Ryan Strother

Five to Focus 01: Distracted From Hearing God

Five To Focus, episode 1. Distracted From Hearing God.

Distractions are all around us. This episode looks at a comical situation in Mark 8:11-17 to give practical tips on limiting distractions so you can hear from God through His Word.

 

Sources

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-distraction-online-political-sean-pennperspec-0308-jm-20150313-story.html

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Are Churches Ready To Meet the Adoption Need?

Not every Christian is called to adopt, but every Christian is mandated to care for orphans (James 1:27). A Child’s Hope Int’l states, “There are approximately 500,000 children in foster care in the United States. It’s estimated that 120,000 are eligible for adoption. With over 400,000 churches in the United States, if one person in every 3rd church would say ‘I’ll take one’ all of the children would have a home.”[1] The church can meet the need.

Now consider this: I heard someone say once that the Church is not ready for Roe v. Wade to be overturned as many would desire. If the children who would have been aborted are not, but are given up for adoption instead, who will raise them? Is the Church ready to meet the need?

Think of the gospel impact the Church could have through adoption. To some degree, adoption is a picture of what Jesus did for us: reaching into a hopeless situation to bring hope and joy and fulfillment of life. Most churches could start by providing foster and adoptive families to their county children’s services. A need always exists there.

If you study soteriology (the study of salvation), you will know that adoption is an incredible part of our salvation. Christians are adopted into the family of God (Galatians 3:23 – 4:7; Romans 8:15-17), and we ought to be grateful! Millard Erickson defines adoption (spiritually) as the “transfer from a status of alienation and hostility to one of acceptance and favor.[2]”

Now think about this: God created physical life and God gives spiritual life (through Jesus Christ, including the process of spiritual adoption).  The Bible only advocates two ways of parents raising children: 1) through the physical process of a husband and wife bringing a child into the world, and 2) through adoption or orphan care (James 1:27). Therefore, raising and caring for children mirrors the work that God has already done.

Adoption illustrates and explains the love of Jesus. Is the church ready to meet the need?

 

How is your church meeting the foster and/or adoption need in your community?

[1] http://thechildrenarewaiting.org/adoption/fostercare
[2] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd Edition (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI, 2013), 891.

 

Fanny Crosby: Faithfulness through Obstacles

What will you do the day before you die? For Fanny Crosby, it was to write another hymn.

Biographies of faithful believers can inspire us to continue living boldly in our faith and Fanny Crosby’s story will not disappoint. If you have ever looked at a hymnal, you have probably seen her name. Other than the Wesley brothers, Fanny Crosby’s name might appear more than any other composer’s name in hymnals. Her hymns are full of theological richness and joy, like “Draw Me Nearer,” “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Saviour,” “Near the Cross,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “To God Be the Glory.”

Now let me fill you in on a little of her story.

Frances Jane Crosby was born in Southeast, Putnam County, New York (near Poughkeepsie), on March 24, 1820. She developed an infection in both eyes at just six weeks old, and the doctor’s treatment ended up blinding her for the rest of her life. Toward the end of her first year of life, her father died. Her mother, Mercy, raised her alone and taught Fanny not to turn to self-pity but self-sufficiency.

Crosby enrolled in the New York Institute for the Blind and spent twelve years as a student there and another eleven years as a teacher. She taught a man named Alexander Van Alstyne and eventually married him on March 5, 1858. Alexander was an accomplished organist and composed to the tunes of many of Fanny’s hymns. She collaborated with many great hymnists of her time like William Bradbury and William Doane, and she was published by some popular publishers like Ira Sankey and P.P. Bliss.

Let nothing stop you from serving the Lord in the ways He has gifted you. Fanny certainly overcame adversity. She never let her circumstances paralyze her faith. Crosby died on February 12, 1915, with a total of around 9,000 hymns to her name and her last one written on February 11. I hope we all can have the same kind of faithfulness to the end of our lives!

 

Sources consulted:

  • Nichols, Stephen.  http://5minutesinchurchhistory.com/fanny-crosby
  • Watkins, Keith. “A Few Kind Words For Fanny Crosby.” Worship 51, no 3 (May
    1977): 248-259.

Why I Love Hearse Rides

I always enjoy hearse rides.

After officiating a funeral service, I usually ride in the hearse with the funeral director to the cemetery.

I enjoy those rides because I have great discussions with funeral directors. It is especially interesting to talk with them about their beliefs in life after death because they see death all the time and are naturally confronted with this topic. But in all of the conversations (sometimes about some interesting situations and facts!), none of the funeral directors have told me they have seen a dead body raised to life.

Maybe you have not seen a physical resurrection (I haven’t), but have you ever thought about the joy that comes in seeing spiritual resurrection? We should be proclaiming the gospel and seeing this all the time–dead souls made alive again!

Ephesians 2:1-2 says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

Graciously, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5). Once we are made alive, we are given the task of proclaiming the message of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).

I saw a great reminder of the joy and task of participating in spiritual resurrection when I read the words from a hymn called “Soldiers of Christ, In Truth Arrayed.” Basil Manley wrote this hymn for the first graduation ceremony of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary circa 1860.

The first two verses:

Soldiers of Christ, in truth arrayed,
A world in ruins needs your aid:
A world by sin destroyed and dead;
A world for which the Savior bled.

His Gospel to the lost proclaim,
Good news for all in Jesus’ Name;
Let light upon the darkness break
That sinners from their death may wake.

 

I’m thankful that my soul is alive in Christ and I’m thankful that I can participate in God’s mission of seeing souls come alive!

Tyndale and Wycliffe, Strangling and Burning

The Bible caused William Tyndale to be strangled and burned to death–do not take it lightly!

In 1526, Tyndale translated and published the first-ever mechanically-printed New Testament in the English language. The King James Version came out in 1611, and it is remarkable to think that almost 100 years before, producing the Bible in English was considered heresy that would lead to death. Tyndale’s famous last words at his execution came true: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” Read More

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