I would like to congratulate John Stumbo on being elected as the new president of the U.S. Christian & Missionary Alliance. John has filled many roles within the C&MA over the past 30 years, including pastor, administrator, and most recently a District Superintendent. Other than watching a few videos that featured him, I don’t know much about John. He seems to be very well thought of within Alliance circles and considered to be a proven leader. No doubt he will need our prayers (1 Timothy 2:1-2) as he embarks on this monumental challenge. My prayer is that Stumbo would show himself to be a leader like Ezra who, “set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules” (Ezra 7:10).
What if you knew you only had a short time to live? When my grandpa was dying many years ago, my family gathered around his bedside where he gave each of us some parting words. He told us the things he felt were most important for us to know and do. I will never forget grandpa telling me to serve the Lord and keep the Stegeman name going (I’m the only boy in our family).
Two thousand years ago, Jesus was on a mission to accomplish the will of His Father. The night before He was crucified, Jesus gathered around His disciples and gave them some parting words. In John 17:2, Jesus prayed, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus knew that before He could return and be with His Father in heaven, He must be handed over to death. But He also knew it would not end in death, and that He would be raised to life on the third day (Matthew 12:40).
As Christians, we do not know what tomorrow holds in the same way that Jesus did, but we can be sure that the return of Christ is nearing each and every day and we must be ready. The bridegroom is coming for His bride and we (the church) must be ready! And while we have not experienced heaven, Scripture tells us of its glories and wonders!
So we have this hope as believers and we know that we are just strangers in a foreign land, for our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Let me encourage you to live each day with eternity close to your thoughts. The Bible tells us, “The end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). May we not waste our time on the trivial, but instead look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and make the best use of time (Ephesians 5:16), knowing that we will soon be in eternity.
The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
As a Canadian living south of the border, I have the privilege of celebrating two Thanksgivings – one in October (Canadian) and one in November (American). For all my American friends out there, today is not just Columbus Day; it’s Canadian Thanksgiving.
This celebration dates back to 1957 when the Canadian Parliament declared:
“A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed is to be observed on the second Monday in October.”
Truly, there is much to be thankful for. I can’t ever remember a time when I went without having my basic needs met. Most likely you would say the same. Indeed, God has blessed us with material prosperity, but let me remind you of a more important reason to be thankful. As Christians, we have a Redeemer who is more beautiful and glorious than anything the world has to offer. Jesus is mighty to save and He is the ultimate reason for our joy and thankfulness and the hope that we profess. Let’s not forget that this Thanksgiving, or at any time for that matter.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
August 1st 2012 was a monumental day for our family. We welcomed little John David Daniel into the world – all 9 pounds 8 ounces of him. Truly, he is a precious gift from God.
Less than 24 hours later (19 to be exact) our family said goodbye to our dear Grandmother, Theresa Solinger, who passed away at the age of 87. As I reflected on life and death and all that had happened in such a short time, a verse from the book of Job came to mind. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Everyone who knew Grandma knew she was a special person. Grandma T (as the twins called her) loved people and I don’t think I’ve ever met a more generous person. She was a hard worker, getting up at 5am each morning to clean the house and get a good start on the day. She was also a good cook, often having family and friends over for hearty meals. There is so much more that could be said about the character of Grandma, but I will stop there.
Grandma lived a good life, almost making it to age 88. She married Max Solinger not long after he got back from serving in World War 2. If you do the math, that works out to 66 years of marriage. God gave Grandma a long life and a long marriage and even though we are grieving right now, we are thankful for the years we had with her. Grandma left us with many wonderful memories.
One of the primary attributes of God is His sovereignty. As you read through the Bible, you encounter this theme again and again – God rules and governs the world. So when we say “God is in control,” it is just one way of affirming the sovereignty of God. This works itself out in a number of different ways including life and death. God is the giver of life (1 Timothy 6:13) and dare I say, the taker of life (Psalm 139:16). Last week we witnessed both in the birth of baby John and the death of Grandma Theresa.
A few days ago, we bought some muffins from a local bakery. In the midst of munching, I noticed a bible verse on the muffin box – Revelation 4:11. “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” This is a powerful little verse with a simple application. We were created by God and for God. We were created to bring God glory and serve Him with our lives.
I don’t know how many years God will give John David Daniel. It is our prayer that no matter how many years he has, that God would be glorified through his life and that he would be a worshipper of the One True God. While we love him to death and think the world of him, we know that he is a sinner, and must believe in Jesus and repent of his sin, just like everyone else.
Friend, I don’t know how much longer you will live. Even though you might think you have many more years, today could be your last day (Luke 12:20). Apart from faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter into a lost eternity. You will have no hope of heaven and no hope of eternal life. So don’t wait another day to give your life to Christ.
Allow me to leave you with a closing thought on the brevity of life from the pen of King David:
“O Lord, make me to know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:4-7)
“Simpson’s songs were more than songs; they were slogans. Their value to the Society (the Christian & Missionary Alliance) lay in their power to compress into a single sentence a cluster of dynamic ideas and set those ideas singing in the hearts of believing men. Simpson – consciously or unconsciously, I am not sure which – was a master sloganeer, the greatest ever called to the service of the Church. He could take a Bible phrase, or a phrase adapted from the Bible, shape it into what he loved to call a “watchword,” and set multitudes to singing it. In a few of these musical slogans you can read the doctrines and policy of The Christian and Missionary Alliance: Jesus Only; The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever; Himself; Christ in Me; The Fullness of Jesus; I Will Say Yes to Jesus; I Take, He Undertakes; Nothing is Too Hard For Jesus; Launch Out; Go and Tell Them; To the Regions Beyond; Jesus Giveth Us the Victory; I Am Living in the Glory; Even as He. There in concentration you will find the genius of the man and his movement.”
Copied from page 120 of Wingspread, which is Tozer’s biography of Simpson.
“A SOLEMN COVENANT: The Dedication of Myself to God.”
By Albert Benjamin Simpson Saturday, January 19, 1861
“O Thou everlasting and almighty God, Ruler of the universe, Thou who madest this world and me, Thy creature upon it, Thou who art in every place beholding the evil and the good, Thou seest Me at this time and knowest all my thoughts. I know and feel that my inmost thoughts are all familiar to Thee, and Thou knowest what motives have induced me to come me to Thee at this time. I appeal to Thee, O Thou Searcher of hearts, so far as I know my own heart, it is not a worldly motive that has brought me before Thee now. But my ‘heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,’ and I would not pretend to trust to it; but Thou knowest that I have a desire to dedicate myself to Thee for time and eternity. I would come before Thee as a sinner, lost and ruined by the fall, and by my actual transgressions, yea, as the vilest of all Thy creatures. When I look back on my past life, I am filled with shame and confusion. I am rude and ignorant, and in Thy sight a beast. Thou, O Lord, didst make Adam holy and happy, and gavest him ability to maintain his state. The penalty of his disobedience was death, but he disobeyed Thy holy law and incurred that penalty, and I, as a descendant from him, have inherited this depravity and this penalty. I acknowledge the justness of Thy sentence, O Lord, and would bow in submission before Thee.
“How canst Thou, O Lord, condescend to look on me, a vile creature? For it is infinite condescension to notice me. But truly, Thy loving kindness is infinite and from everlasting. Thou, O Lord, didst send Thy Son in our image, with a body such as mine and a reasonable soul. In Him were united all the perfections of the Godhead with the humility of our sinful nature. He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, and through Him we all have access unto Thee by the same Spirit. Through Jesus, the only Mediator, I would come to Thee, O Lord, and trusting in His merits and mediation, I would boldly approach Thy throne of grace. I feel my own insignificance, O Lord, but do Thou strengthen me by Thy Spirit. I would now approach Thee in order to covenant with Thee for life everlasting. Thou in Thy Word hast told us that it is Thy Will that all who believe in Thy Son might have everlasting life and Thou wilt raise him up at the last day. Thou hast given us a New Covenant and hast sealed that covenant in Thy blood, O Jesus, on the cross.
“I now declare before Thee and before my conscience and bear witness, O ye heavens, and all the inhabitants thereof, and thou earth, which my God has made, that I accept the conditions of this covenant and close with its terms. These are that I believe on Jesus and accept of salvation through Him, my Prophet, Priest, and King, as made unto me of God wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemptionand complete salvation. Thou, O Lord, hastmade me willing to come to Thee. Thou hast subdued my rebellious heart by Thy love. So now take it and use it for Thy glory. Whatever rebellious thoughts may arise therein, do Thou overcome them and bring into subjection everything that opposeth itself to Thy authority. I yield myself unto Thee as one alive from the dead, for time and eternity. Take me and use me entirely for Thy glory.
“Ratify now in Heaven, O my Father, this Covenant. Remember it, O Lord, when Thou bringest me to the Jordan. Remember it, O Lord, in that day when Thou comest with all the angels and saints to judge the world, and may I be at Thy right hand then and in heaven with Thee forever. Write down in heaven that I have become Thine, Thine only, and Thine forever. Remember me, O Lord, in the hour of temptation, and let me never depart from this covenant. I feel, O Lord, my own weakness and do not make this in my own strength, else I must fail. But in Thy strength, O captain of my salvation, I shall be strong and more than conqueror through Him who loved me.
“I have now, O Lord, as Thou hast said in Thy Word, covenanted with Thee, not for worldly honors or fame but for everlasting life, and I know that Thou art true and shalt never break Thy holy Word. Give to me now all the blessings of the New Covenant and especially the Holy Spirit in great abundance, which is the earnest of my inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. May a double portion of Thy Spirit rest upon me, and then I shall go and proclaim to transgressors Thy ways and Thy laws to the people. Sanctify me wholly and make me fit for heaven. Give me all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
“I am now a soldier of the cross and a follower of the Lamb, and my motto from henceforth is ‘I have one King, even Jesus.’ Support and strengthen me, O my Captain, and be mine forever.
“Place me in what circumstances Thou mayest desire; but if it be Thy holy will, I desire that Thou ‘give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient, lest I be poor and steal, or lest I be rich and say, Who is the Lord?’ But Thy will be done. Now give me Thy Spirit and Thy protection in my heart at all times, and then I shall drink of the rivers of salvation, lie down by still waters, and be infinitely happy in the favor of my God.
A. B. Simpson (1843-1919) was the founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance. He wrote this covenant not long after his conversion, committing himself to the service of God.