Tom’s Midweek Greeting
Crossroads Community Church
June 21, 2018
Dear Crossroads Church Family,
I want to share with you two writings from other men, both of which have ministered to me in recent days.
The second of the two (at the bottom of this email) is from Dr. Terry Powell, who has been a long-time professor to teachers of the Bible at Columbia International University in Columbia, SC.
The first is a letter written by Oswald Chambers, Bible teacher and missionary (with the YMCA) in the early 1900s. I’m nearly to the end of reading his biography, Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God, by David McCasland, and I recommend it to you very much. You will enjoy reading the story of Oswald and his wife and daughter, their adventures for the Lord, their faith, and his very sudden death in Egypt from a ruptured appendix. (He died shortly before the end of World War I.)
First, however, let me remind you of some happenings at Crossroads this weekend and coming week:
Worship, Sunday morning at 10 am, at the Y. We’ll enjoy some good worship, fellowship, and encouragement from God’s Word. The sermon will be from Acts 27, Paul’s journey to Rome in which he and his traveling companions are shipwrecked on the island of Malta. We’ll consider how a person can weather the storms of life.
Carry-in lunch following worship. If you’re free, come enjoy some fellowship with the church family at the home of Phill and Judi Edwards, 12418 E. Quail Road. Hot dogs and the fixin’s, paper products, and bottled water will be provided. If you’re able, bring along a side dish to share. Let’s enjoy a restful part of a Sunday afternoon together in peaceful surroundings!
Crossroads 101 course this Sunday. I’ll be leading our Crossroads 101 course on Sunday evening at 6 pm at my house, 226 W Arch Street, for anyone interested. This is our church membership course. If you’re not presently a member of the church but would like to be, we ask that you attend this course. However, mostly it’s an informal time of getting to know about Crossroads, its people, and its ministry. There’s no obligation to join the church membership if you attend. Anyone is welcome to come! We’ll plan to finish before 7:30.
Moss House move on Monday. We are anticipating being needed to move a former resident of the Moss House this coming Monday afternoon, possibly around 5 pm. If you could help with your hands, or if you could provide an extra pick-up to haul household belongings, please set aside some time Monday. We’ll try to get organized Sunday at church.
Prayer. Among those for whom we should be praying, let’s remember Elena Rodriguez who left today with a team of young people serving Christ in Costa Rica!
The Best is Yet to Come
Among the many works Oswald Chambers started and facilitated in his busy life of ministry for Christ was a small Bible training school in London which he named the “Bible Training College,” or B.T.C. However, Oswald’s good nature, and his commitment to the Lord Jesus above any organization or school, led him and his students to also use the initials B.T.C. as shorthand for “Better To Come,” or we might say, “Best is yet To Come.” Isn’t it true that no matter what trials we may be going through in life, with Christ the best is always still yet to come!
Here is a letter Oswald wrote, shortly before he died so unexpectedly, to some of his former students of the B.T.C. I have paraphrased the letter. It reminds me of the little band of believers we are at Crossroads Church, and why God has brought us together. We are building a church, but the purpose is larger than that, going far beyond the organization itself.
To all former students of the Bible Training College we send a message of good cheer, and a hearty reminder that the “B.T.C.” still stands as our watchword, viz. “Better to Come.”
Let us watch and pray, taking these words to mean keeping ourselves mindful of the true source of our life – our relationship to Jesus Christ, which is the reminder that the Best is yet to come.
Let me recall to your remembrance our unity. Such a union, unless it is seen to be in Him and for His purpose, can easily sink into sentimentality. Our union is not so much a union for work, or for any organization, as it is a union out of which our Lord can “help Himself.” Never mistake the organization for the organism. Organization is a great necessity, but it is not an end in itself. To live for an organization is spiritually distasteful. To use organization (without abusing it) is the only purpose of our coming together.
In the immediate days after the war we may meet together again, or we may not; we may have another passing organization of the B.T.C., or we may not. But whatever transpires, it is ever “the best is yet to come!”
For me, the application to Crossroads Church is evident: We should rejoice in the Lord bringing us together as an organization (church). We are experiencing a time of amazing spiritual growth and unity. With the putting in place of our Elder Board, our Church Financial Manager, our Children’s ministry team, a growing worship team, and more, we are erecting the scaffolding of our organization. However, we should be ever mindful that the purpose of our coming together is that, through us, the Lord may be helped (“help Himself,” as Chambers puts it) to reach others and bring them into this joy we’re experiencing. We don’t live for the organization (the church); rather we use the organization for the purpose of God’s ever-widening impact in people’s lives!
Quick Verdict Rendered in Superior Court Case
I hope you’ll be encouraged as you read this story written by Dr. Terry Powell. Dr. Powell has a wonderful sense of humor, despite struggling for many years with depression. His experiences and personality give him a refreshing “take” on what it means to be a Christian. This particular story ends with a joy-filled reminder of the wonderful position our lives are in if we have trusted in Christ as our Savior and Lord. (Dr. Powell’s blog is at www.penetratingthedarkness.com.)
Dr. Terry Powell, a professor at Columbia International University, stood trial yesterday for three charges. According to the District Attorney’s office, the charges are “inexcusable” for a Christian professor who’s been in vocational ministry for almost five decades.
“Powell ought to know better by now,” emphasized the D. A.’s lead prosecutor. “He isn’t a baby Christian, for Christ’s sake!”
The Judge didn’t waste any time reprimanding the prosecutor for his language, then allowed him to cite the charges against Powell.
The Case Against Powell
#1: “A couple times in recent weeks, the defendant missed his so-called quiet time. Either he thinks he’s an exception to Psalm 14:2, which calls believers to ‘seek after God,’ or he’s been too busy serving God to worship Him in unhurried fashion. According to the Bible Powell teaches with such passion, he’s supposed to ‘discipline himself for godliness.’ Look it up in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 and you’ll see that I’m right! Judge, it’s obvious that Powell doesn’t always practice what he preaches.”
#2: “The second charge I bring against the defendant is impatience. If patience is a virtue, then Powell is clearly not virtuous! To save the court’s time, I’ll just give two of the numerous examples I have on file.
“When he experiences a computer glitch that costs him time, he’s been known to mutter stuff under his breath, as if his verbal complaint would resolve the matter. And when traffic was backed up one day last week, he spoke out loud to tell the driver in front of him to heed the green light and move on. (As if the driver could hear his agitated urge to hurry through the intersection!) Now I ask you, Judge, does this sound like a Christian who’s filled with the Spirit?! Last time I checked, patience is on the list of traits of a Spirit-filled person (Galatians 5:22). What does this say about the defendant?
#3: “The last charge on the docket is a failure to guard his heart from temptation, as Proverbs 4:23 calls for. The verse says to “Watch over your heart with all diligence,” but Powell blew it one evening recently. While watching a TV drama, the scene shifted to a seductive scene between two adults who weren’t married to each other. Oh, I know it wasn’t on the level of porn and real sex wasn’t happening, yet he lingered several seconds before changing channels, knowing how vulnerable he is to thought life issues. He knows he should have immediately left that program! And to top it all off, he repeatedly tells his students not to trust their heart, but to guard it against sin. Is this hypocrisy, or what!?
“Judge, the defendant has waived his right to a jury trial, and you will personally decide his fate. I remind you that the evidence of his sins is irrefutable, because I have everything on tape. The only logical verdict is ‘Guilty on all charges!’ The prosecution rests.”
The Defense Attorney Speaks
Smugly, the prosecutor took his seat, confident in how the Judge would rule. Simultaneously, Powell’s defense attorney, Jesus Christ, Son of God, stood to plead Powell’s case. Powell chose Jesus to represent Him because he knows 1 John 2:1: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Here’s what Jesus said on Powell’s behalf:
“Your Honor, The defendant agrees that every charge brought against him today is true. I know it may sound illogical, but allow me explain why he still pleads “Not Guilty” to the charges.
“Terry has owned up to every sin of commission or omission, and confessed them with a spirit of sorrow. He daily asks the Holy Spirit to enable Him to live more righteously and avoid a pattern in relation to these sins. You and I agreed, before the foundation of the world (2 Tim. 1:9, Rev. 13:8), that My death on the cross would pay for his sins — past, present, and future. Long ago, Terry put his faith in My substitutionary death, and he knows that the penalty for his sins has already been paid for by me. My death on Calvary satisfied the law’s demand that sin be penalized.
“Legally, due to a doctrine the Bible calls justification, the defendant is not only pardoned, or forgiven, but he is also legally righteous in the eyes of this court. Not only were all his sins erased and then put on My account as his Substitute, but all My perfection during My time on earth, and all My righteousness, were credited to Him, so when You look at Terry, You see My righteousness. That’s why Terry pleaded “Not Guilty!” He knows his accuser is wrong because there is now “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Guilt isn’t a feeling, but a status before God. And the defendant’s status is none other than perfect. The Bible clearly states, “By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
“Your honor, this whole trial is a farce. Why should Terry even stand trial for sins I’ve already paid for?!”
Jesus Christ took His seat, saying, “The defense rests.”
A Quick Verdict
Typically, a judge takes hours to review arguments in a case and schedules a time for the announcement of his decision. But on this occasion, the Judge, God the Father, immediately raps His gavel so loudly that the ear-splitting noise reverberates throughout the courtroom.
“Not guilty!” He roars, then retires to His chambers.
Shortly after the trial, this reporter found out that the defendant is actually an adopted son of the Judge, and brother of his defense attorney. But due to the sterling character of the Judge, as exhibited over a long career–it seems like He’s been on the bench forever!– no one is accusing Him of any impropriety or favoritism. One objective legal expert affirmed that the Judge ruled accurately “based on the facts.”
Rumor has it that after the ruling, the defendant visited the Judge’s mansion for a five-course meal, joined by his defense attorney. The family gathering was, according to a neighbor’s observation, a raucous celebration.