Sunday, July 31, 2011

This is my Father's World!

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. - Paul.

I found my dad's old bible during the moving sale. Forgot I ever had it, but when I left home at 18, I took that book with me. In the front I'd scratched in the date that, best I could remember, I walked down the aisle to an elder in the church and gave my life to the Lord. It says 10/ /83. I remembered that when I wrote it I was completely guessing, wasn't even sure of the exact date. Today I can say with absolute certainty that in the 28 years since I have lived for myself and not for the Lord. I've read the bible through and through, sat through thousands of church sermons, heaped on bible studies, prayer groups, men's breakfasts, and Sunday schools to where by now, if you poked me, it ought to come out my ears and ever other orifice of my wretched body.

I'm done talking about going. He's been patiently waiting with me for 28 years to make due on my words. I am His. I am not my own. I gave my life to Him. He called. I am going.
The Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but Power. There comes a point when words are about as useful as toilet paper and it's time to start braiding a whip. Paul talks about that. Jesus actually did it. This world is full of professing Christians doing nothing more than setting up shop in His house, making a mockery of His life and His call.

If He can still choose to use a sinner like me, then I am in His service, in His army, and if I sit through one more bible study where we all talk about being men, Lord help me if I don't puke.
I do not need to be trained any further to follow what Christ has called me to. I am completed in Him, by Him, through Him. Paul said he determined to know nothing more than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Imagine that! A Harvard grad, top of the class, pedigree of a man, casting aside every credential ever pinned to his name.... I consider it all as loss for His sake, he said.

I know where I need to be, how I need to be preparing, and who I need to be talking to on a daily basis. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.

My ticket is bought. Come September it's Haiti or bust!

This is my Father's world! Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King! Let the Heaven's Ring!
God Reigns! Let the Earth be Glad!

The Chocolate Soldier - By C.T. Studd

Worth Repeating:

The Chocolate Soldier
or Heroism—The Lost Chord of Christianity
by C.T. Studd (1860-1931)

"Heroism is the lost chord; the missing note of present-day Christianity!"

Every true soldier is a hero! A SOLDIER WITHOUT HEROISM IS A CHOCOLATE SOLDIER! Who has not been stirred to scorn and mirth at the very thought of a Chocolate Soldier? In peace true soldiers are captive lions, fretting in their cages. War gives them their liberty and sends them, like boys bounding out of school, to obtain their heart's desire or perish in the attempt. Battle is the soldier's vital breath! Peace turns him into a stooping asthmatic. War makes him a whole man again, and gives him the heart, strength, and vigour of a hero.

EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN IS A SOLDIER—of Christ—a hero "par excellence!" Braver than the bravest—scorning the soft seductions of peace and her oft repeated warnings against hardship, disease, danger and death, whom he counts among his bosom friends.

THE OTHERWISE CHRISTIAN IS A Chocolate Christian! Dissolving in water and melting at the smell of fire. "Sweeties" they are! Bonbons, lollipops! Living their lives in a glass dish or in a cardboard box, each clad in his soft clothing, a little frilled white paper to preserve his dear little delicate constitution.

Here are some Portraits of Chocolate Soldiers taken by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. "He said, 'I go sir,' and went not." He said he would go to the heathen, but he stuck fast to Christendom instead.

"They say and do not"—they tell others to go, and yet do not go themselves. "Never," said General Gordon to a corporal, as he himself jumped upon the parapet of a trench before Sebastopol to fix a gabion which the corporal had ordered a private to fix and would not fix himself, "Never tell another man to do what you are afraid to do yourself."

To the Chocolate Christian the very thought of war brings a violent attack of ague, while the call to battle always finds him with the palsy. "I really cannot move," he says. "I only wish I could, but I can sing, and here are some of my favorite lines:

"I must be carried to the skies
On a flowery bed of ease,
Let others fight to win the prize,
Or sail through bloody seas.

Mark time, Christian heroes,
Never go to war;
Stop and mind the babies
Playing on the floor.

Wash and dress and feed them
Forty times a week,
'Til they're roly poly—
Puddings so to speak.

Round and round the nursery
Let us ambulate,
Sugar and spice and all that's nice
Must be on our slate."

"Thank the good Lord," said a very fragile, white-haired lady. "God never meant me to be a jellyfish!" She wasn't!

GOD NEVER WAS A CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURER AND NEVER WILL BE. God's men are always heroes. In Scripture you can trace their giant foot-tracks down the sands of time.

NOAH walked with God: he did not only preach righteousness, he acted it. He went through water and did not melt. He breasted the current of the popular opinion of his day, scorning alike the hatred and ridicule of the scoffers who mocked at the thought of there being but one way of salvation. He warned the unbelieving and, entering the ark himself, did not open the door an inch when once God had shut it. A real hero untainted by the fear of man!

Learn to scorn the praise of men,
Learn to lose with God;
Jesus won the world through shame!
And beckons us His road.

ABRAHAM, a simple farmer, at a word from the invisible God, marched with family and stock through the terrible desert to a distant land to live among a people whose language he could neither speak nor understand! Not bad that! But later he did even better, marching hot foot against the combined armies of five kings, flushed with recent victory, to rescue one man! His army? Just 318 odd fellows, armed like a circus crowd. And he won too! "He always wins who sides with God." What pluck! Only a farmer! No war training! Yet what hero has eclipsed his fear? His open secret? He was THE FRIEND OF GOD.

MOSES—the man of God—was a species of human chameleon—scholar, general, law-giver, leader, etc. Brought up as the emperor's grandson with more than a good chance of coming to the throne, one thing only between him and it—Truth—what a choice! What a temptation! A throne for a lie! Ignominy, banishment, or likely enough death for the truth! He played the man! "Refusing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin and success for a season, accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt."

Again I see him. Now an old man and alone, marching stolidly back to Egypt after forty years of exile, to beard the lion in his den, to liberate Pharaoh's slaves right under his very nose, and to lead them across that great and terrible wilderness. WILD-CAT AFFAIR, if ever there was one! When were God's schemes otherwise? Look at Jordan, Jericho, Gideon, Goliath, and scores of others. Tame tabby-cat schemes are stamped with another hallmark—that of the Chocolate Brigade! How dearly they love their tabbies, yet think themselves wise men! REAL CHRISTIAN REVEL IN DESPERATE VENTURES FOR CHRIST, expecting from God great things and attempting the same with exhilaration. History cannot match this feat of Moses. How was it done? He consulted not with flesh and blood; he obeyed not men but God.

Once again I see the old grey-beard, this time descending Mount Sinai with giant strides and rushing into the camp, his eyes blazing like burning coals. One man against two million dancing dervishes drunk with debauchery! Bravo! Well done, old man! First class! His cheek does not pale, but his mouth moves, and I think I catch his words, "If God is for me, who can be against me? I will not be afraid of ten thousand of the people that have set themselves against me. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear." And he didn't. He wins again. Whence this desperate courage? Listen! "Now the man Moses was very meek above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." "The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." "My servant Moses," said his Master, "is faithful in all Mine house; with him I will speak mouth to mouth." Such is the explanation of Moses, the chameleon, the man and friend of God, and consequently a first-class hero.

DAVID—the man after God's own heart—was a man of war and a mighty man of valour. When all Israel were on the run, David faced Goliath—alone ... with God—and he but a stripling, and well scolded too by his brother for having come to see the battle. What a splendid fool Eliab must have been! as though David would go to see a battle and not stay to fight. THEY ARE CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS WHO MERELY GO TO SEE BATTLES, AND COOLLY URGE OTHERS TO FIGHT THEM.They had better save their journey money and use it to send out real fighters instead. Soldiers don't need dry nurses, and if they did the Holy Ghost is always on the spot and ready to undertake any case on simple application. No! David went to the battle and stayed to fight, and won! Wise beyond his years, he had no use for Saul's armour. It cramped his freedom of action. He tried it on and took it off, quick sharp. And, besides, it made such a ghastly rattle, even when he walked, that he could not hear the still small voice of God, and would never have heard Him saying afterwards, "This is the way to the brook, David! and there are the five smooth stones! Trust only in Me and them. Your own home-made sling will do first class, and there! that's the shortest cut to Goliath." THE CHOCOLATESRAN AWAY—they were all Chocolates—but David ran upon Goliath. One smooth stone was enough.

David's secret was that he had but one Director, and He, the Infallible One. He directed the stone, as He directed the youth. Too many directors spoil the sport, and two are too many by just one. Thus Christ said to His soldiers: "HE shall teach you all things, HE shall guide you into all the truth."

"THIS is My Beloved Son: HEAR HIM."

"ONE MEDIATOR ONLY, between God and Man, the man Christ Jesus."

ONE DIRECTOR OF CHRISTIAN MEN—GOD THE HOLY GHOST. Whose directions require indeed instant obedience, but not the endorsement of any man.

THE DEVIL NEEDS RED-HOT SHOT, FRESH FROM THE FOUNDRY OF THE HOLY GHOST. He laughs at cold shot or tepid, and as for that made of half-iron and half-clay, half-divine and half-human, why you might just as well pelt him with snowballs.

Whence did this raw youth derive his pluck and skill? Not from military camps, nor theological schools, nor religious retreats. "To know The Only True God and Jesus Christ," is enough. Paul determined to know only Jesus Christ, and look at the grand result! Whilst others were learning pretty theories, David, like John, had been alone with God in the wilds, practising on bears and lions. The result? HE KNEW GOD AND DID EXPLOITS. He knew God only. He trusted God only. He obeyed God only. That's the secret. God alone gives strength. God adulterated with men entails the weakness of iron and clay—Chocolate—brittleness!

Yet hero as he was, even David alas! once played the role of Chocolate Soldier.HE STAYED AT HOME WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO WAR. His army, far off, in danger, fighting the enemy, won. David, at home, secure, within sight of God's house and often going there, suffered the one great defeat of his life, entailing such a bitter, life-long reaping as might well deter others from the folly of sowing wild oats. David's sin is a terrific sermon (like Lot's preaching in Sodom must have been), its theme—"DON'T BE A CHOCOLATE SOLDIER!"

In his simple, quick, and full confession, David proved himself a man again. It takes a real man to make a true confession—a Chocolate Soldier will excuse or cloak his sin. He tumbles in the mud, flounders on, wipes his mouth to try to get the bad taste of his acted lie out of it, and then goes on his way saying, "I have done no wickedness." A self-murdering fool! Killing his conscience to save his face, like Balaam beating the ass who sought to save his master's life. Being a Chocolate Soldier nearly did for David. Beware!

NATHAN was another real Christian Soldier. He went to his king and rebuked him to his face, like Peter's dealing with Ananias (only David embraced his opportunity and confessed), and unlike the Chocolate Soldiers of today who go whispering about and refusing either to judge, rebuke, or put away evil because of the entailed scandal forsooth. Veritable Soapy Sams. They say "It is nothing! nothing at all! A mere misunderstanding!" As though God's cause would suffer more through a bold declaration and defense of the truth and the use of the knife, than by the hiding up of sin, and the certain development of mortification in the member, involving death to the whole body. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous," and "he that doeth sin is of the devil," and ought to be told so. He that is a second time led captive by the devil needs neither plaster nor treacle, but the brace rebuke and summons to repentance of a righteous man to effect his salvation. WE ARE BADLY IN NEED OF NATHANS TODAY, who fear God and nought else, no, not even a scandal.

DANIEL was another hero. Of course he was! Was he not the man greatly beloved of God who sent an angel to tell him so?

I love to watch him as he walks, with firm step and radiant face, to the lions' den, stopping but once—like his Master en route to Calvary—to comfort his weeping and agonized emperor. God shut the mouths of the lions against Daniel, but opened them wide against those who had opened their mouths against His servant.

A man is known by his works, and the works of Daniel were his three friends, who, rather than bow down to men or gold, braved the fiery furnace.

Again we see him going to the banquet hall, and hear his conductor whisper in his ear, "Draw it mild, Daniel, be statesmanlike. Place and power again for you if you are tactful and wise—especially tactful!" And Daniel's simple reply, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" There he stands before the king, braving torture or instant death—but it's the king who quails, not Daniel—who tells him to his face the whole hot truth of God, diminishing not a jot.

JOHN THE BAPTIST—a man taught and made and sent of God—good old John! Who doesn't love and admire him? Why, even Herod did. A genuine deficiency of oil and treacle in his composition. He always told the bang flat truth, with emphasis. As he loved, so he warned. He knew not how to fawn. HE WOOED WITH THE SWORD, AND "MEN" LOVED HIM THE BETTER FOR IT. They always do.

The leaders of religion sent to John to ask him the dearly loved question of every Pharisee, "By what authority doest thou these (good) things?" They asked that of Christ Himself, and crucified Him for the doing of them. John's answer was plain and pungent, "I will tell you what you ask, and more. (John was always liberal!) I? I am nobody, but ye and your masters are a generation of vipers." A good hot curry, that! John never served his curries with butter sauce, but he was always very liberal with chutney—a man of God—NO SUGAR PLUM NOR CHOCOLATE SOLDIER HE!

Thus also he faced Herod after six months in an underground dungeon, and he a man of "God's Open-air Mission". Brought straight in before the king; surrounded with all the might and majesty of camp and court; blinking at the unaccustomed sight of light, but by no means putting blinkers on the truth, he blurted out his hot and thunderous rebuke, "Thou shalt not have that woman to be thy wife." A whole sermon in one sentence, as easy to remember as impossible to forget. John had preached like that before; like Hugh Latimer, he was not above repeating a good sermon to a king, word for word, when the king had not given sufficient heed to it.

John received the unique distinction of a first-class character from both God and the agent of the devil. Hark to the Savior indulging in an outburst of exquisite sarcasm, "What think ye of John? A reed shaken by the wind? A man clothed in soft raiment?" A Chocolate Christian? (How delicious! The Chocolates were right in front of Jesus at the time—Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes, lawyers, and other hypocrites. How the crowd must have enjoyed it!) "A prophet? Nay, much more than a prophet! Of men born of women there is none greater than John." And what did the devil's agent say when, after John's death, he heard of Jesus? "This," I tell you, "is John risen from the dead." What a character! Fancy Jesus being mistaken for anyone! He could have been mistaken only for John. Nobody envies him the well-deserved honour, great though it was, for John was a man—pure granite right through, with not a grain of chocolate in him.

Had John but heard Jesus say, "Ye shall be My witnesses unto the uttermost parts of the earth," I very much doubt if Herod's dungeon, or his soldiers, could have detained him. He surely would have found some means of escape, and run off to preach Christ's Gospel, if not in the very heart of Africa, then in some more difficult and dangerous place. Yet Christ said, referring to His subsequent gift of the Holy Ghost to every believer, "He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he," intimating that even greater powers than those of John are at the disposal of every Christian, and that what John was, each one of us can be--good, straight, bold, unconquerable, heroic.

But here are other foot-tracks--outrageous ones: they can belong only to one man--THAT GRANDEST OF CHRISTIAN PARADOXES--THE LITTLE GIANT PAUL--whose head was as big as his body, and his heart greater than both. Once he thought and treated every Christian as a combination of knave and fool.Then he became one himself. He was called "fool" because his acts were so far beyond the dictates of human reason, and "mad" because of his irresponsible fiery zeal for Christ and men. A first-class scholar, but one who knew how to use scholarship properly; for he put it on the shelf, declaring the wisdom of men to be but folly, and determined to know nothing else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The result--he made the world turn somersault. His life was a perpetual gamble for God. Daily he faced death for Christ. Again and again he stood fearless before crowds thirsting for his blood. He stood before kings and governors and "turned not a hair". He didn't so much as flinch before Nero, that vice-president of hell. His sufferings were appalling; read them. He trod in his Master's footsteps, and so received--God is always just in His favors--the same splendid compliment that Jesus did. "All forsook him." So there were some Chocolate Christians in those days too. Anyone who forsook Paul must have been made of Chocolate. Doubtless the "CHOCOLATES" excused themselves as they do today. "Who could abide such a fanatical, fiery fool? such an uncompromising character? Nobody could work with him, or he with them!" (What a lie! Jesus did, and they got on well together.) A tactless enthusiast, who considered it his business to tell every man the unvarnished truth regardless of consequences. He won his degree hands down, and without a touch of the spur. A first-class one, too--that of the headman's axe--next best to that of the cross.

And so the tale goes on. Go where you will through the Scriptures or history, you find that men who really knew God, and didn't merely say they did, were invariably Paragons of Pluck; Dare-Devil Desperadoes for Jesus; Gamblers for God. "Fools and Madmen," shout the world and the Chocolates. "Yes, for Christ's sake," add the Angels!

Nobly they fought to win the prize,
Climbing the steep ascents of heaven,
Thro' peril, toil, and pain.
O God, to us let grace be given,
To follow in their train.

The Chocolate Christians of today can at least boast of having ancient pedigrees. There are CHOCOLATES A LA REUBEN, who have great searchings of heart, and make great resolves of heart too. But somehow they still sit among the sheepfolds, listening to the pipings of their much-loved organs and church choirs. It's good to have a great heartsearching. It's better to make a great heart-resolve. But, if instead of obeying, we squat among the sheep, leaving our few hard-pressed brethren to tackle the wolves by themselves, verily we are but Chocolate Christians. You made a great resolve to go to Africa for Christ a year or two ago. Where are you now? In England? Yes! Yes! Lollipop! (Judges 5:16.)

There are CHOCOLATES MEROZ, who earned the curse of the angel of the Lord. War was declared; the battle about to begin; the odds were outrageous, and Meroz remained in England attending conventions until the battle was over, then he went, in comfort and security, as a Cook's tourist! Doubtless they said, "They couldn't fight till they had been properly ordained, and, besides, there was so very much to be done in fat, overfed Meroz, and surely to feed a flock of fat sheep in a safe place has always been considered the ideal training of war"; as though the best training for the soldier was to become a nurse-maid!!! (Judges 5:23.)

CHOCOLATES DU BALAAM begin first-class, and earn the name of prophets. Then they develop a squint, melt, and finally run out of the frying-pan into the fire, thus Balaam.

One day he couldn't get his left eye to look at God. It would look at earth and mammon and that chit of a girl, Miss Popularity. He ought to have done as God told him, and plucked it out. But he said that was too much to ask of any man, and besides he wanted the best of both worlds. He had a hearty desire to die the death of the righteous, but he wasn't willing to pay the price of a righteous life. He hadn't the pluck to curse God's people, so he made plans for others to make them sin. But one day, while his dupes were putting his chestnuts into the fire, they fell in themselves, and Balaam with them (Numbers 22-24).

"I counsel thee to buy of me eyesalve, that thou mayest once again have a single eye, and be enabled to see the folly of flirting with the world."

CHOCOLATE DEMAS, who left old fiery hard-hitting Paul for an easier path. He said he thought Paul should wink at, or slobber over sin, instead of rebuking it. "He was so very fond of the knife, you know; and he never would use sticking-plaster, because he said it never healed the sore but made it burrow underneath and become bigger, worse, and dangerous" (2 Timothy 4:10).

MARK joined the Chocolate Brigade once. He left Paul and Barnabas in the lurch, and went back to Jerusalem for a rest cure--a religious retreat. Thank God he got sick of it ere long, resigned his commission, and re-enlisting in God's army became a useful soldier (Acts 13:13).

MANY FINE YOUNGSTERS ARE TURNED INTO CHOCOLATES BY OLD PROPHETS. Old prophets who have lost their fire, or fire off words instead of deeds, usually become Great Chocolate Manufacturers. That poor young prophet. He did so well when he obeyed God only, but it was all over with him when he listened to another voice, even though that of an old prophet. Didn't the old prophet say he was a prophet? and say he'd got the message straight from God? What a damnable lie! The floor of Christendom and elsewhere is littered with wrecks made by old prophets. God won't stand nonsense from any man. Every man has to choose between Christ and Barabbas, and every Christian between God and some old prophet. Better be a silly donkey in the estimation of an old prophet than listen to his soft talk and flattery, and afterwards become a wreck. "This is My beloved Son, hear HIM." No! not even Moses, nor Elijah, nor both. "HEAR HIM." "You have an anointing from God, and you have no need that any man teach you." You say you believe the Bible! do your deeds give the lie to your words? (1 Kings 13).

THE TEN SPIES WERE CHOCOLATES. They melted and ran over the whole congregation of Israel, turning them into CHOCOLATE CREAMS--"softies", afraid to face the fire and water before them. God put them all into the saucepan again and boiled them for forty years in the desert, and left them there. He has no use for Chocolates. It's not small things He despises, but "Chocolates"; for He said, "Your little ones shall inherit the promised land which you have forfeited through listening to men and despising Me" (Numbers 13).

JONAH became a Chocolate Soldier once. Told to go to Africa, he went to Liverpool and took ship for America. Luckily he met a storm and a whale which, after three days' instruction, taught him how to pray and obey, and set him once again on the right track (Jonah 1).

There's nothing that shows up CHOCOLATES so much as a bit of a breeze amongGod's people. Paul and Barnabas had one once. Judging from experience, I guess there were some Chocolates about then who got into a fog right away! Before that, they had vowed they would go to the heathen; but this breeze between P. and B. put them off. If they hadn't been MADE OF CHOCOLATE they would have said, "This affair between Paul and Barnabas only makes it more necessary for me to keep close to God, and do what He told me to do more exactly and punctually; so I shall go a bit sooner to Africa--that's all!"

Difficulties, dangers, disease, death, or divisions don't deter any but Chocolates from executing God's Will. When someone says there's a lion in the way, the real Christian promptly replies, "That's hardly enough inducement for me; I want a bear or two besides to make it worth my while to go."

CHOCOLATES are very fond of talking loud and long against some whom they call fanatics, as though there were any danger of Christians being fanatics nowadays!Why, fanatics among Christians are as rare as the "dodo". Now, if they declaimed against "tepidity", they would talk sense. God's real people have always been called fanatics. Jesus was called mad; so was Paul; so was Whitfield, Wesley, Moody, Spurgeon. No one has graduated far in God's School who has not been paid the compliment of being called a fanatic. We Christians of today are indeed a tepid crew. Had we but half the fire and enthusiasm of the Suffragettes in the past, we would have the world evangelized and Christ back among us in no time. Had we the pluck and heroism of the Flyers, or the men who volunteered for the North or South Polar Expeditions, or for the Great War, or for any ordinary dare-devil enterprise, we could have every soul on earth knowing the name and salvation of Jesus Christ in less than ten years.

Alas! What stirs ordinary men's blood and turns them into heroes, makes most Christians run like a flock of frightened sheep. The Militants daily risked their lives in furtherance of their cause, and subscribed of their means in a way that cried "Shame" on us Christians, who generally brand the braving of risks and fighting against odds as a "tempting of God".

CHOCOLATE CARAMELS--"stick-jaw", boys call them--jawing, "I go, sir," and sticking fast in Christendom. No conquest is made in assured safety, and conquest for Christ certainly cannot so be made.

We Christians too often SUBSTITUTE PRAYER FOR PLAYING THE GAME. Prayer is good: but when used as a substitute for obedience, it is naught but a blatant hypocrisy, a despicable Pharisaism. We need as many meetings for action as for prayer--perhaps more. Every orthodox prayer-meeting is opened by God saying to His people, "Go work today; pray that laborers be sent into My vineyard." It is continued by the Christian's response, "I go, Lord, whithersoever Thou sendest me, that Thy Name may be hallowed everywhere, that Thy Kingdom may come speedily, that Thy Will may be done on earth as in heaven." But if it ends in nobody going anywhere, it had better never have been held at all. Like faith, prayer without works is dead. That is why many PRAYER-MEETINGS might well be styled "much cry, yet little wool". Zerubbabel didn't only hold prayer-meetings; he went and cut down trees, and started to build. Hence God said, "From this day will I bless thee."

Report says that someone has re-discovered the secret of the old masters. Cannot we Christians re-discover, and put into practice, that of our Great Master and His former pupils, Heroism? He and they saved not themselves; they loved not their lives to the death, and so kept on saving them by losing them for Christ's sake.

WE ARE FRITTERING AWAY TIME AND MONEY IN A MULTIPLICITY OF CONVENTIONS, conferences, and retreats, when the real need is to go straight and full steam into battle, with the signal for "close action" flying.

The "Vox Humana" plays too important a part in our Christian organs and organizations today. The music, whoever plays, is bound to be thin when the tops of "Instant Obedience" and "Fiery Valor" are missing or unused, and without them to play the "Lost Chord" of Heroism is an impossibility.

"Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it," said the Blessed Virgin. Do what? Not put treacle and spice into the soft holy vessels inside the house, but pour the Water of Life into those empty stone ones outside. Cana's marriage feast would have ended in shame had the wine run short. Christ's marriage feast begins only when the wine is sufficient--a blend from every tongue and kindred and tribe and nation. The supply is assured, as soon as the water is poured out as Christ directed, into "the uttermost parts of the earth". The mischief today is the reluctance of the servants to do the outside work. They all want to serve indoors, wear smart clothes, listen to the conversation, and make a terrible lot of themselves in the butler's pantry.

DO LET US MAKE A REAL START NOW--AT ONCE. For years, like Mr. Winkle, we've declared we were just about to begin, and then never began at all.

We must divorce Chocolate and Disobedience, and marry Faith and Heroism.

"Who shall begin the battle?" asked the king. "Thou," replied the prophet, and when the king and the young princes led the way, though the odds against them were terrific, they won with ridiculous ease. So, too, THE APOSTLES LED IN THE WAR OF GOD to the uttermost parts of the earth. Likewise in the Crusades, the kings and princes of State and Church led; then why not today in THE CRUSADE OF CHRIST TO EVANGELIZE THE WORLD?

GOD'S SUMMONS TODAY IS TO THE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN OF GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA AND CHRISTENDOM, WHO CALL THEMSELVES BY THE NAME OF CHRIST. "New wine," said Christ, "must be placed in New bottles." Those superfluously labelled and patched-up old-fashioned ones are as hopeless as the New Theology. They can't be moved lest they burst with pride and spill the wine in the wrong place.

Listen: "And it shall be in the last days, I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions (of faith), your old men shall dream dreams (of valorous obedience); yea, and on My bondmen and on my bondmaidens in those days will I pour forth of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy; and I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs in the earth beneath; and it shall be that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." But how can they call on Him of whom they have not even heard?Must you stay, young man? Can't you go, young woman, and tell them? Verily we are in the last--the Laodicean stage--that of the Lukewarm Church.

Wilt thou be to Christ the partner of His throne or an emetic (Revelation 3:21); a Militant or a Chocolate Christian? Wilt thou fear or wilt thou fight? Shall your brethren go to war and shall ye sit here? When He comes, shall He find faith on the earth?

A thousand times you have admitted Christ'sLove so amazing, so divine,
Demands your life, your soul, your all.

Wilt thou be a miser and withhold what honour demands of thee? Wilt thou give like Ananias and Sapphira, who, pretending to give all, gave only part?

Possessing and enjoying the vineyard, wilt thou, like the husbandman, refuse the agreed rent? Wilt thou fear death, or devil, or men? AND WILT THOU NOT FEAR SHAME?

Some shall rise to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Shall we refuse to emulate the heroes of old, or shall we accomplish the double fulfillment of those glorious words?--

All these being men of war came with a perfect heart to make Jesus King over all the world. They were all mighty men of valor for the war! He that was least was equal to a hundred, and the greatest to a thousand! They were not of double heart! Their faces were like the faces of lions! They were as swift as the roes upon the mountains (to do their Lord's commands)! Ye sought in time past, for Jesus to be King over you. NOW, THEN, DO IT.(Compare 1 Chron. 12:8, 33 and 38, and 2 Samuel 3:17 and 18.)

Shall we not reply: Thine are we, Jesus, and on Thy side. God do so to me, and more also, if as God has sworn unto Him, I do not even so to Jesus--to translate the kingdom from the house of Satan, and set up the throne of Jesus Christ over all the world. (Compare 1 Chron. 12:18 and 2 Sam. 3:10.)

Come, then, let us restore the "Lost Chord" of Christianity--HEROISM--to the world, and the crown of the world to Christ. Christ Himself asks thee, "Wilt thou be a Malingerer or a Militant?"

To your knees, man! and to your Bible! Decide at once! Don't hedge! Time flies! Cease your insults to God, quit consulting flesh and blood. Stop your lame, lying, and cowardly excuses.

Enlist! Here are your papers and oath of allegiance. Scratch out one side and sign the other in the presence of God and the recording angel. Mark God's endorsements underneath.


For me
To live is Christ
To die is gain
I'll be a militant or
A man of God
A gambler for
A Hero

Sign Here __________________________

For me
Chocolate my name
Tepidity my
A malingerer, I
A child of men
A self-excuser
A humbug

Sign Here __________________________

God's promises are sure in either case:
"I am with you always." or "I will spit you out of my mouth."

Good Lord!
Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire!
Cure us of this dread plague of Sleeping Sickness,
this crazy talking in our sleep, that even as we unceasingly pray,

May Your Name be hallowed everywhere;
Your kingdom come speedily;
Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Amen and Amen!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Doughboy Army of Joel 3

Proclaim this among the nations:
Prepare for war!
Rouse the warriors!
Let all the fighting men draw near and attack.
Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say, "I am strong!"

To which I would add,   "AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHH!
Give me a black patch over me blind left eye so I might really feel it to me bones!!!!  Even grow out me beard a bit more!

But what's the truth of this scripture as I dig in further?   Well.... replace that pirate yell with the sound that we hear from the Pillsbury Doughboy when his soft tummy gets poked.
Awwww..... isn't that cute?   I combined a few images to illustrate what I see, to engrave this image into your minds.

Reading with the guys in Joel 3, at first take we immediately resonated with the talk of battle.
It was, after all, in the same vein that we embody as Christian men.
Fighting men, rousing, proclaiming, attacking.....the weakling getting to say with pride, "I am Strong!"
Why would that not be something we feel right down to our souls, given the day and age we live in.
Look at your average, middle-class, middle-aged man. What do you see?
Do you see a man hardened for battle?  Do you see blood, sweat and tears?  Do you see scars from battle?

Maybe a nick or two from where he shaved this morning while daydreaming.
You see soccer dad.  You see comfort.  You see a faith that has a foundation forged of Jello.  Things get tough and persecution in the mildest of forms can cause an 8.4 on the Richter scale up in the echelons where we live.  Our heads are in the clouds!
Chaos! Destruction in our world, when one person in the office, one person in the family, calls us a Ninny for believing in a bunch of fairy tales!   Desolation and Despair when someone gives a question about our Jesus that we can't answer, when we don't have the answers to give an account of our faith, because we only spend 30 minutes a week in scripture, and having it read to us at that, on Sunday morning while we drool and dream of biscuits and gravy!  'Get on with it Preacher-man! I'm hungry!'

Shake our tree a bit, and we'll fall straight to the ground.  We're ripe for the harvest, fruit that is beyond ripe and to the point of rotten, having the appearance of being connected to the vine, when really we are primed to fall, hard, to the ground.

Yes!  We are a Doughboy Army!   We are softies, trying to put on our armor and pick up a sword that weighs more than we do.

Joel 3 is not a battle cry for the Lord's army.  It's a cry, yes, but a cry in vanity.  It's about the enemies of the Lord, from the fighting men right down to the Doughboys, weaklings who think themselves strong, marching into the onslaught of a righteous judgment.   They are rousing for a war they cannot win!  Beating their farming tools in weapons because they have no excuse.  All men will march.  All men will find that throne.  Not one will find refuge from that Day.

This scripture is the Lord, daring, calling out to His enemies!  He says, "Bring it! Bring your best!  I'm ready to meet you on the battlefield, and bring whatever you may, it won't even be a fight!"

What do we do about it today?  We cry for help!  For forgiveness!  For repentance!  I don't want to be a member of the Doughboys anymore.   That life, while soft and cuddly, is headed for the oven.
Get up out of the frying pan man!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Agree in My Bones

“Let us not glide through this world and then slip quietly into heaven, without having blown the trumpet loud and long for our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Let us see to it that the devil will hold a thanksgiving service in Hell, when he gets the news of our departure from the field of battle.” C.T. Studd

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Correct Measure...

Somewhere in the course of my life, my scattered brain decided that every time I wrote the name of Jesus, even in pronoun from, (had to ask my wife what that grammar word was called) it would be capitalized. Grammatically correct or not, I didn't care. When talking about the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Savior of my soul and the Breaker of chains, He, Him, just needs to have the proper respect appropriated.

Jesus is, after all, much more than your average, everyday 'he'.

In fact, so much so, that it occurred to me this morning that mankind, man, in all of his glory, doesn't even deserve the honor of the regular-sized 'm' in the his name. We so often think of ourselves with such pomp and puffed up ego that I think going forward we need to have an annotation, a way to cut ourselves back down to size and give us our rightful place in the great chasm of the His Creation.
Hereto forthwith, whenever I type or write the word 'man' or 'mankind', I will be using the correct measure of the person. That's right, I am just a man.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Our Rear Guard

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord ? 

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun–scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well–watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age–old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. 
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord ’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 
then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken. '

Isaiah 58 is a great reminder, that our fast of 1 day is not what will please the Lord.  It will be our attitude, our heart and mind changing, what we do from here forward.  It will be our fruit that honors the Lord and brings glory to to His name. When it is done in His name, it will last far beyond the measuring container of a single day.  I think that's what God means when He says our light will then break forth like the dawn.... and He will be our rear guard.

He Will Bring You Back

My little girl has these moments during church where she has a great need to write. She wrote this on the back of a card yesterday in the first service, and intentionally put it on the chair in front of her. It's for someone. Don't know who. But it's been left intentionally by an 8 year-old who hears from Jesus.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Old Friend For Sale

Everything is now viewed through this lense: how many tickets to Haiti will that buy? So, just sold my last video camera. Anyone in the market for a keyboard? Weighted keys, plays great.  Just not going to need this in Haiti, and no point storing it. Gonna miss my old friend.
$1200 or best offer.

Jenna and the Detours

Jenna, a friend of our family, stopped by for an early morning bike ride.  I accepted the challenge.
Jenna is 19.
I am 36.
Jenna's bike is new and light and aerodynamic.
My bike is heavy and old and wrecked.
(these are my excuses, if you hadn't already picked up on that)

Down and around the state park we rode, and always she was in front of me.  I was constantly standing up on my pedals just to stay up with her.  It seemed she was making no effort at all, and I was giving it my full attention to just catch up.
We'd start back for the home, and she'd casually ask, "Wanna go down around town?" or "Should we keep going?" to which I would muster enough breath in my lungs to say, "Sure!" as enthusiastically as possible.
My heart was about to explode.
Was she trying to brake me?!  I'd sooner die of a heart attack than be broken!  Arrrrgghhh!  I will not yield!  (from 10 feet behind)
Hey! We'd passed the same road 3 different times, from 3 different directions.
While I'm gathering my strength, my thoughts become rudimentary,  like the GPS in the car....."recalculating.....recalculating.... turn left in......300...meters."  Just when my brain is wired on the new route to the finish line, which is home, and whether or not I'm going to make it there, I look up to see Jenna, laaa-dee-daaa, swerving and taking a ride through a parking lot, between some cars, any detour possible.  She looked carefree, soaking up the morning sun, enjoying every moment.   She wasn't thinking about finishing the job of a workout, she was only thinking about the fresh air and the beauty around her, and the joy of the ride.

Earlier in the morning, Kari and I read a bit from Oswald Chambers, and during the ride I realized God was painting a perfect visual for me as I watched Jenna zig-zagging through a school parking lot:

"We always have visions, before a thing is made real.  When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on.  Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation...God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way.  Every vision will be made real if we will have patience.  Think of the enormous leisure of God!
He is never in a hurry.  We are always in such a frantic hurry.......Over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.....If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you."

It was perfectly coincided with the scripture we read in Matthew.  Peter sees Jesus transfigured on the mountain, having a chat with Elijah and Moses, face lit up like the sun in all this amazing glory, and the first thing he wants to do is build 3 shelters and stay right there on that mountain.  This is the place to be! We should never leave here!, he thought.  And what did Jesus do?
"Get up. Don't be afraid."  And down the mountain they went, into the valley, to be molded by God into the final, ultimate vision of dying on a cross to pay for our sins!

Think of it!  God brought His boy up on the mountain, to strengthen him and encourage him. So Jesus would have the fortitude to push through what would become His greatest valley.

I complained that my bike had been wrecked, and no longer worked in the higher gears, and since I couldn't get out of the lower levels, I couldn't keep up with Jenna.  It was my last believable excuse.
So of course, we switched bikes.

Oh yes!  Her bike was more nimble, lighter, faster, easier!  Wow!  I could fly and zip along..... at exactly the same speed I'd been going before on my old clunker. :)
Jenna still beat me home, even stopped and purposefully put on her brakes for let me catch up.
Once I think I even saw her pretending to pedal, letting her bike slow down so I wouldn't be so humiliated.   I told her that was not allowed.  Then I gritted my teeth and pushed all the harder....just to stay about 10 feet behind. :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Back 40

If you've ever had the pleasure to drive the backroads of rural America, you might notice the old pickups, farm implements, the beautiful curves of the cars from yesteryear, parked out in the weeds.   Once important to the everyday function of life, these dinosaurs always seem to tell me a story.   Why?
Because in some window of time, each one was treasured.  There are miles and miles recorded on each odometer.  They were travelers in their shining moments.  They went the distance.  There was a day when they were taken for a spin, kept up, cleaned, even polished.  Each one had its glory days, so-to-speak, when it mattered.

And when they were parked for the last time, there's a story there too.  That farmer knew it still had value,  thought maybe one day he'd get use out of it again, maybe sell off the parts, or the kids would grow up and want it.   And if you notice, they are never parked out front for everyone to see.  They are always stashed somewhere in that far corner of the farm, near the tree belt, what we used to call the Back 40. 
Out of sight, out of mind.
The weeds come up and take over,  time and weather take their toll,  some psycho nephew grabs his 22 and uses them for target practice one day...  

Eventually they become a nuisance.  A problem. Just something to get rid of to make the place look better.
The farmer turns the place over to the kids, or some new out-of-towner who wants the feel of 'country-livin', and then come the complaints that they make the place look like a dump.
Someone has to haul those 'eye-sores' away.

It dawned on me this morning....that's exactly what we do with the Word of God.
We take those pieces of scripture that aren't about love, aren't about grace, aren't about prosperity and riches, and we carve them out of our daily lives, don't we?

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." ~Jesus, Luke 14

Ouch.  Awfully strong words. We don't say that anymore.  Hmmm.....Cut that out....

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. " ~Jesus, Matthew 10

Park that out back for now...

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. " 

I don't feel very good reading that.  I think that's just gonna sit somewhere I don't have to look at it...

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter–in–law against her mother–in–law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." 

Are you seeing my point?  It's about so much more than looks, isn't it?  Will it matter how manicured and pretty the front lawn is if we've got those old junkers sitting out back?  Who wants to hear them, let alone look at them? 

Eventually, if we keep them parked out in the weeds and don't mention them, they are going to become useless to a world so comforted and coddled with the peace, love, joy and prosperity that we preach. 
Is that the faith we want to hand down to the kids?  I mean, who knows, might be worth something someday...they might get some use out of it....

Cramming our own, personal faith into our own custom fit, we find one day that Jesus only looks good on a T-shirt, and His true message is "outdated", "primitive", "intolerable" .   His truth will no longer satisfy or give freedom, because they will no longer have ears to hear or eyes to see.  They'll just want some piece of scripture to make them feel good.   

Reducing the bible down to some sort of self-help manual, the power and the message of what He did and why are lost.   One day, it will be considered best to just take all those bibles and haul them out of here.   It will seem to make the place more fresh if we just haul those eyes-sores away. 

I always tell my kids to grab their ears and give them a good wiggle.  Soon as they do, I read this old junker of a verse...  This old, outdated clunker that is really a treasure given the proper measure of attention and respect that it deserves....this piece of history that tells a story, a whole story, meant for all to hear...

"He who has ears, let him hear."