MISS YOUR CELL PHONE?November 19th, 2010
MISS YOUR CELL PHONE? I read historian Benson Bobrick’s fascinating Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired. It’s the story of two English reformers—John Wycliffe, the brilliant Oxford scholar and Bible translator, remembered as “the Morning Star of the Reformation”; and martyr William Tyndale, whose English translation of Holy Scripture led to the King James Version and made the English Bible (next to the Bible itself) “the most influential book ever published.”
The profound impression Bobrick’s history has left with me is the immensity of the debt we owe to these who sacrificed all so that we might possess our English Bibles today. So bright was the mind of Wycliffe that “even his later enemies agreed (as one confessed) that he was ‘second to none in philosophy, unrivalled in the Schools, and the flower of Oxford. Many divines esteemed him little less than a god.’ He wrote many works in Latin as well as English . . . and his theological tomes were as knotty and learned as those by any scholiast. One weary Czech scribe, copying out a section, exclaimed in the margin, ‘Dear God, help me to finish this work as quickly as I can’” (27). William Tyndale, from the protective cover of Holland, sent copies of his own English translation across the channel into England, and quietly the seeds of an eventual revolution—both spiritual and political—were sown. Not without price. On October 6, 1536, he was “brought forth to the place of execution, tied to a stake, strangled first by the hangman, then ‘with fire consumed.’ Before he lost consciousness, he cried ‘with a fervent zeal and a loud voice: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes”’” (135).
At what price we possess our English Bibles this Thanksgiving! And yet are we really that thankful? Some dear soul forwarded to me a forwarded-forwarded-forwarded email (you know the type) with the simple query—“Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?” Now the FW’ed piece had my attention. “What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? What if we flipped through it several time a day? What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?” (That strikes home, because how many times have I remembered a couple blocks from home my cell phone back at the house? Leave it at home—are you kidding? I slam on my breaks, pull a quick U-turn—because I can’t live without my cell phone!) “What if we used it to receive messages from the text? What if we gave it to kids as gifts? What if we used it when we traveled? What if we used it in case of emergency?”
A century before cell phones Ellen White wrote: “The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us, just as surely as if we could hear it with our ears. If we realized this, with what awe we would open God’s Word and with what earnestness we would search its precepts. The reading and contemplation of the Scriptures would be regarded as an audience with the Infinite One” (My Life Today 283).
Then this Thanksgiving—even as we sing in the language of the old King James, “Come, ye thankful people, come”—shall we not fervently thank God for the inestimable gift of His Book?
Jesus just grew bigger!November 10th, 2010
Jesus just grew bigger! Ever since last Saturday the small Polish town of Swiebodzin has been high-fiving in celebration, believing they have just created the largest Jesus in the world. It’s been the life dream of their 78 year old local priest, Sylwester Zawadaki, to craft the world’s largest Jesus statue. And it looks like he just succeeded. When the crane lowered the golden-crowned statue head onto the granite body last weekend, the priest announced that his new “Christ the King” statue measures 108 feet or 33 meters, “one meter for every year that Jesus lived.” Some members of the construction team, however, said that if the mound upon which the statue towers and the crown atop the head are included, it rises 51 meters (167 feet). By contrast Rio de Janiero’s famed Christ the Redeemer statue stands 125 feet tall. So villagers are already counting the profits that will surely accrue once tourists begin pilgrimages to this giant Jesus.
A century ago the life ministry of a little 5’ 2” tall woman revealed that the Jesus in her heart stood very tall indeed. Through the years as I’ve read this woman’s writings, I have collected some of her “very tall Jesus” statements. Here’s one: “ . . . were thousands of the most gifted men to devote their whole time to setting forth Jesus always before us, studying how they might portray his matchless charms, they would never exhaust the subject” (Review and Herald June 3, 1890).
Here’s another: “O precious, loving, long-suffering, long-forbearing Jesus, how my soul adores Thee! That a poor, unworthy, sin-polluted soul can stand before the Holy God, complete in the righteousness of our Substitute and Surety! Wonder, O Heavens, and be astonished, O earth, that fallen man is the object of His infinite love and delight” (Letter 2, December 29, 1889).
And another: “I love to speak of Jesus and his matchless love. I have not one doubt of the love of God. I know that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto him. His precious love is a reality to me, and the doubts expressed by those who know not the Lord Jesus Christ, have no effect upon me. . . . Do you believe that Jesus is your Saviour, and that he has manifested his love for you in giving his precious life for your salvation? Take Jesus as your personal Saviour. Come to him just as you are; give yourself to him; grasp his promise by living faith, and he will be to you all that you desire” (Review and Herald June 23, 1896).
No question the Jesus of Ellen White was a towering Savior. That’s why at this website we’ve been carefully examining the gift of Christ through the life ministry of this woman. Why not examine the evidence for yourself—download the five podcasts/videocasts—call our toll free number (877 HIS WILL) and order a free copy of her best-selling and most translated classic, Steps to Christ (the little book that reintroduced me to my Savior at a crisis point in my young life—I’m certain it will bless you, too). Because you don’t have to go to Poland to meet the towering Jesus. If you want him, your door is large enough to let him in.
A Prayer for MuslimsNovember 6th, 2010
Another election wrapped up, another terrorist plot averted. While I’m not suggesting this week’s two biggest headlines have any connection, have you ever wondered how proactive God is in the life of our civilization? He probably doesn’t keep an electoral scorecard of favorite politicians, and he certainly isn’t the author of evil conspiracies. Nevertheless, could it be that he is personally, actively very much engaged in what goes on around this planet? Let me explain.
I find particular comfort in a dusty line from the ancient prophet Daniel: “[God] changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21, 22). The New Living Translation renders that line, “He determines the course of world events.” Does that mean God works through the electoral processes of a democracy to put individuals into leadership/office who are sympathetic to his own agenda for humanity? He certainly did that with Nebuchadnezzar, the despot of Babylon who became a defender of the true God through the influence of Daniel.
History has repeatedly shown that all it takes is one receptive leader, open to the intervening Spirit of God, to protect God’s “defenseless” community of faith and thus advance the divine agenda and mission on earth.
But averting terrorist plots? Consider Daniel’s further depiction of our proactive God: “He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him” (Daniel 2:22). Do you realize what might have happened had the “underwear bomber” last Christmas and the two cargo plane package bombs discovered this week (both plots linked to the same Islamic terrorist organization) successfully detonated? With no immediate or obvious clue for the explosion(s), air travel as we know it would certainly have been instantly halted—impacting international commerce, exchange, finances, economics, politics in ways we cannot now fathom. And we can only imagine the deleterious effects on the growth of God’s kingdom on earth.
But the evil that is plotted in darkness is seen and known to the God who is light. “He determines the course of world events.” Which is why I pray two prayers when I read of averted terror—#1, thanks be to God, who has once again prevented the closing of a global door to the advance of his everlasting gospel on earth; and #2, God be merciful to his 1.4 billion Muslim children and protect them from the raging backlash that would diminish their openness to the truth about His character.
A century ago Ellen White observed: “In the annals of human history the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as dependent on the will and prowess of man. The shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, behind, above, and through all the play and counterplay of human interests and power and passions, the agencies of the all-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will” (Education 173). Elections and terrorist plots included? But of course. Which is why he is God. And why we can be very grateful.