Love – a Many Splendored Thing – or a Many Splintered Thing?
Last month when a good friend glanced at the title for our lead article in our prayer letter, he misread it “a many splintered thing.” His response is understandable because he has in the background of his personal history a bitter divorce that he didn’t want. He never intended to re-marry, but years later God brought a wonderful woman into his life to become his help-mate and companion on life’s rugged journey from here to eternity. They have now been married for over a decade, and he can relate to love as a “many splendored thing”.
In our February letter, I mentioned my own distorted view of love as only emotion (infatuation) when I was a boy, because I had been so indoctrinated by popular music. Recently I heard on the radio about a nine-year-old girl who was asked her perspective about the meaning of the word “love”. She responded, “It’s like an avalanche – when it happens to you – run for your life!” Does it sound to you that her perception is that love is a very dangerous thing where you can easily get hurt? Yes, when love becomes a “many splintered thing”, there may be a grave danger the splinters will become embedded and get infected. (Maybe not quite as dangerous as an avalanche – but the long- term effect may be deadly.)
So, what causes love to become a “many splintered thing”, and how can love be rescued from splintering in order for it to become a “many splendored thing”? I believe that the answer is to surrender our lives to Christ in submission to Him and walk in His Spirit, not in our flesh. Selfishness splinters! Love surrenders to the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit makes love a “many splendored thing”!
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law if fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:13-26 (ESV)
Punctuation & Perspective
Have you heard of the English professor who used a unique and clever way to teach his students the importance of punctuating their sentences? How? He went to the blackboard and wrote a sentence in all capital letters and no punctuation:
Then he asked for a volunteer to put in the punctuation to make it a discernible sentence. A young man volunteered and came to the board. This is the result of his punctuation and perspective:
WOMAN WITHOUT HER MAN, IS A BEAST!
The professor agreed that this makes it a clearly discernible sentence. However, he also asked if there is any other possibility for it to be a discernible sentence if the punctuation is changed. This time a young woman volunteered. Here is the result of her punctuation and perspective:
WOMAN! WITHOUT HER, MAN IS A BEAST!
This little exercise not only shows the importance of punctuation for clear communication, but also gives a very clear example of how different male and female perspectives can be. They can look at the very same thing and arrive at very different conclusions. Why? Because perspective puts in the punctuation! The professor clearly demonstrated that either meaning for the sentence is possible depending on the punctuation. However, the deeper lesson for all of us to discern is that there is definitely a difference in perspective between males and females. Neither perspective is right or wrong in the above example – just different. Very different! Let’s all pray for the wisdom to develop good communication skills by learning to respect different perspectives and God’s wisdom to be able to see something from another person’s point of view. (It will also help to recognize your wife or husband as a person created in the image of God rather than a beast!) By inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:29-5:2 (ESV)
What is Purity Anyway?
Perhaps because of such solemn warnings, human beings usually identify purity as the absence of something. (“I don’t drink. I don’t chew; and I don’t go with the girls who do!”) There are two problems with this view of purity: 1. It tends to foster pride (arrogance) – remember the Pharisees. 2. It is actually a very low view of purity – because if I’m a good Christian by those things that I’m not doing, a dog could qualify as a good Christian!
Did you ever hear those old Ivory soap ads about being 99.44% pure? Did you wonder what was in the other .56%? Do you know that rat poison is about 98% good, wholesome wheat? It’s the 2% arsenic that is deadly!
Jesus’ purity is not the absence of something, but the presence of something. Since He is God Almighty and all pure, He is pure in His very nature and essence. Some oils are called essential oils; Jesus is essential purity. “Holy! Holy! Holy!” is what the angels sing in His presence. Isaiah saw his own impurity when exposed to the dazzling white purity of the holiness of God. “So I said: ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’” Isaiah 6:5 (NKJV)
When the apostle John saw Jesus in His resurrection power and majesty he was truly awestruck. “He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.’”
Revelation 1:16-18 (NKJV)
When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are not getting a thin veneer that is pretty, but has dry rot underneath! You are getting purity to the core – genuine purity. His blood cleanses you whiter than snow – and He cleanses you to the core. You receive imputed righteousness – and He keeps on purifying you now and forever when you are His and He is yours! What are you waiting for? Are you content to sit, soak and sour in your sin? Or are you going to repent and come Home to Jesus?
I’ve heard Adrian Rogers on a broadcast say that before we sing, “Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord”, we may well need to first sing, “Cleanse my cup, Lord! I messed it up, Lord!” Pertinent advice! The apostle John wrote:
“If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:6-9 (ESV).
It’s Now or Never!
For years I warned my students of this song because it has a hauntingly beautiful melody with a dangerous message. I told them that this is not a song about love – it’s a song about lust! With the lyrics that Elvis made popular, that was the case, but our friend, Rick Rodriguez, changed that song for us. Rick was a master musician who started his own Christian band, Double-Edged Sword, and he learned from another Christian band, A Band of Brothers, how to take a popular melody and “convert” it with Christian lyrics. Rick converted “It’s Now or Never” into a strong evangelistic appeal. Consider these words:
“It’s now or never – come hold Him tight.
Reach out to Jesus – reach out tonight.
Tomorrow may be too late;
God’s waiting for you –
When your soul is aching,
And your heart is breaking,
And you feel like crying,
Even feel like dying –
Just call to the Father;
It won’t be a bother.
He’s there for you
To see you through – tonight.
It’s now or never – come hold Him tight.
Reach out to heaven – reach out tonight.
Tomorrow may be too late;
God’s waiting for you –
Rick Rodriguez was born the same year I was – just a few months ahead of me – and I attended his memorial service in Nampa a couple years ago. What a powerful testimony of a changed life! One person after another testified to Rick’s positive impact on his or her life. The fact that Rick Rodriguez was only months older than I am reminded me how fleeting life on this earth is – and I want to make my life count day by day and moment by moment. How about you? What are you doing today to touch someone else with the truth and love of Jesus? Are you ready to stand before Him as your Judge? He died to be your Savior. Have you reached out to Him? Tomorrow may be too late! (Lyrics to the song used by permission of Rick’s wife, Joyce.)
Beware of Brain Damage!
Just a few days ago I heard a news report based on careful research that those who spend lots of time reading from screens in dimly lit rooms are not only doing damage to their eyes – they are actually damaging their brains. What is true physically is also true spiritually. Instead of fleeing from His dazzling presence to hide in the darkness, won’t you reconsider, turn, and flee to the light of His love, forgiveness, hope and joy! You can be forgiven, cleansed and safe in His loving arms!
By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John also wrote:
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says He abides in Him, ought to walk in the same way in which He walks.” 1 John 2:1-6 (ESV).
Mystery and Majesty
Mystery is intricately interwoven by God’s genius mind into the vastness of the universe, as well as His own nature plus the vast and precise intricacies of the microscopic realm. His strategic design is intended by our Creator to invoke a sense of awe, wonder and worship, but Satan twists the design to invoke doubt, disillusionment, discouragement, despair and destruction. As Jesus said: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV) Which do you choose – the devious design of Satan or the abundant life of wonder and worship? (By the way, do you suppose that the attraction of the “feminine mystique” is also His design?) Does this make you feel like singing, “Majesty, worship His Majesty”? Isn’t it also rather obvious that mystery and majesty go together like love and marriage? Aren’t mystery and majesty woven together to reflect the brilliance of our Awesome God?
From Our Mailbox
For about 17 years you and Della stood beside our family and walk in the Lord! I guess there are some significant things happening once in a while in our ministry, (some are just faithful routine), but your standing by is the most significant! Let the Lord bless you and your family….. Thank you!
Zhenya and Natasha and kids
Thanks so much for always thinking about me even though we haven’t seen each other in person for a while. Always admire what you do. Please pray that I can be more of an outreach rather than isolated behind a computer so much…one bad habit I have. Love your updates and newsletters and speaking out with Truth and Love!
Hi again Rick,
I actually had only read the last email about including me on a list when I wrote back to you, but was actually thinking I would love to read more of your work, and then I saw this email about reviewing your book. I would love to be a reviewer for it. I have read parts of the book you gave me a few years ago, but would love to go through the whole thing, especially your new revision/expansion. Let me know if you have time to meet about it sometime soon… I’m usually downtown working….
Thanks for the cute remarks about my name…. whenever “rich man” appears in the Bible, whether good or bad, it makes me smile. But yeah, rich from the blessings of God is how I say I’m rich when people ask “Are you really rich?” haha.
I’m glad God is working miraculously with you. I would love to have the honor of reading and reviewing your book. Thank you for your love and support.
Thank you, Rick and Della,
I just opened your E-Mail and thank you for it – I will share it with Elsbeth later today. I saw some of your work when checking on the Webpage of White Fields Overseas Evangelism….. Elsbeth has continued to pray for each of you daily through many years. I almost daily do so, with my focus being on your work in the Northwest and any other place in the United States and perhaps Canada. It also centers on your work in the Ukraine in various ways, By the way: are you familiar with the present status of A-Cappella churches in the Ukraine and Russia by teams like Ernest and Joyce Andreas and Bob and Ann Brewer? If so, please let me know, because I pray for these also, but have not heard from them some time. And, last, not least, your work in Germany – Gechingen, Tübingen, perhaps Berlin, and other places.
God bless you and yours richly. Ludwig Klinke
Note from Rick: We got acquainted with Ludwig and Elsbeth Klinke while we were serving our Lord in Germany (1970-1977), and our friendship and prayers for one another have continued to grow through the years. God has answered many prayers for Elsbeth to survive cancer and for Ludwig to be able to faithfully keep serving Christ in spite of health issues of his own. He has served as church planter, preacher, elder (pastor/teacher) and editor of a Christian periodical in German. These faithful servants of our Lord Jesus belong in our Hall of Faith, and we look forward to good times of fellowship forever in eternity with this special couple.
Dear Rick & Della,
I really enjoyed your new letter. I read it right away…
By the way Joe Garman was here Sunday – Talked about his prison ministry – I have always enjoyed him. He does a great work…
Just want to let you know I appreciate you two very much. And I’m glad to call you my brother and sister. May God continue to bless you.
By Ed Saunders, Santa Maria, CA
“Move on, move on, you weary man. Reach out, take someone’s hand.
When the road is not so clear, when your life is filled with fear,
Move on, move on, when you are sad. Share your burden, you will be glad.
When your nights are blue all through, and you don’t know what to do,
Move on, move on. Talk to a friend. One that will always stand with you.
The burden will be lightened. You will be on your way to be free…
Move on, move on. Rely on your friends. Stand by them. They’ll stand with you.
The road will clear, and life will be a joy to live once again.”
Note from Rick: Good advice from a true friend: no connection with a left wing organization with a good name and distorted advice. Ed and his wife of nearly forty-five years, Cindy, have experienced heavy heartaches – including the loss of a son. Also, Ed has been battling serious health issues for years: diabetes, skin cancer, heart problems (including bypass surgery last summer), yet he keeps on moving on, serving Jesus as an elder at Orcutt Christian Church. Ed’s poem reminds me of what the Holy Spirit inspired to be written to Hebrew Christians in the first century (Messianic Jews who recognized Jesus as their Messiah): “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’… Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” Hebrews 12:1-6, 12-17 (ESV)
1. On February 22nd, Bob and Geri Boyd interviewed me by phone about our book, “More Than Conquerors in Cultural Clashes” – specifically about Chapter 6 – “School Shootings and Terrifying Traumas”. It is scheduled to be broadcast Saturday, March 24th at 2:00 p.m. on Boise station 790 AM. I hope you can listen. It is also available to you on a CD free of charge if you write to us and request it.
Please pray for God to use the interview and the book to His glory and the stirring of many souls to come Home to Him – to His will and way. I praise God for the opportunity to share truth on the air waves and on the CDs. Below is the nice note Bob and Geri sent me:
Thank you for the EXCELLENT INTERVIEW and your work for our wondrous Lord and His people….
Love, Bob & Geri”
2. Concerning Stan Lutz’s health: he is now sleeping much better, and his blood pressure is better. Praise God! Please keep praying for God to protect him from another heart attack.
3. Concerning Northwest Science Museum: we are seeing God put together an amazing team of volunteers, so please join us in praising Him. We do not yet have our own building, so please keep praying about that. Stan is putting many new display items in the Vision Center. Please pray for more new visitors. You can call for an appointment at 208-972-6288.
“It Was my Best Date Ever!”
– Trinity Hope Smith
Some of you may recall that I wrote in our February letter under the section on “Praises”: “On Friday, February 16, I have the privilege of taking Trinity Hope, our six-year-old granddaughter, to the Father/Daughter Ball at Eagle Christian Church. (Grandfathers and granddaughters also accepted.)“ This is my update report. When we arrived on the scene, Trinity was a bit shy at first when I was introducing her to some friends, as well as to new acquaintances. However, she warmed up and adapted very quickly, so she was soon functioning like “Miss Greeter” for the other young girls coming in (some younger and some older than she is). Trinity definitely has the “gift of helps,” and she was helping them feel welcome and wanted. For most of the last hour we were there she was dancing with a four-year-old, twirling her around and together with her trying to catch as many soap bubbles as possible from the bubble machine. Since Mary Reich was present as a helper for the event, and since I had introduced Trinity to her shortly after our arrival, Trinity recruited Mary’s help more than once to help other girls find what they needed. Shortly before we left that special occasion, Mary said to me, “She’s beautiful – both inwardly and outwardly.” Mary is one of our prayer warriors for Overseas Outreach, and I already recognized that she is a wise Christian lady, but my appreciation for her keen insights suddenly shot to the top of the scale!
When I delivered Trinity Hope Smith home to Sandy and David about 10:00 p.m., she came bouncing in to the kitchen and announced, “It was my best date ever!” Perhaps we will both carry precious memories that will linger! (Did you notice Trinity’s first corsage?)
(As an interesting side note, when I arrived at the Smith home to get Trinity, David was cleaning his shotgun and asked me about my intentions with his daughter. I told him that my intention is to show her how a gentleman is supposed to treat a lady. David and Sandy were also getting ready to go out for the evening, so I pointed at Sandy and said to David, “This is my daughter! Make sure you treat her right!”)