before the sun goes down

"Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in His sight" (I Chronicles 19:13).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Delight by No Other Name - Tirzah Carmichael

On the 26th day of November, 2011, we met our firstborn child.  When it was announced that she was a girl, Deana and I were flooded with emotion.  Our own little Tirzah Carmichael Myers!  Now she is three years old, and such a treasure!

Often when we are introducing our family, people ask where we got the name "Tirzah".  This affords a wonderful chance to share.  The name comes from the Bible.  Each of our children have been given Bible names, and I love to tell about their origin.  I especially delight in the lesser known Bible people, those which many are not familiar.  Many times we can get the idea that we know all the stories and characters in the Scriptures, so it is profitable to be reminded and encouraged to dig deeper.

The name Tirzah is found 18 times in the word of God.  It is a proper Hebrew name with the meaning "Delight, Delightful, Delightsomeness".  (Besides being found in Scripture, it was the name chosen by Lew Wallace for the sister of Judah in the classic novel, Ben Hur.)  In the Bible, we find Tirzah the girl, and Tirzah the city. 

First, we find her name in the book of Numbers as one of (and probably the youngest of) five daughters of a man named Zelophehad.  Numbers 26:33 "And Zelophehad the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters: and the daughters of Zelophehad were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah."

In the next chapter (Numbers 27:1-11), we see her approach Moses along with her sisters, making an appeal concerning the inheritance and possession of their father now deceased.  Moses brought their petition before the LORD, and God responded that "the daughters of Zelophehad speak right..." (Numbers 27:7).  Their wise appeal created a precedent that protected the concerns of family, property, and possession for the whole nation of Israel. (If England had adopted that statute, the Bennett family would not have faced entailment away from their five daughters, but then of course, we would not have the story of Pride and Prejudice, would we?)  

We find these same five daughters featured again at the end of that book, where we hear of their marriages (Numbers 36:1-13): "...For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of Zelophehad, were married...And they were married into the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father..."

Finally, we find them in the land, as the tribes of Israel are taking possession of the Promised Land. Joshua 17:3-6 "But Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Manasseh, had no sons, but daughters: and these are the names of his daughters, Mahlah, and Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.  And they came near before Eleazar the priest, and before Joshua the son of Nun, and before the princes, saying, The LORD commanded Moses to give us an inheritance among our brethren.  Therefore according to the commandment of the LORD he gave them an inheritance among the brethren of their father..."  What a fitting last mention, as we see the LORD giving them the desires of their heart as they committed their way unto Him!

We desire that our little Tirzah would also learn to make wise appeals and speak what is right.

The other times we find this name, it is speaking of a city, the City of Tirzah. 
It was a name of a royal city, which was conquered by Joshua (Joshua 12:24).
The city of Tirzah in Ephraim was chosen to be the capitol city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel when the kingdom was divided.  From the reign of Jeroboam through to the half point of Omri's 12 years, it was the city of kings (I Kings 14:17; 15:21,33; 16:6,8,9,15,17,23).  It continued to be a city of influence at least until the reign of the rebel king Menahem ten kings after Omri (II Kings 15:14-16).  The city of Tirzah evidently was a delightful place.  To have been chosen out of all the cities of the northern ten tribes, it must have been a place of beauty (being well situated, pleasant to look upon, and with impressive architecture) and strength (being defensible, with walls and towers).  Even before the nation divided, King Solomon likened its attractiveness and charm to the beauty of his beloved wife in Song of Solomon 6:4 "Thou are beautiful, my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem...".

We desire for our daughter Tirzah to be beautiful, inside and out, with strength, as she allows the true King to dwell and reign within her heart. 

From the beginning, we planned to also give our children names of faithful missionaries, in order to inspire and challenge them to exploits for Christ.  Tirzah's middle name is Carmichael, after Amy Carmichael (AD 1867-1951), the amazing Irish missionary to India, who heroically rescued hundreds of young women, and little girls and boys from temple slavery.  The life, ministry, and writings of this devoted and selfless emissary of the cross of Christ has been a challenge and encouragement to both of us, especially to Deana.  

Here are some quotes from Amy Carmichael:

"He said ' I have loved you.'  We cannot love too much."

"We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could."

"I wish Thy way. 
And when in me myself should rise, and long for something otherwise,
Then Lord, take sword and spear
And slay."

"The word comfort is from two Latin words meaning 'with' and 'strong'--He is with us to make us strong.  Comfort is not soft, weakening commiseration; it is true, strengthening love."

"Can we follow the Saviour far, who have no wound or scar?"

"All along, let us remember we are not asked to understand, but simply to obey..."

We desire for our daughter Tirzah Carmichael to learn to submit to God, and live to see Him glorified, and the lost, the weak, and the vulnerable rescued.  It has been a delight to see her, even as a small child, standing with us at abortion mills, showing care for the babies in danger, and handing information to mothers heading inside.

The name Carmichael has various rendered meanings, such as "Child of Michael", "Friend of Michael", "Follower of Michael", and "Fort of Michael" (the prefix Car, coming from Caer "fort").  I have always liked the name Michael, as it is the middle name of my brother Bryan.  The name Michael is Hebrew and means "Who is like God?"  It is actually a question. The answer is, of course, there is no one like the true and living God, the God of the Bible.

We desire for our daughter to know God and became His child through faith unto salvation, to live as His friend, following Jesus faithfully.  We pray for the Lord Who is like no one else to be her Defense, her All in all.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Hands, Heart, and Heritage of my Grandfather, Ben Markley!

Yesterday was the 91st birthday of my mother's father.  He was named after his father, and several of his descendants also bear the name Benjamin, "son of the right hand." I am proud to be one of them! Benjamin Russell Markley, Jr. is to me, and others of his kith and kin, a tremendous blessing; a peaceful hero; a quiet servant who thinks little of himself, and pours out for others; a walker with God.  He is a man who has lived a strenuous life, intensely given to God and family.  His life has been a testimony of God's faithfulness. This man exudes with dedication to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  He embodies, truth, humility, and love in action--incorrigible in his desire to be there for people in need.

When I think of my grandfather,
I see what the proverbs call "the hand of the diligent" (Proverbs 10:4; 12:22).
   Hands that are brown from both Cherokee blood and work in the sun, scarred and calloused from laboring for others, aged but still surprisingly strong.
   Those hands that worked machinery, that seemed to handle every tool with ease and dexterity, that tousled my hair, that lifted me onto the telephone books on the chair at the table, that handed me my first rubberband gun, that he used when telling a story, that led singing with great animation, that provided for his family, that tenderly held his wife throughout life, and that carried his Bible with care and familiarity.  Those hands upon my little shoulders.  Those hands that he would raise, both of them, whenever he was waving good-bye as we drove away.
   Grandpa was one of the men who taught me to "fear God and work hard," as David Livingstone said.  Those hands were ever available to aid his neighbors, and just about everyone WAS his neighbor.  I hardly remember a visit as a child, that Grandpa didn't put me in his old green truck to help him pick up sticks, or rake someone's yard, or cut wood, etc., for others in need.  Even just a few weeks ago He proved this to be true during clean up at a family reunion.  When somebody mentioned taking some chairs to a pickup truck Grandpa beat me to the remaining chairs, taking FOUR of them, leaving me with ONE!

When I think of my grandfather,
I see what the proverbs call the "light of the eyes" (Proverbs 15:30)
Eyes that I have seen light up with humor, shine while teaching the Scriptures, blur with emotion about those he loves, grow firm with chastening and correction, darken with indignation at injustice, and soften with manly gentleness.  His eyes always were in harmony with his voice, and as a child, I love looking into those Cherokee Brown eyes that mirrored my own.  Grandpa's eyes had a way of looking into yours, a manner about him that set one at ease, but commanded honesty.

   One word that well describes Grandpa Markley is meekness.  Meekness is NOT weakness.  It is strength under control.  A wild stallion has great strength, but it does not aid mankind unless it yields control to someone else.  Grandpa's strength was harnessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and he willingly submitted to his Master, to give to the Lord and others, and continues in the same spirit today.

   I cherish his story-telling.  How I loved to hear of our ancestors--Cherokees, homesteaders, blacksmiths, and circuit riding preachers among them.  The adventures they had, and the challenges they overcame!  There were lessons to be learned from their lives, and warnings too.  And I wish that I knew more. One of the most treasured accounts he told me was how he got saved, as a boy of 12, and how God propelled him from salvation to service in teaching and preaching very quickly.  How he learned to love and study the Bible, and invest in the lives of the rowdy boys he taught in Sunday School as a youth of 16.

Grandpa delights in the Lord, and in his family, and especially in seeing his descendants following the Lord in their lives!  I am always intensely moved when this great man in my life, one whom I greatly esteem, comes up to me and humbly takes my hand in his, grips it firmly, looks me in the eye and tells me he is grateful for me, and prays for me and my family, and the way the Lord is leading us.  He prays for all his household, and like Mordecai, can be described as "speaking peace to all his seed" (Esther 10:3).  Brethren, let us each not only take the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, but may we each walk with the Lord in the light of His word.  May we not neglect to pass on the heritage we have received.  "Let us not remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28).

There are so many memories that I didn't mention.  Any one else who is of the ranks of family and friends of Ben Markley, I am sure, have stories, remembrances, and such of their own are welcome to comment to add them for the benefit of all who read.

Suffice it for me to say, I am grateful for my Grandpa Markley.  He's Ben.  He's "Ben" Grandpa all my life.  And I love him.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's in a Name? William Livingstone Samuel, for Instance?

Two years ago, on this day, our family faced a tragedy.  We were 21 weeks along in our second pregnancy, and Deana, Tirzah, and I were expecting the arrival of the little one on February 9th of 2013.  But the birthday of our child came much sooner.  Our first son was born on September 28th in the afternoon in 2012, already departed to glory.  His name was William Livingstone Samuel, the name we had previously determined.

I well remember holding his little lifeless form in my hand, tears rushing down my cheeks.  Even at such a young age (it is thought that he passed away at 17 weeks), he was so wonderfully made, with a sweet face, little fingers and toes, perfect down to the little bone in his ankle.  The nurses were so kind, and worked hard to get his footprints for us--we treasure that precious card today.

We wept over his death with many tears, and still miss him every day.  But God is our Comfort, and His word was and is faithful to console and strengthen our hearts.  My little son's life was not in vain. God has used even this evil thing to do much good.  The brief life of my boy has provoked me to good zeal and even more earnest desire to rescue other babies whose lives are at stake.  I do not know how many times I have shared my loss with parents at the abortion mill.  And it has helped me better understand and stirred me to come alongside others who are hurting with a similar pain.

We now have two children on this earth, Tirzah and our second son, Edward.  We love all our children, and will welcome any more God chooses to send us.  And how I look forward to seeing William again, when I get Home (I Samuel 12:23)!

Today, I wanted to share about his name in honor of his birthday.  Anyone who knows me is aware that I like names.  Names are significant.  They have meanings, nuances, and can be influenced by other people that bear the same name.

His first name is William, which when dissected, is Will + Helm, as in a helmet.  Thus the meaning for this name has been rendered, "Constant Protector; Determined or Strong Guardian".  Deana has always loved this name, and I highly esteem many Williams that I know.  It is a old and noble name, denoting royalty and integrity.  You may know about William the Conqueror (AD 1028-1087) the
Norman king, who took and reigned over England.  A lot of kings, princes, dukes, and knights have borne that name in courts and in battles.  Therefore we chose it for our son.

There have been many Williams in history, a good number of which were defenders.  Here are a few of my heroes named William:
William Wallace - AD 1270-1305
warrior; the greatest patriot of Scotland, who yielded his life for his country!
William Tell - Circa AD 1307
patriot; crossbow shooting folk hero of Swiss history!
William Tyndale - AD 1494-1536
translator; martyr; defender of the holy, infallible word of God for the common people!
Dean John William Burgon - AD 1813-1888
pastor; dean; champion of the Bible; humble student and staunch defender of the Scriptures!
William Booth - AD 1829-1912
preacher; defender of the poor and the vulnerable, seeker of souls!
William Wilberforce - AD 1759-1833
abolitionist; battled against the British slave trade, the evil of his day!
William Borden - AD 1887-1913
missionary; gave all for his Saviour - "NO RESERVES, NO RETREATS, NO REGRETS"

I also love that this name was the name of six of the 56 valiant men who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honour, to see their land and people have liberty.

William Whipple - New Hampshire
William Ellery - Rhode Island
William Williams - Connecticut
William Floyd - New York
William Paca - Maryland
William Hooper - North Carolina

William was given two middle names.  There are so many great names, I couldn't have just one!

We wanted each of our children to have a name of a great missionary, with which to challenge them in their lives. For William we decided on Livingstone, in honour of my childhood hero, the courageous and "forward-minded" missionary, David Livingstone (AD 1813-1873), who gave his all to see interior Africa opened up to the Gospel.  You can read more about him in another blog post of mine here! 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the true "Living Stone" (I Peter 2:4), and we desired that our son would reflect the Redeemer, disallowed of men, but precious to God.  Christians also, as the redeemed, are called "lively stones" (I Peter 2:5).  In William's corner, where his body rests, there is a large stone, found in Wyoming by my dear parents and siblings, and laid there in memory of him.

We also wanted distinctively Bible names, and we picked Samuel.  His name means "asked of God" or "heard of God."  Samuel was one of the two greatest leaders of the nation of Israel, alongside Moses.  His name is mentioned 142 times in the Bible.

Moses and Samuel are highlighted in Scripture as men who were not only incredible leaders, but also men of prayer and mighty intercessors for their people.  For an example of each, consider Exodus 17:8-15 for Moses, and I Samuel 7:7-13 for Samuel.  Below are two verses that reveal the power of their appeals.
Psalm 99:6 "Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them."
Jeremiah 15:1 "Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth."

Samuel was the only man in the Bible about which it is specifically said "...the LORD...did let none of his words fall to the ground" (I Samuel 3:19).  Samuel's words were true and carried through because Samuel was speaking what he heard from the LORD.  "Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD..." (II Kings 10:10).

Samuel served the LORD from his weaning to his death.  He was the last of the judges, and anointed the first two kings of Israel.  He was a prophet who foretold of the coming Messiah.
Acts 3:24 "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days."

I don't have space here to write all that the Lord did through Samuel.  You can search the Scriptures for more.  Suffice it to say, he was a hero of faith, as it is said in God's Hall of Faith... "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:" (Hebrew 11:32).

Before he was born, the biblical Samuel was dedicated to the LORD.  I Samuel 1:11,22,28 "I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life...I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide forever...I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD."  As with each of our children, we had dedicated our little Samuel to serve the Lord Jesus Christ all the days of his life, little knowing that his life would be so brief, and that he would "appear before the LORD" ahead of us.

How I yearned to have a William, a defender of the weak, a staunch protector of life!
I wanted to raise a little Livingstone to go FORWARD for Christ!  To dare for His God!
I desired to see a little Samuel grow, to speak the words of God and stand in the gap for others!

So what am I to say?

It would be easy to blame God and shake my fist.  It would be natural to pity myself and spend my time in bitter grief.  But then Satan gets a foothold, and I cannot allow any ground for the devil in my life (Ephesians 4:27).  The fact is, "...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1:12).  I know that in this world cursed by sin, there is trouble, suffering, and death.  That the Christian life is going to involve persecution, sorrow, and affliction.  I do not always have to understand my God, but I can always trust Him.  "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him" (Job 13:15).  His word is true, no matter how I feel.  "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28).

So in faith, Deana and I can smile, even through tears at times.  Watch what our God will do!  "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:29).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hitler, the Holocaust, and Honor

It was a CRITICAL MOMENT in History...

Place and Time: Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II
Problem: Holocaust of the Jewish People
Players: the church of Jesus Christ

A train with box cars filled to the gills with men, women, and children of Jewish descent was headed for the "camps".  Many such trains rode the rails to the horrific places of suffering, cruelty and death.  This train snaked its way through cities, villages, and the empty countryside toward its dark destination.  As the engine pulled its crowded cattle cars through yet another town, the passengers, looking through the slats, spied a church building ahead, not far from the tracks.  A worship service was in session, and they could hear the sound of hymns being sung.  The Jews in the train lifted up their voices and began to scream for help, for rescue, for aid.  The members inside heard their desperate cries, but instead of rushing to see what they could do, they turned up the volume of the pipe organ and sang louder to drown out the disturbing sound of the needy people heading to destruction. 

Singing a little louder, they did nothing, and GREAT SHAME is on those Christians in Germany and Europe who let the Holocaust happen without opposition and intervention. 
At that critical moment, so much of those in Nazi controlled Europe did nothing.  God was not glorified by their praises, when they chose to be silent about the slaughter around them. In choosing to remain comfortable they dishonored their Savior's Name! So in the day of battle the people of God in large part failed to obey.  Failed to do what Jesus would do.  Failed to stand for righteousness when truth was fallen in the street.  Failed to be the church in a culture that pursued the death of the innocents.  What a shame and reproach!

BUT NOT ALL in that day failed.

Nicholas Winton, a young British man in his twenties, rescued 669 Jewish children destined for death camps from the Nazis, and arranged for them to have homes, smuggling them to Great Britain.

Irena Sendlerowa, a young Polish woman, secretly saved over 2,000 little Jewish children from the Ghettos and sure death through sewers, in suitcases, and boxes. 

Casper Ten Boom, a Christian grandfather from the Netherlands and his family, rescued many Jews, making their home into a refuge and "hiding place" for the hunted.  The Ten Boom family risked both life and liberty to "obey God rather than man" and deliver those that were "drawn unto death".  

Just reading snippets of what these three people (and others, Sophie Scholl, Peter ten Boom, etc.) did in their day can stir the reader with esteem, and we nod our heads in agreement.  They did right. They were people of honor! The organ volume raisers did wrong.  And I'm sure that we think that if we had lived in such a day, we are certain we would have been in the hero class, who would have done courageously as well.
At least we hope so.

But let us really consider that question.  Get out the mirror.  What if YOU lived during the Holocaust?  In Nazi occupied Europe?  Would YOU be like the Ten Boom family?  Or the church organ "boomers".

What if YOU knew of a Nazi death camp only an hour away from YOUR home?  Would YOU go, at the peril of YOUR life, and try to rescue Jews being taken to that camp?  Perhaps you think, "Of course!" or maybe "I hope I would."

You know, Christians back then probably had excuses.  I mean if caught, they could be killed or imprisoned!  The Nazi regime was brutal.  And so they let others be slaughtered instead.  We still shake our heads in disapproval at their inaction, but we understand their fear.

BUT WHAT IF Nazi Germany's rules had been different?  What if they recognized and respected a citizen's right of "freedom of speech"?  What if they were allowed to say they didn't agree, and did not have to fear the Nazi's vengeance?  No death.  No prison.  No fine. They could speak out against it with immunity.  That would remove the excuses, right?  We would be even more adamant that they should have not been silent as millions were slain! Even more shame would fall on the heads of those who neglected their duty.

Let's go back to YOU in Nazi Germany, and the death camp an hour away.  

What if YOU were allowed to stand at the barbed war fence and call out for the lives of the Jews, even as they were being escorted to the gas chambers?

What if each guard had the freedom to choose to release the Jew he was leading, if YOU persuaded him that it was wrong for the Jew to be slain?

And even if they didn't listen, at least YOU had done the right thing, and before God would be clean of the guilt of the blood of the innocent. 

Would YOU go?  Would YOU take time out of YOUR busy schedule, of work time, leisure time, etc., to speak for their lives?  How often would YOU go?

That even one life could be saved?  
That the name of Jesus would be exalted, rather than cast in the dirt because His people didn't care enough lift their voice to speak truth in a generation that loved lies.

We may shake our heads at the inaction and apathy of those believers during the Holocaust of the Jews, But WHAT ABOUT TODAY?  What about the Holocaust of unborn babies IN OUR GENERATION?  Hitler slew about 6,000,000 Jews.  The United States alone has slain over 55,000,000 million.  We passed Hitler's count years ago!  So what are churches in America doing about the slaughter in their midst?  What are YOU doing right now?  

Suddenly exYOUses arise!  If we speak out against the murder of babies are we in danger of imprisonment?  Not yet.  Fines?  Not yet.  Death?  Not yet.  Our excuses are that "We are too busy."  "It is inconvenient."  "Someone may laugh at us."  "It won't change anything."  Face it!  We are apathetic and our excuses are pathetic!  We are filled with a depraved indifference.  We have LESS excuse than the German Christians.  And thus MORE shame is on us if we be silent.

Consider the following 4 verses:

Proverbs 31:8-9 "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."

Proverbs 24:11-12 "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew ut not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it, and he that keepeth thy soul doth not he know it?and shall not he render to every man according to his works?"

These are commands from our God and King, He who saved us and bought us with His blood, and Whose we are.  It is a commission to the people of God.

In the Kansas City Area there are thousands of churches, hundreds of which are Gospel preaching, Bible believing.  There are 2 places that exist to murder babies.  Yet, when the doors are open for people to bring their babies to be butchered, WHERE IS THE CHURCH? Why are they not present?  Why are they not at the gates of death, preaching the Gospel, pleading the cause for those who cannot speak for themselves, and providing truth and help for parents and children in this critical time?   

One survey I read is that only 2% of professing Bible believing Christians in this country witness of the Gospel regularly.  That is a lousy number.  I have never heard a survey about Christian activity at abortion mills, but fear that the percentage of Bible believing Christians in the United States who have stood for life outside a baby "death camp" even one time is even lower.  

Where are YOU, Christian?  Why are YOU not at the gates of death?  Will YOU repent, and obey YOUR Father in heaven?

I Corinthians 15:34 "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."

Francis Schaeffer said that "Abortion exists by permission of the church."  I believe that if even only 1% of the church membership of Christian churches in the Kansas City area did their duty and stood outside of the two abortion mills in Johnson County, abortion would end in our city.  If churches in this country actually repented and acted as the church should in a culture that kills its children, abortion would be abolished from our land.  And Jesus Christ would be glorified.  What will future Christians say of YOUR generation?  What will they think of YOUR response to the Preborn Holocaust, this critical moment in history?  And more importantly, what will YOUR Saviour say when YOU stand before Him, and this issue, so dear to the heart of God, is raised?  

To speak for the innocent is not merely an obligation.  It is an honor!

There is still time to win battle before the sun goes down.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Words of a Living Stone

From a child, I have been drawn to the life of David Livingstone, pioneer missionary explorer to his beloved continent of Africa.  His was the first missionary biography I read, and it fired my zeal to glorify Christ by going into dark places and shining the light of the glorious Gospel to those who need to hear it.  He plunged into the heart of danger, faced impossible hazards, and declared the truth of God his King.  This man went forward in faith, and for 30 years, took on the task of opening interior Africa for the Gospel.  And he could say with Paul, 

"Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." (2 Timothy 4:16)

He stood out in his generation for the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). He did what no one else dared.  And history was not the same for it.  How my heart yearns to have a double portion of that which stirred Mr. Livingstone!   

My wife and I have named our children after missionaries (their middle names) that we have greatly been challenged by and learned much from.  We were excited to name our second child and first boy William Livingstone Samuel, in honour of my hero.  But our little man died in the womb and passed to glory ahead of us.  We held his little body, mourned our loss greatly, and gave him his powerful name before we buried him.  I miss my son every day.  

What would David Livingstone say to this generation?  To answer this question, let's look at what he said in his own time? As it is said of Abel, "he being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4).

Young David lived in Scotland.  He spent many hours as a boy working in the mill, and additional hours in school.  But he loved exploring the wilds of his home, in which he would gather plant specimens.  On one of those excursions, David visited an old castle ruins.  Many other sightseers and picnickers had climbed the walls of the ruins to write their names.  David climbed high up in order put his name higher than any others.  Scaling the stone wall, the lad cut in his name with a penknife.  The stones of the castle were treacherous, especially as it began to rain, and the footholds became slippery.  He lost his footing once, and barely kept from falling to his death.  But he finished and climbed back down.  That next Lord's day, David was sitting in church.  The minister was preaching.

 "Why do people write their names on trees, fences, or walls?"  David pictured in his mind the castle wall.  The preacher answered the question.  "We all want to glorify ourselves.  We want a name that is above every name.  We want our name to be higher than all.  Why?  Why?  Why?  Because we want to glorify ourselves."  David's face turned red, and shame filled his heart.  The pastor continued, "The reason for living is to glorify God, not ourselves.  The name of Jesus is high and lifted up.  At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow."  Sitting in the pew, David resolved, "I'll live for Jesus.  I will glorify God, not myself.  Indeed I will."

David spoke and wrote much of this kind of devotion to His God:

"May God so imbue my mind with the spirit of Christianity that in all circumstances I may show my Christian character."

"All that I am I owe to Jesus Christ, revealed to me in His divine Book."

"Do not think me mad.  It is not to make money that I believe a Christian should live.  The noblest thing a man can do is, just humbly to receive, and then go amongst others and give."

"I will place no value on anything I have or may possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity."

"Be manly Christians, and never do a mean thing."

The following was David's explanation of his calling, and indeed God's call to all Christians concerning the Great Commission: "GO ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!" (Mark: 16:15)

"'Go!as a trailblazer, a pathfinder, a pioneer!  Evangelize!  Do the work of a missionary!  And lo, I am with you!hence you will never be alone and you will have nothing to fear!'  'That is a promise I can rely upon,' said Livingstone, 'for it is the word of a Gentleman of honour.'"

"God had an only Son, and He was a was missionary and a physician."

When in missionary school, David was asked what he would do if everything were to go wrong on the mission field and you were the only one left to carry on  the work.  David swallowed and replied.  "Though everyone else be dead and I myself sick, I would still go on, and if I failed, I would at least die in the field."

"I am prepared to go anywhere, provided it be forward.  I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose."

"I shall open up a path to the interior or perish."

"Does not the King's business require haste?"

"If we wait till we run no risk, the gospel will never be introduced into the interior."

"Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!"

His own writings and those things reported by others regarding his personal life and ministry in Africa have had powerful influence on my own life.  I desire to live as whole-heartedly as this hero of the Cross.  

It was said that the country around Kolobeng was full of wild beasts.  Standing at the front door of his own house, Livingstone shot a rhinoceros and a buffalo.  He taught the people the value of irrigation and helped them in many ways, but what he enjoyed most, he says, was "to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, for it always warms my own heart and is the great means which God employs for the regeneration of our ruined world."

Whenever he had opportunity, David Livingstone would call for others to join in the mission work, to reach the lost with Christ. 

"If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them.  I want men who will come if there is no road at all."

"I am immortal till my work is accomplished, and although I see few results, future missionaries will see conversions every sermon.  May they not forget the pioneers who worked in the thick gloom with few rays to cheer, except such as flow from faith in the precious promises of God's word."

"Fear God and work hard."

"Sympathy is no substitute for action."

A biographer said of one of Livingstone's journeys: "They had many harrowing adventures, but finally, after journeying for more than six months by canoe, ox-back, and on foot, through forests and flooded rivers, in perils from wild beasts and savage men for 1500 miles of jungles which no white man had ever traversed before, Livingstone and his men came to Loanda on the west coast.  He had suffered thirty-one attacks of intermittent fever, had been assailed by huge swarms of fierce mosquitoes, and was reduced to 'a bag of bones.'  Yet he staggered on.  'Cannot the love of Christ,' he asked, 'carry the missionary where the slave trade carries the trader?'  He was not a missionary part of the time and something else the rest of the time.  He was a missionary all the time, whatever the means he was using, whether healing, teaching, or exploring.  'The end of the geographical feat is only the beginning of the missionary enterprise,' is an oft quoted saying of his.  His ultimate objective was always to honour his Lord.  'I am a missionary, heart and soul,' he insisted. 'God had an only Son and He was a missionary.  I am a poor imitation, but in this service I hope to live and in it I wish to die.'  His soul was mastered by the logic of love.  'God loved a lost world and gave His only Son to be a missionary.  I love a lost world and I am a missionary heart and soul.  In this service I hope to live and in it I wish to die.'"

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honour, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"

"For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office.  People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?  Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter?  Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought!  It is emphatically no sacrifice...Say rather it is a privilege.  Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink, but let this only be for a moment.  All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in, and for, us.  I never made a sacrifice.  Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which HE made who left His Father's throne on high to give Himself for us."

Near the end of David's life he wrote:

"Nothing earthly will make me give up my work in despair.  I encourage myself in the Lord, my God, and go forward.  I'll not swerve one hair's breadth from my work while life is spared."

David abhorred slavery and fought to see the slave trade abolished.  He stood against the evil of his day.  On his tombstone is inscribed:

"May Heaven's richest blessings come down on every one, American, English, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world."

A brief telling of the life and ministry of this hero of the faith can be read on the link below.

May we go and preach the Gospel, and do the hard ministry in this society, even if no one else is doing it.  There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Assembling of the Local Body - The Christian Needs It!

Sometime ago, a person contacted me with a few questions.  This blogpost covers one of them.  He claimed to be a Christian, yet felt no reason to belong to a local church.  He basically asked why it was necessary, since he was already saved.  I responded as I often do, starting with the words, "There are three reasons...", and the following is a brief summary of those reasons:

1. God tells us to assemble together (Hebrews 10:25).  Shouldn't it be enough that He commands us to?  Maybe you don't feel like it, or perhaps you don't really like people.  Why should any activity be based on how you feel?  You should choose whether or not to do something on the basis of what God says, period.  "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:128).  God can give you love for others.  If He loved you enough to die in your place, shouldn't you be grateful enough to share His love with others (I John 4:11,19)? 

2. It was a part of the early church which has set an example for us (Acts 2:42-47).  We are also to be a good example to other believers (I Timothy 4:12).  How can you effectually pray for the church for instance (Ephesians 6:18), if you don't take the time to fellowship with them so you know their needs?  Some of the things that a local body of believers can do for each other, is "...warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men" (I Thessalonians 5:14). 

3. We need the fellowship to keep us keen for the Lord (Proverbs 17:27).  It is good for us to serve together (Ecclesiastes 2:9-12).  God likens us to members of a body.  To function properly, we need to be cooperating.  A hand or a toe can do little on its own, but a whole body can do great things (Romans 12:12-27).  We are also likened to soldiers (II Timothy 2:3). When the army assembles for training, orders, or to go out to war, shouldn't every soldier possible be present?

Now I encourage you to go to a local assembly where the Holy Bible is preached, taught, and verily is the Standard for faith and practice.  Read along with the preacher, and make sure "these things are so" (Acts 17:11). 

Kevan Myers
Psalm 119:74

There is still time to win a battle before the sun goes down.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Learn a Little from Lot

In the Scriptures, we are introduced to a man named Lot.  He was the son of Haran, and therefore the nephew of Abraham.  He is chiefly found in the book of Genesis, though his name is mentioned in several other books as well (examples: Deuteronomy 2:9,19; Psalms 83:8; II Peter 2:6-9).  I will not be attempting an exhaustive work on Lot's life as there are many lessons (quite a lot actually) we can draw from to challenge and warn us in our own lives.  But today I desire to look at Lot as the husband and father.

In Genesis 12 Abram (Abraham) was called of God to sojourn in Caanan, and Lot went with his uncle.  And when Abram went down to Egypt during a famine, Lot did too.

He would have witnessed the unfortunate situation of Abram's lie about Sarai to protect his own life (Genesis 12:10-20).  Afraid that the Egyptians would kill him to have her, Abram told Pharaoh she was his sister (a half truth), opening her up to great danger.  She was taken into Pharaoh's house and Abram was given many presents of sheep, oxen, camels, servants, etc., for her sake.  This gave Abram more wealth, but at a terrible price.  He had lost the wife that was to bare him the promised seed that all the promises of God to him and all the nations of the world were bound up in.  If God hadn't intervened, plagued Pharaoh's house, and exposed this falsehood she would have been gone for sure.

Point 1, from Lot's uncle: NEVER make your wife vulnerable to save your own hide!

This incident was a bad example to the nephew.  Lot should have learned that it was wrong to put others in the way of danger for your own sake.  We are not told what he took away from that event.

Abram returned from Egypt with his wife (thanks to the grace of God), and Lot came too (Genesis 13:1). Both men had their own flocks, herds, and tents.  The land was not enough for them both to dwell together, and Abram kindly and graciously gave Lot first pick of where he'd like to go.

"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where...Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan...and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom" (Genesis 13:10-12).

Lot chose out what he believed would be best for his family, and flocks.  He was thinking that surely in this well-watered spot, he would prosper.  The problem was that this was the region of the cities of the plain, in the vicinity of their chief city, Sodom.  The Scripture is very forthright about the character of this city:
"But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly" (Genesis 13:13).  But did Lot take heed of the dangers of the wicked city?  Did he consider his ways and stay away from the place of the wicked (Proverbs 4:14-27)?  He not only moved his home amongst the cities, but pitched his tent toward Sodom.  It seems that this was advantageous, because he may find trade there, and you've got to think of your economic good.  I mean won't that be best for my family in the long run?  It wasn't long before Lot was dwelling right in Sodom (Genesis 14:12).  How slippery is the road into iniquity!  But maybe he could have reasoned thus: "It is just more convenient, for business you know, and my wife loves the shopping!"  He may also have rationalized that this way perhaps he could influence the society for good.

When the four kings of Genesis 14 came and judgment fell on the wicked cities, they were carried away as captives.  Lot and his family were swept along with the rest.  Even a beautiful parrot who chooses to fly with crows will fall into the same snare in the cornfield that the crows fall into.  If Abram hadn't heard and attacked the army of the kings, and rescued the people, Lot and his family would have spent the remainder of their lives in slavery.  And yet even after their deliverance, Lot went back and lived in Sodom.  Oh, that he would have "forsake[n] the foolish and live[d]" (Proverbs 9:6)!

Point 2: NEVER compromise what is right in order to find prosperity.

God has sent two angels to Sodom to see the wickedness of the city before it is destroyed by fire and brimstone (Genesis 19).  Lot rightly brings them into his home and shelters them.  When the vile mob of Sodomites come and threaten to attack and rape the visitors, Lot does right in speaking against it, saying " not so wickedly" (Genesis 19:7).  But then he goes on to say, "I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes..." (Genesis 19:8).  God FORBID!  After all this time, being around such evil, his thinking is skewed, and he offers his own daughters to their lust in order to save his guests!  Unthinkable?  It ought to be.  But when someone compromises with wickedness, their understanding can be dimmed.  If not for the intervention of the angels, Lot and his whole household would have been victim to the violence of the men of Sodom.

Point 3: NEVER sacrifice your children for your sake or for others.

I could go on, but you most likely know the rest of the account and when pondering Lot's error continue in discerning danger signs and things to avoid as husbands and fathers.  We as Christians must take warning from all this.

As a father, Lot was indeed a failure.  He went to Sodom, following his own agenda.  He did not consider the detriment it would bring to his wife and children.  He sought prosperity, convenience, and prominence, perhaps even claiming it would benefit his household, but it led to the ruin of his own family.  He may have thought, I can handle it, but failed to think about whether his girls could handle it.  And even when he finally got his family out of Sodom, it was evident that Sodom did not get out of his family.    

Brother, your wife and children are your first priority from God.  They are your FIRST ministry.  It is THAT ministry which qualifies you for other service to our Lord (I Timothy 3:5).  And it is serious (I Timothy 5:8).  God gave your wife and children to you, and you will answer to Him for how you live with, love, labor for, and lead them.