United We Stand

As we began our revival history tour, I couldn’t help but feel the minister at Park Street reminded me of George Whitefield or Jonathan Edwards (but without the white wig).  His message was from John 17

Whitefield & Edwards with wigs
George Whitefield & Jonathan Edwards

Rev. Kris Perkins-Park Street

…Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son so He can give glory back to You” (Jn. 17:1).

The night before, our group gathered around a table and shared what brought us on the trip.  We each expressed a passion for prayer and a heart for revival.  Though from many different backgrounds, we were united in mission.

Park Street Church was founded in 1809 by handful of people, who united to address Unitarianism.  They were clear about their purpose, emphasizing biblical theology, revival and spiritual renewal, and worldwide mission.

Park Street Church

As a congregational church, they’ve consistently emphasized mutual accountability and the priesthood of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9-10).  As a church that loves the Gospel, they’ve hosted great revival preachers through the years like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Finney, D.L. Moody, and Billy Sunday.  They gathered 40,000 on the nearby Boston Common to hear Billy Graham.

Graham on Boston Common

As a missional church, they were part of sending some of the first cross-cultural American missionaries, who sailed to India in 1812.  In 1819, Park Street commissioned its first team of missionaries to the Sandwich Islands.

Sandwich Islands Mission

Living out their faith through social action, William Lloyd Garrison hosted anti-slavery meetings at Park Street, and the American Educational Society was founded there.  They were among the first to provide Sunday School for those without access to formal education, during a time when this was looked down upon as “working on the sabbath.”  This calls to mind Jesus’ question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” (See Luke 6:7-11 for His answer).

Bicentennial Quilt

Each week, 40-50 different nations are represented by those who gather to worship King Jesus at Park Street.  I was blessed to worship beside a brother in Christ from Nigeria.

How could a local church be true to her mission for over 200 years?

“I have revealed You to the ones You gave Me from this world. They were always Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” ~Jesus, John 17:6

As we worshiped with this biblical, Gospel, missional church, the minister spoke from John 17 on what Jesus wants for us.  The night of His betrayal, just before His suffering and death, Christ prayed for our unity.  Let’s not miss the significance.

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in us so that the world will believe You sent Me.” ~Jesus, John 17:20-21

This was Jesus’ last prayer for us before the dawning of a new era.  The season of the Spirit was about to be inaugurated through His death and resurrection.

Jesus could have prayed for many things.  Just as Park Street’s message that morning could’ve covered many topics.  But Jesus prayed and the minister preached on unity in mission.

“I have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.” ~Jesus, John 17:22-23

Preaching at Park Street
“Let’s follow Christ’s example and pray for unity!” ~Rev. Kris Perkins, Associate Minister at Park Street Church

We so often allow differences to divide.
We underscore what makes us different instead of our Gospel commonalities.

We attempt all sorts of programs and expansions while neglecting Scripture, prayer, and mission.  And we wonder why modern religious methods fall so short…

Will we learn from a 200-year-old church who has stayed united and true to her heritage?

Memorial to God's faithfulness at Park Street

“O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know You, but I do; and these disciples know You sent Me. I have revealed You to them, and I will continue to do so. Then Your love for Me will be in them, and I will be in them.” ~Jesus, John 17:25-26

Chime in.  I’d love to hear from you…

In what ways are you pursuing Gospel unity and missional priorities in your community?

As I Go…

Sept. 29Oct. 7, I participated in the American Revival Heritage Tour led by the Sentinel Group, a ministry focused on equipping believers to pray for transforming revival in our communities.  

This experience–a prayer journey immersed in church history–was life changing.

Among many takeaways, I was impressed with a sense of responsibility to steward what’s been entrusted to us by those who’ve gone on before.  With the Spirit’s help, I committed to obey Jesus by applying what He taught me. Over the next weeks, I’d also like to share with you some of what we discovered.  I’d be honored if you would take this journey with me…

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 2.02.32 PM

The morning I left for the Milwaukee airport (9/29), I woke up with a phrase in my mind and a song in my heart.

The prophetic song was the classic by Don Moen, “Thank You, Lord.”

I come before You today
And there’s just one thing that I want to say
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord
For all You’ve given to me
For all the blessings that I cannot see
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord…

The phrase was “As I Go…”

Although I’ve already returned, that phrase birthed this post, compiled from audio recordings as I drove (I’ll omit the Google Maps directions).

As I go… I go as a student of church history, asking questions to learn from heroes of the faith.  

I take a problem-centered approach to historical theology, which acknowledges we each come to the table with specific questions and issues we’re looking to answer.  In this case, our communities are desperate for revival and God’s transforming nearness.

I seek to respect characters from history as “voices with whom we enter into theological conversation,” Colin Gunton’s phrase.  This space at the table allows us to chat on common ground and dialogue about differences.

As I go… I go as a systematician.  Say what?  

I employ the systematic sense of a scientist, asking questions and hearing whatever answers may come.  I seek to do this removed from bias, to learn with a humble and open heart from the data that stories of the past offer us.  We all get off the plane with biases from our upbringing, our spiritual experiences, and what we’ve heard in the past.

My goal is to be aware of my own history but not allow it to discolor the new stories I’ll hear.  Behind our tour guides, we’ll hear voices, who like Abel, through their faith still speak (Heb. 11:4).  This is the great cloud of witnesses, gone on ahead, and I couldn’t be more excited to learn from their perspectives (Heb. 12:1).

As I go… I go as a person of prayer.  

I so love being in relationship with Jesus!  Since prayer is the primary avenue He has graced us with for connecting with Him, I love prayer too!  Prayer is also the most powerful way His people change the world.

A friend prayed with me over the phone the day before my trip: “LORD, give him eyes to see the things that only You can help him see!”  What expectancy a faith-filled prayer like that stirs in my heart!  It sets my spirit ready to be watchful (1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Pet. 5:8).  I’m on the edge of my seat excited for all He will reveal.

As I go… I go as a friend of Jesus.  

This means I’m a disciple who obeys my Master and shares what He teaches me with others.  Jesus said we show our love for Him by obeying Him (Jn. 14:15).  In His final commission, Jesus calls us to teach others “to obey” all the commands He’s given us (Mt. 28:17-20).  We pass on what He shares with us, inflow-outflow personal conversations.

This means… I go as a disciple-making disciple, seeking to equip, encourage, and impart to others even as I receive life myself.  It’s never a stagnant swamp that ends with me but always a living channel, an ever-flowing river.

As I go… He’s with me (Mt. 28:20).  

And we go with others.  I’m not alone.  Though I haven’t yet met them, I go with brothers and sisters from various streams in the Body of Christ with similar hearts for revival and prayer, for learning from our Lord Jesus and the voices of the past.  I’m sure we’ll become fast friends.

May all the streams flow as one river…
~to wash away our brokenness
~to heal our land (2 Chr. 7:14)

Revive us again, LORD, for the glory of Your Name!  We ask for awakening, transforming revival, and reformation in the wonderful Name of Jesus.

I’d love to hear from you!

What have you been praying for your community lately?

Hearing God

I’m so grateful that Jesus connected me with godly mentors early in my spiritual walk who encouraged me to love God’s Word and prioritize listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice.

I learned then to practice 360 degree listening, which I still do today!  From the beginning to the end of the day, I posture my heart to listen to everything Jesus wants to say through the common themes of His Word, His whisper, conversations with others, and the circumstances of our lives that together create a complete circle wherein we can hear and be led by His Spirit.

We learn to recognize His voice by spending time in the Bible.  We’ll only hear Him if we’re willing to quiet our hearts and listen.  We test everything we hear according to His written Word.  Here are a few questions I like to use for listening prayer.  You might spend a few minutes asking the LORD one or more of these questions each day and writing or drawing what you hear, see, or feel as He leads and guides you nearer to His heart and deeper into His will:

a. What is something amazing about You I need to know?
b. What lies am I believing? What is Your truth about this?
c. What’s holding me back from being everything You created me to be?
d. Who do I need to forgive?
e. Who do I need to love? How?
f. Is there anything You shared with me today that would be a blessing to someone else?
g. Would You like me to share any of this with others? Who?

During a time in my life when I was facing discouragement, the LORD encouraged me through a conversation with a mentor.  He told me, “God is always speaking, so ask Him what He’s saying and listen.”

Consider taking a 30-minute, mini vacation today and listening to what He has on His heart to share with you.  Let’s cultivate hearts that love His Presence and delight to hear His voice!

Here’s a message I was blessed to share on hearing God’s voice from the life story of our brother Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

Declaration of Readiness to Receive the Word

In Acts 17:11, Dr. Luke records the account of the noble Bereans who were so willing to learn and grow.  They received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Apostle Paul said was true.  I picture this eagerness as on-the-edge-of-your-seat readiness, with your spirit fully active and alert to receive everything Holy Spirit wants to say to you as you hear the Word.

Below is a declaration of readiness to receive the Word with eagerness.  I mined the gold of this declaration from the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 13:9-18, 35.  Apply this treasure by declaring it for yourself whenever you are preparing your heart to hear God’s Word, both before your own daily Bible study and in corporate gatherings.

In the Name of Jesus, I declare…

I have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to His Church.

I receive from Jesus the knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven.

As I hear, I hear and understand.

As I see, I see and perceive.

My heart is soft.

My ears and eyes are open.

I see with my eyes, hear with my ears, and understand with my heart.

I turn to Jesus, and I am healed.

Blessed are my eyes for they see.

Blessed are my ears for they hear.

Blessed is my heart for I understand.

Many prophets and righteous people longed to see what I see and to hear what I hear.

I will listen then to what the Word means.

Holy Spirit, I ask You to seal this declaration of truth and cause it to become fully true in my life as I receive Your Word with eagerness.  In Jesus’ Name – Amen!

Healing & Wholeness in the Scriptures

Isaiah 53, especially verses 4-6, is the foundation of my understanding of healing. 

Isaiah prophetically describes the torture and crucifixion Jesus would go through for our forgiveness and healing.  This passage speaks about emotional restoration (v. 4, for our griefs and sorrows), spiritual restoration (v. 5, for our transgressions and iniquities), and physical restoration (v. 5, for our healing); ultimately, His purpose in all this restoration is to draw lost sheep back to Himself (v. 6).

Some claim that Isaiah 53 is only speaking about spiritual healing.  However, in Matthew 8:14-17, Jesus physically heals Peter’s mother-in-law, who was sick in bed with a fever.  He also casts out demons and heals all those who are ill.  Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, states these physical healings and deliverances were to fulfill what was prophesied in Isaiah 53 (Matt. 8:17).

In 1 Peter 2:21-25, Peter summarizes the teachings of Isaiah 53 for New Testament believers. 1 Peter 2:22 seems to reference Isaiah 53:9, and 1 Peter 2:25 parallels Isaiah 53:6.  Peter, under the Spirit’s inspiration, explains that Jesus’ work on the cross heals us from sin and all its effects in our lives (1 Pet. 2:24).  When we return to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls there is true wholeness available for every area of life (physical, emotional, and spiritual).

The “I AM” statements of the LORD reveal to us aspects of His nature and His character, who He is and what we can trust Him to do.  In Exodus 15:26, He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.”  This promise was given to the nation of Israel.  However, we learn the principle that the LORD is Healer for His people.  He says that part of His nature and character is to heal from physical disease.  As believers in Jesus, we see from His ministry and the teachings of the New Testament that our Messiah, who is God in the flesh, is still “the LORD who heals” us.

We know from Isaiah 53 that healing is available to all and from Exodus 15 that it’s part of the LORD’s character to heal us.  But do we know that He wants to heal everyone always?

1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9 explain that God wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, not wanting any to perish but to come to repentance.  But what is salvation?  According to Isaiah 53, the salvation that Jesus paid for on the cross is needed because of our turning away from the LORD, our breaking of His Law, our sin.  Salvation is from sin and all its effects in this broken world.  Salvation is restoration to wholeness: spiritual, emotional, and physical.

And yet, many of us can point to an experience of on-going brokenness in our lives or to a seemingly unanswered prayer.  This may be part of the tension we feel in this world between the “already” and the “not yet” aspects of Christ’s kingdom, which is here and coming (Matthew 12:28, Luke 17:21, John 18:36).

In Romans 8:18-25, the Holy Spirit says through Paul that all creation groans to be set free from the effects of sin on this world (v. 22).  One day, Jesus will restore all creation when He sets up His Kingdom on earth with His throne in Jerusalem (Isaiah 25:6-8; Revelation 21:1-5).  Until that day, followers of Jesus are commanded to preach His good news and teach others to obey everything that He taught (Matthew 28:19-20).

He also commanded a group of seventy-two believers in Luke 10 to heal the sick and cast out demons in His Name (vv. 1-12, 19-20).  These commands were given to not just the twelve first apostles but to the seventy-two who represented all the followers of Jesus.  According to Romans 8:19, the whole creation waits for the children of God to be revealed, to rise up, and to share the good news of Jesus and minister restoration (spiritual, emotional, and physical), which has been made available by our crucified and risen Savior to all who will believe. 

Let’s live and pray according to His promises and leave the results in the hands of our mighty and gracious God.

Jesus & Marriage

The Bible teaches that marriage was designed by God to be a picture of the relationship Jesus has with His Church.  The Church is a living body made up of people — men, women, and children — in right relationship with their Heavenly Father, who have trusted in the Lord Jesus and surrendered their lives to His saving grace. 

Each of us has broken God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, by lying, stealing, hating, and lusting.  Our relationships with others so clearly reveal our need for forgiveness.  Jesus taught that if you’ve been angry with your brother or called him a name, you’ll be held accountable for it when you stand before God on Judgment Day (Matthew 5:21-22).  When you hate someone, you’ve murdered him in your heart (1 John 3:15).  Human anger is often tainted by selfishness and ill motives.  “…Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:20). 
Jesus knows every secret thought and attitude of our hearts.  He views all lustful thoughts and actions as adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).  If we come to God expecting to earn a place in Heaven because of our good works, we are in for a terrible surprise.  We deserve only God’s judgment in Hell.  However, He wants us to experience His love and a union with Jesus that marriage was designed to reflect.  He offers it to you today.
The good news is that God came to earth as Jesus.  He lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose to life again.  Like a Groom coming to claim His bride, Jesus will return again for all those who have turned from sin and put their full trust in Him.  Jesus gave His lifeblood because of His desire to become united with those He loves.  He paid the bride price with His own life.  Husbands likewise are called to serve their wives by dying to themselves and making personal sacrifices that their wives might draw closer to Jesus Christ. Wives are called to respond in self-giving love by serving their husbands — that together the couple might be a ministry team for the Master.
Jesus is calling you today to join His Bride, the Church. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20). Jesus has promised to return to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever.  Have you trusted Jesus?  Have you surrendered your heart and life to Him?  He’s calling you today.
Together, Bridget and I desire to create a home and marriage that reveals to all who encounter us, the beautiful heart of Jesus for His Bride. Would you join His Bride, the Church, today by turning from sin and trusting fully in Jesus to save and heal you?
For more beautiful truth about coming into a growing relationship with Jesus, please visit: www.needGod.com
www.areyouagoodperson.org and www.saveyourselfsomepain.com.
Scripture to consider:
On Marriage & the Gospel: 
Hosea 2:16 & 19; Isaiah 62:5; Matthew 9:15; 22:1-14; Revelation 19:7
On the Powerful, Redeeming Love of Jesus:Titus 3:4; Romans 5:8; 1 John 3:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; John 10:10-11; Luke 15; Isaiah 53; Genesis 3:15; Colossians 2:15
On the Reality of God’s Judgment and Hell:Hebrews 4:13; 9:27; Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:47-48; Luke 3:17; Revelation 14:10-11; 20:10 & 14-15; 21:8
man and woman s hands on top of ball bouquet
Photo by Wendel Moretti on Pexels.com

Overcoming fear

We experience fear so often that many learn to live with it and tolerate it, as if fear is immovable.

 
Fear is no excuse for disobeying our Lord’s clear commission to make disciples. If we have faith in Jesus the size of a mustard seed, we can overcome the mountain of fear (Matthew 17:20). 


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Romans 14:23 explains, “…everything that does not come from faith is sin.” When we’re plagued by fear, we must confess our sin to the Lord Jesus and receive His unconditional love anew. His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). If we are willing to humbly ask, Jesus is willing to increase our faith and help our unbelief (Mark 9:24). 


All the power we need is available to us as we rely on the Holy Spirit and surrender to Him. He empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8). We can remind ourselves of God’s promises to be with us, to empower us, and to draw near to us.
 
When we confess fear and surrender our feelings to the Lord Jesus, we can step out in faith and bold love to witness.
 

Is it really that simple?  What roadblocks have you experienced as you seek to step out of your comfort zone with faith and bold love?

Pastor fired for not evangelizing: faithfulness with "To Do" lists

At a local Bible study last night, one attendee shared a prayer request for his former church. During his time on the church board, they hired a new pastor, who served several years. According to this man, the pastor “promised to evangelize and do all kinds of other ministry stuff. But he hadn’t done any of it.” So recently, that pastor was fired.
If the pastor was truly let go for not evangelizing, the congregation probably should have been fired too. According to Bill Bright, a Campus Crusade for Christ survey of professing Christians found that “a bare 2 percent regularly share their faith in Christ.”
How many professing believers would agree that Christ’s great commission to “make disciples of all nations” was given to all Christians? And yet, how few actually talk with unbelievers about Jesus on a regular basis?
What renders so many mute? Are we crippled by fear of rejection? Are we concerned what people think of us more than what our Heavenly Father thinks? Do we crave the pleasures of this fallen world more than His affection? It’s time for a heart check: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).
We’ve zeroed in on one area of disobedience, but let’s apply this principle more broadly too. How many times do we promise to act and then don’t follow through? We may set the bar high to feel accomplished, but we never actually accomplish much of anything. We make to do lists and set goals, but we develop selective amnesia and never look back at them. We fear feeling like failures when we fall short. If we never try, we think we’ve escaped failure’s grasp. So, procrastination becomes a new roommate. Does fear of failure hinder you? Haven’t we experienced enough hope deferred and dreams that die? Do you have a sick heart (Prov. 13:12)?
This is a call to be faithful. Examine yourself and ask, “LORD, why is this fear in me?” We need to deal with fear like any other sin: to declare war on it, to memorize Scriptures about it, to take steps to overcome it, to ask others in our community of believers to pray with us and encourage us through. Loved and trusted people can help us accomplish the goals the Holy Spirit has laid on our hearts. When we’re witnessing, we can go out with others. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons (Mk. 6:7-12; Lk. 10:1-20).
On top of that, let’s take initiative that says, “When I write down this goal, I’ll start on it today.” Take at least one little step immediately that moves you toward the finish line. In my free time, when I’m not purposefully resting—which must also be budgeted into my schedule—I’ll be working on one of my goals. Do something eternally meaningful. Prioritize goals based on how valuable they are for your life and ministry. Then, start on the most important, and work to the least. You may never get to the action items on the bottom of your list, and that’s okay. They’re on the bottom for a reason.
When you catch yourself doing something mindless that doesn’t glorify Jesus, provide for your rest, build into the lives of others, or accomplish some of the goals that He’s called you to, get up and stop it. Ditch it. Change. Grow. Let’s be a people that put our hands to the plow and refuse to look back, lest we be found unfit for service in the Kingdom (Lk. 9:62).
Pause for a moment: what has Jesus called you to do? Are you doing it? If you have difficulty hearing His voice, could it be because you’ve neglected what He’s said to you in the past?
It shouldn’t take a mountaintop experience or a natural disaster for us to evangelize and be obedient to Jesus, living holy lives that follow in His footsteps (1 Jn. 2:6). What if our regular prayer time with Him was enough to motivate and put a fire beneath us to preach the Gospel and be who we’ve been called to be, as His children and new creations in Christ?
Then the daily prayer time that’s been on our mental to do list since we got saved would finally become a habit. And the Bible reading plan we’ve had shoved in a drawer for years might be put to use.
Are you part of the congregation that would get fired for not evangelizing? Let’s receive the fire and love of the Holy Spirit to go tell others about Jesus. Even when people reject us, let’s love them still and rejoice, for great is our reward in Heaven (Mt. 5:12; Lk. 6:23). It’s by obeying His commands that we show Jesus we love Him (Jn. 14:21). By deeply loving one another, we show the world we love Him too (Jn. 13:35). We don’t act out of dead obligation, but because we’re doing great exploits as the Living Lord Jesus empowers us (Dan. 11:32). Maybe then, we’ll finally be able to check something off our to do lists.


Also posted on Thrive80: http://www.thrive80.com/2011/06/paster-fired-for-not-evangelizing-faithfulness-with-to-do-lists/

Losing teeth, gaining wisdom

I sit here writing this morning with a dull ache in my mouth. When sharp pain woke me a couple hours before my alarm, I figured it was an early wake up call to write. I had an unexpected surgical procedure two days ago that I’m feeling this morning.
I’d been having tooth pain for a few months. Finally this week, discomfort made it difficult to chew on the left side of my mouth. I visited a dentist who specialized in wisdom teeth consultations and made an appointment this past Tuesday. The doctor recommended I have all four wisdom teeth removed, as my mouth didn’t have space for them. No room in the proverbial inn. He explained his calendar was booked till August.
A hygienist peeked into the room, smiled, and said, “Well, Doctor, you did have one cancellation tomorrow morning at 9.” A way had been made, and I was penciled in to have my four teeth extracted.
My mind was racing, and I asked as many questions as I could, before agreeing to make the appointment. I like to research. I like to understand. I like to ask questions. The dentist and hygienist answered as best they could. How long would recovery take? What would I be able to eat? Because the whole thing happened so quickly, there were several questions I didn’t think to ask until it was too late.  My mouth was quickly propped open with a piece of rubber and gloved hands were sticking metal utensils into it. Of course, new questions arose once I’d been stuffed full of gauze, and I had four less teeth.
The night before the surgery, I was scared. My fear was uncovered by getting my wisdom teeth out, but more broadly it was fear of the future and fear of the unknown. What would the pain be like? What complications could arise? What side effects could the medications cause?
My unanswered questions fueled my fear. I didn’t know what the procedure would be like. I hadn’t experienced it before. I wasn’t told very much, and I didn’t have time to do substantial research. I even wondered at one point if I might contract an infection that could prove to be fatal. The dentist had a strong Jamaican accent. I wondered what would happen if I couldn’t understand his instructions during the surgery.
An encounter with truth can dispel fear. I had imagined the pain would be much worse than it actually was. The most discomfort of the procedure came from the pricks of the initial Novocaine shots. I squeezed the chair’s armrests firmly, and the worst was soon behind me. During the actual extractions, I didn’t feel much of anything.
It’s been said, fear is false evidence appearing real. When the truth was brought to bear in my situation, my fear was dispelled and I renewed my trust in Jesus. Beforehand, people shared Scripture with me: “God has not given you a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.” Driving to the dentist, my mom said, “The Lord is your Helper whom shall you fear? What can man do to you?” I thought silently, “He can rip my teeth out!”

business care clean clinic
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I fully experienced the situation and hypotheticals faded into the background, my perspective became realistic. My fear was crippled. People wrestle with fears of rejection, failure, abandonment, and both physical and emotional death. My fear of the future extended beyond my wisdom teeth extractions. It was at heart a fear of rejection.
I thought I would be unable to talk for several days after the extractions. This fear of being unheard was strongest of all. I was intensely unwillingly to give up my voice. I imagined no one would listen to me. Being willing to surrender my tongue was both humbling and healing. I wouldn’t be able to defend myself, and I didn’t need to. The day of the surgery, after two hours of stuffing my mouth with gauze, I was not only talking but also singing praise to my Lord Jesus. Family members went the extra mile to help me.
I just graduated from Moody, and I got two jobs. I’ll be writing with New Life Community Church and working in the kitchen at a restaurant downtown. Again, the devil tries to paralyze me with fear of what people think. I’ve been asked things like: “Oh, you got a B.A. in communication and pastoral ministry to work in the kitchen?”
I don’t know what my future holds. But I do know the One who holds me. Though the details of my future are unknown, and people may outright reject me. I am known, and I am forever accepted by my Father and my Savior, who will never let me go (1 Cor. 13:12; Jn. 10:28-29). God wrapped Himself in human flesh in the Person of Jesus to free us from bondage to the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). Discovering His truth, makes one free – free indeed (Jn. 8:32, 36).


Also posted on Thrive80: http://www.thrive80.com/2011/06/losing-teeth-gaining-wisdom/

Leaving a legacy: the cloud of witnesses

Henry “Butcher” Varley, the British revivalist, gave a charge that gripped D.L. Moody’s heart. Moody recalled Varley saying, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” Moody replied, “By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

As students of the Bible and followers of Jesus Christ, consider the legacy we have inherited. Believers throughout history, who pressed to make their Lord Jesus known, have entrusted it to us: witnesses like Moody, Varley, Torrey, Noah, King David, Mary, Lazarus, Peter, Paul, and John.

This great cloud of witnesses spurs us on (Heb. 12:1). Their histories bear continual witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Their testimonies exemplify surrender of self to the declaration and demonstration of His full Gospel. The great cloud calls to us, urging us to walk in their footsteps, follow their examples, and build on their foundation.

“Imitate us as we imitate Christ!” their lives beckon. Someday soon, those serving the Lord Jesus will join that cloud of witnesses. Their legacy urges, “As the Lord tarries, call future generations to Gospel-centered lives through your faithfulness today!”

Moody heard that call from his friend Varley. In 1873, Moody asked Varley to repeat his words that had spoken so powerfully to him just a year earlier. Varley looked at him blankly. He did not recall uttering any such charge.

 

“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him.” ~Henry “Butcher” Varley

“By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” ~D.L. Moody

According to Paul Gericke’s Crucial Experiences in the Life of D.L. Moody, Moody responded to Varley, “Ah, those were the words sent to my soul, through you, from the Living God. As I crossed the wide Atlantic, the boards of the deck of the vessel were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with [them]. Under the power of those words I have come back to England, and I felt that I must not let more time pass until I let you know how God had used your words to my inmost soul.”


What are you preparing for those who will come behind you? Like sewing squares into a patchwork quilt, you can choose each day to add beauty to your legacy. What are you forging that you plan to pass on?

When believers stand before Jesus, our works will be tested by fire. Only treasures stored up in Heaven, the precious metal and gems of work done for Christ, will endure (Mt. 6:19-21; 1 Cor. 3:13-15).

Leonard Ravenhill advised an evangelist, “Make sure when you die that you aren’t standing knee deep in ashes.”

As we proclaim the Gospel and run this race with perseverance, the ripple effect of our legacy may touch nations. Our calling is to bear witness by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). As we faithfully serve, we remain unaware of the full extent of our legacy until we arrive in glory.