Saturday, March 03, 2007


The Ministry Of Silly Links

The most obvious quiz result in Blogotional history:
Your Dominant Intelligence is Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

You are great at finding patterns and relationships between things.
Always curious about how things work, you love to set up experiments.
You need for the world to make sense - and are good at making sense of it.
You have a head for numbers and math ... and you can solve almost any logic puzzle.

You would make a great scientist, engineer, computer programmer, researcher, accountant, or mathematician.
What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Sign of a life wasted - I'm a little too good at this.

Because the world just has to know this stuff.

Your tax dollars at work.

I bet it was made with rum tequila!

So does Al Gore.

Lawmakers - the cream of America's crop.

Sounds like a toxic spill to me.

I'll stick with my keys.

Fortunately, The Flash saved the day.

Space Wolverine

Perhaps the only thing that could provoke my wife to actual violence.

Yes, but did they prayer the sinner's prayer?

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Comic Art

Today we will pick up the series on speedsters with another DC Comics creation - Johnny Quick. Talk about a confused back story!

The guy has been around forever in all sorts of various guises, morphing one way and then the other as in "Infinite Earths" of the DC universe have combined, uncombined, differentiated, and otherwise given license to the creative imagination to twist the character of Johnny Quick seven ways to Sunday.

There is one constant though - the source of his power - a mathematical formula. Johnny Quick has but to recite the formula and he is off at superspeed!

Now, as a young child interested in math and science there was little more fascinating to me that that. Johnny Quick, along with Hourman who was a chemist and developed a pill to give him superpowers for an hour, was a genuine inspriation in my educational quest. Here were guys that were not aliens, from mythical places, or utterly and darkly obsessed that were able to become superheroes doing stuff I could do. If only....

Most fascinating was until recent times no one gave any thought to how such a formula might work, math was just kinda like magic. What they have come up with recently is still pretty much magic, but at least the thought is cool. I have simulations running in background on my computer all the time, though.Blush

Johnny Quick has survived where many of the historical speedsters have fallen by the way side - I know not why, but he sure is fun.

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Friday, March 02, 2007


Reality And Ideology

In "Imperial Grunts" author Kaplan is in Yemen and interviews the American there to help that nation establish a Coast Guard. That person, Bob Innes, served in Vietnam and "...saw the last U.S. aircraft leave...." Innes reflects:
"What did I learn from the experience in Vietnam?" he asked himself out loud, letting the silence formulate his next statement. "I learned that honor and integrity are personal qualities, not institutional ones, not ones we should expect the state to always have. If you don't like the policy, tough. Bad things happen in this world. You do the best you can in your job, and let the crybabies write the books"
The first part of that statement about institutional, not personal, qualities is I think right on about the church. As things now stand we work to build good people, but we worry not about the characterisitics of the institution - this is a fact that I have always decried. Such institutional ugliness in the church should not be accepted. I think Innes may be right when it comes to the state - but the church is a different animal. The church is as much the face of God on earth as each of us individually is. The institution simply must show the same outstanding qualities expected of the individual, or I think we will never get very far.

I trust the litany of church failings need not be reiterated; however, I would like to point towards one that is often overlooked. The obvious stuff like sex and financial scandals are bad enough - but what about the alienation of the "good and faithful servant" for the sake of the greater good. Remember back in December I quoted Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson stating that a person interested in genuine transformation would likely be viewed as "a hinderance" by the church. The way the church reacts to hinderances can often be amazingly nasty. Soemtimes I think such is the greatest ugliness of the church.

We combine these two strains of thought and I come to a very interesting place. The models for the institutionalization of the church are essentially state-like, perhaps all institutionalization is. Is there a radically different way to institutionalize; something not so state-like, so that the seeming inevitable corruptability, or at least amorality, of the institution can be escaped? If not, then what? Are we all to "sell out" to the inevitably corruptable? Is genuine Christianity destined to always be an underground movement? - Underground both societally and in the church itself? I think the is something to this latter question. But can one be underground while opeating the levers of institutional power?

I have been cladestinely informed that it is likley I will be asked to go on session this year. (Gee, that's no surprise really; I am asked virtually every year) But I am finding a bit of a tug, I did last year too. This spring sees the class of students my wife and I have sheparded through high school in a small group graduate. That ministry has been more rewarding, and more importantly, more fruitful, than all my session service combined. It has been an underground thing very much off the radar of the regular programming schedule in the church. Can I bring that experience to session, or will I simply find myself inevitably pulled into the vortex of crap?

I am a lousy middle manager, managing for managing sake. I certainly do not wish to go on session without a specific set of goals to accomplish. But the goals I have at the moment would be a "hinderance"....

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Can't Think Of Another Song Title Links

So does policy based on hyperbole and conjecture.

Marketing, not science.

Not quite sure what's worse here - The criminal act itself, or that someone would value their DOGS enough to make the crime worthwhile.

Well, at least I am not a girlie man (HT: Blackfive)

My wife an I are in serious trouble. (HT: BHT)

Not sure how to play, but any game involving flatulence is a game for me!

The world's dumbest squirrel.

The ends times are upon us. (Vague movie allusion here - no-prize to the commenter that nails it)

LAWYERS! They take all the fun out of life.

Worse, they did it using only those knives-too-big-for-your-pocket.

Just cool! So's this.

And his gopher has super-powers.

Would this work in Vegas? Hit me! I just cleaned 3 commodes.

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Friday Humor

A sweet grandmother telephoned Mount Sinai Hospital. She timidly asked, "Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?"

The operator said "I'll be glad to help, Dear.. What's the name and room number?"

The grandmother in her weak tremulous voice said, "Holly Finkel, room 302."

The Operator replied, "Let me check." "Oh, good news. Her record says that Holly is doing very well. Her blood pressure is fine, her blood work just came back as normal, and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged Tuesday."

The grandmother said, "Thank you.. That's wonderful! I was so worried! "God bless you for the good news."

The operator replied, "You're more than welcome. Is Holly your daughter?"

The Grandmother said, "No, I'm Holly Finkel in 302. No one tells me anything"

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Thursday, March 01, 2007


Should We Be This Silly?

Do we as a church really want stories like this beign written about us?
The giant Jesus on Interstate 75 is bigger than the "Hell is Real" billboard on I-71, and much fancier than the "I need U Jesus" on Route 56 in central Ohio. But the message of America's roadside evangelists is the same.

"We're all trying to convince people of the same thing: their need for Christ," said Ron Carter, administrator of the evangelical Solid Rock Church, which built a six-storey Jesus statue three years ago to inspire travelers.
This stuff sends the message in oh so many wrong ways. Not the least of which is the seeming competition for biggest, best, prettiest. It seems clear it is the churches competing with each other and not for the souls of the community.

"But," comes the retort, "did not the aristocrats of old compete in the construction of chapels and cathedrals, and are not such structures held in high regard today?" Indeed they did and such is proof of God's ability to use even the most poorly motiviated of our actions. But those chapels and cathedrals were hardly as vulgar and kitsch as the common road sign. Such road signs do not invoke a sense of the higher or spiritual but rather the banal - Burma Shave and Wall Drug.

But what really seems so missing from this silliness is the relational. Jesus Christ is the clear divide between the Old and the New Convenant. A person, a man, God incarnate. God's chosen form of communication in this latter age is not word, but person, not media, fleshy medium, and through the atoning acts of the Cross and the Resurrection, Christ enables our indwelling by the very Spirit Himself, making us that fleshy medium. Can such be communicated through a road sign?

The gospel can never fully be communicated through anything other than our lives, transformed, renewed, and abundant. We cannot send messages, only messengers. And send we must. Go out into the world and communicate the gospel, with your very life.

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Illuminated Scripture

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More Than A Link To Me

French terrorist alert. I knew it all along - "surrender monkeys" indeed. Check this aggression.

Perhaps the most insightful climate change paragraph I have read in the MSM
Both the film and conference are based on an understanding that the science is settled. It isn't. But, in the meantime, the environmental bandwagon rolls on, and no self-respecting politician wants to be left without a seat.
Motives matter.

How come the left are the censors? No, really.

Ve half rulez...You vill obey!

Insert your own proctology joke here.

Amd now, from the Twilight Zone we read:
A jazz musician was injured Friday after jumping from a burning motor home driven by a one-time roller skating stripper from Lodi.
...cue, music...Rod!

And now, "go suck eggs" takes on a whole new meaning.

Oh the humanity.

Well, actually, one plays and the other is the toy....

Hey - GOD! Where's mine?

Well, it's a cinch they didn't discover us!

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Prepositions In Ministry

Not too long ago, Tod Bolsinger wrote a piece about prepositions and their importance when considering ministry.
I have been thinking about this one a lot lately: How much of church life is experienced by the average, ordinary person out there as “to” instead of “for” them? We do stuff “to” people all the time? We preach to them, we sing to them, we make announcements to them? (Maybe worse, we do things “at” them. If there is anything worse than “to” ministry, it has got to be “at” ministry.)

How much different would our ministry be received if everything we did was “for” ministry? My preaching professor said something like this to me years ago, though I never thought of it as practicing “hospitality” at the time. He said, “We don’t preach to a people, we preach for them. We offer the word of God to give expression the work of the Spirit at work within a community of faith.”
Tod is really making a great point here and one I agree with, but there is another preposition that I think should be added to the mix - "with."

Preaching is a one man ministry and Tod is just dead-nuts on that it should be done for the sake of the congregation, the listener, not at them, and certainly not as an expression of "where the preacher is." But most of the rest of the church's ministry is not so directional.

Take for example a calling ministry. Sure, I go for the sake of the homebound, but how much more effective is that visit if I visit with them. - If I open up, if it becomes genuinely relational and not just uni-directional, even if sincerely sacrificial, will not the Spirit flow more easily and rapidly through such a bond?

Have you ever thought about where the best ministry occurs when putting on a major event of any sort? Is it really to the audience, or is it in the relationships of the team?

Which brings me to the real point I want to make. There should not be "owners" of ministry and then volunteers filling slots. Ownership by all involved makes for so much better ministry - that means we all do ministry with each other. This is inclusive of those towards whom the ministry is "aimed." Worship is not a performance, it is a shared experience. Sunday School is not pedagogy, it is shared exploration. And so I could continue.

Prepositions matter. "For," not "to." But defintiely "with."

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I Want You To Link Me - Live At The Budokon

I could rant about this for hours - it may be one o the ugliest things I have ever read about a church. The biggest problem is NO ONE will come out a winner and the church will be the biggest loser.

You know what the best thing about carbon indulgences is? Poking fun at Al Gore. But then something comes along and tells me it's just the idea in general.

Right result, wrong decision. Why? Simple. Instead of repudiating the fact that they even had the right to consider this nonsense, they simply "blessed" the woman keeping her child, and retained what they perceive as their authority.

Not since Geraldo and Capone's vault.... Think about this for a minute - if it happens for ads, what about "news"?

Harvard - taking the fun out of funny at $2K a pop.

Always remember, roast well your amphibians before you consume them.

How to stain your buddy's suit, and not get blamed.

In a few years, this will be the most valuable baseball card of them all. Loook out Honus.

Robin Hood lives and the Sheriff of Nottingham's got him in custody.

Obviously the Joker is about.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


This Is An Issue?

Over at the A-Team blog, Roger has done a three-part series - One - Two - Three on the necessity for and use of scipture in evangelism. I must admit to being a bit dumbfounded when I first encountered the posts because they struck me as an awful lot of (good!) scholarship to state the incredibly obvious.

But then as I read through it I was simply saddened at its necessity. There are really two problems addressed. The fist is the lack of use of scipture in evangelism and the other is the misuse of scripture in evangelism.

The lack of use problem, is reasonably typical - it's the too attentive to culture, don't want to offend with truth crowd, that has built so much of the most public face of what passes for the church these days. I talk about it so much, I'll leave that be.

But the misuse of scripture, while not so prevalent, is almost even worse. But what is important to remember is that scripture is never wrong, only we are. We misuse scripture because of the undeveloped portion of our own selves. We misuse scripture because we have failed to understand it ourselves.

There is an inherent trap in Evangelicalism - it's outward focus often stands in the way of the inward work. Yes, God does the work of evangelism, we are but the tools, but if you have ever tried to shape wood with a dull chisel then you'll know the quality of your tools is vitally important to a job well done.

Part of making ourselves God's tools in the execution of His Great Commission is to work with Him to make ourselves the best possible tools. While we are spreading the Holy Spirit, we should be hearing His whisper in our ears many times louder than we shout it to the world. And yet often, I think we try to just yell louder to drown out His voice as concerns ourselves.

You want to be an evangelist? - start by listening.

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Sugar, Sugar, Ahh Linky, Linky

Longing for his "king of the world" days, James Cameron figures he will capitalize on the market for falicious claims regarding religion. A reasonable response here -- discussion here.

I can't help but think that having worked so hard to establish a faith-based media market, if you will, that counter programming was inevitable. We might as well get used to it.

Or maybe they just thought it looked cool.

Yeah, well, my watchdog is "x-temely" hungry for nanny watchdog meat.

In some parts of the world, this is called "dinner on the hoof." Been there, if you ever are, the most important words you have in your vocabulary are "No Thank You."

What in the world is a "prarie dog credit" and how do I get some?

Now the secret is out - environmentalists are really prohibitionists. Now it's over.

Guess what I am doing this weekend.

How do crazy people get enough money to own a house? Besides, last time I got a message from God like that, He told me to shave it in the dog's fur. Proof this lady's nuts.

Here's a better idea - use this on them, then they'll listen.

Seems entirely logical to me.

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Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, February 26, 2007


Fisking The Christian Left

I wish I had the patience to write posts like this at Kruse Kronicle. In it, Michael illustrates two really important points.

One is the use of proof-texting, and particularly as it applies to political arguments on issues in which religion might have a voice. He rightly points out that this is prevalent on both sides of politics, although in the piece, he is specifically addressing some egregious examples from the left.

The second point is related and that is the use of proper hermeneutics when examining scripture. More than simple context, we need to research well to determine the original authors precise intent.

What is most interesting to me; however, is how none of the poorly used scriptural citations he discusses are directly related to the issue at hand; there may be a peripheral correlation, but it is not like the Bible has specific instructions on the matter.

One of the things that becomes apparent when you consider that fact is that as Christians we need to devise a set of principles and guidelines that aid us in making decisions about specific circumstances. This is a bit beyond a worldview and extends to the realm of ethics.

Now let's bring this back to politics. To be effective politically in a religiously diverse United States two things become apparent when you arrive at that set of principles and guidlines. The first is that you have to find a way to defend them in the public sphere apart from quoting scripture or other divine resources. Many in the public sphere will not share your view of the divinity of the resource you cite and your argument will simply fall flat.

But another apparent fact is that either your faith and its set of principles and guidlines must have a clear majority (not true in this nation at this time) or you must make common cause with people of other religious persuasions, or non-divine ideologies, whose set of principles and guidelines are reasonably close to yours.

He with the most votes wins, it's that simple. That means with have to work with people in political areas that we might not work with in other areas. Which brings me to the final point I want to make in this post. Politics is not life. We live in a nation of limited (though increasingly less so) government. Making common political cause with someone or some group does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean you endorse, agree with, condone, or otherwise uphold all aspects of that person or groups life.

Most of us as Christians are poltiical conservatives. Limited government is a bedrock of being conservative. If we grant too much importance to politics, the kind of importance we ascribe to it when we demand certain religious affliation of a candidate or party, we ascribe to the liberal idea of expanding and large government. We divorce ourselves from our own fundamental principles.

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I'm A Be-Linker

Thanks to Amy Ridenour for this bit of global warming sanity.

Yes, we found them just so we can endanger them.

Fascism is not dead, it has just changed targets.

Speaking of which, here's something I'm not very comfortable with.

You know, the church is at it's best when oppressed.

I have to admit, planting them in the dirt is pretty cruel.

Possibly the best theft protection systrem ever invented.

Left-leaning activists? Telephone solicitors? Clearly this list is incomplete.

But sadly, the chip went wrong, the cat grew extra arms ans Spider-man had to be called to save the day. (It's true, way too many comics)

Good plan.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007


Another Pleasant Valley Sun-Link

Bigotry on display. Now, the thing I want to point out is the absolute importance of facts. This person starts with the premise that Tom and Jerry was a Disney production. It wasn't - it was an MGM production. He then calls Disney a Jewish company - Walt Disney was a Congregationalist, when he bothered. MGM was publicly traded (Disney, of course, is now, but was not in the heyday of Tom and Jerry production) and Tom and Jerry's were made by numerous directors, but most notably Hanna-Barbera who as best as I can tell had no reliious affiliation, although I think it possible they were of Jewish ancestory. In other words, the guy starts with the bigotry and builds a case for it.

In the public square, how often do we accept wrong facts and accusations about another religion, just becasue we think a religon is wrong? In a religiously plural society - facts matter. we need to be careful

Comics/Icons/Faith. All stuff I'm really interested in and this was a cool link when I saved it last night - but the links are broken at the moment. Hopefully, they will be fixed by the time you set to it.

This will undoubtly call for joint protests by PETA and the anti-death penalty crowd. Those should be interesting.

Don't the robes get in the way?

Send this kid for lottery tickets.

As long as they arrest the dog.

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Sermons and Lessons


William Gallogly Moorehead, Professor of New Testament literature and exegesis, from 1899-1914 president of the faculty in Xenia Theological Seminary, Ohio; born Rix Mills, Muskingum Co., Ohio, 1836; educated Allegheny Theological Seminary, 1858,9; Xenia Theological Seminary, 1859-62; ordained to the ministry, 1862; missionary of the American and Foreign Christian Union, Italy, 1862-69; pastor of First United Presbyterian church, Xenia, 1870; author of "Outline Studies in Old Testament," "Studies in the Mosaic Institutions," "Studies in the Four Gospels," "Outline Studies in Acts—Ephesians," "Outline Studies in Philippians—Hebrews."


There was a man sent from God whose name was John. - John 1:6.

This is a short but significant description of the mission of John the Baptist. Few men whose names appear in the Bible receive such honorable mention as he. His place in the divine record is most conspicuous and the commendation of him unqualified lie whose judgment is always exact, founded as it is on his unerring knowledge of men, declared him to be a prophet and more than a prophet: of women-born none was greater (Luke 7:25-28). His coming and his ministry were the subject of prediction centuries before he appeared in the world. His birth was supernatural, as truly so as that of Isaac, for he came to gladden the hearts of his parents when they were old and well-stricken in years. His name of John was given him by the angel who announced his birth to his astonished father in the Temple.

That which arrests attention in this verse and which is its prominent feature is the fact that John the Baptist was sent from God and by God into the world. His ministry was of heavenly origin, and himself likewise was heaven-sent. Both himself and his mission were of divine appointment and ordainment. John seems to have regarded this as the chief part of his commission, and he refers to it again and again as the essential feature of his life and work (comp. John 1:33; 3:28; Mark 1:2). The same thing is made prominent in the prophecy which announced his advent (Mal. 3:1). This, then, is the main idea in the text, viz: a man sent from God. But this element, so marked in his case, is not peculiar or exceptional. It is also true of all who are commissioned to do God‘s work in the world. The mark by which they are distinguished, whether in Old or New Testament times, whether ancient or modern, is precisely this, they are men sent from God. Be it Moses or Samuel, Paul or Peter, Martin Luther or John Knox; be it any and every genuine servant of Christ in our own day; they are alike distinguished by this sign; they have divine authority for their mission.

Of those whom the Lord in His great mercy sends forth upon His errands there are two classes; the ordinary laborers whose ministry is occupied with the common duties, the everyday toil which the gospel imposes, without which all testimony for God would ultimately cease. We cannot rate too highly those faithful men whose lives are spent largely in quietness and obscurity and who are contented, even happy in their lot, and to whom the Church and the world owe more than can ever be paid. Besides these who make up the vast mass of God‘s workers there are the extraordinary laborers who are raised up for special service, for supreme emergencies, and who are correspondingly equipped therefore. To this class, the extraordinary messengers of God, John the Baptist belonged, and it is of these we are to speak more especially.

One of the most precious gifts heaven bestows on the earth is a man with a message for his fellows. A man sent to deliver tidings of great joy, to acquaint us with God’s thoughts and purposes about us, to pour light into our darkness, and to ff1 the heart with a song of gladness - what greater boon could be ours, or should be more acceptable? Such a gift ranks above every earthly good, ranks next to God’s ”unspeakable gift“ with which indeed it is closely associated. And such men do now and then appear; genuine messengers from God, envoys extraordinary from the court of heaven. Their advents are occasional, their visits rare. Long stretches of time often lie between the presence of one and that of his fellow. Their coming is like that of the highest poets and heroes, infrequent and exceptional. There is no regular succession of them. Sometimes they appear in groups, and they deliver their messages contemporaneously, as in the deportation of the Israelites to Babylon when great prophets like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were on the world‘s stage together; as in the beginning of Christianity when a whole cluster of them united in giving their testimony to men; as in the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Sometimes one appears alone, as in the instance of Moses, Samuel, and Elijah. But whether in groups or singly, God in His gracious pity and love does ever and anon enrich our race with the gift of a man from Himself. To spend a little while in the company of such men is profitable. We cannot look, however inadequately, on a man sent from God without gaining somewhat from him. He is a living light-fountain which it is good and pleasant to be near, in whose radiance all souls must feel that it is well with them. On any terms whatsoever we should not grudge to stay for awhile in his neighborhood.

These men receive their commission directly from the Lord Himself. He furnishes them with their message and He equips them for their ministry. They are sent by Him, hence their mission is authoritative; they are sent from Him, therefore they have the needed gifts. Our Lord reserves to Himself the sovereign right to select and to commission His laborers. It is His prerogative as the Master in His own house, a prerogative that He has not delegated to any mere man or body of men. Thus He speaks, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain “ (John 15:16). Thus likewise we are told that having ascended up on high “he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ “ (Eph. 4:13). All gifts and graces, offices and office-bearers flow from Him. Christ is the ruler in His own house under whose hand the order of the house proceeds and the servants, great and small, come and go. Primarily they are not man-made nor man-appointed. They receive not their commission from mitered priest, nor at the hands of Presbytery. The ministerial call and function are not imparted by any holy chrism or imposition of human hands, nor by education or theological lore. Properly speaking man has nothing to do with the great office save gladly to recognize what God in His sovereign good pleasure has given, chosen, and sent forth.

Two important results flow from this truth. One is this: they whom the Lord sends forth into His work are clothed with divine authority. The Lord Jesus invests His servants with the like authority He Himself has, for in His intercessory prayer lie says, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world“ (John 17:18). He had His commission from God, the fountain and source of all power and lordship. His apostles share with Him in their appointment and mission. Wherever they go they carry with them heavenly credentials, and their message is authenticated by a power that is extra-human. It is not they who speak but the Spirit of their Lord. Men therefore listen to their voice, hang upon their words, follow them with joy that they may hear and learn, and have peace.

The other is this: their whole-hearted devotion to their great task. Each of these sent men is swayed by an impulse, a force that ever impels him to fulfill his mission, to finish his work. It is the burden laid upon him by his Master, a burden he cannot lift from his shoulders and would not if he could. It is the will, the voice of God heard in the central deeps of his being, ever insistent, urgent, irresistible. Paul refers to it in language that may well be that of every one sent of God:

Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me if I preach not the gospel. ”That strange, compelling necessity drove him a glad and willing servant over much of Asia, over large sections of Europe, amid privation, suffering, victories and defeats, that he might make men know the love of God which surpasses knowledge. These men cannot do otherwise; they must accomplish their mission, fulfill their task, or die. One of them, the prophet Jeremiah, actually sought to stifle the voice within his soul, and said to himself, I will speak no more, I will sit in silence and witness no more, but the mighty word within him became as a burning flame in his bones, be was weary of forbearing, he could not contain (Jer. 20:9). Ease, comfort, home often, wealth, social position, friends are all secondary, and are sacrificed without a pang of grief when they would thrust themselves between the man and his mission, when they would arrest his feet. He is God‘s messenger, and be cannot be stayed nor linger.

Men sent from God are endowed with the noblest talents and gifts. The magnitude of the errand upon which they come necessitates this. All workers for God may justly be said to be sent by Him, and by Him they are fitted for their task. But there come occasionally into our race those who create epochs in history, who set loose new forces that change the course of things, who become light-centers that fling their radiance far out into the surrounding darkness, whose life and teaching mold the thoughts and beliefs of generations. He who sends them takes care that they are supplied with the gifts and filled with the talents, the greatness and the difficulties of their mission demand. From their birth they are girded by Him with power. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). The angel that announced his advent said, “He shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah.” He was born great; enriched with supreme gifts from the beginning. Thus, likewise, when Moses was born, we are told his parents hid him for they saw he was “a goodly child.” In Heb. 11:23 we learn that they saw he was “a proper child.” Stephen explains what the attractiveness in the face of the little Moses was that arrested the attention and aroused the hope of his parents – he ”was exceeding fair“ (Acts 7:20) - ”beautiful unto God“ is Stephen‘s fine term. There was that in his face which faith read, for God had set His stamp upon him and so parted him from other children. From his birth Moses had the marks of one chosen of God and equipped with the most extraordinary talents. Amram and Jochebed interpreted the divine purpose which providence traced in the face of their gifted child, and they feared not the king’s commandment.

The like supernatural endowment appears in the case of the prophets, notably in Jeremiah and Isaiah. We learn that Jeremiah was set apart to his high office before he be¬gan to exist. His choice as the messenger of God antedated his birth. As his mission was to be a most unwelcome and perilous one, a ministry of admonition and of antagonism, God fitted him for it by the richest bestowments. He was to be the solitary fortress, the column of iron, the wall of brass, the one immovable figure standing athwart the path of the apostatizing nation, struggling to arrest and turn them back; and he was girded with the strength his hard mission imposed. In the remarkable vision of Isaiah (Chap. 6) the prophet saw the Lord high and lifted up and heard the ceaseless chant of the seraphim, and he fell on his face overwhelmed with the sense of his own and his people‘s sinfulness. His cry was, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” The swift seraph laid the flaming coal from the altar on his defiled lips. Thereby his pollution was purged away, and the marvelous style and sublime diction which have entranced the world were created. The like equipment is seen in the primitive Christian disciples. The Spirit in the form of disparted tongues of fire sat upon each of them. It was the fulfillment of the promise that they should be endued with power from on high. It symbolized the supernatural gift of speech, of burning, invincible speech that none could gainsay or resist.

We find evidences of an impartation of extraordinary gifts for extraordinary service, in other men whose names are not recorded in the Scriptures. One or two examples must suffice. The first is Martin Luther. A child of the people, of obscure and humble origin, the son of a miner, all his ancestors back to his great-grandfather peasants, without fame or fortune, Luther was set to grapple in a death-struggle with the most gigantic power, the most consummate organization in existence. What were his gifts that he single-handed should smite the Colossus to the ground, free the race from its cruel domination, unchain the Bible and give it unfettered to the world? God was in the mighty struggle, we cannot doubt; it was His battle, not Luther’s alone, and His was the victory. But He took care that the man sent to accomplish the mighty task should be girded with His strength. If the trenchant words of John smote on the ears of Israel as a voice from the other world and stirred the heart of the nation, we may well say with Richter that Luther’s words were “half battles.” He flashed out illumination from him; his striking idiomatic phrases and sentences pierced to the very heart of the controversy. There was in him insight, profound insight that betokens genius and more than genius, even the presence and the power of the Spirit of God. Frenchmen do not appreciate perhaps how much they owe to John Calvin and his fellow reformers, as Beza and Farrel, for the copious, firm, precise and accurate speech they wield with such elegance and power, just as the English-speaking people but feebly recognize the debt they owe to John Wyclif, John Knox, and William Tindale for our splendid English tongue.

The same truth is seen in the equipment of William Carey, the pioneer in modern missions. Sydney Smith sneeringly named him the “consecrated cobbler.” A maker and mender of shoes he was, and he honestly and heroically maintained his family thereby when the little flock of Christians to whom he ministered could but scantily support him. Notwithstanding the pressure of poverty, he managed to acquire Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and a goodly amount of other useful knowledge, especially in natural history and botany. But it was in India that his true mission opened to him, and his marvelous capacity for the mastering of difficult languages was dis¬played. His translation of the Bible, in whole or in part, either alone or with others, into some twenty-six Indian languages; his Serampur press rendering the Scripture accessible to more than a hundred million human beings; his composition of grammars and dictionaries of several tongues; his professorship of thirty years at Fort William College in Calcutta—all this and much more exhibit something of the marvelous talents with which God had enriched His servant, William Carey.

Two lessons we may learn from the facts thus set forth. One is, that no emergency or crisis in human affairs finds God unprepared. He has His chosen instruments ready for every circumstance and every exigency that may arise. Even the fall of Adam was not a surprise, nor was redemption an afterthought. When Messiah is about to appear among men His forerunner is sent to prepare His way for Him. When Egyptian bondage has reached its climax, then Moses arrives. Grateful Jewish hearts have coined the magnificent proverb that has cheered many an oppressed one since: “When the tale of bricks is doubled and there is no straw, then Moses comes.” When the papal cup of abomination was brim-full and running over, heaven-sent men struck the filthy thing to the ground. When the gospel was to be carried to the re¬gions beyond, when the age of missions had arrived, William Carey and Adoniram Judson were sent forth, and the churches of Britain and of America sprang to their feet to help in the blessed work. “God never is before His time, He never is too late.”

The other lesson is, that the Lord alone can impart the gifts needed for extraordinary service. No man nor body of men can bestow them. Money can not buy them. Station furnishes them not. Education cannot secure them. They cannot be bought nor wrought by the hand of man. Education may whet the scythe, it cannot make it.

Another characteristic of such men is that they receive special training from the Lord Himself.

It is not enough that they be endowed with great natural talents and capacities; they must enter God‘s school that their powers may be developed, their acquaintance with Him and His truth be made sure and absolute. They are always sent to that school and set down to those lessons which will fit them for their tasks. John the Baptist was in the desert until his showing unto Israel. His wilderness sojourn was one of thirty years. God led him there and there schooled and disciplined him for his dangerous and difficult mission. There in the profound solitude afar from the enervating influences of hollow formalism and artificial life, with none near but God, his spirit was chastened and tempered for the solemn duties that awaited him. This is characteristic of all sent of God. When He would fit His servants for some vast work requiring spiritual might and heroic self-sacrifice, He takes them afar from the distracting cares of the world to commune with Himself in the grandeur of solitude. Forty years Moses spent in the desert of Midian, a keeper of sheep, the best years of his life wasted utterly, worldly wisdom would say—but rashly. That sojourn qualified Moses to become the deliverer of Israel, the leader of the Exodus, the conqueror of Egypt and the lawgiver of his nation. His education in Pharaoh‘s court might be valuable; this of the wilderness was indispensable. “All the wisdom of Egypt “could not have prepared him for his future path. No man is fit to do God’s work who has not had some training with the Lord Himself. Nothing can take its place, nothing make up for its loss.

All God’s servants have been taught in this stern school. Elijah at Cherith, Ezekiel at Chebar, David in exile, Paul in Arabia, Savonarola in St. Mark ‘a Convent, Luther in Erfurth, are eminent examples of the immense value of being taught of God. The divine Servant, the Lord Jesus, spent by far the largest part of His earthly sojourn in the privacy and obscurity of Nazareth. Even in His public ministry He often retreated from the gaze of men to enjoy the sweet and sacred retirement of the Father’s presence. None can teach like the Lord. The man whom He educates is educated, and none other. It lies not within the range of man’s ability to prepare an instrument for the service of God. Man’s hand can never mold “a vessel meet for the Master‘s use.” Ordinarily great truths are not revealed to. Men in an instant of time; these are not thrust into the mind as if fired from a catapult. The truths a man can live and die on are wrought in the fires of the heart, in bitterest soul-agonies often, in plash of tears and sobs of secret longing. In silence and loneliness generally the true world workers are trained for their mission. Men who have learned to nurse their souls on truth in solitary meditation and communion with the Invisible speak at length words that men must hear and heed.

A firm persuasion of the absolute truth of their message is another characteristic of those who are sent from God. It is conviction of its truth and more than conviction; it is assurance of faith profound, immovable, unalterable. God has spoken to them, and in the central deeps of their being His word is enshrined. More certain than life or death, more stable than the everlasting hills, firm as the throne itself, they know the message to be. We see this feature prominent in John. The period of the desert discipline was over; his difficulties and his struggles were ended. He had reached convictions, had learned truths on which to live and die, and he came forth from his retirement with his message, every word and syllable of which was to him a living verity, the eternal word of God. For in the solitude of the wilderness his spirit had been hardened into the temper a reformer needs. His locust food, his garment of camel ‘s hair cloth, his indifference to worldly comforts, his contempt of luxurious ease, his separation and his loneliness, his bronzed face and unfaltering tongue, all told how real his ministry was. If ever men saw a sincere and genuine man it was John the Baptist. Now this is true of all men who are sent from God. Standing in the midst of a world full of uncertainty, of doubt, and skepticism, they know whom they have believed and what they affirm. Each of them uses the little but significant word “know “ - “we know “; “I know.” There is not the slightest taint of agnosticism in their creed; agnostics they are not nor can be. They have all caught a gleam of the infinite glory; to some of them, to almost all of them, the King in His beauty has been revealed; to them heaven itself has been opened, and the ineffable light has streamed down upon their faces. That light, that blessed vision is never forgotten; it stays with them to the end, through all their vicissitudes and their discouragements, their victories and defeats. They have received the message of God, have felt the powers of the world to come, the Spirit of God has borne witness with their spirits: therefore they cannot be flattered nor argued nor sneered nor perse¬cuted out of their faith and their testimony.

This assured confidence of the infallible certainty of the message is what the world wants. Multitudes are weary and sick of speculations, of barren idealities, and hol¬low formalism. They want realities, not hypotheses, food, not husks nor stones. God’s chosen messengers bear precisely such messages, and their faith in them is unwavering. They know that they know. It is easy to de¬nounce the evil and evil tendencies of our age, and to extol the virtues and excellencies of former days. While there are not wanting the evidence of much good, of genuinely heroic self-sacrifice on the part of multitudes of Christian men and women, it must sorrowfully be acknowledged that sinister assailants of no common sort threaten the cause and people of God on every side. There are principles and tendencies at work in modern society which if left unchecked will ere long result in disaster and ruin. A lawless drift is already on us, precurser of worse to come. Who does not perceive that the ax is already aimed at the chief hoops that bind together the staves of the civil polity? The restlessness under restraint, the revolt against authority and even law, the growth of agnosticism, the assaults on the Bible the anchor of all true religion, the prevalence of materialism, fostered as this is by the philosophy and the commercialism of the time, the enormous greed of those who have and who want still more, the deep ominous growl of those who have not, who want and will have - all this betokens the breaking down of the barriers and the near approach of the “falling away,” the apostasy, of which prophecy speaks with most solemn warning (2 Thess. 2:3, 4). Men sent from God, with their living personal apprehension of God never perhaps were more needed than now; men who believe, with their whole mind and heart, soul and strength; believe, and endure as seeing Him who is invisible.

Some other features of these men may be grouped together and briefly treated. These are men of ardent love, of deep and abiding affection for their fellows. Paul had a continual heaviness and sorrow in his heart for his unbelieving countrymen. One may well doubt whether he had unalloyed happiness for a single day during the whole period of his Christian career. Wherever he went he carried this burden of grief, a heart full of tears. Nor was his solicitude confined to the descendants of Abraham. How pathetic are the terms in which he addresses certain Gentile converts who were slipping away from the truth and the liberty of Christ in which he had set them:” My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you. . . . I am perplexed about you.” “Now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord.” Knox’s midnight cry, “Give me Scotland or I die,” discloses the like passionate, tearful love and yearning. It reminds us of His tears who wept over guilty, impenitent Jerusalem,

"0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! "

Strength and courage are always found allied with the tenderest feelings and emotions. Luther could be as strong and fearless as a lion in the presence of the great and mighty of earth, and yet be as a little child with children. He loved music, loved to sing his even¬song, to play soft melodies on his flute. He delighted in birds, in the still starry nights, and in the flowers and shrubs and trees. Many a tree he planted with his own hands. Strong, courageous, but tender with all, and gentle as a little child. He used what seems in our day violent and awful words against the pope, against Henry VIII and against others, yet words that the circumstances demanded and the tyrannies and despotisms of these exalted potentates made necessary. He called them the swine of hell, and told them he, Martin, would grind their brazen foreheads into powder! He writes: “I have seen and defied innumerable devils. Duke George of Leipzic “-a great enemy of his-” is not equal to one devil. If I had business at Leipzig, I would ride into Leipzig, tho it rained Duke Georges for nine days running.” “He lies there,” said the Earl of Morton at Knox’s grave, “who never feared the face of man.” They may appear harsh, intolerant, these heaven-sent men, but it must never be forgotten that the mission imposed on them, the solemn, awful message they have to deliver, and their fidelity to Him who commissions them, forbid absolutely all softness, compromise, and pliability. The message as often contains lamentations and mourning and was as good tidings of great joy. It is the Lord’s word they speak, and it is one of truth always, often of stern reproof and dreadful denuncia¬tion. Whatever the message, let it be ours to welcome the messenger, and be glad for the heaven-sent man.

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