Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. Fred Chay's FGA National Conference Presentation

Readers may remember the Free Grace Alliance National Conference lecture series which I have shared paraphrases on here at my blog since last October, when the Conference took place.

I greatly enjoyed all those sessions, but this one may have been the best one, even though it's a close call. It is the only one I felt I wanted to share that I did not keep sufficient notes on. (Sometimes the best messages are the ones you can't even bother to write.) No need now! These sessions are all now available on video.


Mentoring: Dr. Fred Chay from Free Grace Alliance on Vimeo.

Some soundbytes from his session:

"People need people to become people."

"You need to have the real disease and you need to be close enough to others to infect them."

"This is the pastoral work called 'The Curer of Souls.'"

"The goal is to help perpetuate faithful followers through the Spirit, the scriptures, and the saint of God. It can be a messy job, but I believe it is one we are called to do."

"The spirit of collaboration is not optional."

"it is a ministry of affiliation and association."

I found these FGANC lecture videos at this site through linking through Dr. Fred Lybrand's new blog rich with links.

Friday, May 29, 2009

a letter by grandma

This is a letter my grandma sent to my mom and dad sixteen years ago. I remember I was fifteen and my dad was worried my grandma was being naive. Turns out it all was exactly as she wrote in this letter. It is her true story of rejoined love. Bill and Grandma spent the next ten plus years together, and he was my surrogate grandpa. Bill passed away as a believer about three years ago, and grandma was ushered into the presence of Jesus this morning at 4 am.

June 5, 1993

Hi Rick and Clare,

I have a wonderful idea for a book you could write on a lovely romantic love story. It could even be sold for a movie as it is unique and touches your heart.

During World War II an English ship was being built for the British Navy. While waiting for this ship to be built, two sailors of the crew had their first shore leave in this American port. They went to a club called "The White Ensign" to spend a few hours in dancing and relaxation. While there, they met with two girls who danced with them and invited them home to have dinner with their families the next day. One of the sailors (who was 26) played a guitar and sang with the girl at her home. They were attracted to each other and this relationship carried on for several months.

When the ship was ready to depart, there was a farewell dance held aboard ship. They had to say their last goodbye and the ship sailed away to join the British Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic against the German U-Boats. These two young people knew their worlds were far apart and they must part even though they cared for each other. The girl married a U.S. soldier when the war was almost over. The British sailor married the girl back home. They both raised families but always remembered their youth and the time they spent together during war time.

Fifty years went by, the American girl's husband died leaving her disconsolate and unhappy. About the same time the British sailor's wife also died and to overcome his grief he decided to travel. His thoughts turned to the U.S. where he thought he might try to trace the whereabouts of the girl he met once, in the hope she was still alive and he would be able to find her. In fact due to his efforts he discovered she was living. He contacted an organization who contacted her and a meeting was arranged and they met once more.

The happy ending to this story is that they realize their love is still alive and they want to be close to each other. Through it's their senior years, they felt young, happy and content - no longer lonely and sad. Strangely their love of music, art and other hobbies made their bond stronger. They planned to travel to meet their respective relatives. A trip back to his home in England for a few months was included. She had always longed to see England - why not make it now?

All their friends and relatives think this is a lovely story. Being alone in senior years is so sad.

Can you believe this American girl is your mother, Rick? I really do think this should be a book or a movie. Fifty years is a long time to endure and this makes it special. There can be more than one love in a lifetime and life is for the living.

I hope you don't mind my way to tell you. I felt it would be a shock any way I tell you.

I'll be 74 this year. Bill will be 74 soon - we feel our remaining years should be fulfilling. We've met Evelyn (my sister-in-law), Mary, and most of all my relatives on my side (who approve). We will soon leave for England for a visit and meet all of Bill's relatives. Can you call or write as my ticket is purchased (and his) and dated June 21st out of New Jersey after visits at his step-son's in the U.S. along the way. We must get Bill's English cottage ready to rent as he will come back with me to be near. I'll be gone from this home until October 4th when I'll return to New Jersey and drive back here. Plans are to visit more of his step-son's and daughters in Memphis, Tenn., see the sights there, as well as in England.

Bill says you are gifted in writing, he helped me proofread your book you wrote.

Love, Mom & Bill

Most of the details about my grandma were left out in her own letter because she was attempting to tell "a story" to my dad, hopefully not too obviously about herself. There are some details about her that should be mentioned. She was one of the "Rosie Riveters," women who were hired in wartime to help the effort. She worked on building "Liberty Ships" and aircraft carriers.

President Franklin D Roosevelt told the country that these ships would bring liberty to Europe because of their speed, outrunning the German submarine U-boats.

They also built aircraft carriers at the Oregon Shipbuilding Company, located on Swan Island at the confluence of the Willamette River to the Columbia. They built ships faster here in Oregon than any other of the nine national emergency shipbuilding sites. My grandma worked on building these ships on Swan Island through her early twenties.

Bill still played the guitar all these years later, and he was quite delightful to listen to. He encouraged my grandma to learn the piano again. They formed a band called "The Swinging Daddies" and went around for years performing at senior centers. Bill was a gift to my grandma and all of us. He helped bring Jesus Christ into my grandma's life. I have some photos of grandma and Bill that I will upload, and I plan to work on this post through time and make it better.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How I gained assurance of salvation

How did I come to trust that I personally had been saved?

Does assurance only come through knowing about "eternal life?" Or, are there other verses and other exchangeable terms giving assurance of salvation in the Bible? If there are, is there a need to only consider the eternal life verses? Can we use the other ones instead?

I had someone tell me that they did not think I was saved, when I was much younger in the LORD. My response was that I knew I was a believer, but, how did I have evidence of it? I never looked to my works for assurance because I knew better. The people who told me that I had not been saved, made the receiving of the Holy Spirit as the hinge-point of my justification with God. Consequently what I searched for in me was evidence that I was Spiritually alive, and not dead. This was before I looked to the word of God for the answer. I noticed my own delight in the Word of God, its Spiritual revelation toward me, and the change of heart that took place as a result of my listening to it. And, I noticed that I had known the presence of God substantially enough that it propelled me to become a disciple because of His demonstration to me, of His Presence.

I could offer those things to someone as my answer of why I knew I was saved. For some it would be enough. But for anyone else crafty with the Word, I had nothing. So I went home and started reading the Bible.

Here was the verse that gave me assurance:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13 is this verse. It was good. I still point to one verse, today, as my assurance. But one verse wasn't really enough... to assure me. Isn't assurance many times just this way? Impossible to be satisfied until after a good deal of reading, knowing, and believing and trusting on the word of God in general. So I studied and found that salvation had many exchangeable terms, such as "eternal life" "everlasting life" "living water" "salvation" "the granting and indwelling of the Holy Spirit," "justification," "Abraham's heirs" "(imputation-verses)" "baptism into Christ" "faith-righteousness"....

All these are talking about the same thing. And I knew that. I'm sure that Lordship Salvation people understand that all these things are exchangeably referencing the same thing, meaning salvation. But other people in our lives, don't know this. Remember the church down the road from my house? They are Oneness Pentecostals, who have also changed the gospel to include works:

May I ask you now, “Have you received the holy Ghost since you believed?” Our Lord declared, “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said ‘Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive)” (Jn.7:38-39). The age in which we live is especially the dispensation of the holy Ghost, for just as certainly as Jesus made his advent into the world at Bethlehem, even so, the holy Ghost made its advent into the world at Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost. Those who rejected the Savior when he was sent into the world lost their souls. Those who reject the holy Spirit which he sent as his Vicar will lose theirs.

- Taken from a UPC-equivalent website displaying a tract for Christians who have been "spiritually conceived" but not "born again;" those Christians who have received the Word of God in their hearts but still stand eternally condemned by God.

I ask these O.P. people what they think of my standing with God, as I am. I might possibly convince some by the Gospel of John to agree with me that I might possibly have "eternal life" because I believed in Jesus. But they would still tell me that I will suffer condemnation and have not yet received the Holy Spirit. So you see just studying eternal life is good, but there is more work to be done regarding assurance, more than one way to express and prove it for others' sake.

In fact I remember very distinctly studying for awhile on "eternal life" verses. I did notice that "living water" and "eternal life" were good. They helped build my case, at least in the sense of proving righteousness by faith, alone. But in another way this topic made assurance of salvation much more difficult to build the proof of having received the Holy Spirit (another words, proof of being saved of everything I need for life and righteousness in this life and the next). I'm not saying it can't be done, of course it can be and we have a number of verses which connect the two together. BUT - being someone interested in a rock-solid grasp, being someone interested in assurance, what I was seeking was proof on an even more relevant matter. And that matter is whether or not I have been indwelled by the Holy Spirit. For no one could harm me in the next life concerning eternity if I had been marked in him worthy of redemption by having received His own self - the Holy Spirit - even right now as I live everyday.

But in addition, if I can prove I have received the Holy Spirit I could also open the door to proving my easy-positioning to sanctificational-righteousness. No man, including my own self in a season filled with doubts, could harm my general acceptance by God if the Holy Spirit had indeed been deposited to me on faith in Jesus, alone.

In conclusion, my assurance came through one verse on the depositing of the Holy Spirit, and then it came through studying how the Holy Spirit is dispensed to men, and then it lastly came through studying the works-less condition of faith in which salvation takes place. Eternal life never came up on my radar as the hinge-point for assurance, for me personally.

I'd venture to guess that assurance of salvation by faith apart from works is the Free Grace preoccupation. I wonder if FG people might be those distinguished by this attempt to free the gospel of all which harms the imputation of righteousness that comes by faith alone in Christ alone. I assume that everyone who has seen sects exchange the truth into some demand of works, and has grown disgusted of it, finds true brothers and sisters here because they share the same passionate mission. I guess this is the case? I may be mistaken on that. I never was conscious of Lordship Salvation specifically. I saw a lot of other odd doctrinal arrangements even by those who claim to understand the infallibility of scripture. So I might not fall into a core camp of those FG people recoiling from LS. But that's okay.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

knock knock

Guess who showed up at my door last week?

And so we play this game of body language. It's all that's left, but I have consecrated it. Any message is, what; 70% body language anyway? Here is what she does: she recognizes me, forces herself not to be happy, lifts her face toward the sky, and looks far off in the distance, like I do not exist.

From a post titled, The Cult in My Life written November 2008.

She wants me to come to her high school graduation ceremony. Just like my other times spent with the other members of this church, once they end up in conversation, they don't want to let me go. She lingered on standing there, in this awkward silence. Maybe she was wanting something from me, to say something? I don't know. Either way it was a most pleasant exchange as if nothing had ever fallen apart. Hmm! The ceremony is in their sanctuary, and it is tomorrow evening. I am so excited to see them all again. I don't expect to change the pastor's mind, though it seemed to me his knowledge of scripture or even the use of it was spare. But I do plan on taking with me the Zane Hodges/Bob Bryant track "The Best News You'll Ever Hear" which is a track on assurance of salvation, in my opinion excellent for this situation, and I can give it to those who want to talk to me about spiritual things.

There are some other happenings which require my faith and obedience in the coming months.

I mentioned that God was leading me to share Christ with the neighbors just outside my reach. I've talked about one particular neighbor who has recently returned to Christ, in a previous post. I'll call her "Wendy." Wendy has become a delight to my church. She reads "Pilate" as "pilates" and she only started praying a few months back. She wasn't even able to completely understand what Jesus had done for her till she started coming to church with me starting back in December. She loves the LORD so much, and she can't drive, so somehow she has adopted every habit I do, the two bible studies, Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. She cannot wait to be back at church. The ladies at my table were a little uncomfortable at first. She does happen to have the aroma of marijuana, since she has a medical permit to use it.... But they come up to me when she's not around and say, "Wendy is such a breath of fresh air!" I think this quite a testimony to God's priorities of cleansing the inside of the cup or dish before worrying out the outer. She lovingly dotes over her Radmacher Study Bible I bought her, falling asleep and drooling on it as she stays up learning. That's holy drool. :D

She has two sons, ages 13 and 14. The thirteen year old watched baptisms with me and then received Christ in the wordless book. And her older son received Christ while at our church in April. Praise God! Now these two boys are bringing some of their friends to church. I haven't had a report on their belief-status, but one boy belongs to a very troubled family who has a little sister I intend to invite to the Kid's Club next month.

She and I are starting a bible study with the neighbors near her. We've been talking about this for some time, and I didn't do squat. Wendy, on the other hand, did. She has been making what she calls "God-shots," trying to warm them up to recognizing God. She has been reading the left behind series to some of the kids in the neighborhood, too. This is her capability-level at sharing Christ in my opinion. I'm pleased but I've been trying to get her trained to repeat the Wordless Book by CEF. It's perfect since she discovered that doing a bible study would be incredibly intimidating because all of the neighbors are illiterate. We've been struggling on how to do a bible study if they cannot read? We've got some videos.

Wendy wants to start a "God-club." Where we watch a video or talk about God and have lunch. So the first visit was supposed to be at my house this week, but we didn't get it connected again. Sigh. But I am determined more than ever to start, I don't want Satan to distract me.

Also this week, I happened to run into another neighbor, a young mother who never talked about spiritual things with me before. She lamented that one of the Christians in our neighborhood filed a complaint on her, then said she thought she had the most in common with me out of everyone in the neighborhood. I'm glad.... She said she was thinking about starting to go to church. She said she went to church a long time ago before having kids. And for a long time, till recently, she thought that the only way to be saved was by attending church, but now she knows better. I said, "Hold on a sec while I run in the house." I got that track "The Best News You'll Ever Hear," by Hodges/Bryant, and showed her how it just explains for her exactly what she's already learned. I think she is going to come with this very Sunday. As I transport Wendy in my own car, she is going to be following behind me in her own. God's little wagon trail to church!

Oh, so many people in our neighborhood are coming to my church, now. It's crazy! A man who used to work at the corner store who I barely convinced to come walk his son in on the last day of the 5-Day Kid's Club, last summer, started attending a few months later! I remember watching this grown father listening to the teens share Christ.

Now God has broken me recently. He's shown me that I like myself just a little too much for my own good. I see how important it is for me to find my righteousness, in Him, by faith, and without that I'm toast. As a result I've been praying more earnestly asking Him show me what it is He wants me to do. Recently I finished "Teaching Children Effectively" so that I could go on a mission and evangelize children. I thought, Rwanda. Door was really closed. Then I thought, Brazil. Door just closed on that, too. I don't understand. I'm a little confused. Meanwhile when I attended a banquet for CEF I felt another calling to... gulp, start a Good News Club in my elementary school next year. Both my daughters will be attending. It was so hard to even admit it. I just don't know much about organizing and leading it and so forth but I realized God would supply that if it was His desire. So I called Betty and told her my thought. She caught me on Sunday and confirmed that three other people, including a teacher in the school, had contacted her as well in the last three weeks, saying that they were led to start it there, too. Wow. Okay, God.

I do have some interest in going to the Dominican Republic. We'll see.

I just desire that one way or another God will permit me the chance to share the gospel with unsaved women and children. I plan at this point, to be the caregiver for my grandmother during nights. At this time she is not always aware of who is talking with her. I pray for that lucidness so I can share the gospel. Please pray for that too? I'm starting even this evening.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Why are you trying to earn grace?"[1]

[1] Post title and content (song) published at Free Grace Free Speech Blog in an original post last January, by Jonathan Perreault.

When I listen to "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North I think about how deeply God really loves us, and wonder at the Spirit who helps us love our brothers in the same way. Praise the LORD! This on the heels of some reasonings on whether there is a strain of moral legalism running through FG - see the last ten or so comments on the previous post.

Thanks for visiting here....

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