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March 2004

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

 

Issues of the heart is an Email newsletter that comes out 2-3 times a week from Pastor Todd and what the Lord has laid on his heart.

Brothers and sisters, 3/2

There are many idols of the heart . . . at first, they are attractive, but eventually they strangle. And then brothers and sisters, there is God. He says, "Look unto me . . . I am God. . . unto me every knee shall bow . . . Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength!" 
Saint Augustine once wrote, "Man's happiness is God Himself." So I like to cry out as once expressed in part of an old Puritan prayer:
"O Christ . . . 
Thou art preparing joy for me and me for joy; 
I pray for joy, wait for joy, long for joy;
give me more than I can hold, desire, or think of."

May the Lord be our complete joy, sweeping away every idol of the heart.
Thinking of heart issues,
Todd

BTW, this Friday and Saturday, all of you sisters are invited to our Ladies Fellowship Retreat. The theme is "Bow the Knee". Here is the schedule.
Friday night, March 5th
7:00 - 8:30 pm Opening, speaker - Melanie Rodgers

Saturday, March 6th
9:00 - 9:30 am Fellowship, Donuts & coffee, etc.
9:30 - 10:15 am Speaker - Melanie Rodgers
10:15 - 11:00 Special sessions - Sue Lovegrove & Susie Wood
11:00 - 12:00 Soup, Sandwiches, and Pies
12:00 - 1:00 pm Speaker - Melanie Rodgers
Our speakers are all pastors' wives. Notebooks will be included. There is no cost. Bring all your friends. Give us a call if you have questions (208) 528 - 6356.
Brothers and sisters, 3/4

"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me."

In the past, I have read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Tragically, man has through the years produced many twisted devices of torture that can terrify the soul. Many godly saints have been mutilated beyond recognition. The Book of Martyrs is filled page after page with such stuff.
On a shelf in my home study, I have a video entitled "The Radicals." I am almost nauseous every time I watch the brutal martyrdom of the early Anabaptist, Michael Sattler.
And now we have the film, "The Passion." People have asked me a lot about it. Yes, I probably will watch it on video one of these days. And if you have watched it or will soon watch it, I want you to think about this. When Jesus asked for the cup to be removed, what do you think it was? The scorn and rejection of His own people? The brutal torture of the Roman soldiers? The bloody cat-of-nine-tails? Brothers and sisters, the heart issues go much, much deeper.
I have heard that a man can go through anything if He has the assurance of God's love and presence. Did Jesus have that? Two things among many other things we know made the passion of the Christ go shockingly beyond any other event in history:
1). Do you remember all the terrible list of our sins in Romans 1? Imagine the totality of all men's sin from all the millenniums of men's existence resting upon that Man nailed to the cross. The one who knew no sin became sin. You and I can't even began to fathom the crushing weight. Only the shoulders of God could have embraced such agony.
2). Jesus became a propitiation. Man's sinful wrath can be brutal. Satan's wrath is horrible. But God's wrath is unspeakable . . . completely unbearable. And yet God the Father exhausted the full measure of His wrath completely upon His only Son. And in the climax of the Lord's agony, His Father turned His back. Plain and simple. He forsook Him. 
So as I try to understand all this in my puny little brain, I exhale in relief and astonishment at the next words of our Savior.

"Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Thank you, dear Jesus.
Thinking of heart issues,
Todd

P.S - While in his office one Sunday, Mark Minnick recommended to me a book. So I bought it. The Suffering Savior by F. W. Krummacher. Written exactly 150 years ago (1854). It contains the most powerful meditations on the last days of Christ that I have ever read. Divided into 3 sections: The Outer Court, The Holy Place, and then the Most Holy Place. Minnick urged me to read one chapter each Lord's Day. 53 chapters total. So I did. Check it out some time.
Brothers and sisters, let it be our prayer that our nation be broken by the suffering Christ.
Brothers and sisters, 3/7

This past Monday in Last Chance, Idaho, a man across the front counter leaned over and shared two words with a smile, "It's addictive." I suppose it all started many years ago in Southeastern Idaho when Joseph Sherwood created a unique machine to travel across the snow. The historians point out that he patented the first snowmobile.
In looking at the pictures of the early wooden models, I have noticed we've certainly improved things a bit. Now, the sleds are high-tech, fully loaded dragsters! A couple Idahoans, Joe Williams and Randy Gravatt, from Island Park, just an hour north of me, hold snowmobile records in the Guinness Book of World Records. Yes, we get serious around here -- with over 1,000 miles of marked sled trails in Southeastern Idaho to prove it!
For the first time this past Sunday, the neighbors right next door to our church building attended the morning services. Yes! And then the husband on Monday gave me my "first" real, big-terrain snowmobile ride ( I have joked with the men that one can buy a new snowmobile as long as he lets the preacher ride it). So, brothers and sisters, we tackled the 8,710 -foot Mount Two Top in Island Park. Honestly, it was quite an adrenalin rush, crisscrossing back and forth on the Idaho/Montana border, boondocking through trees, and playing in the deep powder. Flying at 70 mph, my partner happened to be a little braver than I.
But there is one thing greater than playing in all this Idaho snow! It's knowing that the Savior has made our hearts, "whiter than snow". As some would say in Jackson Hole, WY, "Gnar - Gnar!" Interpretation . . . "Awesome!"

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd
Brothers and sisters, 3/9
Annie Pike Greenwood wrote, "Never were nights so sweet as those in Idaho. The air seemed to caress you; millions and millions of stars glowed in such a depth of the heavens as I have never seen elsewhere. Every sense was awakened and soothed." 
Brothers and sisters, I think Idaho is sweet; but I think Romans 6 is sweeter. Let me share this. I have been struggling and struggling in some personal areas. And with that struggle has been much doubt and discouragement. But Romans 6 is breaking up my dam of unbelief.
I laughed with understanding when I read chapter 14, "The Exchanged Life" in Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret. "Do you know, I now think that this striving, longing, hoping for better days to come is not the true way to holiness, happiness or usefulness. It is better, no doubt, far better than being satisfied with poor attainments, but not the best way after all." And then he explains that the whole secret to a holy, sanctified life is the simple belief in your union with Christ. 
This past week, I found out justification is in Romans 6:7! The KJV translators even put it in the margin. So sanctification is wedded to justification; and just like justification, my sanctification is grounded in my spiritual union of being "In Christ." Because of my union with Christ, the old Todd Wood has died. "Crucified." It is gone forever! And the "body of sin" (my personal, sinful nature) though not annihilated is rendered ineffective. I am free! I am alive!
I like what John Piper wrote in his latest book, The Passion of Jesus Christ. "Becoming a Christian means death to sin. The old self that loved sin died with Jesus. Sin is like a prostitute that no longer looks beautiful. She is the murderer of my King and myself. Therefore, the believer is dead to sin, no longer dominated by her attractions. Sin, the prostitute who killed my friend, has no appeal. She has become my enemy." This attitude in our hearts, brothers and sisters, only confirms our spiritual liberation.
As Hudson Taylor concluded in his chapter 14, "Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birthright of every child of God."

Really enjoyed the Lord's Day, yesterday. The full crowd in the pews. But even more exciting . . . the keen appetite among the church family for the words of God. A heightened hunger. Thank you, Spirit of God.
Thinking of heart issues,
Todd

"The Lord Jesus received is holiness begun; 
the Lord Jesus cherished is holiness advancing; 
the Lord Jesus counted upon as never absent would be holiness complete . . ."
Brothers and sisters, 3/10

A professor in my alma mater once wrote, ""For the Christian, political involvement is more than a responsibility and more than a privilege. It is a matter of stewardship." I cannot urge you enough, brothers and sisters, on how vital your voice of Christian influence is in your family, in your neighborhood, in your city, in your state, and in your country. If you can not talk about God and the truth in His Word among those around you, than freedom is lost. 
Currently, I have been in communication with a half dozen of our state representatives and senators by letter and phone. I have really made use of the email system that sends my notes to every one in the state legislature. But I have been extremely disappointed by the response to a pro-marriage amendment for our state constitution. Senate Sate Affairs Committee Chairwoman Shela Sorensen, R- Boise had been blocking the "HJR9" bill from even being heard in the committee. And even after last week's decision to have a forced vote in the committee, two more republican senators added their vote to kill it. These actions force me to conclude that "conservative" Idaho politics are pseudo in many pockets of our state.
And the media doesn't help. I can hardly stomach the opinion pages in both The Idaho Statesman (Boise), bristling like an angry porcupine over marriage, and The Post Register (Idaho Falls). Opinion editor, Marty Trillhaase, gleefully typed this past Sunday, "Cheers to state Sens. Brad Little, R-Emmett, and Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston. They provided the key votes to kill two of the worst ideas this current crop of lawmakers could come up with" (marriage legislation and legislation for putting the Ten Commandments monument in the Statehouse).
I understand that our next-door neighbors on either side of us (Oregon and Wyoming) have no laws on same-sex marriages, which doesn't make me happy at all. I do like the strong words on marriage in Nevada; though they certainly need it with the constant barrage of sensuality and prostitution. And I do tip my hat to the Utah legislature that has not been pressured by the non-biblical voice on marriage from this last week's demonstrators. Unlike Idaho, this November, the people of Utah will be voting for marriage preservation. Concerning those in California, Hawaii, Vermont, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, I pray for you.
The Christian does have a "stewardship". May our voices and our pens proclaim lovingly God's truth in all our areas of influence. Verses come to my mind. "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity." More than ever, we need godly men that will be courageous and "play the man". May the Lord bless you all, today. 

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd
Brothers and sisters, 3/16

May I propose to you something well worth your prayer and consideration? Having lived in the Intermountain West for almost 30 years, I have seen many struggles and triumphs on this missionary frontier. Struggles for the advancement of the gospel run horribly deep. Frankly, many of the stories are gut-wrenching. Some of them remind me of sacrificial Epaphroditus, "Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life. . . " But in the middle of the spiritual battles, clouded by constricting darkness, we have witnessed brilliant glory! Unparalleled! And I have found that God's triumphant glories always pierce the skies when the circumstances speak their loudest of bleak impossibility. 
For the past 35 years under the supportive umbrella of Northwest Baptist Missions, God's men have been planting churches in these rugged mountains and sagebrush deserts. The God-commissioned work brings us, presently, to forty-five NWBM missionaries fanned out over ten western states. To God be the glory! This year, the director Ron Ehmann, the board, and all the missionaries are "embarking on a wonderful journey of faith." In the very heart of all our missionary endeavors, the men want to establish a permanent office complex just outside of Salt Lake City. We need an adequate center of operations. Offices. A couple apartments. Library. Resource center. A facility that can provide cutting-edge information and Spirit-filled direction to the brand new crop of churchplanters. A place where current churchplanters can meet for accountability. Encouragement. Proper balance. A renewed vision. Brothers and sisters, the time is now!
Can I be so bold as the Apostle Paul who says, "Charge them that are rich in this world . . .that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate." As one preacher challenged me, not letting my conscience off the hook, the rich are the ones that have a little bit more than just daily "food and raiment." That is you and me! Brothers and sisters, this project which impacts much of our church planting work in the Intermountain West is worthy of your sacrificial prayers and finances. Dr. J. H. Jowett once said, "Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing." I would ask that you prayerfully consider giving to this need. As an individual. Maybe as a family project. Or support from a college prayer-group. Or even from a church Easter offering. What do you say? How can I express it properly? It goes beyond just a need, it is vision. It is biblical vision for future ministry years in this tremendous mission field of the West. Could you spread the word, friends? I want this vision in the power of our God to spread like western wild fire.

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd

BTW, ask for a brochure from the NWBM office. It reads, "If you would like to give to the general project or even a specific phase of the project, please contact NWBM office at (435) 843-7570 for more information. You may also send a check made out to Northwest Baptist Missions to the following address. Please designate your gift as a donation for the Building Fund.
Northwest Baptist Mission
PO Box 271250
Salt Lake City, UT 84127-1250
Contributions to Northwest Baptist Missions are deductible for federal income taxes."
Brothers and sisters, 3/19

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." I officiated a funeral last week. Packed out with teenagers. Extremely difficult. The fifteen-year-old boy's death came suddenly. The bullet of a gun. This week, I struggled with words in the living room of a home. What words of comfort can you give to a mother who doesn't know if her son is in heaven or hell? I do know that God doesn't give us all the reasons to our "whys", but He does give us something even better. A Person. His very own Son. May God help and sustain this dear mother and all the family. Would you lift up a prayer right now?
Young people are a wide-open mission field. I have three public schools within a couple blocks of my house. What great opportunity! I keep asking myself what can I do? Just over a month ago I read a very interesting report in World magazine. "The Philadelphia Inquirer tells of McDaniel, a K-4 grade school with the unhappy distinction of having the highest number of pupil assaults (21) in the district during the first quarter of 2002. The principal teamed up with nearby Christian Compassion Baptist Church and printed fliers for back-to-school night, at which the parents of 30 children, some of McDaniel's toughest, signed up their kids for RT (released time): They leave on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and are back by 3 for dismissal with their friends." This is one example among many of how churches are teaming up with public school mission fields. I get excited. Again I ask myself the question: what can we do, brothers and sisters?

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd
Brothers and sisters, 3/23

A brother in our church, Don Carter, called me up yesterday morning. "Praise God! Bless the Lord! I just wanted to call for one reason, Todd, and that is to wish you a wonderful day in Jesus!" I say, "Amen, brother! Amen to that!" Honestly, brothers and sisters, after a day in the Lord's house with God's people in God's Word, I experience "Monday blessing overflow." Only God's people know what it is like to go forth and skip like calves from the stall. Only God's people understand the heart of the psalmist who declares about his King, "My heart is inditing a good matter." Yes, it boils, it bubbles, it gushes.
Or do all God's people experience this? A. W. Tozer wrote, "Orthodox Christianity has fallen to its present low estate from lack of spiritual desire. Among the many who profess the Christian faith scarcely one in a thousand reveals any passionate thirst for God . . . We fear extremes and shy away from too much ardor in religion as if it were possible to have too much love or too much faith or too much holiness . . . [If you don't] refuse to surrender to the chill of your spiritual environment . . . you will reach at last (and unknown to you) the bone yard of orthodoxy and be doomed to live out your days in a spiritual state which can be best described as 'the dead level and quintessence of every mediocrity.' "
Do you feel overwhelmed this morning? Are the problems or temptations too big? On the job? On the home front? Does your personality or emotional makeup seem to make the victorious Christian life impossible? 
God gives the answer. Come to this unwavering verdict. You are "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." You are alive! Alive unto God by Jesus, through Jesus, and in Jesus. This is not just wishful thinking. So as Brother Don exhorted me, I encourage you, "Have a wonderful day. You are in Jesus."

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd
Brothers and sisters, 3/25

Happiness. Does it have to be so elusive? What is the ticket that will bring ultimate peace and joy? Let me guess. The latest tool at Home Depot? A quiet night with gourmet coffee and a bestseller? A lifelong membership of free videos from Blockbusters? Weekly aromatherapy body massages at "The Essence of You", the local day spa just down the road? Being rescued by helicopter from Harrison Ford in Jackson Hole, Wyoming? Or maybe, it's snowboarding with John Kerry in Ketchum, Idaho? Uh-oh, now we are getting really shallow. 
So let's go a little deeper. I think I would truly be happy when I have no more financial debts to worry about. If I just had a house of my own. A bigger house. A clean house. A maintenance-free house. I could be happy if God took away my illness, to be precise, no more of this unbearable chronic pain. I could be joyful if God just wiped away all the troubles and nasty problems in my life. I know I would finally be happy if I was loved and respected by my family, by my friends, or by my coworkers. I would be happy if there was just one special person in my life. I think true happiness comes in marriage. Having a husband that likes to talk! Having a wife that likes to have sex! Having a child! Having an obedient child!
The list goes on and on, wrapping itself around and around our struggling hearts. Week by week, hearts sigh in longing. Deep down inside, people are not happy. Not at all. Yet the apostle Paul says it so simply and forthrightly, "my brethren, rejoice in the Lord." 
So how can you and I fulfill our destiny? Where is real happiness to be found? You won't hear the answer from the world, Satan, or your own sinful nature. It's all lies. Heartbreaking lies. So where is the answer?! Would you believe that happiness is found in slavery? But let the Word clarify. Being "servants of righteousness." Being "servants to God." The "fruit" from this particular slavery is out of this world. Nothing else comes close.

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd
Brothers and sisters, 3/26

Tolkein created a foul creature. Treebeard described the orc as "evileyed-blackhanded-bowlegged-flinthearted-clawfingered-foulbellied-blo odthirsty." And as I discussed this in the car with my son, I related how the nature of an orc reminded me of my sinful nature.
Brothers and sisters, can we make an orc look good? Give him a bath. Tell him to brush his teeth with Crest. Dress him out in a tux. Tudor him in Elizabethan manners and hospitality. Will this finally make him better behaved? Likewise, can we doctor up the sinful nature? Smooth the rough edges. Educate, refine, and polish it to a state of perfection. Is there any remedy? No, there really is not. It is "enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can be." Never will be.
The adequate treatment for an orc is destruction. And the only way to handle our sinful nature is the same. Thank God for our union with Christ, "that the body of sin might be destroyed." Even as I quote that biblical phrase, I am fascinated by the many ways in Romans that verb has been translated in the KJV . . . made without effect . . . made void . . . loosed . . . delivered, etc. Each day I feel sinful temptation. I feel it strongly. But because of Christ, my orcish nature no longer has a grip upon my life. It has been rendered ineffective. It is no longer my master. Hallelujah! And some day, this fiendish nature within me (sin personified), which would like to dominate my mortal body, will be annihilated -totally gone -forever.
God knows how to deal with foulness. Praise Him for that.

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd
Brothers and sisters, 3/28

The book of Romans is masterful in every way. I find that my beautiful logic tends to lead me over fences into pastures that have no water and no green grass. Thank God for Romans! For me, the book is like the sheepdog that keeps nipping the heels of my stubborn thinking and herding me from frightful precipices.
Romans 6 has brought me such knowledge. The first section of the chapter ends with sweeping grandeur: "For ye are not under the law, but under grace!" The phrase sweeps away with finality every claim that religious legalism has upon my life. And yet in my joyful abandonment over such truth, I find Paul's next words in chapter 6, curtailing any hazardous logic of my own.
This afternoon, tonight, or tomorrow morning, I might be tempted to think this. "Does it really matter that I commit this one little sin. Besides, I am not under the law anymore, but under grace." But two words slam the door closed on that vein of reasoning! "God forbid!"
Brothers and sisters, have we forgotten that the truth of being "under grace" in verse 14 is fleshed out when "ye became the servants of righteousness" in verse 18. Grace leads to slavery. Please take a moment to ponder that while in the midst of our antinomian society. 
And yet does a heart made new fear slavery to Christ? What is the response of the regenerated heart?

"O LORD, truly I am thy servant! I am thy servant! and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds!" (Ps. 116:16). I inserted the exclamation points. My slavery to the Lord Jesus is better than any freedom I have ever known!

Thinking of heart issues,
Todd

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