Well, thank you, ah, for that kind introduction, Paul. And it's good to be, ah, back on the East Coast, I grew up on the East Coast. I'm living now in Chicago, and pretty soon I'm going to be moving to South Carolina, the city of Columbia, South Carolina [applause] - oh, somebody from South Carolina!
Ah, just so you know a little about me: I am, ah, happily married for 30 years [light applause]. We have four kids; ah, all four of our kids are in college right now, and, ah, three of our children are girls, and one is a boy, and two of the girls, ah, got married this year. So we have four kids in college and two daughters who got married, and, I'm - so, I'm broke. [audience, speaker laughter] But, ah, I'm also very, very happy.
And I'm just delighted to be here with you, and to see you, and to hear you, ah, sing, and pray, and praise the Lord. There's tremoundous potential in this room tonight. Tremondous potential. And, ah, I don't apologize for the fact that when I accept engagements to speak, I do so because I am looking for more missionaries. And some of them are here in this room tonight. And God knows who you are, and God has His way of letting you know if that's what He wants you to do.
So I hope that you'll be very open to what God wants to say to you tonight, and tomorrow morning - we've got a session tomorrow morning. I'm so excited about that. I'd like to give that tonight. Ah, but we'll have to wait for tomorrow morning. And then tomorrow night, and then also we have a session on Sunday night. I'll be speaking here Sunday morning to the normal, uh, church, uh, gathering, the worship service here Sunday morning, but Sunday night we have another meeting. So we have a great time this weekend, and I hope that you really will come with a really open heart and just say, "God, speak to me, and, and, and, and, show me what it is You want to do with my life." And He'll do that. He will.
I'd like you, if you have a Bible, to turn in the, in the Old Testament, to the book of Psalms. We'll start there, and we're going to go to several spots in God's Word tonight, but, uh, we'll start with the book of Psalms chapter 95, Psalm 95. And if you don't have a Bible and somebody close to you does, then just ask them to share with you, or if you've got a Bible, just push it over so the person next to you can see, too.
And, ah, before we read God's Word, I want to read just part, a little part of an article that was in a Christian magazine. This is how it goes: Missionary Stan Young (not his real name) would later describe it as having been handed a death sentence. He had been feeling fine, pretty much recovered from his bout with Hepatitis B when his States-side doctor suggested that his blood be tested for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV. If, the doctor reasoned, Stan had contracted Hepatitis B through unsterilized dental equipment, he might have picked up AIDS as well. The disease is epidemic in the African city where Stan and his wife are serving.
Seated in the doctor's office days later, Stan was informed that he had indeed tested positive for the AIDS virus. Following the shock and devastation came the questions: Would he contract the disease? Should he go back to Africa? Whom should he tell? And what would people think?
At least six missionaries registered with the John Hopkins School of Public Health have faced the same dilemma, though AIDS is hardly epidemic yet in the missions community. Nevertheless, mission organizations are realizing that they must develop policies to protect their missionaries and to deal with those who become infected. The doctor who serves as a medical consultant for Stan's missions believes hundreds of missionaries may already be infected with the virus.
Missionaries most at risk, says another missionary physician, are medical personnel involved in surgery, obstetrics, renal dialysis, dentistry, and laboratory technology. Epidemiologist David Sorley, who has served for nearly eighteen years in Africa, says that "These are the people who must count the cost of serving Jesus Christ in areas where AIDS is prevalent."
What do you think of that? What do you think of that? Missionaries, with AIDS.
Now I'd like to pray. Let's pray together.
Lord it seems that, ah, every year I get older, and every year young people seem younger. And, ah, and my prayer tonight is that this fine group of young people, um, if I speak to them, that I'll be able to connect. But more important, I pray that they will connect with You. And that Your truth, and that Your voice, uh, would be something that they'd listen to, and think about, and act upon. And, uh, we're starting, uh, these next few minutes with this prayer because I can't do what needs to be done, and I can't, I can't convince anybody of anything just through my words. Ah, we need You, I need you to help me, uh, my friends who are here tonight, ah, they need You to help them to understand what we're going to see in Your Word and what we're going to talk about. So we need You, Lord, and, and we thank You that You've told us that if we need You, all you have to do is just ask for Your help and you'll get it. So we're praying, and we're believing, and we're open. And so, speak to us tonight, we pray. In Jesus' name, amen.
Psalm chapter 95, and verse 6: "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker." Let me read it again: "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker."
I have one single thought for your consideration tonight in this Worship and Missions conference, and that is this: That Jesus Christ, God the Son, the seoncd person of the Trinity, co-eternal and co-equal with The Father and The Spirit, the one who, though fully God, became fully man, never giving up one ounce of His deity, the one who lived here on this earth, was seen and touched by many people, the one who never sinned in thought, word, or deed, the one who was unjustly accused of crimes He never committed, the one who was killed on Calvary's cross, the one who was buried in the ground, the one who rose again in His body, the one who was seen by many witnesses, the one who ascended back into heaven, the one who is sitting right now at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, without whose prayers you and I would be consumed by the fire of God's holiness, the one who is coming back again, the one who will reign, King of Kings and Lord of Lords forever and ever, this one, Jesus Christ, God the Son, is worthy of our worship.
Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
Now turn with me to the book of Revelation, chapter 5. Revelation chapter 5. And I'll begin reading with verse 11 and you follow as I read. Revelation chapter 5, and verse 11. You remember that John is the one who wrote this book under the inspiration of God, and he says these words, verse 11 of chapter 5 of the book of Revelation, last book of the New Testament: "Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels numbering thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand" - that's a hundred million if you do your math - "They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders and in a loud voice they sang, 'Worthy, worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!' Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea and all that is in them, singing, 'Unto Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!' The four living creatures said 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped."
I love this passage! I've read it so many times, I, I love it every time I read it! And one particular time when I was reading through these wonderful verses, a little phrase jumped out at me that I'd never really thought about before. And it's in verse 13, "'Unto Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power" - now here's the phrase, and I've underlined it in my Bible: "'forever and ever!'" I put a, I underlined that. For ever and ever! To him be priase and honor and glory and power - for ever and ever. For ever and ever. That's a long time! [audience laughter]
My wife and I and our four children were missionaries in the country of Italy for 13 years. We love the Italian people. And when we got to that country, we discovered that the Italian people are musically literate. They understand and appreciate the world's great music. And there's nothing quite like being in an audience of appreciative Italian music lovers when some of the world's great music has just been performed with excellence. And I remember the first time I was in a setting like that. The final notes were played, the curtain began to fall, and everybody in the audience leaped to their feet, and they started to clap. And there was this thunderous applause! And, you know, Italian people are very physical and very emotional, it was just, you could just feel it! And then all of a sudden, somebody behind me started to yell. And I heard this guy behind me go, "Bis!" I didn't know what he was saying. And somebody up in the balcony over there went, "Bis!" And somebody down by the orchestra went, "Bis!" And pretty soon everybody in the room was shouting this little word that I didn't know. They were saying, "Bis! Bis!" Now I found out later that they were using a Latin word which has been brought into the Italian language. It's the Latin word "bis" and you spell it B - I - S. Bis. And it means "again." And it's the Italians' way of asking the musicians to come back for an encore.
Now there's a very famous Italian singer in the world today who is known here in North American and around the world. His name is Luciano Pavarotti. Here in American we call him Lucy-anno Pava-rottee. [audience laughter] And Luciano Pavarotti came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I was living at the time, and he gave a magnificient concert at The Spectrum. And at the end of his concert, the audience stood to their feet and called him back to the platform for an encore -- are you ready for this? Listen -- twelve times! [audience laughter] And he came back twelve times! [audience laughter]
Now I don't know about you, but when I go to a good concert, and it's really good, and the audience calls the orchestra or the singers back for an encore, I think that's great. And maybe two, and that's even good, but after about the third time, I say to myself, "Who's the nut down near the orchestra that keeps clapping? [audience laughter] I mean, after all, it's getting late, we're paying the babysitter. No- nobody's worthy of eternal praise!" [audience laughter]
Oh- yes they are. There's one who is worthy of eternal praise, and His name is Jesus.
And so in my Bible, in Revelation chapter 5 next to verse 13 in the margin I have written these words in capital words: "A justified unending 'bis!'" [audience laughter]
When we see the Lord and we understand who He really is, we will never stop clapping. Do you believe that? He is worthy of our worship. Now, I don't have time tonight to, to go into everything the Bible says about the subject of worship, even though that is the theme of this conference, Worship and Missions, but let me just remind you that God's Word teaches us first of all that true worship is pure worship. Pure worship.
Now, many of you knew you were coming to a special event tonight, and as you prepared to come to this event tonight, you subconsciously used as your guiding text 1 Samuel 16:7b. 1 Samuel 16:7b says this, "Man looks on the outward appearance." "Man looks on the outward appearance." Let me ask you first of all, how many of you -- honest now, honest -- how many of you before you came here tonight sometime this afternoon or early this evening, looked into a mirror? You looked into a mirror. Come on -- oh, come on. [audience laughter] You knew 1 Samuel 16:7b, "Man looks on the outward appearance." And I just want you to know that I think you did a pretty good job. [audience laughter] I, I, I can see you from up here, I can see you. But don't forget that 1 Samuel 16:17 has a part A and a part C, and the whole verse reads like this, "For God does not see as man sees. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." We sang that, about that tonight, the Lord looks on the heart.
So as God looks down at this worship gathering tonight, He doesn't care whether you've got designer clothes on or not, He doesn't care what kind of hairstyle you've got, He's looking at your heart. And true worship is pure worship. Did you come here tonight to see the Lord? "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." "Who can ascend into the hill of the Lord, who can stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." True worship is pure worship.
Secondly, God's Word teaches us not only is true worship pure worship, but true worship is honest worship. Honest worship. Telling the truth worship. True worship is honest worship. All throughout the Old Testament, the prophets of God preached against the people of God for their dishonest worship. In fact, one of the most striking texts in the whole Old Testament is found in the prohpet Amos chapter 4, verse 4 where, with indignation and intentional irony, he says the following words: "Go to Bethel and sin." Go to Bethel and sin. Amos 4:4, go to Bethel and sin. Do you know what the word Bethel means? The word Bethel means house of God. What is Amos saying? He's saying this: go to church and sin! And I'm convinced that some of the greatest lies told by Christian people are done during worship concerts in church. By songs that we sing and prayers that we pray and words that we say to each other, because that's the way you're supposed to talk when you're at a Christian gathering. And Jesus, knowing what the prophets preached about, said to the people of his day, "Well did Isaiah the prophet prophesy of you, saying, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.'" And then he finishes his message with these words: "'In vain do you worship Me.'"
Verse 4. Verse 4: "But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Jesus, objected." Now look up here, please. [audience laughter] I don't want us to be too hard on Judas tonight, and I'll tell you why. This story that we are reading in God's Word, which, incidentally, really happened -- this is not just a story, this happened in time, space, history -- this story that we are reading is evidently is so important that the Holy Spirit has chosen to give it to us three times in the pages of the New Testament. Three times, not just once. And in the other two parallel passages to John chapter 12, we read that all of the disciples were saying this, not just Judas. All of them were saying this. He evidently was the spokesman for the group, but this is what they were all thinking, this is what they were all saying, and what was it that they were all thinking and saying? Look at the next verse, verse 5: "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages!" Now, just look up here for a minute and let me explain what we're reading. Ah, the translators of the NIV translation, that's what I'm reading from tonight, the New International Version, the translators of this particular translation have taken the liberty of translating the Greek text into words and terms that you and I would most readily understand today. Because if they had translated this verse literally from the Greek, they should have said this: "Why wasn't this perfume sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?" Now, a denarius was a Roman coin with the inscription of Caesar on it, a little larger in size than an American quarter. And a denarius at the time of Jesus was worth more than one full day's wage. So, if you lived at the time of Jesus, and you had a job at the Jerusalem McDonald's [audience laughter], and they paid you $8 an hour, and you worked eight hours a day, that would be $64, and a denarius was worth quite a bit more than that, so if you multiply that by 300, you get one full year's wage.
Now, I want to talk about a very significant date on the American calendar that comes once a year, it's the date April 15. [audience laughter] Do you know what the significance of April 15 is? If you are a law-abiding American citizen [audience laughter], on or before April 15 every year, you are required by the United States government to render an account to the government of all the money you earned in the previous tax year. In fact they give you a form on which to do that. It's called form 1040, or 1-0-4-0, and on that form there's a line, line seven to be exact, and line 7 says this: "Total wages, salaries, tips." And on that line, if you are an honest citizen, you will place a figure which represents the amount of money that you've earned in the previous tax year. So this, this year, if you did one, it was for what you earned in 1998.
Now, I know, and - how, how many of you had to fill out something like that? Put your hands up. All right, all right, now watch. What I'd like you to do, just for a minute, is to try to get in your mind approximately what you put down on line 7; in other words, how much you earned in the last tax year. Ok, and, don't worry about being exact, just sort of round it off in your mind, ok? Um, I just want you to get that figure in your mind. And don't think about anybody else here, just think about yourself, ok? [audience laughter] I mean, there, there are people here, obviously, that probably made more than you and maybe some people that didn't make as much, that's not the point. The point is, I want you to think about how much you made in 1998. All right? Now, let's just - get that figure in your mind, all right - now let's just suppose that I would ask the worship team to come back to the platorm, strike up the instruments, have us all stand, and have them lead us in an ongoing time of corporate worship and praise to the Lord. And then as we are meeting and singing and worshipping the Lord, I would invite you, by a total voluntary act of your will, to take out a piece of paper, and on that piece of paper write down the amount of money that you made in 1998. The total amount, all right. Don't put your name on it or anything, just put the amount of money. And then I would challenge you -- nobody would have to do this -- but I would challenge you to leave your seat and come down to the front [leaves stage] right down here to the front, all right, and kneel, right here, in this little [inaudible] and take that piece of paper, and place it on the stack, and then stand back up and go back to your seat. And in doing so say to Jesus Christ, "I love you so much that that's how much I'm willing to give you right now." Would you do it?
Oh my goodness, where did we get this speaker? [audience laughter] You know? We ought to check these guys out more carefully before we let them in here. [audience laughter] Obviously Mr. Murry doesn't know much about us. I mean, the, uh, the, uh, Asian American churches in the Boston area are, ah, are giving churches. We give! Ah, I didn't make a lot last year, but I tithed - I tithed! Ten percent, that's a lot! When you're starting out and you're a poor student or you're just married, ten percent, that's a lot, and, but I did it. And then when our church has a missions conference, I dig a little deeper and I, and I give to that. And then if somebody in the church gets sick and they don't have insurance or they lose their job and they don't have workers' comp, I, I dig a little deeper and help them out. But - an amount equivalent to everything I made in 1998? [audience laughter] You've got to be kidding, that is ridiculous! Now watch, that's exactly what the disciples said.
They said, "This is ridiculous. Who does she think she is? And who does He think He is to allow her to do that?" Because, you see, when you take the costly ointment, and you break the container, and you pour it out, you can't pick it back up! [audience laughter] It's all gone. One full year's wages. What's happening here in John chapter 12? Watch now. And listen carefully. This is not, I repeat, this is not the impulsive whim of an emotional woman who doesn't realize what she's doing in the heat of the moment, and later on when she gets back to her room that night kicks herself and says [audience laughter], "What did I do that for?" [audience laughter] No! Watch now, this is the knowing act of worship on the part of one Mary of Bethany who had followed Jesus. She sat constantly at His feet, she listened to His words, she saw His miracles, she watched His life, she knew exactly who He was, and she was convinced that nothing she gave Him could ever be too much.
Is that the way you feel about the Lord tonight? Now watch. Jesus Christ, God the Son, is worthy of our worship. And true worship is pure worship, true worship is honest worship, but here we see that true worship is costly worship. Write it down. Costly worship! And the question we need to ask ourselves tonight as young people and families, here in this room, tonight, is this: What is it costing me to show the Lord how much I really love Him? What is it costing me to show the Lord how much I really love Him?
It doesn't cost much to fix yourself up a little bit in front of the mirror, and drive a few miles, and sit for a couple hours, and stand for thirty minutes and sing, and listen to a message, and go back home. No no, what's it really costing me to show the Lord how much I love Him? Because, you see, true worship is costly worship. The genuineness of my worship will be measured by what it costs.
Now I want you to see one more verse before we finish tonight, and that's way back in the Old Testament, the book of 2 Chronicles chapter 3, and if you have a hard time finding that, it comes right after 1 Chronicles. [audience laughter] 2 Chronicles chapter 3. And while you're finding that in your Bible, let me just tell you of one of my habits. One of my habits for almost thirty years now has been to read the entire Bible through from cover to cover every year. It really doesn't take that long, and it's a wonderful exercise, and I commend it to you. I read from Genesis to Revelation every year. Ah, I'm, I'm almost done - I, I, I'm, I'm already done for this year, ah, and I just loved it again. But I will confess to you when I get to certain parts of the Old Testament [audience laughter], I start to speed read. [audience laughter] You know what I'm talking about? And I will confess to you that I was speed reading through 2 Chronicles and almost missed chapter 3, verse 1. Look at chapter 3, verse 1: "Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David." Period, end of verse, doesn't that verse just bless your heart? [audience laughter]
You're saying, "No, this doesn't, this doesn't bless me or anything, this just sounds like some dry historical fact, let's get on to the real story!" No, but don't you see what this verse is talking about? Look at the verse, this verse is talking about the construction of the temple, the establishment of the God-ordained place of worship. That's what this verse is talking about. And in this verse, there are two geographic references - did you see them? The first is Mount Moriah - do you see it there? Mount Moriah. And the second is the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Do you know anyting about these two places?
Well, let's take the second one first. The threshing floor of Araunah, also called Ornan, the Jebusite in the Old Testament. He's referred to many times in the Old Testament, sometimes he's called Ornan, sometimes he's called Araunah like he is here. Do you know anything about the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite? Well, if you don't, when you get home tonight, read 2 Samuel chapter 24. Because in 2 Samuel chapter 24, watch, God comes to David, King David through the prohpet Gad, and He instructs David to go and to buy a piece of property that belongs to a man by the name of Ornan the Jebusite, or Araunah the Jebusite. It happens to be a piece of land where he brings his grain and he threshes it and separates the wheat from the chaff. That's why it's called a threshing floor, it's actually a piece of land. And God tells David, "I want you to go and buy that piece of land from that man, because on that piece of land I want you to build an altar of worship to Me." 2 Samuel 24. And so in 2 Samuel 24, David, in obedience to God, he goes to Araunah, and he says, "I would like to buy your property." And Araunah says, "What do you want my property for?" And David starts to tell him what the Lord has said for him to do, for him to build the altar of worship, and, and Araunah says, "Oh, well if that's what you want it for, I'll give it to you. In fact, I'll give you the rocks to make the altar, I'll take all of my wooden tools that we use for the threshing, we'll break them up and use my tools for the fire, for the sacrifice" -- he's, he's going down this list, and David stops him in mid-sentence and says, "No, no, no, no, no, you don't understand!" And then David makes this astounding statement in 2 Samuel chapter 24, listen to what David says - this is what he says: "I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing." Woah.
I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing. Now, I said it twice, because I want you now to say it with me out loud. Everybody here tonight, I want you to say they- those words with me out loud, and if you have trouble remembering, just watch me, I'll help you, and we'll do it together. Here we go - are you ready? Here we go: [with audience] I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing.
Do you mean it? Do you mean it? What is it costing you to worship the Lord?
The second geographic reference in 2 Chronicles chapter 3 verse 1 is Mount Moriah. Do you know anything about Mount Moriah? Well, if you don't, when you get home tonight, read Genesis chapter 22. Because in Genesis chapter 22, God comes to Abraham and says to him, "Abraham, take thou your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and offer him up as a sacrifice to me at the place where I will show you." Now, don't forget who Isaac was: Isaac was Abraham's only son. Abraham and Sarah had waited many years for a child. Finally God blessed them with a child. He was the absolute idol of their life, they loved him, he was their only son. And now God says, "I want you to take your only son and I want you to offer him up as a sacrifice to me." Now, I've read that story many times in Genesis chapter 22. It's a wonderful story, but one year as I was reading it, something happened in our family that made that story strike right to the depths of my heart
We have four children, three girls, and one boy: Heather, Lara, Frank, and Julie. If my wife were here tonight, she would tell you that we have tried before God to love each one of our children equally. All of them so very different, all of them so very precious. And I believe, before the Lord, as much as we have been able, we have loved each of our children equally. But having said that, I want you to know that I only have one boy. He's my only son, and his name is Frank. And I love that boy with all my heart.
And we were on vacation. Someone had given us two weeks in a little summer cottage on a deep, cold, clear Canadian lake. And Frankie, as we called him then, was learning how to swim. Now the lake was very deep; you couldn't wade out into the water because the minute you got into the water, the bottom of the lake went straight down. It was very deep, so you either had to swim or not get in the water. So Frankie's sister Lara had a little inflatable raft. And she would push out from the shore about six, eight feet, and she would hold the raft out there, and then she would challenge Frankie to swim out to the raft. Well I was sitting about, oh, I don't know, a hundred feet down the shore. I had all my clothes on, I was sitting in a lawn chair reading a book. It was vacation time, and I was, you know, kind of watching the kids out of the corner of my eye. So Frankie would push off from the shore, and he'd doggie paddle out to the raft, and when he'd get there, Lara would congratulate him, and he would catch his breath and then he'd turn around and push off from the raft and swim back to the shore.
Unbeknownst to Frankie, his sister Lara began to secretly backpedal under the water. And as he swarm towars the raft, the raft kept getting further and further from the shore. Now, he wasn't really watching, because he sort of knew where the raft was. And so he was swimming hard, but when he finally realized he wasn't there yet, he looked up to see where the raft was, and when he did, he realized that the raft was farther than he could swim to. So he quickly turned around to swim back to shore, not realizing how far he had already gone. And when he saw far it was back to shore, he panicked! And he went under the water. Now, I don't remember all the details. I am not a good swimmer. But I found myself in that lake with all my clothes on. And we went down under the water, and we found that little boy, and we got him back to the surface, and we brought him back to the shore, and we pumped the water out of his stomach, and probably it was no more than twenty to thirty seconds before we realized that he was going to be ok, but let me tell you something: when that happened, I realized how much that little boy means to me. He is my only son.
And then I read Genesis 22: "Take thou your son, your only son whom you love, and offer him up as a sacrifice to Me at the place where I will show you." And we read in Genesis 22 that Abraham in obedience to God takes his son, gets the animals, loads them with the sacrificial wood, gets a flame that he can carry with him, gets some servants together, and they journey for three solid days through the desert until they come to the foot of a place called - Mount Moriah. And in Genesis chapter 22 verse 5, Abraham stops those who are with him, turns to them, and makes this astounding statement; this is what he says: "Stay here while the lad and I go up there to worship." That's what he said. To worship. It's the first time the word worship ever occurs in the Bible. What does Genesis chapter 22 verse 5 tell me? It tells me that true, God honoring worship is costly worship.
Now hear me. There are not many parents here tonight. There are many young people here tonight. And I want to speak to you from my heart. And I want you to know something: everywhere I go across North America, I find Christian young people willing and ready to serve the Lord as missionaries, wanting to go, willing to pay the price, willing to get the training needed, willing to go out and reach people who are still waiting to hear for the first time, and many of them never make it. Do you know why? Because their parents will not let them go. Oh, many of their parents don't come right out and say, "You can't be a missionary." But everything they say and everything they suggest is just the opposite. "Don't want to go to a Bible college or a seminary, what kind of a degree are you going to get there? That won't give you any vocational security. Go to a university, get a real degree, get a real job, get security, get future equity for yourself, make me proud to be your parent." And one of the greatest acts of costly worship that Christian parents could make to God today may have nothing to do with their money and have everything to do with their children.
I'll never forget January, 1956. Most of you weren't even born then. I was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Every Saturday morning I would go to Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania and take art lessons from a man by the name of Dad Saint. Dad and Ma Saint lived in an old barn that they had renovated. The upstairs they had renovated into a art studio, and the downstairs was an apartment where they lived. And they had a whole bunch of kids. And besides being a great artist, Dad Saint was a Godly man, and Ma Saint was a Godly woman, and each time God would bless them with another child, they would just lift that child up to the Lord and say, "Lord, these children aren't ours, they're Yours, they're a gift from You, now we just give them back to You, You take them, you use them, whatever You want, may Your will be done in the lives of our children." And because they had that kind of attitude and because they were such Godly, loving, praying parents, God took their children and spread them out around the world, as servants of Jesus Christ, many of them in missionary work. And I'll never forget January 8, 1956, when the news came about the death of Dad Saint's boy.
Dad and Ma Saint had a son who was a missionary in Ecuador. His name was Nate. He was a missionary pilot. And one day he was out flying over the jungles in his little Piper Cub and he spotted an Indian tribe that he'd heard about, that he had prayed for, but which no one had ever been able to locate because they were nomadic and they would move throughout the jungle. He hurriedly came back to the Shell Mera station, shared the news with his missionary colleagues. He recruited four other young missionary men, and the five of them banded their hearts together to plan and pray and strategize to reach the Huaorani Indians with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, the Huaorani Indians were hardly known to the outside. In fact, that's not what they were called by the outside world. They were called the Aucas. "Huaorani" means "the people." "Auca" means "the savages," and that's what they were known as because anybody that came anywhere near them, they usually killed them. But these people had never heard the gospel, didn't know anything about Jesus, and so Nate and his buddies planned and prayed and he flew thirteen different missions over that tribal area, and he dropped gifts to them out of his plane.
And he, he, he, uh, he, he had a rope that he would put down, and he would circle in a tight circle, and the rope would go right down in the middle of the village, and he would put things on the end, uh, uh, a machete or, or a hatchet or something for them to have, and they caught on, and they would attach gifts back and send them back up to him. And so it was a very friendly encounter, and he was thrilled, and as he was doing this, he noticed that a couple miles from the tribe, there was a river with a sand beach next to it, and he thought, "You know, I bet I could land my plane there."
And so he flew over that sand beach, hour after hour with little paper bags filled with, uh, with white bleached flour, and he would drop them out of the plane at intervals and watch them hit the ground and then with his instruments he would measure, and he figured out that it was 650 feet long, which was long enough for him to land and long enough to take off.
And so they finally made plans that they were going to go in there and live there and seek to reach that tribe with the gospel. And January 2nd came, and they flew five different flights into the sand beach, because, had to just take one missionary at a time, and the plane only held two people. And finally got the last missionary in, and, and on the last, uh last flight just before the last two left, all the wives came out on the tarmac and their little children who were hugging their legs, and they were all huddled together with their arms around each other, and they just prayed to God Almighty that He would protect their husbands, and that He would give them the joy of bringing the gospel to the Aucas, and then the men got in the plane, and it took off out over the jungle and the women hurried back into the kitchen of the Shell Mera station where they had a little radio receiver on the kitchen table. It was connected to the radio in the plane, and, and the men had promised that every so many hours they would make radio contact, and, and that's what happened. Day after day they would talk back and forth, and on the eighth of January, Nate took off and did a circle over the Indian village from the sand beach, and when he did, he noticed a group of men from the Indian village coming towards the river where the missionaries had set up their camp. And so he landed, he got on the radio; excitedly to his wife he said, "Honey, we've been praying for contact, we saw a number of men coming this way" - it was Sunday, by the way, he said, "We're going to have our worship service this afternoon at four thirty, and after it's over, we're praying that they'll be there and that we'll be able to tell them about the love of God in some way, and we'll call you when it's over and tell you what happened."
Four thirty came and went, five thirty came, six thirty, seven thirty, it got dark - no word, no word. Next day, no word. And the missionary wives reluctantly concluded that something had gone wrong. And so a search comarty- party was assembled. They got government soldiers, they got some diplomatic people, some people that were linguistically able to communicate with some of the jungle tribes, and they hacked their way through the jungle three full days until they came to the beach where they knew the plane was supposed to land. And they found the plane ripped apart, and they found the five bodies of those missionaries speared to death and floating in the muddy waters of the Curaray River.
And when that news became known, it flashed around the world. I'll never forget that day, January 8, 1956, I can remember it like it was yesterday. And when that story became known, the leading newspaper in the capital city of Ecuador put that story on the front page and started it with a bold, three-word headline, and this is what it said: "Why this Waste?" - question mark. "Why this Waste?" - question mark. Do you know what the unsaved editors of that secular newspaper were referring to when they chose that headline? They were referring to the fact that five young men, bright young men, had just died in the very prime of life, leaving behind five young widows and nine fatherless children, all for the sake of sixty - that's all there were in that tribe - sixty naked, savage, uneducated Indians - what a waste!
Little did the editors of that newspaper know that when they chose those three words for their headline they were quoting scripture. Because in Mark chapter 14, which is a parallel passage to John chapter 12 where Mary breaks the costly ointment on Jesus in a loving act of worship, we read that all the disciples were moved with indignation and said, quote, "Why this waste of the ointment made?" And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, turned to them, and said, "Gentlemen, leave her alone, she has done a beautiful thing to me. She's not wasting, she's worshiping!" And true worship is costly worship.
We have a great missionary hymn that we sing in our traditional churches, and it goes like this: "Give of your sons to bear the message glorious / Give of your wealth to speed them on their way / Pour out your soul for them in prayer victorious / And all your spending Jesus will repay." You know what? That's not a missionary hymn, it's a worship hymn! It's talking about worship. And what is worship? Worship is costly. Worship is everything. Worship is my whole life. What is it costing you to worship the Lord?
It's been my privilege three times - four times, now, to share a conference platform like this with another speaker, and we've been co-speakers together in four conferences. Her name is Helen Roseveare. Helen Roseveare grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Helen Roseveare became a skilled surgeon. All her life, both before and after she came to Christ, and she came to Christ during her university days, Helen Roseveare had a motto. And her motto was in the form of a question, and the question was this: "Is it worth it?" Is it worth it? And she would ask and honestly answer that question before the did anything. Before she went out on a day with a guys, she would say, "Is it worth it?" Before she would buy a book at Barnes and Noble and read it, she'd say, "Is it worth it?" Before she took a course in college, she'd say, "Is it worth it?" And by asking and answering that question honestly, she became a very well-educated, disciplined, young woman physician. And after she graduated from Cambridge and got her hospital training, she gave her life to the Lord for missionary service in the northeast corner of the Belgian Congo in the community of Nobobongo. And she served their in the fifties and sixties eleven solid years of sacrificial, loving service to the African people. She did leprosy work, children's work, built a hospital, built a Bible school. And then, in 1956... in 1964, in 1964 the Simba Uprising took place in the Congo, what we here in distant America called the Congo Rebellion. And the tribal people rose up, and the foreigners were ruthlessly treated.
Now - and Helen Roseveare went through that. Now I didn't know anything about that, I did't know anything about her, and I'll never forget the first time I met her. I was a guest teacher for ten weeks at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina. My wife and I and our four kids were living in the men's dorm in two dorm rooms that they put together in a makeshift little apartment for us. We were living there for ten weeks while I taught several courses in the school. And one night at nine o'clock at night, word came through the men's dormitory that all the men were to leave their studies, and to go to the central lobby, because a woman missionary was passing through campus that evening, she couldn't stay for the next day, and so they wanted the men to hear her give a brief word of testimony about her missionary work in Africa.
Well, to be real honest with you, none of the boys were very excited, you know. And, but the school said they had to do it, so we all went to the men - to the main lobby of the men's dorm, and when we got there, the guys were in there, they were draped over the couches, sitting on the floor, and kind of looking like they didn't want to be there. And, and then two of the school administrators walked in with Dr. Roseveare standing between the them, and when we saw her, everybody's worst fears were well-founded, because she looked like a missionary. Whatever that means. [audience laughter]
Simple cotton dress. Gray hair pulled back in a bit of a bun. Very thick, coke-bottle glasses, because her eyesight was not good. And she was tired. So somebody grabbed a gray, folding, metal Samsonite chair and put it in the middle of the floor, and, and, and she sat on it, and they said, ah, "Gentlemen, this woman, Dr. Roseveare, has just come through our campus, we just want her to share a little bit of her experience with you tonight." And so she started to give her testimony. And being the astute woman that she is, about two minutes into her testimony, she knew that most of those guys were not interested at all, and so she stopped.
And she said, "You know what, boys, I don't want to bore you with the details of my life. You've probably heard different stories and so forth. So, it's late, why don't we just take another five, ten minutes or so and, and I'll just answer questions. Maybe, you know, you have a question, I'd rather talk about the things you're interested." And this kid immediately stuck his hand up, I feel sorry for him to this day [audience laughter], he stuck his hand up, and he said, he said, "Yeah I've got a question," he said, "You know, we've got missionaries coming through here all the time, and, and they're always talking about, you know, paying the price and suffering for Jesus - what did you ever suffer for Jesus?" She sat there and looked at him and, without any bitterness or any anger, she said, "Well, during the Simba Uprising, I was raped twice." Everything got real quiet.
And then she told us about the rape. She told us how the government soliders came to her bungalow that night, came inside, ransacked it, grabbed her, beat her, threw her to the floor, kicked in all of her teeth. And then two army officers, one at a time, took her to her own bedroom and violated her body by raping her. And then, after the second incident, she was dragged from that bungalow out into a clearing and tied to a tree. And standing around the tree were all the laughing government soldiers. And then, while she was standing there, beaten and humiliated and violated and ridiculed, someone discovered in the bungalow the only existing hand-written manuscript of a book that she had been writing about the Lord's work in the Congo over an eleven year period. They brought it out, put it on the ground in front of her, and burned it.
And as she saw that book go up in smoke, through clenched teeth, she said to herself: "Is it worth it? Is it really worth it? Eleven years of my life poured out in selfless service for the African people and now this." And then she told those boys in that dormitory room that night as we all sat there spellbound, she said, "And boys, the minute I said that, God's Holy Spirit settled over that terrible scene, and He began to speak to me, and this is what He said. He said to me: 'Helen, my daughter Helen, you've been asking the wrong question all your life. Helen, the question is not, "Is it worth it?" The question is: "Am I worthy?" Am I, the Lord Jesus who gave His life for you, worthy for you to make this kind of sacrifice for me?'" And by her own tearful testimony she told us how God broke her heart, she looked up into the face of Jesus and said, "Oh Lord Jesus, yes, it is worth it, for thou art worthy."
Elisabeth Elliot, whose husband was one of the five men who died trying to reach the Auca Indians, has written a very interesting chapter in a book entitled, "The Unfinished Task." I tried to get them to stock it at the book table here for this conference but unfortunately, it's out of print, you can find it in a, in a library, maybe in this church library. "The Unfinished Task," and in there she's written a chapter entitled, "Reflections on the Death of Five Missionaries." And she asks and answeres three questions. Number one: Were they called? Number two: Did they obey? And number three: Was it worth it? And in answer to that last question - was it worth it - this is what she writes, Elisabeth Elliot, listen carefully, she said this:
"Finally, was it worth it? Does it make sense that five men with those kinds of qualifications should die for the sake of sixty people? By whose standards can we answer that question? Well, we say, lots of Auca Indians got saved. I've heard stories of thousands of volunteers to the mission field. I'm not sure if they're there today. I know there are some. People everywhere tell me they were moved and changed by the story. Hundreds of young men have told me that the book, 'The Shadow of the Almighty,' has changed their lives. I don't deny that for a moment. Suppose it's all true - does that make it worth it? Let's suppose for a moment that not one Auca Indian got saved, that not one person ever heard the story of those five men, let alone was changed by it. Would it be worth it?"
And then she continues to write, "Yes!" She writes, "Yes!" "Why?" she writes, "Becuase the results of my obedience to God are the business of God almighty who is sovereign. It is the love of Christ which constrains us. There is no other motive for missionary service that will survive the blows of even the first year. We do it for Him." Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship. And true worship is pure worship, true worship is honest worship, and true worship is costly worship.
Let's bow in prayer together. Lord, we want to pray tonight, I want to pray, ah, with my brothers and sisters here tonight what we sang earlier. "We're coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about You. We're sorry, Lord, for the thing that we've made it," empty words, shallow songs, oh Lord, it's everything. It's my life, it's my future, it's my vocation, it's the world who's still waiting to hear. It's obedience to Jesus, that's worship. Deliver us from cheap, shallow worship. Deliver us from singing words we don't mean, praying prayers that are not true. Oh, we pray tonight that You will help us to render to You the worship that is Your due - costly worship, the one who gave all for us may we give all back to You. We worship You. We praise You. And we love You. We pray in Your name, amen.