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Archive for April, 2016

Book Review:The New Lottie Moon Story

Book Review: The New Lottie Moon Story, Second Edition
Book by Catherine Allen, Women’s Missionary Union, 1980lottiemoon
Review by Susan Verstraete

John A. Broadus called Charlotte (Lottie) Diggs Moon “the most educated woman in the South.” She came from a wealthy family, had a successful career in education and was rumored to have an offer of marriage from one of her professors. So how did this four-foot, three-inch Civil-War era Southern belle find herself alone in inland China, three days’ journey from any other English-speaking person, baking Virginia tea cakes for children who called her a “foreign devil”?

Lottie Moon said she heard the call to missions “as clear as a bell” during a sermon by her pastor. After receiving her appointment from the Southern Baptist Mission Board, she closed the school where she was co-principal and joined her sister Edmonia in China. Edmonia was one of the first single women to be appointed to the mission field and had been serving in Tengchow about a year when Lottie arrived in 1873. Together, the women began a school for girls in the city. It was rough going at first. The Chinese people distrusted and felt superior to Americans. And truth be told, Lottie and Edmonia had some prejudices against the “Chinese heathen” as well.

But as Lottie grew to know the people of China, she grew to genuinely love and appreciate them. She found beauty in their culture and eventually accepted many of their customs and their style of dress, though never compromising her beliefs in areas of religion. Later in life she would say, “It is comparatively easy to give oneself to mission work, but it is not easy to give oneself to an alien people. Yet, the latter is much better and truer work than the former. It includes the former and goes beyond it. It is the difference between the letter and the Spirit.”

As the Spirit-enabled Lottie grew to love the people of China, she became overwhelmed with the great need of the millions across the country to hear the Gospel. Only a handful of missionaries were available to teach them, and those missionaries routinely worked themselves into an early grave under the staggering responsibility of reaching an entire country for Christ. Of the eight sent to China in the 15 years after Lottie arrived, three died, three returned home in broken health, one left the faith, and only one remained on the field. Even her beloved Edmonia was forced to return to Virginia, broken and exhausted.

Lottie was aware of the intrinsic rigors of the life she had chosen, but insisted that the people back home could make life much easier for those serving on the field. She began a letter-writing campaign to raise funds for missions, to recruit more men and single women missionaries and to change mission board policy. She would continue writing these letters for the rest of her life.

Lottie believed that the more she asked for, the more she would get, and so she asked over and over. In one letter to Virginia Baptists, she challenged the men, saying, “I write to call your attention to the fact that Virginia has only one representative in all China, and that one a woman . . . . What are you going to do, yourselves and in person?” When money was slow in coming, she wrote to chide her mission board, “In times of famine and revolution, one sometimes feels the need of money more than usually.” She motivated Baptist women by showing them what Methodist women were doing in fundraising and in sending out single women missionaries. Her letters vividly describing the famine in China raised money for relief, and her straightforward letters to the mission board explaining the desperate need of regular furloughs influenced policy.

In 1885, Lottie moved from the mission in Tengchow to P’ingtu, a village about 120 miles inland. Lottie was armed only with her trusty umbrella, which she used effectively as a weapon on more than one occasion. Her new assignment was a three day journey from her friends and from any government protection. She knew she would be lonely in P’ingtu, but looked forward to her time there. She had a growing hunger to know and rely on God more fully. She wrote, “I feel my weakness and inability to accomplish anything without the aid of the Holy Spirit.” She knew that if the Gospel were to succeed in P’ingtu, it would be only as God enabled her to teach and the people to understand.

It was in P’ingtu that Lottie first began to dress in Chinese clothing and where she began baking her Virginia tea cakes to give to the neighborhood children. At first the children didn’t trust the “foreign devil” and refused the cookies, but eventually they accepted them, and her. Through the children, Lottie gained entrance into neighborhood homes. Soon she was teaching and visiting from sunup to sundown. Often she would be inside a home teaching women, and the men would gather outside the windows to listen to her speak. She wrote, “I am trying honestly to do the work that could fill the hands of three or four women, and in addition must do the work that ought to be done by young men.”

Lottie insisted on regular times of rest–15 minutes at lunch time and a month off in the summer–to recover her strength from the constant demands in P’ingtu. But her steady labor was blessed by God. Men did eventually come to lead worship and to baptize the new converts. Native churches were established and by 1912, over 2,000 converts had been baptized in the area. Lottie became the surrogate mother of the mission, and helped train new missionaries in the language and customs of China.

Lottie said, “I have a firm conviction that I am immortal until my work is done.” It was finished on December 24, 1912. Her last words were a verse from the children’s song she’d taught thousands of times. She repeated it over and over, “We are weak but He is strong.”

Catherine Allen is a gifted storyteller and a meticulous researcher. Her portrayal of Lottie Moon is not romanticized. We get to know Lottie as a strong woman with strong opinions and perhaps more conviction than tact. But we also see her unshakable faith in God and self-sacrificing love for the people He called her to serve.

This book is available from Amazon.com.

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Is Change Man-Centered or God-Centered?

By Julie Ganschow

I believe there is an overwhelming tendency in the world and in the church to take good advice and good counsel and make it all about ourselves. Humans are terribly self-centered and we take
every opportunity to bring things back to a self-focus.

Did you ever notice that in a group of women that it is rare to see them actually listening to the one speaking and even rarer to hear them comment on what is being said without reference
to self? No matter what the problem or issue is the other women in the group invariably bring up something about themselves and a time that something similar happened to them. We want
to think we are empathizing or sympathizing but in reality, we are attempting to refocus the conversation on ourselves.Change

Life change operates the same way; we want it to be all about us. When sin brings us unpleasant consequences we determine that change is needed so the consequences will go away. When we are feeling bad or sad for one reason or another we want to change so we will feel better. We change because we fear the reactions and responses of other people, or we want their approval.

This is man-centered living and it is anti-God and anti-Christ. Nowhere does the Bible tell us to be transformed so we can be happy, live our best life now, please others, or even please ourselves. We are to change to honor, please, and glorify God. We are to change and be changed because what we are thinking, believing, and desiring in our hearts is not glorifying to God. We are to change because at times we make a mockery of the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on that cross for our sin.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans
12:2 (NASB)

The reason we change is to testify that the will of God- that which is good, acceptable and perfect – is true. The reason that we change is to glorify God by obedience to His Word and His
commands to be conformed to the image and likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29).

All change must be Christ-centered and cross-centered to be biblical. Nothing else will do…nothing else will glorify Him.

Have you been trying to make changes in your life? How successful have you been? Have you been merely rearranging your flesh through self-help books, resolutions, support groups, and 12 step programs? While you may be successful at surface changes, until your heart is fully engulfed in the change process, your efforts will be just that – your efforts. A sinner trying vainly to change sinful habits of the heart.

Christ-centered change acknowledges that there is nothing good within you to accomplish change. It requires humility to admit sin, repentance that is born of a heart that is broken by that
sin, and desire to change for the glory of God.

Julie Ganschow

Posted in: Biblical Counseling, Christian Living

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For Parents: Training your Children to Participate in the Worship Service

By Whitney StandleaTraining

When we first came to Faith it was neat to see all of the young children that participated in worship services with their families. Without any kids of our own, we begin asking questions about how the children were trained to sit still for so long. I tucked some ideas away and believed I would have happy, quiet children in the worship service with me by the time they were a year or two old.

Now that I have a two-year-old and a one-year-old, I can assert that training your children to sit in the service is no easy task. As a greenhorn in reigning in my youngsters, you may be wondering what in the world my intentions are for writing an article about children sitting in the service. What could I possibly say of any value to you? I’m not writing to share my success story or personal how-to’s. Rather, my intentions are three-fold: share resources, ignite vision, and create dialogue.

For parents of infants to teenagers, I wanted to share two helpful resources I have found for dealing with the issue of training your children to sit in the service. The first is an excellent book by Noel Piper called, Treasuring God in our Traditions. In the back of this book is an appendix called, “The Family: Together in God’s Presence.” It is a very short read on the Pipers’ experience of training their own children in the worship service. It includes a biblical perspective on the issue as well as very practical ways to introduce young children to worship. [This can be downloaded for free from www.desiringGod.org.]

The second resource is much more thorough. Parenting in the Pew is a 132-page book by Robbie Castleman with the purpose of helping “parents train children in the only ‘proper behavior’ for church: worship!” Not only is this book a hilarious read with tons of anecdotes, but Castleman provides suggestions for every area of the worship service and covers everything from toddlers to teens.

The thing that impacted me the most about these two resources, however, were not the clever tips and creative ideas. What I valued the most was a recasting of my vision for my children to be in service with me. They helped me move beyond wanting my children not to be a distraction in worship, to wanting them to participate in worship. Castleman explains it by asking whether or not we are teaching our children to “count bricks or encounter God.” Now I am so excited to teach my children to engage in the worship, focus on the sermon, and learn as much as they can about God.

While I think we can all share in that goal, there is a degree of Christian liberty here: using the nursery till your child’s two, four, or never? Gradually introducing them to the service, or full-immersion? Sometimes our different perspectives in these side-issues can lead us to divert from discourse about the main goal. However, I strongly feel that this challenging, significant task deserves to be talked about. The more we can share our struggles, successes, ideas, and questions with each other on this issue, the more we can equip and encourage one another to lead our children into the presence of God.

Posted in: Christian Living, Women's Ministry

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On The Passing Of My Daddy

One day sooner than I want to think about, I’m going to hear the words, “Your daddy died today.” But I don’t want to think of it that way. You see, my daddy always taught me that I needed to have the right perspective that comes from the Word of God. God’s Word says that those who die in Christ are alive with Him, raised to newness of life. Their bodies may be temporarily laid aside but that is not the true man. It is man’s spirit that is the true man, not his body.  We, Christ’s followers, worship Him in spirit and in truth.

My daddy is still worshipping Him in spirit because the spirit of man does not die. The Bible says that it is Christ’s Spirit that bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, those who believe on His Name. The Bible also says that on the last day, Christ will raise our bodies from the dead and the corruptible will be exchanged for the incorruptible; but the spirit of man is either separated or united with Christ. That is why my daddy always liked to quote, “We cannot grieve as those who have no hope.”

James Tissot [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

James Tissot, “Jesus Wept”

My daddy was one of the called out ones, chosen before the foundation of the world to be one of His sheep. He always loved how the Bible referred to us as sheep [we are His people, the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3)]. It says we who are His sheep know His voice (John 10:27). My daddy knew his Master’s voice and when Christ the Good Shepherd called him, he followed.

Daddy believed the Gospel. He knew he was a sinner and that when Christ died and rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, it was for his sins.  He believed that Christ’s righteousness was credited to John Worley’s account and that when God looked at John Worley He did not see his sins. They were covered by Christ’s blood—not by any righteous acts that he had done, they were seen as filthy rags­(Isaiah 64:6)­—but only by Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s blood covered it all and made John Worley blameless before his Holy God! Christ was my daddy’s Anchor that kept and keeps his soul!

My daddy was a pastor for many years but even when he left the pastorate, he did not leave his role of caring for Christ’s sheep. He planted himself in Faith Community Church and kept on caring. I believe that he saw that as his calling. Christ asked Peter if he loved Him. When Peter told Him that he did, Christ told Peter to feed His lambs and tend and feed His sheep (John 21:17).

That’s my dad’s legacy. He fed lambs and tended and fed Christ’s sheep. He gave people God’s Word, the only food that nourishes, and challenged them to follow after it and obey it.

Many people brought him their struggles and he always pointed them to God’s Word because he truly believed that it would not return empty or void (Isaiah 55:11) and would accomplish in the lives of others all that God desired. He believed in the power of prayer and made his requests known to God. He prayed for so many people. He prayed for me a lot. My daddy always taught me that I could give in to my emotions or hold on to the truth of God’s Word and keep preaching it to myself. I’ve always had to preach to myself a lot, and now even more!

God also gave my daddy the gift of giving. All my life he has been an example to me of giving to others, not just material things, but he gave of himself. He purposed to make time for people, even in his pain. He took on the role of a servant, looking out for and meeting the pressing needs of others. I praise God for giving him the strength to do all that he did and for the example to imitate. He was modeling for me what it means to persevere.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsWhen people die there is always something within us that wants to do something. I know what my dad would want you to do. Ask yourself, “Is Christ my anchor? Does He keep my soul?” If the answer is “yes,” then cling to Him no matter what comes in this life. Take it as from His hand, in which you are held secure. Live with hopeful expectation of Christ’s glorious appearing, when we who are called by His name will for all eternity be united with Christ! With one voice we will all proclaim, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just . . . Hallelujah for the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us exult and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage supper of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and pure” (Rev. 19, 1,6-8 excerpts). For if we live it is for Christ and if we die it is our gain, because Christ is our life. Live to please and honor Him in everything you do. Make it your life’s goal to be found in Him to be a good and faithful servant.

If your answer is, “No, He is not my anchor” then believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! Repent of your sins and follow after Him. Apart from Christ you have no hope. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). Surrender your life to His keeping. Are you being kept by Him? My daddy is experiencing the fullness of joy that comes from being in the presence of Christ right now, and he will be forever. Today I can rejoice for my daddy because he is counted among the redeemed of the Lord! Christ is my anchor!

Jackie Rebiger is a member of FCC. Her father John Worley III was an elder at FCC from 1996-2016. John went home to be with the Lord in 2016.

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Consider the Question: How Are You Feeling Today?

feelingBY JOHN WORLEY

Many caring people ask the question of me on a daily basis here at Riverstone Community, a facility designed for the elderly or the disabled, where Judy and I are residing.  The question is intriguing for one who is in submission to the Lordship of Christ.  For the Christian, how we are “feeling” has a different context than for others.  Let me try to explain what I mean by considering the contrast that exists in comprehending how the context of living in this world effects us.

People’s anticipation of each day’s circumstance, i.e. of coming events and encounters that await them on a given day… this anticipation is based on how they might be feeling at the moment of their contemplation.  However, the Christian’s anticipation, of what is not yet experienced, must rely instead on his faith perspective regarding the reliability of God’s provisions and promises.  Faith’s perspective is assured to “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10)   How we feel about something, has proven to be notoriously unreliable.  We cannot, perhaps, help having an immediate emotional reaction in many circumstances.  These initial emotions are spontaneous, unguarded and untrustworthy however.  As Christians, our old sin nature is still alive, though no longer in control… not eradicated, and therefore available to be appealed to.  Because God has enabled us spiritually we are accountable to Him for obedience.  We may now evaluate and choose to act out of a disciplined dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

Scripture says of every man, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7a).  We are what we think…what our thoughts focus on.  Attitude determines outlook.  When we lack contentment, it is because we are focused on comparison—comparison of our present with our past, comparison of our experiences with our expectations, comparison of our provisions with our preferences.  Jesus taught us God’s truth, while exemplifying being a servant to God and to others with humility.  He said in John 13:17, “If you know these things, you are happy (blessed) if you do them.”  He might seem to be saying that we feel happy or consider ourselves to be blessed if we “do” certain things (i.e. perform certain “works”).  Jesus is actually saying quite the opposite.  He teaches that if our attitude or perspective is faith based, i.e. reliant upon the truth declared by God, that God will use our obedient responses, enabled by His grace, as a means of blessing us with confidence, peace, joy and contentment.  “Blessed,” as used biblically, means spiritual prosperity …living in satisfaction and appreciation for God’s provisions and protection.  Society’s use of our English word “happy” reveals its meaning through the root word’s origin.  “Happy” comes from “hap,” as in “happenstance” i.e. chance circumstance.  “Hapless” therefore means without luck.  To be happy, in its root sense, means to have good “luck.”

An abiding expression of joy is the blessing of persevering obedience, enabled by the grace of our faithful Redeemer.  We may experience the same life circumstances as those without faith in Christ, but we must never come to rely upon the feelings of happiness or other emotional stimuli for a thankful attitude, contentment and endurance.

John Worley was an elder at FCC from 1996-2016. John went home to be with the Lord in 2016.

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