John Stott is with the Lord!

I lost a good friend and mentor to me and my uncle…may the
Lord truly open His loving arms to one of the few who truly honored and served
the Lord with such distinction and reverence, I miss you John, receive you
reward!

“The Christian Church has lost one of its greatest leaders: John Stott. Uncle John, as many called him,
went to be with his Lord on Wednesday, July 27th at 3:15 in London. He was 90
years old.

John Stott
pictured in the English Lake District during the famous Keswick Convention
where he was a regular featured speaker

His life will be missed. But
his wisdom and love of God lives on through his books and teachings.

Several years back I wrote an
article on Mr. Stott’s influence in my life when I heard the news of his
retirement. I release it again in his honor. The article was entitled, Heroes.

Heroes

Ok, I admit it! I am a fan.
But not in the traditional sense – one akin to rock stars, actors and sports
figures. Rather, I am a fan of people the Lord has used: intelligent,
God-saturated, and Christ-haunted; a life consumed by the radical
transformation of the Holy Sprit.

I remember as a teenager
hanging up pictures of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and passages from
the Bible all over my wall. Growing up in a Presbyterian church, but, later,
attending the Church of the Brethren, the folks I looked up to were the
“radicals.”

Then I began to read.

It was in my late teenage
years that I began to soak myself in Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, and John
Stott, along with a long list of poets. Instead of putting posters on the wall
of these new fellows (why aren’t there any good posters of them out there
anyway?) I became a fan of their lives and ideas.

In a sense, these men became
my heroes.

Heroes are hard to come by
these days. People who are admired for noble qualities, exceptional
achievements, and courage- in word and deed- truly are a thing to behold.

So when I hear that one of my
heroes is to retire, my world stands silenced. I begin to ponder the beauty of
what the Lord has accomplished in their life. I sit grateful that I had the
opportunity to watch this hero interact with humanity; learning from his or her
integrity, listening to his or her voice, and pondering his or her life.

The hero I am referring to is
John Stott, British pastor, author, ornithologist, and Christian statesman. And
though he is retiring from full time ministry in July 2007 at age 86, this
champion of the Christian faith will remain as God made him to be – a humble,
hero, impacting lives through his many books, sermons, and interaction with
people and God’s creation throughout the world.

I must ask myself, what it is
that makes John Stott a hero of mine? Though I can rattle off a list of things,
one attributes come to mind: Knowing and Doing! John Stott not only taught us
what to “know,” but encouraged us to “do” what we know!

A Life

John Stott with Billy Graham

Born in 1921, educated at Rugby
and Cambridge, pastoring All Souls Church in London, and spending the remainder
of his life as iterant preacher, pastor, bird-watcher, and author, John Stott
has become one of the most influential and impacting men in the Christian world
today (even in the “secular” media he has garnered some attention –
Time Magazine and The New York Times).

In a day when the
celebrity-pastor is the norm, John Stott is a gentle reminder that the mark of
a man is not his fame or fortune, but the makeup of his character and the
quality of his life and work, stemming from an unwavering trust in the One he
serves- Jesus Christ.

True Stott has written over
50 books, many of them best sellers, but instead of buying the large house on
the hill and retiring, he has elected to use the resources to build a
Foundation (Langham Partnership) and promote missions throughout the world
through pastor training and support.

True John Stott has framed
some of the most important evangelical documents of the 20th century (Lausanne
Covenant, and Evangelical Truth), written commentaries, theological works, and
analysis of contemporary issues, yet what I marvel at is that his life never
became just about knowing things (though important knowing is). Rather, his
life has been balanced between the two worlds of ideas and action- knowing the
Christian life and living the Christian life. John Stott has showed us that
knowing and doing, understanding and living-out, are the two major components
of the Christian life; two sides to the same coin. His life is a reflection of
this balance (see the fine biography by Dudley-Smith to see how this balance
has fully played out).

Personal Reflections

Through most of my early
Christian life John Stott’s presence was through his books: The Cross of
Christ, Basic Christianity, and his commentaries.

But in 2005 that all changed.
After reading Evangelical Truth, I decided to reach out to one of my heroes-
thanking him for the book.

To my surprise he contacted
me back, via email. He had one of his assistants type up the email, but I was
thrilled to receive it nonetheless.

As one who served at Calvary
Chapel of Costa Mesa (along with another wonderful Christian leader, Chuck
Smith), I wanted to let him know that his books and witness for Christ are
appreciated.

I Thank You, John Stott

So, as you wrap up your full
time ministry this month, Mr. Stott, I, and millions of others, would like to
say, “thank you” for being a faithful man of God, being obedient to
the call Christ placed on your life, and teaching others to do the same.

May the Lord richly bless you
in your retirement!

Reward

And now, three years after I
wrote this article, I say, God bless you, John, for your life and ministry, our
loss is heaven’s gain.

Billy Graham

I close with a moving
statement just issued by evangelist Billy Graham on the passing of John Stott:

“The evangelical world
has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my close
personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to
Heaven,” he said from his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

I echo Mr.
Graham’s words.”

From ASSIST News Service (ANS) – PO Box 609, Lake
Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA

Visit our web site at: www.assistnews.net
and Brian Nixon
is a writer, musician, minister, and family man. You may contact him at www.briannixon.com

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Dogmatics in action!

Handling Traditions in the Church P 7

How do we go before God?

Jesus asks, hear and understand; so do we? Jesus is not talking about the biochemistry of bacteria and disease with this hand washing custom or any specifics or whys of a tradition. Rather, He is indicating the spiritual. How do we go before God? How is He honored? How does this benefit the faith of the people in the church or show Christ outside of it? Do we use repetitive, meaningless traditions that have no foundation? Or, do we seek Him in truth, worship, and devotion for His glory, and not ours? The key question to ask about any program, outreach, ritual, or tradition that your church does or may do is this: How is Christ honored and displayed?

How can traditions be a good way to honor our Lord? Is this possible?

When Jesus tells them, the Pharisees were offended—oh really? Perhaps it was as many of us are when we are challenged with truth or better ideas. We might say, “oh well, too bad,” but consider that it would be like offending your top denominational leaders and your top government leaders all at once today! The Pharisees had no real political power under Roman occupation, but they had considerable influence amongst the people, so the Romans used the Pharisees to keep the people under control. Just as many of the power brokers and workers—good and bad—in a church may not be in official leadership, but they wield influence. When we challenge the bad sacred cow, they may take their ball (money) and go home. We must allow them to do so, as honoring God is more important than pleasing petty people and the risk of losing capital. You have to know this and respect the people, but at the same time be “peace makers” and keep the Truth as truth.

You have to care enough to confront, to model the Christ to whom we lead others. Jesus was not afraid of confrontation because His focus was God’s Truth. Because Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, He frees us from the bondage of legalism and false doctrines into the freedom of hope and rest (Col. 2:16-17). Jesus also frees us from the bondage that misguided, evil people place on others for personal gain. But, we must remove our attention and Will from such wrong paths, and place our focus upon Him. We must not see our traditions as a yoke to keep our eyes off His wonders and call.

What would happen to you if you offended your top church elders, denominational leaders, and your top city and state government leaders all at once? What kind of boldness and confidence would this take? How do we get such confidence? Remember, there is a line between boldness and recklessness!

In a healthy church, we are to honor the past, but we are not to live in the past. We are to live in the present and embrace the future with our call and gifts, and take hold of His opportunities, serving and trusting in our Lord. We are to be in His freedom and rest, as He is the God of love and delight, not the God who burdens needlessly. And, we are to embrace the future and the wonders still to come (Heb. 4:9). Bad traditions and bad personalities are forms of legalism, and this is a yoke that will distract us from His wonders and call. We will not see Christ; we will only see the yoke and its stranglehold upon us. Lest we put it on others to distract them, we must take it off and embrace our real Lord. As the last passage in Matthew 11:29 tells us, we need to take off our old, heavy burden, and place ourselves in His strength. Allow Christ to be your strength—not your thoughts, ideas, aspirations, or Will—as they will lead you astray. He will lead you to rest (Psalm. 55:22; Neh. 8:10; Isa. 40:29)!

What can you do to prevent robbing yourself of the opportunities God gives you?

Jesus told His disciples not to worry about the Pharisee’s power; He placed the focus on Truth and away from falsehoods (Matt. 3:10). External rituals cannot replace the inward condition of the heart because what we are to do is all about aligning oneself either with Him or with self and other false belief systems and sin. This includes bad programming and bad traditions, as they represent bad stewardship of His precepts and call. Even be a good program, or social gathering can be bad if it takes the place of and draws our attention, especially away from our worship and devotion to Christ. The heart is purified by our faith and obedience, not by our service; our service is a Fruit of our love and obedience to God (Isa. 1: 10-20; 29:13; 59:13; John 10:34; Acts 15:9; Rom. 8:14; 1 Cor. 10:33; 2 Thess. 3:6).

How do we come before God? Is it with repetitive, meaningless traditions that have no foundation, or do we seek Him in truth, worship, and devotion for His glory and not ours? Why is this so hard for some?