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Celebrating new life
I counselled people who came forward for prayer at each of the four Franklin Graham events in Winnipeg Oct. 20–22. What an amazing experience!
I watched hundreds from every age, race, and lifestyle answering the call to receive Jesus. I saw Mennonite Brethren friends serving alongside mainline, Catholic, and charismatic believers, momentarily blinded to theological distinctions by Jesus’ love for the spiritually thirsty people filling the arena floor.
I shivered with anticipation, “Jesus, whose spiritual birthday will I celebrate tonight?” I had the joy of telling an aboriginal senior, a three-year-old girl, a Vietnamese teen, and a single mother, “Jesus has made you a new creation, given you eternal life, and filled you with the Holy Spirit’s power, truth and joy. And best of all: he will never, ever leave you!”
Let’s join together as Christ’s Body in praying for and with the hurting, lonely, searching people in our nation.
More than just hockey
One thing I found interesting as I entered the MTS Centre in Winnipeg for the Franklin Graham Festival wasn’t the packed hockey arena, but the ice area. It was empty. The stadium seats were full, but there were no people seated on the large floor area.
Performers such as Paul Brandt, Michael W. Smith, and Rebecca St. James passionately shared their talents, followed by Franklin Graham, who invited us all to receive forgiveness from sin. It was a simple invitation, yet people flooded the once-empty arena floor. This happened again the next day, and the day after. Why don’t we see that in our churches?
I left the venue no longer picturing a sea of people cheering for the home team. Instead, I saw a multitude of angels rejoicing, praising God. I saw individual people standing before God, each worth more to him than all the hockey players in the world. I saw God smiling. I heard him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servants.”
Hearing the call
As I pondered about when our youth should hear God’s call to ministry, I thought about some of the truths found in Scripture. At least four of the 12 disciples were seasoned fishermen when they heard the call. The apostle Paul worked with his hands to earn a living in the midst of his calling.
I trust that in 20 years, when I’m 90, I’ll still be able to attend my neighbourhood church, and that the pastor will be instructing us on how to live out the Sermon on the Mount in our condos. That this same pastor will shepherd me with a farewell handshake at the front door – with a hand that has dirt or paint under the nails.
Serving the Lord, not war
Re “It takes two to tango” (Letters, Oct. 13). It’s regrettable that there are many Anabaptists who have so seriously misread the Bible’s end time message that they castigate MCC for its peace and justice stance in the Holy Land.
Not only is it wrong for God’s people to attempt to politically hasten the coming of the Lord, their support for the secular state of Israel is errant and ignorant of the realities in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Surely the mark of Christian maturity is how we seek to include all who call Jesus Lord. To call other Christians to account because you don’t like their politics is uncalled for. MCC’s call is to serve the Lord, not war.
Re “Taking it on the chin” (Viewpoint, Aug. 11). Dan Harder’s article regarding the offensive cartoon in The Sheaf provoked some strong reactions. It seems that the biblical point was missed in both cases.
Here’s a third response: I turn the other cheek, yes. I pray for those who have offended me because God hears our prayers, but also because I need to help myself get over the personal hurt.
Then I and one or two like-minded individuals meet with the offending party – the staff of The Sheaf. In that meeting, we’re not looking for an apology or to vent our feelings. We seek to understand their perspective. We also take the opportunity to discuss the impact of what they’ve published on those in the community of faith. We ask for the privilege of publishing our own story in the paper as a response to the cartoon. We publish not a condemnation or a blast of righteous indignation, but the simple and compelling good news for all people. In so doing, we give readers a glimpse of the eternal light. We pray that God, who sent the Saviour, may open a heart or two.
Demands to dismiss the editorial board and shut the paper down, as some Christians insist, will simply encourage both parties to dig in their heels and reinforce divisions. Turning the other cheek, while an appropriate start, provides no kingdom building opportunity if follow-through isn’t seized.
Starting in our own lives
Re “Does love demand tolerance?” (Viewpoint, Nov. 3). I applaud Tim Williams’ words regarding tolerance. It seems that Christian people, churches, and organizations are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of being intolerant of sin and sinful behaviour. This tolerance, it seems, is mostly for the purposes of securing more money for churches and organizations, or people for the membership list.
Mr. Williams describes intolerance as speaking up and taking action against sinful behaviour. This obviously must start in our own lives before we can take it to the streets. As we go forward, let’s be sure we have a foundation of love and a solid understanding of what the Bible describes as sin.
| © 2008 Mennonite Brethren Herald
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