THE STEEL AND CONCRETE MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER March 2002
"FATHER FORGIVE THEM..."
by Bro. Melvin E. Powell Jr.
PIETA by Michelangelo, displayed at St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
As Jesus the Christ hung on the cross, suspended between heaven (the throne room of God) and earth (the dwelling place of sinful man), He made the following plea, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." This plea still rings in our ears and echos in the heart of every man until time eternal comes. From this plea, we see the very essence of God hanging on the cross. That is God's eternal love. I'd like to start by looking at the first part of the plea:
"Father forgive them"
Forgive them for what? For the way they were railing on Him ~ hurling insults, as one throwing stones at a target.
1. He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
2. If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.
3. If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
The spectators, instead of consoling Him in His misery, added to it by insulting Him. What did Christ do? Unlike most of us, He showed the very heart of God's love, a love that brings forth a forgiving nature. 1st Peter 2:21-23 NIV says:
"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly."
There was a reason why He could do this and it's told to us in the second part of the plea: ". . . for they know not what they do." These were the same people who, just a week before, had the city ringing with psalms saying, "Hosanna to the son of David; blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest." This cry moved the people in the city to ask, "Who is this?" The people confessed by saying, "this is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth." Now the very same ones who once spoke highly of Him were insulting Him, and why? It was because they were lost and knew not what they were doing. Often when we're lost, we end up going the way that looks and sounds like it's the right way to go. By insulting Christ that's exactly what they were doing. In 2nd Corinthians 4:3 & 4 we see the kicker ~ it was all done by the influence of Satan:
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
That is why they could not see the very nature of God (Love) hanging on the cross. This very position is where a lot of people are today. They are spiritually lost even though they say, "Jesus is the one sent from God to save us from our sins and deliver us spotless into God's glorious kingdom." But as soon as the pulling of the flesh is brought forth by Satan, they follow it with everyone else. It's times like this that we get what I like to call "Herd-ism" ~ the driving of cows (or people) and anything that doesn't move or gets in the way is trampled over, while everything that moves with it will survive at least until the slaughter. Too often, we are like those in the herd, quick to move with whichever wind blows our way. As long as people are focused on the wrong things, this will always happen. Two examples of misplaced focus at Christ's crucifixion were:
1. Some were focusing on material gain, that which they could get from Jesus hanging on the cross instead of the eternal inheritance that was being bought for them.
2. Some were looking for a miracle, while God was looking for obedience.
When one has the wrong focus, they will never be able to see the picture clearly. They will never grasp the bull beauty the artist was intending for them to see. That's why many struggle to see God's will for them in Christ Jesus. They never enjoy the view of a Christian life and end up wanting their old life back. Are we out of focus? The plea of Calvary still rings true today, "Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." I leave you with the statement of the little girl who once told her friend, "My friend Jesus loves you this much, and hung on the cross and died for you."
~ GOOD NEWS ~
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then, in prayer to God the Father, pray the Gospel truth that you cannot save yourself. Confess to God the Father that you are a sinner and in need of a Savior. Accept God the Son, Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Christ commanded us to repent of our sins, read His word, the Bible, and learn of the new life we've been given in Him.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. . . ."
"INSPIRATIONAL TESTIMONY LETTER" by Lisa submitted by her brother Dennis
I think of you all the time. You are so dear to me. I love you so much. When you are in any type of trouble, my mind and my body feel so helpless. I pray, Dennis, that all of these troubled times will be over very soon. When you were in trouble this time, I was not able to help you. I was working, and my home situation was not that good. My alcoholism and depressive behavior reached its peak. I had to get a hold on God's hands to guide me to glory.
Today, Dennis, I feel so very good about myself. There were things, truthfully, that I did not want to look at head on. But once I did that, I received Salvation. God took me in completely, once I truly opened up my heart. Yes, He took me in His loving arms. In His arms, Dennis, I will stay FOREVER! If I don't, the crazies will start up again. I've tried to live without God and I was so unhealthy and insane. Today is a new day. I love every moment of it because I know about God.
I work at B.W.I. airport in the mail room. I decided to sit down for a change and write you. I called daddy and wished him a happy birthday. I struggle on the job, waking up, remembering my speech. But I pray and keep going. I don't think I will give up my benefits for this job due to my disability. I have bills to pay off. My sons are going well. Everyone else is still the same, the entire family.
Remember our Love. Always keep strong and hang tough. I still need you. I don't know how much time you do have but I sure hope it's not long. I love you Dennis. Write me back, O.K.?
"EASTER 'PUT-ON'" Gregory Wamsley
I call Easter Sunday "Resurrection Sunday." It reminds me that death can come at a young age. Death at any age for the non-Christian means "No Hope!" After death, the Christians will be "satisfied" when they open their eyes in heaven:
"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." (Psalm 17:15)
On Sunday morning, people will be all dressed up. What we wear is more important than we may think. It's more important than just being dressed appropriately, or looking our best. When we're dressed well, it affects our whole day. When we're dressed in Christ, it affects our whole life. Then a farmer sows seeds, it looks like he's throwing the seeds away. When we switch our sinful clothing for God's garments of righteousness, it looks like we're throwing our life away, too.
"Christ said, ‘Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my name's sake will find it.'" (Matthew 10:30)
Christ taught us to measure life in physical loss for spiritual gains, by sacrifices rather than self-preservation, by time spent with others than of self. God clothed the world. He gave the mountains majestic heights and the valleys flowering plains. God loved us enough to send His only Son to switch clothes with sinful humanity. God's concerned with spiritual clothes.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." (Colossians 3:12)
Christ took our robes of sin and we put on His righteousness and glorious salvation. Easter for some may be a "put-on," but may we put on Christ instead. Fashion is here today and out of style tomorrow, but when one puts on Christ he's never out of style!
"A BUTTERFLY ON MY SHOULDER" by Bro. Richard Bauman
I'm grateful that butterflies don't sting, buzz, or do other annoying things. If they did, I probably would have missed out on one of God's tender mercies; those gentle, tiny moments God sprinkles into our lives that give us new insights or a renewed spirit for living. It happened a while ago when I was taking my daily walk.
I use my walk time not only for exercise but also to pray, wrestle with life's confrontations, and talk to God. On the day of the butterfly I was agitated about my health. I was complaining to God about my struggle with obesity and my severe sleep apnea. Serenity was hardly my walking partner. At least that is how it was, until I was on my way back after walking about a mile. It was then that I glimpsed something on my right shoulder. It was almost as if I had sensed it rather than saw it. When I looked, there, perched on my shoulder, was a beautiful butterfly.
The butterfly's coloring contrasted with my green t-shirt. I had no doubt that it would instantly fly away just as silently as it had landed, but it didn't. It sat on my shoulder, bold as a butterfly could be, slowly moving its wings but with no intention to soon fly away. The butterfly fascinated me. Where had it come from? Why had it landed on me? I'd made the trip dozens of times and had seen few butterflies. None had ever come close to me, let alone landed on me. Still, this one was different, and I didn't want it to leave. It didn't and it seemed content to just sit there and ride on my shoulder.
Every minute or so I'd glance at my shoulder to see if it was still there. Perhaps it wanted to rest its wings. It was as if it had been flying a long time, had a long way to go, and was a bit depleted. This was a perfect opportunity for it to take a breather and hitch a ride. At the same time, it seemed confident that it was safe with me.
The butterfly rode on my shoulder for 15 minutes. When I got home I had to share the strange event with my wife Donna. I wanted her to see my unusual traveling companion that was still on my shoulder. I knew the butterfly couldn't stay on my shoulder indefinitely and it was time for her to fly on. Standing in our front yard, I lifted my right hand to my shoulder where the butterfly rested, and gently brushed under its head, nudging it to flight. The fragile little creature flew from my shoulder, dancing in the air as butterflies do. It flew a zigzag course around the yard for a few moments, as if getting its bearings on some destination known only to it. It propelled itself higher than the trees, fluttering over them and then it was gone.
It was strange yet pleasant having had the butterfly land on my shoulder. The heaviness of my mood about my weight and chronic illness had been lifted by the lightness of that butterfly. I needed the rest and I needed the spark of joy it brought me. Riding on my shoulder, it was revitalized, and so was I. It was as if the burden of my depression was carried off when the butterfly took flight. Because she rode on my shoulder, each of us was able to continue our life-journeys with energy renewed. In those few moments, God blessed, and helped, two of His creatures.
~ POEM PAGE ~
"EYEWITNESS" by Sis. Carolyn Owens
Mary journeys to the tomb,
Unsure of what she'll find.
She sees the heavy stone is moved;
Big questions come to mind.
The "Gardener" softly calls her name
And quiets Mary's fears.
She hears her loving Master,
Then sees Him through her tears.
She runs back to the people
And says, "I saw His face!"
Today her story strengthens us
To run the victory race.
"THE CROSS OF JESUS" by Sis. Marcia Krugh Leaser
I felt the hand of Jesus
wipe the tears of guilt away.
I felt the love of Jesus
bring me joy where I knew pain.
I felt the grace of Jesus
giving hope where I had none.
Because of this I knew the cross
would one day bring me home.
"THE LAMB" Text by William Blake (1757-1827) from Songs of Innocence
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bade thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild:
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
"EASTER 2002" by Sis. Anna Belle Laughbaum
Though the events of the Easter story
are the same from year to year,
may they penetrate my heart more deeply
and fill it with reverent fear.
Let me keep watch with You in the Garden
and feel the sweat on my brow,
as You pray to the Father in heaven,
"Let this cup pass from Me now."
Let me stand near the Cross on Golgotha,
or bow on bended knee,
and listen to Your words to the Father,
"Why have you forsaken me?"
Let me look into the tomb, now empty,
see the angels at Your bier.
Hear them utter words unforgetable,
"He is risen; He is not here."
Let me stand where the risen Christ stood
and in my mind and heart keep
the command He gave His disciples
as well as to me, "Feed my sheep."
~ HUMOR AND GIGGLES PAGE ~
All the following condensed humor is by brother Michael Hodgin and is printed by permission of Zondervan Publishing House
"DO IT AGAIN"
One time a father and his son went on an overnight camping trip. One dark morning the father was making a fire while he and his son awaited the sunrise. Soon the blackness in the east slowly turned to gray, then the gray turned to blue. The image of the lake and the trees began to emerge. The blue turned to pink, then violet and orange hues. Suddenly the valley was blooded with light. They both watched this spectacular display in silent awe. Finally the boy could stand it no longer. He turned to his father and wistfully said, "Do it again, Dad! Do it again!" That story reminds me of Easter, though it was a once-for-all event, we need reminding many times throughout our lives that the Son rose, so in our times of need we, too, can say to our heavenly father, "Do it again, Father, remind me again."
"TO DIE LIKE JESUS"
An old man who lay dying in the hospital called the nurse. "Would you please call my crooked lawyer and my crooked doctor right away?" Within an hour, both the man's crooked lawyer and crooked doctor were in his room. The doctor was at his right side and the lawyer was at his left side. As the old man began to get worse and was nearing his end, the lawyer asked, "What did you need us for?" The old man said, "Nothing. Jesus died between two thieves and I just wanted to know what that felt like."
"DEATH FROM A KID'S VIEW"
Some nine-year-old children were asked what they thought of death and dying.
Jim said, "When you die, they bury you in the ground and your soul goes to heaven, but your body can't go to heaven because it's too crowded up there already."
Judy said, "Only the good people go to heaven. The other people go where it's hot all the time like Florida."
John said, "Maybe I'll die someday, but I hope I don't die on my birthday, because it's no fun celebrating your birthday is you're dead."
Marsha commented, "When you die, you don't have to do homework in heaven, unless your teacher is there too."
The Mark 16:6 "Jesus" Wordsearch by Brother Gregory Wamsley
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