Jimmy Carter: “…joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).

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When I first heard that former President Jimmy Carter had a mass removed from his liver, I thought what I’m assuming most people thought: “That doesn’t sound good.” The recent news that his cancer has metastasized and spread to other parts of his body is clearly not hopeful.

Cancer has been described as being like something that enters your home without being invited. It’s a remarkably complex disease that scientists are still trying to better understand, although in recent years there has been great progress in what was once termed the ‘war on cancer.’ Some cancers are now very treatable. Whereas chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was once a virtual death sentence, CML patients today can generally expect to enjoy as long a life as those who have never had the disease. That’s an incredible advance.

But former President Carter is facing something different. Now 90 years old, his family has a history of cancer. Only an optimist would say that Jimmy Carter’s outlook is good.

So what do you do when you receive news like that? You worry, you pray, you realize how much you truly love your family and appreciate your friends, you receive expressions of sympathy with gratefulness, you receive the avalanche of miracle ‘cures’ from well-meaning people with a polite smile, you talk with the best doctors you can find. You look back over your life and ask yourself if you really did what you wanted to do, you regret your bad moments, are grateful for happy memories, you go for treatment, you hope for the best, you pray some more, you read the literature and you see what the statistics say, you determine to beat the odds, you keep your family near you, you realize how much you truly love them…

What does a person really have when what matters most in this world is slipping away? Well, you have what’s in the bank. But few people have ever come to the end of their life and said, “I’m satisfied, because I had money.” Your possessions mean little or nothing when your life might be slipping away.

You have your friends. True friends are actually somewhat rare. The best definition of a friend I have seen recently was in—of all places—a liquor advertisement. It said, “My friends will walk in when the rest of the world walks out.” You feel grateful for people like that.

You have your work, the contribution you’ve made to the world through your professional life. You might refer to your “achievements,” though for many of us they would be modest indeed. Someone who has made a positive difference in the lives of others or who has made a real contribution to society has that with which to comfort themselves. Former President Carter can definitely say, “I made a difference in this world.”

You have your family. Jimmy Carter is right now able to lean on his wife and children and grandchildren and look upon his family with pride. He and his wife Rosalyn have been married for 69 years. You can know that former President Carter is grateful for his family.

But let’s think about that list. Your stuff means nothing when life is slipping away. Your friends? Yes, that’s something. If you’re blessed, so too is your work. Far more important is family. When the sun is setting on your life, family matters. Big time.

A friend recently told me she was the only one in her family still living. Her parents and siblings are deceased, and she never had children. “There’s no one I can talk to about my life when I was a child,” she said, wrestling with the changes that have come into her life. “I feel very alone.”

So what does a person really have when the finish line is fast approaching? Because while all we’ve just discussed is good, there’s still something missing.

It will come as no surprise to you at all that I don’t know Jimmy Carter. I have met him and shaken his hand, but I can’t claim to know him and he certainly doesn’t remember our encounter. But what I can tell you for certain is that what matters most to him right now is his faith in God. While I don’t know much about the reality of former President Carter’s faith, he is known to be a committed, professed Christian. As President of the United States he was open about his faith in God, and he has always maintained that Jesus Christ is his Savior. It is highly unlikely that his faith in God has ever meant more to him than it does right now.

In these difficult moments, Jimmy Carter has Jesus Christ. He knows that whatever happens to him and whatever happens with his health, his future is assured. He’s not congratulating himself about his legacy, and while he loves his family, he is most grateful for the fact that faith in Jesus will enable him to see them again.

Elderly, frail, and in failing health, Jimmy Carter has everything to look forward to. One day soon, “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). He knows that although “weeping may endure for a night…

joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

If Jesus doesn’t return first, every last one of us on this planet will die. Some will die hopeless. Others—like Jimmy Carter—will die in the hope of the return of Jesus and in the confidence of everlasting life. It seems a strange thing to me that more people don’t want to have their lives end in the same hope.
Just days ago I spoke at a dear friend’s memorial service. She was 92 and her 92-year-old husband is now enduring an unimaginably difficult time. But it was impossible to find the service a truly sad occasion. Yes, there were tears and yes, there was grieving. But in addition to the tears and the grieving was the hope—the knowledge!—that we’ll see Virginia again. And it won’t be long.

We don’t know how much time former President Carter has left. For his sake and the sake of his loved ones, I hope he has many years ahead. But if not, he will leave this world with his heart filled with hope. Hope in His Savior. His will not be an uncertain end. Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).

Even in the most challenging times, that is still good news!

Remarkable

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The town of Slough in the county of Berkshire is 36 minutes by train from Paddington Station in London, England. Slough isn’t a city, in spite of having a population of around 150,000. There are only 69 cities in all of Great Britain. A town can’t become a city in Britain except by royal decree, a process which is—unsurprisingly—complicated.

Slough is an unremarkable sort of place. Which is saying something. In a nation as remarkable and as remarkably historic as Great Britain, it’s rather something to find a place that isn’t remarkable in some fascinating way. But for a town in a remarkable country, Slough is unremarkable enough.

In 1937 the poet John Betjeman wrote this about Slough: “Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough, It isn’t fit for humans now, There isn’t grass to graze a cow. Swarm over, death!” There was some considerable concern about Slough losing its rural character as factories sprung up and dotted its landscape, and certain individuals—poets among them—were unimpressed.

But just over a month ago, a 106-year-old man died in Slough, and if his longevity wasn’t remarkable enough, his life certainly was. Chances are you’ve never heard of him, and never would have heard of him if you hadn’t read this post, in spite of the fact that his actions almost eight decades ago saved the lives of hundreds of people. He was a hero, and for decades, an unknown hero.

In late 1938, Nicholas Winton was planning a skiing vacation in Switzerland. In answer to a friend’s request for help he changed his plans and went instead to Prague, the capital city of what was then Czechoslovakia. His friend had asked him to help him to work in behalf of Jews who were feeling Hitler’s noose tighten around their collective neck. The help he gave turned into an organization dedicated to saving at-risk Jewish children. Assisted by Britain’s House of Commons, Winton—facing a barrage of obstacles—arranged for 669 Jewish children to escape Czechoslovakia and find refuge in Britain.

One who paid tribute to Sir Nicholas Winton after his death was one of those very children who grew up in England as a result of Sir Nicholas’ remarkable work, and as an adult became a Member of the British Parliament. Sir Nicholas was often compared to Oskar Schindler, but he never liked the comparison. He said, “I wasn’t heroic. I was never in danger.” 669 children and their families—many of whom perished—might have disagreed with that statement.

But what’s interesting about Sir Nicholas Winton’s actions is that the world would never have known about what he did had his wife not stumbled across a scrapbook in their attic in 1988—half a century after the fact.

He died 76 years to the day after a train carrying the largest cargo of escaping children—241 of them—left Prague bound for freedom. For 50 years no one knew that this man had done what he had done. He was subsequently honored many times, by the British government, the Czech government and by the British royal family (in receiving a Knighthood). But for half a century nobody knew what he had done, except for himself, and he felt that that was enough.

The Bible is filled with remarkable accounts of the deeds of remarkable individuals. Samson. Moses. Jael (look that one up). Paul. Children sing songs about David, Abraham, Joshua, and Zacchaeus. But there are four individuals in the book of Mark who did something utterly remarkable, yet we don’t so much as know their names.

We read in Mark 2 that Jesus was in a house in Capernaum, a house so filled with people who had gathered to hear him speak that it wasn’t possible for a concerned group of men to get their ailing friend into Jesus’ presence. You’re familiar with the story—they open up the roof of the house and lower the man into the room where Jesus sat. He was subsequently healed by the Son of God. Remarkable! But there’s a key point in Mark 2 that’s worth considering. It’s in Mark 2:3.

“And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.”

There was Jesus, the healer. There was the sick man, who was healed. But how was this miracle of healing made possible? Certainly by the power of God and nothing less. But it was facilitated by four nameless men who performed the heroic act of bringing their friend to Jesus.

We don’t know their identities, but we know their hearts. They cared for someone, enough to do something, which while not remarkable in itself—carrying the corner of a stretcher…anyone could do that—produced remarkable results.

They brought someone to Jesus. Now, they didn’t open up the Red Sea and they didn’t turn water to wine, neither did they heal a leper, nor did they cause an iron axehead to float on water. But they did something that which, while small in itself, resulted in the most remarkable thing of all—a converted human heart, a soul won to Christ and to His kingdom.

You might never save 669 children from death, and the likelihood is that you won’t ever kill a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey (at least I hope not). But can you imagine yourself helping to carry a sick man or woman into the presence of Jesus? That’s something anyone could do.

It might not be that your deeds are ever feted. Even in the church it’s usually the more “spectacular” feats that are celebrated. But doing something for Jesus—no matter how small—to bring someone to faith in Him?

Even if your name is never mentioned, your work for Jesus will be seen by God, and appreciated through eternity.

And that’s remarkable.

Tragedy in our Backyard

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Perhaps one of the most surprising things about today’s tragedy in Chattanooga is that nobody I spoke to or heard really seemed surprised that it happened.
That’s not to say we expected this sort of thing to happen in our home town. Nobody “expects” this sort of thing to occur. But it’s a sad indictment of the times in which we live that when 4 people are murdered and a law enforcement official is injured and the perpetrator of the horrible crimes is “neutralized” (as the media reported) in a town generally considered a great place to live, that nobody said “this couldn’t happen here!”
Because in our heart of hearts we all know that something like this can happen here. Wherever “here” might be.
Chattanooga isn’t Detroit, or New Orleans, or Newark (depending on which list you read, the cities with the highest murder rates in the United States). This is Chattanooga, a city people are flocking to, the city with the blazing fast internet, the place where rock-climbers and cyclists and outdoorsy-types come to enjoy the blessings of nature, a city with a church on every street corner (or so it seems)… And yet here we are looking at each other and saying, “Yes, it happened here.”
You see, evil doesn’t discriminate. Satan isn’t looking for willing hearts in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago only. Humanity’s fall into sin affected all of humanity, and wherever there is a sinner disconnected from God and empty of the Holy Spirit, anything is possible. In my town, your town, or whatever town was once considered paradise.
Whenever a person—any person—chooses to go it alone without the indwelling presence of Christ, anything becomes possible as far as evil is concerned. It isn’t a matter of geography, of city or rural, black or white, or rich or poor. Evil is a matter of the heart, and anyone with a pulse and without a surrender to Jesus is ultimately powerless to resist the allure of evil.
Paul stated it clearly when he said in Romans 7:15, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” Realizing he was stuck in sin and incapable of subduing his own corrupt heart, Paul cried out to God saying in verse 24, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Now there’s a question. Who? Who can deliver a person from his or her own evil impulses? Who can subdue desires that virtually compel an individual to commit atrocities? Who could have given Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez the presence of mind and the inner strength to let his anger go and channel his energies into something other than a tragedy of immense proportions?
In Romans 7:25, Paul provides the answer when he writes: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
And there it is. Through Jesus, the human heart can be tamed. Through Jesus, a sinner can find deliverance from temptation. Through Jesus, the power of sin can be broken. Through Jesus—only through Jesus.
This afternoon our staff gathered to pray for those affected by what happened in Chattanooga. We’ve been affected at It Is Written, because this has happened in our own backyard. Our Associate Producer and our Sign Language Interpreter were filming Every Word devotionals just a few hundred yards from where the first shots were fired in this horrible drama. They were entirely safe the entire time, but the fact was they were within shouting distance of the unfolding of the worst criminal act to affect our city in years. We thank God that they were protected.
Yet several people were not. A police officer was injured, four Marines were murdered, and a criminal lost his life in a shoot-out with police. Tonight, there will be people crying themselves to sleep as a result of this crime. As a result of the outworking of evil. As a result of hearts not being submitted to the keeping of the Holy Spirit.
None of us are safe from the effects of sin, and none are above falling into sin if we are not yielded to God. Only in Christ are we secure from the effects, the presence of the power of sin.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Tarnished Legacies

I read with interest a New York Times article titled, “The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders.” It discussed three giants of business and innovation: Elon Musk (who co-founded Pay Pal and is the brains behind Tesla automobiles and the Space X aerospace company), Jeff Bezos of Amazon and the late Steve Jobs, who turned Apple into, well, Apple.

All three men have breathed the rarified air of success at the highest levels. In their chosen fields they have achieved what many others would not have even attempted, and they were revolutionaries in their respective fields of endeavor.

However, beyond their brilliance—according to the New York Times article—the three men have one other thing in common. They are (or were) capable of being—in the opinion of people close to them—first-class jerks.

Steve Jobs’ biographer, Walter Isaacson says of Jobs, “Nasty was not necessary. It hindered him more than it helped him.” Jobs had a penchant for verbally abusing employees, for being ruthlessly hard as a boss, and frequently resorting to insults and put-downs.

The Times quoted one of Musk’s former associates as saying: “He can be so gentle and loyal, and then hard on people when it isn’t necessary.” Brad Stone, who wrote “The Everything Store,” a book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon wrote that Bezos “was capable of hyperbole and cruelty in these moments, and over the years delivered some devastating rebukes to employees.” In his review of Stone’s book, Duff McDonald wrote, “It’s hard to tell if anybody likes [Bezos].”

The following is from the aforementioned New York Times article, written by Tony Schwartz:

Mr. Jobs drove around without a license on his car, and he regularly parked in spaces reserved for the handicapped. As Mr. Ive said of his attitude, “I think he feels he has a liberty and a license to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him.” Amazon employees collected examples of Mr. Bezos’s most eviscerating put-downs, including, “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” “Why are you wasting my life?” and “I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”

Jobs died in 2011 at the age of 56, and if Jesus doesn’t return first, Musk and Bezos will likewise “go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2). Musk is currently worth more than 13 billion dollars, while Bezos’ personal fortune is estimated to be almost 42 billion, making him the 15th richest person on the planet, positioned on the rich list between Mark Zuckerberg, and former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. But for all that, both Musk and Bezos are reportedly reviled by many of those who know them best.

Very clearly, the three men profiled in the article have more than their fair share of redeeming qualities. They are/were all outstanding businessmen who in many ways improved society and the lives of millions of people. All three have given millions of dollars to charity and have created thousands upon thousands of jobs.

But…

Steve Jobs is now remembered for being brilliant, and a not-very-nice person. Bezos and Musk are apparently cut from the same cloth. Who wants to be remembered that way?

There’s no question that Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos will all be remembered for being visionary leaders. But in terms of character, it could be that history will not smile upon them. Theirs may well be tarnished legacies.

It’s likely—from a human perspective—that there are reasons these man act the way they do. Most of us will never know the pressure of having thousands of employees depending on your ability to keep your company ahead of the pack. Most of us will never go to bed at night knowing that the decisions we made during the day could potentially cost a lot of people billions of dollars. Your company makes a bad decision and you have to rebuild a deck or repaint a kitchen. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos make a bad decision and millions of people don’t get their orders on time or a space craft doesn’t survive takeoff. Big stuff.

However, that can’t really serve as an excuse. If it did, we’d all find reasons for the bad behavior we sometimes exhibit and we’d become more tolerant of it even as others grow less tolerant of us. How do you live in this world and operate under pressure, and still be nice?

Three Biblical principles address that question.

Kindness: 1 Peter 2:23 (NKJV) says of Jesus, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus did not retaliate or seek to get even, because he was constantly surrendered to His heavenly Father.

Submission: Psalm 141:3. “Set a watch, o Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” It’s important to pray that God will guard your tongue and guide you in what to say.

Humility: James 4:10. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” There’s no eternal future in pride, in putting yourself above another and failing to consider the feelings and concerns as others.

We might not all rise to the heights of a Steve Jobs, but we interact with others and affect those in our circle of influence. How will you be remembered? What sort of legacy will you leave? Remember—failure now does not guarantee failure tomorrow.  2 Corinthians 4:16 states, “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Romans 12:2 invites us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Mission: Mongolia

Mongolia Boy by Yves MonnierMongolia, the land of Genghis Khan, is the 19th largest country in the world. In spite of its vast amount of land, the total population of Mongolia is barely 3 million people. Would you believe that over half those people live in one city?! That city is Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Many of these inhabitants live in gers, the traditional housing of nomadic people in Mongolia, without running water and electricity.

When communism fell and the Soviet military left the country, one of the sad legacies of the former regime was that there were no Christians left in the land. 23 years later, only 3% of the population is Christian. Most people consider themselves as either non-religious or Buddhist.

This fact makes Mongolia one of the most interesting places to proclaim the good news of Jesus. It Is Written is excited to be part of a three year project to introduce the people of Mongolia to Jesus.

Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world. The people endure eight months of cold weather every year with an average winter temperature of -13°F.

Mongolians have traditionally been nomads  who moved from place to place seeking new pastures for their herds. However, things are rapidly changing. Over the last few years people have been moving to the large city in droves with the hope of finding a better and easier life.  Consequently, the majority of the country’s population lives in Ulaanbaatar.

While living in rural areas Mongolians were able to enjoy the space that was provided by the vast plains of the country. Now, though, people live in a city that has an infrastructure for a fraction of the present population. The new inhabitants live in overcrowded conditions in an area called the “Ger District.”

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The term ger refers to the white circular tent that Mongolians have used as an abode for hundreds of years. It is a one-room tent with a central post and a stove in the middle, where people live, eat, and sleep. Multiple families often live in one ger. Most of the gers have no running water and so in the dead of the winter, -40°F, people have to fetch water from water stations.

The Amazing Grace, Yarmag, and Tolgoit Churches, where our teams of volunteers will be working, are located in different areas of the Ger District—ideal places for evangelism. Through medical evangelism we are hoping to make many friends for Jesus.

Over the next couple years It Is Written is organizing several medical mission trips to care for the needy and to promote a healthy lifestyle in Mongolia. The first of these trips will be this fall, from September 30 to October 11.

Mongolia needs you. Are you ready to be a blessing to a people who desperately need to know about Jesus? For more information please contact:

Yves Monnier yves@iiw.org or Raul Vila, MD rajavica2003@yahoo.com

Prison Break

Two convicted murderers have dominated the news since they made an improbable escape from a maximum security prison 20 miles south of the Canadian border.  Using power tools, the two men—one serving a life sentence and the other doing 25 years to life—cut through a steel plate, brick walls and pipes, and made their way through a sewer on their way to the outside world.  Within days they were being pursued by 700 law enforcement officials, and a reward of $100,000 was offered for information leading to their arrest.

One former Clinton Correctional Facility inmate said that when his incarceration there he and other prisoners thought about escaping “all the time.”  Something within the human heart drives us to want to be free and something in the heart of God desires that His children experience freedom.

After James was executed, the apostle Peter was imprisoned in Jerusalem. It seemed that Peter’s loss of freedom was going to be followed by the loss of his life. But God had other ideas. There would be a prison break

Acts 12:5 says, “But constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” While Peter slept—bound with chains between two Roman soldiers—“an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands” (Acts 12:7).  Peter was led by an angel past prison guards to the prison gate, which opened before Peter allowing him to walk to freedom.

And God is still setting people free! Yet even though slavery ended in the United States 150 years ago, many people are still in bondage. Sin has made slaves of the very people Jesus died to save, people God is willing to set free—if only they are willing to be freed.

When Peter was liberated from his prison cell, it was the angel that secured Peter’s freedom. All Peter had to do was be willing to be freed, and to cooperate with the angel as the angel led the way to liberty.

The same is true in the experience of sinners today. The plan of salvation originated with God. Salvation was purchased through the death of Jesus. Forgiveness is secured through the blood of Jesus. Power for holy living is granted through the Holy Spirit. In other words, everything concerning the plan of salvation is provided for us. Those who accept what God has done and follow His leading will be led to freedom.

I remember a pastoral visit to a penitentiary to visit an inmate who had been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. I’ll never forget the feeling that gripped me when I saw the size of the tiny prison cell he called home. I recoiled at the thought of any person having to be locked away in such a small space for the rest of his or her life. But the man I visited that day had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and had experienced the freeing miracle of salvation. I knew that the majority of people living outside the walls of that prison were in fact prisoners, shut up in the prison house of sin.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus died so we might live. He offers eternal life to the world. He offers eternal life to you

The two men who escaped from the prison in upstate New York aren’t expected to spend long in the outside world. Prison escapees rarely elude capture for long. That kind of prison break is destined to fail.

But if you live your life in connection with Jesus Christ, you can’t help but experience the freedom of a new life in Him. And “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

SALT: It Is Written School of Evangelism

Each year SALT holds two training sessions. The mission to share with others how to be a soul-winner is the same for both, but we understand that availability to receive training for each person is different. Either SALT curriculum is an excellent choice as they are similar in spirit, purpose, and content; they only differ in format and duration.

There is the main session, widely known and referred to as SALT, which is a three and one-half month training segment. Participants are taught by Southern Adventist University professors in the classroom and given hands-on training, as they work with heavy mentorship as a life-coach and evangelist each week in the field. After the program has finished participants receive a Bible-worker certification from the university!

For those not able to take such an amount of time off as SALT requires, there is the Summer SALT intensive; spanning no longer than one week. SALT staff members and guest lecturers teach summer SALT seminars, and cover many of the different facets of evangelism. Ultimately, participants are taught how to share the word of God and lead others to make a decision for Christ.

No matter your background or schedule, there are opportunities for you to be trained on how to be a soul-winner for God’s kingdom. At SALT, we look forward to you taking advantage of this training and leading others to know Jesus Christ. Remember, “You are the SALT of the earth” (Matthew 5:13).

Find out more at southern.edu/salt

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Expert Testimony

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The death penalty is a subject that arouses strong feelings among those on both sides of the question. According to a Gallup poll, support for the death penalty peaked in the United States in 1994, when 80% of Americans claimed to support capital punishment. In 2013, that number had dropped to 60%.

The United States is one of few countries in the world where the death penalty is enforced. Less than 20% of nations in the world carry out the death penalty.

I’ll never forget reading about a man who was executed in the United States for a crime he quite apparently never committed. At the trial the jury listened to expert testimony which claimed the man was guilty. Later testimony by other experts contradicted that earlier evidence, but by then it was too late—and the man was executed protesting his innocence.

It’s difficult to know who to trust, whose testimony is actually accurate—and lives often depend on that. There are many voices in this world vying for your attention, voices claiming to be telling the truth. But there’s only one voice you can trust one hundred percent. 

2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is inspired. By God. You can trust it. Sometimes we don’t understand it, and there are times we don’t interpret it correctly. But in such cases, the problem isn’t with the Bible, but rather our understanding of it. 

You can trust the Bible. It’s genuine “Expert Testimony.”

Looking Forward—Remembering Warren Judd

The world is full of sadness and sad news. Right now in various parts of the world there are wars being fought, floods unexpectedly taking lives, lethal heatwaves, and crippling droughts. And daily, people are dying for any number of tragic reasons.

In the past few weeks, several people I have known well have died far too soon. One was a dear friend of mine who left behind a pre-teen daughter when cancer prematurely ended her life. Another friend, It Is Written Associate Speaker Ron Halvorsen recently lost his battle with cancer. And just today Warren Judd, a long-time friend of the It Is Written ministry, has laid down his armor and gone to his rest.

Warren learned right around a year ago that he was facing health challenges. He had worked beyond retirement age, and was a picture of health: tall and lean, positive, active in life and ministry, part of a vibrant family and possessing an ardent faith in God. Not the typical cancer patient by any means, although cancer so often does what isn’t “typical.”

As the manager of the facility where It Is Written was located for many years, Warren dealt with our It Is Written team on virtually a daily basis. Warren loved people, and he loved ministry. A creative thinker, he was always kind in his dealings with others—even if they were not kind in their dealings with him. He was a gentleman. And now he rests, waiting for the resurrection.

We’re reminded yet again that life is precious, that life is fragile, that nothing in this world is guaranteed, that every day is a gift and that family and friends and faith in God are the truly important things in this world.

Over the weekend I had lunch with friends who had lost a year-old grandson to cancer. Someone asked me, “Why does the wages of sin have to be so severe?” I wondered if God—who witnessed the death of His own Son—ever considered the same thought.

But we’re reminded—again—that believers in Jesus have everything to look forward to. In God’s providence, this world is not where everything ends. There will soon be a great, getting-up morning. The dead in Christ shall rise. We’ll see our loved ones again. We’ll be reunited with family and friends. God is His providence has designed a perfect plan. Even death cannot prevent God’s ultimate design from being carried out.

And we’re also reminded that we possess the answers to precious few of life’s challenging questions. Why should a man of faith come down with a terminal illness? Why are some healed and others are not? Why does God not always answer our prayers for deliverance from illness? While answers are somethings hard to find, the True Answer is not. When confronted by questions like these, rather than ask Jesus for the answer, it might be better to remember that Jesus is the answer. Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The Bible tells us that “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). 

And miracles come in many shapes and shades. This morning in our staff worship—as we prayed for a miracle for Warren and his family—two experiences were shared concerning people who were told they had tested positive for cancer, only to be told when surgery was performed that no cancer was present. Miracles? It would seem so  Miracles, or misdiagnoses. But let’s say they were in fact miracles—which seems to be the case. Why was there not a miracle in Warren’s case?

Ah, but there was. Cancer is a terrible diagnosis to receive. And yet since Warren was diagnosed with cancer, he and his family have only radiated positivity, trust, and faith in God. Which isn’t to say a family doesn’t have challenging moments. But as the news got progressively more grim for Warren and his family, reports from Warren’s family exuded increasing faith in God and surrender to His Sovereign will. An attitude of constant faith and trust in God in the face of a brutally challenging diagnosis is as much a miracle of divine grace as healing from a difficult illness.

God doesn’t always reveal His goodness through the absence of challenging circumstances. Often, God’s goodness is experienced in the midst of challenging circumstances.

We have everything to look forward to. Keep looking forward! Jesus is coming back soon.

[photo courtesy of North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists]

It Is Written Puts Down Roots in Collegedale, Tennessee

On May 13, 2015, global Christian media ministry, It Is Written, purchased property at 9342 Four Corners Place in Collegedale. The ministry is relocating from California after nearly sixty years due to the sale of their former location. The ministry is currently operating out of leased office space near Collegedale, but will soon begin building a new media headquarters. A ground breaking will be announced at a later date.

“We are so excited to make Collegedale, Tennessee our new home,” John Bradshaw, Speaker/Director for It Is Written said, “We quickly felt right at home in Tennessee, and we are thrilled to continue to share the love of Jesus with the world from our new location.”

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Pictured left John Bradshaw (Speaker/Director of It Is Written) and with Gordon Bietz (President Southern Adventist University).

It Is Written is best known around the world for its weekly television series which has aired every Sunday for 59 years. Today, It Is Written can be seen on multiple networks including TBN, The Discovery Channel, The Hope Channel, 3ABN, and LLBN. The weekly programs feature Pastor Bradshaw and provide spiritual guidance and encouragement on a variety of Biblical subjects.

It Is Written began in March 1956, when founder George Vandeman began a then innovative concept of televising religious programing from southern California. Over the years, the ministry has had the opportunity to share the word of God with many countries including areas where there are very few Christians and where there is great resistance to the gospel.

In recent years, It Is Written has received 32 Angel awards from the Excellence in Media organization for promoting high moral values and has also received three Aurora awards and 12 Telly awards including the Silver Telly. Its most recent Telly award was received in 2014 for the “Eyes for India” television program.

 

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From left to right: Jesse Johnson (It Is Written Manager), Marty Hamilton (Associate Vice President Southern Adventist University), Tom Verrill (Senior Vice President Southern Adventist University), John Bradshaw (It Is Written Speaker/Director), Gordon Bietz (President Southern Adventist University), Charles Reel (It Is Written Treasurer), Jeff Blumenberg (It Is Written Trust Officer).