The Uttermost Part

That’s where Jesus told his disciples to take the gospel to:  “the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)  We sometimes hear that verse misquoted as “…the uttermost parts of the earth,” but it was to the very remotest, uttermost PART that the good news, having begun in Jerusalem, then in all Judea, then Samaria, was to be delivered by people whom Jesus labeled as witnesses who would be filled with the Holy Ghost.

That assignment has not been completed as of yet.  If any reader is in the Orlando area and has not visited the Wycliff Bible Translators world headquarters there, it would be a fascinating half-day for you to invest and would cost you very little but your time (which, in Orlando, FL, is a rare place to find, i.e. some place to visit that does not cost quite a good sum of money!) You will be amazed as your guide demonstrates to you the thousands of tongues and the myriads of places where there has never been a readable translation of scriptures produced in the native tongue of the local people.  

We know that Jesus also instructed His disciples before He made His final journey to Jerusalem that the end of the age would not come before the gospel would be preached “in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14).

In His “Great Commission” to the disciples just before He ascended back to Heaven, Jesus instructed them to teach (disciple) all nations (Matt. 28:19).  

The task seems almost impossible; in two millennia we have still not reached nearly two thousand people groups with a clear presentation of God’s plan of salvation!  What to do?

Well, as our Lord said, we should occupy until He comes.  He is coming back as He promised He would, for His church, the body of Christ.  That coming is imminent (I Thess. 4:13-18) and it will precede His second coming, what the Old Testament prophets and also the Apostles referred to as the “Day of the Lord,” or the “Day of Christ.” (I Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 2:2) 

It is before the second coming, the subject of Matt. 24 & 25, that the gospel will have been preached in all the world.  That will not happen before Christ’s return for His church, commonly called the rapture of the church, the blessed hope of every believer (Tit. 2:13).

That does not diminish our responsibility to fulfill our Lord’s Great Commission to disciple all nations.  The field Jesus said is the world.  We are to lift up our eyes and behold fields that are white unto harvest (John 4:35)  So, keep your eyes open and up, your heart tender, your hands ready and engage in the most rewarding employment at the most exciting and opportune time in the history of the church and where ever your Jerusalem is, get ready, get set and go! 

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:  and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

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The Wise Woman

“Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise).” (Eph. 6:2)

It happened of old in the little- known town of Abel.  Sheba, an enemy of King David, was running for his life following the downfall of Absalom and his rebellion and insurrection against his father, the King.  Sheba had made it to the town of Abel and Joab, David’s captain, was in hot pursuit.  David’s men were ready to tear down the gates of the city to get at their man.  But a wise old woman who lived within those city gates interceded.  She pled with Joab not to destroy the entire town just for one person.  She promised that she would serve up the head of Sheba in a basket before the sun would rise on the next day.  And she did!

In her piteous plea the old woman said to battle-hardened Joab: “Thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel:  why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord?”  Her appeal was well worded and aptly directed.  Joab responded that in no way would he want to swallow up the inheritance of the Lord!  The wise woman of Abel was granted her petition to Joab, and because she lived scores of innocent men, women and children were spared.  In making her plea the woman also said “I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel.” (2 Sam. 20:19).

Thank God for good mothers.  I praise Him for my Godly mother who lived before her children as one who feared God and kept His commandments.  She loved God’s Word.  She was a devout student of things scriptural and spiritual.  She had a thirst for knowing Him better and for sharing things she had learned in her search for truth.  My mother-in-law was likewise a Godly woman whose life was immersed in serving her Lord and Savior and tending to the needs of her family and of her pastor-husband who served a local church in their neighborhood for fifty years. Ellen and I have a Godly heritage.  I am truly thankful to God, also, that the woman I married 55 years ago has been from the first day of her motherhood a woman of faith, genuine Christ-like character, love of God and of God’s family and especially His local church and its ministries.  She, along with her mother and mine, could say “I am one of the peaceable and faithful mothers of the land.”  May God raise up millions more for such a time as this.

A Mother’s Prayer 
(a tribute to my Godly Mother)

God of the weak, the lame and poor,
Whose Son is Christ, the Way and Door;
Oh, hear my weary groan and sigh,
Oh, hear me, God as I now cry.
Please grant me wisdom from above,
Mix it in me with grace and love;
Help me to others freely give,
And only for your glory live.
May others see your light in me,
And may they also rest in Thee;
Safe in the blessings of Thy grace,
Showing the beauty of Thy face;
And may I, God, my family reach.
Help me my children ever teach.
Oh, let us one in Thee be found,
And ever forth Thy praises sound.

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New Blog Subscription

Dear Friend:

I am planning to send out blog posts regularly under the title “You and God.”  I have put you on a list of recipients, but I am aware that you probably get more emails than you have time to read; so, if you choose to unsubscribe that is certainly understandable.  I have done the same to others.  If you would see fit to give this a few reads before deciding, I’d be much appreciative.  If you would forward to a friend that you think might want to read it, well, that would be going the 2nd mile.  Thanks, indeed!

Tony Slutz

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To Hug or Not to Hug

All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. I Corinthians 16:20

Growing up in a Midwest culture it was a rare thing for my family in the postwar years that were also post Great Depression years to show any outward, physical affection.  This may not have had anything to do with a geographic area or post anything era, but as I reflect back upon it the very hard times that my parents and grandparents endured gendered, in my mind at least, a sort of toughness that was not at all comfortable with much affection shown either by the touch or by the tongue.  “I love you” were words just not often spoken; a loving caress or touch, well maybe our family was different, but we just were not given to those displays of caring devotion.  

I married a beautiful belle from North Carolina, and I confess it has never been difficult for me to tell her I love her or for me to give her a loving embrace.  So, my childhood days were not so without affection that I did not know how to demonstrate my love for my wife; maybe not quite so natural with our children and certainly not, in my early adult years, with others.

But God brought into our lives, in time, some wonderful people who taught me how to appreciate a hug as well as a hand shake.  It became something that I did not have to work at doing.  And, to say “I love you” because you truly in the love of Christ love another human being, whether man or woman, became something I grew accustomed to and have been blessed by verbal affection as well as a kind, loving touch. 

One of my regrets in life, though, is that “I love you” never became a common note struck in our family gatherings in my childhood days.  I would often yearn to hug my Dad but I can only remember one time when I determined I would do it and did!  My Dad felt affection deeply, I never doubted that.  He showed it to his wife without hesitation.  He was tenderhearted and loving. But when Ellen and I and the children would leave to go home after a visit, knowing that it might be a long time before we’d see each other again, Dad would always extend his hand and offer a heartfelt handshake.  That was just his way and for years it was my way.  Imagine the horror when in1989 I had the opportunity to visit the then Soviet Union and minister in churches there, to learn in our very first service that in Russian churches men greeted other men with a holy kiss and it was not a kiss on the cheek but it was indeed lips to lips.  Well, that will have to be another story.  I have written this to say that people have different ways of saying “I love you,” and different ways of showing it. One need not be more or less genuine than the other.  It depends upon many factors whether you will extend a hand or go for a hug.  The crux of the matter is though that we should let our family know that we do indeed love them and that we cherish appropriate ways, verbal and non-verbal, to let them know so.

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship. Acts 20: 36-38

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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!