I Samuel 7

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on I Samuel. I’m still reading through it and trying to meditate on it as I go.

Chapter 7 opens with the men of Kiriath-jearim going to Beth-shemesh to retrieve the ark of the LORD. Eleazar is consecrated to have charge of it. (It is many years later that David goes to get the ark from Kiriath-jearim at the house of Abinadab on the hill and Uzzah’s great sin is promptly dealt with.)

20 years later, Israel is lamenting before the LORD. 20 years! What was happening in that time? They were serving other gods and the Ashtaroth. They were oppressed by the Philistines. Finally, they lamented.

20 years is a long time and a short time. 20 years is half of the time that Israel was sentenced to wander in the desert. 20 years is half of Eli’s tenure as judge. 20 years is a generation. The babies and toddlers that were around for the debacle of the ark’s departure are now grown. They have grown up in a culture of frantic worship of whatever god will serve them best. What was told to these children? Deut. 6:4? I don’t know. Were they taught the great stories of God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt but then observed their parents worship at the Ashtaroth. Were they taught the great commandment Thou shalt have no other God before me? Were they taught to honor God?

So 20 years later, we can imagine an older generation of people who might be tired, restless, frantic, fruitless, fearful, hopeless, oppressed, … and a younger generation who might be all of those things and also jaded, cynical, pragmatic, self-absorbed and ready for a change. I don’t know if repentant comes to mind when I imagine them. And yet… I Sam. 7:3 – And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

And praise God – they did repent of their sin. Their deeds of repentence included putting away the Baals and the Ashtaroth and serving the LORD only. Samuel prays to the LORD for them while they are all gathered at Mizpah. Sin was confessed, repented of. Immediately, they are tested when the Philistines again gather against them but they turned to the LORD, through Samuel. The LORD answered Samuel’s prayer and thundered with a mighty sound against the Philistines (remember Hannah’s prayer 2:10) and the Philistines are confused, routed, pursued, and struck down.

Samuel took a stone and set it up and named it Ebenezer “Till now the LORD has helped us.” And for all the days of Samuel, the LORD was against the Philistines. Cities were restored and there was peace. Samuel would judge Israel for all the days of his life.

So I go back to the 20 years. 20 years is long enough for me to give up on praying for someone (to my shame!). 20 years is long enough to convince me that someone or situations can’t change – and again to my shame! 20 years is long enough for me to think that God wouldn’t forgive me after all this time. But praise be to God, 20 years is just 20 years. God can change and resurrect anyone at any moment after anything. Who am I to say that time compounds the sinfulness of my sin? My original (born-with) sin is the vilest, foulest, most condemning thing and he forgave that in Christ because his grace is greater than all my sin!

I want to be faithful in each moment and not lament the forgiven past or worry about the future and trust God to work amazingly in each moment because He is God.

Al’s brother, Chris, is currently at To Every Tribe Ministries. I will try to post his prayer letter and some more pictures. Click on the read more to actually read more 🙂
May 2007
“Sheep without a Shepherd”

1,300 people and only one family that are believers. Welcome to La Barra de la Cruz, Mexico. I just got back from La Barra a few days ago from a dental clinic and I wanted to send out an update to let everyone know how it went!


For those who did not know, I went through some dental training a month ago to be able to clean and fill teeth with cavities. We use small hand drills and tools to clean and fix the teeth. While in La Barra, four other team members and I worked on over 150 people’s teeth. I have never liked the dentist at all so I think that God has a very funny sense of humor having me learn mission’s dentistry! The thing about being able to help people with their teeth and save the teeth is that it is a way to show love and compassion on the people as Jesus did while He was on earth. We see in Mark 6:34 “(Jesus) saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a Shepherd”. The people in La Barra are people without a true knowledge of the Gospel message. We helped them with dentistry and we also prayed with each one of them in Spanish after we were finished working on them. We had interpreters to help us with this. I can’t wait till my Spanish is good enough to pray with people!

The one family there in La Barra that are believers have been facing persecution from the rest of the village. Some people have brought false charges that the group was being to loud when they gathered to try to get them to stop gathering. Another person threatened the life of a person who walked through their property by saying” If you walk through my property again it will be the last time you do” while holding his machete. Please pray for Roberto & Maria and their children to have safety and protection as well as boldness and strength to preach the gospel and live Godly lives. La Barra is a catholic village like most of Mexico who enjoys the fact that they can go to mass and the rest of the week enjoy their drunkenness, drug use and sleeping around without the priest saying it is bad. Pray that Roberto and his family will be “lights in the world” to a very dark La Barra. It says in Proverbs 24:11 “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter”. I love the people of La Barra and I want to be used by God to help rescue and hold those people back.

“It was an accident”

Children and adults use that phrase above a lot when things do not go the right way or when trying to cover something up. We are not perfect, FAR from it. God NEVER makes mistakes, He NEVER says “it was an accident” when it comes to His work. It was not an accident that my brother Allen asked me to go to John Piper’s pastor’s conference where I heard David Sitton from To every Tribes Ministries (TETM) speak about missions. It was not an accident that I saw God’s plan for me to go into missions and to go down to Guadalajara, Mexico to learn Spanish! It is not an accident I am with TETM now and training to be a missionary.

I am with TETM now in their Center for Pioneer Church Planting school which has classroom training as well as on the field training in Papua New Guinea and Mexico. In the classroom we have been studying cross cultural studies, Roman Catholicism, working with unreached peoples, Bible study methods, systematic theology, Paul’s missionary journey’s, the book of Romans and we are now doing a survey through the Old Testament. We will next be going through the book of Acts. We learn so much about the Bible as well as working with other cultures when presenting the Gospel. I love studying the Bible in the classroom as well as my own daily studies each morning.

After much prayer and counsel from a few people, I believe that God is calling me to begin raising support for full time missions. Starting this fall, after I am finished with the school, I will be returning to New Jersey to work and raise support. I will be speaking at churches and speaking to individuals. My heart breaks for people around the world who don’t even have the word Jesus in their vocabulary or truly don’t know the Gospel message. As it says in Romans 10:14 “And how are they to call on Him whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” I know that the Lord can use me in Papua New Guinea or Mexico, but with the growing love and desire for the Spanish language and La Barra, I setting my sights to go to La Barra.

Please pray for me in my missions training and in the decisions to come. I would also ask you to begin praying now if you would like to partner with me in missions full time. Would you be willing to support me on a regular basis and partner with me to go to the nations with the Gospel? Malachi 1:11 says “From the rising to the setting of the sun my name will be great among the nations”. Help me to go and show God’s love and compassion to people who need it badly. Please begin praying if the Lord is leading you to want to partner with me by supporting the missions work I will be doing. I want to be God’s hands and feet but I can’t do it without YOU!

Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). I am ready to go and training to go! Please pray for God’s leading in your partnering with me. Please pray for La Barra de la Cruz and for Mission work ALL over the world. I have added a prayer card with this letter that you can put in your car or on your refrigerator to help remind you to pray for me with direction as well as wisdom and knowledge in being obedient to God’s calling.

Please pray for the trip we are taking to the Coicoyan people in Oaxaca, Mexico from May 28- June 5, 2007! Thank you so much for you love & prayers & support! God Bless you!

In the Love of Christ,
Chris Johnson
908-229-0398
cjohnson@toeverytribe.com

“Here I am, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort on earth; send me even to death itself, if it be but in thy service, and to promote the Kingdom”
– David Brainerd (Missionary to the American Indians in early
1700’s)


The Gospel is More!

The Gospel is more!

This is a video worth watching.

By the grace of God, I am learning through God’s Word, through Al, our Pastors, and my discipler (the pastor’s wife) that the Gospel’s life-changing power doesn’t end with my salvation.

Piper preaches this so clearly here.

Some excellent quotes from the sermon:

“We are strengthened by God through the Gospel every day till the day we drop – you never outgrow your need to preach to yourself the gospel.”

John Piper shared a verse that was “all-mighty” for him when he was on the threshold of his cancer: “I Thess. 5:9,10 – He has not destined you for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for you so that whether you wake or sleep, you will live with him.”

He called the verse “peace like a river. That’s just Gospel – perfectly timed, perfectly applied, perfectly suited to my need.”

“If you immerse yourself in the whole(Bible), always with an eye to what Christ has wrought for you and purchased for you in this thick glorious history of God’s interaction with people, he will give you what you need.”

Now I find myself reading with my eyes opened to the gospel power in victorious Christian living. The gospel power in my sanctification. And I’m excited to be finding it in my reading of authors who are now dead or now living. Nancy Leigh DeMoss in “Holiness” and Walter Marshall in “The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification – Growing in Holiness by Living in Union with Christ.”

I wonder how I can be so obtuse! Growing in Christ!

Morning Coffee…

“Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation
be constant in prayer.”
Romans 12:12

Guess who came to dinner…redux

Jim Elliot came to dinner, but not to my house (although we did have a GREAT time with Kim, Christina, David, Bryant, Troy & Melissa on Sunday).

The guest book above belonged to my grandmother. It was a gift from my grandfather’s brother for Christmas 1946 and Uncle Ebby was the first to sign it. Five days later, Jim Elliott and his friend, Ron Harris, were the 2nd and 3rd to sign. (If you click on the picture, it’s alot easier to read.)

THE FAMILY RELATIONSHIP:

My grandmother’s mother Jane Elliot Sangster was born to a family with double cousins. That means that Jane Elliot (my great grandmother) & Jim Elliot’s father were first cousins and double cousins. Which means – and it gets tricky here – that their parents & aunts & uncles were all siblings. Five siblings from one family married five siblings from another family (rural Ontario). Those unions produced children that were called double cousins because they have aunts & uncles in common on both sides of the marriage. Make sense???

So…my grandmother and Jim Elliot were the same generation and were 2nd cousins. It was their parents that were the offspring of the sibling marriages.

THE DINNER:

Anyway, my grandmother knew Jim and had him for dinner at their home in Toronto. It was the Christmas break of Jim’s sophomore year at Wheaton. Jim’s companion for dinner from the guest book, Ronald Harris, ended up boarding with my grandparents in Toronto for some time while attending Emmaus Bible (based on my grandmother’s 90 year-old memory). That summer, Jim went with Ron to Mexico for a 6 week missions trip. Not long after he met a missionary from Brazil and his calling was further solidified in his heart.

THE BOOK:

I don’t know why I took a picture of the page of the guest book while I was in Toronto. I have always known that my grandmother was a relative of Jim Elliot’s. I suppose Christians have their “heroes of faith” (Hebrews 11) and Jim Elliot’s testimony and experience is certainly something that has been used in the lives of many people. Because of his martyrdom (along with the four other faithful men) in Ecuador, so many missionaries heard the call to service.

Truth be told, my Christian “hero of faith“, was at that dinner in 1946 — but she was the one faithfully serving the dinner, just as she faithfully did for the next 60 years.