"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Multiplication Principle of Kingdom Giving

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Kyle Williams and I are standing in front of a building in Bytom-Miechowiche, Poland. Not just any building. It's a place where ministry to abused women and children in Poland is taking place. The man and woman between us runs these ministries from this building.

See the beautiful red roof on top of the building? The people of Emmanuel Enid rebuilt it.

Five years ago Emmanuel Enid voted to remodel our youth center and to rename it "The Connect Space." In conjunction with that project, our church voted to set aside 10% of the funds we raised for our youth center, and to spend it on an overseas missions project. The project chosen was the one pictured above - to replace the roof. Doesn't sound exciting does it. Just wait for the rest of the story.

Ultimately, $100,000 was wired from Enid, Oklahoma to Bytom-Miechowiche, Poland.

I'd like to give an amazing report on what happened after we wired the money. It's an illustration that God mulitiplies the seed given by His people to bring an incredible harvest.

Background

The building chosen by Emmanuel Enid was not just any building. It is located on the property of -- and sits next to - the original home of Eva von Tiele-Winckler (1866-1930). Eva was born in southeastern Germany into a family of nobility and wealth. Eva, raised a nominal Catholic, came to faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 17 while reading John 10.

Upon her conversion she decided to do something to help the poor in her homeland. When her father gave her property and a home on her eighteenth birthday, she turned it into a place she called Friedenshort, which means "an abode of peace." Eva's passion was to care for women and children who were poor, destitute and in need of help.

Forsaking her life of privilege and riches, Eva opened her house, and built additional homes on her properties for orphans, widows, the poor and the infirm. By the end of her lifetime, over 40 homes had been established in Poland through her labor.


But that first property Mother Eva turned into a ministry for the forsaken, the building above, always had a special place in her heart. Mother Eva would preach the gospel in women's prisons and when those women were dischaged from prison, she'd bring them to her "abode of peace" to care for them and disciple them. Eva eventually sent a number of the women whom she discipled to China to serve with the China Inland Mission. Other women under Eva's influence went to serve in Guatemala, Africa, and India. Eva herself was greatly influenced by George Mueller and was personally encouraged by contact with Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis, Hudson Taylor, the Welsh Revival, and the Keswick Convention.

The orphans that Eva helped in her lifetime numbered in the thousands. It was these orphans who gave to Eva the name "Mother Eva" for the care she gave to them as if she was their own mother. Mother Eva is buried on the grounds of the old German orphanage she founded. She insisted before her death that name should not be placed on the tombstone and only two Latin words should be etched in the stone: "Ancilla Domini" which means "servant of the Lord."

Communism

After World War II, communism and Stalin took over Poland. Mother Eva died prior to the war, but her ministry to women and children carried on. Communist officials went on the offensive against Christians, persecuting those in Poland who professed to follow Christ. The underground church was developed, and the first evangelical Christians in Poland began meeting in Mother Eva's buildings. In 1950, thirty men and women met for a week of encouragement and Bible study, a week of meetings that have carried on for sixty-four sraight years, through persecution, the eventual fall of communism, and some dark economic times in Poland.

Today, July 4, 2015 marked the beginning of a week long evangelism meeting in Dzieliegow, Poland, the continuation of those meetings first begun in 1950 in Mother Eva's home.  This evening I preached from Philippians 4:11 and approximately 16 women and 4 men gave their hearts to Christ. We are meeting in a large tent, and hopefully tomorrow or Monday I'll post some pictures of the meeting for you to get a feel for what is happening. The guest speakers at this conference in year's past include Luis Palau, Ravi Zacharias, Leighton Ford, Stuart Brisco and others. I'm a short weed in some tall cotton, but it's fun to be part of a week where you sense God moving.

But before we had our meeting tonight, we toured the building. Remember that $100,000 that Emmanuel gave to rebuild the roof? Not a colorful mission project is it? Well, if you had seen the building five years ago, you would have known why it was important. Built over an old coal mine, the entire building was about to collapse. We heard today from structural engineers for Habitat for Humanity that the "incredible timing" of the gift of Emmanuel Enid, which enabled the complete rebuilding of the roof -- prevented the building from completely falling in upon itself.

But there's more.

Because Emmanuel Enid gave the gift the rebuild the roof, the European Union stepped in, understanding that the building had historic significance, and gave $2.2 million dollars to compltely refurbish it from the inside out. The reason the ministry was able to obtain the EU grant was because Emmanuel Enid had already rebuilt the roof (that was the condition of the grant).

But there's more.

When the EU stepped in to remodel the building, they forced the coal mine to make foundation repairs, which included underground support, filling in the chasms created underneath the surface of the ground by coal mining.

But there's more.

That little $100,000 gift given by Emmanuel Enid five years ago has blossomed into well over $3,000,000.00 dollars of funding. We were told, over and over again today, that everyone involved in the project of rebuilding this building marveled at the timing of Emmanuel Enid's gift. Had it not arrived when it did, the building would be gone.

Now, abused women and children are finding shelter in the area Mother Eva once called home. By the way, Mother Eva is buried just behind the building I'm writing about. She may be gone, but her work carries on.

Thanks, Emmanuel Enid, for being a church that cares about mission work around the world.


The Republic's Gone and What's Next Is Chilling

When the invalid eighty-one-year-old Benjamin Franklin was carried out of Philadelphia's City Hall at the conclusion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, it is said that a woman stopped the caravan carrying the most famous American of the 1700's and asked "Mr. Franklin, do we have a monarchy or a republic?" The response came:
"A republic, Madame, if you can keep it."

I'll never forget my fourth grade teacher asking us if the United States was a democracy or a republic. Most of us didn't know what either term meant, but the majority of us answered "A democracy."

Our teacher then asked us to stand and face the American flag, place our hands over our hearts, and cite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands..."
Our teacher stopped us..., "Listen to what you just said - 'and to the republic.' Boys and girls, never forget the United States of America is a republic, not a democracy."

After we sat down, a boy raised his hand and asked the question, "How is a republic different from a democracy?"

Our teacher rightly responded - "A republic is a rule of law, established by representative leadership. The ancient Roman republic was the model our American forefathers used in establishing America's republic form of government. Democracy was feared by our forefathers, not favored."

That little exchange when I was ten years old began a lifelong love for republicanism. I began to learn what our forefathers believed. For example,  during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph reflected on the multiple discussions the delegates had during the four months of debate regarding the "evil" in governments and the "evil" in political systems. He reflected
 "...that in tracing these evils to their origin every man (at the Constitutional Convention) had found the origin of evil in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
John Adams said,
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
John Marshall, who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court observed,
"Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
The reason Benjamin Franklin responded, "A republic, Madame, if you can keep it" is because he--along with the other Founding Fathers--believed that a republic would eventually descend into a democracy, a democracy would quickly dissolve into anarchy, and anarchy would ultimately lead to totalitarianism.

As of last week, the rule of law in America (i.e. "the Constitution") has been abandoned. We are no longer a country governed by law (i.e. "a republic"), but rather, a government ruled by the wishes of people (i.e. "a democracy"). The trifecta verdicts by the Supreme Court last week are important because the "rule of law" was set aside by Supreme Court activists who decided it was important that people have equal outcomes.

This is cause for celebration by many Americans. It's not my desire to damper anyone's party, but it is my responsibility  to remind those who love our country of what our Founding Fathers believed about the descent from a republic to a democracy.

What comes for America next is anarchy.

Then what follows is totalitarianism.

The good news is for believers in Jesus Christ is that we belong to "holy nation" (I Peter 2:9), are citizens of a "city not built with human hands" (Hebrews 11:10),  and are "pilgrims on a journey through this world" (I Peter 2:11).

Remember to whom you really belong, because the republic you once knew and loved has fallen.

Fight It Back, Tullian Tchividjian, This Fade to Black

I've never met Tullian Tchividjian, nor have I had any conversations with him via email or phone. However, I've read enough of what he's written to take up a defense of his gospel preaching. On a side note, I am sometimes asked "What is your favorite post of all the posts you've written?" The one where I defend Tullian Tchividjian's gospel preaching is always my answer.

When information from an anonymous blogger went public last Sunday that Tullian stepped down from his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church because of an extra-marital affair, my heart was saddened. I don't know any details of Tullian's sin, but there's enough information out there to know that the decision to step down was wise and necessary..

The moment I heard Tullian stepped down as pastor I began following Tullian on Twitter.

Here's the first tweet from Tullian I saw:


Amen. Tullian. What you've said is gospel truth,

Then, 24 hours later, I read Tullian's second tweet since his sin became public.


Again, amen, Tullian. This gospel truth is sometimes difficult to understand for people who've always equated horizontal consequences with vertical favor. We both know that a believer in Christ has had his sin nailed to the cross, and God's condemnation is borne by Christ. However, since our sins occur in time, the horizontal (human) consequences that result from our sin are often painful. Surrender early indeed. The muscle of self-discipline grows weary quickly, so it's better to avoid temptation than to fight it after it's risen. And we all succumb to temptation and sin -- even as believers in Christ. You are so on target about horizontal consequences being different from vertical consequences.

Then, Tullian tweets a few hours later.


Bingo.

Grace would only be grace if we were undeserving. Otherwise, God's favor would be merited and couldn't be called grace. God feeds off  the bottom of humanity. "Not many self-righteous are called...."

But, alas, Tullian tweeted a final tweet this past Tuesday, less than 48 hours after his resignation, It is this tweet that has caused me some turmoil.



Tullian, I don't know if you are reading this post or not, but I'd like to share with you a conversation my wife and I had the other night about your "fade to black" tweet. We both believe your desire to fade into the background is the result of the criticism you received for your statement to the Washington Post regarding your wife, as well as the public humiliation your sin has brought to you.

The other night I couldn't sleep. My wife sensed it, and she questioned me.

"What's bothering you Wade?"

"Tullian Tchividjian" I replied.

"Why?"

"His statement, 'I'm so sorry. I love you all...fade to black..'"

"Why is that bothering you?"

"Because the message of grace is too powerful in and of itself, regardless of the failure of the messenger. Tullian has preached grace powerfully, but his statement 'fade to black" indicates to me he struggles understanding the difference between the message and the messenger."

"What do you mean?"

"Grace is for sinners. Tullian, like all of us, is a sinner. The message hasn't changed, so why "fade to black?"

"Because he's failed Wade. He's violated his covenant with his wife. He's an adulterer. He's disqualified as a pastor."

"I don't disagree. That's not what's bothering me. It's the message "Fade to black..."  Why "fade to black"? Right now the message of grace is needed more than ever. Tullian should know that at this very moment he has the opportunity share the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that it will impact the woman who sold herself into prostitution, or the young girl who had sex with her boyfriend and had an abortion, or the married man who committed adultery on his wife, or the businessman who stole from his company and is headed to jail..."

"But people aren't going to listen to him because of his sin, Wade. They'll call him a hypocrite. I understand why he feels the need to 'fade to black.'"

"Maybe that's our problem with church today. We have created an environment where we must have preachers who pretend they're perfect in order to deliver the powerful message of grace, and if they aren't, then the people refuse to believe their message. Maybe the real sin is church people or church leaders who create religious environments where people can't be real about their struggles, transparent about their failures, and open regarding their weaknesses. In other words, maybe what we've done is create a culture of celebrity preachers who must be perfect in every way - looks, speaking, marriage, etc...-- or else they must "fade to black."

Silence.

"So what's bothering you Wade is not that Tullian stepped down, but that he went silent with his message of grace."

"Absolutely."

"Well, what in the world could Tullian Tchividjian say right now?"

"Exactly what grace teaches him to say. I screwed up. I'm a sinner. I committed adultery. Worse, I blamed my wife. I am a bottom feeder in need of Divine favor. I'm not going to white wash it, lie about it, or justify it. I broke my marriage covenant. I committed adultery. But my "big sin" didn't just happen overnight. I walked through multiple smaller doors before I reached the exit door. I loved the adulation of those who thought me inspired. I sought the praise of men. I built a culture at both the church and the ministry I lead that revolved around me. My sin of adultery is only the last step up the ladder of personal pride. My adultery happened to be the step that actually broke my life and caused my fall from ministry, but it's only the last public sin of a long list of personal private sins. I'm a sinner just like you in need of God's grace now more than ever"

"Wow. Wade. That's too long to put on Twitter."

"Yep. I think maybe that's the issue for me. The message of God's grace is too complicated, too profound, too messy to fit into 140 characters on Twitter."

"So, what would you have preferred Tullian tweeted?"

"Something like this: 'My adultery may have disqualified this messenger from the pastorate, but it's certainly not disqualified my message about Him. Truth be known, I need more gospel now; more of Him now; not less. I'll be tweeting more about Jesus.'"

That, more or less, was my wife's and my conversation the other night.

To Tullian and my pastor friends who wish to "fade to black" when it comes to the gospel in the face of our sins, I offer some words that I wrote a few years ago about Jesus:

"In Hebrews 10:17-18 the Lord says, “This is the covenant I will make with them (us)… I will remember their sins no more.” For the life of me I can't understand why pastors would put emphasis on remembering what God forgets. There’s no denial Christians struggle with ‘indwelling sin.’ There's also no denial that sin is destructive. The question, though, is "How does a believer defeat indwelling sin?" I am absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent convinced that every Christian leader who places more emphasis in his ministry to Christians on indwelling sin than he does Jesus Christ, will ultimately lead his people down the path of religious bondage, emotional pain and spiritual abuse. Sin's power and influence are only diminished by displaying the beauty of Jesus Christ. Focus on sin and it entices you; focus on Christ and He enraptures you. An easy way to remember this axiom of the faith is: "There's no high like the Most High!" When God's people regular taste of Him "and see that He is good," every false high that sin brings will be recognized as a sorry substitute for the real thing. The ancient people said as much when they asked of Philip, "Sir, we would see Jesus" (John 12:21).

Tullian, your adultery has cost you a great deal in terms of this world and your human relationships. However, I urge you not to "fade to black."

We would like to continue to see Jesus in you.