A More Secure Trust

It was written a long, long time ago: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God..." (Psalm 20:7-8).

And today, just as centuries ago, some trust in that which is seen, putting their hope merely in the physical -- the stock market, jobs, health, humanity...  But we who know the LORD, trust in Him who is unseen, the ever-faithful one, our Help in this present age, our only Hope for our eternal future.

We are living in tumultuous times today, no denying. Natural disasters, economic failures, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, and the like, seem to be on the rise. Some may ask, when troubles, dangers, and setbacks arise, "Oh, where is God in all this?" Or, as Job's wife confronted her husband when they lost everything (the Bible tells us), "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9).

To her, Job replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good things from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10).

As Job reflected on his loss, he realized, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).

In threatening times, and times of disaster, when the bottom seems to have dropped out of everything, some will believe God is far away. But He is where He always has been: on His throne and still in charge of it all. Reigning in the lives of believers, He cares for our every need. Our task in this time is simply to trust and obey, to be ready to go where He wants to send us to declare His glory among the 'nations'. (See 1 Peter 2:9.)

He has a "better idea" for our lives and the 'nations' than what we can ever dream up for ourselves -- a better idea, a better purpose. In Him, we have a more secure trust. We need not live in fear of crashing stock markets, natural disasters, or even "global warming". He cares for us all ever so lovingly and sufficiently, and in Him we have a peace that the world cannot take away.



Looking back a couple of centuries, we see a person, George Muller, 
who realized his more secure trust. Born in the kingdom of Prussia in 1805, this man, known to us as a man of faith and of prayer, in his youth strayed deeply into sin before Christ rescued him. Almost every form of sin characterized his youthful lifestyle.

How could one imagine this corrupt youth would become a man of extra-ordinary faith and prayer? Yet, there's no imagining with God; He has one's life planned out even before he is conceived. Through extra-ordinary circumstances, God had indeed brought George Muller out of the miry clay and molded him into a man of extra-ordinary trust in God. Becoming so entrenched in his faith, loving the Word of God, he so longed for that day when he would see his Savior face to face.

At the age 70 George Muller set out on evangelistic tours, traveling 200,000 miles worldwide, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom in many lands and in several different languages. Muller never told anyone of his financial needs, but "only" prayed, and all-sufficient God always provided all Muller needed.

There is no barrier or limit -- age or otherwise -- to what God can accomplish through one who realizes his more secure trust.

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:18, NLT).



For further reflection: Psalm 23:1; 46:1-3; Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 12:22-31; Romans 8:28, 29; John 14:27; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9; Philippians 2:4.

A Worthy Occupation

God's Word is precious, as nuggets of pure gold (See Proverbs 2:1-5). Through the Word of God we can understand where we have come from, why we are here, and where we are going. Through God's Word also we can understand God's will for our lives in this time, and for all the 'nations' (peoples) of planet Earth.


Through imagination travel back with me now before time was, when nothing existed except God alone. God then spoke, and the universe and its vast array came into being, and thus also began time.




Then God made man, sculpturing them, male and female, from the dust of the ground. God breathed into them the breath of life; man became a living soul, created in God's own image. God commanded the man to "be fruitful and increase in number." He also gave man dominion over the rest of creation (See Genesis 1:28).

God then entrusted man with the responsibility of caring for His creation, placing the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden (somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, present day Iraq) to work it and take care of it (See Genesis 2:15).

But the serpent was also in the Garden, filled with all the evil intents of that one who was cast out of Heaven because of arrogance and pride, desirous to exalt himself even above its Creator (See Isaiah 14:12-14).

Being deceived by that serpent, man betrayed God and shunned his responsibility (See Genesis 3), plunging the entire human race into rebellion against God. As a result a great gulf was fixed, separating God and mankind to this day, that gulf incapable of being bridged through any human effort whatsoever.

God still loved His human creatures, however (See Genesis 3:21), and began His work -- His one 
pursuit -- to woo them back to Himself. Eventually, God would give them a second chance with the coming of the second Adam, Jesus, the Christ (Messiah), the only "bridge" capable of spanning that "great divide." (See Romans 5:10-21; 1 Corinthians 15:12-34.)



Fast-forwarding, we come to the New Testament era, where we see Jesus at Jericho (in the nation of Israel north of the Dead Sea, east of Jerusalem and Bethany). Through one of His parables, Jesus teaches us that God has once again given man a trust. (See Luke 19:11-27; Matthew 25:14-30; John 9:4, 5.) As it is with God, so it is to be our one pursuit -- faithfully laboring at it until Christ returns -- that the 'nations' may be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth (See 1 Timothy 2:4)

It's our heavenly work on Earth, more precious than gold, or any earthly ambition, not merely "wood, hay and straw" (See 1 Corinthians 3:12). Such will all perish with the perishing of time. It is therefore, "required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2).





We once more fast-forward, to the year of our Lord, A.D. 1900, and meet one such faithful steward -- Amy Carmichael. Her obedience to God's command led to the founding of Dohnavur Fellowship in southern India.



At Dohnavur Amy saw the need: young girls were sold as temple prostitutes to be "married to the gods," and later made available to Hindu men frequently appearing at the temple.

Moved with compassion at what she saw, Amy embraced her calling ("putting her hand to the plow," Luke 9:62) and never looked back. Laboring faithfully for over 50 years, children were rescued from an empty life (See 1 Peter 1:18-21), and led to a new life of purpose in Jesus Christ. (See John 10:10b)

By twelve years into Amy's work, 130 children were cared for at Dohnavur. Amy faithfully pursued her 
God-given trust.


Today God waits for other "Amys," and "Aarons," to realize their precious labor -- that one occupation worthy of their lifelong pursuit. He listens for that sincere cry of the heart, answering the call of Isaiah, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8).

Nations Under God: Our Beginnings



A Call to Pray for the World


The expression "One Nation Under God," generally in reference to America, should be true of all nations -- of all political countries on Earth. Although some may think the nations that exist were formed by man, in actuality it was God who allowed it all. It is God who established all nations. All nations rise and fall at His command. It was He who brought everything into being; it is He who will bring everything to an end in His time.






Jehovah God Almighty (Elohim) created us artfully, in His own image and blessed us with "certain unalienable rights" including the right to choose. Yet, it is man, who brought the original art form to ruin by making the wrong choice, causing that "great
divide" between the Creator and humanity.


But, because of God's great love for us He continues to woo us back to Him, to restore to us the original image in which we were created for His praise and glory.


It is history (His story) we are living out. And in this, He is calling out a people for Himself, as one nation, to "declare His glory among all nations of the earth" -- Psalm 96:3.



As the psalmist has written, "...Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land..." (Psalm 95:1-5).


 

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and man,
the man Christ Jesus (who is God Himself, conceived of the Holy Spirit
in a virgin's womb) who gave Himself as a ransom for all men (mankind)...."

For Further Reflection - for small group or family discussion: Genesis 1-3; Ecclesiastes; Isaiah 45; Ezekiel 18:2330-32; John 3;Romans 13:11 Timothy 2:1-61 Peter 5:8-111 John 4:9.

My Messed Up "Good" Life: Part 4

Realizing the Truer Reality




Then, on to Bible College, which brought me to Columbia, South Carolina, but not immediately. I remained in Florida for about another couple of years after my military active duty. And because of my military service my means through Bible College was taken care of. Hence, my coming to Bible College was perhaps God’s purpose for keeping me in the military.


God privileged me with the opportunity to take in an Urbana conference during the Christmas break of my Bible College junior year. Recalling my own Urbana experience via virtual attendance in later years, I realized the significance of Urbana in students’ lives, and refreshed mine as well, toward Christ’s global cause (See Matthew 28:19-29; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:20-21; Acts 1:8)

During a chapel message one day at Bible College, God challenged me from a message on the book of Jonah. Since then Jonah has become an important Bible character to me, as is Moses. Every time upon hearing a message from the book of Jonah, I’m “all ears,” I simply asking myself, “Have I been a ‘Jonah’ as one reluctant to go?”

Through the years since Bible College it has been my desire to share Jesus; more and more these days so speaking that “matchless name” is the one thing of utmost importance—nothing else matters.


Touring through the city about my delivery job that God provided for me after Bible College, at viewing faces my mind a-wondering if those people know Jesus. Still, such wondering occurs, even today.


Making a delivery to an office one afternoon a sign posted on a wall there caught my observation. Impressing me so, for some reason, I gave it a second notice. Although in and out of that office in a minute or so, for whatever reason, even through the passing of time, my mind had never forgotten what that sign read:

“Man’s mind stretched to a new idea will never 
return to its original dimension.”

My Google search found that to be a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes. For me almost immediately at viewing that sign I was impressed with perhaps an applicatory thought: my mind, my life, having been stretched to the things of God—the truer reality—how can I, or why would I desire so to return to things of the purely earthly realm?



About nine years after Bible College I answered the call to “go West young man.” But that was not the familiar call of those early “pioneer” days of the westward movement, but a call from God. And so off to Pasadena, California I went. There I worked for a Christian mission organization for 15 years. 



Those years were most pleasurable for the opportunity as an aid in developing my writing skills as a staff writer for the Global Prayer Digest. Although on little support, I continued at that position for about five years. God then provided a paid position essentially with that same organization, but a different role. I continued at that position for ten years. After consideration, believing to be God’s will, I moved back East. God provided work via a temp service, which later had become that full time employment that continued for about eight years[1]. Then, I was “let go”.


My Messed Up "Good" Life: Part 3


The Surer Path Discovered





My service in the Air Force then took me to Patrick AFB, Florida.. Yet essentially those years were a continuation of my introverted ways, in that “good” life I had taken on through my churchgoing upbringing, and thus as well attending chapel services as often as possible. As so induced perhaps by my upbringing and my introverted temperament, I had no desire for the carousing so familiar “worldly” ways.There I continued my active duty as a vehicle operator. Those years at Patrick set me on a new course.



Completing a Navigator Bible study on the person of Jesus Christ, which my second brother had sent to me, I consider that the time when I received Jesus. I signed and dated the invitation at the end of that study acknowledging that I had done so—a quiet acceptance of Jesus into my life it was, I being alone there in my barracks room at the time.

Two years later I met a Navigator representative who had moved into the area purposely to begin an outreach among the servicemen stationed at Patrick.  My name being on the Nav mailing list, he looked me up. He shared with me Steps to Peace with God by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I consider the meeting with that Nav rep a gaining an assurance of my salvation. (See John 1:12-13; 1 John 5:11-12)


Hence, the surer path I discovered, and as I would also realize even over any “clumps or uneven clods[1]” I yet might come upon in my going that way, as Jesus has so promised (consider John 14:27; 16:33; Romans 8:36-37; 1 John 5:4-5). Yet also as He has said, “Be sure of this: [all along the way], I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b NLT)





For the remainder of my time there at Patrick, I was involved with The Navigators, receiving helpful encouragement for Christian living essentially through Bible study, prayer, and Scripture memory. The witnessing part, however, in particular, was somewhat hard, for one being not-so-much-of-a-talker[2].

That period of time was when I was encouraged to consider Bible College. Also in discovering, as one shared, that I could “express myself well in writing”. (Ah, a thought that I should or not consider as a vocation? As the years passed I'd realized creative writing is something I enjoy trying, at least if nothing more as a hobby.)

Attending a large Navigator conference (my first such), over a Thanksgiving weekend, in Estes Park, Colorado. I responded to the invitation given at the closing message of the conference. Standing with several other guys, I answered the call as Isaiah did, “Here I am. Send me” (See Isaiah 6:8).  What all that meant, at that time, was not fully then made clear to me.




[2] Through my journey onward I have spoken the name of Jesus at so being attentive to the Holy Spirit’s leading, realizing too, I being not so much spontaneous in conversation, to have always handy a gospel tract ready to share.

My Messed Up "Good" Life: Part 2

In Search of a Surer Path



I was much into television in my youth. Perhaps as Linus of Peanuts’ fame has his “security blanket,” TV viewing was mine.

 Looking back now, however, reviewing my life, I think I was simply going along with the crowd, in the “good” sort of way, as if that was the way life was to be—television and everything else, that what makes for the “good” life—to keep my life free of “clumps or uneven clods”[1].





Perhaps the farthest I strayed from my upbringing was choosing to stay home from church on Sunday evenings. My parents permitted my second brother and myself that option, mindful to finish our school homework assignments. But once that was done, on came the television. Yes, we had our favorite TV programs even on Sundays.

We did go to church occasionally on Sunday evenings, for one when there was some special service—i.e. Revival Meetings, as such were called. At the close of one such meeting I observed my oldest brother responding to an “altar call.”  Afterwards church activities for him took on a new meaning, he even leading young peoples’ meetings occasionally.

For myself, as I remember, perhaps it was then in attending those Revival Meetings when I heard sermons of the world coming to an end. Hearing such sermons, my young mind could not imagine such a thing—the world coming to an end? Hmm, what would happen to all the tall buildings, the trees, and all such stuff of the temporal physical realm that makes for the “good” life? And so mygood” life continued on— perhaps in search of a surer path—until the time when I realized that such a good life doesn’t make one good before God. (See Romans 3:9-23)



After high school I joined the Air Force, and relocated to Lackland AFB, Texas. But because of my introverted personality perhaps, I was set back to an earlier flight in basic training. However, due to a meningitis epidemic having broken out in my original flight, I was returned to that flight. Yet because of that incident I had missed going through the obstacle course and the firing range. A God-doing?






Finally, basic training finished then came tech school. Initially I was assigned to learn to be a policeman. But I didn’t finish that school either, perhaps again because of my introverted personality. In the Air Force I so remained, however; God had His purpose for keeping me in the military







All for the Love of a Cheese Twirl


Suddenly it hit me – an urge for a doughnut, specifically a cheese twirl. Now really, I thought, I need a doughnut like a zebra needs stripes, an elephant a nose, or a giraffe a neck. Still, the urge was there. It was very real, and it wouldn’t go away no matter how hard I tried. Of course, I must confess, I didn’t try very hard. What’s even more maddening, I knew the whereabouts of a couple of doughnut shops nearby. Both were within easy walking distance. But only one of the two had cheese twirls, and wouldn’t you know it, it was the one farthest away.

Oh well, I’d hung around home all day anyway. The long walk would do me good. Some fresh air, you know, and a cheese twirl!

At last, I came to the end of my work. I quickly exited my small mobile home and stepped out briskly to begin my journey, all for the love of a cheese twirl. I did not know, however, God’s purpose for me taking a walk on that particular Saturday evening.

After about half a mile or so, I arrived at the doughnut shop. I spied the cheese twirls. But when I learned one cost 75 cents, my heart sunk. I didn’t bring that much money with me. So I had to settle for a chocolate bar instead (sigh).

Nevertheless, I purchased the chocolate bar and took my place at a table on the far side of the room and munched away. Mm-m-m! The chocolate bar was good at that, even though it wasn’t a cheese twirl.

Shortly, my nose caught the odor of cigarette smoke wafting through the air. I turned in the direction of the smoke. A woman, sullen and downcast, was sitting at a table not far from me; her ashtray harvested cigarette butts. For a little while neither of us spoke to one another, probably because neither of us knew one another. Then, too, I being of a quiet temperament, find conversation a somewhat difficult task.

Finally she broke the silence between us. Dolefully she spoke, “Life sure is boring, isn’t it?”

It was then my turn. “Well now, it all depends on who you know,” I said. “If you know Jesus,” I continued after a brief pause, “Life can be exciting.”

“Oh,” she responded, surprised.

I then asked her if she knew Jesus. She answered yes, to my surprise. She said she had come to know Him when she was about 15. But it was apparent that life’s circumstances had turned her heart sour, and she no longer experienced the joy of knowing Jesus personally.

As we continued our conversation I learned of her mother’s unexpected death two years before. A Bible with her very own name on it that her mother had given her was one of her most prized possessions. Though she had cherished it, in disgust one day after her mother’s death, she had torn it up. Now, however, she told me she wished she had not done so. She wished she still had the Bible her mother had given her.

Shortly, I left the doughnut shop. The woman thanked me for talking to her. I never did learn her name. Neither is it likely I’ll ever see her again, at least in this life. But I left her with a thought – Jesus.

As I exited the shop and started my journey home, I noticed darkness had already blanketed the sky. Suddenly a fresh urge hit me – not for chocolate bars this time or even cheese twirls, but for “food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27, NIV.)