9. September 2017

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Half Man and Half Beast

“Betsey Stockton (c. 1798 – 1865) was a freed African-American slave who left domestic service to travel as America’s first single female missionary to Hawaii, then known as the Sandwich Islands. In fact, she went partly as a missionary and partly as a servant to one of the couples on the mission, the Reverend and Mrs. Stewart.

After being asked by the son of the Hawaiian king to teach him English, Stockton started up a school in… West Maui for the… fishermen, farmers and craftsmen who lived off the land …which continued after she left.

Stockton’s diary: Stockton kept a detailed written record of the mission, which conveys her somewhat turbulent, occasionally agonized, inner spiritual life; her interest in the natural world — including the kinds of fish caught from the ship, the color of the waves, and various bird life; and her spirit of adventure. Like others on board she was frightened at her first sight of the Hawaiian men who come out in canoes to greet the ship:

‘half man and half beast—naked—except a narrow strip of tapa round their loins…’” ¹

As we pray today, let us be strengthened by Betsey’s authentic faith in Christ. It was not ‘holier than thou’ but rather it was genuine, real, with ups and downs, fears, and joys. Have you ever experienced turbulence and even agony? I most assuredly have as did Jesus and His disciples. Good news! You and I are not alone.

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “’Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’”  (Isaiah 41:13  ESV)

¹ http://www.cslewis.com/us/about-cs-lewis/

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8. September 2017

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Sorrow, Love, Faith, Loss… I’ve Been There.

“Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement.” ¹

An author of many works such as Mere Christianity  and The Great Divorce, he went on to write The Chronicles of Narnia which has sold over 100 million copies and has led to 3 motion Pictures. Time magazine stated he was one of the top 100 Christian authors of the Twentieth Century.

This Irish born intellectual giant was a man who loved the Lord Jesus. He often used fantasy fiction to convey enduring truths about God, Scripture, and the Christian life. As many of you have experienced, he also knew much sorrow for the love of his life, his wife, Joy, battled cancer and died. They were together only 4 years. If you’ve ever lost a love one, words cannot describe the depth of sorrow and soul groaning that occurs in the pit of grief. If he were alive today, I bet he would comfort those of you experiencing grief, pain, and loss with his nearness, not his words. The suffering you go through often has no explanation and is miserable at best. Our great Comfort is that Jesus knows your pain. Even, at times, if you feel He is silent, He is very close. He will hold you, cry with you, and help you. It may not be with words but with His presence.

 

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5b  ESV)

 

¹ http://www.cslewis.com/us/about-cs-lewis/

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7. September 2017

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But They Murdered My Family!

“Corrie ten Boom was the first licensed female watchmaker in the Netherlands. She learned the trade from her father, who was so fascinated by the craft that he often became so engrossed in his own work he would forget to charge customers for the services.” ¹

The Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940. Some Jewish folks humbly asked if her family would hide them from capture. Corrie’s family said, “Yes!” Most of you know the rest of the story having read her book The Hiding Place or seen the movie that followed.

Corrie and her brave family trusted God. They did the right thing in God's eyes. That was all that mattered to them. The Nazis eventually arrested all of them and most died in the death camps. Corrie was miraculously spared. She travelled the world speaking to audiences and churches on the fact that God's forgiveness and love are greater and go deeper than any sin, evil, or darkness.

After the war, she was confronted face to face with one of the prison guards that was partly responsible for her sister’s death. A battle ensued in her mind and heart. She reached down deep and remembered what her Lord and Savior Jesus had done for her on that despised cross 2000 years ago. By a gut choice of the will, she grabbed his outstretched hand and greeted him. She chose to forgive. She was free.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”   (John 13:34  ESV)

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrie_ten_Boom

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6. September 2017

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Burned at the Stake: His Time Had Come

It was in the early 1500’s. William Tyndale (1494-1536: Gloucestershire, England) listened to God rather than the domineering voice of man. You could receive the death penalty for just possessing an unlicensed possession of Scripture in English! Well, he believed that all people should be able to read and understand the Bible, not just the priests and the elites.

“Tyndale's translation was the first English Bible to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, the first English translation to place God's name [Jehovah] in its rightful place, the first English translation to take advantage of the printing press, and first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation. It was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony (human domineering control) of both the Roman Catholic Church and the laws of England maintaining the church's position.” ¹

In 1536, he was arrested for heresy, hanged, and then burnt at the stake.

Have you ever been persecuted, accused, or insulted for doing, saying or believing in that which is right in God's eyes according to His Word? If so, the pain is real and sometimes the scars do not fade. Like Tyndale, we may be called upon in this rapidly darkening culture. Night is upon us…not physically, but spiritually. If you love and follow Jesus you will stand out like a city on a hill at night. And that is good. It will be painful, but it is Christ’s honor and name that we uphold at all cost.

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 ESV)

¹

William Tyndale (/?t?nd?l/;[1] sometimes spelled Tynsdale, Tindall, Tindill, Tyndall; c. 1494 – c. 6 October 1536) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his…
EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG
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6. September 2017

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Ann Judson…Quite a Lady!

Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789 – 1826) was one of the first female American foreign missionaries. She was a Bradford, Mass. native, teacher, and the wife of Andoiram Judson. “Two weeks after they married, the couple set out on a mission trip — first to India, then to Burma.

While her husband was imprisoned in Burma under suspicion of being a spy, Ann wrote stories of the struggles she faced on her own in the mission field. She included tragic descriptions of child marriages, female infanticide, and the trials of the Burmese women who had no rights except for those their husbands gave them.”

She died of smallpox in Burma, at age 37. ¹

Can you imagine the courage it took to head out, young, inexperience, and newly married and going to places that had no penicillin, air conditioning, or air travel and, for that fact, no car travel either!

Let us pray for one another that we would be brave in the days ahead regarding what the Lord Jesus has planned for us. May our eyes be squarely on Him and Him alone.

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (Psalms 31:24 ESV)

¹

A week ago, I announced that The Displaced Nation will be dedicating the month of November to exploring the displaced lives of those who travel the world to do good works on behalf of those less fortunate…
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6. September 2017

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Nobel-Winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn

December 28, 1973 “a new book by the Nobel-winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn appeared in the Paris book markets. This book, too, was about prison--a documentary of the horrors of the Gulag Archipelago, Stalin's prison camps in central Asia, a system of inland "islands" which taken together would have been as big as the country of France.     

Trained as a mathematician, {He} found his fame as an author instead. In 1945, while serving in the Russian army, he was arrested and sent to prison for criticizing Russian dictator Josef Stalin in a letter. While in prison he met Christians whose faith impressed him, and he came to appreciate the deepened understanding of truth which comes through suffering.

The day came when he was able to say, ‘Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.’ For in prison, he recognized what a spiritual monster he had been. There he listened to his conscience; there he found God. Prison made him firm.” ¹

As we gather today to pray for each other and our loved ones, may we be reminded that our suffering as we yield to Jesus for His honor is never in vain.

“He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.” (Job 36:15 ESV)

“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also, rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1Peter 4:13 ESV)

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1Peter 4:19 ESV)

¹

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970, the Soviet government would not allow him to accept the prize. He was famed as the author of a realistic tale of prison existence, One Day in the Life of Ivan Deni...
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13. October 2016

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Compassion Meets Truth

Send Comments to: jgrunseth@centurylink.net

Our nation and our churches are in trouble. When I watch or listen to the news, there is a growing indication that virtue is a lost commodity.  The media jumps from one trouble spot to another, from one terrible murder to another, from one terrorist attack to another, and from one politician flinging mud to another. None of these people committing violence or flinging insults should have passed Kindergarten!

What is of great concern to me is I see a great divide between churches claiming to be Christian.

On the one hand, there are churches that stand for the uncompromising truth of God's Holy, eternal, authoritative Word, the Bible. The people in some of these churches lean heavily on obedience, faith, and high standards of personal piety. Some of these people may tend to be blunt in their honesty and hurtful in their name calling of sinful lifestyles. They are not afraid to call out sinners with their wretched perversions and idolatry.

On the other hand, there are a growing number of churches that are dedicated to compassionate activities and the lifting up and welcoming of the less fortunate, people of color, inner city groups, and those struggling with gender issues. i.e.: LGBTQ. They rally to the battle cries of social justice, cultural diversity, economic equality, and lifestyle tolerances.

There are some churches that excel at both.

Have you ever watched one of those cage fights on TV?

 

Strikeforce_cage_2011-01-07

 

Imagine for a moment there are two bug-eyed opponents in the cage ready to fight. They are staring while sizing up each other. You see, they are used to fighting...a lot.

Each opponent has a good argument.

Compassion says, "Truth! You're missing the point! People don't need Bible verses shoved down their throats! People are tired of being judged and feeling guilty. What they need is mercy, kindness, warmth, and acceptance. God says to love Him and love your neighbor! Our churches are open and affirming safe places where hate, bigotry, and self-righteousness are not welcome. We love and accept people where they are at. It's our job to love them. Its God's job to change them.

You put God in a Truth box. You refuse to let Him out so He can help hurting, lonely, and downcast people. They need love; not the hammer of truth! You hurt people and judge people with all the truth you throw at them. You repel them from church. What you call LOVE is actually HATE! Who wants to follow a God that makes people cringe and squirm over sin and so called unacceptable lifestyles and relationship choices? What difference does it make? Haven't you read 1Corinthians 13 lately?" The Apostle Paul is quite clear. 1Corinthians 13:3-8a says,

'3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.'

Paul goes on to say in 1Corinthians 14:1a, 'Make love thy great quest.'

 

Truth, on the other hand, says, "Compassion! Your'e forgetting something! Me! Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He also said, 'Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' In your attempt at making everyone feel affirmed, welcomed, and accepted, you are leading some over the cliff of unrepentant sin.

You are unknowingly enabling them to fall to their doom. Destruction awaits. Don't you remember? God is not just a God of love and mercy. He is a holy God. His wrath upon sin is real. Hell is filling fast! Is it not love and kindness to help sinners see the error of their ways? John, the Baptist did this. Matthew 3:2-3 says, 

'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him."

Yes. Compassion and mercy are vital. But so is truth. Right? Come on! Without a turning away from sin, self, and God-dishonoring lifestyles (Romans 1:16-32, 1Corinthians 6:9-20), a lost sinner can be shown acceptance and affirmation all day long yet still, in the end, be cast into Hell. I think we need to help the lost, the sinful, the underprivileged, and the marginalized come to the Cross of Jesus, repent, and cry out to Him for forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life leading to Heaven. Joel 2:32a is clear. 'And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;'"


STOP THE CAGE FIGHT!

For the sake of the Gospel, God's honor, and souls hanging in the balance, Mercy and Truth - You two need to get along!  Matthew 11:17 says, "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." (Bold added)

Abraham Lincoln knew this well with the Civil War (1861-1865). We Americans nearly lost our nation.

civilwar

Advice? 

Let Proverbs 3:3 and Zechariah 4:6 guide your way.

Compassion and Truth - you need one another.

Proverbs 3:3 says, "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:   KJV  (Bold added)

Zechariah 4:6 says,  "So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty."  (Bold added)

Truth should never be found separate from mercy. The reverse is also true. Truth delivered without mercy is a dagger of death into the heart. Mercy without truth is just comforting souls on the 'bus ride to Hell.'

With God's help, neither Compassion nor Truth has to be compromised. He will enable you to be on the same team. Seek Him. Wise people still do.

 NO MORE CAGE FIGHTING!

NO MORE CIVIL WAR!

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