UpBuilding Men, Women, and Children in Practical Christianity

January 2004 Monthly Letter

Dear Partner In Ministry,

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth." Isaiah 65:17

I have been waiting for a long time to reveal this wonder of God's working!

Two months prior to an UpBuilding Weekend, I was impressed from my Bible study on forgiveness to phone the host church pastor and request having communion during the Family Session. (I've never done this in the 14 years of this Ministry!) The pastor and elders considered and "okayed" the request.

One week prior to the Weekend, I requested the following unconventional way of communing: After the words of institution, I would hold both the goblet and a loaf of bread, face the pastor, call him by name, and say, "Because of these, God assures you that you are forgiven and cleansed of all your sins."

After he took a piece of bread from the loaf, dipped it into the goblet and eaten, he would take the bread and goblet, turn to the person behind or next to him and repeat the process. Each person would do the same, first receiving and then giving, while speaking words of assurance of God's forgiveness.

Families began to come and participate; dads, moms, children, singles, youth, grandpas, and grandmas serving one another, sometimes laying hands upon, hugging, crying, speaking upbuilding words of love, support, and encouragement! It was amazing to watch and hear God's love and grace in action! (I get goose pimples all over again as I recall this wonderful experience!)

After the service the pastor came to me with moistened eyes, beaming with a huge smile, and said:

"I have to tell you what happened tonight because of this time of communion. Ed is a 70 year old gentleman. A deacon in our church. Serves shut-in communion with me. Grew up in this neighborhood. Delivered papers as a boy. He was even once a youth worker at this church.

Several years ago, he was convicted on charges of molesting his grandchildren. Somehow by the grace of God it was kept quiet in the community. No one knew from the church except Ed's family, myself, and one elder, Doris. Both of us were with him at his time of sentencing. It was horrendous to see Ed in orange prison clothes, handcuffed, so humiliated, and led away by the officers to jail. Recently he was released.

Tonight, knowing the form communion would take, Doris and I looked at each other, and waited and watched to see what would happen when Ed and his wife, Joanna, would commune!

What we saw and heard was amazing! Joanna was communed first. She turned to Ed and not only assured him that God forgave and cleansed him, BUT we heard her say 'And I forgive you, too, Ed!' They hugged for a long time, wept, and then rejoiced together! Doris and I went to them, confessed we had overheard their words, and celebrated God's new creation of them through forgiveness!"

I was overcome with God's awesome providence! Upon hearing about His workings, beginning with the communion request months prior and form of it that night, I asked the pastor to kneel with me as we both poured out our praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to the God of new creations! What a wonder He is!

Each time I experience tangible evidence of God's mysterious workings, my own hope is up built. I trust the same is true for you. Since His overseeing eyes were upon Ed and Joanna, they are also upon you and me, right?

As we begin this new year, let's do so with the hope of new creations happening in our lives, planned by God from long ago. Thank you for your part in His new creations!


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