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2000 Bulletins

Millennium to Eternity Story of Arthur Stace Jan
Blasphemy or Blessing Peter Kentley Feb
The last Roman Triumph Telemachus March
Soldier for Christ Indonesia May
Forgiveness The way October
 

  

Millennium to Eternity

Many around the world felt that the most spectacular new year fireworks display welcoming the year 2000 may have been the scene on Sydney Harbour. The climax to this display was the word: "Eternity" displayed in fire works on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

How did Australia come to make this word the focus of its display? How was it that as the world celebrated the arrival of the year 2000, God had the last WORD?

The following explanation is of great interest. It is presented to us by Gordon Moyes, Superintendent of the Wesley City Mission in Sydney...

 

Sydney Architect, Ridley Smith, was given his Christian name because his parents admired the Irish born evangelist John Ridley. Ridley was the man who was responsible for the changed life of Arthur Stace.

Before his conversion to Christ in 1930, Arthur Stace was a derelict, a cockatoo for illegal two-up schools, a scout for brothels, a petty criminal, a hopeless alcoholic and a "metho" drinker.

After Arthur Stace was converted, under a tree near St Barnabas' Anglican Church, Broadway, he attended the Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle. In 1930, he heard the evangelist Rev John Ridley plea: "I wish everyone here could go out and write the word Eternity' for everyone to see.' Arthur Stace went out and wrote the word "Eternity" in chalk on the streets of Sydney. He wrote that in copperplate script, every day for the next 37 years, writing on footpaths in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Campbelltown more than 500,000 times.

Long before dawn he would emerge in his overcoat to commence his day's work before the first Sydney commuters left the ferries and the trains. He used to write to close to building walls where it would not be scuffed off. He would frequently catch the train to Penrith, Wollongong and Newcastle and continue his graffiti. When he died in 1967 it was missed.

But Architect Ridley Smith was designing Sydney Square at the time, and decided to fulfil the witness of Arthur Stace permanently and inscribed on the pavement of Sydney in silver at the foot of the fountain near the Sydney Town Hall steps, "ETERNITY". The fountain is currently being renovated but 'Eternity' remains.

The illumination of the word 'Eternity' in the same handwritten style of Arthur Stace in fireworks on Sydney Harbour bridge before millions of Sydney-siders and an estimated two billion viewers of television on New Year's eve, places in juxtaposition our concern with the passing of time and God's eternity.

Arthur Stace died aged 83, in faith, and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, who had made Him sober, a new man, enabling him to overcome death, and to go home. His witness will now be world wide.

 

 

Blasphemy or Blessing?

Recently the Holy Spirit has been bringing to my mind the first line of the Lord's prayer: "Hallowed be your name". What does the word "hallowed" mean to us?

A Bible dictionary summarises this term as follows: "To revere, to set apart for holy use".

On my prayer walk this morning this was foremost on my mind, especially my need to apologise to God for those times I have been silent while His name was being abused. I think this is a really important issue for all of us.

Silence in the face of spiritual abuse is not excusable before God... Remember the story of the fall in Genesis 3:4. The devil called God a liar and corrupted the hearers. Eve was conned while Adam silently acquiesced to this evil transaction ~ which was being conducted in his presence (3:6). Adam failed in his spiritual responsibility to speak up and tell the devil to rack-off.

Blasphemy is to insult God. 

Therefore we are not excused if we fail to stand up be counted at such times. Remember Jesus salutary comment: 

"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38).

In fact this kind of trial before men is the very place where we can be blessed...

"Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you." (Exodus 20:24).

 

Let me tell you about a situation that happened to me.

I was flying in Australia as a Captain on the B737. In those days we normally flew with the same First Officer for a month at a time - so you got to know the other person in the cockpit pretty well. One month I was flying with a F/O who blasphemed continuously. I don't think there was a sentence where he did not use the name of Jesus as a swear word.

At first I was a bit sorry for myself: 'poor me' having to put up with this! Then during an overnight stop in the city of Mackay I was privately reading the Ten Commandments and was startled by the following verse:

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7).

I was struck by both the universal injunction not to abuse the name of God. and that every human being without exception, will be held accountable!

My attitude changed dramatically. 

No longer was I sorry for myself ~ but now I was deeply burdened for my F/O. He was damaging himself before God! This led me into prayer for him, and what should I do about it?

Next morning in the taxi on the way to the airport I plucked up my courage and said to him: "I notice you use the name Jesus a lot".

To which he replied: "Yes, I am a terrible blasphemer".

Then I remarked: "It's not a good idea you know, it's against the Ten Commandments".

This provoked the following response: "People with religious views shouldn't ram their views down the throats of other people".

At this I felt like saying: 'well you've been ramming your blasphemy down my throat all month". But I decided to hold my peace and get on with the job at hand. I felt satisfied that the subject had been raised in a kindly way.

Do you know what happened from then?

My friend never blasphemed again in my presence and he chose to come and fly with me for another complete month. From that point we got on just fine. I think he was relieved that the issue had been raised and he was released from an unnecessary bondage.

So how do we handle blasphemy?

Firstly, we need to understand the Spiritual issues involved. We can do our own Bible study and talk to our Pastor about this issue.

Secondly, we can pray that we will be concerned for those who blaspheme and that the Holy Spirit may provide us with a solution that fits the circumstances.

For example we could ask someone who blasphemes: 

"May I ask you what you know about Jesus and what he has done for us?" * 

Or in a group we may be able to say something like:

 "Jesus is really important to me".

Or if it is encountered during a TV program we can change channels.

Each situation is different. But what we do know is that silent acquiescence is cowardice. Rather we should be cognisant of Matthew 5:10 and rejoice in the face of persecution. This is an opportunity for our faith to be made real where it counts... to revere God's name as Holy.

While we do need to be sensitive to others. it is also right to be bold and upright in our integrity before God.

 

"I am a Soldier for Christ"

Here is a story sent to me by a friend from FCAP Singapore. This is not intended to cast bad light towards Muslims, but highlights how a teenager lay down his life for Christ…

January 1999

The teens could tell that the shouts and chanting were getting closer. An older teen looked nervously at his friend: "The Muslims are coming, we'd better hide the kids" he said.

Others followed his lead, helping the smaller children to find hiding places in the nearby buildings. Then they hid themselves. It was January and a crowd of mostly Christian children and teenagers had gathered for a Bible camp at the Station Field Complex of Pattimura, a University on the island of Ambon, Indonesia.

When the camp was over cars came to take the laughing rejoicing children back to their homes ~ but there were not enough cars to hold the young people. Mecky Sainyakit and three other Christian men had gone to Wakal village to try to rent additional transportation to take the rest home - but they had not come back.

What the kids waiting for the rides home did not know was that on their way to the village, the men were attacked by a Muslim mob. They were pulled them from their car and onto the road. Mecky and one of the other men were stabbed to death and later their bodies were burned by the mob. The two other men escaped with their lives.

Before long, the mob reached the University. They found many of the teens and forced them to come out of hiding. Roy Pontoh was forced from his hiding place and made to stand before the mob…

"Renounce your Jesus or we will kill you!" they threatened.

Roy was terribly frightened. Though trembling, he answered, "I am a soldier of Christ!" At this, one of the Muslims attackers swung a sword at his stomach. The sword hit the Bible Roy held and ripped into it, knocking it out of his hand. The man's next swing sliced open Roy's stomach. His last word was "Jesus."

The mob dragged Roy's body out and threw it in a ditch. Four days later, his family found it. Even though they are recked with grief, Roy's parents stand proud of their son, who stood strong in his faith to the end.

"I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8)…

Roy Pontoh
15 years old.
Died in Ambon, Indonesia

We are grateful to the Lord for his grace and mercy for us. Let us remember our brethren that are in hardship, and be thankful for what the Lord had provided us. We continue to pray for peace in Indonesia.

 

 

Forgiveness

Recently a friend wrote to me as follows:

"Should we confess our sins before we die, and therefore the sins of today must be dealt with each day. If they are unresolved then we carry them to judgment. Unbelievers carry their whole lot. Is this your interpretation?"

Let’s take the easy part first…

"Unbelievers carry their whole lot"

Yes, without the action of the blood of Christ in a person’s life, they have missed out on the only provision God has provided for the acquittal of our sins (Matt 26:28, Luke 1:77, Acts 1:7, Heb 9:22).

Should we ask for forgiveness of our sins?

Yes… as we find in the Lord’s prayer (Matt 6:12 and Luke 11:4). But I also take note of the language Jesus uses… he uses encompassing words on forgiveness in this prayer. Also the following Scripture guides us in this matter: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

bulletHow is the forgiveness of sins made effective?

"All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name"… "so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 10:43 and 26:18)

So this is an act of faith… rather than perfection in the completeness of our asking. This is important… we are called to a child like faith… not to a perfection in our asking.

The focus is on God’s perfect giving and in our unreserved acceptance.

We only have to call on the name of the Lord to be saved (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13). Otherwise the whole thing becomes performance based… but thank God the Gospel is not based on self effort… it is a way of response through faith and love.

What are some of the reasons for asking God’s forgiveness?

bullet

Forgiveness brings restoration… it restores our relationship with God - and with others. Forgiveness deals with destructiveness in our lives and releases instead God’s creative and love into our life. bullet

Confession and repentance access the spirit God loves to see in us: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17). bullet

This attitude is our key…. A heart of repentance, a heart of loyalty and a heart of reverence towards God. Isn’t this what we are searching for… rather than a legalistic sense of whether or not we have covered every sin! bulletRepentance is an act of humility, and is therefore an antidote to pride.

What happens to the trash in our lives on the day of judgment?

"If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames" (1 Cor 3:12).

This passage reveals to us that those things we live out that are in accordance with the will of God will bring an eternal reward…

But, those things we do apart from God’s purposes will be burnt up… although we who believe in Jesus will be saved through the Blood of Christ.

If we have already repented and been forgiven for sin though the payment of the blood of Christ, then that sin can no longer exist before God - and therefore cannot be present on the final day of judgment. We have been eternally set free!

Conclusion

As I regularly say the Lord’s prayer and come to Jesus words: "forgive us our sins, as we forgive them who sin against us"… I arrive at a point where I love to ask the Holy Spirit two questions:

bullet

is there anything I need to ask forgiveness for?… and bullet

is there anyone I need to forgive - as Jesus has forgiven me?

Then I can respond with a whole heart in sweet repentance as I hear the quiet whisper of God in my Spirit... that kindly word of insight that I know is God speaking his love and wisdom into my heart.

I also rejoice in being able to refuse any accusing finger from the demonic, because we can proclaim from the hilltops: "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).

Testimony

My parents were divorced when I was 6 years old. My Dad died when I was 16 and my Mom when I was 41. After Mom’s funeral I was going through some family papers and I came across my Mom’s legal petition for divorce. As I learnt the full story of their broken relationship for the first time, I heard the Holy Spirit saying… "forgive your dad".

I sat there alone at the kitchen table weeping: "Dad, I forgive you, I forgive you, it could have been me". As I responded in this way I sensed the blood of Christ washing away a deep wound that had been in my heart since I was six. I was set free… deeply and inwardly. Here was an area of unforgiveness in my life that I hadn’t been aware of – but had dogged my life for 35 years. In it’s place forgiveness brought liberty and love.

Praise be to God.

See also:

Forum 7
Reflections

Testimonies

Is God calling you?

 

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