A Marriage Restored

As a pastor I have walked with couples whose marriages are fractured and falling apart.  Some make it but others don’t and end in bitter divorce.  The letter you are about to read is from a husband and wife whose broken marriage experienced God’s grace and forgiveness.  May their Christmas letter to their friends and church offer hope for all marriages.

“Dear Friends,

May the Lord richly bless you and your family during this Advent Season!  This thankful “Christmas Letter” is being sent to you because you have known us for many years; years when we were together, and in the most recent 13 years, when we were apart.

Our glorious and loving God has done an amazing work by beginning the complete restoration of our 20 year marriage, which was severely flawed by sin in many ways.

As you observed us and interacted with us over the years, you could not help but to see the troubled nature of our relationship. No doubt, at some point, it had direct negative impact on you for which we ask for your forgiveness. Most of you know the details of the cause of our divorce so there is no need to go over those painful details.

Through an amazing series of Providential events that only the living God could originate and orchestrate, both of our hearts are now fully turned toward Him.  Through repentance and forgiveness given, we are moving forward together. We seek His glory in this announcement, not our own. (I Corinthians 1:27-31)  David plans to move to Minnesota as soon as employment and housing are found.  Our reconciliation leading to a civil remarriage some time in 2006, is only because of God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy towards two sinful people.  Please pray for our three children, Chris, Michelle and Rebecca as they witness the power of forgiveness in their parent’s lives and as they deal with their own awkward feelings and painful memories as they attempt to accept our reconciled relationship.

We lift praises to the Lord for His loving faithfulness to us and to all mankind at this, the season of His birth, as our covenant-originating and covenant-keeping God.

So, as we celebrate this Christmas like none other in our last 33 years, we ask you to join us in this celebration, as well as the joyful celebration of our Savior’s birth!”

“To Him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all the ages, now and evermore!  Amen.”  (Jude :24)

A Marriage Restored

School #433

A Testimony of the Power of the New Birth

Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 ESV)  Without a doubt there is no power that can change a human being like the power of the new birth.  It is also called the second birth.  I was born into the human race when my mother brought me into the world but then I was born into the family God by the miracle of the new birth.  In the story that follows you will hear from one of God’s missionaries to Russia after the iron curtain came down.

“It was back in 1992.  Communism had just come crashing down a year prior.  The Russian education system was scurrying around looking for a civics curriculum that they could substitute for the weekly block of communistic principles that were taught to the school children religiously.  How were they going to teach their students to be moral citizens and serve their country well?  The Minister of Education quickly acted.  We were invited along with hundreds of other Christian educators to train the Russian elementary teachers in a morals and ethics curriculum based on the Bible, but more importantly based on the life of Jesus.

I began my nine weeks of training with school #443 with a little anxiety.  On one hand, it was a miracle that the 15 teachers had agreed and were allowed to work through the Bible curriculum given that Alexandra Petrovevna , the director of the school, considered herself a staunch communist.  On the other hand, Alexandra Petrovevna agreed on the condition that she must attend every session.  So our nine weeks began in a very cramped room with teachers sitting on either side of a long narrow table.  I was to stand on one end to present while Alexandra sat opposite me at the other end of the table. She sat with her arms folded across her chest, watching me with unblinking eyes.  It seemed to me a challenge.

The weeks of training went along generally smoothly.  It seemed that the teachers were understanding.   I saw some engagement with the material.  It was difficult though to have robust conversation since Alexandra Petrovevna sat there week after week silently.

The 9th week session concluded and I opened if up for questions.  The atmosphere became very heavy when Alexandra Petrovevna’s chair scraped the floor as she slowly rose to her full height.  She then spoke her first words over the course of the 9 weeks of training.

‘Allow me to tell you what I am hearing.’  I gulped.  Was she going to erase all our work in the hearts of these teachers over the last 9 weeks with one comment?

‘Communism gave us a number of rules to follow.  It tried to change us from the outside in and it didn’t work.  But, you are saying, that a personal relationship with Jesus changes us from the inside out.’

I was stunned.  All I could do was nod my head incredulously.  She got it.  Christianity was a relationship where His words are written on our heart.  We can only be changed from the inside out.”

School #433

Biblical Illiteracy

Gallop Poll’s Newest Research Findings

June 4, 2014

Three in Four in U.S. Still See the Bible as Word of God

But 21%, near the 40-year high, consider it fables and history

by Lydia Saad

PRINCETON, NJ — Twenty-eight percent of Americans believe the Bible is the actual word of God and that it should be taken literally. This is somewhat below the 38% to 40% seen in the late 1970s, and near the all-time low of 27% reached in 2001 and 2009. But about half of Americans continue to say the Bible is the inspired word of God, not to be taken literally — meaning a combined 75% believe the Bible is in some way connected to God. About one in five Americans view the Bible in purely secular terms — as ancient fables, legends, history, and precepts written by man — which is up from 13% in 1976.

Goggle Search

Type in “biblical Illiteracy” you get 221,000 results

Barna Group Commissioned by American Bible Society: State of the Bible 2013.  Goal was to see what impact the Bible had on Americans


The vast majority of adults (88%) say their household owns a Bible.

One-fourth of adults (26%) say they never read the Bible, 12% read it less than once a year, and 10% read it only once or twice a year.


When presented with a number of potential frustrations when it comes to reading the Bible, 40% of adults who read the Bible at least once a week say they never seem to have enough time to read it. Along Bible readers other frustrations that that were assessed included: finding the language difficult to relate to (10%), not understanding the background or history of the Bible (7%), never finding the stories or verse they are looking for (4%) and not feeling too excited about reading it (3%).


The majority of adults (69%) consider themselves moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible. Twelve percent of adults say they are highly knowledgeable; 13% said not too knowledgeable; and only 6% said not at all knowledgeable.

The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

Albert Mohler

While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home–biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.

Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”

How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels.

Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples.

According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.”  [see Barna Group’s web site]

Multiple surveys reveal the problem in stark terms. According to 82 percent of Americans, “God helps those who help themselves,” is a Bible verse. Those identified as born-again Christians did better–by one percent. A majority of adults think the Bible teaches that the most important purpose in life is taking care of one’s family.

Some of the statistics are enough to perplex even those aware of the problem. A Barna poll indicated that at least 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.

Another survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.

A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. We are in big trouble.

Secularized Americans should not be expected to be knowledgeable about the Bible. As the nation’s civic conversation is stripped of all biblical references and content, Americans increasingly live in a Scripture-free public space. Confusion and ignorance of the Bible’s content should be assumed in post-Christian America.

The larger scandal is biblical ignorance among Christians. Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible. It shows.

This really is our problem, and it is up to this generation of Christians to reverse course. Recovery starts at home. Parents are to be the first and most important educators of their own children, diligently teaching them the Word of God. [See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.] Parents cannot franchise their responsibility to the congregation, no matter how faithful and biblical its may be. God assigned parents this non-negotiable responsibility, and children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God’s Word.

Testimony of Scripture

Matthew 4:4 Jesus in His wilderness temptation.  “Man Shall not live by bread alone…”

Deuteronomy 32:46.  “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.  For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Joshua 1:7-9 “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.  Do not turn from it to the right or left that you may have good success wherever you go.  This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success.

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

James 1:21 “Receive the Word implanted which is able to save your souls.”

Ephesians 6:17 “And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of god.”

Great Quotes

God’s Word alone tethers us to God’s reality

The word of God hidden in the heart is a stubborn voice to suppress.–Billy Graham

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. –George Washington

I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this Book that you can by reason and the balance by faith, and you will live and die a better man. It is the best Book which God has given to man. –Abraham Lincoln

Biblical Illiteracy