Call for Candles

Let’s get on with the work of being His witness in these dark days.

Reading Spurgeon’s commentary on 1 Peter, I came across an illustration drawn from an event in American history. It’s a strong encouragement in “dark days” to be faithful.

On May 19, 1780, New England was thrown into complete darkness in the middle of the day. It was so dark that farm animals began nighttime routines, frogs and crickets began their songs, people had to abandon their outdoor work and those inside required candlelight. There were signs of the coming darkness in the skies for days before the event. Even George Washington made note of the “heavy and uncommon… clouds,” in his diary for May 18th. Today, scientists have a pretty good idea of what caused the blackout but for many New Englanders in that day it portended the arrival of divine judgment.

There was growing confusion and fear throughout the day. One clergyman wrote of people rushing “to the nearest church to confess their sins and say a prayer. Some even hunted down their local parson and demanded an impromptu sermon.” (1) The less religious folks began casting caution to the wind and urged debauchery as it seemed the world was ending.

In Connecticut, a number of the Governor’s Council were so shaken by the blackness around them that they proposed adjourning the meeting. Abraham Davenport, a colonel of Connecticut militia, refused to do so. He said: “The Judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjourning; and if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought.” (2)

John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker poet and abolitionist, recalled the event in a poem entitled with Davenport’s name:

Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
‘It is the Lord’s Great Day! Let us adjourn,’
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush. ‘This well may be
The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord’s command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hath set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, –
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles.’ And they brought them in.

(2) – From “Abraham Davenport”

Spurgeon used this incident as an illustration regarding 1 Peter 1:13. He was urging believers to faithful determination in their walk with Christ. “The teaching necessary for today is this: ‘Prepare your minds for action’ (1 Pet 1:13). Brace yourselves up; pull yourselves together; be firm, compact, consistent, determined. Do not be like quicksilver, which keeps on dissolving and running into fractions. Do not fritter away life upon trifles, but live to purpose, with undivided heart and decided resolution.” (Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: 1 Peter. (E. Ritzema & J. Strong, Eds.)

Spurgeon turned to the account of Abraham Davenport to illustrate his point and concluded it with a paragraph that echoes down the years to the day we find ourselves in:

“It is dark. But whatever is going to happen, or whatever is not going to happen, let us be found girded, sober, and hopeful. In these dark political times, these dark religious times, I call for candles. For we mean to go on working.”

Yes indeed. Call for candles. Let’s continue to faithfully be salt and light. Let’s get on with the work of being His witness in these dark days.

A Spiritual View of the Prepared Kingdom for Prepared Hearts

Colossians-3-2Bob Yarbrough is a retired pastor, a dear friend and a man of prayer who seeks the Father’s company. This is the first of many of his articles that will be reproduced on this blog. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Matthew 25:34

Perhaps you will remember the recorded story of Jesus that is introduced with the caption: “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” He pictured a prepared banquet and an invitation that read: “Come, for everything is ready.” Jesus proceeded to speak of the preoccupations of would-be guests that caused them to miss the feast. The first invitee says: “I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.” [Lk. 14:15-18].

Strange, that a man would buy something he had not seen! Perhaps Jesus was using his wit to accentuate the irrationality of the secular mind! Let me pivot on that to the Spiritual mind. Let us not think it strange that those who are told by “Good News” messengers that they are blessed by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with the inheritance of a long-prepared Spiritual kingdom should have a strong desire to go and see it! The really strange thing is to treat that reality as unworthy of serious investigation! A “so what?” indifference belies our confession!

In these meditations, I call you to “prepare your minds for action” [1 Pet. 1:13] in pursuit of the vision of what is given us in Christ! If you, in your resurrection union with Christ in the Spirit, will take the time to “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” [Col. 3:2], you will surely find what you seek, for the Lord declared it! [This promise of Jesus recorded in Matthew 7:7,8 is for us…and all whom He calls!]

By grace you have been placed at “the right hand” of the King of Heaven, who is set there by the Eternal Father to reign until every enemy is put under His rule. Hear now your King as He speaks to your heart: ‘Come, blessed ones…take your inheritance!” Paul comes alongside and entreats you, “Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession…”

Your confession is that “ In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you. Wouldn’t you like to see it? Is that possible?

If we believe the testimony of Paul to the Corinthians, he indeed, as “…a man in Christ…was caught up into Paradise…” There he “heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” [2 Cor. 12:2-5]. This capacity in Christ to receive “revelations” by the Spirit beyond what natural eye can see, ear hear, or mind entertain is undoubtedly what he prayed the believers at Ephesus would experience: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…”

Down through the ages, some have entered into the answer to this prayer. The secular closed mind tends to label these as “mystics,” not to be believed. For those willing to bear that reproach – “outside the camp” of cultural religion – for the surpassing joy of entering “the mystery” of the kingdom, I tell you who “knock at that door,” you will not be turned away.

Because of your birthright as a New Creation being you are invited to both “see” and “enter” the Kingdom of God! [Jn. 3:3,5] Will you receive my witness? Will you press on to “take hold of that for which Christ took hold of you”?[Phil 3:12] By this witness, Jesus is asking you, “What seek you?” If your heart says, “Master, where do you dwell?” Wait then in faith; He will say to you: “Come and see!” [Jn. 1:38,39] .

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Bob Yarbrough is a retired pastor, a dear friend and a man of prayer who seeks the Father’s company. This is the first of many of his articles that will be reproduced on this blog. 

My Quarrelsome, Fretful Wife

vidadocasalnamoro-e1347537472457 A caveat to begin: I realize that the title brought some of you here but I’m not talking about my wife.

Seriously. I’m not.

It’s that wife that shows up in Proverbs. The one that’s referred to as nagging, contentious, angry and fretful.

What’s her problem?

One study out of the U.K. determined (how, I have absolutely no clue!) that wives “spend 7,920 minutes a year nagging their husbands about household chores, their drinking and their health.” (1)  That’s 6 days a year!

I was doing a SOAP study with a friend over coffee yesterday and we were working out of Proverbs 21. There she was:

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
(Proverbs 21:9 ESV)

And she showed up again in vs.19:

It is better to live in a desert land, than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
(Proverbs 21:19 ESV)

Anytime something shows up twice in the same chapter I’m on alert that it needs extra attention. So I started asking myself: why has she become this quarrelsome, dripping faucet? (19:13; 25:24; 27:15).

I’ll confess. When guys read these passages together they usually chuckle, make some kind of guy “brothers in arms” comment and agree to move on to another passage. Not this time. Why was she this way?

 Here’s 10 questions to ask yourself as a husband that come from the same chapter:

1) Am I merciful to my wife? vs. 10
2) Do I listen to my wife? vs. 13
3) Does my wife see me practice self-denial? vs.17
4) Does my wife feel secure? vs. 20
5) Does she receive kindness from me? vs. 21
6) Do I engage in spiritual warfare for my home? vs.22
7) Do my words provoke her? vs. 23
8) Am I lazy about household responsibilities? vs.25
9) Am I generous or stingy toward her? vs. 26
10) Is she reacting to my own pride? vs.29

To be fair to husbands for a moment, let’s acknowledge that some wives become fretful and nagging due to their own sinful reactions and choices and even the best of husbands can’t prevent that from happening but, in general, women are responders and when real needs are met by loving husbands the home can be an oasis to enjoy, not a place to avoid.

Face it brother. You didn’t marry a quarrelsome, fretful woman.

What’s her problem?

What’s yours?

 


(1) Daily U.K. Mail Reporter, 17 June 2010

The Pacing of Jesus – Part 1

pacingDave Buehring is the Founder and Director of the Lionshare Leadership Group and one of the foremost voices on building disciples in our day. I’m honored to call him a friend and to be able to post this series with his permission.

The Pacing of Jesus – Part 1 

At a time of year when we often reflect on our aims and priorities, make fresh commitments and try to bring about improvements in our lives, I would like to submit to you some thoughts on how Jesus paced His life. ~ Dave BuehringI continue to notice how ragged many leaders are. They seem to be ‘sucking air’ while diligently serving where they have been placed by God to serve. As many of you already know the ‘finishing well’ and ‘ways of God’ themes are ones I have been associated with now for many years, and I have to say when I look at some leaders through these sets of lenses I find myself really concerned.

I am reminded of a journey through the Gospels that I embarked on a number of years ago as I sought to understand the ‘pacing of Jesus’ in light of my own walk as His disciple. Maybe what I discovered will be an encouragement or offer some mid-course correction for you as it has for me. I found that Jesus’ ‘compass points’ as it related to dictating ‘His pace’ included the following:

  • He was secure in who He was/where He came from/where he was going so He could serve ~ Jn.13:1-5
  • He did only what the Father was doing ~ Jn.5:19-20
  • He was motivated by obedience, not driven by needs ~Jn.11:1-44 (note that He did not go right away)
  • He rested with his friends for awhile ~ Mk.6:31
  • He knew that His vision could only be fulfilled by discipling and multiplying within others ~ Mt.28:18-20

When you have an opportunity to “break your stride” for a few moments, take a peek at these truths by reflecting on the Scriptures that accompany them and see if you are aligned to the pacing of Jesus. Then join me over the next five weeks as I break each one of these down in practical ways that you can apply to your life.

~ Dave Buehring has served for thirty-five years as a missionary, pastor, teacher, and disciple-maker. He is the Founder and Team Leader of the Lionshare Leadership Group, the facilitator of NetDMC and author of A Discipleship Journey and The Jesus Blueprint.