Wednesday, 31 December 2008

One witness is never enough… Deuteronomy 19:15

Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned this year is how to correctly interpret the Bible, or perhaps I should say that I have learned how not to mistakenly interpret the Bible.

This summer I received a random e-mail from a writer in Edmonton, promoting her self-published book Redefining Bible Interpretation. As it turned out, the e-mail was not quite so ‘random’. The PDF excerpts from her book intrigued me so much that I e-mailed her back to find out where she had got my name from. Dawn Wessel told me that she surfed Christian websites prospecting for potential customers. The original e-mail Dawn sent out had bounced back (one of many) and she was going to ignore it but felt prompted to go to the effort to find my correct e-mail address. I’m so glad she did.

Dawn’s premise is that the Bible is self-interpreting and it is only logical that God would create it that way. She notes that throughout the Bible messages or instructions of any importance are always repeated, that is to say, witnessed. God, like all good teachers, uses the law of repetition.

Dawn further makes the point that many of the hundreds of different [Christian] denominations and even other religions have come into being because individuals have based their creeds on a single verse or passage which are unsupported elsewhere in the Bible. There is no additional Scriptural ‘witness’ to their viewpoint. God has given and demands witnesses.

God chose to write his covenant on two tablets of stone, engraved on both sides [indicating completeness], one being a 'witness' to the other. Exodus 32:14-16

“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” Deuteronomy 19:15. The principle of repetition is confirmed concerning the need of witnesses, see Deut. 17:6, Matt. 18:15-16, 2 Cor. 13:1, etc).

When there was no ‘human witness’ Moses still claimed witnesses, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day…” Deuteronomy 4:26.

May I encourage you, whenever you get stuck on a point of Biblical interpretation, look for a witness.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Romans 8:28 - Connecting Christmas to Easter

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

It is a tragedy that Mitchell Family Bookstore, one of the most significant Christian bookstores in Canada, was forced into receivership a short while ago. I was introduced to Mr. Mitchell Sr. early on in my Christian journey and his daughter and son-in-law have been friends of my wife's family for many decades.

I am all to well acquainted with the experience of losing the business one worked so hard to create. Romans 8:28 happened in my life for the first time when my first company went bankrupt and I cried out in utter despair, "God! If you're there, help me!" Such was the beginning of my personal encounter with God.

Knowing God, and knowing the Mitchell family, I am persuaded that there will be many 'Romans 8:28 stories' to tell before this [tragic] event is a distant memory.

It almost seems trivial but I am one who believes in Divine Coincidences. Two days ago we were at the bankruptcy clearance sale and all books were on sale for $2.95. Wendy and I picked up a dozen books we might not have otherwise considered. One of the books I chose was Changed Lives - Miracles of the Passion by Jody Eldred. Reading many of the recorded testimonies caused me to do a little internet research and I happened upon a video commentary by Lorna Dueck in which she interviews both Jody Eldred and Mel Gibson. Part of the program included street interviews in Toronto and I was dismayed and disheartened by the number of people who were totally ignorant of what Easter was about; "Chocolate." was the most heard answer.

I was reminded of the importance of having the Christmas and Easter Messages posted on the buses and subway systems, along side all the ads for Christmas gifts chocolate and Easter bunnies. How much we need to connect Christmas to Easter!

At the end of his book Jody Eldred says, "What gets me is this world thinks Easter is about bunnies. They put on nice bonnets and go marching around in parades. They go to church only once a year, and that's what they call Easter? No! I wont ever call it Easter after seeing this movie [The Passion of the Christ]. How could I? It's the day we celebrate the Resurrection. It's Resurrection Day..."

For everything there is a season

A few minutes ago a man dropped off the new Sears catalogue.

Yesterday we got 12cm of snow. Today it is -15c and the family was out shoveling the driveway when the gentleman in question handed Wendy the catalogue and wished us a Happy Christmas. Winter officially starts tomorrow.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

The irony was not lost on me as I read, "Sears Catalogue - Spring/Summer 2009"

I love the optimism!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

100-Million Viewings

Yesterday was an extraordinary milestone as we celebrated the second anniversary of the posting of the very first Bus Stop Bible Studies on Canadian public transit. On Tuesday, December 6th, 2006 any passenger who took one of the 260 buses originating at the TTC’s Malvern Garage would have seen the Word of God, as a total of 520 Bus Stop Bible Studies were on display (two on each bus). In the past two years we conservatively estimate that Bus Stop Bible Studies have been seen more than 100-million times. It is, quite naturally, an emotional event for all of us who have recognized the Hand of God at work, bringing this life-changing ministry into reality. For me it is the wonder of a dream being born and nurtured to life. While the dream has become a reality – seeing lives and souls being saved by the Word of God and tens of thousands of people being encouraged each and every day – I am convinced that it is yet a newborn dream that God has only just started to unfold.

Too often we put limitations on what we think God is capable of, or even willing to do, to reach the millions of lost and hurting souls in Canada and around the world.

If you read Billy Graham’s autobiography, Just as I am, you will realize that even before he preached at his first crusade, he recognized that God had called him to do something very special. Like all of us Billy Graham was just an ordinary human being but, by placing his will in God’s hands, he has helped change the world. What an example and encouragement to us all. What will God do with Bus Stop Bible Studies? Where will He take it? Only time will tell, but even to bring it this far it could only have been accomplished with the help and support of the many who have prayed for and supported this ministry. To each one of you, on behalf of the Board of Directors and our volunteers, I want to express our sincere gratitude.

Be still and know that I am God—Psalm 46:10a

A short while ago we were thrilled to receive a donation specifically to help us promote Bus Stop Bible Studies and to get the word out to pastors, church leaders and business owners. By the very nature of their jobs most of these people do not take public transit, are not exposed to the hundreds of studies posted inside the buses and are generally unfamiliar with Bus Stop Bible Studies. To broaden our reach to these individuals, we decided to use these promotional funds to advertise (commencing Sept. 29th) on WDCX-FM the Christian radio station which covers most of the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario.

Being a “typical entrepreneur” I sometimes get frustrated at the speed with which the world moves and impatiently look forward to explosive growth of this ministry. But God is far smarter than I am (He’s omniscient—I’m not) and knows what we are capable of handling. Reminder to self: there are two imperatives in Psalm 46:10—Be still and know that I am God.

The other week I was again reminded of all that God has already accomplished as I shared the history of Bus Stop Bible Studies with the sales team from WDCX FM. It was good to have these three women in front of me so I could watch the amazement on their faces as I related the following story:

God has also been reminding me of the simplicity in expressing the Gospel message. How often do we tie ourselves up in knots arguing over the nuances of what we think is required for someone's salvation, or perhaps thinking that if someone believes this or that he or she can’t be a Christian?

This June 2nd my mom died. She was 89. Two days earlier she was outside her home in England washing the windows. She had the typical ‘English constitution’. Although she went to church in her later years, growing up as children we only attended church at Christmas and Easter. If one could talk to my mom about religious matters, her theology was that if you were a ‘good person’ you can get into Heaven. One could say she lived her life as a ‘good person’.
When my younger sister called to let me know my mom had gone I said to God, “If she’s in Heaven I wouldn’t mind knowing, but if she’s not then I just don’t want to know.”

The following morning I received an e-mail from a very dear friend who shared that while reading her devotional taken from Psalm 139, she felt God was telling her, “David’s mom is OK.” When we went to England for the memorial service my sisters had pulled out some of the papers my mom had kept over the years, the letter I wrote my parents when I informed them that I had become a Christian, a letter letting them know I had met “a very special person named Wendy” and two priceless items; my mom’s exercise book from her confirmation classes she took as a teen and a seemingly well worn piece of paper with a printed prayer of commitment. Not just a simple commitment, either, but a ’take my life’ covenant (reproduced below). My mom may have had a lot of her theology all mixed up but at the end of the day did that really matter?

For years I had dreaded what I could say at her funeral when the time came. But when I did get to speak I had the extreme and unexpected joy of talking about my mom’s faith.

I am still. And I know that He is God.
Hmm. I just got a great idea for a Bus Stop Bible Study!

A Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed or laid aside for you;
Exalted for you or brought low for you;
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
I freely and whole-heartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and
Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant made on earth, let it be ratified in Heaven. Amen.