Closing the Gap Between Knowing and Being

I have always been fascinated by what people say when they pray. The prayers of a great saint are not only edifying but revealing. They tell you something about the one praying as well as offer insight into the needs of those he prays for. Reading the prayers of the apostle Paul explains what I mean (read Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11). The Apostle’s prayers consistently reflect two great requests: enlightenment and enablement. Paul’s earnest desire for his spiritual children is that they might have a growing knowledge of God’s will and power to live out that will.

Paul understood the importance of knowledge. He often began his prayer by asking that believers might be filled with spiritual wisdom, understanding, and an ever-growing knowledge of God. This knowledge would come from scripture, the teachings of the apostles and prophets, experientially through a daily walk with Jesus, and through the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s concern that his children grow in knowledge was not simply concern for intellectual attainment but for moral and behavioral transformation. Paul wants us to know so that we can be.

Paul’s companion request was for power, not power to work signs and wonders but the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to live beautiful, holy lives that manifest the fruit of the Spirit. Knowledge alone can’t take the wobble out of our walk. For knowledge to effect change it must be activated. One may be a Greek scholar and a master theologian and at the same time be a failure at living out a holy life. One needs power to translate what one knows into what one is and does.

The natural question that should follow is, “How is this power activated in one’s life?” Understanding the source of this power is an important first step. It is not self-generated. It does not have its source in human invention or determination. Paul tells the Ephesians that it is “His power”; that we are “strengthened with might through His Spirit”; and “according to the power that works in us” (meaning the power of the Holy Spirit). To the Philippians he says that we have these fruits of righteousness “by Jesus Christ.” To the Colossians it is “according to His glorious power” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” To the Galatians he says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh…but the fruit of the Spirit is….” Paul makes it clear that the power to live godly lives comes only through divine enablement.

The question still remains, “How is the Holy Spirit’s power unleashed in my life?” Again, there is something we must understand. The power of the Holy Spirit is not a thing that we possess. It is not like a high-octane fuel additive that supercharges our spiritual engine. The Holy Spirit is a person who lives within us in intimate relationship. He is there because we have willingly surrendered our lives to His control. And whatever He controls He empowers. And when He empowers, we are able to manifest the character of the God we serve. The key to this inner strength is total surrender. As we walk in the light and mature in Christ, we will be enlightened to new areas that need His enablement.   These new areas must be surrendered too, so that the Holy Spirit can give us victory and power in them. If we aren’t careful we will be tempted to handle these in our strength, and the end result will be failure.

Oswald Chambers said it succinctly when he declared that “to be our utmost for His Highest is not a matter of willing, wrestling, debating or reasoning, but of surrender.” If you want to close the gap between what you know you should be and what you are — you must close the gap between what is under your control and what is under His.

 

Authority in the Church

– May 2012

Authority in the Church

            The issue of authority in the Church has come down to us through the centuries on a sea of blood and fire. The pages of church history tell the story.  You can read of men slain by the sword or burned at the stake for questioning or acting contrary to the authority of the church. At the heart of the Protestant Reformation was the issue of church authority.  The reformers declared that Christ alone was the head of the Church and the Bible was the ultimate authority.  Many of our ancestors left their native lands to escape the heavy hand of a state church whose authority exploited rather than liberated the souls of men.  Even today, there is still a vigorous discussion by churchmen, scholars, politicians and laymen as to the church’s authority on everything from birth control to baptism.

This discussion over authority in the Church may sound somewhat benign and empty to most of the people who will read this article.  Their religious world does not include popes, archbishops, bishops or councils!  Churches within the holiness tradition function as self-governing communities or are affiliated with denominations that have a very limited form of top-down government.  Neither approach, however, has allowed the holiness church to escape the discussion or the problem of authority.  The Call to the Conservative Holiness Movement Article VI states that the CHM has been marked by “the spirit of autonomy and even anarchy. . . . Too often . . . we have exhibited rebellion against the authority structures which God Himself has established, boasting our independence of them, and refusing to submit to their godly discipline. This has been evidenced by continuing divisions among us, often over matters unconnected with allegiance to Scriptural truth.”

This is a part of the Call with which I am not completely comfortable.  The movement obviously faces issues with authority, but I think the Call paints the CHM with too broad of a brush.  I do not question the fact that there are those within the movement who have exhibited a spirit of autonomy and rebellion.  There are those whose self-serving ways and arrogant love for their own opinion has indeed spawned unnecessary division and bred much confusion.   I have watched with sadness as people have violated their word, ignored standards of ethical behavior, and broken membership vows while barely masking their obstinacy.  We have all met an Absalom, an Adonijah or a Diotrephes who would not heed any counsel but their own or follow any path but one of their own making.  But honestly, this has been the exception rather than the rule. On the contrary, most of the conservatives I know are more than willing to be led and are actually looking for leadership.  They are quite willing to take very unpopular stands and live out countercultural lifestyles in obedience to their church and conscience.  I see very little evidence that would indict them as rebels against Biblical authority or Biblically ordained authorities.  This of course is my perception, but I believe it to be a fair one.

Rather than seeing them as rebels, I see something that may be construed as rebellion.  I see confused, frustrated, and at times angry souls who are weary with leaders more willing to bow to church politics and fear than to lead with Biblical conviction and common sense. This weakness in leadership can and does produce reluctant and sometimes resistant followers, but none that should be called rebels.  I see church attendees, both young and old, who lack a proper understanding of Biblical authority.   I also see something else.  I see a generational difference in how authority is viewed and understood.   A failure to understand this generational difference may lead to labeling sincere, sanctified  people  as “rebels” who are only following their conscience and understanding as best as they can.

 A Biblical Understanding of Authority in the Church

            The concept of authority has fallen on bad times over the last few decades.  In some places if you just say the word people react negatively.  This should not surprise anyone since we have had a sad parade of politicians, policemen, professors, pastors and priests who have abused their authority and betrayed those who served under them. This abuse of authority has bred a culture of cynicism and suspicion.  It has created an environment where good authority, God’s authority, is regularly questioned.  The cure is not to abandon the important role of authority in our culture but to carefully proclaim what God says in His Word about authority.  My comments in this article are limited to authority in the church.

The classic passage quoted in the Call and in most other discussions on church authority is Hebrews 13:17a – “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account. . . .”   This is a powerful principle that serious Christians seek to follow. It is also one that has been so terribly abused that it needs clarification.  First, no preacher, teacher or leader by virtue of their calling has been granted an inherent right to rule over other people.  When I was ordained, I was given the authority “to preach the Word and administer the sacraments.”  The only authority that any pastor, teacher or church leader has is the delegated authority that comes through the Word of God and relates to the “spiritual guidance and soul safety” of those under his responsibility.  (Read Wesley’s Sermon On Obedience to Pastors.)

Secondly, the application of Hebrews 13:17 applies only to those leaders who are faithful.  All through Scripture we are warned to beware of false teachers and false shepherds. How do you judge the false from the true? You judge them by their fidelity to the Word of God, both in what they say and how they live.  Those who teach the Word faithfully and live it faithfully deserve our respect and obedience.  The pastor or leader who claims authority based on his position, or seeks to make his opinion equivalent to scripture, or tries to use religion and false guilt to make one conform to his will is completely out of line with his Biblical authority.

Thirdly, the NT does not describe the kind of church organizations we have today.  This does not mean it opposes today’s denominational structures, it just means that it primarily sees the visible church as a local community of believers led by a body of elders and deacons.  However, it does speak quite forcefully to the issues of order, authority, submission, discipline and accountability.   A person who has willingly joined a church or denomination and has given their pledge to obey the rules of membership ought to do so. They should honor and obey those in leadership and submit to the accountability and discipline of the church as outlined in the Scripture and the covenant of membership.  If they fail to do so or at some point decide not to do so, they should willingly and quietly withdraw from membership.

Church Authority and Generational Differences

The Greatest and Silent Generations  

            Christians born in the first half of the 20th century are referred to as the Greatest (1902-1924) and Silent (1925-1945) generations.  They were born into what is called the “modern era.” Their way of thinking and subsequently their worldview primarily reflects “modernity.”  They have an innate trust for the institutions of government, education and religion.  They highly value rules for morality, decency and conformity.  Issues of right and wrong fall easily and distinctly into black and white categories. They understand the way the traditional church works, see membership as important and think nothing of just doing whatever the church or church manual says.  They do not need exhaustive exegesis or detailed explanations for demands placed upon them. This is not to say that they do not think, it is only to say that these generations accept the rules without the need for “proof” or “explanation” because they believe in and trust the church and its leadership!  Even in areas they personally do not understand or do not fully agree, they are willing to go along and do what the church or pastor says because they trust the authority structures and believe it is important to obey and conform to what they are told.

As this way of thinking worked its way out in the more conservative churches, there developed a subtle emphasis on conforming to “group cultural rules of conduct.”  Conformity became more of a priority than the development of vital piety based on scriptural reflection.  Living the rules with no grasp of the principle behind them became far too common.  This resulted in at least two things worthy of observation: (1) Externals became the focus or “proof” of real heart change; (2) It became far too easy to “look right” and thus “be right” without any internalization of character or sound Biblical understanding of why they did what they did. I hope this will not be misunderstood as an indictment of insincerity or an accusation of hypocrisy – it is not!  It is an attempt to explain how this generation tended to think and act.  I do not question their earnest desire to please God!

This is the generation that pulled out of the Mainline Holiness Denominations and formed what is now called the Conservative Holiness Movement.  This is the generation that embraced without question and lived without fear what their leaders and churches had taught them.  When the Mother Church started changing values that had been held for decades, this generation voted with their feet and left the church.  I believe their actions were rooted in two things: their convictions and their culture.  Neither root is necessarily connected to rebellion.  Were there rebels who opposed the authority of the church and who were involved in the “come out”?  Of course!  But the vast majority of come outers were men and women of godly character who were simply standing by the things they had been taught.

The Boomer, Buster and Millennial Generations

By the late 1960s and early ‘70s America had fully made a dramatic shift from the “modern era” to the “post-modern” era.    The second generation of conservative holiness people (Boomers) was influenced by both modern and post-modern thought.  You can see the influence of both in the way they think and act.  The third and fourth generations of conservatives were primarily influenced by post-modernism.  Post-modern Christians think quite differently from those in the modern generation.  The post-modern generation does not have a natural trust of the institutions of government, education and church.  On the contrary, they have a deep suspicion of these institutions and the power they wield.  They reject “blind acceptance” of anything to the point of being cynical.  They grew up in the “advertising age” and learned quickly you could not believe what you read on the cereal box or heard from the media.  They look at all unsupported assertions with suspicion — especially those given in church.  They do not simply swallow what is taught or preached. They ask questions and want answers. Just because the preacher says it is wrong doesn’t make it wrong for them.  They want a clear, intellectually defensible, Biblical answer.  If answers are not forthcoming, they reject the assertions.  A large number of the early post-moderns were lost to the church because some leaders tragically confused “questions about Biblical truth” with “questioning the truth of the Bible” and classified them as compromisers or rebels.

The post-modern Christian rejects the carefully “air-brushed, compartmentalized, and rote cookie-cutter religious expressions of the previous generations.”   They prefer religious spontaneity and authenticity over mere appearances.  This has caused a post-modern generation to be slow in accepting all the traditional life-style values and standards of the conservative holiness movement.  It’s not that they reject Biblical values, but rather they reject “cookie-cutter” conformity for the sake of just “looking the part” or fitting in to the culture.  They want to know the reason and see the value of the thing they are being asked to do.  I don’t believe they have rejected the traditional values because those values lack veracity but because they have been given without explanation and applied without flexible common sense.  Parents whose post-modern kids grew up in complete conformity to these values while at home are shocked when those same kids jettison those standards after leaving home.  It some cases the rejection flows from a rebellious worldly heart, but in many cases it does not.  It flows from a heart that is seeking spiritual authenticity and from a mind that wants intellectual “buy in.”

Addressing the Problem

            Rebellion is a strong word and should be used wisely.  True rebellion against proper authority reveals a deeper rejection of God’s authority and should be treated as such. That’s why the Bible compares it to the sin of witchcraft and idolatry.  Only the Holy Spirit can root out rebellion and replace it with submission by a radical change of one’s heart.  However, if we are dealing with generational ways of thinking, then we need to understand and respond accordingly.  Christians of all generations desire authenticity.  Authenticity begins with honesty.  We must be honest with who we are, honest about our biases and prejudices, and honest in our interpretation and application of scripture.  Authenticity continues with a willingness to differentiate between what is scripture and what is tradition, what is principle and what is preference – clarifying the role of both.  However, authenticity also means that we refuse to conform to any cultural thought that is wrong but that we confront “unbiblical thinking” in every generation with the Word of God.

Romans 12:1-2 offers some remarkable insight:  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”   We can only replace bad thinking with biblical thinking by the faithful application of the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit can enlighten the mind with Biblical truth and change any way of thinking that does not align itself with God’s point of view. The Holy Spirit can also discern between resistance to generational thinking and acting and rebellion to Biblically ordained authority.  If real rebellion is present, then repentance and the relinquishment of self to God in holy surrender is the only cure for the rebel within.   We must have both, the radical change of hearts and the renewing of the mind, if we are to effectively deal with the problem of authority in this generation and in the ones to come.

Knowledge Isn’t Enough

–November of 2008

Knowledge Isn’t Enough

I have always been fascinated by what people say when they pray.  The prayers of a great saint are not only edifying but revealing.  They tell you something about the one praying as well as offer insight into the needs of those he prays for.  Reading the prayers of the apostle Paul explains what I mean (read Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-11).  The Apostle’s prayers consistently reflect two great requests: enlightenment and enablement.  Paul’s earnest desire for his spiritual children is that they might have a growing knowledge of God’s will and power to live out that will.

Paul understood the importance of knowledge.  He often began his prayer by asking that believers might be filled with spiritual wisdom, understanding, and an ever-growing knowledge of God.  This knowledge would come from scripture, the teachings of the apostles and prophets, experientially through a daily walk with Jesus, and through the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s concern that his children grow in knowledge was not simply concern for intellectual attainment but for moral and behavioral transformation. Paul wants us to know so that we can be.

Paul’s companion request was for power, not power to work signs and wonders but the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to live beautiful, holy lives that manifest the fruit of the Spirit.  Knowledge alone can’t take the wobble out of our walk.  For knowledge to effect change it must be activated.  One may be a Greek scholar and a master theologian and at the same time be a failure at living out a holy life.  One needs power to translate what one knows into what one is and does.

The natural question that should follow is, “How is this power activated in one’s life?”  Understanding the source of this power is an important first step.  It is not self-generated. It does not have its source in human invention or determination.  Paul tells the Ephesians that it is “His power”; that we are “strengthened with might through His Spirit”; and “according to the power that works in us” (meaning the power of the Holy Spirit).  To the Philippians he says that we have these fruits of righteousness “by Jesus Christ.”  To the Colossians it is “according to His glorious power” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  To the Galatians he says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh…but the fruit of the Spirit is….”  Paul makes it clear that the power to live godly lives comes only through divine enablement.

The question still remains, “How is the Holy Spirit’s power unleashed in my life?”  Again, there is something we must understand.  The power of the Holy Spirit is not a thing that we possess. It is not like a high-octane fuel additive that supercharges our spiritual engine.  The Holy Spirit is a person who lives within us in intimate relationship. He is there because we have willingly surrendered our lives to His control.  And whatever He controls He empowers.  And when He empowers, we are able to manifest the character of the God we serve.  The key to this inner strength is total surrender.  As we walk in the light and mature in Christ, we will be enlightened to new areas that need His enablement.    These new areas must be surrendered too, so that the Holy Spirit can give us victory and power in them.  If we aren’t careful we will be tempted to handle these in our strength, and the end result will be failure.

Oswald Chambers said it succinctly when he declared that “to be our utmost for His Highest is not a matter of willing, wrestling, debating or reasoning, but of surrender.”  If you want to close the gap between what you know you should be and what you are — you must close the gap between what is under your control and what is under His.

Half-Way Christians

–October of 2006

Half-Way Christians

In the early 1600s the Puritans made the arduous journey to America to establish a pure community of like-minded Christians, a “City on a Hill.” As the first generation of these settlers began to die off, their congregational churches faced a membership crisis. Full participation, or membership, had been limited to the “Visible Saints” — those who had made a public affirmation of a conversion experience. In the early days, most Puritans testified to such an experience.  But as time passed, the fires of conviction did not burn as brightly in the hearts of the second- and third-generation Puritans. Fewer of them had a “conversion experience,” and even fewer were inclined to devote themselves to the principles of the church.

In 1662, the church leadership, to confront this crisis of faith, created the Half-Way Covenant.  It provided a partial church membership for the children and grandchildren of church members.  It allowed them the rite of baptism (which opened the door to civil privileges) without having to devote themselves to the strict principles of the church or testify to a “conversion experience.”   Within a generation these partial Puritans were complete worldlings.

History has proven that it is a daunting task for parents to hand down their faith to succeeding generations.  The Book of Judges graphically describes this challenge: “The people worshipped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works He had done for Israel…. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. They worshipped the Baals and abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt.” Succeeding generations have a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. Too often the second-generation experience is a second-hand experience. The parent’s fervor for the faith becomes the children’s formalism and the grandchildren’s apathy.

This is more than a sad fact of church history.  It’s a tragedy of eternal proportions.  I have witnessed children who have grown up in the finest of Christian homes succumb to the subtleties of what one writer calls the “second generation syndrome.”  They conform to the codes and creeds of their religious subculture; they perform their Christian duties with sincerity; they speak the appropriate shibboleths with ease and familiarity; yet they lack the vital heart of basic Christianity.  Like the Rich Young Ruler, they are fine examples of religious conformity and moral integrity, but totally void of true spiritual life.

Every Christian parent wants more than anything else to have children who love and serve the Lord.  We all want to give them the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word that they are indeed Christians.  But both parents and pastors need to be very careful not to assume that because Johnny and Sally look the part they truly know God.  The new birth carries with it some unmistakable marks of spiritual life.  If these are not present, then well-meaning attempts to confirm children in the faith will never substitute for a true conversion.  God has no grandchildren.  Every generation must find God for itself and experience His saving grace. There are no half-way Christians in heaven, just totally lost ones in hell.

Subtle Shifts

–May of 2006

Subtle Shifts

In a recent revival meeting, a 50-year veteran of pastoral ministry asked me a question that is on the minds of a lot of older saints.  He said, “Are people really being converted anymore?”  This man is not just an elderly pastor asking questions with a nostalgic glance over his shoulder to the “good old days.”  He is a well-loved, highly respected man of God whose ministry has been marked by hundreds of souls finding Christ.  Frankly, his concern is valid.  Yet the answer to his question is not just a simple yes or no, it is a rather complex yes and no.

There is a tendency for American Christians to interpret what is happening in the Church through local or western eyes.  This bias has often skewed our view of what God is doing in His world particularly in the area of evangelism, revival and end-time events.  The spiritual dearth in the western church is not a reflection of what is happening in the rest of the Church.  Stories of radical, life-changing conversions are flowing out of the Orient, South America and Eastern Europe.  GBSC Missions Professor, Dan Glick, spent six weeks last summer doing a study of conversions in the Ukraine.  His report sounds like something taken right out of the pages of the book of Acts.  People are responding to the Gospel and experiencing true conversion in every part of the world.  I don’t mean to exclude America.  I witness every year many whose life has been radically changed by saving grace.  God’s kingdom is marching forward and all the armies of hell have not been able to withstand it.

However, there is some cause for concern as it relates to the American church.  I honestly believe that because of a number of subtle shifts in the presentation of today’s gospel message, there are many people who have undergone a religious transaction rather than experiencing a radical transformation.  The first of these shifts took place at the beginning of the 20th Century when the 19th Century emphasis on pursuing holiness shifted to a desire for uplifting ecstatic experiences.  The second shift took place following World War II as prosperity fueled the American economy and spilled over into the church.  There was a shift from a call to total surrender to a more general call to commitment.  (The difference is more than subtle.  Surrender tells God that I belong to Him and He can dispose of me any way He pleases.  In commitment there is no transfer of ownership.  One may or may not do what God has asked, depending on the level he wishes to be committed.)  The third shift came in the late 60s and early 70s when we started “deciding for Christ.”  Salvation was simplified to little more than signing a card.  These shifts had brought so many unconverted people into the church, that by 1980 a new battle began among religious leaders as to what it really meant to be a Christian.  At the heart of this war was the controversy over Lordship salvation.

As the 20th Century began to wind down, the church shifted again and became consumer oriented.  The gospel was stripped of its biblical vocabulary and was offered in the language of the culture.  The concepts of repentance, dying to self, and submission were abandoned and the gospel was cast in terms of benefits.  This ushered in a new round of self-help seminars and made the major selling point of the gospel what it could do for those who tried it.

Sadly, many churches have been left with what C.S. Lewis called a “truncated gospel.”  Simple assent to the gospel divorced from repentance, surrender, and a supernatural eagerness to obey is by biblical standards less than saving.  To illicit only a sense of this kind would be to secure only false conversions. And a false conversion, even by the most sincere, is still sincerely wrong.

Finding God in a Barber Shop

–September of 2005

Finding God in a Barber Shop

We have a knack of looking for God in the wrong places.  The Wise Men searched for the Christ child in the plush palaces of the capitol city of Jerusalem, only to find him in a humble home in lowly Bethlehem.  The mighty Roman legions looked for God in the glory of Rome and its Caesar, but one soldier found him hanging on a cruel cross and acknowledged that “truly this was the Son of God.”  Pilgrims have traversed the globe seeking Him everywhere from the Vatican City to Mecca.  Even holiness people ramble about the country looking for Him in the wind, fire, and earthquakes of camp meetings and conventions, while more often than not, they find Him in the still small voice of a silent moment or the sermon of an unpretentious, unknown pastor back home.

I forget this lesson occasionally, and God has to remind me that if I don’t pay close attention, I too will miss a sacred opportunity to see Him.  He used my good friend, Oscar, to teach me this lesson again.

Oscar Johnson has been a barber in the Cincinnati area for over forty years.  He is a quiet, gentle, and unassuming man who is liked by everyone.  He has enjoyed perfect health, not missing a day of work for sickness in 43 years.  However, this May a few sharp pains in his back led to a diagnosis of stage-four cancer.  It was so advanced that immediate surgery had to be performed to stabilize the lower vertebrae so his back would not collapse.  It was all so sudden that it left everyone breathless and bewildered —everyone but Oscar.  After six hours of extremely dangerous surgery, he told his family, “This has been a wonderful day.  My family and all those I love have been here together today.”

My wife and I visited him the day after surgery.  I was praying on the way to the hospital that I would say the right things to encourage him.  But when I walked into the room there was no depressed mood or sad face.  Oscar was beaming – literally smiling from ear to ear!  He said, “Oh, Brother Avery, the insurance policy I took out with God forty years ago works!  Every promise is true.  He is working out every detail.  I’m in a win-win situation.”

The outpouring of concern was overwhelming.  His customers span the religious scale from Catholics to Buddhists and Muslims to Protestants.  They wrote over two hundred cards and made at least a thousand phone calls.  Why?  Because Oscar left a clear witness to Christ to everyone who sat in his chair.  A Muslim medical doctor was so impacted by Oscar’s life that he asked Oscar the secret to his happiness.  This was a chance for Oscar to gently point him to Jesus.  The doctor brought his father from Iran to meet Oscar so he could see “the happiest man in the world.”

I could tell you of college students, professors, lawyers, business leaders, and even a Hell’s Angel-type rebel, all who were drawn to Oscar’s bedside to stand for a few moments in the presence of a man who showed them Christ by the very life he lived.

My family visited Oscar last Saturday.  With tear-filled eyes we listened to his closing words, “Brother Avery, whatever way it goes I’m still a winner.  God has wonderful things in store for me!”

So many people in the world long to see Jesus, and God is always faithful to reveal Himself.  I caught a glimpse of Him last Saturday in a hospital bed.  And I can tell you about a lot of men who saw Him and found Him in a barber shop, cutting hair.