Operation Auca

Yesterday, we were privileged to have with us at Faith Bible Church, Pat Kelley (age 80) who left her teaching job in Bellevue, Washington many years ago to teach Wycliffe Bible Translator missionaries’ children for a couple years and then, in 1969, was assigned by the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) to work among the Waorani people to teach and supervise literacy classes and train instructors from among their own people.  Pat continues to work as an SIL International (its new title) literacy consultant in Dallas and still makes trips to Ecuador and the Waorani people.
    Many of you will recall that on January 8, 1956, five young missionary men were speared to death on a sandy beach by the Curary River in Ecuador by Auca tribesmen. “Auca,” meaning “savages” is the name that the nearby Quechua tribe had given to the Waorani because of their violence and revenge killing, not only among themselves but against anyone who ventured into their territory. This is the tribe to which Pat was assigned!  She went to Ecuador thinking she might be working among a peaceful group on the beautiful shores of Ecuador, but instead was sent to the rain forest to help the Waorani, to learn and record their language and to help them also learn English—a frightening, daunting task. But, God was doing a mighty work among this once violent savage tribe and lives were being transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Ro. 1:16,17).  Savages who practiced “revenge killing” were now offering forgiveness instead and were eager to learn more about this Jesus Christ who had died for them.
     Having been familiar with the story of the martyrdom of these five missionaries it was very fascinating to hear of some of the details of why they were actually murdered and what transpired right after that. I will share more of what we learned in a subsequent “Wisdom of the Week,” but I would first like to give you the background that led up to these five young men attempting to evangelize this isolated, savage tribe. Let me share about this team and how God put them together for what they called “Operation Auca.”
     Jim Elliot was from Portland, OR. He was president of the Student Foreign Missions Fellowship at Wheaton College. While there, he wrote: “Oh God, save me from a life of barrenness. Give instead that vital contact of soul with Thy divine life that fruit may be produced…” Later in his journal, he wrote: “He is no fool who gives away that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim married Elisabeth Howard from a prominent Christian publishing family in Philadelphia.
     Peter Fleming was from Seattle, WA and married his childhood sweetheart, Olive. He received a M.A. in literature.  He wrote in a letter to his friend, Jim Elliot, “Seemingly God delights in many instances to place men in situations which magnify their weaknesses for the simple delight of showing Himself strong to all observers.”
    Ed McCully from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was president of his senior class at Wheaton. He went on to Marquette University Law School. At the end of Law School, he wrote in a letter to Jim Elliot, “I have one desire now—to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”  Ed was married, had two sons and his wife was expecting a third at the time of his death.  
    Roger Youderian grew up on a ranch in Sumatra in eastern Montana. He contracted polio as a child  but overcame its effects and was able to play basketball at Fergus High School in Lewiston, Montana. After graduation in 1941, he attended Montana State College (Now MSU) in Bozeman. He enlisted in the Army in 1941 and became an Airborne Ranger who was at the “Battle of the Bulge.” He later went to Northwestern School in Minneapolis. There he met and married Barbara (who was here to speak at both Three Lakes Bible Church and Faith Bible Church) several years ago. They joined Gospel Missionary Union and were evangelizing the head-hunting Jivaros of eastern Ecuador.
     Nate Saint had flown missionaries in and out of the Ecuadorian jungle since 1948 for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).   Nate, born near Hershey, PA, was a builder, inventor and skilled pilot who had devised an ingeniously simple back-up fuel system for single-engine airplanes.  Nate was married to a nurse, Marj, and they had three children. The family moved to Shell Mera, Ecuador, where Nate built a family home which also served as a guesthouse and a radio center with the other missionaries. In a message broadcast over HCJB (“Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings”) in Quito, Nate said, “During the last war we were taught that, in order to obtain our objective, we had to be willing to be expendable…Yet, when the Lord Jesus asks us to pay the price for world evangelization, we often answer, ‘It costs too much’…But, God didn’t hold back His son!”
     The five couples did not go to Ecuador planning on reaching the Waorani tribe, but they all heard about these Indians that were referred to as Aucas (“Savages”) who had never been subjugated by soldiers or evangelized by missionaries. They believed God was calling them to be the ones to reach them so they began praying and strategizing about how to reach this violent people with the Gospel which could transform their lives. They collectively volunteered, knowing the risk they were taking. Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: “If that’s the way God wants it to be, I’m ready to die for the salvation of the Aucas!
     They established a base at nearby Arajuno and in September, 1955 began making flights over the Waorani villages, dropping gifts. Soon, the gifts were reciprocated with gifts left on a sandy beach of the Curary River by the Aucas.  The five missionaries felt it was time to establish a base on the sandbar, which they named “Palm Beach.” On January 3, 1956, the five couples held a final prayer time at Arajuno and sang Edith Gilling Cherry’s hymn (to the tune of Finlandia),  
     “We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender,
        Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise;
        When passing through the gates of pearly splendor,
        Victors, we rest with Thee through endless days.”
     They said “good bye” to their wives, boarded the plane and flew to “Palm Beach”  where they had a visit from three Waorani (two women and a man…more about their purpose in the next “Wisdom of the Week”). On Sunday, Nate flew their plane over the area and spotted a group of ten Waorani headed toward the beach. He radioed Marj to tell her to pray and that he would call again at 4:30 p.m.  That call never came, for they were speared to death by those tribesmen.
     But, PTL, the story doesn’t end there. In many ways that was just the beginning of an amazing work among the Waorani—stay tuned!
     Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
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The Beauty of Marriage

     We recently had the privilege to attend (and have a part in) the wedding for our grandson Alec and his beautiful bride Amanda at the gorgeous setting of Sisters in central Oregon.  In our culture, with the institution of marriage under major attack by liberal progressives—both inside and outside the church—who have forgotten that marriage between one man and one woman was God’s plan from the beginning and continues to be. It was very refreshing to  be part of a wedding where two believers—a young man and a young woman!—made a commitment, not only to each other, but to God to serve Him through their marriage for the rest of their days on earth.  The pastor who married them gave a very powerful challenge of how their primary relationship—after their relationship with God—is to be their marriage, not their jobs or parents or children when they come along. They are to give themselves unselfishly to each other and together, along with the Lord, work through any challenges that come their way.  “Strong marriages are those where both partners assume the responsibility of caretaker for each other and the marriage” (Dr. Jim Conway).
     Charles Swindoll, pastor and Bible teacher, said “Marriages are held together not by love by commitment.” After the wedding comes a marriage which takes a lot of following through on the commitments that were made—a continual “renewal of vows” if you will.  A good marriage requires the determination to be married for good. The trouble with many people these days is that they marry for better or worse but not for good!   Author and Christian leader Steve Farrar wrote: “Marriage is two people tied together as they climb the mountain of life. In order to reach the summit they must be interdependent. It takes teamwork and marital accountability.” 
     A husband and wife who continue to develop their relationship with Christ will tend to continue to grow in their relationship with each other as well. “Good marriages don’t have to go bad if couples have the humility to grow and learn more about the love of Christ. Only then will we be committed ‘till death do we part’” (Erwin Lutzer).  Put Christ first if you want your marriage to last.
     One of the reasons that marriage of one man and one woman is such a beautiful thing is not only that it is God’s design but also that it is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church (all who have trusted Him for eternal life).  Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, writes: “Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies…For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:22-32). 
     And speaking of being part of the “Bride of Christ, the Church,” at the conclusion of the wedding, Amanda’s grandmother approached me and had some questions about what she had heard during the message, prayers, vows and hymn (“Amazing Grace”).  God had very obviously spoken to her about her own relationship with Jesus Christ. She did not have assurance of salvation but really wanted to. I had the opportunity to share with her the plan of salvation and how you could really know for sure that she had eternal life. At that point, I had to join the family for pictures but had a chance to share with Amanda about our conversation and encouraged her to talk with her grandma and help her “across the bridge” to join the family of God. I felt it would be so special for Amanda to have the joy of doing that. I did notice that Amanda got to spend some one-on-one time with her before we left, so pray that her grandma now knows Christ and knows that she knows! 
     Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
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In Memory

  In our family’s travels, some of the most impressive, moving scenes we have witnessed were U.S. military cemeteries, such as in Luxembourg and Belgium and Arlington, Virginia.  There we observed row upon row of gleaming whitewashed crosses against a background of many acres of green, manicured lawn.  “From Arlington Cemetery near the nation’s capital to every military cemetery in the country (and around the world), white crosses are used to commemorate (memorialize) those who have died in the service of this country. The cross is a historic symbol of the price of freedom” (Dr. Tim Lahaye).  In Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, Great Britain, the Philippines and Tunisia are more than 93,000 crosses over approximately 1,000 acres of U.S. military cemeteries marking the burial sites of U.S. military young men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in fighting evil aggressors who attempted to take away not only our freedom but that of other nations. In 624-acre Arlington National Cemetery (which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army) lie the remains of more than 600,000 U.S. soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect not only us in the United States, but to protect the freedoms of our neighbors as well. An average of 28 funerals are conducted at Arlington every day!
     A really awesome sight at Arlington can be observed twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year (since 1937, no matter how inclement the weather), and that is at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where guards are changed every thirty minutes. The guard takes precisely 21 steps in front of the tomb before reversing direction, alluding to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given a soldier or dignitary. The guard hesitates after his about face for twenty-one seconds before marching twenty-one steps back!  (Twenty-one, is not a number chosen at random but is the sum of “1+7+7+6” and thus representative of our freedom.)  Guards must be between 5’10” and 6’2” tall and have a waist size that doesn’t exceed 30”.  They must commit to two years of their life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way. The first six months of guard duty, a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch TV.  All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.  Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.
     Placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a solemn ceremony conducted on Memorial Day. Military exercises are also held at Gettysburg National Military Park.
     Memorial Day, and the rows upon row of shining white crosses should remind us that freedom comes with a price.  Many years ago in U.S. history, John Quincy Adams said, “You’ll never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it.”  I’m afraid we don’t always follow his admonition, but we need to recognize what a price has been paid—and continues to be paid—that we may have the freedoms we have today in this country and in many other nations of the world as well that we, the United States, have helped in their time of need.
    And, of course, the cross ultimately represents the very means by which each of us can experience freedom from the penalty of sin through the greatest sacrifice every made on our behalf, as Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was crucified on a a crude wooden cross, bearing our sins and dying on our behalf.  Peter wrote, “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed (spiritually)” (I Pet. 2:24).  And the Apostle Paul wrote: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). The cross is a symbol of death and sacrifice, but it is also empty for Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried but in three days rose again, the empty cross and empty grave signify a full salvation. The author of the book of Hebrews writes: “…We have been sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…He having offered one sacrifice for all time, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10-14). 
     Love is expressed in a willingness to sacrifice for others. Thousands upon thousands have been willing to sacrifice on behalf of this nation, demonstrating their love for this country and for its people—us, and also their love for their neighbors who have been in danger from evil oppression.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13).  This Memorial Day, take time to reflect on the cost of freedom and our responsibility to defend and promote it—to “make good use of it” as John Quincy Adams challenged.  And especially, thank God for the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf because of His great love for us— “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Ro. 5: 8).
     Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
P.S.  Check out online a great Memorial Day song, “In God We Trust” by Christian singer/songwriter Eric Horner
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Lessons from the Ants

  In Job’s reply to one of his supposed “comforters,” he said: “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you. Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you” (Job. 12:7,8). We can learn much from observing God’s creation. We have done a series on “Lessons from the Honeybee.”  In Solomon’s “Book of Wisdom,”  Proverbs, he challenged those who are prone to laziness, writing: “Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be  wise, which having no chief officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Pr. 6:6-8). 
     Ants have been famous in all ages for their social habits, foresight, economy and industry. Collecting their food at the proper seasons, they bite off the ends of the grain they collect to prevent it from germinating, and lay it up in its cells till needed. Ants are known as busy, hard-working, insects that build and operate very organized colonies, working together to accomplish a common goal. 
     One of the amazing features God built into these little creatures is their ability to carry items 10-50 times their own body weight!  We were recently in Oregon to attend a grandson’s wedding (more about that in a future “WOW”). We were working on some landscaping at our daughter and son-in-law’s place and had taken a break (it was very warm). As we sat on the porch drinking water and eating some popcorn, we watched as an ant picked up a piece of popcorn we had dropped. It took several minutes for him to pull the huge load—many times his size—across the sidewalk and over some bark chips (which must have seemed like mountains) to his home under a nearby shrub.  Pretty impressive!  If we were that strong, we could carry an automobile! 
     Ants belong to a family called the Formicidae and are close relatives to the bees.  There are more than 8,500 known species of ants and they are found almost everywhere in the world except the coldest regions. They may be the most numerous of all insects. For example, in the Amazon rain forest, there are more than 3,500,000 ants per acre! (Not a good place for a picnic!) There are an estimated one quadrillion ants in the world.
     Ants are known as “social insects” because they live together in colonies that can contain from several dozen ants to thousands of ants, working and living together in a highly organized fashion. Although the queen is a leader of sorts in the colony, she does not give directions to the others. There is no apparent “ant in charge” of the colony, just as Solomon wrote in Proverbs.  Somehow, God equipped the ants—as He did the honeybees—to communicate with one another in order to work efficiently and to maintain an orderly colony. Just as in a beehive, the ants divide themselves into certain work duties to handle all the logistical needs of the colony, including food, shelter, security, and reproduction.  They organize into forager ants (sterile females) that go out and find food, patroller ants (also sterile females) that guard the colony and also go out and make sure the paths are safe for the forager ants, engineer ants which take care of building and maintaining the structure and also removing waste materials, fertile males called drones that stay available if needed to fertilize a new queen, and of course, the queen that lays eggs. 
     The way in which God equipped ants to reproduce is also very intriguing and awe-inspiring.  Each year, every colony sends out male and female ants on a mating flight. These explorer ants have wings. They all fly to a common place to mate. A queen mates more than once, and eventually all the male reproductive ants die. The newly mated queen then flies to a new location, drops its wings, digs a hole and beings laying eggs there. The queen can live for 15-20 years and continues to lay eggs. When the colony grows to about 10,000 ants, new reproductive ants are sent out on mating flights with a virgin queen and the whole process starts over.
     This colony of thousands of ants with various roles operates collectively to support the colony. They have divisions of labor, communication between individuals and the ability to solve complex problems.  And God’s Word tells us to “Go to the ant” and “let them teach you.”  When we think of our local assemblies of believers, we can see a distinct parallel of diversity and distinct roles that need to work together for one purpose. God has placed us where we are and given us special abilities called “spiritual gifts” to use “for the common good” of the “colony” (the church) (I Cor. 12:7).  
     We also observe in the ant world evidence of the curse on the earth resulting from the Fall of man back in the Garden of Eden recorded in Genesis 3.  While ants are great examples to us of industriousness, and organization and working together for a common cause, they can also be very annoying insects and cause pain from their bites and stings.  We have “fire ants” and “red ants” which we try to avoid.  There are also slave-maker ants which will raid the colony of other species of ant and steal worker larvae and make them their slaves. And there are thief ants which are small ants that raid the food supplies of larger ants and escape through tunnels too small for the bigger ants to enter!
     Unfortunately we see these effects of the Fall in our churches as well, as there are those that ”bite and sting” with their words and accusations and others that enslave us in false teaching and those that, rather that reproducing through evangelism, steal sheep from other’s folds.  So, let’s be careful to follow the good examples of industriousness and organization and unity, but avoid the bad examples of biting and enslaving and stealing.
   Let us heed Job’s and Solomon’s challenges and learn some lessons from God’s creation of the amazing little, hard-working ants.
        Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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Using the Platform of Ministry That God Provides

I’m always encouraged when I hear of or see a Christian who uses success as an opportunity to give God the glory when given the chance. During the 2019 “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament, there were numerous players who, because of their excellent play in helping their teams to victory, were interviewed after the game and made sure to praise their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the ability He gave them to perform. Both teams in the championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech had a number of Christians who were very vocal about their faith, as was the winning coach from Virginia, Tony Bennet.  “May their tribe increase!” 
     They remind me of Hadassah, a young Jewish virgin who, because of her great beauty, was chosen to become queen to Persian King Ahasuerus. Then Mordecai, who had been raising his cousin Hadassah (or Esther, her Persian name), discovered a plot  to have all Jews killed. Mordecai challenged Esther to use her position as a platform of appeal to save the Jews from annihilation, saying: “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).  Esther responded by risking her life by approaching the king uninvited, was successful in her mission and the king made a new edict allowing the Jews to protect themselves, which they did very successfully and established the Feast of Purim to celebrate the event.
     Our son, Grant, has been teaching and coaching at North Clackamas Christian School in Oregon City, OR for the past 18 years and has had some really amazing athletes come through, but maybe none more talented than Ethan Kassebaum (known as “E.K.”). E.K., who graduated a year ago was a three-sport athlete as well as co-valedictorian of his class with a 4.0 GPA.  Since NCCS doesn’t offer football, E.K. played for Oregon City High School where he was running back and punter. In his final season, he ran for 1,023 yards (93 yards/game) and made 13 touch downs. I should mention that NCCS is a 1A school (smallest category in Oregon) and OCHS is a 6A school (largest schools in Oregon).
     E.K. played on Grant’s basketball team during the winter season, and though not super tall (5’11-6’0), he could out jump any opponent and was an awesome rebounder. He would also often bring the ball up the floor—like a running back!  Pretty fun to watch!
     In the spring, E.K. put his God-given talents to work on the track team, where he was amazing to watch. We had the privilege of watching him take four firsts at the divisional meet. Sure wish we could have stayed in Oregon to watch him perform at state.  Our son kept us updated. Here is a text Grant sent us from the state meet:
     “Got to see some pretty amazing performances yesterday at the state track meet. As you might imagine, it was highlighted by E.K.’s performances. In the triple jump he jumped 43’9” on his second jump and since no one else in the state had come close to that this year he passed on his next jumps until the very end of the finals when the next to last jumper flew out to a crazy personal best for him of 44’5”.  E.K. was still sitting at the event but he had his sprinting shoes on ready to walk over to the start of the 100 meters. The group of guys who were running in the 100 were being walked over to the starting line but E.K. quickly changed his shoes, got back on the runway, got himself refocused and proceeded to jump 46’2” (nearly two feet better than his PR) in the final jump of his high school career!   He then quickly put his running shoes back on and headed over to the start of the 100 meters and got himself stretched and ready to go. He got a great start when the gun went off but one of the runners had false started!  EK got back in the blocks and did it all again. He went into the race as the number three seed and had not run a personal record all year. He led from wire to wire and finished with a personal and school record of 22.27 seconds—absolutely amazing!  He got a state meet record. Oh, yes, and he won the long jump with a personal record and also the 200 meters, piling up 40 points for NCCS!” 
     In spite of his amazing successes in sports and academics,  E.K., remains an extremely modest and humble young man with a maturity beyond his years. Grant said of E.K., “Whether he has success or failure in a (basketball) game, he keeps everything in perspective and never intentionally brings attention to himself—a quality hard to find in players with his talent.”  Another of E.K.’s high school teachers said of E.K., “He is driven academically and athletically, but he is also very loyal to friends, himself, and above all, his faith. He holds true to his spiritual compass, even though he could easily be a big man on campus at any public school.
     E.K.’s testimony was really put to the test as he played football for Oregon City High School. When he was a freshman, an older teammate offered him $100 to say the “F” word out loud. E.K. walked away. Others invited him to party with them and he credits his solid Christian foundation both from his home and NCCS for his ability to resist the temptations that were set before him. As a result, he had teammates who asked him about his Christian faith. He used his platform of success and the respect he gained, to talk about his faith in Christ.  (NOTE: E.K. is attending George Fox University and is in both football and track).
     What “platform” has God provided you in your walk in life?  Are you using it to glorify Him and to give testimony of your faith in Jesus Christ? I hope so!
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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The Power of the Resurrection

As we hike in the mountains, one sight that always amazes me—besides the splendor of God’s creation—is a plant, bush or tree growing out of solid rock.  Knowing that it takes lots of TLC for us to get plants and shrubs and trees to take root and grow, I always marvel at how God doesn’t seem to have a problem growing them—even out of the rocks! Oh, yes, and then there are always the dandelions or other weeds that spring up out of a tiny crack in the sidewalk or pavement.  To me, it is a picture of the “power of the resurrection.” Jesus, after all, burst forth “out of the rock.”  Yesterday after we had celebrated Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we took a walk in an area that displays a variety of beautiful spring wildflowers and noticed another reminder of life coming out of death—a ponderosa pine tree (our state tree) about eight feet tall, growing out of the center of an old tree stump.
     Jesus Christ came into a world of humanity living in darkness under the curse of sin and death. First to hear about the birth of the Messiah-Redeemer were shepherds out in the hills of Bethlehem, “keeping watch over their flocks by night” when “an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:8-11).  It was as bright as mid-day at midnight as the “Light of the World” came to earth (Jn. 8:12)
     Then, having been rejected by His own (the Jews), Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, arrested, tried, beaten, scourged and crucified.  As he was hanging on the cross, bearing the wrath of God in punishment for our sins, there was darkness on the earth. It was as black as midnight at mid-day (Lk. 23:44). After suffering for the sins of the world of humanity, Jesus “said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (Jn. 19:30).   Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (secret followers of Jesus) asked to take Jesus’ body, prepared it for burial and then placed His body in a new garden tomb (Jn. 19:38-41 cf Isa. 53:9). 
     What a solemn Saturday (Sabbath) must have followed, as Jesus’ family, friends and followers were in shock over what had just happened. The disciples, who were hiding out in fear in the upper room, must have been thinking “if only we had done more to stop Him from coming to Jerusalem or to resist when they came to arrest Him or gone to speak up for Him at His trial.”  I’m sure there was much confusion, discouragement and guilt. Think about poor Peter who had vowed to die for Him if need be, but then denied even knowing Him!  Think of Jesus’ mother who had to have been horrified to see the things done to her beloved, sinless son, helpless to do anything.  That Saturday had to seem like an eternity—but Sunday was a coming!  In just a few hours, early Sunday morning, when the women went to the tomb, they, of course discovered the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. Then two angels “suddenly stood near them in dazzling apparel…and said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has arisen’” (Lk. 24:4-6).
     Jesus, in His resurrected, glorified body made several appearances to His disciples and other believers and then forty days later gathered His disciples together and “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised” (Acts 1:4). Jesus, of course was referring to the sending of the Holy Spirit to indwell believers at Pentecost (cf Jn. 14:26; 15:26: 16:7). He added, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me…to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1: 8).
     During those forty days Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection, the disciples, excited that Jesus was alive, were still powerless to be His ambassadors until ten days after His ascension, when, on the Day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell them. Then we see a total transformation in the disciples as they—who had been fearful and confused—began boldly preaching the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Suddenly they really were both willing and able to lay down their lives for Christ, and most did, as they were martyred for their faith. What made the difference?  It was the power of the resurrected Christ who now lived in them through the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul’s effective ministry as the missionary to the Gentiles, was possible because of the power of the resurrected Christ living in and through Him.
     What was true for the disciples as the Holy Spirit came to indwell them, and through the Spirit, Christ in them, has been true for everyone since who has trusted in Christ as Savior. We have the power of the resurrection through Christ living in us. This past Saturday, we witnessed what that power can do. We held a “celebration of life” service for Debbie Dare, who had served as janitor at Three Lakes Community Bible Church for many, many years and had done so many other things for the church body. She was a “Dorcas” disciple!  Her son, Chaz, married with three children, gave a beautiful eulogy. Chaz’s dad died the day before His mom passed away!  His mom and dad were divorced not too long after Chaz was born. Chaz not only eulogized his mom, but really preached a powerful message of the transforming power of the resurrected Christ in both his life and in his mom’s.  It was great testimony to the power we have within us. There is no other explanation for Chaz’s ability to do what He did.
     Praise God for the “power of the resurrection” which is available to all of us as believers.
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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The Most Unique, Most Powerful Book Ever Written

Without a doubt the most unique book ever written is actually a compilation of 66 books written by some 40 authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet has one major theme and all ties together beautifully to develop that theme. I’m referring, of course, to God’s Word, the Bible.  None of the writers changed the message to put themselves or their friends in a better light. The sins of small and great alike are openly admitted and life is presented as it actually is. The writings of this amazing book, in contrast to any other book ever written, were inspired by God. God worked in the hearts and minds of each of the writers to govern that every word was exactly what He wanted recorded. The Apostle Peter wrote: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Pet. 1:20,21). The Apostle Paul, also commenting on how we got our Bible, wrote this to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16,17). The word translated “inspired” literally means “God-breathed.”  God superintended the human writers so that, using their individual personalities and interests, they composed and recorded—without error—God’s Word to man.
     Obviously the Bible was unique in its origin, but it was also unique in the fact that though written over hundreds of years by many authors from a variety of walks of life, it has one basic message throughout—Jesus Christ!  When Jesus, after His resurrection, stopped to visit in the home of the two disciples from Emmaus, Luke records for us: “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:27).  Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, the preacher and teacher of God’s Word should always exalt Christ and the message of salvation through faith in His work at the cross. When Philip helped the Ethiopian eunuch to understand the writings of the prophet Isaiah, it says, “and beginning from this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35).
     Jack Graham said, “There is a scarlet thread of redemption running throughout the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.” Charles Spurgeon once said, “Cut the Bible anywhere and it will bleed!” The story of Jesus and His sacrifice for sin can be traced through the Bible. The Apostle Paul, who was a very intelligent, educated, eloquent person, wrote this about his visit to Corinth: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified…And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Cor. 2:2-5).
     The Bible stands apart from all other books ever written, not only in its unique origin and message, but in the ability of that message to transform lives. In Paul’s letter to his understudy, Timothy, he wrote: “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim . 3:16). The entire Bible is about the gospel—the “Good News” that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty of our sin so that we could enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven. Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Ro. 1:16).
     Since it is God’s enemy Satan’s purpose that people worship him and not God, he does all he can to stop them from hearing the “Good News” and coming to have eternal life through Christ, so he has done all in his power to destroy the Bible which tells people how to be reconciled to God and to have new life in Christ. Satan has been—and is—behind all the efforts to destroy and discredit the Bible, to remove it from our public schools and keep it out of countries that have not been exposed to its wonderful message of redemption. But God has promised that though “The grass withers, and the flower fades, the Word of God stands forever” (Isa. 40: 8). Satan’s efforts have been—and will continue to be—futile. God will have the “last word,” and it will be His Word, the Bible!  The Bible has been the anvil upon which the critics have worn out their hammers!  God has preserved, and will continue to preserve His Word, His “Love Letter” to mankind.  The Bible changes hearts and changed hearts change history. “There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them through the sacrifice of His Son in place of those sinners…It is the story of Jesus” (Josh Harris in Dug Down Deep).
     What does God’s Word, the Bible, mean to you?  This amazing collection of books is our only infallible guide for faith and life. “You need to love the Bible, but that’s not enough; you need to learn the Bible, but that’s not enough; you need to live the Bible” (Warren Wiersbe).
     Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
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