Jonah Continues to Run from the Call
Do you think God still calls people? Do you think he could call you? What might that look like? People sometimes ask me, “How did you receive God’s call?” Going through Jonah who tried to run from God’s call, I thought about my own call.
In brief, it began when I was growing up on a farm in western Montana. In the context of a small community church, a set of Bible story books that my Mom bought, I met God. Somewhere along the way, I felt called to the ministry and some people I respected confirmed that I wasn’t crazy. In the years that followed, I spent a couple of summers in Turkey with a radical evangelical missions group where I ended up in jail six times the first summer. The second summer everyone was in jail except me.
Then I went to India for two years. My first experience of India was in Bombay when the war broke out between India and Pakistan over Bangladesh. That began a whole series of adventures--too numerous to recount here. Some of my best friends who are still friends today worked for years smuggling Bibles and discipling people behind the Iron Curtain. Some of my Indian brothers planted churches and started children’s homes. One of the greatest joys has been watching them grow as men. Several of them are still best friends.
But there were also great trials, great losses. My cousin Sharon who was more like a sister was killed in an automobile accident when she was returning from India while engaged to my best friend. I was plunged into a sea of turmoil and struggled mightily with my faith. At the same time I met my wife Kay and connected with the same church in Minneapolis that sent out David and Linda Ludwig. In short, I discovered that it was harder to run from Jesus than I thought. I felt like I was saved by Jesus, my wife, and this good church. It’s one of the reasons I believe so strongly in the church and have pastored as long as I have.
It’s been humbling to reflect on this call and to see how my understanding of God has changed (the journey from Arminianism to Calvinism is another story). It has been humbling to see my own arrogance and prejudices demolished. In short, I see a lot of Jonah in myself. More, I see the same awesome God continue to beckon. Let’s pray for each other that we can continue to hear and respond to the call. It’s not easy. He’s not a tame lion, but He’s good!
Life at Friendship
Dr. Vern and Diane Poythress Summer Ministry. Sometimes, we say that if you are looking for an answer to a difficult question check out the Frame-Poythress website. Together, Frame & Poythress represent brilliant, Biblically and theologically solid commentary on almost any subject. Dr. Poythress teaches at Westminster Seminary, has degrees in mathematics and theology, has written many books (most of which you can read on the website), and comes to Taiwan every year to teach a couple of classes at Reformed Seminary. His wife, Diane is equally formidable and loves Taiwan. They are available to minister in our church from around June 10 to July 10. We are working on their schedule to maximize their time with us. Along with Dr. Poythress preaching, we are planning informal Table Talks, pub outreaches, learned scientific discussions for those who desire answers in these areas, and interaction with our existing small groups. Diane will also be available for counselling and presenting different lectures. The schedule will be out this week.
The Gospel in an LGBT World. Do you find it hard to talk about issues of morality? Issues of sexuality? Almost everyone does. Part of the reason is because the church has often done such a terrible job when it has spoken. In John, it says that “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The church has usually gone into the ditch on both the right and left. Many churches go in the ditch on the left. It’s basically, “I’m OK; you are OK.” It’s a church without Biblical norms.
On the other hand, much of the evangelical church historically has gone in the ditch on the right by being judgmental, self-righteous. It’s “elder-brother” Christianity which isn’t Christianity at all. Jesus who is the model for all of us came with both”grace and truth.” The best example of this is with the woman taken in adultery. He protects her, but then says, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more.” That is the Biblical balance the church must find and has failed in doing so. I found the attached article in Christianity Today this week. It strikes exactly the right balance, and calls all of us to repentance. See if it doesn’t take you to the cross. Here it is: click!
Spencer’s to Move to Sanchong for Church Planting Venture and Summer Teaching Opportunity. Two weeks ago, we announced that Kalan and Kayt Spencer are moving to the Sanchong neighborhood to live, network and in time to plant a church in this working class community. The gospel in Taiwan has made more progress in the white collar class of Taiwan than in the blue collar. This fall Kalan will be working at the church as a part-time pastoral assistant, and at the same time laying the groundwork for this ministry. Soon they will be presenting their work to us so we can be practically and prayerfully involved in supporting this venture. Also Kalan is preaching on Sunday, May 29.
In addition, they are in contact with a church planter who graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary (where Tim Yates is the dean). Daniel went through the Redeemer City to City training (a ministry we are also connected with) and is planting a church in the XinZhuang area. Daniel is running a VBS type activity this summer and is looking for two English teachers July 5-8 for two hours each day in the afternoon. Please contact Kalan Spencer if you are interested or email the church on your potential availability.