Praise and Prayer Update August 16, 2019

HAs we enjoy the last weeks of summer, all of us at Heritage are gearing up for the fall.  In just a few weeks we will have the joy of welcoming a new and returning students in both the college and the seminary.

While we enjoy the change of pace in the summer, we are excited and energized for the new year at Heritage.  God is once again sending us a good group of men and women to help equip for life and ministry.  I know many of you who read this blog pray for us and the school.  Let me give you some reasons for praise and several prayer requests for the coming week.

Praise:

whiteSummer Travels.  We finished last school year grateful but tired.  The Lord provided us with some wonderful opportunities to rest, be refreshed and reconnect with family and friends over the summer months.  We spend several weeks in beautiful parts of God’s creation (the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the Poconos in Pennsylvania).  We enjoyed sweet time with our kids and grandson–and heard the great news that Michael and Elena are expecting their first child this December.

Summer Ministry:  I (Rick) had the joy to speaking in California and Texas.  Last week, both of us had the privilege of speaking at Fair Havens Camp.  (You can listen to the messages here).

Prayer:

Faculty and Staff Training:  Next Wednesday, August 21, our faculty and staff gather for a day of training and fellowship.  Would you pray as I (Rick) speak to the Heritage team about having a godly ambition for God’s agenda.  We are praying the Lord continues to use Heritage to make a deep and wide impact for His glory.

New Students:  We already have a good number of new students coming to Heritage in studentsboth the college and seminary.  There are a few that are still finishing up the application process.  Please pray that the Lord will send us the students who want to love Christ, get to know His Word and to serve His Church and global mission.

Thank you for partnering with us through your prayers.

Posted in Heritage, Ministry Matters, Personal | Leave a comment

Walking with the Giants

DevotedlyHave you ever felt that your feet were literally in the footsteps of giant men and women of faith?  While Israel is the ultimate dusty road, this summer, after reading Devotedly, The Love Letters of Jim and Betty Elliot, we began walking.

Elisabeth Elliot recorded this just prior to Jim’s departure for Ecuador:

But to be here with Jim, it was beyond imagination.  Monday afternoon we all (Betty, Phil, Marg, Pete, and Jim) climbed Bald Mountain and then hiked down over Artist’s Bluff.  Tuesday we hiked through the Flume, and then up to Lonesome Lake.  Wednesday, a gray day, we took the Ammonoosuc Trail up to Lake-of-the-Clouds on Mt. Washington.  The enjoyment of nature–all the loveliness our Father has made with His hands–is doubly rich sharing it with Jim.  Our minds run quite in similar patterns, complementing each other, dovetailing and meeting.

thayers hotelLast night we went to Littleton, where we ate at Thayer’s Hotel, then drove up the “Noth” (the way the New Englanders pronounce it), where we sat in the car by Echo Lake, in a howling rain and windstorm.  Just to be with him is peace, peace. . .

Jim Elliot captured the same experience in his journals:

October 22.  Climbed Bald Mountain.  Wind tangling her hair. Kerosene lamp shadows. . . by the fire.

October 23.  The Flume, the Boiler (the Basin, a natural-rock formation in the Pemigewasset River), Lonesome Lake, the Old Man in the Mountain.  Night by the fire.  I cried a little at thoughts of leaving her.

October 24.  Mount Washington.  Happy frankness in the discussion on the way down.  The waterfall that formed two flows, then one, two, and emptied into the pool.  Dinner at the hotel in Littleton.  Storm at Echo Lake.  She wore pearl earrings for me.

So we headed out to New Hampshire to walk these paths.  At  Echo Lake, the staff confirmed the “Notch” can quickly turn from beauty to stormy.  “The Boiler” is still swirling.

car climbedWe wished we had hiked, but instead gained a bumper sticker:  “This car climbed Mt. Washington.”

At Thayer’s Hotel we found the 50’s place where Jim and Betty Elliot had dinner.   Ulysses S. Grant and Richard Nixon also walked those hardwood floors.

Walking in the footsteps of giants reminds us that great minds change the events of history.  Their journals reveal real people who fall in love – or forsake all to follow Jesus.

IMG_0869Some see it.  Some miss it.  At Bald Mountain, two techies simply saw the beautiful vista as a potential take-off point for drones.  How often do I miss God’s handiwork and history work?

For summer reading, we’d recommend for all ministry leaders, Wiersbe’s Walking with the Giants.  For the fall: who from the past, might be a mentor to me?

As a kiss of God’s providence, we were given a tour of one of Elisabeth Elliot’s homes.  Trunks were still in the attic,  portraits of her matriarchs still on the walls, family authored books were still on the shelves.  One book, by her brother, Tom Howard, had been read on our honeymoon.

The goodness and mercies of God follow us all our days (Psalm 23, Ephesians 1-2).  Summer in creation shouts God’s glory and summer reading speaks God’s growth of people.  These truths shape us.  Consider Elisabeth Elliot’s maxim: “Do the Next Thing.”

“Those who walk with the wise will become wise” (Prov 13:20).  We’re diligently walking towards wisdom from God’s Word but also walking in the footsteps of Giants.

 

If you’d be interested in learning from Giants, why not consider a course on Church History with Dr. Michael Haykin this fall or the Great Women of the Faith course with Dr. Haykin and Dr. Linda Reed in January – April 2020.   

 

Posted in Heritage, Life Lessons, Ministry Matters, Personal | Leave a comment

Summer Rest

GPA

This past week, I (Rick) had the joy of being in Dallas, Texas to be part of the Dallas Global Proclamation Academy.  Each summer, the Dallas GPA, headed by Dr. Ramesh Richard, brings in 25 young pastoral leaders from 25 different countries.

Ramesh

Dr. Ramesh Richard

For three weeks, these pastoral leaders receive training from visiting professors from various seminaries.  My part was to teach in the area of preaching, addressing some of the heart challenges preachers often face (dealing with personal ambition, internal security, soul care, and preaching in pain).  These pastors will return home and pass on what they learned in Dallas to other pastoral leaders in their home countries.

In our last Prayer Update, I asked you to pray for this unique opportunity.  Thank you for your prayers.  I sensed God’s enablement throughout the day as I taught.

After a wonderfully full season of ministry, Linda and I are going to take a time of summer rest.  I’ll take a break from posting on this blog until later in the summer.

As we come to mind, please ask the Lord to refresh us so that we can be ready for the coming school year in the fall.

May God grant you summer rest that refreshes you!

Posted in Heritage, Leadership, Ministry Matters, Prayer | Leave a comment

Prayer Update June 21, 2012

summerOn this first official day of summer, I want to give thanks to the Lord for the light and warmth of His love.  The Son is always shining.

In our last Prayer Update, I asked you to pray for several upcoming speaking opportunities.  Especially in light of the fact that we have been facing a series of ongoing health challenges.  Let me tell you how the Lord answered prayer.

I (Rick) was scheduled to speak at a Pastors’ Conference but was struggling with a chest cold that reduced my voice to a raspy whisper.  The night before the conference I could barely speak.  By God’s grace (thank you for your prayers!), I was able to give all six messages at the conference.  My voice was weak but God gave strength.  Best of all, the Lord used His Word (messages from the book of Ezekiel) to encourage and strengthen all of our hearts.

Linda was scheduled to speak at a conference in Toronto on the topic of how ESL can help us bring the love and light of Christ to new Canadians.  Sadly, she came down with the virus I had (in marriage, we share all things!).  On the night before she was to speak, she could barely talk and was fighting a fever.  Again, God graciously took away the fever and gave her enough voice to be able to speak at the conference.  God used her to equip men and women from across North America to lead outreach ESL ministries.

thanksSince those conferences, we’ve tried to rest, rehydrate and recover.  We are still not 100% but are grateful that we are on the mend.  We are also grateful for friends who pray for us.

Next Tuesday, I am to fly to Dallas to speak to some international pastors at Dallas Seminary.  Then we are scheduled for some vacation in July.

Can I ask you to pray for my training time in Dallas and also that we are able to take some deep rest in July?  We sense the Lord calling us to be STILL and rest in Him.

Posted in Heritage, Personal, Prayer | Leave a comment

Where have you been?

It’s been a long time since I (Linda) wrote.  It’s been a crazy busy –but wonderful –school year.  If you had peeked into our lives you would have found me using long lost linguistic skills by teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to new Canadians several days a week.  I’ve been brushing off my phonetics (sounds of language) and adding in gospel stories in order to train students to impact our community through teaching English.  (There’s also been a curriculum writing course that buried me deep into Scripture as I marked papers).  Either way, it was rich travel, right at home.

And between all of this, we did travel extensively.  Much like the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve been everywhere man…”  In January we flew from our family Christmas gathering on the West Coast to head to Phoenix for a school president’s gathering.  February took us to Florida (that wasn’t hard!) for ABHE accreditation gatherings.  March and April were filled with teaching.  After graduation day, we flew that evening to California to celebrate twice with the two churches we served in California.  Our home was filled with our kids when we returned, and we all had a quick round of stomach flu.  Next came accreditation gatherings at the Museum of the Bible (a great find!) in Washington, D.C.  Tomorrow is Muskoka Bible Conference for Rick to speak, with Dallas on the horizon.

All of this, though it looks amazing has often had a dizzying effect on our bodies, a skipping in-and-out relationship with our students, and a lack of rest for our souls. (Not to mention the garden weeds).  God is gracious . . . as with the seeds planted in an ALPHA group we enjoyed this winter and spring.

stillAll of this has led to a recent personal retreat weekend at a conference entitled “STILL”.  Our health, our relationships, and our spiritual lives depend on finding time to be still and know that He is still God.  We’re benefitting from “Sacred Rest.”[1]

Would you also find time to be led by still waters?” (Psalm 23:2).  Would you pray that all of us would hear His still small voice?  Would you be courageous wherever that voice calls you forward or sits us still?

And if internationals are on your heart – please join me at the ACMI conference this weekend in Toronto.  He’s still at work among the nations, and He is still at work in us.

[1]Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D., Sacred Rest; Recover your life, Renew your energy, Restore Your Sanity, (New York:  Faith Words, 2017). 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prayer Update (June 7, 2019)

Alan Karchmer / Museum of The BibleIt’s been some time since I’ve posted as we’ve been on the road quite a bit in the past month.  I mentioned in an early post about our trip to California.  We recently got back from a trip to Washington DC.  We attended a conference hosted by one of our accrediting associations (ABHE).  The conference was held at the Museum Of The Bible in downtown DC.  Wow!  What an amazing place it is–with 430,000 square feet of exhibits, it’s the third largest museum in the city.  If you can make a trip to see it, I think you’ll be happy you did.

Next week we have some speaking opportunities, so I’m writing to request your prayer support.  I (Rick) have been down with head/chest cold this week that is affecting my voice.  Linda’s not 100% either.  So we would ask you to remember us in prayer for the following.

Pastors’ Conference (June 10-13).  I (Rick) have the privilege of speaking to a group of Fellowship Baptist pastoral leaders at Muskoka Bible Centre near Huntsville, Ontario.  I’ve prepared a series of messages from the book of Ezekiel (“Words to Watchmen”).  I’d welcome your prayer that God would strengthen me both physically and spiritually.  My prayer is that these brothers in Christ would be encouraged and challenged by God’s Word.

ACMI Conference on Ministry to Internationals. On Saturday, June 15, Linda is giving a workshop at a conference in Toronto that focuses on reaching international with the love of Christ.  Her topic is how to use TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) for ministry outreach.  Please pray for the impact of this conference and Linda’s workshop.

Thank you for being friends and prayer partners.  We are very aware of our need for God’s grace.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesdays with Jeremiah (Chapter 52)

52Jeremiah 51 ends with the postscript, “The words of Jeremiah end here.”  Chapter 52 is a is closely modeled after 2 Kings 25.  So it would seem that another author added an adapted version of 2 Kings 25 to conclude the book of Jeremiah with a focus on Israel (not Babylon) and to emphasize how Jeremiah’s prophetic pronouncement had been fulfilled. Chapter 52 covers the same ground as chapter 39 but adds considerable detail regarding the tragic fall of Jerusalem and its aftermath.

The chapter begins with the start of Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign.  Zedekiah, who was a relative of Josiah, was twenty-one when he took the throne.  Verses 2-3 give a summary of his life and reign similar to that found for the kings in the book of Chronicles:  we are told his mother’s name (Hamutal) and God’s assessment of his reign (“he did evil in the eyes of the Lord”).

Once again we see the close juxtaposition of divine decisions and human choices as leading to the same consequences.  Verse 3 states that the destruction of the country and exile of the population was due to the Lord’s anger.  Verse 4 simply states:  “Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.”  From the purely human perspective, Jerusalem’s fall was the result of Zedekiah’s rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar.  However, the deeper reality is that the city and nation fell due to their continued rebellion against God.  Chapter 52 emphasizes the true causational order by mentioning their rebellion against God first.

The narrative of Jerusalem’s capture and destruction focuses on the reason for the fall (1-3), timetable for the fall (4-5, 12), the capture and punishment of the king and officials (6-11; 24-27), the destruction of the city, temple and wall (13-23) and the disbursement of the survivors (27-30).

textThe horrific events in this chapter are told somewhat dispassionately.  All the pillaging, killing, burning and executions are recorded in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way.  Here is another indicator that Jeremiah was not the author of this chapter.  His response to the carnage and destruction was a five-chapter lament—the book of Lamentations.  Jeremiah’s Lamentation gave voice to the human anguish caused by the Babylonian armies.

Chapter 52 serves to confirm the Lord’s word through Jeremiah; the predictions he had announced came true with agonizing accuracy.  He had announced (contra the false prophets) that the city and the temple would be destroyed by fire (38:17).  He had also told Zedekiah that if he did not surrender, he would be captured and handed over to the Babylonians (21:7).  Jeremiah had comforted him with the promise that, though he would see the Babylonian king face to face, he would not be put to the sword but would die a natural death (34:1-6).  Jeremiah had also predicted that some of the city inhabitants who survived the famine and siege would be carried off into exile (24:1-7).

All these prophetic predictions came true in horrific detail.  The city—including the temple and “every important building”—was burned to the ground (52:13).  The king, who tried to escape with some of his military officers, was captured by the Babylonian military (52:9).  Zedekiah did see king Nebuchadnezzar face to face.  He was spared being executed by the Babylonian king.  However, he watched his officers and sons be killed and then had his eyes put out (52:10-11).  As Jeremiah had announced, a small remnant of the people of Jerusalem who lived through the destruction of the city were exiled to Babylon (52:28-29).  These tragic events confirmed the validity of Jeremiah as a prophet who spoke for the Lord Almighty.  Much of the carnage could have been prevented if the king would have obeyed Jeremiah’s counsel to surrender (38:17-18).  The entire disaster could have been averted if the king, officials, and people had not broken covenant with the Lord but had obeyed His word.  All of this was preventable.

Two curious features come at its end of the chapter: the considerable detail related to the twin, bronze pillars (17-23) and the kindness shown to Jehoiachin by the new Babylonian king (31-34).

While the destruction of the temple and city are told in one verse (13), a lengthy section is given to the dismantling and the removal of the twin bronze pillars and the other bronze articles in the temple.  We are reminded of the exact size of the pillars (27 feet high and 18 feet in circumference, four fingers thick) and the ornate designs on them. (One interesting side note is that Jeremiah 52 gives specific detail about the decorative pomegranates on the capitals of the pillars; this information is not found in 2 Kings 25).  Why the extensive discussion on the bronze pillars?  Perhaps the dismantling of the twin pillars (think of the Twin Towers in NYC) was an apt picture of the dismantling of Israel and Judah.  What had once been impressively sturdy and beautiful was now broken and carried into exile.

JehoThe final paragraph in the chapter (both in 2 Kings 25 and in Jeremiah 52) contains a fascinating, but seemingly insignificant, note about the fate of the exiled king Jehoiachin.  We’re told that in the 37th year of his exile (roughly 26 years after the fall of the city), the current Babylonian king (Evil-Merodach—a play on the name Awel-Marduk) released him from prison, “spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon” (32).  For the rest of his life, Jehoiachin is given a regular allowance and allowed to dine “regularly at the king’s table” (33).

Readers are forced to ask why this historical footnote in included as the last word in the book (both of 2 Kings and Jeremiah).  My sense is that this turn of events in Babylon is included to give a glimmer of hope for the future of the nation of Israel.  Like Jehoiachin, the nation had done evil in the eyes of the Lord and suffered as a result.  However, because of His unfailing love, God was not finished with His people.  He would move an “evil”, pagan king to have mercy upon them after the years of their captivity.  They would be released from prison and once again enter a time of favour.  As it was with Jehoiachin, so it would be with Israel.  So the book of Jeremiah, which is filled with so much sadness and suffering, ends on a note of grace and hope.  God is merciful to His miserable people.  God’s promises allow hope to have the final word in the story of His people.

(I hope you’ve found this survey of the book of Jeremiah instructive.  I was powerfully impacted by the book as I studied it and wrote these chapter summaries.  In the future, I may post something similar from my studies in the book of Ezekiel).

Posted in Jeremiah | Leave a comment