God Names and Claims His People: The Believers

And because of his words many more became believers.
John 4:41

How I Met Jesus

by Jack Newton
October 1981

I was living in Belize, Central America with my wife and two small children.  I had investigated many religions, looked at the scriptures and eventually decided that if there is a God, he would like me.  I would not make a decision.  I did not believe the scriptures from any religion had come to us intact, even if God had originally spoken them. It seemed there were just lots and lots of ways to be with God. I was a good person!

My son was nearly two, and one predawn morning while “helping” dad make breakfast, Ty pulled a very large pot of boiling water over onto himself from the stove.  I grabbed him, threw him in the sink and immediately poured cool boiled water over him we always had on hand for drinking and cooking.  He was wearing only a T shirt.  When I pulled it over his head, the skin came with it from his right side.  I could see his ribs in three places.  His loud wailing brought the neighbors running. 

Jan had been nursing the baby Elisa, neighbor Wilma took her from Jan’s arms and Jan, wrapping Ty in a baby blanket, jumped into our car and we tore off for town and a doctor 6 miles away.

A mile down the road, God opened my mind or the heavens and spoke to me.  He did not promise healing or bargain with me, he only said, “Do You Believe?”   I could see into the spirit world, I was numb from the awesome power of God and his presence.  I alone saw and heard.  At that moment I believed.  Somehow I knew the bible was true, that Jesus was who he said he was, and God was real and in our lives.

When I could speak, I told Jan, “Everything will be ok.”  My son wailed on, and she continued to weep.  

We awakened the doctor as the sun came up on the Caribbean. He had dire news.  Ty would not easily survive.  His burns would become infected in this damp, fungal/bacterial ridden tropics, and even if he did, the scarring would be deep and he would not be able to grow on that side of his body.  We must go to the States.

We stopped at the hospital, and opted for home where the house had screens for insects, but a small girl the same age had been burned the same way at the same hour.  Both were painted for fungal infections.

We moved on and Jan cried out, “Lets stop and see the missionaries!”, a Pentecostal couple who felt our bananas, coconut, breadfruit and citrus were free.  They began to cry and falling to their knees, laid hands on Ty and prayed.  As they prayed his color returned, and he stopped crying

I suddenly remembered that I had been praying before God spoke,  I had been praying that Ty’s pain would be taken away.  I had also been praying that he would not be scarred, but I did not remember that then.

Ty looked terrible,  big bags of skin filled with fluid hung off of his body, His little ribs still shined thru ruined windows of meat.

A nurse from Chicago came to our door, lost. She had just finished burn college, and as a Bahia with her husband had come on a mission to Belize.  She graded Ty’s burns, and taught us how to care for them. Again the prognosis was dire, and weeks were expected for healing enough to go to the States for skin grafts to begin.

Each day I would boil gallons of water, add salts to match the blood levels, and soak Ty in the bath.  He woke up each day encased in hard scab like coating that must be removed.  I would rip off the softened faux scabs and he would scream. Jan would take the baby and walk far from the  house avoiding his cries.

On the fifth day, the scabs fell away with ease, and below was fresh new pink skin, complete with tiny hairs and perfect pores.  I then remembered my second prayer.  No scars!

I thought this news must be spread, I took pictures, doctor’s reports prepared my speech carefully to rake hundreds into Christ’s Kingdom.  To this day not one unbeliever has been convinced.  It was just for me.

PS: When we left Belize two years later the little girl,  burned like Ty, was still in hospital, curled up, the tight deep scars, her mind affected by the pain and crippling.

Lenten Reflection: Love is Come Again

by Emily Gibson

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
~John Crum from The Oxford Book of Carols


Over the last several weeks, roots have become shoots and their green blades are rising chaotically, uneven and awkward like a bad haircut.  And like a bad haircut, just another two weeks will make all the difference — sprouts will cover all the bare earth, breaking through crusted mud to create a smooth and elegant carpet of green.

There is nothing more hopeful than the barren made fruitful, the ugly made beautiful, the dead made alive.

The fields of our broken hearts recover; love is come again.


Lenten Reflection: Write on My Heart Every Word


by Tricia Hitchcock


from “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”

We don’t live in a nation where we suffer much for our faith.  Our access to the Bible is not limited.  And yet, just like persecuted believers, it is those things that we memorize, those things which are “written on our hearts” that shape our thinking, especially in times of trouble.

And just like God’s people throughout time, it is the stories of God’s work that remind us of His greatness and His power and His faithfulness and His care. (Psalm 136)

So on this Holy Saturday, between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, may the story of Jesus, from Creation to Revelation,  be written on our hearts so we can carry it wherever we go and remember all He has done for us.

And be encouraged.


Lenten Reflection: Fearful Fallen Place


by Emily Gibson

Though you are homeless
Though you’re alone
I will be your home
Whatever’s the matter
Whatever’s been done
I will be your home
I will be your home
I will be your home
In this fearful fallen place
I will be your home
When time reaches fullness
When I move my hand
I will bring you home
Home to your own place
In a beautiful land
I will bring you home
I will bring you home
I will bring you home
From this fearful fallen place
I will bring you home
I will bring you home
~Michael Card


This song, sung each year at our Chapel’s Tenebrae service,
is a message long awaited
through the bright darkness of Lent
and the midnight of Good Friday.
It is Christ’s message to each of us:
when we ask to be remembered,
when we truly and wholly ask for forgiveness
for whatever is the matter,
for whatever we have done,
we find our only hope and comfort is in Him.
He brings us home.
Homeless no longer, but homeful and hopeful.


Lenten Reflection: Five Bleeding Wounds


by Tricia Hitchcock


“Arise My Soul Arise”

How can we even think of approaching God? He is Holy. He is Perfect. He is Powerful. He is All-Knowing. And we are dust.

But the truth of the Gospel is that God, the Righteous and Just, is also God, the Merciful. God provided a way to reconcile us to Himself. He sent His holy, perfect Son to die and pay for our sin.

And now, Jesus’ wounds are a reminder that our sins are paid for. Jesus, the only mediator between God and man, presents us to the Father and God forgives us.

And we can now call God our Father. Hallelujah!


Lenten Reflection: Melt Mine Eyes to Tears

Detail from “Descent from the Cross” by Rogier van der Weyden


By Ben Gibson

Alas and Did my Savior Bleed

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

I blushed easily as a kid. Being immensely shy and having a naturally rosy complexion meant that my face would flush at any shame or embarrassment. The smallest mistake would bring heat to my cheeks and knots in my stomach.

I’m not alone in this. Shame, humiliation, and embarrassment show. And this has been the response to the Godhead from time immemorial. After eating the apple, I am sure Adam and Eve blushed. Bodies flushed red for the first time, they hid in bushes.

Before the cross, our faces and bodies blush. During this Passion Week, we as Christians are confronted with the depth of our sins and they shame that comes from them. It is only in being confronted by the cross that we know the true depth of our sin and shame. Our sins could not be hidden. Instead, they had to rest on the perfect human. They pierced the hands of the God-man. They made him blush, sweat, and bleed. To see Jesus hanging on the cross is to be confronted with the weight of all our sins. When we see him on the cross, we will blush.

What do we do with our shame? We do not beat it out of ourselves. We do not bury it. Rather, with tears streaming down, our hearts dissolve in thankfulness.

The response to our shame is gratitude. Even as see our sins laid on Christ, we thank the Son who has taken them. Even as our cheeks blush at the cross, let them be wetted with the tears of gratefulness.

‘Tis all that we can do.

Lenten Reflection: I Will Not Be Shaken


By Nate Gibson


Every year March 11 holds profound significance for me, as it does for so many in Japan. This month marked seven years since the Triple Disaster–the Tohoku earthquake, and the resulting tsunami and Fukushima nuclear crisis–that devastated this country.

We at the Christian Academy in Japan were roughly 300 miles from the epicenter, and yet our sturdy building shook for several minutes, sending books and supplies off the shelves, and frightened students and staff under their desks.

The hours and days that followed were filled with aftershocks and tremors stronger than the average earthquake. After a while, I couldn’t tell when the ground beneath me was shaking and when it wasn’t; whether it was the earth or I, myself, that was constantly trembling, the whole world felt suddenly unsteady.

In the midst of this instability, a familiar praise song assumed new meaning for me. The lyrics of “Psalm 62” by Aaron Keyes read,

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes,
And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,
And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,
I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!


The 2011 earthquake reminded me in a very literal way that my hope comes not from any physical thing; that even the ground itself is unreliable. Yet, all is not hopeless–even as the earth gives way beneath our feet, we can rest in the truth that God is our rock and our salvation.

In Him, we stand on a foundation that will never crumble.

And, we will not be shaken.



Lenten Reflection: Let Me Never Outlive My Love to Thee



by Tricia Hitchcock

“O Sacred Head Now Wounded”

How fickle we are. And how forgetful.

On Sunday morning, as we are sitting in church singing and hearing God’s Word, it is easy to be impressed with all that God has done. And we are grateful.

But as the week wears on, we are tired. We feel like God has given us more than we can handle. We even sometimes feel forgotten. And we complain.

But God has done so much for us. We can never be grateful enough. He created us. He gives us every blessing in our lives. He has given us a beautiful world to live in. And we rejected Him. But He didn’t give us up for loss. Instead, He Himself provided a way that our sins could be paid for and we could come to Him. At great cost, with great pain, Jesus was wounded and died for us. How can we ever say thank you?

We live as God’s children, for His glory, sharing the message of His grace with a world that doesn’t know Him, living for Him wherever we are. May we never forget all He has done. And may we never outlive our love for Him.


Lenten Reflection: What A Savior!


by Nick Laninga


“He was despised and rejected by men, a man sorrows, and familiar with suffering…He was despised and, and we esteemed Him not. {Isaiah 53:3}

HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR. Words and music by Philip P. Bliss 1838-1876

How ironic that Christ, who is the Creator and sustainer of all things, was rejected and was put to death by those to whom He gave life. How ironic that He went to the cross in the display of Divine mercy toward us

  1. “Man of sorrows!” what a name for the Son of God, who came ruined sinners to reclaim! HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR! This first verse brings out the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 53. Speaking of the suffering of our Savior at the cross and the substitutionary work that Christ did there. He suffered for us willingly and deliberately.
  2. Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood—sealed my pardon with His blood: HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR! Verse two speaks of the scorn that was heaped on Him. He stood condemned on our [my] place, suffering what we rightfully deserved. Christ guaranteed our pardon sealed with His blood, the official seal that made it legal and effective.
  3. Guilty, vile and helpless we, spotless Lamb of God was He; full atonement! Can it be? HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR! Verse three tells us it was we, not Christ that deserved what He suffered and bore. We are guilty, vile and helpless unable to do anything to atone for our sins. He on the other hand is the sacrifice “the spotless Lamb of God” He alone could render full atonement. HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR!
  4. Lifted up was He to die. “It is finished,” was His cry; now in heav’n exalted high: HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR! Verse four. The once and for all sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death. John 19:30 “It is finished!!!”
  5. When He comes, our glorious King, all his ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we’ll sing. HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR! Verse five the end. He is now in heaven exalted above all things [Philippians 2:9] He will return to bring us home where we will sing anew a new song. [ Revelation 14:3] which was our song from the beginning “ HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR!

KEY for us is that a life of praise is not something that can be worked up. Rather, it is a remembrance and a response to Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf. As we reflect on who Christ is and what He accomplished for us, what He provides in our daily lives as an advocate before God, and what He has promised for our future, our hearts are melted before Him. We bow at His feet in humble adoration. HALLELUJAH is basically the same in all languages. What a celebration as one day from every tribe, language, people and nation will gather to sing eternally “HALLELUJAH to the Lamb”

Reflect often on the Wondrous Cross of Christ His love and atoning work. Have a blessed Lent.

Some of the content came from John Macarthur and Kenneth Osbeck.


Lenten Reflection: Thy Presence My Light



By Casie Rodenberger

Be thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art-
Thou my best thought, be day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my my Wisdom,
and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Though with me Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son,
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Confrontation is not my thing. Somewhat shocking I know coming from someone who is in law school. But professional confrontation and personal confrontation are two entirely different things. And personal confrontation comes in all shapes, sizes, and severities when you are a Christian.

Not all confrontation needs an active response. There are growing moments where it is best to listen, to acknowledge what the Lord is teaching me. To embrace the moment and be present with the Lord. But there are also those confrontations where I am moved to respond. Sometimes I am able to speak up, and I hope that I am able to speak with the wisdom that the Lord has granted me. Other times I am not, as my words or courage simply fail me.

It is in the this hymn that I find comfort. Knowing that with the Lord, any confrontation or challenging moment that I face is not alone. Whether it is a learning moment or one that brings me pause, He is there. His presence is my light as I continue to learn and grow from these moments.