Archive for July, 2009

A Slave for Christ

Leonard Dober wondered if Jesus had thought the cross too much; then he remembered Jesus’ prayer in the garden ended, “Not my will, but yours, Father.” Leonard’s task seemed impossible, but he was pursuing God’s will and not his own.

Leonard Dober determined that God’s call to him was to reach slaves in the Virgin Islands. He planned to reach these men and women by selling himself as a slave and working alongside others each day while sharing Jesus’ love with them. The thought of being a slave frightened and sickened him. He dreaded the treatment he would receive. “But Christ was willing to die on the cross for me,” he thought. “No price is too high to serve him.”

It wasn’t the slave masters who were Dober’s harshest persecutors, but rather fellow Christians. They questioned his call to minister to slaves and ridiculed him as a fool for his plan. But Dober would not be dissuaded. He arrived in the Virgin Islands late in the 1730s.

When he became a servant in the governor’s house, he feared that this position was too far removed from the slaves to whom he had come to minister. So he left and moved from the governor’s house to a mud hut where he could work one-on-one with slaves.

In just three years, Dober’s ministry included more than thirteen thousand new converts.

Jesus freaks. That’s what the world calls those whose faith seems a bit radical. Odd. Extreme. Dober was an eighteenth century “Jesus freak”—a free man who chose to live as a slave in order to win them to Jesus. He was willing to do whatever it took to squeeze the last ounce of devotion from his heart in service to Christ. For Dober, that meant a specific plan that made sense to no one but him. Have you been written off because of your freakish refusal to go along with the majority rule? If God has called you to do something radical for him in your family, church, or community, you must obey. Let others call you crazy, but may Jesus find you committed.

The preceeding was taken from the VotM blog and can be found in the book: Extreme Devotion. As to why Dober desired to live this way, here is the man explaining his own reasoning:

Since it is desired of me to make known my reason, I can say that my disposition was never to travel during this time, but only to ground myself more steadfastly in my Savior; that when the gracious count came back from his trip to Denmark and told me about the slaves, it gripped me so that I could not get free of it. I vowed to myself that if one other brother would go with me, I would become a slave, and would tell him so, and what I had experienced from our Savior: that the word of the cross in its lowliness shows a special strength to souls. As for me, I thought: even if helpful to no one in it I could still give witness through it of obedience to our Savior! I leave it to the good judgment of the congregation and have no other ground than this I thought: that on the island there still are souls who cannot believe because they have not heard.

Communion Journal

There is a justifying work that the blood of Christ works in our life. This affect is universal and has no degrees but is accomplished to perfection on all who are called by his name.

There is also a sanctifying work that the blood of Christ works in our life. This sanctifying effect is what allows us to offer pleasing service to our Lord. Yet not all we do is sanctified. Not everything is made holy. Some things Christians do are a stench in his nostrils. Praise be that the justifying work of the blood is universal or we would be condemned for such things. A question of much importance then is which types of actions the blood of Christ sanctifies. As a very brief introduction to an answer to that question is that he sanctifies our best, not our worst. This is a most useful conclusion to come to.

Yesterday, I was enabled to share the gospel with someone. It was received well yet probably not savingly. Who knows, perhaps God will yet use it towards her salvation. Today, I tried to share Christ and failed. I failed for about four hours worth of trying. Its not that people didn’t listen but that I never talked.

Is God disappointed? In a way he should be. How could I try to share Christ for the better part of the day and not even pass out one tract or mention one word about God’s goodness. Yet I believe that today, I was enabled by his good grace, to offer him my best service. He knows that I am but dust. He knows my best is terrible. Yet he is pleased by it. How gracious is he.

If you are reading this later and have offered up your best to God today. Praise him for it. Do not be discouraged that your best is not very good. Contrarily, be of great courage and hope that his might is shown great in our weakness. Yet if today you did not offer up your best—poor as it is—God has not, sanctified your actions this day. Repent. God is just to forgive. Do better tomorrow. His favor will shine on you as you offer up acceptable worship to him.

Some verses to meditate on.

A Cycle

I sometimes wonder if I should go get a job.

I feel like I’m not living up to what God would have for me.

I think about getting a job to be more productive towards the Lord

I reason that if I’m going to get a job, I’d rather be doing some ministry work

If I’m going to be in ministry, I would like to go to seminary and be a pastor

Between becoming another American pastor and going over sees where I can feed spiritually and physically starving children, I would much rather go over sees.

Between doing that, and what I feel called by God to do here in America, I believe God would have me stay here to accomplish in us what he is planning.

I do not know what he is planning in us, and while we are waiting for it to be made plain,

I sometimes wonder if I should go get a job

Communion Journal

Have felt empowered by the Holy Spirit to wage war on my flesh today. This warfare is not as many think it is. It is not at all a matter of willpower. Willpower is striving to do something that you don’t want to do, but you know is really the best for you. Willpower is no fun at all. There is no true victory in willpower. Faith fights differently. By faith, I see that I no longer crave sin. It is the old man that lusts, not I. I am then free to mock and deride that old man. Do you really want that? I ask him. What a sad, miserable creature you are. What a slave to such silly things. Poor sad man, you shall soon be dead. You are just the last spasms of a dying creature, desperately lashing out for any thing in its grasp. You want money, sex, power, and fame; but you shall have none of those. Death is your only end.

I don’t try to pretend these things are true. I try to remember that these things are real. My only struggle then is to grasp reality. As I do, sin melts away. As I forget, sin fights back. This battle goes back and forth. Yet it goes back and forth in a much more enjoyable and victorious way than the battles of willpower.

Adonai, remember that I am but dust. I am made up of flesh, hormones, chemical reactions and fluids. Conform these things to a pattern of godliness. If not, they will worship this world instead of their creator.

Communion Journal

Read today about a woman who was executed in North Korea for distributing Bibles. Lord, why do things like this affect my heart so little. Is not her blood precious for declaring your gospel? Why do I immediately treat her case with scorn and skepticism? Fill me with your spirit towards your martyrs. Please also be faithful towards her children who are now motherless and in prison as a result. Do I trust you to provide for such as these? Your word declares that you will but it is hard to believe when we see them like sheep to the slaughter—not in harms way because of their own decisions but as a result of their mom’s attempts to stumble after you. Will such be the fate of my children if I run hard after you? Protect them Lord. And protect me from faithlessness in this regard. Help me to trust—to earnestly believe—that you are the best Father to my children and to the children of your martyrs. Oh for faith that runs. Mine seems barely able, at times, to move. Conform me to your image oh God. Then these nagging doubts will no longer be a concern.

Communion Journal

Had the thought today: would I feel any worse for my sins should Christ kill one of my children because of them. Obviously, I would feel much worse. My heart would break much more than it does now. Christ died for my sins. Why should I care less about his death?

Communion Journal

Lord will you sup with me? Even now in the midst of crowds can I commune with you? Surely nothing can keep us from you. Nothing can prevent us in entering into your presence, for Christ pleads on behalf of our audience. Lord, Father, break me. Give me a destitute heart for my sin. I know of nothing that will force me to run naked to you more than such a desolate contrition, and you is what I want. If I knew a surer way into your presence I would go that way. Perhaps others know better how to commune with you more easily. As for me, I go by way of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Communion Journal

Sat down to relax after a long drive home and instead of browsing around on the computer (which is what I really wanted to do), I read from the book of Judges. I got so much refreshment from seeing a loving and faithful God dealing with his people. God himself is the fountainhead of living waters and his holy word is his communication to us of those waters. In vain do we look for refreshment elsewhere.

Communion Journal

Woke up this morning praying that God would break my heart for my sins. This was a great refreshment to my soul, which has felt lukewarm these last few days. I do not understand Christian life without a continual breaking of heart.

Communion Journal

Talked with a stranger while downtown today. I told him from Numbers 22:20 to make his ways right before God and God himself would be his defender. Else, God would stand opposed to him as his adversary. Forgot to say that only in Christ and by Christ’s death can we be right before God. When do I ever get it right? Thankfully, God is the great searcher for lost sheep, not I. The man seemed to be quite interested—perhaps even comforted—in what I said though. Perhaps that is what he needed to hear.

Communion Journal

Yesterday, I entered into a great confusion. All decisions—from great to small—seemed impossible to make. This drove me to a sort of despair in prayer to God. The confusion was such that I could not determine whether the despair was of a godly sort(as it yielded desperate prayer)or of a doubting sort(have I not commanded you be strong and courageous)? The confusion seemed of the same nature as Paul’s in Phi. 1:21. Should he live or die? “Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.” In the end the great good he could do the Church prompts him to choose life. Though my doubt is not between life and death, I have the same type of confusion over choices that should be clear. Yet in the absurdity of God’s upside-down kingdom they become muddied. Paul cleared his confusion not with a remembrance of God’s goodness but by remembering his own fruitfulness in God’s vineyard. I do not have such fruit in God’s Church, how then shall I make such decisions?

Whether this confusion was Godly or not I cannot say, but by the end of the day, I was very glad for it as it produced several sweet fruits, the greatest of which was a groaning of my spirit for the salvation of souls. I felt it a great sign of my heart’s softening that it could reach such despair over my own lack of fruit in that area.

Towards the goal of evangelism, I purchased a Bible and began compiling a list of verses that seem useful in evangelical conversations.

On another note, several days ago I decided to stop striving so hard to find faith and delight in what God is going to do for me today and to focus more in finding joy and delight in what he has already accomplished. I wonder if yesterday’s confusion was a consequence of that decision.

Communion Journal

Oh my soul, shout for joy to God. How can you be anything but exultant? Sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” My gracious God, I cannot comply with these things on my own. I cannot raise my own soul to worship you. I need your help today. Have mercy on this fragmented heart. Incline it towards your testimonies and unite it in joy therein. I delight that provision has already been made to answer this prayer. Christ’s blood has already been shed and he—even your own Son—now pleads that same blood on my behalf. Why, oh Lord, do men put their hope in anything else? Why do I—who knows of the greatness of your salvation—trust in anything else? Forgive me my God, for my transgressions are great. I ought be crushed because of them. Yet I am not crushed—indeed I am the very righteousness of God because my savior bled for this very cause. For the sake of my half-heartedness this morning he died.

Why oh Lord am I forced through this process every morning? Why must I seek you with lifelessness again and again? Put an end to it. Break through that I might worship you.