Monday, 17 December 2018

VESSELS UNTO HONOUR - fit for the Master’s use

We would wish this to be the New Year Motto for the two of us – Richard and Pam Bewes – as 2019 opens.  The words are taken from the Bible; from the New Testament letter of Jesus Christ’s apostle Paul to his apprentice Timothy, leader of the Christian church at Ephesus over two thousand years ago.


Paul was comparing the church to a large household – filled with articles for every use – prominent and otherwise – for the use of the owner, the master of the house! 

The vital characteristic of every article - or ‘vessel’ – however, was that it should be clean, and purified for use.  This is how we read it in the old, the King James version of the Scriptures.  Read on!

"If a man therefore purge himself…he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet (‘fit’) for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work"  
(2 Timothy  2: 20-21).

Here’s a more modern quote – this time from an Australian church leader, Alf Stanway.  He was speaking at the opening of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Pittsburg, California:

“If other people knew you, like God knows you; all your faults and all your thoughts, all your sins, all the things in your heart that have been there, all the wrong thoughts that you’ve ever had, would they trust you with the kind of work that God trusts you with?

“Here is the supreme confidence that God has in his own grace. He’ll take the likes of you and me, and give you the privilege of being His servant.  He’s got to take people like you and me. He has no others.”

Hey … that’s pretty well enough to round off at least the beginning of a New Year motto … for anyone!  It’s enough to motivate us both … to be fit for the Master’s use over the next twelve months!

--oo0oo--


Monday, 16 July 2018

THE VOICE - YOUR UNIQUE TRADEMARK

"Who gave man his mouth?"  (Exodus 4:11)

Here is God’s answer to Moses – in his lack of eloquence - trembling at the prospect of confronting the all-powerful Pharaoh of Egypt. 

But your voice, too - like your finger-print - is your unique God-given trademark!   School teachers, telephone receptionists, shop-keepers, barristers, till-operators, university lecturers, sports commentators, hospital nursing staff, car salesmen, preachers, newscasters, and neighbours ... how are you coming across? 

Your own voice is worth working on! When facing a class, a business seminar, a charity’s annual meeting – or reading the Scriptures in church - how well can someone at the very back clearly hear you? 

To start with:  ‘Ignore the mike!’ Keep within nine inches of it – and then let go … addressing yourself to the very back of the room.  We can always test a trusted friend in the back row afterwards: “How well could you hear me?"

Most of the power from a well-projected voice comes - not from the upper diaphragm - but from the bottom of your lungs; from what feels like ‘the tummy.’  Peter Westland suggests this as a useful exercise:

‘Get down on your hands and knees and pant like a dog … Pant quickly but evenly. You will notice it is difficult, while on your hands and knees, to breathe into your chest.  This exercise more or less forces you to breathe abdominally’ (Teach Yourself Public Speaking; EUP, London).    

Now learn to do it while you are standing – so increasing the flow of exhaled air passing across the vocal chords.  This greatly increases the depth, control and steadiness of the voice. 

 FINALLY A FEW TIPS ON PRESENTATION! Some cameos to avoid! ...  

THE DRONE: Um.  It’s all on one note, and I – sitting in my hard-backed chair - am being sent elsewhere, into my own day-dreams; Oh, my poor back ... 

THE MOO:  Y-yes - it’s soothing, but completely unmodulated - and presented with a ‘rounded’ voice with about as much edge to it as a poached egg.  I’m falling
asle-e-e-p ...
         
 THE WHINE:  Nothing, in this drizzle of depression, is ever ‘right’ with the world, the government or the church: Moan, moan, moan ...

THE BARK:  It’s ‘powerful’ all right, but, with this shouting, it seems to think that it’s in charge of the Trooping of the Colour. It’s getting boring, with this unchanging
harassing din.
              
THE GALLOP:  Ideas, words and thoughts jostle for inclusion in this helter-skelter of a talk. Some of the things said are magnificent, but they are given no space amid the non-stop torrent of gobbled, half-finished words. The mind of the speaker races ahead of the sentence - which is barely ended before the next thought rushes in like an express train … or like Old MacDonald’s Farm: ‘Here a thought. there a thought, everywhere a thought-thought.’

My goodness, if anyone ever improved, it was Moses!  Look at his farewell speech to Israel: 
“Listen O heavens, and I will speak!  Hear O earth the words of my mouth!  Let my teaching fall like rain, and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants!”  (Deuteronomy 32: 1-2) 

                                                           ---oOo---
              

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

THE PASSING OF BILLY GRAHAM

"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12: 3)

Following the passing of world evangelist Billy Graham on 21st February, 2018, many millions of people around the world are looking back with humble thanksgiving to the event and day that brought them under the ministry of the man whose preaching led them to faith in Christ.
                               


                                                                                             (PHOTO: Richard Bewes)

It may have been a meeting in a great stadium, a programme through television, film or satellite - or the power of the printed page - that first awakened so many to the claims of Christ.  The fact is that a farmer’s boy, raised in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, has been called Home to God after a lifetime of making Christ known in no less than 185 countries that he visited with his team ... and whole towns and societies breathed more easily as a result.

The labour of it all was immense. As Billy Graham’s chairman in the  great three-week ‘Mission 89’ campaign in London, I remember once having to wake him up at the back of the stadium before preaching - so drained was he after a day of exhausting interviews.   As he has confessed, "I would stand up once again to speak, completely devoid of strength - and then would sense a power descending upon me.  I put this down to the prayers of so many who were supporting us around the world."


                                      At Wembley Stadium in the rain - July 1989

The statistics surrounding this - the first truly world evangelist we have ever had - are common knowledge.  Even by the 1960s, Billy Graham had addressed more people face to face than any orator - secular or religious - in the whole of history - and that is leaving aside television and radio, the printed page, films and satellite technology.  By the time of his passing he had addressed audiences totalling no less than 210 million people.  His departure leaves many generations moved with gratitude that God kept Billy Graham for our own time.

Blessed now in his passing, Billy can rest from his labours.  But his deeds follow him with eternal effect, not only in heaven, but in families, nations and organizations that were permanently touched by his faithful obedience to Christ’s Call. The secret behind it all?  It was simple indeed: God could trust Billy Graham.

During a visit to the USA in 2012, Pam and I were blessed to visit him in his very simple home in Montreat – built of logs many years ago (see picture below) – and to have fellowship with him in prayer and with the Scriptures.  Pam was able to tell him, “I first heard you when I was seven!”  


And now he’s gone. World-wide, people for generations to come will continue to draw inspiration from this, the most widely effective proclaimer of Christ’s Gospel since the days of the New Testament apostles.

His works will follow him into all eternity ...

--ooOoo--  
                                                                                         

Thursday, 8 February 2018

UNDER SPIRIT-GIVEN CONVICTION!

“When He comes He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment."    (John 16: 8-11)

 Make a pilgrimage one day to the open stretches of Blackheath in South-East London!  In the very centre of the heath you will come to a small cordoned-off hillock, left in its natural state, where – 250 years ago - the blazing evangelist George Whitefield would address as many as thirty thousand people at a time, with his cavernous voice.  Today that small rise in the ground is still known as “Whitefield’s Mount.”
  


It was a time of widespread revival in England, under John and Charles Wesley and their preaching contemporaries - of whom Whitefield was one.  The Wesley brothers would write that the effect of the preaching was such that men and women would  sometimes fall face-down in deep repentance under the conviction of their sins and their need of Jesus.  Indeed, Charles Wesley’s great hymn Love Divine – sung today worldwide - includes a line inspired directly from his observation of those shaking under conviction.  It runs, ‘Enter every trembling heart.’

This Spirit-given conviction of sin was foretold by Jesus, in his prediction of the coming of the unseen ‘Comforter’ – the ‘Helper’ who would represent His very own Presence in the lives of His disciples.

The conviction of SIN is part of becoming a Christian!  It is conviction 'sin’ – said Jesus – ‘because men do not believe in Me.’  THE sin – across the centuries - is the sin of keeping Christ out of our lives!

Further, the Spirit’s conviction of  ‘righteousness’ is the compelling realisation that the Lord’s ‘going to the Father’ (v. 10) was the defining seal of His acceptance above as the perfect and righteous God-Man, following the completion of His saving work among us.

And the conviction regarding ‘judgment’?  Reason; because (v.11) all those finally found with Satan (‘the prince of the world’) will have their days numbered with 
him ….
                                                         --ooOoo--