Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 10, 1961
NUMBER 14, PAGE 7,14b

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

"Thou Art My God"

Some find a simple truth concerning man's relationship to God difficult to understand and accept. The truth to which we refer is the fact that God is the God of those who do His will. There is, of course, a broader sense in which God is the God of all mankind. He is the personal God, however, only of those who do His will. Hence it was that David prayed: "Hear my prayer, 0 Lord .... Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God...." (Psalms 143: 1, 10) The man who would claim God as his God, yet is reluctant to do His will, is self-deceived. A great host of people in religion who profess to love and serve God feel no great compulsion or responsibility to "do His will." Throughout the Bible, acceptance with God is predicated on doing His will. The prayer of each professed servant of God ought therefore to be: "Lord, teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God."

Don't You Get Discouraged?

Practically every preacher has been asked this question when certain of his efforts have not had visible, tangible results. In the May, 1961, issue of Nuggets, we ran across the following article. We think it is a well-phrased answer to such queries as the title of our article.

A famous baseball pitcher continued to pitch winning ball long after the age limit at which most of the big league players retired. When asked how he did it, he replied: "I manage the ball the best I can up to the time it leaves my hand. After that, it's up to the batter."

No worry about whether that particular pitch will be a ball, a strike, or a home run. He has done the best he can when the ball leaves his hand. He knows that he can't out-smart the batter every time. He knows that he is more successful than the average pitcher or he wouldn't be on the mound. So he puts all he has into the pitch. What happens to the ball after that is beyond his control. It's up to the batter.

It is easier for the average person to worry and wonder than it is for him to take the results philosophically. Nevertheless, it is natural that only a fair percentage of competitive efforts can be successful. One should recognize this and not be disheartened by a normal amount of failure.

Like the baseball pitcher, one should know from his own record that the majority of his efforts produce satisfactory results. With the confidence such knowledge inspires, he should put all he has on the ball, remembering that whatever happens after that is "up to the batter."

Then one can take the results of every earnest effort calmly. No need to worry if it is not successful. Simply get ready for the next pitch. It is likely to be a strike.

There is a great deal of wisdom in these words — wisdom that workers in the vineyard of the Lord might well appropriate. The average gospel preacher or teacher would not be doing the work he has been called to do by his brethren were he not of "above average" ability in these fields. It is axiomatic that there will be times when his efforts are not crowned with immediate, visible results. To be discouraged by such would hinder his performing at his maximum ability in his succeeding efforts. The pitcher cannot recall the ball after it has left his hand. He who becomes discouraged by a bad "pitch" is soon removed from the pitcher's mound in the game of baseball. Preachers and other workers should take the attitude of Paul who said, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. 3:6)

Let us labor to do our best functioning always in perfect harmony with the will of God. Having done this, let us be resigned to the results. If our efforts appear to us to have failed, let us not be discouraged. Let us rather 'put a little more on the next pitch."

The Test Of A Man

The place to take the true measure of a man is not the forum or the field, nor the market place or the amen corner, but at his own fireside. There he lays aside his mask, and you may judge whether he is an imp or angel, hero or humbug.

I care not what the world says of him, whether it crown him with leys or pelt him with bad eggs; I care never a copper what his reputation or religion may be; if his babies dread his homecoming and his better half swallows her heart every time she asks him for a five-dollar bill, he is a fraud of the first water, even though he prays at night and morn till he is black in the face, and howls "Hallelujah" till he shakes the eternal hills.

But if his children rush to the front gate to greet him, and love's own sunshine illumines the face of his wife when she hears his footfalls, you may take it for granted that he is pure gold, for his home is a heaven, and the humbug never gets that near the white throne of God. — William Cowper Brann, via Boles Home News, March 10

(Editor's note: William Cowper Brann (1855-1898) was the publisher of a newspaper, called the "Iconoclast," first at Austin, then at Waco, Texas. His was one of the most pungent and facile pens of his day. He was a crusader against everyone and everything that he considered to smack of hypocrisy, injustice, or cant. Being a skeptic, he was particularly adept at exposing such among the religious. He was killed in his prime by an outraged reader whom he had attacked. While we could not agree with Mr. Brann's implied thought that morality alone is sufficient to assure the approval of God, we do endorse his pitiless exposure of the "humbug." New Testament Christians are the "light of the world." They "are known and read of all men" as the "epistles of Christ." Profession is not enough. There must he consistent practice.)

On "Changing Sides"

A great deal has been said about those who have "changed sides" in the present controversy among the churches. Several years ago, we had occasion to write a gospel preacher who had thus changed. He had made a statement in one of the papers published by the brethren concerning his so-called "change." We considered the reasons which he urged as the basis of his change of convictions puerile as compared to the strong, clear, compelling statements he had made on the other side of the subjects, and told him so. In the course of our letter, we suggested to him that men who change from the popular to the unpopular side in a controversy are rarely the subjects of suspicion, but that those who change from the unpopular to the popular are invariably so. Hence, we further told him, his change demanded better reasons than those which he had assigned.

James Russell Lowell in a poem entitled, "The Present Crisis," has some rather heart-searching comments to make along this line:

Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of Truth and Falsehood, for the good or evil side.

Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just;

Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside.

Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified.

— Bartlett's Familiar Quotations Too many wait to see what the issue of the battle between Truth and Error will be before they make their decision. The brave and the true decide regardless of consequences.

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"Strong As A Horse"

Many times we hear a man described as being "strong as a horse." It is quite possible that this description originated in the Bible. An interesting statement is found from the pen of the Psalmist concerning that which brings pleasure to God. Hear him, "He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." (Psalms 147:10, 11)

Too many of the people of God suppose that the Lord is pleased with that which brings pleasure to them in His service. Too many measure God's pleasure in his people by the material evidence of their prosperity in their efforts to do him service. It is generally thought that God takes great pleasure in magnificent cathedrals built to do Him honor; great human institutions dedicated to education, benevolence, and evangelism; worldly recognition and popularity; wealthy church treasuries and vast, organized church programs; numerical growth of church rolls; and other such material evidences of prosperity.

It is our judgment that this is the attitude over which the people of God have often stumbled in days gone by. We take inordinate pride in "the strength of the horse" and "the legs of the man." Battles in those days in the field of carnal conflict were decided on the basis of the relative "strength of the horses" and "the legs of the men" of the contending parties. Men have always been prone to put their trust in the material rather than in God in the realm of the spiritual.

Men have ever had to learn the lesson that God does not delight nor take pleasure in such evidences of prosperity, but rather, His delight and His pleasure are in "those that fear him," "those that hope in His mercy." The man that fears God is the man that obeys God. He trusts not in his own strength or merit, but hopes in God's mercy. His trust is in the Lord, and the basis of his hope is the mercy and grace of God.

Too many brethren these days are taking an inordinate degree of pride in the "strength of their horses" and "the legs of their men." Give us rather a people who "fear God" and "hope in his mercy."