Aches and Praise Four Hundred & Forty Seven

April 2nd, 2020
Dear friends,  

Did anything unusual happen in your family yesterday morning? It did in ours. Keeping the tradition going that one of her parents (I’ll let you guess which one) started many years ago, our youngest daughter hid the remotes for the TV and DVD player. Finding them proved more challenging than Karen and I anticipated, but there were rewards: coins were found in one chair, dust was vacuumed in several places and laughter echoed across our living room.

By now, if you’re like me, you find yourself doing things that you said you would “when I have time.” In addition to reading interesting books, including an account of the Chief Usher’s role in the White House during the administrations of six presidents, I have started playing the piano for the first time in many years. When I was young, I received records from a mail order company and cranked up the volume on the record player, so I could hear songs by groups like Procol Harum (whose name was derived from a Latin expression meaning “beyond these things”), while I painted the fence around the yard of my parents’ house. Now, Karen and I still receive packages at home, but not long-playing albums.

With the “new normal” in effect across North America, many churches are using the Internet to teach the Word of God and communicate with each other, as well as to pray for one other. Last Sunday, Karen and I were blessed to hear two excellent sermons: one given by a brother in New Hampshire –– and one by Jerad Mellette – I also listened to a sermon by Pastor Steve Thiel –– a couple of days ago. What a privilege we have to study God’s Word on our own, as well as to sit under the teaching of men who have diligently studied the Scriptures.

One of my favourite authors is Charles Swindoll, who has ministered in churches in California and Texas for more than fifty years. This week, I began to read his book on the life of the apostle Paul, from his “Profiles in Character” series, which includes insightful studies of Joseph, Esther and others whom God used in wonderful ways. Since a friend of ours is living in Birmingham, England, I was interested to read about the evangelist Dwight L. Moody preaching there in 1875. Swindoll writes: “A noted congregational minister and well-respected theologian, Dr. R.W. Dale, cooperated in that enormously successful campaign. After watching and listening to Moody preach and witnessing the incredible results of the ministry of that simple man, Dr. Dale wrote in his denominational magazine, ‘I told Mr. Moody that the work was most plainly of God, for I could see no real relation between him and what he had done. Moody laughed cheerily and said, ‘I should be very sorry if it were otherwise.’ No defensiveness, no feeling of being put upon, no embarrassing uneasiness. Moody was the most surprised of anyone that God chose to use him so mightily.”

Do you know where disciples of Christ were first called Christians? It was at Antioch, southeast of Tarsus, where Saul was born. After his conversion on the road to Damascus, Saul went to Arabia for three years (see Galatians 1:15-18) and then to his hometown for several years. In Acts 11, we read what happened when men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch and preached the Lord Jesus: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord” (v. 21). When the news reached the church at Jerusalem, the believers there sent Barnabas off to Antioch. Charles Swindoll writes: “Revival is not so much about what happens in a church; it is about what happens when people repent of their sins and turn by faith alone to Christ alone. The unbelievers in Antioch and in surrounding towns were doing that in ever-increasing numbers.”

Do you know who Barnabas went looking for when he needed help in Antioch? He went to Tarsus to get Saul (Acts 11:25). Charles Swindoll observes: “Their differences would work for them, not against them. Barnabas was raised in Cyprus – a rural island setting. Saul came from Tarsus, an intellectual center, and had been schooled in Jerusalem in the disciplines of logic. Barnabas was an encourager; Saul a gifted preacher and scriptural scholar. Barnabas flowed with love and great compassion; Saul demonstrated remarkable grit and unwavering determination … with Barnabas at his side, Saul would deliver the theological mortar needed to cement these new believers in their faith.”

Just as Moody had Ira Sankey and Billy Graham had Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea to assist them in the ministry, I have been blessed to have several men who have helped me to produce radio broadcasts and teach the Word of God through Bible courses. Thank you for your vital part in supporting this ministry financially and in prayer.

On Tuesday, Karen phoned our neighbour, whose mother has been in a hospital near Montreal. Barbara (pseudonym) was released from the hospital last week, but returned within a few days. Our neighbour’s brother has been her primary caregiver, but present circumstances have heightened the anxiety of the family, as they are not able to communicate with her and find it very hard to get updates on her condition.

Scripture for the weekend: “But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise Thee yet more and more.” Psalm 71:14 (NASB)

Thought for the weekend: “Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.” – Warren W. Wiersbe (quoted in “Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit” by Charles Swindoll)

By His grace,