Delivered… to do what we are doing?
As I sit down to write this, it’s the day after Independence Day. I’m challenged to think seriously about what liberty means. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” God loves liberty. Just reminding myself of that makes me think of the early promise of the Internet: it was democracy exported into the thought-space, a place where anyone with a connection and questions about God could freely evaluate the truth-claims of all belief systems. Christianity itself has nothing to fear from this comparison.
Today, we’re standing at a crossroads. The World-wide Web is at risk of being strangled by a few powerful corporations. Meanwhile, Christians seem to be preoccupied with just how much cultural conformity they can accept before it becomes an outright denial of the faith.
In my annual reading of the Bible, I recently completed the book of Jeremiah again, and in Jeremiah, I found again some words that always grab my attention:
“Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal, and follow other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which bears My Name, and say, ‘We are delivered, so we can continue with all these abominations’? Has this house, which bears My Name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Yes, I too have seen it, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:9-11)
God delivered His people so that their freedom would be true freedom: the freedom to do what is right. Everything else, including virtually everything our culture is flirting with today, is bondage. Worse, it’s bondage that has been tried before. It’s bondage of the nations out of which our ancestors were freed, and it’s bondage out of which generations of American soldiers shed their blood to free others. We have every reason to know better than to allow ourselves to be entangled in it again. As I wrote in my last letter, the baton has been passed to us. It was passed at great cost. We’re on the verge of passing it to the next generation, and if some huge changes are not made, they will be facing tremendous challenges. If America falls, where in the world is there to go? God is not obligated to preserve America, any more than He was obligated to preserve His Temple in Jeremiah’s day. Please continue to pray with us that we’ll continue to have a platform to declare that Jesus is offering something far better. Compare what you know of your life in Christ with what these seekers are expressing to Online Missionaries:
• “I’m an alcoholic. Losing my marriage. Can’t quit.” —Jacksonville, FL
• “I have a hard time to memorize stuff. I read some thing and if you asked me what I read right after that I forget” —Modesto, CA
• “There’s no way out for me in my [financial] problems. I need lots of work on my house.” — Anniston, AL
• “Because life on earth is becoming so very difficult, my faith waivers at times. I am so ashamed when this happens.” —Medford, OR
• “I’m so wretched, and I’m afraid to die with my sins of sexual mortality. But I hate it. I hate looking at pornography and I feel sickened after I do.” —Bakersfield, CA
• “It's been so long since I've been without pain. I pray that he will help in my healing.” —Fall River, MA
• “I'm having a very hard time, losing my whole family. Our oldest son was murdered a year ago and a few weeks later, my husband of nearly 42 years abandoned me and the rest of my family stayed by his side. He took all of our money and hasn't come home.” —Wichita, KS
• “Help me Jesus ! I am having mental problems” —Benton Harbor, MI
As a popular Christian song written shortly after we joined our ministry says, lost and lonely people under the very shadow of our church steeples are searching for the hope that is tucked away in you and me. The question is, why has that hope been “tucked away?” What is keeping it from burning brightly? If the very gates of hell can’t prevail against the church, why are we so plagued with self-doubt and distractions? Is it because the church has become too much like the world; too worried how they see us, and not worried enough about how He sees us?
We feel all these same pressures. We sometimes hear about families in ministries like ours who have moved to a foreign field and had to recently return. We struggle to imagine the culture shock they must feel: the change in America from 2005 to 2021 has been enormous, and very little of it good. As we pray and grieve for our nation, we continue to believe we are doing what He delivered us to do! We are confident that you still feel the same way, and we so grateful that God brought us together to do this important work. Thank you so much! Please let us know how we can pray for you and your family—we thank you for praying for ours!
In family news, Cindy's brother Jamie helped us move Cindys' mom, Donna from SC to our home in June. Her recent hip surgery was really hard on her and she can no longer live alone. She had an amazing recovery from near death experiences. We’re excited to have her home with us now.
This means we have a house-full, with both Emily and Luke home from college, and Emily’s boyfriend Matthew from Australia working as an intern for our ministry out of our guest room.
Next month, Emily moves to Florida State University for graduate school, Luke returns to LeTourneau for his Junior year in Mechanical Engineering and Matthew will return to Belhaven University to complete his degree in Public Relations. Please pray for these young men and women of the next generation: the relationships and decisions they are making now are so important. We’ll miss them but are so excited to see what God has in store for them!
We have good news! On Jun 12, 2021, we passed 250,000,000 indicated decisions for Christ since we began counting in 2004. A country of 250 million people would rank between Indonesia (#4) and Pakistan (#5) on a listing of the most populated countries.
Love, in Christ,
One Day Closer!