amazing!

The Bible School I’m involved in stateside this year is themed, “Amazing Wonders Aviation”.  It’s all about our Amazing God and the evidence of such an Amazing God witnessed through His amazing wonders in the world!  We “fly” (hence the “aviation”) to destinations like Victoria Falls in Africa, the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Paricutin Volcano in Mexico.  We meet such characters as “Miss Mattie Horn”, “Victoria Falls-a-lot”, and Pilot “R. U. Wrong Way”.  Of utmost importance, we learn of God’s  g r e a t e s t   a m a z i n g   w o n d e r ─ our salvation through Jesus Christ!

While I would not hesitate to classify the entire Bible as an awesome testimony of God’s amazing wonders, I would like to mention just one of my favorite accounts here.  It is recorded in The Book of Genesis.  Genesis 6:1-9:29 describes how mankind began to increase in numbers but God was wholeheartedly grieved at their wickedness which was equally increasing.  Then it tells us about one man, Noah who found favor with God in the midst of mounting corruption…and how the world changed forever!

We could probably assume that most of us are familiar with this account.  At one time or another we have likely heard of “Noah’s Ark” or “The Flood” ─ when God informed Noah that He would put an end to all corrupted people because of their relentless and unrepentant wickedness, instructed Noah to construct an ark, and assured Noah that He would establish His covenant with him so he and his family would be spared as they entered the ark (along with the animals God commanded to enter along with them).

There is no doubt that God’s amazing wonders are witnessed in this account as we understand that massive floodwaters ─ UNKOWN, UNSEEN, UNHEARD OF before this point ─ came on the earth…

“[A]ll the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights…The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water…all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered…Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out…Only Noah was left, and those with Him in the ark.” (Genesis 7, NIV84)

We know that it is our Amazing God alone who demonstrates such amazing wonders.  “YOU rule the swelling of the sea” (Ps. 89:9, NASB).  “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey HIM?” (Mk. 4:41, NRSV).  “Behold, HE retains the waters, and they dry up; and HE sends them out, and they inundate the earth” (Job 12:15, NASB).

There is, however, another particular portion of this account in Genesis which I believe especially testifies of God’s amazing wonders.  Nine words back in 6:3 (well, ten words if using the NASB translation, compared to the NIV84)…”[H]is days will be a hundred and twenty years”.  How in the world do these few words testify of God’s amazing wonders?!?  Briefly put, they give us an overt glimpse of the  A m a z i n g   G r a c e  of God!

For a hundred and twenty years, God graciously extended time to the people!  Talk about AMAZING GRACE!  Who besides Amazing God would provide a hundred and twenty years of undeserved warnings and opportunities for the people to repent?

Do you know that even today God is still Amazing and still continues to demonstrate His Amazing Grace?  Do you know that the Bible tells us, “[a]s it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man [Jesus Christ]” (Mt. 24:37, NIV84)?  Do you know that the ark which God instructed Noah to build and enter so he would be spared from the destruction of the corrupt symbolizes what salvation through Jesus Christ is?  Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved” (John 10:8, NASB).  By simple reasoning, John 10:8 also informs us that those who   d o   n o t  enter through Jesus Christ   w i l l   n o t   be saved.  Of all the people who were increasing in numbers on the earth,  EIGHT   believed the Word of God and were saved!

Some say that ‘panicked Christians have been wrongly believing for nearly 2,000 years that Jesus is coming back soon’.  So they ignore the warnings and tragically fail to recognize that God has been extending His amazing, yet terribly undeserved, grace in giving us time to repent!  Friend, stop ignoring the warnings, please realize the seriousness of the situation, your soul is at stake!   God has opened wide the door of salvation to you, He has given Jesus Christ to allow you on board.  But He  w i l l  shut the door.  Do not wait until it is too late to realize that you should have believed and entered!

Victoria

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If you are interested receiving in more information about the amazing gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, you can email the True Hope Ministry Team at TrueHopeMinistry@aol.com.

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If you would like to see some of the amazingly exciting things God is doing in Petersburg, Kentucy (greater Cincinnati area) with Answers In Genesis’ Noah’s Ark exhibit, check out http://arkencounter.com/!

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just how much does it mean

A conversation is recorded in Luke 7:36-50 between Jesus and a Pharisee, Simon as they dine.  In this text, Simon receives an implicit and then explicit teaching about  f o r g i v e n e s s.

As Jesus is reclining at Simon’s table eating the meal, a woman ─unnamed in the Gospel of Luke─ with a well apparent, ill reputation as a sinner in her city enters the house, stands behind Jesus, and weeps at His feet.  She has brought an alabaster jar of perfume with her.  As her tears are wetting His feet, she is drying them with her hair, kissing them, and pouring the perfume on them.  Appalled, Simon the Pharisee says to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of a woman she is” (Lk. 7:36, NIV84).  Then Jesus addresses Simon’s muttering (what he had said  t o     h i m s e l f)  with the implicit teaching…

“Two men owned money to a certain money lender.  One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?” (vv. 41-42, NIV84)  To this Simon replies, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled” (v. 43, NIV84).

He had judged correctly─ the one who had the bigger debt canceled would be the one who expressed the more love toward the lender.  Then came the explicit teaching…

Jesus says to Simon, “Do you see this woman?” (v. 44, NIV84).  And He continues by contrasting what Simon has failed to do and what the woman has done:

“You gave Me no water for my feet, BUT she has wet my feet with her tears” (v. 44, AB);

“You gave Me no kiss, BUT she…has not ceased [intermittently] to kiss My feet tenderly and caressingly” (v. 45, AB);

“You did not anoint My head with [cheap, ordinary] oil, BUT she has anointed My feet with [costly, rare] perfume” (v. 46, AB);

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are], are forgiven her─ because [or for] she has loved much” (v. 47, AB).

Ouch!  If this account was presented in cartoon-form, I could just picture that Simon’s jaw would drop to the ground right about here.  Wouldn’t yours?  Jesus comes to your city.  You invite him over for a Sunday afternoon meal.  You don’t greet Him at the door, you don’t offer to take His coat, and you forget to give Him something to drink.  As you sit down at the table, some overtly-emotional woman who people like you go to extremes to avoid association, let alone all contact, with barges in your house with the puffiest, pinkest eyes you have ever seen and dives under the table to untie Jesus’ shoes!  And what does Jesus do at this moment but begin to discuss finance with you!

As His initially irrelevant finance lesson progresses in the madness of this ridiculous scene, you come to progressively realize that the lesson just might not be so irrelevant.  The question echoes in your head, “Which of the debtors expresses more love toward the lender who canceled their debts?”  And you realize that this is the point of the lesson: the attitude of the two debtors toward the lender who forgave both of them. [1]

The Bible often describes sin in likeness to debt: “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Lk. 11:4, NKJV).  Even the account in Luke 7:36-50 moves from talk of cancelation of debt to forgiveness of sins.  In the concluding verses, “Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ [and’ [t]he other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?'” (vv.48-49, NIV84).

Remember the implicit teaching─ both debtors were, well, debtors and neither of them had the money to pay back their debt?  Yet, we learn that the lender alone had the sovereignty to satisfy the debt on their behalf.  You see, God alone forgives sin.  He has sole sovereignty to satisfy the debt of our sin ─for we are all debtors─ and only Christ’s blood is satisfactory ─for we could never satisfactorily pay for the forgiveness our sins.

So just how much does the cancelation of your debt ─ which you did not have nor could ever have the capability to satisfy ─ mean?  Does it mean enough to    c r y   o u t, not merely in the contriteness of heart for mercy but equally in the overwhelming joy of your salvation and love of your Savior with thanksgiving and praise and gladness?

“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to Me, I will call on Him as long as I live…The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion…when I was in great need, He saved me…How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?” (Ps. 116:1-2, 5-6, 12, NIV84).

Victoria

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1 Robertson, A.T.. “Word Pictures in the New Testament”. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems. 1997. Luke 7:42.

us and them…

In the 1930’s, London native, Gladys Aylward served in China as a missionary for Christ’s Gospel despite harsh criticism of her “academic inadequacy”.  Gladys eagerly pursued the Lord’s calling on her life, reflecting His heart in co-establishing an inn to house and teach mule drivers about Christ, caring for the needy, adopting orphans, and even guiding hundreds of orphan children across the mountains to safety when the Yuncheng, Shanxi province was invaded in 1938.

In 1977, Zambian native, Angus Buchan moved his family to Greytown, Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands, South Africa as an escape.  In 1979, Angus and his wife Jill were brought to know Christ as their personal Deliverer and shortly thereafter assumed their responsibility of following the heart of God in obeying “The Great Commission – Mark 16:15…Caring for Orphans and Widows – James 1:27…[and] Equipping Saints for the Work of Ministry – Matthew 28:20″(Shalom Ministries).  Angus and Shalom Ministries demonstrate God’s heart as they house orphaned and abandoned children, provide a farm school, and preach the Word of God throughout the land.

In 2006, Tennessee native, Katie Davis traveled to Uganda over winter break during her senior year of high school.  Nearly six years, an international relocation, and thirteen daughters later, Katie has been entrusted with Amazima Ministries.  Amazima Ministries “feeds, educates, and encourages orphaned and vulnerable children and the poor in the country of Uganda”, “reveal[ing] the truth of God’s unconditional love through Jesus Christ to the Ugandan people” (Amazima Ministries).

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I have been reading the book, “Kisses from Katie“, which tells the  captivating  and  compelling  story of Christ orchestrating Katie Davis’s life, as she has followed the very heart of God right into Uganda!  I absolutely enjoy reading about missionaries like Gladys, Angus, and Katie – ordinary folk who follow the heart of an Extraordinary God.

Yet, doesn’t it seem that we tend to place them in a separate category, saying it’s US and THEM?  And doesn’t it seem that as a result we tend to use such a perception as an excuse: “Well, I am not George Muller, or Gladys Aylward, or Amy Carmichael, or Angus Buchan, or Katie Davis.” Perhaps not, but I am me and you are you and that should not be an excuse.

Please do not misinterpret this as judgmental at all, because I am writing this as an “oh me” lesson for myself!

I read in chapter six of Katie’s book both of what she is  n o t  doing in adopting her children ─”It is not my good deed for the day; it is not what I am doing to ‘help out these poor kids'”, and what she  i s  doing ─”I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphan and the widows in their distress”.

Are you telling me that I must physically go to a foreign land and adopt children?!?  Only if that is what the Spirit of God is compelling you to do.  What are you telling me then…?  God has called each of us to follow His heart, and not merely out of responsibility to do so, but out of love from our experience.

Remember that we know what love is because He lavished His love upon us first (1 John 4:19).

Katie notes that “[a]doption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world…[it] is God’s heart.”  Then she quotes Ephesians 1:5, “In love He predestined US to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.”  Isn’t that great news?  God demonstrates His great love for us, adopting us, then allows us to, in a sense, “pay-it-forward”.

Every single one of us may not literally adopt orphaned-abandoned children.  However, every single one of us is presented with the opportunity to partake in ministry with God the Father, who adopts US, showing us His immense love for us!  Doesn’t that excite you to want to accept each person God places in your path as someone who you can show the love of God toward, reflecting His very heart, testifying of what He has done for you?

So should it really be us and them?  Has He not called US to reflect His heart?  Are not we EACH ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through US (2 Corinthians 5:19,20)?  How will you (fill in your name) reflect the heart of God today?

Victoria

servanthood…

Earlier this week, I was presented with a challenge, a challenge to explore, and ideally, implement practical applications of biblical leadership.  Wait a minute there! I thought that this blog was supposed to be about servanthood, not leadership!  Well, yes and no.

Let me rewind just a bit…

Some weeks ago, I was listening to Brant Hansen (DJ on Air1 Radio) when he made a comment which compelled me stop everything else I was multitasking on and turn my full attention to what he was talking about. (Don’t worry Brant, it was a good thing!)  Paraphrasing, he said, ‘We have such an immense amount of books on leadership…why don’t we see such books written about servanthood?’

During the discussion earlier this week when I was presented with the challenge concerning biblical leadership, one of the men expounded upon the concept, highlighting, “The more leadership you assume the more of a servant you ought to become”.  The examples of biblical leadership we have indicate that leadership should be synonymous with servanthood.

Take Jesus for instance.  He is our Prime Example!  In John 13, Jesus stood before His disciples, laid aside His garments, girded Himself with a towel, took a basin and water, and assumed the lowliest responsibility of a servant.  The Lord washed His followers’  feet!  Then He said, “You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.  If then the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:13-14, NASB).

We tend to picture leadership as:

When leadership as biblical leadership looks more like:

Which seems to be upside-down, but in reality is actually right-side-up!

Are you telling me that I have to join the circus to learn how to balance people on my head!?!  Not exactly.  While it is not specifically necessary to join the circus, it is necessary to assume servanthood if you are to assume leadershipStill, where’s the hope in that!?!

Matthew 20:25-28 records Jesus teaching, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and give His life as a ransom for many” (NLT).

The Lord God, Jesus Christ is NOT in any way some pompous, egotistical, oppressive tyrant!  He is Almighty God who willingly, humbly, lovingly  took  the very nature of a servant ─ to serve  u s!  You see, as we hold up (lead-serve) others, we are emulating Christ because He holds us up (leads-serves us)!  Moreover, as we serve others, we ARE serving Christ because we are doing so in obedience to Him!

I now pass the challenge on to you!  Will you so choose to explore and pursue a practical application of biblical leadership during your week?

Victoria

with true hope…

With True Hope represents more than just the name of a weekly blog with True Hope Ministries.  It is a sort of play on words since it also represents the inspiration, focus, and reason for launching With True Hope.  So for this “official” initiation of the With True Hope blog, I want to share a bit about the “why” of With True Hope.

With True Hope exists because of the true hope of Christ Jesus.  The most influential passage of Scripture which inspired the name of this weekly blog is found in Ephesians 2.

“[R]emember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13, NIV84).

To appreciate the astounding, exceedingly abundant depth of hope even further, I believe it is important to note some background information about this scripture.

“In the beginning”, humanity was created by God to share a perfect intimate relationship with God.  Humanity broke the perfect intimate relationship by sinning against Him, and consequently welcomed a cross-generational, humanly-undoable barrier.  Our resulting status: without God, without hope.

But God!  God pursued us!  God made forgiveness accessible to us!

Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I [this is God speaking] have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul [or ‘for one’s life’]” (NKJV).  Hebrews 9:22 tells us that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (NASB).  And God delivered!  He, Himself came as the perfect union between God and man─ Jesus Christ.  He, Himself shed His blood, through which our sins are forgiven if we have faith that it is just as He has said.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned” (John 3:17-18, NIV 84).

The resulting status: with God, with hope!

This is what With True Hope is about…encouraging you to know the reality of the true hope of Jesus Christ.  You do not have to live without hope nor without God in any or all aspects of your life because of Jesus Christ!

More With True Hope to come!

Victoria