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In Memoriam (Listed by Date of Death) Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.  Blessed indeed, that they may rest from t...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions

Grace Sight #21 is Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions.

On New Year's Eve we often think of resolutions. When Yahoo News wrote an article on the History of New Year's Resolutions, they highlighted Jonathan Edwards resolutions as part of that history.

The Christian minister Jonathan Edwards wrote his famous resolutions between 1722-1723. Even though they were written in the language of almost 300 years ago, there genuine reliance on God's grace is worthy of consideration as we make any plans for our life. Here is a reading of all 70 of them with the corresponding words written out. If you would like to see them all written out together visit this link.



Maybe this year instead of writing a quick list of resolutions we should listen to this piece of Christian history and take a year to thoughtfully write them like Edwards did. 



Photo: The photo in this post is in the public domain because of its age.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

20 Christians Who Died in 2011

In Memoriam (Listed by Date of Death)
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!" (Rev. 14:13)

1. Szeto Wah died in Hong Kong on January 2, 2011, at the age of 79. Szeto Wah was a Christian political figure in China who advocated for freedom and democracy. An article on his life and death can be found at the persecution.org website. Here is a video on the celebration of the life of Szeto Wah.


2. Commissioner Andrew S. Miller died on January 17, 2011, at the age of 87. He had served numerous positions as a minister in The Salvation Army, including being the National Commander for the United States from 1986-1989. Commissioner Andrew Miller had a relationship with the late Robert F. Kennedy and served as an usher at his funeral. A blog entry on the passing of this Happy Salvation Army officer is found at the Rooftop Blog.

3. Shabaz Bhatti was assassinated on March 2, 2011. He was 42 years old and the only Christian cabinet member in the Pakistan government. He advocated as a minority member for a change in Pakistan's blasphemy law. More information about him is in his obituary done by Christianity Today, March 2, 2011. Here is a video of tribute to Shabaz Bhatti.



4. Dr. William Greathouse died on March 24, 2011, at the age of 91. He had been the President of what is now Trevecca Nazarene University and served as a General Superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene from 1976-1989. He wrote many Christian books that became an important part of the Wesleyan-Arminianism Christian theology. You can read more about Dr. William Greathouse in his Wikipedia page.

5. Rev. David Wilkerson died on April 27, 2011, in a car accident at the age of 79. He was the founder of the Times Square Church and the ministry known as Teen Challenge. He formed a ministry in the early 1960's with New York gangs where Nicki Cruz was saved and which formed the basis for the best-selling Christian book, The Cross and the Switchblade. You can read more about Rev. David Wilkerson in his New York Times Obituary. Here is a portion of a sermon given by Rev. David Wilkerson on our need for God today.



6. Dr. Walter Soboleff died on May 22, 2011, at the age of 102. According to his Wikipedia page, Dr. Soboleff was the first native Alaskan to become an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and was beloved in the State of Alaska. During his ministry he traveled to "remote Alaskan settlements, fishing villages, and even lighthouses as needed by the Presbyterian ministry (Wikipedia: Walter Soboleff)."

7. Commissioner Helen Clifton died on June 14, 2011, at the age of 63. Commissioner Helen Clifton was a minister in The Salvation Army whose final appointment was as the World President of Women's Ministries in The Salvation Army. Her husband is General Shaw Clifton, a retired General in The Salvation Army. For more information on her life read a Salvation Army News Release on June 15, 2011.

8. Rev. Michael Wenning died on June 28, 2011, at the age of 75. He was the pastor of the Bel-Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, California from 1995-2001. He had been the minister to President Ronald Reagan and performed the Los Angeles based graveside funeral of the 40th President of the United States. You can read more about Rev. Michael Wenning at his New York Times Obituary.

9. Rev. F.C. Barnes died on July 11, 2011, at the age of 82. Rev. F.C. Barnes was known for his Gospel singing and writing a song that made it to the top of the charts called "Rough Side of the Mountain". He was the founder and pastor of Red Budd Holy Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina for 50 years. There is a new story on his life and death at the Rocky Mount Telegram. Here is a tribute to his ministry.


10. Rev. Dr. John R. W. Stott died on July 27, 2011, at the age of 90. Dr. Stott was the pastor of All Souls Church in London for over 60 years. He was a leading Evangelical theologian and wrote the book Basic Christianity. A memorial website has been developed for Dr. Stott at www.johnstottmemorial.org. Upon his passing a special blog post at Grace Circle was written about him.




11. Rev. Dr. Howard W. Creecy, Jr. died on July 28, 2011. He was the Pastor of Olivet Baptist Church. In addition, he served as the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, the group co-founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This Christian Post article has more about his life. Here is a video of the news story on his death from a local Atlanta station.



12. Delois Barrett Campbell died on August 2, 2011, at the age of 85. She was a member of a Chicago area Gospel trio called the Barrett Sisters. You can read more about Delois Barrett Campbell at her New York Times Obituary. Here is a link to Delois Barrett Campbell and the Barrett Sisters singing Till We Meet Again.



13. Senator Mark O. Hatfield died on August 7, 2011, at the age of 89. Sen. Hatfield served two terms as Governor of Oregon and served for 30 years in the U.S. Senate. He was known as "St. Mark" for standing true to his religious convictions and opposing war, abortion, and corruption. You can read more information on Sen. Hatfield in his obituary at Christianity Today. Here is the Associated Press announcement of his death.


14. Jessy Dixon died on September 27, 2011, at the age of 73. Jessy Dixon had been a Gospel singer and songwriter. He wrote over 200 songs including what is considered his greatest called I am Redeemed. You can read more about Jessy Dixon at his New York Times Obituary. The following is a picture memorial tribute to Jessy Dixon.


15. Jorge Comesanas died on October 27, 2011, at the age of 71. Jorge Comesanas was a leader in the Hispanic ministry in Florida and regarded as one of the national leaders of ministry to Hispanic people. At the time of his death he was the pastor of the First Baptist Church Hialeah Gardens. Here was the funeral service for Rev. Comesanas.


16. James Buford Abner died on November 19, 2011, at the age of 94. He was a long time Gospel singer who founded the Swanee River Boys Quartet in 1937. His quartet was featured in the movie "Sing a Song for Heaven's Sake" in which they sang this song. 


17. George Gallup, Jr. died on November 21, 2011, at the age of 81. He was the head of a famous polling company that his father founded. His life work included measuring spiritual values of America and he wrote three related books: The Search for America's Faith, The Saints Among Us, and Adventures in Immortality.  You can read more about George Gallup, Jr. in his New York Times obituary. Ed Stetzer also wrote a farewell blog post on George Gallup, Jr.'s passing.

18. Sister Lukrecija Mamic was murdered on November 27, 2011, when her monastery was attacked. Sister Mamic was a Croatian nun who had been serving as the head of a 150 bed hospital in a monastery in Burudi, Africa. Her work included helping the very poor and people with AIDS.

19. Denise Sproul died on December 18, 2011, at the age of 46 after a long battle with cancer. She was a mother of 8 children and the wife of R.C. Sproul, Jr. Her father in-law R.C. Sproul is the founder of Ligonier Ministries and he preached her memorial service. Her obituary is online at the Aquila Report. The text of her memorial message is at Ligonier Website.

20. Guinell Freeman died on December 19, 2011, at the age of 83. Guinell Freeman was known as "Miss Sunday School" at the First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. The long time Sunday School advocate created a program called Operation Andrew that was adopted by many churches. A news story on her life and death is at the Jacksonville.com website.


Dedication: This post is dedicated to some personal Christian friends who passed away in 2011. 
Steve Warner of Lansing, Michigan (May 9, 2011)


This feature is part of an annual series. All the years of the series can be viewed at these links.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baptism

Grace Sight #20 is My Son's Baptism.

Last Sunday my special needs son Jonathan was baptized. I hope and pray as he grows older God will help him to someday embrace the faith represented in his baptism and affirm it for all eternity. The following is the letter I wrote and read prior to the baptism. Please note that I have intentionally not mentioned what church Jonathan was baptized in because my belief is that we are baptized not into a church but as part of the Christian faith that includes many churches who have some differences in rituals and expressions.

December 11, 2011

Dear Jonathan,

As you are baptized today we want you to know that we love you so much but our love is so small compared to how much your heavenly Father loves you and wants you by his side for all eternity.  All of our dreams for your life are fulfilled in this–that you would come to know the grace of having Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and that you would give your time, talents, and treasures to God in this life.  May you experience personally the words of faith that you are already singing along with the Cedarmont Bible songs.

We know that sometimes life is complicated and difficult for you because of your autism.  Always remember that you are different, not less. If there are ever times in your unknown future when you wish you did not have autism, then hold on to the truth that the sovereign God made you who you are for a reason.  One never knows how our life impacts others. We know that in your short life of 7 years you have already taught us so much about patience, humility, vigilance, hope, and trust in the sovereign God.

The Scripture verse we hope you hold fast in your heart is 2 Corinthians 12:9:  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Family Life Radio

Grace Sight #19 is Family Life Radio.

Family Life Radio has its headquarters in Tuscon, Arizona. It was started by Warren and Char Bolthouse in the late 1960's in Michigan. When I was growing up I listened for many a hour to music and Bible teaching programs on the FM 99.7 Family Life Radio station based in Midland, Michigan. Family Life Radio is a Grace Light because of all the programming that have graced the air waves over the years to the glory of Christ.

Family Life Radio currently has 39 radio stations around the United States. Intentional Living is their flagship radio program and Family Life Radio also hosts Intentional Living conferences. For more information on Family Life Radio visit their website at www.myflr.org.

Social Media:  You can follow Family Life Radio on the following Social Media.
Special thanks to Family Life Radio. May they faithfully continue sharing the Good News until the return of Christ. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Henry Stokes

Grace Sight #18 is My Paternal Grandfather.

Circa, 1923
Circa, 1985

Henry Thomas Stokes, Sr. is my paternal Grandfather. He is a Grace Light because he was a prayer warrior, personal evangelist, and preacher to the less fortunate. He had a tremendous impact on me.  Grandpa wasn't afraid to speak his mind and he wasn't afraid to let Christ renew his mind.

Henry Stokes was born on December 7, 1903 in Wartrace, Tennessee to Viola Edith Bomar and Thomas Jefferson Stokes. He married Treva Oakley on May 3, 1929. They were married for over 50 years until she passed away in 1980. He would later marry Letha Messervy who also preceded him in death in 1986. He died on December 11, 1995 in Mount Pleasant, Michigan of old age.

Henry Stokes spent his entire working career with the General Motors Company. After his retirement he recommitted his life to Christ and began preaching at the Saginaw Rescue Mission, numerous nursing homes and volunteered with the Gideons and the Salvation Army.

I preached the sermon for his memorial service, the text of which is online at http://stokes.truepath.com/HStokesSermon.html.  The bulletin from that service is also online at http://stokes.truepath.com/HenryStokesMemorialService.html.

I shall never forget the spiritual heritage of my Grandfather Henry Stokes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kirk Cousins

Grace Sight #17 is Kirk Cousins. 

Photo by Keith Allison
Kirk Cousins was the starting quarterback for the Michigan State Spartans. In April, 2012 he was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL by the Washington Redskins. Kirk Cousins is a Grace Sight because he is both a star athlete and someone that shares the testimony of his faith as opportunity allows.

He holds two pretty amazing records from his four years at Michigan State University.
  • He has the most wins of any starting quarterback in Michigan State History. He broke the record in a stellar performance in a win over #4 Wisconsin on October 22, 2011 (Source).
  • He is the first Michigan State quarterback to beat the University of Michigan Wolverines 3 straight times (Source).
In September, 2009 following Michigan State's loss to Notre Dame, an article on MLive was written about the faith of Kirk Cousins, the sophomore quarterback for Michigan State University.  Following the loss Kirk Cousins told reporters the following quote:
I've got a faith. Football's not my foundation, it's not my identity. My faith is Jesus Christ and He's not changing anytime soon. I'll keep trusting in Him and in His plan and just move on (Source).
Fast forward two years and here is a video of Kirk Cousins' speech representing the players at the Big Ten Kickoff for 2011.  After the 5:00 minute mark he talks about his spiritual philosophy. In this talk he quotes from the Bible.
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48b).



Testimonies like Kirk Cousins has can be rare to find in the world of sports. But they can be even rarer to keep.  Therefore, it is reassuring that the God who saved Kirk has the power and will to protect him as he faces the various temptations that come with being a superstar. May he continue to be a role model for others wherever his future leads him.

You can find out more about Kirk Cousins on his Wikipedia page.

The photo of Kirk Cousins in this post is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and is attributed to Keith Allison.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Playing Marbles With Diamonds

Grace Sight #16 is the song Playing Marbles with Diamonds.

Playing Marbles With Diamonds is a song by Steve Camp. It made its debut back in 1989 on Camp's album Justice. 

When I listen to this song I think of how important it is to have our priorities straight and have a real relationship with God.  A relationship with God is like a diamond that people like me too often have taken for granted.  A passage from the Bible comes to mind also.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:19-20, English Standard Version)."
Our world is full of so much suffering and uncertainty today.  Let's not play marbles with diamonds. It just not the way God meant our lives to be lived.

Here are some links to more information on this song

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nick Vujicic

Grace Sight #15 is Nick Vujicic.

Nick Vujicic has a severe disability. He was born in Australia in 1982 without any limbs (feet or arms).  He uses the life given to him by the sovereign God to inspire others around the world as a preacher and inspirational speaker. He has an amazing story of overcoming limitations to reach success in his life.  But the most important of all is that God is using him to tell the Gospel message. He writes the following on his ministry's Website at www.lifewithoutlimbs.org.  

"If just one more person finds eternal life in Jesus Christ...it is all worth it". 

There are numerous YouTube presentations featuring Nick Vujicic.  They are translated in to several languages to relate to his international audience.  Below are two of my favorite. 

The following is his testimony set to the song "In Christ Alone." 



The following is his inspiring presentation called "Get Back Up".


The following are links for more information on Nick Vujicic:
I think that Nick Vujicic is an inspiration to me because my son has autism and he combines faith with a vibrant life despite his disability.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Faith Freaks

Grace Sight #14 is Faith Freaks.

I just found out today (from Twitter of all places) about a social media system that is designed to be a Christian oriented safe place for youth and young adults. Even though I am neither of these I registered to try it out.  Apparently they are willing to accept old folks like me into the community.  I do wish they had this type of social media when I was a youth.  The site is called Faith Freaks and you access it at www.faithfreaks.com.

The Faith Freaks website lists this as the goal of their unique social media.
Faith Freaks is a safe on-line environment dedicated to helping young people by providing help, hope & encouraging them to grow in their faith.  Our trained volunteers help young people find resources to overcome the many challenges that they may be facing. Including, but not limited to, suicide prevention, depression, peer pressure, drug or alcohol abuse & other challenging or life threatening situations. We help by providing many types of resources both online & in their own communities. Additionally we try to encourage healthy decision making.  Moreover we strive to glorify God by providing an alternative social network that is safe, clean, friendly, and Christ-centered.
It works like Facebook or MySpace but has some moderation and Christian features built into it that make it a safe place where Christian teens can meet new people and grow in their faith.  It has a mission to be the premier Christian social media alternative.  Below is a collage of some of the features offered on Faith Freaks.


One of the first things I noticed when I registered is that there are prayer rooms that flow smoothly in the system.  Also, when I uploaded my profile picture (one of the first things one does in a social media account, right) it didn't appear immediately but said "Waiting Approval".  Amazing. Someone screens photos before they go live to make sure they meet a Christian standard. In fact, when you go to upload photos you are informed that pictures will be removed if they contain any of the following features:

  • Guys without shirts or girls in bikinis ... unless they were taken at the beach or pool.
  • Visible undergarments.
  • Excessive cleavage.
  • Seductive poses.
  • Open-mouth kissing.
  • Obscene hand gestures.
  • Bad words, whether on your clothing or elsewhere in the photo.
  • Alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs.
  • Satanic symbols, pentagrams, etc.
  • Gory or violent images.
There are dozens of testimonies of individuals who have been helped through FaithFreaks.com.  A list is at http://www.faithfreaks.com/testimonies.php.  Faith Freaks is being used by church youth groups as a safe setting for online ministry and community building.  I believe this can be a great place for ministry to take place. Consider signing up if you are young or young in heart.


Monday, August 8, 2011

A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle

Grace Sight #13 is A Call to Prayer.

J.C. Ryle in his study
To be prayerless is to be without God, without Christ, without grace, without hope, and without heaven.  It is to be in the road to hell.  --J.C. Ryle


J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) wrote a classic tract titled "A Call to Prayer".  It is amazing how something written two centuries ago can be so applicable to the Christians today.   In it he writes the following observation:
I have looked careful over the lives of God's saints in the Bible.  I cannot find one whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a person of prayer.  I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that "they call on the Father," that "they call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."  I find it recorded as a characteristic of the wicked, that "they call not upon the Lord." 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Psalm 14:4 
I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days.  Some of them, I see, were rich, and some were poor.  Some were learned, and some were unlearned.  Some were Episcopalians, and some were Christians of other names.  Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians.  Some have loved to use liturgy, and some to use none.  But one thing, I see, they all had in common.  They have all been people of prayer. 
Here's an overview of the content.

Introduction
"Men ought always to pray."  Luke 18:1
"I will that men pray everywhere." 1 Timothy 2:1
I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words, DO YOU PRAY?

The outline of the body of the tract is as follows. 


I. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE PRAYER IS ABSOLUTELY NEEDFUL TO A PERSON'S SALVATION.


II. I ASK AGAIN WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE A HABIT OF PRAYER IS ONE OF THE SUREST MARKS OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN.


III. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE THERE IS NO DUTY IN RELIGION SO NEGLECTED AS PRIVATE PRAYER. 


IV. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE PRAYER IS AN ACT OF RELIGION TO WHICH THERE IS GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT.


V. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE DILIGENCE IN PRAYER IS THE SECRET OF EMINENT HOLINESS.


VI. I ASK WHETHER YOU PRAY, BECAUSE NEGLECT OF PRAYER IS ONE OF THE GREATEST CAUSES OF BACKSLIDING.


VII. I ASK, LASTLY, WHETHER YOU PRAY BECAUSE PRAYER IS ONE OF THE BEST MEANS OF HAPPINESS AND CONTENTMENT.


Let me speak a parting word to THOSE WHO DO NOT PRAY.


Let me speak, lastly, TO THOSE WHO DO PRAY.

Conclusion:  "I want the times we live in to be praying times. I want the Christians of our day to be praying Christians. I want the church to be a praying church. My Heart's desire and prayer in sending forth this tract is to promote a spirit of prayerfulness. I want those who never prayed yet, to arise and call upon God, and I want those who do pray, to see that they are not praying amiss."--J.C. Ryle

I hope this outline has wet your appetite to read the full text of J.C. Ryle's tract at the Revival Library.  You may also purchase it for $2.99 from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Call-Prayer-J-C-Ryle/dp/0972237402.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who Am I?

Grace Sight #12 is the song Who Am I?

Tonight I will have the long anticipated opportunity to hear Casting Crowns in concert.  Casting Crowns has an amazing song called Who Am I?, which was released on September 30, 2003 on their debut album called Casting Crowns.  It has won two significant awards as a song.  
  • In 2005 it won the Dove Award for Song of the Year.  
  • On July 26, 2011 the RIAA certified it as a Gold Single, signifying 500,000 units had been sold of the song.  It is Casting Crowns first Gold Single.  
I really never get tired of hearing it and it still bring me goose bumps. In fact, it's one of the select few songs I would like played at my future funeral. My simple mind finds it possible to follow the theology of the words of this song and my soul jumps for joy at its truth. The graceful focus of the song is on the refrain that goes as follows.

Not because of who I am - But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done - But because of who you are.

The following YouTube video presents background to this song in an interview the singers, Mark Hall and Juan Deveva did for New Song Cafe` at worshiptogether.com. You may also appreciate the quieter singing of it without all the other singers and diverse instruments.




One can listen to this wonderful song on another YouTube video included here. This one is actually the most popular one with almost 8 million views. I hope it brightens your day and provides clarity and purpose on the road life takes you down today.




For more information on Casting Crowns visit their website at http://castingcrowns.com/.

This post was updated on August 4, 2011 after the news of the song receiving certification as a gold single.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Pledge of Allegiance

Grace Sight #11 is The Pledge of Allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.

Comedian Rich Praytor has an excellent and brief soundbyte on what it would be like if we took God out of the United States' Pledge of Allegiance.  Listen to it and enjoy.


For more information on Rich Praytor visit his website at http://richpraytor.com/.

Comedian Red Skelton (1913-1997) also made a statement on the use of "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.   
Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our nation, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance "under God." Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said, "That's a prayer" and that would be eliminated from schools, too? (Red Skelton)  http://www.redskelton.com/PLEDGE.htm
If you are a citizen of another country of the world, hopefully those words "under God" are part of your nation's priorities.  They sometimes are and sometimes are not evident in the United States system.  Remember that anyone can say these words without thinking about them or truly affirming them.  The important issue is whether we truly mean what we say.  And the most important two words in this pledge are the words "under God".


Grace Light #11

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bethesda Academy

Grace Sight #10 is Bethesda Academy. 

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  (Jim Elliot)


Most of what we do in our time on earth will vanish a few years after we are gone, but when God finds a willing servant to carry out His work, the legacy may sometimes live on for centuries. Such is the case when one considers what has become of George Whitefield's Orphanage that he founded in Savannah, Georgia in 1740.  Sometimes at great sacrifice Whitefield provided for the financial needs of a struggling orphanage near Savannah, Georgia throughout his life.His motto in giving according to the Whitefield Society was, "Poor yet making others rich."  

Bethesda Academy (formerly Bethesda Home for Boys) has been a consistent refuge over the centuries, serving over 10,000 boys since it's beginnings.  It had to be rebuilt in 1773 after a fire shortly before the United States was officially birthed. While many institutions come and go, it remains the oldest child caring institution in the United States.  Today, under the leadership of Dr. T. David Tribble, Whitefield's Orphanage is a learning institution known as Bethesda Academy, and it still has a housing component for children that need it.   According to Jenel Few, 40% of the 100 students live at the Academy in 2011.

Paula Deen has a close relationship with Bethesda Academy today and in recent years and supports them with charitable fundraising (for more information see www.pauladeen.com/article_view/paula_and_the_deen_team_give_back/)   Below is the Bethesda Academy video on their core values.



Below is the Bethesda video related to their core value of A Love for God that George Whitefield made part of the institution when it was created 271 years ago.



For more information on the Bethesda Academy visit some of the following links: 

The mission for Christians should be to follow the leading of the sovereign God in sacrificial giving.   One may not comprehend the long term impact of giving to the Lord, but with God at work in something it may endure for centuries, making an impact for time and eternity.  Bethesda Academy shows us how one's giving may live on long after one is gone.  To God be the glory! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Stott

Grace Sight #9 is John Stott.


In Memoriam

We should not ask, "What is wrong with the world?" for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, "What has happened to the salt and light?" (John Stott)

We have received breaking news that John Stott has went to be with His Lord his morning.  He is being designated a Grace Light posthumously. Christianity Today has written an  obituary for Stott on their website.  A widely acclaimed Christian writer, Dr. Stott has left a tremendous legacy of Biblical teaching that brought to light social applications that challenged the thinking of many Christians. The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity has a detailed biography of John Stott on a section of their website.  Though he lived a long life to age 90, his passing will be mourned by Christians all over the world.

John Stott wrote dozens of Christians books and many were published and promoted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Press. The following YouTube video is a presentation of the 50th Anniversary in 2008 of Stott's classic Christian book Basic Christianity.  Basic Christianity sold over 2.5 million copies.


For more information about John Stott visit the John Stott Ministries website.    Many tributes will come in for Dr. Stott in the days ahead, but his lasting legacy is that Christians should be salt and light to the world for the time that the sovereign God gives us on earth and that is accomplished through our relationship to the Word of God.  

"God must speak to us before we have any liberty to speak to him. He must disclose to us who he is before we can offer him what we are in acceptable worship. The worship of God is always a response to the Word of God. Scripture wonderfully directs and enriches our worship."

Rest in peace, John Stott. 

Photo: The photo in this post is in the Creative Commons of Wikipedia and used with permission of the owner, Langham Partnership

Expository Preaching

Grace Sight #8 is Expository Preaching.

I love expository preaching. Expository preaching is taking the text of the Bible and expounding it verse by verse. An additional explanation is available at the Gotquestions.org website.

John MacArthur is the author of the book Rediscovering Expository Preaching.  On June 5, 2011, John MacArthur completed the expository preaching of the entire New Testament verse by verse.  His final sermon in the book of Mark, which completed his New Testament series can be found at his Grace to You sermon website.  MacArthur demonstrated 42 years of faithfulness to complete the series, which is my entire lifetime.

John Calvin believed in expository preaching.  In this YouTube video, Dr. Steve. Lawson discusses his book The Expository Genius of John Calvin.


I seem to have been drawn to the expository style of preaching though it was not the norm in the church where I was raised and spent the first four decades of my life. Growing up as a child I would spend my days listening to J. Vernon McGee of the Through the Bible radio program preach through the entire Bible.  I then became an attentive listener of every special opportunity to hear Stephen Manley's expository preaching in revival services.  After circumstances led me to change churches last year, I am very grateful I found one where expository preaching is the norm.  


Many great preachers have taken the expository style of preaching.  G. Campbell Morgan, Chuck Smith, and Arthur W. Pink were prominent expository preachers. Wikipedia says, "Other famous expository preachers include John Stott, Dick Lucas and Charles Spurgeon from England, William Still from Scotland, Phillip Jensen and David Cook from Australia, and Stephen F. Olford, and Fred Craddock from America." 


God can use both expository and topical preaching. We need to pray for all preachers of the Gospel, regardless of their style of preaching.    Pray that all preachers generally and your preacher specifically would study to be approved by God and, "avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness" (2 Timothy 2:16, ESV).   May God be glorified through every word uttered from pulpits in the world.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Christian Camps

Grace Sight #7 is Christian Camps.

I owe a tremendous debt to Christian camps for helping provide a place for me to hear the life-changing Gospel when I was a child and teenager.  It was my privilege in the past to spend ten summers working full-time at a Christian camp. Eight of those years were in excellent camping system operated by The Salvation Army, where I had the opportunity to serve as a year-round Camp Director for five years in Minnesota.

This last week of July and early August is when tempers get on edge as the accumulative effect of late nights at camp take their toil.   It's a time when Director's remind the staff to keep the energy and enthusiasm level up and give a great experience for those children who happened to have their first and only camp experience scheduled near the end of the season.

In my last Summer with The Salvation Army we had the following Scripture passage written out on our staff t-shirts.

"Because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you."  (Deuteronomy 23:14, ESV)

I would like to ask everyone to pray for Christian camps.  Pray for the staff, the campers, the financial planning, the risk management, and both physical and spiritual health of all those who will be spending time at camps during any of the remaining days of the Summer.  Pray for all Christian camps and pray for any that your church is specifically affiliated with.

For more information on participating or praying for a camp, Christian Camp and Conference Association gives a database of contact information for Christian camps or one may do a Google search for specific indexes of camps associated with specific churches or religious organizations such as the following sites for organization specific camps.

Grace Light #7

Monday, July 25, 2011

Unanswered Prayers

Grace Sight #6 is Unanswered Prayers.

Unanswered Prayers. Yes they really are a blessing. I've been thinking about prayer and how sometimes prayers go unanswered.   As I thought on this subject I listened to some country music.

Garth Brooks wrote a song in 1990 called Unanswered Prayers.   While Brooks is certainly not a reliable theologian, when I hear the overall message of this song I think of the sovereignty of God and how amazing it is that God loves us enough to not answer all our prayers.  I am reminded that he can see the future we cannot see.  The words to the the astute refrain are:

Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.



Jesus said these words, among many, on the subject of prayer.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7, ESV)

There are two things John 15:7 shows us about how we are able to believe we will receive whatever we ask.   First, we must abide in Christ and second, Christ's words must abide in us.   If like me you think you still aren't abiding like that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then pray more and accept unanswered prayers as an inevitable byproduct of the fact that we are sinners prone to put self over Christ at times.

In John Calvin's Commentary on John for this verse (John 15:7), he states the following on this passage.  
When he promises that he will grant whatever we wish, he does not give us leave to form wishes according to our own fancy. God would do what was ill fitted to promote our welfare, if he were so indulgent and so ready to yield to us; for we know well that men often indulge in foolish and extravagant desires. But here he limits the wishes of his people to the rule of praying in a right manner, and that rule subjects, to the good pleasure of God, all our affections. This is confirmed by the connection in which the words stand; for he means that his people will or desire not riches, or honors, or any thing of that nature, which the flesh foolishly desires, but the vital sap of the Holy Spirit, Which enables them to bear fruit. 
If we are unable to understand unanswered prayers it could be because we don't really comprehend our own sinfulness.  If we look carefully at John 15:7 we will find it is not about getting God to answer all our prayers.  We get prayer grossly wrong when we see it as a mechanism to get something from God.  Like many concepts, this is partly right. The purpose of prayer is to get something from God, it's to get God himself through abiding in his perfect son, Jesus Christ.  

Just as I trust God to make the arrangements for the next stage of my eternal life, I know he alone knows best for my life on earth. And prayer should never be about me. God has matchless wisdom and infinite power that I am not worthy to behold. I'm not bothered by unanswered prayers. What amazes me more than anything else is that God answers any of my prayers at all.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

John Calvin's Hymn

Grace Sight #5 is John Calvin's Hymn.

The Words to the Reformation period hymn, I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art, are attributed to John Calvin.  While it is uncertain if Calvin actually wrote the words, they are consistent with his teachings and are a good representation of the period of the Reformation.  It is known as Calvin's Hymn despite the uncertain authorship.  The words penned in 1545 point to the redemption of Christ, power of God, sovereignty of God, protection of God, unity of believers, and finally the perseverance of the saints.

I greet Thee, who my sure Redeemer art,
My only trust and Savior of my heart,
Who pain didst undergo for my poor sake;
I pray Thee from our hearts all cares to take.

Thou art the King of mercy and of grace,
Reigning omnipotent in every place;
So come, O King, and our whole being sway;
Shine on us with the light of Thy pure day.

Thou art the life, by which alone we live,
And all our substance and our strength receive;
Sustain us by Thy faith and by Thy power,
And give us strength in every trying hour.

Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness,
No harshness hast Thou and no bitterness;
O grant to us the grace we find in Thee,
That we may dwell in perfect unity.

Our hope is in no other save in Thee;
Our faith is built upon Thy promise free;
Lord, give us peace, and make us calm and sure,
That in Thy strength we evermore endure.

Below is a YouTube performance of Zachary Harris performing what is known as John Calvin's Hymn.


For more information on John Calvin's hymn you may wish to check out the Cyber Hymnal page for this hymn or the explanation of this hymn by Rev. Kyle Sorensen on Sermonaudio.com.

To read other posts on the blog about John Calvin search for the John Calvin Label

Friday, July 22, 2011

English Standard Version Bible

Grace Sight #4 is the English Standard Version Bible.
Christians who have longed for a more readable literal Bible translation will find much to praise in the English Standard Version. The ESV's translation team of over 100 members has admirably attempted to preserve the stylistic variety of biblical authorship and ease of reading (at the eighth-grade level) despite the word-for-word translation, which historically has resulted in a choppier text flow. -- Cindy Cosby

The popular Bible Gateway indexes over 100 translations of the Holy Bible. Many churches and Christians are choosing the relatively new English Standard Version (ESV), among all the options available to them (The ESV Bible was written in 2001).   The following YouTube video explains how the English Standard Version (ESV) is trusted by various Christian leaders.


If you wish to share ESV material there are several  unique ways to do so.
  1. Create a shortened internet link of any verse of the ESV.
  2. Put audio of the ESV on a website.
  3. Retweet from the @esvdaily account on Twitter.
  4. Play the ESV Listener's Bible in a place where others will hear it.  
Students of the Bible will appreciate the detailed ESV Study Bible.   J.I. Packer edited each single note in the ESV Study Bible and in the following YouTube video he explains his work on the massive project.


Nick Kennicott wrote a blog post on "10 Reasons Teens Why Every Teen Should Use the ESV Study Bible".  In addition, Bob Kauflin of Worship Matters Blog wrote a post on "Ten Reasons Why I Appreciate the ESV Study Bible".  These posts have some very practical reason why the ESV Bible is appropriate for all ages and will likely be treasured for years to come.  

The ESV Bible Online site at http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/ lists many ways to utilize the ESV. To keep up to date on ESV developments follow the Crossway blog and search for specific references to any ESV posts. Next time you need to buy a new Bible consider making the ESV Bible your translation of choice.



    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    George Whitefield

    Grace Sight #3 is George Whitefield.

    George Whitefield (1714-1770)
    George Whitefield had an extraordinary impact on the people of his times and continues to be revered by Christians today.  A favorite saying from George Whitefield is something he wrote in a letter to James Hervey who was suffering from poor health (Source).

    "Fear not your weak body; we are immortal until our work is done."

    The above quotation is very meaningful to me because it communicates that we should work for the Lord and that the sovereignty of God over our life is more powerful than anything that the world can do to us.   My paternal Grandfather, Henry Stokes, believed this premise because he was still winning souls to Christ through personal evangelism until his death at age 93.  As he lived through several decades of the season of old age, each time there was a new convert under Grandpa's ministry, he would wonder if his work here on earth was done and if death would knock on his door.  He would carry this thought until he would find the next person in his life that needed Christ.

    Steve Lawson gave an excellent message on the life and impact of George Whitefield that provides a helpful insight into a study of Whitefield's life.  Here Lawson answers the question, "Why did God use this man in such an extraordinary way?" by giving 8 distinguishing marks of George Whitefield's life and ministry.



    In Dr. Steve Lawson's message above on Whitefield he attributes the following witty statement to George Whitefield:  

    "We are all born Arminians, but born-again Calvinists."

    Charles Spurgeon mentioned the first part of the above George Whitefield statement in Vol. 2, p. 124 of his Sermons, saying "George Whitefield said, 'We are all born Arminians.' It is grace that turns us into Calvinists."

    Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones said about Whitefield, "Other men merely existed, Whitefield lived."  The following is Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones' documentary on the life of George Whitefield.



    It has been incorrectly stated that Calvinists place little priority on Christian evangelism. Whitefield was the greatest evangelist that England has ever produced and he was a Calvinist.  

    Despite their theological differences, George Whitefield was a close friend with John Wesley, the father of Methodism.  The two may have disagreed on the theology of election but they remained respectful to each other according to the following page on the global ministries website of the United Methodist Church.  In fact, John Wesley gave a Funeral Sermon on the Death of the Rev. George Whitefield.   In this sermon, Wesley gives great insight into Whitefield's life saying about Whitefield the following.  

    "Have we read or heard of any person since the Apostles, who testified the gospel of the grace of God through so widely extended a space, through so large a part of the habitable world?" (John Wesley)

    Whitefield died on July 30, 1770 and is buried under the pulpit of a church he founded in Newbury, Massachusetts.  See some fascinating pictures of that church at "Here I Blog" .

    For further study of the life of this genuinely great Christian preacher of the 18th century the Reformed Sermon Archives has a selection of 38 of his sermons available on their site.   Let's follow George Whitefield as he followed Christ.