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Some Selected Articles From the Pentecostal Evangel Magazine

shared with you by
Kraig J. Rice
Bread On The Waters (BOW)

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He Was My Daddy By Sam Balius
The Richest Man In The World By Donald W. Lunsford
The Key To Freedom (Conquering Bitterness) By Dan Betzer
Friendship Evangelism By Dale Tollefson
Someone Took His Place by Roslouise (Yancey) Robinson
The Sabbath- Saturday or Sunday? By George Jeffreys-Williamson
We Took Off Our Masks By Marjorie Barth
It Matters Where We Go To Church By Forrest Smith
Some Do's And Don'ts For Parents By Don Franklin
The Christian Family And Television By Del Tarr
Christian Commitment- What Does It Mean? By Charles L. Ogdon
God's Continuing Creation By Dan Betzer
Checking Our Foundations By G. Raymond Carlson
Evangelizing In The Roaring 1920's By Wayne Warner
Responding To Those In Need By Charles Hackett
What Happened To The Boy? By Faye Lenna
When Your Neighbor Has A Problem By Charles T. Crabtree
Dealing With Sexual Temptation By George O. Wood
Christmas Thief By Betty Swinford
One Week To Live By Mike Clarensau
Overcoming Opposition By Earl Creps
What Color Is Hope? By Joel Kilpatrick
Help Me! Someone, please help me! By David G. Watson
Be Real By Dave Dravecky
Boiled Blessings By Joan Rhoden

He Was My Daddy
By Sam Balius

"He didn't hold important titles. He didn't have a college education or a high school diploma. He didn't even finish elementary school. But he was my daddy, and I thought he was the smartest man in the world.

He was a baker, working long hours to prepare fresh bread for hundreds of families. His business grew to include several delivery trucks.

When young men were called to battle at the beginning of World War II, Dad closed the bakery and worked with heavy machinery, helping to build a military base in a neighboring city.

He made our home a gathering place for Air Force personnel stationed in our hometown. Often as many as 25 airmen would gather at our home. A few years ago a pastor in Tennessee told me that through Dad and Mom he had become a member of the Assemblies of God.

As soon as world conditions permitted. Dad went back into the bakery business he enjoyed so much. He became known for his pastries, decorated cakes, and French bread. His dedication to his business was strong, as was his commitment to his family and his God.

Dad loved young people. He and Mom often accompanied youth groups on outings. They enjoyed playing pranks on the kids and were good sports when the kids did the same to them. Upon his retirement, Dad made pastries for youth camps. He was known as the "sweetest" man in the camp.

Although he wasn't a pastor or an evangelist, he taught me great spiritual truths. I remember one fishing trip we took along the coastal waters of Biloxi, Mississippi. After rowing to a small island. Dad anchored the skiff. We went our way, eager to gig flounders.

When we returned, the boat was nowhere to be seen. Dad sensed my fears and calmly assured me he knew where the boat was. He told me to wait on the shoreline while he went to get the skiff. As he disappeared into the darkness, a new fear seized me, and I cried out. Dad softly answered and told me not to fear; he would be back soon.

Minutes later he returned with the skiff. He explained that while we were gigging flounders, the tide had come in. Although the boat had remained where it was anchored, the rising tide made it seem farther away.

Through the years that experience has encouraged me during dark days. I hear my dad say, "Don't fear. Son. The boat is where we left it." At those times I realize that Jesus is still with me in spite of the darkness.

In 1959 as I prepared to leave for the mission field with my wife and daughters. Dad gave me a warm bear hug. With tears flowing down his cheeks, he said, "Son, I'm sad, yet glad. Your mom and I dedicated you to the Lord before you were born, so we are glad God has chosen to use you to serve Him. We are sad because we realize we may never see you again on this earth. Know that we love you and will always be praying for you."

Several years ago while serving in Paraguay I received a telegram on Christmas Eve. It stated simply: "Your dad went to be with Jesus this morning at 7:30. Praying for you. Pastor Tommy Lofton."

As I stood in my living room, thousands of miles away from my brothers, sisters, and dear mother, I could not weep. Dad's words when I first was leaving the States came back to my mind.

Today all seven of Dad's children are serving the Lord. Two of us are ordained Assemblies of God ministers. Two of my daughters are serving as missionaries to Latin America. I believe our commitment to God is due in part to Dad's faithfulness to the Lord and his investment in his family.

While Dad left us no material legacy, his faith remains engraved on our souls. Thank God for a righteous man who led the way for his family. He was my daddy."

This article quoted from the
Sam Balius and his wife Mona were veteran missionaries. For over 32 years they ministered thoughout Latin America and the Canary Islands.
PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, JUNE 16, 1991, Number 4023, pages 14-15

If your faith is not strong enough to change your behavior
It will never change your destiny

The Richest Man In The World

"I am the richest man in the world. Why? I have a loving wife of 31 years and two beautiful children who have never given me cause to distrust them. The investment I have made in my family has made me the richest man in the world.

If you have a healthy family relationship in today's society, you have an increasingly rare treasure. It is worth whatever sacrifice you have to make to keep it.

As a nation we have been careless with our stewardship of the family. We are now reaping the results of our neglect. An overindulgent generation, we seem bent on pursuing our own selfish ways.

The permissiveness of the past several decades has spilled over into Christian homes. A certain amount of self-concern is essential to survival, but a healthy marriage requires self-discipline. At times a healthy family will even require self-denial. Many who are attempting marriage and family are finding it difficult to come to terms with these demands.

Materialism is a subtle snare. It leaves many families unaware of what is happening until one day they wake up to find themselves trapped by a standard of living they cannot afford. If we spend all our time working for things, we have little time to nurture relationships with our family.

The desire to have it now drives couples to look for ways to earn more money rather than lower their standard of living. This drive for materialism results in having less time to nurture relationships. The Scriptures warn us about the deceitfulness of riches
(1 Timothy 6:6-10).

Great families do not happen by accident. They are the product of prayer and hard work. My wife and I determined our priorities before we married. God was to be first in our personal lives and ministry. We believe God is first and ministry is foremost. We also believe God wants us to give priority to each other. We resolved not to become so involved in ministering to others that we failed to allow time to minister to our family.

I understand the demands of pressing business, urgent appointments, and deadlines. Since we have had children, Beverly and I have taken 1 week of vacation together each year without the children. Relationships grow out of the time you spend loving, talking, and sharing with each other. You can't build a relationship with someone unless you are willing to spend time with that person.

After our son was born, I had to make some adjustments. I determined that 1 day each week would be devoted to the family. I had to give up golf. I wasn't pro status anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.

After our daughter came along, we began involving the children in the activities of that 1 day each week. We took turns deciding what we would do that day. I did my best to make sure that day wasn't interrupted. When people wanted to involve me in some activity, my reply was, "No, that is my day with my family."

We have not expected more from our children because of who they are� preacher's kids. If we were the ordinary church family, we would live the same way. We would still expect them to be in church with us every service. That goes back to our commitment to put God first.

Both children accepted the Lord as their Savior at an early age. They were both baptized in the Holy Spirit as children. They have shared our ministry. Our son Mark is a senior at the University of South Florida preparing for music ministry. Angela is a freshman at Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God preparing for ministry.

We have determined not to allow the root of bitterness to grow in our spirits from careless and unscrupulous Christians. We have not discredited those people before our children. We try to build confidence in our children for the ministries of the church and its people. Certainly there are counterfeits in the church. There are also counterfeit $20 bills, but I haven't stopped receiving them in the confidence they are real. Focus on the genuine.

How can you become rich? Begin where you are. Value highly the family you have. Determine that your first priority is serving Jesus Christ.

The church holds great treasure for your family. Attend regularly. Don't allow anything to rob your family of this treasure. A loving family that serves God is wealth that cannot be counted in dollars."

Donald W. Lunsford was pastor of First Assembly of God in Clearwater, Florida. At this date he was also assistant superintendent of the Peninsular Florida District.

This article quoted from the
PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, JUNE 16, 1991, Number 4023, pages 18-19

"Give up a grain of sand
And gain a mountain"
--An old Chinese proverb

The Key To Freedom
By Dan Betzer

"Hollywood cameras couldn't capture a more dramatic moment. The scene is the palace of the prime minister of Egypt. Those in attendance are surrounded by beauty and elegance. The men before the throne are obviously foreigners, but they seem agitated.

The one upon the throne is superbly attired. But he too seems emotionally distraught.

The strangers wonder. Who is this one who has so plotted against us? What does this mighty one have to do with us? The answer is soon forthcoming.

"And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence"
(Genesis 45:3).

Shock waves go through the men before him. Joseph? It can't be! We sold him into slavery over 13 years ago. He can't still be alive, let alone this paragon of power before us! And how could a Hebrew be a ruler of Egypt?

"Doth my father yet live?"

The men cannot answer.

"Come near to me, I pray you . . .I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. ... it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt"
(Genesis 45:4,5,8).

It is always a dramatic highlight when a man or woman overcomes bitterness and a vengeful spirit, replacing it with forgiveness.

Our Lord looked down from the cross and prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"
(Luke 23:34).

Is it unreasonable to assume Joseph received much greater pleasure from his years of fellowship with his brothers than he would have received from sulking in the shadows? He could have ordered their deaths, and the punishment would have been justly deserved. Would that have brought him satisfaction?

Consider his gain when he forgave. He was reunited with his father. Jacob thought he was dead. Now he learned that Joseph lived and ruled over all things. Jacob came to Egypt where he was a blessing to all who knew him. When he arrived at the royal palace, it was he who blessed Pharaoh, not the other way around.

He had fellowship with his brothers. Jesus said there was a sure way men could know we were His disciples: "If ye have love one to another"
(John 13:35).

Later when the Holy Spirit prompted Paul to write
1 Corinthians chapter 13, he taught us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit won't work unless they are motivated by love.

One of the great gifts of Christianaity is fellowship one with another. We can join the songwriter in the witness, "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God!"

He was able to forget the past. All things become new when we find Christ. Old things pass into oblivion. It is a scriptural principle that we are the product of the workings of our minds.

What a blessed gift it is to forget dark hours. When God forgives us of our sins, He also forgets. Our sins are never remembered against us anymore.

God is sovereign. He can obliterate anything He chooses from His memory. We are human. Forgetting is harder for us. We remember our own past mistakes and often accuse ourselves harshly. We remember the errors of others and help them remember them too. But forgiveness begins the forgetting process. It is a healing virtue.

It gave him stature with God. Joseph somehow knew a godly man would forgive the treachery of his brothers, realizing God had meant it all for his own good. Now he saw his brothers as what they actually were� tools in the hands of a sovereign God, molding Joseph into the world leader he was to become.

Now consider the loss bitterness can bring.

The person who harbors a grudge feels terrific inner anger at another. Usually the second party is unaware of it. He or she never feels the venom; the poison takes the first party as the victim.

Bitterness never restores relationships. Bitterness never heals old wounds. It never builds, only tears down. It never adds, only detracts. It never helps, always hurts.

Bitterness requires the full attention of its bearer. There is no time for constructive thinking or action. No time for the beauty of the world. No time for laughter and singing. The flames of vengeful passion require full-time tending. What a colossal waste!

Joseph had no ulterior motives when he forgave his brothers. Years later when their father Jacob died, the brothers were frightened. What if Joseph had only pretended to forgive so Jacob wouldn't be hurt anymore? they wondered. But now, with our father dead, will Joseph turn into an angel of vengeance?

They need not have worried. Joseph didn't exhibit his forgiving spirit for any other motive. He wasn't trying to gain favor from the crowd. He wasn't pleasing the press. He forgave because he wanted to.

Right now you may be shriveling up inside because of bitterness. No one denies your hurt. No one denies the unfairness of the treatment you received. But no one can deny you are dying. And for what?

In the great prayer Jesus taught us to say from our hearts, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors"
(Matthew 6:12). There it is! If you want forgiveness from God, you must be forgiving toward men.

Now let's level with each other. Is that offense committed against you so important you are going to give your life for it? Joseph was betrayed by his own family and jailed for a dozen years for something he didn't do. But when he had a chance to get even, he rejected it. He blessed those who had hurt him.

So there is the pattern. You say, "Oh, it's just too hard!" Is it really? Is it as hard as those lonely days and dreary nights you exist through now? Nothing could be any harder than your self-imposed prison. Christ offers you freedom. The key is forgiveness. Come on! Why don't you open that jail door right now?"

Dan Betzer was the speaker on Revivaltime, the radio ministry of the Assemblies of God. This article was adapted from a chapter in his book, The Cross or the Couch?

This article quoted from the
PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, JUNE 16, 1991, Number 4023, pages 12-13

Do your best
And then sleep in peace
God is awake

Friendship Evangelism

"A few months ago I had the privilege of leading a beautiful young couple to the Lord. Impressed with the discipling ministry they received following their conversion, they said to me, "We want to be like you."

I replied, "I want you to be like Jesus."

They then responded, "Yes, but we need a role model."

The world is looking for role models. We are the only type of Christ they can see. The fruit of the Spirit must be evident in our lives in a way that will draw them to Jesus. This dear couple has now led five or six others to Christ, and they have established a weekly Bible study.

The love of God in us draws people to Christ. Everyone needs love. When real Christlike love is displayed, people really respond positively.

The Bible says, "If we lift up Jesus, all men will be drawn unto Him."
(See John 12:32.) Friendship evangelism is loving people to the Lord. The key to true evangelism is not just the "birthing process," but it is in the quality of the loving and caring which follows.

In my ministry of teaching the young married couples at Summit Avenue Assembly of God in St. Paul, Minnesota, many areas of friendship evangelism have been utilized, resulting in strong growth. I believe these ideas would work equally well for any church:

1. Take a color picture of the first-time visitors and post it on the bulletin board with some basic information about them.

2. Within the first week the leader should call the visitors and send them a nice personal letter.

3. Within 2 weeks the leader should make a home visit to display Christian love and affirm their relationship with the Lord.

4. A second visit should occur within 30 days. On this visit I select a more mature Christian couple of about their age to accompany me. It works best if this couple lives in the general neighborhood and has other things in common. I want these couples to get acquainted so discipling will continue, freeing me up to move on to the next opportunity.

5. The results are that the new couple has a role model, and the discipler couple has ministry involvement. Both couples have new friendship in each other, and they both grow in the Lord because of this relationship."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel, AUGUST 21, 1983, page 14.
Dale Tollefson, Woodbury, Minnesota, was the national president of Lifestyle Evangelism and a layman active in Summit Avenue Assembly of God, St. Paul, Minnesota at that time.

Where love abides
God resides

Someone Took His Place
by Roslouise (Yancey) Robinson

"Graduation concluded at Hondo Army Air Field in Texas that hot August day in 1944. Wings and bars were pinned, and the newly commissioned Air Force cadets awaited their orders. The procedure: The top three in each graduating class would remain as instructors. The rest would be sent into combat.

Lt. Walter Roessig was third. As he saluted the captain, he asked, "Captain, who is next on the list?"

The captain replied, "Lt. Stewart Robinson is the fourth man."

Roessig and Robinson had become close friends in navigation school. Roessig then asked, "Captain, if I go on to combat, does that mean that Lt. Robinson can remain here at this base as an instructor?" "That is the procedure, Lt. Roessig," the captain answered.

Without hesitation, Lt. Roessig said, "Then place my name on the combat list, Sir. You see, Lt. Robinson is married, and his wife is expecting their first child. I'm single, so I'll go to combat, if Lt. Robinson can stay."

Soon the men said their farewells. They corresponded regularly. Robinson sent news when Stewart Harold Robinson II arrived.

No answer came.

The war ended.

Still no answer.

Then the message came. On the first mission, Roessig's B-24 was hit by a Japanese suicide plane. The plane was destroyed and the crew was lost. Roessig was sitting in the seat where Robinson should have been seated.

Lt. Robinson, my husband, shares this story, knowing that his friend gave his life not only for his country, but for him. And he remembers that 2,000 years ago Jesus gave His life so he could have eternal life.

Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends"
(John 15:13)."

This article quoted from the
PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, NOVEMBER 12, 2000, number 4514, page 27
written by Roslouise (Yancey) Robinson; Willard, Mo.

An honest man alters his opinions to fit the truth
While a dishonest man alters the truth to fit his opinions.

The Sabbath- Saturday or Sunday?
By George Jeffreys-Williamson

"It seems incredible that folk can believe one's destiny in heaven or hell is determined by which day of the week he observes as the Sabbath. Yet that is the case with certain groups who base their doctrinal stance on the fourth commandment, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God"
(Exodus 20:8-10).

These people are extremely legalistic concerning the Sabbath, declaring that one can't possibly be saved if he doesn't keep the seventh day. For support they quote
James 2:10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

They overlook that Paul drastically disputed such an assertion and that we are not saved by the Law, but by grace alone
(see Ephesians 2:8,9; Acts 13:38,39; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16,21; 3:11).

To refute these false teachings we shall survey the subject from three aspects: the historical, the practical, and the theological.

The Historical Aspect

The law of first reference takes us back to
Genesis 2:1,2, "God rested on the seventh day." Rest, however, does not exclusively denote discontinuance of work to recuperate, otherwise its association with God would be inappropriate, for He never tires. The word "rested" in its Hebrew derivation, shabbath, means both cessation and celebration� both repose and rejoicing. God ceased from the activity of the six days and celebrated on the seventh.

Both Exodus 16:23-30 and 20:8-11 contain the fourth commandment: "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy." Moses reaffirmed the earlier model: one day in seven was to be set aside as different from the other six, for cessation and celebration. It was, in fact, on this day the Israelites were to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. If, therefore, we are to follow the Mosaic pattern, we must celebrate deliverance from Egypt. But we are Gentiles with no history of Egypt. We have a different basis for commemoration.

Furthermore, if we are to keep one part of the Mosaic law, then we must fulfil all parts. That means we must stone anyone we see disobeying it.

We also have to keep all the Sabbaths, including sabbatical years
(see Leviticus 25:3,4). And what of the contingent practices which also were obligatory, such as circumcision?

Let all seventh-day adherents remember the embracive demands of
Galatians 3:10 upon those who claim that this law is still binding! "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the books of the law to do them."

God was setting aside not a portion of time but a proportion of time. He wanted one-seventh of a week to be given to Him.

We are told we are the victims of Rome, that either Constantine (4th century A.D.) or a pope changed the observance from Saturday to Sunday. Actually the change was practiced by the apostolic church of the first century
(at Troas, Acts 20:7), long before there was a pope in Rome or a Constantine. Let me quote also from Ignatius who wrote in A.D. 100: "No longer keeping Sabbaths but living according to the Lord's Day on which our life, as risen again . . . through Him depends."

Barnabas wrote early in the second century: "We keep the eighth day with joy, which we call the first day of the week. Sundays we give to joy; we observe the day of the Lord's resurrection, free from every hindrance of anxiety and duty, laying aside our worldly business."

Sunday was kept by the apostolic church and through the Patristic Era. The church fathers also explained that the day observed was the first day of the week, called the eighth day by some.

There are those who have said: "You Christians who keep Sunday: don't you know it is a pagan thing; for Sunday means the day of the sun, denoting the heathen's worship of the sun?" By the same argument, Saturday is no better, for Saturday is named for Saturn, the Latin god of agriculture! It's not the name that matters: it's the event and what it means to the person who observes it.

The Practical Aspect

Christians have to be realistic, and when we look at the Saturday versus Sunday argument, there are three practical considerations we can't overlook� the geographical, the chronological, and the social problems.

The Geographical Problem

It is necessary to refer to the international date line that circles the earth from pole to pole.

After preaching in the Hawaiian Islands, I was confused by the schedule on my air tickets which would take me over the equator and international date line to the Fijian Islands. The flight appeared to take nearly 30 hours! My confusion vanished when I realized I was to miss one whole day of my life, as two days would roll into one!

What a problem this must pose for the legalists who think they are honoring the specific day sanctified from creation.

Later we flew from Fiji to New Zealand for services there, and here is a mathematical and geographical fact. If, say, on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, a man in Christchurch, New Zealand, sits down and dials a friend at 9 a.m., his friend at the other end answers back in Honolulu at 11 o'clock March 16, according to Honolulu time!

Again, if two seventh-day keepers in Chicago embark on world trips in opposite directions, the one going east and the other west, and if before leaving Chicago they make a covenant to observe every seventh day as the sabbath, when they arrive back in Chicago one will find he is keeping Sunday as the sabbath and the other will be keeping Friday!

This ought to give them second thoughts about their doctrine! They would need to adjust their calendar and watches to man-made factors and realize that God wants one-seventh of our week, a proportion rather than a specific portion.

The Chronological Problem

In 1582 Gregory XIII found a miscalculation in the Christian calendar and decreed that October 5-14 must not exist, so after October 4 the calendars were to jump to October 15, losing 10 days. At the same time he decreed that every 100 years three leap year days should be removed from the calendar.

Furthermore, in 1752 in England there were 11 days (September 3-13) cut from the calendar. So again if some people have the idea that by keeping the seventh day of the week they are automatically observing the specific day sanctified from Creation and endorsed by Mosaic law, they are sadly mistaken.

The social problem
When God told Israel to set aside a day of worship, He was speaking to a specific nation in a specific land. There is the social problem today: nations are not Jewish by practice, other than Israel. And countries are not Christian by practice: we live in a secular world.

The Old Testament was based on what we call theocracy; religion and government were merged; God gave the civil as well as the religious laws.

Today we live in a secular society. Of necessity there are certain things that have to be done on Sunday. Hospitals, phone companies, utilities, and other essential services must be maintained. It is hardly reasonable to think people engaged in these tasks will not enter the pearly gates!

The Theological Aspect

According to Luke 6:1-11, Jesus did things on the Sabbath which the Mosaic law forbade, but His comments about this were very telling. He said, in effect: "I want you to know I am the Lord of the Sabbath; the Sabbath is my slave, not I its slave."

The Pharisees couldn't accept that, for they had so exalted the Law as to make it a master. Read also John 5:16-18 and you will get a similar concept: there was going to be a change as far as the Sabbath was concerned.

Let me say here that there are three major replacement issues between the Old and New Testaments. Baptism has replaced circumcision. The Lord's Supper has replaced the Passover (there is not one verse in the New Testament that categorically states such a change, but it is implied). The first day of the week has replaced the seventh day (not by direct command but by implication and by practice).

The principles of the Ten Commandments are still in force. In fact, nine of the Ten Commandments are reaffirmed and renewed in the New Testament, although not always in the precise terms of
Exodus chapter 20. The exception is the fourth commandment. We are never told to keep the seventh day. On the contrary, the apostle criticized those who "observe days, and months, and times, and years"
(Galatians 4:10). "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ"
(Colossians 2:16,17).

God is interested in principles rather than legalism. We are to give a proportion of our time to Him because we love Him and love to be closed in with Him.

"And upon the first day of the week . . . the disciples came together to break bread"
(Acts 20:7). That is the New Testament principle. Of course, they evangelized on the seventh day, for that's the day they could make contact with assembled Jews meeting in the synagogues or temple
(Acts 13:40; 17:2; Leviticus 19:30).

The first day of the week became a day of reverence. John refers to it in
Revelation 1:10, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day."

Wilberforce testified: "0 what blessing is Sunday interposed between the waves of worldly business like the divine path of the Israelites through the sea."

Sunday is a sacred day. It is the Lord's Day. Our pursuits and practices that day need to be scrutinized. A Dutch preacher described it as "God's dyke, shutting out an ocean of evils." It's not a day to be wasted in idleness. It's a day to meet together for prayer and praise as the early Christians did
(Acts 20:7).

The Lord's Day also is a day of rejuvenation. Scientists tell us it is essential for people to have one day in seven with a change of emphasis. Sir James Crichton-Browne said: "We doctors, in the treatment of nervous diseases, are now constantly compelled to prescribe periods of rest. Some periods are, I think, only Sunday in arrears."

We need spiritual rejuvenation also, and this is what it is all about� being revitalized and renewed. By putting God first in the week we are better prepared for the duties of the days that follow.

Sunday is a day of reflection. It was on the first day of the week they met together for the breaking of bread
(Acts 20:7) in remembrance of the Lord's death.

But Sunday also is a celebration of the Resurrection. Basically this is why the observance was changed from the seventh day to the eighth, because eight means resurrection
(Matthew 28:1-8). We are not standing before the terror of an enslaving Sinai, but before the thrill of an empty tomb.

Finally, Sunday is a day of representation. In theology it represents the dispensation of the fullness of time. The great Millennium is the seventh day, a day of perfection, a kingdom of equity and righteousness; but our hope doesn't culminate with the Millennium, for afterwards there will be a new heaven and a new earth filled with righteousness.

This then is our hope: not looking back to Sinai, but looking forward to the dawn of the eternal day, sharing what Alfred Lord Tennyson described in "Saint Agnes' Eve" as "The sabbaths of eternity; one Sabbath deep and wide."

This article quoted from the
PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, APRIL 20, 1980, pages 12-14

You are never too bad to come into the church
Or too good to stay out

We Took Off Our Masks
By Marjorie Barth

"What's that man crying for, Mommy?" The stage whisper of the small girl in the pew near us evoked a choked-off titter from her older brother, but it jarred me because it was my husband they were curious about.

We were seated in our quiet, conservative church sanctuary where it just isn't the thing to display any emotion. Norman had just come through a serious illness and wasn't as self-controlled as he normally is, and our pastor's comments on Christ's willingness to go to the cross for sinners had touched a spring.

He and I and all our friends had praised God for his miracle of healing, but I was also privately praising Him for something He had accomphshed through Norm's hospital experience. My husband had lost much of his iron reserve and was far more mellow and open to the Spirit than he had been before. He was not ashamed to let the tears flow now when his heart was moved, and he was quick to acknowledge it when God was dealing with him.

The child's remark hadn't gone unnoticed, and there was some discussion on our way home that day as to what church we should attend the following Sunday. "I don't feel I want to go back there until I'm a little better at hiding my feelings," Norm said rather shamefacedly. "I wish we could spend the next few weeks in California."

I knew what was in his mind. When we visited our friends in Los Angeles last year, we attended a full gospel church they had recently joined. Miracles happened in that church. People were being delivered from vicious sins week after week and were living new lives� and our friends were growing spiritually by leaps and bounds.

It was a revelation to Norm and me to sit in a congregation where people lifted their hands in adoring worship, wept freely when moved, prayed with their arms around each other's shoulders, and in every way showed an unself-conscious, outgoing love for God and for those around them.

What Norm and I needed in our present situation was a church like that where we wouldn't have to hide our emotions, for we saw that we just would not be comfortable at our church for a while.

We quickly found a congregation that didn't stare at Norm as if he were a freak when the tears came; a church where we could clasp hands with the person next to us, pray with them, and share our joys and sorrows. Not that our own church would have turned a deaf ear; they had Christian love, but somehow the atmosphere there wasn't conducive to confiding defeats and sharing victories. Emotions were repressed.

Years of hiding one's feelings (and tears) in order to put on a normal front can seal him off from other members of the Body. If we are sealed in such a way, we find it difficult to open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit.

A friend of ours from our own church called after we'd been absent for a few weeks. I told her where we were attending. "But that's Pentecostal," she objected. "One of those emotional churches."

"It's exactly what we need right now," I explained. "A place where we don't have to wear any masks."

"What do you mean?"

"Our church is great� it stands for the truth, and our people are students of the Word. We couldn't have a finer pastor, a real soul winner. But Norm and I had to find a place to worship where he can cry when he's moved and people won't think he's some kind of a nut. It's as simple as that."

I didn't belabor the point, for I could see that she was admitting (though only to herself) there was a lack at our church. I think she realized that the church would have a greater ministry if folks felt freer to express their emotions.

I have come to feel a real kinship with King David of late. He danced openly before the Lord for joy; he lifted up his hands in supplication; he played his instrument before the Lord, with shouting; and he wept unashamedly.

My husband feels as I do. Perhaps we'll go back to our other church some day; but not until we've run out of tears and are ready to put our masks back on."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, MAY 14, 1978, page 3.

Attending church services regularly is like making a path in the forest
The more often you use it
The less obstruction you will find in the way

It Matters Where We Go To Church
By Forrest Smith

"I have often said that any person who follows Jesus for 7 days will end up in church. The Son of God left us a clear example of faithfulness in church attendance. "And, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day"
(Luke 4:16).

Moreover as New Testament believers we are told we should not isolate ourselves. "Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another, all the more since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming near"
(Hebrews 10:25, TEV).

But which church home shall we select? The choice is crucial.

Someone said, "It doesn't matter where you go to church, as long as you go." That's like saying it doesn't matter whom you marry. If that were true, there wouldn't be so many divorces. Never forget it, it does matter where you go to church!

There are many reasons why it matters, but I will deal with only five.

1. It matters because it is of vital concern to God.

It was no coincidence that Solomon's temple was built on the site of Araunah's threshingfloor
(2 Chronicles 3:1). That plot of ground figured in God's dealings with man for hundreds of years. He apparently selected it for the temple site centuries before the birth of Solomon.

Over 800 years before the temple was constructed, God called Abraham to Mount Moriah to offer up Isaac
(Genesis 22:2). David later purchased the site to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to stop a plague brought on by his ill-advised census of Israel
(2 Samuel 24:24).

Following completion of the temple, Solomon sought God in behalf of the nation. God's response is found in
2 Chronicles 7:12-15: "And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for a house of sacrifice. . . . Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place."

Nothing could be more evident than God's interest in our choice of a place of worship. Jeroboam's thrust away from God's altars following the death of Solomon illustrates the extreme hazards of making a wrong choice in this important matter.

When the 10 northern tribes bolted under his leadership, he provided golden calves in Bethel and Dan for them to worship, in order to separate them from temple worship in Jerusalem
(1 Kings 12:25-33). Still not satisfied, he ordained a priesthood of men whose spiritual imperception was on a par with his own, and the newly formed Northern Kingdom became a religious jungle.

2. It matters because the message of salvation is not preached from every pulpit.

Without the vital preaching of the salvation message, it is unlikely that many will be saved. Evangelist W. S. Barham tells of a pastor with 30 years' experience who accepted Christ in one of his services. Imagine, 30 years in the ministry without a born-again experience!

The late Pastor R. G. Lee once said, "I believe that 85 percent of church members have only believed with their heads. They have not really believed in their hearts."

This must have been what Peter had in mind when he wrote, "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
(1 Peter 4:18).

3. It matters because the baptism in the Holy Spirit is not taught in all churches.

We have frequent visitors from other churches in our Sunday morning services. Sometimes one will say, "We just had to come over to get recharged!" I thank the Lord for the flow of the Spirit which makes this possible.

I'm sympathetic with charismatics who are led of God to remain in their churches as witnesses to other members. But I suspect that natural regression moves many back into the status quo they so recently escaped. Inability to move the church toward something resembling spiritual renewal can be very discouraging.

The charismatic who regularly attends a noncharismatic church must keep the Holy Spirit under wraps. It's a little like having a relative you're ashamed of. The Spirit's manifestation is not welcome, lest it alter the traditional direction of the service.

This should be a point of grave concern, in view of Paul's admonition to "quench not the Spirit"
(1 Thessalonians 5:19). The man who walks in the Spirit must be conscious of the contradiction between his testimony and the program he endorses by his presence.

Perhaps I am more deeply committed to personal survival; but if I had a choice, I would homestead the front pew in the nearest church where the river of God is flowing! It makes no sense to drive across town to get recharged when you can move in for a permanent hookup.

4. It matters because divine healing and deliverance ministries are not practiced in every church.

The writer to the Hebrews has reminded us that all men shall die
(Hebrews 9:27). But James indicated that the time and condition of departure may be altered. We are to call for the elders of the church, that "the prayer, of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him"
(James 5:14,15). That's powerful!

My mother rose from her deathbed to live another 23 years because an Assemblies of God pastor prayed the prayer of faith at her bedside.

Many other people have postponed funeral arrangements because somebody dared to lay hold on the promises of God.

My wife Virginia received healing of chronic tonsillitis one night in a revival service. Later the same night she was healed of tone deafness.

Our daughter, Paula Miller, was healed of asthma of 12 years' duration.

Nor did these miracles of healing occur in meetings with celebrated personalities. They happened when faithful pastors and evangelists obeyed God in the course of their regular ministries. Jesus Christ is truly the same, yesterday, and today, and forever!

5. It matters because the rapture of the Church and the second advent of our Lord are not taught in all churches.

The doctrine of the Rapture is called "escapist theology" by some unbelieving clergymen. I call it God's practical concern for the faithful.

Jesus said to His disciples, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man"
(Luke 21:36).

Let me call attention to three things in this verse. First, Jesus was talking about end-time events. Second, His instructions to pray were a diabolical joke if escape is not a possibility. Third, He was aware that the disciples would not be present at the time He had in view; therefore, He was addressing the generation of believers who will be present.

The manner of escape was stated by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

Paul added several important details in a later writing. In
2 Thessalonians 1:1 he wrote of "the coming of the Lord," and "our gathering together unto him." I believe this passage speaks of both the rapture of the church and the Second Advent; otherwise subsequent passages are contradictory.

For example, in verse 3 he wrote, "For the day will not come until the final rebellion takes place and the wicked one appears, who is destined to hell" (TEV). That this refers to the Second Advent is obvious, for it will not occur until after the man of sin runs his course during the Tribulation.

Verses 6-8 read, "Yet there is something that keeps this from happening now, and you know what it is. At the proper time, then, the wicked one will appear. The mysterious wickedness is already at work, but what is going to happen will not happen until the one who holds it back is taken out of the way. Then the wicked one will appear, and the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath from his mouth and destroy him with his glorious appearing, when he comes" (Today's English Version, TEV).

The man of sin is waiting in the wings to make a grand entrance. But someone is holding him back, someone who is presently on center stage. Who is that "someone"?

Some writers say it is the Holy Spirit. But I know of no passage of Scripture which teaches the departure of the Holy Spirit or a diminishing of His influence in world events. In fact, He is clearly seen in the two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 who minister with such power during the final 3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation.

No, the Holy Spirit isn't going anywhere. But the Church is! We're scheduled for a lift-off that will make NASA look puny!

After the Church is taken up, the man of sin will come to power. Planet Earth will have its long-awaited bloodbath. Wickedness will reach a climax, and the wrath of God will be poured out in unprecedented force!

What a time to be worshiping around the Throne!

But hold on� the trumpet hasn't sounded yet! Until it does, we need to emulate Jesus' faithfulness to the Father's house! We need to put down roots in a church where salvation is preached, where people are filled with the Holy Spirit, where healing and deliverance ministries can flourish, and the river of God is flowing.

It's a matter of life or death! It's the difference between victory and defeat! It can be the difference between eternal salvation or eternal damnation!

It does matter where we go to church!"

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, MARCH 9, 1980, 4-5.
FORREST SMITH was pastor at First Assembly, Del Rio, Texas, at that time.

Kindness is difficult to give away
Because it keeps coming back

Some Do's And Don'ts For Parents
By Don Franklin

"DON'T crush a child's spirit when he fails. Never compare him with others who may have outshone him.

DO remember that a child is a gift from God. Let him be himself. He is an individual and should not be pushed into the mold of a parent, a brother, a sister, or someone else.

DON'T hand a child everything his little heart desires. Permit him to learn the thrill of earning, the joy of achieving.

DO discipline a child lovingly and firmly, and explain why. If he knows you are fair, he will continue to love and respect you.

DON'T set yourself up as the epitome of perfection. It will be easier to communicate with the child if you admit that Dad and Mom are fallible too.

DO remember that anger and hostility are natural emotions. Help the child find socially acceptable outlets for these normal feelings.

DON'T make threats in anger. Don't make impossible promises when you are in a generous mood. To a child, a parent's word means everything, so never make a threat or a promise you won't keep.

DO present a united front as parents. If you join with your child against your mate, it will create emotional conflicts in the child. It may result in feelings of guilt, confusion, and insecurity.

DON'T smother a child with superficial manifestations of "love." The purest and healthiest love expresses itself in day-in, day-out training that breeds self-confidence and independence. Love can be expressed in denying, as well as permitting.

DO teach a child there is dignity in hard work. Let him know a useful life is a happy life, while a life of ease and pleasure is empty and meaningless.

DON'T protect a child against every little blow and disappointment. Adversity strengthens character and makes us compassionate.

DO teach a child to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. Show him that prayer, Bible reading, Sunday school, and church attendance are important. Example is a powerful force. The best gift you can give a child is training that will develop a deep and abiding faith in Christ."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, June 17, 1979, page 5.

An ounce of example
Is worth
A pound of advice

The Christian Family And Television
By Del Tarr

"There are positive ways to use the medium of television intelligently. You can even use it as an effective instrument to teach right values and goals for your family.

The main event

Even though television is a great source of information, its first mission is not to inform. While many things on its screen are very entertaining, television's first mission is not to entertain. Let's look at this issue squarely in television's single eye! Commercial television is a business. It is dedicated to move goods, to round up viewers for the main event� the commercial.

Each day over 700,000 commercials are broadcast to the American people. Experts tell us that the average child in America watches over 5 hours of television advertising a week. By high school graduation time, he or she will have seen more than 300,000 commercials!

A group of concerned Christians at Mass Media Ministries, Baltimore, states that "television commercials have become the most powerful selling medium in America. Enormous power resides in this mass symbol making process. Television advertisers are highly sophisticated in the use of emotion-charged symbols to sell products. Americans help to support this multibillion-dollar television advertising industry by spending 3 to 10 times more for a heavily advertised brand name than for an identical less-known brand."

Thus by buying heavily advertised products the American consumers are subsidizing "free" television. We pick up the annual tab of about $8 billion in advertising costs when we buy those products.

The average American family spent more than $100 extra last year by buying these highly advertised products (not to mention some items that we really didn't need).

A well-prepared, effective television commercial only 30 seconds long often costs over $500,000 to produce (and some cost double that). In addition a big advertiser may spend $1,000,000 or more for 1 minute of air time to advertise during a special network event like the Super Bowl.

Now you may not think television commercials are effective, but obviously the people who make them and air them do! The main event of television is the commercial, and this is where most of the subliminal influences are exerted. How? By hooking their advertising messages to a felt or implanted need in the individual that slips by so subtly the person is not aware of it. These messages get hold of his pocketbook. What is more serious for the Christian, they may appeal to motivations and values that are against his religious standards.

Consider some of the ways commercial television with its appeal to materialism and consumerism represents an attack on solid Christian values.

A world of fake

In the unreal world of the Western a cowboy, jostled up and down on the back of his galloping horse, will shoot and kill a rustler, also on a galloping horse, from a distance of 300 yards. What's doubly amazing is that with one bullet, at that distance and with a wildly moving target, he kills both the rustler and his horse! Have you ever explained to your child the mathematical improbability of that actually happening?

Into our homes come programs of bionic persons of unbelievable strength, of supermen and superwomen for our youth to idolize. Have you ever pondered why such programs have continuing appeal? It is natural to want moments of relaxation and entertainment (and even a little fantasy), but we need a balanced diet and balanced thinking. As a parent, do you pause to bridge the real world where you live and the unreal world of fantasy by talking about the relationship of "souped-up Star Wars thinking" and such problems as Johnny getting an F in spelling?

If we are going to let our family feast on television, we'd better be there with them so we can help interpret that world of fake and compare it to the world where one must work for a living and bury dead people. The media says: "Escape to the world of fantasy." Christians must say, "No, we will not exchange the real world for the media world."

Instant problem solving

All television commercials have two elements in common� they present a problem and a solution. Are you sad? Are you old? Are you lonely? Are you ill? Do you hurt? Are you hungry? Do you seek success? The TV commercial has a solution. The problem is not trivial, but the solution often is. Just buy a soft drink, or a tire, or a certain pain reliever, or mouthwash, or hair coloring, and you can have all the things you ever desired. You can get vitality, intimacy, success, security by simply becoming a good consumer.

Buy it and eat it. Buy it and rub it on. Buy it and wear it. Amazingly the solution can be had in 30 seconds!

Instancy is one of the main teachings of our present information environment. Thus the work of this electronic medium is subliminal in what it is teaching us about instant gratification.

What does this constant bombarding on our consciousness do to the traditional beliefs about long-term planning? What does this do to our belief about perseverance or deferred gratification? Can you as an adult or a parent talk about how "instancy" counteracts or tends to erode our Christian beliefs in the value of hard work and patience and personal submission in enabling one to reach a future goal?

I repeat, I am not saying you should unplug the TV and throw it out on the junk heap. I am saying that television is a potent persuader that must never be left alone as a baby-sitter if parents want the family environment to remain healthy.

Today's commercial TV ignores the main problem. Instead of answering the question, "What must I do to be saved?" its unreal world tries to give answers to "What must I do to be a winner?" or, "What must I do to be accepted?" Jesus talked about self-denial and crosses! He said the last would be first!

Attention span

Speakers and teachers are finding that an amazing thing has been happening in our culture. No matter how heavy or important their topic is, every 8 to 10 minutes their audience or class subconsciously expects a "station break."

The attention span of the average American audience is shortened. The speaker or teacher unaware of the subliminal need finds his audience drifting after a few minutes. The audience then needs some humorous anecdote or striking illustration to keep it on track and to counteract the tendency to "turn off" when the lesson or lecture takes longer than 8 or 10 minutes.

Test this on yourself. When was the last time you watched a National Geographic special or a film on public television? Did you not notice an uneasiness after a few minutes and an expectation that the program was about to be interrupted for the usual commercial break?

Effective speakers now plan for this and find ways to bridge over the "station break" period in the minds of their audience. Is not the cause of this problem an example of unconscious manipulation?


Many advertising agencies believe that if a commercial lays claim to being true, the product it's selling has a better chance of being accepted and purchased. Truth, after all, is a strong American and Christian value. This is why one continually hears words like best, cleanest, purest, strongest.

The fact is that most of us shake our heads as we watch these commercials, and we discount the gross overstatements generally claimed. We know that toothpaste will not cure loneliness, mouthwash won't really make you the most popular person in the office, buying a new car won't actually elevate your social status to the highest one in town. The effect of such advertising has produced a general cynicism in the public mind. The tendency is to disbelieve everything and everyone.

If the family does not sit down and talk about these untruths, children as they grow up will discover for themselves the falsehood of our electronic environment, and they will be cynical about a lot of things they ought to believe in.

Cynicism leads to a breakdown of all authority and that includes God's authority. I'm not saying that all rebellion against God is a product of television commercials; that would be ridiculous. But I see a connection between the two. I believe there is a relationship between the way we are raising our children and their attitude about authority and truth. If society is teaching them they must add a pinch of salt to everything they read and hear� if for 6.8 waking hours of each day (as an American average) they are watching TV and are obliged to be saying, "Ah now, it's not really that way," isn't there a danger they might filter all incoming information, even from the word of God, with the same cynicism?

I reject the idea that people in the media are evilmongers trying to pervert society. I think rather they are bent on materialism and consumerism for motivations of profit and success. They will try to sell a product at any cost, and the side effects of some of their methods are frightening. We must knowledgeably arm ourselves.

Positive steps and antidotes

For the church to come out with a blanket condemnation of television would be unfortunate, I believe. Electronic media can be great purveyors of good. Think of the great blessing television has been in spreading the gospel. This positive effect will not decrease but increase if the Lord tarries.

Instead of retreating into a negative posture of only enumerating the dangers and pitfalls in television, we must find positive ways to use this tool of our technological society. Here are some things to do:

1. Talk to the family about the world of fake in television and other media. Don't assume that members can distinguish between make-believe and reality. Recent research shows that small children can't even distinguish between the regular content of a program and the commercial breaks.

2. Become aware of the emotional hooks of good feelings that are involved in television commercials. Talk with the family and show them that very few Christian goals can be attained by consumerism. We don't need to "eat" or "apply" or "buy" anything to help us be approved by our Lord and Master.

Decide before a program is watched that at its conclusion the family will shut off the TV and discuss important values as depicted that relate to a man's or a woman's role in society, children's roles in the family and in society.

Ask the children questions about their understanding of the commercials in the program. Don't just tell them what they should think. Ask them what they think. You might be surprised to hear what Mary and Johnny think is actually happening in a television commercial!

3. Show the children how to be selective. Let them see you turn off certain programs and choose to watch certain others. If you wouldn't leave your little youngsters unattended in a running automobile, you shouldn't leave them for hours at an unattended television set. I firmly believe that TV programs cannot damage a child in any way if a concerned and loving adult shares the experience and uses it as an opportunity to talk about feelings and Christian values.

4. Get the whole family involved actively with television and not just watching it passively. To do this, keep a family television log for 2 weeks to find out who is watching television, what they are watching, and how much time is being spent doing it. The whole family can join in writing letters of criticism or encouragement to the producers or proper authorities.

5. Use television (even with all its excesses) to teach Christian values. That's right; in spite of the negative things on TV there are many positive ways it can lead directly to a visual demonstration of what you believe about God, your neighbor, the Scriptures, and eternity.

But to do this you must spend time with the family and the TV set. Spend time discussing such things as emotions, relationships, and materialism. TV can set the stage to discuss "hard-to-talk-about" subjects across the age-gap with teenagers in the home. There is nothing more important to a 16-year-old's self-esteem than to have someone listen to, and respect, his or her opinion (even if they don't totally agree).


The Christian family must arm itself against the subliminal influences of commercial television, and especially of television commercials. Not to speak out on this issue or not to become better informed would be to neglect our moral responsibility.

Happily there is a positive side to this situation. Evangelicals in America are becoming aware that we as citizens do not have to sit and take everything the secular world throws at us. We do represent values that need to be brought to the forefront. We do believe that happiness can be obtained in ways other than by getting material things. We do believe that self-respect does not need to lead to pride. We do believe that the possession of some "things" need not lead to greed."

We can arm ourselves with a little reading and a little understanding and a whole lot of concern and prayerful action. Central to Christian faith is the belief that the ultimate reality of the universe is God who created the world and all it contains, including people. Because we are created in His image, we also have the capacity to create such things as television. The human social systems that shape television need to be influenced by evangelical Christians who, by making their influence felt, reflect their divinely given creativity."

This article quoted from the
The Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, NOVEMBER 8, 1981, pages 15-17.
DEL TARR was Chairman of the Missions and Communications Department, Assemblies of God Graduate School, Springfield, Missouri, at that time.

Those who stand for nothing
Are apt to fall for anything

Christian Commitment- What Does It Mean?
By Charles L. Ogdon

"We speak rather freely of Christian commitment. But if the Lord should ask you, "Have you committed everything to Me?" how would you answer?

The Lord asked me that question. I was in my office praying when the Lord spoke to my heart and asked, "Are you committed?"

Without much thought I responded, "Yes, Lord, I am committed." But as I continued praying, I began to wonder if I truly was.

Finally I arose from my knees, went to a shelf, and reached for the dictionary. What I learned made me search my heart.

I discovered commit has three meanings, among others:

1. IT MEANS to put into charge or trust.

Regardless of what may happen to me, I should not question the Lord as He endeavors to work out His plan in my life. For I have entrusted my life to Him. I have put Him in charge.

Yet I've often questioned the Lord. Just because things didn't go as I wished, I've grown uneasy.

If anyone had occasion to question God, Job had. When all his material blessings had been taken away, he could have complained; but he didn't. His words were, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"
(Job 1:21).

Then he was smitten with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, and his wife chided him for retaining his integrity. "Curse God, and die," she urged. But he refused. "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh," he replied. "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"
(Job 2:10).

When things seem to be going wrong, don't question God. Just be sure your life is committed to Him. If it's in His hands, all will be well. You can rest assured He is in control and that all things will work together for your good, as long as you love Him and are committed to His purpose
(Romans 8:28).

2. IT MEANS to consign; to place in custody.

When a person decides to sell his house, he will call a realtor. To put his property in the hands of the realtor he has to sign certain papers. By doing this he agrees to certain terms, such as that he will sell for a certain price, and he won't back out for a certain period of time. Another term is that he won't sell the property himself for a lower figure. In other words, though the property still is his and he still holds the deed, for a period of time the property is in the hands of the realtor who can sell it to whatever buyer comes along. It has been consigned to him!

How many a young man has left home and joined the military services because he chafed under parental restraint! Mom and Dad made certain rules for him to live by as long as he was under their roof and eating their food; so he leaves home expecting to be free to live his own life.

But to his surprise he doesn't find the freedom he expected. Instead he has "jumped out of the frying pan into the fire." His military superiors tell him when to go to bed, when to get up, what time to eat, what to wear, and he decides his life is not his own. Of course it isn't. He has consigned it to the military. He gave up certain rights and privileges when he made the commitment.

And so it is in the Christian life. When you become a Christian, you consign your life to Another. You say: "From now on I will not do as I please. I will do as God pleases." Why? Because you are committed. You have given up your rights. You have put yourself in His custody. You take orders from His Word and from His Spirit.

"Ye are not your own," Paul says. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's"
(1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).

Paul learned the lesson at the very beginning of his Christian life. When Christ spoke to him, he replied, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
(Acts 9:6). That's the meaning of Christian commitment.

3. IT MEANS to hand over for disposal or safekeeping.

This is illustrated in Matthew chapter 26. Jesus prayed, "0 my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Jesus could have avoided the cross. He could have escaped death; but He knew this was the cause for which He had come into the world. He was committed to the will of His Father. He was obedient to God's plan, even though it led to His death.

Paul made the same commitment. We read in Acts chapter 21 how he came to Caesarea and entered into the house of Philip the evangelist. While he was there, a prophet named Agabus warned Paul that if he went to Jerusalem, he would be thrown in prison. He took Paul's girdle and bound his own hands and feet and said, "Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles."

But Paul told them not to weep and feel sorry for him. "I am ready," he said, "not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."

He was committed. His life was not his own. He had given it to the Lord for disposal as He saw fit; and whether he lived or died, he was in God's hands.

Oh, if we as Christians could but realize it, our lives are not our own. We belong to Another. He has bought us with His blood.

Whether I live or die, I belong to the Lord, and it's His decision, not mine. It's not up to me to decide how I should live or what I should do. I don't give orders. I receive them. I don't pity myself, and I don't want anyone else feeling sorry for me. All I ask is for grace to maintain my commitment and let God have His way in my life.

Committed? I really thought I was, until I found out what it means.

No longer do I answer with a confident yes, but rather confess that I am striving to demonstrate my commitment as He reveals to me progressively what His will for my life is.

I find security in doing this, for as long as my life is in His hands, I know it's in safekeeping. I can say with Paul, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day"
(2 Timothy 1:12)."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, FEBRUARY 19, 1978, pages 3-4
CHARLES L. OGDON was an evangelist at that time

The one who follows Christ
Leads the way for others

God's Continuing Creation
By Dan Betzer

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"
(Genesis 1:1).

God is still in the creating business! It is a part of His eternal nature to make something superlative out of nothing. That's why the gospel is such a positive message. God creates rather than condemns. "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved"
(John 3:17).

God never creates anything without a reason. So you have real meaning. You will be able to find that meaning to the extent that you give God control of your life.

To get your attention in this message I have to swim against the current of popular thought. It is called existentialism. It is a philosophy spawned by promoters of helplessness.

Andre Maurois, the French novelist, moaned, "This universe is indifferent. Who created it? Why are we here on this puny mud heap spinning in infinite space? I have not the slightest idea, and I am quite convinced no one has."

Along came Jean-Paul Sartee, who continued to teach despair. He claimed we cannot know who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. The past is meaningless. The future may never arrive. Take the moment. Live it to the hilt any way you choose.

So we have the "now generation." Its theme song is relentless: "Eat, drink, and be merry; for tomorrow we die."
(See 1 Corinthians 15:32.)

But the truth is, you can know where you came from, where you are going, and how you are going to get there. That's the greatest positive message in the world. You have the opportunity to choose between despair and deity.


You didn't just happen. You are more than a composite of your family's heredity. You were carefully designed by Almighty God. There is no one else on this earth like you. No one looks like you. No one speaks in the manner you do. No one else thinks quite like you.

You are unique� one of a kind. You are an original. That's the way God made you.

But His creative work in you is not complete. There is a second birth that must come in your life� a birth that is spiritual. It happens when you understand that God is real and that there is a world between you and Him that can be bridged only by His loving gift of Jesus Christ. "He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"
(John 3:16).

And even after you are born again, the creative work of God continues in you. God is molding you in this life to be a part of the bride of His Son Jesus Christ, who will one day rule and reign over the universe.

This is what Paul was writing about when he penned: "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"
(Romans 8:28).

The gospel is really the greatest romance this world has ever known. It is the saga of a Prince who came to this world in search of a bride. He found her� the human race. He offered her His love, His very life, promising her a place in His Father's house, where there are many mansions.

He promised to come back to claim His bride. There will be a great "marriage supper," and for all eternity we will be together mutually serving God in perfect mental, spiritual, and moral health.

This is God's great plan, and you are involved in it. It is why you were created.

You are incredibly valuable. Satan doesn't want you to understand that. He wants you to blend into the background of this world's passing mediocrity. But God wants you to step into the light of His Son� to see who and what you really are.

But here is a vital point that you must understand. Remember, God is not through with you. How far will you trust Him to continue His creative work on you?

God may not deal with you in the same way He does another. For example, you may have an acquaintance who has recently been healed of a sickness that also plagues you. God touched your friend, but no miracle has occurred in your life� at least, not yet, as far as you can see. Are you doubting God because of it?

Some of you young pastors may find yourselves way out in the "boondocks." Others with whom you attended Bible school are ministering in large churches, with far more of this world's goods. Are you doubting God because of it?

Perhaps wider doors of ministry are not opening to you at the rate you think they should. Why not? Doesn't God really care about you anymore?

My friend, don't be discouraged. You have joined that great body of believers who will be the resplendent bride of Christ. And God is working out through you His will and pleasure. Your only responsibility is to be obedient to His wishes. And remember this: Since God loves you more than anyone has ever loved you, His plans for your life are far, far above all your expectations.

A long time ago a man named Job also questioned God. His life had been such a good one: rich, prosperous, fine family, good health. Suddenly everything changed. His friends berated him� "You MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG!" His wife encouraged him to curse God and die.

Job found himself in agonizing pain, his body covered with boils. It was only natural for him to question.

"Why are you doing this, God? What is happening?"

"Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? ... Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations and who laid its cornerstone, as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?"

"The Lord went on: "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? Or will you yield? Do you� God's critic� have any answers?"

"Then Job replied to God: "I am nothing� how could I ever find the answers? I lay my hand upon my mouth in silence"
(Job 38:1, 4-7; 40:1-4, Living Bible paraphrased).

Incredible, isn't it, how we think we could manage our lives better than God can? Job learned to trust his Lord. When Job's story ends, it tells of a man who had been shaped and molded by the Creator in a way better than he could have envisioned.

Now God is working on you. Perhaps you haven't been healed yet. Don't let people pound guilt feelings into you! It's been the same improper question for hundreds of years: "Who sinned, this man or his parents?"
(See John 9:2.) Make no mistake about it; God can heal you instantly. But He may choose to lead you in another way.

I have just personally come through 3 months of intense pain. It was something that God could have healed in a moment. But He chose not to and, indeed, told me He would not. He had some creating in me that He wanted to do.

Now the ordeal has ended. It has been the sweetest time with Jesus I have ever known. I never felt Him closer. It was never easier to break out in unrestrained praise to Him. He wanted to do a work in me. He taught me lessons I had never learned before. God is designing me to rule someday with His Son Jesus Christ. There is still so much work He has to do on me.

You may not be going through the easiest time you have ever had� unless you look at it from the eternal perspective. Paul had to spend his years in Arabia alone following his conversion. God had so much work to do on him. David was anointed king and spent the next years fleeing for his life. But he became Israel's greatest monarch when God finished the work.

How about you? God has a perfect mate chosen for you. Are you willing to wait for that special person to come along? or do you insist upon your own choice?

God has a place selected for your work where you will make the greatest input into the Kingdom. Are you willing to work there, even if your friends have more exalted positions?

You have trusted God with your soul, which will endure forever. Can you trust Him with your physical life and all its ramifications, which will last only a few years?

"In the beginning God created. . . ." He is still working on you. He plans to make nobility out of you so that you can sit on the throne to rule and reign with Jesus!"

This article quoted from the
PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, JULY 22, 1979, pages 14-15

One quick glance in God's direction
All that is needed to make right choices

Checking Our Foundations
By G. Raymond Carlson

"We do well to study the Biblical foundations of the Pentecostal Movement. The 20th-century outpouring of the Holy Spirit proves that the principles of the first-century church are valid and operative today.

This is the text of an address given by G. Raymond Carlson, assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, during the seventh annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies held at Springfield, Missouri, December 1-3, 1977.

"There can be no question among thoughtful people that we have fallen upon an age of widespread and disturbing unbelief. While noted for its intellectual and scientific achievements, our age like Bunyan's Pilgrim has "forsaken the way that is good to tread in forbidden paths."

Our age suffers with a blight of "isms"�
secularism that reduces all of life to the commonplace;
rationalism that places the human mind upon the throne; and
determinism that believes the nature of man and the course of history are determined by naturalistic forces.

Introspection and reexamination are the "in" thing. Old foundations are examined with an attitude of skepticism. The rapidity with which change occurs boggles the mind. The normal person, perplexed by the jet pace of change, is left in a state of shattering confusion.

All institutions are rocked by change, and the church has not escaped. Doctrines and traditions have come under close scrutiny. Long-time beliefs have been challenged and often discarded. Faith in truth as revealed in the Word of God is regarded in many quarters as nonintellectual. Modern theology has lost God himself.

Moral declension and social confusion are the sad harvest resulting from lack of faith. As established systems collapse, people lose their moorings. Values become blurred. People make their decisions on what they happen to think and insist that one person's thinking is as valid as another's.

Uncertainty prevails and increases. Who has the answer? The politician hasn't solved the problem. Science speaking with pontifical force declares religion obsolete. But science hasn't found the answer. As Stace of Princeton stated, "It is the essence of the modern mind that the universe is meaningless and purposeless." Another declares, "The modern mind has given us knowledge and conveniences� and emptiness."

Clever people are beginning to realize that cleverness is not the answer to the big issues of life. The sinful ego of many is being punctured as they search for truth and do not find the answer.

But God has the answer. And in the midst of all the confusion and lostness, the Holy Spirit is doing a wondrous work. God has given us His answer. He has committed to us this ministry. The Pentecostal Movement of this century proclaims the ministry of the Holy Spirit through Christ's church as the antidote to the work of the satanic forces that strive to captivate and control the human mind.

The study of Scripture brings the inescapable conclusion that the "Pentecostal" pattern of the Apostolic Church should be the normative pattern for the Church until Christ translates her to the glory. The experience on the Day of Pentecost was not for the 120 alone, but it was "to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

From time to time and in every generation we do well to study the Biblical foundations of the Pentecostal Movement. We are not called to be just another denomination. While the movement is comparatively young when compared to the old-line denominations, God has enabled the movement to penetrate to the ends of the earth. Growth has attracted the attention of both the religious and secular world.

Importantly, the genesis of the movement is not built around a new revelation of truth. It is rooted in the same soil of faith in which the Apostolic Church was grounded. The 20th-century outpouring of the Holy Spirit proves that the principles of the first-century church are valid and operative today. Meet the conditions, and the dynamic results recorded in the Book of Acts will be repeated.

The phenomenon of the winds of the Spirit in the major church bodies today is remarkable. Who can fathom what God will do!

Spiritual life and vitality come to the church through two dynamic sources:

(1) continual moving of the Spirit; and
(2) unswerving fidelity to the Word of God.
God has called us to be ministers. He makes us "able ministers of the New Testament." We are warned to give "no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God."

In light of the awesome responsibility that is thrust upon us, and in recognition that "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us," it is imperative that we give careful attention. To this end I share five musings with you:

1. The authority of the Word in contrast to philosophy and political thinking.

2. The Lordship of Christ in contrast to the personality of the follower of Christ.

3. The power of the Holy Spirit in contrast to human ability.

4. The majesty of the Kingdom in contrast to the provincial spirit.

5. The centrality of the Church in contrast to the plans of the individual.

1. THE AUTHORITY OF THE WORD in contrast to philosophy and political thinking.

One of the most serious battles raging inside and outside the church is the conflict over authority. Rebellion against authority is common in our time. Without a scriptural view by which truth is measured, private opinion becomes the sole authority.

Alleged intellectual problems about the authority of Holy Scripture are often a smoke screen for moral rebellion. The reason many do not accept the edicts of God's Word is simply that they will not. It is not that people cannot believe; it is that they will not. Jesus said, "If any man will [desire to, Amplified] do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God."

The religious leaders in Jesus' days on earth asked, "By what authority do you do these things? Who gave you this authority?" The spiritual problem of our day is the same. The man of faith is asked, "Who gave you this authority?"

The dictionary defines authority as the right to command and to enforce obedience, or the power to determine on the ground of knowledge, credibility, or character. When we speak of the authority of the Bible, we mean the quality by which it demands faith and obedience to all its declarations. Our concern is to determine in what matters and to what extent Holy Scripture commands our obedience.

"Who gave you authority?" There are three basic answers given:

(1) The principle of sola Scriptura (a Latin phrase meaning "the Bible as the only authority").

(2) The authority of the church. Proponents of this position teach that the authority of the Book is insufficient; the dogma of the church determines faith and conduct.

But the church is not called to be the judge of God's Word; it is the Word's servant. The church did not bring the Word into existence, but was herself brought into existence by the Word. The Word is forever settled, founded, and enduring
(Psalm 119:89, 152, 160). As such it is perfect and must not be added to nor diminished
(Revelation 22:18, 19).

(3) The view of the rationalist who exalts human reason to the throne of final arbitration and rebels against the thought of an authoritative book. He argues that the Reformers replaced the doctrine of an infallible church with that of an authoritative book.

Another fallacious position regarding authority should be mentioned. Some people place so-called spiritual manifestations� unscriptural prophecies, tongues and interpretations, dreams, and revelations� as the voice of God. Unless all such align with the Word, they are fallible.

There is only one supreme court- one authority� for faith and conduct. It is neither in the dogma of the church, nor the rationalism of human reasoning, nor alleged spiritual manifestations; it is the Word of God. Only as the aforementioned align with the Word can they be accepted.

The authority of Scripture must be recognized before we try to settle inspiration and inerrancy. When the question of authority is settled, we can move on to inspiration� how the Word was God-breathed; and then on to inerrancy� how the Bible was kept from error.

The Bible speaks, and speaks with no less authority than that of the Divine Voice. Its words are the words of men, but its word is the Word of God. It is the Word of God in human language. Infallibility, inerrancy, or veracity do not account for the inspiration of the Bible. These are only understood in terms of inspiration.

We believe the Bible is the final authority. As such it stands
(1) supreme over the light of human reason� it does not oppose reason but goes beyond reason by giving revelation,
(2) supreme over the church, and
(3) supreme over tradition. We must not make void the Word of God by the traditions of men
(Matthew 15:3).

All teaching must be tested in the light of Scripture. Upon this unique authority, and it alone, we build. The choice is simple. We either accept this authority or accept the authority of men with their human understanding and ability. It is one or the other.

2. THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST in contrast to the personality of the follower of Christ.

The earliest creed of the church is brief but important: Jesus Christ is Lord. It appears that this was the greeting of early Christians.

What does lord mean? Lord is a word of authority, ownership, superiority, sovereignty.

The word "Lord" in the New Testament is equivalent to the name "Jehovah" in the Old Testament. By this term Christ is identified with the God of the Old Testament. The name "Jehovah" (Yahweh) was so sacred to the Jews that they avoided pronouncing it. What Jehovah was to the Jews, Jesus is to the Christians.

Although men think they are masters of their lives, in reality sin and death are the real masters. But Jesus Christ conquered sin and death. He has the right to rule in every area of a person's life, for He has judged sin and death.

Christ's lordship was decreed by the Father: "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ"
(Acts 2:36). His preeminence was declared at His birth: "Unto you is born a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord"
(Luke 2:11).

Christ's lordship was testified to by the apostles.

Paul declares that "the Father . . . raised [Christ] from the dead, and set him at his own right hand . . . far above all principality, and might, and dominion, and every name . . . not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church"
(Ephesians 1:17-23).

Peter states: "By the resurrection of Jesus Christ; who is gone into heaven . . . angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him"
(1 Peter 3:21, 22).

John writes: "Worthy is the Lamb ... to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing"
(Revelation 5:12).

Christ's lordship is not only declared but also deserved. "He humbled himself . . . wherefore God hath highly exalted him . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord"
(Philippians 2:8-11).

His lordship results from His exaltation: "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour"
(Acts 5:31). When He returns, "Every eye shall see him"
(Revelation 1:3), and "He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords"
(Revelation 19:16).

Paul states that Christ "was declared to be the Son of God ... by the resurrection from the dead"
(Romans 1:4). The gospel is Christ crucified, risen, and exalted. He was exalted to give repentance, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit. His bloody cross speaks of His Saviourhood. His empty tomb is the symbol of His lordship. His death and resurrection are inseparable parts of His mission.

Christ's lordship is not only declared and deserved; He himself desires it. To refuse Him His rightful place is to rob Him of the fruit of His death and to snatch from His lips the cup of joy which is to replace the bitter cup of Gethsemane.

We are prone to receive Him only as Saviour and fail to recognize Him as Sovereign. His work as Saviour is not complete in the life of believers until He is Sovereign in their lives. That right is not based on our recognition of the fact, but on God's recognition of His redeeming work. "God hath made this same Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ"
(Acts 2:36). The truth is further stated in Romans 14:9: "For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord of the dead and living."

Christ is Lord of the universe. He is Lord of "things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth"
(Philippians 2:10). By Him God "made the worlds," and He "upholds all things by the word of his power"
(Hebrews 1:2, 3). As such Christ is Lord of history.

The course of history can best be described as God's search for man ever since disobedience alienated man from Him. To accomplish this search, the Son suffered the humbling at Calvary. As the Creator and Sustainer of the universe He became obedient unto death. By His incarnate ministry our Saviour earned the right to be Lord, both because of who He is and because of what He has done. His redemptive acts at Calvary and His triumph over the tomb will culminate in the glorious future day when He will be confessed by all as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Christ is Lord of the Church. She is subject to Him in all things. His authority is total and final. As believers we are members of His body, the Church. We belong to Him.

To enjoy His benefits we must surrender to His lordship. For Him to be Lord of our lives we must surrender all� our inner possessions and outer possessions� to Him. He has the right to rule in every area of our lives. He came not only to be our Saviour; He came also to be our Lord.

Look at two men who met Christ in confrontation. Paul was arrested by a blinding light and lay in the choking dust of the Damascus road. As the voice from heaven addressed him, Paul cried out, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" For years Paul had opposed Christ and His followers. Now he discovered the One known as Jesus of Nazareth was also Christ and Lord.

Thomas, often maligned as the doubter, when told of the resurrection said, "Except I shall see . . . the print of the nails ... I will not believe." Imagine his burning shame when Jesus told him, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands. . . ." All doubts fled and Thomas cried, "My Lord and my God!"

Paul had denied, and Thomas had doubted, but both were gripped with the lordship of Jesus. Come face to face with the One who is absolute Lord, and you'll not claim to be master of your life.

Paul leaves us three secrets:

(1) "Yet not I, but Christ" (Galatians 2:20). This is the secret of personal holiness.

(2) "Yet not I, but the grace of God" (1 Corinthians 15:20). This is the secret of effective service.

(3) "Yet not I, but the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:10). Christ's lordship is the basis of authority and leadership. Only those under authority have the right to exercise authority.

Crossing out the first person singular� "not I"� is the threefold secret of a satisfying and fruitful Christian experience."

(end of Part 1)
This article quoted from the
Evangel Editor's note: "In the first half, published last week. Brother Carlson referred to
(1) the authority of the Word in contrast to philosophy and political thinking, and
(2) the Lordship of Christ in contrast to the personality of the follower of Christ."

3. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in contrast to human ability.

The year was 1896. An itinerant lay preacher came to the home of my maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. H. N. Russum, in the fertile Red River Valley at Grafton, North Dakota. My grandmother met him at the door, and he inquired if he could hold a gospel service.

She responded with joy, for she had been converted in Minneapolis. Grandmother agreed to invite the entire neighborhood to their home.

That meeting continued for 3 days and nights without stopping. My grandfather and many others were converted.

Remarkable things occurred. One young lady, a Miss Gorder, was prostrated in a trance for hours. Suddenly she began to speak in a language that none understood.

The lay preacher listened to the girl and finally said to himself, "This must be that which was spoken by the prophet Joel."

He began to search the Scriptures. Finally convinced, he sought the experience himself and received the baptism in the Holy Spirit 2 years later. That man, C. M. Hanson, became the first superintendent of the North Central District Council of the Assemblies of God.

The above incident is typical of numerous movings of the Holy Spirit in various places around the turn of the century. On January 1, 1901, God poured out His Spirit at the Bethel Bible College, operated by Charles F. Parham in Topeka, Kansas. Miss Agnes Ozman became the first of millions in the 20th century to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is generally agreed that it was at Topeka that the recipients, through their study of the Scriptures, came to believe that the Biblical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in other tongues.

The record known to us as the Acts of the Apostles has no explanation apart from the fulfillment of the Lord's promise, "I will send another Comforter." The glorious testimony of the coming of the Holy Spirit and His acts in the Apostolic Church set before us a pattern for this century.

Reading the Book of Acts inspires and challenges us. The Day of Pentecost dawned upon a small group of believers, but before darkness fell about 3,000 were added to their number. Thousands more were added in the days that followed, and the "number of the disciples multiplied" until there was a "multitude of disciples."

But, you say, "I'm not seeing victorious experiences such as are pictured in the Book of Acts. We aren't seeing growth like that in our church. I'm not sensing that kind of experience in my own life."

Feelings of inadequacy and inability, lack of training or experience are common to many. Fear of people and of failure, weakness of personality and spirituality hang like albatrosses around the necks of a lot of Christians. Life is filled with difficulties. So often we don't know where to turn, and we feel like "jumping ship."

How clear the message comes� I am in constant need of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. God's work is accomplished "not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."

Two things are very plain. First, I need divine help to live the life that pleases God. Second, I can have all the help I need.

The first is demonstrated in experience. The other day a friend said, "A fellow needs to be made of steel to survive in days like these." But who has that quality? We do need help. Like Peter we cry, "Lord, save me."

The second is the crystal-clear promise made by Jesus. God has given us a great Helper to take the place of the visible presence of Christ. Moffatt's translation of
John 14:16 reads: "I will ask the Father to give you another Helper to be with you for ever." We can have all the help we need.

We not only can have help, we can have the Helper himself. How does He help? Paul writes, "The Spirit . . . helpeth our infirmities"
(Romans 8:26).

During the cold war following World War II, Berlin was in real trouble. The Russians cut off all food and fuel going into the city. Their objective was to starve and freeze the Berliners into submission, and to cause the Allies, who were occupying the city, to withdraw.

The roads to the city were closed, and the cause of the West looked bleak. But the ingenuity and courage of the Allies hadn't been reckoned with. The Berlin airlift brought supplies from the skies. The Berliners did not starve, nor did they freeze. Neither did they surrender!

Sometimes we, like the Berliners, find ourselves hopelessly surrounded. Defeat seems certain. But then the Holy Helper establishes His spiritual airlift and brings His limitless supply of measureless power. In the trying moment when we need Him most, the Spirit of God is always near to give us help. How can we fail?

But you don't carry the Holy Spirit around in your pocket or strung on a key chain. He is more than a last resort to be used in case of emergency. We don't possess Him to be handed out like a meal ticket. We've got to let Him possess us and use us. It's not a mechanical matter.

On the divine side, "It is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure"
(Philippians 2:13, ASV). On the human side, we must present our "bodies a living sacrifice . . . which is [our] spiritual service . . . [and] be transformed . . . that [we] may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God"
(Romans 12:1, 2, ASV).

The Holy Spirit operates through us in four dimensions:

1. The upward dimension to make Christ real (John 14:16).

2. The inward dimension to build up our spiritual being (Ephesians 3:16). All who are Spirit-filled have the privilege of being edified� being built up� through the ministry of the Spirit in speaking in tongues
(1 Corinthians 14:4).

3. The outward dimension to witness for Christ (Acts 1:8).

4. The downward dimension to conquer the devil (Luke 10:19).

God was down-to-earth in Jesus Christ. He is up-to-date by the Holy Spirit. Because of the Holy Spirit, what God did in Christ happens to me today. I read of God's mighty acts as recorded in the Bible, and because of the Spirit they come pouring into my life. Humdrum existence is revolutionized by powerful workings of the Spirit. He is present now and powerful today.

4. THE MAJESTY OF THE KINGDOM in Contrast to the provincial spirit.

Kings and kingdoms are rather rare today. We think in terms of presidents, prime ministers, and dictators, and of republics and nations. We are not accustomed to the king-kingdom concept. The New Testament, however, has much to say about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven.

A great debate rages in some quarters about the two terms� the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. Are they synonymous or not? My purpose here is not to attempt to settle this theological controversy. Neither will I attempt to deal with those aspects of the kingdom which relate to eschatology, or the doctrine of the last things. It is true that the kingdom, while being a present spiritual reality, is to be consummated at the final coming of Christ when He shall "deliver up the kingdom to God."

I direct your attention to a significant scene recorded in
John chapter 3. A man stood in the very presence of God. A teacher came seeking information. A ruler of the Jews came seeking entrance into another kingdom, the kingdom of God. The man came at night; darkness was around him.

Nicodemus, the learned man, deeply religious, sincerely ethical, and a recognized spiritual leader, had not found the Kingdom. The yearnings of his soul had not been satisfied. He was in spiritual darkness as black as the night about him.

Eloquently Jesus responded to His inquirer, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Clearly we come to understand that entrance to the kingdom is by birth, the new birth.

"Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel"
(Mark 1:14, 15). The kingdom was an important aspect in our Lord's earthly ministry. While many who heard Him then looked for an earthly kingdom, He pointed them to a spiritual kingdom.

There is a real kingdom, and its location is clearly stated in Scripture: "The kingdom of God is within you"
(Luke 17:21). It is a real kingdom and a real Christ reigns in this kingdom.

This kingdom is not a religious form. Paul states, "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost"
(Romans 14:17). The kingdom and entrance into it is not found through ritual or ceremony.

The kingdom of God is not so much the realm of God, but the reign of God. Realm speaks of geographical boundaries; but there are no frontiers, no boundaries, to God's kingdom. Our Lord's kingdom has no temporal limits; it is forever. The angel said to Mary, "Of his kingdom there shall be no end." The emphasis then is not on a realm, but on a reign, eternal, majestic, and sovereign based on the ruling authority of God.

To seek the kingdom of God, as Nicodemus did, means to put yourself under the royal reign of the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is to reign in you in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. This reign and rule is manifested in us when we are in Christ and He is in us
(Colossians 1:13).

The Christian life view is the Kingdom perspective. Basic is the Christian confession that Jesus is Lord.

The Kingdom perspective gives a key place to the church institution but reaches beyond to every zone of life. All that I do, even eating and drinking, must be done to the glory of God
(1 Corinthians 10:31).

How tragic when we lose sight of the kingdom and see only our little circle of daily circumstances. God grant us renewed vision of the majesty of His kingdom.

Whenever I stand at the hallowed shrines of freedom in our nation, I am stirred with the greatness of our land. I may be disillusioned with a politician. I may be disappointed with an action taken by governmental leaders. I may frustrate with bureaucratic red tape. But America is still a great nation.

Whether it be at Concord or Bunker Hill, at Faneuil Hall in Boston, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, at Gettysburg, Antietam, or any number of shrines, whether it be in the White House or the halls of Congress, my heartbeat quickens as I appreciate my country.

In like manner you and I need to catch the majesty of God's kingdom. How can we be so provincial, so small? Too many live like the man who said, "God bless me and wife, my son John and his wife; us four, no more."

Lift your eyes. Catch a new vision. Let the King anoint your eyes to see. God's kingdom is majestic. Your rights, your personal ego, all the personal and church squabbles fade into nothing in the light of the glory of the King and the majesty of His kingdom.

5. THE CENTRALITY OF THE CHURCH in contrast to the plans of the individual.

All of God's purposes center in himself. His purpose preceded His creation. He declares that all things are made for himself
(Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16, 17). All divine actions find birth in God's will and are according to His purpose
(Revelation 4:11; Ephesians 1:5, 6, 9). God's purposes and acts are for His own glory
(Isaiah 43:7; 60:21; 61:3).

God's dealings with men throughout history have been with purpose. His manifestation of saving grace moves toward a goal. He purposes to have a bride to present to His Son "that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Jesus Christ"
(Ephesians 2:7).

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a divine institution. Planned by the Father, founded by the Son, and empowered by the Spirit, the Church is the fellowship of the redeemed.

Christ established the Church when He poured out the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. That was the Church which He purchased with His own blood
(Acts 20:28). In so doing He was fulfilling His promise: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"
(Matthew 16:18).

Never forget that the Church is divine, not human. It is the creation of God and not of men. Our efforts don't make the Church. We receive and are received into the Church by divine action through the new birth.

The Church, often called "invisible," is the ekklesia or called out assembly. As such it is God's governmental body in the world.

The Church is defined as Christ's body
(Ephesians 1:22, 23; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14). This metaphor suggests life. The body is to cooperate with the Head who is Christ and is to be an agent to do God's will in the earth.

Another symbol used to describe the Church is that of a bride
(Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:6-21;21:1,2), suggesting a relationship demanding love.

Another metaphor from Ephesians (2:20-22) is that of a building. As such it is God's residential address, a temple for Him to dwell in through the Spirit. This special building has no dividing walls. The partitions we recognize are man made.

The Church is also pictured as a family, the household of God
(Ephesians 2:19). Little wonder that the most common designation of believers is brother.

A further designation implied in Ephesians 6:10-17 is that of an army. The Church is to battle sin, the flesh, and the devil. She is God's salvation army bringing the good news to the world.

The Church is called God's master-piece (Ephesians 2:10). The word here translated "workmanship" in the King James translation is very properly translated "master work" or "masterpiece." The Greek word also occurs in Romans where the reference is to God's creation of the world. But the Church is His masterpiece "that in the ages to come he might show [display] the exceeding [surpassing] riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus"
(Ephesians 2:7). The Church when complete will be the summit of God's creative genius.

God had three things in focus for the Church to fulfill while awaiting her glorification at Christ's coming:
1. That He might have a people to worship Him in Spirit and truth.
2. That the redeemed might be conformed to the image of His Son.
3. That the world might be evangelized through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church is an organism. There must, however, be organization to give direction and force to the organism. This is the linking of divine and human forces to form a partnership to fulfill the purpose of God. The Church finds this organization and visibility through the institutional church. The institutional church is made up of members who are corporately organized and subscribe to beliefs and practices as required for membership. An organism is basic, but organization is also a necessary part.

The Church and the institutional church should be in agreement. The latter is the result of man's understanding of the will of God to find expression for the former.

The Bible must be used to find the pattern. Organization followed the welding together of the 120 at Pentecost into a new organic community. The New Testament has much to say about the local assembly� its mission, ministry, officers, membership, support, standards, and discipline.

The church is visible through the local assembly. When a group of believers assemble in worship and mission, they are seen. God's purpose in the lives of His people is accomplished as they function in this visible form.

The church does not save; it consists of those who have found salvation in Christ.

As a believer I have an obligation to work with God as He fulfills His purpose to build His church. I must contribute to building the local church. All other ministry� mass meetings, music, radio, television, the printed page, age group work. Teen Challenge, to cite examples� is only auxiliary.

God's purpose is not just to save people, but to build His church. He fashions that Church in the local church. All that contributes to that goal is purposeful and fruitful ministry.

Jesus made three great promises:
(1) I will send My Spirit (John 15:26);
(2) I will build my church (Matthew 16:18);
(3) I will come again (John 14:3).

He has sent His Spirit and He is building His church. Soon He will come for that Church. And He says, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be"
(Revelation 22:12)."

This article quoted from the
G. RAYMOND CARLSON was Assistant General Superintendent at that time.

Aspire to inspire
Before you expire

Evangelizing in the Roaring 1920's
By Wayne Warner

"Following the end of the Great War in 1918, the world was looking for a period to bring happiness and prosperity in what became known as the Roaring '20s. Because wars would cease, they thought, happy times were here forever for everyone. Little could they predict that within a decade the country would be plunged into the Great Depression and, within two decades, World War II.

Fortunately, many believers did not buy into the philosophy of the day. They were busy evangelizing and establishing churches across the country and sending missionaries to minister to those who had never heard the good news of Jesus Christ.

So, today, we'll turn the calendar back 80 years for a glimpse of these times from the Pentecostal Evangel.

� Wayne Warner, director
Flower Pentecostal
Heritage Center

Caldwell, Kansas, 1920
The work here has been set in order. We have just been having a glorious meeting: nine saved, seven received the baptism in the Spirit, and the saints have been encouraged to go on into God. We are contemplating the purchase of a church property.
� Pastor J.G. Neal

Ladonia, Texas, 1920
God is blessing in our regular meetings which are held every other night, besides our Bible school every Sunday morning. The Lord has begun to add souls to His church here again.

Our little band is praying God to send us just the help this place needs, preachers and workers filled with the Holy Ghost and power
(Acts 4:29,30), knowing nothing among men but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
-R.L. Merrill

Santa Barbara, Calif., 1920
We have the most blessed baptismal services in the ocean, and many wonderful healings.
� Mrs. M.R. Collins
Mabel Harrell was one of several women who opened new cities for the gospel in the early part of the 20th century.

Columbus, Ohio, 1924
We pitched our canvas [14,400-square-foot tent] in August. From the first meeting, God came in power and blessed the people. Several hundred would be at the altar each time seeking Christ as their Savior, and multitudes came for prayer for their sick bodies. We had two baptismal services, at each of which the crowds were estimated to be 10,000.

At each baptismal service, about 75 were baptized. One man, just from the gambling table, got under conviction and was saved as we made the call, and he jumped into the water and swam about two blocks to where people were being baptized and was also baptized.
�Evangelist Mabel Harrell"

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, January 14, 2001, page 29

The smallest good deed
Is better than
The grandest unfulfilled intention

Responding To Those In Need
By Charles Hackett

"I struggled for many years as a pastor trying to determine what the biblical response should be to hungry and needy people. For a long time, we did very little to help those who were not a part of our congregation. The rationale was, "If the government, with its billions of dollars, cannot change the economic status of these people, how can we with our few dollars hope to do better?"

Then I had an experience that changed my outlook.

A lady visited our church and was saved. Her husband wanted no part of her newfound faith and, in many ways, made it very difficult for her. In the course of time, he was stricken with cancer and laid off his job. Unknown to us, this family fell into difficult straits � even to the point of having no food to eat.

One morning his wife suggested they pray and ask God for help. Her husband said, "When I see your God put groceries on our table, then I will believe." Five minutes later, a man from our church, feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit, knocked at their door, walked into their house and set a large box of groceries on the kitchen table. A few days later, I was called to this dying man�s bedside and led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Arrival of a few dollars� worth of groceries at a crucial time touched his life in a way that nothing else had.

Helping needy people is a scriptural principle that should be taken care of by the church rather than the government. The major difference in the effectiveness of the government�s billions and the limited resources of a local church is Jesus. He said that, if we would give a cup of cold water in His name, we would not lose our reward. If we leave out the Jesus factor, then we become second-class imitators of governmental agencies.

Those who share Jesus on a humanitarian level will be severely criticized from certain segments of the community who are adamantly opposed to mixing religion and helping the needy. Unfortunately, they don�t understand that Jesus and religion are two separate directions in life and that Jesus is an inseparable part of who we are as a church. We cannot and we must not compromise on this core value. It may not be politically correct to say it, but Jesus is still the only way to the Father. If giving away some food and clothing provides a door for someone to find Him, so be it."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, January 14, 2001, page 4

All things work good together
If you love God
And are fulfilling His purpose
Romans 8:28

What Happened To The Boy?
By Faye Lenna

"The school year was 1954-55 at Bealwood Elementary in Columbus, Ga. A teacher was given the opportunity to have a weekly Bible club in the school. Because many of the Bible club students did not attend church, the teacher invited them to Eighth Street Assembly of God (now relocated and named Calvary Assembly of God). In his 1950 Studebaker, the teacher picked up the children.

Nita asked her teacher to pick her up for service. That Sunday Nita brought three of her siblings; the youngest, a 6-year-old boy. For several months the children rode the Studebaker "bus."

Then the teacher moved. Later, when he visited Columbus, he inquired about the children and learned that their mother had joined Nita, Shirley, Dru and little brother John in church. In 1957 the teacher became an Assemblies of God minister and often used this story to encourage others to bring the unsaved to church.

Nita attended Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland, Fla., and is married to a minister, J.R. Smith. Shirley is a pastor's wife. Dru still attends church.

What happened to the boy?

When the teacher, now retired, told this story to Danny Baggett, pastor of Oceanway Assembly of God in Jacksonville, Fla., he said the last name of the boy was Kilpatrick. Pastor Baggett said John Kilpatrick pastors Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola.

The teacher visited Brownsville Assembly and learned that Nita, Shirley and Dru remembered those Sunday mornings in 1955, but John was too young to remember.

In 1996 the teacher (who is my father, Eugene Williams) heard John Kilpatrick preach.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: "You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come."
� Faye Lenna, Greensboro, N.C."

This article quoted from the

Our words may hide our thoughts
Our actions reveal them

When Your Neighbor Has A Problem
By Charles T. Crabtree

"The story of the Good Samaritan is an irrefutable argument for love in action as opposed to the logic of avoidance. It shows the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan because a lawyer wanted to argue the legal definition of the word neighbor. He knew the lawyer was trying to avoid becoming involved with another person's problem by redefining the person.

Your neighbor suffers when you hear well but do not do well. The apostle James said: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says"
(James 1:22, NIV).

Those who have been deprived of having a Bible or hearing a preacher expound the Scriptures have been known to walk for days and stand for hours to hear the Word taught and preached.

American Christians are blessed to have God's Word available through unfettered pulpits, unlimited printed materials, electronic communications and scores of Bible translations. We should be perfected in our faith as no other, because faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Sadly, too many Christians hear the Word but avoid applying it. Their faith is a beautiful corpse with all the right parts, but no life; all the right concepts, but no action; all the proper words, but no works.

Your neighbor suffers when you say the right things but do not do the right things. Some students I knew in college got excellent grades but were failures because they could not apply the answers on the written test to the practical living test.

A professor of homiletics at a seminary in downtown Manhattan decided to make a sermon on the Good Samaritan as the final exam for his class. On the day that 11 of his students were to preach on the Good Samaritan, he asked a friend to dress like a homeless man and lie near the entrance of the seminary. Only one student stopped to ask the man if he could help. The professor said, "Only one of you is prepared to preach this morning. The rest of you failed."

The world is not interested in the Christian's faith in and of itself. The world is only influenced by faith at work. Born-again thinking and believing are necessary for one purpose: So the world can see born-again action.

Your neighbor suffers when you see well but do not do well. The saddest part of the story of the Good Samaritan is when those cloaked in religious garments passed by the beaten man. They went out of their way to get around him.

What the Levite and the priest said to themselves to justify passing by the victim is left out. what we say when we are confronted with a need in our path doesn't matter; only what we do makes a difference.

The priest and the Levite probably said what I have said when I failed to act in the face of human need: "I'm too busy" ... but my neighbor is still suffering. "I don't want to get involved" ... but my neighbor is dying.

The Good Samaritan is the neighbor you want when you are in trouble. He is still alive among us. He is the guy who donates time and money to help the poor. She is the lady with kids of her own who faithfully serves in the nursery. He is the guy who is involved in missions. She is the gal who has Bible studies in her home and is the first one to greet a new neighbor with a smile and a pie. He is the guy with his arm around the prodigal bringing him back to his father.

When your neighbor has a problem, do something ... anything ... in Jesus' name."

This article quoted from the
Charles T. Crabtree was assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God at that time.

We are over dressed
Wrapped up in ourselves

Dealing With Sexual Temptation
By George O. Wood

Read Matthew 5:27-30
"Someone has said it's better to build a guardrail on a mountain road than to keep sending ambulances down to the wrecks at the bottom of the cliff. In this segment of teaching, the Lord erects guardrails to keep us from sexual harm.

Jesus invites you to a life of purity in this second illustration of six
(Matthew 5:21-48) dealing with "the new righteousness."

What Jesus is not saying about sexual temptation:

First, let's clear up a few common misunderstandings people have about Jesus' teaching on sexual impurity.

Sexual temptation equals sexual sin. Not so. Temptation comes in four steps:
1. suggestion ("Isn't this something you would really like to do?"),
2. consideration ("Should I do this?"),
3. consent ("I agree to do it."), and
4. commission ("I do it."). The law of Moses located sin at step four; Jesus located it at step three. The first and second phases of temptation do not involve sin.

Sexual sin is worse than all other sin. Again, not so. From
Matthew 5:21 through verse 48, Jesus gives six concrete illustrations of sin: anger, lust, wrongful termination of marriage, truth avoidance, retaliation and hatred.

Only one deals with sexual sin� and it is neither categorized as the worst or the least sin. It's one among many.

Sexual impurity and immorality are the same thing. A person listening to Jesus might falsely conclude that if sin is located at the consent or thought level, then one does not incur greater harm by going ahead and committing the sin with another person. If you are judged by your thoughts, why not just go ahead and do the deed? Such an attitude disregards this important difference: Sin in your mind does not affect the other person, but the commission of sexual sin must always involve another person in the sin.

How the Lord's teaching on sexual purity helps us:

First, the Lord came to heal us from our sins, not to condemn us in them.

We must remember the context in which this teaching occurs. Jesus is blasting the Pharisees and the scribes for their legalism and spiritual pride. They felt that, because they did not do the "act," they therefore were righteous before God. He warns them they have a totally distorted and phony view of righteousness. God does not just look on the outward appearance, but on the heart.

Second, Jesus urges upon us the importance of making up our minds in advance on how we respond to temptation.

The primary gateways of sexual temptation involve sight and touch. That's why He tells us to gouge out the right eye and cut off the right hand if they cause us to sin.

It's important to know that Jesus does not intend we take Him literally on this. Jesus employed different methods in teaching. Here, He uses hyperbole [hyper, meaning "over or beyond"; bole or literally, ballo, meaning "to throw"]. So, hyperbole is an "overthrow" � an exaggerated statement intended for effect.

The early followers of Jesus clearly understood this as hyperbole, for the Christian community never engaged in the process of eye gouging and hand amputation.

The point Jesus makes is: "Do you want to avoid falling prey to sexual temptation? Then determine before-hand what limitations you will place on yourself both as to what you see and how you touch." In a culture filled with far more sexual exploitation than that of Jesus' day, we should all the more listen to and obey His words.

This segment of Jesus' teaching on sexual sin deals with the prevention of impurity. What do you do, however, if you have already driven right through the guardrail and over the cliff? Jesus addresses that question when He teaches us to pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors"
(Matthew 6:12).

Jesus dressed down those who had no desire to clean up their hearts.

The Lord's attitude toward the penitent sinner contrasts 180 degrees from His judgment on religious hypocrites. To those wanting mercy, Jesus gives both mercy and accountability: "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin"
(John 8:11).

Prayer of response:

Lord Jesus, help me to be sexually pure. I desire to place the guardrails of sight and touch on my life. I need your help in resisting temptation. Purify my heart and mind that my body may be a welcome home for You."

This article quoted from the
George 0. Wood, D.Th.P., was general secretary for the Assemblies of God at that time. Dr. Wood's previous series, A Psalm in Your Heart, is available for sale in two paperback volumes.

Worry is the darkroom
In which
Negatives are developed

Christmas Thief

"Unemployment made Christmas a grim prospect. No tree, no presents, nothing!

CARL WINCED FROM PAIN WHEN four-year-old Sharon crawled onto his lap and wound her tiny arms about his neck. With her lips close to his ear, she whispered, "Daddy, what am I gonna get for Christmas?"

He began to tremble and was unable to stop. It was with great effort that he kept himself from crying out, "Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! There's not going to be a Christmas at our home this year! No tree, no presents, nothing!"

Instead, he closed his eyes against the overflowing moisture and held her tightly against him. How could a child understand? To them Christmas was Christmas, no matter what. One did not need money, or a job, or health. When Christmas came there was automatically a tree all decorated and shimmering beside the window for all the world to see. Just as automatically there were presents� dolls and candy, trucks and trains!

Johnny, who had just passed his sixth birthday, was sitting by the window with his arms wound about his knees. Upon his serious face was the look of a dreamer. For a long time he sat watching the falling snow making little puffy drifts on the window sill. Now he looked up contemplatively. "We'll put the tree here again, won't we, Mommy?"

Mirian bit her lip and Carl knew that she, too, was suffering. "Of course, darling. It must always go right there by the window."

"And I can help trim it, can't I? I know how to hang the tinsel and I can help you with the pretty balls."

"I can help too!" Sharon cried suddenly. "I never got to before, but now I'm four years old!"

Again Carl stifled the impulse to shout out in protest. Instead he forced himself to go along with the game.

"We'll all help trim the tree! Even little Carol!" He moistened his lips nervously. "We'll make it the most beautiful tree anyone ever saw!"

A lie, all of it! Sure, they had a big box of ornaments tucked away in the hall closet� but they didn't have a tree. And they weren't going to get one.

Carl had hurt his back the past year and had been in a hospital for nearly six months. Since that time he had been unable to work and they were as poor as church mice! Poorer, perhaps, for even a church mouse probably had more faith left than he did! They hadn't been in the state long enough to be eligible for relief, or he'd have gone crawling for help� anything just to be able to give his children a Christmas gift!

For the past two months they had lived on beans and potatoes. The car sat in the carport, jacked up to protect the tires. There was no money for gas. There was no money for anything.

"When will we get the tree. Mommy?" Was there a small injection of doubt in Johnny's voice now? "It's only two days before Christmas."

Mirian's gaze was unflinching. "Christmas Eve seems like a good time, doesn't it, Johnny? I think it would be loads of fun to trim a tree the night before Christmas."

Johnny nodded somewhat uncertainly. "I guess so."

Carol sat all the while on Mirian's lap, too young yet to realize or to care about the time of the year. Now she snuggled down for sleep and her great blue eyes closed gently.

One thought hammered over and over in Carl's brain. He had failed his family. He should be able to give them everything and he could give them nothing. He had failed, failed...

"Johnny and Sharon!" It was Mirian's voice again, coming as from a great distance. "I want to tell you something, and I want you to try and understand. Christmas, you know, is Jesus' birthday. If� if a person should not receive gifts for Christmas, he ought to remember that it's most important to know Him. He's the greatest Gift that anyone could ever have, and we must be satisfied on His day to get only what�" her voice shook a little, "�what He wants us to have. Can you understand that, little ones?"

Sharon's luminous blue eyes grew wide. For a moment it seemed she was going to cry, but suddenly she smiled instead. "Oh, but Jesus does want us to have Chistmas presents! I know He does!"

"Sure, Mommy!" Johnny piped in. "It'd be a funny Christmas without gifts!"

Mirian forced her lips into a smile. "Of course, dear, I know what you mean."

After the children were in bed, Carl faced his blond-haired wife squarely. "You urged them on," he accused. "You know there won't be a tree, or gifts, but you kept on encouraging them anyhow!"

Slowly Mirian turned, her chin a trifle high, her eyes aglow. "Is it wrong to encourage a child to have faith? Carl, darling, there isn't anything impossible with the Lord. You know that as well as I! He can bring things to pass that we never dreamed about!"

His lower lip curled slightly. "You really think He's going to bring us a miracle ?"

Mirian's shoulders squared even more. "I believe He is able! I don't know how. I don't know when. But I know He can do it!" She hesitated and bit her lip until it whitened. "Carl, what's happened to you?"

He turned away sadly, while intangible emotions strained for survival within his heart. Finally, he went to stand beside the window, the place where a tree should stand. What had happened to his faith in God? Where was the fellowship with the Saviour that was once so sweet? He shook his head savagely. No! There was but one thing to be done, and he was going to do it.

The hours of the night dragged slowly by. Unable to sleep, Carl returned to the living room and sat down. Outside the window it was still snowing. And there, in the lonely stillness of a sleeping household, he planned carefully what he was going to do.

The next day the children jabbered incessantly. When would the presents appear? What time would they get the tree? They wished night would hurry and come so they could trim it! And all the time Carl became more and more positive of his course.

At five-thirty that evening he dressed in his best clothes. He must not look shabby or he would be a perfect suspect. Then he walked the mile to town and used his last dime to buy a shopping bag. Next he entered the most crowded department store he could find. It was Roxy's, and it was one of the best. Although it was Christmas Eve, the counters were thronged with late shoppers.

He paused before a counter of boys' clothing. Before him, in a size eight, was a red and gray cowboy outfit. It was Johnny's size. He glanced about hurriedly, his heart hammering out a strange, new rhythm. No one was paying the slightest bit of attention to him. He slid the outfit over the edge of the counter and into the waiting shopping bag. How easy it was! How great the pain in his heart!

Next he visited the toy department. There was an even greater crowd here. In the same manner he took a toy piano for Carol, a doll for Sharon.

Yet all the time a quiet voice was struggling with him. "Trust Me," it seemed to say. "Trust Me and I'll make it right."

Carl clenched his teeth. Hadn't he trusted Christ, only to become ill, without a job, unable to support his family? A certain bitterness and resentment had come to rest within a heart grown cold. Carl remembered the verse, "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him." He paused. Chastening? Was this simply a period of chastening, of testing, in his Christian experience? A testing to make him stronger, to draw him nearer to God? Funny, but he'd never thought of it that way.

Sidling up to a toy truck, Carl started to slip it into his bag, but the voice arrested him.

"Trust Me. Trust Me."

An odd kind of lump settled in his throat. There had been a time in his ife when he would have endured anything rather than to have taken a thing that did not belong to him. "Dear Lord," he cried silently, "what has happened to me?" The answer was coming clear. All this time it was in the back of Carl's mind that God had failed him. It never once occurred to him that it was he who had failed!

The new things in the shopping bag suddenly appeared to his eyes as something repulsive, things from which to flee. For Carl suddenly had turned into a thief. He glanced rapidly about. What could he do? Put the things back? Let his children go without Christmas? Yes, that would be far better than to give them a Christmas this way. Somehow he'd help them to understand.

"Father, forgive me� my cold heart, my failures, everything!" He squared his shoulders and a new determination shone from his eyes. "By your grace, this is the last time it will ever happen!"

Decision gripped his heart. He went to the manager's office and opened the bag.

"Mr. Merrill?"

The gray-haired man frowned, seeing the assortment in the bag. He came closer, frowned, then pointed. "Where did you get those things?"

Carl braced himself. "I took them from your store tonight. I guess- there's just not anything else to say. Except that I couldn't go through with it."

Mr. Merrill cocked his head. "I don't understand. Why didn't you go through with it? What made you stop?"

"I'm a Christian� although for a time tonight I seemed to forget that. I just couldn't do it. I don't know what you'll do, but I had to tell you� to get it off my chest."

The older man sat down at his desk, looking for a moment through the narrow window and over the heads of the crowd below. Finally he turned, lacing his fingers together. "What made you do it?" he asked.

Carl swallowed painfully. "My children." Briefly and simply Carl explained his story. "It�it hurt not to be able to give them a Christmas like other kids have."

Mr. Merrill nodded. "You say you won't be able to go back to your old job?"

Carl shook his head. "The doctor says no more heavy lifting."

Mr. Merrill seemed thoughtful. "But you could stand on your feet all right?"

"Why� yes. Why?"

"Because, right after Christmas, we're going to have an opening for a salesman in men's wear. I was just wondering..."

Carl could have shouted. "Mr. Merrill, surely you aren't thinking about� about taking me on in your store?"

"Why not? You're one of the most honest men I've ever chanced to meet." He scribbled something on the pad in front of him. "Come in and see me about the second of January, hmmm?"

Carl wrung the other man's hand. "Yes, sir, I'll be here first thing that morning! Thank you, Mr. Merrill, I can't say how much!"

He started to leave the office but was called back. Mr. Merrill was pointing toward the shopping bag.

"Take them along� it's Christmas. We'll work it out of your pay."

Carl returned home singing. When in front of his home he saw a tree standing before the window. Beside it were three excited children. Mirian ran to open the door.

"Carl! Oh, darling, the neighbors! They saw we didn't have a tree so they pitched in and got one for the children!" Tears streamed down her face. "And they brought food� a turkey and� oh, I don't know what all!"

A sob filled Carl's throat. It was Christmas and the Saviour of the world reigned within his heart! That was all God had been waiting for- to shower them with blessings."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, December 18, 1960, pages 3, 19, 21

Don't live someone else's dream

One Week To Live

"The shocking words fall slowly from the doctor's lips as he sadly slips X rays and lab results back into the file. Emotion fills the spinning room. The stark reality of this ultimate crisis suddenly makes everything outside the doctor's office seem trivial.

Then, as quickly as it came, this moment of personal terror reaches its peak and vanishes into blackness, melting into the welcome relief of a commercial break.

Sound familiar? Most of us have watched such an episode on one program or another. The characters, though perhaps weekly guests in our family room are, nonetheless, distant and fictitious. Their crises flow from a script, destined to be relived in years of reruns. The actors complete their day's work and resume lives with much brighter horizons. It's not real.

But what if it were real? Suppose for a moment the scene is played in your doctor's office and the test results are yours. Here there are no actors, no scripts, no commercial breaks. It's just you and the haunting words,
One week to live.

It's amazing how quickly priorities change against such a backdrop. Work that had seemed important enough to consume nearly every waking thought now moves abruptly to the mind's back burner. Such shocking news rewrites the value of sales, mergers, and acquisitions.

The worth of properties and possessions plummets as well. One week isn't enough time to redeem these prizes and regain those precious things we sacrificed to win them. How sad to have accumulated a room full of toys and find you have no time to play with them.
One week to live.

Oh, the things we always meant to do. That trip with the kids never seemed to fit into the calendar. Now the calendar's down to its final page. The disappointment of things never done makes the drive home from the doctor's office seem much too long. "I'll never get to..."
Tears come freely as we finish the sentence a dozen different ways.
One week to live.

In times of crisis, our thoughts are usually dominated by those close to us. They are the beneficiaries of a whole new "to do" list. We pour the years we will never have into every minute with family and friends. Candlelight dinners with the wife seem like a good idea. Friends we haven't seen in years call twice in the same week. Relatives nearly removed from last year's Christmas card list even find time to visit.

With near supernatural determination, we press a smile on our faces and cherish life's fleeting seconds. The words I love you come frequently, but we've never meant them more.
One week to live.

In spite of the many roses we now rush to smell, life's final week brings some solitary moments, as well. Though much of our week is spent looking back and looking around, time is ultimately given to look ahead.

What's next? Oh, the doctor described clearly all that would come with our final breaths, but his experience didn't help us with the question we really want answered. What then?

It's interesting how some of the things we never wanted to think about are now most pressing in our thoughts. Heaven and hell were light years away last week. Now, we're packing to move.

Am I ready? Will I go to heaven? I wonder why I never thought about this before?

Pencil marks fill the Bible underlining the glorious descriptions of heaven and every passage that tells how to get there. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God"
(John 1:12, NIV). And, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness"
(I John 1:9). As the week unfolds, these promises become our greatest treasure.
One week to live.

What really matters when we have one week to live? Is it the title we've spent ourselves trying to achieve? Is it a bank account or one of life's trinkets of prestige? A quick inventory of our hearts should reveal a resounding "No!"

Life's true worth is as close as a whisper. Spend every day nurturing your relationships with those you love and with God. You'll want to spend your final week that way. Why not get a head start? Don't wait until the doctor calls to start living your best."

The author, Mike Clarensau, was a district/college liaison and youth consultant in the Sunday School Promotion and Training Department at the Assemblies of God Headquarters at that time.

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, Outreach Edition, March 24, 1996, pages 14.

You cannot change
what you will not confront

Overcoming Opposition
By Earl Creps

"Serving God is not easy. In fact, the severity of the enemy's opposition may be the best indication that God's purposes are being accomplished.

Nehemiah reconstructed Jerusalem's wall in 52 days in the face of adversaries. Local political figures� Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem� threw everything they had at the Jewish work crews to prevent Jerusalem from regaining its economic and political dominance in the region. Their strategies failed because Nehemiah knew how to recognize and defeat them.

The Fight

The two primary strategies used by Nehemiah's enemies represent the same tactics Satan still uses against the people of God:


Opposition by Accusation:
Rather than risk a direct assault on the city, Sanballat and his henchmen launched verbal barrages designed to create doubt about the project among the Jews and in the eyes of the empire.

Derision was the first avenue of attack. Nehemiah records that
"they mocked and ridiculed us"
(Nehemiah 2:19, NIV). "What are those feeble Jews doing?" demanded Sanballat.

Tobiah said,
"If even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones"
(Nehemiah 4:2-3). Sanballat's aim was to get Nehemiah's followers to compare the size of the task (enormous) with the scope of their resources (slim).

Sanballat also invited Nehemiah to meetings away from the city, hoping to consume the governor's time and ultimately to capture and/or assassinate him. He also hired a false prophet to lure Nehemiah into the temple area in hopes he would abandon his leadership responsibilities to find personal sanctuary. Had Nehemiah complied, the reconstruction project would have died along with his reputation
(Nehemiah 6:13).

The word devil means "an accuser, a slanderer." He undercuts our motivation to serve God by heaping scorn on us, sometimes using the words of others. He creates self-doubt by translating our best motives into something ugly. He can talk us into quitting when we should stick it out or letting God-given opportunity pass by when we should take it. In both cases, our potential in the Kingdom is minimized.


Opposition by attack:
The Jews' opponents had the city surrounded and sought to frighten them into submission
(Nehemiah 6:9)

Sanballat's allies commanded forces sufficient to overcome the city's scattered inhabitants. Even the Jews who lived nearby warned the city's residents,

"Wherever you turn, they will attack us"
(Nehemiah 4:12).

Knowing that the empire took a dim view of provincial revolution, Sanballat's allies deliberately misinterpreted the motives behind the reconstruction project.

"They asked, "Are you rebelling against the king?"
(Nehemiah 2:19). Their question implied that Nehemiah was rebuilding the city to establish himself as king, a move sure to invoke imperial wrath
(Nehemiah 6:6-7).

"Satan" means "an adversary." As with Nehemiah's foes, he attempts to intimidate us so our
"hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed"
(Nehemiah 6:9).

The Victory

Nehemiah used the weapons available to him. Similarly,
"the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, we have divine power to demolish strongholds"
(2 Corinthians 10:4).

Perceive below the surface:
Having served as a cupbearer in the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes I, Nehemiah was not a newcomer to polital intrigue. When tempted to leave his responsibilities, he recognized a ploy of the enemy and retorted:

"I will not go!" "I realized that God had not sent him..."
(Nehemiah 6:11-12).

Paul wrote of Satan:
"We are not unaware of his schemes"
(2 Corinthians 2:11). We must use common sense to spot difficulties that cannot be explained on the basis of circumstances alone. We should also ask the Holy Spirit to make the gift of "distinguishing between spirits" operative within us
(1 Corinthians 12:10).

Pray above the circumstances:
Nehemiah could do little to escape his situation, so he prayed:

"Hear us, 0 our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads"
(Nehemiah 4:4). By example and organization, he also involved the city's population in intercession
(Nehemiah 4:9).

John wrote,
"For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith"
(1 John 5:4). Turning to God in prayer brings the resources of the Kingdom to bear on the opposition.

Post guards behind the gaps:
Nehemiah prayed, but he also

"stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families"
(Nehemiah 4:13). His strategy was to rely on God, while also organizing his forces to protect the especially vulnerable places.

For some, the low point in the wall might be their thought life; for others, control of their words.

Ironically, one of Sanballat's most devious schemes was an offer to help with the project. This would have placed his forces in a position to do maximum damage.

Nehemiah responded:
"You have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it"
(Nehemiah 2:20). Defeating spiritual forces means denying the enemy any role in our lives. Paul warns:
"Do not give the devil a foothold"
(Ephesians 4:27).

Persevere until victory comes:
Rebuilding Jerusalem was a long, hard struggle. At times, despite prayer and evident progress, the people almost lost heart; however, with Nehemiah's encouragement, they refused to quit.

Nehemiah summarized the fruits of their perseverance:
"When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God"
(Nehemiah 6:16).

To overcome opposition, we must first know its nature and be able to identify the weapons being used. Practical and spiritual weapons are available to us to turn back every onslaught of the enemy. We can use them in confidence that
"the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world"
(1 John 4:4)."

The author, Earl Creps, Ph.D., was the director of the Doctor of Ministry Program in Pentecostal Leadership at Assemblies of God Seminary in Springfield, Mo. at that time.

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, JUNE 10, 2001, pages 12-15

Faith is the spark of hope that lights the heart with the promise of God's love

What Color Is Hope?
by Joel Kilpatrick

"Some are searching for it in all the wrong places. They're turning to drugs, sex, possessions, and power, but nothing has brought them lasting fulfillment.

Many others are discovering there is only one road to hope� Jesus Christ. They are learning that hope is not for the religious, but for the desperate; not for the self-righteous, but for sinners.

Jesus died on a cross to bring hope to thieves, housewives, gang members, executives, prostitutes, university students, drug users, and more. He came to offer eternal life to the world� to those who would make Him the Lord of their lives.

Following are stories of people� the lost, the battered, the broken, and the ashamed� who found hope. Each has learned the color of hope is not white or black, brown or yellow� it's crimson, the color of Christ's blood poured out for each one of us on the cross.


Losing it all

Thad Suits never lived on the streets. He was never unemployed. He was a respectable family man who, for 33 years, didn't think he had a drug problem...until it tore him from his family, stripped him of his job, and left him begging for help.

Suits was raised in a Christian home, but "chose the wrong path" in his teenage years, he says. He first used marijuana at age 22, then got into crack cocaine, and became a servant of the drug. He began to plan his life, his family time, and his finances around it.

"I spent all my money on it," he says. "I started stealing from my family. I went on binges and was gone for days because I was ashamed to come home."

Eventually, his employers gave up on him and he was fired. But addiction bred desperate ingenuity: He started his own business, an auto repair shop, in order to support his drug habit. For several years he was able to maintain the fiction of a normal life; but inside his heart and within his home, sin was corroding trust and closeness with his wife and children.

He hit rock bottom when he lost his business because his clients could no longer trust him. "I didn't have a wrench to turn," he says. He had literally sold all of his equipment to buy drugs. At the same time, his wife, fed up after so many years, told him to get out. Then his 17-year-old son brought home an essay he had written: "If I could change anything in my life, I would have a father who didn't use drugs," he wrote.

"That devastated me," Suits says. But it also drove him to a final point of decision, and, skeptical though he was, he turned to Teen Challenge for immediate help, and then to Christ for a changed life. The Lord started dealing with the root of the problem, and after a year in the program Suits saw his life built back up, brick by brick, until he had been completely renewed.

"God has restored my family. Honestly, it's like it never happened," he says. "I have my business back, and customers are calling left and right."

For Suits, his wife, and his three children, there is a closeness that surpasses any they have ever known. His son works with him at the auto shop, and they have just signed a contract to work on vehicles for Disney World.

"I give God all the glory," says the 44-year-old Suits. "He has multiplied everything and is taking care of my family and me."


Finding the loving arms of Christ

Wendy Wander was in search of acceptance, and at the age of 13 she found it in drugs and a new group of friends. It wasn't much� just some casual using to help her forget the problems she was having at home. Wendy had no idea where it would lead.

Her addiction deepened as she tried to stay clean. After a relapse in her early 20s, she began using cocaine. The results were disastrous. She lost her job, apartment, and ended up living out of her car with her fiance� until they lost the car. Meanwhile, Wendy was in and out of jail for stealing to support her habit. Sin was turning her life into a hell on earth.

Back in suburban Pennsylvania, Wendy's family trusted their daughter to the Lord even as she abused their kindness. The final scene in their nightmare took place in urban Philadelphia when Wendy went on a drug run, only to find that she didn't have enough money for train fare back home. Every time she worked up enough money to return, she spent it on drugs.

Within a few days a blizzard hit the city, turning the streets to ice. On those streets, in subzero temperatures, Wendy prostituted herself to get money. Her mother tried to find her, searching neighborhoods that "weren't fit for a dog, let alone my precious daughter," she says. She hung flyers in the police stations with Wendy's photograph.

In the false warmth of a hotel room Wendy hit rock bottom. She felt God had given up on her and knew she would die in the streets. That's when she cried out for help.

After contacting her family, Wendy turned herself in and did time in jail. There she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and turned over her sin-lashed life to His tender care. For the first time, in a jail cell, she felt free.

The change was immediate. She was restored to her family and joined a Teen Challenge program in New York, from which she recently graduated.

"I look in her eyes and I see my daughter again," Wendy's mother says. "My message to parents out there is, "Don't give up. Keep praying."

Wendy, now 29, works with other women like her, taking a van down to the streets to bring them back to the loving, merciful environment at the Walter Hoving Home for women.

"The Lord has done such great things in my life," Wendy says. "He never stops giving. Sometimes I ask, "Why have You done so much for me?" But that's only because I forget how He is."


God of another chance

Robert Williams grew up poor in Chicago. So poor that he was forced to borrow clothes from his older brother, which made him look so baggy that he was ashamed to attend classes. Like so many high school kids, he didn't think he would ever amount to anything.

That deep feeling of worthlessness led to self-destructive behavior. Williams started out with marijuana when he was 13, began sniffing heroin at 19, and was mainlining with a needle at 21. The kid who never thought he'd be worth a dime was walking down a dark and lonely road to emptiness.

Williams' drug use wrecked his first marriage and stripped him of a loving wife and three children. As a trained welder, he could always get jobs, but he never held them for long. For some time he drifted around the country- addicted, alone, in a hole of depression where light never shined.

For over a decade, Williams was in and out of countless halfway houses, but none of them dealt with the real issue of salvation from sin. Nobody told him that to change permanently he needed Jesus, not just good advice.

When the winds blew him back to Chicago in 1979, Williams had lived up to his own estimation. His life had been a string of personal and professional failures, exacerbated by his relentless drug use. He was living with his mother when, one day as she watched a minister on television, she came crying into his room. "Son, you've tried everything else. Why don't you try Jesus?" she asked. He agreed. He enrolled in the Teen Challenge program.

Fifteen years later the evidence is in: God doesn't create failures; He rescues them. Williams has come a long way from the streets of Chicago. He is an elder at his church, where he teaches a discipleship class. He is married with two boys, 12 and 11. This year he will be ordained as a minister.

"He's the God of a second chance," Williams says.

Indeed, the kid with baggy clothes is no longer ashamed. "I have worth in Jesus Christ," he boasts. "I can't thank God enough for what He's done in my life."


Trading guns for glory

Fifteen-year-old Phil Cookes found himself running from the cops through the streets of Hawthorne, California, hurdling park benches, scaling fences, and diving through bushes. The young gangster was caught and handcuffed in the parking lot of a church and hauled off, not for the first time, to juvenile hall.

Thirty years and a lifetime later, Cookes, the former gangster, is the pastor of that church. He is helping youth, caught in the web of violence, to see that their lives are worth more than a few ounces of cocaine� that Jesus values them regardless of what color they are or what neighborhood they were born in.

The first part of Cookes' testimony reads like a rap sheet. He joined his first gang at the age of 5, got involved in robberies, beatings, counterfeitings, drug use and distribution� standard fare for inner-city children. He dealt heroin out of his garage for many years and mugged people on the streets when necessary.

But the Lord had Cookes targeted for glory. On the way to commit armed robbery Phil's friend came to Christ, wandering across the church parking lot with a buck knife. He told Phil about the transformation in his life, but Phil held out until 1984 before allowing Jesus Christ into his heart and life. After 23 years he gave up his rags, guns, knives, and drugs, and with empty hands accepted the forgiveness of the Savior.

Now, as a pastor and Teen Challenge director, Cookes is reaching out to the crowds he once rejected and bringing together people from different racial groups in a city where race relations could not be more combustible.

"Our church is black, white, brown, and Asian, and I'm proud of that," Cookes says. "I preach a hard line that God is not into prejudice."

One of Cookes' proudest achievements is a park where kids can play basketball and other sports under the supervision of Christian men and women. A sign on the fence reads, "These are neutral grounds by direct order of Jesus Christ." All entrants are searched with a metal detector. In that square block, at least, peace reigns in Los Angeles.

"It's an alternative for kids in gangs," he says. "While they are there, I tell them that being a Christian takes a real man."

Cookes hasn't fled his turf. He loves his city, his people, and is determined to bring them the gospel of Christ and the promise of salvation.

"God brought me full circle," he says. "I'm back home."


Hope is available whatever color you are; whatever situation you're in; whatever you've done; and whatever you've failed to do. Hope is waiting, and� like the people you read about in this article� you too can grab ahold of it. Just reach for Jesus.

Teen Challenge is a program that offers hope for those with life-controlling problems. Begun in 1958, 38 years ago, by David Wilkerson on the streets of New York, the program has a 70 percent cure rate for those who have graduated the program, according to a federal government-conducted study.

Information is available from the Teen Challenge Department at the Assemblies of God Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri."

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, Outreach Edition, March 24, 1996, pages 4 - 7.

The only people to get even with are those who have helped you

Help Me! Someone, please help me!
by David G. Watson

"Charlene awoke, her mind clouded with a thick, dark fog- all that was left of a hellish 2 day trip on a double shot of LSD. Long, dark hair framed her thin face. Large brown eyes betrayed the loneliness that wrapped around her between every drug high during 20 years of running. Finally, one desperate thought began to penetrate the fog: My life is totally out of control. Help Me! Someone, please help me!

Troubled past

Life had been tough on Charlene. Raised the youngest of seven in a his/her mix of kids, she saw and heard everything the lowlifes of Rich Hill, Missouri, could show and tell in the bar her dad owned and operated. She spent afternoons and week-ends at the bar. School was no picnic either. Charlene had a learning disability and went through school hearing taunts of "dummy" from her classmates, even though she made B's and C's in the special ed class. When she was 16, her dad was brutally murdered in a robbery at his tavern. After that came an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and a son who was given up for adoption.

Drugs, death, and the devil

Drugs became part of Charlene's life at age 18 when a girlfriend offered her a joint of marijuana. Then came speed. After a move to Springfield, Missouri, she moved on to LSD, mushrooms, crank, and coke. At age 24, she married her live-in boyfriend 2 days after the birth of their daughter. The marriage lasted 4 years. After a short 3 months of dating, she married a man who also had a love affair with drugs. She boasted that their family heirloom was a marijuana pipe.

On the bad LSD trips Charlene saw things she had never seen before. Pictures seemed to be melting on the walls� like everything was dying. But worst of all, she had seen the devil's face, and in terror had run down the sidewalk with him right on her heels. Death and the devil�both began to stir long-forgotten memories of going to Sunday school and church with her oldest sister when they were kids. She knew the trip was a warning and vowed never to use LSD or hard drugs again. She lost her connection to buy crank which helped with the effort at self-control. So the pot pipe became her constant companion. She had to smoke every 45 minutes to maintain any kind of emotional balance. The loneliness became intense. She cried constantly.

She even lost her one claim to being good. In all the years of drugs, marriage, divorce, raising kids, and the fights of everyday life, she had never used God's name in vain. But during this period of self-effort to change, she failed even in that, while fighting with her husband. She began to see that she couldn't do it herself. Would God forgive me after all these years? she wondered.

Ask yourself...

What about you? As you have read this article, you may have wondered how you ever got into your present situation. How did you end up like this? You could single yourself out and rehearse every failure and mistake you ever made, list all missed opportunities, and ultimately believe you are not worthy of God's attention or love. But the fact remains, whether you have lived an exemplary life or a sorrowful, sin-filled existence, no scenario exceeds the bounds of your need for forgiveness or God's desire and ability to eliminate your past and create in you a new life through His Son Jesus Christ.

Charlene's turnaround

It happened to Charlene. She called a pastor who assured her that God could and would forgive her. She began to watch Christian television and prayed the sinner's prayer after watching a program. Over a period of time, still smoking pot, she knew she needed to go to church and make a public confession of faith. She needed help to grow in God.

She made her way to Central Assembly of God on October 1, 1995. There she made her way to the altar and totally submitted her life to God. A few weeks later, on a Sunday morning at Central, she publicly smashed the family heirloom� the pot pipe. God had delivered her from. all desire for drugs. Best of all, He filled her with His presence, His peace, His love, and placed her in a church family who love her. She's not lonely anymore.

There's hope for you

With this Evangel in your hand, the thoughts cross your mind,
Could this forgiveness be for me? Could God fill me with His presence? Could I feel His peace. His love? And could I be a part of the family of God?

The answer is yes! What you may consider coincidence is in reality the providential hand of God. He's reaching out to you, letting you know that His Son Jesus Christ was born in a manger, was tempted in every way, and lived a sinless life as both God and man. He took on himself all sin from the Garden of Eden to the guilt for sin you may be feeling now. Jesus brought those sins to a cross where He suffered a cruel crucifixion for you. And He rose from the dead defeating death, hell, and the grave. It's no accident you are reading this. This is a love note from God, saying, "Come home."

Pause where you are and ask Jesus to forgive you for all your sins and to come and live in your heart. God's Word says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"
(1 John 1:9, KJV). That act of faith in God will cause a change in your life and you will never be the same again.

You may be returning to God or establishing a relationship with Him for the first time. Feel the freedom of a life cleansed and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. You are saved. You are forgiven.

Now, make it public. Find a church where God's uncompromised Word is preached. Let it be known that Jesus has come into your life. Get involved in a class for new converts so you can learn more about the wonderful God you now serve. And remember, it is by no accident you are reading this article. It is an appointment with God."

David G. Watson, D.Min., was pastor of Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, when this article was written.

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, Outreach Edition, March 24, 1996, pages 8 - 9.

"Real friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself,
Don't feel that you've done a permanent job"
-Erwin T. Randall

Be Real
by Dave Dravecky

"Dave Dravecky former pitcher with the San Francisco Giants and founder of Dave Dravecky's Outreach of Hope, spoke with Scott Harrup, news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel. (Dravecky's athletic career ended when he lost his pitching arm to cancer.)

Baseball has been an enormous part of your life. Christianity has been an even bigger part. How do you relate one to the other?

I like to make the connection between Babe Ruth and John 3:16. If you know anything about the game of baseball, you probably know about Babe Ruth. He is so central to the history of the game. In the same way, Christ is central to Christianity. If you want to understand Christianity, study
John 3:16:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
I have to say I can't understand how God would do that. There is no way I would give up my only son Jonathan, or my daughter Tiffany. Not to get my arm back, not for anything. But God gave up His Son. He did that for the world. He did that for me.

How has your personal tragedy impacted your teammates?

I won't really know until I reach eternity. I would love to be able to tell you I saw a number of guys respond who are now walking with the Lord, but I can't. I haven't seen it. And yet, there have been comments that they have been encouraged by what they have seen in my own struggles. But I won't know until eternity what God did in the midst of all that. That's the key: understanding it's not what I've done; it's what God does in the hearts of people.

I know that I'm a vessel used by Him. I'm responsible for the way I live my life before God. I want to please Him not only through the mountaintop experiences, but through suffering as well. The most important thing a Christian can do while living this life is to be real. Just be yourself. Allow God to use you in that place.

During your illness you met well-meaning people who accused you of not having enough faith to be healed. How can we reach out to others during times of crisis without becoming judgmental?

We sum that up in a theme we use for the work we are doing to encourage cancer patients and amputees� "To Love With Actions and in Truth." It comes from
1 John 3:18.

When you deal with people who suffer, the question "Why me?" often enters the picture. But often we are not qualified to discern. It is up to us to love those individuals in the midst of their suffering and permit them to express fear, doubt, and anxiety.

Also, we have learned the value of being good listeners. The best times that Job had with his three buddies were in the first 7 days� when they were quiet. The minute they opened their mouths, it was trouble. If you want to be an encourager and bring comfort, listen. Just being there makes a profound statement for the one who is suffering.

The Bible does not say that Christians will not suffer. The antithesis is true� we will suffer. Yes, God is capable of healing, but not everyone is healed. For whatever reason God holds His hand back, there is a greater purpose behind the suffering. We have to be sensitive and allow God to work in that person's life.

God has shown Jan and me more than one time the value of trusting in Him, realizing that He does provide strength to endure the journey, and also that there is a purpose behind our suffering.

In your second book, "When You Can't Come Back", you and Jan described how difficult it was for you personally to understand her serious depression in spite of your own battle with long-term illness. Do you believe it is sometimes more difficult for Christians to face up to emotional ill health than to physical sickness?

I think so. Christianity in America has painted a picture that we are to look and talk a certain way. We are to respond a certain way to life's struggles. We often don't understand that people can hurt to the point of depression. Until you have been there, you really don't understand how others suffer.

I will admit, as I looked at my wife, I thought, Come on. If you've got a problem, take it to God. He'll fix it. I didn't recognize or realize how God can use people to be instruments of healing until I came face-to-face with my own depression. Let alone, the loss of my arm and the suffering I went through with cancer.

Some Christians are afraid to admit that they don't have a grip on life. When you look at men in our society, how difficult is it for men to say, "I'm weak"? As Christians we learn through our weaknesses. Paul said, "Then when I am weak, I am strong."
(See 2 Corinthians 12:10.) That strength comes from God.

How many Christians can admit they are depressed and know they can be accepted with their depression? That is a challenge for all of us in the church. It revolves around the issue of loving with actions and in truth. Christ loved unconditionally. We place conditions on love.

what are some current developments in your ministry and in the Dave Dravecky Foundation?

The Dave Dravecky Foundation is in the process of reincorporating and changing its name to Dave Dravecky's Outreach of Hope. That name better defines what we are all about. We provide hope and encouragement to those who are suffering with cancer and/or amputation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We don't beat people over the head with the Bible. We come alongside people to encourage them, to embrace them in their suffering, and be a voice or a listening ear.

How that has affected me has been overwhelming. I look back on my life in these last 5 years and see more clearly how God has worked. I understand even more clearly that good can come out of a bad thing. And I see more clearly the value of giving over the value of constantly taking. If I can in the smallest way give back to my fellowman, then I feel with humility I have pleased God.

With the enormous demands on your time, what are you doing to keep your family a priority?

I'm cutting my speaking engagements in half in 1996 from 1995. That impacts us financially, but it significantly increases the time I can give my family. That is more important to me than anything else. It will allow me to be home over 300 days this year. I'm making this change for three reasons: to be more intimate with God, to be more intimate with my wife, and to be more intimate with my children. At 40 years of age, I realize I have wasted a lot of time.

You and your family have weathered a lot of storms together. How are you doing today?

To sum it up in one phrase: "We are happy campers." Things are going extremely well for me physically. For Jan and me things are going extremely well emotionally. Ultimately, things are going very well for us spiritually. The Dravecky family is doing just fine. Frankly, it feels good to be at this place because of how difficult it was for so many years. That is not to complain, because we have seen the value in it; but it is good to be here."

(Dravecky's book, The Worth of a Man, and A Joy I'd Never Known by Jan Dravecky were released in April 1996)

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, Outreach Edition, March 24, 1996, pages 10 - 11.

What Heaven will be like: (1 Peter 1:4)
My mother as a child would walk to her maternal grandmother's farm
Her grandmother always had a big plate full of cookies on the table for her -Kraig J. Rice

Boiled Blessings
By Joan Rhoden

"Steam was rising from a large enameled kettle as we pulled up to the little roadside stand near Mount Dora, Florida. Inside the car with my husband and two of his sisters, I sensed with dread that I was about to experience a forced blessing. "Stop! Boiled peanuts," they shouted with delight.

Oh, I had tasted boiled peanuts once. Cold and rubbery, right out of a refrigerator� as tasty as little pink pencil erasers. It had happened 30 years ago, but the memory was still vivid. I vowed never to eat them again.

Undaunted by my balking, they purchased for me my own steamy bundle, wrapped in paper and bagged in plastic. "Eat them," they insisted. "You'll love them." Words from Dr. Seuss pounded in my head. "I do not like them Sam, I am. I do not like green eggs and ham."

Reluctantly, I tried one. The aroma was seducing. They showed me how to twist the shell just enough to pop out the plump, juicy kernels. It was love at first bite. I savored the salty after-taste and even licked the shells, ignoring the drips from my fingers. When the bag was empty and the mess cleaned up, I thanked them heartily. "I do so like green eggs and ham. Thank you! Thank you, Sam, I am!"

By nature, I am a cautious person, not given to risk-taking. How many times have I cowered at opportunities God has provided for me and then thanked Him later for patiently nudging me into a blessing?

One of those blessings happened after we moved into a new neighborhood. We were conscious of nervous chatter about "the new minister's family" living here. Tongue-in-cheek comments about "cleaning up our act" crept into conversations. The last thing we wanted to do was come on strong and scare people away.

"Let's start with putting a candle in our window," I said to my husband. A "Light of the world" symbol. So we did� a single electric candle in a window burning day and night. We didn't talk about it and nobody asked about it for at least a year.

One morning at dawn, Bob went out to the driveway for the newspaper. As he turned to go back inside, a jogger rounded the cul-de-sac and called out, "Hello." It was a neighbor we didn't know very well. We had only spoken a few times, but he turned abruptly and came back to talk. "Thank you for keeping that candle in your window," he said. "It has given me hope and pointed me to God." His life had fallen apart because of bad personal decisions, and our candle sparked a God memory from his childhood Sunday school days.

Later, he wrote his thoughts on paper: "One night I awoke in an extreme state of anxiety, fretting over the mess I had made. I saw that light in the window and knew God cared."

Sharing a witness for Christ has always challenged me. I affirm those who have more assertive styles of evangelism. Knocking on doors has brought many a lost soul into the Kingdom. But God uses timid people too, who change light bulbs in window candles and talk to neighbors at dawn.

Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, called us salt and light. It all boils down to this: Is my life salty enough to be savored by the world once they taste it? And does my light send a clear message of hope� for now?"

Joan Rhoden lived in Fairfax, Virginia, at that time and was the wife of H. Robert Rhoden, superintendent of the Potomac District of the Assemblies of God.

This article quoted from the
Pentecostal Evangel Magazine, JUNE 10, 2001, page 29

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shared with you by Kraig Josiah Rice

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As of February 19, 2007