The announcements were brief: a summation of yesterday's rummage sale which netted close to $500.
The music today was especially meaningful, dovetailing as it did with the guest speaker's testimony. The quartet has expanded now to include Levi Landsverk, and this particular reviewer would state without reservation that the blending melodies had a seamless sweetness that was both evocative and deep. As they sang "Come to the Waters" my eyes were moistened, and it only got better from there.
After the offering and time of prayer, the Scripture readings were from Deuteronomy 30:9-14 and Luke 10:25-37.
In lieu of a traditional sermon, this week Ed Newman took the pulpit and shared his testimony.
"I used to lead a Bible study. There were a few small classrooms within the prison where about fifteen to twenty seekers came. It was a very special time for me because God was working and touching some very needy people. On one occasion, a prisoner named Johnny was standing in the corner staring at me in an unusual sort of way, his head cocked to one side. I knew Johnny because he was in for 15-25 years for more than 320 armed robberies. He had not been a nice guy and was especially peeved that his friends ratted on him.
"Johnny looked at me hard and said, 'I know you.'
"I felt the small hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, because as I looked at him, I realized that he did know me. But I could not figure out how. The last five years of my life (since 1974) I had been a Christian, either involved in nursing home ministry or a Bible school in Minnesota.
"But then, he figured it out, for both of us. 'Did you ever cop?' That’s street slang for buying dope. And the answer was clear… Five years earlier, and 35 years ago this past week, I was shooting heroin in his 9th floor apartment in New York’s SoHo district, a seedy part of the City."
In addition to the moral and cultural explorations, it was also a time of swirling spiritual explorations and over time Ed was reading a range of counter-cultural philosophers and drinking from the fountain of New Age spirituality.
Over a period of time he enjoyed success in the art school at Ohio University, had many things seemed to go his way, but a failed relationship and other disappointments began to undermine his inner confidence. During this period his brother Ron, who had initially been following in Ed's footsteps (drug experimentation) had a powerful conversion experience at a Catholic Christian Retreat Center in West Virginia where he was a freshman. Ron's love for his older brother led him to get every church he attended to pray for his brother Ed.
1. Are you moving toward the light or away from the light? Inwardly…. What’s going on in the inside will eventually show up in your behavior on the outside.
2. Does the life you project correspond with the person you are on the inside?
4. The Bible is the Revealed Word of God. If you have doubts about the Bible being the unique and fully authoritative Revelation of God and need help in this area, you should talk with Pastor Brad, but I will do whatever I can to help you settle this question, because it’s probably the most important issue in your life.