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A Perspective on T4G

Published on 04/10/12

My heart is heavy with the whole Together for the Gospel movement. Doing a brief survey of the speakers, it appears that there are many from both reformed and Southern Baptist backgrounds.

It seems that the basic premise is: We can differ on ecclesiology and even on some eschatology but we preach the same gospel. We need to get back to the gospel.

Well, I disagree that such a conference and stance clarifies the true gospel, instead it confuses it and dilutes it.

Before I go on….I think those who know me would understand that I write this out of a spirit of love for our Lord and for the truth of God’s Word. This is not written because of a separatist bone-to-pick. I just believe that separating the gospel from the entirety of the Word of God would be as difficult and impossible as trying to separate the Trinity itself! Please know also that if you are at T4G then I do not condemn you. Neither do I judge the speakers and organizers nor their motives. I pray God’s blessing upon you and them as much as God can bless.

Now, here are some reasons why I think the whole T4G movement actually confuses the gospel:

- If one sprinkles infants this communicates a different gospel.

As a pastor and church planter God gave me the opportunity to minister to dozens from a reformed background. Many were confused as to how they knew they were really saved. Some were really depending on their child confirmation and baptism instead of a faith alone in Jesus Christ.

- If most of your missions is helping the needy instead of planting churches this is the social gospel and it is a different gospel.

While visiting churches looking for a church home here in Texas, I have observed several churches take missions trips to do such things as build houses, feed the poor, pass out water etc. While these are good things, I noticed that most of these “missions trips” had the articulation of the gospel absent. I would say that this is flirting very close with the false social gospel.

David Platt is a speaker at t4g2012. His teachings first seem inspiring as to global missions. While there is something to be gained, we need to be very careful. Brother Platt is one who is very non-committle on end time events. According to his church’s statement of faith, he seems to lean towards teaching that we are in the beginning of the Kingdom, as opposed to distinguishing the Kingdom as the future literal thousand year reign of Christ. In this statement of faith, Brother Platt goes to great lengths in describing why a type of social gospel is part of his dogma. Also, missions seems to be focused on articulating the gospel while doing good works with little to mention of church planting which is the model of Paul and the apostles.

- If your methodology, music, and philosophy is one of “attract a huge crowd while trying to be relevant to the world” then this confuses the gospel and creates a different gospel.

Those who are T4G might condemn me saying that I am placing my particular “brand” of theology in front of practical evangelism and discipleship. Well, all I have to say is that I live in a state that has swallowed the whole SBC for many years. I have visited dozens of churches. Most everyone attends some sort of Baptist Church (or church formerly known as Baptist). Most have ruined lives with a rampant divorce rate. Most know enough of the Bible to be dangerous but are not discipled at all. Here in Texas I have visited many churches who’s seats weekly are filled with many unregenerate people thinking they are Christians! Weekly they hear a something of the gospel, but the message is outshouted by many things. The gospel and the process of sanctification that comes with it is sadly hidden and almost absent.

Of course I am speaking in generalities about the SBC movement. I have not visited the particular ministries of the speakers of T4G 2012. From what I know of their writings and sermons, many are much more solid than what I have observed in other churches. In fact, many are reacting against the “American Idol” church scene that their denominations have produced. Yet, I cannot help but to think that the whole “nothing-else-matters-as-much” attitude is why the fluffy churches have become what they are.

- If one confuses the distinctions between Israel and the church then this leads to a different gospel.

Covenant theology is rapidly gaining in popularity. As a result, even some who claim to be traditional dispensationalist are suspicious of traditional dipensationalism. The Presbyterian influence is why you will see so many of these t4g men lean toward elder rule and what they articulate which we have labeled as Lordship Salvation. For example in MacArthur’s “The Gospel according to Jesus”, Dr. MacArthur uses many NT passages which dispensationalist traditionally attribute as teaching for the future Kingdom and uses them as though they were directed toward the church. In the same way, David Platt uses many Old Testament passages which are in reference to Israel and uses them as though they were meant for the church-age. One can easily see how confusion between the distinctions of Israel and a church leads to confusion on what is the very gospel message.

- If one may not practice yet condones the modern “manifestation” of the sign gifts then this confuses the true gospel and unites with those who teach that the baptism of the Spirit is something other than the true gospel.

While involved in Hispanic ministries, we have had hundreds of opportunities to interact with our charismatic friends and those who have made a profession of faith in that movement. I know dozens of people who have placed their faith in an experience rather than in Christ alone. Indeed, charismatic theology confuses the gospel.

There is more I can say about this. A popular speaker at t4g2012 ministers here in the Dallas area (Matt Chandler). His church practices all sign-gifts. This would include tongues & their interpretations, prophecies, and healing. The doctrine of pneumatology does effect the doctrine of soteriology. It really does! While I promise not to throw the baby out with the bath water of the positive contributions of these men (see the PS), I can tell you first-hand that many are taking the bath water with the baby of these men’s teachings. This breaks my heart. Already, I see many men swallowing the notion that the fact that the gospel is central means that other of the ten major doctrines do not matter as much! Sadly, the cohesiveness of the inherency and veracity of the Scriptures (which T4G embraces) is the very doctrine that is being inadvertently desecrated by saying that ecclesiology, eschatology, and pneumatology are not as vital in our obedience and carrying out of the great commission as long as we are together on the gospel.

We need a major revival back to teaching the truth with love. The Word (all of it!) when preached with compassion changes lives!!! The Bible, when practiced in its entirety, produces great and supernatural results. It is not trendy, but it works! More than that – it is right. There is GREAT unity when there is agreement on the truth of the whole counsel of God. You may not be seeing these results in the little church you grew up in, but trust me – the fault does not lie with the theology!

Many of these speakers may be “close enough” in their theology but I believe that the end result of this movement is not going to be a greater commitment to the true gospel; but a going away from it instead. Remember that when a ship’s rudder is only a little off, it gets further off-course through time.

Thank you for allowing me to share my perspective.

May God richly bless you as you search the Word and seek to be most pleasing unto our precious Savior.

David Whitcher

PS – (added on 4/12/11) May I speak to my generation of ministers? That is, the younger-ish grads from fundamental Bible colleges:

In the Seventies churches focused on evangelism (think tent revivals and busing in kids). While the churches in our circles grew and were strengthened so did the battle lines between Baptist movements. Some in our circles did indeed become arguably imbalanced in a focus on apologetics (think debates over PowerPoint and suits & ties) over further evangelism and discipleship. Thus new converts were not made. Discussions reached a boiling point a little over a decade ago when a popular church growth book came out which encouraged pastors to do everything with the driven-purpose of seeing the church reach and disciple the lost. It was one of the major books with SBC ties which rang true to those in our circles and to all Christiandom. It was refreshing and challenged many of us to self-evaluate, “Is our church really effectively doing what Christ commanded us to do?” Common sense hit many in the forehead as they realized that their church was done the way it was always done even though there was no longer a real purpose with tangible results. It was time for a change. Unfortunately, the book also encouraged pastors to instill corporate models of marketing into the church. We were told to do things such as survey the community to see what they wanted in a church. We were told that the most popular radio station should dictate the style of music in the church. We were told not to preach true expositional textual messages but instead to topically relate to the felt-needs of the seekers, i.e. the unsaved. Thousands emulated this book and others like it and the modern seeker-friendly craze was born. I am positive it was not Rick’s intention, but many began to look for methods that “worked” instead of stopping to think about what Christ wanted (this is also, if we search our hearts, why we were first attracted to these “ultra-cool” ministries – they looked like they were working. So much so, that there are those in our generation who became open to being lead away from what we once thought was Christ honoring – polity especially). Thankfully, men such as a couple of those who would eventually form T4G had mostly experienced the fallacy in the seeker-based model and re-emphasized the Gospel as central. Again, this was and is refreshing! For many pastors it is a breath of fresh air to listen to passionate speakers who are only talking about Christ, the Word, and souls. How refreshing to hear men who are setting up their churches to function around the Christ rather than the unsaved! Thankfully they have discovered that by doing so people ARE actually accepting Christ and being integrated into the church. They realize that the gospel means more than just tents and buses, but that it includes discipleship without gimmicks. The Holy Spirit within us affirms that this message trumps other messages we hear. Most in our circles were busy bashing the purpose-driven movement, the SBC, and the institutions who condoned them. Others were slowly embracing them. While the fight was raging we heard a third voice from these T4G men. They simply talked about Christ, salvation, and personal devotion to the fundamentals of the faith and the cross – all for the glory of God. (MacArthur’s “Ashamed of the Gospel” and later John Piper’s “Desiring God” come to mind). It was refreshing!

So, pastors attended these conferences and discovered that they came back more refreshed and challenged in their personal walk with Christ than they did by attending conferences in their own circles. Furthermore, the churches of T4G are apparently thriving much more than the churches we grew up in.

I certainly understand all of this. The problem is that the premise of the T4G movement is imbalanced because it is embraced as a reaction to other movements which were imbalanced. Just as with popular authors of the past, there is a sort of boyish crush on these men and many are seeking to emulate their passion & philosophy. Yet, in order to do so it means stepping on a path of minimizing the Scriptural truths that we were once convinced of as clear Scriptural truths. If you are one of these, then this probably does not set well with your former pastor, professors, and maybe even parents. The fact that many of you are in Kentucky today no doubt disturbs some of the older deacons in the very church you pastor. On the other hand, what is coming across as cynicism and militancy disturbs you. So, we have half of our constituency seeking to be more like the churches of T4G almost incognito and the other half concerned about it but cannot say much because so many of you are attending and receiving a genuine blessing from it.

So, in order to be at peace with it all, there has been a move to say that what we once thought were clear teachings of Scripture regarding specific points of ecclesiology, eschatology, and even pneumatology are not important or vital to pleasing the Lord as it turns out. Lately a friend told me, “I teach the pre-millennial and pre-tribulational return of Christ because that is what our church constitution states; but I am not so convinced of it myself.” The assumption is that this doctrine and others do not affect the gospel nor the fundamentals of the faith. They do, they really do. The other assumption is that minimizing these doctrines for the sake of having a unified voice with others articulating Christ-alone will create stronger disciples. This is the fallacy of the movement. The T4G men teach and preach their views in their own churches (reformed theology, full-use of the sign gifts, the non-commitle on the order of end-time events) as a means to (in thier view) strengthen the converts. Yet, we are supposed to minimize our beliefs so that we are comfortable sitting under these men’s teaching?

There are vibrant churches out there led by humble men who still believe and defend all the clear teachings of Scripture that you were once convinced of. Why not emulate them? We can invite them to speak. Allow their personal, joyful, real daily devotion to the Savior to strengthen our walk. Allow their passion for souls and love for the gospel to influence our churches. There are men who’s ministries are strong and have stood the test of time. They avoided knee-jerk reactions to all the evangelical trends that have come and gone over many years. Wht not make them our heroes? Why not follow them as they follow Christ? They are not published on our Kindles. They are not talked about in Christianity Today. They do not have a podcast. Yet they have been defending the gospel and pleasing our Lord Jesus with balanced vibrant ministries that have remained relevant to the ever changing culture (we can help them get a podcast). Don’t worry, we will not hear them articulate platitudes of “you should always wear a tie.” Neither will we feel negative bitter vibes about how everyone else is wrong. Still they believe how they do not because of being trapped in tradition or because of a fear of change but because they cannot get away from their convictions which are a result of a literal normal interpretation of Scripture. To me some of these humble heroes are my father, Dan Whitcher and my father-in-law, Tom Farlow. Also, great men like Dr. Robert Domokos and Dr. David Little. Let’s emulate them and those like them. Follow them as they follow Christ. In doing so, we will not have to pretend that pointing out the fallacies of practices such as “new” revelations & prophecies via tongues or the practice of sprinkling infants are not indeed necessary to a God-pleasing, soul-winning & sheep-strengthening gospel ministry.

Dementia and the Word of God

Published on 12/22/11

The 19th Psalm is so rich! No greater description of the Bible exists than in this list where it tells us that God’s Word is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, and true. Then in verses 10 it culminates into these truths, “More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

Some doctors appointments lately have been very helpful in quantifying what is going on with my body. They have been able to pinpoint the area of the brain that has been damaged explaining various physical ailments. Basically, any part of the body’s function that is involuntary is messed up because of a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Physically this manifests itself in faulty heart wiring, the digestive system and of-course the involuntary muscle movements. More than physical, doctors have also been able to quantify how the CO damage has effected my brain and its mental capacity. There is nothing they can do about any of this at this point but it is good to have it quantified.

As a result, I have been diagnosed with a type of dementia where my brain cannot handle multiple stimuli. Multi-tasking or even being in a room where there is more than 2 or 3 people with various activities or noises is very very difficult for me. This dementia manifest itself also in the difficulty of learning new things. During a test a doctor showed me a few different pictures and then asked me to describe what I saw a few moments later. Other than the first photo, I could not remember anything about the pictures nor even what they were. Praise the Lord that God has allowed me to retain all previous knowledge, but learning something new is a chore.

It was good to quantify this dementia because it is what I have been experiencing everyday for many months. It makes simple tasks pretty interesting. Even daily devotions. Just this morning I listened to a few books of the Bible from my iPad but I cannot tell you anything of what I heard. At one moment I really concentrated and actually heard a couple of verses. Now, I have no idea what those verses were at this point. Too much stimuli.

On the worst days I will use much effort to focus on just one verse that I am attempting to read. After reading it several times, there is some truth of it that is impacting to me that I write down in a journal. The funny thing is I have no idea what that verse or truth was latter in the day. So, a few times a day I will go back to the journal and read the verse and how it impacted me again. Each reference back to the verse is though I am discovering it for the first time!

I share this with you because I can tell you from experience that God’s Word is so precious and refreshing that it is sweeter than honey. What a privilege God has given me to be able to taste the same verse as though it was the first time several times a day!

This Christmas, may we not allow the joys of sweets, Christmas movies, nor even family to lessen our appetite for the wonderful Word of God. For not only are God’s written testimonies costly and tastily but by them also, “...your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:11 NKJV).

May God give you a wonderful Christmas.

The Prayer of Faith

Published on 04/29/11

Faith and it’s relationship to prayer has been a topic of much personal thought as of late. Especially during the past year-and-a-half as God has chosen to give me debilitating health. What is the prayer of faith?

The prayer of faith is most easily understood by first examining what it is not. It is not some level of spiritual giftedness where one can earnestly trust, with no exception, that his or her exact request will be answered. Some truly believe that they can expect most anything of God when they pray because they are somehow “specially gifted with unusual faith.” Can we truly know how God is going to work in the future? Can we claim to know what God’s will is concerning any matter other than what He has already promised in His Word? There are definitely times when the Holy Spirit gives us a type of peace and assurance that God will work in a specific way, but these moments are the exception rather than the rule. Besides, the claim it methodology of prayer is not how Jesus prayed.

We are given a great example of the true prayer of faith in the garden. Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane praying knowing that He was about to be arrested and eventually crucified. We can be certain (because of who He is) that Jesus demonstrated complete and perfect faith with every word of His request during that famous prayer. Also note that there has arguably never been a more passionate prayer than when our Savior produced sweat drops of blood as he bowed before His Father that night. So what did Jesus pray? According to Mark 14:36 He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36 KJV).

This is the real prayer of faith! Jesus prayer that night in the garden teaches us some important nuances of how to pray.

Notice, first of all, that if we are to pray as Jesus prayed then we should not be demanding a specific result. Certainly we should tell God our request, but with the petition we should also give the disclaimer – “Not my will but thine be done.” You see, the true prayer of faith is prayed when we honestly believe that God’s ultimate plans will be better than our request. In my own life, I have found that this is not an easy state of heart to come to. It often requires a prolonged battle with my own flesh. It requires a time of struggle between my carnal mind and the truths of Scripture. This type of battle is only won by the Christian who’s whole heart (the center of our being including the mind, will, AND emotions) is in a quiet state of surrender. Only then can we truly say, “God, whatever you want is what I want.” Even if God’s answer and ultimate will comes at great personal costs to us.

Now comes the exciting part…

Once we have emptied ourselves of our own desires and expectations then we can begin to expect some things of God. What can we ask of God which we can believe, by faith, to absolutely come true? Answer: what God has already promised in His Word. So, what has God promised? Well, we can pray believing that God will answer in a way and in a time that is BEST for us (Romans 8:28). Also, we can and should pray believing that God will do over and above what our original expectations are or ever could be (Ephesians 3:20). I like what it says in Psalm 65:5, “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of the far-off seas.” (Psalm 65:5 NKJV). I like that. When we pray, we can be confident that God will answer through His awesome deeds in righteousness!

One might say, “I know these theological truths intellectually but my emotions betray my doubt.” Dear friend, do not doubt. Remember what Jesus said before his statement of surrender. He affirmed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee.” God is indeed powerful enough to answer your requests and then some!

So, having pondered this prayer of Jesus we can conclude that the true prayer of faith might look something like this:

“Lord, if you want to grant this request you can, but if You do not then it is best. May You please intervene in such a way that will BEST glorify yourself.”

When we pray with this attitude of faith God will not disappoint. Just look at how the answer to Jesus’ request turned out. Certainly God was glorified in the end! By the way, God’s answer was also the best thing for us was it not? We are the redeemed that were cleansed by the suffering of “the cup” that was to be Christ’s beginning that night in the garden.

What trials has God allowed into your life lately? What are the burdens and requests that you so fervently desire for God to do on your behalf? What is the plight that tends to give you constant worry?

Personally, my family and I have been so humbled to know of many people’s prayers for us. This battle with the neurological and heart damage inside my body has drastically changed every aspect of our lives. We are certainly humbled and so very grateful to all who have prayed and are praying. We sense the prayers as God has sustained us and blessed us day-by-day. We are so humbled yet grateful for the love others have shown to us. God does not seem to be choosing to heal my body – at least not yet. Nevertheless, if God never chooses to heal me then it actually makes me kind of excited for what better and more eternally valuable things God has in store. God has stretched us, taught us, and shown Himself to be so good already. Indeed, there is no improvement on the will of God.

In conclusion, I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:6 which says that God, ”...is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Do you believe that? Oh may our expectations be of Him! Whatever He chooses to do (or not to do) will be AWESOME!

A Testimony of God’s Grace

Published on 08/10/10

DISCOVERY

We have been looking into my health issues from every angle while asking for God’s wisdom and direction. It has been a long eight months while being very ill and with the doctors suspecting some serious illnesses. A couple of weeks ago we had an environmental inspector come and look at our home. We were curious especially about mold. He found no mold, but said that our furnace had a serious issue in that there was a gap in the piping of the flue. He recommended that we have someone come who is an expert in carbon monoxide. That carbon monoxide inspector came and sure enough, with the furnace on, he detected carbon monoxide (CO) in the furnace room. He also came upstairs and saw increasing amounts of CO fill our bathroom as the furnace ran. So, we were exposed to CO throughout the winter when the furnace ran. The CO levels were not enough to kill us, but high enough to cause health issues with long-term exposure. The inspector kept on saying over and over again, “You guys are lucky to be alive. Someone is watching out for you.” We have been having HVAC people come give us bids for a new furnace. All of them have been amazed when they see the issue and say the same thing, “You guys are lucky to be alive.”

DIAGNOSIS

That Sunday we mentioned the furnace leak to a physician’s assistant in our church. His first response was doubtful but he promised he would research it. By the time I looked at my cell phone that Sunday night, there were two messages from him saying that he thought that this had to be the cause of my health symptoms. He referenced a reputable physician’s website that talks about neurological damage which shows up three to four weeks after acute CO exposure. Two-thirds of the symptoms that were mentioned in the article are symptoms that I have including dizziness, vision problems, trembling, changes in gait (the way I walk), confusion, decrease cognition, etc. CO poisoning could also explain the vascular damage of the aortic aneurism.

While waiting to see my doctor, we were able to speak to a toxicologist from John Hopkins University who was recommended to us as one of the nation’s leading CO experts. He listened to my symptoms and exposure levels and said that it is very probable that CO has been the issue. He emailed a protocol and instructions to give to our doctor to do some specialized blood tests to see if there is still CO toxicity in my body. Indeed, the doctor’s office called and said, “You definitely have CO poisoning. All the blood levels are very high.”

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20

Our first response was, “If it was carbon monoxide then why didn’t the rest of the family get as sick?” The professor from John Hopkins said that if one place one hundred people in a room and exposed them to carbon monoxide then each person would react differently to the poison. Then we got to thinking and remembering that the boys were having random episodes of throwing up in the winter. We just thought they had the flu or something. We thought it was odd, but it was not dramatic enough for us to think twice about it. Also, throughout the winter, Brittany was walking around in a daze. She has hypothyroidism so we thought her thyroid levels were off and began the process of getting her blood levels rechecked. Now we know why her thyroid levels came back fine, yet she still had those symptoms. Also, we remember that the winter months are when Melissa was having her severe migraines followed by vomiting. Now that we know what it is, Melissa remembers doing laundry downstairs and feeling very tired and nauseated throughout the winter. Melissa and the kids mostly appear to be fine now; however, we are planning to get them checked out as well.

As for me, I had mono or some other virus that they found in January. This would have compromised my immune system causing the CO to do more damage on me than the others. Plus, I was sick in bed for those first three months being only in our bedroom and the bathroom which is located immediately above the furnace. So, I was exposed to it continually whenever the furnace was on. It makes sense as Easter Sunday was the first Sunday that I felt well enough to be able to make it out to church. Coincidentally, that is when the weather began to get warm! During those winter months, I would get up and go take a bath. After the bath I was so week and dizzy I would stumble back to my bed and sleep for the rest of the day. It all makes sense now. I still have no strength and have several episodes a day of being dizzy and lightheaded. They say that the oxygen treatment will take care of that.

TREATMENT

The treatment is to be on 95% oxygen for two hours a day for four months. There may be more drastic measures needed such as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, but since the poisoning is no longer acute doctors doubt the need for this.

Doctors tell us that I should begin to feel quite a bit better after just a week. Yet, it will take up to a month for the oxygen to saturate the tissues enough for symptoms to subside. It is interesting that when I thought I was getting better (at the end of March) was right after I spent a week in the hospital. I was on oxygen that whole time! Anyway, I will need to be treated for four months total before the toxicity is gone, the blood levels normalize.

PROGNOSIS

While a brain scan in February was negative, a recent MRI showed some spots beginning to develop on my brain. What CO does is it gets in your blood and attaches to the hemoglobin causing it to no longer be able to carry oxygen. During very acute CO poisoning, this lack of oxygen kills your body’s tissues (especially the brain and heart) within three to four hours. Since I was exposed to low levels for a long period of time, what they say happened is that my tissues were damaged but not immediately killed. The after effects unfortunately are that the tissues do eventually die within weeks causing damage to the central nervous system first. This is why many of my symptoms mock a neurological disease such as MS or Parkinsons.

We have read that two-thirds of patients completely recover. Others say that the tissues are damaged and there is no going back. In either case, it is unclear if and when the neurological symptoms will reverse. We’ll see how the oxygen therapy helps long-term. Some doctors are pretty confident that the brain will re-route itself and that I can experience a complete reversal of symptoms just as other patients do after suffering a stroke. The encouraging thing is that all my symptoms worsen with fatigue and exertion. So getting rid of the poison and fatigue may cause the neurological symptoms to disappear. It is in the Lord’s hands to do as He wills.

REASONS TO THANK THE LORD

- Praise the Lord that we travel a lot! We were not home much during the months of October, November, and December when the weather was getting colder and the furnace would have kicked in.

- We praise the Lord that our kids did not frequent the parts of the house where the CO was invading the most.

- Praise the Lord that it was not something worse! Carbon monoxide is of course colorless, odorless, and tasteless and often called “the great mimic” as its symptoms can appear to be a variety of diseases. Doctors feared and tested for some pretty nasty diseases. Praise the Lord that the prognosis looks good!

- Praise the Lord that this was found so that the problem would not be reoccurring this coming winter.

- Mostly, praise the Lord that the disjointed pipe off the furnace was never bumped. Each contractor who has seen the furnace said, “You guys are lucky to be alive.” We know that it is much more than that! We have been humbled to hear of those praying for us. It is amazing how many churches mentioned that we are brought up in every prayer meeting. Little did we know that all of these prayers were keeping us alive and protected us while an invisible poison invaded our home. God is so good!

CONCLUSION

It is so great to know that God is completely sovereign and in control of all things. His purposes are always perfect. We’ll see how the oxygen therapy works (after 5 days, it appears to be working well). There are still some unknowns and uncertainties. Ultimately, our hope is that I would regain strength enough to drive and to function again in ministry. At this point, it looks as though God will answer that prayer also. Please pray specifically for no long-term effects in our children. We need wisdom as we move forward.

Again, thank you so much for your love and prayers. We cannot express how God has used you to encourage us and sustain us this year. We are so very thankful for you and for your continued partnership. Thank you for considering with us what God is doing (Psalm 64:9).

Sincerely,

David Whitcher

When you see people, what do you see?

Published on 04/11/09

When you see people, what do you see? When you go out on the town, to the grocery store or the mall – any place where there are crowds of people what comes to mind?

After a thanksgiving together with my family, I got up early on Friday and went to Wal-Mart at a little before 5AM. It was “black Friday” and my wife had already scouted the adds and had a list of things she wanted me to purchase. Since I also had my own list, I willingly succumbed to her prodding to get up long before sunrise to hit the stores to find the bargains.

As I pulled into the Super Wal-Mart parking lot at 4:30 in the morning there were only about three parking spaces left. In the store the isles where completely blocked with hoards of people. I guessed about well over 1,000. In the middle of the isles where these crates stacked with merchandize and then wrapped with black plastic. A worker in a blue vest guarded each stack waiting for 5 o’clock when the horn would blow indicating that they could unwrap the stack for people could purchase the items. Every isle was jammed full of people lined up in front of each crate. People pushing and shoving trying to be the first one to get their prize. I found the line behind the stack of the item I was looking for (a GPS) and so I put myself into position to wait for the horn.

My first reaction as I observed the people was that of annoyance. “What a greedy materialistic society we live in,” I thought. “Here are all of these people many of whom will not darken the door of a church on a Sunday morning because it is ‘too early’; yet they get up at red-eye hours after a holiday just to save ten bucks on a Christmas present they are probably buying for themselves!” I was completely perturbed with growing frustration each time someone bumped into me to get further ahead in line.

Then it hit me, “I am one of those people!” I was one who was greedily getting up early just to save ten dollars on something that I wanted for myself. Immediately, I asked God to change my thoughts and to view the crowds differently. God began to break my heart and to convict me that I needed to see every person as a soul. A soul that was either going to heaven or hell.

When I first saw people that morning my view of them was that of annoying greedy shoppers that were in my way. My thoughts were far from where they needed to be.

What I needed was a change of perspective.

When you see people what do you see? More specifically, what comes to your mind when you see Hispanics?