10 Years, Fifty Issues

Ten years ― Fifty Issues

It has been my privilege to serve as editor of the God’s Missionary Standard for the past decade. Thank you to the fifty-two writers who wrote for the Standard. Jon Plank served as my graphic artist for all ten years and did an amazing job – thank you. Thanks to God’s Missionary Church, Inc. for the privilege of serving as editor. I know that David Wise and his team will do a fantastic job with the Standard!

While I will miss being editor, I am grateful that God has prompted me to use my writing time for Kids Bible Travels and Gospel Publishing Mission with Joseph Taylor.

A burned goose and a hammer-wielding swan

According to writings, as his executioners were about to burn Jan Hus at the stake, he wrote in his prison cell,“Today you burn a goose, but in one hundred years a swan will arise which you will prove unable to boil or roast.”

Why did Hus identify himself as a goose and what was he referring to about a swan? Let’s answer the first question first.

Hus was born about 1372, in a Bohemian town of called Husinec. The actual meaning of Husinec is Goosetown. His surname, which comes from his place of birth, means goose.

Hus was influenced by the morning star of the Reformation, Wycliffe. Hus wanted to make Scripture accessible to the people. He began to believe that some of the practices of the Church, were against Scripture. He was critical of the veneration of Mary and the saints. He didn’t believe that the practice of withholding the chalice from the common people was right. Several times Hus referred to priests and popes as “antichrist.” He even disregarded papal bulls when they contradicted Scripture. Huss preached passionately against this misuse of the church’s authority not only to sell forgiveness. He came to believe that only Scripture was infallible, and that the church fathers and popes could err. This was later included in what the Reformers called sola Scriptura. He became known as God’s little goose. His beliefs angered the church, and on July 6, 1415, Hus was stripped of his clerical robes, and burned to death at the stake.

Nearly 100 years later, 102 years to be exact, a man by the name Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Church. Ordained as a monk, in his quest for truth, he discovered the message of Wycliffe and Hus, and was profoundly shaped by them. As you study the life, writings, and influence of Luther, you will discover that he is closely associated with a swan. Whether this was intentional or not, we do know that Luther continued the Reformation that was started by Wycliffe and Huss. Though I have yet to experience it for myself, I am told that many Lutheran Churches today embrace the swan as one of their symbols.

Coincidence or not, many believe that Hus’s prophecy about a swan doing a unstoppable work was fulfilled in the life of Martin Luther.

Whosoever Doors

gms-web-template[This is the editorial of the February 2017 issue of God’s Missionary Standard]

Sometime ago my wife needed to pick up a few items at our local grocery store. I told her that I would stay in our van with our girls. I dropped her off at the door and as she walked towards the door, it automatically opened, allowing her to go in. I found an empty parking spot right out front and waited for a few minutes. As I was waiting, I watched as an older lady walked toward the door. As she got closer to the door, it automatically opened for her. Moments later, a young man walked toward the door, and yes, you guessed it, it automatically opened for him too. Rich and poor, old and young, the door opened for everyone. I waited around ten minutes and probably 50 people walked towards the door, and it opened for all of them. I realize that this is a no-brainer, but as my family and I drove away from the grocery store, I thought, that door is a whosoever door. Whoever went toward the door, it opened for everyone.

This issue of the Standard is about the doors of opportunity that God opens for us. Whether it is internationally, in our town, or next door, there are doors of opportunity that are open to share the Gospel! In case you haven’t noticed, the world that you and I live in desperately needs Jesus. We need people who are tired of the states quo, to be willing to go through open doors wherever God may lead us. Internationally, in our community, or even next door. If we are followers of Christ, then there are opportunities everywhere to share the Gospel. As you read the excellent articles in this issue, ask God what doors He would have you walk through. John 3:16 says “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.” Whosoever. When the whosever walks through the doors, may we be ready and willing to help lead them to Jesus.

Caleb and the First Christmas

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A family Christmas Eve tradition that I started a few years ago is to write story for my girls and then read it to them on Christmas Eve night. This year I based the story around Caleb from Kids Bible Travels and I had my friend Hery do five illustrations. He did a beautiful job!

This short story is titled, Caleb and the First Christmas. Caleb gets lost as a young camel and finds himself in the hills of Bethlehem with the shepherds when angels appear and announce the birth of Jesus. I had fun writing it and Hery had fun illustrating it!

If you would like to read the story and see the illustrations, you can access them at

http://kidsbibletravels.com/caleb-and-the-first-christmas/

Encounters with the Christ of Christmas

gms-web-templateAs one who loves history, there are many events that I would love to jump into a time machine and transport back so that I could witness history first hand as an observer. Foolish I know, but wouldn’t it be neat to be able to observe certain moments in history? If we had the ability to be able to do that, the Christmas narratives in Scripture are among the top of my list that I would transport back through time to observe. I would love to observe the shepherds as they encountered angels and then race to the village of Bethlehem to encounter the baby Jesus. I would feel for Joseph and Mary as they searched for a location for Mary to give birth to Jesus. And I would weep for joy as Simeon encountered the Christ, the hope of the world.

Encounters with Christ are still happening. Christ is still initiating encounters with Himself. He is still transforming people. May we listen to Him, obey Him, and live lives changed for Him. The Christmas issue of the Standard looks to continue the theme that we started in the October issue – Encounters with Christ. May we once again, encounter the Christ of Christmas. Download the new issue here.

Why Cane Ridge Is Still Important, 215 years later.

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Today is the 215th anniversary of the start of the Cane Ridge Camp Meeting. Never heard of it? Most people haven’t. But I wanted my girls to be aware of it. So this past June, as my family and I were on a road trip, one of the stops that we made was an out-of-the-way spot were Cane Ridge is located. About 20 miles east of Lexington, near Paris Kentucky. An event took place here in 1801 that historians generally consider to be the first camp meeting. At least 25,000 people attended that first camp meeting and it was instrumental in the spread of revival all over the frontier.

And that brings me to why Cane Ridge still matters. I admit, I love camp meetings. I don’t necessarily enjoy sweating in open-air tabernacles in the middle of the summer months, but I enjoy why they exist and why they were started. But in order to understand why Cane Ridge still matters, we need to go further into history.

In Genesis we read that God showed up in the Garden of Eden to fellowship with Adam and Eve. Imagine what that was like. The presence of God dwelling among the two of them, surrounded by the beauty of Eden. Sadly, Adam and Eve gave into temptation and sinned. Their sin separated them from God and God made them leave the garden. But that wasn’t the end, for He put into motion a plan. A plan that is seen clearer in the next book of the Old Testament, Exodus.

In the first few chapters of Exodus, we discover the Israelites enslaved. Through a miraculous series of events, God showed up and delivered them. They begin to journey to Canaan and stop at Mt. Sinai. There, along with the Ten Commandments and other laws, God gave them a message. “I am going to dwell among you.” This was unheard of! In the Egyptian culture that they had just come from, the gods there were aloof and distant. They only showed up when it benefited them. But God said that He was different, and that He was going to dwell among them!

The latter part of Exodus as well as sections of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy give detailed instructions on how God was going to dwell among them. God had them construct a portable tabernacle where His presence dwelt in the Holy of Holies above the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Chapter 40 records the account of the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle! The tabernacle was in the middle of the camp as a reminder that God’s presence was central to them. And though God’s presence was there, only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and only once a year.

Over 600 years later, the ark of the covenant was moved into Solomon’s Temple. And the next series of events are a sad commentary. God dwells among them, but the people reject God. At one point the glory of God even leaves the Temple. The Temple was destroyed and later rebuilt and then destroyed again. But before the second temple was destroyed, a major event happens. Jesus of Nazareth was born. When He turns 30, He began a ministry that changed people in that area and brought new life. A new sense of God’s presence. Eventually He was falsely accused, whipped and crucified. And as Jesus died on the cross, the curtain separating the Holy place from the Holy of Holies was ripped. Symbolically representing that the presence of God was accessible to anyone!

Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, and shortly after that Pentecost took place. And the book of Acts records one account after another of God showing up and doing the miraculous and transforming people. The spread of Christianity is on the back of these accounts. God’s indwelling presence changed things, changed people, transformed cultures. The flame was lite, and the fire spread.

Fast forward to the sixteenth century. By the 1500s, the world was spiritually dark. Symbolically, it was almost as if the Roman church, which was the only church that could legally operate, had again put the curtain up and separated humanity from the presence of God. But if there is one thing that that must be known is that you can’t defeat God. God’s spirit was hovering on the hearts of men and women and again. People were about to be made aware of God’s presence again.

Among others, God used a troubled and imperfect man by the name of Martin Luther to pound the nail in the door of Wittenberg Church, and the flames of the Reformation took off. These were troublesome days, and not everything that Luther did was good, but God used him and others to point to some important issues that underscored the reformation. 1. The importance of Scripture; 2. The beautiful doctrine of justification by faith; 3. The priesthood of the believer. All three of these are crucial, but the third is what I want to put my finger on again for this article. It was this tenant of the reformation, the priesthood of the believer, that woke the people again to the realization that they could daily access the presence of God. In dark times, God made people aware of his presence.

Once again, permit me to fast forward. If we go from Germany to England, about 200 years later, we see some of the same darkness that permeated Germany in the 1500s. England in the 1700s was spiritually dark. But God used some men and women who were influenced by the Lutheran reformation to influence a man by the name of John Wesley. A man who struggled with faith, his heart was “strangely warmed” while hearing the preface of Luther’s work on the Epistle of Romans being read. This man, who was also imperfect, was enabled by God to launch a movement called the Methodists. He commissioned preachers and assigned them to circuits all around England. In dark times, God made people aware of his presence.

The American colonies were involved in a conflict with England. People on both sides were pressing forward to be heard. And the colonies were deeply divided. During this time, Francis Asbury was commissioned by John Wesley to cross the atlantic and preach to the American Colony. He never went back to England. He spent the rest of his life organizing circuits and commissioning preachers to spread the Gospel. He himself traveled five thousand miles a year preaching. He preached seventeen thousand sermons, ordained three thousand preachers, founded five colleges, and became America’s first Methodist bishop. In troubled times, God made people aware of his presence.

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In 1801, in a rural area of Kentucky near the village of Paris, people gathered because they were hungry for God. Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and others gathered for a communion service. What happened there was a tremendous communion with God. Around 25,000 eventually heard and attended theses services and it turned into what historians call the first camp meeting in the United States. Its impact was felt all around the the frontier area. Men like James Finley were changed forever. Finley went on to become an influential Methodist circuit rider and became involved in prison reform and abolition. In difficult times, God made people aware of his presence.

In the 1860s, our nation was once again divided by conflict. North versus south. Tens of thousands of people died. If ever there was a time when our nation needed to be aware of God’s presence, it was then. Even the church was divided. Social and theological issues caused separation and disillusion. Thankfully, God’s spirit was moving. Individuals like John Inskip, J.A. Wood, William McDonald, Charles Fowler, Phoebe Palmer, and many others again raised the banner. The National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness was commissioned, and the first camp meeting was held in Vineland New Jersey. There was such a powerful demonstration of God’s presence, that they planned another camp meeting the next year. That one was held in 1868 at Manheim Pennsylvania and over 25,000 witnessed the powerful presence of God.

The next few years were full of events like this. So much that camp meetings became part of the religious landscape of the United States and were everywhere. My heritage traces back to the Tri-State Holiness Association Camp Meeting started by great-grandfather in Clinton Pennsylvania. He desired that people become aware of God’s presence in greater ways than they were experiencing.

So why does Cane Ridge still matter, 215 years later? It is not because of the mechanism of the camp meeting. It is not because they were in the middle of the woods sweating. It is because they made the presence of God the most important thing in their lives. They set aside time to seek out God’s presence.

One of the reasons I took my girls to Cane Ridge was to show them where this powerful event took place. Not much is there anymore. Oh sure, there is a sign, a shrine, a cemetery and a beautiful scenic setting. But there isn’’t any glow of God’s presence. It is now just a historical site.

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And so it is with our lives. We need to be intentional about cultivating the presence of God in our own personal lives. We live in troubled times. This election season is evidence of that. We need a new awareness of God’s presence. We can go to church, attend camp meetings and go to revival services. But these alone are not the answer. We can hold special services, do visitation and start tent meetings. But this alone won’t change much.

What I need to do and what we need to do is set time aside and beg God for a new awareness of His presence. A new indwelling. What will this look like? I don’t know. It probably won’t be a pillar of cloud or a visible sign of His presence. It probably won’t be like the camp meetings of the 1950s. But we will know. People always know when God shows up. It will require complete surrender on our part.

I’m 39 years old. I have girls who are ages 8, 5 and 2. I am hungry for a new sense of God’s presence. God’s manifested presence in the past isn’t good enough for us today. We need a new indwelling. The presence of God it is the answer for difficult times. And it can happen in our time! May we be willing, may I be willing, to do what it takes. 

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Why I do Daddy-Daughter Dates

12747694_1690112831278536_953110555_nWhen Kalena was one, I took her on our first daddy-daughter date. It consisted of a pastry, apple juice, and coffee for me. We watched through the window as the city decorated the Christmas Tree while we dined on the pastry and I cleaned up the spilled apple juice. But I will never forget the experience or the look in her eyes of the joy she was feeling. I was hooked.

Years later, not only do I get to date my wife, but I have frequent dates with all three of my girls. Sometimes we go to to Taco Truck, other times we go to Cracker Barrel. But its no so much the location that is important to me, or to them, but its the experience that we enjoy. And whether then know it or not, but I am creating expectations for them.

Here are a few reasons why I do daddy-daughter dates.

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Daddy-daughter dates give me time, and them time to spend quality one-on-one time with each other. It gives me time to instill values into my daughters. They need to know that they are important to me, and that they are getting the attention that they need. The life of a parent is crazy busy. And while I spend time with them every day, dates give me opportunity to spend one-on-one time with them.

Remind them where their beauty comes from

But not just that, but it gives me time to talk about the good that is in their lives. I try to remind them regularly that they are beautiful, not just on the outside, but on the inside. And that only living for God will give them internal beauty. As a parent, I am horrified at the emphasis our culture puts on external beauty. I want to combat that by reminding them daily that they are beautiful to their 13736998_262727367453116_238522117_nparents, but they are also beautiful to God. He made them and created them as they are. They are beautiful as they are. 

Creating intentional opportunities

As they get older, I want these dates to be opportunities for them to communicate with me whatever is on their mind.

This is their time with their dad. I want to be an earthly example of their heavenly father. No, I am not anywhere close to who God is, but I want them to know that not only can they come to me with their problems and joys, but they can know that they can always go to God.

The Promise Keeper. Thoughts on talking to kids about God keeping his Word

 

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A few weeks ago I was walking downtown Cincinnati the day before the Christian Retail Show started. I had never been to Cincy before and was excited to discover a new city. I found a little bookstore near fountain square and browsed for a few minutes. I was about to leave when a magazine cover caught my eye. It was the new Sports Illustrated issue. The cover photo was of LeBron James celebrating the NBA title. Now, understand, I am not a basketball fan, so the photo wasn’t what captured my attention. It was the words under the photo, “The Promise Keeper.” That was all it took, I bought the magazine and went to Panera Bread, bought a coffee and read the entire article. The gist of the article is James left the Miami Heat and promised the Cavalier Nation that he was going to bring a basketball title to the city. And the article was praising him as he delivered on that promise!

Promises. Nowadays, it seems like promises are made to be broken. We make promises and plan on keeping them, but only if it benefits us. And sometimes I wonder if we assume this is how God interacts with us too? We project our broken, human, understanding of people breaking promises onto God’s character.

That brings up the question that I have been thinking about, how do we clearly show our children that God never breaks His promises? I think we need to start

God is the Ultimate Promise Keeper!

Throughout the Bible, we are told that God keeps His promises. Numbers 23:19 says “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

I need to be, and want to be more intentional about sharing with my girls Because God is faithful, I can know that He will always keeps His promises!

Here is how I am going to be more intentional.

  • During devotions when we read from the Bible and we read about God making a promise, I am going to point that out, and then show them how God kept that promise.
  • When one of their friends breaks a promise, after consoling them, make them aware that even though this is hurtful, we know that our God never breaks His promises.
  • When we see a rainbow, which is fairly common in Florida, point it out and remind my girls that God is a promise keeper.
  • How about you? How do you share that God keeps His promises to your children? Feel free to comment below or tell me on twitter!

Although we have devotions with our girls every night, we are being more intentional with a morning daily devotional time that our girls can do before going to school in the morning. If you would like to what that looks like, go here. You can get 31 free daily devos. In these devos, one of the themes that I stress often is that God is a promise keeper. You see it all throughout  Scripture! He keeps His Word.

God Is Good, Even In Uncertain Times

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William H. Booth high school photo

Thirty-four years ago today, William H. Booth, my dad, passed away. Days like today are when I miss him most. He passed away just a little over two weeks before my fifth birthday.

I have very few memories of him, but the ones that I do have, I treasure. I remember running to hide behind the chair when I heard his truck pulling up our driveway and waiting in anticipation for him to find me. He would search around the house, making sure that the chair where the giggling noise was coming from was the last place he looked.

I remember playing ball with him in our backyard and watching as he threw a plastic ball so high, that it got stuck in a tree.

I remember hearing the news during Clinton Camp Meeting that my dad had gone to the hospital. And it was at the hospital where he died. To this day, every time I walk into a hospital, I think of my dad.

I remember nearly every detail of his funeral. I remember pulling a chair up to the side of the casket and sobbing over his body. I still remember the smell of the funeral flowers, the crowded funeral home, the ride to the cemetery. These events are etched in my mind.

Over these past thirty-four years, I have discovered that God is good, even during traumatic times. I have discovered that God is faithful. My mom and I experienced some rough waters after his death, but when we reflect on those days, we see evidences of God everywhere. In the midst of uncertain times, God was and is always certain.

Hallelujahs Rolled Through The Forest Temple

IMG_1254On this date, July 14, 1868, 148 years ago today, the National Camp Meeting Association for the Promotion of Holiness opened its camp meeting in Manheim Pennsylvania. The crowd grew to as many as 25,000 people including over 300 preachers. Those in attendance included John S. Inskip, Alfred Cookman, J.A. Wood, William McDonald, George Hughes, Phoebe Palmer and Matthew Simpson.

George Hughes remembered the conclusion of his friend, Matthew Simpson’s testimony this way: “His hands were uplifted. His voice in mighty tones swelled out upon the night air. Cries and groans of oppressed spirits were co-mingling. Standing thus… his faith grasping the promise, he was a conqueror: he literally pulled down the power. Hallelujahs, like the sound of many waters, rolled through the forest temple. How many plunged into the cleansing stream that night we shall never know until mortality is swallowed up of life.”

John Inskip’s biographer wrote that as Inskip was exhorting, “the quiet was rent as one simultaneous burst of agony, and of glory, was heard in all parts of the congregation; and for nearly an hour, the scene beggared all description.”

As the Lancaster Daily Express noted, “the scene was beyond all description. It was one of the most powerful manifestations of divine power we have ever beheld. Several thousand people seemed to be prostrate under the mighty influence of supernatural power.”

As the encampment moved toward its close, William McDonald reminded those gathered that “home will not be Manheim.” He noted that “in the discharge of your religious duties, do not be governed by feeling, but by faith.”