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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

William Borden
William Borden

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No Reserves.
No Retreats.
No Regrets.

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Egypt continues to be in the news a lot over these last several weeks. Today we want to share a story concerning an event in Egypt nearly 100 years ago.

Borden sweetened condensed milkWilliam Borden was a Yale graduate and heir to the great wealth of the Borden family. I suppose many of us here in the USA are aware of the Borden name for their condensed milk both my Mom used when I was a child and Brooksyne still uses in her baking. In fact I don't think the can today looks that different from my childhood memories.

Borden rejected a life of ease he could have had in order to bring the gospel to Muslims. Refusing even to buy himself a car, he gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions. He then went to Egypt to learn Arabic and after only four months of zealous ministry, he contracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of twenty-five in 1913.  The inscription on his tombstone states: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

He expressed his faith in three two word phrases in his Bible; "No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets."

There are a lot of whys regarding the topic of suffering and to put it simply many people experiencing pain ask, "Why am I am suffering?" (A deeper philosophical issue for the Christian is, "Why does God allow evil and the consequence of suffering in the first place?")

Of course this is an age old question. Sometimes we suffer because of our own specific sins, other times because of the sins of others. So many times we just don't know. Sometimes it makes no sense at all from our perspective such as William Borden's early death.

But in the case of today's verse Paul knew why he was suffering. The verse begins with this phrase, "For this reason I also suffer these things."  "For this reason" refers to Paul's God-ordained call and appointment to be, "a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am" (I Timothy 1:11b,12).

The apostle Paul is writing of his sufferings for the Gospel, specifically his imprisonment (1:8) and impending death referred to in chapter 4 when he solemnly acknowledged that "the time of my departure has come" (4:6). In this epistle, considered the last of his letters, Paul fully expected to die as a martyr for his faith. This was his major reason for suffering. The word in the original Greek for "suffer" is in the present tense indicating that Paul's experience of suffering was a continual action going on in the present.

Today we write to encourage those of you who are undergoing suffering. Paul knew the basis of his suffering and some of you have a clear understanding of why you are suffering today. A number of you presently suffer due to your stand for Christ, while others may be suffering as you prove your testimony for Christ is genuine to those observing your life. There are many other forms of suffering, and through it all, we should ask ourselves this question, "Is my life bringing glory to Christ?"

I challenge you, in the midst of your suffering, to echo the same response that Job gave his wife when she belittled him for suffering honorably. She suggested he throw in the towel by letting go of his integrity; to put a quick end to his shameful suffering by cursing God so he would die. Perhaps he was bringing embarrassment and reproach upon her as well.  He didn't say to her, "Let me think about it for awhile."  Instead he immediately replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman.  Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:9,10).

May God help us to see that even when we suffer we can find great comfort and assurance just as Paul did.  In his ongoing suffering for doing God's will he was more convinced than ever that his eternal future was secure and far more consequential than his present circumstance.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, often there are people you bring alongside us on our path of suffering who bring us comfort, assurance, and encouragement.  They know just what to say or do that lifts our spirit to give us courage for another day just like Onesiphorus refreshed Paul while he was in chains.  In some cases, it is their gracious example of suffering that teaches us a great deal without their saying a word.  But there are those instances when we grow fearful, doubtful, and wonder if you're aware of our suffering and, if so, why you don't eliminate it.  Help us to cling to Scriptures that will inspire, encourage, and teach us the important lessons that come from suffering.  They will also help redirect our attention, affection, and aspirations for the new order of things when God will wipe every tear from our eyes.  "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  Amen.

For more encouragement read Revelation 21 about The New Jerusalem.  It will ease any suffering you might be enduring and make your heart homesick for heaven.

Gill's commentary describes Paul's suffering in this way: "The present imprisonment and bonds in which he now was; these, with all the indignities, reproaches, distresses, and persecutions, came upon him, for the sake of his being a preacher of the Gospel; and particularly for his being a teacher of the Gentiles: the Jews hated him, and persecuted him, because he preached the Gospel, and the more because he preached it to the Gentiles, that they might be saved; and the unbelieving Gentiles were stirred up against him, for introducing a new religion among them, to the destruction of their idolatry and superstition; and the sufferings which he endured were many; and he was appointed to them, as well as to the Gospel, which he preached.

Nevertheless I am not ashamed; neither of the Gospel, and the truths and ordinances of it, for which he suffered; but he continued to own and confess it constantly, and to preach it boldly; none of these things moved him from it: nor of the sufferings he endured, for the sake of it; since they were not for murder, or theft, or sedition, or any enormity whatever, but in a good cause; wherefore he was so far from being ashamed of them, that he took pleasure in them, and gloried of them. Nor was he ashamed of Christ, whose Gospel he preached, and for whom he suffered; nor of his faith and hope in him."

Yesterday we had a power outage for several hours. It was cold and although we heat with coal the stove still requires some electricity to operate the automatic stoker. W/O electricity we also don't have water which is from a well which uses electricity for the pump! So we were especially thankful that after nearly 3 hours our electricity was restored.

Goldfinch closeup
During our power outage yesterday we did have a bit of excitement. We got an up-close encounter with our "residential" goldfinch.

Goldfinch closeup
I  slowly walked straight to the bird feeder as Brooksyne prepared to take a photo and offered the little bird a sunflower seed. He didn't flinch!

Goldfinch closeup
I then managed to pick the bird up and take him/her inside where it flew up and rested over one of our door openings. It then occurred to us that it had not been potty trained and decided it was time to return it outside but not before one more photo! Today we look up as we conclude today's message and the same little bird is back, perched on our feeder and shivering!

Goldfinch closeup

Ken at workAfter the power came back on we still didn't have water. I tried puttering around a bit trying to fix it and changed a filter, but still, no water. That reminds me of a small town we used to drive by in Oklahoma called Nowata.  In Cherokee, the town is called (A-ma-di-ka-ni-gunh-gunh, roughly), which means "Water is all gone," translating what it sounded like the word meant: No Water. Now Brooksyne just happens to be part Cherokee and she didn't like not having water, especially since she was planning diner for guests for our evening meal.

I called our trusty friend Ken Pierce who, as an experienced farm hand, can fix just about anything. Turns out we needed to replace the pressure switch and in no time he had the water running just fine.

As Ken worked he told us a good story reinforcing fatherhood. Ken had been sick for several days and Sunday was unable to go to church. This so flustered his three year old son in that he could not imagine going to church without Daddy driving them there. How blessed families are when the husband and father is a godly leader in the home, by word and example.

Rick and Rachel Caldwell 2/8/11
After some overcoming we were ready to have our friends Rick and Rachel Caldwell over for dinner and fellowship.  The photo is a little dark, but we like to share photos of our friends.  Rick and Rachel are part of our mutual encouragement network.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.

"No Regrets"  Video  A brief video snippet concerning William Borden.

Here's an written account concerning William Borden. Here's another one from Randy Alcorn's blog.

"Homesick"  Video  Mercy Me

"Tears Are A Language God Understands"
 Video  Heritage Singers

"All My Tears"
 Video   Selah

"We'll Understand It Better By And By"  Video  Selah  An interesting mix of old and new

"Farther Along"
 Video  Homecoming series (Begins with a brief testimony.)

We will leave the following musical resources up throughout our series on 2 Timothy 1:12

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"
 Video  This is set to a newer tune but maintains the same wonderful words.  It is beautifully sung by a worship team in a local church.

Here's a beautiful piano version of the same song using the tune we are familiar with. Audio
All through our series of messages on 2 Timothy 1:12 we will be using this song as a background to our daily podcast.

If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and EvilIf God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
By Randy Alcorn / Random House, Inc
Difficult times beg questions about God's goodness and power. Offering compelling true stories, fresh answers, and biblical insights, Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief and reveals the big picture of who God is and what he's doing in the world---equipping you to share your faith clearly with those experiencing pain and fear. 432 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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