We were both born and raised in Poland, studied theology, and became ministers. We both left our fatherland and lived and worked in other countries. He went to Italy; I sojourned across the Alps into neighboring Switzerland. Eventually both of us would come to Canada (in the same year, 1989) and live in southern Ontario within an hour's drive of each other.
We were both sent on similar missions to the same town in Western Manitoba. He came to Brandon in 1994, and I arrived in the summer of 1995. Our assignments were to revive our churches in this second-largest city in the province of Manitoba. The attendance in my church had dwindled down to seven. In his, only one couple remained. Both churches were about to experience unprecedented growth. But that's where the similarities end, because he was a Catholic priest and I am a Protestant pastor. We were literally two Poles, poles apart.
An Amazing Fact: "Road Rage" is a term that defines an alarming new phenomenon in North America. Angry motorists shoot and kill or deliberately crash their cars into drivers whom they feel have performed some inconsiderate maneuver. This growing problem is so real that the Automobile Association of America is running a series of TV adds to teach drivers how to keep their cool and avoid becoming a victim.
A young mother began studying the Scriptures and believing the Bible truth. Her live-in boyfriend was infuriated because she insisted that they either get married or separate. One evening as she was nailing a copy of the Ten Commandments up on the wall, he suddenly became so enraged that he grabbed the hammer out of her hand and began to bludgeon her with it. When he thought he had killed her, he then went into the next room and killed their 10-month-old baby.
An Amazing Fact: When a hawk is attacked by crows or kingbirds, instead of waging a counterattack, it will circle higher and higher until it is soaring above the altitude range of its tormentors.
During the Gulf War, Iraqi soldiers were forced to make what was later called "the mother of all surrenders." However, it was not because the troops were poorly armed. In fact, the Iraqis had many highly sophisticated weapons that had been purchased from the former U.S.S.R. Their problem was that the soldiers had never been properly trained to use the weapons in battle, so they finally threw their hands in the air and surrendered.
In the same way, many Christians are frequently overcome by temptation because they have never been taught to use God's resources to fight the enemy. The Bible says, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Psalm 119:11. The Word of God is the most commonly neglected resource in resisting the clamoring of the lower nature. Discovering how to resist evil temptation through claiming the power of God in Scripture has been one of the most valuable things I have learned since becoming a Christian.
An Amazing Fact: In order to draw attention to world peace, in 1973 Patrice Tamao of the Dominican Republic allowed himself to be crucified as thousands watched on TV. Tamao had three six-inch stainless steel nails driven through his hands and feet and intended to stay on the cross for 48 hours. However, after 20 hours he requested to be taken down because he had developed an infection.
Jesus told His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23. Later the apostle Paul repeated this theme. "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.
From the time of Christ's sacrifice to the present, many have sought to show their devotion to Jesus, secure their own forgiveness, or make some public statement by actually having themselves crucified.
The Bible is a book depicting countless battles. From Genesis to Revelation, its pages reveal that there are both physical and spiritual wars raging. Physical wars have dominated history from the time Cain killed his brother Abel right down to the present day. This should not surprise us, for Jesus predicted, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. ... For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." Matthew 24:6, 7.
However, the primary focus of the Scriptures is the story of the ongoing conflict between Christ and Satan. We are told in Revelation that what began as a cosmic war in heaven will soon end in Armageddon. In this showdown between the forces of good and the powers of evil, light and truth is under constant attack from deception and darkness.
Of all the analogies used in God's Word to describe the church, the one that is most vivid and inspiring is the symbol of the human body. In the New Testament, the church is repeatedly described as the body of Christ. "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."1 Corinthians 12:27. Perhaps this is because it is made up of so many diverse parts that work together in harmony as one unit. Or perhaps it is because the same God who created our physical bodies also designed the church.
Yet for some reason it is becoming more and more common for Christians to amputate themselves from the body of Christ.
An Amazing Fact: The Empire State Building in New York City, which was completed in 1931, was known for many years as the tallest building in the world. It is 1,250 feet tall and boasts 102 stories of office space. Several structures in the United States and in Asia now surpass the Empire State Building in height, yet many of the records that were set during its construction have never been broken. For example, because the building was made of prefabricated blocks, it was completed in less than two years. In fact, one 14-floor section was erected in less than a week!
The first time the word "kingdom" is mentioned in the Bible is in connection with Babel (Genesis 10:8-10). The founder of this ancient city was Nimrod, a man whose very name means "we shall rebel." Throughout the Scriptures, Babel-which is also the Hebrew word for "Babylon"-becomes a symbol of rebellion to God.
The preacher urged sinners to give themselves to Jesus, inviting them to the altar, where peace could be found. As they came, he praised God and asked them to repeat after him a simple prayer of about six sentences. Then he congratulated them with the words: "Now you are saved, and from this moment on, your destiny is eternally secure. Nothing you might do can ever reverse the decision you have made today; nothing can cause you to lose your eternal life." Then he pulled a key out of his pocket and handcuffed the right hand of each person to the altar. They were locked into the choice they had made and could not reverse it.
Although it is very unlikely that such a thing would ever actually happen in church, yet some have understood it to be an accurate representation of what happens when a sinner accepts Christ. In fact, a controversy has long been raging in Christianity over this very subject. Some teach that once a person has a conversion experience, his destiny is eternally secure, no matter what happens afterward. Others maintain that assurance of salvation is a byproduct of a saving relationship with Jesus, and that salvation can be lost if that relationship is broken-not by God's choice, but by the free choice of the individual himself.
A Protestant missionary who worked among the natives in the South Pacific for several years decided to return to the United States for a nine-month furlough. During this time, he planned to visit several churches and raise funds for their island mission. Before leaving the South Pacific, this missionary persuaded a local chief, who had converted to Christianity, to join him on his trip. This tall chief had an imposing presence with a dark, muscular body that was offset by his broad, pearly white smile. The missionary knew that a living trophy of their mission efforts would greatly impress the church members in North America to give more generously.
Excited about an opportunity to see the famous USA, the robust king agreed to go with his pastor friend to the mainland. When they arrived, the missionary took the chief from church to church.