anglicans, attending the gloomy old grime-stained Anglican Church at Fulham in London. Coupled with the stern disciplines of a religious upbringing, the traits of the parents surfaced in Anthony. Like his father, he was both generous and adventurous, with a quiet determination which would not shake loose from a goal. He also displayed the serenity of his mother. Henry Craik was a tutor to Anthony’s children before they left for Baghdad. Young Craik was a bit awed by Groves’ example of “generosity, heavenly-mindedness, great talent, persuasive eloquence, gentleness, humility, and learning.”

Groves was awakened in soul at age 13 or 14, and vowed to overcome his shortcomings and ease his conscience by doing protestant penance as a missionary in India. Thereafter, whenever spiritual disquiet recurred, he renewed his vow to be a missionary. At the age of 19, to atone for his sins, he offered himself to the Church Missionary Society. Then he met the Paget sisters, and through the witness of Miss Bessie Paget (who would later work closely with R. C. Chapman) Anthony came to Christ. His conversion–while it cleared the fog about sin and salvation–did not weaken but instead gave reason to his resolve.

Following training in chemistry, surgery and dentistry, young Groves had begun a career as a dentist in Plymouth on his nineteenth birthday. Two years later, he married Mary Bethia Thompson. As they prospered, as a matter of principle, the young couple purposed to give a tenth of their income to the Lord for the needy. The proportion then increased to a fourth of their income, but the more they gave, the more they prospered. Ultimately they carved their standard of living to bare essentials and gave away the balance. As a dentist, he was earning 1,500 pounds a year (a considerable fortune).

At first, Mary was as opposed to Anthony’s missionary ambition as he was for it. Whenever he raised the topic she wept. He waited ten years before Mary was not only agreeable but enthusiastic about them going, at which time they offered themselves to the Missionary Society. They were accepted–but it was for Baghdad instead of India. He turned his dental practice over to a young relative–to whom he later gave it–and began studies for a theological degree at Dublin, as a prerequisite to ordination in the Anglican Church. At this time, he began questioning the need for a university degree for a prospective missionary. Then, in the summer of 1827, by a strange coincidence, his house was broken into and money set aside for schooling was stolen (although other money was left untouched). The Groves took this as a token of the Lord’s guidance and dropped the course.

Next came doubts about ordination to preach. When he informed the mission that he was prepared to go to the field as a layman instead of as an ordained minister, they said he would not be able to celebrate the Lord’s Supper! That was enough to sever their commitment to the C.M.S. They prepared to go at their own expense.

At this time Anthony gathered with believers in Dublin and broke bread after the New Testament pattern. Groves was a precursor to multitudes who set sail without the aid of ecclesiastical machinery. At the same time he shed the control of missionary organizations (which meant no salaries or pledges of any financial support from men). In a small sailing yacht, on June 12, 1829, Anthony, Mary, sons Henry (age 10) and Frank, (age 9), and seven co-laborers set sail for St. Petersburg, Russia.

The stormy voyage would be prophetic of the rest of the journey. In Russia they traveled through rugged landscape in springless carriages crammed with bodies and baggage. Attacks by mosquitoes, drenched in torrents, endangered by gangs, strange food, bad food, no food and failed horses combined to discourage.

But Anthony was resilient. At their destination, he gave thanks for every survivor of that journey of four months and 1,400 miles. Their account reads like a paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 11.

In the first year in Baghdad, Anthony wrote, “I never had a very strong expectation that what we were to do was manifestly very great, but that we shall answer a purpose in God’s plan I have no doubt.”

He started to study Arabic, opened a boys’ school and, to establish contacts, gave free dental and optical treatment (including cataract operations). Baghdad’s suffocating heat was dreadful The citizens appeared to be warlike, thieving, and bigoted.

Then came the plague in April of 1830, which, during its peak, carried off a thousand victims a day. “Fifty unburied corpses might be seen during a walk of 500 yards, and the wails of naked and starving children who roamed the streets were heartbreaking.” At the height of the plague the river flooded, collapsing about 5,000 houses and crushing some of the inhabitants.

Most horrific was the death of Groves’ devoted wife, Mary. Entire families had perished in the districts around the missionaries’ home. Still the plague had not invaded their home. But as the clouds seemed to be receding, Anthony made this entry in his diary: “The Lord has this day manifested that the disease of my dear wife is the plague, and of a very dangerous type, so that our hearts are prostrate in the Lord’s presence . . . It is indeed an awful moment, yet my dear wife’s faith triumphs. The difference between a child of God and a worldling is not in death, but in the hope the one has in Jesus, while the other is without hope and without God in the world.”

After the plague, a Turkish army besieged the city. In later years, Anthony’s son Henry “pathetically recalled the fact that after leaving England he could not remember ever having been a boy.” For Anthony, a hidden resource strengthened him to write, “When I consider how God, in His infinite and unsearchable Providence, has seen fit to bring to naught all our plans . . . I cannot but feel it is a strong call to form very few plans for the future and just to work by the day.”

Among other trials, the long delay or loss of letters meant protracted isolation and privation. Financial support was uncertain. He once claimed that they went without financial support from anyone in England for over a year, but that the Lord did not allow him to go into debt. His diary contains repeated praise to the Lord for material provision. For example, “My soul is led to abhor more and more that love of independence which still clings to it, when I see how it would shut me out from these manifestations of my Father’s loving care.”

About this time, a revised charter granted to the East India Company opened the way for unrestricted missionary work in India. On invitation from Colonel (later General Sir) Arthur Cotton, in 1833, Groves visited widely among missionaries in India. He was in his element. Soon he brought his sons and others from Baghdad, and in the next two decades found open doors for the gospel of Christ, mainly in the Godavari Delta.

He was not a church-builder like his friends J. G. Bellet, R. C. Chapman, J. N. Darby, and George Muller, but rather a single-minded evangelist and teacher. In logic, he was consistent (even if his applications were not always workable). He could be staunch, yet courteous to any who disagreed. And disagree they did.

His aggressive exhortations to missionaries to live simply and to trust God to supply their needs was not always welcome. But one young convert, John Aroolappen, acted on Groves’ principles and as a full-time worker lived “by faith.” Through Aroolappen’s ministry, a revival broke out in Tinnevelly in South India and many congregations were formed. Groves visited this area, and his teaching so upset the Anglicans that they accused him of being the greatest enemy the Church of England had in India.

After a year’s furlough in England, he returned to India with a small party of missionaries and a generous stock of sheep, cattle, chickens, and geese (The sailors complained about being on Noah’s ark) in 1836.

Groves continued preaching and teaching in India until illhealth forced him back to England in 1852. His condition deteriorated until he quietly passed into the presence of his Master in May 1853 in the home of George Muller.

Anthony Norris Groves’ contribution to the missionary enterprise springs less from measurable results than it does from his utter devotion to Christ and complete dependence upon Him for his needs. He left a pattern to emulate.

http://www.plymouthbrethren.org/article/48

ANTHONY NORRIS GROVES was born at Newton, in Hants, in 1795. His father seems to have been a well-to-do and generous man, only a little venturesome in his undertakings, for, besides being part owner of the famous ship “Royal George” that went down “with twice three hundred men,” he laid out a fortune in draining land near the sea, which ended in nothing but heavy loss. A factory for refining salt was more successful for a time, but that, too, proved a failure, through a servant revealing the secret of the process to others.

It is not to be wondered, then, that Mr. A. N. Groves took after his father, and was fond of bold and daring enterprise, only not in the way of “loving his life” and amassing money, but rather in throwing his life and his money away—as it appeared to many.

He was converted at Exeter, through Miss Paget, whose name is well known in connection with the work of Messrs. Chapman and Hake at Barnstaple. As a dentist he had a practice worth £1000 a year, which he relinquished to go out as a missionary.

One of his first “ventures” was to take up a poor mason boy of the name of Kitto, who had fallen from a ladder and lost his hearing. This poor boy, with Mr. Groves’ unwearied help, became well known, and after Mr. Groves had taken him to Palestine and the East, he returned to England and wrote his famous “Kitto’ s Pictorial Bible,” was made a D. D., and afterwards pensioned for life by Queen Victoria. This investment alone surely surpassed all his father’s ventures.

When Henry Martyn crossed from India to Syria, via Persia, all England was interested to hear of those countries, but Mr. A. N. Groves alone prepared to give himself to carry the Gospel to them. No tempting and comfortable steamer lay at London Dock ready to take him and his family on board. A small sailing yacht was lent to him by a friend, and in this the little party sailed for St. Petersburg. Mrs. Groves wrote: “Our party consists of our little family—two boys of nine and ten—Mr. Groves’ sister Lydia, Miss Taylor, and Mr. Bathie, a young man who came from Ireland.” One of the little boys was called Henry, who afterwards lived to serve the Lord for many years in this country.

Trials and hardships abounded, of course, on the little yacht, and in Russia, travelling through rough, wild country in a carriage with their bag and baggage, hardships without number. Daily they were “in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness,” but they were all as nothing compared to what lay before, so that it would appear almost like a waste of time to dwell upon the details of this long overland journey from St. Petersburg to Bagdad.

Bagdad is a city on the ancient river Euphrates, not far from the supposed site of the Garden of Eden, but Mr. Groves found the city to be a dreadful place, the temperature at times so hot that during the day all took refuge in the cellars under the house, and by night all slept—or tried to sleep—on the roof of the house. Nearly all the inhabitants were fanatical Mohammedans, who delighted in murder, war, and robbery. Little wonder that he found there, too, the dreadful plague, carrying off thousands of victims; and this with “war,” “famine,” and “flood” was the sum of the history of his three years’ stay in that dreadful place. The most distressing and touching part of it all was when his brave and noble-hearted wife, Mary Groves, died of the dreadful plague. Family after family had been swept out of existence in the district all round about where the missionaries lived, and still the “plague came not nigh their dwelling,” but when the storm seemed to have passed over, and light, and hope, and the dawn of a new day appeared to be breaking upon them, Mr. Groves makes this entry in his diary: “The Lord has this day manifested that the disease of my dear wife is the plague, and of a very dangerous type, so that our hearts are prostrate in the Lord’s presence. . . It is indeed an awful moment, yet my dear wife’s faith triumphs. The difference between a child of God and a worldling is not in death, but in the hope the one has in Jesus, while the other is without hope and without God in the world.”
From Bagdad, Mr. Groves and family went on to India, and finding very many open doors for the Gospel there he decided, “as much as in him lay,” to preach Christ to the heathen millions of this most populous country in the whole of Asia.
After seeing the need in many parts of India, Mr. Groves returned to England, and took back to India Messrs. Bowden and Beer, both of Barnstaple. These two missionaries settled in the Godavari district, and began work somewhat to the south of the Delta proper. For twenty years they toiled on almost alone, and with little encouragement, but others were raised up to join them—Mr. Heelis, Mr. M ‘Crae, Mr. Miles, Miss Taylor, and others—and now the work has spread into the Delta and over a wide area.

Mr. Groves, in those early days, was blessed to a native, J. C. Aroolappan, who traveled about among the village some distance to the south of Godavari, Many through him believed, and churches were formed, but the work was not known to Christians in this country. Aroolappan died, and troubles came to the little assemblies. Some good missionaries wished to help them and join them to the Church of England, but the simple people could not fall into their ways. A Baptist society next tried to befriend the few native churches, but hitches occurred. They had been taught differently by Aroolappan, and when Mr. Handley Bird visited them a few years later, they received him with open arms. Can we imagine the joy of our brother in seeing in those many churches the fruit of Mr. A. N. Groves’ small beginnings sixty years before?

Groves’s ideas were later taken up in India by descendants of Arulappan associated with Bakht Singh.

http://www.brethrenarchive.org/people/anthony-norris-groves/

Tertullian (c. 155 – 240)

Tertullian (c. 155 – 240)

One of the most noteworthy personages belonging to the early Church. Born at Carthage (Tunisia) his father being a Roman centurion in the service of the proconsul of Africa. His natural endowments were great, and they were supplemented by a comprehensive course of studies whose fruit appears in the wealth of historical, legal, philosophical, physical, and antiquarian elements contained in his writings. He was destined for the civil service of the empire, and was accordingly trained in Roman jurisprudence and the art of forensic eloquence. His mode of argumentation and terminology everywhere reveal the legal turn of his mind, and his writings in many places throw light on disputed points of the Roman civil law.

Tertullian was converted to Christianity between thirty and forty years of age, and he immediately became its fearless champion against pagans, Jews, and heretics, especially Gnostics. He was the first religious teacher after the apostles who attained to a clear recognition of the mighty contrast between sin and grace, and who presented it in all it force to the mind of the Church. He was married but nevertheless entered the ranks of the clergy. Jerome, says that he was a presbyter of the Catholic Church, but his own writings do not determine whether he was a member prior to his transition into Montanism or not.

The transition to Montanism occurred a few years after Tertullian’s conversion, and about A.D. 202. The act doubtless had its origin in his eccentric disposition and rigorous moral views, which predisposed him to regard that heresy with favor and to dislike the Roman Church. Jerome attributes it to personal motives excited by the jealousy and envy of the Roman clergy, and modern writers have ascribed it to disappointed ambition. We know, however, that the penitential discipline of the Church was administered at Rome with exceeding laxity, and that such indifference was an abomination in the eyes of Tertullian.

Assuredly he did not regard Montanus as the Paraclete. He recognized in the latter simply an inspired organ of the Spirit. He, rather than Montanus, became the head of the Montanistic party in Africa, giving to their undefined views a theological character and a conceded influence over the life of the Church, and establishing it on foundations sufficiently firm to enable it to protract its being down to the 5th century. He died in old age, between A.D. 220 and 240. The assertion that he returned to the Catholic Church before he died is sometimes made, but cannot be substantiated, and the continued existence of the sect of Tertullianists would seem to contradict the assumption.

It is a significant fact that it was precisely this great defender of Catholic orthodoxy against Gnostic heresy who was a schismatic to such a degree that he has never been included by the Church of Rome among the number of her saints, or among that of the patres (Church Fathers).

As a writer, Tertullian was exceedingly fresh and vigorous, but also angular, abrupt, and impetuous. He possessed a lively imagination, a fund of wit and satire, as well as of acquired knowledge, and considerable depth and keenness; but he was deficient in point of logical clearness and self- possession, as well as of moderation, and of a thorough and harmonious culture. He was a speculative thinker, though the bitter opponent of philosophy. His aspiring mind sought in vain for adequate language in which to express itself, and struggled constantly to force the ideas of Christianity within the forms of the Latin tongue. His style thus became exceedingly forcible, nervous, vivid, concise, and pregnant.

His adversaries were assailed without mercy and with all the weapons of truth and of art, and nearly always appear in his writings in ridiculous plight. He was the direct opposite to Origen, holding the extreme position of realism on the borders of materialism. He was, furthermore, the pioneer of orthodox anthropology and soteriology, the teacher of Cyprian, and forerunner of Augustine, in the latter of whom his spirit was reproduced in twofold measure, though without its eccentricities and angularities. It is possible, also, to trace resemblances between him and Luther with respect to native vigor of mind, profound earnestness, unregulated passion, polemical relentlessness, etc.; but the father lacked the childlike amiability of the Reformer, who was both a lion and a lamb.

Tertullian’s writings are usually of brief extent, but they traverse nearly all fields of the religious life, and they constitute the most prolific source for the history of the Church and of doctrines in his time. No satisfactory classification of them can be executed, because but few of them afford the necessary data on which to base a scheme. The classification here presented rests upon the nature of the several writings as being either Catholic or Anti-Catholic, in which light the former are considerably more numerous than the latter.

(I.) Catholic Writings, or such as Defend Orthodox Christianity against Unbelievers and Heretics. — Most of these works date from the Montanist era of the author’s life.

1. Apologies against Pagans and Jews. — First of all, the Apologeticus, addressed to the Roman magistracy, A.D. 198 or 204, and forming one of the best rebuttals of the charges raised by the heathen of the time against Christianity. Similar in character are the Ad Nationes Libri II. In De Testimonio Animae the author develops an argument for the unity of God and the reality of a future state from the innate perceptions and feelings of the soul. In the work Ad Scapulam he remonstrates with the African governor of that name, who was bitterly persecuting the Christians. The Adversus Judmeos Liber draws from the Old-Testament prophets the proof that the Messiah has appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

2. Doctrinal and Polemical Writings Aimed against Heretics. — Here belongs, first, the De Praescriptione Haereticorum, or rules to be observed by Christians in dealing with heretics. The argument involves, as its fundamental principle, the idea that heretics, as innovators, are under the necessity of proving their positions, while the Catholic Church is assured in its sole right to the allegiance of-Christendom by the uninterrupted current of apostolical tradition and an unimpaired succession, so that it need not enter into controversy with heretics. After the defection to Montanism, Tertullian wrote against various individual heretics, e.g. in the fifteenth year of Septimius Severus (A.D. 207 or 208), Adversus Marcionem Libri V, his most extensive and learned polemico-dogmatical work, and a principal source for the study of Gnosticism: — Adversus Hermogenem, a painter at Carthage, who had adopted the dualistic theory of the eternity of matter: — Adversus Valentinianos, a tragico-comical representation of the Valentinian Gnostics: and Scolpiace, an antidote against the scorpion- poison of such heretics.

Particular Gnostical doctrines are, assailed in De Baptismo, a defense of water-baptism against the Cainites and their peculiar theory of a mystical spiritual baptism: — De Anima, an inquiry into the nature, etc., of the soul: — De Carne Christi, a defense of the true humanity of Christ: — and De Resurrectione Carnis, a confutation of the heresy which denied the resurrection of the body. The tract Adversus Praxeam assails the Phrygian Antimontanist Praxeas, and confutes his patri-passionist errors in the interest of the orthodox view of the Trinity.

3. Ethical and Ascetical Writings. — This class is composed of works of small size, but of considerable value to the regulation of practical life and the administration of ecclesiastical discipline. The list includes, De Oratione, an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer and rules for prayer and fasting: — De Spectaculis, a warning against theatrical exhibitions: — De Idololatria: — Ad Uxorem Libri I., advice to his wife to govern her action in case she should outlive him: — De Paenitentia, a Catholic and Anti- montanistic presentation of the doctrine of repentance, dating from the earlier period of his Christian life: De Patientia, a commendation of the virtue of patience, accompanied with a lamentation because of his own lack of that virtue: — Ad Martyros, an exhortation addressed to the confessors who in the time of Septimius Severus awaited. in prison the martyr’s death.

(II.) Anti-Catholic Writings, in which Montanistic Divergences from Catholic Customs are Expressly Defended. De Pudicitia, a retraction of the principles laid down in the earlier work De Paenitentia and violent advocacy of the rigoristic view on which deadly sins, like murder, adultery, and flight from persecution, should never be condoned: — De Monogamia, an emphatic denunciation of second marriages — De Exhortatione Castitatis, in which three degrees of chastity are distinguished the first, absolute and lifelong restraint; the second, continence from the time of baptism; the third, refraining from contracting a second marriage: — De Virginibus Velandis, denouncing the habit of unmarried women appearing in public unveiled as being contrary to nature, the will of God, and the discipline of the Church generally: — De Habitu Muliebri et de Cultu Feminarum condemns the adorning of the person by females with ornaments, etc.: — De Jejuniis adversus Psycliicos (Catholics) is a defense of exaggerated fasting: — De Fuga denies the right of Christians to flee from persecution: — De Corona Militis commends a Christian soldier who refitted to wear the festive chaplet on a great occasion and suffered punishment for his act: — De Pallio is a witty explanation of his conduct in wearing the pallium instead of the ordinary Roman toga, difficult for us to understand because of its numerous allusions to obscure customs of the time.
The earliest edition of the collected works of Tertullian was that of Beatus Rhenanus (1521). It was followed by those of Pamelius (1579), Rigaltius (1634, 1744), Semler (1770) and Migne (1844). The latest and best edition is that of Oehler (1853).

The life of Tertullian has been written by: Neander (1825; 2d ed. 1849).

http://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/T/tertullian(us)-quintus-septimius-florens.html

We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And this is what we speak, not in words taught to us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:13-15
We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And this is what we speak, not in words taught to us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing / combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words / comparing spiritual things with spiritual things / explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? (Isaiah 40:13) But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Korintiečiams 2:12-15
Mes gavome ne pasaulio dvasią, bet Dvasią iš Dievo, kad suvoktume, kas mums Dievo dovanota. Apie tai ir kalbame ne žodžiais, kurių moko žmogiškoji išmintis, bet tais, kurių moko Šventoji Dvasia, – dvasinius dalykus gretindami su dvasiniais. Bet sielinis žmogus nepriima to, kas yra iš Dievo Dvasios, nes jam tai kvailystė; ir negali suprasti, nes tai dvasiškai vertinama. O dvasinis žmogus gali spręsti apie viską, bet niekas negali spręsti apie jį. „Kas gi suvokė Viešpaties mintį, kad galėtų Jį pamokyti?“ O mes turime Kristaus protą.

1 Corinthians 3:1-8
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

1 Korintiečiams 3:1-8
Aš, broliai, negalėjau kalbėti jums kaip dvasiniams, bet kaip kūniškiems, kaip kūdikiams Kristuje. Maitinau jus pienu, ne tvirtu maistu, kurio jūs negalėjote priimti. Net ir dabar negalite, nes tebesate kūniški. Jeigu tarp jūsų pavydas, nesantaika ir susiskaldymai, – argi nesate kūniški? Argi nesielgiate grynai žmogiškai? Kol vienas sako: „Aš – Pauliaus“, kitas: „Aš – Apolo“, – argi nesate kūniški? Kas yra Paulius? Kas yra Apolas? Tarnai, kurių dėka įtikėjote ir kurie tarnavo, kiek Viešpats kiekvienam skyrė. Aš sodinau, Apolas laistė, o Dievas augino. Todėl nieko nereiškia nei sodintojas, nei laistytojas, bet Dievas – augintojas. Kas sodina ir kas laisto, yra viena, ir kiekvienas gaus savąjį užmokestį pagal savo triūsą.

When unbelievers come to the church, they look at the church as if it’s all one: it is all Christian.

God says in the church there are various categories of people. Scripture says there are 1) spiritual 2) fleshly 3) infants.

There are those who are fleshly. They cannot understand what the Holy Spirit says. They do not have the Holy Spirit in their heart (mind). They have not yet been born. When they hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, they consider it foolishness. For them it is very hard to understand that Jesus died on the cross. They are so proud that they do not accept the gift of salvation. They trust in their own strength and righteousness. They say, I will build my life. Tomorrow is up to me. There is no room for God in their lives. And they do good works to be accepted by God. Holy Spirit tells us in the Bible that God has given us salvation as a gift. We need to receive it.

The second category of people are infants. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, I was unable to speak to you with solid food, because you are still infants. I remember when I was an infant. I remember when I first believed, I began to understand God. Like a sponge I began to drink up everything, all teaching, whatever anyone said, I accepted it all. It did not matter to me where the teaching was coming from, from who, for me it was only important that it’s about Christ. I loved to read the Bible. I loved to listen to sermons. I had the desire to give my life to the Lord completely. I was ready to serve the Lord completely. I was ready to do everything. It is that time when you first come to know the Lord and His love and God begins to answer your prayers. I asked for everything and God showed me everything. God was caring for me like a little child. Because I was a little spiritual child! God answered all my prayers. I loved God. Holy Spirit was in me. But unfortunately not many people wanted to be friends with me! Because my character was still the same as it was before! It had not yet been changed. I was a Christian but at the same time the old nature was still there. The old character, the sinful tendencies. And often I would have to repent so that I would change.

There are also spiritual people, those who have the mind of Christ. They are able to appraise all things. But no one is able to appraise them. Why are others not able to appraise them? It is because they resemble Christ. The spiritual person thinks like Jesus, acts like Jesus, even their motives are like Jesus. It is often difficult to understand them because of their behaviour! Sometimes it is difficult to appraise others by their behaviour. All of us come to church. All of us serve in some kind of ministry. But what kind of motive lies behind it? Who is leading us? How are we living? In 1 Corinthians 1:2 Paul writes that we are called to be holy people. In another place Paul writes that God has chosen us that we would be transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3). This is a spiritual person. This is the person in whom lives the Lord Jesus Christ. And people see in him/her the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a fourth category, the carnal person. The carnal person is also a Christian. Scripture says he has the Holy Spirit. He has been born of God. He was an infant. But he has remained that way. In Uzbekistan there is a church that runs an orphanage. Our church would visit the orphanage to share the good news. There was a man there who was 40 years old. His head was that of a man who is 40 years old. His hands and body and feet were like that of a child. Imagine. Head like 40 year-old, but body like a child. And the sisters and others would feed him. He could speak. He listened to the teaching. But it so happened that his head grew but his body didn’t. The carnal person is similar to this person. He came to God. Grows older, but spiritually he does not grow! When other people meet these carnal people they may say, if Christianity is like this, I do not want to be like that. If a spiritual person, a person with the Holy Spirit is like that, then I don’t want to be a Christian. Sometimes we do not see our own growth. But to others it is visible. How fearful it is to be in the church for 20 years and have these various inconsistencies. To come to Christ and be full of joy like a child, to enjoy being fed, but not to grow to maturity (Matthew 5:48, Matthew 19:21, 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 14:20, Ephesians 4:13, Philippians 3:15, Colossians 1:28, Colossians 4:12, Hebrews 5:14, James 1:4)

1 Corinthians 11:29-31
For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weakand sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. Now if we judged ourselves properly, we would not come under judgment.

1 Corinthians 5:12-13
What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (Deut. 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7)

Love on Fire

A fire burned inside Myo Zaw. It was lit the day the Lord redeemed him, and it grew hotter and more intense every single day. He was like the prophet Jeremiah, unable to keep the love of Christ hidden within himself. If he tried, he felt restless, he felt sick.

Weary of holding it in, Myo Zaw shouted from the roadsides and in market places, “Christ [redeemed] me, and He will [redeem] you also!”

People thought he had gone mad. Those in his community already knew him as a hot-blooded drunkard who fought with people and beat his wife and children, and now he proved his insanity.

“But I knew I was not mad,” Myo Zaw says. “The love of God just would not simply keep [quiet] in my heart. I wanted to pour it out and share it.”

Independently Ministering

Consumed by a fire that could not be put out, Myo Zaw traveled throughout his region, walking from place to place, sharing the Word of God. He told people “how a sinner like me was found by God.” In three years, he visited 100 communities. His wife, Shway, sent him letters while he was away to encourage him.

“If your life can change by Christ, there is no one who cannot be changed by Christ,” she’d say. “So wherever you are going and sharing the Word of God, we are here to pray for you. I believe people will be changed by the love of Christ.”

And people were—350 of them. They heard of His great love and saw it lived out in His child, and it changed them.

Following Like Jesus

Not long after, a man visited Myo Zaw’s village and shared about the different places in their country and how Jesus went to a foreign land, though heaven was His home.

The fire inside Myo Zaw intensified. He knew without any doubt that his life needed to be about sharing the Lord’s love with others. It was a powerful love that transformed him, and he knew others needed it, too.

He told himself, “It is better that I go and give my life for the people in foreign lands.” So he and his wife prayed and prepared themselves to live in an area where people were unfamiliar with the Lamb of God.

Nearly 10 years later, God sent them to the southern region of their country as GFA-supported missionaries.

Forced Out of Community

In their new community, people quickly realized Myo Zaw and his family were Christians and decided they would have nothing to do with the new arrivals.

“We were [forced] out of community,” Pastor Myo Zaw says, “and it is very difficult to live without community.”

People threw stones at Myo Zaw’s home and threatened to penalize others if they spoke to the Christians. Even Myo Zaw’s young children faced discrimination at school because of their faith.

“Sometimes, when we would go to the market,” Pastor Myo Zaw recalls, “they’d look at us as if we were enemies. All these things we faced, but the Lord showed His grace upon us through which we are still OK now.”

Turning of Hearts

Myo Zaw, Shway and their children trusted Christ throughout the hardships, and with the Spirit’s fiery love pulsating within them, they learned how to love the people in their new community.

The pastor started with film ministry, showing people movies they enjoyed and also the film of Jesus’ life. The local children felt Myo Zaw’s and his wife’s warmth and began visiting them. Myo Zaw and Shway would give the young boys and girls treats, teach them songs and bathe the ones that came looking haggard.

The community watched how they cared for their children and wondered why this man and his wife loved them so much. Soon, people talked to them at the market, and Pastor Myo Zaw and Shway were able to reveal Christ’s love to them.

They cared for the sick and took people to the hospital when needed. When floodwaters destroyed homes and livelihoods, they and other GFA-supported workers helped provide relief. Pastor Myo Zaw frequently visited people to encourage them and offer words of life and hope in Christ Jesus. And people visited him as well.

God’s Most Powerful Weapon

The fire God kindled within Myo Zaw on the first day of his redemption continues to burn brighter and hotter as the years pass.

“My love has become deeper for them. I care for them more,” he says of the people who are now his friends. “That’s why I don’t want to go back to my hometown. That is why I would like to sacrifice my whole life for them.”

After 14 years of displaying Christ’s love, people feel and understand Myo Zaw’s love for them and many return it. They’ve come to know that “everything I do is for them,” he says. And he does it because of Christ.

“What I have found in my life,” Myo Zaw says, “is that love is the most powerful weapon we have from God.”

The Galilee Boat

The river was busy. It was always busy during high tide. Boatmen competed with each other to ferry people and belongings from the market to villages and back. Some boats were so weighed down that the tops were only a few inches from the water’s surface.

This was the way of life for people living near the shores, where channels of water sliced through the ground and boats helped people get around from village to village.

But the Galilee Boat was different. It was just Pastor Myo Zaw and his disciple, Nyein Shein, on this boat. They traversed through the river together. Myo Zaw stood toward the front of the boat, a handwoven bag slung across his chest and packets of information about true hope in his left hand. Nyein Shein was at the stern, bending this way and that as he navigated the vessel through the murky waters, careful not to collide into other boats.

For Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein, traveling through the waters was less about getting around and more about meeting people.

“Galilee Boat is like a second life for us, which is very important for our [ministry],” Myo Zaw said.

The boat was a means to minister. It created opportunities for Pastor Myo Zaw to talk with fishermen or the men waiting to ferry people from the market. He’d also go to villages that could only be visited by boat.

Through the Galilee Boat, people who had never heard about the redemptive love of Christ could finally witness it. They’d see it in the life of the man who traveled in the boat just to see them, and they’d hear it in his voice when he’d speak words of life found in the Word of God. And something would happen inside their hearts. They believed that still, small voice that whispered to them, “I am the living God.”

Three fellowships and 16 other smaller fellowships grew in villages that Pastor Myo Zaw visited via the Galilee Boat.

The boat has become “famous,” Myo Zaw said. But not because it’s constantly traveling through the channels of water, looking to meet new people. It’s become famous because of the timely help it’s provided.

The region where Pastor Myo Zaw and Nyein Shein serve is known to flood during monsoon seasons. When it does, they use the Galilee Boat to bring relief supplies, like food and medicine, to stranded villagers and to rescue people by transferring them to safer regions.

“I believe God gave me this boat to help the community in the times of difficulties,” Myo Zaw said.

And that’s where you’ll find him and Nyein Shein, out on the Galilee Boat, navigating the busy river to help people in their community.

https://www.gfa.ca/news/articles/gfa-world-love-on-fire/

https://www.gfa.ca/gfa-world/2017/march-departments/#mf-0317

Munay’s Testimony

Tears freely tumbled down Munay’s cheeks and spilled onto her already soaked pillow. It was so hard. Cancer raged inside her body even though Munay had underwent surgery and eight chemo injections. Now radiotherapy attacked her cancerous cells. Too sick to move, Munay lay on her bed. Thoughts raced in her head, moving her past the physical pain—her heart was breaking. She couldn’t die now, not yet. There was so much work yet to be done, and if she didn’t do it, who would?

Munay grew up going to church and knew the Bible well. Her pastor even appointed her to be a Sunday school teacher, but she felt something was missing.

“I never committed myself freely into God’s hand,” she said.

Because of this, she had no peace. She searched for it by going to different prayer meetings, but “I always came back empty handed,” she said. “Yet there was hope in my life that one day God would touch me and fill my heart with His divine peace.”

That revelation came while attending a Christian convention. She was inspired by the believers and their passionate worship. It seemed they loved Jesus deeply. After hearing a message from Isaiah 44:22, Munay understood for the first time that Jesus had willingly laid down His life for her. When she took this to heart and personally accepted God’s love, everything changed.

“Peace and joy filled my life in abundance,” she said.

Munay was now entrusted with a deep yearning to help those who didn’t know Jesus, her Savior. She cried out to the Lord to use her, and He answered. After she graduated Bible college in 2006, she began serving the Lord in her home state. Munay, there on her knees, would find true victory amidst years of controversy.

During her ministry Munay didn’t experience an easy road. Because she was not an eloquent speaker it was difficult for her to convey to people the message of hope she carried. The individuals she served were highly educated and thought little of Munay, especially as she stumbled through her words. The youths also threw stones at her house as an attempt to scare her off. But no matter how much the locals looked down on her and treated her as lowly, she would not become discouraged. Munay was convinced she was called by God, and she was prepared to face all kinds of adverse circumstances on her knees.

It was an uphill climb, but the more difficult the situations Munay faced, the more she was willing to bow her head. As a result, the Lord in His mercy answered her prayers and blessed her ministry. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, she established a prayer fellowship with eventually 10 believers. The local people mocked them in their new journey with Jesus. They tried to discourage them with sarcastic remarks, but Munay encouraged the believers and fixed her eyes heavenward with them. Munay well understood what they were facing.

After five years of serving in this community, Munay’s life weathered yet another difficult season. In 2014, Munay found out she had cancer. This devastated Munay, but not for herself. She cried out to the Lord day and night, asking God to spare her life.

“Lord, please heal me, as I have much work remaining to do,” Munay prayed through her sobs. “I must do the work.”

However, even in sickness Munay was not deterred from loving and trusting Jesus. She believed God would heal her body. Her ministry didn’t stop either. Munay encouraged her brothers and sisters in God’s Word while on her sickbed, praying and longing to be with them daily.

After a time, the Lord answered Munay’s faith-filled prayers and brought her healing. Munay came through her terminal illness as one tried through fire, and her testimony in Christ appears golden.

“When you are in good health, do as much as you can for the Lord. Do not take your life for granted,” Munay exhorted her brothers and sisters, managing to stand before them as her body grew stronger. “Let us not grow weary, but let us be zealous in serving the Lord. And may the Lord not have to put you in a position to make you realize how little you have done. We must do the work. If we do not do it, then who will? Make the most of the life that God has given us.”

https://www.gfa.ca/news/articles/when-cancer-tries-to-take-over/

Jesus will never end

ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER DAILY SO YOU DO NOT BECOME HARDENED BY THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN

SEE THAT NONE OF YOU BROTHERS AND SISTERS HAS UNBELIEVING HEART MAKING YOU TURN AWAY FROM THE LIVING GOD

GODS GRACE IS GREATER

I WANT TO SAY HAVE HOPE

JESUS IS GREATER THAN REJECTION AND CONFUSION

GREATER THAN IDOLATRY

GREATER THAN LUST

ADULTERY

FORNICATION

PORNOGRAPHY

IMMATURITY

PERVERTEDNESS

JESUS CHANGES PERVERTS

AND PERVERTED MINDS

SEXUAL IMMORALITY

SEX ADDICTION

PROSTITUTION

HOMOSEXUALITY

CORRUPTION

THEFT

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

INCEST

RAPE

ABUSE

HAVE HOPE

FAMILY ISSUES

BAD UPBRINGING

BAD MOM

BAD DAD

NO MOM

NO DAD

JESUS IS DAD

JESUS IS MOM

JESUS OVERCOMES

JEALOUSY

ENVY

COVETOUSNESS

LIES

BITTERNESS

HATE

MURDER

PRIDE

LONELINESS

NIGHTMARES

NO FRIENDS

PROBLEMS AT SCHOOL

PROBLEMS WITH TEACHERS

LACK OF SUBMISSION

PROBLEMS AT WORK

JOBLESSNESS

HOMELESSNESS

HUNGER

THIRST

POVERTY

BLINDNESS

DEAFNESS

MANIPULATION

COLD HEART

STONY HEART

NO LOVE

NO HOPE

DARKNESS

ANCESTRAL SIN

CURSES

GENERATIONAL SINS

DEMONS

FALLEN ANGELS

DEMONIC ATTACK

DEMONIC MANIPULATION

BEING CAPTURED BY DEVIL TO DO HIS WILL

IN THE HANDS OF SATAN

MIND CONTROLLED BY SATAN

POWERS

IN HEAVEN

ON EARTH

GREATER

THAN LAZINESS

WEAKNESS

LACK OF DISCIPLINE

LACK OF SELF CONTROL

LACK OF MATURITY

LACK OF CONSISTENCY

LACK OF VICTORY

DEFEAT

NOT FINISHING WHAT YOU START

IRRESPONSIBILITY

NO MEEKNESS

NO HUNGER THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

NO LOVE FOR PEOPLE

MENTAL ILLNESS

MENTAL IMBALANCES

ANXIETY

SCHIZOPHRENIA

BIPOLAR

INSOMNIA

DEPRESSION

DEMON POSSESSION

DEMON OPPRESSION

ADDICTION

COMPUTER

DRUGS

ALCOHOL

MARIJUANA

COCAINE

ECSTACY

HEROIN

METHAMPHETAMINE

SUICIDE

SICKNESS

MEDICATION

CANCER

PILLS

MEDICINE

PSYCHOLOGISTS

PSYCHIATRISTS

THERAPY

COUNSELORS

FEAR

SELFISHNESS

ANYTHING

ANY PROBLEM

WHAT PROBLEM YOU HAVE

JESUS IS BIGGER

OVEREATING

IDOLATRY TO FOOD

SLAVERY TO FOOD

ANOREXIA

BULIMIA

VANITY

MATERIALISM

COMPROMISE

RUNNING AWAY FROM GOD

BREAKING PROMISES

FAITHLESSNESS

FAILURE

COWARDNESS

WORLDLINESS

CARNALITY

QUENCHING THE SPIRIT

HATING BROTHERS AND SISTERS

JUDGING OTHERS

INSECURITY

JUDGING ACCORDING TO APPEARANCE

NOT COMING TO CHURCH

CHOOSING SELF OVER OTHERS

CHOOSING OTHER THINGS MORE THAN JESUS

LOVING THE WORLD

DESIRE OF EYES

DESIRE OF FLESH

PRIDE OF LIFE

SIN

DEATH

HELL

WAR

ISLAM

ISIS

TERRORISM

VIOLENCE

VIOLENCE IN THE WORLD

VIOLENCE IN YOUR MIND

EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS

ALL EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS

ALL SOCIAL PROBLEMS

UNBELIEF

PRAYERLESSNESS

IGNORING THE BIBLE

UNREPENTANCE

HARD HEART

IDOLATRY

HYPOCRISY

DOUBLE HEART

DOUBLE MIND

HIDING

COVERING UP

WEARING MASK

AFRAID TO BE OPEN

LIVING A LIE

SECRET SIN

THAT NOBODY KNOWS

SECRET FAILURE

LYING

FEAR

PAIN

HURT

BROKENNESS

NOT ABLE TO LOVE

NOT ABLE TO GIVE

NOT ABLE TO HELP

NOT ABLE TO SERVE

NOT ABLE TO CRY

NOT ABLE TO HEAR GODS VOICE

GUILT!

SHAME!

UNCLEAN HEART

NO PEACE IN CONSCIENCE

UNCLEAN CONSCIENCE

SEARED CONSCIENCE

NO FREEDOM

TURNING BACK ON JESUS

NOT FOLLOWING JESUS

NOT TAKING CROSS

NOT LOVING JESUS

NOT LOVING HIS CHURCH

NOT LOVING THE LOST

LIVING FOR SELF

SPIRITUAL DECEPTION

JESUS IS MORE POWERFUL

HE IS BIGGER

HE IS GREATER THAN YOUR HEART

HE KNOWS ALL THINGS

THAT WHAT 1 JOHN SAY

WE PROCLAIM JESUS

HE IS THE ANSWER

HE IS LOVE

HE SHOWS HIS LOVE FOR US ON THE CROSS

JESUS IS GREATER THAN UNFORGIVENESS

GREATER THAN MISTAKES

GREATER THAN ACCUSING THOUGHTS

CONDEMNATION

GREATER THAN WASTED LIFE

GREATER THAN FALSE RELIGION

POLITICS

TRUMP

YOU NAME IT

FOOLISHNESS

COMPUTER ADDICTION

PHONE ADDICTION

LACK OF OBEDIENCE

FAILURE

UNSURE OF FUTURE

BAD WITNESS

NOT GOING TO CHURCH

NOT LOVING

GETTING FIRED

DISRESPECTING MOM AND DAD

MISTAKES

NOT HAVING MANNERS

NOT SUBMITTING TO AUTHORITY

DESPISING OTHERS

JUDGING

BAD ATTITUDE

NOT REJOICING

NOT TRUSTING

NOT BELIEVING

CANCER

STROKE

DISEASES

COMPLETELY BROKEN WASTED LIFE

TRYING TO BRING GLORY TO SELF

TRYNG TO BRING ATTENTION TO SELF

ATTENTION AT THE CHURCH

CENTRE OF ATTENTION

SPIRITUAL IDOLATRY

CURIOSITY

IDOL OF INFORMATION

RICHES

WEALTH

MONEY

YOUTHUL LUSTS

ETC

NOT SUBMITTING TO JESUS

NOT SURRENDERING

WASTED DEGREES

LACK OF CONFIDENCE

LACK OF BOLDNESS

LACK OF AUTHORITY

LACK OF IDENTITY

IDENTITY CRISIS

FAMILY BREAKUP

DIVORCE

MULTIPLE DIVORVE

SEPARATION

ADULTERY

REMARRIAGE

BAD CHOICES

WRONG MARRIAGE PARTNERS

NO MARRIAGE PARTNERS

STUNTED GROWTH

BACKSLIDING

SHIPWRECK OF FAITH

BROKEN HEART

LACK OF REVERENCE AND FEAR OF GOD

LACK OF RESPECT

LACK OF WISDOM

LACK OF BIBLE READING

NO BIBLE MEMORY

LACK OF PASSION

LACK OF ZEAL

LACK OF EVANGELISM

PREACHING

WITNESSING

BROKEN PROMISES

NOT SHARING TRUTHS GOD HAS REVEALED

NOT DOING HIS WILL

ABORTION

FEELING UNWORTHY

FEELING UNFORGIVABLE

FEELINGS

NOT KNOWING GOD AS FATHER

NOT KNOWING JESUS IS GOD

NOT SEEING THE CROSS OF JESUS

HIS GREAT LOVE

NOT BELIEVING

NOT HAVING FAITH

JESUS OVERCOMES

BRAIN DAMAGE

EVIL MUSIC

FALSE RELIGION

RELIGIOUS PRIDE

DEFEAT

NO COMPASSION

NO REALITY

EVERY KIND OF EVIL

ALL EVIL

ANYTHING

JESUS STAYS VICTORIOUS

GREATER THAN STUBBORNNESS

COMMUNISM

ATHEISM

ALCOHOLISM

UTTER RUIN

GREATER IS JESUS

THAN GANGSTERISM

GREATER THAN FEAR

GREATER THAN INADEQUACY

POWERLESSNESS

JESUS IS GREATER THAN LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

LACK OF CHARISMA

GREATER THAN

AKWARDNESS

HE IS GREATER

HE TAKES NO PLEASURE IN EVIL

BUT REJOICES IN THE TRUTH

JESUS

BEARS ALL THINGS

BELIEVES ALL THINGS

HOPES ALL THINGS

ENDURES ALL THINGS

JESUS NEVER FAILS

WHERE THERE ARE PROPHECIES

THEY WILL END

SAME WITH LANGUAGES

SAME WITH KNOWLEDGE

BUT JESUS WILL NEVER END

Sing a new song with gongs!

Recently in a country in Asia, Wycliffe Bible Translators held EthnoArts and Storying workshops, designed to equip people to tell accurate Bible stories in their own language and culturally authentic storytelling style. The idea is to encourage local Christians to share the content and message of the stories with songs, music and other art forms that are rooted in their own culture.

One worker involved with the workshops reported: ‘In one location all of the language groups involved have historically used gongs for their indigenous music. In a previous training, several groups lamented that the Christians among them had given up using gongs when they became believers, and now they no longer owned any gongs. They recognized the value and power of using these traditional instruments and musical style to worship God. At the most recent workshop two groups reported that they had acquired some gongs and were composing new worship music to glorify God. One man told of playing the new songs on the gongs and four families (about 15 people) responding by deciding to follow Jesus! A man from another group told of making a recording of their new songs on the gongs and introducing this to a neighboring community. They were having trouble with people stealing the discs from each other because the music was so popular! Part of a new song: Lord, show mercy to my villagers because so many have not come to know Jesus. The coming day of Jesus Christ is so soon; He promised to come back.’

Pray for further workshops over the next year – for good attendance, participation and new, culturally authentic music that glorifies God.

https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/blog/2017/01/sing-a-new-song-with-gongs/

Impaired or Enlarged?

Impaired or Enlarged?

~ H. Stephen Ebersole

As I briefly observed my seat mate while we were buckling up prior to take off, I thought she appeared middle-aged and somewhat frazzled. She certainly did not seem to be the talkative type. “It will probably be a very quiet ride,” I mused to myself. However, when the stewardess asked her what she wanted to drink, her answer stirred my interest and suggested otherwise.

“May I please have two vodkas and a tomato juice?” she responded. “I’d like to make myself a Bloody Mary.”

Breathing a prayer, I ventured, “May I ask you, what does drinking an alcoholic beverage do for you?”

Making a guilty grimace my seat mate replied, “It takes all the tensions away that I have when I travel and need to face the crowds. In a few minutes I’ll get this warm, pleasant sensation inside and all my worries and troubles will just melt away.” As a dreamy look crossed her face she continued, “You see, I have a disorder called agoraphobia—I lock up with panic and tension when I’m in a crowd.”

She went on to tell me her story. As a teenager in Peru, she had been traumatized by being kidnaped and then held hostage for ransom. She had come through the experience without physical harm, but inside she still had many emotional struggles.

It really felt like I was venturing further into dangerous territory, but I decided to risk it anyway—“Ma’am, I have a question. I’m a minister of the gospel and last night I preached from Proverbs 31. I was speaking about the subject of what people turn to for a solution when their emotions overwhelm them. I warned them about the dangers of strong drink and how it impairs the individual’s judgment. I’d like to know from your experience if this is true?”

Opening my Bible, I offered it to her so she could read Proverbs 31:4-9. She slowly and thoughtfully read the words,

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

After reading the passage she asked, “Now what was your question again?”

I explained that we all need something to turn to when our emotions bottom out and tie us up in knots, or when we feel that life is almost more than we can handle. “So here is my question, ‘Is it true that alcohol impairs and distorts our judgment—that while making us feel we can handle our problems, it actually blinds us to the larger reality of life, and keeps us from feeling other people’s suffering?’”

“It most certainly is true,” she replied, “And what’s more, I really shouldn’t be giving myself this little liberty today. It’s just that I need the courage to face these two airplane flights and all these people.”

But then she turned toward me with another question, “Are you telling me, that in all your life you’ve never had a drink of beer or whiskey? That’s really amazing!”

“That’s true,” I said. “Our people have been taught to never even taste the stuff. But I’ll admit, that a number of our people are on different types of psychotropic medications.” Then I went on and risked yet another question, “Tell me, do you have any experience with psych meds; you know, the kind that people are given to help them deal with their emotional problems? You see, the reason for my asking is that many of our people are told by doctors that they need medications in order to handle difficulties of life. I’d like to know if that also affects people negatively?”

“I sure do have experience,” she responded. “My struggles have taken me down that road as well. I have had about all the drugs which are available that are supposed to help people with emotional issues. And I have to say that they aren’t much different than alcohol. They take effect in different ways, but they are actually designed to do the same thing. In fact, because of my experience I’ve become an advocate for individuals who are being medicated against their will.”

She went on to explain how some people use medications to control other people who should actually be allowed to work through their negative emotions, with compassionate support. “Tell your people not to go down that road! There’s no one out there who really needs medications” she asserted, “except for those who are on them and just can’t stop taking them right away. Tell them that medications will impair their judgment of life.”

Will we impair our brains?

And so this conversation raises even more questions. Many doctors and even conservative ministers encourage people struggling with emotions to turn to prescription medications for the mind. May we consider the negative impact of this? What do the experts know about these medications? What are the long-term effects of taking this route for our emotional and mental struggles? The following is a brief summary of these findings.

First, though, let us ponder what Lemuel’s mother told him almost 3,000 years ago. Consider the words she chose to describe the effects of alcohol. “Forget, pervert, forget, remember no more.” It does not say, “Give your brain enlightenment and balance.”

Like my seat mate on the plane, a person who uses alcohol to self-medicate can tell you that he chooses to drink because it makes him feel better about his problems. The tensions he feels inside temporarily melt away. Social awkwardness and other inhibitions disappear and the person feels good about himself for a while. He will often admit that it does not change his reality but rather it makes him feel different about his reality. In fact, using strong drink often makes reality much worse, but his negative reality no longer troubles him, while he is under its influence.

Sadly, it is true that the new distorted reality also narrows an individual’s perception about other people’s problems—troubles and needs are of no concern to him. Lemuel’s mother warned him that his ability to decide cases of judgment would be affected, especially where human suffering was involved. The sharp edge of living with eternal realities also fades; the will of God as written in the law subsides. Or to put it another way, the conscience is dulled and God’s still small voice becomes quieter still.

A psychology team put it this way. “If people do feel better when drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana it is because they feel better when their brain is impaired. Psychiatric drugs are no different. The people who take such drugs may feel less of their emotional suffering. They may even reach a state of relative anesthesia. But to the degree that they feel better, it is because they are experiencing intoxication with the drugs.” 

This thought often surprises people, because we have been led to believe that medications are actually medicine. In reality, medications that target the brain do not bring balance to any brain chemistry, nor do they fill some void in the neural pathways. Rather, drugs that are designed for the brain are actually created to change the normal brain chemistry, based upon clinical theories, not research facts.

The following is a quote from foundationsrecoverynetwork.com. “Every type of drug, no matter how potent or addictive, has some type of effect on the person using it. These effects can range from mild to severe, and can include both physical and psychological [or spiritual] symptoms. While each drug is different, one common effect of drug use is impaired judgment. Every drug side effect has the potential to be dangerous, but impaired judgment can be especially risky to a person physically, psychologically and socially. It is essential to use drugs with extreme caution, knowing that they can impair a person’s judgment in multiple and sometimes unexpected ways.”

Another quote from the same source: “The NIDA (National Institute for Drug Abuse) also describes the changes that occur in a person’s brain while on drugs. The chemicals in the drug disrupt the communication system of the brain, changing the way it processes information by either acting like the brain’s natural neurotransmitters, or by causing the brain to release too many neurotransmitters.” 

Choosing this remedy for emotional or mental suffering is sometimes described as closing out communication between the two worlds we all experience. Each of us has an ongoing dialogue between the sensations we gather from our bodies and what we tell ourselves in our minds about our world. When our bodies fail to respond the way they should, or when we become aware that our bodies are not doing what we want them to, we choose a corrective choice. For example, if we feel dizzy, or shiver, or get the impression that we are not making sense to others, we stop and choose a response in order to correct that specific problem.

When the brain is impaired by alcohol or mind-altering drugs (prescription or street), that self-dialogue and correction is minimized or stopped altogether, depending upon the substance type and the level of ingestion. An alcohol-impaired person becomes decreasingly aware of his staggering steps or his self-centered conversation. He not only stops seeing the full reality around him, but he also stops sensing it within himself. It is common for the alcoholic to resist treatment because he has lost perception about how the alcohol is affecting his actions. Not being aware of his actions, he is naive about his addiction to the substance. When he finally becomes sober he finds that he has “wounds without cause” (see Proverbs 23:29-35). This same self-blindness is also experienced, to one degree or another, across the whole spectrum of psychoactive medications.

How much of this impairment are we responsible for? Only God knows and only the judgment will reveal how He feels about all of this. What is the soul (mind) accountable for when the brain is under an impairment brought on by alcohol, psychiatric medications, or any other psychoactive substance?

If Lemuel had resisted his mother’s direction and chosen to self-medicate, he no doubt would have allowed the oppressed in his kingdom to suffer. He would have chosen a life with few inhibitions such as described in Proverbs 23:29-35. He would have come back to reality after a night of little or no self-awareness and wondered what all he had done during his drunken stupor. How much of this would he have been responsible for?

Another question about the impaired mind is this: “When our world is made smaller, what happens to our self?” Is it not true that a smaller world makes a larger self in comparison? Do any of us need to have a world where our personal story becomes more and more important and other people’s worlds matter less and less? Is it not right to treat emotional distress the same way we do physical suffering?

This is a question that is often asked.

When a person breaks a leg or suffers from a serious cut we readily seek medical assistance. Part of the remedy is to relieve the pain of the wound. So why would we imply that there are cautions in regards to seeking medical help for the emotional struggles of a broken heart, a malfunctioning mind, or for fears that seem to rage out of control?

Even more closely related to the situations of emotional agony are the physical conditions which affect our emotions. When a blood sugar condition is out of balance we know it will bring a mental instability. When hormones are involved or when there is a thyroid problem, we do not hesitate to seek medical help, even if it may involve chemical medications. We should make it clear here that when some physical organ of the body is not functioning properly, we believe the Bible supports finding medicinal relief.

So why not address emotional pain such as fear, worries, anger, distress, or grief from the same perspective? God’s Word clearly makes a difference. We all know of Luke, the beloved physician. Paul gave Timothy a medicinal remedy for a stomach problem. God’s Word gives place for physical remedies for physical problems. But in these cases the medicine enables or enhances the functions of the body.

Is this also the case when treating the mind with medications? Are minds helped because brains are enhanced or enabled? Do people find their way out of fear or guilt because their brains are sharpened by the drugs? The words of Scripture would show, and even many professionals would agree, that this is not the case. The facts of Scripture, science, and research clearly detail that in most cases, emotional help which is received through substance use or prescription drug use is, in reality, experienced as help because the brain is hindered and impaired, not because it is enhanced or enabled.

This is why we see mind issues as an entirely different matter. The mind (heart or soul) uses the brain in this life, but the mind is first and foremost spiritual in nature. The brain is considered to be a physical organ, but the mind is not. God directs us to give care to our minds, but that care is supposed to come through biblical, spiritual enhancement. The command to be sober teaches us to establish boundaries on our thought life in order to experience peace and Christian victory. The biblical direction to speak to ourselves through songs is to help establish our mind’s activity.

Promises in both the Old and New Testament focus on God’s ability to bring peace to hearts that are in turmoil. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17). The activity of true biblical worship is a wonderful mind stabilizer.

Jesus has both comforted and commanded us with His words, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). We also know the promise, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galations 5:22-23). “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

This brings us to the other option regarding the seeking of help for emotional needs.

Will we enlarge our hearts?

“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged” (2 Corinthians 6:11).

The Apostle Paul is a great encouragement, perhaps most of all because of the tremendous spiritual legacy he left in his writings. We marvel at his example. When he met Christ on the Damascus road and surrendered to Jesus as Lord, he gave his life unreservedly to spreading the Gospel. Because of this choice Paul suffered unbelievable rejection and persecution. Several passages highlight what he endured, but one passage reveals the effects of the suffering—what that suffering did to his heart.

This is recorded in 2 Corinthians 1:3-8.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:”

In 2 Corinthians chapters 4 and 11, Paul gives us more insights into this account. He was repeatedly traumatized, one time even to the point that the persecutors thought they had solved the problem of Paul once for all, as they left him for dead. But through this all, Paul believed that his suffering was for a grander purpose. “Our light affliction”, as he calls it, and which he tells himself is “just for a moment”, he understood as happening for the purpose of working “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. In chapter 12 we have Paul’s thoughts recorded about a very private time in his life when he struggled, asking for a certain distress to be taken away. After repeatedly praying for God’s deliverance the answer was “No.”

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he [God] said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

In short, Paul turned to God for his comfort. Then to give him comfort, God did not dull or impair Paul’s perception, but rather helped him see the big picture and gave him strength to endure through his distress. When Paul embraced the big picture and received comfort from God, his heart and world were enlarged. Through this experience, he was then able to connect with hurting people from many different walks of life.

When we hurt or go through what the flesh does not want, God often does something for our spiritual man that He could not do any other way. We may be brought to the edge of eternity where we may see God’s purposes more vividly. We may be brought to a fuller grasp of God’s grace and what it does for us. Thus our hearts are enlarged. By going through suffering we are brought into a more complete understanding of what others may be going through.

In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul again details what he went through for the church at Corinth. The list is intimidating—one could almost expect to hear him say at the end, “I am all worn out! I have no more patience for you!” But Paul rather exclaims just the opposite, “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians, we are hiding nothing, keeping nothing back, and our heart is expanded wide for you! There is no lack of room for you in our hearts…”

One of the blessed outcomes for us is that our view of our self changes when our heart is enlarged to care for others. Is it not wonderful when our self-focus shrinks to lesser importance? When our needs, our hurts, and our thoughts are not the center of our attention anymore, but rather our emphasis is on what God is doing in the lives of others?

We all experience suffering

All of us suffer. We live in a fallen world. People betray us. Events disappoint us. We may receive wounds, big or small, from both the church and the world. Sometimes, after we suffer long enough, the hurts and disappointments seem to add up to a great sense of disillusionment. No one would argue whether or not the suffering is real.

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:22-23)

During some seasons of life, many of us will struggle so much with pain that we wonder whether or not we will lose our ability to reason. Sometimes it seems like the hurts and wounds are so deep and last so long that we can no longer control our thoughts. Everything gets jumbled together until it seems almost as though we can no longer think clearly.

Maybe our struggle is depression. We feel so bad that we do not even want to get out of bed, much less face the public or our church family. The struggles of the mind affect our ability to face life with vigor and vitality. Job 3 is a good passage to read when we feel badly about life.

It is helpful to remember that it is God who created us for living on this earth. We did not create ourselves. We did not choose to live in a fallen world. God understood what we would be dealing with, even from the very beginning of time. The God who made us also assures us that we will not face temptations or struggles greater than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). Just like He created us with controllable sexual desires or the ability to regulate our anger, so He also created us with the capacity to endure suffering.

Additionally, it is helpful to remember that Jesus understands whatever we face. He went through great human suffering and struggle. In eternity past He told the Father, “I delight to do thy will.” Then when He walked on this earth and finally faced the cross in a physical body, He cried out in an appeal asking for a different path. “Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…”

In conclusion, which will we choose?

Impaired? Enlarged? Which will we choose? There is no doubt that God will have us suffer during our earthly journey. And the suffering isn’t only physical; some of the most challenging times we experience are in our emotional journey. We actually need this suffering, as it honors God, strengthens us, and helps us to more readily relate to others. But we still have a choice.

One option obviously leads to a narrowed view of life and a limited ability to serve others. The Bible teaches us that by choosing to see life from an eternal perspective, and to see God as being involved in our lives, that this helps us to see beyond ourselves and reach out to God and others. This also helps give us the ability to make a difference for eternity.

Which way will we choose? God’s way or the world’s way?