Read God’s Book

Read God’s Book continually; nay, never let the sacred volume be out of your hand.  Learn, so that you may teach.  Hold fast to the words of faith, according to sound doctrine, so that you may be able thereby to exhort and refute the gainsayers.  ‘Continue thou in the things that thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them’; and ‘Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope and faith that are in you.’  Your deeds must not belie your words, lest, when you are speaking in church, some one may say to himself: ‘Why do you not practise what you preach?’

(Jerome, in A Clergyman’s Duties)

Tug of War

(This article was written by Frank Reed and was originally posted here)

“Tug of War” – again – when will we learn?

One of my favorite pictures is a picture of two tractors. One tractor is a John Deere G and the other is a Farmall Super M. They are chained drawbar-to-drawbar and trying to out-pull each other. Beneath the chain is a line someone has scratched in the dirt. Hanging directly above the scratched line is a white handkerchief tied to the chain.

Both tractors are obviously straining at their limits. The smoke is pouring from their stacks. Their rear tires are digging into the earth. Their drivers are leaning into their loads. Much energy is being expended. Neither tractor is going anywhere (except deeper).

Each machine has a cheering section. This contest of mettle has brought them together (and is keeping them apart). Each group seems to know which tractor should win (and which should lose). These groups are obviously losing no love on one another.

While much energy is being expended – no plowing is being done. No discing. No planting. No cultivating. No harvesting. Valuable fuel is being exhausted. Expensive tires are losing tread. Powerful engines are being stressed. Delicate gears overloaded. Useful life shortened.

Intriguing but convicting. Does it matter which tractor wins? Imagine how much work could be done if these powerful machines would return to their respective fields of labor. The operators, with a vision of a goal accomplished, could wave to one another across the fence row as they passed. If one had more power than the other, what would it matter? They could work together (albeit in different fields) to feed a hungry world.

Our churches have so much to offer the community and the world. It has become apparent that tensions have weakened our ministry and limited us to a debilitating degree. There is too much at stake to continue the struggle. Both “tractors” are being damaged while their mettle yet unproven.

Why can there not be an amiable agreement so that we can work together or so that we can work in separate fields? There appears to be huge open fields where all can find places to work. Certainly some of the persons involved in the present struggle would feel quite comfortable in some other, related fields of labor. Is it not possible that we could “unhook the chain” and employ energies in gainful, meaningful, productive accomplishment? In this way, we could finish the work without the damage and disruption which will be hurtful to us all.

Can we not “rather suffer wrong” if we feel that we or someone we are supporting has been wronged? Will not the polarization and escalation of present attitudes existing at all levels prove destructive to all? What about the people we are here to serve? They are the ones to whom we owe an apology. What are we teaching them? What are we demonstrating to them? Are we not hypocritical to teach the Bible while “biting and devouring” each other as our physical and emotional energies and our very spiritual lives are being consumed? Can we show the people that we are disciples by the way we love one another?

A peaceful resolution will certainly not be nearly as exciting as all the smoke, noise, and clamor of the “tug of war.” But it strikes me that a peaceful solution would be closer to what the LORD intended when He gave talents to each of us and told us to “occupy until He comes.” Then each of us will need to give account of how we used His talents. Are we working the fields or playing “tug of war?”

Frank Reed – Written in 1997. Published in 2013. Published in 2016.

I Give Up!

Lord, I give up
All my own plans and purposes,
All my own desires and hopes
And accept Thy will for my life.
I give myself, my life, my all,
Utterly to Thee
To be Thine forever.
Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.
Use me as Thou wilt,
Send me where Thou wilt,
Work out Thy whole will in my life
At any cost,
Now and forever.
Amen.

(Betty Scot Stam, missionary martyr to China)

Request for Transfer

Today I am posting two imaginary letters.  The author of this work is unknown, but the spiritual lesson is profound.  

Title: Request for Transfer

To: Commander in Chief, Spiritual Armed Forces, Jesus Christ

Dear Lord:
I am writing this to You to request a transfer to a desk job.
I herewith present my reasons:

I began my career as a private, but because of the intensity of the
battle You have quickly moved me up in the ranks.  You have made
me an officer and given me a tremendous amount of responsibility.
There are many soldiers and recruits under my charge.  I am
constantly being called upon to dispense wisdom, make judgments,
and find solutions to complex problems.  You have placed me in a
position to function as an officer, when in my heart I know I have
only the skills of a private.  I realize that you have promised to
supply all I would need for the battle.  But Sir, I must present You
a realistic picture of my equipment.

My uniform, once so crisp and starched, is now stained with the tears
and blood of those I have tried to assist.  The soles of my boots are
cracked and worn from the miles I have walked trying to enlist and
encourage the troops.  My weapons are marred, tarnished
and chipped from constant battle against the enemy.  Even the Book
of Regulations I was issued has been torn and tattered from
endless
use.  The words are now smeared.

You have promised You would be with me throughout, but when
the noise of the battle is so loud and the confusion is so great,
I can neither see nor hear You.  I feel so alone.  I’m tired.
I’m
discouraged.  I have Battle Fatigue.  I would never ask you for a
discharge.  I love being in Your service.  But I humbly request a
demotion and transfer.  I’ll file papers or clean latrines.
Just get me out of the battle — please, Sir.
Your Faithful, but tired soldier.

 Shortly after, the soldier received this letter from the Commander in Chief:

To: Faithful, but Tired Soldier, Spiritual Armed Forces
Location: The Battlefield
Subject: Transfer

Dear Soldier:
Your request for transfer has been denied.
I herewith present My reasons:
You are needed in this battle.
I have selected you, and I will keep My Word to supply your need.
You do not need a demotion and transfer.
(You’d never cut it on latrine duty.)
You need a period of “R and R” — Renewal and Rekindling.
I am setting aside a place on the battlefield
that is insulated from all sound
and fully protected from the enemy.
I will meet you there and I will give you rest.
I will remove your old equipment and “make all things new.”

You have been wounded in the battle, My soldier.
Your wounds are not visible,
but you have received grave internal injuries.
You need
to be healed.
I will heal you.
You have been weakened in the battle.
You need to be strengthened.
I will strengthen you and be your strength.
I will instill in you confidence and ability.
My Words will rekindle within you a renewed love, zeal and enthusiasm.
Report to Me tattered and empty.
I will refill you.
Compassionately,
Your Commander-in-Chief,
Jesus Christ