Sunday, October 20, 2013

Summing up the Trip

Bible study with some students from university

Another Bible study. These three are saved and most interested. After a one on one study with Steven, he agreed to let me cut his hair. He is on far left of both pictures. Who needs are license to be a barber? 

A handful of godly women.

Fronds from the native fern trees.


Identical twins 

The garden has more varieties that I didn't take a picture of. I can't imagine what the Garden of Eden was like.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Over and Under: Trip to Pukekohe, Part 3: Riley, Dean, Howard, Home

      When I arrived at Queen Street, I went to all the op shops first to see if anybody had a cheep used bicycle. I found one, but it was not a good bike for on the road, so I decided not to pay over twenty-five dollars. No, that's not much, but I decided to ask.
      "How much you gotta get for this?" I asked the clerk. He thought for a second then said, "How about seventy-five?" I obviously looked like I wasn't going to pay that much. "Fifty?" he asked. I didn't answer. "The lowest I'll go is forty-five," was his response to my silence. "Well, I can't give you more than twenty-five, so never mind." "I can't give  things away man!" he exclaimed as I walked toward the door. I answered, "I've bought a bike for ten dollars at a shop before." "Well, then go find yourself a bike for ten dollars, clown!" was the response.
      Out on the street I chuckled to myself that in such a short amount of time I changed from a walking preacher to a traveling clown. It's better to walk away with all your money than get a bad deal. And besides, someone had to be the poor guinea pig for me to practice my bartering skills on. Once he saw I was no longer interested he stopped playing my game. I made my way along the streets, going up into the thickest Maori part of town. I passed a couple big cuzzi-bros walking down the street. All the Maoris are related it seems, so they call each other cuzzi-bros. And genetically, they are a large breed! (And can make mean looking bikers.)
      I don't have time right now to elaborate on the rest of the the day but I saw Riley and Dean from the Snyders Bible Club. I also saw Mrs. Howard and left a note for Mr. Howard. The Ford Transit the Snyders used while in NZ was still in his garage.
      More later.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Over and Under: Trip to Pukekohe, Part 2: Spacky's

When I finally got on the train, the ride was quite uneventful. I had to change trains once and after a two and a half hour ride, I finally saw this:

I was quite glad, because I really had to use the toilet.
It was a half hour walk with my heavy briefcase, but my map-like memory brought me straight to brother Neil Spackman's House. He was quite surprised to see me, but I just wanted to use his toilet!

After catching up, he offered me a seat. I took of my hat, sat down, and instantly turned into a fat, ugly mut.

Mr. Spacky (that's what they call him) looking up a phone number in his ancient stack of number logs.

I decided to take him up on his offer to stay the night. This motto hung on the wall above my bed as slept a colossal pair of pajamas.  

The next morning I read my Bible and weeded the front gardens. After having three wheatbix with milk and toast, I went out and mowed while Mr. Spackman tidied some other things around the garden. I thought about Ezra Snyder the whole time mowed. Around Eleven o'clock, the garden looked quite tidy, so my host took me to King Street to continue my adventures.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Over and Under: Trip to Pukekohe, Part 1: Accepted

       Tuesdays are prison ministry days for brother Gustafsson, so I thought I would take the train to Pukekohe. You see, there are a lot of restrictions for entering the prison, so I couldn't go with him. The train station is about 4.4 km (or 2.7 mi.), so brother Gustafsson gave me a lift on his way out. It was nearly 40 minutes till the next train, which meant I had plenty of time to figure things out. First I went to the dairy across the road to top up my phone with Two Degrees. They only accepted eftpos or cash, and the minimum top up is twenty dollars. My mother sent thirty-five NZ with me, so I had a little cash on hand,but not much. I spent the twenty dollars and the machine printed out a receipt with my top up voucher number on it. then I had to figure out which of the three phone numbers provided was the one I needed to dial to activate my minutes. When I called the first number, It said that I did not have enough minutes to make the call. That was helpful! When I finally got it figured out, I was running out of time. I hastily made my way to the station to buy a ticket. Since it is the last station on the line, it is unmanned and unkempt. My mother gave me the credit card pin, but the ticket machine said, "Invalid Pin." Ten minutes till the train. I found the Int'l Collect number on the back of the card. I dialed the number and this is what I heard: "We didn't recognize the number you dialed. Please check it and try again." Oh, no! Well ,I had fifteen dollars cash. A one way ticket was $16.50. I decided to try the pay phone. Lo and behold, it didn't take cash! Eftpos, credit, or coins. I read all the instructions on the booth and saw, "For all international calls dial 00-country code-area code-phone number. So I pulled out my cell phone and tried the number again, this time starting with "00." This time I heard, "This call may be monitored or recorded..." I've never been more glad to here those words: it meant I had reached the credit card company. Well, I had a hard time proving that I was who was, but the finally let me reset my pin. In the mean time, while I tried to answer some difficult security questions, the train came and went. Once I had my new pin, the lady who helped me stayed on the line while I ran across the parking lot to the ticket machine. After I entered my pin, I saw the precious word, "Accepted."

     Now I would like you to consider that word. Accepted. Accepted by whom? Accepted for what? Who accepts you and why? What must you do to be accepted? Well, using the above story I would like to look at several things.

I. You must know how to reach the one that doesn't accept you.
          Before I left, my mother showed me the number to call on the back. I never would have been                 accepted if I hadn't known who to call and ask.
II.You must see your need to be accepted.
          The credit card provided me with a way to reach them. But they didn't call me up and make me               change my pin. I had to realize that I needed them. It was free, but I still had to ask for it.
III. You must know the terms of being accepted.
          Many people try to dress just so, or have a certain pricey car or house, or drink the coolest liquor,         or use certain vocabulary to be able to fit into their respective group of piers. For me to be accepted by         the credit card company, there was only criteria: I had to be myself and nobody else. Who are you trying       to be to be accepted?
IV.You will be given everything you need to be accepted.
          When they gave me the pin, I was accepted. Any time, any place.

     Oh, what a wretch I am, a sinner before a terrible God! How shall I stand in the judgement? How shall I be accepted in the day of His wrath? By the glorious gospel of His son Jesus Christ. By the shed blood of the Sinless Lamb. But how? Well, first you must know how to reach him. "...a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." Psalm51:17 Again the scripture says, "LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:"  Psalms 10:17 The Lord also said, "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not." Jer. 33:3.  The contact info is clear. You cry out in prayer.
      Next you must see you helplessness without him. If you are not accepted, your eternal doom is sure. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation20:15
     Thirdly, it must be on His terms. You must confess to be yourself and only yourself. You must own up to your sins and unrighteousness. You must humbly come before the Lord personally in inevadable need of personal help. And He will accept you forever!
     Glory to God who loved us and sent his only begotten son to shed his blood for us that we might be accepted in his sight! Read the scripture below, especially the highlighted phrases.

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Has the Lord accepted you? If not you must first trust in Christ.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Over and Under: Getting Settled In

In the airport ready for the 22-hour journey.

My perfect little bedroom. 

I rented a cello to play while I'm here. I am also enjoying playing the Gustafsson's piano.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Off to NZ

I'm heading off to NZ on September 24 to work with Pastor Lloyd Gustafsson. I will try to write often to keep all updated on what I'm doing.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Born Again:37 Years of Darkness
John A. Miller tells his story

I was born in western Pennsylvania in the small village of Atlantic. Ours was a typical Amish family. We attended church services every other Sunday, which was normal for most Amish. Some of my earliest memories include hearing my grandfather preaching from Romans 8:15, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” Other scriptures I heard were John 3:7, “Ye must be born again,” and John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
The Hypocrite
The Amish often preach accountability and the need of repentance. Unfortunately, the concept is to try harder to subdue sin. As a result, I grew up feeling condemned for I knew I was a sinner. I could not understand why everyone else could be right with God as a result of what they were doing, and here I was, a hypocrite, just pretending to be good.
Breaking the Rules with My Friend
When I was 16 years old I started what the Amish call, “Rumschpringah.” Usually this consists of spending time with a group of your peers and being involved in their activities. My friends and I did many things against the church rules and against our parents’ wishes. Living in sin made my life miserable and many a Monday morning saw a depressed young man wondering why life is so empty.

Hoping to do Better - Submitting to the Rules
In the spring of 1986 I made a commitment to God and the church to give up my sinful life and to live within the ordinances of the church. It is a solemn occasion on the one day of the year when young men and women can join an instruction class mandatory for church membership. They are expected to conform to the rules of the church and to shun the ways of the world in dress and manner of life. Most Amish have very strict rules regarding appearance and any deviation from these rules is enough to keep one from being accepted in fellowship.
One of the hardest things for some among the Amish is to submit themselves to the church and obey the ordinances. Because of the turmoil and conflict involved in doing this, many think that when they are finally baptized, this means they are now born again.
Because the way of salvation is linked to church membership, there is pressure applied in different ways to compel young folks in their late teens to become members. A generally held belief among the Amish is that if you are old enough to be in the church and do not join, there is a good chance that you are going to hell.
Baptized but Empty
After 3 months of instruction, everyone in our class was baptized by pouring a little water over our heads. We were told that now we are clean and new, ready for heaven. I remember having expectations of being happy and sinless, of being filled with joy. All I felt was emptiness. I understood that nothing had changed and I did not have peace with God. I was sure it was because I had not put forth enough effort and God was not about to reward a slacker like myself who was still a sinner at heart.
Guilty Conscience
Even after we were church members, my friends and I would do some of the things we had done formerly, like going to bars and attending drinking parties. This brought the added problem of hiding our activities from older church members. Although we seldom got caught, our guilty consciences would move us to confess our sins before the whole congregation. This supposedly brought forgiveness and cleansing from God.
Becoming the Family Man
At an Amish wedding I met Mary Delagrange, a nice, quiet young lady who ended up becoming my wife. We were married on February 4, 1988. A few short years later found me the father of a growing line of boys. Mary and I wanted something better for our children than the drinking, smoking lifestyle of the Amish youth of our area. In the fall of 1999 we moved our family to Potter County in northern Pennsylvania. This was a young Amish community with only 9 other families at the time we moved in. We were hoping that because of the slightly different rules and so few other families, our children would not be subjected to the evil influences so common among the Amish.
Terrified Over the Possibility of Eternal Damnation
The years were swiftly passing by; our boys were growing up, yet one thing had not changed. I still recognized my guilt before God and wondered if there was a way for me to be right with God. If there was, I certainly had not found it. Thinking about hell, eternity and the lake of fire terrified me. I knew Christ was coming back and in my mind would try to devise a way to hide on the Day of Judgment.
The Lady Who Talked About the Lord Jesus Christ
Most of our children were born at home, and soon after moving to Ulysses we started looking for a midwife. Friends of ours introduced us to Barbara Hawley, a kind and gentle lady. However, it was not long before I discovered she liked to talk about spiritual matters, and about the Lord Jesus Christ. This made me uncomfortable for several reasons. I was afraid she would ask me what we believed, and why. I was not sure of either, except if we are good enough we get to go to heaven, although I knew I was not good.
“They had something I did not possess.”
Soon after our son Daniel was born, the Hawleys opened a natural health clinic a short distance from our house. As I got to know the family better, I recognized they had something I did not possess - peace with God. Whether real or imagined, I did not know, but it was more than I could ever claim. They would talk to me about Jesus, and how we needed to be saved. As Amish, we did not believe a person could know they were saved, we could only hope to make it into heaven. I was very hesitant to talk about this, for we were taught to stay away from people who said they were saved. One day I asked Art, Barb’s husband, whether being born again and being saved were the same. He assured me it was, which was a help to me, for the Amish would preach that we needed to be born again.
Listening to Ruth Hanna Singing Hymns
Their daughter, Rebekah, would give us rides to town or wherever we needed to go. She had CD’s recorded by Ruth Hanna (click on name for more info) and would often play them for us. Listening to Ruth Hanna’s songs about the Lord Jesus and salvation through faith in Him were compelling and thought provoking. Rebekah would take opportunity to witness to us about Jesus and justification by faith alone. I did not agree with her but could not be certain she was wrong, for my Amish faith had not brought peace with God.
My First English Bible
I started doing some part time work at the clinic for the Hawleys and Barbara would often bring my attention to scripture verses hanging on the walls of the clinic. Ephesians 2:8-9, and Romans 5:1 were two in particular that I simply could not understand. Being right with God on the basis of what someone else [the Lord Jesus] had done was a concept foreign to my upbringing. Barbara gave me a KJV New Testament, something I had never owned in my life. We were taught to read only German Bibles, as the “English” version did not convey the same meaning.

The Real Eye Opener
Reading my new Bible was a real eye opener for me. Art suggested I read in the gospel of John, which I did, but I found Romans fascinating. A light bulb went on when I read Romans 9:31, 32, and 33. It was easy to make the comparison between Israel and the Amish. It was made clear to me why I had nopeace with God by keeping the church rules. My condemnation before a Holy God was made obvious. I read verses like Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I knew, without a doubt, what my wages were. The last part of the verse eluded me. I still thought that somehow, I had to pay God for my sins.

Facing Hell Forever
Finally it became evident to me, because of my sins, I would not be in heaven and I was going to be in hell forever. I rebelled against God for creating me just to suffer eternal torment. I remember doing my chores around the farm and thinking these dumb animals have it nice, for upon death they will simply cease to exist. I, on the other hand, would be cast into hell and suffer for all eternity.
Those were dark, awful days, but I thank my God for them. He was bringing me to true repentance and to the provision of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Day Things Changed
One fine September evening in the year 2005 I was helping Barb put down the finish on a porch floor at the clinic. We were discussing spiritual issues again, which by now were not distasteful to me. She was asking me what I thought would get me to heaven and I answered as I had always believed: that you have to confess all your sins or God will not let you into heaven. This prompted her to ask me, “John, if you committed a sin and before you could ask forgiveness Christ came back, would you go to hell?”

All those months of struggling, of pleading with God, of knowing I was condemned, and those Bible verses which told of righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus came back to me. Almost without thinking I said, “No! I would go to heaven!”

Immediately I knew something had changed. I sat back on my heels for a moment and tried to figure it out. The thought that perhaps I had blasphemed God or the Holy Spirit even crossed my mind. Yet somehow, I knew it could not be true. I felt something different; something new that I had never experienced before. Without analyzing what had happened, I felt a peace with my Creator. I was saved, although it was a long time before I realized it was simply trust in what Jesus had done that had changed my life forever that night. And though I did not know I was saved, I no longer felt condemned before God.

I Know for Sure I Will be in Heaven
It was not long before I was telling others among the Amish that we could be sure of being in heaven because it is not what we do, but of what Jesus did for us.
Amazing Grace and Mercy
Looking back, I marvel once again at God’s amazing grace and mercy. I was 37 years old when He reached down into my darkened world and set me free. The peace that I now have with God through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is worth more to me than anything the world or any religion has to offer. To know that I shall be in heaven because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die on the cross for sinful, undeserving mankind [ me !] still moves my eyes to tears.
What love! What boundless grace is given to men! All are sinners because of Adam, but God has made a way for us to be right with Him. To think that some will never accept justification by faith in Christ alone, but depend on something they have done is the tragedy of the universe.
What About You? Are You Ready?
Oh sinner, make haste! Confess your helplessness before the Almighty God. Accept the Savior’s finished work on the cross for your sins while there is yet time. Do not tarry. You do not know if you can repent tomorrow. Your opportunity for salvation has a most uncertain element: time, which is fleeing swiftly even as we ponder. Make things right with your Creator now. He will give you new life; you will be a son of God. You will have a peace that will pass all understanding. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes unto the Father except by Me.” Trust Jesus for your salvation and you too, will be sure of spending eternity in heaven.        

Comment by Trevor:

I'm blessed by this man's testimony. If we understand Galations and the Old Testament we can easily relate to their beliefs. Galatians 2:21 says "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." Again Paul writes in 5:4: "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." They say this means one can lose the grace for salvation, but this verse says that they have not the grace of God because they must keep a law to keep the grace for salvation. Is that not heresy? Who will show them? Here am I Lord, send me. Do not try to be like them; become more like Christ.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Do We Believe the Church Creeds?

Please comment on your thoughts of whether or not these are scriptural.

Some Creeds of the Church

The Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.


The Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, both seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:

By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified unter Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

With the Father and Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.


Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion; to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Whose Faith Do I Have?

The Faith of God
"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Romans 3:3)

The Faith of Jesus Christ
"Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:" (Romans 3:22), (Galations 2:16), (Galations 3:22), (Revelation 14:12)

Faith Comes with The Holy Ghost
"And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost..." (Acts 6:5a)  "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord." (Acts 11:24)

Faith is Dealt to Man By God
"For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."  (Romans 12:3)

Faith is a Gift
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" (Ephesians 2:8)

Faith is to Be Followed After
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." (1 Timothy 6:11)

Men Are Naturally Without Faith (First Mention)
"And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. (Deuteronomy 32:20)

Faith Begins With Humility
"Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)