by Ross W. Graham
I finally had to count them. By late summer, the staff of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension had lost track of how many churches had been planted during 1998. There seemed to be a problem. None of us could hold in our memory the number or the locations of all the churches we had helped to start since the year began. In previous years, it had been easier to remember them. But for some reason this year, it was different.
I have routinely resisted counting because of God's displeasure with David's decision to count in 1 Chronicles 21. Just when things were going well in Israel, David counted the troops to see how strong he was and how much he had accomplished. God knew David's heart. He was beginning to rely on himself rather than the strength of his God. So we read in 1 Chronicles 21:7, "And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel." It is a terrible thing for a believer to become self-reliant. It is a denial of everything he professes. God must always have the glory. Read more
by Gordon H. Cook, Jr.
I was reading Scripture to a person who was unable to respond in any way, and praying that God would gently wake her from sleep. When hospital staff entered the room, they looked at me as if to say, "What can you do for her?" How do you comfort a person in a coma?
She died a couple of weeks later, without so much as a word. My chaplaincy instructor, who had encouraged me to work with this patient, sensed my frustration. He asked me whether God had answered my prayer. Then he quoted these verses from Second Corinthians, gently suggesting that it is God who comforts even when we cannot: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Read more