A Word about God's Heart for Women on INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

Tomorrow is March 8th - International Women's Day. Though we in the US don't really celebrate it - it is a huge, huge day overseas. Flowers are generously handed out with well wishes and women are really celebrated. But think of it with me, who hates women the most? Satan hates women the most. We see that a woman was the first target of the Devil in the Garden of Eden. Backwards religions in the world diminish, cover and shun them shamefully where they function practically as slaves in the home. Yet in sophisticated society they are abused as well by their elevation via culture and entertainment to be objects to stare at and satisfy creepy people's desires. Who really loves women the way they ought to be loved and valued honorably the way they desire to be loved? Who really recognizes their value and importance? The answer to that question can be found at the Resurrection Morning of Jesus. Who was the first person Jesus appeared to? No, not to His Disciples or the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. But to a woman. Mary Madeline. 

Women's status in the middle east those day was not much different than it is today. Women could not even be witnesses in a court case - yet Jesus appears FIRST to a woman and calls her by name. Just the way He says her name causes her to recognize who He really was, that He was not just the gardener she mistaken him for at the beginning. She is the first witness of the resurrection and goes and calls Jesus's disciples to tell the wonderful news. It was a woman that God choose to bear His Son into the world. 

So as we celebrate International Woman's Day, let's remember God's honorable and virtuous heart for women. True love is honorable love that finds tremendous value in what it loves that is followed up by care and protection. That is what we wish for all of our wives, sisters, mothers and godly friends in the Lord tomorrow!

A Wasted Life? The Short Life of William Borden

"No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets." - notation in William Borden's Bible

"Do not put out the Spirit's fire." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Quotations taken from Borden of Yale, by Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press, Chicago

In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, his parents gave 16-year-old Borden a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his "desire to be a missionary."

One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was "throwing himself away as a missionary."
In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserves."

Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden's classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn't that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: "He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration."

During his college years, Bill Borden made an entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: "Say 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus every time."

Borden's first disappointment at Yale came when the university president spoke in a convocation about the students' need of "having a fixed purpose." After that speech, Borden wrote: "He neglected to say what our purpose should be, and where we should get the ability to persevere and the strength to resist temptations." Surveying the Yale faculty and much of the student body, Borden lamented what he saw as the end result of an empty, humanistic philosophy: moral weakness and sin-ruined lives.

During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. One of his friends described how it began: "It was well on in the first term when Bill and I began to pray together in the morning before breakfast. I cannot say positively whose suggestion it was, but I feel sure it must have originated with Bill. We had been meeting only a short time when a third student joined us and soon after a fourth. The time was spent in prayer after a brief reading of Scripture. Bill's handling of Scripture was helpful. . . . He would read to us from the Bible, show us something that God had promised and then proceed to claim the promise with assurance."

Borden's small morning prayer group gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshman were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale's 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.
Borden made it his habit to seek out the most "incorrigible" students and try to bring them to salvation. "In his sophomore year we organized Bible study groups and divided up the class of 300 or more, each man interested taking a certain number, so that all might, if possible, be reached. The names were gone over one by one, and the question asked, 'Who will take this person?' When it came to someone thought to be a hard proposition, there would be an ominous pause. Nobody wanted the responsibility. Then Bill's voice would be heard, 'Put him down to me.'"

Borden's outreach ministry was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and the disabled. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To try to rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission. One of Bill Borden's friends wrote that he "might often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ."

Borden's missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Once he fixed his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered. He also challenged his classmates to consider missionary service. One of them said of him: "He certainly was one of the strongest characters I have ever known, and he put backbone into the rest of us at college. There was real iron in him, and I always felt he was of the stuff martyrs were made of, and heroic missionaries of more modern times."

Although he was a millionaire, Bill seemed to "realize always that he must be about his Father's business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement." Although Borden refused to join a fraternity, "he did more with his classmates in his senior year than ever before." He presided over the huge student missionary conference held at Yale and served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.

Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. In his Bible, he wrote two more words: "No retreats."

William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

When the news of William Whiting Borden's death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice" wrote Mary Taylor in her introduction to his biography.

Was Borden's untimely death a waste? Not in God's perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in his Bible. Underneath the words "No reserves" and "No retreats," he had written: "No regrets."

Portions based on material in Daily Bread, December 31, 1988, and The Yale Standard, Fall 1970 edition.

Chronology / Dates
November 1, 1887 -- birth
1904 -- High school graduation (Chicago)
1905 -- Round-the-world trip
1909 -- Yale graduation
December 17, 1912 -- Sails for Egypt on way to China
April 9, 1913 -- Death in Egypt

The Story of Squanto - a Little Known Thanksgiving Hero


In the early 1600s, the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-NO-ag) Indians covered the coast of what we now call New England. They raised crops, living close to the ocean in summer for seafood, moving inland in winter to set up hunting camps. Their encounters with Europeans over the years were mostly friendly.
One exception: In 1614 Captain Thomas Hunt captured several Wampanoag, along with a Patuxet named Squanto, to be sold into slavery in Spain. A Spanish monk purchased Squanto's freedom, taught him English, and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1619, Squanto returned to his native land, only to find his tribe wiped out by an epidemic. Thereafter he made his home with the Wampanoag.
Meanwhile, in 1608, a British group called the Separatists fled to Leyden, Holland. There they found religious freedom, but also poverty, grueling work hours and a secular culture that threatened to undo the values they had carefully instilled into their children. In 1620, they sold everything and indentured themselves for seven years to finance their journey to America.
On the Mayflower, the Separatists were joined by those seeking the new land for other reasons; these they called the Strangers. The two groups, 102 altogether, were called the Pilgrims.
Their journey lasted nine weeks. In one of those "accidents" which change the course of history, the ship lost its course and landed far north of its destination at what we now call Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Once outside the territory covered by the King's Charter, the Pilgrims became responsible for their own government, and so they wrote a set of laws called The Mayflower Compact.
On December 21, 1620, they began their new life at the place they named Plymouth.
It was a devastating winter -- whipped with wind and sleet and snow. Half the Pilgrims died. Still the Separatists clung to their faith; not one chose to return to England with the Mayflower that spring.
But spring brought unexpected relief w the help of a noble and generous Christian brother -- Squanto. He taught them how to grow corn, use fertilizer, stalk deer and catch fish. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, wrote of Squanto that he was "a special instrument sent of God for good beyond their expectations."
And so their first harvest was good. Governor Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to God and the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends. Chief Massasoit and 90 members of his tribe came, along with Squanto, bearing venison and wild turkeys for all to share. Together in harmony, the Pilgrims and the Indians feasted, played games, ran races and showed their prowess with bow and arrow and musket.
How thankful were the Pilgrims? The first Thanksgiving took three whole days!

Closing the Gap between You & the Millennialists, Gen Y & Gen Z

With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”  

Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens:
"Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook.
Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future.
Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation.
Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn. 

But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a  budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living. 

We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)

What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship.  The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value. 

When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care. 

Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life. 

The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers. 

There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z

The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian

Absalom Acts Out His Rebellion – From Inner Wounds to Conspiracy

522242_438110639533545_2070088432_nYesterday in our series on "The Life of David" we dealt with David's son Absalom, his wounding, shunning and his reaction that all led to the great rebellion Absalom led against his father. This is an eye opening study as there were 6 stages that leads to Absalom acting out his wounds. Here they are:

1. 2 Sam 13.1-19 - Amnon, David’s son thru Abigail, Absalom’s brother rapes his sister Tamar - incest and casts her out. 
The original wound = David is in a state of inaction over the incestuous violation of his daughter Tamar. Most likely because he has some what of a guilty conscience from his affair with Bathsheba.
2. 2 Sam 13.2-33 - David does not act to discipline Amnon so Absalom waits 2 years and conspires to kill his brother with his men and does so. The attempt to rectify = Absalom - a man with a type of a strong sense of justice as his father is deeply wounded for his sister. this wound festers for 2 years unhealed.  Finally Absalom takes matters into his own hands and with his men kill Amnon in vengeance for raping his sister. 
3. 2 Sam 13.34-39 - Absalom flees to his grandfather - the king of Geshur and lives there for 3 years. The festering wound = Absalom desperate for family connection in his pain and sense of justice less to his grandfather’s in Talmai. The separation from his father only causes a festering wound that is not being mollified. 

4. 2 Sam 14:1-24 - David allows Absalom to return to Jerusalem to his own house but not to see his face. The rejection = David reacts to amnion’s murder and shuns his son for 4 years while he is in Talmai with his grandfather. This compounds the pain as now Absalom has two wounds - the second being that he is rejected by his father. 

5. 2 Sam 14.33 - David finally allows his son who is highly favored and loved by many in Israel because of his winning personality and good looks - to come into his presence but only on a formal filial level. The festering continues with no reconciliation = The festering wound in Absalom grows as he is gravely disappointed in his meeting with his father. He was wanting more. 

6. 2 Sam 15.1-12 The conspiracy begins. The final blow = Finally after he has his moment to see his father - with no reconciliation seals the inner poison bomb.

Absalom had a wounded spirit - Proverbs 18.14 - The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear

The writer of Hebrews writes describing the destructive power of bitterness and unhealed wound and how it destroys those closet to us - Hebrew 15.15-16 - "Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it—That no one may become guilty of sexual vice" - (Ampl)

The wounds Absalom has were bitterness due to sexual vice - when Amnon his brother raped hi sister Tamar. 
What was Absalom to do? When we are wounded and victimized by life, people and situations we must learn what to do with those wounds. Otherwise they cause a root of bitterness and defile many that we love. 
The answer is this: we take "all our stuff", our anger, all the reasons we are hurt, what people did to us, how we were mistreated, how we were betrayed, how we failed and all of it - and leave it at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ. There we find Jesus took it, He took it 2000 years ago, and crucified it at the cross. It is no longer ours to remember, to poses to us as our crutch or chip on our shoulder. There we are set free from it and we can be healed by the love and forgiveness of Christ.

Friends, this is our only option. Lest we stop receiving grace and a root of bitterness springs up hurting many around us.