“The Man Upstairs”?
Have you heard the expression, “the man upstairs,” in reference to God? I want to ask anyone using this expression, “Do you mean the One who is Lord of lords and King of kings – majestic Creator and Ruler of all things?” If so, could it be that you have an inadequate viewpoint about Almighty God? A.W. Tozer wrote that the most important factor about any one of us is his or her concept about God. That is worth pondering, don’t you think?
Do you view God as a doting grandfather?
Do you view God as a cosmic Santa Claus?
Do you view God as an enraged tyrant?
Do you view God as an absentee father?
Do you view God as an abusive father?
How should we view God? We should remember how Jesus replied to Philip: “Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” John 14:8-9. I believe James S. Stewart wrote a thoughtful and balanced description about the Person of Jesus Christ:
The “Startling Coalescence of Contrarieties”
“He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet He spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at His coming, yet He was so genial and winsome and approachable that the children loved to play with Him, and the little ones nestled in His arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding was like the presence of sunshine.
No one was half so compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot, scorching words about sin. A bruised reed He would not break. His whole life was love, yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism He has all of our self-styled realists soundly beaten. He was a servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully He strode into the temple, and the hucksters and the moneychangers fell over one another from the mad rush and the fire they saw blazing in His eyes. He saved others, yet at the last, Himself He did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts that confronts us in the gospels. The mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.” – James Stewart
Now consider what Dr. James Allan wrote about Jesus back in 1926:
One Solitary Life
“He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the natives that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life.”
Jesus Christ Still Stands as the Center of all History!
If Jesus was not Immanuel (God With Us), that is, the only begotten, virgin born Son of Almighty God Who conquered sin, death and hell by His resurrection from the tomb – then please explain to us why He has had such phenomenal influence. All of history revolves around Him! BC = Before Christ! AD = Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord). In spite of the secular attempt to change the designation of history to BCE (Before Common Era), etc. – Jesus Christ still stands as the center of all history!
H.G. Wells was not a Christian; he was strongly committed to evolutionism – so much so that his description of the evolutionistic process in his book, The Science of Life, reads like he was there as an eye witness. Actually, The Science of Life, was as much science fiction as his book, The War of the Worlds, about Martians attacking earth. (By the way, The Science of Life, was the book my dad handed me after I decided to go to Boise Bible College. Dad told me I would find more truth in that book than in the Bible. How sad!) However, to his credit, H.G. Wells gave a clear and honest answer to the question of who has impacted history more than any other individual. Wells replied that Jesus Christ is the most influential person in history – without even a close second. Yes, He is the central figure in history! His entrance into our world divides history into BC and AD – and His entry into your heart and mind will divide your life also into BC and AD! Why?
Matthew and Luke began the biography of Jesus with the genealogy of Jesus and the birth stories of John the Baptist and Jesus, but John began with a parallel to the first verses of Genesis: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5 Then he came to the birth of Jesus by writing: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 The apostle Paul shows us clearly in his letter to the Colossians that Who Jesus is as our Creator is intricately interwoven with Who He is as our Redeemer and as our Resurrected Lord and Reconciler! “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:12-20
Paul summarized to Timothy these potent, pertinent points by quoting what became a first century hymn: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16. If you desire to be “received up in glory” with Him – today is the day; now is the time to surrender your heart, soul, mind, body and life to Jesus! His arms are open to you!
Some of you careful and discerning readers may have noticed a discrepancy in the time sequence of my testimony on page 2 of our November Prayer Letter. About the middle of the top paragraph on page 2, the sentence read: “Since my conversion and baptism into Christ on April 22, 1966, I’ve been learning the discipline and joy of walking with The Almighty King of the universe.” That was a typo – because it should have read 1956! I was only 12 years old when I came home to Jesus. By April 22, 1966, I was already married to Della and had graduated from Boise Bible College. Both of us were students at Ozark Bible College. My graduate studies were in practical ministries, including mission strategy, expository and evangelistic preaching, personal evangelism, philosophy, and creative writing – and I was preaching at Tunas, Missouri, every other Sunday. That extra year at Ozark was intensely valuable for both of us in practical training, plus learning to trust God explicitly and completely to provide where He leads. (That learning process is still continuing over 50 years later!)
One of my classmates at Ozark Bible College was Joe Garman, who went on to become a missionary to Korea and Israel before starting American Rehabilitation Ministries nearly 45 years ago. ARM has become an extensive and highly effective outreach to prisoners across the U. S. and far beyond. We are involved with Joe in this outreach by donating cases and cases of “Ready to Give An Answer” and “Millions of Miracles” to ARM and corresponding with prisoners who write to us from the contact information in the back of our books. Also, Bruce Malone, founder of Search for the Truth Ministries and publisher of three of our books, also donates multitudes of books to prisons and college campuses.
Happy Thanksgiving! Every Day!
I want to share with you a portion of Joe Garman’s letter for last month:
“Someone has written, ‘Gratitude takes three forms: A feeling in the heart, and expression in words, and a giving in return.’ My heart is blessed at this, my favorite season of the year. Words cannot express the joy I feel during the fall! It is a time that challenges me to contemplate what lies ahead for this ministry and how best I might improve my giving to God for all He has accomplished through ARM.
“Thanks to your partnership, many lives have been changed this year through the gospel of Christ. Every week, we get letters from men and women who’ve paid the price for their mistakes and turned their lives around. Your support helps us keep Bible studies in their hands. Here are just a couple of those stories:
“…the turning point in my life came when my 15-year-old son was gunned down in a drive-by gang shooting…Since then I have given my life back to Christ. Only by His mercy and grace am I still alive and not serving a life-sentence. I have forgiven the young men that took my son’s life…I promise to take this wisdom and knowledge to spread the Good News in this dark, desolate place to others…” Dave
“I wish I did not have to be locked up in prison to have found God. …if this is what it took to be a child of God, then there are no regrets.” Sue
“ARM exists to proclaim Christ to the captives and light to those sitting in dark prison cells. Next year we will celebrate 45 years of service to America’s jails and prisons in all fifty states. We also minister to U.S. territories and four branch ministries in Cambodia, Korea, Mexico and the Philippines…..”
From Chains to Change, Joe R. Garman”
If you think prisoners are a “lost cause” – you’re right! However, don’t forget that you and I were once “lost causes” – and Jesus came “to seek and save the lost!” Prisoners have time to read – and to reflect on the bankruptcy of “I Did It My Way!” (The theme song of Satan.) So prisons may be some of the most fertile fields for evangelism in the U.S.A. – and other countries too! I want to also share another letter from a prisoner, which ARM sent to us:
“A Thanksgiving Letter from a Prisoner Student”
“My name is Carl. I am 21 and have been a convicted felon since I was 16. After entering prison I became well versed in Islam, but later converted to Christianity thanks to influences such as American Bible Academy. Although I am ‘serving my debt to society’, I feel I have a far greater debt to pay, and that is to my Lord for the poor choices I have made in my life. Christianity has taught me that it is not how good a person I have been in the past, but how much of a blessing I can be to others in the future that really counts. I would never have slowed down long enough to learn this on the streets. I give thanks to God for bringing me to prison so I could learn about Christ, who truly paid my debt and is now teaching me how to serve my fellow man.”
If you sometimes experience a blue, blue Christmas – let that remind you to pray for prisoners and their families.
From Our Mailbox
“What a blessing for us to have you at our house to talk to you and to share our faith in Jesus! It was
so good to meet Pastor Tony. You both radiated Jesus’ love. We pray for you, your family and the ministry…..
In Christ, Volodaya and Maryana”
1. Please pray for multitudes of Americans to wake up to the reality of Who God actually is – and recognize their need of Him. Please pray for repentance, revival, and reconciliation. Aren’t the news reports blaring the warning signals to us day after day? Prepare to meet your God!
“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 12:11-14 (NKJV).
2. Please pray for Stan and Bonnie Lutz – and all of us on our Northwest Science Museum team as we go through the major process of transition for expanded impact for Christ.
3. Please pray for the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and other freedoms to be reestablished and upheld in America.
4. Don’t forget to pray also for servicemen and women and their families, who are striving to protect our freedoms!
5. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
6. Please ask God to comfort those who have lost loved ones recently, as well as for those who have lost their homes because of fires or floods.
7. We just received a request from Volodaya and Maryana to pray for a man in Ukraine. Andrey is 47 years old and has been addicted for many years. His condition got so bad that he tried to commit suicide, but God miraculously saved his life. Some of the Christian brothers visited him in the hospital, and shared the Gospel and their testimonies about how God changed their lives. Andrey got interested and started reading the Bible and found hope that he too could be changed. A group of Christians there gathered money to send him to a rehabilitation center. Please pray for him as he reads and listens to God’s Word that it will touch his heart and he will sincerely surrender his life to Jesus as his Savior.
Memorial Gifts to Overseas Outreach
In Loving Memory of:
Norma Jean Bauer by David & Phyllis Mulkey. “She was faithful to her Savior.”
In Honor of:
Joy Woodard by David & Phyllis Mulkey.
“Joy lovingly cared for many of Norma Jean’s needs with the support of her husband, Craig, and their sons, who allowed her the time away from their home to do this. Thank you very much, Joy and family!”
In Loving Memory of:
Lloyd Thomas by Joyce & Richard Niggley.