Tuesday, May 24, 2016

God’s Gift to me of Cancer

Many years ago, I was driving with my son, Robby, and his brand-new finance and the gas tank was empty. I kept asking Robby to stop and get some gas, but he kept saying “Dad, I only use Chevron gas.” We kept driving, passing station after station, and I was really getting worried. Finally we found a Chevron. While Robby filled the car I went into the station to pay. The attendant noticed I was in pain and asked what was wrong. I thanked her for asking and explained that I was suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer. She asked if it was serious and I said that it was. “Oh,” she said, “I’m so sorry.”

“That’s okay,” I responded; “I do not enjoy cancer, or the pain, but I have to face the fact that I’m dying. However, when I do die, I’ll go to Heaven.” Then I asked politely, “Ma’am, when you die, will you go to Heaven?” “I think so, for I have a relationship with God,” she answered. “What kind of a relationship?” I asked. “well,” she continued, “I’m a recovering drug addict… heroin, cocaine… you name it, I’ve taken it; and without some help from above I wouldn’t be able to make it.”

“Would you like to know for sure you will go to Heaven?” I asked. “Yes, I would,” she answered. Other customers were arriving and the phone was ringing, so I quickly said, “You need to put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone gives salvation. Here is a booklet that will explain.” As she reached to pick up the phone, she thanked me and took the booklet. As we drove away, she was reading.

This quick three-minute conversation all happened as a result of my pain; as a result of cancer. This is one reason I can say that God, my Heavenly Father, has given me sickness-that He has “gifted me with cancer.” Yes, it is for His glory and for my good, but also that others may benefit from God’s mercy and grace as well… such as the woman at the Chevron station.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Tribute to L.E. Maxwell

L.E. Maxwell, founder and late President of Prairie Bible Institute (PBI) was original, colorful, very Godly and one who, like Daniel in his old age, possessed an extraordinary spirit (Daniel 6:1-23). Mr. Maxwell was always in a hurry for God but never rushed. He preached the deep truths of God's Word, but they were understandable and plain to ordinary men and women. He loved his students and we loved and honored him. Even though he worked faithfully in administrating the large PBI ministries, his first love was teaching the Word to his students in the classroom, preaching the Word in the pulpit, and challenging the church to take the Word to the masses of the world at missions conferences.

Some of the sayings of Mr. Maxwell were:

  • "The hardest thing in the world is to keep balanced."
  • "Faith and life always go together. Believe and behave!"
  • 'They have made fun of me all my life. When they quit doing it, I expect it will be because I am backslidden."
  • "He is great, and he alone, who serves a greatness not his own."
  • "No cross, no crown."
  • "A man wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package."
  • "If you lay up for rainy days, God will see to it that you get them."
  • 'The greatest mission is sub-mission."
  • "The Lord guides whom He governs."
  • "Hoping for nothing!"
  • "Bless the women out there who are doing a man's job."
  • "There is no fool like an old fool."
  • "Jesus didn't come to make bad men good; He came to make dead men live."
  • "Never had the church so much influence over the world as when she had nothing to do with the world."
  • "We cannot live in the flesh and do the work of the spirit."
  • "Leadership (needed) in missions is not made by education, not won by promotion, but only by many prayers and confessions of sin, and heart-searchings and humblings and self-surrender before God and men."
 One winter when my wife, Margaret, was in her last year at PBI, rushing from one building to another because of the cold, she passed through one of the 'steam clouds' coming out a vent from a steam tunnel under the sidewalk. As she passed through it, she was suddenly face to face with Mr. Maxwell all bundled up and out on one of his walks. He jokingly grabbed Margaret by the shoulders and laughing said, "Are you running on your own steam?"

On a brief trip from the Philippines years ago I visited Three Hills several months before Mr. Maxwell's death. I asked permission of Mrs. Maxwell and Grandpa Bob Sinclair, who helped to care for Mr. Maxwell, for permission to visit him. He was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and needed constant care.

It was difficult for Mr. Maxwell to have visitors, but I was given permission to spend a short time with him. Late one night I had the great honor of sitting for nearly an hour with Mr. Maxwell, the great soldier for Christ, holding both his hands in mine and telling him how much he was loved and appreciated by many, many people around the world.

When it came time for him to retire, I helped him to his bed. I still remember the privilege of gently laying him down on his bed, his strong grip on my hand and his kiss on my cheek.

But what really stands out in my memory of our short time together is that even though he was unable to carry on a conversation, I saw excitement and tears of joy in his eyes as I told him story after story of his students being used around the world and how God was bringing multitudes of people to Himself!

Yes, he appreciated being loved, but he thrilled at the glory of God through missions!

  The extraordinary spirit of Mr. L.E. Maxwell was not only evident in his powerful preaching, his inductive Bible teaching, his zealous labor for God, and his dedication to family, but it was especially his Christlike, God-honoring life. He lived to train disciplined soldiers for Christ.

It was said of the great racehorse Man O'War: "Some horses led him at the first turn, some led him at the backstretch, a few led him at the far turn, but no horse ever led him in the homestretch." Some Christians run nobly at the start of the race, some do well halfway, but blessed is the man who makes a good finish. L.E. Maxwell served faithfully to the end! With the Apostle Paul he could say: I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course" (II Timothy 4:7).

Doug Nichols
PBI Graduate 1966

Monday, May 16, 2016

Welcoming Missionaries Home

Published in 1993 by The Christian Standard from Standard Publishing in Cincinnati, OH.

Every church can do more to reach out both at home and abroad. How we treat our missionaries can demonstrate the importance we place on those who labor, sacrificially and faithfully beyond our shores. Doug Nichols, Commission to Every Nation, told of an incident that might serve as an example for all of us:

I had already been introduced and was preparing to speak after special music number at The People's Church in Toronto, Canada. During the solo, an usher came in one of the rear doors, urgently made his way around the side, up onto the platform, and over to the pastor, Dr. Paul Smith.

The usher handed him a note. The soloist was just coming to the end of her song. Dr. Smith, after reading the note, reached over and touched my arm saying, "Wait, before you speak, I need to take care of something."

He approached the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege to announce that one of our missionary families from this church has just arrived for furlough from Brazil. They arrived only an hour ago at the airport here in Toronto and were brought directly to the church. They have just now arrived at our service!"

At that time, about four ushers approached the couple and their three children, seated near the back of the church. They were escorted to the front and up the steps onto the platform. They were very shy and embarrassed. You could tell from their wrinkled clothes and haggard appearance they had been traveling for many hours.

Something then happened that I have not witnessed either before or since. As they reached the top step and began to make their way across the platform toward Dr. Smith, the 2,000 people in the auditorium rose as one and gave this shy, embarrassed little family a standing ovation!

We then witnessed the look of fear and embarrassment leave the faces of the mother, father and their three small children. It was replaced by amazement as they walked slowly across the platform to the outstretched arms of Dr. Smith.The congregation stood for several minutes as they clapped, welcoming their missionaries home!

I (and many others) stood with tears because of the beauty and family warmth of it all the elders of the church then came to the platform and circled the family as Dr. Smith led in prayer. He prayed that God would use them mightily during their furlough and return them to an effective ministry in Brazil for God's glory.

Many times, since witnessing this great event, I've wondered: why do not all churches welcome their missionaries home in this way?

Wherever we are, whatever the ethnic structure of our community, we can find lost people. As we evangelize in our "Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria," we must also reach out to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8).

Friday, May 13, 2016

Missionaries Don’t Need to Worry!

The great opera singer Pavarotti held a concert in the United States late 1992. As he was singing, his voice cracked. When this happened people stood up and booed. One reporter said he felt that if the people would have had tomatoes, they would have thrown them. People felt the right to boo, especially since they had paid $1,200 per seat!

I guess that's the way it is with church people in some of the big churches these days. They pay their pastors so much that he’d better not make any mistakes, especially in a sermon. Better not preach any duds! Missionaries on furlough, however, do not have to worry as they don't get much salary at all.

We as missionaries may get beaten, and rocks thrown at us but at least we don't need to worry about thrown tomatoes on furlough!