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Ideas for a Well-stocked Missionary Cupboard


As a missionary arrives to minister at your church, it is a real pleasure to be able to take them (all of them or just the wife) to the missionary cupboard and allow them to get things they need.

The number of items given will be up to the church. Keep in mind the size of their family and their ability to get it back to the country they are from.

Also keep in mind that since all countries are different as to what a missionary can bring in without either it getting “lost” or having to pay a heavy duty the bigger and heavier items may go unclaimed.

Here are ideas for stocking this cupboard.

BABY ITEMS: blankets, small quilts, diapers, wipes, sleepers, baby toys, powder, lotion, Q-tips, diaper rash cream (traveling can really upset little ones J.P.)

CLOTHING: socks, pantyhose, scarves, ties, shoeshine kits, umbrellas, jewelry, knee- highs

COSMETICS: aftershave lotion, colognes, bath oils, combs, brushes, deodorants, emery boards, nail files, nail clippers, shampoo/conditioner, hair spray, hand creams, moisturizers, perfumes, soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair clips, barrettes, hand mirrors, nail polish/remover, toiletry bags, wet ones, feminine hygiene products

DECORATIVE ITEMS: baskets, candles/holders, figurines, vases, florist lay, pictures, picture frames/hangers, mirrors, lamps, framed verses

GAMES: games for car, puzzles, craft kits, coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, markers, construction paper, art paper, puzzle books, balloons, soft toys, regular games

HOUSE/YARD ITEMS: cleansers, clocks, clotheslines, clothes bags/pins, contact paper, curtains, feather dusters, flashlights, household brushes, ironing boards/pads/covers, laundry bags, clothes hangers, small rugs, scrub pails, sponges, dish detergent, spray starch, spot cleaner. Batteries, spray paint, repellents, paintbrushes/rollers, vegetable/flower seeds, how-to magazines, masking tape, electrical tape

FOR MEN: special tools for the yard, car, home repair (those things they are unable to purchase overseas – it’s probably a good idea to have tools in metrics since most countries other than the US are on this system.)

KITCHEN ITEMS: bread pans, pie pans, muffin tins, cookie sheets, aprons, cutlery, dishes, hot pads, measuring cups, mixing and measuring spoons, oven mitts, recipe cards, tupperware/rubbermaid, small appliances, spatulas, can openers, spices, flavorings, cupcake liners, recipe cards (remember that they may not be able to use the same wattage for small appliances)

LINENS: bath mats, towels, washcloths, mattress covers, bed pillows, blankets, quilts, sheets, shower curtains and hooks, tablecloths, place mats, cloth napkins, napkin rings.

MEDICINE: Aspirin, pain relievers, first aid items, medicated creams/ointments, sunburn lotion, vaporizer, vitamins, band aids, blistex

MUSIC: hymnals, songbooks, piano/organ music books, musical instruments, music tapes and Cd’s,

“The best things I love from the missionary closets are music tapes. Its so hard to find good Godly music and when you do you usually can’t afford it. What a wonderful surprise to get tapes when you go to a church to visit. Its one of the nicest gifts, especially when you travel for hours and hours in a car.” (M.K.)

OFFICE SUPPLIES: pens, pencils, construction paper, markers, hi-lighters, greeting cards, thank you notes, stationary, envelopes, note book paper, notebooks, paper punch, stapler/staples/remover, transparent tape, post-it notes, dictionaries, 3×5 cards, postage stamps, rulers, letter openers, portable files, rubber bands, glue/sticks, calendars

PAPER ITEMS: aluminum foil, waxed paper, plastic wrap, zip lock bags, trash bags, plates, cups, napkins, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, special occasion napkins, party stuff

READING MATERIAL: story books for children, biographies, Bible-study books, devotionals books, Christian novels, magazines, craft books, home decorating books, book marks, blank books for journaling

SEWING/CRAFT ITEMS: buttons, elastic, laces and trims, mending tapes, needles, straight pins, pin cushions, safety pins, zippers, scissors, sewing kits, seam rippers, cross stitch kits, items for making crafts

TEACHING HELPS: Bibles, maps, charts, chalk, flannel graph/boards, puppets, illustrated Bible stories/missionary stories, letter sets/stencils, scrapbooks, stickers, tapes and videos

GIFT CERTIFICATES: Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, malls, restaurants, Home Depot, grocery store, drug store, Christian book store (Watch expiry date! These are best purchased just before missionaries arrive.)

Above article hasbeen modified but originally taken from
BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND THE MISSIONARY

http://www.ifca.org/Womens_Ministries/Women’s_Seminar_on_Missions.htm

Link included to give credit, but we do not endorse all content on their website.

Communicating With Your Missionaries


Here are some things you can put in a letter or email to a missionary:

“Missionaries need communication.  It can get really lonely at times.   OF course we didn’t have the blessing of email and if it got windy our phone went out so the post office was our life line.”

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Praying Specifically for Missionaries


Each week you can spend time praying in a specific way for your particular missionaries:

Day 1 PRAY FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL LIFE AND WALK WITH GOD

*their Bible study time – that their love for God’s Word will grow
*their prayer life – that it will become stronger and be consistent
*that they will be led by the Holy Spirit
*for maturity and growth in grace
*for victory over Satan, sin and the flesh

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Missionary Support


I. Deputation/Pre-Field Ministry
A. Help “your own missionaries”
B. Listen, pray and advise them
C. Be faithful in giving

II. Practical Support
A. Invite them over to your home
B. Help them put together their presentation
C. Service their car for free
D. Pray for and with them
E. Distribute updates of their ministry
F. Ask them questions (have a group in while they speak)

III. Prayer Support
A. Pray for their personal relationship with God
B. Pray for their moral purity
C. Pray for the priorities they need in their ministry
D. Pray for family relationships
E. Pray for cultural adjustments
F. Pray for co-worker relationships
G. Pray for specific things they share in letters, emails, etc.

IV. Communication
A. Send them letters, cards, emails
B. Call them
C. Send them video tapes, music tapes, etc.
D. Go and visit them
E. Send them gifts
F. Adopt them as your families’ missionary
G. Send them preaching tapes from your church

V. Furlough encouragement

A. Be aware of the stresses that they are under
B. What can churches do?

1) Provide housing and/or vehicle
2) Allow them different times to share their ministry with various groups
3) Help the church get to really know them
4) Provide a retreat/seminar that they can attend to encourage them
5) Take them shopping for things they need
6) Help them with their medical needs
7) Open the missionary cupboard for them (see below for ideas)
8) Fill their vehicle’s fuel tank
9) Make up a basket of goodies

VI. Missionary Conferences

A. Have good communication and be friendly
B. Don’t over schedule the missionaries
C. Have each missionary be a keynote speaker at different meetings
D. Have many times for informal gatherings
E. Provide a children’s conference where the missionaries share with the children
F. Be sensitive to their health needs; special food diets; and don’t over feed them!
G. “Also, its great to be invited to someone’s house…but make sure it does not interfere with what the pastor has planned. Its hard to say ‘yes’ when you don’t know what the pastor wants you to do. So get the o.k. from him and then tell your missionary that you already asked the pastor for permission.”

VII. Missionary kids

A. Include them with other children in the conference
B. Provide them with new clothing, toys, etc. that will help them feel at home
C. Remember their birthdays and special holidays
D. Send letters, cards, packages to the college age Missionary kids also
E. “My kids get birthday cards from some of our churches and they love it. Sometimes they have Wal-Mart gift cards or just a pack of stickers…but they love them.”
F. Craft/Coloring/Travel Box – “Another great thing I have seen done recently: Take a metal cake pan (9×13) with a metal lid and depending on the age of the child, fill it with washable markers, tablets, color books, little cars, etc. for teens you could put a book, a journal, words puzzle games, etc. that way there is a place to store the goodies and a hard surface for playing or writing. You could even put a cover-up so the markers don’t get on the children’s clothing. I recommend markers because crayons melt in the car.
G. “We were given a computerized hand held math tutor that had math games in it that we all played while we were driving. Even Dad played with us. ”
H. Be careful about offering for babysitting services. If you yourself are very careful about who cares for your children, how much more so a missionary family who may not really “know” anyone at your church.

Above articles have been modified but originally taken from
BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND THE MISSIONARY

http://www.ifca.org/Womens_Ministries/Women’s_Seminar_on_Missions.htm

Link included to give credit, but we do not endorse all content on their website.

Missionaries Are People Too


At 4:00 P.M. a dusty van pulls up to the church. The passengers peer through finger-printed windows at the only car in the parking lot. Is it the pastor’s? The janitor’s? Or just an abandoned vehicle?

“Oh, please let the church be open,” Mom breathes. Dad hops out with an “I’ll-only-be-a-little-while” look over his shoulder. To Mom, this translates, “Keep the kids in their straitjackets another 45 minutes while I find out what plans the pastor has for us.

Mom sighs. Is it worth crawling over two unfurled sleeping bags, four wired kids and a van full of odds and ends just to use this brief interlude to tidy up? Forget it. Save your strength. Wait till the kids are snoring sweetly in their sacks-say 11:00 PM. or so.

Voices drift toward the front of the van.

“He took my potato chip!”

“But I found it on the floor first!”

“I have to go to the bathroom now!”

The last one cuts through the din like a new paring knife. In one scrambling movement, everyone is tumbling out of the van and hurtling churchward with Mom calling weakly, “Be quiet and don’t run in the halls!”

Beware! Your missionaries are here! To some church folks, they are as familiar as our favourite coffee mug. To others, they are just some family from outer Slombovia. Do you rush to greet them or figure that they’ll never remember you anyway? Will tonight’s service just be another missionary message (ho hum) with slides and a sunset?

Missionaries-are they real? Do they arrive at church Sunday morning, looking like a prayer card, while you struggle with your Sunday School books and an appropriate church smile? It’s not fair, you sniff. You go on day after day in the same place, while they “see the U.S.A. from their Chevrolet”-eating out and staying in motels.

Let’s eavesdrop on a missionary drive to church.

“What do you mean, you left your Bible at the last church?”

“I told you to go to the bathroom before we left the motel!”

“But it was your job to make sure she had her church shoes on!”

I have actually witnessed missionary families, children lined up according to age, sitting primly on the front row, eyes riveted on the activities in front. And then there are others.

Dad sits on the platform. Mom approaches the pulpit to provide the special music. Suddenly, cries of “Mommy! Mommy!” break the sanctified stillness. A small body hurls itself at the soloist and clings like static to Mom’s wrinkled dress. As the offender is trundled off to the bowels of the church, Mom smoothes her skirt and her dignity, resuming her march to the microphone.

Dad begins preaching, the children hanging on every word. Mom is relaxed and enjoying the message. And then, in a stage whisper, one kid innocently shares with folks four pews away, “Dad always preaches this sermon!”
“Mom, I need a pen. No, not a pencil, a pen!”

“Mom, she has my notepad. She’s wrecking my notepad!”

“I know you’re hungry. I told you to come eat your cereal, but you were too busy making a fort with the pillows.”

Church is over; Dad and Mom relax a bit, but wait-the family has been invited out to a buffet! Everyone clambers into the van. The four-year-old is sobbing. Her Sunday School paper is at church, and she desperately wants to show Mom the pop-up Noah looking out the ark window. Dad, waving to home-bound church-goers, speaks out of the side of his smile. “Hurry up. Buckle your seat belts. The pastor is waiting for us to follow him.”

“No, you can’t ride in Johnny’s car,” Mom explains.

“No, I didn’t see the lady in the choir with the funny glasses.”

In line at the buffet, Mom sees her six-year-old (four people away by the pastor’s wife), blithely helping herself to a small scoop of macaroni and cheese, one carrot and three-fourths of a plate of red Jell-O squares. At the table, Mom glimpses her four-year-old dumping a glob of chocolate pudding in her lap, and Mom realizes she forgot to iron “back up clothes.”

After the evening service, Dad and Mom have spoken with every possible person. They’ve smiled their last smile. The kids-obnoxiously normal-are just tired enough (from an afternoon “nap”) to have their second wind. They have been banished to the last pew so Mom could have meaningful conversation lasting longer than 45 seconds. It’s time for marching out quietly to the van-solemnly singing hymns while boarding- fastening seat belts without being reminded and motoring off into that missionary sunset.

Whoops! Look again!

“He got in first and won’t let me by!”

“Can we have a snack when we get back to the motel?”

“I don’t want to sleep on the floor again; it gives me a headache.”

“Was I good tonight, Dad?”

The Stepchildren Of The Churches?


Gardiner was the last to die. One by one he and his companions had been weakened through starvation, cold, and disease until they could no longer stand. In vain Gardiner watched and prayed for the supply ship from England until his eyes, too, were dimmed in death. The last entry in his diary reads, ” Great and marvellous are the lovingkindnesses of my gracious God unto me. He has preserved me hitherto, and for four days, although without bodily food, without any feeling of hunger or thirst.” Forty-six days later a British navy ship dropped anchor and sent a boat ashore, only to find the bodies of three of his companions lying unburied on the shore. A storm drove them away before they could search for Gardiner and Maidment. It was to be another three months before they were discovered near their wrecked boat at Banner Cove. The supply ship did not arrive until some months later.

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Bring The Books


The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee,
and the books, but especially the parchments.
2 Timothy 4:13

Of all the gifts I receive I like books the best. It’s a simple fact of life, books make the best gifts. Chocolates? Soon eaten and forgotten. Tools? They rust. Money? Too quickly spent. Shirts wear out or get stained and socks tend to go walkabout and lose their mates. Ties? Got a thousand. Books are best.

I was given a book the other day and I can already tell it is going to be a great friend. It is a book of sermons by Robert Murray McCheyne, the youthful preacher whose fiery soul flamed forth and illuminated Scotland for eight brief years. Every preacher ought to buy a book of McCheyne’s sermons and bask in the light of his fire for God. The liveliness of that 19th century Presbyterian puts to shame many inert 21st century Baptists! His boldness in confronting the indifference of his people, the clarity of his gospel messages, the humility displayed in handing his church over to the interim pastor under whose preaching revival had come, all these move the reader of McCheyne nearer Heaven.

If our ministers would only read the old books, the books that take a year to read because we have to stop and think for a day or two about a truth that pierced us through and through. And if we would read them with the fear of God, such light would burst forth as to scatter the creeping darkness in our souls! In our day, good reading seems to have “fallen in the street.” We tend to read trivial, frothy palpitation pulp, bound in hardcover and priced way above the value of its content. The entertaining, “feel good” books written by the megachurch gurus are selling millions of copies this year, but will be forgotten next year. They do not contain enough solid truth to stand the test of time. Pragmatism (Big is good!) and its paparazzi have become the pied pipers of evangelicalism. (Ah, if only we had eyes to see past the apparent to the actual.)

It is needful for us to pause for a moment and consider this category of books. Books that are good enough to give to others belong on a special shelf. One book given to me now rests on a shelf far away, but I will never forget it. It was the first book anyone gave me after the dear Saviour found me, the life of Nate Saint, called Jungle Pilot. The giver has been in Heaven many years, but I will always remember them. Another “given” book taught me about living by faith. It brought me to my life verse, II Cor. 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” It was the Life of George Muller by Basil Miller, and was a gift from an old Dutch preacher. He had been trying to give it away, but God wouldn’t let him give it to anyone but me. I stayed up all night reading it and went to bed as the sun came up, a changed man. Given books are special books. I have been given a book on the life of Elijah, and a book on God’s wonderful preservation of the Received Text, and a book by Spurgeon on eccentric preachers, and a book on the attributes of God, and a book by F.W. Boreham, and dozens more. These gifts have blessed and changed and guided my life, gifts that broadened my horizons, gifts that enriched my preaching. Given books, blessed books!

Now, there is a text we ought to consider before we wander off to find a book to read. It is Acts 20:35, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We all know this verse, but I must confess I didn’t know that these words of our Lord are nowhere recorded in the gospels. The Holy Spirit has preserved them for us in the counsel of the apostle to the Ephesian elders. It is the truth of the verse we need to heed. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I know, it flies in the face of a covetous, welfare oriented society, but it is true. This is not a worldly proverb. This is the word of God. There is more blessing in giving than in receiving. There is a love for others in giving. There is a level of spiritual maturity in making the necessary sacrifice to give to others. There is a good conscience in giving. The clear sighted wisdom in knowing what to give, who to give it to, and when to give it is a gift from God. The sharing of a treasure is a blessing. And then there is the sweet assurance that giving is sowing, and the harvest is always larger than the sowing. At least in God’s paddock. These are blessings that come to the giver. Admittedly there are blessings in store for the receivers of our gifts, but the blessings for the giver far outnumber those awaiting the receiver.

Have you given any books away lately? There is a blessing waiting for you.

Just yesterday a precious little granddaughter asked for a book of mine. It is a book of missionary stories written by Dr. Ben Kendrick. It is the book her mum was reading to the kids when her eyes were opened to the gospel, and she wanted to own it. What a joy to give it!

Which book given to me has been the best? It would have to be the book given me by the pastor of the church I attended as a child. When I graduated from high school and blundered off into a dark world, I took that book with me. It wasn’t very big and I didn’t read it very much until my world started to crumble. When I did start, I read it in stops and starts, here a bit and there a bit. All unaware of its influence, I began to think on the things of God, and was soon converted. Its title? Surely you have guessed by now. It is called The Holy Bible. Thank you, Bro. Henderson, for sowing the best of all gifts into my heart. Untold blessings have come from that one gift. Blessings for the giver and blessings and for the receiver. I expect one day soon the giver and the receiver will worship side by side before the throne and rejoice together in the blessings of giving.

So Bring the Books. We can give them to others.

By Buddy Smith
smiles@tpg.com.au
(Used With Permission)

Bunyan’s Computer


John Bunyan’s name is familiar to most Christians. Some months ago I came across one of his short books, ‘The Acceptable Sacrifice’. It was originally a sermon based on Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”. It was his last book.

My heart was deeply moved by this book. Not only is the content impressive, weighty and convincing, but Bunyan’s grasp and use of Scripture is amazing. The book is absolutely compelling simply because of his knowledge of the Word of God. This was no contemporary sermon consisting of a joke, three points and a poem; this is a cobalt bomb in hardcover and the reader stands at ground zero.

My heart began shouting questions at my mind. “How did he write such a sermon? Where did he get such substance, such wisdom, such power? What did he use for study aids to be able to compile such a masterpiece?” In the midst of these questions I realized Bunyan had almost none of the resources we use everyday. Strong’s Concordance was 200 years in the future, Cruden’s a hundred.

Thayer’s, Gesenius, Robertson, Wuest were all unknown. Bunyan’s biographers mention Luther’s commentary on Galatians, Foxes Book of Martyrs, and an anonymous concordance. We suppose that Bunyan, the prolific writer, would be a voracious reader. But there is the one resource book, his chief study aid he mentions again and again. Hear him: “As I was sitting by the fire…suddenly…this word sounded in my heart, ‘I must go to Jesus’. I said, ‘Wife, is there ever such a scripture, I must go to Jesus?’ Thus unexpectedly questioned, she cannot tell”.

“Therefore,” says Bunyan, “I sat musing to see if I could remember such a place. I had not sat above two or three minutes but it came bolting in upon me, ‘You are come to Mt Zion…and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament” – Heb. 12:22-24″. This, then, was Bunyan’s chief resource, his chief study aid, the Holy Scriptures themselves, taught him by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

He thoroughly knew the Scriptures. He memorised long passages. He meditated much upon the Word. He looked and longed and lingered until the Holy Spirit brought to mind the needed truth for each crisis. He knew by daily experience the truth of John 14:26, “But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost…He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance…”

Bunyan used this resource when discouraged. He used it when he prepared sermons. He used it when he stood before magistrates, accused of preaching without a license. He used it when in jail where he began writing Pilgrim’s Progress. He used it when he preached from his cell window. He used it when he pointed the lost to Christ. This is Bunyan’s secret: the Spirit and the Word – the sufficiency of Scripture! The Comforter, who is our tutor, was Bunyan’s best study aid. His utter dependence upon the Word of God and its Author is what gave his life and literature their impact.

What a contrast he makes with the modern minister! Somewhere between the TV sports show, the trip to the airport, and the golf game, he must prepare his message. No problem! Just light up the new IBM (Inspired Business Machines?), and open up the Super Sermon Maker Program. Memorisation, meditation and midnights are displaced by gigabytes, nanoseconds and mousy sermons. No blood, sweat, no tears, no Bible, no prayer, no blessing, no people, too bad, so sad! (“No message tonight, folks. The computer is down.”) Study aids? Sure, but used sparingly remembering that no man’s thoughts, programs, floppies, or CD ROMS can ever compare with the Word and the Spirit.

Bunyan’s computer is still available, but it’s expensive. It will cost the user time. Time in the Word. Time waiting on God for truth.

Is the price too high? Not if your sermons are to be still a blessing after 300 years.

Buddy Smith
smiles@tpg.com.au
(Used with permission)

Grace Displaced


Occasionally I hear it said, “Somebody ought to write a book…”. We tend to use that phrase when we come across a subject it seems no one has ever addressed. I can suggest a few titles for the brave author who would undertake such a task. Somebody ought to write a book called “Untouched Texts in Scripture”. Another good title would be “Unsung Heroes of the Bible”. Or maybe “Unpopular Truths From Heaven”. But my favourite would be “Topics I Never Heard Preached Among Fundamental Baptists”. And the first chapter of this book should be called “Grace Displaced”.

We Baptists can sing all the verses to Amazing Grace blindfolded, and we know Ephesians 2:8,9 (but not verse 10) frontways, backways and sideways and quote it at least twice in any sermon. There might just possibly be a fundamentalist somewhere in God’s creation that has read a book about grace. But that’s just about the limit to our knowledge about God’s grace.

For instance, just to illustrate our ignorance of grace, let’s try a little quiz on the subject:

1. Which New Testament writer uses the word “grace” most frequently? (That wasn’t too difficult, was it? Of course, it was Paul.)

2. How many times did he use “grace” in all its forms in his writings. (Would you believe 139 times? Peter, once; John, four times; and Luke twenty four times.)

3. How many definitions of “grace” are listed in ISBE (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)? (Five. Another author lists seven.)

4. What is the most common definition of “grace” among Christians? (Unmerited favour)

5. What is the great error of Roman Catholicism regarding “grace”? (Roman Catholics believe that observance of the sacraments brings “infused” grace through which God empowers them to do works acceptable to God. This “infusion” of grace must be a continuous experience, which makes it impossible for a Roman Catholic to ever be able to say he is saved.)

6. What is the great error of Protestantism regarding “grace”? (Protestant theologians tend to believe that grace is effectual in salvation, actually justifying the believer, but they do not generally believe that grace enables the believer for service.)

These are some of the questions which provoked a study on the subject of God’s Grace. Consider with me a few of “the exceeding riches of His grace…toward us through Christ Jesus”:

I. The Unexpected Kindness of the Grace of God

The Grace of God includes the unexpected kindness of God. “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:7 As members of a fallen race we rightly deserve the judgment of God, but His Grace is shown in His great kindness toward us.

There is the “prevenient” (before salvation) kindness of Grace bestowed upon all men. Paul refers to this aspect of Grace in Acts 17:25 when he says, “…He giveth to all men life and breath and all things.

There is the kindness of “saving” Grace in Titus 2:11, “For the Grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”

And there is the kindness of “heavenly” Grace in Eph. 2:7 “That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us…”

A lovely illustration of the kindness of God’s Grace is seen in King David’s treatment of Mephibosheth. The Jebusites had taunted the King with the boast that the citadel was so strong that the lame and the blind could be left to guard the walls and gates. So angered was the king by this that he declared that the lame and the blind would forever be excluded from the king’s palace and its environs. But when the King sat upon the throne, grace prevailed and was displayed in his kindness to Mephibosheth, the crippled grandson of Saul (II Sam 9). So, too, we will enjoy the kindness of the Great King at His banqueting table, trophies of His Grace. The Grace of God is seen in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

II. The Limitless Generosity of the Grace of God

There is no text in Scripture that teaches the generosity of Grace more clearly than II Cor. 8:9 , “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might become rich.” What a wealth of truth there is in this verse! The pre-existence of Christ is in this text, else when was He ever rich? The impoverishment of Heaven for the enrichment of earth is here. Here is the humiliation of Christ that men might be glorified at last. Here is a parallel text to II Cor. 5:21, “For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” Surely with all our sins laid upon Him, in God’s sight He was (for a few hours) the most “sinful” man that ever lived, that in God’s sight we might become the most righteous men that ever lived. (By this I mean, not that Christ literally became a sinner, but that our sins were imputed to Him that the righteousness of God might be imputed to us.) This is the generosity of Grace!

I hesitate to attempt an illustration of this generosity, as no earthly thing can truly compare to God’s Grace. But suppose for a moment you are walking down the footpath one day, and you are utterly penniless. No food, no shelter, your clothing is in tatters, and you have no prospects but starvation. A stranger walking toward you with a leather pouch in one hand addresses you with gentle words, “Here, hold out your hands.”

And when you comply, he opens the bag and pours your hands full of pearls, real pearls, hundreds of pearls, a king’s ransom.

While you stand in shocked silence, he turns away and approaches another poor wretch and repeats the act, impoverishing himself in order to enrich others.

Such is the generosity of the Grace of God. Limitless, abundant, and available to every poor sinner who will receive “His unspeakable gift.”

III. The Divine Enablement of Grace

Here I must make a confession. It is a confession of great ignorance on my part. Thirty seven years ago the Saviour found me and saved me, but I must confess that I never heard or read until recently that the Grace of God enables the believer in Christ. By this I mean that God graciously provides the ability and power we need to serve Him acceptably. (I trust many of you are way ahead of me on this.) Consider these verses:

I Tim. 1:12, 14, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”

I Cor. 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Gal. 2:8,9, “(For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John , who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

In each of these portions of Scripture there is reference to Grace being Divine enablement. In fact, the apostle uses the very word “enabled” in I Tim. 1:12, and it is related to God’s grace in verse 14. If we read these verses carefully and thoughtfully, we will see the enabling aspect of Grace.

Another text that describes Divine enablement (without using the word “grace”) is Phil. 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Enabling Grace is here described as that working of God in us which causes us to desire and do His will. The willing and the working, both come from God. That certainly excludes boasting, doesn’t it? I like the definition of enablement which says, “It is God doing in and through me that which is impossible for me to do naturally.”

If you are like me, you are wondering whether this could be true. (After all, we weren’t taught this in cemetery. Oops, I meant seminary.)

Well, then, why not run it through the grid of Scripture? Where did Samson get that superhuman strength if not by God working in him to will and to do His good pleasure? And where did Moses acquire the leadership skills needed for the Exodus of Israel from Egypt? And where did Joshua learn to be the military leader he was? Or how did David compose the inspired songs for his nation? And tell me, please, how Paul, a former blasphemer and persecutor of the church, became the pioneer missionary of the New Testament? These exploits of faith did not arise from personality, intellect, or university degrees. In every case it was the Grace of God enabling them to do God’s will.

IV. Examples of Grace

If it is true that Grace enables the believer to serve God, there should be evidence of it in the New Testament. Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the evidence is abundant. The bad news is that Fundamental Baptists seem to be lacking in enablement. You be the judge.

Examples of Divine Enablement:

1. Acceptable Service to God – Heb. 12:28

2. Spiritual Gifts – Romans 12:6

3. The Fruit of the Spirit – Gal. 5:22, 23

4. Understanding of the Scriptures – I Cor. 2:7-16

5. Godly Speech – Col. 4:6

6. Preaching Christ – Eph. 3:8

7. Godly Use of Natural Gifts – Col. 3:16

8. Giving – II Cor. 8:1

9. Right Responses to Suffering – II Cor. 12:9, I Pet. 2:19,20 (Look up the words “thankworthy” and “acceptable”)

10. Ministering to the Helpless – Luke 6:33 (look up the word “thank”)

A careful study of these passages of Scripture will reveal several surprises. In most of the verses will be found a direct reference to the Grace of God. In some examples (Spiritual Gifts, Giving, Right Responses to Suffering, and Ministering to the Helpless), the examples themselves are called “graces”. In other verses the word “grace” is not used in the text, but the examples are clearly the workings of God in the believer. A relevant text is also found in Acts 11:23, “(Barnabas) came and (saw) the grace of God…” Just think of that! Visible Grace! So what did he see? He saw at least some of the “graces” listed above. Oh, to be part of a church with visible grace!

Over the past few years, I have come to the conclusion that there is no acceptable worship, work, or witness that does not come through the enabling Grace of God. All of our service for God must have His working in us. Scripture records numerous attempts by men to serve God without grace. We dare not assume that God will bless our ambitious, self-centred, vain glorious, profit seeking, carnal efforts to appear religious to others. Sooner or later we must learn the lesson that “strange fire” is not acceptable to a holy God.

Applications we must make

Our Ministers

Evan Roberts once described a meeting he had with a group of Baptist ministers in Wales. I was especially struck with his comment that one of the ministers was “destitute of grace”. It has been some years since I read that comment, and I have puzzled over it, wondering what it meant. I think I may have a clue. I think it means that the minister gave Evan Roberts the impression that he did not need God’s help to serve Him acceptably. Enabling grace had been displaced. Displaced by some modern humanistic substitution.

Our Churches

In our churches grace is often displaced by pretence (as in drama), or by professionalism (as in background tapes for a special item), or by entertainment (as in humorous sermons). The indictment of our Lord against the church in Sardis (Rev. 3:1), “…thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” may apply to us. This was the church with the wrong name. I wonder if that could apply to us? Should the church I pastor be called “Graceless Baptist Church”? (Or should yours be called “Faithless Baptist Church”?) Have we displaced the Grace of God by trusting our own abilities, rather than casting ourselves upon the Lord helplessly and depending entirely upon Him for the enablement we need?

The church is thrilled to bits when some brave saint “jumps over spaghetti”. In other words, he or she has done some small thing anybody could do. In their own strength. Without God’s help. But God hasn’t called us to “jump over spaghetti”. He’s called us to “jump over the moon”, so to speak. And none of us can do that in our own strength. The callings of God require the gifts of God. We have forgotten the words of Dan. 11:32b, “but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits.”

Our Bible Colleges

Our Bible colleges are not exempt from the displacing of Grace. Many of our Bible College principals have the two volume biography of Charles Spurgeon on their shelves. (They are called “The Early Years” and “The Full Harvest”.) It would do us good to pull them down (and blow off the dust), and read what he says about the men he accepted into his college and the ones he refused. (You will find his words in chapter 27 in the first volume, and chapter 7 in the second volume.) It is striking that Mr. Spurgeon took no one into the college who had not already demonstrated a call from God to preach His Word. In other words, the Divine enablement had to be there first before a man could begin his theological studies. In our day we no longer look for the Divine enablement before we accept a man. If his body is warm and he is literate enough to fill out an application, we will have him.

Two great errors have spread through the ranks of Fundamentalism as a result. 1)We have encouraged our people to believe that preaching ability (enabling grace) is something you can get from an institution of higher learning. We don’t find that in the Bible. That error came from a desire to copy the seminaries that gave modernism to the churches. 2) We have men without God’s enablement standing in the pulpit, men who completed their studies, received their diplomas, and went out to pastor unsuspecting churches. Their feathers are all permed and perfumed, and they seem to have all the “manners” a minister ought to have. But Grace is lacking. (Compare this situation to Paul’s words to the Corinthians in I Cor. 2:4,5, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”) The lack of enabling grace for the ministry is evident in the lack of proficiency. Many of our ministers have no help from God, and their churches are dying. Oh, we have drama, and entertainment, and programmes, and promotions, and organisation, and fellowship meetings, and websites, (and sometimes big crowds!), but somewhere along the way we have lost that Unction which comes only from God. Many of our ministers do not have the enabling Grace of God. I solemnly fear that we pastors and missionaries and evangelists and Bible college principals will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ in shame because we have encouraged men to train for the ministry who evidence no call and no grace for the ministry. How much better it would be for us to be lovingly honest with our men, men who aspire to the ministry, but do not display the grace needed, and to tell them truthfully, “Brother, I do not see evidence that God has graced you for the ministry. Let us ask the Lord what He does want you to do instead.”

Our Church Members

The saddest result of all is that our church members have come to believe that they, too, can serve God acceptably without His help. From the ministers who are “destitute of grace” the church members have learned how to “make a fair shew in the flesh.” (Gal. 6:12) The desire to be seen, to appear successful, and to achieve impressive results have motivated the microsaints with minimal grace to seek positions of influence in the churches. But their gifts do not match their positions. The present day slide of the church into cheap theatrical events, gross worldliness, and the complete lack of interest in prayer is proof positive that individual believers no longer believe in the utter dependence of Christians on God for enabling Grace.

Is there any hope?

There is always hope for those who are willing to look only to the Lord for help. The words of James 4:6 are a great help to us, “But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Here is a verse that contains three promises. Note the last promise first, “(God) gives grace to the humble.” Heaven’s abilities are available to us on a daily basis, but there is a condition. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up,” James 4:10. If we would have God to work in us, we dare not boast in our own abilities or have confidence in the flesh. The second promise is, “God resisteth the proud.” Literally, God “raises up an army” against our pride. Has he laid siege to the citadel of your proud will? The wonderful, enabling Grace of God is not available to proud saints, only to the humble. The third promise is, “He giveth more grace.” Grace is not a once only gift. There is more grace available. It is a perpetual supply, available at a moment’s notice (Heb. 4:16).

There is a great golden tap beside Heaven’s gate, and thereby all the needs of the saints are met. The sign above it reads, “Grace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” The path that leads to the tap was once well trodden, but now is all overgrown. Methinks I see the saints following another path, a path that leads them to the broken cisterns of the world. Why is the abundant supply of God’s Grace neglected? Simply because the tap is set very near the ground, and everyone who would partake must kneel to fill his vessel. Grace is available only to the saints with dusty knees.

Seven Signposts that Point the Way

How does this work out in practical, everyday life? I confess again to you that I am but a recent traveller on this path, and am still making new discoveries everyday. Thus far I have found seven signposts that mark the way to Grace Abounding. If we would have great grace in the churches again (Acts 4:33) it will be necessary for us to follow the signposts (and add to the list any signposts you discover for yourself).

1) We must cease admiring the “successes” of religious leaders who employ the wisdom of the world to build their ministries into “mega-church” empires. (“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” I Cor. 1:19)

2) We must abandon all hope of serving God or doing His work without His help. (“…for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5)

3) We must believe that God alone has the ability to equip us for service, and that He knows best what we should do for Him. (“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” I Cor.12:11)

4) We must seek to learn in which areas God has given us enabling grace to serve Him. (“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Romans 12:3)

5) We must be content with His gifts and callings for us. (Take note that John the Baptist never aspired to be an apostle.)

6) We must be willing to stand alone in our (grace enabled) service for God if necessary. Sadly, it seems that every denomination is riddled with Pharisees who praise the dead saints and persecute the living. Only let a child of God set his foot on the path to Abounding Grace, and all the Shimei’s of Israel will arise to “curse…, cast stones…, and (slander)” him (II Sam. 16:5-8). If you would have enabling grace, you may have to leave the crowd behind.

7) And we must pray that God will give us more Grace. His resources are infinite, and His supply is in proportion to our humility and faith. “He giveth more grace…” James 4:6a

“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.” II Cor. 9:8

Buddy Smith
smiles@tpg.com.au
(Used with permission)

Theological Dinosaurs


NEWS FLASH

Theological dinosaur fossils discovered in Canberra Seminary

“A complete fossil skeleton has been unearthed at Unity Theological Seminary in Canberra,” The Rev. Dr. Ms. Barbarous Theorem commented to the press, “This is the most exciting discovery in the history of the Seminary. We have cause to believe this is the first complete skeleton of Pulpitosaurus Extinctus ever to be found. She identified the excavation site as being beneath the Seminary chapel platform. The chapel, sealed up for almost fifty years, was opened only recently for research purposes.”

After reading the above article, Mr. Steadfast, reporter for The Pilgrim Way, requested an interview with Ms. Theorem, and we print the following:

PW: “Ms. Theorem, can you give our readers any details as to the site where Pulpitosaurus Extinctus was found?”

MT: “Yes, but I should fill you in on the background first. We have an excellent history professor at the Seminary named Dr. Revision. He and some of his post grad students have been wanting to have a look in the old chapel for a couple of years. When permission was granted recently, they went right to work. He consulted me, and asked where he would most likely find remains of a theological dinosaur if there were any to be found. I told him that I had read in the Seminary archives that the chapel platform had been their domain, and would be a good place them to begin.”

PW: “What do you mean by ‘their domain’?”

MT: “Hmmm. I see I’m going to have to tell you about the early days of the Seminary. It was not always as broadminded as you see it at present. Many years ago it was a training college for the Baptist ministry. The founders were all Pulpitosaurus Extinctii — real living fossils, theological dinosaurs. We call it ‘The Dark Ages’. They were stuck in the swamps of primitive methods, old fashioned doctrines, and fire and brimstone preaching. Thank goodness, those days are gone forever. We are much more enlightened now. For instance, take the Feminar (Feminism Seminar) recently held here at the Seminary. We had almost 2000 women ministers, we dedicated the new meditation centre to Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, and had tremendous media coverage. I was privileged to chair the meetings that met to discuss re-imaging God, and to promote the new Politically Correct Bible Version (PCBV).”

PW: “I see. But I still don’t understand about the chapel platform being the domain of Pulpitosaurus.”

MT: “You men are all so dense. Didn’t you understand what I just told you about the incredibly old fashioned beliefs of those relics of a bygone age? They used to stand on the chapel platform and roar at the poor helpless students. They actually thought the Bible was true. They believed in all those hopelessly outdated theories of inspiration, atonement, forgiveness, holiness, heaven and hell, etc. And they didn’t just keep it to themselves. They tried to get everyone else to believe it as well! And they used the platform in the chapel to actually shout their beliefs at their hearers. That’s why we describe it as being their domain. Is that simple enough for you?”

PW: “Yes, I understand it better than you think. Can you describe the Pulpitosaurus to our readers? The artist’s sketches don’t give much detail.”

MT: “Gladly. The head of our Evolution Department, Dr. Darwin Huxley, has written several books on Pulpitosaurus. He says he believes this species had the largest backbone of any dinosaur, and that it had only three vertebrae, making it almost impossible for it to bend. It also had a really large chest cavity. Some of his colleagues think that indicates it had a very large heart. Others are of the opinion it had four lungs instead. The neck structure was such that it probably had a very efficient voice box and could project its cries for great distances. The capacity of the skull, according to Dr. Huxley, was quite small, leaving hardly any space for a brain. And he said one specimen even had a piece of very thick skin still attached.”

PW: “Thank you for that interesting description. The old fossil must have been quite an impressive sight. Can you tell us about the subspecies that have been discovered?”

MT: “We are still collating much of the information that has been sent to us, but I can tell you about three subspecies of Pulpitosaurus we have identified so far. “The earliest relative was called Pulpitosaurus Apostolos. It had the longest legs of any theological dinosaur we have discovered, and covered great distances quickly, leaving offspring everywhere, Fossil remains of Apostolos have been found in the Himalayas, the Indus Valley, the Andes, Siberia, the Aleutian Islands and the Australian deserts.”

PW: “Very interesting! What was the second subspecies?”

MT: “Actually the second and third subspecies seem to have developed simultaneously as offspring of Apostolos. The type most common seems to have been Pulpitosaurus Pastorus, He was amazingly prolific. Some nest sites discovered indicate the Pastorus may have cared for hundreds, even thousands of offspring at times. This species exerted such a great influence on their environment that whole primitive cultures were altered.”

PW: “Amazing! And what about the third subspecies?”

MT: “This is the one that gives me nightmares! When reports first began to come in on this old fossil, we didn’t know what to call it. We finally decided on Pulpitosaurus Evangelisticus. It had really sharp teeth, its voice box was the largest of all and its backbone had no vertebrae at all! Some researchers believe it was capable of breathing fire, and it was good at stirring the nests ruled over by the Pastorus. Amazingly, its visits to the nesting sites appear to have resulted in a great increase in the number of eggs that hatched out into Evangelisticuses and Pastoruses.”

PW: “I wonder if you could tell our readers why the Pulpitosaurus became extinct?”

MT: “Most of our faculty hold the view that it was simply unable to evolve. It couldn’t keep up with the changes happening all around it. One of our faculty members, Dr. Maverick, thinks it died out because it changed its diet from meat to milk. He thinks the latest specimens show symptoms of malnourishment and vitamin deficiency.”

PW: “What creatures replaced them?”

MT: “Our research indicates the next step up the evolutionary ladder was much more sophisticated. Thankfully, it did not have a backbone at all, or teeth, or a thick hide. It didn’t breathe fire or produce fear in others’ hearts. Rather, it moved with the tide, adapted to its culture easily, and preferred lukewarm conditions….”

PW: “Pardon me for interrupting, but what you are describing sounds awfully like a jellyfish….”

MT: “You might say that. It has nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Evangellyfish … Hmm, I think that might be the very name. It conveys the thought of softness, conforming, drifting with the wind and current. Quite a suitable name that is.”

PW: “I want to ask your opinion about this. From time to time we hear reports of living specimens of Pulpitosaurus Extinctus. Do you think it is possible that there may be some of these theological fossils still alive?”

MT: “Oh, no! Definitely not! Those are just unfounded rumours. People with small intellectual capacity will believe anything. Admittedly, some eggs were found recently in quite good condition. (Of course, the Board of Regents had them put in cold storage.) Pulpitosaurus Extinctus alive? It’s not possible … at least, I certainly hope not! Oh, my. that’s a horrible thought! Modern society couldn’t stand the shock. Dear, dear … surely not! Oh, my …”

PW: “We had some other questions to ask, but the Rev. Dr. Ms. Theorem became so distressed she had to take some Prozac and lie down. We will keep you informed as to any further developments.”

The  article is by Pastor Buddy Smith <smiles@tpg.com.au>, Grace Baptist Church, Malanda, Queensland, Australia:

(Permission obtained by Buddy Smith to use this article.)