A TESTIMONY OF JOY
Out of Dry Ground
During my time at school, I began to consider the Church as vastly different from its New Testament account. During the Apostolic age, there was sincere humility among the Apostles. Not just because of Pentecost but because the disciples looked deep into their souls due to denying Jesus. They were broken and, as such humbled. The Church then was loving far beyond what we know in America today. They sold their properties to help one another, so there was no need.
Their doctrine, of course, was pure as coming from the Apostles and the writers of the New Testament. Today the Church is fractured into a thousand pieces, and the real issue is the members follow people far more than they do Jesus.
I interned at a Church in Redford, Michigan, for a year. The Church was pretty large; the people were amiable as we attended and prepared for the mission field. We had three separate week-long sessions with Missionary Internship. At the end of that time, we were transferred to a different mission because I felt led to China, and they did not have a veteran missionary in that country.
We then stayed the summer in Brooklyn and moved to Texas, being told to prepare for Spain. It is interesting when what should be a personal conviction, as in a private calling from God, becomes a demand by a mission board. Furthermore, because my wife had been married before, they would not allow me to serve as a pastor or teacher. I went from saved, cleansed by the blood, and forgiven to worthless and lost in a single meeting with men.
It was now forty-one years ago when that happened; since then, God has enabled me to disciple many men by His grace and forgiveness. On occasion, I receive letters or phone calls from men thanking me for my discipleship. I guess I was forgiven after all.
Good discipleship always runs in two directions. Recently, which is the case from time to time, I get barged down to almost depressed over the condition of the Church. Last week a brother and disciple informed me of my outlook. He quoted a verse from Nehemiah 8:10, "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Those were valuable words, and I have taken them to heart. The key is understanding that all judgment is reserved for God. Our responsibility is discernment by the Holy Spirit and not compromise on things we know to be wrong. For the remainder, we lay at the foot of the cross.
Forty-one years ago, that was not the case. My wife and I needed some marriage counseling, as all couples do at times, but instead, we had a hand grenade tossed into our vehicle. All of that debacle came to a reasonable conclusion but that is a story for next time.
My priority has become my joy as I work through our present circumstances. Why? There are two reasons. First, I need strength for the battle. Second is the warning from Ephesians 4:26, 27, "BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." The last thing I need is for the devil to have an opportunity to wreak havoc in my life. That's true of everyone.
To be Continued...
If you want to hear more about joy and problems within the Church, touch the link below.