Here’s a picture of Wolfgang’s dad, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Salute”.
Ever wonder what a new worship song sounds like before it gets on an album? I’ll tell you: pretty rough. Here’s a song I wrote recently for possible inclusion on Sovereign Grace Ministries upcoming album. I’m not sure if it will make the album, but you can hear it anyway. It’s just my voice and acoustic guitar, so it’s pretty rough, but you get the idea. Click on the play button to listen.
My dad has been a guest blogger this week and has been putting up some great stuff. So we decided that from now on my dad and I will write on alternating weeks, which means that you’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of Mark in the future!
A few months ago I had the privilege of accompanying my friend Dave Harvey to Hamburg, Germany to participate in a conference sponsored by Wolfgang Wegert, a pastor who has great influence in Europe. Wolfgang has held huge crusades over 30 years of ministry, and now has many churches and leaders who look to him as a spiritual father. He produces one of only 3 government sanctioned Christian television programs that is broadcast throughout Germany.In his office hangs a copy of a newspaper photo, entitled “The Man Who Wouldn’t Salute.”
Wolfgang’s father was a believer and worked in the shipyards in Hamburg during World War II. Every month Hitler would come to the shipyards to inspect the fleet. All the workers were required to assemble for Hitler’s visit. When the Feurher would pass by the thousands of workers would all extend their arms and give him the “sig heil” salute together.
The photo captured hundreds of ship workers in the act of saluting. But near the middle, and slightly off to the right, one man could be seen not saluting. This “Man Who Would Not Salute” was Wolfgang’s father, standing there with his arms crossed in defiance of Hitler.
As the War progressed, Hitler started making his inspections on Sundays, so that workers could assemble without having to take time away from shipbuilding. Wolfgang’s father refused to join assemblies, so that he could attend his church, despite people’s warnings that he would suffer the consequences of not showing up to salute Hitler. Nothing ever happened to him.
What a heritage Wolfgang has. In the providence of God, out of thousands who saluted Hitler, his father was an uncompromising Christian. If your parents are believers, praise God for his providence in causing you to be born to them. What a blessing to have been taught the gospel from a young age. What a blessing to have the gospel lived out before you from your childhood.
If you are a believer with children still at home, praise God for his providence in saving you so that you can influence your children for Jesus Christ. Wolfgang’s father could never have imagined that in God’s providence his son would have such widespread ministry for Christ. We can’t possibly imagine what effect our words and example will have on our children and future generations of believers.
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“And yet, though our present views and reflections upon Providence are so short and imperfect in comparison to that in heaven, yet…it has so much excellence and sweetness in it that I may call it a little heaven…It is certainly a highway of walking with God in this world, and a soul may enjoy as sweet communion with Him in His providences as in any of His ordinances.” –John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 22
God’s providence is his sustaining and directing all things for his glory and our good. There are no accidents. Meditating on God’s providence in our lives is a sweet exercise that produces joy and thanksgiving.
If you can read this, in God’s Providence, you were either born in an English-speaking nation or have been able to learn English. Because we speak English, we have access to the Bible and the gospel. Many have never heard the gospel or God’s word because no translation exists in their tongue. How blessed we are to have God’s word in the English language.
English was the language of many of the Puritans and great Christian teachers. I have been blessed so much from reading works like The Precious Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel, Sin and Temptation by John Owen, The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. Not to mention works and messages by Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards and others who wrote in English.
And think of all the contemporary preachers and teachers who write and speak in English who have benefitted our lives. I’ve been so blessed by men like C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, R.C. Sproul, and many others. If God had seen fit in his providence to have me speak another language, I might not have had access to the works of these men.
And how many wonderful worship songs and hymns have been written or translated into English? I’m sure there are multitudes of incredible spiritual books and songs written in other languages, but I’ve been blessed simply by virtue of being born in the good ol’ English speaking USA. If you can read this, praise God for his providence that you were born in an English-speaking nation.
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Ever thank God that you were born in a nation where we can preach and practice the gospel?My friend Scott recently traveled to China, where his company is building a plant. The town he visited has no religion of any kind – none. What if you’d been born there? Or what if you’d been born into a Hindu family in India?
But all that I have said is very inconsiderable in comparison with the spiritual mercies and advantages you here enjoy for your souls…Suppose it had been your lot to have fallen in any of those vast continents possessed by pagans and heathens at this day, who bow down to the stock of a tree, and worship the host of heaven…Or suppose your lot had fallen among [Muslims]…Nay, you might have fallen into the same land in which your habitation now is, and yet have had no advantage by it as to salvation, if He that chose the bounds of your habitation had not also graciously ‘determined the times’ for you (Acts 17.26). –John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 48-50
What “spiritual mercies and advantages” we enjoy here in this nation! We can meet together without fear for preaching and teaching, worship and fellowship. We can own church buildings and Bibles and spiritual books. We can preach the gospel on television, radio and podcasts. We can hold conferences and retreats. We can openly proclaim Jesus Christ without fear of being arrested and tortured.In North Korea, believers are imprisoned in packing crates for their faith. I once heard about one group of persecuted Christians that met for years in the woods on Sunday morning, with only one chapter from Proverbs to nourish them. I have numerous Bibles in my home and office, and even more numerous books, commentaries, and teachings on CD. I have a Bible program in my computer that contains many Bibles and hundreds of other resources. We have access to the works of the greatest Christians who ever lived.
Let us praise our Lord Jesus for the spiritual mercies and advantages his providence has provided for us in this nation!
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In 1984, Bruce Springsteen penned his anthem, “Born in the USA”. The same year Lee Greenwood recorded “God Bless the USA” singing,
If tomorrow all the things were gone I’d worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife.
I’d thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom and they can’t take that away.
Sorry, Lee, it’s not lucky stars we should thank but you’re right about the gratitude part.
John Flavel reminds us of God’s providence in selecting the land of our birth:
“Ah friends! Can you think it an indifferent thing into what part of the world the womb of nature has cast you out?…This performance of Providence for you very much concerns your present comfort in this world…How poor, miserable, and unprovided with earthly comfort and accommodations are many millions of the inhabitants of this world! What mercies do you enjoy in respect of the amenity, fertility, temperature, and civility of the place of your habitation?…You are here provided with necessary and comfortable accommodations for your bodies, that a great part of the world are unacquainted with.” — John Flavel, The Mystery of Providence, 47
I have had the privilege of traveling to a couple very poor nations, and every time I go, I thank God for his mercies to me that I was born in the United States. Do you ever take time to think about the blessings God has heaped upon you simply by virtue of the country you were born in? What an abundance of food God has blessed us with in this country. The chip aisle in the supermarket has so many varieties, I get anxious trying to select a bag.
How about our medical facilities and technology? In some countries, many don’t even have access to Tylenol. After my wife Kristi visited Uganda, she told me of a young man who’d had a minor cut that became severely infected because he had no bandaids or antibiotic ointment. He lost his leg. In Uganda, Kristi saw people wait for days to see a doctor; I sigh if I have to wait 30 minutes.
Next time you have to slow down because of highway repairs, thank God for the incredible infrastructure he’s blessed us with. The streets in my neighborhood would be considered superhighways in some nations.
Let us thank God for electricity. For hot showers in the morning. That we can wash our clothes in machines and not in the local river. For automobiles. In some countries, you’d be the richest man in the village if you owned a bicycle. We have so many comforts and pleasures. We live in beautiful homes in safe neighborhoods. What mercies we enjoy! Lord Jesus, thank you for your providence that we were born in this nation.
“…it has been the pious and constant practice of the saints in all generations to preserve the memory of the more famous and remarkable providences that have befallen them in their times as a precious treasure. ‘If thou be a Christian indeed, I know thou hast, if not in thy book, yet certainly in thy heart, a great many precious favours upon record; the very remembrance and rehearsal of them is sweet; how much more sweet was the actual enjoyment?’ (Baxter’s Saints’ Everlasting Rest).” –John Flavel, The Mystery of
I love the topic of God’s
Trace back the threads that God wove together to bring you to himself. I was raised a Catholic in
In God’s providence, when I was 14, my father just “happened” to be transferred to Indiana, PA, where I would later go to college. There I “happened” to meet a young lady who one year later, on a plane from
Recall the events God orchestrated to bring you to Christ. Savor the sweetness and give thanks.
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- “I just didn’t realize that you would get so big!”
- “I don’t understand why you’re so tired. You haven’t done anything today.”
- “Well, you definitely look pregnant.”
She’s in labor:
- “Come on, it’s not that bad.”
- “You don’t hear me complaining.”
- “I had a headache once that probably felt similar to this.”
- “Just breathe.”
When she’s leaving the hospital:
- “Wow, you still look sort of pregnant.”
- “You know that tonight is Monday Night Football, right?”