Monday, July 28, 2008
Cynthia will drive over from Mesa with Rick and family along with some of the saint from there. I am flying directly to Orange County along with Susi Grist who is from Sweden. She has been here for several weeks to attend conferences and didn't want to fly to a strange airport alone (and there is little stranger than a California airport!); I didn't want to make the 8+ hour drive, and I also I got an extra day to catch up on things here.
The California Family Camp has long been a wonderful time of fellowship and blessing. Headed up by John and Lori Verstegen and the saints from Berean Bible Ministries, San Juan Capistrano, folks from across the southwest (and beyond) assemble in Idylwild to enjoy the beautiful mountains and rejoice in the message of grace. I'll be speaking each evening; John, Rick and Keith Baxter will be teaching in the mornings.
I got an email Monday from a brother who listens to our Sunday services via the videocast from Shorewood. He commented that "You were really diggin' taters this morning!" That's a way of saying that the message was really hitting home--and it's music to the ears of an Alabama boy. I learned years ago that teaching/preaching needs to aim at the heart as well as the head. I pray earnestly that I not only make the message accurate and clear, but that it also hits the intended target--the heart of the hearer. There is nothing more exciting than having God's Word "working effectually in you that believe." And there is little that compares with "so speaking that a multitude believes." I hope to dig some taters in California this week!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
All donations are tax deductible, if that is important to you. You can send donations to the above address or call to use a charge card.
As we talked about at the conference, this ministry is having a tremendous impact and we simply can't imagine it going off the air. It is one of only two national television broadcasts that proclaim mid-Acts dispensationalism. For a short preview of the show, click here and here and here and here
A ministry like this is dependent on regular, monthly support in order to both continue and expand. Why not prayerfully consider the part you or your fellowship should be having in making this ministry possible. Forgotten Truths should be in your missions giving--and so should Grace School of the Bible, by the way!
REMINDER....all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies today and you will start to receive sale calls.
YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS. To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number. It takes about 20 seconds, but you must call from the number you want blocked.
Or go online to www.donotcall.gov to register.
(HT to Charolette Randolph for the reminder!)
We did have a great time at the GraceImpact '08 conference. The new location was a good move, it seems. Great facilities!
The Internet connection at the hotel wasn't the best but, thanks to Bob and Lou and David and Edward and Little Rick and a couple others, we did manage to stream the preaching sessions fairly successfully. We sure had lots of good feedback from those joining via the net. This looks like it has a future!
This morning I took the last of our house guests to the airport. The Baxters went home Saturday, David and his family left Sunday, the Strydoms left Tuesday and Alice Candee moved out this morning. Our Arizona grand kids are still here until next Monday. At least the house is not completely quiet yet!
Debbie Keable and Cynthia are pretty worn out. So are Kathy Wouters and the folks who worked so hard with her to provide the children's program and activities. It is a wonder to watch these ladies labor so tirelessly and with such skill and love. I long ago abandoned the effort of trying to keep up with Cynthia; Ray doesn't try to keep up with Debbie anymore, either; Jeff never even thought about keeping up with Kathy--its the steel-plate-in-the-head thing (that's an inside joke I wont try to explain!). We just "wonder" around attempting to stay out of the way, thanking the Lord for our good fortune in the spouse department!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
An amazing thing just happened in our evening meeting. Tom Bruscha of Grace Bible Church, Warren, Michigan, gave a report on Forgotten Truths (our weekly TV program aired mainly over DirectTV). Frankly the report is a bit discouraging. Income to the program has been on a downward trend for some months. When I was there making programs last month we made the decision about how we would end the broadcast if necessary.
Tom reported to the conference audience that we face the almost unthinkable task of take Forgotten Truths off of DirectTV by the end of September if things continue as they are now. A dear saint, an elderly, retired school teacher, spoke from the audience about how the program couldn’t be allowed to end. I’ve known Zelma for some time so I invited her to give her testimony.
She told of being in religious bondage for almost seven decades, only to be liberated into the sunlight of grace by watching “a strange looking man furiously drawing on a chalkboard.” “ I saw the program by accident and it change my whole life.”
Zelma lives in a project on Chicago’s Southside. Yet I know that she already gives, as she says, “out of my poverty” to get the message of grace out. Now she was asking how to help on a monthly basis with Forgotten Truths. “I’d be ashamed if that program went off the air,” she declared, adding, “I just don’t understand grace people!”
One man arose from the audience to say that he wanted to help. He offered a challenge: He would match any gifts up to $5,000 to keep Forgotten Truths going. Before he finished his statement a lady raised her hand to contribute $6,000! Then a couple offered $2,000 and another couple another $2,000 and another man $1,000. In a matter of three minutes not only had the $5,000 challenge been met but more than doubled!
It was touching; amazing. I know all of these folks and, frankly, outside of the man who gave the original challenge all the others were giving out of much more limited resources. Yet the message of grace has gripped their hearts and they simply could not see the silencing of our television show. This was not an “emotional” appeal, but rather a very serious minded moment that was touching to behold as it unfolded.
My own wife and I had decided some time ago to donate our government “stimulus” check to the work of the ministry—half to Grace School of the Bible and half to Forgotten Truths. We know what it is to sacrifice for the ministry and the joy of ownership it gives. It was wonderful to witness others join in that blessed fellowship.
So, rather than Save Our Show we say: Support Our Show. Forgotten Truths is one of only two national programs proclaiming the Word rightly divided over our nations airways. It is, in fact, the only one that does so from a King James Bible believing viewpoint, with a grace-life emphasis and a clear understanding of grace edification issues. If these things are dear to you, perhaps you should join our S.O.S.
I haven’t had time to send out a note until this morning. We are having a great time at the conference. It doesn’t surprise me, but it does thrill me! This year, due especially to the economic challenges we all face and the new venue we had to adopt, we really had no idea how attendance would be or how the accommodations would work out. Turns out that both have been better than we have expected.
Attendance is about the same as last year—which is exceptional given the costs of gas! It looks like we will not drop below the 200 mark until the last day. Some folks simply can’t “endure to the end!” We have a great host of first timers this year.
The Internet has enhanced this a bit by allowing those not able to make the trip to attend via the live streaming. It has been a bit spotty due to service interruptions caused by the hotel’s system getting overloaded, but for the most part it’s gone well. We had, for example, 12 hookups this morning as soon as we logged on—at 6:45 a.m.! In other words, viewers were up earlier than we were! Every time service has been interrupted we have almost immediately gotten at least half a dozen emails telling us the connection had been lost! Bob, Lou, David and Edward have done a great job with the sound and recording systems, along with the Internet. My twelve year old grand son, Rick, has been our evening camera man—taking after his dad who started at thirteen!
This is the 25th Anniversary of Grace School of the Bible. We aren’t waving lots of banners or passing out awards, however. Rather we are demonstrating exactly what the school is about by allowing its fruits to speak for it. Rarely, in our day, can you gather such a group of men to preach the rightly divided Word with such clarity and power. Men with a message are what our ministry has always been about. I realize many even in the so-called grace movement don’t care for us; that’s ok. We really don’t mind. It saves us from the confusion of compromise and accommodation such associations foster. I learned years ago that one of the most effective means of protecting my ministry is to speak boldly the things we believe.
There is often a call for “unity” among the saints. This is almost always done in the context of “getting us together” in some organization or association or endeavor. But, as many of the saints of ages past have pointed out, this is too often simply a call for “union,” not real “unity.” The fact is, if you are preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery and I am preaching Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery—then we are united in the truest sense of the word, even if we are not in the same fellowship/location/organization/association. Some folks, however, aren’t satisfied with having a local ministry—or perhaps are unable to generate one—and thus seek to ride on the coat tails of others. I can almost guarantee you that if you will get busy winning lost folks and edifying saints where you are, soon you’ll have so much to do that you will not be so concerned about what others are doing where they are! It is an interesting thing.
One of the joys we have experience over the past 25 years is a true unity among the brethren. Last evening, for example, we had an after-meeting with our preachers to discuss a couple of doctrinal questions that seem to raise their heads from time to time (e.g., the question of the place of “works” in the justification/salvation of O.T. saints; the security of believers in Time Past). We desire to speak with a unified voice on these type things and, frankly, some of the “traditional” statements of mid-Acts dispensationalists have been less than clear on some of these matters. So we met, had a couple of presentations of various views and then a long study session of give and take. It lasted about three hours, will continue this evening, and was a delightful time of give and take. The evident spirit of warm regard among brethren was a benediction. I’ve seen meetings like this turn into blood baths! Not so with men schooled in the grace life. PTL!
It is this type “fruit” that tells me we have been and are on the right path. Making the edification of the believer through Paul’s specific design for this task our goal has rewarded us with a most unique fellowship. The thing I have heard so many so often call for, we are privileged to experience. It is humbling to be part of such a group of grounded, godly men.
But, hey, don’t get me wrong: we’ve got plenty of problems! That’s why it takes grace as our life to make it happen. Frankly, what makes something true is not how effective it's supporters are able to apply it, but "what saith the Scriptures." Its just touching to see grace truth be more than a doctrine to believe, but also become a life to live.
Please join us via the web-cast if you.
Friday, July 11, 2008
One treat is the time to catch up on what's happening in everyone's lives. It also give us a chance to have lots of fun. One of the high points came when Keith shared the following clip with us about the newest methodology in the field of confrontational evangelism motivation. You'll get a kick out of this one too:
Linebacker Evangelism at its finest! Click here for the YouTube video and get ready to be motivated!
We begin the summer conference tomorrow evening. George Foyer told me he would be praying for us like a Pentecostal (translate that "with great zeal and sincerity") and I recommend II Thess. 3:1,2 as a guide too.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Last week was a busy one. I was in Detroit Tuesday for TV taping. We made four programs and my energy level was really good. Tom came out of the production room after our second program to tell us that we had just finished my 700th program! We have done more than that, actually, but that is how many I have personally done. There have been times when we needed programs when I was not available and Tom or one of the other brethren made them.
I think Lou and Bob have figured out the details for getting the conference sessions on to the Internet. If they are successful, the sessions will be video streamed live at ShorewoodBibleChurch.org. The schedule is on the Conference Page at GraceImpact.org. Join us and then let me know how it works.
Last Wednesday we actually had more hookups via Internet than we had people in the auditorium for the study! First time that’s happened that I know about. There is no reason for anyone to be “stranded” without a grace church to attend in light of modern technology!
Yesterday I taught two lessons that I did for TV last week. The teaching time on the TV program is 26 minutes; took twice that at church. Nice to have more time to “massage” the message in a bit! Topics: “Building on the Wrong Right Foundation” in the a.m. and “The Pause That Refreshes” in the p.m. They’ll be on the SBC web site for you to listen to. These were two rather strong messages about following Paul.
A couple of weeks ago someone pointed out to me that the name “Paul” not only means “little” (from its Latin meaning) but also “pause; to cease; to refresh” (the underlying Greek etymological meaning). I got to thinking: Little fits great with Eph. 3:7,8 and I Cor. 15:10; but Pause fits great too, since the ministry and message committed to Paul marks a dramatic pause in the prophetic program—just at the moment when prophecy called for Christ to “judge and make war” He interrupted the prophetic plan with the unprophecied mystery program of “grace and peace!!” Actually the “pause” meaning for Paul is a bit of a stretch (although a very interesting one if you have eyes to see it!) but it sure fits—and makes great preaching! And the message of grace is surely "the pause that refreshes!"
And the message of grace is surely "the pause that refreshes!"
By the way, I am writing this from the waiting room of the car repair shop where Cynthia’s car is being worked on. Nothing like having car problems in the middle of a busy week! And naturally they can’t find anything wrong. Just wait till she drives it again—then we’ll see! For now, however, I'm just redeeming some time catching up here--and thanking God for laptops (I've also answer 22 emails sitting here)!