Archive for: August, 2013

The Name Game

Aug 26 2013 Published by under Life, Ministry

By Keith Kidwell

Kidwell_4x6“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (Pr 22:1).”     

 

“You’re George Kidwell’s boy, aren’t you?” I was asked by the clerk at the Public Utility District. “Yes, ma’am!” I proudly replied. Even to a 10-year-old it was clear that my dad’s name meant something to the lady taking George Kidwell’s check in payment of my family’s monthly electric bill.  I had learned that if “George R. Kidwell” (the “R” is for Ralph ) was signed on anything in our small town it meant the check was good, the deal was honest, the goods or services would be delivered as promised.

 

Raised in severe poverty, the son of a 15-year-old bride and a tough-as-nails cowboy, my dad pulled himself up by his own bootstraps to become far more than anyone predicted.  Having been in church maybe once or twice in his life until meeting my mom in 1946, Dad found Christ at twenty-one and never looked back.  With a work ethic that he certainly didn’t learn from his alcoholic, inveterate gambler father, Dad modeled integrity, thrift, spirituality and uncommon common sense in everything he did.

 

One of the greatest lessons I ever learned about the importance of a good name was during the first year of my stint in the Navy.  Fresh back to the U.S. and home-ported in San Diego, I needed some wheels.  Without any credit record or the cash to buy the truck I’d found at a local dealership, I called my home town bank to see about a loan.  Over the phone the banker said he’d loan me the money on the strength of my dad’s reputation at the bank.  It was called a signature loan.  “George R. Kidwell” on the papers was all the collateral needed.

 

There are some obvious spiritual applications here.  Our credit with God is secured by the Name above all names.  “It is finished” signed away our debt and created all the collateral with God any of us will ever need.  This is something we all know from reading the record of Jesus Christ’s role as Savior of the world.  But I would like to bring this concept a little closer to home by asking this question:  “What does your name mean when people hear it?”

 

All of us have content associated with our name.  The quality of that content is determined by our words, actions and attitudes.  Our reputation (name recognition) is built over time and defines who we are to others.  Our name identifies us even if we share exactly the same name with someone else.  There are 1,090 members in the Jim Smith Society (www.jimsmithsociety.com) but each one is unique, not because his name is eight letters of the alphabet composed in a certain order, but because a particular Jim Smith personifies a body of associated content.  “Oh, that Jim Smith,” says it all.

 

Once during my first year of college I was pulled over by a young Washington State Trooper for driving my ’54 Plymouth a little too fast.  When he read the name on my driver’s license he asked, “Which Kidwell do you belong to?”  I was more than a little surprised because I was 270 miles from my home town.  When I told him my dad was George he smiled and said, “That’s good, because I just arrested another Kidwell for drunk driving the other night.”  Turns out the drunk driver was my uncle and turns out the state trooper was a kid who grew up next door but had graduated from high school a few years before me. I didn’t get a ticket.  Once again my dad’s good name influenced an outcome.

 

Good, bad or indifferent, your name means something to others.  It may elicit raised eyebrows, a smile, a frown, a knowing look, a nod of recognition, a grimace of pain or an exclamation of praise.  Your name defines you.  It both precedes you and follows you.  It will open or close doors of opportunity, the hearts of people and avenues of influence.  It will be a legacy for your children and your children’s children.

 

I want to remind you of two other names you represent besides your own.  You represent the organization you are part of, whether it be a school, a church, a ministry, a business or a corporation.  In fact, you and the others in your organization aren’t part of it, you are it.  You give its name content.  You define it.  The name will mean different things to different people due to their relationship and shared experiences with who the name identifies.  The rise or fall of an organization’s name depends on its individual members.

 

More importantly, you carry the name Christian, which means “a Christ one.”  The way you represent Christ may determine the only picture of God some will ever see.  Carrying the Name is a sacred trust.  Guard it well.

 

Keith Kidwell spent more than 20 years in several Pacific Rim nations as a foreign missionary with Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) before assuming his current position of Administrator for AGWM where he directs the support services for its world-wide missionary force. 

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When God Blocks Our Path

Aug 19 2013 Published by under Evangelism, Life, Ministry

By Christopher Gornold-Smith

DCF 1.0Gaius Plinius Luci arrived in Bithynia in time to celebrate the birthday of the Roman Emperor Trajan on September 18, AD 111. Pliny, as we call him, had been chosen as a special commissioner to sort out the problems of this area bordering the Black Sea. The problems were political, financial and administrative, and there were times the only safe and wise course was to write to the Emperor himself for advice. One problem concerned the Christians.

 

Pliny did not know much about Christians except that they were very stubborn about clinging to their beliefs, would not pray to the gods, and would not burn incense to the Emperor’s statue; that they met together regularly to sing and pray to Christ, and promised to abstain from theft, robbery and adultery. Their stubbornness alone was surely enough to merit punishment. The thing that really got to him was how these Christians had spread their beliefs.

 

He wrote to the Emperor Trajan, “A great many individuals of every age and class, both men and women, are being brought to trial, and this is likely to continue. It is not only the towns, but villages and rural districts too which are infected through contact with this wretched cult.”1

 

Just over 60 years earlier the Apostle Paul was on his second missionary journey. He had reached the town of Pisidian Antioch in the province of Galatia, and the next step must have seemed obvious: west to Ephesus. This was the key to the whole Roman province of Asia, still unevangelized.

 

We are not told how, but God blocked his way (Acts 16:6). It must have seemed strange. Jesus Christ had called him to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, and now Paul was stopped from evangelizing one of the greatest centers of Gentile population in the world.

 

He turned north and tried to enter the region of Bithynia. The cities of Nicomedia and Nicaea were not unimportant, and the Jewish colonies in Bithynia would fit his strategy. Whether Paul prayed about this we don’t know, but he was on his way when again God stopped him. “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” (Acts 16:7)

 

I can imagine Paul’s frustration. No, on second thought, I’d rather not.

 

If you can’t go back, and you can’t go west, and you can’t go north, maybe you can find a road somewhere in the middle. Say, northwest? It led to Troas. The port was strategic in the Roman communications system; from Troas you could easily get to other places.

 

In Troas two things happened. The narrative of Acts suddenly changes from “they” to “we”. Doctor Luke had joined Paul’s team. When I read the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, I feel rather grateful that God boxed Paul into a narrow path away from the obvious destinations.

 

Something else happened. Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

 

So Paul entered a new phase of ministry in Macedonia and Greece: confronting the demonic in Philippi, challenging idolatry in Athens, converting large numbers from raw paganism in Corinth.  God was using Paul’s roundabout journey as a spiritual preparation, and in the end the Lord brought him to Ephesus with great success.

 

But what about Bithynia? Yes, it was evangelized, though not by Paul. We don’t know just how and when, but God had his servants in place and the church planted there was strong, embracing people “of every age and class… not only [in] the towns, but the villages and rural districts too.”

 

Sometimes God redirects our lives and ministries in ways that may confuse us, but as J. Philip Hogan used to say “God is the harvest Master,” and the Lord knows what He is doing.

 

Christopher Gornold-Smith, born in London, joined ICI in Brussels to work in media development in 1982. After the fall of Communism, he and his Swedish wife Ragna served as missionaries in Slovakia, and later with International Media Ministries in Spain. Now officially “retired”, he assists Global University as a media consultant and video scriptwriter/producer.

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Attitude Toward Trials

Aug 12 2013 Published by under Life

By Dr. Mary Logan

MaryBlog2013As a believer in Christ, what should be your attitude toward trials?

 

Life’s journey is not always an easy one. There is disease, illness, disappointment, sorrow, suffering . . . and the list goes on. Did you know, though, that trials are allowed for a purpose? Yes! They are allowed to prove you and to make you stronger—to make you more like Christ.

 

James (1:2) says to “consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds . . .” What? My attitude toward trials should be a spirit of joy? But how is it possible to have a spirit of joy when, in the natural, you feel discouraged and defeated? Well, the answer is to change your attitude! Think positively instead of negatively. Simply obey the biblical command to consider it pure joy. Ask God to help you!

 

In the book, Captive in Iran, John Perry assisted Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh in giving a detailed account of their 259 days in the Evin Prison, the notorious Tehran prison, where inmates are routinely tortured. Maryam and Marziyeh were arrested in 2009 and imprisoned for their Christian faith and for sharing it with others. Not only was their house ransacked and possessions confiscated, they were held illegally in a detention center and then sent to prison, without ever being formally charged.

 

Instead of succumbing to fear, Maryam and Marziyeh chose to take a step of faith and to share their Christian testimony with the inmates. They soon discovered that in this prison, under some of the worst conditions, the Lord had anointed them to “bring good news to the poor . . .comfort the brokenhearted . . . proclaim that captives . . . be released and prisoners . . . freed” (Isa. 61:1 NLT). Both of them stood strong and were bold in their Christian witness. They truly considered it pure joy to suffer for the sake of Christ. Not only was this story about God sustaining them, but it was also about the many women they met along the way who were able to hear how much God loved each one of them.

 

What are the reasons for trials? James 1:3 answers the question: “. . . the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” View trials as opportunities for Christian growth. When you persevere and conquer the trials, God perfects His purpose in you. You become more holy and more pure—more like Christ. You become more mature to accomplish the tasks to which He has called you.

 

Regardless of the stressful circumstances in which you find yourself, always remember that God is with you. As James (1:4) says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

 

In the future, think of how God can bring good into your life through the trials. Face them with JOY!

 

Mary Logan, Ed.D., is an editor, mentor, and Professor of Education and Business in the Graduate School of Theology at Global University.  For more information about Global University, visit http://think.globaluniversity.edu

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Persevere Through Unanswered Prayers

Aug 05 2013 Published by under Life, Ministry

By Michael Goldsmith

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Have you ever prayed and waited… and waited… and waited… for an answer that never came?  It’s similar to making a phone call, leaving a request to return the call, and wondering if the message was thrown away, ignored, or misplaced.  Or sending a letter in anticipation of a reply and pondering the famed “dead letter” office or lost in transit.  You think surely your letter is lying in a room somewhere, unopened and forgotten.

 

There have been occasions when I prayed and I thought that the windows of heaven had been closed, padlocked, the blinds had been pulled down and the security system turned on.  Angels were instructed to turn their backs and a deaf ear.  A sign hangs at the entrance, “Closed.”  And maybe, in more paranoid moments, thought a memo had been circulated to ignore my prayers.

 

Having both experienced and felt these kinds of things in prayer, I can relate to the lady in Luke 18.  Jesus begins this chapter by addressing His disciples and teaching them on prayer.  He taught them that “at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”  Then He continues by relating a story of a lady with an urgent legal matter ignored by the judge.  Yet we can learn something about her prayer and our own need for persistence in prayer from verse 3 where it says, “There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to (the judge)…”  It wasn’t her need that got the attention of the judge nor was it his sense of compassion. In fact, the Bible says that this judge was “unwilling” to address her legal issue.  But her persistence was something that he couldn’t ignore. We read in verse 5 that the judge’s impression of this widow was that “she bothers me” and “I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.”  By all appearances, this lady had her need met because of her persistence with the judge.  Then Jesus concludes the teaching by telling His disciples “now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night ?”.

 

Persistent prayer is an important aspect of our spiritual life.  Needs are met not because there are needs.  Look around – everywhere you look there are needy people.  Needs are met because of persistence to seek God until something happens.  When you feel heaven has closed up, the windows are shut, the gates slammed closed, the angels deaf and the throne empty, persevere.  Keep pressing into the Lord.  Make another contact to Him.  Send another letter.  Get back online with heaven.  And just as Galatians 6:9 teaches, “Let us not lose heart… for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”

 

Persistent prayers often clarify our thinking.  Maybe we are praying amiss, as James says.  Persistent prayer clears our motives, focuses our thoughts, gives us time to ruminate on what we are really praying about, make changes and adjustments, and so forth.

 

Believing that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him (as Hebrews instructs us), brings me to the conclusion that just maybe God wants me to really think through what I’m asking.

 

Persistent prayer gets the attention of a good God.  May the good hand of the Lord unlock heaven, shine towards you, answer your heart’s cry, and show forth the excellence of His greatness and faithfulness to you today.

 

Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, AR, and Tulsa, OK.   He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country.  You can reach him at mgoldsmith@globaluniversity.edu.

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