In order to refresh my memory of the characters in the Old Testament, a few weeks ago I started reading the book of Joshua. I have learned a lot from Pastor Scott on HOW to read the Word, and when reading Joshua this time around I understood things that I had passed right by in earlier times of reading the Bible.
I started thinking about this ministry and all of you who receive the newsletter and other personal correspondence. My thinking was along the lines of: “in the work that we do, what is our purpose?”
I have no doubt but that the messages and teachings are far better than anything taught by the churches of today. Even Dr. Scott’s enemies would say, “He is a great Bible teacher, but . . .” The “but” was usually followed by criticism of how Dr. Scott lived his personal life. Other preachers judged him because they could not get past the fact that he smoked and cussed. The truth is that Dr. Scott’s words hit them where it hurt, and so they invented fault in his character.
The true Gospel that Jesus taught is not being taught today. The main reason why is that it’s not comfortable. Yet the Gospel means “good tidings.” I suppose it’s not good tidings to those who do not believe, but to those who believe, have faith and complete trust in God, it is the power unto salvation.
I halfway expected that some of you would see yourself in the story of David and Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth. I saw myself, crippled and unwanted, until Love reached out and saved me. David kept his word to Jonathan, even though Jonathan was dead. How rare is that?! That makes me think of God’s Word: “His word is forever settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89). That means it can be counted on.
The Old Testament speaks of Christ, and David became that symbolic picture of the Lord - the loving father receiving a lost and unwanted person. If you can’t see that, you have not learned to read the Bible as it should be read. And I suppose that is why some of you do not understand the messages.
And then there are those who only read the newsletter notes about our lives here on the mountain. Those notes are not the real basis or reason for the newsletter, nor are they of any serious spiritual consequence. Those of you who write usually get a personal response with all the news anyway.
Our purpose in what we are doing is that you may know God and know Him in a personal way. And then you will grow in the knowledge of His Grace, and thereby your faith will also grow.
Christianity is not a once and for all repeating of the sinner’s prayer. That is an empty tradition thought up by man, and it only leads to a life of trying to be good, and failing over and over. You must have the Spirit of God in your life, to live this life, because it is not easy.
Jesus often spoke in parables, and in Matthew 13:3 He says: “Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold” (Matthew 13:3-8).
And the seed is the Word of God, not money as some preachers teach. Jesus gives the full explanation of this parable in verses 18 thru 23 (chapter 13).
God has entrusted this work that Billie began 26 years ago, and we will not carry out this mission carelessly or uncaringly. We, like everyone else, will one day be held to an accounting before God. And that is a serious thought, not to be taken lightly.
Some of you need to pick up last month’s message and read it again. Ask God to show you who you are. Jesus said, “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:9). Thank Him if you have spiritual ears to hear.
By Bob Casto
Greetings my brothers & sisters:
I apologize for not writing more this year. The year has raced by and, in a few days, I’ll be 62 years old. It’s hard to believe that we’re on the downhill side of 2012 when it seems to have just started.
Much has happened this past year. The Department of Corrections decided to use an existing facility to house guys 40 years old and up. Many men in that age group were transferred from this facility. Men, by virtue of age and maturity, who were stabilizing factors within the inmate population. Also, a large number of these men were practicing Christians. The younger men brought in to replace them bring along vendettas and immaturity, as well as hard hearts, and in some cases, no God or a god (gods all unto themselves) of any sort.
Overnight the atmosphere at this facility has changed to a much more violent place. Anger, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness, and all sorts of ungodly attitudes and actions have sprung up. No longer can you be a lukewarm Christian. A decision to follow Jesus comes with a price - a price one must be prepared to deal with.
The impact on my life and those involved in the faith-based program has been very challenging. It’s easy to say, “God’s in charge . . . nothing has caught Him by surprise . . . in spite of the chaos and violence God is still in control,” but it is quite another thing to walk out those truths.
About a month ago my beautiful wife Catherine came to visit me, and I shared some of the challenges I’m dealing with as a result of these changes; not only with me, but also how these changes are impacting the church over all at this facility. Her comment to me was, “Sounds like God wanted to get you all out of your comfort zone.” I shared that statement with other brothers, and across the board they all agreed that that’s what has happened to them as well.
Recently another brother shared with me some insight about what’s going on that he had received while studying Peter’s walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-23).
You remember the story. Jesus had just fed 5,000 people and had gone off to pray, after instructing the disciples to take a boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During the night a storm came up and the disciples were having a hard time with the boat. Suddenly they saw what they thought was a ghost walking on the
water, only to soon realize that it was Jesus walking on the water. Peter, in spite of the wind and waves, told Jesus to let him walk to Him on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” Peter jumped out of the boat and did well for a time, but suddenly he saw how big the
waves really were and how howling mad the wind was. Fearful and doubting he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus, whom Peter had lost sight of, and Jesus rescued him with a comment, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (vs.31)
So now, when this brother and I cross paths, we ask each other how we’re doing. Most of the time the response is, “still walking on water,” but sometimes it’s comments like, “my knees are getting damp,” or “boy, this wind and these waves are really big and howling.” If it’s the latter comments and time permits we stop and encourage each other, usually in prayer. If we don’t have time we will be sure and pray for each other later.
No matter which side of the fence we live on there’s a tendency to get comfortable in our walks with Jesus. That’s usually when Jesus sends us out to the other side, out of our comfort zone. Thinking we’ve got this under control, we see Jesus and ask to walk on water. Jesus tells us to come and we jump out of the boat, all full of confidence, only to realize that the “wind and waves,” the chaos, is much bigger and worse than we imagined. We take our eyes off of Jesus and look at the circumstances - challenges of our lives, the things we’ve no control over, and we begin to sink. Fearful and doubtful, we cry out to Jesus. We discover that our faith isn’t all we thought it was and we haven’t “arrived.” Jesus, ever faithful, rescues us and asks us the same question, “Why did you doubt?”
That Jesus’ return is soon IS a fact that none of us will deny. Life for all of us will only become more challenging and chaotic. The challenges to be faithful and to be standup men and women of God will become greater. The question is, “Where will our eyes be - on Jesus, thus “walking on the water,” or on the “wind and waves” - thus sinking and needing to cry out to Jesus and then hear Him say, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Don’t make the mistake of getting comfortable at this new level. It’s amazing how difficult the next “storm” will be.
Still walking on water,
Your brother in Christ,
A letter written to the author’s local church. Reprinted with his permission.
March, 2013 Prayer Requests
For Don Price (Fayetteville, Arkansas), for health.
For Johnnie Dunnum (Lexington, Oklahoma) who has a hernia.
For Michael Small’s (Illinois) step mother Suzanne. She is still being treated for vision problems.
For Joseph Runge’s Mother, Mavis (Illinois) who suffered a stroke several months ago. She is regaining strength and feeling.
For Dennis Martin (Lexington, Oklahoma) who is being treated for heart disease. He has had many recent trips to the hospital.
For Willie Harper (Joliet, Illinois) who is having stomach problems.
For Jimmy Huff (Colorado City, Texas), for health. He has diabetes.
For Cody Campbell (Florence, Arizona) who has been dealing with a serious throat infection. He also has a hernia problem not being treated.
For Jacob Cota (Prescott, Arizona) who has back problems (Sciatica nerve).
For Bob McDaniel (Rodney’s Dad) who has been in the hospital for the last month.
For William Holland (Joliet, Illinois), for health.
For Willie Clark (Lubbock, TX) who is being treated for cancer. His release from the hospital was delayed.
For John Crutcher (in Oklahoma) who needs a liver transplant.
For Johnny Carruthers (Florence, Arizona) who has diabetes. His feet hurt.
For Willie Scott (Grady, Arkansas), for a lower custody level.
For Anthony Grayson (Shawangunk, New York), that his health gets better, and that he finds legal assistance.
For Mike Long (Larned, Kansas), for health.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite Nuns in Little Rock.
For Frank Williams, Jr. (Death Row, Grady, Arkansas). He is awaiting another court ruling.
For Freddie Lee Lott (Robinson, Illinois), to keep his healing and stay cancer free.
For Robert Heffernan (Grady, Arkansas), that DNA evidence will prove his innocence.
For Pastor Scott & her ministry (The University Network) in Los Angeles.
For all of us at Wingspread.
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