Subject: Our Riches in Christ
There was something different about Morris Siegel, a street person in Los Angeles, Calif. On the surface, he seemed like your average L.A. street person-roaming about in dark alleys, sleeping outside, carrying everything he owned in an old shopping cart-and he died the way one assumes a street person to die: found in an alley, dead of natural causes.
What was different? Maybe it was his three bank accounts containing a total of $207,421.00.
In 1979, Morris' father died and left him the money. When he did not claim it, the Division of Unclaimed Property tracked him down, and his family forced him to accept it. He did not show up for the ceremony when the cash was handed over. He took enough of the money to buy an old car, where he slept in bad weather. Relatives rented him an apartment; he never went there. He died Dec. 14, 1989, with three dollars in his pocket and an untouched fortune in the bank.
Sound crazy? Figure this one out:
Over two thousand years ago, our heavenly father ratified His will and left all His children eternal wealth-life, peace, and victory. To this day, many have not claimed the windfall and some have refused to spend any of it. Lost people shuffle down blind alleys of an empty existence, facing hell for eternity and ignore the salvation promised in Christ. Many Christians are content to live isolated, unproductive lives on this earth when they have the riches of heaven at their disposal (2 Cor. 8-9). Trading eternal life for a perishing earth sounds as crazy as Morris (Matt. 16:26).
Start Your Engines
When I was a kid, cars with dead batteries were common-we didn't have jumper cables, so we pushed them to get them started. Most people drove Roles Canardly cars-if it doesn't roll down the hill fast enough, it can't hardly make it up the next.
Engines are started with batteries. Batteries are stored up potential energy. Once the engine is running, it is kinetic energy. Our knowledge of the Bible, like a battery, is our potential ability to do works that are mentioned throughout the New Testament and by which we will be judged. Our problem is that we are remaining potential.
Any battery charger that does not have an overcharge protector may burn up a battery. Any church that does not have an organized and perpetual ministry of evangelism and outreach runs a risk of burning out her members. An active, pastor-led ministry of evangelism fulfills the Great Commission, edifies the Church, and brings glory to God-it changes our potential energy into kinetic energy.
It's not what you know but what you do that counts.
"Just as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!'" (Rom. 10:15b).
The news report read: "The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) presented its 1999 International Press Freedom Awards to four journalists-from Columbia, Kosovo and Pakistan-at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City."
The report told of the heroic exploits of four journalists who kept on reporting the news in spite of beatings, imprisonments, and death threats. A fifth reporter would have been recognized except he was in a Cuban jail for proclaiming the truth.
Two thousand years ago, and again and again since, men and women have put themselves on the line to bring the Good News of a great joy to mankind. They too have been beaten, imprisoned, and threatened; in fact for many it has cost them their lives.
I think of Paul in his report to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 6:4-5). I recall the accounts preserved for believers in the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11. My mind reflects on the lives of the apostles; men who were reportedly skinned alive, torn asunder, crucified upside down, and decapitated-all after torture and great hardship. Fox's Book of Martyrs calls to my mind all those who've served and suffered and been slain.
But most of all I think on the Son of God who, for the love of God, came bearing Good News-only to be beaten, and crucified for telling the truth:
So many have given so much so that we might know the truth and meet Christ, the Savior. Do not fail to pass on the torch!
Subject: the New Year
Happy New Year!
While we appreciate the wonders and the beauties of the old creation, we still look forward to the coming of the "new" one.
The Bible says quite a bit about "new" things: a new house, a new wife, new cart, new garment, a new song, new wine, new covenant, new creature, newborn babes, and New Jerusalem.
Even if we can't afford new clothes or a new car [or cart], we still get something "new" every 365 days-a "New Year!"
May yours be Christ-filled
Selected, via Sparks
Subject: God's Grace
When I got to the classroom, before the final in my Youth Ministry class at Hannibal-LaGrange College in Missouri, everybody was doing their last-minute studying. Then the teacher came in and gave us a quick review, and passed out the exam forms. "Leave them face down until everyone has one and I tell you to start," our prof instructed.
When we turned them over, every answer on the test was filled in! The bottom of the last page said: "this is the end of the Final Exam. All the answers on your test are correct. You will receive an A' on the exam. The reason you passed is because the creator of the test took it for you. All the work you did in preparation for this test did not help you get the A. You have just experienced...grace."
The teacher then went around the room and asked each student individually: "What is your grade? Do you deserve the grade you are receiving? How much did all your studying for this exam help you achieve your final grade?"
Afterward he told us he had never done this before and probably never would again, but: "I have tried to teach you all semester that you are a recipient of grace. I've tried to communicate to you that you need to demonstrate this gift as you work with young people. Don't hammer them; help them, for they will carry on your ministry if it is full of GRACE!"
Have you thanked your Creator today because of the grace you have experienced?
Author unknown, via The First Account
How to Destroy Your Enemies
Abraham Lincoln, after becoming president of the United States, was taken to task for his kindness toward his enemies. "Why do you try to make friends of them?" asked an associate. "You are in a position now to destroy them." Lincoln gently replied, "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make them my friends?"
Many a person lives for the day when he will be in a position to get even with those who have wronged him. But vengeance doesn't belong to man; it belongs exclusively to God. He announced: "Vengeance is mine" (Rom. 12:19). The sword of vengeance is too heavy for man, and he usually falls on it and destroys himself.
Batsell Barrett Baxter told of riding in a plane beside a blind businessman. He was so impressed with the man's friendliness that he couldn't refrain from asking how he lost his sight. "A competitor of mine threw acid on my face," was the reply.
"Do you know who was behind it?" Baxter asked "Yes, but I could not prove it in court," answered the blind man.
"Don't you feel a terrible resentment?" questioned Baxter.
"Oh, I did for years, but it dawned on me that I was doing myself the real injury," said the man,. "I forgave him and have actually done him some favors in recent years." He went on to tell how his attitude toward an enemy had changed his entire life.
He did exactly what the Lord advises: "...If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink...be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:20-21, cf. Prov. 25:21).
Joe Barnett, Family Newsletter