I grew up in the jungles of Papua, Indonesia. Over 200 tribes with distinct languages spread across the landscape of this rugged island. It was only in the late 1950’s that many of these tribes heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I remember as a child hearing of the tragic death of two men, Phil Masters and Stan Dale who were martyred by a tribe they attempted to reach. Six months later, a small airplane crashed in the same location when one sole survivor, Paul Newman, was rescued by an old man belonging to the very tribe that had killed Phil and Stan. In only the way God can, these two events came together to provide the sovereign context for the gospel to be presented to these people. What a privilege I had to interview Phil’s wife, Phyliss, who shares about her role in helping the people who killed her husband to hear of the saving message of Jesus.
Aside from the Bible, one other book served as my lifeline during the hardest period of my life; my wife’s brain surgery and subsequent struggle to recover her speech, reading/writing skills, and my son’s passing to cancer just months after. That book was A Grace Disguised by Dr. Gerald Sittser. I’ve read the book probably four times, and recommended it to many who needed a healthy dose of theological perspective. What a thrill to land an interview with the author of this book, Dr. Gerald Sittser.
Order A Grace Disguised Here
Those who have any connection with Toccoa Falls College will know exactly what happened on November 6, 1977. The flood at Toccoa Falls College, pushing millions of gallons of water through a weakened earthen dam, took the lives of 39 people. Several lost their entire family. The story you’re going to hear in this podcast is Pastor Bob Harner’s account of remaining faithful to Jesus while trying to cope with the drowning of his wife and young son. This is truly a story that continues to bring glory to a faithful and sovereign God who shows his goodness to those who continue to trust him despite the pain that comes along the way.
One of my passions with the Before You Quit podcast is to reach not just pastors and ministry leaders, but also to relate to elders who serve these churches and pastors. One of my greatest joys with this ministry is when I see elders coming around their pastor, serving him, making him accountable to them, them to him, and watching his back when he’s either criticized or even under attack. In a true sense, the elders are the Guardians to the past READ MORE
We’re going to talk today about what it is like to be serving in a closed country. When we say closed country, we mean a culture where sharing the gospel freely is not possible without likely recriminations. I will not be using the person’s real name that I am interviewing, but I will refer to him a few times as Peter.And for his protection we will not refer to the country where he serves. However I can tell you that God is moving. READ MORE
Several weeks I drove through the campus of Toccoa Falls College near where I live and watched hundred of students streaming toward the auditorium of the college for their chapel service. I looked at these young faces and remembered being where they are. That was a long time ago, actually 35 years ago and so much has happened since then, in my life but also in our culture. I also looked at them and thought about how they will one day be where I am now. Unless the Lord returns first, these young people will be looking back to their 35 years no doubt living in a world so different than ours today. I find myself in these reflective mood wondering what the church will be like and how many of these young people I saw streaming toward their chapel service will be leading the church. READ MORE
In the 1980’s AIDS was an unfamiliar disease leaving those with the diagnoses alone and often shunned. It was during this time that young Ian Puckett, was diagnosed with AIDS due to a blood transfusion following a serious accident he and his father, Henry, were in. Up to this time, Henry and his wife Donna were experiencing deep marital problems that led to a temporary separation. READ MORE
It’s generally accepted that most people leave churches because of personal conflict, not because of theological differences. We hear too often of churches that are hurting because of conflict and sometimes this pain can last for years. Is it possible God is behind that pain more than we might think? READ MORE
I think we would all agree that suffering produces the best leaders. I am amazed when I talk to people who consistently tell me that they are who they are because of how God shaped them during hard trials. In other places I have share about my own personal trials. When I recount these stories I will state how it scares me who I would be today had God not taken me through those trials. READ MORE
Gerald Sittser in his book A Grace Disguised portrays us in respect to God’s sovereignty as actors on a stage who take part in the story that he tells. I love watching God work even when things do not go the way I expect they would, especially in the ministry context. If you would have asked me thirty years ago what I would be doing now, I would not describe who I am now, and what I am doing. Thankfully God does not show us the future, but he does promise to be in charge and he does assure us that he does what is best for his glory and ultimately for our good. It is also true that in those uncertain and unexpected times that we discover best how good and amazing he is. READ MORE