by Tad Lindley
Most of us feel like we’re doing pretty good for God if we get to church on a regular basis. Some of us might even go so far as to give a tenth of our income after taxes. The fanatical among us might even give ten percent on their gross income and support a foreign missionary on the side.
When I think I am stretching myself for Jesus, I need to remember those who have made the way ahead of me. Anything I do for the Lord seems to pale in comparison.
How do you measure up?
Iva Nell Pugh received the Holy Ghost in Noble, Louisiana in 1931. She was thirteen years old. Her father had died when she was seven. When Iva Nell was sixteen, her mother died leaving her to care for her thirteen year old brother. In the midst of the Great Depression, they were orphaned and destitute.
King David wrote, I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalm 37:25) In the face of extreme poverty, Jesus provided for them. Iva Nell was able to graduate as valedictorian of her high school class. She went on to receive a bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree. It would be normal to expect that Iva Nell embraced the American dream and enveloped herself in the prosperity that swept over America. Such was not the case. You see, Iva Nell loved Jesus.
She gave everything
Iva Nell Pugh used her training to become a teacher. She never married. Instead she worked for God. Iva Nell would go into a town alongside of a missionary couple or family who was starting a church. She never tasted of the luxuries of this life. Everything she made would go toward supporting the fledgling church. Only what she needed for the barest necessities would be kept for herself. Iva Nell left no monetary inheritance. But there are churches in the United States today where people are coming into the healing and delivering presence of Jesus Christ because Iva Nell Pugh invested her life in the kingdom of God.
Sacrifice: the apostolic calling card
In the day of microwaves and shop from home internet, sacrifice has become outdated. Nevertheless, the Bible calls us to give sacrificially of our time, our finances, and our worship. Take a look at the sacrifices that the Apostle Paul made: Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned [not on drugs, people threw stones at him until they thought he was dead], three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (II Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV)
The modern American version
I suppose if the Apostle Paul had grown up in our day and age he might have written something like this instead: Are they servants of Christ? I am more. I got up at 10:00 AM and went to church every Sunday (except when I had a cold). Five times people made fun of me for being Christian. Three times I got a flat tire on the way to church. Once I prayed for an hour. I even fasted a few times. Besides everything else, I face the daily pressure of my concern for myself. (II Americans 11:23-28)
We need more Iva Nell Pugh’s
In third world countries God is moving with great power. We wonder why we don’t see it more in the United States. Has God forgotten America? No, America has forgotten God. When we see modern day Apostle Paul’s and Iva Nell Pugh’s rise up with a love for Jesus, we will see powerful revival sweep over our communities. Men and women will rise up out of darkness into his marvelous light. Then will come to pass the promise of God, Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:12)
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.