No, Never alone

Greetings All:  This is my first attempt at sending my friends and anyone else that I may not even know yet a brief message.  I hope you will see fit to respond.  We are all forging ahead through unchartered waters through this Covid crisis, and I thought it might be appropriate to remind ourselves of a foundational truth.  In my next installment I want to send you a poem that I penned for this past Easter; though it will arrive to you after Easter, I hope you can file it away for future use if you ever need an Easter poem.  Easter poems are not as easy to find as are Christmas poems or poems for other special days, but I feel like this is a good one and so wanted to share it with others. But the poem will come later.

No, Never alone

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have:  for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Recently, while all of us were “sheltering in place” in individual efforts to keep the COVID 19 virus from spreading, my sister and I were exchanging text messages and in one of them she was reflecting on what the health mandated isolation meant to her.  She lives alone, an octogenarian grandmother, on top of a mountain in Georgia, separated by miles from any family, but supported by them through loving constant communication, and buoyed by neighbors and friends who look in after her.

During the conversation she mentioned our grandmother, who, having lost her husband in death when she was a young mother of three, expecting her fourth, children lived in a small rural community in southeastern Iowa, in our nation’s post-depression.  She eked out a living by doing housework for people in the community, supporting herself and children by a meager income sometimes of a dollar per day.  We never heard her complain.  Hers was a difficult life; she was not given to many lighthearted moments and the few times that I remember being around her she seemed austere and not very “warm” like most grandmothers might appear to be.  It would be years later, when I became a parent, and later a grandparent, and had some perspective on life and on history that I would be able to somewhat appreciate the austerity of the times through which grandmother Moore had lived and had provided, without any governmental assistance, for her four children.  My sister in our texts back and forth made this observation about grandmother: “She explained to me how she felt about living 55 years as a widow:  ‘I am never alone.  The Lord is always with me.’”  My sister followed that up by saying, “I have had the opportunity to prove that fact to be absolutely true, and I never feel alone.”  Nor should any of us who can sincerely affirm “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…I will fear no evil for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” No, we are, with Him, never alone!

The Spirit of Fear

Charles Spurgeon once said It is a blessed fear which drives us to trust.” That is true. We should fear God and fearing Him should lead us to trust him. Charnock, in his Attributes of God, defined fearing God as a “reverential fear of him because of his holiness….” That kind of fear is healthy.

But there is another kind of fear that is crippling, the fear that Solomon called a snare: “The fear of man bringeth a snare but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” (Provs. 29:25) Again, the Psalmist spoke of a disabling kind of fear when he said “The Lord is on my side:  I will not fear what man can do unto me.” (Ps.118:6) The Israelites under the leadership of Moses, having been delivered out of Egypt by God’s omnipotent, demonstrative power, were afraid to enter the promised land because of the giants that the majority report described having spied out the land. (Numbers 13:31) They could see the land and they knew of its abundance and had received God’s assurances of protection and victory, yet only Moses, Joshua and Caleb of the two million or so descendants of Abraham that had become servants in Egypt believed that God would not only bring them out of the wilderness but also take them into the land He had promised them.  What was the problem?  Paralyzing fear: “But the men that went up with him said, we be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.” So, instead of entering Canaan in the eleven days’ journey that it would have taken them from Mt. Horeb to Kadesh Barnea (Deut. 1:2) they spent forty years wandering in the wilderness of unbelief. The culprit was a crippling fear.

And so it is.  We can choose to exercise faith.  We know what our destination is and we have experienced first-hand God’s faithfulness in all of the journey to this point, yet we are often still prone to be afraid of what lies ahead. The world-wide pandemic that we have been immersed in since the spring of 2020 has heightened the level of fear to an extreme. We have seen churches closed. Masks have been marginalized and mandated. Vaccines are required of many and have become the sine qua non for many in order to keep their life-sustaining employment. We are in a national panic. We have lost loved ones due to the Covid-19 virus. Millions have been hospitalized and have had to live by a life-sustaining ventilator. Has there been cause for fear? Well, undeniably, but there has also been opportunity like most of us have never experienced to have our faith strengthened and our trust in His promises to be heightened. Fear is such an immediate, natural response, even on the part of those who have put their faith in the promises and power of the living God.

Nelson Bell was the father of Mrs. Billy Graham and the Bells were missionaries in China in 1938 when the Japanese invaded. On Christmas Day Dr. Bell wrote his mother, “This past Thursday it was my time to lead the foreign prayer meeting, and I talked about the place of physical fear in the life of a Christian. Last week it dawned on me that our Lord, tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin, hungered, thirsted, became angry, and gave every evidence of His humanity, but He was never fearful. Fear, therefore, must come from lack of faith—sin.  Just as we never become sinless, so we never entirely lose fear, but it surely is His will for His children to live in peace in their hearts, trusting in His promises.”

David must have experienced hair-raising encounters dodging the spears of King Saul and evading Saul’s armies which had become death-squads whose only mission was to kill the would-be anointed king. Yet, David wrote, “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall, I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps.27:1)

But, too often, we are like Hans Christian Anderson who, it was said, had a phobia of being buried alive; so much so that he always carried a note in his pocket telling anyone who might find him in a state of unconsciousness to not assume he was dead. And, he would leave a note on his bedside table at night stating, “I only seem dead.”  He did die succumbing to cancer in 1875 but evidently lived in the fear of death for years prior to his actual departure from earth’s sphere. We might assume that he “died a thousand deaths.”

Paul, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, said that God “hath not give us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim.1:7)

Years ago, evangelist Jerry Sivnksty, when conducting a revival meeting in our church, asked the congregation to recite with him each evening a verse for the week.  The verse reads, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” (Ps. 56:3) For years following that meeting as I would call upon members of our church who were facing difficult situations in life, all I would have to do was mention Ps.56:3 and the person I was visiting would then quote the verse to me before I had a chance to remind them of the words: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” That reminder has helped so many for so long, such a short but powerful reminder of whose we are and whom we must and can trust!

John Chrysostom was a 4th century preacher who at one time was exiled from the position that he had occupied as the greatest preacher of his age. Upon his exile, Chrysostom wrote: “What can I fear? Will it be death?  But you know that Christ is my life, and that I shall gain by death. Will it be exile? But the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness are the Lord’s. Will it be loss of wealth? But we brought nothing into this world and can carry nothing out. Thus, all the terrors of the world are contemptible in my eyes and I smile at all its good things. Poverty I do not fear, riches I do not sigh for, and from death I do not shrink. “

Fear and faith are mutually exclusive: fear is futile, faith is fertile; fear binds, faith blesses; fear flees, faith flies. Into the granite stone that marks the grave of one of America’s astronomers is carved these words: “I have lived too long among the stars to fear the night.”

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (I John 4:18)

For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)

Sticks and Stones…

“May hurt my bones; but words, they can kill.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox captured the power of a single spoken dart-like word: “You never can tell when you send a word like an arrow shot from a bow, by an archer blind, be it cruel or kind, just where it may chance to go. It may pierce the breast of your dearest friend, tipped with its poison or balm, to a stranger’s heart in life’s great mart it may carry its pain or its calm.”

Napoleon Bonaparte said that if he had command of 26 lead soldiers (the French alphabet) he could conquer the world.

A noted lexicographer listed what he considered to be the ten most impressive words in the English language:  (1) Alone, the bitterest word; (2) Mother, the most revered word; (3) Death, the most tragic; (2) Faith, brings the greatest comfort; (5) Forgotten, the saddest; (6) love, the most beautiful; (7) revenge, the cruelest; (8) friendship, the warmest; (9) No, the coldest and (10) tranquility, the most peaceful. (copied)

From the pages of recent history, the power of words has a tragic example.  Lee Atwater, in 1980, was a political campaign manager. His staff learned that an opposing congressman from South Carolina had once experienced severe depression and had undergone electric shock therapy. When Atwater released the information to the press, it humiliated the candidate and cast doubt on his ability to lead. In anguish, the candidate questioned Atwater’s integrity for releasing this personal and possible damaging health information, but Atwater retorted that he had no time to respond to someone “hooked up to a jumper cable.” Ten years later, Atwater himself became the victim of an incurable brain tumor which confined him to bed where he was attached to innumerable tubes and wires, and before he died, he wrote to the candidate a letter begging his forgiveness, realizing how cruel his haughty and heartless words had been.

On a lighter note, a gentleman was once asked to deliver a brief address to the alumni of Yale University, so he based his talk on the letters YALE.  He began by saying that Y stands for Youth—the young people who come to the university with such enthusiasm and promise. The A, he continued, represents achievement, the success of the school’s graduates.  After lengthy remarks on L (loyalty) and E (enthusiasm) he concluded his 90-minute discourse and took a seat.  During the pause that followed the speech, a bored visitor commented to his friend, “I’m glad he didn’t graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology!”

And the right word is important as illustrated by this humorous tale of a teacher who shared some answers received from students on assignments.  One student said that “The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects.” Another bright boy said that the word “germinate” meant to become a naturalized German citizen and that a vacuum was where the pope lived. A fibula, another student offered, is a small lie and a terminal illness is (you guessed it) what happens when you get sick at the airport!  Words!

A popular magazine reported that the average man speaks 25,000 words a day and the average woman 30,000.  To which one man replied, “When I come home from work each day, I have spoken my 25,000 words, and my wife hasn’t started her 30,000 yet!”

And from nature’s school on life, have you heard about the cranes that come from the Taurus mountains of southern Turkey? These cranes cackle a lot while flying, and the noise of their cackles belies their position to predator eagles which swoop down and grab them up for a meal. The cranes who have survived these attacks have learned to pick up stones large enough to fill their mouths, inhibiting their ability to cackle and thus preventing them from becoming lunch for eagles! Solomon wisely warned that “a fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” (Proverbs 18:7)

James, of course, wrote explicitly of the havoc that hellish words can wreak: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6)

Jesus warned His disciples that it was that which “cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” He went on to detail some of that which cometh out of the mouth: “…evil thoughts, murders, adulteries fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man….” (Mark 15:11,19,20)

So, words can kill, and words can cure.  Solomon: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)

So, stand up, speak out and use words wisely, remembering always that what is said with our mouths reflects our inner most being, our character core.  Say well what you say, knowing that words can kill, and words can cure!

“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23)

On Missions and Missionaries

I have just returned from Watertown, Wisconsin, where the Calvary Baptist Church, led by Pastor Bob Loggans, graciously hosted the 60th annual meeting of the Baptist World Mission on which it has been my privilege to have served as a board member with 30 or so other pastors and Christian leaders for forty of those sixty years. The Deputation Committee and the Fields Committee interviewed about 30 missionary units (either husband and wife, or single missionaries) hearing of and sharing in both their blessings and burdens. As always, the BLESSING was ours, i.e., the committee members who had the privilege of interacting with either appointee missionaries on deputation attempting to garner enough support, including prayer and financial, to go to the field that God has burdened them with to plant New Testament churches, or veteran missionaries, returning home to report to their sending church and to their supporting churches and individuals, who have been involved in the planting, cultivating and harvesting of churches in places that encompass the globe. Ellen and I returned to Indianapolis rejoicing once again to have been able to see and hear first-hand what God is doing in and through the lives of men and women who are living out literally Proverbs 3:5,6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”

Though it would be very difficult if not impossible for me to communicate my heart’s response and feeling for the missionaries we heard from this past week, I am going to attempt to share with you some observations out of my forty years of being vitally involved in world missions through Baptist World Mission. I first met with the board in a small office in Decatur, Alabama when Dr. Monroe Parker and the few of us present then met to discuss the needs, issues and ministries of the ambassadors for Christ that BWM was serving as a service agency with the missionary’s local, sending church enabling through any means available to us to encourage, support, enable and pray for those God-called emissaries of our Lord Christ in the planting of New Testament Churches worldwide. Dr. Fred Moritz succeeded Dr. Parker as the BWM Director and then, Dr. Bud Steadman caught his mantle and has served faithfully and ably for more than a dozen years, assisted by a very capable and dedicated staff of field directors and home-office personnel. There are currently a little less than 300 missionaries who are served through the auspices of BWM as a board that partners with the missionary’s sending church to assist these choice servants in getting to the field, in receiving regular prayer and financial support and, especially through the expertise of the board, in meeting logistical challenges that would be ordinarily most difficult for the sending church to discharge, such as visas, transfers of funds, insurances, emergencies, etc. BWM has a long and sterling history of steadfastness in standing for and on the fundamentals of the faith and of serving churches and missionaries from those churches of like precious faith in doing what we can in our generation to advance the fulfilling of Christ’s commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations….” (Matt. 28:18-20)

It is so very encouraging to witness the dedication of men and women who are still hearing and heeding His call to “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Young couples with small children, toddlers and tots, who are anxious and excited about traveling to a hundred or more churches to share their burden for going to East Germany, Hungary, Chile, Ghana, Nepal, Japan, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ukraine, India, Ireland, USA, Albania and other fields in His vast vineyard. Some of the families we heard from have served 10, 20, 30, or even 50 or more years faithfully. I have had the privilege to watch these faithful servants give their lives joyfully in sacrificial service. We have “grown old together!” At each of these annual conferences our director directs the missionary units who are attending the annual meeting in what is called “The Parade of Nations.” Each family or single missionary introduces themselves, dressed in the dress which is common in the culture where they serve or hope to serve stating where they are ministering and how long they have been serving. When the last person has introduced himself and his family , then they join the others, all standing shoulder to shoulder across the front of the church in totality, many of them with flags of the nations where they are serving, and those of us in the auditorium, beholding this incredible work of the grace of God in calling, supporting and sustaining these servants of His, for a combined total of who knows how many years, planting hundreds of “Rescue Missions” (local churches) all across the continents, can only respond with a spontaneous standing (prolonged) ovation through tear-filled eyes.  This is the highlight of our year in participating on, in and through the mission endeavors of Baptist World Missions.

It is without doubt, most encouraging to witness first-hand the enthusiasm of these youthful men and women who have surrendered all to serve Him. One couple we met is going to Cameroon with four children, the oldest being eleven years of age. Hannah Schrock is going to the Ivory Coast with her husband Nathan, where Hannah’s parents have served for decades and where Hannah’s brother and his family are serving with small children. God is still calling and separating for Himself young people to execute in these last days His Great Commission to go and to make disciples in all the world.

But, on a sad note, we are not seeing as many young people answering the call to go today. The trend, unlike a few years ago, seems to be going downward. We pray earnestly the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers, and He does, but not in the numbers of 20 years or so ago when Bible colleges were preparing scores of young hearts to give their lives to world missions. It is an alarming trend and one that the solution for rests solely upon households of faith and local churches where potential 21st century missionaries are growing up. We need, as Jesus exhorted, to continue to beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers, for the “fields are white unto harvest.” (Matt. 9:7,38)

Our task is not to bring the whole world to Christ, but to bring Christ to the whole world.” (A.J.Gordon)

Handling Adversities

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Provs. 24:10) Those wise words from Solomon’s pen have often come to my mind when either our family or someone else’s family is going through the deep waters of tribulations or adversities. With the turning of every new month or year on our calendar, one might whisper the prayer that I have, “I pray this new (month, year) will not hold as many heartaches, disappointments, deaths as this past one did.” Then, when that month, year or decade closes I find myself repeating that whispered prayer.

So, yes, life is chock full of setbacks, trials and difficulties. A pearl that is genuine was not made without much resistance. Nor did a beautiful butterfly just hatch without great struggle. Babies are born through intense labor for the most part; a rainbow is a marvel of beauty, but before the bow actually comes the dark storm clouds and often the torrential rains and sometimes floods. That’s the stuff of which life is made.

So, knowing that storms, floods, fires and winds of life will continue to blow into and out of our lives, what to do? It stands to reason that we should get our strength bolstered so that when the inevitable comes we will not be wiped out. When fall sets in, it is only smart to get the car and house ready for the storms of winter. So with the soul and spirit. The question is then, how can I get ready? What do I need to do to prepare? May I offer some suggestions? And, please know that I offer these not as one who has triumphed and is looking back as a victor but as one who is climbing the mountain with other pilgrims hoping to reach the summit before my lifeline is exhausted. I am very much in the thick of the battle alongside of you and I want nothing more than for you and all of like mind to succeed. Some wise man said once that if you are succeeding without suffering it is because someone before you suffered and if you are suffering without succeeding it so that someone following you may succeed. I want to succeed not that someone who follows me will not have to face difficulties but that someone who faces them may be encouraged by an example of faithfulness. So, here is what I suggest we do:

  • Daily readjust the focus of our gaze upon Christ. Looking at any other person or thing will only ultimately prove frustrating, disappointing and maybe even deadly. We must keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebs.12:1,2)
  • We must stay in the Word of God! Our strength comes through increased faith and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. You will only be as strong as you are bathed in the promises of His Word. I know, it sounds simplistic and you’ve heard it all your life as a believer, but it is a truth that is unfailing and unchanging and the believer cannot be strong apart from God’s Word anymore than a baby will become healthy apart from loving nourishment.
  • We will not be strong without the strength of united fellowship and bonding with others of like precious faith. The Christian life was not meant to be a life of isolationism or individualism, Covid-19 notwithstanding. We need each other for prayer support and for exhortation (comfort, encouragement). So, stay active in a good local church. Be faithful. Don’t skip prayer meetings. Come to all services. Join in. Find a ministry and start serving. And, when your day of adversity comes, as it surely will, though you may be severely tested and “go to the wall” so to speak, you will not faint!

Be encouraged that God produces His finest through difficulties and suffering. Tribulation worketh patience, patience experience and experience hope. (Romans 5) God’s grace has never failed one saint and it will not fail you. Try to keep things in perspective. If in the middle of your worst day (or nightmare) you could step out of yourself momentarily and take the long look and put the day in context with the greater picture (one month, one year, one lifetime) it might help. Here’s a tip. When you are about overcome with frustration over a circumstance and when your envelop has been pushed just about to the limit and you feel like you can’t take anymore, say to yourself something like: “in the overall scheme of things.” Let that little phrase or something like it be a mental reminder to put every or any particular day or experience into the greater context of life’s overall scheme of things. How will this one-day mesh into your whole life and what difference will it make one hundred years from today? Sometimes those little mental exercises can go a long way toward getting you through a day/trial.

I wish for you all of His abundant blessings! I am confident that you will have many wonderful experiences as you walk life’s way with Him. The blessings will be too numerous to count. But, likewise, you will be tested if you’re made of anything worth testing. I hope and pray you will stand. Let’s press on to the summit where life is less crowded and the air is crisp and fresh and the joy of victory is sweet. And do remember that if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small but do not despair for you can

“…be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6:10) 

Back Home to the Blue Ridge

(Editor’s note:  Ellen and I married in August of 1965 whereupon we moved to Minnesota where I began seminary classes in early September.  Ellen never “looked back” and from the first day of seminary to the present day, we have been involved in ministry and have seldom gotten to go “home” to see family.  Ellen never complained about not getting to visit home often and the article today in “You and God” was written by her in 2003 when she paused to reflect about one of those rare visits back to North Wilkesboro, NC, where she grew up.  I think you will enjoy sharing in her thoughts.)

“Going back home to North Carolina was different in many ways for me this time. Because I have always lived so far away, it was a ‘big deal’ when I came home and we always had a warm welcome for us. This time there was no one to greet us at the gate but two dogs. My dad’s dog, Misty, and Stash, a rottweiler my nephew had placed there, who gave us a friendly, yapping greeting. Their tails were wagging, but we were a little intimidated by Stash whom we didn’t know. After a debate of who could run the fastest, I was elected to go through the gate and get the key at the back door and go through the house and open the front door. Because Misty is the leader and she recognized me, I passed through their inspection and was allowed to enter the house.

The last time I went home, my dad had a big pot of green beans on and a cake of corn bread baked—good fare for anybody. This time I had to go to the grocery store before I could have breakfast. The food in the refrigerator was old and stale and the dogs had some good meals on the things I threw away when I cleaned out the freezer.

My dad is in a rehab facility recovering from a broken hip and severe bed sores. I was shocked to see his appearance. He used to be 6 ft., 4 in., and he probably weighs about 100 pounds now. He can’t stand and only recently has he been able to sit to eat. He is so weak he can hardly talk or turn himself over. He loves to talk, and in the past, there was never a silent moment when he was around, but this time we could only get a brief reply to our questions. He had the most response when we read a Psalm and prayed with him.

Another ‘difference’ was visiting my Aunt Mary, my dad’s sister, who has recently been placed in an assisted living facility because her only daughter lives in Baltimore. Mary was the perfect homemaker and one I admired greatly when I was a child. She always had a spotless house, a freshly baked cake on the sideboard, and a closet full of clothes because she was a proficient seamstress. We stopped by her room about 11:00 a.m. one morning and she was sitting in her chair fully dressed, hair neatly combed and looking like a queen. Her mind is still good and she was elated the day I took her out for lunch and on a little shopping trip. She still loves clothes and bought three new sweaters the day we were out. She’s 90 and in good health, but there’s no one to stay with her, so her new home is one she deplores, but where she will probably end her days. 

We stopped by to visit another aunt, Mary, my mom’s only living sibling. She’s 85 and still lives by herself, and her son and grandson live nearby. By mid-morning, she already had all her laundry done for the week and her house cleaned. She was watching the news intently because she has another grandson who lives in San Diego and the fires were near his house. She had called him a couple of times that morning to see if everything was OK. She plans to go to visit him in a few weeks and stay a month or so. She usually bakes us a pie if she knows we’re coming home, but this time she didn’t know, so we missed fresh coconut pie.

More than ever, I look forward to the day when we’ll live in a ‘land where we’ll never grow old.’ I look forward to when these bodies that are now ‘sown in corruption (shall be) raised in incorruption, and (that which is) sown in dishonor…is raised in glory, and (that which) is sown in weakness…is raised in power, and (that which) is sown a natural body…is raised a spiritual body.’” (I Cor. 15:42-44)

P.S.  We gathered to celebrate Ellen’s dad’s life of 87 years on February 1, 2006 thanking God for a man who had been an epistle known and read of most everyone in the Community of Cricket where he had pastored the same church for 50 years and where everyone knew him as a “Man of God”; then just four years later, Aunt Mary, having lived a full life until her homegoing at the age of 96, joined Ellen’s dad, her brother and pastor,  their remans in the silent city of the dead in the community of North Wilkesboro, NC., but their soul and spirit in that place of which Ellen longingly sang in her heart, the “land where we’ll never grow old.” 

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

“The Way of an Eagle”

Solomon, in Proverbs 30:19 said that there were four things too wonderful for him, one of which was the way of an eagle in the air. (Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin bemoaned the fact that the eagle was our national emblem, opining that the turkey would be more fitting!).

The eagle, faster and stronger than any bird whose home is in the heavens, has earned the title “king of birds” and majestic is the word that best describes this marvelous creature. In Proverbs 23:5 the wise king wrote that riches fly away as an eagle toward heaven. The build of the bird “combines  strength, lightness, and power”; its unique bone design and built-for-flight feathers suits it for upward flight, with a spectacular wing-span which when wide open propels the eagle to heights enjoyed by few others of God’s wonderful world. It is at home in the stellar heavens and the bird’s incredible uniqueness has inspired both poetry and prose. Tennyson wrote of the eagle when he penned the lines: “He clasps the crags with crooked hands; Close to the sun in lonely lands; Ringed with the azure world, he stands. The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls; He watches from his mountain walls; And like a thunderbolt he falls.”

Fitting therefore that the child of God is likened unto the eagle in the Word of God: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as an eagle; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint….” (Isa. 40:31)

The Psalmist in Ps.103:5 declares that God satisfies the mouth of his children with good things “so that their youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

So, in two places, the eagle and the believer are compared one to the other. There are a number of analogies that one might draw from this biblical comparison:

  •  The eagle lives high above the world: “…doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39:27) In Paul’s epistles (Col.3:2; Eph. 2:6) he sets forth those who are in Christ as those who have been raised up and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Like the eagle we are made for heaven. The eagle cannot get around in a forest but needs to soar in the heavens much as believers are exhorted to “set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth.” (Col.3:2) The eagle is not a flocking bird and there are never more than two together; he is said to be “lonely because he is lofty.” The believer does “flock” with other believers, gathering together for worship, fellowship, praise and prayer; but when the Lord said “Follow Me” men did not “flock” after him, but rather one here and one there and the higher the ascent the lonelier the flight and the closer to Christ the further the world recedes from our person and the less appeal it has to us. We have learned to turn our “eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Have you ever sung the song “I’m going higher, yes higher someday, I’m going higher to stay….”? One author put it this way: “He draws great lines across the sky; he sees the forests like a carpet beneath him; he sees the hills and the villages in many a colored tapestry; he sees the river as a sliver belt connecting horizons; we climb mountain peaks to get a glimpse of the spectacle that is hourly spread out before him. Dignity, elevation, repose are his.”
  • The eagle builds his home on a rock, in a strong place: “She (eagle) dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.” (Job 39:28) Jesus in concluding His great sermon on the mount exhorted “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock.” (Matt. 7:24) “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ.” (I Cor.3:11) Believers seek “a heavenly country, a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebs. 11:10)
  • The eagle has sharp vision: “From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.” (Job 39:29) Thus, we say that someone has “eagle eyes.” Eagles have been observed spotting their prey three or four miles away; they have a double eye-lid, the inner one being transparent and always pulled over the eye so that whereas we are able to see by the light of the sun the eagle sees the sun. Like the eagle, believers have eyes that can see God’s Word and into a world unknown to the natural man; we can look straight at the SON and see Light that would otherwise blind us and we can “walk as children of light!” (Eph.5:8)
  • The eagle cares for and trains its offspring; eagles live together as a family unit and build a home; they train their young: “As an eagle stirred up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings.” (Deut.32:11) They typically live long lives: “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s,” (Ps.103:5) and due to moulting, an annual shedding of feathers and growing of new ones, they seem to have perpetual youth. Believers strive to stay together as a family, building our “nest,” taking care of and training up our youth, (Provs. 22:6) and generally enjoying to old age our blessings from God upon the family He has given us by grace;
  • Eagles must live on a special diet. They eat meat. “But strong meat belonged to them that are of full age….” (Hebs.5:14) Eagles must have a daily “casting” or regurgitating of the ball of feathers, bones and other foreign objects they may have ingested. As a believer, it behooves each of us, as long as we live in this “flesh,” taking in much more than the meat of the Word, as the garbage of this world will often find its way into our daily consumption, to have a day by day “casting” spiritually, confessing our sin (I John 1:9) and having a spiritual cleansing or purging much as the eagle has its casting.

One final thought: in Revelation 8:13, during the Great Tribulation, an eagle is pictured as “flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice,” Woe, woe, woe to the inhibitors of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound.” Ryrie says in his commentary that the word angel in this verse would better be rendered “eagle.” We as followers of Jesus in these last days before Christ’s return have the privilege of proclaiming His glorious gospel and of warning of God’s pending wrath. May we be faithful in the discharge of that privilege, remembering that here and now we can, by God’s grace and by His design, “mount up with wings as an eagle.”

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” (Isiah 40:31)

I Had a Friend

“Two are better than one,” Solomon tells us in Eccl.4:9,10 “because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:  but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him.”

There was a dachshund pup, Milo, that was said to have met a lion cub by the name of Bonedigger the Lion. The lion had a bone disease that caused him to be disabled, but his small friend, Milo, took the little cub under his wing, and they remained thereafter companions.

Charles Kingsley, renowned English novelist and cleric was once asked by an admirer, “What is the secret of your life?  Tell me, that I might make my life beautiful, too.”  The great man simply replied, “I had a friend.”

Most anyone who has enjoyed any measure of beauty, of well-being, of happiness, joy and fulfillment could agree with Kingsley, “I had a friend.”

This writer has had one for more than 70 years. We met in a local church and had a kindred spirit for God’s work. Before I spent a day in Bible college, I was a “co-pastor” of a small, dying church in my hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa, and my friend was the other half of the “co-.“  We held revival meetings and VBS schools in northeast Missouri small town churches that were otherwise “closed” on Sundays, and this, in truth, before we had enough sense to do so; but we had a love for our Lord and a desire to see churches that were on “life-support” revived.  We attended the same school eventually, continued our weekend outreach ministries in the mountains of North Carolina and he was my “best man” and I his; and I pastored Thompson Road Baptist Church in Indianapolis for forty years because, from a human perspective, my friend submitted my name to the pulpit committee for consideration when TRBC was seeking God’s will about a pastor.  We are still friends to this day and communicate regularly.  I had a friend.

“Oh, the comfort—the inexpressible comfort—of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words; but pouring them all right out—just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them—keep what is worth keeping and with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” (George Eliot)

J. Wilbur Chapman, well known evangelist of yesteryear, said that forty people suffering from some disease, were brought to Jesus and were healed.  Of this number, the preacher said 34 were either brought to Jesus by friends or Jesus was taken to them. In only six out of the forty cases did sufferers find their way to Christ without assistance. (The Sword of the Lord)

“Thank God for you, good friend of mine, seldom is friendship such as thine; How very much I wish to be, as helpful as you’ve been to me. Thank God for you.”

The value of a friendship could hardly be overstated. People not only are brought to Christ by friends, they are also nourished in their faith by a loving, loyal friend.

A pastor, responding to a suggestion from the suggestion box in the back of the church sanctuary, preached a sermon one Sunday on “The Recognition of Friends in Heaven.” The next week another note was in the suggestion box which read as follows, “Dear Pastor, I would be much obliged if you could preach a message on The Recognition of Friends on Earth. I have attended this church for six months and no one has noticed me yet.”

You may chuckle at that, but my wife and I, when I was in seminary in a large city, attended a church for nine months while Ellen was “carrying” our third child. In due season she gave birth to our son, Ted, and when she returned as soon as possible to the church services, several remarked that they had not noticed that she had been expecting!  That was not a large church but rather a church of less than 100. We joined anyway because the old preacher could expound the scriptures like none other that we had heard in the area, though we had invited him several times to pay a visit to us as prospective members so that we could learn more of the church and its ministry.  Being friendly and welcoming to visitors and strangers is so important. By the way, that church did have an older man who waited at the entrance of the church with a bulletin in his hand and a warm welcome, manifested in a wide smile, for everyone who attended. He was a key factor, as well as the pastor’s exposition of the Word, in our joining that church!

A newspaper in Lincoln, Nebraska, reported that a lady who visited eighteen churches on successive Sundays in order to evaluate the friendliness of the churches in the area, rated each one using the following scale:  10 for a smile; 10 for a greeting from someone sitting nearby; 100 for an exchange of names; 200 for an invitation to dinner or coffee; 200 for an invitation to return; 1000 for an introduction to another worshipper and 2000 for an introduction to the pastor. The lady reported that all eighteen churches visited earned less than 100 points. It was her conclusion that though the preaching is Biblical and the music inspiring and uplifting, when no one seems to care whether or not a visitor returns, he or she is not likely to pay a second visit.

Friendship is so powerful. Church should be the place where our dearest friendships are forged. Joseph Scriven, you probably remember, was engaged to a beautiful woman and the night before their wedding the boat she was in capsized and she was drowned. Scriven never got over the shock of it but in hopes of doing so, he moved from his home in Ireland to Canada where he taught school and was a tutor, living a very simple, private life and considered by some to be eccentric. But Scriven, found in his loneliness and sad life a true friend of whom he wrote, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; what a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer!”

I hope you have a friend; I hope you are a friend. This past weekend it was our (Ellen and myself) pleasure to return to Ottumwa, Iowa, to attend my 60th high school class reunion. Fifty or sixty of our classmates were there and it was so good to renew acquaintances and get updates on the lives of some very special people who were school daze friends (that’s not a spelling error; remember those daze days?) It was like picking up where we left off and there was so much to catch up on. Many of them are believers and serving the Lord in their particular walk of life. It was an unspeakable blessing and one that I am so thankful that we were able to experience. I have had and still do have, many precious friends for which I am ever grateful to our great God.

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Provs.17:17)

Our Inscrutable God

(The following article is adapted from one that I wrote originally in August of 2003, shared in this “You and God” installment with the prayer that someone who has been through, is going through, or soon will be in, a “valley of the shadow” experience, by one’s self or with someone, will be edified):

“As I write these lines, our daughter, Marti, is in the intensive care unit at St. Francis Hospital. She underwent an emergency surgery two days ago and she is fighting off infection which, if not checked by some high-powered antibiotics, could end her life on this earth.

I have seen hundreds of folks off to surgery, but this one Saturday was the most difficult ever.  We did not know what the doctor would find. It was suggested that there may be a mass that would be discovered. Unbridled, my mind raced from bad scenarios to scenarios that were worse. It was an agonizing two and one-half hour wait. The report from the surgeon was somewhat of a relief when we learned that an appendix was the culprit. The bad news was that it had begun to leak and thus Marti would have to fight off infection. As I write these lines her body is mounting a fierce struggle against foreign invaders. Many people far and near are praying for her recovery.

Times such as these provide us opportunities to learn. Not that we would ever choose such an opportunity, but they come our way and we have no choice but to live the experience and try to draw upon His grace to get us through. I have so much to learn. I am learning. Please allow me to attempt to put onto paper a few of the things I am struck with because of this nightmare:

  1.  Our family is so much a part of the fabric of our lives. Others are very important, but one’s flesh and blood is your very life. We take each other for granted too much. We assume things will always be all right. When an earthquake rocks our foundations, then things become so trivial and people so crucial. We do not tell each other often enough ‘I love you.’
  2. Things happen so fast. One moment you’ve got life on cruise control and then around the next corner there’s a major pile-up. It all comes so quickly and without time to prepare. The frames of our life freeze and everything has a different perspective.
  3. Prayer is so important. Not only your prayers, but the prayers of anyone who believes in prayer. We can listen to or read prayer lists with detachment until our flesh and blood is one of the names. Then, the prayers of those who believe become huge. We can never overstate the privilege and power of prayer.
  4. God’s ways are inscrutable. Bottom line must always and ever be, ‘Thy will be done.’ Don’t try to rationalize it or even understand or explain it. God loves us with an everlasting love and whatever He allows to come our way has to be seen though those lenses. And, we know there is a purpose for His glory.
  5. A support group of people of like precious faith is of incalculable worth. What a blessing the dear folk of Thompson Road Baptist Church are to us. We are not alone but surrounded by a family which loves us. A hug. A handshake. And hand on the shoulder. A phone call. A card and word of encouragement. Our family doctor (Ellen’s and mine), Dr. Ruley, has visited Marti every day in intensive care.  He is a good, Godly doctor and though Marti and Dale are not under his watch care at this time, he cares enough to make a special trip to the hospital each day to check up on her. Besides that, God has placed there an ICU nurse that, shall I say, could have qualified as a doc. She keeps the physicians up to date and in some cases shares with them the approach she deems wise to take. She is a God send to all of us at this time. All are priceless.

As Marti was rolled into the operating room, I bent to kiss her cheek. After surgery she mentioned that to Ellen. I have never been very openly affectionate with my family. I feel very deeply for them and love them each more than I can tell. But hugs and kisses have never been part of my expression. In my heart, I have vowed that has to change. I can’t wait until my little girl is well enough to give her a great big hug and kiss. Too bad we are so slow to get it that it takes major crises to show us where we need to make some changes. I am sure there are many other lessons I will learn through this experience. Stay tuned.”

P.S. Today, September 30, 2021, I want to share with you, in case you are not already aware of it, that Marti did, by the grace of God, survive that experience that occurred eighteen years ago. She since has homeschooled or is homeschooling all of her children three of whom have graduated from college and/or grad school.  She and her husband of 33 years, Dale, are faithful members of TRBC where I was senior pastor until 2019. Sadly, an emergency appendicitis situation visited the Nye household four years after Marti’s ordeal, claiming the life of their precious son, David, who was eleven years of age at the time. What all of us experienced through Marti’s near-death battle, in no way prepared us for the passing of the sweet young lad that David was and the strong young man that he was becoming. We had learned that “God’s ways are above our ways,” and that always, “My grace is sufficient.”  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” It is true. Selah.

Blessed by 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.” (2 Cor. 1:3,4)

Why Another Missions Conference?

Our church is in the midst of another faith promise/world missions conference, our 40th annual such missions endeavor. Every previous conference has always yielded lasting fruit for world missions and through the Biblical faith giving approach to supporting missions and missionaries we have enjoyed blessed relationships with hundreds of these choice servants, supporting with both prayers and finances some of them for 30, 40 and even 50 years. Every conference has been memorable and the highlight of our church’s yearly calendar. So, one might ask, why does a church go to the expense and effort of hosting a major missions meeting such as this every twelve months? Glad you asked! My answer is as follows:

  1.  Matthew 13 records some interesting parables, beginning with one about a sower that went forth to sow. To understand this parable, in its greater context, one must review chapters 11 and 12. Jesus, like His forerunner John the Baptist, had been preaching that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. (Matt. 4:2) His message was pretty much rejected and He Himself stated that “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence.” (Matt. 11:12) He concluded chapter 11 with that great invitation to “come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (11:28) In Matthew 12, the Pharisees rejected Jesus as their King claiming that what He did He did by the empowerment of Beelzebub, or Satan. (12:24) For the nation of Israel at that time, that was their official rejection of His offer to be their King and it set into motion the events that would culminate at Calvary.
  2. In Matthew 13, Jesus outlined for His disciples what would happen in the light of this rejection, speaking in parables so that He could reveal to them that a period of sowing would ensue, followed eventually by a harvest at the end of the world. (13:30) The parables were spoken to reveal to His followers “mysteries of the kingdom,” while concealing from His detractors further accountability and thus further condemnation since “they seeing see not and hearing hear not, neither do they understand.” (13:13) More truth would only bring them under more condemnation for to whom much is given of him shall much be required.
  3. These parables, eight in all in chapter 13, outline what the future of the kingdom will look like in light of the King’s rejection. The first one is called the parable of the sower, and one learns that there is going to be a sowing of seed, ending in a final end of the world harvest. The sower is the Son of Man; (13:37) the field is the world; (13:38-as revealed in a similar parable concerning the sowing of bad seed or tares by the wicked one, a counter sowing) the seed is the word of the kingdom, (13:19) and the result of this period of sowing will be that some of the sown seed will not bear any fruit as some is immediately snatched up by the wicked one, (19) some will wither having been sown on stony ground; some will not bear but will be overtaken by thorns, but some will bear good fruit, some 30, some 60 and some a hundred-fold. (13:23)
  4. In the other parables in Matthew 13, Jesus would further unfold characteristics of this sowing period. There would be a counter-sowing by Satan that would produce tares which would have to be weeded out at the end of the age harvest; the kingdom during this phase which He would later (Matt.16) identify as the church-age would have a very small beginning, (the parable of the mustard seed) but mushroom like growth (the parable of the leaven) and would be like a treasure found in a field or like a pearl of great price and, in the end of the world, it would be like a net that having been cast into the sea when drawn in would be a full net comprised of both bad and good produce, the good being saved in a vessel and the bad being cast into a furnace of fire.  Thus, the church-age period of the kingdom of heaven was outlined in the parable of the sower and the ensuing parables in Matthew 13.  

So, Jesus had already exhorted the disciples to petition the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into this vast world harvest field. (Matt. 9:38) Paul would later teach us that we are co-laborers with God (I Cor. 3:9) and that one sows, one waters but it is God who gives the increase. Writing to the church in Corinth in his second epistle to that church Paul said that we should all be sowing and sowing bountifully because we shall reap even as we have sown. (2 Cor. 9:6-8) Jesus told the 12 in His final intimate teaching moments with them in the upper room that His desire for each of His disciples is that we would go and bring forth fruit, and more fruit and much fruit. (John 15:2,8)

The Psalmist, hundreds of years before Paul exhorted believers to sow bountifully, by God’s Spirit, establishing the universal truth that “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps. 126:6)

With an eye toward future rejoicing over seed that would bear precious fruit, Paul wrote in his first epistle to the Thessalonian church, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.” (I Thess.2:19,20)

So, thus another world missions, faith-promise conference.  We cannot individually go to the uttermost part of the earth, but we can partner with and send Holy Spirit called and separated missionaries from our church and churches of like precious faith who are ready and willing to go to the field, the world, with the good news, evangelizing, baptizing, discipling the peoples of the four corners of the earth, then organizing them into local New Testament churches that will do the same.  Our job begins with “Go.” The commission has never been withdrawn so thus another world missions faith-promise conference, the 40th annual at our church, in obedience to His commands.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:7,8)

But God Can

A pastor who pastors a church five years, fifteen years, fifty years may bear the burden of a church that is considered by many to be gasping for life. The “buck” does in most cases stop at the pastor’s desk. But any pastor that pastors a church for five, fifteen or fifty years and enjoys a measure of what appears to be genuine success would be the first to acknowledge that God blessed that ministry not because of what he did, though God’s hand may have been evidently upon his labors, but because of what a faithful team of co-laborers did week after week, month after month, year after year to make that pastor “look good” as it were or more plainly to support the ministry in such a way that the pastor was free to exercise his God-given gifts of “pastor-teacher” and other ministerial skills God may have blessed him with. I surely had a team of that caliber, some working alongside of me for the full forty years that I led as under shepherd the Thompson Road Baptist Church, most of whom are continuing their selfless labors under the able leadership of my successor, Pastor Joel Stevens.

It is something that I must do to the glory of God when I pause, from time to time, to tell something of the “story” of these unsung 21st century heroes of the faith. Most every one of them assured me often of their love for me and my family. They spoke regularly of their prayers for us, asking if there was anything we might need. Their care for us as a family and for me their pastor went far beyond what might have been expected. They were quick to lend a hand in any way possible.

One Saturday night, actually early Sunday morning, I received a call from our security company that there had been a breech of security at the church. We lived next door so I was on site in a matter of minutes. A young man, later discovered to be inebriated, had smashed in a front glass door, gained entrance, quickly threw some of the sound system in our main auditorium into the back of his pick-up truck, then in a “parting shot” detonated a couple of fire extinguishers covering every square inch of the auditorium, pews, carpet and all, with a yellowish powder from the fire extinguishers. He was found a couple of blocks away trying to break into a corner drug store with all of our sound equipment still in the back end of his truck. At 3:00 a.m., Sunday morning, having put an emergency call in to a company that would come out and board up the front door, I called ten or fifteen of those people of whom I spoke earlier, asking them to come with vacuum cleaners and cleaning cloths. We had Sunday school that morning at 9:45 a.m. sitting in pews that were “spic and span.” Every pastor reading this can identify with those kinds of folk, yours merely having different faces and names but the same heart for God and His work.

In this post I want to mention one such co-laborer. He met me in front of the pulpit my first Sunday as Pastor of TRBC on September 9, 1979, and announced that as song leader he operated with one understanding: “Song leaders do not preach, and preachers do not lead singing.” Boy, was I relieved to hear Lonial reestablish those parameters. My two predecessors, Pastor Roy Julian and Pastor Fred Moritz were great preachers and it was with trembling that I stepped into the pulpit that both of them had so ably preached from for a combined total of 16 years or so, and I know Dr. Moritz, at least I was pretty sure, that he was not known for his great singing ministry, so I breathed a sigh of relief, shook Lonial Wire’s hand that felt like a paint brush was molded into it (he was a pro painter, his handiwork still testifies to his skill as seen in some of the ceilings and work that were his at the Indiana Statehouse), and we were the best of friends for the next 31 year until he joined that great heavenly choir of the ages, taking with him his signature song (he made a record or two) “But God Can.” His tenor voice was pretty much inimitable and his song leading like none I have ever seen. He was a pro-painter, but when he announced a number to turn to in the hymnal, he merely smiled a smile as wide as broad street and waved his hands with no apparent pattern and people sang while the rafters shook. It was never difficult to preach after Lonial finished leading the song service, except on Mother’s Day when he would, at my request year after year, sing “Tell Mother I’ll Be There, in answer to her prayer….” Often, I would intersperse the stanzas Lonial sang of that song with a poem about Mother which would begin “There she sits, the dear old mother,” and would in a verbal painted picture tell of the mother who kissed fevered brows, sang lullaby’s that quieted baby’s fears and with wrinkled hands soothed the troubled face of a child who needed that special touch of mother.

Lonial was not always a song leader. He served in the United States Army in the Pacific theatre and was acquainted at one time with General Douglas MacArthur. Maybe during his stint in the service Alcohol and Lonial got very close to each other and it took him to the bottom and left him alone on a dark street. He was not out of His Savior’s reach and was found, saved and transformed by the grace of God. He took courses at Indiana Baptist College when the college, founded by Dr. Ford Porter, was located in downtown Indianapolis. Great teachers such as Dr. Billy Forester, Dr. Leon Mauer and others impacted his life and he dedicated himself to serving Christ Jesus and did so until his homegoing in October of 2010. He was always on the front lines; never met a missionary he did not love and did not want to help (gave a car to one of our missionaries whose car broke down when he was in our church) and was as generous as he was adamant for truth. He gave me a little black book once with some sermon outlines that he had worked up and they were “preachable.” One of them was about Joseph and his coat of many colors and Lonial applied that passage to believers today saying that God, the great Weaver, fashions each of us a coat of many colors, some bright and beautiful swaths and some not so much, but all working together to make us special for Himself because He loves us so.

I wish upon every pastor who leads a flock that God will give you a Lonial and a team of all in volunteers for Jesus that will help you to do better than you are capable of doing and look better than you deserve to look. It’s all by His grace and for His glory “But God Can.”