5 May 2021
Yes, I know — the phrase in the newsletter title is usually “an open and shut case.” I'll explain in a moment but first I have a…
Newsflash for “Somebody,” the Intercessor
but Jesus does!1
I want to thank the Lord and somebody out there. I don’t know who. You may recall the last newsletter took on the theme of my “oomph-lessness.” I managed to hit the “send” button around 8 pm local time and I went to bed.
Somebody received the newsletter that same night and prayed for me. Dark and early, right at 04:00 the next morning (my preferred wake-up time, a schedule that allows me to spend over two hours in research and writing on my The John the Baptist Experience), I was wide awake and fully energized. It wasn’t just that I had a good night’s sleep (I normally sleep “like a log” anyhow) or that my battery was “recharged”; no, in a single night my body and mind had received a complete overhaul.
Somebody, whoever you are, many thanks. And be encouraged that the Lord listens when you pray.
“Shot,” Open, but Still (Mostly) Shut
- “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”
- Revelation 3:8 NASB
and not for too much longer for us!2
Both Denise and I received our second COVID shots, so with the Lord restoring my strength, I guess you can say I’ve received two “shots in the arm” over the last four weeks. While that opened doors of ministry in Florida (at the North Florida Theological Seminary — NFTS for short) in April and in Iowa (at next month’s week-long annual Iowa Holiness Association camp meeting), doors of ministry haven’t yet been re-opened in Latin America. There are countries in which churches still are not meeting “in person.” (Vaccines are in woefully short supply in developing countries.) So we wait for the Lord to open the doors in His timing.
Some “Door Rules” to Know & Follow
From personal experience (usually from remedial classes in the School of Hard Knocks) and observation (i.e., the luxury of learning from other people’s experience in the same school), I have learned the following:
“Not my will, but Thine be done.
Not my when, but Your perfect timing.”3
Never force a door open yourself. As Christians, what’s our problem with this first rule? Here’s the truth: The part we like least about “waiting on the Lord” is the waiting part! God had a better strategy for Paul & Company than the apostle’s plan to preach in the province of Asia (they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit” to speak there — Acts 16:6), then to go on to Bithynia (“the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them” — 16:7).
Those doors were closed to Paul — Bithynia permanently, so far as we know the history, and Asia (including its one-of-the-seven-wonders-of-the-ancient-world capital of Ephesus); and afterwards, the port city of Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12) came even later in God’s timetable.
Once the Holy Spirit opens a door, we never know what to expect, but we walk through in worshipful love and service.4
And that leads to an articulation of the second rule: It’s easier to know what God wants than when He wants it. Even if a door seems like it’s opening, we need to confirm the timing with the Lord before trying to walk through. Ephesus seemed like a “good idea” in Acts 16:6, but the Holy Spirit made it clear that the door was closed. Later Paul had the wisdom to see God beginning to open the Ephesian-ministry door (Acts 18:19), but he knew that the timing wasn’t right (vv. 20-21).
Once God’s “door” and “timing” coincided, Paul’s super-fruitful two-year-long ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19) even produced “extraordinary miracles” (vv. 11-12). Of the ministry during this period Paul wrote, “I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide DOOR for effective service has OPENed to me” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).
We need to be able to perceive the state of the door (shut, opening, or open) and be willing to wait until the Holy Spirit says, “The time is NOW.” Perceiving the “open door” as well as the timing once again results from a case of “shut” and “open,” as Jesus told us in Matthew 6:6 (NKJV):
“…when you pray, go into your room, and when you have SHUT your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you OPENly.”
April Closes, May Opens
April has closed with blessing. During the month we:
- Ministered for most of the month to part of our family that has been going through a season of difficulty.
- Spent two full weeks preparing new English materials for a class on the Epistle of Jude (and 2 Peter 2) in preparation for a well-received teaching at an all-day class at NFTS.
- Updated and published Percy Gutteridge’s The Holy Spirit as Dew as an e-booklet, bringing us one chapter closer to the publication of his book The Emblems of the Holy Spirit.
- Corresponded and interacted with various leaders in Central America and Perú, continuing our ministry there from a distance.
What we hope and plan for May:
- Return home to Virginia soon.
- Complete the editing and posting of a “Mother’s Day” article — Mother’s Legacy — by Isaiah Reid. It’s a touching reflection on the spiritual influence of his mother, Jemima McKnight Reid.
- Continue serious and measurable (if slow) headway in writing the first draft of a chapter dealing with sin in the manuscript of The John the Baptist Experience.
Janine and Jorge Watanabe.
Frankly, I can't fathom how she serves her hospital and her church (not to mention her family), given the pain she often suffers.5
Raise funds for Peruvian Pastora Janine’s summer spinal surgery, for which $4000 is still lacking. In Perú (and elsewhere) — there is no surgery until estimated costs are pre-paid in full, never mind the pain and suffering.
- “Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone” (to use William Longstaff’s lovely line from Take Time to Be Holy) in praying and preparing to minister as the camp Bible teacher during the annual week-long gathering of the Iowa Holiness Association June 12-18.
- Maybe, just maybe, time permitting, publish a small project (Peter, the Euthu-siast, a short outtake from The John the Baptist Experience [TJtBX, for short]) or a medium project (The Lordship of Jesus and the Correlate of Kurios, a chapter from TJtBX) or (by some miracle!) a large project, that is, the completion of the paperback edition of Thomas Cook’s New Testament Holiness, to join the e-book and online editions.
Prayer Focus: Lord, Please Open Doors!
My prayer to the Lord for you is that you would join with Brother or Sister Somebody (the person I mentioned at the beginning of the newsletter) in responding to Colossians 4:2-4, a passage that has been a “life verse” of sorts for me over the last twenty years:
2Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3praying at the same time for us as well, that God will OPEN UP to us a DOOR for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
God will be faithful in opening.6
In our teaching ministry, we only want to go through the doors that Jesus opens for us — doors as yet still closed by COVID, perhaps doors that were closed for other reasons in the past (Costa Rica and Nicaragua come to mind), and even doors we don’t yet perceive. Our Great Commission — yours and ours — is to “…teach all nations… to observe whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). To that end, let’s pray together for the next open door, knowing that “to the one who keeps on knocking, the door will open” (Luke 11:10 Williams New Testament). It’s great to know that we’re in this together with “the One Who opens and no one can shut”!
Much love in Jesus,