The Hem of the Savior’s Garment

Chickens, Boaz and Tears: Three Things that will Save your Eternal Life.

Have you ever seriously considered the verse, “Away from me, I never knew you!” ?

The Lord Jesus uses this warning in Matt 7:21-23 to show that not everyone who thinks they are saved will actually be saved.

But have you ever thought that MAYBE you might hear those words from the Lord’s lips? Does the thought strike fear into you?

In our Social Studies class this month we are studying the American Colonial times, and of course the Salem Witch trials come up. Many people accused of witchcraft were excommunicated from the Church, namely being told they were no longer saved.

In our PostChristian environment today, most people don’t give credence to the right of the Church to excommunicate its members.

But Scripture shows the authority Spirit-filled church leaders have to turn their members “over to Satan.” So those in 1692 Salem accused of witchcraft and their families all believed the convicted had likewise been deprived of salvation.

Can that happen? Really?

Another big question is about the “unforgivable sin.” Maybe you think you have committed it. You may be asking yourself, “Have I committed the unforgivable sin? Is what I have done too big now for Christ to forgive?”

What do I have to do to lose my salvation? What does one look like who will hear on Judgment Day, “Away from me, I never knew you”?

Or, more likely what you are asking, “How can I make sure that’s not me?”

I have good news for you today. You can know and be sure that you will never be discarded by God. You can have certainty. But it is costly and it is hard.

The answer is in the idea: Up is Down and Down is Up. But to understand this, we must understand Covenant.

A key aspect of the Bible, God’s Covenant with us, is expressed vividly in the Old Testament. Nature provides many examples of God’s principles (because Heavens Declare the glory of God).

One of the most poignant images, used repeatedly in Scripture, is that of the wings of God, which metaphorically represent his protective covering.

 

WINGS

Behold what Psalms says:

Ps 91:1–2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Ps 17:8
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,

Ps 57:1
…for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,

Ps 61:4
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah

Ps 63:7
…for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

Christ’s Desire

Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he spoke of his desire to bring comfort and safety to God’s people. He used the same imagery used of God in the OT.

Mt 23:37
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Lk 13:34
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

 

GARMENT:

The word for wing is also the word for garment. In Hebrew the word is kanaph (כָּנָף).

So we see in Ezekiel 16:8:
I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.

 

 

The Sick Woman

The story of the sick woman taps into this same imagery.

Matthew 9:20-21
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.”

Mark 6:56
And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Reasons for the sick touching the edge of Christ’s robe.

Several places in Scripture show us the thought behind sick people trying to touch Christ’s garment.

Zech 8:23
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'”

As we saw above, the Hebrew word for robe matches the word for wings, repeated many times in the Psalms. Taking hold of Christ’s robe was an ancient analogy for “attaching oneself to the party of his lord.”

They were humbling themselves before God, asking for mercy.

Down is Up. This is another way of saying “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet 5:6, NIV).

Bend down, bow, kneel, humble yourself…admit you are inadequate to the task…confess that HE is your only hope. Go down. God gives grace to the humble. But he opposes the proud. (1 Pet 5:5, James 4:6). Up is Down and Down is Up. If you go UP–if you insist on doing it your own way, sure you can do it yourself, lifting your chin and defying your need for God, that is the surest way “DOWN” to death and destruction, in the end.

But if you go Down, he will lift you Up.

Which means he will bring you into his eternal Covenant.

Nowhere is this more clear than the story of Ruth and Boaz.

Ruth

The Book of Ruth holds the greatest clue for us, showing the relationship between redemption and the edge of the garment. Showing the certainty of the Covenant.

It’s a strange story, and one scandal-seekers love to point at while wiggling their eyebrows. But Ruth’s visit to the threshing floor was a demonstration for us of what a kinsman-redeemer is for humanity.

Ru 2:12
The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”

Already, Boaz had raised the topic of coming under the “wings” of God. Now, Naomi encourages Ruth to demonstrate the need for Boaz’s specific “wings,” as her protector, redeemer, and savior.

Ru 3:7–9
[Boaz] went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain. Then she came softly and uncovered his feet and lay down. At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet! He said, “Who are you?” And she answered, “I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”

She had put herself under the edge of his garment. She desired covenant.

She desired him to be her guardian, her lord, her escape from a helpless situation.

Do you See it Yet?

It’s your only escape. The world may condemn you, they may falsely accuse you, or rightly accuse you. You will also accuse yourself of committing the unforgivable sin.

But where is your hope?

We will never live up to the life Christ lived. That’s the reason we needed a Savior.

But where is your hope?

Do you, after needing Christ for salvation, now attempt to reach perfection by works? (Gal 3:3) It won’t happen. We will produce fruit only as the Spirit enables us. As we abide we will be changed into his image.

But we are all going to fail this broken world.

You will have some up days, and down days. But as Billy Graham said, most of life is the valleys. We are not building our kingdom here. This broken world is not our home. We have hope in a kingdom not built by human hands. (Heb 11)

And when we consider Judgment Day…

…when we consider if he might could possibly accuse us of not being his,

…there is only one safe place to be found.

There is only one place to hide safely:

One vantage point from which to view the Great Assize, the Great Courtcase.

HIDE UNDER THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.

PULL HIS GARMENT OVER YOU AND HIDE. 

Hide from sorrow. Hide from failure. Hide from the law of sin in you waging war against the law of grace.

He is our only hope.

Under his wings we will find refuge. Hide under the edge of his garment.

On Judgment Day, DIVE DOWN under his garment. For under his wings you will find refuge. Under his wings you will be safe.

So What About Being a Witch?

We all are witchy. We, none of us, will ever satisfy God completely and thoroughly. We are broken people in a broken world.

Say to yourself out loud, “I am not my hope.”

They will not be pleased with you. Your righteous desires will not be pleased with you. God will not be pleased with “you.” 

But when the Father sees you, hiding there under the shadow of Christ’s garment, hiding under Christ’s righteous garment, he’ll shine his face on you.

That’s where the Father and the Son and the Spirit wanted you all along.


For more amazing Bible verses on this topic, click here: Shadow of the Almighty

 

“We are willing to suffer all external losses”

// A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith, //

| Chinese Churches face Persecution 2018 |



The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.

Psalm 47:9


The Ancient of Days has always had this plan. Peoples (from every nation) would become one people: the people of God. These people would be his Covenant people, would find their joy in him alone, and would face any difficulty with a steadfast love for him and for their neighbor. 

He called Abraham giving this global plan: “through you all nations will be blessed” (Gen 22:18).

Christ likewise said to his disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

And in our glimpse of heaven in Revelation we see the many peoples now as

ONE People:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Facing difficulties for the sake of Christ has been a part of the story since the beginning. It will be like this until the harvest is complete.

The past few months of 2018 have been especially difficult for the Chinese Church, facing harassment and imprisonment by the national government. This persecution has prompted them to formulate the statement below.

If you are a believer, you will agree with every word you read.

It beautifully reflects our faith in the God of Abraham, the Ancient of Days, and the way he expects us to be light in a dark world.

Chinese Church prays
Early Rain Covenant Church

A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith

2018


A Joint Statement by Pastors:
A Declaration for the Sake of the Christian Faith4th edition, 279 pastors)
—————————————————————————
We are a group of Chinese Christians, chosen by the Most High God to be His humble servants, serving as pastors for Christian churches throughout various towns and cities.

We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the one true and living Triune God is the Creator of the universe, of the world, and of all people. All men should worship God and not any man or thing. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that all men, from national leaders to beggars and prisoners, have sinned. They will die once and then be judged in righteousness. Apart from the grace and redemption of God, all men would eternally perish. We believe and are obligated to teach the world that the crucified and risen Jesus is the only Head of the global church, the sole Savior of all mankind, and the everlasting Ruler and supreme Judge of the universe. To all who repent and believe in Him, God will give eternal life and an eternal Kingdom.

In September, 2017, the State Council issued the new “Regulations on the Administration of Religious Affairs” and began implementing these regulations in February, 2018. Ever since then, Christian churches across China have suffered varying degrees of persecution, contempt, and misunderstanding from government departments during public worship and religious practices, including various administrative measures that attempt to alter and distort the Christian faith. Some of these violent actions are unprecedented since the end of the Cultural Revolution. These include demolishing crosses on church buildings, violently removing expressions of faith like crosses and couplets hanging on Christians’ homes, forcing and threatening churches to join religious organizations controlled by the government, forcing churches to hang the national flag or to sing secular songs praising the State and political parties, banning the children of Christians from entering churches and receiving religious education, and depriving churches and believers of the right to gather freely.

We believe that these unjust actions are an abuse of government power and have led to serious conflicts between political and religious parties in Chinese society. These actions infringe on the human freedoms of religion and conscience and violate the universal rule of law. We are obligated to announce bad news to the authorities and to all of society: God hates all attempts to suppress human souls and all acts of persecution against the Christian church, and he will condemn and judge them with righteous judgment.

But we are even more obligated to proclaim good news to the authorities and to all of society: Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, the Savior and King of mankind, in order to save us sinners was killed, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God, destroying the power of sin and death. In His love and compassion God has prepared forgiveness and salvation for all who are willing to believe in Jesus, including Chinese people. At any time, anyone can repent from any sin, turn to Christ, fear God, obtain eternal life, and bring great blessing from God upon his family and country.

For the sake of faith and conscience, for the spiritual benefits of the authorities in China and of society as a whole, and ultimately for the glory, holiness, and righteousness of God, we make the following declaration to the Chinese government and to all of society:

1. Christian churches in China believe unconditionally that the Bible is the Word and Revelation of God. It is the source and final authority of all righteousness, ethics, and salvation. If the will of any political party, the laws of any government, or the commands of any man directly violate the teachings of the Bible, harming men’s souls and opposing the gospel proclaimed by the church, we are obligated to obey God rather than men, and we are obligated to teach all members of the church to do the same.

2. Christian churches in China are eager and determined to walk the path of the cross of Christ and are more than willing to imitate the older generation of saints who suffered and were martyred for their faith. We are willing and obligated under any circumstance to face all government persecution, misunderstanding, and violence with peace, patience, and compassion. For when churches refuse to obey evil laws, it does not stem from any political agenda; it does not stem from resentment or hostility; it stems only from the demands of the gospel and from a love for Chinese society.

3. Christian churches in China are willing to obey authorities in China whom God has appointed and to respect the government’s authority to govern society and human conduct. We believe and are obligated to teach all believers in the church that the authority of the government is from God and that as long as the government does not overstep the boundaries of secular power laid out in the Bible and does not interfere with or violate anything related to faith or the soul, Christians are obligated to respect the authorities, to pray fervently for their benefit, and to pray earnestly for Chinese society. For the sake of the gospel, we are willing to suffer all external losses brought about by unfair law enforcement. Out of a love for our fellow citizens, we are willing to give up all of our earthly rights.

4. For this reason, we believe and are obligated to teach all believers that all true churches in China that belong to Christ must hold to the principle of the separation of church and state and must proclaim Christ as the sole head of the church. We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation. We also will not accept any “ban” or “fine” imposed on our churches due to our faith. For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and of our lives.

Signatories of the Joint Statement (279 people total)

First Group (29 people):

Pastor Wang Yi (Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church)
Pastor Yang Hua (Guiyang Living Stone Church)
Pastor Jin Mingri (Beijing Zion Church)
PastorZhang Xiaofeng, Elder Sun Yi, Elder You Guanghui (Beijing Shouwang Church Governance Committee)
Pastor Huang Xiaoning (Guangzhou Bible Reformer Church)
Pastor Dou Shaowen (Zhengzhou Conerstone Church)
Elder Zhang Chuanlei (Guiyang Renai Reformed Church)
Elder Wen Hongbin (Chengdu Xishuipang Reformed Church)
Minister Yang Xibo (Xiamen Xunsiding Church)
Minister Jiang Jianping (Foshan Olive Tree Church)
Elder Xue Honggen (Chengdu Yudu Zhuen Reformed Church)
Elder Char Changping (Chengdu Shengmingzhiquan Church)
Minister Shi Shangbiao (Zhangzhou Feilizhijia Church)
Pastor Li Tao(Kunming Endian Church)
Pastor Shen Xianfeng (Wuhan Zhongfu Chenxing Church)
Elder Tang Bohu (Shanghai Caihong Reformed Church)
Pastor Cui Quan (Shanghai Wangbang Xuanjiao Church)
Pastor Su Yaorong (Taizhou Tianfu Reformed Church)
Minister Wang Teng (Taizhou Mingdao Reformed Church)
Pastor Wang Changyi (Tiazhou Tiantai Fuyin Church)
Pastor Ji Jianyang (Tiazhou Xianju Mengen Church)
Pastor Guo Chuanyu (ChangchunLinhezhifu Reformed Church)
Pastor Li Lianmin (Shenzhen Shajing Bible Reformed Church)
Pastor Zhuang Zhiyong (Shenzhen Huaqiang Bible Reformed Church)
Pastor Chen Jingtang (Shengzhen Guifangyuan Bible Reformed Church)
Pastor Huang Lei (Wuhan Shangxiatang Church)
Pastor Zhang Yong(ChangchunYangguangzhijia Reformed Church)

Second Group (87 people):

Pastor Gao Lijun (Wenzhou Wangkun Church)
Minister Cai Jingliang (Foshan Fangzhou Church)
Minister Xu Jianwei (Hebei Tangshan Church)
Minister Jiangtian (Chengdu Gospel Church)
Minister An Yankui (Taiyuan Xuncheng Reformed Church)
Elder Haoming (Deyang Qiuyu Qingcaodi Church)
Minister Li Zihu (Chengdu Ziuyu Enyue Church)
Minister Cheng Zhangchun (Chengdu Qiuyu Jianan Church)
Minister Cao Qingen (Chengdu Linxishu Reformed Church)
Minister Wang Tianmin (Shamen New Creation Church)
Elder Wang Zhaorong, Minister Wan Changchun (Bangbu Huoshi Reformed Church)
Pastor Li Jiale (Beijing Daohang Zhijia Church)
Pastor Huang Yizi (Wenzhou Pingyang Fengwo Church)
Pastor Lin Yage (Guiyang Mengen Church)
Pastor Wu Yiqi (Changchun Fuyin Zhiguang Reformed Church)
Minister Gu Hongfei (Beijing Aixuan Church)
Pastor Xu Zhibing (Jiangsu Guanyun Xiansi Duizhong New Church)
Pastor Peng Qiang (Chengdu Enfu Reformed Gospel Church)
Elder Zheng Zhaobei, Minister Ren Lichuan, Minister Jie Shoutuan (Chengdu Xishuipang Reformed Gospel Church)
Elder Jiang Guocheng, Elder Peng Yuan (Renshou Enhui Reformed Gospel Church)
Elder Liu Maolin (Linyi Enyue Reformed Church)
Elder Yan Xiaoxin (Rizhao Enzhao Reformed Church)
Elder Huowei (Linyi Enquan Reformed Church)
Elder Chen Shun (Linyi Enyuan Reformed Mission)
Elder Li Rongtai (Linyi Enlin Reformed Church)
Minister Yang Binchuan (Zaozhuang Zhuentang Church)
Pastor Liu Hongwei (Beijing Ganlanshan Church)
Minister Lin Hesheng (Chengdu Fanglin Church)
Minister Liu Zhiyong (Xi’an Jitaicun Cornerstone Church)
Minister Luo Ruisheng (Guangzhou Sui Guizheng Fuyin Tuanqi Huangshen Jiangdian)
Minister Ye Xinde (Fujian Zhangpu Yilin Zhijia Reformed Church)
Minister Meng Yongguang (Gansu Lanzhou Chenxing Church)
Minister Wang Zisheng (Qingdao Jimiya Church)
Minister Huang Wenyou (Hong Kong Chinese Christian Church)
Minister Chen Huizhen (Zhangzhou Longhai Shima Xincheng Church)
Pastor Liu Yang (Xi’an Xinwang Ai Church)
Minister Sun Chao (Yunnan Qujing Feila Tiefei Church)
Pastor Xu Mei (Xi’an Enquan Church)
Pastor Dong Zhi (Beijing Hemujia Church)
Brother Liang Yongen (Dalian Shien Zhen Church)
Pastor Ju Dawei (Xi’an Halleluiah Church)
Pastor Zhao Yanwei (Zhengzhou Zhongai Church)
Pastor Ren Jinbiao (Hebei Botou Shihong Grace Church)
Pastor Huang Lei (Hunan Yueyang Shipan Shisheng Jingdu Church)
Pastor Sun Hong (Jilin Shengyue Zhendao Church)
Minister Zhu Lehai (Zhangjiajie Hope Christian Church)
Pastor Zhang Qianjin (Beijing, missionary)
Pastor Gao Quanfu (Xi’an Zhiguang Church)
Pastor Guo Zhi (Dongguan Reformed gospel Church)
Minister Chen Shengda (Wenzhou Boteli Church)
Minister Wang Lanqing (Shandong Linyi Tiancheng Shengyue Church)
Pastor Guo Yijun (Beijing Endao Reformed Baptist Church)
Minister Xu Fengchuan (Anhui Fuyang Nanzhao Xingqi Faguang Church)
Minister Huang Wenguang (Shenzhen Jehovah Yile Church)
Minister Li Jianxuan (Shenzhen Thanksgiving Church)
Minister Yin Xuguang (Beijing Shijing Shanshuguang Church)
Pastor Zhou Yunfeng (Xianyang Xin Wang Ai Yangwang Church)
Minister Yang Fuli (Shijiazhuang Hongdao Church)
Teacher Cheng Chaohua (Wenzhou Shenzhou Preaching Team)
Minister Qin Shengjie (Henan Balizhuang Church)
Teacher Wang Weixin (Wenzhou Yufutang Church)
Pastor Weng Xiangkun (Wenzhou Shenzhou Preaching Team)
Pastor Huang hanxin (Wenzhou Shenzhou Preaching Team)
Minister Wang Xiao (Henan Dongguocun Church)
Pastor Zhu Jiahao (Wenzhou Shenzhou Preaching Team)
Minister Xinyi Chuandao (Datong Lirenzao Church)
Minister Zhao Lihui (Datong Lirenzao Church)
Pastor Lin Jinlian (Wenzhou Shenzhou Preaching Team)
Pastor Yan Xiaojie (Wenzhou Shangjiang Church)
Minister Chen Jiafu (Chen Dawei) (Fuzhou Boteli Reformed Church)
Pastor Du Youchang (Jingmen Ganlanshan Church)
Pastor Wang Yongcheng, Elder Feng Guangxiong (Shen Ai Shi Ren Fengshou Church)
Pastor Ruan Dawei (Zhanjiang Gengxin Church)
Minister Guan Xinyuan (Jiangsu Liyang Family Church)
Minister Zhao Ruohan (henan Xihuo Church)
Minister Sun Chanli (Hubei Shiyan Rongguang Biliya Church)
Elder Li Youhong (Chengdu Shengming Zhi Quan Church)
Elder Yan Xixia, Elder Su Bingsen, Elder Li Yingqiang, Elder Tan Defu, Minister Zhang Xudong (Chengdu Early Rain Covenant Church)

Third Group (80 people):

Elder Wang Chunzhi, Elder Liao Yantao, Minister Lan Junan (Chengdu Enfu Reformed Presbyterian Church)
Minister Tan Taochuan (Foshan Fangzhou Church)
Minister Liang Yongen (Dalian Shien Zhen Church)
Minister Chen Xianfei (Beian Shengyue Yongdao Church)
Minister You Guanda (Xiamen Dianqian Church)
Minister Li Yuanfei (Zhongqing Zai Dao Reformed Gospel Church)
Minister Hua Jiaquan, Minister Yang Zhenjiang (Ningbo Grace Church)
Pastor Tan Songhua (Wuhan Fangjiao Church)
Pastor Wang Zhengrong (Tianjin Shengguang Reformed Church)
Pastor Mao Zhibin, Elder Shen Lingchang (Shenzhen Sanyi Fuyin Fengshou Church)
Elder Zhang Senchang (Fuyang Maizhong Reformed Church)
Elder Li Leqing (Shangrao Yugan Gufu Yueshuya Church)
Pastor Wang Linmu, Pastor Long Jiangen, Pastor Gao Yingjia, Elder Yin Huibin, Elder Li Jianjun, Elder Jian Zhaopeng, Elder Wang Jun, Elder Ye Xiongjin, Minister Tian Yangbo, Minister Yuan Guoshen, Minister Wang Cong, Minister Qie Jiafu, Minister Chen Yong, Minister Wang Jinchuan, Minister Zhang Kun, Minister Chen Rutan, Minister Liu Zhenbin, Minister Jiang Hailin, Minister Yang Jun, Minister Wu Di, Minister Cui Jianguo, Minister Jin Hailan, Minister Geng Pengpeng, Minister Wu Hongfei, Secretary Zhang Yonghao (Beijing Zion Church)
Pastor Wang Desheng (Beijing Anhua Church)
Minister Song Hongtao (Handan Grace Church)
Pastor Jiang Shoudao (Shanxi Shenghuai Renshi Shengai Church)
Pastor Liang Junpei, Pastor Zhang Dawei, Elder Bi Guoxiong (Hong Kong Jidu Luxiao Church) Minister Ren Zhongzhi (Meinan Baptist Jerusalem Church)
Minister yin Zhongfan (Guilin Canaan Church)
Minister Lv Diya (Hubei Xidu Kingdom Christian Church)
Minister Yao Kun (Kunming Tianyuanli Bible Church)
Minister Li Guisheng (Henan Nanyang Family Church)
Pastor Shen Wanzhong (Liaoning Dandong Yezhong Church)
Minister Qin Chenguang (Beijing Guomen Church)
Pastor Liu Yangsun (Henan Anyang Church)
Minister Guo Liwei (Fujian Fuqing Enyu Zhi Jia Church)
Pastor Yin Jianan (Shanghai Zhongfu Christian Church)
Pastor Wang Hongzhong (Changzhi Muxuan Church)
Minister Huang Yongchuan (Chengdu Enfu Shequ Church)
Elder Fu Jun (Chengdu Shengming Zhi Quan Church)
Minister Zhong Zhengchuan (Xinjiang Hezi Christian Church)
Elder Yang Jianjun (Yueyang Cornerstone Bible Church)
Minister Hu Huitang (Dongguan Xianming Reformed Church)
Minister Zhao Zhanghua (Qingyuan Shuguang Gospel Church)
Elder Qin Zuzheng (Nanning Encheng Church)
Minister Zhao Peng, Minister Xu Zhiqiang (Pixian Christian Church)
Minister Yu Peixin (missionary, Yibin, Sichuan Province)
Minister Hu Moxi (Zhejiang Lishui New Life Church)
Elder Yin Keshan (Linyi Enquan Reformed Church)
Elder Zhao Jianxin (Linyi Enlin Reformed Church)
Minister Li Wenzhuo (Jinan Grace Covenant Church)
Pastor Fan Youcai (Linyi Trinity Covenant Mission)
Minister An Yaolin, Minister Yang Zhigang (Shanxi Huozhou Church)
Minister Li Minghua (Shanxi Taiyuan Qingganlan Church)
Elder Sun Dawen (Tianjin Mount Zion Church)
Pastor Huan Manjin (Huainan Qin Yu Lu Church)
Pastor An Xi (Beijing Fuyin Diyi Presbyterian Church)
Minister Wang Shiqiang (Yuxi Muen Church)
Pastor Pan Yongguang, Elder You Guangbo, Elder Xie Jianqing (Shenzhen Gaigezong Shengdao Church)
Fourth Group (71 people):

Pastor Huang Yonghui, Elder Guo Youhan(Tanghe County Yuxing Church)
Minister Zhang Mengxia(Tanghe County Fule Church)
Minister Shi Xitian,Elder Shi Shuqin(Tanghe County Enchong Church)
Minister Cui Fengsan, Elder Xu Xingyi(Tanghe County Yongfu Church)
Minister Liu Zongqin(Sheqi County Fuyin Church)
Pastor Li Qinle,Minister Zeng Xinrui(Tanghe County Enfu Church)
Minister Cui Baocun,Minister Yang Bingqin(Tanghe County Xinaizhijia Church)
Minister Tian Yujiao(Tanghe County Wanggang Church)
Minister Li Yurong,Minister Zhu Xiaomei(Tanghe County Enhui Church)
Minister Chen Chaojian(Tanghe County Shien Church)
Pastoe Zong Shiang(Tanghe County Xuandao Church)
Elder Wang Xianghai,Minister Liu Daoshu(Tanghe County Enyu Church)
Elder Liu Daocai(Tanghe County Enhui Church)
Elder Zhang Yongcheng,Minister Bi Aiyun(Tanghe County Engao Church)
Elder Ren Wentao(Tanghe County Rongen Church)
Elder Huang Fuping(Tanghe County Enrong Church)
Elder Feng Chao(Tanghe County Zhangdian Church)
Elder Shen Qingke(Tanghe County Shenchong Church)
Pastor Hu Changlin(Tongbai Fuyuan Church)
Pastor Wang Mingbao(Tongbai Tongxing Church)
Pastor Yao Mingyuan(Tongbai Tongxin Church)
Pastor Hu Qunxing(Tongbai Yien Church)
Pastor Wei Wenguo(Tongbai Fengen Church)
Minister Xu Yan(Tongbai Taishan Church)
Minister Li Jianpo(Tongbai Maoji Church)
Minister Liao Xizhi(Tongbai Xinsheng Church)
Minister Hu Changhong(Tongbai Guxian Church)
Elder Miao Aijun(Tongbai Nangang Church)
Pastor Yu Shuhua(Xinye Anshu Church)
Pastor Feng Xuezhi(Xinyang Enquan Church)
Pastor Xu Youbing(Xinyang Enxin Church)
Pastor Shu Wenxiang(Xinyang Enyu Church)
Pastor Guo Chunmei(Xinyang Baoshi Church)
Minister Zhang Cheng,Minister Yuan Paul(Xinyang Renai Church)
Minister Li Shouzhen,Minister Liu Xia(Xinyang Jianan Church)
Minister Zhou Chunyan,Minister Shu Mei(Xinyang Ganlan Church)
Minister Wang Xi(Xinyang Dongjiahe Church)
Minister Lu Jinwang(Xinyang Shuangjing Church)
Minister Wang Yan(Xinyang Jiaen Church)
Minister Hu Shihua(Xinyang Muen Church)
Minister Yu Farong(Xinyang Ganlin Church)
Minister Yang Yuxia(Xinyang Wushengguan Church)
Minister Zeng Yu(Xinyang Ganlu Church)
Pastor Wei Jindang(Zhengzhou Gusui Church)
Pastor Li Zijuan(Henan Yilin Church)
Pastor Ji Houjun(Zhengzhou Huoquan Church)
Pastor Yue Qunzeng(Zhengzhou Yongquan Church)
Pastor Wang Junping(Zhengzhou Mengen Church)
Pastor Ma Teng(Zhengzhou Zhongxing Church)
Minister Chen Lejia,Minister Yan Zuyuan(Yibin City Xuzhou District Emmanuel Church)
Minister Wong Lewen(Wenzhou Cangnan County Local Church)
Zhao Dewei and most fellow leaders(Beijing Songzhuang Fellowship of Artists)
Minister Li Jie(Linfen Covenant House Church)
Pastor Zeng Shenyuan(Chengdu Zijing Xuanjiao Church)
Minister Wang Wei(Ningxia Xuandao Church)
Pastor Chen Qichao(Beijing Dadisongge Church)
Elder Chen Defu, Minister Gu Peiying(Linyi Enyue Reformed Church)
Elder Kong Fanyong(Linyi Enquan Reformed Church)
Elder Zhu Yu, Minister Yan Shenglin(Rizhao Enzhao Reformed Church)
Minister Yang Yuming(Linyi Zhenai Church)
Pastor Jing Yucai(Yangzhou Bozhong Church)
Minister Chenhui(Deyang Shengminghe Mission)
Minister Wang Yongfei(Shenzhen Bantian Gospel Reformed Church)
Pastor Li Zhe(Beijing Qingganlan Church)
Minister Lin Zhisen,Minister Yang Haishan(Liaoyuan house church)
Minister Ding He(Tianjin Aizhijia church)

All pastors, elders, and ministers of Chinese churches are welcomed to co-sign the joint statement. Please include your church’s abbreviation. Send emails to earlyraincovenantchurch@gmail.com

1th edition: August 30, 2018; 2th edition: September 1, 2018; 3th edition: September 5, 2018; 4th edition: September 6, 2018;
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牧者联署:为基督信仰的声明(第三版,198位牧者)

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我们是中国的一群基督徒,被至高的上帝拣选,成为祂卑微的仆人,并在各城各乡作基督教会的牧者。

我们相信并有责任教导世人,一位又真又活的三一上帝,是宇宙、世界和地上各族的创造主,人应该敬拜上帝,而不应敬拜任何人和任何事物;相信并有责任教导世人,上自国家领袖,下至乞丐囚徒,人人都犯了罪,人人都有一死,死后且有公义的审判,若没有上帝的恩典和救赎,人人都将永远沉沦;相信并有责任教导世人,那位曾被钉死在十字架上、又复活了的耶稣,是全球教会的唯一元首,是全人类的唯一救主,也是全宇宙永远的统治者和最高的审判者,一切信祂、向祂悔改的人,上帝赐给他们永远的生命和永远的国度。

从2017年9月国务院颁布新的《宗教事务管理条例》以来,到2018年2月该条例执行以后,中国各地的基督教会,在公共敬拜和信仰实践上受到了来自政府部门的程度不一的逼迫、藐视和误解,甚至包括各种企图改造和扭曲基督教信仰的行政措施。其中一些粗暴的举动,是文革结束以来前所未有的。如拆毁教会建筑的十字架,粗暴干涉基督徒家庭悬挂、张贴的十字架和春联等信仰表达,强迫和威胁教会加入官方控制的宗教组织,强迫教会悬挂国旗或歌颂世俗国家、政党,禁止基督徒的未成年子女进入教会和接受信仰教育,剥夺和取缔教会和信徒的自由聚会等。

我们认为这些诉诸公权力的不义之举,使中国社会面临严重的政教冲突。这些行为违背了人类的信仰和良心自由、也有悖于普遍的法治原则。我们有责任告诉掌权者和全社会一个坏消息,那就是对人的灵魂的一切压制和对基督教会的一切迫害,都为上帝所憎恶,并必将受到上帝公义的责备和审判。

我们更有责任向掌权者和全社会传扬一个好消息,那就是上帝的独生儿子、人类的救主和君王耶稣,为了拯救我们罪人而曾被杀,埋葬,并以神的大能从死里复活,胜过了罪恶和死亡的权势。因着爱和怜悯,上帝为包括中国人在内的一切愿意相信耶稣的人都预备了赦免和救恩。在任何时候,任何人,都可以从任何罪恶中向主悔改,归向基督,敬畏上帝,使个人得着永远的生命,使家庭和国家蒙受上帝慷慨的祝福。

为信仰和良心的缘故,也为中国的掌权者和全社会的属灵益处,并最终为着上帝的荣耀、圣洁和公义,我们向中国政府及全社会作出如下声明:

1、在中国的基督教会,无条件地相信《圣经》是上帝的话语和启示,是一切公义、伦理和救恩的来源和最高权威。任何政党的意志、政府的立法和人的命令,若直接违背《圣经》的教导,损害人的灵魂和反对教会所信仰的福音,我们有责任顺从神、而不顺从人,也有责任如此教导教会的全体成员。

2、在中国的基督教会,始终仰慕和决心走基督的十字架道路,也乐意效法那些曾为信仰而受苦、殉道的中国教会的前辈圣徒,在任何情况下,我们都情愿和有责任以和平、忍耐和怜悯之心,承受来自政府和社会一切可能的逼迫、误解和暴力。因为当教会拒绝服从恶法时,不是出于任何政治目的,不是出于怨恨和对抗,乃是单单出于福音的要求,出于对中国社会的爱。

3、在中国的基督教会,愿意顺服上帝在中国设立的掌权者,尊重政府有管理社会和人的行为的权柄。我们相信并有责任教导教会的全体信徒,政府的权柄乃是出于神的,只要政府不越过《圣经》为世俗权力所设定的界限,即不干涉和侵犯一切关乎信仰和灵魂之事,基督徒就有责任尊敬掌权者,并热心为他们的益处祷告,也切切为中国社会祷告。甚至甘愿为福音的缘故,忍受不公平的执法所带来的一切外在损失;出于对同胞的爱而情愿放弃一切原本属于我们肉身上的权利。

4、为此,我们相信并有责任教导信徒,凡在中国属于基督的真教会,必当持守政教分立的原则和基督是教会唯一元首的立场。我们声明,教会愿意在外在行为上,如其他社会团体一样,接受民政或其他政府部门的依法管理;但在任何情况下,不带领教会加入官方控制的宗教组织,不带领教会在宗教管理部门登记,也不接受任何方式的挂靠。我们也不接受因信仰的缘故而对基督教会的“取缔”和“罚款”;并愿意为着福音的缘故,预备承担一切损失乃至失去自由和生命的代价。

牧者联署(共279人)

第一批29人:

王 怡牧师(成都秋雨圣约教会)
仰 华牧师(贵阳活石教会)
金明日牧师(北京锡安教会)
张晓峰牧师、孙毅长老、游冠辉长老(北京守望教会治委会)
黄小宁牧师(广州圣经归正教会)
窦绍文牧师(郑州磐石教会)
张春雷长老(贵阳仁爱归正教会)
温洪斌长老(成都溪水旁归正教会)
杨希伯传道(厦门巡司顶教会)
蒋建平传道(佛山橄榄树教会)
薛红根长老(成都郫都主恩归正教会)
查常平长老(成都生命之泉教会)
施尚标传道(漳州腓利之家教会)
李 涛牧师(昆明恩典教会)
申先锋牧师(武汉中福晨星堂)
唐伯虎长老(上海彩虹家归正教会)
崔 权牧师(上海万邦宣教教会)
苏耀荣牧师(台州天福归正教会)
王 腾传道(台州明道归正教会)
王昌以牧师(台州天台福音教会)
暨建羊长老(台州仙居蒙恩教会)
郭春雨牧师(长春临河之福归正教会)
李怜悯牧师(深圳沙井圣经归正教会)
庄志勇牧师(深圳华强北圣经归正教会)
陈景堂牧师(深圳桂芳园圣经归正教会)
黄 磊牧师(武汉下上堂教会)
张 勇牧师(长春阳光之家归正教会)

第二批(87人):
高丽俊牧师(温州望坤教会)
蔡景良传道(佛山橄榄树教会)
徐建伟传道(河北唐山堂)
姜添 传道(成都福音堂)
安彦魁传道(太原郇城归正教会)
郝 鸣长老(德阳秋雨青草地教会)
李子虎传道(成都秋雨恩约堂)
程章纯传道(成都秋雨迦南堂)
曹庆恩传道(成都邻溪树归正教会)
王天民传道(厦门新造教会)
王兆荣长老、万长春传道(蚌埠活石归正教会)
李迦勒牧师(北京导航之家教会)
黄益梓牧师(温州平阳凤卧教会)
林雅各牧师(贵阳蒙恩教会)
吴轶奇牧师(长春福音之光归正教会)
顾洪飞传道(北京爱宣教会)
徐之兵牧师(江苏灌云县四队中心堂)
彭 强牧师(成都恩福归正福音教会)
郑照北长老、任利传道、界守团传道(成都溪水旁归正福音教会)
江国成长老、彭玉安长老(仁寿恩惠归正福音教会)
刘茂林长老(临沂恩约归正教会)
阎小新长老(日照恩照归正教会 )
霍 伟长老(临沂恩泉归正教会)
陈 舜长老(临沂恩源归正布道所)
李荣泰长老(临沂恩临归正教会)
杨 斌传道(枣庄主恩堂教会)
刘红伟牧师(北京橄榄山教会)
林和生传道(成都芳邻教会)
刘志勇传道(西安祭台村磐石教会)
罗锐生传道(广州穗归正福音团契黄深江点)
叶新德传道(福建漳浦以琳之家归正教会)
孟永光传道(甘肃兰州晨星教会)
王梓晟传道(青岛积米崖教会)
黄文祐传道(香港中华基督教会)
陈惠珍传道(漳州龙海石码新城教会)
刘 洋牧师(西安信望爱教会)
孙 超传道(云南曲靖非拉铁非教会)
徐 梅牧师(西安恩泉教会)
董 志牧师(北京和睦佳教会)
梁永恩弟兄(大连市恩真教会)
巨大卫牧师(西安哈利路亚教会)
赵燕伟牧师(郑州钟爱教会)
任金彪牧师(河北泊头市宏恩堂)
黄 磊牧师(湖南岳阳市磐石圣经基督教会)
孙宏广牧师(吉林圣约真道教会)
朱乐海传道(张家界盼望基督教会)
张前进牧师(北京,宣教士)
高全福牧师(西安锡安之光教会)
郭 志牧师(东莞归正福音教会)
陈胜达传道(温州伯特利教会)
王兰青传道(山东临沂天城圣约教会)
郭易君牧师(北京恩道归正浸信会)
徐 峰传道(安徽阜阳男照兴起发光教会)
黄文广传道(深圳耶和华以勒教会)
李拣选传道(深圳感恩教会)
尹旭光传道(北京石景山曙光教会)
周云峰牧师(咸阳信望爱仰望教会)
杨赋立传道(石家庄弘道教会)
程超华教师(温州 神州布道团)
秦胜杰传道(河南八里庄教会)
王伟信教师(温州渔夫堂教会)
翁祥昆牧师(温州 神州布道团)
黄汉新牧师(温州 神州布道团)
王 枭传道(河南东郭村教会)
朱家好牧师(温州 神州布道团)
辛 义传道(大同利仁皂教会)
赵丽辉传道(大同利仁皂教会)
林金减牧师(温州 神州布道团)
严晓洁牧师(温州上江教会)
陈家福(陈大卫)传道(福州伯特利归正教会)
杜友长牧师(荆门橄榄山教会)
汪永诚牧师、冯光雄长老(神爱世人丰收教会)
阮大卫牧师(湛江更新教会)
管新元传道(江苏溧阳家庭教会)
赵若翰传道(河南喜获教会)
孙产力传道(湖北十堰荣光庇哩亚教会)
李友洪长老(成都生命之泉教会)
严熙夏长老、苏炳森长老、李英强长老、覃德富长老、张旭东传道(成都秋雨圣约教会)

第三批(80人):
王春智长老、廖衍涛长老、兰军安传道(成都恩福归正长老教会)
覃 韬传道(佛山方舟教会)
梁咏恩传道(大连市恩真教会)
陈显飞传道(北安圣约永道教会)
游冠达传道(厦门殿前教会)
李远飞传道(重庆栽道归正福音教会)
花家泉传道、杨振江传道(宁波城市恩典教会)
谭松华牧师(武汉房角石教会)
王正荣牧师(天津圣光归正教会)
毛志斌牧师、申凌长老(深圳三一福音丰收教会)
张 森长老(阜阳麦种归正教会)
李乐清传道(上饶余干古阜约书亚教会)
王林牧师、龙降恩牧师、高颖佳牧师、
尹会彬长老、李建军长老、简兆鹏长老、王君长老、叶雄进长老
田杨博传道、袁国深传道、王聪传道、郄佳富传道、陈勇传道、汪劲传道、张堃传道、陈如坦传道、刘桢彬传道、姜海林传道、杨俊传道、吴镝传道、崔建国传道、金海兰传道、耿朋朋传道、吴鸿飞传道、张永豪干事
(北京锡安教会)
王德生牧师(北京安华教会)
宋洪涛传道(邯郸恩典教会)
江守道牧师(山西省怀仁市圣爱教会)
梁君培牧师、张大卫牧师、毕国雄长老(香港基督路小教会)
任中志传道(美南浸信会耶路撒冷教会)
尹忠范传道(桂林迦南教会)
吕底亚传道(湖北硒都国度基督教会)
姚 昆传道(昆明田园里圣经教会)
李归圣传道(河南南阳家庭教会)
沈万众牧师(辽宁丹东耶中教会)
秦晨光传道(北京国门教会)
刘杨孙牧师(河南安阳教会)
郭利未传道(福建福清恩雨之家教会)
殷迦南牧师(上海中福基督教会)
王红忠牧师(长治牧宣教会)
黄 勇传道(成都恩福社区教会)
傅 军长老(成都生命之泉教会)
钟 正传道(新疆石河子基督教会)
杨建军长老(岳阳市磐石圣经基督教会)
胡会堂传道(东莞显明归正教会)
赵彰华传道(清远曙光福音堂教会)
覃祖正传道(南宁恩城教会)
赵 弸传道、许志强传道(郫县基督教会)
育培新传道(宣教士,四川宜宾)
胡摩西传道(浙江丽水新生命教会)
尹克山长老(临沂恩泉归正教会)
赵建新长老(临沂恩临归正教会)
李文卓传道(济南恩典之约归正教会)
范优才牧师(临沂三一圣约布道所)
安耀林传道、杨志刚传道(山西霍州教会)
李明华传道(山西太原青橄榄教会)
孙大文长老(天津锡安山教会)
桓满金牧师(淮南琴与炉教会)
安溪牧师(北京福音第一长老教会)
王世强传道(玉溪沐恩教会)
潘永光牧师、游广波长老、谢建庆长老(深圳改革宗圣道教会)

第四批(71人):

黄永辉牧师、郭有汉长老(唐河县复兴教会)
张孟侠传道(唐河县福乐教会)
史喜田传道、史书勤长老(唐河县恩崇教会)
崔丰三传道、徐兴义长老(唐河县永福教会)
刘宗勤传道 (社旗县福音教会)
李勤乐牧师、曾宪瑞传道(唐河县恩福教会)
催保存传道、杨炳琴传道(唐河县信爱之家教会)
田玉娇传道(唐河县王岗教会)
李玉荣传道、祝小梅传道(唐河县恩惠教会)
陈朝见传道(唐河县施恩教会)
宗世昂牧师(唐河县宣道教会)
王祥海长老、刘道书传道(唐河县恩雨教会)
刘道彩长老(唐河县恩惠教会)
张永成长老、毕爱云传道(唐河县恩膏教会)
任文涛长老(唐河县荣恩教会)
黄福平长老(唐河县恩荣教会)
冯 超长老(唐河县张店教会)
申庆克长老(唐河县申冲教会)
胡长林牧师(桐柏福源教会)
王明保牧师(桐柏同行教会)
姚明娟牧师(桐柏同心教会)
胡群星牧师(桐柏溢恩教会)
魏文国牧师(桐柏丰恩教会)
徐 燕传道(桐柏太山教会)
李建坡传道(桐柏毛集教会)
廖西芝传道(桐柏新生教会)
胡长红传道(桐柏固县教会)
苗爱军长老(桐柏南岗教会)
于书华牧师(新野安舒教会)
冯学智牧师(信阳恩泉教会)
徐友兵牧师(信阳恩信教会)
舒文祥牧师(信阳恩雨教会)
郭春梅牧师(信阳宝石教会)
张 成传道、袁保罗传道(信阳仁爱教会)
李寿珍传道、刘 霞传道(信阳迦南教会)
周春艳传道、书 梅传道(信阳橄榄教会)
王锡平传道(信阳董家河教会)
鲁金旺传道(信阳双井教会)
王 艳传道(信阳佳恩教会)
胡世华传道(信阳沐恩教会)
余法荣传道(信阳甘霖教会)
杨玉霞传道(信阳武胜关教会)
曾 玉传道(信阳甘露教会)
魏金党牧师(郑州谷穗教会)
李自娟牧师(河南以琳教会)
姬后军牧师(郑州活泉教会)
岳群增牧师(郑州涌泉教会)
王军平牧师(郑州蒙恩教会)
马 腾牧师(郑州中兴教会)
陈乐嘉传道、颜祖源传道(宜宾市叙州区以马內利教会)
翁乐文传道(温州苍南县地方教会)
赵德伟等绝大数同工(北京宋庄艺术家团契)
李 洁传道(临汾圣约家园教会)
曾深元牧师(成都紫荆宣教教会)
王 玮传道(宁夏宣道教会)
陈启超牧师(北京大地颂歌教会)
陈德夫长老(临沂恩约归正教会)
孔凡永长老(临沂恩泉归正教会)
朱 宇长老(日照恩照归正教会)
阎圣临传道(日照恩照归正教会)
顾沛迎传道(临沂恩约归正教会)
杨玉明传道(临沂真爱教会)
经玉才牧师(江苏扬州播种教会)
陈 辉传道(成都恩福教会德阳布道所)
王永飞传道(深圳坂田福音归正教会)
李 哲牧师(北京青橄榄教会)
林志森传道、杨海山传道(辽源家庭教会)
丁 贺传道(天津爱之家教会)

中国教会的牧师、长老或传道联署,请附所在教会的简称,致函:earlyraincovenantchurch@gmail.com

主后2018年8月30日第一版,9月1日第二版,9月5日第三版, 9月6日第四版。

 

Use the Rainbow, Please!

In the name of one thing, they hang a banner declaring the character of God, his BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING, PATIENT LOVE.

The problem with society’s use of the Rainbow today is the ironic REAL DECLARATION they unknowingly make.

If you fly the flag, you preach the Bible to all God’s faithful people. You are reminding us to pray for you, and hope for you, and to hope for us all.

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Gen 9:12-13

The Rainbow is a Promise that He Will Be Patient with Us.

Even when society becomes as those in the days of Noah, as Christ warned, where “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” Gen 6:5–even then, God will be patient. As Saint Peter said:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” 2 Peter 3:9

With every use of these beautiful colors, the LGBT community is reminding the rest of us that God is patient and loving, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. You say nothing else.

Patience Means Waiting for Change.

Use the flag, dear friends, declare your hatred of him-whom-you-do-not-know, because it makes us love you even more. It makes us care even more to tell you what the Rainbow really means for you. 

He’s giving you a chance. 

He’s giving you time.

But don’t waste your time, don’t waste this chance.

The Rainbow Belongs to the Covenant Community

It belongs to those whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It always has. It’s his Rainbow we will see for eternity, around the Throne in Heaven. 

You have rightly taken it, for in it, the beautiful sovereign God has given his people another reminder. A banner of hope. He will not yet sweep his punishment on this world. Not until the last preChristian repents, as Peter shows. Your flag is a modern-day miracle for us. From God. To remind us.

Use the Flag

Use the flag. And know, you declare with those lovely colors “GOD IS PATIENT WITH ME. GOD GIVES ME LIFE. GOD IS GIVING ME TIME TO REPENT.”

Use the flag. But with each flutter, remember your moments are ticking down. You are mortal and have the wonderfully long but painfully short life to figure this Rainbow out.

The first half of the Rainbow promise was that God would not flood the earth again. Peter continues with the second half of the Rainbow promise:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation. 2 Peter 3:10-15

What Kind of People Ought We to Be?

We all have these desires waging war in us to do this thing or that. These desires all feel natural. But natural does not by nature mean good. 

One sin is not worse than any other. What matters is that we see it as sin. Jesus loved sinners, but not the sin. He called sin sin, and even turned away those who had eager hearts but were not willing to let go of the smallest of sins.

“Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Look at the things on this list. Nobody is exempt:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor IDOLATERS, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the GREEDY, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6

We are all greedy, holding on to our “PRECIOUS” like Gollum. We are all idolaters, worshipping ourselves narcissistically rather than worshipping God. None of us qualify to enter the Kingdom of God unless we call sin sin and look to the cross of Christ as our only escape from that dreadful day.

You May Hate Me for What I Say.

You may do all sorts of things against me because the beautiful Rainbow flag you use speaks to me of God’s great promises for the world.

But you won’t stop the direction my mind goes when I see the flag. It is etched into my soul. The Rainbow is God’s signature on a contract. God is patient, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

Thank you for reminding me!

(Video) Big Questions 1: How Can I Know God?

 

This world is filled with Big Questions.

About God. About our Future. About Suffering and Grief and Disaster. About Religion and Morality. About Love and Hate. These Big Questions assault us from every angle, and never leave us alone. Like Belshazzar who saw the confusing writing on the wall, these Questions need an answer, and we want a reliable and true and undebatable answers.

–Video 1 in the Writing on the Wall (Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin) series–

How can I know God? Why is he hiding? Why do we need the Bible? Why is there suffering in this world? This video introduces the Big Questions and how to find the answers to them.

SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel today. Don’t miss any episodes.

What to Do about Hypocrites in the Church

“We wouldn’t have most of the New Testament letters
if it weren’t for problems in the church.” Flavien Pardigon.


Big Problems

Why are there so many problems between believers? Why are there so many hypocrites and just plain mean people in the Church? Why do even I fail in being the kind of person I want to be in the Church?

The fact that problems in the Church have always been here does not make it easier. In fact it pushes us to the brink of despair. Though there is an answer to the “why,” I’ll speak more directly to the “What should I do” question that you pose. Do this:

  1. Read Revelation chapter 1.

    Take note of the verse “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him.” This is the end goal we are working toward. This is where to look. At the prize, at seeing your Lord face to face, and especially at being found being a true follower.

  2. Read Revelation chapters 2–3.

    On a piece of paper make a chart (I’m serious) with these columns: A) Problems B) Commendations (or affirmations) C) Warnings D) Promises
    >>Do this. Don’t move on without making this chart. You’re going to find things you never saw before if you fill out this chart on paper. Make it look like this:

    With this chart in front of you, read these two chapters.

    A) Break down the different problems Jesus Christ found in the churches. What were they doing wrong? Be as detailed as you can. Then,
    B) What was it they (or some within the church) were doing right?
    C) What kind of change did Christ want from this group of believers? What did Christ warn would happen to those who did not change?
    D) What kind of reward awaited those who changed or kept doing the right thing?

  3. Read Revelation chapters 4–5. 

    What kinds of problems are reflected in Revelation 4 and 5? What kinds of focus is there in these chapters?

The Apocalypse of John begins with an assessment of churches. What are these churches? They were churches actually around during the writing of John the Apostle. But also, just as the Israelites leaving Egypt with Moses was both an historical event and an archetype of each Christian’s own journey, in the same way the Churches of Revelation reflect archetypes of churches that have been around since the beginning.


Hurtful People

In any Christian church you go into today you will find a combination of the problems you listed in A) above. These are the big issues.

You’re facing a church that is filled with people doing hurtful things. But instead of just figuring out where THEY’RE at, find out, from that chart you made, where you stand. What is it you are doing right? What is Christ commending you for? And where are you yourself failing?

Yes, the church is “the problem,” but if you want to know how to fix things, you can only start with you.

Look again at how Christ speaks with the churches. He’s kind, gentle, prodding. Incredibly sympathetic. But uncompromising. “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” He speaks as a shepherd. Remember this. It’s very important when it comes to WHY there are problems in the church. Jesus Christ doesn’t cut us off just because we’re problematic—if he did that, nobody would be left. He is gentle with us, leading us down our path toward Christ-likeness. And it takes a lifetime, literally, to arrive.

The Church is full of hypocrites and mean people because we’re still alive in this world. We’re not in our totally-kind bodies yet.

Don’t misunderstand me. I know you’re hurting. So there is one more thing you need to do. It will take some time, but it’s a journey you will not regret taking.

4. Read this booklet: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes.

This book will bring you to a point of healing and to a place of understanding why there are hurtful people in the Church. And the healing you receive from the sweet words of Pastor Sibbes will give you perspective and guidance for your next steps.


(taken from a Quora question and answer set: http://qr.ae/TUpRA1)

The Ugly Truth: I Love Will

School Shootings on Valentine’s Day? What is happening to this world?

There is nothing new, really, under the sun. As it was in the days of Noah so it is still today. Everyone is in love with the same person. This is the crux of the matter.

At our church women’s prayer time a common weekly request is for patience in the context of children and family.  We all know what it means. The battle of the wills. I want and he wants and what I want must win.

We love our Will.

Precious Will

We tend it and care for it. Like Gollum and the precious ring, we treasure our will and if anyone tries to touch it we lash out at them with fangs and sharp teeth. We want what we want and nobody. Ever. Forever. will take that from us.

Yet at the same time we pray the Lord’s prayer: thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.

There is a big problem in the world, and it starts with us. With our deepest love. Did you give chocolates to someone today for Valentine’s Day? Did you give a card? Did you go out on a date?

Perhaps you wanted to show your love to someone, or perhaps you had no one “really” to show love to today. No special someone. So you ate a bunch of chocolate yourself and watched a movie you’ve been wanting to watch.

We do this because of Will. We love him. He is our precious. If no one else appreciates him, we do. I will be treated special today, if I have to do it myself.

Impatience

I’ve been praying lately, trying to get to the bottom of this impatience with my children. Why can’t I be patient? Why can’t I be loving and sacrificial and serve them, like Christ did?  He took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist and got to business showing his love by serving.

I’ve been praying that God would show me what it is that is wrong in my spirit to make me battle to the death to win. I found the answer. It’s a little thing that holds me in sway. It’s Will. Will won’t let me lose.

I have a pampered Will. And now I don’t know what to do. So I pray, and I look at the Bible.

A few hours after Christ washed the disciples’ feet, he was in the garden praying, “not my will but thine be done.” There’s where his Will is! It is set there in front of the throne of the Father in heaven. It’s resting there.

Putting Will to Rest

I think I know what Will will try to do if I try to put ’em to rest at the foot of the Throne. He’s gonna wiggle and toss and turn, like a 3 year old at nap time. But putting our Will down is an inherent part of sanctification. Because a Will that does not rest there will get into more trouble than a 3 year old without a nap.

We’ve gotta put ’em down.

But there is hope. Where else? In Philippians 2:

“it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

What a wonderful thing to know. God’s Spirit works in us shaping that Will to rest at the foot of Jesus. And as the Will rests, bending to the the Father’s will, the body works out God’s good pleasure.

A verse earlier in Philippians it says:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”

How do we obey? How do we work out our own salvation? We gotta put Will to rest.  Look a bit earlier in Philippians. Surrounded in the context of Christ’s great humble example of loving, giving and serving we see these words:

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  This is what it looks like when Will is resting before the Throne.

School Shootings

What does love of Will have to do with the school shootings? People are broken and hurting, they are “without God and without hope.” And certainly, in this country, they have all known a Christian or two.  Somehow those relationships were not enough to stay the violent anger growing inside them. They loved their Will and chose to give it free reign, lashing out at the world that hurt them.

The Bible is very clear that the Church is the key to world peace. “Wars and rumors of war” and all that is ugly will be and is the characteristic of the last days. However, at the same time, there has always been a direct relationship between the Church getting right with God and the neighborhood getting cleaned up. Think about all the great RE-vivals. It’s when Christians repented.

GOD’S PEOPLE are supposed to turn. God’s people are supposed to humble themselves…(wait–didn’t we just see the connection between humbling ourselves and putting Will to rest? Yes! Philippians 2!)

…God’s people seeking God’s face with confession and repentance…this is the If/Then of social healing.

You know what I’m saying. You’ve seen hypocrites in your very church. You know the hypocrisy that hides in your heart, that few people see. It starts with Will.

We love Will. But the Will we should love more is God’s Will. That’s the one that’ll bring peace to your neighborhood, your city, your nation.

If we want to see school shootings go down, rise up o Church arise. If we want to see abortions and social disasters relieved, rise up o Church arise. Put aside Will.*

Suggestions for Putting Will to Rest:
  1. Humble Yourself:  Confess that you love your Will more than you love God’s Will. Name specific times that you disregarded clear Scripture in favor of your Will. Dwell on the justice of God, where your stubborn preference proves your guilt in his sight; dwell on the great kindness of God to forgive you in Christ’s name. Thank the Lord that Christ lived with a submissive will on your behalf, and that by faith this obedience has become yours.
  2. Pray: that God would put you in a situation where you are forced to let go of Will for the sake of God’s good plans. Ask him to test you until you learn to do this naturally, regularly, and faithfully.
  3. Seek God’s Face: Do a word study in Scripture on “the will of God;” make a list of stories or parables in the Gospels where Christ teaches or models the submission of the will.
  4. Confess: Make a list of people with whom your Will contests. Ask for forgiveness for the ungodly practice of loving your Will more than loving God’s way. Pray for opportunities to give-in and serve them instead of fighting to win.
  5. Turn from Wickedness: If you do not recognize your disobedience as wicked, you have not truly repented and turned and sought God’s face. Idolatry is putting something in place of God. If you are protecting Will, you are worshipping Will.
  6. Repent: To ensure you do not forget, but truly are moving into a new way of life, post one or all of the verses above on your bathroom mirror or car dashboard to memorize and to meditate on daily. Date this every Monday to keep track of your faithfulness.

My prayer is that you will be able to do this. I am going to try, and I feel already that it’s not going to be fun. But it may bring peace. It will bring peace.

______

What about you? Any ways you can suggest for us to put Will to Rest at the Throne of God?

*note: Through this posting it should be clear that Will is our selfish desires to do what is good for us primarily. I am not referring to the WILL of the “freewill” debate.

Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Final Episode

THE SECRET OF ZEFF

Episode 8

by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and AD 33

Amber’s Rules to Live By #354: If a Pea-Green Coat Guy climbs in your window, it might mean something big is going to change in the world.

—–

Amber is rolling out a circle of dough for the top crust of apple pie. She looks at her time-travel watch. People will be here for Thanksgiving in five hours still. Plenty of time.

“Honey, don’t forget to cut out little leaves to put on top of the pie crust.” Mother hands her the small leaf-shaped cookie-cutter.

She wipes her loose hair back with her shoulder and rolls the dough again, to make sure it is even.

An urgent knock on the door takes her attention.

“Mom, my hands are in dough. Can you get it?”

A minute later, Lacey is in the room. Lacey pulls Amber in a hug. “I had no idea,” she whispers. “Thank you so much.”

Amber hugs her friend back, trying to keep her hands from making handprints on her friend.

“Thank you for what?”

“For inviting me to church. And to Bible study. Oh, everything!”

Amber grins. “That’s great. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it.”

Lacey holds up her phone. “I need to show you something. It’s about Thanksgiving. Can you—can you finish the pie later?”

Mother nods and takes the rolling pin out of Amber’s hands. Amber washes, then dries her hands and goes up into her room with Lacey. They sit on the bed and Lacey starts typing something into her phone.

Amber cringes. Not Candy Crush again.

“Okay. Listen.” A familiar horse-trotting sound comes into the room with a little song. She knows this. It’s the White Horse Inn!

“Have you been listen—“

“Shhh. Listen. He says it right away.”

They turn their attention to the podcast. Michael Horton is saying, “In the Bible we learn that God’s Word alone delivers salvation to us. Sola Scriptura. A salvation that is by God’s initiative and grace alone. Sola Gratia. Through faith alone. Sola Fide. In Christ alone. Sola Christo. So that God may receive all the glory. Soli Deo Gloria.

Amber smiles, remembering Augustine and Luther and Calvin themselves talking with her about these principles. Lacey’s finger is still raised to keep Amber from speaking.

A few minutes later Michael Horton is speaking again about the glory of God, “Idolators lay their gifts at the feet of their speechless idols. And many professing Christians in the world turn God into an idol they think they can pacify and control. This is good news for image bearers who are weary of trying to earn God’s favor.”

Lacey pauses the podcast, and grabs something out of her pocket. She wipes her tears with a tissue.

“That’s me. That’s been me. I’ve been thinking like that. And I’m that weary person. I’m so tired of trying to be as good as my mom. But that’s not what God wants. He said it at the beginning. God’s word alone delivers salvation. And it’s in Christ.”

Amber put her arm around her friend.  Lacey leans into Amber and wipes her nose.  “Wait. Another thing. Right away. At like the seventh minute. Hold on.”

Lacey and Amber listen to the podcast, and Amber notices her watch begin to glow.

That’s the whole story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God wants to be with us. But he can’t without destroying us because of his holiness and our sin. And so he takes on our humanity. Without sin. Comes into our world. Takes on our impurity, carries it off like the scapegoat, comes out the other end in the Resurrection, alive—as the first fruits of the New Creation.”

“What is this podcast, Amber? Every minute is like pumpkin pie with whipped cream. A feast. Really. He even mentions that here. Listen.”

Michael Horton’s voice raises in joy, “But what can we say in response to this but live a life of thanksgiving and gratitude—pointing everybody in the world to God in Jesus Christ.

Amber laughs. She had also been listening more over the past weeks since she first had heard about it. Yes. Perfect for Thanksgiving Day.

Lacey hugs Amber again. “Thank you. For inviting me to church. For still inviting me when I only wanted to play Candy Crush. What was I doing with my life? When there is a Bible like this to read, why would I waste my moments on that?”

Amber shrugs her shoulders. “A new friend I met,” Zeff, she says to herself, “showed me that I should not just live my life for myself, either. And I wanted you to know Jesus.”

“These have been the best days of my life. Ever. What a perfect Thanksgiving Day!”

~~~

Amber closes the curtains and changes her clothes out of her Thanksgiving outfit. Her stomach is stuffed. It feels good to change into sweats. She hangs the clothes up and catches a glimpse of the pea-green coat. Pulling it out, she lays it on her bed and stares at it. Zeff. The curtains rustle. Amber looks just in time to see the Pea-Green Coat Guy come into her room. He grins, runs over to Amber, and pulls her into a hug. Amber is a bit shocked at first but then she smiles and pats his back.

“You did it,” Zeff whispers, pulling back.

“I think I understand. But I’m not sure.”

“Lacey is…or will be…my mother. And she became a Christian because of what you did.”

“I hate to disagree with you, but she became a Christian because of what Christ did. Solus Christus. Do you forget?”

“RIght. You’re right. But God uses people. And he used you to get her the gospel. So thank you so much. Mission accomplished.”

“It was fun,” Amber says, looking up at him. “I’d gladly do it again. You probably want your coat.”

She hands it to him and he pulls it on.

“But what was with all those dates? Why didn’t you just ask me?”

Zeff crosses his arms, grinning down at Amber.

“Who are you?” she asks.

“I am also a Reformer. But from the future. I was here to reform you.”

“So that’s why you had me meet Luther and Calvin and Wycliffe and Bunyan.”

“The Bible says the truth sets you free. And you needed to find the freedom of that truth.”

“That makes sense,” Amber laughs. “I was so tied-up inside, and was afraid to tell her, afraid of what she’d say, of her rejecting me. But actually the truths those men told me made sharing Jesus the most natural thing.”

When she says the name of Jesus her heart began to race. The watch had been glowing since she had been listening to White Horse Inn. Zeff starts to grin. Zeff glances at the watch on her wrist.

“I know what you’re going to say.”

Amber sighs, looking down at the watch. Maybe…just maybe…maybe it will work this time.

“You want to go to Jesus one more time?”

Amber nods emphatically.

“It will work one last time. I’ll be waiting here.”

Amber twists in the date AD 33. The watch’s blue light stops flashing. Despair settles in Amber’s mind after a few moments pass. Then, the world spins. Yes! Yes!

Amber looks excitedly up at Zeff and then down at the watch again. The blue dome surrounds her and everywhere goes dark.

Amber wakes up. It’s bright. She’s on the side of a hill. Several people are sitting around and there’s a man in the middle. Jesus! Amber bites her lip but approaches him. Jesus turns around and looks down at Amber, smiling. Amber takes a deep breath, her heart beating violently against her chest.

“I’ve been waiting to talk to you for so long!” Amber says, her whole face glowing. “Since I saw you on the Emmaus Road I’ve been wanting to come back. I tried every day. But I finally told Lacey, Jesus!”

A disciple comes up to them and gently tries to push Amber away.

“I’m sorry for her disturbance, Lord” he says. “Come, girl. Away from the Master.”

“Why are you bothering this young woman? She has done a beautiful thing. Let her be,” Jesus gently rebukes him.

The disciple nods and takes a step back. Amber’s eyes are shining as she looks up at Jesus.

“I told Lacey,” she breathes, eyes wide, “I took her to church and I gave her a Bible and she said she’s going to read it every day and…” She notices the crowd pressing in. She only has a few seconds left with him. “…and she loves her Bible, Jesus. Oh, and she listens to White Horse Inn! Jesus, I’m so thankful for you! You did this for her…” Amber trails off, too excited to say anything else.

“Well done, my good and faithful Amber,” Jesus says, his shining face on her. He stands up and places his hand on her cheek. “I’ll be back soon.” He winks at her and turns to face the people. Her heart clenches excitedly at the thought of his return.

Hundreds of people are crowded around them. Jesus leads them to the top of the hill, then turns to face the people. Amber bites her lip, watching him intently. He outstretches his arms.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” he says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As he is speaking, a mist floats around Him and His feet rise from the ground. He slowly ascends into heaven. Amber feels tears in her eyes as she watches him go. She wipes her eyes and sniffs. Jesus fades away into the sky. All is silent. A blue light surrounds her, pulsing in her ears. The disciples are gone and the ancient countryside. Everywhere is dark.

Amber wakes up in her room. Zeff is sitting on the bed, waiting for her.

“Go where you needed to go?” he asks, looking over at her.

Amber sighs and unstraps the watch from her wrist. She stares at it for a few seconds and then hands it to Zeff.

“Yes,” she said, nodding.

“Thanks, Amber. You’ve been a great help.”

Zeff gives her one last hug and then fades away as well. Amber can hear the neighbor dog barking and the birds chirping. The leaves rustle in the wind. Taking out her Bible, Amber lays down on her bed and begins to read Psalm 138:

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

THE END

HAPPY THANKSGIVING
from Amber, Zeff, Lacey, and S. Nicole Bocek

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Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 7

by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and 1666

 

What most of us do not realize is we are either slaves to our idol factories or friends of God.

—–

Amber traces the outline of Martin Luther onto the pumpkin. Nonetheless, she continues. After finishing the outline, Amber puts the pencil down and takes the paper off. This looks nothing like Luther. Amber grasps the knife. Just as she begins the carving out process, her phone rings. Wiping her hands on a towel, she looks at the caller ID. Lacey. Amber taps the answer button and presses the phone to her ear.

“Hey, Lace,” Amber chirps.

“Yo,” Lacey says.

“What’re you up to?”

“Nothing much. You?”

“I’m carving a pumpkin.” Amber hesitates. Invite her. Now. “Say…are you doing anything on Wednesday?”

“Um, wait a second. Let me check my schedule,” Lacey says.

There’s a moment’s silence and then Lacey comes back.

“Nope. I’m free. Why?” she says.

“Would you like to—” Amber’s face flushes red, “Would you like to come to Bible Study with me?”

There’s another long silence. Amber waits for what feels like an eternity.

“You know…I just remembered I actually have a Candy Crush tournament with an online friend…um…maybe another Wednesday?” Lacey says hesitantly.

Amber’s heart aches, but she says nothing of the brush-off. “Okay.”

They talk of unimportant things, then Lacey says bye and hangs up. Amber groans, wanting to bang her head on the table. Once again, guilt overwhelms her but she tries to shove it down and continue carving. Gah, this looks nothing like him.  I need a break.

Amber sets the knife down and enters in the next date. 1666, Bedford England.

Amber appears on all fours in an alleyway on a wet puddle. It’s dark. She lifts her hand, catching the scent of metal. Amber stands up and walks away, wiping her hands on her jeans. Something trips her and Amber sprawls on the ground. Scrambling to my feet, Amber notices it’s a body. What? The body isn’t moving. The sharp, metallic smell only becomes stronger.

“Stop where you are!” a loud voice rings out. “Murderer! Murderer!”

Amber freezes.

“Put your hands up!”

Amber puts her hands up, confusion filling her mind. What’s going on? What’s happening? Why is there a body? There is no where to run, and she is still in shock.

The men tie her hands together and lead her away. Dawn is breaking and Amber sees her hands and jeans covered in blood. Bile rises to her throat but she swallows it down.

“Where are you taking me?” she whispers, hands shaking.

Her legs feel weak.

“You’re going to jail,” the man growls. “How could such a young thing like you be such a heartless murderer?”

“I-I didn’t do anything!” Amber protests, struggling a little.

The man jerks Amber into a small building.

“Lock her up with the others,” someone orders.

Amber is taken downstairs and to a prison. The man opens a cell door and shoves her in. There’s already a man inside, sitting at a desk and writing down something in a book. I’m sick of this. Amber sits down in the corner and groans. The man at the desk glances at her.

“Are you okay, miss?” he asks.

“They think I killed that guy. No, I’m not okay. And my name’s Amber,” she added, not bothering to ask for his name.

“I’m John Bunyan.”

Amber nods and looks at the high small window. The bars are thick.

I gotta get out of here and find—

The man’s name sinks into her mind. She gazes back at him, eyes wide.

“John Bunyan?”

“Yes, that’s what I said.”

“The author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan?”

Bunyan gives Amber a confused look. He glances at his writing and back to her.

Why would the Pea Green Coat Guy—Zeff—want me to meet John Bunyan?

This was uncanny. Last year for Thanksgiving Mother had given her a really nice old-looking copy of the book.

“I hope you will treasure this story, Amber,” she had said.  “For the early settlers of America, that book was second to the Bible. It came out just after Plymouth was settled.”

And hadn’t Father said that the truths of the Reformation were wrapped up in that little allegory? Does Zeff know about this?

Bunyan interrupts her thoughts. “You know of my story? May I ask how? As far as I know, it’s still in my head and on my desk.”

“Uh—“ I’ve gotta change the subject!

“Word…gets…around?” She looked at her watch. Is this about Lacey?

“Sir?” Amber sits up.

Bunyan looks at her. 

“You’re a pastor, right?”

“Yes, I am. The pastor of Bedford church.”

“So…I guess, in light of your book…what would you say about my friend Lacey? I want her to know about Jesus. And I feel guilty about not telling her. But all she does is sit around and play Candy Crush on her phh—ph…” Amber catches herself. “You know, Candy Crush.”

Bunyan stares at her and clears his throat.

“So she is a confectioner?”

“A what?”

“Making desserts? Candy?”

Amber blanches.

“Her work gets in the way. I understand what you mean. She ignores her soul.”

“Exactly! She thinks she’s good enough for God.”

“In that case, if I were to categorize her, I’d say she’s like a fellow I know, named Ignorance. Or maybe like Civility.”

She strains her mind to recall.

“Let me tell you my story,” he starts, putting his quill down.

She nods, settling in place on the ground.

“There is a man with a terrible burden on his back. His name is Christian. He lives in the City of Destruction with his wife and two kids…”

Amber listens intently to him talk of the scroll and the burden, even though she already knows the story. His voice is full of energy.

“…Christian meets up with another man on a hill. This man’s name is Mr. Worldly Wise. He tells Christian that there is an easier way to get rid of his burden. The way is by going up to a city where a man named Mr. Civility can cut the burden off. Do you know what’s wrong with this?”

Amber nods. “There can only be one way to get the burden off. Christian has to go all the way to the Place of Deliverance. ‘Cause there, God will forgive him and his burden will roll away.”

Bunyan smiles. “You sound like you’ve read my manuscript. But yes. However, instead, Christian goes off the path. He goes toward the city on the mountain. Your friend, Lacey, is climbing that impossible mountain.”

Amber tilts her head, chin on her hand.

“She is letting the world carry her away to a place of destruction.”

Nodding, Amber recalls the story. “The door in the hillside.”

“On the other hand, she could be like Ignorance. He keeps walking the path, though Christian tries to tell him he needs to have a scroll, which he will get at the cross. But he disregards the warning, and denies he needs it.”

“That’s her, too! She doesn’t know. Not really. And she’s satisfied with just moving on without thinking about it.”

“Sweet sister, without Jesus, your friend will not be let in to the Celestial City. She will have a rude awakening on that day, unless—”

“I know,” she replied. “Unless I help her to understand.”

Amber stands up, worry for her friend overwhelming her. “I have to tell her!”

Bunyan smiles again. “Guilt is not what pushes us to share with our friends, Amber. Paul said, ‘the Love of Christ compels us.’”

“Thank you!” Amber shakes Bunyan’s hand. “It’s like light. Shining in darkness.”

“Right.” The world spins around her and the cell disappears. Amber appears back in her room.

Oh no! Pastor Bunyan saw me disappear! I hope he’ll think it was a dream.

“Dad! Dad!” She runs downstairs. Her mind is filled with the adventures of the past weeks. Father is listening to a radio talk-show, so he holds up a finger for a moment as he pauses his smartphone. She overhears someone say,

“The heart of fallen man is an idol factory. The desire to worship is still there. We’ve turned away from the one who created us to things and creatures, even to ourselves.”

The words make her stop. “Daddy, what did he mean? Idol factory. What’s that?”

“Calvin said that. The White Horse Inn is just talking about how we all worship—but what we worship depends on what we know about Truth.”

His words pierce to the heart. “I want Lacey to know Truth, Daddy.”

“Have you prayed for her?”

She shakes her head, no.

“I’ve invited her to Bible Study on Wednesday, but she’s too busy with Candy Crush. She preferred a Candy Crush tournament to going to church with me.”

“You see the idol factory at work?”

“How do we change her heart? How can we get her to listen?” She chews on her lip then adds, “You know how Ignorance in Pilgrim’s Progress didn’t listen to Christian? It’s like she just won’t hear me.”

“Only God can change her heart.” He pulls her to his arms. “Can I pray with you for Lacey?”

“And pray for me. I’ve been nervous about telling her.”

They spend a few minutes praying for Lacey. When they are done, she pulls her phone out and calls Lacey and Father turns his talk-show back on.

“What’s up?” Lacey asks when she picks up.

“Lacey, would you like to come to church with me on Sunday?” Amber asks, this time not feeling timid in asking, hoping God will speak to her heart.

“Why do you keep inviting me?” Lacey asks.

The answer was clear. “I want to share with you the most important thing in my life.”

“Wow.” There’s a pause and then some rustling.

“I’ll have to check with my parents.” Lacey begins. “If they say yes, then sure. I’ll do that. And I’ll ask if I can come to Bible Study tomorrow. Candy Crush can wait.”

“Thanks,” Amber smiles and her heart throws out a thanks to God. “I promise, you won’t regret it.” She runs back downstairs, grabs an apple, and finishes listening to the White Horse Inn radio show with Father.

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Luther, the Blue Portal, & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 6

by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and 1382

 

For light to shine, you’ve got to turn it on in spite of the darkness.

—–

Amber watches as her friend taps away at her phone.

“You’re always on your phone,” Amber comments.

“You’re always on my nerves,” Lacey retorts.

Amber chuckles and grabs Lacey’s phone.

“Hey!”

Amber’s eyes narrow. “This is what you get when you ignore me.”

Lacey grabs her phone back and looks down at the screen. Amber feels pressure on her shoulders. Tell her. Invite her to church or something. Tell her, the words echo in her head. Ignoring her conscience, Amber stays silent. She waits for a few more seconds and then stands up.

“Gotta go, Lace,” she says.

Lacey nods. “Okay, see you.”

Amber walks home and twists her watch around, putting in the date 1382.

The world swirls around in blue and green light, then it goes dark.

Amber opens her eyes to find herself in a town. It’s dark and bats are flying around. There are footsteps.

Amber ducks into the porch of an empty looking house and presses against the wall, watching as a crowd of people with torches pass by. “We’ve got to find him!” one angry man growls.

She is about to come out of the shadows but she hears something upstairs.

It sounds like scrawling noises. Amber opens a door next to her and sneaks up the rickety wooden staircase. She sees a man sitting at a desk. Books surround him. Amber takes another step forward but the step is squeaky and the man turns around, catching sight of Amber.

He leaps up, surprised.

“What! Where’d you come from?”

I’m dead.

The man looks down at Amber with a frown.

“Who are you?”

Amber is about to faint. She turns to run back down the steps.

“Wait. Are you okay?” he asks, pouring a cup of water for her.

“Uh…yeah, I’m okay,” Amber nods,  going up the last step and taking the water he offers.

“What are you doing here?” the man frowns. “Are you one of them?”

“I—uh—I…” Amber trails off, swallowing.

“It was those bats, right?” he sighs, “they always scare people.”

Amber pulls her sweater over her watch. “What are you writing?” Amber asks, changing the topic.

The man sits back down at his desk and gazes at his books and papers, a hint of pride in his eyes. “I am translating the Holy Scriptures into English.”

Amber nearly squeals but she holds her breath and calms herself down. She looks down at the papers. “Isn’t that dangerous?” she asks, “Like, illegal?” She strains her brain to remember the man’s name. Who translated the Bible into English in 1382?

He stares at her. “Will you turn me in? I thought you were them.”

Amber shakes her head. “Me? No way!”

The man smiles. “What is your name, child?”

“I’m Amber.”

“And I’m John Wycliffe.”

“Wycliffe? Why you’re famous!”

He stares down at the papers again. “Infamous, more like. To answer your question. Yes, it is dangerous. Very dangerous and illegal. But it will be worth it.”

“What do you mean, worth it?” Amber tilts her head.

Wycliffe clears his throat and points down to the book. “Christ and His Apostles taught the people in the language best known to them. It is certain that the truth of the Christian faith becomes more evident the more faith itself is known. Therefore, the doctrine should not only be in Latin but in the vulgar tongue.”

“I just find it hard to think that you are willing to do something dangerous. Do you mean the police will arrest you?”

“More like the Inquisition. They don’t like people reading the Bible themselves. But I firmly believe, as the faith of the church is contained in the Scriptures, the more these are known in a true sense the better. The laity ought to understand the faith, and as doctrines of our faith are in the Scriptures, believers should have the Scriptures in a language which they fully understand.”

Amber blinks and then nods in slow realization. “I read my Bible everyday, actually. My father reads it to us.”

“You already have a Bible?” At his surprised look, she starts to backpedal. The Bible’s not in English yet, stupid! You’re messing with history.

“I mean. The stories. Yes. The stories. He tells us stories from the Bible. About Abraham and David and Jesus. Things like that.”

He chews on his lip, but his face is still twisted in confusion.

“You speak as if my dream has come real. I wish this exact thing—fathers freely reading the Bible to their children. Your father is blessed to have access to Scripture. People should tell the stories to their friends. Not just the stories. The gospel. Do you know the gospel?”

“Well sure! In Christ alone we can be reconciled to God. By his righteousness, not our own deeds.”

“Exactly. You are a strange child.”

A noise outside draws Wycliffe’s attention. He pulls his papers into a stack and collects his writing utensils.

“Come what may, Amber, you should not hesitate to spread this gospel to those who understand you. So many people are lost in superstition and fear.”

Wycliffe’s gaze pierces into Amber. “Why do you cringe when I say this? Do not hesitate or run from giving the Truth to anyone close to you, Amber. Do not be ashamed.”

Amber stares at him and then nods in agreement.

I have to tell Lacey. I can’t run from this. I don’t want her to face God’s wrath alone because of my hesitation.

“How do I do that?” Amber asks after a minute’s pause. “I want to tell my friend, Lacey. But I don’t know what to say to her that won’t sound weird.”

“Show her your father’s Bible. Obtain a reliable text, help her understand the logic of Scripture, compare the parts of Scripture with one another, maintain an attitude of humble seeking, and receive the instruction of the Spirit,” Wycliffe instructs.

Some loud footsteps trample on the stairs. In a swift move, Wycliffe slides his books and papers into a basket, opens a secret door in the wall, and steps into it. He holds his finger to his mouth and closes the door softly.

Amber turns around to face the men throwing open the door.

“Where is he?” they demand, grabbing Amber by the neck of her shirt.

“Who? What? I don’t understand.” She squirms out of their grasp and runs out the door.

“Catch her! She knows where Wycliffe went!” they shout.

She darts outside and, just in time, the world spins around her.

The English town disappears and she’s back home.

Amber feels even more burdened than before. First, Calvin, now Wycliffe. Look what they risk for the faith to not die out. You can’t be ashamed of this, Amber! Just tell Lacey! Just tell her!

Amber sits on her bed and groans, wiping her face with her hands. A whole life depended on her. Two whole lives.

Somehow Zeff is connected with Amber. Maybe she really names her son Zeff. Amber opens the closet and takes the coat out. He still hasn’t come. If Zeff is her son from the future, his life is tied to hers. Maybe that is what he meant!

Amber, in anger, opens the window. “Hey, I got your coat!” she shouts into the dark, night air. No one except a wandering policeman hears her.

“That’s not my coat,” he says.

Amber blushes. “Oh. Sorry.”

She closes her window and puts the coat back into her closet. Why me? Why me? Why didn’t Zeff choose someone else? Ugh!

So many people are lost in superstition and fear. Wycliffe’s words come back to her. Lacey is lost. In the dark.

Amber sits back on her bed and cries.

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Luther, the Blue Portal & the Pea-Green Coat Guy, Episode 4

 

by s. nicole böcek
Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
2017 and 1536

We always hope that the last time we see someone isn’t the last time we see someone…

“Mom! I’m going out with Lacey,” Amber yells up the stairs.

There is a moment of silence and then footsteps on the steps as Mother comes down.

“Where are you going?” Mother asks.

Amber sighs. “To the mall. But her mom is stopping by their church first.”

Mother frowns a bit, “Isn’t her family Mormon?”

Amber nods.

“Are they going to their church for classes or teaching?

“No. I don’t think so.” Amber hopes her mother doesn’t stop the plan.

Mother sighs. “Well, alright. Just be home before lunch.”

Amber nods and tromps outside to meet her friend at the pond. After a few minutes, she arrives and sees Lacey waiting on the bench, tapping away at her phone. Amber stealthily sneaks up to her and grabs Lacey’s shoulders. Lacey yelps, dropping her phone. Laughing, Amber slides into the bench next to her friend.

“Filthy Hobbitses,” Lacey hisses good-naturedly, bending over and grabbing her phone.

“Ah, gets you every time,” Amber grins. “How’s life?”

Lacey smiles. “Great. But I’m just stuffed with cookies. I brought you some.” She hands Amber a sandwich bag with chocolate chip cookies.

“Wow. Thanks!” Amber starts eating one right away.

Lacey looks down at her phone and then out at the pond. “My mom made them for the church bake-sale. Mother’s really a good woman. And such a great person. Dad’s so pleased with her. I hope I’m half the woman she is when I grow up.”

Amber frowns, touching the edge of the bench with her fingertips.

Lacey continues to prattle on about everything her Mother did. Amber becomes uneasier by the second, especially when she hears the words, “I’m sure God is pleased with her as well.”

Luther’s words ring in her mind. “Not by works, but by grace. We are saved by grace alone.” Maybe I should say something.

But she does not know how to open the topic. “Oh,” Amber says instead, interrupting Lacey. “Have you studied for tomorrow’s chemistry test?”

Lacey rolls her eyes. “I tried. All I can remember is Zeff.”

(Zeff)

“Ugh, you’re really stuck on that word, aren’t you?” Amber snorts, remembering her science class.

 

“So what? It’s cool! It sounds sci-fi and futuristic and stuff like that!”

“Yeah, sure.”

Lacey’s mother honks the car horn and the girls climb into the back of their car. The trip to the mall is shadowed by Amber’s fearful silence about God. But gabby Lacey hardly even notices Amber’s silence. She has so much to say about other things. When they arrive home, Amber opens the car door.

“See you later, sneaky booger,” Lacey snickers.

Amber smiles and runs up the front steps.

She’s been waiting for this moment for so long now. At least when she’s time-traveling she doesn’t feel so guilty.

Going into the garage, she checks herself to make sure her clothes are normal, and then she twists the date 1536 onto the watch.

The blue portal surrounds her. This time she feels an electric buzz, and then nothing. Amber opens her eyes in the midst of falling forward. She squeals and catches herself against a door. There’s shuffling inside the room and then the door opens.

The man opening the door has a long beard and is wearing a funny hat and a long, fur-lined cloak. His eyes widen.

“I saw an ethereal glow under my door,” he whispers, “and then you knocked on my door.” His gaze roams around and then settling on Amber’s watch. “Like that blue light! What is that bracelet?”

Amber’s eyes widen. Say something! Say something! Her gaze roams into the room and she sees a bunch of papers on the desk. “Oh!” she hurries over to the papers. “Are you a writer?”

The man looks surprised for a second and then walks over to her. “Yes, I am.”

Amber looks at the papers, almost choking on her breath when she saw the name on the front page. John Calvin!

“John Calvin? The reformer?”

“Yes, I suppose I am trying to reform things. Though that is a strange word to use.”

Amber’s mind races as she looks down at the papers. Jesus. Augustine. Luther. Now Calvin! “What are you writing?”

“I am writing The Institutes of the Christian Religion,” Calvin replies, brushing his fingertips over the papers. “What’s your name, child?”

Institutes. Calvin’s Institutes…Dad always talked about those.

“Oh. Sorry. I’m Amber.” They shake hands and smile at each other.

Amber’s eyes return to the papers. “May I ask? What are they about?” Amber tilts her head a bit.

“Well…” Calvin looks down at the desk, “It’s everything about being a Christian.”

“You’ve got a lot of papers here. So, can you summarize it? Like Institutes for Dummies or something like that.”

“For dummies? Oh. Are you learning disabled?” He tipped his head and studied her, then with a laugh added. “I see. Simple terms. Okay, then. Let’s put it this way. The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”

Amber nods, her interest piqued. The gospel should possess the whole soul and heart.

“Having then used the Law to tell us of our weakness and impurity, the Lord comforts us through trust in his power and mercy. And,” Calvin lifts his finger, “it is in Christ, his Son, that he reveals himself as being benevolent and favourably disposed to us.”

Amber scratches the back of her neck. “Favor means grace, right?”

“Yes. His grace comes through Christ. Christ alone. In the Law, God only appears as the rewarder of perfect righteousness—of which we are completely bereft—and, on the other hand, as the upright and strict Judge of sins, in Christ, his face is full of grace and gentleness, and shines on miserable, unworthy sinners.”

“That sounds nice. His face full of grace and gentleness. It reminds me of Aaron’s blessing, ‘the Lord make his face to shine upon you…’”

Calvin smiles warmly, “Exactly. For this is the admirable display of his infinite love that he gave to us: he delivered up his own son for us and, in Him, opened to us all the treasures of his mercy and goodness.”

“So, is everyone allowed to go to heaven then?”

Calvin’s slight frown and shake of his head drew her in to his words. “No man is excluded from calling upon God, the gate of salvation is set open unto all men: neither is there any other thing which keepeth us back from entering in, save only our own belief.”

“So we must believe and call upon God. And then we can be saved. But what if we’re very good and everything? Doesn’t God expect us to be good?” Amber asks, remembering Lacey’s words about her Mom.

“Deeds do matter. But the more eminently that any one excels in holiness, the farther he feels himself from perfect righteousness, and the more clearly he perceives that he can trust nothing but the mercy of God alone. Are you following me so far?” Calvin looks down at Amber.

Amber nods. “You mean that when we realize we are sinners we lean more on God’s mercy. In a sense our good deeds should show us we are not good enough.”

“Right. As believers are every day involved in many faults, it will profit them nothing that they have once entered the way of righteousness, unless the same grace which brought them into it accompany them to the last step of life.”

“So being good is not good enough. It has to be goodness on the path of Christ.”

“Why do you call yourself a dummy? You know the gospel, my child. This is from Psalms. ‘Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.’” Calvin smiles and nods. “Psalms 32 verse 1 to be exact.”

“But how can we have perfect faith? I feel like I can never do the right thing when I should. I should have shared with Lacey about Jesus, but I didn’t… Lacey’s my friend. Her family’s Mormon.”

“Mormon? Is that in India?”

“No. It’s—It’s…”

“Never mind, Amber. You ask about perfect faith. A perfect faith is nowhere to be found, so it follows that all of us are partly unbelievers.”

“We are?”

“Yes. You see, a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it, appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous.”

“So if Lacey’s family believes they have to be perfect to go to heaven, they’re wrong. She has to have faith in the deeds of Jesus Christ. She has to be an actual believer in his deeds for us in order to go to heaven. But being a real believer is more about grace than deeds. Our failing good deeds prove we need Jesus. I really should tell my friend Lacey.”

“Right. You’ve got it! It’s by Christ’s deeds alone.” The reformer smiled.

“By Christ alone. By faith alone. By grace alone.”

“That’s sounds catchy!” Calvin laughs. Suddenly his attention is drawn to the doorway. “Oh! And there’s my good friend!”

Amber turns and locks gazes with the Pea-Green Coat Guy at the door, who has a giant smile on his face.

Calvin looks back at Amber. “This is my good friend Seth.”

Seth?

“Uh…I’ll catch you later,” Seth says, taking a step back and darting off down the hallway.

I can’t let him get away!

“I have to go, too,” Amber tells Calvin, pushing past the reformer and swinging around the doorway down the hall.

The patter of fast footsteps ensues until they reach downstairs. Seth darts away full speed down the waterfront.

Amber follows him, panting already. This is not going well.

Seth ducks under a cart. The donkey brays. Amber slips back and runs around the animal. Come on. Come on. You ran a marathon last year; you can do this.

Seth’s green coat is nearing. Amber pants. Hurry. Hurry.

He throws down a barrel of apples in front of her. She stumbles to avoid stepping on them.

“Hey! Who’s going to pay for those! Don’t step on my apples!”

Amber looks with apology at the angry greengrocer, but picks up speed again and with a burst of energy catches up to the green-coated young man.

“Wait!” She pants. “I just want to ask you something!”

She reaches out, almost able to touch the coat, to grab him. She has too many questions. “Why can’t you just stop?”

Just a bit more. Amber strains herself. At the last second, she slips on a rock and she’s propelled forward. Grabbing the green coat, she holds on. The coat slips off of Seth.

He makes a grab for his coat, but the world is spinning. Both of them are pulled into a glowing blue portal.

Amber feels like a ton of bricks is being pushed against her mind. Everything turned blue now goes black.

She has no idea where she has ended up this time.

She is lost in time….

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