before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's in a Name? William Livingstone Samuel, for Instance?

Two years ago, on this day, our family faced a tragedy.  We were 21 weeks along in our second pregnancy, and Deana, Tirzah, and I were expecting the arrival of the little one on February 9th of 2013.  But the birthday of our child came much sooner.  Our first son was born on September 28th in the afternoon in 2012, already departed to glory.  His name was William Livingstone Samuel, the name we had previously determined.

I well remember holding his little lifeless form in my hand, tears rushing down my cheeks.  Even at such a young age (it is thought that he passed away at 17 weeks), he was so wonderfully made, with a sweet face, little fingers and toes, perfect down to the little bone in his ankle.  The nurses were so kind, and worked hard to get his footprints for us--we treasure that precious card today.

We wept over his death with many tears, and still miss him every day.  But God is our Comfort, and His word was and is faithful to console and strengthen our hearts.  My little son's life was not in vain. God has used even this evil thing to do much good.  The brief life of my boy has provoked me to good zeal and even more earnest desire to rescue other babies whose lives are at stake.  I do not know how many times I have shared my loss with parents at the abortion mill.  And it has helped me better understand and stirred me to come alongside others who are hurting with a similar pain.

We now have two children on this earth, Tirzah and our second son, Edward.  We love all our children, and will welcome any more God chooses to send us.  And how I look forward to seeing William again, when I get Home (I Samuel 12:23)!

Today, I wanted to share about his name in honor of his birthday.  Anyone who knows me is aware that I like names.  Names are significant.  They have meanings, nuances, and can be influenced by other people that bear the same name.

His first name is William, which when dissected, is Will + Helm, as in a helmet.  Thus the meaning for this name has been rendered, "Constant Protector; Determined or Strong Guardian".  Deana has always loved this name, and I highly esteem many Williams that I know.  It is a old and noble name, denoting royalty and integrity.  You may know about William the Conqueror (AD 1028-1087) the
Norman king, who took and reigned over England.  A lot of kings, princes, dukes, and knights have borne that name in courts and in battles.  Therefore we chose it for our son.

There have been many Williams in history, a good number of which were defenders.  Here are a few of my heroes named William:
William Wallace - AD 1270-1305
warrior; the greatest patriot of Scotland, who yielded his life for his country!
William Tell - Circa AD 1307
patriot; crossbow shooting folk hero of Swiss history!
William Tyndale - AD 1494-1536
translator; martyr; defender of the holy, infallible word of God for the common people!
Dean John William Burgon - AD 1813-1888
pastor; dean; champion of the Bible; humble student and staunch defender of the Scriptures!
William Booth - AD 1829-1912
preacher; defender of the poor and the vulnerable, seeker of souls!
William Wilberforce - AD 1759-1833
abolitionist; battled against the British slave trade, the evil of his day!
William Borden - AD 1887-1913
missionary; gave all for his Saviour - "NO RESERVES, NO RETREATS, NO REGRETS"

I also love that this name was the name of six of the 56 valiant men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honour, to see their land and people have liberty.

William Whipple - New Hampshire
William Ellery - Rhode Island
William Williams - Connecticut
William Floyd - New York
William Paca - Maryland
William Hooper - North Carolina

William was given two middle names.  There are so many great names, I couldn't have just one!

We wanted each of our children to have a name of a great missionary, with which to challenge them in their lives. For William we decided on Livingstone, in honour of my childhood hero, the courageous and "forward-minded" missionary, David Livingstone (AD 1813-1873), who gave his all to see interior Africa opened up to the Gospel.  You can read more about him in another blog post of mine here! 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the true "Living Stone" (I Peter 2:4), and we desired that our son would reflect the Redeemer, disallowed of men, but precious to God.  Christians also, as the redeemed, are called "lively stones" (I Peter 2:5).  In William's corner, where his body rests, there is a large stone, found in Wyoming by my dear parents and siblings, and laid there in memory of him.

We also wanted distinctively Bible names, and we picked Samuel.  His name means "asked of God" or "heard of God."  Samuel was one of the two greatest leaders of the nation of Israel, alongside Moses.  His name is mentioned 142 times in the Bible.

Moses and Samuel are highlighted in Scripture as men who were not only incredible leaders, but also men of prayer and mighty intercessors for their people.  For an example of each, consider Exodus 17:8-15 for Moses, and I Samuel 7:7-13 for Samuel.  Below are two verses that reveal the power of their appeals.
Psalm 99:6 "Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them."
Jeremiah 15:1 "Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth."

Samuel was the only man in the Bible about which it is specifically said "...the LORD...did let none of his words fall to the ground" (I Samuel 3:19).  Samuel's words were true and carried through because Samuel was speaking what he heard from the LORD.  "Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD..." (II Kings 10:10).

Samuel served the LORD from his weaning to his death.  He was the last of the judges, and anointed the first two kings of Israel.  He was a prophet who foretold of the coming Messiah.
Acts 3:24 "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days."

I don't have space here to write all that the Lord did through Samuel.  You can search the Scriptures for more.  Suffice it to say, he was a hero of faith, as it is said in God's Hall of Faith... "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:" (Hebrew 11:32).

Before he was born, the biblical Samuel was dedicated to the LORD.  I Samuel 1:11,22,28 "I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life...I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide forever...I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD."  As with each of our children, we had dedicated our little Samuel to serve the Lord Jesus Christ all the days of his life, little knowing that his life would be so brief, and that he would "appear before the LORD" ahead of us.

How I yearned to have a William, a defender of the weak, a staunch protector of life!
I wanted to raise a little Livingstone to go FORWARD for Christ!  To dare for His God!
I desired to see a little Samuel grow, to speak the words of God and stand in the gap for others!

So what am I to say?

It would be easy to blame God and shake my fist.  It would be natural to pity myself and spend my time in bitter grief.  But then Satan gets a foothold, and I cannot allow any ground for the devil in my life (Ephesians 4:27).  The fact is, "...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12).  I know that in this world cursed by sin, there is trouble, suffering, and death.  That the Christian life is going to involve persecution, sorrow, and affliction.  I do not always have to understand my God, but I can always trust Him.  "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" (Job 13:15).  His word is true, no matter how I feel.  "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).

So in faith, Deana and I can smile, even through tears at times.  Watch what our God will do!  "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:29).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hitler, the Holocaust, and Honor

It was a CRITICAL MOMENT in History...

Place and Time: Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II
Problem: Holocaust of the Jewish People
Players: the church of Jesus Christ

A train with box cars filled to the gills with men, women, and children of Jewish descent was headed for the "camps".  Many such trains rode the rails to the horrific places of suffering, cruelty and death.  This train snaked its way through cities, villages, and the empty countryside toward its dark destination.  As the engine pulled its crowded cattle cars through yet another town, the passengers, looking through the slats, spied a church building ahead, not far from the tracks.  A worship service was in session, and they could hear the sound of hymns being sung.  The Jews in the train lifted up their voices and began to scream for help, for rescue, for aid.  The members inside heard their desperate cries, but instead of rushing to see what they could do, they turned up the volume of the pipe organ and sang louder to drown out the disturbing sound of the needy people heading to destruction. 

Singing a little louder, they did nothing, and GREAT SHAME is on those Christians in Germany and Europe who let the Holocaust happen without opposition and intervention. 
At that critical moment, so much of those in Nazi controlled Europe did nothing.  God was not glorified by their praises, when they chose to be silent about the slaughter around them. In choosing to remain comfortable they dishonored their Savior's Name! So in the day of battle the people of God in large part failed to obey.  Failed to do what Jesus would do.  Failed to stand for righteousness when truth was fallen in the street.  Failed to be the church in a culture that pursued the death of the innocents.  What a shame and reproach!

BUT NOT ALL in that day failed.

Nicholas Winton, a young British man in his twenties, rescued 669 Jewish children destined for death camps from the Nazis, and arranged for them to have homes, smuggling them to Great Britain.

Irena Sendlerowa, a young Polish woman, secretly saved over 2,000 little Jewish children from the Ghettos and sure death through sewers, in suitcases, and boxes. 

Casper Ten Boom, a Christian grandfather from the Netherlands and his family, rescued many Jews, making their home into a refuge and "hiding place" for the hunted.  The Ten Boom family risked both life and liberty to "obey God rather than man" and deliver those that were "drawn unto death".  

Just reading snippets of what these three people (and others, Sophie Scholl, Peter ten Boom, etc.) did in their day can stir the reader with esteem, and we nod our heads in agreement.  They did right. They were people of honor! The organ volume raisers did wrong.  And I'm sure that we think that if we had lived in such a day, we are certain we would have been in the hero class, who would have done courageously as well.
At least we hope so.

But let us really consider that question.  Get out the mirror.  What if YOU lived during the Holocaust?  In Nazi occupied Europe?  Would YOU be like the Ten Boom family?  Or the church organ "boomers".

What if YOU knew of a Nazi death camp only an hour away from YOUR home?  Would YOU go, at the peril of YOUR life, and try to rescue Jews being taken to that camp?  Perhaps you think, "Of course!" or maybe "I hope I would."

You know, Christians back then probably had excuses.  I mean if caught, they could be killed or imprisoned!  The Nazi regime was brutal.  And so they let others be slaughtered instead.  We still shake our heads in disapproval at their inaction, but we understand their fear.

BUT WHAT IF Nazi Germany's rules had been different?  What if they recognized and respected a citizen's right of "freedom of speech"?  What if they were allowed to say they didn't agree, and did not have to fear the Nazi's vengeance?  No death.  No prison.  No fine. They could speak out against it with immunity.  That would remove the excuses, right?  We would be even more adamant that they should have not been silent as millions were slain! Even more shame would fall on the heads of those who neglected their duty.

Let's go back to YOU in Nazi Germany, and the death camp an hour away.  

What if YOU were allowed to stand at the barbed war fence and call out for the lives of the Jews, even as they were being escorted to the gas chambers?

What if each guard had the freedom to choose to release the Jew he was leading, if YOU persuaded him that it was wrong for the Jew to be slain?

And even if they didn't listen, at least YOU had done the right thing, and before God would be clean of the guilt of the blood of the innocent. 

Would YOU go?  Would YOU take time out of YOUR busy schedule, of work time, leisure time, etc., to speak for their lives?  How often would YOU go?

That even one life could be saved?  
That the name of Jesus would be exalted, rather than cast in the dirt because His people didn't care enough lift their voice to speak truth in a generation that loved lies.

We may shake our heads at the inaction and apathy of those believers during the Holocaust of the Jews, But WHAT ABOUT TODAY?  What about the Holocaust of unborn babies IN OUR GENERATION?  Hitler slew about 6,000,000 Jews.  The United States alone has slain over 55,000,000 million.  We passed Hitler's count years ago!  So what are churches in America doing about the slaughter in their midst?  What are YOU doing right now?  

Suddenly exYOUses arise!  If we speak out against the murder of babies are we in danger of imprisonment?  Not yet.  Fines?  Not yet.  Death?  Not yet.  Our excuses are that "We are too busy."  "It is inconvenient."  "Someone may laugh at us."  "It won't change anything."  Face it!  We are apathetic and our excuses are pathetic!  We are filled with a depraved indifference.  We have LESS excuse than the German Christians.  And thus MORE shame is on us if we be silent.

Consider the following 4 verses:

Proverbs 31:8-9 "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."

Proverbs 24:11-12 "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew ut not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it, and he that keepeth thy soul doth not he know it?and shall not he render to every man according to his works?"

These are commands from our God and King, He who saved us and bought us with His blood, and Whose we are.  It is a commission to the people of God.

In the Kansas City Area there are thousands of churches, hundreds of which are Gospel preaching, Bible believing.  There are 2 places that exist to murder babies.  Yet, when the doors are open for people to bring their babies to be butchered, WHERE IS THE CHURCH? Why are they not present?  Why are they not at the gates of death, preaching the Gospel, pleading the cause for those who cannot speak for themselves, and providing truth and help for parents and children in this critical time?   

One survey I read is that only 2% of professing Bible believing Christians in this country witness of the Gospel regularly.  That is a lousy number.  I have never heard a survey about Christian activity at abortion mills, but fear that the percentage of Bible believing Christians in the United States who have stood for life outside a baby "death camp" even one time is even lower.  

Where are YOU, Christian?  Why are YOU not at the gates of death?  Will YOU repent, and obey YOUR Father in heaven?

I Corinthians 15:34 "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."

Francis Schaeffer said that "Abortion exists by permission of the church."  I believe that if even only 1% of the church membership of Christian churches in the Kansas City area did their duty and stood outside of the two abortion mills in Johnson County, abortion would end in our city.  If churches in this country actually repented and acted as the church should in a culture that kills its children, abortion would be abolished from our land.  And Jesus Christ would be glorified.  What will future Christians say of YOUR generation?  What will they think of YOUR response to the Preborn Holocaust, this critical moment in history?  And more importantly, what will YOUR Saviour say when YOU stand before Him, and this issue, so dear to the heart of God, is raised?  

To speak for the innocent is not merely an obligation.  It is an honor!

There is still time to win battle before the sun goes down.