Alberts’ Family Testimony
Bro. Paul Alberts
I was awakened early on a recent morning by a disturbing dream and by the loud frog chorus, which is part of another type of dream. The frogs outside remind me how God has brought blessing upon blessing (through many trials), as we have continued striving to live according to His precepts. He has faithfully answered our earnest efforts to steer our daily decisions according to what the Bible teaches.
The living God created a people for Himself - beginning with one man's pure desire to do right in seeking to obey and please God. That man was Abraham. By the time Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan, they could see God bringing perhaps a million descendants of Abraham into the Promised Land, and subduing its inhabitants before them.
Moses (Deut 27-28) encouraged the people concerning God's continued protection and provision on the condition that the people continued to worship and obey God. At the same time, however, Moses warned them of the dire consequences of straying after all that God had done for them. Joshua put that same promise and warning before them with the decision, “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)
We have that same promise, warning and decision before us today and every day. The disturbing dream I mentioned was a strong caution to me against any compromise in relaxing from righteous, Godly, Biblical standards. One sin, however small, invites another and sin (disobedience to God) accumulates, especially adding up over time and across generations. In thinking of my own family, including myself, even the tiniest bit of [immodesty, anger, bitterness, pride, impatience, discontent, complaining, arguing, crossing or disregarding of proper boundaries, greed, laziness] is an invasive weed which, if ignored, will quickly transform what had been a fruitful garden into a wasteland - where someone would doubt if it had ever been tended profitably. And it doesn't take long. I can look back over a few generations in our family and see many who did whatever was right in their own eyes, numerous churchgoers, a few of whom responded to God's call on their lives and were devout, a few missionaries. A few were faithful in waiting for their Redeemer. A few tried to honor God with the blessings entrusted to them. From them, we have received the testimony not of words but of deeds committed from day to day by the few who chose to honor God and who tried to teach their children to guide their own lives, by making decisions based on specific Bible verses. Some good fruit and many weeds. We've had more than one mediocre garden like that. My wife and I were raised in nominally Christian churches where the Bible was read and discussed, though not obeyed very consistently. We were exposed to a few with purer hearts who went in and out of our lives. My Papa read to us from the Bible and from Our Daily Bread and prayed with us most every morning. We all knelt together around my parents' bed and prayed most nights, but that let up as I got older. My parents hosted missionaries a few times; and my wife's family sponsored refugee immigrants through their church. However, we were immersed in the world and had many worldly values. Sunday school, choir, youth group, a few saints, a few more unrepentant sinners, and mostly very weedy gardens. Somewhat Christian homes with a lot of the world mixed in. Doesn't sound like Christ's pure spotless bride, does it? Not much reason for the devil to worry there. Way too much compromise to be of any threat to him. However, God found two tender, listening hearts in those homes - teachable hearts that wanted to please Him. God saw something He could use and began drawing my wife and me separately toward Himself. Unfortunately, those hearts were thickly coated in the filth of sin. Even as we began to respond to God's calling, our own sin pulled us back like thick mud and our conscience condemned us as the devil laughed. God kept calling and, amid setbacks, we kept struggling to get free. Receiving much mercy and grace, eventually we got out of the worst of the mud so the devil laughed less and started grinding his teeth some. And God kept calling.
We've been slow learners, but God is a patient teacher to those who prove their hearts by actions of repentance and obedience. While still struggling with sin and trying to discern God's specific will for my life, spending much time in prayer and in studying the Bible, God brought into my life a young lady who was also seeking God earnestly. God has a plan, and if we follow Him, He works with us beginning from where we are. Soon married, we found what seemed like a nice little church with some nice folks - then as we sought to please God, and God kept teaching us, He helped us see serious shortcomings in the leadership and in the people there. God showed us that they had very different goals; so if we wanted better results than what they were getting, we had better not follow them. To clarify, that pastor didn't talk about Jesus because he didn’t believe what God tells us in His word and the other people there didn't care enough to do anything about it. We did care, so after bringing it up first privately with that pastor and being dismissed and ignored we moved on, seeking a more Biblically faithful church. There was another church and then another - looking back we were still fairly worldly in much of our life and thinking, not well understanding the real danger of close association with the world and about God's principle of separation. And God kept calling.
As we continued to seek God through His word, He continued to teach us and to change us. Whenever we moved, whether to attend school or for a job, we sought to find the most Biblical church possible. Through some of the teaching in those churches, we grew in our understanding of God's Word and His ways; and as we grew, we hungered for more than was available in the church we were in. Not that we had exceeded all the others in righteousness, especially since I clearly recall how my rough zeal wrought much suffering in those close to me. In time, God decided it was my turn to suffer.
Years later, it remains very fresh in my mind. All of us learned much needed spiritual lessons including fear of God, deeper humility, utter submission, and patience; all of which we're still learning.
My precious Redeemer has been teaching us to cling ever more tightly to His Word in the Bible, to obey it ever more literally and reflexively. When the Lord saw that we were ready, He opened the way for us to move to join a Biblical Christian fellowship unlike any other we've ever seen, and we've seen many - one where His word is honored and taught and obeyed carefully, and where we consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works, holding one another accountable in a spirit of open love.
Looking back, I can see God's hand in every part of my life; and I have Him to thank for preserving me to this day. I must be sober and vigilant because <my> adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (I Peter 5:8)
May this letter find you navigating each day carefully by the light of God's Word in the Bible, remembering all that is at risk, and that shipwreck waits should we veer off the charted path in this narrow way; but also that certain great blessings await if we only stay on course, persevering to the end. We have a pilot who knows these waters.
Readers, I commend you, not so much to any man's doctrine, as to lay aside your fleshy desires submitting utterly to the Holy Bible as the absolute rule for your life, superior to all experience and to any other knowledge. If you do so, then you will not regret it; for He is faithful that promised.
Paul in Linn County Missouri for the Alberts