For Heaven's Sake
Dying Bible teacher Judson Cornwall may have saved his most important lesson for last.
After more than 70 years of ministry, Judson Cornwall was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the spine. In his final book, Dying With Grace (Charisma House), the Bible teacher offers encouragement to those who suffer--and for those who care for them.
Cornwall encourages his readers to be "sufficiently childlike to ask 'Why?'" even if God chooses to conceal--not reveal--the answers.
The following are several questions Cornwall has himself asked about God's purpose in pain and suffering:
1. "Why hasn't God healed me?"
"... We see the dealings of God as being very temporal and that it is His blessed will to heal everyone. Yet the Bible speaks of fulfilling the suffering of Christ. I am not sure we understand that very well.
"We feel there should be no suffering or pain, yet all through Scripture we see chosen ones of God enduring suffering and pain. ... The more time we spend in God's presence, the stronger our confidence and trust in Him will become."
2. "Why are others healed and not me?"
"... God is sovereign and He wills as He wills to do. That isn't very satisfactory to 21st century Christians. We think if healing is something the children deserve, then God doesn't have the right to heal one person and not heal another.
"Is it just possible that sickness is the best for some people? If, through sickness, God can form in me a Christian grace that He could not do with my good health, then God has a right to use any tools at His disposal to effect the grace He is wanting to perfect in me."
3. "How do I avoid depression?"
"... I praise with my mouth, with my mind, with my voice, and with melody. I praise with body language, with the English language and with the language of the Spirit. I praise in the silence of the night and in the noise of daily activities. The more I praise, the more encouraged I become.
"To be perfectly honest, this praise does not always come easily. Much of it is expressed through clenched teeth and an inner feeling of hypocrisy, but it is expressed nonetheless. I know it was my lifeline for living above depression at this juncture of my dying experience.
"In spite of the toll the disease had taken, I still have a lot of life left in me, and that life needs to be released Godward, not inward."
4. "How should I respond to people who try to get me to try 'cures' they hear about?"
"I have been given so many "cures" for cancer. Some of them came in little bottles, and some came with electric motors. Some had batteries and things that you plugged in under your wrist. I have been given all kinds of instant cure-alls for my condition.
"I took one of them to the doctor and told him about all the things I was receiving. 'Will these work?' I asked him. He simply replied: 'If you believe in them. But I think you're better off to believe in your God.'
"Put your trust in the medical professionals to whom you have entrusted your care and in your heavenly Physician, Jesus Christ."
5. "How can I help my loved ones and friends to face this positively with me?"
"... We can only tell them that we are convinced the Lord is on the throne and that He is doing all things well. The same Lord who has used me to bless them will use others to bless them after I am gone.
"Turn them to the Word of God, and help them to realize that a death sentence was pronounced on us at the time of our birth. God has been wonderful to let us live in peace all these years."
An online MP3 archive offers free access to 4,000-plus classic sermons.
The ubiquitous Christian tape ministry may have gone the way of the bison, but one Web site is bringing classic preaching and teaching audio into the 21st century.
Sermon Index (www.sermonindex.net) Webmaster Greg Gordon was skeptical about the prospect of true spiritual renewal in North America until he picked up Leonard Ravenhill's classic Why Revival Tarries. The book inspired 25-year-old Gordon to dive into the writings of David Brainerd, A.W. Tozer, Charles Spurgeon and other preachers of the past.
"These old people had a grasp on revival," Gordon says. "There's a loss of depth in modern-day preaching in the areas of doctrine and discipleship."
In December of 2002, God gave Gordon a vision for getting classical preaching online, and he began the process in his free time while working as a Web developer at the University of Toronto.
Gordon designed a Web site, digitized and archived audio tapes to MP3 format and networked with various ministries to gain access to new files. (The late A.W. Tozer's family granted Gordon access to all of the preacher's recordings.)
Less than two years later, Sermon Index offers more than 4,000 audio and video files, and articles from more than 125 preachers and teachers, both well-known and obscure. While visitors to the site may listen to the files online, Gordon says many burn them to CDs or rip them onto portable MP3 players to listen later.
How does the site cover its costs? Shortly after launching Sermon Index, Gordon was laid off from his job and has devoted his energies fulltime to increasing the size of the archive.
"It hasn't taken a lot of money," he says. "I've had people volunteer from around the world."
Additionally, although the files are available free of charge, Gordon accepts donations on the site, and revenue from banner ads helps offset the cost of the site.
"My philosophy is 'freely you have received, freely give,'" Gordon says. He allows--and encourages--other Web sites to copy his files onto their own servers so that they will be available to more people.
Although he hopes the ministry will grow to the point that it will be eligible for nonprofit status, Gordon believes he is just one small piece in God's plan.
"I feel like the boy with the loaves and fishes," he says. "God wants to use the small things."
Breaking the Enemy's Grip
By Eddie Smith (Bethany House)
Deliverance ministry is a messy business. But in his new book, Breaking the Enemy's Grip, Eddie Smith attempts to inject sanity and insight into a challenging topic. Some may disagree with Smith's controversial assertions, such as his argument that children can be demonized in infancy as a result of traumatic events. But few would debate the legitimacy of his experiences in deliverance ministry and his belief that certain behaviors such as involvement with the occult and refusal to forgive can invite demonic influence. Also, unique to many in deliverance ministry is Smith's contention that deliverance is not ultimately for the purpose of making people free, but for bringing glory to God.
Creating Messages that Connect
By Alan Nelson (Group)
According to Alan Nelson, the preacher does not have to sacrifice faithfulness to doctrine and theology for the sake of appealing to listeners. In Creating Messages That Connect, Nelson suggests that the challenge pastors encounter engaging congregations is not the result of a deficiency on the part of the message, but with the "language" in which it is communicated. "A message must be both delivered and received for it to be potentially effective," he writes. "Reception of our messages has gone down significantly because we fail to translate them effectively." Nelson offers 10 secrets of effective communicators, from the importance of exploring different preaching methods to the essential aspect of practical application.
Matt Redman (EMI)
Worship leader-composer Matt Redman has graced fans with another collection of singable, praise and worship songs that will firmly embed themselves in the listener's mind. Recorded live at the Facedown Songwriters' Gathering at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, the album has a freshness and simplicity that will draw worship leaders to introduce Redman's songs to their own congregations. Particularly memorable is a gracious repackaging of the 1876 hymn "Nothing But the Blood." Not one for trite clichés, Redman draws phraseology from Scripture, combining themes from Revelation and Job in "Worthy, You Are Worthy." The album's lyrical depth and musical originality confirm that this song-writing Brit is drinking from some deep wells.
Hands Lifted High
Dennis Jernigan & Friends (Doxology)
Spanning 16 years of Dennis Jernigan's songwriting, Hands Lifted High breathes new life into songs that have become worship classics. A collaboration of duets with 14 other singers, Jernigan blends his voice with younger artists such as Natalie Grant and Rebecca St. James, as well as fixtures such as Matthew Ward and Twila Paris. Highlights include Natalie Grant's soulful "You Are My All in All," Charlie Hall in the upbeat "Great Is the Lord Almighty" and Alvin Slaughter in "I Belong to Jesus." The collection also includes the anthem "Let Freedom Ring," the theme song for the National Day of Prayer 2004.