[shoulders] SHOULDER TO SHOUDLER #346 ---- 7/26/04

Message: < previous - next > : Reply : Subscribe : Cleanse
Home   : July 2004 : Group Archive : Group : All Groups

From: "Bob Tolliver" <lifeunlimited@...>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 12:28:25 +0300
Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As 
We Fight the Good Fight of Faith

A personal letter of encouragement to You, written solely to "lift up hands that hang down".

TO SUBSCRIBE send a blank message to shoulders-subscribe@... .
TO UNSUBSCRIBE  send a blank message to shoulders-unsubscribe@... .
IN EACH CASE you will receive an automated request for confirmation which you must answer.
FOR BACK COPIES go to http://associate.com/groups/shoulders .

Get  "HOPE4KYIV", a praise report and prayer request letter of the Tolliver's ministry as missionaries to Ukraine, 
TO SUBSCRIBE send a blank message to hope4kyiv-subscribe@.... 
FOR BACK COPIES or more information go to http://associate.com/groups/hope4kyiv. 

Get "PrayKYIV", a new informational prayer strategy letter for people wanting to pray for Kiev, Ukraine.
TO SUBSCRIBE send a blank message to prayKIEV-subscribe@...
FOR BACK COPIES go to http://associate.com/groups/prayKIEV. 


+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+


SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #346 ---- 7/26/04

Title:  " "Simple Truth ---- About Faith (part Five)" 
            ("Culminating in Its Destination")



Dear Friend and Ministry Partner:

Well, I must say I didn't expect  to wake up so early after a long day yesterday, and begin writing to you.  But, after about five hours of sleep, I woke up hot and decided to compensate for time I didn't have earlier in the week to write to you by whipping this note out to you.  So . . . . an early good morning!  The rooster will begin to crow before long.

I still can't get over the joy, after more than six and one-half years, of writing these weekly letters to you and so many others.  Who would have ever dreamed that a simple Christmas letter to 30 or 40 pastor friends in December, 1996, would lead to this!  I'm amazed that God has generally kept me fresh in the task, amazed at how He has sustained me during those dry times when I had to force myself to write, amazed at some folks have stayed with me from the beginning, and how God has allowed this ministry to expand to so many countries on five continents.  Like one of my grand children would say, "God is way cool!"

One thing that has kept me faithful to the task is hearing from various readers.  For example, after writing last week on faith's "Process of Progress" and how our faith goes through cycles that is hopefully always growing stronger, I got this note:

+  I appreciate your letter on faith very much  along with all the others . . . . We look forward to each of your "Shoulder to Shoulder" messages.  Blessings.

Here's another:

+  I am amazed as to how you manage, week by week, to write such insightful, stimulating, inspiring articles! I know it is only possible through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in one's life and of your untainted devotion to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. THANK YOU! . . . .The Lord uses life's experiences to grow us in the faith. I know Nicole Grace's challenges have caused such advancement in many lives.  God richly bless you and your loved ones in ministry and as families.

"Amen" to that!  I certainly can't take any credit for much of anything except sitting in front of a computer and jotting down thoughts that seem pertinent to the moment.  God is good.  I praise Him for the joy and for the privilege.



THIS 'N THAT:

+  I had the privilege of getting "e-mail acquainted" about a year ago with Gary De Velder, area director for "Joni and Friends", the ministry of quadriplegic Joni Erikson Tada.  We were discussing some possible ways we could work together in supplying wheelchairs to people in Ukraine.  Recently I received notice from his office that Joni will appear on CNN's "Larry King Live" on August 3rd, and that the interview includes (among other things) a strong presentation of the Gospel.  I would encourage you to promote the program, and perhaps even record it and use it for a Gospel witness in the future.  Gary indicated that the interview covers topics such as depression, stem cell research, how can a good God allow suffering?, her thoughts about Christopher Reeve and his approach to healing, when is it right to die?, Wheels for the World, Family Retreat, marriage to Ken, her artwork, her response to Mel Gibson's "The Passion".  Check out the time in your area.

+  God continues working faithfully and powerfully in the life of our little grand daughter, Nicole Grace.  She will be seven weeks old on the 29th of July, and many of her problems have been resolved or diminished significantly.  While she's had her share of setbacks, the general improvement has been steady.  Her vital organs are functioning as they should, her arrhythmia has all but disappeared, her food intake has increased, the billiruben count continues to drop, her apnea is improving, and Saturday she successfully went through the surgery that implanted the G-plug for feeding.  While she still has a very long way to go, she has cleared the first two or three big hurdles, and, unless there are some major setbacks, is on the way to being one of those less-than-10% babies who lives more than a year.

Rather than chronicle all that has happened in this note, let me strongly recommend that you go to http://associate.com/groups/hope4kyiv and read previous reports of this saga.  We've also added two or three brand new pictures in her album at http://community.webshots.com/user/01lum.  I think you will be excited with what you see and read.  God is awesomely faithful!

And, pray specifically that . . . .
+  The holes in heart will fill in naturally/supernaturally.
+  The three valves in her heart will revitalize to proper shape and function.
+  She will be kept from infection and that the G-plug surgery will heal quickly.
+  She will be quickly weaned away from all breathing apparatus and will breathe normally with no occurrence of apnea.
+  Any and all neurological problems will correct themselves.
+  The brain will be re-circuited to compensate fully for the absence of the two portions of her brain.
+  Jim, Deanna, and the other children will be sustained by unexplainable supernatural strength and energy.
+  Nicole Grace will continue being a testimony to the thousands of others who pray for her.
+  In every respect she will truly demonstrate the meaning of her name, "Victorious Heart."



THE REST OF FAITH:

Last week as I tried to verbalize my thoughts about how faith must continually grow and progress in its development, the verbal journey took me to a destination I had not expected ---- a faith that is at rest in the complete adequacy of God.  It happened in a rather unanticipated way.  I had just received a note from our daughter, Deanna, in which she had referred to the emotional roller coaster she and Jim have been on with Nicole Grace . . . . and yet they have not been deterred from their confidence in God to do the impossible which doctors cannot comprehend.

In response, I jotted down the essential thoughts about which I wrote in last week's letter . . . . the various "stages" of faith.  Following that trail, I ended up at what I believe to be the ultimate blessing of faith . . . . namely, Rest.

At first examination of a life of faith, we would initially assume that the ultimate result of faith would be to receive in the visible world that for which we had been claiming in the invisible world.  Hebrews chapter 11 is filled with such people, the most noted of which is Abraham.  All these people, it says, trusted God even though much of that about which they trusted Him they never received.

It was at that point that I realized that the outcome of faith and the destination of faith may not always be the same thing.  The outcome of faith may be that we actually do receive in the visible world that for which we have trusted God, or it may be that we don't receive it . . . . like many of the "heroes of faith" as recorded in Hebrews.  When you examine the story, you realize that even Abraham didn't fully receive everything God had promised him.  Nonetheless, he did "receive" it by faith.

Having said that, however, the destination of faith can always be the same, no matter what the outcome may be.

So, I've concluded, at least for myself, that while the outcome of faith may vary, the destination of faith is always the same . . . . Rest.

This is illustrated so clearly in the life of Israel.  Sometimes we forget that Hebrews 3 and 4 are equally powerful chapters on the subject of faith.  Look at what it says in this rather lengthy passage (excerpts from Heb 3:8-4:12):  

HEB 3:8 "Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years.

10 "Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, 'They always go astray in their heart; And they did not know My ways';  11 As I swore in My wrath,' They shall not enter My rest.' "

12 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.  13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; 15 while it is said, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me."

16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?  17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  18 And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?

19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

4:1 Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.  2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.  12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Notice some of the thoughts indicated here:

+  Apparently certain parties in the Israelites still didn't trust God.  After watching Him work miraculously for 40 years, they still didn't believe.  As a result, they never entered the land of "rest" which God had provided for them. (vs 3:8-19)  Their disobedient unbelief left them dry and dead.

+  It is possible to hear God and yet not believe Him, even though He put the exclamation point "Finished!" before the foundation of the world.  The consequence is that we acquiesce to live lives of continuing strife, fear, uncertainty, and spiritual oscillation. (vs 4:1-3)

+  The alternative is that we can choose to enter into the rest of faith because we've heard the promise of truth that there is such a thing as a faith that consummates in a soul rest. (4:3)

+  To fail to enter into the rest of faith is both an act of and the consequence of disobedience, because unbelief and disobedience are two sides of the same coin, just as faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin. (4:6)

+  We are admonished to enter into a "Sabbath faith" . . . . a "rest of faith".  To not do so is to rebel against God in disobedience.  It is a scary thought to realize that a faith that fails to enter into such a rest of the soul is in itself, consequently, an act of disobedience.  To not allow our faith to reach its final destination of rest, is to disobey the Father. (4:9,11)

+  This truth of revelation (Rhema) is a powerful, living, operational truth that splits apart and exposes every fiber of our being, right down to the very core of our claims regarding trusting and obeying God.  It exposes the chasm between our claims and our actions. (4:12)



EVIDENCES OF REST:

As I pondered this passage of scripture, and as I tried to analyze the strange conflict between the uneasiness of emotion's roller coaster and the stationary quietude of faith's foundation within my own soul, I couldn't help but be drawn back to the life of my own father.  I began to understand his quiet spirit so tenderly cradled in compassion as he faithfully ministered to my mother in her latter years.  I came to understand the sense of contentment he felt as he left the front line of battle to a "retirement" post as a soldier of the cross while the war still raged.  I began to get a glimpse into his own heart as he faced his own ultimate death with no fear of what, when, or how it would come.  I came to more fully understand his loss of interest in virtually all material things; it was more than the dying process that hospice advocates try to explain.

To my relief and gratitude, I then began to discover some of that same "rest of faith" sprouting and taking root in my own life.  In recent weeks many people have remarked about the grace and ease with which Jo Ann and I have faced decisions about our future ministry, and particularly the situation with Nicole Grace.  Frankly, I tended to just let those comments pass by with a "thanks for your encouragement" (but they really don't know what's going on inside) comment.  But this past week the Lord has assured me that this is really a lesson about the ultimate destination of faith . . . . the destination of rest.

Frankly, that was a liberating truth that enabled me to feel good about the pilgrimage, feel excited about the progress, and feel grateful about God's faithfulness as He has taught me all these years.

Out of that process, I've tried to assess what I've been experiencing as I have been journeying progressively into faith's rest.  

By this I certainly don't claim to have arrived in any manner, but I can confidently say that my life of faith is clearly not the same today as it was even a month ago.  I have changed.  My faith has found its resting place.  Even in the middle of periodic doubts and fears, there's something within me that is different.  Some might say it's just part of the maturing process embedded in getting older.  That may be true.  However, I choose to think that it's something deeper and more significant.  If it is, indeed, part of the maturing process, I'd say it's the maturing of my life of faith, and not my life in general.

So . . . . what have I discovered on this journey?  What are some of the characteristics that I'm choosing to identify as part of the rest of faith?  Again, I don't know if one can substantiate all of this scripturally, but here's what I think . . . . at least for the moment.  Even as I think about some of them, I realize it will be impossible to sufficiently explain what I think I understand.  Nonetheless, . . . .

The Rest of Faith might be Characterized by . . . .

+  A Sense of Peace.  I wonder if this is why Jesus could sleep in the middle of the storm, and why Paul and Silas could sing in the middle of a dungeon.  Even while our emotions have throbbed like the exhausted heart beat of an over extended athlete, there has been a peace in our hearts that all is well . . . . and that, if it doesn't go well, the "peace of God that surpasses all knowledge" will, indeed, keep our hearts stable.  It seems to me that one of the first indicators that I have found the rest of faith, is the presence of an unexplainable peace . . . . peace with the way things are because of the peace in knowing Who is in control.

+  A Quiet Spirit.  Paul told Timothy, "The servant of the Lord shall not strive."  There's something inside us that makes us want to fight, control, strive, "do".  I believe that when faith finds its rest, there is an automatic calming of the storms and a defusing of the anxieties.  We no longer have to try to convince God, ourselves, or others, about the subject of our faith struggle.  We no longer need to try to control or manipulate the situation.  It is no longer necessary to try to psych ourselves up spiritually by using some little gimmick or religious hot button.  We discover what it means to "be still, and know that I am God."

+  Complete Contentment.  I can imagine Paul's contentment as he informed the Philippian believers that, whether he had plenty or had little, whether he was well fed or was hungry, whether he was in prison or in a comfortable home, he had discovered the satisfaction of a contented rest of faith.    Faith at rest might feel a little like a warm cozy fire in the fireplace after a delightful meal on a cold winter night.  It might be akin to an old dog lying on a bed of soft grass under a shade tree on the banks of a quiet brook.  All cares have gone, there are no rabbits that need chasing, no other dogs to fight, and no cattle to round up.  It's enough to simply be, and to simply be "there".

+  Unwavering Confidence.  One cannot be totally confident unless he fully trusts the object of his faith.  The rest of faith, if I understand it correctly, results in "full persuasion" . . . . being, as Paul said, "convinced of this very thing, that He who began the good work in you will complete and perfect it until the day of Christ."  It is an absolute assurance that God can, God will, God does, and God desires to fix everything that is broken or otherwise needs fixing, and that He can be trusted to do it in His own time, His own way, and for His own purposes.  It is being fully persuaded that nothing, absolutely nothing, can or will separate us from His love or deprive us of His personal care and bountiful blessing.  Even the times of discipline are welcomed as being that which seems right to the potter.

+  Indescribable Joy.  There's something about faith that has found its resting place that makes you want to burst out in joyous laughter . . . . or at least giggle a little.  When you so trust God that you are resting entirely on His grace and sufficiency, you're able to look around you at all the storms and give out a shout of joy as if you just got off your first roller coaster ride or saw your first grand fireworks display, and said, "Wow!"  It is truly "joy unspeakable and full of glory", and it's also true that "the half has never yet been told".

+  Personal Attentiveness.  I don't know that I can really explain this, but it seems that when you discover the rest of faith, your personal issues seem to dissolve into the background, and your become more attentive to the things of God and more alert to the needs of others.  It some ways it may be like the old song that admonishes, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."  When my faith has not yet found its rest, I'm prone to still keep my focus on the things in my possession and the storms in my presence.  Like Martha, I become distracted by many things instead of giving my full attention to simply being in the presence of my King.

+  Genuine Appreciation.  At the same time that your attention is captured by the Father's intimate presence, your appreciation is intensified over the Father's inexhaustible provision.  The little things you once took for granted now seem as valued as precious diamonds. . . . the sound of a bird, the smell of a rose, the simple blessing of a loaf of fresh baked bread, the labor of a wife in a hot kitchen baking your favorite oatmeal raisin cookies.  And all you need to do is, without justification, explanation, or clarification, simply say, "Thanks!"  When the soul rest of faith has settled down, it's really pretty easy to, "Give thanks with a grateful heart."

+  Progressive Detachment.  You know, friend, I've been amazed at how easy it is finally becoming for me to not get too attached to things, places, and people.  The idea of being that pilgrim on a journey, just passing through this world, is much more recognizable and appealing.  Everytime Jo Ann and I take a trip, we cringe over the amount and weight of the luggage we take with us.  Each time we try to lighten the load.  This past trip to the conference in Switzerland we managed to travel for two weeks with one bag between us to check in, and one carry-on each.  There comes a point in time when some things just don't matter that much, and it's easy to leave them behind.  So it is with the rest of faith.  The more you trust Him, the more detached you become from non-essentials.  Interest in things of the world steadily fades, and all you really want is to be in the presence of the Father.



HAS YOUR FAITH FOUND IT:

Eliza Edmunds Hewitt was born in Philadelphia in June, 1851.  After graduation from school, she began teaching, but her ca­reer was cut short by a ser­i­ous spin­al prob­lem. Although she par­tial­ly re­cov­ered, she was an in­val­id most of her life. She then turned to hymn writ­ing, including songs such as "Stepping in the Light", "When We All Get To Heaven", "Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?", "More About Jesus", "Sweeter As The Days Go By", "Since The Fullness of His Love Came In", "Singing I Go", and many others.

One such song that just came to my mind as I was finishing my letter to you  is  My Faith Has Found A Resting Place.  Eliza lived all her life in in Phil­a­del­phia, where she was Sun­day School sup­er­in­tend­ent at the North­ern Home for Friend­less Child­ren, and lat­er at the Cal­vin Pres­by­ter­i­an Church.

That brings up a good question . . . . has yours?

I'm convinced, dear friend, that, while our faith will often be tossed to and fro' by the turbulence of life, and will often slide two steps backward for every three steps forward, and while our faith will express itself in many different ways, the ultimate destination of faith is, in this world, a rest that makes us content while "here" and confident about "out there".

My faith has found a resting place,  Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever Living One, His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves, This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him, He'll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word, The living Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior's Name, Salvation through His blood.

My great Physician heals the sick, The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed, For me His life He gave.

I need no other argument, I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died, And that He died for me.

Finally, . . . .

". . . to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?  And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief."(Heb 3:18-19)

"There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God . . . . Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience."  (Heb 4:9,11)

Dear Friend, from the bottom of my soul, I pray that the progression of your faith has led you to that destination of Rest, from which flows peace, contentment, a quiet spirit, confidence, joy, attentiveness, gratitude, detachment, . . . and a whole bunch more.  Have a great week . . . . resting in Jesus.

While you're there, take time to read the first chapter of Ephesians.

Oh, yes . . . . remember that song, "Count your many blessings, name them one by one"?

I've thought about writing another one . . . . "Count your only blessor, name Him, One! . . . "  What do you think?

In His Bond and For His Kingdom,

Bob Tolliver -- Psalm 2:8
Copyright July, 2004
Life Unlimited Ministries
  lifeunlimited@...
  http://www.hope4kiev.org/team/members.asp?ID=10 (Personal ministry)
  www.hope4kiev.org (General team ministry)
  http://community.webshots.com/user/01lum for our pix albums.

If this letter has blessed you, feel free to forward it, with proper credits, to any and all you wish.

Please do NOT hit reply to this letter.  This is an automated unmanned system.  If you want to write Bob, send directly to lifeunlimited@.... Replying to "Shoulder To Shoulder" mailer gets you nowhere.


REMEMBER ---- "We will not Work where we have not prayed."  (Todd Golden)

May I Recommend . . . .

If you have a heart for God and would like to be encouraged in your life and ministry, 
    and you have a burden for your church, your community, and the world, 
    then you may want to receive . . .
http://frangipane.org ---- for excellent brief words of encouragement from 
    one of America's premier evangelical writers/thinkers.
www.cnsnews.com for daily world news without a liberal, godless bias.
www.worldprayerteam.org ---- A world-wide network for praying together.
www.watchword.org ---- excellent resources on revival, prayer, missions.
www.waymakers.org ---- resources on prayer, evangelism, etc.
www.operationiraqcare.org ---- To adopt and pray for a special historic city in Iraq.
http://www.nppn.org ---- "National Pastors' Prayer Network" newsletter.  ~  
    email: phil@....  Register your PPG: http://www.nppn.org/ppg/ .
Usprayercenter@... ---- U. S. World Prayer Center.
www.cityreaching.com ---- City Reaching/City Impact Roundtable.
www.LifeAction.org ---- "Life Action Outreach".
www.yifa.org ---- "Youth Interceding For America".
www.missionamerica.org ---- "Mission America" .
www.lighthousemovement.com ---- "The Lighthouse Movement". Click on "Lighthouses".

Other Great Resources Are:
www.sermonindex.net for access to over 3900 downloadable audio sermons.  Exceptional site.
www.biblemaster.com for great Bible resources and downloads.  Exceptional site.
www.e-sword.net (one of the best free download Bible study site I've ever seen!)
http://associate.com/camsoc/ctt/"Christian Communications Toolkit" (using internet wisely) 
http://www.associate.com/camsoc/crop/software.html#freewin. Free software or shareware listings, 
www.associate.com/camsoc/crs/ for church related software from CAMSOC.
    To subscribe to CAMSOC update newsletter, go to grga@....
www.ccmag.com.  "Christian Computing Magazine", 
http://www.christiangraphicdesign.com/premierinfo.htm  Thousands of Free Christian graphics.

Online Resources on Ukraine are . . . .
   www.uazone.net
   www.relc.com/kiev/index.htm
   www.travel.kyiv.org/map/e_kyiv.htm
   www.mindspring.com/~goliath74/kiev.html
   www.hope4cee.org
   www.ukraineinfo.us
   www.peopleteams.org/ukrainians
   www.reachukraine.org 
  http://www1.excite.com/travel/travelguide/destination/0,20310,europe-550,00.html

Secular News on Kiev and Ukraine will give you interesting views at . . .
   www.kyivweekly.com
   www.kievpost.com
   www.kyivpost.com
   www.ukrainenews.com 
   www.ukraine-observer.com




--
To subscribe, send ANY message to: shoulders-subscribe@...>
To unsubscribe, send ANY message to: shoulders-unsubscribe@...