Einer unserer jüngeren Politiker hatte während der EU-Wahl als sein Anti-EU-Slogan geäussert: ”Gebt uns Dänemark zurück!” - Im Scherz habe ich bisweilen meinen deutschen Freunden gesagt: ”Gebt uns Schleswig-Holstein zurück!” (Mein Nationalgefühl in der Richtung ist doch nur ein gutmütiger Spass). - Die Norweger sagen spasseshalber zu uns: “Gebt uns Tordenskjold zurück!” (Tordenskjold war ein dänischer Seeheld, der aber in Norwegen geboren wurde!)
Nein, ich werde überhaupt keine national-egoistischen Forderungen geltend machen!
Aber eine gemeinsame, geistliche Forderung habe ich heute morgen as angebracht gefühlt, sie geltend zu machen: Das Singen müssen wir zurück fordern. In der Schule lernten wir dieses schönes Sprichwort: “Wo man singt, da lass dich ruhig nieder. Böse Menschen haben keine Lieder!” Überlegt mal bitte:
1. Wir singen zu wenig! Ich meine persönnlich und in unseren christlichen Häusern. Wenn der Apostel ermahnt: “Berauscht euch nicht mit Wein, worin Ausschweifung ist, sonder werdet voller Geist, indem ihr zueinander in Psalmen und Lobliedern und geistlichen Liedern redet und dem Herrn mit eurem Herzen singt und spielt!” (Eph. 5:18-19) – dann ist es nicht nur eine Ermahnung für die Gemeinde, sondern für unser persönnliches Leben zu Hause.
2. Warum überhaupt singen? Weil das Wort Gottes uns dazu ermutigt. In den Psalmen wird diese Aufforderung direkt und indirekt immer wiederholt. “Spielt (oder singt) dem HERRN, ihr seine Frommen, und preist zu seinem heiligen Gedenken!” (Psa. 30:5) ”Singt ihm ein neues Lied, spielt schön auf den Saiten mit Jubelschall!” (Psa. 33:3) – ”Ist jemand guten Mutes? Er singe Psalmen!” Jak. 5:13. – usw.
3. Das Singen tut uns gut, vorausgesetzt dass unsere erlösten Herzen mitsingen. Dann werden die Instrumente des Herzens freigesetzt, sonst nicht. In den Psalmen gibt´s 15 sogenannten “Wahlfahrslieder” (Psa. 120-134). Das Wort kann auch als ”das Lied des Hinaufgangs” übersetzt werden. Auf evangelischem Grund besteigen wir nicht wörtlich einen Hügel oder einen heiligen Berg Zions, sondern die geistliche Höhe des Lobliedes, denn der Herr hat uns so geschaffen, dass diese Handlung – “ein Opfer des Lobes” (Hebr. 13:15) - unsere geistliche Gesundheit fördert.
Ich komme noch, aber leider nur selten, in Häuser, wo das Singen zur Ehre unseres Heilands mit echter Freude praktiziert wird. Das ist immer ein Segen. Dieser alte, reine Brauch von den Tagen der Luther und Paul Gerhard verdient eine Renaissance unter uns, wo das Singen oft zu professionellen DVD-Abspielen für unseren passiven Genuss ersetzt sind.
Wir fordern das Singen zurück!
“Therefore, brothers…we have confidence…” Hebr. 10:19
The revival preacher, Charles Finney (1792-1875), - also an educated lawyer – quotes in his autobiography a judge of the supreme court who made some critical, but relevant remarks on ministers in general:
“They are afraid of repetition”, he said. “They write in too elevated a style, and read without repetition and are not understood by the people.” And he added, “When I was at the bar, I used to take it for granted when I had before me a jury of respectable men, that I should have to repeat over my main positions about as many times as there were persons in the jury box. I learned that unless I do so, illustrated, and repeated and turned the main points over, - the main points of law and evidence – I should lose my cause.”
By the way, I had the joy to see my son-in-law, also a lawyer, do exactly that in the Fresno courthouse, Ca., last month. I immediately thought of what I´d read in Finney´s autobiography. My son-in-law kept repeating his arguments substantiated with clear evidences, using simple illustrations which even a child could understand. What a lesson to me. By the grace of God I want to be that way at the bar of the gospel!
My reasons for saying all this is what you have probably found yourself in your Bible reading. When I´m reading the epistle to the Hebrews I´m impressed and blessed how the Spirit keeps repeating over and over again the sufficiency of the finished work of Christ to give us who have trusted Him a solid rock to have our feet stand on, to live by, to be bold about and to face the eternity with. When it comes to the gospel, my friend, never be afraid of repeating yourself. Jesus did it. The Holy Spirit does it. And so do we.
What has all this to do with me? you may ask. If you have entered into a personal relationship with Christ Jesus as your Savior and Lord, it means a lot.
Melchizedek was not Christ, but he resembled Him (Hebr. 7:3) and foreshadowed some wonderful gospel truths about Him.
1. He was superior to the law, since Levi (still in the loins of Abraham) acknowledged his supremacy through Abraham who paid tithes to him. Hebr. 7:9, Gen. 14:20. The Levitical law system served its own good purpose, being actually only “a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:17), i.e. “the real thing” came with Him, meaning that we are now under no “law”, no religious rules and regulations, since we are governed by His Spirit, the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), in a wonderful, joyous way. Are you enjoying that freedom?
2. He was “king of Salem”, i.e. king of peace. Hebr. 7:1. Again a picture of Christ. He is, indeed, our “Prince of peace” (Isa. 9: 6), and as we submit to Him and let the lordship be upon His (not our) shoulders, His peace will certainly fill our lives despite stormy circumstances.
3. He blessed Abraham at a crucial moment . He stepped in between Abraham and the king of Sodom with “bread and wine”. The result was that Abraham could face the king of Sodom happy and completely free of this world, as the blessing of Melchizedek had already fully satisfied him. See Gen. 14:17-24. What a wonderful truth speaking of our complete satisfaction in Christ to such a degree that the world has lost its charm on us.
4. He is great! “See how great this man is…” (Hebr. 7:4). Yes, this is above all true of Christ. How great is He? When He becomes great to our hearts, many difficulties become so small. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Joh. 3:30). May that spirit always prevail with us.
Meditate on this and thank God for these truths before you go out in the open. Your satisfaction and joy in Christ will be noticed. One of my standard answers when those passing by greeted me with the casual question, “ How are you doing?” was this simple, non-casual one: “I´m happy, and do you know why?” Yes, we know why, don´t we? O, let the world know!
1. God´s providence is always kind,
His ways are just and right,
The yielded soul will truly find
His will is good and bright!
His plans don´t fail and are concrete,
Though sometimes in the gloom,
But harshly God does not us treat,
Just tarry in your room!
2. Yes, in the quiet, starry night
You may be exercised
About some things that are not right,
Small things you idolized!
Such moments in the light and truth
Are needed for our growth,
For old as well as for the youth,
God deals in love with both!
3. In discipline He does us keep
With this reviving aim,
That none of us should fall asleep
But Christ instead proclaim!
The Gospel news God does entrust,
To sinners saved by grace,
As His sweet fragrance we now must
Witness in every place.
(written in Clovis, Ca. – May 2009)
At a Sunday morning service abt. 4 weeks ago I was introduced to a lady from abroad. She immediately invited my wife and I to her home. It was a very modest home, not the middle class standard her church members excel in. This was our first invitation to an American home ever, at least in recent years, apart from s friends in Lompoc where I over the years have found a true Bethany home. The lady wasn´t even an American, she was Dutch without permanent residence permit, and she was disabled with an electric wheel chair. But she was rich and very much on the alert showing hospitality with a warm heart for winning souls.
We go to our churches which without exception want to create an image of themselves as soul winning churches. What about the beautiful middle class homes? Are they isolated boxes without a vision for souls? Do we have the idea that everything of spiritual significance happens away from the home units in the church building? Do we relate to strangers to whom we may show biblical hospitality in order to establish a soul winning contact? Or do we rather expect souls to be won for the Lord when the pastor solemnly makes a strong appeal asking “those who are not sure of their salvation to raise their hand”?
If we do, we are wrong. My American son-in-law told me, “We don´t hang around in each other´s homes like you do, that´s not our culture.” But I´m not talking about “hanging around”, I´m talking about our homes as hospitable, soul winning tools. A dear, dear lady, a sweet grandma, from the church I go to here, told me that in old days it was different. The homes were different. In Denmark we have a lot of strangers coming in. By and large my country is very much on the atheistic or agnostic side. But God´s people are also there, and they are encouraged to welcome the strangers who little know what a home is in order to “friendship-evangelize” them in connection with a good, Danish meal, not waiting for the church set-up to do the job.
Anyway, that lady from Holland gripped my heart. Her example is humiliating to our well-to-do homes. May-be there´s too much “church” in the churches and too little “church” in our homes? Don´t let us just make it a “cultural” thing. Let us respond to the challenge the Dutch lady is giving. Souls are at stake!
and boldly ask the Lord
to breathe upon the word you spread
Like showers He´s outpoured!
The field may be in desert land
Of burning sun and heat,
But don´t, my friend, withhold your hand,
Just talk to those you meet!
You never know what God can do
When you give out in faith
A tract to one you never knew
Today on May the eighth!
Lo, maybe after many days
The sower´s fruit you´ll see,
To Jesus then be all the praise,
He sinners still sets free!
Rejoice, rejoice, my sowing friend,
Be glad if others reap
What you have sown, for in the end
You all for joy will leap!
“Upon the waters cast your bread”,
God´s clouds are full of rain,
And don´t forget what He has said,
Your bread you´ll find again!
May 8, 2009
”The message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” Hebr. 4:2
I have only one more Wednesday morning with ”my” precious senior men coming from all trades of life. One in Christ they certainly are and one in their love for the word of God. Today we were 17 brothers.
We read Hebr.4 which is about the rest of faith and obedience, and the Spirit of God made it real to us. We realized that instead of living a dry desert live in disobedience like the exodus Israelites, it is possible to live, as it were, in the fullness of “the promised land”, i.e. to live out, practically, our spiritual blessings which we already possess in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3).
We also saw that it´s possible to give a mental assent to the truth of the gospel (saying ”Oh, I believe”) but at the same time live in disobedience under the power of various modern idols. Many say that they have “accepted” Christ without having Him sit on the throne of their hearts.
But once Christ is reigning there, there are no limits to what overflow of blessings we have access to in Jesus Christ, including His sympathy, grace and mercy ”in time of need”. It is in Hebr.4:14-16. That word helped one of my good friends in Pa., a mayor in Williamsport. He had lost his dear wife and went through many sleepless nights. But one night the Spirit of God applied that very word to his troubled soul, and I remember him saying, ”That night I slept like a baby!”
Yes, even in a critical situation like that it´s possible to experience the sweet rest of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ!
(from Clovis, Ca., USA)
Relaxed and always calm,
That graceful, charming, little snail
Not doing any harm!
I take a break and can´t but feel
God´s majesty does shine,
For lovingly He did conceal
Himself in that design!
I pause before the garden snail
And hear it gently say:
“Your hurry is of no avail,
It surely does not pay!”
That wonder of creation is
So awesome to my heart,
The godless do not know that bliss
In which the snail takes part!
Some day it may be trampled down,
Though never knowing when,
To me it got its own renown,
Its Maker says “Amen!”
A precious word God made alive
When I could see no light,
It did my troubled soul revive
And made the darkness bright!
It was a word about His grace
Of comfort and of ease
That thoughts of sadness did erase
And filled me with His peace!
The grace in Jesus makes me strong
In spite of my defeat,
Redeemed I still to Him belong,
In Him I´m still complete!
His precious grace my heart makes bold,
And do you ask me why?
Of Christ whose love me does uphold
I gladly testify!
His strength in weakness I pursue
As I the gospel preach,
Christ crucified will only do
When souls I want to reach!
“I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert….” Isa. 43:20
“And you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring a water, whose waters do not fail.” Isa. 58:11
Let me share with you a word you may relate to – it´s the word pipeline. I´m not going to talk about oil now. The word became relevant when I told Robert 8 months ago what had happened in his life a born-again believer. I said to him, “I had really nothing to do with this. I was a channel only.”
Funny enough he didn´t understand what I meant. “What is a channel?” he asked. “Oh, let me use another word. You know the word “pipeline”? I happened to be just a pipeline for Jesus Christ!” He smiled, and now he understood. The word “pipeline” has stuck with us ever since.
You and I are called to be “pipelines” for the Lord. What a high calling! In my unsaved days I was certainly a pipeline for Satan without knowing it. Oh yes, once I knew it, because someone said to me at one occasion, “You are a devil!” and I was, I must shamefully say.
The saving gospel came into my life, however, and made me a new creature in Christ. The old nature is still there and causes a lot of trouble. But I´m also a new man with a divine nature indwelt by God´s Spirit because of His grace bestowed upon me in Christ Jesus. The purpose for all that? To be a “channel” only, a “pipeline” to our immediate surroundings. May this be true in our lives in a more real way in a desert land day by day!
Its gloom did all prevail,
For Satan and his whole brigade
Sought Jesus to assail!
“And it was night”, the Bible said,
The prince of darkness fumed,
Not knowing that his evil head
Would soon be crushed and doomed!
That night a supper was enjoyed
With broken bread and wine,
For worship was this meal employed
As a remembrance sign!
The Lord thus made the supper meal
A feast of thankfulness,
We as a holy priesthood kneel
And Him as Lord confess!
We break the bread and drink the wine
Until the rapture day,
When yonder in the air´s frontline
His bride He will display!
We at that table understand
We are but pilgrims here,
Nay, in a transient, foreign land
The Heaven is our sphere!
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,
you proclaim the Lord´s death till He comes.” (1.Cor. 11:26)
”Don´t you want to become a lawyer?” an officer once asked me as a soldier down in Germany. He meant to flatter me, as he liked my way of arguing. I was stupid enough to bask in that empty kind of flattery. (That doesn´t mean that I look down on lawyers. In fact, I highly admire them!)
It´s one thing to win an argument. It´s a completely different thing to win a soul. It´s stimulating for our pride to disarm an opponent. However, winning a soul usually means loss of your own prestige. Sometimes you may even find yourself in a situation where you must humbly say, “I´m sorry!”
Recently I felt I must do that to one of my toughest opponents in the local newspaper. I had used just one little ”innocent” word against him, but I felt it wasn´t right, so I wrote him an “I am sorry-letter”. Suddenly he was my opponent no longer – he even wanted me to visit him and his sick wife!
The same thing happened when I did that towards another harsh debater. He immediately gave me a ring and the tone had completely changed.
Oh, never mind about ”winning”. Let´s rather by the grace of God overcome our own pride for the sake of some soul won for our Lord Jesus Christ!
"Lead me to some soul today/ and teach me, Lord, just what to say/ friends of mine are lost in sin/and cannot find their way/ few there are who seem to care/few there are who pray/ melt my heart and fill my life/give me some soul today!"
Try to put yourself in the shoes of an unbeliever. How are you going to reach him/her? By posting a gospel tract? Or by writing an article? Or preaching a nice sermon at a place where only Christians would meet up? Or may-be singing or chatting in the local radio? Or what?
The non-Christians watch TV like you and me. They learn about religious sects and their fanaticism. And now your gospel tract shows up. What happens? You are probably looked upon as one of those religious fanatics. May-be I´m putting the subject to extremes, but still….
One morning I gave my card (I don´t call it a ”tract”) to a gentleman on the road. My little card has an extremely brief message with a beautiful lay-out garnished with the Danish flag plus other Nordic flags. He looked at it and put the question to me: ”What sect, Sir?” I asked him, “Why that question?” He replied, ”I noticed the words ”Jesus Christ”! That may sound strange in the US, but over here the mere mentioning of Jesus Christ must be sectarian!
My point is simple. Do use the printed word and the mass media, if you can. But soul winning takes more than that. It implies a life. The personal contact must be there. An angry newspaper reader has been extremely cruel to me over the years in the local columns. My column discussions with him led to nothing, until I one day I saw with him and his sick wife personally in their home abt. one hour´s drive from here. That changed everything. We are now friends, at least.
The old soul winner rule should still be gently applied with sincere love and wisdom and never be forgotten: “Win them for yourself – and then for Christ!”
Please notice two things: The Lord doesn´t say, ”If anyone can do His will…”, but “if anyone wills. The second thing is the promise: "…he shall know…." In the Danish rendering it suggests "he shall experience…"
I vividly remember what happened at a meeting once on the west coast of Norway. An elderly gentleman got up and addressed the unbelievers with the following plain words: “If you don´t get saved tonight, it´s because you don´t want to!”
That he repeated twice. A young girl broke down in tears that night. “Yes, it´s because I don´t want to”, she sobbed. However, she came with her "I don´t want to" to Him, who will never, by no means, cast out anyone who´s coming. (By the way that girl later became my wife!)
Now what about you? Oh, I meet a lot of respectable, religious people who do want a little religion and church and song and music, but they don´t really mean business and so they never make a genuine experience with our Lord Jesus Christ.
However, it´s still possible for the honest seeker to pray the old prayer, "Lord, I´m willing to be made willing!" This is a prayer The good Shepherd and the Savior of your lost soul will always hear.
Genuine conversion and saving faith is just acknowledging that God is right and I am wrong. The people acknowledged that. The Pharisees also heard him, but instead of humbling themselves they callously consolidated their self-righteous position and rejected God´s plan for their lives. v. 30.
My grandfather, - Uno Rieper-Holm was his name -, had a respectable auditor who once heard my grandfather preach the gospel in Copenhagen. One Christian woman spoke a few kind words to that distinguished gentleman after the meeting, but he was so angry. According to his wife he afterwards went back and forth in their beautiful apartment and was furious. However, before going to bed he said, “Rieper-Holm was right!” Then soon after he suddenly died.
That made a strong impression on everybody. Another Christian woman suggested that the admission of the convicted auditor was a good sign. She said, “Hopefully it meant that he also acknowledged that God was right.”
Have you acknowledged that too? Have you come to the place where you can honestly say before God, “You are right, and I´m wrong and have always been wrong!” In that case you´ll meet the happy tax-collectors in Heaven some day, saved by His grace and under the wings of His loving plan.
In my early youth in Pennsylvania I came under a terrible bondage without knowing it myself. Those were days without joy. A brother saw me and said, “You have changed, Jorn. You used to always exalt Christ, but now….” He didn´t say that I was exalting myself, but did regret that legalism now marked my “testimony”. The Lord was faithful, however, and revealed my freedom in Christ anew, and the book of Romans became my charter.
Speak well of Christ! You don´t speak well of Christ by just shouting “Jesus” with a shrilling voice all the time. In fact, that may be just one way of speaking well of yourself using the name of Jesus for selfish purposes. The Corinthians did that with the name of Christ (see 1 Cor. 1:12).
To speak well of Christ implies the Holy Spirit´s conviction of your own “lostness” and your happy freedom in Christ alone. This is certainly “the aroma of life leading to life” (1 Cor. 2:16) before a watching and dying world.
We pray, “Our Father in Heaven…” (Luke 11:2). He is not only in Heaven, though, but also “on the earth below” - with you and me.
To live here “below” in joyful communion with Him, is what really speaks to the world making it sometimes say as it said of Israel: “What great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?” (Deut. 4:7).
In other words, a practical, down-to-earth testimony of the God who is here below!
A blind, Danish preacher who by the way once held me in his arms and prayed for me when I was a baby, once came home after a trip to Sweden where he saw another preacher who prayed for the sick. He hoped to get his sight back. He didn´t, but still got a special blessing. To his wife he testified, conscious of God´s presence:
“Before leaving for Sweden I had a God in Heaven. Now I also have Him right here in the sitting room!”
The Inevitable Offenses
”It is inevitable that offenses will come.” Luke 17:1
During the pioneering days of New Tribes Mission, starting in 1942, many casualties happened. Their first missionaries were killed in the jungle. Many others died under dramatic circumstances, and many tears were shed. How did the Americans in general react?
The American public rather sympathized with the mission. After all the Second World War was raging, and America calculated with heavy losses. Why should it be different when it comes to spiritual warfare? So they reasoned.
But the Christian establishment was often deeply offended or very critical. NTM had acted foolishly, they thought, and exposed a fine youth to unnecessary dangers. Some were so offended that they branded NTM “The murderer of mission” – a cruel and heartbreaking charge, indeed.
The cause of Jesus Christ is still met with much opposition. The greatest and most indignant opposition however is often of a religious kind. That was certainly the case in the earthly life of our Lord, and it hasn´t changed in 2009. “It is inevitable”, the Lord said.
”Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.” Luke 6:26.
After a fascinating lecture on the integration of our refugees a few days ago in this very town of mine, a gentleman made the statement: ”I´m afraid of Islam!” Immediately a Christian woman from the audience quietly remarked, ”I´m more afraid of the Christians!” Now, her point was not to play down the danger of Islam but to bring to our consciences the challenge of bringing the gospel to our fellow human beings, no matter who they are, e.g. Muslims or other immigrants, you name it. The challenge of the gospel has always been a sore point with the established church. Yes, we are afraid of Islam whose goal is world dominion. The gospel has a world objective too. Satanic forces stand behind Islam. The Holy Spirit stands behind the gospel of Christ. That should thrill us as believers who have no power in ourselves and yet can do all things through Christ. Phil. 4:13. – so “fear not”!
These very days a tsunami wave of Darwinism and evolutionism is washing over us. At times I get discouraged. Last night I thought, this is just too much! However, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him!” (Isa. 59:19). We say, “We can´t do it. So true, but haven´t you noticed how many times it says in the New Testament “Let us…” It is the voice of The Holy Spirit saying “Let us do it together! Let us together lift up the standard of the gospel! As our American friends would sometimes say, “Let´s gossip the gospel!” We have failed as a church.
Billy Graham was right when he once said, ”The church has become a mission field instead of a mission force!” The muslims shouldn´t be mocked at and ridiculed as we´ve seen the worldly press is doing. We should rather be looking for an opportunity to give them the gospel. The darwinists should likewise be pitied. I don´t think they are happy at all. And I think that even Darwin found himself suffering from an unquenchable spiritual thirst when the noble, evangelistic Lady Hope (a friend of D.L. Moody) saw him a few months before his death. This we don´t hear about however. So let us take courage.
“Let us…” the Holy Spirit says. The law says, “Thou shalt!” The Holy Spirit says, “Let us…”
Wonderful words of encouragement an of freedom! “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound judgment!” (2 Tim. 1:7). -jn-
”We are ambassadors for Christ!” (2 Cor. 5:20)
“I never go to see important people – or anyone else – without having the deep realization that I am – first and foremost – an ambassador of the King of kings and Lord and lords. From the moment I enter the room, I am thinking about how I can get the conversation around the gospel…I rarely leave without attempting to explain the meaning of the Gospel unless God clearly indicates to me that it is not the right time for this person….”
The words are Billy Graham´s but they should be ours too. Alas, when having coffee after a church service with a lot of church goers, I often sense an atmosphere of parties, entertainment, noisy laughter and boring, superficial talks about the same things that worldly people talk about. I can´t help thinking “Are these good people really ambassadors for Christ, burning for lost souls? Or are they, after all, worldly church people with just a nice, religious façade without true, spiritual reality?
A non-Christian, in fact an atheist, whom I saw yesterday in another town, told me that his grandparents were pious people belonging to a local Christian mission, but apart from saying grace at their meals they never talked to him in his boyhood about the things of God. Pathetic, isn´t it?
Personally, when talking to people, I prefer an honest non-believer to an dishonest “believer”, don´t you?