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Christopher Roberts (Barrister)
Who’s Going To Wake Jesus Up?
The bible offers us a variety of types of prayer, which we can offer up to God, depending on what our circumstances are. We can pray for provisions, or lost souls, or that God might bring relief to the suffering. But what kind of prayer should we offer up to God when the storms of life hit us? Quite frankly, and this will surprise you until you read on ahead, but we should offer up no prayers when the storms sweep over us.
In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus got into a boat, with the disciples in hot pursuit. Suddenly, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. There are a number of key words in this passage, but one of them is the word ’suddenly’. When difficult circumstances hit a Christian suddenly, to the point of overwhelming the soul, such circumstances area not from God. For one thing, it is rare for God to act suddenly. This is not to suggest that God cannot act suddenly. A sudden circumstance sweeping over the soul often, but not always, can come from the enemy. But, that does not mean that the enemy has the last say in the matter. A storm thrown up by the enemy, is permitted by God, and controlled by God, which is something that the disciples had not worked out. And to be fair, if I had been up in the boat with the disciples, I would have acted no differently to them.
A key observation from Matthew 8:23-27, was that Jesus was asleep in the boat. Now, unless Jesus talked in his sleep, Jesus would not have much to say while he was asleep. And this is exactly the same situation when we face storms. Jesus is with us, but he may not be saying much to us. And just because he is not speaking, does not imply that he is not with us in the storm. The mistake that the disciples made was to wake Jesus up and ask him for help. Let me ask you one question to consider. If the disciples had not woken Jesus up would the boat have sunk? I’m going to take a guess here. My guess is that the boat would not have sunk. But, because the disciples lacked trust in Jesus, they woke him up and asked for help. After he had given the disciples a bit of a telling off, and I would have too if someone had woken me up from a nice sleep, Jesus calmed the storm, and they all arrived safely at their destination.
Now let us presume that, later in the day, the disciples got in the boat and returned home. Let us presume that another storm arose while Jesus was taking a nap. This time, would the disciples have woken Jesus up, or would they have trusted him to get them to the other side? My guess is that no one would have woken Jesus up. I once went through a difficult circumstances, where I spent a lot of time and effort praying and fasting that God would help me. Over time, God came to my rescue. Recently, I went through the exact same circumstance, but this time I did not utter a word in prayer to God. I just trusted him in the matter. And I got the same results as I did from the first time I went through the same circumstances, when I spent a lot of effort in prayer and fasting. I learn that when the storms of life hit us, and the waves sweep over our soul, it is not necessarily a time to wear ourselves out in prayer, trying to get God to change my circumstances. In fact, it would have probably served me well to have prayed and asked God to keep me in the storm, until I had learnt the lesson he was trying to teach me, but I was not that brave.
So, if you are going through the storms of life, and you feel that the waves are sweeping over your soul, remember! Jesus is in that boat with you. And although you cannot hear his voice, this does not mean that he is not with you, because he is. So the final question is this, are you going to wake Jesus up and cry for help, or are you going to learn to trust Jesus to get you through the storm, and safely to the other side?
It was a dark and stormy night.
You could hear the thunder in the distance. Bats flapped their wings in the darkness of the night.
There the castle stood. The wolves were howling; the trees were swaying in the wind as it whistled.
And inside the castle, a faint light shown…from a laboratory.
This was the laboratory of the one and only, the maddest
scientist of them all…the laboratory of the infamous Dr. Emil Van-Gelical!
A rat ran across the granite floor as a daunting figure appeared in the light. It was Dr. Van Gelical himself with his white laboratory coat stained with the evidence of his notorious experiements.
His eyes were glowing with mad delight as he gazed upon the table in the middle of the room, covered with a white sheet.
Under the sheet lay a human-like form.
Suddenly, Dr. Evan Gelical shouted:
"Igor, come quickly! We have much to do!"
Irregular footsteps were heard coming down from the stairs.
In a moment appeared Igor, a hunchback with tattered clothes and a candelabrum in one hand and a big cardboard box in the other.
"Yes master…here is everything you ordered. All is ready!"
"Very good. Bring all the materials to the table Igor. Now we begin….the experiment!
Thunder was heard in the distance while Igor dragged the box towards the table.
"Tonight I will conduct the greatest experiment of my career. Tonight shall be my greatest triumph ever!"
Doctor Evan Gelical raised his fist towards the sky:
"I shall achieve what no man has achieved before. Tonight I create spiritual life! This shall be my greatest hour for I shall create….Christianstein!"
More thunder and lightning.
"They say that I am mad Igor. But Christianstein shall be the greatest specimen of spiritual life the world has ever seen! He shall everything Igor, EVERYTHING!"
"The moment has arrived. Igor, y gloves!."
"Give me the voice of a great evangelist Igor!"
"Yes master" and he handed him a jar from the box.
"The courage of Stephen!" Igor produced a disty vial.
"The patience of Job!" the doctor commanded and he was rewarded with an ancient-looking flask.
"Now the hypodermic and the serums I distilled!"
Igor’s hands trembled as he presented a long, steel syringe and bottles filled with different colored fluids.
"Double dosis of daily prayer and Bible reading,"
murmured Dr. Evan Gelical while he withdrew liquid from one of the bottles and injected it into the lifeless figure’s arm.
"Then faithful church attendance…generous giving…temperance…volunteer work…ability to resist temptation…witnessing…"
The doctor paused for a moment, then filled the syringe with fluid from the final container.
"And last-but not least-a triple injection of …orthodoxy!
The mad doctor consulted his list once more.
"Examine the box Igor. Have we forgoteen anything?"
"Oh no master…Everything must be in place!"
"Excellent! This is the moment the world has waited for. This is the moment for….Christianstein!"
The doctor dashed to the nearest wall where an electical control panel waited.
"A million volts of lightning will bring my creation to life. Now stand back Igor while I throw the power switch…and prepare to meet the perfect Christian…CHRISTIANSTEIN!"
Doctor Emil Van Gelical threw the massive switch as an avalanche of thunder shook the castle.
The figure began to tremble.
"Doctor! shouted Igor…it’s….moving!
"Yes, yes, my creation lives!
That thing called "CHRISTIANSTEIN" sat up slowly. Then, stiffly, it climbed from the table and stood to its full height.
"Oh, my creation…..Speak to me, speak to me!"
The figure looked down at the doctor and frowned. Finally it began to speak in a low and hostile growl:
"If I speak in the language of angels but have not love…"
"LOVE?" asked the doctor, examining in perplexity his list once again.
Slowly the creature lifted his hands towards the doctor who was still consulting his list.
"If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains and have not love…."
"LOVE?" Igor, what is he talking about?"
"I, I don’t know master! answered Igor as he hid himself under the table.
"If I give all my possessions to the poor and give my body to the flames to be burned and have not love…" Suddenly the figure, growling, picked up the doctor by his coat off of his feet…."I gain nothing!"
"Nothing?" said the doctor.
"¡Aaarrggghhh!" the creature bellowed throwing the doctor to the ground and reaching for his throat.
"Igor you fool! I knew that we forgot something! And such a small thing!" while the doctor fled for his life with the creature CHRISTIANSTIEN in hot pursuit.
A few minutes passed before Igor finally had enough courage to come out from under the table. Finally, looking this way and that, he whispered:
"I, I think….we have created a monster!"
To be humble to superiors is duty, to equals courtesy, to inferiors nobleness.
Brian La Croix
I read one time about how shipbuilders back in the days of sailboats would prepare the masts for their ships.
They would go to the forest and find an appropriate tree, then they would clear out all the surrounding trees and leave that one standing, leaving it exposed to the wind and storms.
As the tree continued to mature, it would gain strength. The kind of strength it would need to be able to stand up in the storms at sea while holding a large sail.
But that tree would never gain that strength if it was just left among the other trees. It develope...
The Bet -- Anton Chekhov
We live in a world that knows little about what’s truly valuable. People all around us are pursuing things that have no lasting value. That pursuit is ably treated by Anton Chekhov in his classic short story The Bet. This story gives us great insight into the value system of most people.
The plot involves a wager between two educated men regarding solitary confinement. A wealthy, middle-aged banker believed the death penalty was a more humane penalty than solitary confinement because “an executioner kills at once, solitary confinement kills gradually.” One of his guests at a party, a young lawyer of twenty-five, disagreed, saying, “To live under any conditions is better than not to live at all.”
Angered, the banker impulsively responded with a bet of two million rubles that the younger man could not last five years in solitary confinement. The lawyer was so convinced of his endurance that he announced he would stay fifteen years alone instead of only five.
The arrangements were made, and the young man moved into a separate building on the grounds of the banker’s large estate. He was allowed no visitors or newspapers. He could write letters but receive none. There were guards watching to make sure he never violated the agreement, but they were placed so that he could never see another human being from his windows. He received his food in silence through a small opening where he could not see those who served him. Everything else he wanted—books, certain foods, musical instruments, etc.—was granted by special written request.
During the first year the piano could be heard at almost any hour, and he asked for many books, mostly novels and other light reading. The next year the music ceased and the works of various classical authors were requested. In the sixth year of his isolation he began to study languages and soon had mastered six. After the tenth year of his confinement, the prisoner sat motionless at the table and read the New Testament. After more than a year’s saturation of the Bible, he began to study the history of religion and works on theology.
The second half of the story focuses on the night before the noon deadline when the lawyer would win the bet. The banker was now at the end of his career. His risky speculations and impetuosity had gradually undermined his business. The once self-confident millionaire was now a second-rate banker, and it would destroy him to pay off the wager. Angry at his foolishness and jealous of the soon-to-be-wealthy lawyer who was now only forty, the old banker determined to kill his opponent and frame the guard with the murder. Slipping into the man’s room, he found him asleep at the table and noticed a letter the lawyer had written to him. He picked it up and read the following:
Tomorrow at twelve o’clock I shall be free . . . but before leaving this room . . . I find it necessary to say a few words to you. With a clear conscience, and before God, who sees me, I declare to you that I despise freedom and life and health and all that your books call the joys of this world. . . . I know I am wiser than you all. . . . And I despise all your books, I despise all earthly blessings and wisdom. All is worthless and false, hollow and deceiving like the mirage. You may be proud, wise and beautiful, but death will wipe you away from the face of the earth, as it does the mice that live beneath your floor; and your heirs, your history, your immortal geniuses will freeze or burn with the destruction of the earth. You have gone mad and are not following the right path. You take falsehood for truth, and deformity for beauty. To prove to you how I despise all that you value I renounce the two million on which I looked, at one time, as the opening of paradise for me, and which I now scorn. To deprive myself of the right to receive them, I will leave my prison five hours before the appointed time, and by so doing break the terms of our compact.
The banker read the lines, replaced the paper on the table, kissed the strange, sleeping man and with tears in his eyes, quietly left the house. Chekhov writes, “Never before, not even after sustaining serious losses on change, had he despised himself as he did at that moment.” His tears kept him awake the rest of the night. And at seven the next morning he was informed by the watchmen that they had seen the man crawl through a window, go to the gate, and then disappear. (From John MacArthur, www.gracechurch.org/sfellowship/pulpitcm/article.asp?id=20&aid=80, Article “Praying For the Right Things; Accessed 04/09/06)
His name is Mark. He is a 50 year old man divorced and addicted to alcohol. I met him across some glass and was only able to talk to him through this heavy black phone. Mark was in Jail. With tears in his eyes he spoke of his fear. He has one chance to do right and doesn’t want to mess up. In a few short days he gets out of jail with no where to live, no money and no job. I ask Mark what got him in this mess. He shared of his divorce caused by alcohol and how for 15 years he allowed his demons to control his life. By the way Mark seemed like a gentle dad... grey haired and soft spoken... not the type you think about when you think about a jail bird. He got in a fight with a family member after being clean for a whole year and went out to drowned his sorrows again like a thousand other times. This time was different however because when he woke up from his drunken rampage he found himself charged with robbery facing 10 years in prison. Mark is frightened and so he should be... because apart from God we are left alone to fight our demons and alone they always win. Until he realizes his desperate need for God he is doomed to be crushed by this dark world... He will find himself in places that were never a part of his child hood dreams and hopes for his life.
The Pitcairn Bible
The story of the Mutiny on the Bounty has been told many times and has been made glamourised by the 1962 film starring Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando in the lead roles. But the one part of the story that is not so well known is the transformation on Pitcairn Island of the survivors of the Mutiny.
You probably know the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty quite well. Fletcher Christian, the second in command led a mutiny of most of the crew of the Bounty against the Captain, Lieutenant Bligh on 28th April 1789. The Captain and those of the crew that refused to join mutiny were sent adrift.
After much hardship and brilliant seamanship on the part of Bligh, they reached the island of Timor. Fletcher Christian took the Bounty and the rest of the crew to Tahiti.But in September 1789, he and eight other Englishmen from the Bounty, six Tahitian men, eleven Tahitian women and one child, sailed from Tahiti on the Bounty
Early in the following year 1790, found and landed on an uninhabited island, Pitcairn Island. They burnt the ship in order to escape detection. At first, the island seemed a paradise. But soon the Englishmen started to mistreat the Tahitians and stole one of their wives, causing a rebellion. Within four years, all the Tahitian men and all but four of the Englishmen had been murdered.
The only survivors were Alexander Smith, Edward Young, Matthew Quintall, William McCoy. McCoy soon learnt how to distill liquor from the roots of the “ti plant”, and soon the men were drunk almost all the time. Fearing for their lives, the women and children fled to another part of the island and build a fort for protection. One day McCoy threw himself over the cliffs in a drunken stupor.
Matthew Quintal became so dangerous when he was drunk that he threatened the lives of everyone else. So Smith and Young had to kill him for the safety of the others on the island. Smith finally came to his senses and destroyed the still and all the liquor on the island. He went “cold turkey” for several months.
Young, who was dying of TB, was taken in by the women to nurse him. While Smith was living alone, he discovered among the stores taken off the Bounty - before it was destroyed - a copy of the Bible and a Book of Common Prayer. However these weren’t much use to him as he was illiterate. Eventually, Young recovered and he and the women returned to the village where Smith was living. Young was literate and so he taught Smith to read using the Bible.
In 1801, Young died. Alexander Smith continued to read to Bible in its entirety, and grew to understand it over a period of several years. Seeing the importance of teaching the Bible to others, he began teaching the children how to read, and eventually some of the mothers learned to read as well. Using the Bible, he taught everyone about the Christian faith and instituted a daily prayer time, grace before meals, and Sunday worship. One of his prayers was as follows:
“Suffer me not O Lord to waste this day in sin or folly. But let me Worship thee with much Delight. Teach me to know more of thee and to serve thee better than ever I have done before, that I may be fitter to dwell in heaven, where thy worship and service are everlasting. Amen.”
In 1808, Pitcairn’s Island was discovered by captain Mayhew Folger of an American ship the USS Topas. The members of the crew were amazed to find that the island was inhabited by thirty five English-speaking people of Polynesian descent who were practicing the Christian faith.
It wasn’t long before the outside world was fascinated with the news that Fletcher Christian’s community had been found. The English authorities instructed every captain sailing to the south Pacific to search for any mutineers so that they could be arrested and deported to England to be punished for their crimes. Later, when two British ships did visit Pitcairn’s Island, they found such an orderly colony that they decided to disobey orders and not report their find of the Bounty survivors to London - although they did annex the Island as a British colony.
King George later sent Captain Waldgrave to visit Pitcairn’s. And Waldgrave wrote this:
“It was with great gratification that we observed the Christian simplicity of the natives. They appeared to have no guile. Their cottages were open to all and all were welcome to their food.”
A Church and a school were later built on the island. Smith died in 1829 at the age of seventy, but by 1840, Pitcairn’s Island was still a thriving Christian colony.
A visitor at that time wrote as follows:
“I then walked round and questioned several of the people on the texts, and some of the chief Scripture facts and doctrines, and most of them gave ready and suitable answers. . .The islanders have prayers twice on the Sabbath; after which Mr. Nobbs reads sermons from Burder, Watts, Blair, or Whitefield. There is also a Sabbath-school, a Bible-class is held on the Wednesday, and a day school every morning and afternoon. If God can use his book to convert the inhabitants of Pitcairn Island through an illiterate rehabilitated alcoholic, that book can transform our lives too."
A woman went to her doctor with a whole catalog of complaints about her health. He examined her thoroughly and came to the conclusion that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her physically. He was convinced that her problem was due to her negative attitude toward life. She had become filled with bitterness and resentment because some things had gone sour in the past. He took her into a back room where he kept most of his medicine. He showed her a shelf filled with empty bottles. He said to her, "See those bottles. Notice that they are all empty. They are shaped differently from one another, but basically they are all the same. But the most important thing I want you to notice is that they have nothing in them. Now I can take one of these bottles and fill it with enough poison to kill or I can fill one with medicine ...
“Like A Bird in the Hand!” Matthew 8:14-17 Key verse(s): 16-17:“When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases’.”
The little thing struggled and writhed to escape! The little finch, barely a couple of ounces of fluff and feather, struggled mightily against my grasp. It had flown into what it thought was a forest canopy which turned out to be something a bit less inviting, a reflection of the forest behind it in our great room window. It had been fortunate having struck the window obliquely and not head on. Head on crashes usually invoke a broken neck and instant death. But this little finch had been fortunate. It was stunned and pretty bruised. I had found it spread eagle on the deck, beak wide open and eyes glazed. It was in shock and in a matter of minutes it would succumb to the cold if not for the warmth of my hand. As I picked up the bird I could see that it must have hit the window with its breast having been distracted at the last moment by something that moved either within the house or without. It had turned its head with a wish to head in another direction. Its momentum, nonetheless, had prevented it from changing course in time. The breast had taken the full impact and now little fluffs of breast down billowed into the air as I lifted the bird within focus of my bifocals to inspect for damage.
It was only a matter of moments before the little bird began to regain its senses. First the eyelids began to function again; followed by the neck. Focusing in on the hulking figure peering down at it, despite the pain I knew it felt from the bruising and strained muscles, it began to push with all of its little might against my grip. I could feel those tiny claws first gripping and then relaxing. Its natural instinct, to escape and find shelter, had taken over. He tried to spread his wings within my hand but could do nothing more than push and squirm. Thinking perhaps that it could now fend for itself, I gently placed it in the bough of a nearby spruce tree. Although one foot grasped the bough with all its might, the other would not close and the little bird fell in a ball to the snow beneath the tree. I picked him up again and thought better of trying to perch him again. It was obvious that his neurological system was still feeling a good deal of the impact that was affecting his motor skills. Despite the safe haven of my hand he would have none of it. His struggles renewed, he now began attacking with his beak. If he couldn’t push my grip apart he would try to hammer it into submission. But, the bird could know only fear, not relief in my grasp. Despite the level of its pain, its fears far outweighed the pain it was feeling.
As I watched that little bird climb higher and higher into that tree I was suddenly struck by his misplaced fears. If it had not been for my hand and my attentiveness to its well-being, perhaps that little bird would be lying in a frozen heap right now in the middle of our deck. As much as my hand had provided security, even a life-giving warmth that it probably could not have found anywhere else, the finch would have nothing to do with it. He wanted out no matter how irrational or painful the consequences might have been. His fear of me entitled him to nothing more than a great risk of death not the comfort of freedom and long life it was certainly seeking.
I walked back to the house feeling a bit miffed by the whole thing. The harder I had tried to help the finch the more ornery it had become. You would have thought that it would have nestled in f...