Tag Archives: Suffering

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.

The Wounded Soul

It takes a wound. This wounding must be done by God. He has a way of striping our souls bare and exposing the depths of what we are. We all fear—deep down—that we are failures. The wounding comes when we see the truth of these things. The one wounded freely acknowledges that everyone ought hate him. Until now, he has feared that his family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers would discover unspeakable shame in himself. He has hidden this fear, but now the full force of it comes and he is undone. All of his hopes and dreams are for nothing. All of his desires are for things that he either wont get, or that aren’t worth getting anyway. He falls into utter despair. He is cut to the quick. From this wound, there is no recovery.

Such despair is essential to the conversion process. Heretofore, the source of a man’s dreams, joys, hopes, and delights has not been God. He has always feared, “maybe I am of no use to anyone.” Now he knows that this is completely correct. When God speaks, you can’t say nice things back to him. You lay as one slain. This is the gospel: we can’t save ourselves, only God can.

John Bunyan said:

Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think … It is wounding work, of course, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving. … Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the scion must be let in with a wound; to stick it on to the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say, must be done by a wound.

The Christian life not only starts in this manner, but it continues in the same. God hands the knife over to us and tells us to keep cutting. We are to put ourselves utterly to death in order that he might live in us. Yet our sinful hearts do not die easily. We strive for success in ministry. We want everyone to see how Godly we are. We are willing to do many things for God but there are things that we hold back, things we believe we will care for better than he would.

Instead, toss everything on the alter, and watch while God destroys it all.

Christians, when they are acting as Christians are untouchable. What will you say to a man that freely abides in such despair. Will you turn his friends against him? Will you destroy his property? Will you attack him physically? He already gave up on all of these things long ago. Christ is now his rock. He cares not what man can do.

Most people will spend their entire lives running from such an experience as this. The unconverted are not alone in avoiding God, we who know God spend much of our time in the same pursuit.

Some verses

A Passion Filled Life

Did you know that you might die soon?

How does that thought make you feel?

Maybe within a year you will be dead.

Did you know that you will suffer in this life? You might even suffer greatly.

What thoughts does that evoke in you?

For some of you, you are getting excited just hearing those questions and thinking those thoughts. A smile is coming to your lips and a twinkle is coming to your eyes.

Others of you can’t imagine why suffering and dying are exciting prospects. I’ll try to explain it:

First of all, this world is not our home. Dying to a Christian is a necessary step towards going home, and though it might be a hard step, it is not comparable to how glorious our home will be.

Secondly, God says that those He loves he chastises (Heb. 12:6). Some of you love God’s chastisement because in it, you feel God’s love.

Thirdly, some of us hope to live a martyr’s life and to die a martyr’s death. That by our living or by our dying we might win souls to Christ and quicken those around us to living glorious and warlike lives for Jesus. Says the servant of the Lord, “Oh that God would use me for the building and the strengthening of His Church.”

Christ suffered death on a cross. Before that death he was mocked, beaten, reviled and tortured by even those He had come to save. People now can have salvation from sins and power for life by looking to that cross.

Moreover, Christ’s servants can show that cross to the world in their sufferings. Men might mock, beat, revile, torture, and kill us. But that is what God uses to proclaim His passion to the world, and it is that prospect that makes us excited: not because we love the suffering itself, but because we yearn to show the world Jesus. We are not only willing, but joyful, to be killed all the day long for Christ’s sake.

Do you want to live a passionate life for Jesus? Doing so takes passion. Allow me to explain what the word “passion” means. Acts 1:3, in the ESV reads “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs.” The verse says that He suffered.

Now that word suffering in the Greek reads Pathane a form of Pathos, which is a word we use today. The Latin translates the Greek Pathane into Passionem, the root of which is Passio, and it is from the Latin, Passio, from which we get our word passion, which is exactly how the King James renders this verse. “He shewed himself alive after his passion.”

Did you see it? Passion is a synonym for suffering. To live a passionate life for Jesus means to live a suffering life for Jesus. The two are utterly unseparable. As Christ’s Passion was his suffering, so too our passion is our suffering.

I do not know the exact history, but it seems that our spiritual forefathers knew the joy of passion, of suffering, so well that they were able to transform the word itself into a positive word. Oh that we could be the ones to do that in our generation. Let us take such joy in the prospect of suffering for Jesus that hundreds of years from now, our descendents think of the word ‘suffering’ as such a positive word that they use it to describe the joys and triumphs of life.

Now, to those that aren’t excited by suffering, who can’t grapple with the notion of it being a positive thing. I fear that you might have a cold, hard heart. Let me say it a different way: you lack passion. I have no desire to deride you or judge you for this. How can I judge you? I am like you! Without God’s power in my life to live this very day in joy, I would suffer the same condition.

Instead, I bring up this hardness because I would like to help you. Today, God offers to you the power to soften your heart and to be used in His service. Wont you consider His offer? You might have called yourself a Christian all your life, but today, for whatever reason, you do not know the abundant joy of His service. Want it! Crave it!

I do not know to which of you I am speaking, but you know who you are. More importantly God knows who you are. Again, to you, I do not have a message of shame and reproach; but one of hope and encouragement. Today, God can soften your heart! I don’t care if you’ve called yourself a Christian all your life. I don’t care if you are a pastor’s kid or a minister in the Lord’s Church. If you don’t have a joy and an excitement in the things I am saying then God has an offer for you today. “Today”, the apostle says “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion of Israel.”

For the rest of you, those who are excited about serving the Lord by living or by dying. Look around you. God’s Church is full of people who are like you. People who are willing to walk around the world barefoot if that is what the Lord called them to do. Feel the comradery in that. Feel the fellowship. Look around at your fellow soldiers. More mighty and victorious than any army that ever walked the face of the earth are we in Christ. Stop, and let that thought sink into your bones for a moment. There is no force on earth that can stop the armies of the Lord. The suffering saints will be triumphant.

If God Loves Me, Why Don't I Suffer

During a pastor’s conference in 1999, in response to a question regarding the lack of persecution in America, John Piper said the following:

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Avoidance ethics, avoidance ethics, is probably not what Paul meant by; “Those who desire to be Godly will be persecuted (2Tim. 3:12).” I think Godliness is such a radical God-orientation that you are freed from the things of this world for risk-taking, big time, in love.

[skipped portion]

I just think radical godliness will get you in trouble, and then you wont have to ask the question you just asked anymore, and neither will I.
(source)

In other words, if we loved like Christ loved, we would be persecuted (John 15:20). Or, stated negatively, some Christians are not persecuted more because they don’t love more. That is a concerning thought.

Oh, for God-likeness. Oh that I, even I, could be made like Christ, conforming to His perfect holiness.

Here are some more verses to consider along these lines:
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Suffer for God Not for Vanity

1 Peter 3:17

17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (ESV)

We will all suffer in this world. The rich along with the poor, the old along with the young, the healthy along with the sick. Some have more suffering and some have less but we all have a portion of that cup. But what good is your suffering?

If you were to pay eighty thousand dollars for a car, would you be happy with an old rusty car on cinder blocks? Doesn’t paying a high price establish the expectation of a good return? Instead, you would expect a fast, sleek, well-oiled machine. In a like manner I ask, what do you expect to get in return for your suffering?

Spend your suffering wisely. Be a good steward of it in the same way you strive to be a good steward of your money. None of you I would expect, would pay such a sum for a rusty car, much less would any of you toss the money to the wind spending it for nothing at all. Yet this is how we spend much of our suffering. Do you not know that the suffering of the saints is good tender towards the redemption of souls? Do you not understand that your suffering can purchase a crown of glory not only for you, but for your family, friends, and neighbors? What is more, suffering can purchase the glory of our Lord, Jesus Christ and buy interest in His kingdom, the kingdom he has put the down payment on with His suffering. Shall we not do likewise and pave the streets of that kingdom with our sufferings?

When we could buy such glorious things, we instead spend it on toys, on jobs, and on comforts. Men often complain because they have worked so hard at their job and they did not get the promotion they were expecting or even worse, they got fired. It is grievous indeed that men suffer such injustices and I do not wish to take away from such, but there is a still greater wrong: that these men are willing to waste their sufferings on such petty, worthless things when their sufferings could be buying priceless things. Men pray for health, for wealth, for family, for all sorts of things not because we would make those things slaves of Christ—using them up for His good and His kingdom—but we would put them all towards our own selfish interests.

These things should not be so! This is not conduct becoming bond-slaves of God most high.

Church Revival, Then and Now

Amos 6:1

6:1 “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes!

Amos 6:6

who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

Revelation 3:17-19

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. (ESV)

What does revival take? Does it not take the blood, sweat, and tears of the saints?

When John Paton, missionary to the New Hebrides, was in route to his mission station, he thought of how, not twenty years earlier, the earliest missionaries to the region were eaten by cannibals. He wrote;

Alas! Within a few minutes of their touching land, both were clubbed to death ; and the savages proceeded to cook and feast upon their bodies. Thus were the New Hebrides baptized with the blood of Martyrs ; and Christ thereby told the whole Christian world that He claimed these Islands as His own. His cross must yet be lifted up, where the blood of His saints has been poured forth in His name!

Oh to be surrounded by men who think like this. The blood of martyrs is Christ’s blood to the nations! When we see it, do we only see a tragic death? When we think of our own possible suffering for Christ’s sake do we see merely what cost it will exact? Or are those thoughts secondary to the surpassing joy of how God will use the sacrifices of His people to transform this world into His kingdom?

The reason I bring this up is to lead into and give support for what I’m about to claim, which is: if there is not at least someone in a local church who yearns for its revival so badly that he is willing to trade his house, his income, his wealth, his own life, or even the lives of his children for the sake of that revival, then that church does not really want revival. Furthermore, I would speculate that a church that doesn’t yearn for its revival, for its salvation, for its sanctification, has no business existing in the first place. It is like the tree with the axe laid at the roots. What will save such a tree? Is your church such a tree?

Yearn for revival.

Did not the pre-messianic Jews yearn for their savior? Did they not plead with God for His day. And yet when He came, they rejected Him. Are we so different? God offers us revival. He offers us sanctification. We who plead for revival, are we willing to accept the cost that revival will come by? Or will we, like the Jews of old, reject that revival because it is not made according to our design? Why do we gather to pray for revival if we are not willing to accept it in whatever form God chooses to send it?