THE STEEL AND CONCRETE MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER April 2001
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
"Suffering." Just the mention of the word brings an acid-type response, or eve a pastoral and theological problem for most people. Concerning suffering, one might ask Pastor Lee Iorns, or even John N. Clayton (Christian writers) about this topic. Suffering is something every person will face in one form or another.
I don't feel it is noteworthy to discuss suffering which one brings upon oneself due to deliberate sin. God has given us a free choice, with a sound warning that "we reap what we sown." Much suffering in this world has come about because man has not done his nob in protecting this earth. If we fail to heed the warnings of nature, we will reap our just rewards. Pain and suffering are warning signs used in our genetic makeup to protect ourselves. This type of built-in response is part of God's plan, for we are ". . . fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14). Our emotional sensitivity ties in with the same concept for what kind of person would we be without them? Iorns and Clayton have addressed the same question I address now: "Why?"
Why would a loving and caring God allow problems: pains, both emotional and physical, as well as sorrows and suffering in everyday life? Many people have stated simply that "suffering builds character." Although this may be true, suffering has a n even greater purpose than building character. The key point in suffering, in Job's case, was not Job's ultimate happiness but God's glory. God triumphs over the enemy through the suffering of one whose faith, though severely tried, has proven to be genuine in the end. God alone was Job's reward and he served God not for earthly gain, but out of love. Attempting to add our own worldly reasoning to the cause of suffering cannot explain the intentions of God. We are reminded in His Word:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
God truly is sovereign and needs not answer our many speculations as to "Why." Our one and only source for answers to our questions is God Himself and His written Word. Outside of that, it's incorrect to speculate as to why things happen. The Bible teaches that God allows His believers to suffer to support His claim that we believers are secured through the work of His Son. We are vindicated by means of our persevering faith in times of tribulation and suffering. God spared not His own Son, so why should we think we are not also to endure such things? I have heard people question, "Does God love me?" concerning their suffering. This temptation to doubt God's love is from Satan himself and must be avoided. It may be a natural act to wallow in self-pity, to isolate oneself, and to bemoan one's current state, but sometimes it takes suffering and tragedy to make one realize they need God. Pain and suffering have a way of humbling even the proudest person.
Why do God-fearing people suffer? Should we be exempt from suffering? If we were exempt, people would flock to the churches and Christ as if He or they were some type of quick-fix pain relief. God wants us to persevere and remain obedient in times of suffering because we have faith and love Him, not out of fear or because He's a "cure-all" or "escape mechanism." If we didn't suffer, we couldn't do the job we were created to do. How could I relate to and comfort another if I have never been through the same situation? My experience in suffering becomes a talent and ability, a useful tool to reach and comfort others for Christ. There are many situations I cannot relate to. I cannot go to a man who has lost a mother, because I still have mine. I cannot go to a woman who has lost a son because I've never had a son, etc. I have however suffered things not many others have and they are my tools to be used for Christ's glory. Job was able to persevere in a pre-grace era, so how much more should we, who have access to the "Heavenly Realm," the preaching of the Gospel, and God's very written Word, persevere all the more?
Many look to Job as an inspiration, but there is one who is far greater. Christ Himself suffered greater than Job by taking upon Himself the Sin of the whole world. All believers are united with Him. By God's redeeming Grace, we in Christ are His trophy! While our hope is placed fully in the Heavenly reward, God may choose to strip all earthly things from our lives. Those of us who confess Christ even in the midst of our suffering, look ahead to the hope of our resurrection; the second coming of Jesus Christ. We are part of God's triumphant glory and the answer to the devil's slander.
In this life, believers need only suffer so long. This life will be the only suffering they will know, while the unbeliever will face an eternity of pain and suffering. Because of Christ, we ought to look towards suffering and even death in a more positive light. We all have been given experiences in life. Enduring these trials and sufferings are our tools God uses to bring joy, peace and relief to the lives of other suffering people. I often ask myself, what am I doing with my tools of blessing? May God never have to look down upon me and see His tools not being used. We must be willing to live for God and not for the world! Be swilling to accept the blessings God gives, even if it seems not to be a blessing. May we be the instrument God uses to be a part of the Lord's work. By yielding to God's system in this life, we have our promised end:
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Keeping all this in mind, may your suffering be God's tool of blessing.
~ GOOD NEWS ~
If you are unsaved, then I beg you to do the following four things in prayer to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ:
1. Admit you are a sinner,
2. Be willing to repent (turn away) from all sin,
3. Believe that Jesus died to save you, and
4. Accept him into your life as Savior and Lord.
God is not into long fancy prayers. Just pray and speak to him from your heart.
"COMPARISON OF PHILLIPIANS, CHAPTER 3, TO THE CHRISTIAN RACE" by Brother Jim Edmondson
I'd like for us to imagine that we are all in a chariot race, reaching for the goal of Salvation. We all have seen a chariot race on T.V., but let me describe the ones in the ancient days, the days of Paul. First, the Greeks didn't have the great big clumsy chariots we saw in Ben-Hur. They had very light ones, so as not to burden their horses. Their chariots were made of very thin planks of light wood fastened together with narrow wheels attached to them. The only thing you were holding onto were the leather reins attached to the powerful horses.
You take off with a jolt with the other racers, while the power of the horses thrusts you around the track at break-neck speeds, leaning into each toe-gripping turn. Your heart pounds in your chest, as you attempt to keep your footing in the chariot. Thrusting you ahead is the swiftest of mavericks, which you now call the four Gospel account, and printed on your reins are the words "Faith Alone."
I would imagine that every rider would know that the horses were running the race and they were only there for the heart-pounding ride. Could you imagine the riders stopping the horses and getting of the chariots, then putting the horses into the chariots and then pulling the horses around themselves? But this is exactly what the workers of the flesh are trying to convince us to do!
But you take no heed to them. You are striving for a trophy. You are forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching toward those things that are ahead, and not worrying about the past. Your salvation is secure in faith alone, in the righteousness credited to your Lord and Savior. You are to press forward to the goal, to the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Beware! The enemies of the cross are also in the race. They are there to turn over your chariot which you now call "Providence." Never looking back, you press on. The enemies of the cross have lost a lot of ground. You now know you are a racer for Christ. Jesus will subdue all things in the end. There are many winners in this heavenly race. Be sure that you are one of them. Don't let the enemy get you side-tracked or toss you over!
"CHURCH TROUBLE MAKERS"
by Donald E. Wildmon, AFA President
submitted by Brother Donald Bovello
He would not be welcomed in the majority of our churches today. In fact, he would be explicitly told he would have to leave. He would be welcomed even less in society. The media would have a field day with him. They would rip him to shreds.
You see, he brought trouble wherever he went. From time to time he was welcomed, but once the authorities learned who he was, efforts began to either take his life or run him out of town.
He was educated in the best schools of his day. He learned the law well. He certainly had some negative comments about homosexuality and those who practiced it. And he presented this message in a manner considered most unacceptable by the religious leaders. Much of what he said would today be classified as "hate speech". He was very narrow-minded and exclusive. He gave his teaching on what was and was not acceptable in matters of theology, and those who disagreed were told they were wrong. He was very uncompromising.
He changed from being a fiery liberal to being what many today would call a right-wing fundamentalist. He was a preacher, and his preaching usually ended in a riot or a revival. As long as he embraced the liberal perspective, he was a leader in the liberal ranks. But once he "saw the light", he was treated as a traitor by the liberals.
He wasn't much on diversity, but he did try to adjust to different special interest groups in order to win them to his way. He even mixed religion and politics. When the religious leaders attempted to convict him on some theological points, he appealed to the secular courts.
He let his religious convictions determine everything about his life—what he ate, what he wore, with whom he associated, and where he traveled. Many of the liberal elite considered him a fanatic and thought the world would be better off without him. Some of them even went so far as to attempt to take his life. A few times they were almost successful. No doubt about it. We wouldn't want him in our church. He would cause too much trouble.
His name was Saul. But his faith meant so much to him that he changed it to Paul. He was an apostle.
~ POEM PAGE ~
"THE MOUNTAIN" by Sister Mary A. Bell
The mountain stands majestic in the sun
On days when clear and cloudless air prevails,
Mor oft, when heavy couds their course do run,
And rain, the land from day to day assails,
The peak is hidden om my mortal eyes.
Is it still there? I'd never doubt its form
Still stands the same against heavy skies
And waits for wind and cloud and sullen storm
To yieldig their gloom and fury to the morn
Of light and peace and permeating joy,
When shade gives way to sight renewed, reborn -
A beauty that no human can destroy.
When God at times seems hidden, far away,
He's still there to be my hope and stay.
"PRAYING THROUGH" by Sister Donita Holtz
What happened to the days when Christians prayed through,
Even if it took an hour or two?
What happened to the days when our knees kissed the sod,
Until we had peace with God?
When I was young, I remember quite well,
Saints stayed at the altar until the fire fell.
When hearts were heavy with the weight of sin,
No one left until cleansed within.
Lord, convict our hears of grieving the Spirit,
With unwashed souls that no longer seek Him.
"THIS CUP BEFORE ME" by Sister Vicky Martin Tucker
You set this cup before me, death's gall and vinegar. How it burns, O God.
How it sears its way into my blood. Bitterness of remembered laughter dissolved into the void, black eternity of might-have-been and pillows soggy with tears, and soaked with sweat, you baptize me.
Yet . . . can it be, I once saw your face in the sun rise?
Don't I remember hearing your voice in the whirlwind, promising me you are Lord of what-might-have-been, that yesterday and tomorrow are as not in one flesh of your glory, O God of the living?
And I saw you, Lord, sweating and weeping, and I knew my baptism was Your baptism, when, so long ago, you drank deeply of this cup You set before me.
"GOD'S LAMB" by Brother Bob Revell
I walked beside the school one day close to the noisy throng,
And heard the children chant at play the old familiar song:
"Mary had a little lamb:" (The words were still the same!)
I paused and thought how glad I am, but do they know His name?
How many of their parents teach these "little ones"
To know The Savior, by whose dying each can be made "white as snow?"
Do they know Mary did conceive a Son, God's Lamb,
To give His life that we who will believe may be made clean and live?
Oh, yes, I know that some who played before me went to church,
But Let them not stop short, I prayed, of Jesus in their search.
For, "let the children come," we read, "forbid them not,"
But know that where the children are, indeed The Lamb is "sure to go."
"EASTER RAP" by Brother Lawrence P. Medici
Easter day in prison was nothing odd,
Just another day, because I didn't know God.
All that Easter stuff just made me bored,
Christians running around hollering "Praise the Lord!"
So I went to sleep and had a dream -
I was with the disciples back on the scene.
They were in the upper room praising and shouting,
But me and Thomas we were seriously doubting.
They were waiting for someone which I found odd,
Because the man was dead, and they said he was God.
Then they said something that really blew my head,
They said the Jesus had risen from the dead!
I said to Thomas, "I don't understand."
He said, "I won't believe until I touch his hand."
Now to me this whole thing seemed kind of funny,
Because I didn't know God ~ I knew the Easter Bunny!
I then looked up and I just froze,
The windows were shut and the door was closed.
I was looking at Jesus right in the face -
All I could say was "Amazing Grace."
I cried when I saw his hands and side,
I fell on my knees and dropped all my pride.
People, let me tell you this ain't no jive,
Jesus Christ is all the way live!
Then I awoke with many tears,
I'd found what I searched for all these years.
I gave my life to Christ that day -
Only Jesus is The Truth, The Life, and The Way!
The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead
Can fill your heart, your soul, your head.
Just confess your sins and let Jesus in,
And a brand new life you will begin.
So listen to what I said in this rap,
Because the next time you decide to take a nap
You might just find yourself facing Jesus too;
Today's the day of Salvation, so what will you do?
"PASSION WEEK QUIZ"
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"RESURRECTION SUNDAY MAZE"
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"I JUST WANT TO BE WHERE YOU ARE" by Don Moen
I just want to be where You are,
Dwelling daily in Your presence.
I don't want to worship from afar.
Draw me near to where You are.
I just want to be where You are
In Your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where You are
I just want to be with You
I want to be where You are
Dwelling in Your presence
Feasting at Your table
Surrounded by Your glory
In Your presence
That's where I always want to be
I just want to be
I just want to be with You