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The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: soldiers

“Don’t Be Ashamed of My Chains…”

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I suddenly hear in his words an agony of earnestness that makes my heart stop. I breathe. Heave breathe; roll onto my side to get the weight off my chest. But it will not leave…

– – –
– – –

An old man, bent and nearly blind* is pressed down the corridor.
The step that once was firm and free is encumbered by shackles, the joints beg for mercy from the damp cold. This man is innocent. One look at his face is all it takes to prove it. But he is going to die.

You are in Rome. And this, is Nero’s dungeon.

Ruthless hands. Ruthless hearts.

The steps of the guards fade into silence and in my mind I am there.
There to see the great man grope about his cell; call out for his companion.
He calls for parchment, but he can’t see to write. Faithful Dr. Luke will write for him, this last will and testament. His hands tremble, his voice trembles, but this heart is strong.
Stronger than the Roman Empire.

It is Nero’s heart that trembles upstairs. (AA chap 48, “Paul Before Nero”)

But his frame is tired. And with the knowledge that he has not long to live, highest priorities becomes only priorities.
He wants to see his boy.

I do not know how the good doctor took the dictation without soaking the parchment with tears.
I couldn’t have.

I read the letter now, this last letter ever written by the Apostle to the Gentiles, this last will to the world, this letter to his boy, and I want to weep.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim 4:7)

Indeed you have, sir. Indeed you have.

I hear his chains rattle. And I hear a cry that is half audacious challenge, half daddy’s heart.
I can almost see the hand upraised, silhouette of shackles against cold stone. And my heart stops…

Don’t be ashamed, my boy.
Oh, don’t be ashamed of my chains

And don’t be ashamed of the Gospel. **

Luke writes. I read.

My heart leaps, as Timothy’s must have.
Timothy, who most likely did not make it back to Rome in time…

I hug my pillow. Pray

Oh my Father
let me never be ashamed.

*Many scholars believe the “thorn” of II Cor 12:7 was in fact near blindness…
**See II Timothy 1:8

To Fight or Not to Fight, That is The Question

Consider this Science of Temptation, part 2.
I was born to be a warrior.
So were you.
Trouble is, most warriors today are in confusion over titles and job descriptions.
If grace and faith are really sufficient, what need have we of war?
–   –   –
–   –   –

I pace the floor of my basement office, from french door to bookshelf and back. 
It’s cold in here. But my mind works best that way.

My finger runs past scores of titles on the shelf–
Past my Greek New Testament, Waggoner’s commentary on Isaiah, 11 journals…
Testimonies to Ministers, Conflict of the Ages, and great Christian classics.
Leather bound, paper bound, hard bound…

I find the one I’m looking for. 

And I pace again, my whole posture insisting on an answer. 

Temptation’s power is utterly insufficient for the man or woman who takes God at His Word, and denies the tempter’s underlying lie:
“I’ve got something better.”  *

End of conversation.

But if the power of temptation is truly thus neutralized, is there no need of war?

Ahh, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

The promises are completely (and exclusively) sufficient to vanquish the enemy. The money is in your pocket already. (Do yourself a favor and depend on it, because no other currency of your own earning will pay the debt, either.)

But we are soldiers. We wrestle.
Oh, but why??

“Conversion. . .does not put new flesh upon the old spirit; but a new Spirit within the old flesh. . . Deliverance and victory are not gained by having the human nature taken away; but by receiving the divine nature to subdue and have dominion over the human.”  **

Paul was surely talking of a wrestling match when he said “I keep under my body…” [better english word order would be, “I keep my body under me“]

Yet he speaks not of wrestling with the tempter… Christ Himself would not do that. ***
The tempter is to be dismissed by the Word.

But to wrestle the flesh is the work of the will.  

To receive the power of the engrafted Word, we must align ourselves (read: obedience) with that Word. 
And there is nothing easy about that.
But if being a soldier were easy, there would be no honor associated with the title.

This room is still cold. 
A mild allergy to gas flame means I awaken more alert with the heat off. 
The flesh hates 50 degrees in the morning. Every morning
But I have only three choices. Stay in bed and lose Gospel battles, turn up the heat, wake up groggy, and lose Gospel steam…

Or get up anyway.

I’ll take the third. 
* * * * *

The book slides back into it’s place on the shelf. 

We must fight. White knuckled and sore armed. Discipline. Sacrifice. Self-control. 

That is our battle.

There is no substitute for obedience.

Fight, soldier. Fight.

–  –  –
–  –  –

*  “The tempter can never compel us to do evil. He cannot control minds unless they are yielded to his control. The will must consent, faith must let go its hold upon Christ, before Satan can exercise his power upon us.” DA 125.2

** A. T. Jones, Review and Herald, April 18, 1899

*** “Though Jesus recognized Satan from the beginning, He was not provoked to enter into controversy with him. . .He would not parley with temptation. . . Jesus met Satan with the words of Scripture. ‘It is written,’ He said. In every temptation the weapon of His warfare was the word of God. . .So long as Christ held to this position, the tempter could gain no advantage.” DA 120

Consuming Treasure

I sit on black leather watching the day wake up past curtains drawn back on french doors. My thumb in the COL on my lap, my other hand behind my head… Countless yellow flowers sing “September!” in the morning sun’s first glow. 
My mind is far away.
I know God gives back. You’ve heard it said He never closes a door without opening a window– Never takes anything away without giving something better in its place.
I know.
But what of the times…

You know what I mean? Sometimes God grants that the fire should burn through our lives, and take away the dross…
And other times God grants that fire should burn through our lives, and completely consume the treasures.

And He doesn’t give them back.
I’ve had my share of fire over the years. And I’ve held on to more than my share of promises.
[The sun creeps across the floor and up the side of my desk; warms the cover of my journal.]
And I’ve probably written miles of ink lines in those books.

But this week, this morning, I’ve learned something. 
Something that gives me chills up and down my spine… and makes my blood surge jubilance.

The times when the fire burns through and takes treasures, leaving nothing to hold on to but memories of fire and smoke–
God has still given. 
He did give you something better. 
He gave you the fire.

My soul tingles.
If I am a soldier, if I am a victor, if I am free…

It is thanks to the treasure of losing everything, and never getting it back.
I sigh and smile.
I am free.
Blaze, Spirit blaze. Set our hearts on fire…”

I Have a Dream

“I have a dream.”

“I have a dream that one day–
Some day soon…

…there will be a thousand soldiers of the cross where there is now one.” 

“That on every corner of the globe, a fire will overrun the land.

And that from whatever corner of the earth I am in, I will hear a rumble…”

“And I will say: ‘I recognize that sound’…

‘That’s my God.’ 

‘That’s my God!’”

That’s my dream.

And I’m watching it come true.

*from closing comments, Walla Walla Youth Weekend 2011

Privileged: Part 2

I’m reminded…

In death, there is life. 

 Though pain, and toil, and sacrifice are the lot of the soldier, 

And though it may appear that for this time he gets no pay,

Remember that God has not asked anyone to serve Him here
without promising him an inheritance hereafter

There has never been a night
that was not followed by the morning…

“With the sovereignty of God is bound up the well-being of man. The glory of God is the joy and the blessing of all created beings. When we seek to promote His glory we are seeking for ourselves the highest good which it is possible for us to receive. . . . God calls for the consecration to His service of every faculty, of every gift you have received from Him. He wants you to say, with David: ‘All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.'” 

God’s Amazing Grace, Feb 22
Photo: Joshua Nebblett

Privileged: The Real Gospel

“The principle of the gospel is this: 
The gospel always brings life to the receiver,
and death to the giver.

If the gospel brought death to Jesus Christ, why would we think that in preaching the gospel it would be any less for us?…

So the mixture of our message is life and death,
And laughter and tears…

And this is voluntary.
This is not a sentence at all…
We’re not sentenced to death.
We’re just privileged to answer His call…”

–Jackie Pullinger
lifelong missionary to Hong Kong

Almost Home

Isaiah 66

Victory! At long last…

A fitting finish for the “Old Testament Gospel.” 
The last page closes on a people that shall remain as long as God’s name does… Because His name is written on their hearts and in their foreheads. There is no more death, no more war, no more anguish… 
“For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream… As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
But before you throw down your sword, let me gently remind you that our final chapter has not yet come. We are almost home, but as yet our work is still war and anguish. Our duty is still the laying down of our lives. 
There can be no victory where there is no fight…
Eternal Weight of Glory, 
                           make us strong.

“No Rest for the…”

“Soldiers engaged in battle have to meet difficulties and hardships. Coarse food is given them, and that often in limited quantities. They have long marches, day by day, over rough roads and under burning suns, camping out at night, sleeping on the bare ground, with only the canopy of heaven for a covering, exposed to drenching rains and chilling frosts, hungry, faint, exhausted, now standing as a target for the foe, now in deadly encounter. Thus they learn what hardship means. Those who enlist in Christ’s army are also expected to do difficult work, and to bear painful trials patiently for Christ’s sake….After gaining one advantage, you must do battle again.”

Did someone say that victory was a walk in the park? I hope not…
If it were, everybody would get it without effort, and it would cease to be of value.
It is the fight that substantiates freedom… 

“…But those who suffer with Him shall also reign with Him…Through divine strength you will prove more than a match for your enemies.”

Signs of the Times, Sept. 7, 1891.