Does it seem that the year is passing faster than last year? Here it is September and we are anticipating autumn with its different hues and colors. I recently read an article that scientifically proved the theory that the older we get, time seems to pass more quickly. There is a reason why time speeds up as we age. The older the person, the less he or she experiences as new. Our minds are designed to conserve energy; therefore, the more predictable life is, the less we tune in. It is a biological efficiency so we can use our brainpower on things that really matter.
But such resourcefulness has a price tag--the more time is considered uneventful and not paid attention to, the faster time seems to travel. Why? Because the brain doesn't register the insignificant moments in the vivid memory bank. Hence, the last five years seem to have disappeared more rapidly than the previous five years.
What, then, can be done to make time seem to slow down? Slow down and be awed by God, His activities, and His creation. Don't take for granted what God does. His love should never become routine, although it is routine. It should never be taken for granted, even though we must take for granted that it will continue. Don't allow the grace of God to be common in spite of the fact we commonly need grace as we need oxygen.
I don't think about breathing. I simply mindlessly breathe. But now that I'm writing about breathing I am so thankful to God for lungs and for the richly nutrient air they inhale. In much the same way, we must take the time to thank God for all His tender kindnesses and live them as if they are new.
That is one of the purposes of RTM Magazine. We share with you stories of God's kindnesses in the lives of His people so that you will stop and experience His goodness to you. In so doing, time will be more significant and vivid. Breathe in God's love as you read.
Read more: RTM Magazine.
What happens when...
A pastor's son in London realizes he's not a Christian?
A musician takes the Gospel into the music scene?
The church discovers its greatest need?
RTM goes to Africa?
A Hindu scholar in India is converted?
Find out in the September/October issue of RTM Magazine.
The September/October RTM Magazine is now available for download in the Apple Newsstand for iPads and in the Google Play Store for Android devices. Access the free magazine by clicking here.
As always, this magazine is designed to equip, encourage, and challenge Christ followers around the world to a greater pursuit of the Gospel, who is Jesus Christ.
If you or someone you know have been blessed by the magazine, please take a moment to let us know or to share the magazine on your social media profiles or in your church.
And please continue with us in prayer as we seek the God of the harvest to revive and redeem His people.
By Whitt Madden
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church. (Colossians 1:24)
Over the last few weeks, I've shared with our Sunday school class that it is hard for me to wrap my mind around the words rejoice and suffering being in the same sentence. In fact, I feel like I fumbled through the whole class trying to unpack the weighty truth behind this passage in Colossians.
Websters 1828 Dictionary defines rejoice this way:
To experience joy and gladness in a high degree, to be exhilarated with lively and pleasurable sensations.
Seems to be the complete opposite of suffering doesn't it? Yet Paul said that he was able to rejoice in his sufferings for the sake of the church. Rejoicing is a physical expression of joy and something that radiates to people around you. You can't fake joy. It's either there or it isn't. Rejoicing is an expression of that joy.
To think that he could rejoice in suffering is a clear indication of the fruit of the Spirit (joy), which is independent of his circumstances. Only a Spirit-controlled life can rejoice in suffering.
Over the past week I was reminded of the life of missionary Helen Roseveare and her testimony of rejoicing in suffering.
Helen was British medical doctor serving in the 1960s in Zaire, Africa. She was the only doctor in the area and her team was ministering to almost half a million people. One day while driving to a meeting, her supervisor spoke to her about the possibilities of success as a missionary and he told her the following:
"If you think you have come to the mission field because you are a little better than others, or as the cream of your church, or because of your medical degree, or for the service you can render the African church, or even for the souls you may see saved, you will fail. Remember, the Lord has only one purpose ultimately for each one of us, to make us more like Jesus. He is interested in your relationships with Himself. Let Him take you and mold you as He will; all the rest will take its rightful place."
In 1964, revolution overwhelmed the country and Helen and the medical team were thrown in prison and for five and for a half months they endured unbelievable torture.
On the night she was to be executed, one of her students came to her defense and was severely beaten. His body was kicked about like a football and he was left for dead. Helen was sick, frightened, and alone.
Speaking about this in her Urbana 1976 address, she recalled, "I wasn't praying. I was beyond praying. Someone back home was praying earnestly for me. If I'd prayed any prayer it would have been, 'My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?' And suddenly, there was God. I didn't see a vision, I didn't hear a voice, I just knew with every ounce of my being that God was actually, vitally there. God in all His majesty and power. He stretched out His arms to me. He surrounded me with His love and He seemed to whisper to me, 'Twenty years ago, you asked Me for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don't you want it?'
"Fantastic, the privilege of being identified with our Savior. As I was driven down the short corridor of my home, it was as though He clearly said to me, 'These are not your sufferings. They're not beating you. These are My sufferings. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.' And an enormous relief swept through me.
"One word became unbelievably clear, and that word was privilege. He didn't take away pain or cruelty or humiliation. No! It was all there, but now it was altogether different. It was with Him, for Him, in Him. He was actually offering me the inestimable privileged of sharing in some little way the edge of the fellowship of His suffering."
Helen said at that moment she understood her identification and union with Christ, and that they were altogether elevated by her suffering. She was able to in that moment rejoice. She recalled the words of her Bible teacher during her last night at Cambridge University before she graduated as he quoted Philippians 3:10.
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death."
He said to her, "Tonight you've entered into the first part of the verse, 'That I may know Him.' This is only the beginning, and there's a long journey ahead. My prayer for you is that you will go on through the verse to know 'the power of His resurrection' and also, God willing, one day perhaps, 'the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death'.
She had no idea on that night of joy how literally these words would be lived out in her life in the years ahead.
He walked into the recruiter's office with determination and purpose.
"Airborne Infantry," he said. "That's what I want to do."
The recruiter had no qualms. They filled out paperwork and within a few minutes, 18-year-old Richard Davis walked out of the office, thus beginning the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to be in the US Army Special Forces.
As a member of the infantry he was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., where he met and married his wife, Tina, in 1989.
Consumed with the military and becoming the best, Richard had little time or care for the things of God.
"I was living my own life," Richard, now 45, said. "There was nothing Christian about me whatsoever. On our dog tags they would put your religious affiliation and sometimes I would put nothing on there, 'None.' I would have no religious preference whatsoever."
However, he used the word Christian to describe himself.
"I said 'yes' to Jesus, I was baptized, now I'm good," he would say to people referring to a church experience as a 9 year old. "Now that I look back, I see that I used it as a profession, 'Yes, I'm a Christian,' but my life did not look like it whatsoever. I wasn't interested in God's Word, in His Son, or in anything that anything remotely to do with Christ, His church, His bride. I completely rejected all of it."
For the rest of Richard's story, download the free July/August edition of RTM Magazine.
I don't know the origin of this story. I cannot say if it's truth or tale. But it definitely is biblical. Today, many are confused on the nature of true conversion. This story sums up quite well what happens when a person is converted by the grace of God.
A young girl accepted Christ as her Savior and applied for membership in a local church. "Were you a sinner before you received the Lord Jesus into your life?" inquired an old deacon.
"Yes, sir," she replied.
"Well, are you still a sinner?" asked her inquisitor.
She answered, "To tell you the truth, I feel I'm a greater sinner than ever."
The wise man probed further, "Then what real change have you experienced?"
"I don't quite know how to explain it," she said, "except I used to be a sinner running AFTER sin, but now that I am saved I'm a sinner running FROM sin!"
Regeneration is the work of God in the heart of the sinner. The sinner is passive but not for long because the immediate effect of regeneration is a new heart evidenced by faith and repentance. Faith and repentance is the response of the sinner who is fueled by grace. It is the sinner turning. He or she is no longer running after sin but from it.
One final thought. Conversion is not negative, in that we are only running away from sin. It is also a running to something - holiness, the holiness that is found in Christ. The saint is not just about being free from sin and its condemnation, but also about being holy. Conversion is a positive change. This is not the result of the legalistic work of the flesh. Oh no, it is the product of the saving grace of God who supplants the insatiable desire for sin with a ferocious appetite for holiness. So, I ask - which way are you running?