Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Inspirations and Grand Gestures

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”—Matthew 5:16

Pastor Jerry Scheidbach, my very first pastor, inspires me. His walk with God was so expressive that I found it very easy to follow his examples. He taught on restitution, not just repentance. He taught me that when you ask someone for forgiveness, you should also ask how or what you can do to restore the loss or ill you did to them. If you stole, give back, the Bible even says fourfold (Luke 19:8). If you put a hole through someone’s wall through anger, pay for its repair. If you hurt someone with your words, fill your mouth with kindness toward them. You should follow up with restitution at any time even if you come to it years later in your understanding.

He taught me how to read my Bible. The way he taught Scripture was so profound to me. He could take a verse and travel the pages of the entire Bible and show you where that verse fit across various books of the Bible. He could also take a swaths of history and illustrate many Bible principles through his observations. He often taught on passages of Scripture I usually overlooked because I didn't really understand them.

He taught that the simplest acts of kindness were great ways to be a Christian. Take your shopping cart at the grocery store, for example, and put it in its place. Take someone else’s cart and put it in its place. Pick up trash where you see it, and not just in your church. But anywhere. Be a Christian in all things, great or small.

He taught me the importance of reading God’s word, every day. A discipline I didn't have down until I went to Romania, where I knew I needed it the most. His sending verse for me going to Romania was “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4b).

He inspired me to read God’s word, through his own example. When he was a younger pastor and studying to get his Masters, I believe, he became so discouraged about what he was studying. He surveyed the shelves in his library and was sickened by what everybody else was saying about the Bible and so committed to only read God’s word for a season to find out what it said without the chaos and the noise of other people’s opinions. If I remember correctly, he only allowed himself to reference a Strong’s concordance, a Bible atlas, and the old 1828 Webster’s dictionary. What he gorgeously got out of this passionate commitment to know God and His Word more was that the central theme of all Scripture from Genesis to Revelation was Calvary. That touches my heart so much, even to this day. I call it his grand gesture to God, something I think every Christian should do at least once in their lifetimes.

(I don’t think I've made mine yet.)

Other grand gestures that inspire me come from God’s word: Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and the woman with her alabaster box of ointment that she poured at Jesus’ feet.

I love the story of the woman and her alabaster box offering to Christ, when without fear of reprisal, she poured her love out to Jesus without pretension, but freely, without inhibition. It was an exorbitant gift as the cost of that perfume was very expensive. It is one of the best examples of how Christians ought to be thinking in terms of their own giving before God.

And then Jesus with His washing of His disciples’ feet. How that Peter felt Jesus should not be doing that, but Jesus did it anyway, as He was illustrating an example of how we are to serve one another … and also how we ought to keep clean from the world. When Jesus told Peter he was none of His if he wouldn't allow Him to wash his feet, Peter then responds, then Lord, wash my hands and my head also, but Jesus put his zealousy in check--no, you are clean every whit, but let me just clean your feet.

I think this is a wonderful example how that as Christians, we are clean before our God, as He has forgiven us of our sin debt, but how when we minister in this world, and live in this world, we still get a little dirty, and that we need to occasionally go to Jesus for a little foot washing. (This, too, was a lesson taught me by my first pastor.)

In my current church home, Faith Baptist Church located in Spokane, WA, a visiting preacher gave testimony of his grand gesture toward God in that he personalized the commandment in the law where it required the kings to write out their own copy of it. This preacher took this principle to heart and is writing his own copy of God’s word, a chapter a day, in fact. That inspires me. How great his understanding of God’s word must be through this very simple act.

Brother Jerry Castro also inspires me. During a missionary conference at our church, he was one of those visiting us in order to share his ministry. He is a Philippino missionary to a fervent Muslim city in Indonesia. He stood at our pulpit, in the clearest English with the coolest accent and told us that he was a product of American missionaries and the money sent to them. He was called to preach the gospel to a CIA blacklisted Muslim city in Indonesia to be a witness to them. It was a city that when one Christian work went up, hundreds of Muslims would come surround that building to scare off the work, and if I remember correctly, even throwing rocks along with verbal threats into the building of the new work, until they stopped their ministry. His prayer request to me: 10 open Muslim families in a year. He didn't say their salvations, just their openness of heart. Why? Because to him, winning a Muslim to the Lord is like extracting a diamond from coal. A grueling work, but a treasure so fine, it’s worth the wait. What an inspiration to me.

I asked the Lord what to share on my blog next, and this is what I believe He laid on my heart. I actually wrote this in a letter to an acquaintance some time ago.

So much of my walk with God is bottled up within me. So many sermons, so many experiences over the years, so many lessons from His precious word. The chance to even share a little bit of that with you, for whatever reason, for whatever purpose, for however long, is a blessing.

I wonder if I’ll ever write a book about it someday. Perhaps that will be my grand gesture to the Lord.

For now, though, I will continue writing blog posts, which is just one small gesture from me to you, for which I hope to be a little inspiration.

Morro Bay, CA, February 2009

(There may be some misrepresentations I've made in remembering some of these events, and I want to clarify that they are my own and not another's. They are how I remember them, however.)


Anonymous said...

Be careful who you follow. People change. I heard that he is resigning

Cassandra Benefield said...

Thanks SO much for leaving a comment. I'm not sure you will ever see this, but I agree with you! We should be very careful who we follow. Like Paul said of himself, we are to follow him as he follows Christ (1 Cor 11:1). I just wanted to give credit to those who have been tremendous blessings to me in this post. I may not be in full agreement with someone, but I can give God the glory for how the Holy Spirit used them to help me grow!

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