14 Aug August 12, 2015
Gospel Growth Ministries First Newsletter
We are sending this first newsletter to thank those of you who have signed up to receive it, and to communicate with you about some changes to the website coming in the near future.
But before I do that, let me share with you a story from the Bible that I think helps to put some perspective on our transition to Gospel Growth Ministries.
To preface this story, we know that it is common for people to think that they must have help for their specific sin, in the manner they think they need it, and in their specified timeframe. It is also common for people trapped in sin to think their case is especially important, that their issues are especially deep, and that they need personalized and specialized attention. These things are all common.
A case in point is Naaman (2 Kings 5) who came to Elisha because he had leprosy, and he expected specific help from the man of God, and he had certain expectations of exactly how that help should come.
Yet the man of God did not do as Naaman expected nor required; he had Naaman do something very humbling instead, sending him off to dunk in the Jordan River seven times. The Jordan River was known to be particularly muddy and unpleasant and this cure seemed ludicrous to Naaman. He responded in this way:
“But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.”
We might imagine Naaman saying “I came here expecting specific help in curing me of my leprosy, and what you’re telling me to do is so generic. If you wanted me to bathe in a river you could have at least picked a clean one. Washing seven times in the filthy Jordan River could not possibly help me with my problem. Leprosy is a much deeper problem.”
And yet Elisha knew what Naaman needed and so did not change his instructions. The man of God did that which would humble Naaman and then cure him. Imagine Naaman going down into the river then coming up, once, twice, three times, over and over. He must have looked somewhat humorous to an onlooker.
And, of course, we know the story, when Naaman humbled himself and submitted to the truth he dunked in the Jordan River seven times and came up cured. His skin was like that of a new born baby—better than healed—brand new.
Brothers and sisters, this is what we are doing at Gospel Growth Ministries. We are washing people in the gospel river, over and over. It may seem generic, it may seem like it is ineffective for a person’s specific need, and those who are filled with pride will not want to “dunk in the gospel”, especially not seven times or more. They may go away mad saying that we did not address their specific issue in the way they thought we should.
And yet this truly is the way to freedom. Ongoing “gospel dunking” has produced more free people over the thousands of years than any specific, problem focused method ever would. Being washed with the gospel is how people have been finding freedom for two thousand years, long before there ever was all the programs and methods of focusing on sin and then giving principles to get out of it.
It’s difficult to change, I understand that, we all know it. Jesus said it this way:
“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.'” Luke 5:39 (NIV)
And yet the truth is the old is not better; the new wine of the gospel is better. And Jesus does not allow both to exist together, the old and the new, and simply give people their choice. No, it is the gospel or nothing.
“In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity. 2 “It will come about in that day,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.” Zechariah 13:1-2 (NASB)
When Jesus died on the cross a fountain of cleansing was opened to us. Notice that the cleansing removes all idols from our lives, and gone is a spirit of uncleanness and impurity. This is what we have available to us, brothers and sisters. It’s a wonderful fountain, a cleansing fountain, a beautiful fountain. As William Cowper wrote so long ago, “The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I though vile as he, wash all my sins away.”
I hope you’ll continue “dunking in the gospel river” and see how it would indeed free someone who comes.
In closing, I wanted to share with you a couple of thoughts about the new website:
First, we have now a testimonies page which you can see here: http://settingcaptivesfree.com/testimonies/. If you would like to send any comments to be put up there just send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. As you can see we like to use pictures with the testimonies so send one along, unless you’re camera shy.
Second, the list of things we are working on with the new website is numerous, but here is a start:
We’re working on being able to assign students to ministry volunteers (new name for “mentor”). There was a small snag in getting all the technology organized, but we’re nearly there.
We’re working on incorporating essay questions into the quizzes, and that is nearly complete.
We’re fixing all the issues with the website not allowing us to move beyond certain lessons unless we log out, delete our browser cache then log back into the site.
We have now uploaded 11 lessons of the fourth quarter; and, Lord willing, will have the 12th and final lesson of the fourth quarter up tomorrow. The last two lessons of the fourth quarter are more specific toward application and volunteering, with an application on lesson 12 to join us if you would like.
We have opened our new Yahoo Group for those who will volunteer to minister with us. It is a place we can discuss how to respond to students, or other things important to us. It is available to all who join after lesson 12 in quarter 4.
Various other little fixes are in the works as well. If you see something that needs a correction please do let us know via the Contact Us page.
Hopefully these issues will all be completely resolved by the time we open the site to the public on October 1st.
Please do pray for us during this transition. We feel our need of God’s presence and power moment by moment, and would so appreciate any prayers you are led to offer.
I will close with this passage of Scripture that is so important as to where we are at right now: “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 (NASB)
Please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com at any time.
Gospel Growth Ministries Staff