“Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”

This past Sunday as we began our study on 1 Thessalonians we took time to look at verse 1:1…

“Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.”

Now this is one of those verses that we can so easily slip by thinking that Paul is simply going through the formalities of identifying the writers, the recipients, followed by a casual greeting, but we must all remember that Paul is not the only author of this letter, or any other of his canonical letters.  God chose to breathe out His Word and even the seeming formalities of an introduction are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness.

Now as we look at this little introductory verse it is worth noting that it reveals something very important about the relationship of Jesus Christ to God the Father.  The little word “in” governs both phrases and links together God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ thus presenting them both on a level playing field as equals.  In other words, this is a verse that, by its Greek construction, demonstrates that Jesus is equal with God and that He is God – not to mention His title, the Lord Jesus Christ that communicates his deity, humanity and that He is the anointed One, the Messiah.

Now, to add to the findings of 1 Thessalonians 1:1 I suggested that people look up what is called the Granville Sharp Rule in order to discover some other very important texts that teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is God.

Here is what Granville Sharp concluded…

When you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Paul, Silas or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word “and,” and the first noun has the article (“the”) while the second does not, “both nouns are referring to the same person”.

There are two classic examples in the New Testament where this rule is extremely important and natural to the text – Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1

“…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, “

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

Now, let’s just focus on 2 Peter where the Granville Sharp construct is applied five times: 1:1, 1:11, 2:20, 3:2, and 3:18.  In the latter three texts no one truly argues that “Lord” and “Savior” are both referring to Christ.  That would be the natural reading of the text.  And when we look at 1:11 it is even more striking because the construction of the phrase “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is identical with 1:1 where it says, “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

So, let’s think it through.  Jesus is identified as Lord and Savior four times in this little letter and then He is identified as God and Savior.  To separate God and Savior to be referring to two different people is not consistent with how Peter writes in the context of this letter.  In fact it would be a violation of natural translation sense and allowing a philosophical or theological belief to sway the translation.  Peter is clearly equating the Lord Jesus Christ with God and as God.

So, let me encourage you to never neglect what might appear to be insignificant sections of Scripture: introductions, greetings, salutations, genealogies, lists, etc.  They have been breathed out for a reason.  Maybe taking a little time to study them as you get to them will yield nuggets of truth you were not expecting.

“Well Done Good And Faithful Servant…”

Last Saturday night one of God’s faithful servants was called home to Glory.  His name – Pastor Paul Ratcliffe.  As it happens, he served the church that I now pastor for over 25 years and was also instrumental in my coming to serve as Sr. Pastor at Castro Valley First Baptist Church.

Although my time with Pastor Paul was short compared to many in our church, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a special man.  So, in a limited way I want to honor him on my blog and give you an opportunity who knew him or were under his ministry to add to my thoughts with your comments.

His Love…

Pastor Paul loved God.  It was clear from my first encounter with him that he was serious and sensitive concerning his walk with God and wanted nothing else than to follow His will and to be faithful to Him.

Not only did he love God, but it was clear that Pastor Paul’s love for God spilled over in his love for others, especially those in the body of Christ.  His presence was always a joyful one and he would spend much of his time encouraging others rather than focusing on his own struggles.  He has a quiet gentleness that endeared people to him.  They felt comfortable and that he truly cared.

His Leadership…

Pastor Paul entered the ministry in the less usual manner – as a gifted businessman, but one that recognized God’s call on his life.  He took interest in the direction of the church, kept it headed in the right direction and influenced many people in the process.  It was quite remarkable to me that having retired from the pastorate that he was so respected in the church he had pastored that he was asked to be a part of the Search Committee looking for a new pastor.  That is where I met him and his presence on that committee communicated volumes to ma about the character of this man.

His Life…

Pastor Paul gave his life to serve the Lord.  He was hard working and hard loving, always doting on his wife Mickey, who is a treasure herself.  His passion for the building of the Kingdom of God continued until his stroke.  God’s servant lived, loved and labored for his Master even when his time was short and his body frail. He fought up to the end.

His Legacy…

I am sure that if you knew Pastor Paul Ratcliffe that you would say that he had an affect on your life.  But in particular he had an impact on many young men who are now in the ministry because of his faithful efforts.  There may be a reason his name was “Paul” as there are many Timothy’s, Titus’ and Silas’ in many places in the USA.  It was also awesome to have the Stewarts from Discovery Bay visit with us last week.  They came to visit because that day was their 50th wedding anniversary and you can guess who married them.

Well, these are some preliminary thoughts on a man who has had an impact on my life.  But maybe you have some story to tell.  I invite you to share it with us all.  I know that I would love to read about it.

Thank you Lord for the privilege of allowing us to be influenced and shaped by this Servant of yours.  We all wish that we could be in heaven to hear you say those precious words to any servant of yours…

“Well done good and faithful servant…”

I now invite you to share your thoughts, comments and memories of Pastor Paul Ratcliffe.

  • We will celebrate his life together on Saturday, September 27th at 4:00 at CVFirst followed by a dinner on the grounds.

Surfing Highlights…

I spend a little bit of time surfing around on certain sites that I find helpful and informative.  So, here are a few that I want to make you aware of…

  • A helpful explanation of the current financial crisis by Douglas Diamond and Anil Kashcan be found here…
  • Also, Gospel For Asia, continues to update us on the current persecution taking place in India here…
  • And below is the second part of the 2007 Operation Ufa Missions trip video which will show some lighter and more serious activities that took place…enjoy…

Sarah Palin and Biblical Womanhood

The recent appointment of Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket has created a lot of discussion in our culture on a number of fronts – political, religious, gender – and is creating an opportunity to reaffirm the beauty of God’s high view of womanhood and the important and unique role He has ordained for them.

Having a woman in a high office is nothing new for us.  We already have Nancy Pelosi serving as speaker of the house, and if you do your high school Government homework she is not too far removed from the top spot.  We have also had eight years of Hillary Clinton, although not in an official capacity, flex her muscles in a less than discreet manner through her husband while he was president which, as we all know, bore fruit in her relocation and running for the Senate and almost the presidency.

Now, I as a former British citizen, remember the glory years of one Iron Lady – Margaret Thatcher – who’s strength and passion stood up for conservative ideals and against the manipulation of a unionized working class.

So, I am a little perplexed why it is such a sensational thing that Sarah Palin is being considered for Vice President of the United States.  Are we shocked that a woman has the gifts and skills necessary to lead our country?  Are we offended that John McCain would ask her above another man?  Is it wrong for her, as a mother and wife, to serve our country in such a high office?  How come you are o.k. with Sarah Palin serve as Vice President of our country but you are not willing to have a woman serve as an Elder or a Pastor of God’s church?

Now, some of the more direct questions being asked are from the Egalitarian Camp – the christian feminist camp that believes that because of redemption women should have freedom to be and serve in any and every capacity in the kingdom of God, i.e. they can be pastors, elders and are not required by God to be under the headship of their husbands or the men in the local body of believers.

Here are some questions that are being asked specifically as it relates to Sarah Palin.  They can be read in greater detail here at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website, but I have listed some of the core questions from their web-site here.

Is it your view that God can call a woman to serve as president of the United States?

The Bible calls women to specific roles in the church and home, but does not prohibit them from exercising leadership in secular political fields.  Therefore we must be careful to not go beyond the teaching of the Bible.  A president is not held to the same moral standards as an elder of a church.  While it is a blessing from God to have ethical or even Christian political leaders, the Bible places no such requirements on secular governments.  Even though the Bible reserves final authority in the church for men, this does not apply in the kingdom of this world.

Could a woman serve as president though she would be in authority over every male in the nation?

God’s design for male headship in the home and the church does not require the exclusion of women from leadership in public life, where spiritual headship is not involved. Such extrapolation carries the biblical teaching about the role of women beyond the Bible’s own application.

Does this affect your view of women leadership in the church?

Even though a man is elected president of the most powerful country in the free world, he is not necessarily qualified to lead a small local church, according to the moral criteria for overseers in 1 Timothy 3.  We hold a high view of women and assert that women are capable of serving as president of the United States (and inevitably will).  It is not a question of ability, but a recognition that the Bible reserves for men the final teaching and ruling authority in the church.

The activities of our culture should always cause us to pick up our Bibles and seek to discern and think Biblically rather than politically or socially.  Anytime we bring our (or the culture’s) ideology and try to impose it on Scripture we are on shaky ground and are guilty of “using and twisting God’s Word” to benefit our agenda rather than submitting to God’s Word as His agenda.

God’s view of women is the highest view possible.  He liberates them to be what He created them to be.

I celebrate that!

11th Hour Christians

You know what I’m talking about.  You’ve said it plenty of times.  You hear it from all sorts of people, but the ones that seem to say it the most are our children.  There is something raw and unrefined about how they express themselves that can, at times, be refreshing and honest.  So, what is it that we may have trouble admitting?  Well, its the often overused and misunderstood phrase, “That’s not fair.”

Yes, we have built into our sinful humanness a “fairness doctrine” of sorts that seems to raise its ugly head every now and then and wrestles with God and His freedom to do what He wishes in our lives.

  • Why is it that the wicked seem to prosper but we who are righteous are forced to live from day to day?  Its just not fair!
  • Why is it that God in His wisdom elects some to salvation and others to an eternity in hell?  Its just not fair!
  • Why is it that I am going through this trial, this disease, this tragedy in my life when there are some who are careless and carefree who are doing fine?  Its just not fair!

Maybe we need to be reminded that God’s grace is not fashioned by our human “fairness doctrine.”  What God wills and what He decrees is good, right, fair and just.  We may have a hard time reconciling those truths because we have a distorted view of God.  We acknowledge the error of the “health-wealth-and-prosperity” crowd – that God is not our genie whom we rub in order to get our own wants and desires satisfied, but we may still have a selfish view of God.

Let me draw your attention to the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16.   The master hired laborers for his vineyard first at 6:00 a.m. then periodically throughout the day ending with the last workers at 5:00 p.m.  This master, who obviously represents God, was both fair and generous.  To the first group of laborers he was fair agreeing to pay them the ordinary daily wage of one denarius.   But each time he hired more workers he was progressively more generous as the day went on.  The master could have paid them what they earned but he chose to pay them according to their need.  So, not only was he fair, but he was also extremely generous.

Now, the focus of attention in this parable is on the workers who were hired at the 11th hour.  They received, on an hourly basis, twelve times what the workers received who began working at 6:00 a.m.  When we read this parable we tend to scratch our heads and identify with the workers who were hired first in the morning.  They worked hard all day.  They were faithful and deserved to be treated fairly — and they were.  But the master chose to be abundantly gracious to the new workers throughout the day, and when they compared what they received with what the latter workers received they “felt” like they were not being treated fairly.  But they missed the point.  They were being treated fairly, its just that the others were recipients of generosity that they didn’t deserve and that they could not earn.

What we have here is a wonderful picture of God’s grace.  Although we may identify with those workers who started at 6:00 a.m. we should truly identify with the workers who arrived at 5:00 p.m., worked for one hour and received an overabundance of God’s grace.

You are right…its not fair!  Its much better than fair.  We who know Christ as our Lord and Savior are the recipients of grace heaped upon grace.  If God were fair we would be looking at an eternity in hell – that’s what we deserve – but, because of God’s Grace, we have eternal life, abundant life and all that He allows in this world is part of His glorious plan.

So, when we face those trials, when the wicked prosper, when God chooses to elect us, let’s remember — not only is it fair, but we have been blessed with an overabundance of His grace in this life and in eternity.

In Our Ever Changing World…

Here are some new definitions to common words…  You might want to change your vocabulary…

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

6. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

7. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

8. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

9. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

10. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

11. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

12. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

An Incredible Testimony!

I want to share with you the testimony of one of my friends, Mike Sanders.  I realize that me sharing his testimony doesn’t sound really exciting, but let me encourage you to think otherwise as I believe there is a lot for us to learn from it…trust me!

I remember him sharing this during one of our society chapels while attending college many moons ago (1985ish).  So here it goes…I’ll write it as if he is saying it…

“I remember when I was four.  My parents would often fight, so me and my two brothers and my younger sister would sneak off to the basement. From the safety of that room we could hear them screaming and yelling, throwing things around and when it was over we would usually find my dad gone and my mother weeping in the kitchen.  We were too young to know any different, we just thought that all parents behaved like that.  What it did do was keep us as kids close to each other.

We lived in a very rough section of Detroit.  My father was a factory worker, so he didn’t have much money coming in, but we had our bunk beds and our back yard to play in.  It seemed big back then, but truly, it was only 30 feet deep.  My mom wouldn’t let us play in the front as the neighborhood kids were trouble…and she was right, because by the time I was 9 I had already smoked my first joint.  That was just the beginning, and it was soon to get worse. My grades in school began to drop, but I didn’t care, the marijuana would cover any feelings of loss or guilt.  Over the next few years I ended up spending too much time in the drug culture, helping sell it often as the money was easy and good and then one day I was asked to join a gang.  Now, I won’t tell you the name of the gang, but when I did join the gang they beat me up and then welcomed me in, but there was one initiation requirement that still had to be fulfilled to prove your worth.  I had to choose a store or a place of business and steal money from the cash register.  I could hold them up, I could break in after hours, or find some other way of doing the job.  Now, by this time I was 15 and able and willing to handle a gun, so I decided that I would hold up a gas station.  It seemed like the logical choice a the time…quick and easy and I would be accepted into the gang.  Well, without going into the details I did follow through, although somehow the gas station attendee set off  a silent alarm which brought the police and somehow I was able to run through a field and through a housing project to get away…(we didn’t have the baggy pants in those days that wen to our knee)  Fortunately, I knew that area extremely well and didn’t’ feel like it was a problem.

Well, once in I became active.  A little drug sales here and a little coordinated stealing there.  Soon I became the trusted coordinator of all the thievery in the area.  We didn’t do it every night, or every week, but we did do it often enough.  Sometimes it would be getting into homes when we knew people were away, and at other times it was the quick hold up.  I now had a reputation within the gang, the girls looked to me as one of the leaders and I was enjoying life…sort of.

Yes, even with all the money I was getting, the girls and the power I had over people, there was still something missing. Now, somehow I knew that I needed to graduate from High School, so I did study enough to pass, but only just.   Then that day I will never forget took place.  It was a Friday night and one of the rival gangs decided that they wanted to teach us a lesson.  I was standing on the front porch of my best friends house when a car came screeching by and multiple shots were fired.  My friend was shot and killed in front of me and I was wounded in the leg.  I was crushed and I was angry, but my leg hurt too much for me to do anything about it and I knew that I had to go to the hospital.  Even so, in my heart, I was already planning my revenge.

Well, while sitting on one of the gurneys in the Emergency at William Beaumont Hospital I was approached by a man with a sash around his neck.  Clearly he wasn’t a doctor, but even clearer he wanted to talk to me.  At first I endured his introduction and words of concern and care for my injury. Then he asked me a very important question…  “Mike, if you were to stand before God and ask him why you should enter into heaven, what would you say?”  No one had ever asked me that question, but I was a little confused.  Why would a complete stranger approach me in gentleness and ask such a spiritual question at a time like this?  The most our family did as it related to church was to go for BINGO or for the yearly festival where we typically got drunk.  But there was something powerful and attractive about talking with this man about the Bible.  I really didn’t understand much of what he said, but I do remember thinking that maybe, if there is a god, that he would not be pleased with my life.

That question continued to bother me and, even though I couldn’t explain it, over the next few weeks it would stare me in the face while I rested my head on my pillow at night, or at other times when I was alone.  I began to change my feelings about who God might be.  I still ran around with the gang (as best I could with the injury), doing the things that would get me into trouble, but the question and the subsequent questions from that question would always be in the backdrop of my heart.  It wasn’t until one particular Thursday night when I was arrested for disorderly conduct, after some rival gang members strutted into our turf, that a seriousness about life gripped me.  As I sat there at the police station the Officer attending to me, who had a hard shell, noticed that I was tender.  He asked me what I was feeling and it all came out – The loneliness, the struggles, the words that were shared just over a month earlier.  He put his pen down and began to talk to me, not like an officer, but like a big brother.  He looked me in the eye and asked the same question that the man in the hospital asked.  It was clear that something bigger than me was going on.

I don’t know why, but this officer came by my house the next day, not as a police officer, but in civilian clothes to simply talk to me.  He told me of a great God who sent His Son to die in my place when I deserved that death myself because of my sin.  The bits and pieces began to all come together like a jigsaw puzzle and I saw myself in need of God and His forgiveness.  That day, with those simple truths I prayed to receive Christ as my Lord and Savior.

That was two years ago, and now I am preparing to serve God as a Pastor.  If you would have asked me five years ago what I would be doing today at 22 I can tell you with a certainty that preparing for the ministry would not have been anywhere near the radar.  But God can take people from the worst of lifestyles and draw them to Himself.

Now, there is something more that I need to share with you about my life and even what I am doing today.  Everything that I have said over the past 20-25 minutes is a total and complete lie except for my family.  I didn’t grow up in Detroit.  No, I grew up in a pretty middle class suburb called Clarkston.  My parents were a godly example.  Certainly they had their difficult moments, but they would work through their emotions and seek to glorify God through their struggles.  I wasn’t saved late in my teenage years, I came to know the Lord when I was six.  It was real, heartfelt, and there was a radical change in my life that took place.  I haven’t lived a life full of sin and excitement, but have instead sought to live for the Lord and grow in maturity to be like Him all through my teenage years.

So, the reality is, my testimony is rather boring according to man’s standards.  But, it is the truth and is a testimony to God’s faithfulness to parents who wanted nothing more than for their son to learn to love the Lord with all his heart.  I serve a great and powerful God who convicts me when I sin, warns me through the ministry of the Word and Holy Spirit when I am considering compromising my walk, and who is purposeful to grow me where He wants me to grow. I wouldn’t trade that testimony for one that is filled with sex, drugs and excitement.  I am, and have been most of my life, a child of God, saved by grace, pursuing His will.  I thank God for that legacy.

Now, I know, I know…that was rather mean of me to have you wade through all that stuff simply to make a point.  But, my friends, it is a point worth noting.  As I look at my life and where I have been and what I was before Christ, my pendulum swings quite far toward the first example than to Mike’s true testimony.  I don’t share that part of my life often as it opens the door to sensationalism, but I have been in difficult situations invoving gangs.  I have had switchblades held at my chest, walked away from being pulverized by a rival gang, literally run for my life from a group of pursuing gang members…  That’s all true, its all exciting, but it is all unnecessary except for some special situations.

I am first and formost everyman – a sinner condemned – but now a child of God through salvation that only comes through Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He gave on the Cross.  I want to boast in Him, not in what my life was like before He entered.

Your Gonna Get Wet!

In 1 Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul confronts the Corinthian church for their boasting and arrogance concerning the presence of unrepentant sin in their fellowship – the sin of incest.  He begins by identifying the problem, then he tells them what they needed to do…

1It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.

3For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

It is the content of verse 5 that I want to draw your attention to.  Paul is horrified at the arrogance of the Corinthian church because, rather than mourn over sin they are boasting about it. This sin is so vile that it is even offensive to the pagan melting pot Gentile culture present in Corinth.  So, his instructions to the church is that this man should be “delivered to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.”

Now, that is some graphic language.  You might read those words and need to come back and read it again to make sure you really and truly understand what you read.  Then you might begin to ask yourself some very important questions like…

  • Is God in the business of handing over His children to the Devil?
  • What does “for the destruction of the flesh” mean?
  • Aren’t we supposed to love people, even those people who fall into sin?
  • And many more…

Well, as we step back from that sentence we must first understand the context.  In verse 2 Paul tells them that they should have removed this unrepentant sinner from their fellowship.  In verse 6 they are told that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”, i.e. a little sin will have lasting effects on the church if it is not dealt with.  So they are to purge out, or clean out, the leaven and become what they are in Christ, unleavened bread.

So, Paul is addressing the need for the church, God’s refuge in this world, to be pure and protected from further contamination.

Let’s remember that God has given Satan the earth as his roaming ground.  He is always under God’s control, but in His divine wisdom God allows Satan to be the Prince of the Power of the Air.  The whole of this world is the realm of Satan, and it is into this godlessness that the Father sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  The result is that many turned to Him and embraced the Son as their Lord and Savior.  Then, called out people gathered together to be the Church that God had ordained.  Each church became a place of safety, protection and refuge for the local believers.

I like to think of the church as an umbrella that is being held up under the barrage of rain of ungodliness.  When a believer is drawn to Christ and converted they find safety and protection from the world in the umbrella, or safe haven, of the church.  It is therefore a privilege and a responsibility to be a part of a local church and every believer should take that seriously.

What we find in the Corinthian church is that they had become lax in their willingness to confront sin, require repentance and maintain a purity for the sake of the body of Christ and the honor of His Name.  So, when Paul tells them to “deliver this man to Satan” he is simply saying that this man should be put out of the church (vs. 2).  When that happens he will no longer be under the protection and safe haven of the church.  Rather, since there is no umbrella to keep the wetness of ungodliness from raining on him, his flesh will be destroyed (a euphemism to describe the natural consequences and judgment of sin) so that his spirit will be saved.  This man isn’t losing his salvation, he is maintaining it, but not at the cost of further contaminating the body of Christ.

Sadly, most American churches are not willing to take such action since “love” and not “holiness” is the drumbeat of their ministry philosophy.  Our love should be to the Lord first, and it is He that requires that our love be fashioned by holiness.

So, be thankful for your umbrella.  Don’t be like one of my childhood friends, Jonathan Kemp, who was given a brand new golf umbrella for Christmas.  When we were golfing and it started to rain, he refused to take it out saying, “I don’t want to get it wet.”  God has given us His church, His umbrella, for a good reason.  Value it, shelter yourself under it, keep it clean, check your  own heart.

Doctor Who?

One of the drawbacks to being flexible to God’s leading and direction in life is in the arena of health care.  I remember when I was a Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of West Seneca, NY, a suburb of Buffalo, that I had two excellent docotors – O’Conner and Massardri.  They knew me well and took time to talk with me about my health and made recommendations regarding exercise and diet.  Whenever I had an appointment they knew me by name and were very attentive to my needs.

Then I moved to Michigan where I took my family to my old family practitioner, Dr. Oneil.  Now, Dr. Oneil was a fixture in the Clarkston community and very respected as a doctor, so his offices were always jam packed with people.  He looked like Santa but his normal mode of opperation was to walk into your room already writing the perscription.  I guess, as a doctor, you know the usual sicknesses that are going around.  But the problem wasn’t that he wasn’t nice, he was always very nice, but if he stayed in the room long enough you might muster up enough courage to ask him a question.  It became rather frustrating for us so we looked around for a new Family Practitioner.

Then we found Dr. Patel.  He was from South Africa, but you would think that he was from India.  He spoke with an Indian outfit and we would all snicker after he asked us, “Has there been any bomating.”  But, with Dr. Patel, he took an interest in our family.  When I would see him he would ask about the rest of the family and send his greetings.  I always felt comfortable getting his advice and felt that his referrals were worth considering.  My kids loved him and, although going to the doctor was never a joy-ride, they were thankful that they were under such good care.

So, when God called me to California Dr. Patel was one luxury that we all had to give up.  In stead we were introduced to Kaiser Permenente.  Now, I do have a doctor assigned to me, but I really don’t get the feeling that he really wants to get to know me and my family.  It isn’t that they don’t do good work, its just that you feel like an insurance number rather than an individual.  Now, in my opinion that’s just too bad.  We have warehoused family healthcare and are slowly abandoning the personal touch which is needed.

Now, imagine if Jesus was like your doctor, that you were just a number and that you had to make an appointment, possibly get Him if he were available.  Seriously, whom would you want to be looking after your soul?  Would you want Him to know you intimately, to remember your family, your health care history and to teach you how to prepare and avoid some of the many problems that you will likely face?  Or, maybe you would prefer the lottery system, where you might get Him if you are lucky?

Well, of course you want the more intimate Jesus.  Thankfully we don’t have to stand in any spiritual health lines, or go to three different departments to get blood work or a perscription filled.  No, we have Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves, who truly cares for our souls, who looks out for us.  Even when you move He is one who you can take with you – He will always be faithful to you…

So, why not make an appointment with Him.  You can sit in the well or the sick room, it doesn’t matter.

Persecution in Orissa, India.

With our connections through Sisters in service we are aware that persecution of Christians in Orissa is on the rise.

Please pray for believers that are suffering from the ongoing attacks in the state of Orissa. All of our partner ministries have trained leaders, families and churches that have been destroyed, many are in hiding.

“We are very much afraid of the situation. We can’t move out from house for number of days. Sir kindly come and rescue us” from Smita, 23 years old, WEMOS team leader Orissa.

“Following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Swami Lakshmananda, the death toll continues to rise. Christians are not responsible for the killing of Swami, however the Christians became easy target for the fanatics to attack and kill. It is just as Nero blamed Christians for the great fire of Rome, VHP and Bajrangdal activists torch churches for the killing” reports Dr. Selva Raj.

“The fundamentalist groups are going from village to village destroying Churches, burning houses, attacking and killing Christians. It is reported that thousands of extremists have been brought from Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to perpetrate this violence which has spread to all the districts of Orissa. Their agenda is to wipe out Christians and Christianity from India starting from Orissa.” Thousands have been driven from their homes, many have already been killed and several others are hiding in jungles or the safe places for fear of being beaten, arrested or killed. Some have even been burned alive, others arrested. Well over 500 churches and 1000’s of believer’s homes have been burned to the ground. All of this is after the attack of December 2007 where many of these in this state had already been suffering without shelter or livelihood.

“Christian community is saddened by the response of the Government so far to tackle the situation in Orissa that has become the boiling pot of crooked political agendas of the Sangh Parivar.”

The situation is tense. “The work is extensive and spread out and we are widely separated from each other …..(but) our God will be fight for us” Nehemiah 4:19,20. Please pray.