Dear Grace Baptist Church Family,
Last week I mentioned an incident to you from a restaurant that reminded us to have a winsome spirit in relating to others. Today I want to reflect on another incident that impacted me and reminded me of something that all of us, in fact every human being desperately needs: HOPE!
A friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer last Fall. We are close friends of their children and have become close friends with them over the years. His name is Herb Glanzer and some of you have prayed for him over the last few months. He and his wife have walked with the Lord for many, many years. They know the faithfulness of God and their trust in God is strong. Through this trial they have shown a powerful testimony of faith.
To make a long story into a brief one is difficult. So I am going to emphasize a recent event that encouraged me with this topic of HOPE.
Herb has gone through the chemotherapy treatments at the world renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. At the end of his treatments, they made a video and a couple of pictures of something that happens to every person who goes through the program.
The text on the plaque reads:
For generations the ringing of bells has played a significant role in the history and culture of Mayo Clinic. From the carillon atop the Plummer Building to the bell at Mayowood, the Mayo family’s country home, the sound symbolizes our unique sense of community and dedication to the values of respect, compassion and healing—the sound of hope.
Ringing this bell signifies the completion of your course of treatment and shares the sound of hope with others on the journey.
We invite you to join this honored tradition.
This reminded me that as believers, we have the ultimate HOPE. It is found in Jesus Christ, the HOPE of the world. We are always grateful for the treatments available through doctors and in the medical field. But for Herb and his family, there is an even greater hope than those treatments. Jesus is our HOPE! And our hope in Him is not only our future eternal destiny. We will live forever in the presence of the Lord. Yet, there is HOPE in this life.
Day after day we wake up to new mercies (Lamentations 3:22–23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.). Night after night we pillow our heads with “His song” (Psalm 42:8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.). We even wake up because the LORD sustains us (Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me).
Yes, our HOPE is Christ—1 Peter 1:3–6
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials”
So, today is a day of HOPE for all of us who know Jesus Christ as our Savior…night, day, morning and eternity—there is HOPE.
As you rejoice in this HOPE, make sure that you share it with others. They need it. You can be the sound of HOPE for them.
I read this article today and felt I should share it here. I do so with permission from the original authors. I hope it will help us all consider these vital questions.
Billy Graham, 1918-2018: Two Questions to Consider as You Hear the News
As in the case of Isaiah, recorded in Isaiah 6, the death of a leader can certainly be used by God to cause those of us still living to stop, breathe deeply and consider our own lives.
Billy Graham has died. He lived 99 years on this earth. While none of us may fully agree on every point regarding his ministry, there is little disagreement with the fact that he was an international public figure that caused millions of people to consider their relationship with God. He was used by God to be a royal ambassador for God to this world.
As we read the news stories and see his biography played out in media in the coming days, may God use this to cause us to consider two main questions in our lives regarding the Gospel.
1. Have I Accepted the Gospel for Myself:
Are You Ready to Die When Your Time Comes?
First, do you have a real and vital relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Have you repented of your sin, come to God for forgiveness based on the death, burial and resurrection Jesus? Have you called on the Lord Jesus Christ and invited him to come into your life and change you for eternity? If you have been considering starting a relationship with God and want to learn more, we invite you to click here to watch some short videos that will help you understand the Gospel better. Stay in touch if we can help.
For those who have a real and consistent relationship with God, may the death of Billy Graham be used to inspire us to consider our personal responsibility to share the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. The news articles talk about how Billy Graham used all the new technology of the 20th century to spread God’s word. What are we doing with the powerful free tools of social media? How can we personally spread the Gospel more effectively and be a royal ambassador for Christ?
2. As a Christian, How Are You Doing With Your Responsibility As an Ambassador for Jesus and His Gospel Message?
How often do you think of yourself as a representative of King Jesus? How much of your life is spent on the mission that he has given to you?
Throughout the Bible we see many powerful metaphors to help us understand what it means to be the a Christian, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. One of the best and most unsung metaphors is that the church (We are talking about the whole saved family of God here.) is the embassy of Christ and we, like Billy Graham are royal ambassadors.
Consider, an embassy is:
Where is this concept found in the Bible? In Philippians and Ephesians, Paul refers to himself as a “citizen” of heaven and an ambassador for Christ. And perhaps most clearly, in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reminds the church that they too are ambassadors and that God is “making his appeal” to the world through the church.
God has called Christians to be his ambassadors, his authorized representatives; and he has called local churches to be embassies; groups of ambassadors that all have the same objective. Churches ought to be little localized outposts of the kingdom of God. Churches are supposed to look like, act like, and function in the same way that the kingdom of God does. Christians, as ambassadors, are likewise called to live the same kind of lives that we will when our citizenship in the future kingdom becomes complete. So, what exactly does that mean for us to be an ambassador of Christ and his Gospel?
Who and what do we represent? Where is our “homeland”? How long are we on this mission? How are we supposed to go about it?
1. We represent a King and a kingdom
As Christians, we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ and his kingdom. We should look different, act different, speak different, and live different than the culture in which we live. We should be representing Christ’s character, his love, his commands, and his purposes to the world around us. We have been sent to the foreign land of this world in order to represent our King and our kingdom’s interests. The problem is that most of us look just like everyone else. We spend our money the same way, we dress the same way, we talk the same way. But that isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Just like you can tell when someone isn’t a native to where you live, the world should be able to look at Christians and say, “That person clearly isn’t from here. Where are they from?” Would people say that of you?
2. We have the King’s authority
Jesus sent his disciples out with his own power and authority in Luke 9. He has given the church the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16) and told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against us and that it is through us that the “manifold wisdom of God” becomes known (Ephesians 2). He has gifted us with his Spirit so that we might possess his power and authority. He has not sent us out on this mission empty handed, for he has given us his very own authority.
3. We have the King’s protection
We have been granted asylum as refugees. We fled from our former lives of slavery to sin and to the kingdom of God where we were granted access because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on the cross. We have been given protection through our citizenship. Though we may be afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, we will never be crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, destroyed, or totally overcome. As citizens of heaven, no matter what happens in this life, we have been given the promise that God is with us and our citizenship is secure.
4. We are on temporary assignment
Like Billy Graham, we are resident representatives, but only for a while. This foreign land is not our home, for our true homeland is the city that God is preparing for us while we are away on the mission. We are always waiting and longing for the return of our King and our entry into the completed kingdom of God. Because this is true, we shouldn’t get too comfortable in this life because we won’t be here for long. If you were going on vacation, you would pack light. In the same way, we should “pack light” in this life and instead store up for ourselves treasure in heaven. This treasure is accumulated through obedience to Christ’s mission and message.
5. We are not to isolate from culture
While the people of Israel were in Babylonian captivity, they were not called to isolate from culture but to seek the good of their neighbors and captors. Though we are called to represent Christ’s kingdom and interests in this world, that does not mean that we are to totally isolate from culture. We cannot possibly be successful ambassadors for Christ if we are not involved in, familiar with, and connected to the culture around us. We should understand, contribute to, and strive to better the culture while we are here in this land. We have a different King, a different mission, a different drive in life – but in order to represent our King and his kingdom, we must be a visible part of our culture. We are living in the culture, but not of the culture. We should not allow the evil culture of the world to live in us as God’s ambassadors.
6. We have the King’s mission and message
In Matthew 28 and Mark 16 Jesus commissioned his disciples and believers everywhere of all time for a specific task – to go, baptize, teach, and declare the message of reconciliation to the world. Our mission is to declare the gospel message to the foreign land around us so that they too might become citizens of the kingdom. God has entrusted to us, as stewards, the treasure of the gospel that we are to share with the world. We are to be a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, drawing people toward Christ.
So, as you watch the news and consider Billy Graham’s life, perhaps you will ponder your own short time on this earth. Do you have a real relationship with God yourself? Where will you go when your death day comes? If you do have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, what does it mean to you to be an ambassador for Christ? How often do you embrace your role as an ambassador? Do you think you and your church do a good job of representing Christ and his kingdom to the world?
Authors wish to remain anonymous - Used with permission
Here is more from our church you may find helpful...
Peter gave inspired instruction to the early believers as he wrote to them in I Peter. The persecution they were facing would later give way to even greater persecution. One of Peter’s burdens was to make sure that the believers were steadfast in their faith. An essential ingredient of that was the love that he spoke of in 1 Peter 1:22: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” Christians should give heavy weight to his God-breathed instruction regarding this brotherly love and unity in the body.
This past week at Grace, we reviewed five unity-crushing sins which should be put away by all Christians seeking to grow in brotherly love.
Malice is usually the driver of spiteful behavior. It is the difference between unintentional versus deliberate wounding of another and therefore can be the greatest catalyst for disunity in the church. Malice is often the result of harbored, unresolved bitterness.
Mature believers strive to deal with conflict and hurt before it leads to bitterness. Sometimes, “innocent” statements can impact others in ways not intended; humility is required in order to genuinely resolve these conflicts. Ask yourself:
“Have I done or said anything that was meant to take another believer down?”
“Have I been deeply wounded by someone and need to resolve it with them?”
On the other hand, church members ought to recall that love is not easily provoked. A member should not flippantly take offense and should not actively seek ways to hold church unity hostage due to hyper-sensitivity.
Deceit exists in many forms, but all of them are in some way a misrepresentation of the truth. Why is deceit so harmful to church unity? Wouldn’t some even say that deceit can, at times, protect unity?
Not when the root of deceit is exposed. Even in its most innocent of forms, deceit is motivated by selfishness and a lack of trust in the other person. Deceit says: “you’re not able to handle the truth the way I want you to handle it.” Deceit in this context communicates a person’s need to be in control.
Church unity thrives on mutual trust that each person can have the same potential for the Holy Spirit to be working in them. Mature Christians do not trade truthfulness to protect self interests. The outcome of that exchange is a loss of unity.
Hypocrisy is incompatible with unity because it places a person in a self-assigned, superior class. It allows a person to apply different judgment on others than they apply to themselves. It hides a person’s sins under a guise of self-righteousness. How can a church have unity if it’s members are ducking behind self-righteousness while throwing stones at those willing to be transparent? Growth is crippled in that church because the members quickly begin to obsessively cover their faults rather than deal with them.
An envious heart is a heart which has lost it’s focus on the goodness of God. It has fooled a person into thinking that God wants something less for them than the best. How can a church have unity among it’s members if they have hostile, discontent attitudes towards each other?
Believers should focus on the innumerable gifts God has given rather than obsessing over what has been given to another.
Slanderous talk comes from an unloving, selfish heart. It would trade unity for fleeting self-promotion and it costs more than most participants realize. Gossip causes damage by discussing with another what one perceives to be truthful information, but the damage of slander goes so much farther by assaulting another’s character with deliberately false statements.
Do Christians really engage in such behavior towards each other? Sadly, yes. Peter wouldn’t ask the church to put this conduct away if it weren’t possible they might engage in it. Get rid of slanderous talk. Don’t participate in it if you want to have unity in your assembly.
Putting off these behaviors requires supernatural intervention. Because we still have our flesh, we are capable of committing any of these sins. However the admonition from Peter is that each of these sins be completely removed from our lives. We have to admit that these are a constant temptation in one way or another so there is always the need for us to put any of this behavior out of our lives. How often? As often as it happens! Don’t forget the quote from Paul Tripp and David Lane who said, “When you fail, keep Jesus and his work in view. Run to your Lord, not away from him. Receive his forgiveness, get back up, and follow him once more, knowing that each time you fail, you can experience your identity as one for whom Christ died. Each failure reminds us of why he had to die; each confession reminds us of the forgiveness that only the Cross could provide.”
The good news is that there can be unity and love among believers. We desperately need it because the enemy is not one another—the real enemy is Satan who wants us to bite and devour ourselves. Do not fall into Satan’s trap in any of these areas that create disunity.
So how does this make sense in the face of tragedy even to those who believe this worldview? How does it bring hope to despair and meaning even to hardship?
1. In a Christian worldview, God is creator and therefore he is the authority over all his creation. He sets the rules for his creation. He sets both natural law i.e. gravity which cannot be broken, and he sets moral laws which can and have been broken. The reason we even know right and wrong and that murder is evil is because God created life, gave it value and gave us moral law. Non-Christian worldviews cannot adequately account for these facts.
The reason we know what happened in Parkland or in Texas was a tragedy is because precious life was taken and the Evolutionary answers of survival of the fittest doesn’t add up! In the depths of our soul, in our emotions and conscience, we know it was horrific evil because we know what good and evil are thanks to God
2. In a Christian worldview, God has not left his creation to suffer under evil indefinitely. At great cost to himself, he sent his only son, Jesus, who is God as well, to suffer and die in order to conquer evil and provide salvation from evil. Jesus entered into our suffering. He himself was tragically murdered. However, His death and resurrection from the grave prevents evil from ever conquering good completely. In a Christian worldview, God always overrules evil with good even though for the moment, as with Jesus’ death, evil may seem to win.
3. In a Christian worldview, there is hope because of salvation in Jesus Christ. He conquered death, rose again from the grave and now provides eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. Not only is evil like that in Texas overcome, but our own sinful heart can be forgiven and our relationship with God can be restored. We personally can have victory over evil and sin in our own life. We do not have to be captive to our own sinful condition. In fact, the Bible declares that If the young man who did this evil in Florida repents and turns to Christ for forgiveness and salvation, his eternal future will still be good. He will still go to Heaven not because his evil is overlooked by God, but because Jesus Christ was punished on the cross in his place. Of course he will and should be punished here and now for his horrible deeds.
4. In a Christian worldview, we have the hope of eternal life. For those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation which is free to us but came at great cost to him, it is not death to die. Yes, that is right, it is not death to die. When God speaks of death in the Bible, he speaks of eternal death which is separation from God in Hell for those who reject Jesus’ gift and do not believe in him. For those who do accept his gift of salvation such as those at the First Baptist Church, death is not eternal. It is a passage way to eternal life. The Bible says that for those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ to be absent from this earthly body is to be instantly present with the Lord in Heaven.
5. In a Christian worldview, evil such as we saw in these situations is punished. Perhaps the killer supposed in his worldview that his ticket to freedom from the carnage he had caused by his evil actions was to kill himself thus ending life and entering a state of non-existence. No jail, no remorse, no guilt, no dread, he felt as many who commit such atrocities do, that killing themselves was the end. However, in a Christian worldview, the man who killed himself in the Texas shooting went to Hell. He will stand before God in the final judgement for his sin as we all will someday and then he will be condemned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. There is no hope for him, no second chance. His fate is sealed. His worldview was horribly wrong in so many ways and at so many levels. Worldviews do have consequences. In the case of the situation in Florida, the young man will be punished and if he does not repent toward God will also spend eternity in Hell.
What is your worldview? What are it’s consequences for your future? How do you process events such as these terrible tragedies? Do you believe that the universe happened from a “Big Bang?” Do you believe in the evolutionary process, the survival of the fittest, that life is random, futile, and meaningful only for the strong who survive? Do you believe that good and evil are simply cultural norms? Do you believe there are no moral absolutes based on a moral absolute being who is designer, creator and ultimate authority, GOD? May we ask you to consider the Christian worldview. Use the resources below to learn more and consider God.
For those who have a Christian worldview, do not be discouraged even in the face of hard questions. God is in control. He does overcome evil with good. We are part of his plan in doing so. Share God’s good news contained in the Christian worldview with others. Share God’s love by reaching out to others and loving them. Pray for God’s help and strength for those touched by this and other effects of man’s sin, and look up for the Lord can come at any time.
Do you have questions? Would you like to talk about your spiritual life and relationship with God? Contact us using the information below or visit us for a service soon.
Click here for other helpful articles that can help answer questions about God, the universe, his relationship to you and more.
Check out these other helpful articles below on our website for more information about God.
Daily Devotion for Today
On Wednesday, February 14, seventeen faculty, staff and students were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL. It is the second-deadliest shooting at a U.S. public school. On November 5, 2017, at approximately 11:30 am a man walked in to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX and killed or wounded at least 46 people.
Many questions arise in the aftermath of tragedies like these or in our own personal lives. In the early hours and days, the questions are often answerable. How many died? Who was the killer? What did the authorities do in response? What was the killer’s motive? However, these questions quickly give way to the deeper questions that seem to be unanswerable. We all wrestle with questions like these about tragedies.
Although many of these types of questions are and will remain unanswered in detail, there are answers in the bigger sense. Though we may not understand the specifics of why this tragedy, why these particular people, or why this small church, we can understand from the Bible who God is, why evil exists and how God has victory over it. Those answers come from what we call a Christian worldview.
We all have some sort of worldview if we realize it or not, and it matters!
A worldview is best described as the glasses through which we see and interpret all that is happening around us in the world. It attempts to tell an overarching story, to explain the universe in both grand and detailed ways. The story attempts to bring clarity and understanding to every part of existence.
Without a worldview of some kind, life has no meaning. There is no understanding of what is happening around us. Without meaning, living has no real purpose. Without purpose, there is no hope and reason to live.
We all seek to understand the world around us, especially in the midst of confusion, pain and tragic situations. From scientific questions to questions of good and evil, and why there is suffering we wonder why. We seek guidance for decisions and meaning to life’s trials. We seek true beauty in art and wonder at the hate we see between human beings. These answers and more can be found through the glasses of our worldview.
God has provided an undistorted worldview through his word, the Bible, by communicating basic truths that are fundamental to every aspect of our life. This worldview brings clarity, purpose, and guidance for all of life.
Although there are many many worldviews that people follow, there are only two basic worldviews, a true one and a false one. The true one has only one definition. The false one takes on many forms. Let’s look at these two worldviews.
Firstly, let’s look at a non-biblical and false worldview summary. Remember, there are many versions of this, but they all include the same fundamental points.
Secondly, let’s look at a Christian worldview. You can watch this short video summary of a Christian worldview and then we’ll give you some reasons why this view works and makes sense even in the face of tragedy to the very people who hold this worldview.
Authors wish to remain anonymous - Used with permission
Often during times of heart-rending events that involve mass casualties and national grief, our leaders will say that “our thoughts and prayers are with those who were touched by the tragedy.” Perhaps you are wondering how to pray. You can pray for the people touched by this terrible school shooting in Florida based on the following ideas presented in Psalms 25 and Lamentations 3
If you are wondering how God could let something like this happen, click the link at the bottom to see our article that was posted after the church shooting in Texas.
In the meantime, when thinking of the families and friends of those dear people in Florida, pray:
Take some time to read through Psalms 25 and Lamentations 3 and let these passages help guide you as you seek to pray for those who are suffering and hurting in unimaginable ways. Pray for America as a nation as well. Tragedies such as this raise many deep and difficult questions about God, his love, his control and his goodness. While no human can answer all these questions, we believe the Bible has answers for the problems of evil and suffering. We would be glad to talk further with you or have you join us for a service soon. We all wrestle with these issues and we would be happy to point you to the truths we have learned in years of studying God’s word the Bible. In the meantime, take some time today to pray for these hurting people and our nation.
Authors wish to remain anonymous - Used with permission
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Dear Grace Baptist Church Family,
Do you know what it means to have a “winsome” attitude or a “winsome” spirit?
A person who has this kind of attitude is attractive to others. Others find that they enjoy being around this kind of person. They are drawn to people like this.
There are many characteristics of a “winsome” person, not the least of which is that they enthusiastically believe in what they are talking about.
I have met many people like this over the years as I am sure that you have. I met a restaurant business owner recently who had that kind of attitude. She spoke to us about her business and her food and her employees. She believed in them. She believed in her service. She was totally sold on everything about her restaurant. And she was thoughtful and gracious about everyone she spoke of. By the time she was finished I wanted to eat there every day! [Not really because I love Vickie’s cooking.]. But I did leave her with the thought that I wish we all had the same enthusiasm and passion for the church as she did for her restaurant.
That is where I realized that we have the opportunity to share our belief in Jesus Christ with a winsome spirit. We can tell others in a gracious way how much He means to us. We can tell them what He has done for us. We can invite them to our church. We can lovingly share with others the hope that we have within us.
And we should.
Not all of us have the same outgoing demeanor as others. But we can all have a heart of love for others and a passion for Christ that in one way or another shows a compassion for those around us who need Christ.
Let me encourage you to take the opportunity to share Christ with someone. And as you have the chance, look for the many, many ways that you can show a winsome spirit and invite others to come to our church. We have a wonderful church family and I believe that there are many who need what we have to offer because of what Christ has done for us.
We can all be “winsome”—even me…and you.
I look forward to worshiping the Lord together with you this Sunday. Please be in prayer for our church and the services.
Also, there will be a prayer time every Sunday at 9:15am in Classroom #3. Please join us for any part of the time that you can.
Dr. Wynne Kimbrough is the editor of this resource.
Some of the articles are written by him while others are found and shared with permission from the original authors. Some of of these authors wish to remain anonymous.