Monday, June 1, 2009

One of Our Own: Edith Heard

The following is excerpted from Rev. Edith Heard’s new book, Little Lady from the Tribe of Gad, which will be available at General Convention.

During the General Board meeting immediately following the 1955 Pentecostal Church of God General Convention, I was asked to work with the ladies of the Pentecostal Church of God in organizing a nationwide and worldwide service auxiliary.

With the Lord as our Guide, we started out on an uncharted course. Ideas poured into the general office, and at each service where the new program was mentioned, the ladies showed a great desire for this new program of helping others.

One could say I was a “courier” as I traveled from one district to another gathering and passing on ideas.... Our first national project was for Susan King, a daughter of one of our Brazilian missionary families. We bought an accordion costing $125. Although the dollar amount was minimal compared to projects that would follow, it was a big step for the PLA general office as it tested our ability to cooperate and succeed nationally.

We soon realized we needed national guidelines. A working format for a constitution and by-laws was mailed to representative ladies across the United States who were serving in various areas of ladies’ work. Ladies’ groups were functioning under titles such as “Willing Workers,” “Missionary Band,” “Missionary Ladies,” and others. Working alone in their localities, all were interested in the promotion of the gospel, with some assisting pastors in building programs and in raising finances for missionaries.

During the 1959 General Convention the constitution and bylaws for the Pentecostal Ladies Auxiliary was accepted. The official red and white banner displayed a tilted cup; the motto “JESUS, OTHERS, YOURSELF” with the Scripture reference Mark 9:41 written on the inside of the tilted cup. The slogan “Laborers together with God, 1 Corinthians 3:9” was written across the top. The bottom line of the banner carried the name of the local PLA group. Red and white were chosen as the official colors—red representing the blood of Christ that saves us from our sins; and white for purity, depicting a life of holiness unto the Lord.... With the basic organization and logistics in place, our ladies were ready to progress. They took to new programs with dedication and enthusiasm.

Probably one of the most unifying programs was that of foreign missions. PLAs joined forces across the United States and in foreign countries to help build churches, sponsor foreign workers, and purchase needed equipment such as generators and medical supplies.

During the 1950s and ’60s trading stamps such as S & H Green Stamps, Blue Chip and Top Value became a remarkable way of providing vehicles and other expensive equipment for missions. Through trading stamps the PLAs purchased nine automobiles and refurbished one boat in Indonesia. As I traveled about the nation, ladies’ groups gave us sacks of loose stamps. Brother Heard and our daughters, Beth and Alice, and even two of our granddaughters, Nannette and Melissa “licked” untold numbers of stamps and filled up literally thousands of stamp books. We really felt we had hit pay dirt when we were presented already filled books. It was a great program and blessed in every way.

Dorcas Boxes, containing a 4-year’s supply of linens and other household goods furnished by PLAs were always appreciated by missionaries preparing to leave for the land of their calling. Bible schools in foreign countries have been blessed by the PLAs. through the “M & M” program—”Machines for Missions” (washing machines and sewing machines). Bible courses were typed and furnished to Haiti and Jamaica.

The Pentecostal Ladies Auxiliary also assisted the Indian Missions Department in the provision of household supplies, appliances and clothing. Each December special fund-raising drives were promoted for the Indian missionaries and their families, along with our Christian Indian families. [Other projects of the PLAs were the children’s homes, Bible colleges and the Great Plains Boys’ Ranch.]

To all of my coworkers, I encourage you with Hebrews 6:10. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister.”

Our Future Legacy -- Guarding the Destiny of the Next Generation

Penned by Sir Jon Jennings
In February of this year I had the privilege of traveling to Michigan and preaching the funeral for my paternal grandmother, Margaret Jennings. The experience did several things for me, one of which was impart a greater appreciation for the winter weather we enjoy here in central Arizona. (Maybe the Michigan constituency of the PCG can help me identify the cold, white substance that fell from the sky that afternoon–it’s foreign to us native “Phoenicians.”) More importantly, I was impacted by the legacy that she left behind: 12 children, 11 living–all of whom are serving the Lord–and 40 grandchildren, a vast majority serving the Lord. It’s a family testimony that is almost unheard of in our culture today.

As we prepare this month to celebrate the 90th anniversary of our movement, we cannot take for granted the legacy that has been left with the Pentecostal Church of God. The Pentecostal Messenger has done a tremendous job in recent months relating how this legacy has impacted our movement. Thousands of leaders, ministers and constituents have contributed to this legacy throughout the decades with the sheer determination to follow the call of God and fulfill the Great Commission. A legacy is simply “something that is handed down from the past–from an ancestor or predecessor.” Legacies are left by someone to someone, and then it becomes the responsibility of those who have been entrusted with it to steward it, guard it, and pass it on to the next generation. The fact is, however, if a legacy is going to continue, there has to be an heir. There has to be someone to leave the legacy to or else the legacy will die with the current generation.

Much has been discussed over the past 10 years of the “graying” of the PCG and the lack of younger ministers coming up through our ranks. It is a well-documented trend not unique to the PCG. Other Pentecostal and Evangelical movements across our nation face the same problem and are diligently and prayerfully searching for answers as to how this phenomenon can be reversed. I submit to you that if we want our legacy to continue in the Pentecostal Church of God, we have to be passionately committed to guarding the destiny of the next generation.

In Genesis 3:15 God gave Adam the promise of a Seed that would be carried from generation to generation culminating with the birth of Messiah. I’m not sure that when God called Abram several generations later and gave him the promise of the Seed, that he fully realized how God would guard the destiny of his Seed. Every natural seed has destiny to become something great, but the seed cannot release the destiny within unless it is properly guarded and given what it needs to succeed (soil, sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc.). The Seed promised to Adam in the Garden was preserved 42 generations from Abraham to Christ spanning 2000 years. This is nothing short of miraculous when you consider wars, famine, oppression of other nations and other circumstances that could have killed the seed’s destiny.

When David became the second Monarch of Israel, it placed the Messianic Seed in an even more vulnerable position, because the enemies of Judah became focused on eliminating the royal line. The enemies of God’s people knew that if they could eliminate the royal lineage it would throw the nation into anarchy and severely cripple their ability to stand strong against them. The princes of Israel survived because there were certain people who committed themselves to guarding the destiny of the Seed–the destiny of the next generation.

For us today, every young man and woman who makes up the constituency of the PCG could be looked at as the princes of the Church who will one day become the leaders–the kings, if I may use that metaphor. The seed of destiny in them is ordained for great things, but just like a natural seed, it has to be guarded, nurtured and given what it needs to succeed.

We live in a culture where our young princes are vulnerable. Everything in the kingdom of darkness has set its sights on trapping and killing the seed because it knows that if the royal lineage can be taken out, it will severely cripple us in our quest to advance the kingdom of God–and dare I say, if the kingdom of darkness can take out the princes of the Pentecostal Church of God, it will severely cripple our ability as a movement to continue our legacy into the next generation and beyond. What we need are “Kings,” fathers in the faith who will lay it on the line and commit themselves to guarding the destiny of the next generation.

In the 400 years or so of Judah’s history, the destiny of the Seed was preserved in many ways, but in the following instance its preservation goes beyond description and leaves a profound truth for us as we seek to guard our princes and see them fulfill their destiny as kings.

When Ahab and Jezebel were wreaking havoc in Israel, Jehosaphat was king over Judah. Toward the end of his reign, Jehosaphat made a decision that nearly set up the Messianic Seed for destruction. He entered into a ship-building contract with Ahab that turned disastrous. In the process of this unholy alignment, his son (and heir to the throne) Jehoram married Athaliah, who was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. Jehoram and Athaliah bore a son named Ahaziah, a prince who became heir to the throne of Judah. There was one problem, however: God had instructed a man named Jehu to destroy the entire house of Ahab and rid the land of its influence. Because of the unholy alliance formed by Jehosaphat, his grandsons (the Seed) were now part of the house of Ahab. Ahaziah and his 42 brothers were slain by Jehu. Athaliah then tried to finish off the Seed forever.

2 Chronicles 22:10
Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah.

There was no one to protect the princes and guard the destiny of the Seed. Now all of the heirs are apparently dead and Athaliah thought her evil plot had been executed to perfection. But God had two people in place who saw what was happening in the land–two people who understood the current culture and the legacy that had been handed down from God to Abraham–two people who were willing to risk everything and do whatever it took to guard the destiny of the next generation and see that the legacy was preserved. I absolutely love the next part of the story.

2 Chronicles 22:11-12
But Jehoshabeath... took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being murdered, and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. So Jehoshabeath... hid him from Athaliah so that she did not kill him. And he was hidden with them in the house of God for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

Ahaziah’s sister, Jehoshabeath, and her husband Jehoiada took the only remaining prince of Judah, Joash, and hid him from the destruction that was being levied on the Messianic Seed. For 6 years they risked their own lives to guard the destiny of the next generation. Joash was the only remaining heir to the throne, but the Seed was still alive! Her husband Jehoiada, the priest, then made four bold moves that ended up releasing the next generation (Joash) to fulfill his destiny.

He Strengthened Himself
2 Chronicles 23:1 — “In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself.”

This means he became fixed on a purpose. He became full of resolve that the legacy was going to continue for generations to come. This priest of God made up his mind that the enemy was not going to win and that the young prince and heir to the throne was going to take his rightful place as leader and king. Dare I say that if the legacy of the Pentecostal Church of God is going to continue, the current generation is going to have to strengthen itself and become fixed on a purpose? Are we ready to become full of resolve that even though the enemy is attacking our princes we will see to it that our young princes will one day take their rightful place as kings and fulfill their destiny?

He Made a Covenant with the Captains of Hundreds
2 Chronicles 23:1 — “...and made a covenant with the captains of hundreds.”

He gathered the warriors–the battle-tested soldiers of Judah–together. What a strategic move this was. Jehoiada knew that Athaliah wouldn’t take the news of a rightful heir lying down. He knew the enemy would stand toe to toe and fight to protect its perceived gains. If the legacy was going to continue, it had to be defended by the voice of experience in battle.

We must realize that our young princes need the battle-tested soldiers of our movement to step to the plate, believe in them and fight for them. They want the captains of hundreds who have been in the trenches planting churches and raising up leaders surrounding them and going to war for their destiny. The cry for help from the next generation is going out across this land to the previous generation, and if we truly believe in the destiny of our young princes, we the battle-tested captains will be the first ones to grab a sword, look the enemy in the eye and say “I dare you to stop us!”

He Gathered the Priests and Fathers
2 Chronicles 23:2 “And [they]... gathered the Levites... and the chief fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem.”

The need for spiritual fathers and mothers is great in this day. Joash
was a boy whose father had been killed and his uncle recognized that
if the young Prince was going to succeed as a king, he would need
fatherly influence and protection in his life. The young princes of the
Pentecostal Church of God are no different. Many of them have never
had a true spiritual father or mother in their life to mentor, speak wisdom, influence and protect them. They need fathers and mothers consistently speaking into their lives, reminding them who they are and
what the seed in them represents.

He Made a Covenant with the King
2 Chronicles 23:3 — “Then all the congregation made a covenant with the king...And he said to them, “Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as the Lord has said.”

Sacred bonds were formed. A covenant was made. The declaration was loud, to the point, and in the face of the enemies of the Seed: “Behold, the King’s son shall reign.” This was all done for the sole purpose of guarding the destiny of the next generation. Jehioada, the captains of hundreds, the priests and fathers of Israel were fully committed to an unknown 7-year-old boy who had been protected for 6 years as Athaliah further drove Israel into the worship of Baal. It begs the question for us today in the Pentecostal Church of God: How committed are we to protecting the destiny of the next generation? To what lengths are we willing to go to preserve the seed and insure that the legacy will continue? All God needed was one Seed and two people willing to risk everything to keep the destiny of the prince alive while culture and society was trying to kill it.

When my oldest son, Chris, was 11, my wife and I noticed he was starting to go down the wrong path. He wasn’t a bad kid, but we saw that he was being influenced by the wrong people and knew we had to go to battle for his destiny. I scheduled some time and went to the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs for three days to fast and pray for family and ministry. The second day I prayed long and hard for Chris. During that time of travail, something rose up in my spirit and I made a bold declaration to the enemy. I said, “If you want to get to my son, you’ll have to go through me!” I made a decision right then and there that no matter what, I was going to guard his destiny and not let the enemy cut off the seed inside of him. Later that summer, Chris had turned 12, and at youth camp he entered our cabin after an evening service saying God had called him into ministry to be a youth pastor. He is now nearly 16, leading worship, active as a student leader in our youth group, and moving forward toward what God has called him to do.

At the end of the day, Jehoiada along with the captains, priests and fathers surrounded Joash on every side, brought him forth in the midst of hostility and made him king–all the while daring Athaliah and her hordes to try and stop them. I believe the seeds of destiny within the Pentecostal Church of God are many and great. After 90 years the legacy is with us, but it will be up to subsequent generations to see that it continues another 90 years. That will only happen if we, the captain, priests, fathers and mothers of this great movement rise up and say in the midst of enemies who seek to destroy: “If you want to get to our princes, you have to go through us! We are full of resolve and committed to guarding the destiny of the next generation.”

Eye 2 Eye: More Than a Burger and Fries

By Bishop Charles Scott
I am a hamburger aficionado. Whenever I am privileged to be in Utah, Arizona or California, I must stop by the greatest burger place I the world. It may start an argument among devotees to their favorite hamburger joint, but there simply is not another place on the planet that compares to In-N-Out Burger©. No offense to What-A-Burger© in Texas, C.J.’s in Russellville, Arkansas, Tommy’s or Red Robin©, but In-N-Out reigns supreme when it comes to burgers and fries. (Please forgive me but I am writing this during lunch and have to write on an empty stomach.) I will always be indebted to Brian Ramos for telling me about In-N-Out; Brian knows food.

What makes In-N-Out the best? In one word – simplicity. All In-N-Out does is burgers – no chicken, no phony fish (What is that thing on a fish sandwich anyway?), no angus beef or other fancy diversions – just burgers and fries. In-N-Out keeps it simple and does what they do best – great burgers and fries. The company states that the menu has not changed since 19948. French fries are made from fresh potatoes and no microwaves or freezers are utilized. The shakes are made from real ice cream. In-N-Out has maintained their traditional service for over 60 years and remains a favorite even among the Hollywood celebrity culture.

Some fascinating facts about In-N-Out: everything is made fresh to order. The company is privately owned and all associates are treated like family. Most associates have been with the company for over 20 years. The company places a high value on relationships. The company was started by Harry and Esther Snyder and passed down to their sons, Guy and Rich, who learned the business from the ground floor and then passed the business to their sons. Rich took over the business as president at age 24 and with Guy’s help instituted In-N-Out University, where the formula is still passed on and new managers are consistently trained. Rich was known for his faith in Jesus Christ, and he began printing Bible references on cups and wrappers.

It may not sound very spiritual, but we can learn some lessons from In-N-Out. Three significant messages stand out:

A Simple Conjecture – It is amazing how complicated religion can make the gospel. Just like In-N-Out makes a great burger by using the best ingredients without complicating the process, Church should be a simple concept without the complications of humanism. Jesus chided the religious system of His day with strong words of condemnation for making it difficult for people to come to the truth. In Matthew 23:13-15 Jesus said, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of Hell than yourselves.” We should be asking in each of our congregations, “Can people understand the message we are sending?” Is the gospel hidden within religious hyperbole that only insiders can understand? Jesus made it so easy to have a relationship with the Father that a child can receive it. Church-speak often makes the gospel confusing. If the gospel is hidden it is hidden to the lost, and the easiest way to hid the gospel is within religious jargon.

A Self-propagating Culture – For over 60 years In-N-Out has done it the same way without trying to copy others in their sector. Anyone who knows me knows I believe in learning from others and studying the best practices in the Kingdom; however, we should be expressing a unique message that is true to our Pentecostal DNA. In-N-Out propagates their culture by attracting and training young associates to carry the mantle of the company’s culture. Is this not the commission of the Church? Instead of lamenting the gray hair in our ranks, let us be proactive by locating the Elishas, casting the mantle on them, and training them to carry on the Great Commission! A review of the history of the PCG reveals an organization that is successful in ministering to the next generation. The culture of the PCG has been committed to producing a Pentecostal legacy. In 1928 the General Convention held in Ottumwa, Iowa birthed what became the Pentecostal Young People’s Association. This same convention announced the beginning of a Bible college outlined by G. F. C. Fons. Even though this effort did not materialize, it displayed the passion to train next generation leaders. The promise of Pentecost is to our children and our children’s children. It is vital that we continue the legacy of Pentecostal blessing to the next generation.

A Successful Concept – In-N-Out’s concept works. You can get a flame broiled burger done your way. You can get a square burger from a value menu. You can get a burger that declares you will love it. But there is only one In-N-Out, and the franchise has stayed true to their original concept. We are not called to copy or mimic others; we are called to be the Pentecostal Church of God.

There is unique God-ordained calling for each local church and for the PCG organization. We must be willing to find that unique distinction, but above all else, we must make sure the legacy of that distinction is given to the next generation. You may disagree with me over hamburgers, but surely on this we see eye to eye.