Archive for May, 2008

George Muller, hero

Friday, May 30th, 2008

This morning, I want to talk about a hero.

Now, my parents are my all-time heroes.  In the near future I’ll explain why.

George Muller, 1805-1898 But, I also have some heroes among historic Christians — people I look up to and respect and attempt to emulate.  Chief among these is George Muller.

 Muller was born in Germany and lived a self-indulgent, sinful life until he was about 20.  At that time he was saved when he was invited by a friend to a Bible study in somebody’s home.

He eventually went to England for training with the London Missionary Society, but parted ways with them some time later, after much prayer, when he found that he could not agree to one of their doctrinal statements.

He then was called to preach at a small country church.  One of the first things he did was to abolish the practice of renting pews at the church, which was the traditional way that pastors were supported at the time.  Instead, he put a collection box at the door.

Muller soon gained the respect and admiration of the church members — a difficult thing to do for a foreigner in rural England speaking with a heavy German accent.

After some times of trial and success, he was invited to pastor at a chapel in Bristol.  It was during his time at Bristol that he began the ministry to orphans for which he is so famous today.  He started by renting one house as a home for orphans and ended up, years later, building several orphanage buildings and caring for thousands of orphans.

He did this without ever asking anyone for a penny.  Instead, he prayed in everything he needed for himself and the ministry.  He determined early-on that he would never tell anyone of his needs, except God.  He would then spend much time in prayer, asking God to lay the needs upon the hearts of Christians that could help.

 And it worked!

During his lifetime, Muller lived as a penniless man.  He never had a fancy house, fancy clothes, a fancy carriage, or any other extraordinary material thing.  But, vast sums of money passed through his hands and was used to care for the orphans, print Bibles, print tracts, and even support missionaries (such as Hudson Taylor).

He was a calm and humble man, not easily excited and never bragging on himself.  There wasn’t a self-promotional bone in his whole body.

Had he decided to pursue what this world has to offer, he could have been a very wealthy man.  He had the wisdom, savvy, and self-discipline to excel at any business he might have put his hand to.  Instead, he went about God’s business … and God took care of his every need.

Muller loved door-to-door visiting.  He enjoyed talking one-on-one with people about what God could do for them.  He loved prayer, and often spent hours with God before other people even got out of bed in the morning.

George Muller was asked one day what was the “secret” of his success.  He replied that there came a day when George Muller died — and as George Muller’s wants, wishes, and desires diminished they were replaced with God’s wants and desires.  The more control God had, the more the ministry prospered.

George Muller is my greatest hero among those Christians who have passed on.  Lord, give us more men and women like him, and let me be one of them!

I can’t wait …

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I have almost finalized the daily schedule for this fall’s preaching meetings with Evangelist Mike Patterson ( http://www.comemissions.com/Patterson.htm ) at our church in Kingfield, Maine.  The meetings will be every evening September 7 through 11.  Bro. Patterson is preaching every evening, but also preaching will be Bro. Russ Williams of Sanbornville, NH; Bro. Paul McLaughlin, of Hope Haven Gospel Mission in Lewiston, ME; my father, Ronald J. Meldrum, who pastored in eight Baptist churches over 45 years; and myself.

I’ll be posting the final information here, along with directions for anyone who might be up in this part of the country.  It’s going to be a great time, and I know already that God is going to do some great things this fall!

Subway apologizes to home schoolers

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

For those who have been foloowing the Subway story, the Subway Restaurant chain apologized today to home schoolers for excluding home-schooled children from their latest essay contest.    That being said, home-schooled kids are still prohibited from participating in the contest.  Subway says that “next time” they will include home schoolers.  The full story can be read at:

 http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65585

At the end of the day, Subway can do whatever they want.  What surprises me, though, is that home schooling is still treated as an afterthought by anyone.

There are huge numbers of children being home schooled today.  It has proven over time to be a valid, valuable, and effective method of education.  Home schoolers have won that national spelling bee, the national geography bee, and many other significant contests.  Graduates of home schools have gone to college and out into the business world, proving to be resounding successes in society.  There is probably not one community in the nation that does not have at least one home-schooled child in it.

 Our children are home schooled.  Like many home schooled kids, they learned to measure by doing home repair projects with dad.  They learned fractions cooking with mom.  The real-world learning opportunities afforded by the home-school environment have simply proven to be invaluable to the children.  This is one reason home schools run by moms with high school educations consistently graduate children that can easily compete toe-to-toe with (some might even say exceed) children educated by professionals with M.A.’s and PhD’s in the government schools.

You would expect home schoolers to be pooh-poohed and excluded by those with vested interests in the educational establishment.  They perceive home schooling to be a threat, so they respond accordingly.

However, there is no excuse or justification these days for home schoolers to be treated as an afterthought in other segments of society.  We are present everywhere.  We represent a huge demographic.  Home-schooling families are often very much involved in their communities, churches, and special events.

 It’s time for the old prejudices to go away.  Home schooling has proven itself equal to the task over a generation, producing literate, successful, stable, and exceptionally well-rounded citizens in our communities.

It’s time for the government’s monopoly (control) of education to go away.  The government has proven itself unequal to the task of providing safe schools, objective teaching, and a cost-effective educational system.

While we say “thank you” to Subway for deciding to include home-schooled children in it’s next contest, we also thank them for reminding us that the struggle for acceptance is far from over.  There are still those that intentionally or unintentionally attempt to marginalize and diminish us.

Well, “I have a dream” — a dream that some day every child in America will have the opportunity of a home education, a dream that our children will be finally accepted for the exceptional successes that they are, and a dream that “those home-school kids” will no longer be an afterthought but seen as part of the whole.

Praise for answered prayer!

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Over the weekend, our washing machine stopped working.  We’ve been nursing it along for a couple years now and have no means to get a new one.  We prayed about it, and the very next day my wife’s sister came a across a machine (a little smaller, but in great working condition) that a friend was getting rid of.  The friend was moving to a new place that already had a washing machine, so she was leaving the old one.  In answer to prayer, we got a perfectly useable washing machine at no cost.  Praise God!

Obama vs. McCain?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Of all the presidential elections in my lifetime, this has been the one I have been the least interested in.  There is no good choice among all of the potential candidates, which leaves me quite uninterested in voting.

Had Huckabee remained in the race, maybe there would be a reason to go to the polls.  But … McCain?  McCain is so far to the left that he could just as well run as a Democrat. 

I have heard more than one Republican say they intend to vote for Obama.  This creates a problem for the Republican Party.  McCain needs the conservative voter bloc to turn out in great numbers in order to win the election.  However, he has betrayed the conservatives so many times, that this large bloc of voters has no inclination to vote for him.  McCain, on his own, cannot get the conservative vote.

If Hillary Clinton were to get the Democrat Party nomination, her presence in the election would have motivated the conservative voter base to turn out en masse in November just to vote against her by voting for McCain.  Plus, the less conservative replublicans would be more committed to McCain because of Hillary’s association with the Bill Clinton presidency, and her wild attempt to grab control of the health care industry with her failed universal care plan.

If Obama gets the nomination, McCain’s goose is cooked.  McCain doesn’t have the integrity with conservative voters to get them to turn out for him, and many middle-of-the-road Republicans will be actually voting for Obama.  Because of his relatively unknown past (not much political baggage, plus the perception of being “fresh” and “different”), coupled with his commanding and authoritative oratory style, he will capture huge swathes of Republican voters.  In an Obama-McCain race, Obama will be the next President of the United States.

Where does that leave us?  Well, our next president will either be bad or worse.  But, it won’t be the first time that God has judged a nation by placing a bad ruler over it.

Homeschoolers excluded from Subway essay contest

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

For those who missed it over the weekend, the media picked up a story about Subway Sandwich shops excluding home schoolers from an essay contest:

http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65217

I’m sure Subway very quickly regretted this marketing faux pas.

 The humourous part of it all was that the essay contest rules featured two very prominent typos!  Read the article for yourself — even if you don’t home school, it’s worth the read.

Remembering the Cost

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

On Memorial Day we remember those who have given their lives for this heritage of freedom we have here in the United States.  Although our freedoms — such as the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the ability to prosper in life through hard work and risk-taking, the right to have our religion protected from government abuses and control — are being undermined and reduced almost daily, our country is still the best place in the world to live, in my opinion.

I don’t like to preach sermons tailored to the world’s holidays.  However, on Memorial Day weekend each year, I do like to bring a message, as God allows, to remind people of the spiritual heritage that has been purchased for us.  I’m talking about the people who have given their lives in the name of God and free worship long before The United States was even a nation.

I’m talking about people like Lady Anne Askew who was tortured so cruelly by the Romanists in 1545 and 1546 in England that she had to be carried to the stake on which she was burned, unable to walk.  Her crime?  She refused to go to mass.  She said, “I had rather to read five lines in the Bible, than to hear five masses in the temple.”  Her body chained to the stake because she could no longer hold it erect, and the wood piled about her ready to be ignited, she was offered a full pardon if only she would recant.  She replied that she “came not thither to deny her Lord and Master” and at that was burned alive.

We know so little of persecution for God’s sake.  It’s happening throughout all the world around us, yet we live here in our abundance and freedom barely concerned that our brothers and sisters are enduring the same trials as our ancestors, all for the sake of their faith in God.

I read in a magazine article that a leader in a house-church in China said, “We are such young Christians. We look up to the U.S. for living examples of how to lead Christian lives.”

How disappointed our Chinese brothers and sisters must be!  The typical American Christian — and I’m speaking of those who do faithfully attend church — has much to learn from our Chinese brethren.

We are so accustomed to religious freedom that, to us, persecution is being told that we can’t pray before a football game, or that we can’t wear our “John 3:16″ shirt to work.  In China, standing for Christ can mean losing your job, being arrested and/or beaten by the police, having your home taken away, being sent to a “Re-education” camp (1-5 years hard labor), or being imprisoned and tortured for years.  We have so much to learn from our brethren in China and elsewhere in the world, where commitment to the Lord means more than just embarassment or inconvenience.

Our freedom to worship has been purchased with a price, and if we lose sight of that price and those who paid it, we will lose not only our freedom but also the special insight and awareness that comes from living a sacrificial life conscious of the true cost of our commitment to Christ.  So few of us have had to pay that cost ourselves, because other people have paid it for us.

People like the nine-year-old son of John Fetty in 1558 London.  While Fetty was imprisoned by the Romanists for being a “heretic”, his son went to the bishop’s house to ask if he could see his father.  When a priest told him that his father was a heretic, young Fetty replied, “My father is no heretic; but you are an heretic.”  At those words, the priest grabbed the child and amongst the priests in the bishop’s house they stripped the boy and abused him, whipping the child mercilessly with a scourge until his whole body was covered in blood.  The bishop, concerned that the abuse of the boy might cause some negative publicity, decided to release the father and send him home carrying the bloodied body of his child.  The young Fetty boy died of his wounds fourteen days later.

People like the group of Christians meeting in a farmer’s field in Islington, England, for prayer and Bible study because they did not feel it was right to go to mass.  They were apprehended during one of their meetings and put in chains. Henry Pond, Ronald Eastland, Robert Southam, Matthew Ricarby, John Floyd, John Holiday, Roger Holland, and more than a dozen others were burned at the stake for daring to seek God outside of the Romanist organization.

People Like William Tyndale, who was kidnapped from his home-in-exile in Holland and brought back to England, where he was burned at the stake by the Romanists.  His crime?  Translating the Bible into English so that all his countrymen could read it for themselves.

Yet, in all of our freedom and abundance, we are embarassed to carry our Bible into a public place or pray before a meal at a restaurant.  Have we so soon forgotten the price what was paid so that we could carry our Bible publicly?  So that we could pray in public places without fear of arrest or attack?  So that we could worship God on Sunday with the church and in the manner of our choice?

My family can rarely go out to eat, but when we do we always pause first and pray aloud, thanking God for the meal and asking His blessing upon it.  A couple years ago, a waitress approached us and said, “It’s so good to see you do that — I never see people do it anymore.”  I was grateful that she said something to us, but when I thought more about it, her words seemed very sad.  With over 85% of the people in the United States claiming to be “Christian”, wouldn’t you expect about 85% of the people eating in restaurants to pause and thank God for their meal before they eat?  Do Christians no longer believe that it is important to thank God for a meal and ask His blessing upon it, or are we too embarassed to be seen praying in public?

Christian, if you won’t pray in a restaurant then don’t get all stirred up when some official says we can’t pray before a sporting event — you’ve already chosen your side.  If you are too embarassed to carry your Bible in a public place, then don’t get upset when they tell our kids they can’t bring their Bibles to school — you’ve already cast your vote to marginalize Jesus in our culture.

How little we understand the cost of the freedom we enjoy.  How little we speak and teach of the price that was paid so that we can freely worship God and have a Bible in our own language.

When we hear or read of accounts of Christians in far corners of the world being persecuted for the Name of Christ, we should not respond “oh, those poor people,” but instead understand “but for the Grace of God, there go I.”  Yes, we should have pity, but we should have more respect for them than pity.

We have the freedoms we enjoy today because somebody else paid the price for us.

We could look at example-upon-example of how that price was paid for us, but let’s go right to the question:

What are we doing with the freedom that has been purchased for us at the cost of blood and fire?

In India, groups of Christians go out on the streets handing out tracts and witnessing.  They are often beat up by the moslems and hindus, sometimes daily, but you simply can’t stop them from going out again and again.

In the USA, you have to plead and beg for people to go out on the streets handing out tracts and witnessing, and in most cases, you simply can’t get them to go.

Why is it so much easier for an Indian Christian to go out into the streets facing beatings and death than it is for an American to go out in the face of only embarassment?

The churches are growing in India and China, despite the persecution and lack of resources there.  Yet in the USA, in the midst of our freedom and abundance, churches are shrinking and closing.  Christians are multiplying in remote parts of Africa and South America where churches are advancing, but here in the U.S. churches are retreating.  How can it be that people living in such poverty and destitution, under the threat of beatings and death for simply living as a Christian, are advancing the cause of Christ at an unimaginable rate, while Christians in our country, with such comparative riches, opportunity, and immense freedoms are achieving so little?

On Memorial Day, we will remember the soldiers who gave their lives for the heritage of freedom we enjoy in America today.  Let’s not forget to remember also those who have given their lives to purchase the spiritual heritage we enjoy today.

If we forget the price that was paid, and we treat it lightly, then it may be that we will one day lose it in our complacency, requiring our children to pay again that high cost of religious freedom.

When Christians Spam

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

This has bugged me for a long time.

 I get about 600 spam messages per day to my various e-mail addresses.  Most of them get caught and eliminated by the junk mail filters in Thunderbird, but about 10% of them get through.  And, even though my e-mail client filters out the bulk of them, I still have to wait while they are all downloaded.

This is such a waste of time — and time is at a premium for me, as it probably is for you.  Between the web sites, the church, the ministry, personal study and prayer, and the family, there isn’t any “extra” time, so when something takes more time than it ought to, that time has to come from one of the these areas.

 Every time I get junk mail, the person who sent the junk mail has stolen time from my on-line ministry, the church, my off-line ministry, my personal prayer and study time, or my family.

But this isn’t just a rant against spammers.  I expect the world to behave that way.  I expect the world to try to steal my time and my money.  I expect the world to try to hinder my ministry and attack my family.

What I didn’t expect was for Christians to do it.  I don’t know why I didn’t expect it — Christians today have such a casual attitute morality, ethics, and character, that it is not at all uncommon to see Christians behaving, talking, singing, and looking just like the rest of the world.

 My bubble was burst about 18 months ago, when there was a sudden surge in spam … from Christians.  It wasn’t just the fact that it was from Christians, but that it was specifically from Baptists.  One in particular even had the gall to send me a “thank you” note for joining their e-mail list.

When one of these people send out a junk mailing, I get about ten or twelve copies of it because so many of my e-mail addresses are on junk mail lists.  The Christian spam comes mostly to support e-mail addresses that could only have been obtained by harvesting them from my web site (then sold to anyone with a nickel).

I can understand sending e-mail messages to people who have subscribed to your mailing list.  I can even understand sending periodic messages to people who have joined your web site or shopped at your store, as long as you give them a change to opt out with every e-mail.  In all of these cases, there is a pre-existing relationship between you and the person receiving the e-mail.  As long as that pre-existing relationship exists and you provide a way to opt-out with every mailing, I don’t see a problem with bulk mailings and am not personally offended at receiving them.

However, it’s an entirely different matter  when someone pruchases or rents a harvested list and blasts 10,000 or 100,000 e-mails out to people on the list.  Christians should know better — yet the junk mails keep on coming.  And my time keeps getting stolen.

 I’ll talk some more about this in a few days …