Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Stub of a Sword

An old tusker by Hugo Breed

An old tusker by Hugo Breed

THE STUB OF A SWORD
Last night I received a phone call from a dear missionary to Bolivia who had just arrived home for his first furlough. It was so good to hear his voice and reminisce about how being a missionary in a Third World country changes one’s perspective when you come home on furlough. There is sense of being “torn” between your birth home and you’re new adopted home where your heart and God has called you to minister.
During our conversation I was lamenting how much I miss those busy, thriving days on the Mission field and how I was struggling to adjust to this last chapter of my life where I don’t have the physical strength or stamina to “blaze a trail” on foreign soil . My dear friend reminded me that I might not be in the rough and tumble of the battle but even in my old age I was “still fighting the battle” just from a different vantage point. Our conversation got me thinking about the countless “warriors in the Lord’s army” who have given their all but are still fighting even though their sword is worn down to a stub.

I began to research the lives of great warriors who never gave up even though their weapons were worn to the stub. Come walk with me through the lives of some great warriors who never gave up.

The famous evangelist, Billy Sunday, preached in his heyday to great multitudes all over America. Before the age of microphones and amplifiers, he shouted at the thousands in his big tabernacles. Then he grew old and times changed. His crowds were smaller. The multitudes went after other attractions. But Billy Sunday was faithful to his charge to the very last. In his cracked voice he preached the same old gospel until his last sermon in Mishawaka, Indiana. Gone was the vigor of his prime. Gone were the crowds. Billy’s weapons were worn and broken but he finished the fight with “the stub of a sword,” until God called him Home.
The Apostle Paul is another prime example;
He was faithful to the FAITH…….. faithful to the FIGHT…….. and faithful to the FINISH.

Battling with the stub of a sword is a MARK of a true soldier in God’s army.
It is not too difficult to fight well when the freshness of the cause thrills us and the exhilarations of life are full and strong. When we are at the peak of our usefulness, appreciated and seeing the fruit of our labors, our armor unbroken, our weapons keen, we tingle with the zest of combat and are truly anxious for the fray.

But age and disease and changing times will take their toll and we may finish with only the stub of a sword.
How we make that last chapter the best in the book; how we finish the course with joy; how we defeat the enemy with broken weapons is one of life’s last and finest lesson!
Paul incarcerated in a Roman prison is the outstanding New Testament example of this glorious achievement.
The old warrior has had a great ministry. He has planted the gospel in great world centers. Now, old and frail, instead of resting in pensioned retirement; he suffers in a damp old prison. His friends have left him. In this last chapter of his life he simply asks for his cloak and parchments.
One would have expected the greatest preacher of his time to have a more comfortable sunset hour.
Instead he is reduced to the stub of a sword……….. but with that stub he writes epistles that are God-breathed and that bless us to this day.

I assure you my friends; the preaching, the music, the literature of the church through the centuries would be sadly impoverished if we left out the warriors who continues to fight with broken weapons!

You will be surprised if you check on how much of the Lord’s battle is being fought today by soldiers with the stub of a sword. It is not the healthy, vigorous, well-equipped, or the be-medaled generals who are winning all the victories. Right in our churches and communities some of the noblest exploits in spiritual warfare are wrought by crippled and handicapped souls; through whose weakness God’s strength is being made perfect.

If this little Nugget finds you with a broken weapon; TAKE HEART. You are in illustrious company.
The battle is the Lord’s and He asks only that we be faithful to the end.
Now is the time to prove your mettle and endure hardness as a good soldier. What matters most is NOT the condition of your equipment but the STATE of your heart.

 

Priorities-Temporal or Eternal

A typical hut in an African Village

A typical hut in an African Village

PRIORITIES-TEMPORAL OR ETERNAL

In a recent Face Book post I encouraged each one of you to set your eyes skyward.  I want to continue with that theme in today’s Nugget. The Apostle Paul encouraged the saints with a similar encouragement when he penned the following words:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” Col 3:2 NIV

I am pretty confident that if the average American had the opportunity to visit or to live in a poverty stricken Third World country; this verse of scripture would take on a whole new meaning for them.

For many years of my life and my husband’s life; our feet walked the dusty paths of the African bush which led to remote villages. Many in the village would be barely clothed and the majority of the small children had no clothes to wear at all. The darkened mud huts showed the stark contrast between their primitive world and modern day trappings that more affluent nations take for granted. Once your eyes became accustomed to the gloom inside the hut you would see a dried cow hide or weaved grass mat laying on the hardened mud floor, which served as the communal bed for the family. Furniture was non-existent unless the father had hand-made a semblance of a rugged table and bench which would be considered a treasured possession.

Cooking utensils usually consisted of a couple of tin pots, along with a few hand beaten tin cups and plates. Wooden spoons for stirring would be hewn from local hardwood trees. Hand woven reed baskets would be stacked in a corner to store the ground corn meal which was their staple diet.

There was no running water or electricity in these villages. Most of their day was spent by the women of the village tending their small gardens and long walks to a nearby river to draw water to cook with and drink. Children would spend the day herding the few malnourished milking cows, goats and donkeys. A few more fortunate members of the village might have the luxury of a rickety bicycle to use as transport.

At best it was not an easy life especially compared to life in our modern cities.

So many individuals in the affluent world place great importance on instant gratification and acquiring more stuff. But “earthly things” lose their appeal once the bill arrives and the interest on the credit cards starts piling up. When that happens, blessings can turn into curses and rob these individuals of the joy of living.

It has been noted that materialism doesn’t satisfy because it’s tyrannical; and human beings were born to be free.

We find we don’t own the house—the house owns us. We’re married to a mortgage. We become slaves to gadgets and garments. After they’re purchased, delivered and installed, we enjoy a fleeting sense of pleasure, but they still dominate, dictate and demand; ‘Press me, polish me, patch me, paint me, prune me, plaster me!’

It is a sad reflection if we spend our best years and the bulk of our money working for ‘things,’ until… we’ve no time or strength left to pursue life’s truly eternal callings.

Surely it should be our greatest priority to invest our time, energy and finances to further the “good news” of the Kingdom of God!

Paul says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’ (1Ti 6:6 NIV). To experience that contentment we need to count our blessings every day and thank the One who made them all possible yet recognizing that the greater importance lies in things which are eternal.

I close this Nugget with a quote taken from the writings of Jon Walker: “Assume there’s an imaginary line dividing what you can see from what you can’t see—the temporal from the eternal. Our objective-in-Jesus is to look upon the things ‘above,’ so we can understand that what we see and feel is not a full and accurate measurement of God’s reality…people are eternal beings, and decisions that seem insignificant now, when seen in the fullness of reality, are of eternal significance.”

How about checking your priorities today – I know I am!

 

 

God Before Us

Elephants by Michael North Imagery (used with permission)

Elephants by Michael North Imagery (used with permission)

GOD BEFORE US!

Deut. 31:8 “The Lord, he is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

When facing turbulent times as we are in this day and age, this is a text which should help us to buckle on our harness and readily arm ourselves for the fight of the ages!

Think about the verse I quoted…….if the Lord goes before us; surely it is safe to follow Him without reservation?

Why then do so many cower and drag their feet?

Who or what possibly can obstruct our progress if the Lord Himself is paving the way before us?

Hark……..the message gets better still……………………….

Not only is the Lord BEFORE us; He is WITH us, ABOVE us, BENEATH us and AROUND us. He encompasses His children through every situation life’s rugged journey hurls at us.

We can face the uncertainty and turmoil approaching with ominous fingers of terror, because within us dwells the Omnipotent, Omnipresent God. Even to eternity, He will be with us, just as He has been up to this point in our fragile lives.

Surge towards the brooding storm clouds boldly and without hesitation, for the Lord of hosts is with us!

Being before us and with us, He will never withdraw His help.

He cannot fail in Himself, and He certainly will not fail His trusting children.

The Lord will continue to help us according to our need, even to the end.

He will always be both able and willing to grant us strength and comfort until our fighting days are gone.

So my dear friends let us not fear or be dismayed; for the Lord of hosts will go down to the battle with us. Just as He will not fail us, so too, He will never forsake us or leave us.  The Lord will bear the brunt of the fight, and give us the victory!

Remember this great Hymn of the church?

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war

With the cross of Jesus going on before

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng

Blend with ours your voices in a triumph song

Christ, the Royal Master, leads against the foe

Forward into battle, see His banners go,

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war

With the cross of Jesus going on before

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane

But the cross of Jesus constant will remain