One Minute Bible Studies in Colton, CA

Just finished the “One Minute Bible Study Seminar” in Colton, CA for Pastor Eric Strutz. I did my science slide show on Wed. for his regular church service and then last night we did the seminar with three churches in attendance. We taught and then we went out and put into action what we learned. We did “one minute bible studies” with about 60 people and we had 12 people pray. When we all came back to the church after about 45 minutes of outreach there was a noticeable buzz of victory in the camp. The testimonies confirmed that spirit of joy and victory.

I had talked with 4 people. Damian, quitting marijuana, agitated and looking to get his life put together. He has been dating a Baptist girl for four years and wants to get his act together so he can ask her to marry him. He goes to some services with her and her parents. He prays. He knows he needs more. We prayed together asking God to draw him closer to Himself and bless his future life. I did the bible study in Spanish with two football players. We then communicated in broken English and Spanish the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. The word picture went something like this: Jesus direct line to salvation and Jesus going through the Catholic church to salvation. I thinks that is how it works. Finally, I talked with David, a young 20 year old who just got laid off and broke up with his girlfriend. He realized he needed something new. We talked he thought. I brought it down to a choice, he chose not right now. I encouraged him and gave him a church flyer. It was nice being able to leave the park saying goodbye to Damian, now the goalie for the football match on a tennis court and David leaning against the fence of the skating park. I also came back to the church energized with a spirit of victory.

Thanks to the Colton church for their spirit and their faithfulness.

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What Would Jesus Do?

Went with the young people on an outreach to Marion. Was asked to go into Walmart and talk with people. Did my first one minute bible study with a man waiting for his girlfriend in Walmart. This is what Pastor Jon Dixon and his church do in Stockton CA. When he told me about it; I had trouble imagining myself doing it; yesterday my moment of truth came. I passed.

We were redirected to the local park where championship little league games were taking place. While people are watching their children or grandchildren it is probably a little rude to try and break in and do a one minute bible study with them. But, in between the games it was the perfect setting. I found myself challenging groups of men to a one minute bible study. They would study me and eventually they had to say yes. The reason: they intuitively knew the connection between character, which they wanted instilled in their young ballplayers, and the word of God. Had some great conversations; but that challenging moment of asking them was filled with knowledge of a society losing what really mattered.

Finally, we were talking about the bathroom wars. What would Jesus do? He would use the men’s bathroom.

We accessed oneminutebiblestudies.com about 10 times talking to about 25 people. Other people around the country and some in Great Britain accessed the web page 70 times. I am enjoying this.

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Message of Stewardship 8

Message of Stewardship 8

Pentecost and Stewardship

Taken from Ralph Cushman’s “The Message of Stewardship”

“Pentecost brought a new sense of God’s sovereign ownership, a greater vision of his unswerving purpose to make a new world of regenerated men, an intenser consciousness of a lofty calling to be fellow workers with Christ, a deeper abhorrence of sin, a more real sense of brotherhood, and a more joyous comradeship with God, together with a high indifference to pain or poverty or persecution, and an inner assurance of power to meet every demand, and to make certain the final victory.”

“The man who remarked ‘These Christians are the most unromantic of people,’ had never read the romance of the early church as told in the Acts of The Apostles. Elliott E. Mills in these splendid lines has suggested both the romance and the contrast: ‘O palefaced Theologian, whose soft hands And ink stained fingers never grasped the oar Or swung the hammer; weary with your books, How can your slumbering senses comprehend The breadth and virile purpose of the men Who bore their joyous tale through quickened lands To the great heart of Rome; the shipwrecked Paul, Wandering Ulysses-like to far-off isles, And barbarous peoples; or those peasant kings, Who ever mid voluptuous cities wore No mediaeval halo, but the air Of some free fisher battling with the wind That blows across the Galilean hills?’”

Mills wrote “Decline and Fall of the British Empire” in 1905. He refers to Gibbon’s “Fall” for the explanation, but you see and feel a man as we would be describing our present state in America. Here is a snippet of a poem he wrote: “” Men are we and must grieve when e’en the shade Of that which once was great has passed away.”

Pentecost was a call to battle. Think of Peter before and after; or Paul before and after.

“No, when the fight begins within himself, A man’s worth something: God stoops over his head, Satan looks up between his feet—both tug—He’s left, himself, in the middle; the soul wakes And grows. Prolong that battle through his life!” Robert Browning

Robert Browning had societies studying his work while he was still alive. He took to the London Times to expose Spiritism, which was having a field day, for what it was; a dark deception. “Caliban upon Setebos” is considered a critique of evolution. I read it; and I think my 21 century brain was able to see it.

After the resurrection; “they needed a still clearer conception of their task, and especially some heavenly power to energize them for their great commission. And Pentecost was God’s answer. They were filled with the Holy Ghost. Henceforth they were imitators of God in the dedication of self and substance of the regeneration of the world, and in their lives God reigned supreme. “Holy Spirit, all divine, Dwell within this heart of mine, Cast down every idol throne, Reign supreme, and reign alone.”

J. H. Jowett from “The Passion for Souls”: “I am deeply persuaded that, judged experimentally by our daily life and practice, much of the mental attitude and spiritual poise of the modern church is pre-Pentecostal, and that in this thin and immature relationship is to be found the secret of our common weariness and impotence.”

He was the working man’s pastor while the pastor at Carr’s Lane Congregational Church in Birmingham, England.

Look at the fatalism of Fitzgerald’s pagan poet: “Into this Universe, and Why not Knowing Nor whence, like water willy-nilly flowing; And out of it, as Wind along the waste, I know not Whither, willy nilly blowing”.

John 14:25-26 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Personal Association with God

“Pentecost strengthened the stewardship conviction in the disciples, by deepening the consciousness that they were God’s personal agents in the fulfillment of his ancient promises to the patriarchs and the prophets.”

Acts 2:16-21 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’ 

“I regard the Pentecost at Jerusalem as the type and prophecy of Pentecost all through the history of the Church of God…So in this sense we are justified in looking for other Pentecost’s in history that shall not only be like the first Pentecost at Jerusalem but greater than that in results as that was greater in results than any work of the Spirit that went before.” Arthur T. Pierson

From Christianity.com: In 1639, a non-conformist preacher named Abraham Pierson landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. One hundred and ninety eight years later, on this day, March 6, 1837, one of Abraham’s most illustrious descendants, Arthur T. Pierson, was born in New York City. He was the ninth of ten children. Like his forefather Abraham, he became a powerful preacher.

Pierson came to national attention in his exhortation for the church to take up missions at the turn of the century. You can feel that overcoming spirit in the quote above.

“While kings of eternal evil Yet darken the hills about, Thy part is with the broken sabre To rise on the last redoubt; To fear not sensible failure; Nor covet the game at all, But fighting, fighting, fighting, Die, driven against the wall.” Louise Imogen Guiney

A poet and essayist, she turned to essayist when her muse left her. (Speaking of spiritual things)

“The New Testament distinguishes between being born of the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit.”

Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

(His quoting of the scripture in the book can’t bring himself to mention the “tongues” part.)

“…first of all say there was a new courage in them! No longer did they huddle behind closed doors. Peter no longer followed Jesus ‘afar off.’ He ‘stood up’! And all of them began to speak ‘as the Spirit gave them utterance.’ All Jerusalem felt the power of their testimony. The promises of Jesus had come to pass: ‘Ye shall receive power’ and ‘ye shall be my witnesses.’ Now they had power to dare to speak, and they had something wonderful to tell. Pentecost had transformed them into stewards of the gospel. As Paul later said, ‘Let a man so account of us, as…stewards of the mysteries of God’ 1 Cor. 4:1.”

“Challenge thy people, Jehovah of hosts! Speak as of old at this hour: Silence alike their complaints and their boasts, Challenge thy people with power. Give them a task that will drain their heart’s blood, Lead on a wilderness way; Call them to conquest through fire line and flood. Challenge thy people today.” Jessie Brown Pounds

She, a pastor’s wife and song writer, is best known for her poem: “Anywhere with Jesus”.

“The supreme question of the hour now upon the tongues of tens of thousands of God’s children is, ‘What is the remedy for the unbelief, spiritual powerlessness, and evangelistic inefficiency of the ministry and membership of the church of our dear Lord?’ The divine answer to that question will be found in the fifty-ninth chapter of Isaiah. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” William Phillips Hall

A hymn writer and the author of “A remarkable Biblical discovery or, “The name” of God according to the Scriptures” which helped get us started down the Jesus only trail of Apostolic teaching.

Conversion to Righteousness

“Pentecost made it clear that the disciple of Christ must have a new attitude toward sin of every kind; this was the first step to a regenerated life of stewardship. Without this genuine repentance all the social provisions of the gospel must fail. It was a great Englishman who, lamenting the death of his friend, said ‘I am sorry for ____. I do not think he will like God very well.’”

“We need not expect any great nation-wide revival until we begin to preach more as our fathers did concerning the sinfulness of the human heart, the new birth as a condition for entrance into the kingdom of heaven.” J. W. Mahood

He is best known for his work “The Art of Soul Winning” published in 1901.

Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

“I bow my forehead to the dust, I veil mine eyes for shame, And urge, in trembling self-distrust, A prayer without a claim. I see the wrong that around me lies, I feel the guilt therein; I hear, with groan and travail cries, A world confess its sin. No offering of my own I have Nor works my faith to prove; I can but give the gifts he gave, And plead his love for love.” John Greenleaf Whittier

The writer/poet who used his talents to oppose slavery and spread the gospel.

(The New Church)

(I enjoy thinking about the birth of the church in terms of my own youthful adventures in communal living. There is something about starting the day and each of us going out and trying to procure the basic goods to live life that was part of the early church experience. There they were, strangers in Jerusalem, where Jesus has told them to stay put until the next step comes. Each day they had to procure the basics of life for the group as a whole. This cannot be taken as a blueprint for church structure, but it fit the moment, and might again in the future.)

“The early church has sometimes been unfairly accused of being “other worldly,” but certain it is that in no subsequent age has the church shown a more thorough-going disposition to provide for the total welfare of its members. Thus we have the picture of a church where the passion of stewardship was so strong that one member was ready to sell his possessions in order to minister to the common need.”

Acts 2:44-47 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

 “’You speak of a passion for souls, but I do not want anyone to love my soul if he will not love me’ was the way Professor Caleb T. Winchester once expressed the impossibility of a ministry that was not concerned with the everyday environment and total life of man. The Holy Spirit kindled a compassion that was big enough to minister to every human need, thus creating a new and profound feeling of human brotherhood.”

He went to Wesleyan University and stayed on as librarian and English professor. He wrote “The Life Of John Wesley” in 1906.

“The outpouring of the Spirit upon these ‘foreigners’ was so evident that all else seemed nonessential. When later Peter was called to account for his alleged irregularities he replied in these illuminating words:  Acts 11:15-17 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”

“Half the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting and in being served by others…It consists in giving, and in serving others. He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way—it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.” Henry Drummond

From Stewardship 2: He was a scientist and an evangelist. He was able to combine his loves in a teaching position. He didn’t argue against evolution but wrote a book entitled “Natural Law in the Spiritual World” where he saw evolution as continuing on from the physical world to the spiritual world. He wrote the book. He went to Africa as a missionary and when he came back he was famous, as his book seemed to help the church come to terms with the scientific world of his day. How do I deal with this? We saw how evolutionary thinking and friendship with Russel Wallace messed up Robert Louis Stevenson. Can a man who does not stand against evolution, or cannot see the spiritual ramifications that go with believing in evolution be a man of God? How do we reconcile that with his sacrifices in the mission field? Nice to know that God is God.

“High thoughts, and noble in all lands, Help me; my soul is fed on such. But ah! The touch of lips and hands—the human touch! Warm, vital, close, life’s symbols dear, These need I most, and now, and here.” Richard Burton

Here is a character to investigate. A lusty character who when expelled from Trinity and forced to join the army he said: “fit for nothing but to be shot at for six pence a day”. He would visit Mecca in disguise and looks like he was a man adventuring in a world made for adventure. It seems he died an atheist.

“To reach old age possessed only of money and a desire to increase it, is not success in life. It is a sad and terrible failure; better to die a pauper in purse than a pauper in soul; better fail to get money than to allow money to get you.” Author unknown

“Of all the prizes That earth can give, This is the best; To find thee, Lord A living Presence near, And in thee rest! Friends, fortune, fame, Or what might come to me—I count all loss If I find not Companionship With thee!” Ralph Cushman

Pentecost Produced Divine Leadership

“Conspicuous among the results of Pentecost was the assurance the disciples came to possess that they were more closely than ever associated with their risen Lord in his redemptive program. It was perfectly natural for Peter, referring to Pentecost with all its wonderful accompaniments, to declare that ‘he (Jesus) hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.’”

Acts 2:32-33 This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

“Thus Pentecost compelled a broader vision of stewardship by bringing in the dispensation of the personal leadership of the Spirit of Jesus. Thus the disciples thought of themselves not as having a commission to win the world to Christ but as surrendered channels through which Christ might win the world to himself. Thus Mark says in his Gospel: Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.”

“All experience comes to be but more and more of pressure of his life on ours. I cannot tell you how personal this grows to me—he is here—and I know him. It is no figure of speech. It is the realest thing in the world, and everyday makes it more real, and one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.” Phillips Brooks

A well-loved pastor/professor at Harvard. From Wikipedia: “He died unmarried in 1893, after an episcopate of only 15 months. His death was a major event in the history of Boston. One observer reported: “They buried him like a king. Harvard students carried his body on their shoulders. All barriers of denomination were down. Roman Catholics and Unitarians felt that a great man had fallen in Israel.”

“I know not how such things can be, But I do know He speaks with me. Not from the grass nor from the sod, But in my heart the Voice of God, Speaking Spirit unto spirit; And if I listen, I can hear it—Voice of God that calls to me Out of his infinity.” Ralph Cushman

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Message of Stewardship 7

Message of Stewardship #7

Stewardship and Service (Taken from “The Message of Stewardship” by Ralph Cushman)

Service tends to be something I offer from my extra time or extra resources. Many times this service is done to make me feel better about myself or to exemplify my goodness to other people.

Stewardship calls for me to serve with my entire life, not just a portion. I do this for the glory of God to fulfill His will on earth: “not willing that any should perish; but that all should come to repentance.”

“I give thee back the life I owe, That in thine ocean depths its flow May richer, fuller be.” George Matheson

He is the man. From Wikipedia: “He was educated at Glasgow Academy and the University of Glasgow, where he graduated first in classics, logic and philosophy. In his twentieth year he became totally blind, but he held to his resolve to enter the ministry, and gave himself to theological and historical study. In 1879 the University of Edinburgh conferred upon him the honorary degree of D.D.”

Luke 17:10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”

“Only that person who has deceived himself into thinking that he has any wealth of money or service that can give God, fails to see the matchless glory…of the fundamental principle of stewardship is that God, by creation and redemption, is the real owner of all material and spiritual resources.”

“What has a man to give God? Nothing but a surrendered will.”

The Business of Life

Acts 20:31-35 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me. 35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

The book has this illustration that has stuck with me ever since I first read it some 30 years ago. The conductor of the train was speaking with women coming into the city about finding lodging when they arrived. His wife would meet them and take care of them making sure they found suitable lodging after spending the first night with her. He was quizzed by a passenger. “Oh, I was doing a little of the Master’s business.” “That is a fine thing for you to do!” “And rather exceptional for a man in your busy life.”

The response: “That is my business. I feel that I am not only responsible to the Illinois Central for the comfort of my passengers but I have a certain responsibility to Jesus Christ for their souls. My business is to serve Jesus Christ. I am working for the Illinois Central to cover expenses.”

Matt 16:24-26 then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

“The practical weakness of the vast mass of modern pity for the poor and the oppressed is precisely that it is merely pity; the pity is pitiful, but not respectful.” G. K. Chesterton

He comes across as a great big man mixing it up with the intellectual ungodly of his age. He wrote tons but what caught my attention was a series of novels about a detective priest named “Father Brown”. Actually downloaded it for .99. Opposed Nazis, opposed eugenics, didn’t understand Jews, supported a Jewish state in Palestine then switched to one in Africa. Ended his life trying to find the middle ground between capitalism and socialism. In college he was into magic and such, got married and re-entered the Anglican church and ended up becoming Catholic. Influenced C S Lewis with a book called “Orthodoxy”. Here is a quote from Wikipedia: “This style of argumentation is what Chesterton refers to as using ‘Uncommon Sense’ — that is, that the thinkers and popular philosophers of the day, though very clever, were saying things that were nonsensical. This is illustrated again in Orthodoxy: “Thus when Mr. H. G. Wells says (as he did somewhere), ‘All chairs are quite different’, he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them ‘all chairs’”

Right Relationship to God

“Jesus’ philosophy of stewardship lifts service to a new level by making it consequent upon the right attitude toward God and his sovereign ownership of all things.”

1 Cor 4:1-2,7 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful….7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

“There is nothing so small but that we honor God by asking his guidance of it, or insult him by taking it into our own hands.” John Ruskin

(a crisis of faith led him to develop a human effort to “fix” society that exists to this day, the guild of Saint George, but died an embittered with the world man. He wasn’t able to fix it and he had cut the ties to the only one who will.

 “Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deserves; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do thy will; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Ignatius of Loyola

From Wikipedia: was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and, on 19 April 1541, became its first Superior General.[2] Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation. Loyola’s devotion to the Catholic Church was characterized by absolute obedience to the Pope.[3]

After being seriously wounded in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, he underwent a spiritual conversion while in recovery. De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony purportedly inspired Loyola to abandon his previous military life and devote himself to labour for God, following the example of spiritual leaders such as Francis of Assisi. After experiencing a vision of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus at the shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat in March 1522, he went to Manresa, where he began praying for seven hours a day, often in a nearby cave, and formulating the fundamentals of the Spiritual Exercises.

2 Cor 5:14-15 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

1 Cor 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

 “If we have whispered truth, Whisper no longer; Speak as the tempest does, Sterner and stronger” John Greenleaf Whittier

He was the Christian, abolitionist poet before the Civil War.

“O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst humble thyself to become man, and to be born into the world for our salvation, teach us the grace of humility, root out of our hearts all pride and haughtiness, and so fashion us after thy holy likeness in this world, that in the world to come we may be made like unto thee, for thine own name and mercies; sake. Amen.” Bishop Walsham How

He was a straightforward Anglican preacher who published commentaries and wrote songs. His high energy brought him to places of advancement but he held off, but eventually found himself in London where he threw himself into the helping of the young castaways of London.

Spiritual Regeneration

“Christian stewardship lifts service above mere pity and generosity by giving it a commanding objective which is nothing short of the spiritual regeneration of men and nations. Thus stewardship differs from philanthropy and mere service in its fundamental purpose. Stewardship does not serve merely because of spasms of emotion but because of the profound conviction that the steward is called to reconcile man to God.”

2 Cor 5:17-21 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

“The paramount question underlying the issue of democracy is the religion of Jesus Christ. Eliminate Christ and you leave the earth to eternal war.” Henry Watterson

Henry was in the Confederate army under the notorious Bedford Forest. He also edited a Confederate paper during the war and then devoted himself to the politics of newspapers, opposing Grant and becoming a syndicated columnist throughout the country. He wrote two major books, one a history of The Spanish American War and the other titled “The Compromises of Life”. Sounds insightful.

“I hold such creeds to be earthbound and futile, Vain breathings of a sentimental clod, That fail to turn the face to Christ the Saviour, Or point a hungry heart to God. My heart is hungry for a Presence, Some Living One to lift me from the sod; My creed must tell of more than human doings, My creed must lift my lonely heart to God!” Ralph Cushman

“We might as well make an experiment with the teachings of Jesus Christ, as almost everything else has been tried and failed. I am no more a Christian than Pilate was; and yet I am ready to admit that after contemplating the world of human nature for nearly sixty years I see no way out of the world’s misery but the way of Christ’s will.” George Bernard Shaw

The famous playwright is considered second to Shakespeare among British playwrights. Wikipedia: His experiences as a schoolboy left him disillusioned with formal education: “Schools and schoolmasters”, he later wrote, were “prisons and turnkeys in which children are kept to prevent them disturbing and chaperoning their parents.”[16] In October 1871 he left school to become a junior clerk in a Dublin firm of land agents, where he worked hard, and quickly rose to become head cashier.  In 1880 Shaw began attending meetings of the Zetetical Society, whose objective was to “search for truth in all matters affecting the interests of the human race”. Karl Marx’s writings became a focal point of his life and one of his first profitable novels was the “An Unsocial Socialist”. He would admire John Ruskin. He was one of the men that Chesterton conversed with and was known as Chesterton’s “friendly enemy”.

Eternal Duty

“Stewardship lifts service into a high atmosphere of eternal duty safe from the softening influences of convenience and self-indulgence. It is true that the steward will see ecstatic moments when the severest crosses will be easily carried on a flood of divine emotion, but ordinarily it is not so. Stern duty must be marshaled to bear us on.”

1 Cor 9:16-17 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

“Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do that day which must be done, whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know.” Charles Kingsley

Wikipedia: Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) was a broad church priest of the Church of England, a university professor, historian and novelist. He is particularly associated with the West Country and northeast Hampshire. He was a friend and correspondent with Charles Darwin. He was sympathetic to the idea of evolution and was one of the first to welcome Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. He had been sent an advance review copy and in his response of 18 November 1859 (four days before the book went on sale) stated that he had “long since, from watching the crossing of domesticated animals and plants, learnt to disbelieve the dogma of the permanence of species.” Once again a man trying to help humanity. Kingsley’s concern for social reform is illustrated in his classic, The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby (1863), a tale about a chimney sweep,

“Out of the shame of my coward heart, Out of my night of defeat, Lift me, O God, to the battle again; Cover my bitter retreat! Out of despising my weakness and rout, Out of Thy love for my soul, Purge me, oh purge, with Thy hyssop, dear Christ, Give me my spirit made whole! Beaten, but still undefeated, I pray, Thou of unconquerable hand, Reach me my poor broken saber again; I pledge thee to die or to stand! By the wonder of Heaven’s forgiveness, By the lovely lure of Thy light, By Thy Spirit of victory eternal God fling me again to the fight!” Ralph Cushman

John 15:14-15 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

“Is not the failure of many “good” church members to get joy out of their religion the result of holding Jesus at a distance through unreadiness to sympathize with his world program? “Lo, I am with you always” is the assurance of the Great Friend, but the promise is conditioned upon acceptance of the stewardship of the Great Commission.” Ralph Cushman

Matt 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  

“Set us afire, Lord, Stir us, we pray. While the world perishes, We go our way, Purposeless, passionless, Day after day. Set us a fire, Lord Stir us, we pray.” Ralph Cushman

“O Lord, renew our spirits and draw our hearts unto thyself that our work may not be to us a burden, but a delight; and give us such a mighty love to thee as may sweeten all our obedience. Oh, let us not serve thee with the spirit of bondage as slaves, but with the cheerfulness and gladness of children, delighting ourselves in thee, and rejoicing in thy work.” Benjamin Jenks

He was the author of “Prayers and offices of devotion for families, and for particular persons, upon most occasions”  1822.

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Stewardship #6

Jesus Teaches Stewardship

From the book “The Message of Stewardship” by Ralph Cushman: “So it must be with the word “steward,” which Jesus recoined from Old Testament usage, and filled with wonder-working content. We must discover to the Church of this generation both the meaning and the word; they conquer together.”

I quote this to lay it upon our hearts just how seriously these men of the early 19th century took the concept of stewardship. They truly saw it as the key that would unlock the latent power of the church. For what end? They were focused on a Christian society that could do better in following Christ; we focus on a pagan society that has rejected God and we have to re-introduce Christ to the society.

He uses this illustration to explain how the church knows about stewardship. “Phillips Brooks visited that wonderful blind, deaf and dumb girl, Helen Keller, and, through her remarkable teacher, he told her that God was very near, that he was her “unseen Father who loved her and would not let go her hand either in life or in death.” And the child answered, “I have often felt him. He comes like warmth, but I did not know before what to call him.” In commenting, Newell Dwight Hillis said: “From that day the girl went from one realm of knowledge to another. She passed from kingdom to kingdom. Her tomb began to enlarge. Great windows were opened. At last she walked forth, free!”. So it will be with the Church’s vision of “stewardship”.

I feel the zeal.

Text: Luke 12:42-48 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. 45 But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

I. What Kind of Steward are You?

God’s stewardship involved putting his resources into our hands. Our stewardship involves using God’s resources that he has given us for his purposes.

1 Cor 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

“We must not approach the principle of tithing from any narrow or legalized standpoint, but surely we should dedicate to the service of God at least one tenth of our income as an acknowledgment of God’s ownership of all.” J. J. Stowe

All I could find online was that he was one of the better known preachers that preached at the Greenwood Methodist Episcopal Church. It was a small church that was served by circuit preachers. Such are our lives, with only God above able to understand all the goings and comings of our own lives.

“Building thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee form heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!” Oliver Wendell Holmes

He was father to Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who spent 30 years of his life on the Supreme Court. Although known for his writings and poetry what caught my eye was his investigation into how a certain disease was passed onto women during childbirth. His conclusion, before our knowledge of germs, was the unclean instruments of the physician were responsible for passing on the disease. He was widely criticized but would live to be vindicated. Another of his quotes: “Some people are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good”.

“Every man is wholly God’s own portion by the title of creation so all our labors and cares, all our powers and faculties, must be wholly employed in the service of God and even all the days of our life, that this life being ended we may live with him forever.” Jeremy Taylor

He was the royalist preacher imprisoned during Cromwell’s reign. Two of his titles published one after the other were “The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living” and “The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying”. This is in the title of the first one: “IN WHICH ARE DESCRIBED THE MEANS AND INSTRUMENTS OF OBTAINING EVERY VIRTUE  AND THE REMEDIES AGAINST EVERY VICE,  AND CONSIDERATIONS  SERVING TO THE RESISTING ALL TEMPTATIONS”. The one on death seems to be an admonition to live healthily on our way to death.

Stewardship must be seen as a joint operation. What one generation misses the next may supply. What one is lacking another can provide in the building of the kingdom.

“In a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our power to add or detract…It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work…” Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg

We see this idea of the importance of joint stewardship with the parable of the vineyard. Israel was provided with everything needed, yet rejected the ministry of national stewardship.

Matt 21:40-43 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” 41 They said to Him,”He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?  43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

We must never lose sight that stewardship requires us to see our lives in His light at all times. I cannot feed the world; but I can bless the struggling soul I come into contact with. “Am I my brother’s keeper” will always be asked by the Cain’s of this world.

1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

 “Who is my neighbor” cannot be answered any better than how Jesus did it.

The Samaritan was not looking for a way to express his kindness but when confronted with the tragedy on the road responded with “compassion”.

“They may not need me, Yet they might; I’ll let my heart be Just in sight—A smile so small As mine might be Precisely their Necessity.” Author unknown

II. Sonship and Stewardship

Sonship and friendship with Christ does not excuse us from the task of stewardship. Jesus used many words to describe our relationship to God and his Kingdom such as “husbandman”, “child”, “sons”, “friends”, and “stewards”.

Stewardship speaks of honor and relationship but its focus is on the job at hand.

The prodigal returned to the work of the estate, not the life of a lazy son. “No slacker will ever be happy in God’s household”.

“One who is so far gone in “grace” as not to obey the law is an undesirable citizen, whether in the civil or in the religious kingdom.” Colonel E. W. Halford

He was consulted in the writing of “The Way to Win: Successful Methods in the Local Church” in 1915.

“A true mother is never half as sentimentally altruistic toward her child as a grandmother or an aunt; she does not hesitate to reprove and correct when that is what the child needs to suppress the low and lazy, and arouse the higher and stronger self.” Dr. T. DeWitt Hyde

 

There is something about the father’s equal love to his sons. He looks for the prodigal and then seeks out the other when he becomes bent. Luke 15:28-32 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'”

Our stewardship is not taken lightly. The sacrifices all take place in the knowledge that God will take care of us. Matt 6:32-34 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true; I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right; stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”. Abraham Lincoln

III. Stewardship is about People

What is a man worth? We measure a person by his wealth and his things. Luke 12:15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

“Thus the stewardship of money was regarded by Jesus as a first test of stewardship. Jesus said of the unjust steward, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Luke 16:11 “The peril involved is splendidly stated in these clear-cut words: “When a Christian begins to make money, God gains a fortune or loses a man.’” It is fa sad fact that few passions are stronger than the love of money; and only when this passion is mastered by the love of the Crucified are men ready to be fit stewards of the Kingdom of God. This fact hinges on the truth that money is liquid personality, and when one withholds his possessions from God he is withholding himself.”

Luke 16:11-13 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? 13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

“Money talks. It expresses what its possessors actually are. Yes, money talks, and while it is true that it is not on speaking terms with every one, and to many it may only say ‘Good bye,’ yet it speaks a various language which reveals the true inwardness of man.” David McConaughy

He was a delegate for Abraham Lincoln from the Gettysburg area, having went to Gettysburg College. After serving in the war he tirelessly worked to create a National Cemetery at Gettysburg as well as working to make a Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial. He was buying the land with his own money to support his vision.

“From lust for gain or greed for gold, Keep me with high and holy mien, But if the ships of fortune bring Some precious cargo clear and clean, Safeguard me in my stewardship By glimpses of thy great unseen. From lust for place or pomp or power, Save me with pure and passionate pride, Curb not the hunger of my soul, But keep ambition sanctified. Safeguard thy steward, Lord, each day, By visions of thy higher way.” Ralph Cushman

“Jesus does not teach that money stewardship is the highest stewardship—only that it is a first necessary step into the larger and richer stewardship of all of life. The highest stewardship, according to Jesus, is that of personality. Are we trustworthy in our dealings and contacts with persons, and with the Supreme Person?” Cushman

Matt 25:44-46 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Our author uses the story of a mail boat with a time schedule to keep coming across 3 men in a drifting boat along the Atlantic coast. They would make a report and send another ship back for them. “The captain and the crew that could not stop to save human life were suspended from the service for failure in duty. The reason given was that no order for speedy delivery of mail can supersede the fundamental obligation to save human life.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, and the sake of poor souls, bestir yourselves, and spare no pains that may conduce to their salvation. What cause have we to mourn before the Lord that we have so long neglected this good work! If we had but engaged in it sooner, how many more might have been brought to Christ!” John Wesley

“I searched for love; I searched in country and in town; I wept because I could not find Love anywhere around! But when I searched to serve My neighbor, sick and sore, Lo! There stood Love, the Beautiful, And knocking at my door!” Ralph Cushman

 

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Obama in Cuba

Joan and I were talking about the President’s visit to Cuba. Yes, the more interaction between the US and Cuba will slowly but surely wear away at the artificial paradise that Cubans are supposed to believe they live in. But, we carry on this interaction at the expense of putting our seal of approval on the leadership that has destroyed the country and rules it with an iron hand.

Much like abortion, immorality and divorce we have a way of sanctioning what is wrong. It is the way our country operates these days.

Here is an excellent essay breaking down the President’s speech to the Cuban people.

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Message of Stewardship #5

Stewardship entails social responsibilities.

Nothing to do in this world of ours, Where weeds spring up with the fairest flowers, Where smiles have only a fitful play, And hearts are breaking every day. Nothing to do! Thou Christian soul, Wrapping thee around in thy selfish stole, Off with the garments of sloth and sin, Christ, thy Lord, hath a kingdom to win. Author Unknown

“From the beginning this was God’s work: to create in men a moral responsibility as “my brother’s keeper.” Perhaps no one in the Old Testament expresses more passionately this burden for the salvation of the race than does Moses, the chosen leader of the Israelite people. In the day of their great sin he spoke out to the people, and again it is God speaking through his steward:”

Ex 32:30-32 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin — but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

“I think my soul was never so drawn out in intercession for others as it has been this night; I hardly ever so longed to live to God to be altogether devoted to him; I wanted to wear out my life for him…I wrestled for the ingathering of souls, for multitudes of poor souls, personally, in many distant places. I was in such an agony, from sun half-an-hour high till near dark, that I was wet all over with sweat; but O, my dear Lord did sweat blood for such poor souls: I longed for more compassion.” David Brainerd

David Brainerd is the famous missionary to the Delaware Indians. This was his only ministry option since he was expelled from Yale for saying that one of his teachers “had the grace of a chair”. He was friend to Jonathon Edwards (eventually dying in his home) caught up in a student revival in Yale and Harvard. His ministry would be difficult with few converts but his diary would live forever. It has been in continuous publication since 1749.

Frederick Faber: “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, Like the wideness of the sea; There’s a kindness in his justice, Which is more than liberty. If our love were but more simple, We should take him at his word; And our lives would be all sunshine, In the sweetness of our Lord.”

Frederick Faber was the son of an Anglican vicar who went into the ministry. His search for a deeper walk with Christ would lead him to including some Catholic trappings in his ministry. This would cause some tensions without people losing their fellowship with him. He would go further into monkish disciplines even starting a kind of brotherhood within the congregation. Eventually he would become a Catholic priest with deep devotion to Mary, yet he is talked well of by famous Protestants such as Toser.

The Hebrew nation exemplified the refusal of stewardship; rejecting its God-given mission to glorify God to a fallen world.

“God will keep no nation in supreme place that will not do supreme duty.” William McKinley (look at us now)

William McKinley was our 25th president elected in 1896. He was a devout Methodist. McKinley believed the U.S. government had a duty to help spread Christianity and Western civilization to the rest of the world. He was assassinated by an anarchist. “Good-bye – good bye, all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee.” — last words before death, 14 September 1901

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln

This is taken from the Gettysburg address.

The supreme example of stewardship is the cross.

Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”  Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts was the natural poet who wrote hymns still sung today. Taken from Wikipedia: From an early age, Watts displayed a propensity for rhyme. Once, he responded when asked why he had his eyes open during prayers: A little mouse for want of stairs ran up a rope to say its prayers. Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried: O father, father, pity take And I will no more verses make.

He is best known for Watt’s Logic. This book became a textbook used in Harvard, Yale and was used as a  textbook in Oxford for over a hundred years.

John 1:11-14 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The Word Becomes Flesh 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

“Self-sacrifice is an everyday affair. By it we live. Without it society could not go on for an hour…I mean by self-sacrifice any diminution of my possessions, pleasures or powers, in order to increase those of others…The greatest conceivable sacrifice is when I give myself.” George Herbert Palmer

Mr. Palmer was a teacher at Harvard for 42 years. He would enjoy explaining the importance of actualization, (its actually OK) with the twist of the necessity of self-sacrifice.

The church is called to the fulfillment of stewardship.

Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

“Man can love the higher law. He can cry as desperately as Carlyle, ‘I will live a white life, if I go to hell for it!’ But all human efforts must end in the wail of Saul of Tarsus, ‘Wretched man that I am,’ were it not that God made one final appropriation of his divine resources and at Pentecost inaugurated the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Henceforth the victorious life is the privilege of every child of God, even as Jesus promised, ‘Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you.’”

Thomas Carlyle, best known for his work on the French Revolution, is another one of those men who lost his soul at university but would go on to join Ralph Waldo Emerson in their transcendental thoughts. He would write on heroes with this quote: “history is nothing but the biography of great man”. It would be the seeds of thought that would sprout with the fascist movements of the 20th century that would doom transcendental thought and the natural goodness of man.

“I worship thee, O Holy Ghost, I love to worship thee, Thy patient love, at what a cost, At last it conquered me!” William F. Warren

William Warren was the first president of Boston University. He graduated from Wesleyan University where he was involved with the “Mystical 7” a society/fraternity that would go by the name of Skull and Bones at Yale. They promoted transcendentalism. This was the belief in the natural goodness of man. This is the thinking behind Walden’s Pond. If man could just stay untouched by the organization of society his natural goodness and uniqueness would shine. They would always be looking for a internal and external utopia that they could not find.

“If I have been less true, less strong, Than I have power to be, And followed, weakly, after wrong When right appealed to me, Dear God, forgive, And give to me that insight clear, defined, Which marks the progress of the soul; For they who seek shall find.” Lena Blinn Lewis

Couldn’t find anything online; but what a fitting ending to our sermon.

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