“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
the conviction of things not seen.”
~ Hebrews 11:1
Dear Friends in Christ,
I have sometimes been confused when reading about David in the Old Testament. David often asks God to vindicate him because he is ‘righteous,’ and to utterly destroy his enemies who are ‘not righteous.’ But at other times, we all know David had some serious disobedience and sin in his life, which he would acknowledge and admit in his prayers to God in Psalms. And the Lord tells us there is none that are perfectly righteous, and he who believes so is lying to himself (i.e. I John 1:8). So how could David consider himself righteous?
As I was reading about David in Samuel recently, I felt that the Lord had possibly given me some insight and understanding: Could it be that David, even in his imperfect, pre-Christ understanding, defined righteousness more in terms of loving God, and unrighteousness in terms of hating, denying, or ignoring God, rather than tying righteousness to perfect obedience, and unrighteousness to specific sin?
David always defended God and also perfectly respected God's choices for him. His attitude, as he fiercely defended God and His Name, was always, “Whatever the Lord sees fit.” He lived as if God made the perfect choices and judgments, even when these judgments meant either punishment or suffering for David personally.
And on this rests our own eternity. Will we be permitted to dwell with Him forever because of our faith in Him in spite of what we see, because we continue to acknowledge His perfect right to make perfect choices? Or will we be separated from Him forever because we rebelled against Him, denied Him, or just didn't care about anything beyond this life? You could be a really nice person, and do really good things, but that will not get you into heaven. In spite of all the good we might have done, we still sin, and sin can separate us eternally from our perfect and just Creator.
In the overview of Hebrews I am reading, a similar idea is underlined. The biggest sin for these New Testament believers seems to be unbelief and lack of faith, and the Hebrews in the desert wanderings are specifically cited as having had to wander because they lacked perseverance and faith. When things looked grim, they gave up and wanted to turn back, rather than trusting in the God who had led them out, and Who finishes what He begins. Similarly, the author of Hebrews challenges the New Testament believers when things are difficult to not turn back to their old ways of attempting to be righteous and acceptable to God, as the Hebrews had done after the Exodus by faith.
This doesn't mean sin is OK, or give us permission to live a life of license. That itself would show lack of faith and belief in God. It just means that sin, while it is not OK, is inevitable. There is no human who is perfect and never sins. Only Jesus was able to do that. The key is embracing God's oversight of your life, not losing heart or lacking faith, and repenting of sin. Could this be why David was called a man after God's own heart, in spite of his many, many failings?
I pray that we all can be men and women after God's own heart as well!
Some Recent Family Ministry Highlights . . .
Annapolis Outreach — On our annual Maryland Day outreach in Annapolis, in addition to handing out hundreds of our Maryland Flag Gospel fliers, we were able to conduct a number of spiritual interest surveys and go through the gospel with several people. We have found that younger people tend to be more curious, and more interested in talking about their views; Sarah especially has enjoyed doing interviews. It is so interesting what people think. We have found a prevailing view of the afterlife, especially in younger individuals, to be a vague belief in reincarnation, spiritual perpetuation or some sort of spiritual ‘union’ with the universe. They then often freely acknowledge that they are not at all sure this is true. I wonder if this is natural fruit of the theory of evolution being taught in schools as fact: the idea that your soul is ‘evolving’ spiritually, since they are taught species evolve biologically.
There were ten people from four families on our Annapolis outreach team. One person on our team saw a young man who had received the gospel flier a little earlier and asked him if he had read it. “Yes,” he replied. “Do you know for sure you are going to heaven?” “No.” “Would you like to know how to be sure?” “Yes I would!” So our team member went through a simple gospel outline with him and led him in a prayer of faith in Jesus.
“Jesus Marveled” — That same week Bernie was in Annapolis again to share a morning devotional with students at a regional speech and debate tournament. For the third year in a row he used a flag, America’s Christian heritage, and the Bible. This year it was the “Betsy Ross” flag, General Washington’s 1783 resignation in Annapolis, and Luke 7:9 (“Jesus Marveled!”). King George III marveled that General Washington would return to his farm. Jesus also marveled at the faith of a soldier. Bernie encouraged the group by telling them that he marveled at them for being what our world needs: articulate Christian young people! Feedback was encouraging. Our friend who organized the event told him he was 'spot on.'
A Faithful Pastor — Earlier this spring, Bernie took an Asian church leader and his family around D.C. for a tour and prayer walk. This pastor had recently spent two years in prison for his faith. He was amazed to see protest demonstrations in progress at the Capitol and at the White House. It was a privilege to share with them about America’s Christian heritage, and humbling to pray with them for persecuted Christians in Asia today.
Cherry Blossom Outreach — Our whole family was back in D.C. for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival with an outreach team of 18 from four families. We handed out 2000 of our Cherry Blossom Gospel fliers. The most common response was, “Thank you!” Sarah, myself and others also did a number of evangelistic surveys and had some great conversations with people.
One of our team member’s shared this: “We loved handing out your wonderful tract last week at the Cherry Blossoms, and quickly finished passing out what we had left. We are praying for those who received them. Thank you for inviting us to join you in such a wonderful, and eternally significant opportunity.”
Titanic Outreach — This year the Lord brought five young men to join Bernie, Aaron, and Daniel for a special “Titanic Remembered” dinner in D.C. on the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. Over dinner, Bernie shared about the life and testimony of Rev. John Harper, a pastor/evangelist who died that fateful night in 1912. Only blocks from the D.C. Titanic Memorial, they then went out two-by-two with our Titanic Gospel fliers to talk to people about “what would have happened to you if you had been on the Titanic that night?” As usual, there were many great conversations. One man, after hearing John 3:16, showed us his John 3:16 verse tattoo on his arm. Bernie told him, “Friend, it needs to go from there on your arm, into your heart!” He said, “I know, I know.” At the end of the evening, our whole outreach team returned rejoicing as we concluded with a debrief and prayer time together.
Praise God for these and other opportunities the Lord has given us to encourage Christians, especially families, to be involved in evangelism. Thank you for helping make it possible with your prayers and support!
In Christ’ love,
Linda for the Bealls
The Beall girls at the beach on our second annual Beall/Bloom beach holiday, a wonderful respite for us all; board games, sand castle building contest, water balloon catapult, boogie boarding, shell collecting, ghost crab hunting with flashlights at night on the beach, hanging out and talking, violin and recorder playing, and good food. : ) The weather mostly cooperated too.