CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 3 August Dicipleship Training Objectives By Dan Cartwright 0 Comment Discipleship Training Objectives A basic tenet of the Christian Military Fellowship is that God has chosen the Bible as His primary means of communicating with us -it is His Word! In the words of the Apostle Paul, therefore: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Why? Because as he also said: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Key to a vibrant, robust, fruitful relationship with God is our attitude toward His Word (see Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1, 19 and 119; John 14:21, 23; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 2:1-3 and many others!). These" Discipleship Training Objectives" (DTO’s) are intended to get us into the Bible, studying for ourselves. They can be used for personal study, one-to-one discipleship/mentoring, and in small groups. Each lesson is a self-contained unit that discusses a specific topic, beginning with ‘Salvation’. Each lesson contains passages relevant to its topic. Each lesson has a simple and challenging study guide that helps you explore the lesson topic. Each lesson also has a study form that teaches you how to study ANY passage of scripture! If you are asking if they really help you grow spiritually, I can tell you they really helped this old soldier grow! The first time I worked through them (30+ years ago while in Special Forces) it was just me, the DTOs, and a Bible. Maybe that’s why I STILL use them and recommend them to anyone and everyone who is serious about growing in their faith. So if you’re up for a growth challenge, you owe it to yourself to check them out. They can be found at the CMD Web site here. If you’re up for the challenge and/or want to talk about them, contact me. Discipleship Training Objectives A basic tenet of the Christian Military Fellowship is that God has chosen the Bible as His primary means of communicating with us -it is His Word! In the words of the Apostle Paul, therefore: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Why? Because as he also said: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) Key to a vibrant, robust, fruitful relationship with God is our attitude toward His Word (see Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1, 19 and 119; John 14:21, 23; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 2:1-3 and many others!). These" Discipleship Training Objectives" (DTO’s) are intended to get us into the Bible, studying for ourselves. They can be used for personal study, one-to-one discipleship/mentoring, and in small groups. Each lesson is a self-contained unit that discusses a specific topic, beginning with ‘Salvation’. Each lesson contains passages relevant to its topic. Each lesson has a simple and challenging study guide that helps you explore the lesson topic. Each lesson also has a study form that teaches you how to study ANY passage of scripture! If you are asking if they really help you grow spiritually, I can tell you they really helped this old soldier grow! The first time I worked through them (30+ years ago while in Special Forces) it was just me, the DTOs, and a Bible. Maybe that’s why I STILL use them and recommend them to anyone and everyone who is serious about growing in their faith. So if you’re up for a growth challenge, you owe it to yourself to check them out. They can be found at the CMD Web site here. If you’re up for the challenge and/or want to talk about them, contact me. Related Pray for the Troops Pray for the Troops A Seven-Day Devotional The life of a young man or woman is forever changed when they sign the dotted line contractually binding them to their enlistment or commission in the United States Armed Forces. That decision can bring exhilaration, fear, excitement, anxiety and a host of many other emotions however, the emotions that surpass trepidations are ones of pride, loyalty, sacrifice, patriotism, honor, and courage, to name a few. The moment when the individual steps into the uniform for the first time, and views and salutes the American flag, is forever a life changing and heart transformation event. Whether their initial contract binds them to Active Duty service or as a Reservist, whether a military member is relatively new in their role, and in their career or whether they’re a seasoned veteran having spent many years serving and leading in service to their subordinates and our great nation, structural elements and foundational duties and sacrifices do not change. The requirements and demands of the “job”, while dynamic, are consistent throughout one’s career. In fact, the only constant is the dynamic change as the day’s duties unfold. The “plan” is discussed during the morning hours and duties are assigned accordingly only to be sidetracked or overcome by other events. “Semper Gumby” is a fun take on the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis”, or Always Faithful. “Semper Gumby” reminds military members to always be flexible, and that the focus of the mission can change at any second and they’re to adapt, improvise and overcome. Though the schedule is often fluid, there exists concrete infrastructural attributes of chain of command, expectations, and tradition, and they are deeply rooted into the fabric of Unites States Service Members. These concepts can be hard to wrap your arms around, if you’ve not had the opportunity to have “walked the walk.” How are we, as spouses, family members, patriots and supporters to pray for those in uniform? Why is prayer an important daily attribute that can help to shape and care for those that volunteer to be deployed in harm’s way? The Bible has many verses that provide guidance and comfort for how and why we’re to pray, here are two of them: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV) The above verse reminds us that we’re not to worry, that we’re to give everything to God in all circumstances and that our anxiety and worrying are fruitless. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (ESV) Jesus compels us to ask with a pure and expectant heart and to pray with an understanding that we’ll receive what we’re asking for in prayer. Our military is in a constant state of readiness, or preparing for “being ready” to deploy Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guard globally, to any place, and at any time. Regardless of where they are in the deployment cycle, understand that every day, every exercise, every task is in direct support of the readiness and operational missions. That is their role and that’s how they conduct their daily planning and activities. The best way to pray for our troops, all troops, whether or not they’re in harm’s way, or are supporting the mission from home, is to do so with intentional deliberation in a sage and forthright manner. For you, this might include a prayer room, or a quiet place where you go to pray, or simply during your morning commute as you turn down the radio and seek to spend some time with the Lord during your drive. However you have developed your spiritual disciplines, I encourage you to spend a few minutes preparing your heart and then intentionally praying for those, and those who support those, who put on the uniform every day. For specific areas of prayer, if not focusing your prayer for a single person or family, you may want to focus your prayer on an age or rank demographic (young, intermediate or seasoned service members), or on a particular unit or a branch of service in general. Pray for their preparation and training, the success of their evolution or mission, and their safe passage to and from their areas of responsibility. The following is a seven day devotional that can be utilized as a guide: Day 1 Focus: Preparation — Military Member “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27 ESV In this day-and-age of fluid and dynamic work and home environments, we are increasingly aware that “the only constant is change.” As a child growing up, your family members, parents/guardians, teachers and mentors around you have taught you some things along the way for how to be a responsible member of society when you step foot away from home for the first time. For our military members, basic training is the conduit that shapes the person and prepares them for their military service. Preparation teaches our military the elements of what it takes to become equipped in order to go forward and complete a mission. Without proper preparation, the mission outcome could be detrimental. Think about it: would you drive your car without the proper training and preparation? If you did not receive any preparation, the truth is that you most likely could mechanically operate the vehicle, but to what success? The apostle, Paul says: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:11-14 (ESV) Preparation is a key element to the success of any mission. Whether or not our military members are in an operational environment, an operational support role, or engaged in the deployment cycle, they are always preparing. They are preparing for the next task, the next mission, the next deployment. Pray for them today. Heavenly Father, God. As our warriors prepare in this day, for whatever the next mission is for them, I pray that you keep watch over them. Prepare their hearts, minds and hands for the ability to focus on protecting themselves and others, so that they may complete their mission safely and return home with honor. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen. Day 2 Focus: Preparation — Spouse/Family “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28 (ESV) We think about preparation being only for the military member as they prepare for their next mission, whether they’re engaged in a training cycle, or a physical fitness regiment, we know that they are continuously preparing for the next stages in fulfillment of their orders. But we often forget, that the military member wouldn’t be successful in their preparation without the steadfast and unwavering support of their family. Military spouses are the unsung heroes of our armed forces. If there are children in the home, we know that their role, at times, are akin to single parenthood. They’re responsible for holding down the fort at home, while their spouse is deployed. Strangely enough, if things can go wrong, they do go wrong while the military spouse is deployed! The water pipes burst or the car breaks down. The child becomes ill and in need of special testing. A tree falls on the roof of the home during a storm. The family pet contracts a rare disease. All of these things, which are normal family undertakings at some point in their lives, tend to occur all at once and just-in-time for the spouse to be deployed. The spouse at home is left alone, having to deal with all of life’s struggles, seemingly alone. If they have prepared properly, powers-of-attorney have been signed and executed, in addition to the myriad of other preparatory elements. “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (ESV) As we consider praying for the preparation of our military, whether for an individual, a particular unit, or a branch of service; I encourage you to also consider praying for the preparation of the unsung heroes, the military spouse. Dear Lord, I pray that as you prepare the hands, hearts and minds of our military members for their mission, that you also prepare the household for the absence of the military member. Lord be with the spouse, the children, and the supporting members of the family so that they are a strong and fortified unit of their own as they endure the hardships of their spouse being away on deployment, potentially in harm’s way. Lord give the spouse the strength to endure the illness of children, household hardships or loneliness struggles during the time that their spouse is away. Lord I pray that the spouse leans into you, during this time so that you may keep them and guide them towards a continued and rejoicing life in you. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Day 3 Focus: Deployment — Military Member “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV) The day is upon us. The day that all of the planning and preparation have called for. This is the day that we step onto the plane, or we cast off all lines to get the ship underway embarking on the beginning stages of the mission. Be at ease, rely on the training, this is what we’ve been mentally and physically preparing to do. Time to operate! As the beginning stages of the deployment are underway, the troops are anxious and excited. Some may be sad while others are exhilarated and thrive in the high optempo environment. Within these first few days of the deployment, as they transit to and arrive “on station”, God offers His kind and gentle support during this season. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) The day-counter has begun that will remind us on a regular basis how many days there are until our service member returns home to us safely. God willing. As we at home settle into our new routine, with the absence of our spouse, or our son or daughter, or as we come alongside our friends that are enduring this time, we’re to lean into the body of Christ and trust in His will in all things, and to rest in that as we go about our daily activities. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV) Father, God: I pray for our troops as they transition to their overseas environment. I take solace in the fact that you are with them, and that you are guiding the decisions of the leadership. Lord I pray that they lean into and hear your still small voice of direction, and allow for your guidance in the strategic decision making and care for each other, as they trudge forward to do the “hard job”, the mission, that protects me and keeps my country’s traditions and foundational morals and values sound. Protect them O Lord, and be with them always, until their return. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Day 4 Focus: Deployment — Family/Home Support “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV) There are “trimesters” to military deployments, similar to how we track growth, and events on the calendar as with gestation and human pregnancy. At the end of the third trimester, the process is finished and we’re left to enjoy the fruits of our labor. With deployed family members, the “stages” of the deployment timeframe can be tracked according to the calendar, and there are emotions and events that correspond with each. First trimester: feelings of exhilaration are abound as the day of your spouse leaving on deployment has finally arrived! The next few months will be an adjustment to the new schedule, taking care of the children, ensuring they get to little league or dance practice. Carve out time to meet with friends, perhaps take up a new healthy hobby. This is a time for perseverance for the “home-base” of support. Second trimester: The strong spouse, often becomes despondent and is filled with doubt and desperation during this time period. They miss their spouse, there is no end in sight to the seemingly insurmountable number of days between now and when their spouse returns. Hopelessness can set in. Couple this with some tragic events such as a water leak, the car breaking down, or a problem with the insurance and the burden of carrying everything alone, can become daunting. Third trimester: Over the hump! On the downward slide! Feelings of excitement and preparation, along with anxiety can accompany this period. How will they behave when they see each other? Will the spouse be angry at the new haircut or the new paint in the bedroom? Nervousness, doubt, anxiousness, and excitement are all bundled into the days leading up to the homecoming. Dear Father God, I pray that during each stage that you are the focus of the family. That all cares be given unto you so that all burdens and worries can be cast aside and that families flourish during times of strife, and their faith in you continues to grow as a result of your abundant and everlasting love. Be with them always, through each stage of the deployment as each stage brings forth its own sets of challenges. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. Day 5 Focus: Deployment — Troops Looking for the Home Stretch “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. ...” James 1:12-18 (ESV) It is during the last phases of deployment that the complacency, anxiety, and perfunctory numbness can set in for the troops. During this time, our troops are watching the calendar as well (or not) while engaging in what can be considered mundane tasks that are performed without feeling or consistency. The mantra “remember your training” is waning and the unit is in the throes of a continued haze of intermingled work days. “Time off” provides no respite as they’re still bound to the base, having to respond to emergencies, having to carry their weapons and perhaps run to the bunker if indirect fire is a threat to their area. Another day with a couple hundred of their closest friends, clogging the lines to chow, lugging their weapon around, trying to watch a movie or go to the gym on their “holiday routine” (holiday for others, routine for them). The hypersensitivity and hyper-vigilant operations tempo are the new norm, and no amount of caffeine can stimulate the “rush” that they experienced during the first few months on station. They now live and operate in a mode where loud weapons releases in the middle of the night are commonplace. When the siren goes off, they may grab their gear on the way to the bunker, they may not, or they may not even get up to go to the bunker for another alarm at all. What’s the point? Depression can set in and this is a critical time and area of prayer for our troops that are deployed in harm’s way. Dear Heavenly Father…we raise up our troops during this critical stage of their deployment. We pray that they remain steadfast in their mission and that they rely on you and the fundamental tenements of their job. I pray a hedge of protection against complacency, that they may remain alert and vigilant in their roles. Protect them Oh Lord, as they fight not only the physical enemy, but the spiritual enemy including the enemy of self which inaugurates depression, lethargy and complacency. Day 6 Focus: Homecoming — Family and Service Member “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 (ESV) The countdown is over, the day is here! Service members wake up (if they’ve slept at all) to a day filled with hope and wonderment, a day that they’ve been longing for ever since they left home: the day of homecoming. Most of the time, this occurs with the accompaniment of a great fanfare. There are bands, flowers, news crews, the clapping of hands, freshly dressed families that all await the arrival of their service member with nervous excitement! That feeling of exhilaration upon first setting eyes on their loved ones as they step off the plane, or wave from the ship is an irreplaceable feeling of gratitude filled with patriotism and pride. At times, however, a member is returning home without the full complement of their unit. This can be accompanied by mixed emotions as a bittersweet embrace with loved ones. While thankful to be home safe, the service member might have anxiety and sadness due to lost comrades-in-arms, and return home with a heavy heart. What we can do for them, in those moments is be present, listen when required, offer two shoulders and two ears to allow for the outpouring of strife to occur. This is the beginning of a process that can allow for healing and growth to begin. Heavenly Father God, I pray that as our service members return home to their families, that they do so with a thankful heart. That you’re able to pierce through the emotional strife and continue to love and care and guide the service members as they reintegrate with their families. Though the experiences that they’ve endured, we rest in your grace as the One True God that provides an abundance of love and mercy to those that respond to your call. Be with them Oh Lord, as they return home to the safe arms of their loved ones. In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen. Day 7 Focus: Family Unit Reintegration “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 Reintegration occurs on many fronts. For the spouse that’s been holding down the fort at home, to the child(ren) that’s been living with one parent for the past several months, to the military member that’s been living with a couple hundred of their closest friends for quite some time. The excitement of being back home gives way to stressful circumstances as married couples learn how to “do life” together again. This may include the service member becoming anxious as they’ve been operating in an unsafe environment and has learned to flourish on very little sleep and thrive on energy drinks. After they’ve cleaned and organized the entire house and there’s nothing left to do, anxiety can set in. They may feel useless as the “mission” is over and their participation is no longer meaningful. When this occurs, they try to fill the adrenalin and anxiety hole with other things. For some this is alcohol, which leads to relational problems. For others this is anger which leads to relational problems. As you can see, this is a volatile time for families as they discover that the elements of patience and grace are in great demand. Pray that they intentionally lean into the Lord, in order to fill their gaps. Pray for patience and understanding of the spouse and that they are involved with a loving and kind church family that can come alongside them during their time of reintegration into the home life. Where it is safe for the Sergeant to become Daddy or Mommy again, and the smile and joy returns as the member is home, and present in the lives of his or her family. Dear Lord, thank you so much for the safe return of the service members. I pray that when their elation subsides, that they are intentional in leaning into You father God and that they can find solace and refuge in your arms. I pray that their mission continues and that they find peace in that mission regardless of the role that they assume. Whether it’s Daddy or Mommy, Mr. or Mrs. instead of Sergeant or Captain, I pray that they have taken the positive attributes of their experiences and can utilize them in constructive and meaningful ways as they go forward. I pray this in the holy name of Jesus. Amen. Shalom. Me and CMF CMF and Me SGM Dan Cartwright, USA (Ret) Chairman, CMF Board of Directors Where do I begin? It’s been a long journey, about 30 years now. I guess I should start at the point in my life when God snatched me out of ODF status (Out Dere Flappin’) near the end of ’76, a few months before our first son was born. In terms of this life, I had it pretty well made — I was a young Staff Sergeant on a Special Forces ‘A’ Detachment, had met and married a wonderful woman (just had our 34th anniversary, BTW), and my lonely past seemed over. However, I had left the Savior of my youth in the dust, so to speak. About ten years earlier, I had decided that organized religion was a fake and struck out on my own — ODF big time, but happy as a pig in mud with my life at that point. The story around how God snatched me back from ODF status stands on its own and is too long for this venue. But snatch me back He did! We became involved in the Chapel system on Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, including a mid-week lunch time Bible study at the Special Forces chapel, which is how I found out about CMF. At about the same time, the thought of full-time ministry in the military surfaced, and I considered becoming a chaplain. That thought was fleeting however, when I discovered it would take about eight years of schooling outside of the military before I could re-enter as a chaplain. But I could see there was plenty of “service for God” in uniform that needed attention right away! So there I was, plugged in to chapels and Bible studies, learning and growing, and along came Ernie Miller, who was at that time leader of the CMF ministry. He visited the Bible study I attended and presented to us the concept of the CMF ministry: a network of believers in uniform, focused mainly on us enlisted types. Sounded good. When Ernie talked about this worldwide prayer network, my ears really perked up, considering all the different time zones around the globe and a prayer request being presented before the throne of grace around the clock on a given day! Ernie also talked about the structure of the network of believers: CMF Christian contacts, along with local and area-wide CMF representatives, plugged into the small home office in Denver. I was hooked — this was the ministry for me! That was then and this is now, thirty years later. Until I retired in 1996, I had the opportunity to be a Christian contact and CMF Local Representative anywhere I went, on permanent or temporary assignment, a paid “missionary” in uniform, funded by Uncle Sam! My marching orders in our Lord’s Army? Acts 1:8 — “BE” a witness for Christ — not preach, wear Christian “stuff,” or carry a CMF flag everywhere I went. I was to be available for whatever specific task God had waiting for me. I was just supposed to be a well cared for “tool” of the Master, ready, willing, and able for “divine appointments” whenever they presented themselves — which was usually without my knowing that God was setting these appointments. How often was God “setting something up”? Probably far more often than I will ever know! The times I can remember and realize it was God at work could fill a small book of their own. What part did CMF play all those years? Well, I already mentioned being plugged into a worldwide network of Christians in uniform, the monthly prayer “Battle Plan,” and the opportunities for service as part of the CMF ministry on the ground. I didn’t however, mention the training and logistical support CMF provided. They didn’t just have ministry positions that needed people in place; they also trained and equipped me for service in each position I filled. Then, on virtually every shelf in my office there’s something I received, without cost, from CMF — books by theologians and giants of the faith, long gone to their eternal reward, books by living pastors and teachers, even good study Bibles. The most cherished CMF-provided item resides inside a large 3-ring binder — a set of Christian growth lessons called Discipleship Training Objectives (DTOs) — that by themselves need only about a half-inch wide binder! You see, I have been through those lessons several times now, first with just a Bible and a concordance and small Bible dictionary. Each successive time through the lessons, as a set in a small group teaching role, or just in whatever has served as a place to study alone, I have added “stuff” I have learned/gleaned from a multitude of sources about each and every lesson. So, now I have one 3-inch wide binder — that might end up as three binders, one for each major section of lessons. Well, there you have the “big story” of an old retired soldier and CMF. Why did I even tell it in the CMF Newsletter? There’s only one reason — to encourage Christian men and women serving in our Military Forces to take up the challenge of being unashamed of the Gospel, being missionaries in uniform, lights in the darkness, salt of the earth, and taking the Good News of Jesus Christ to places no chaplain will ever be able to go! Lamentation In early 2009 I was in training with the Navy and in charge of a team of over a hundred Sailors. Our mission was to conduct detainee operations in a Theater Internment Facility. This particular mission is highly scrutinized and regulated due to previous transgressions in professionalism and displayed in the media. The atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay detainee facilities are images that will reside in my memory for many years to come. With the unit getting ready to conduct the detainee operations mission for the last time as we would be involved with training Iraqi Corrections Officers to take over the responsibilities, I had many trepidations. This was my first time conducting this type of work in this type of harsh environment. I relied on the Lord to carry us through the challenging nature of our assignment. Lamentation Lord, my God Almighty Lord Savior and healer You reign Entirely over the world. Undaunted Unwavering Caring Loving All Holy is Your name. I take refuge in you. I implore you! Oh, Lord Provide me with strength Courage Honor To embody steadfast Presence and leadership To lead your children Into battle And harm’s way. I am just one man With heavy shoulders Burdening the lives of many And responsible for their safety. Save and deliver me! Allow me the presence of mind And of situation. Provide me with resources The wherewithal The training Tactics Strength Courage Honor And commitment. Shield me from my enemies Who are trained to harm me. Don’t let me waiver In strength Decisions And leadership. Do not let me Compromise integrity So that those in my charge Benefit from unity And solidarity Of nature. Hear my plea oh Lord! I implore you! Receive my cry! Shroud me in your glory Provide promise And perseverance. I rely on your grace Every day Every hour Every minute Every second In foreign And domestic lands So that no harm Shall fall on me Or my men. Let us conduct ourselves Professionally and ethically Train our counterparts To the best of our abilities Complete the mission Turn over responsibilities Return with honor. I humbly implore you. Shine your grace On my mission. Provide peace And solace To a troubled nation And provide structure Strength Prosperity And persevreence To their efforts. Provide for Our safe return Our safe passage Weary and forlorn To our families With a sense Of steadfast accomplishment. In your hands I place my mission I relinquish our future To carry out Your wishes. I am encouraged By your love And goodness! I am emboldened By your glory! Ready and willing To carry out your mission For me and my men! I bask in your grace And thank you For your love As all things Are your Creation. We move In your glory. 5 Ways God Compels Us to Lead Coming up through the ranks as a military leader there were, on many occasions, times that I was able to learn from my leaders, my peers, and my subordinates alike. From each subset of the populous with whom I interacted on a daily basis, I began to formulate my own leadership styles at a very young age. You see, I learned from all of my leaders, which you would think to be a good thing. However, there were also occasions where I learned how not to lead. As a young Sailor I learned a lot about myself. As subordinate, I learned which traits and mannerisms of my leaders to which I best responded. There were days that they had to be creative in order to appeal to my motivators in order to obtain the best levels of my work. My best leaders knew what my motivators were, and managed accordingly. There were also other leaders who didn’t seem to know or care what motivated me. As a result my attitude, my morale and of course my quality of work waned. It was important to me that I was able to see a realistic path to ascend through the ranks. I held in high regard the office of those appointed over me and endeavored to show the proper respect to those persons who held the office. So with that, a natural tendency for me at that young age was to emulate the leader(s) that I felt had the best leadership attributes. These attributes contributed to my daily habits as a sailor, and through my habits, my leadership character was formed. Along the way, I learned the elements of those attributes and how to apply them in specific situations. Through my journey up through the ranks, I began to understand and assimilate into my leadership style, those characteristics that were displayed to me not only by men and women in uniform, but by our almighty God. In fact, when I began to “take it to the book” (the Holy Bible) did I first begin to realize how I was created, for what I was created, and the character that God displayed befor me every step of the way. God truly leads by example! 1. Lead by Example Colossians 3:17 says: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Jesus shows us many ways where He presents the theme of leading by example as being at the forefront of His actions! If you haven’t heard it before, you should hear it now: as a leader, in any capacity, where you have the ability to teach and mentor protégés, they are watching and learning from your every move! Make no mistake, like little children they are learning from your mannerisms, your speech, your ethics and your values and at each step, they are internally assessing your ability to lead them, in any capacity. We do it all the time. How many Pastors have you “sized up” when investigating a new home church? Paul writes to Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV The Gospel of John says that we’re to be an example in service to each other. “When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15 ESV 2. Be a Servant Leader “But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 ESV Chief among the attributes of servant leadership, Jesus compels us to put down our pride, and serve each other with grace and empathy. We have to remember that not only are we in the business of completing well-orchestrated (most of the time) strategic missions, that we’re also in the business of shaping and molding people. Jesus compels us to serve our brothers and sisters and that through that service, we are providing those within our charge with the best attributes of leadership possible, both morally and ethically. 3. Lead with Wisdom Wisdom and discernment come with time, age and experience. As a young leader, don’t be afraid to plant your flagpole and make a decision. Subordinates and protégés don’t always benefit from indecision. However, be deliberate in your decision making methodology, otherwise the ripple effects of your decisions can be impactful in other potentially unforeseen areas. Take as many factors into consideration as possible before leading the charge in any one direction. The benefits of your deliberate decision making process will be many. Proverbs 8:1-36 ESV states, “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.” 4. Have Trust Have trust in those around you, as the camaraderie and bonds that you have formed through your traditions and training will be displayed during the most stressful of times. In leading young service members individually or collectively, there must be trust among those you empower, to be able to carry out the orders with precision, as they have been trained to do. Trust in each other, and trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce” Proverbs 3:5-10 ESV As Paul again writes to Timothy: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV 5. Lead with Love As leaders, whether we’re leading in a military capacity, or as teachers of education, or trainers for our business or our church, or as stay at home parents; the greatest of attributes that we could ever adorn in leadership or other capacities is on distinct display by our Lord and Savior. Of the many attributes that Jesus teaches us for how to behave and what is most consistent with the expectations that God has for us on this earth, he sums up with two very specific commandments. They are found within the Gospels, and Matthew tells us this is how the conversation occurred: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 ESV The apostle Paul also gives us, in his letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 ESV Two Sowings and Two Harvests Two Sowings And Two Harvests Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7, 8. Trinity College Chapel, 24th Sunday after Trinity, 1871. It may be a matter of question, what moral defect in the Galatian Church was prominent in S. Paul’s mind, when he wrote these words, and what therefore is the exact link of thought which connects them with the context. Are they aimed at the stinginess of those, who refused to provide proper support for their spiritual teachers, or to extend their alms to a distant Church suffering from the effects of famine? Or are they rather directed against others, who vaunting themselves as spiritual, and professing to subordinate the letter, the ritual, the law of ordinances to a higher principle, yet nevertheless through carelessness and self-indulgence were sinking into lower depths of license than those whom they branded as ‘carnal?’ Whatever may have been the immediate motive, it is clear that the words have a wider application, and cannot be confined to any one development of the fleshly mind. This then is the great principle, which the text enunciates. It extends the law of cause and effect, which in the physical world is a matter of common observation, to the domain of the moral and theological, from which men, whether professedly worldly or professedly religious, from diverse motives and by manifold subterfuges attempt to exclude it. It declares that certain courses of action, certain modes of life, entail certain inevitable consequences. It pronounces this to be true in the region of human life, as in the region of external nature, that ‘while the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest shall not cease;’ true that men do not ‘gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles;’ true that, where tares only have been sown, ears of wheat will not be gathered into the garner. I need hardly remind you with what persistency and in how many various forms our Lord and His Apostles enforce this lesson; that God takes men, if we may so say, at their word, deals with them according to their aims, matches His gifts to their ambitions, bestows on them what they crave and withholds from them what they despise, and thus through and in themselves works out His great purpose of equal retribution. I might point in illustration of this to S. Paul’s picture of the Gentile world in the opening of the Epistle to the Romans—the earliest and most truthful sketch of the philosophy of religious history—where the degradation and decay of the heathen is traced to the wilful perversion of their aims and darkening of their hearts, which refused to listen to the oracle of conscience speaking within them, and to the voices of nature responding to it from without, till at length ‘God gave them over’—the expression is thrice repeated, as if to designate three successive stages in this relinquishment, three successive plunges in their downward course—‘gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness,’ ‘gave them over to shameful affections,’ ‘gave them over’ (last of all) ‘to a reprobate mind,’ when the light of the moral sense had been utterly quenched, and they revelled in their sin and shame, and the corruption was hopeless, irretrievable, final. This in S. Paul’s judgment was the outcome of that ‘healthy sensuality’ of the Greek, which a modern writer has recommended to our favourable consideration as an improvement on the morals of the Gospel. Judge for yourselves; I will add no word to prejudice the verdict. Is this health, is it culture, is it light, is it life; or is it, as S. Paul teaches, vileness and corruption, darkness and death? Or I might turn again for an illustration to the parable of Lazarus and Dives. Consider the answer to the rich man, when the retribution came and the plea for mercy was urged too late. ‘Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things.’ This is the pivot, on which the moral of the parable turns. They were his good things; the things which were to him the realization of the ends and aims of life, the things on which he had set his heart and for which he had spent his energies. They might not be ‘good things’ in themselves. Some of them might be positively bad, vicious in their processes and dangerous in their results; though for the most part they would have a neutral character, as instruments, advantages, enjoyments, capable of use and capable also of abuse. But to him they represented the ideal of life. He saw nothing beyond, desired nothing beyond. And he had his desire. God granted to him ‘his good things.’ He enjoyed them—enjoyed them to surfeiting. Whether they answered his expectations, whether they did not pall on his palate, did not leave a loathing, a dissatisfied feeling behind, is another matter. The point of the parable is this; that, what he sought for, that he attained; that the seed, which he had sown, had borne its proper fruit in its due season, and that therefore no ground of complaint was left. He had sown to the flesh; and of the flesh he had reaped, in the present, indolence, luxury, magnificence, self-indulgence in its highest and its lowest forms; but in the present and in the future alike spiritual corruption and spiritual death. In the text two great principles are set the one against the other—flesh and Spirit, darkness and light, life and death. And each man is required to make his election between the two. On whichever alternative his choice may fall, he accepts the disadvantages, as well as the advantages, of that alternative. It would be foolish, as it would be futile, to understate the disadvantages of the nobler choice. In the end it will be found true that the yoke is easy and that the burden is light; but a yoke and a burden it is and will inevitably be. And the assumption of this yoke, the shouldering of this burden, must vex and gall, and may even agonize with its unwonted pressure. Yet, if the child that has been indulged in its every whim, that has submitted to no restraints, has learnt no lesson of self-denial in infancy, may even, as a child, have been less happy, because more selfish, than other children, and when it grows out of infancy into boyhood and gets its first rude lessons of the trials of life, may find its position intolerable; if the young man, who wastes his energies and squanders his means and indulges his passions in the vigour and freshness of youth, and thus gambles away all the splendid possibilities of his maturer age, is not a whit more happy even in his present dissipation than his more sober equals, and finds when it is too late that his future is irretrievably ruined—the means which might have started him fairly in life spent, the intellectual endowments which would have more than compensated the lack of material resources stunted and withered by disuse, the whole fibre of his character, his capacity of endurance, his faculty of concentration, his power of self-restraint, wasted in premature decay; then by analogy—as we look forward, no longer from infancy to boyhood, no longer from early manhood to mature age, but from time to eternity, from the life here to the life beyond, from the brief transitory elements of our existence to the abiding and permanent, or in Apostolic language from the flesh to the Spirit—it is only reasonable, only accordant with the lessons of common experience, that he who has staked his all on the earlier phase of existence, has lived in it and for it alone without one thought of the more serious destiny beyond, should, when this destiny overtakes him, be plunged into the agony and despair of those who find themselves suddenly confronted with a new life, for which they have undergone no discipline, with which they have cultivated no sympathies, to which they have made no sacrifices, which is utterly alien to their tastes and their habits. This analogy will lead us to suspect, that he who is wise for the future is not (in any true sense of the word) unwise for the present; that in S. Paul’s language ‘godliness has promise of the life that now is, as well as of the life to come:’ but, whether it does this or not, it certainly tends to vindicate as inevitable the law which is laid down in the text; that in God’s moral world the harvest reaped shall be as the seed sown, and that every tree shall yield fruit after his kind. Any schemes of salvation, any views of grace, election, assurance, which fail to take into account this essential element, must be wrong. They are futile attempts to set aside the dispensation of Divine Providence. They are a mockery of God. ‘He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.’ What is meant, and what is not meant, by sowing to the flesh, it is important for us to discriminate. It does not mean paying proper attention to the bodily health, for the health of the body is a valuable instrument in performing the functions of our spiritual life. It does not mean giving suitable recreation to the faculties of the mind; for only by such recreation can those faculties be kept sound and vigorous, and fulfil their part as ministers to our spiritual nature. It does not mean attending to our profession or employment, and thus providing adequate means for our support in life; for without such means independence is lost, temptations are multiplied, and the free exercise of the spiritual faculty is shackled in a thousand ways. It does not mean checking and stunting the natural affections; for without the affections duly fostered and guided aright the spiritual life must wither and die for want of proper nutrition. These things it is not. But to live for the sake of amusement only, to live that you may gratify pleasures of the sense, to live that you may indulge your ambition, or your love of popularity, or your love of display, or your love of ease, or even your love of knowledge—regarded as a selfish instinct, without one thought of using it for the benefit of others and to the glory of God—to live for any or all of these is to live for this life alone, whatever form your ideal of this life may take. This is sowing to the flesh; this will rear and will reap a harvest of corruption. The Apostle draws a sharp contrast. He speaks only of the two extremes, the two antagonist elements—flesh and Spirit. But there are whole regions lying between and occupying neutral ground—regions which may be annexed to the one or the other as either becomes more powerful. Let us then interpolate between the two. ‘He that soweth to the intellect, shall of the intellect reap’—first of all, intellectual triumphs. Of this he may be assured. But whether the end shall be corruption, or whether it shall be life eternal, this still remains undetermined. These intellectual acquisitions are our business here. They are our justification, as a Collegiate body. If we fail in these, we have not answered our end; we have pronounced our doom. The salt has lost its savour, and it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men. But, if so, it is only the more incumbent upon us, to ask, whether in this province we are sowing to the flesh or sowing to the Spirit? For it is not difficult to see, how intellectual gifts and intellectual activity may minister to the flesh, may sow the seeds of corruption; and when this is the case, the corruption will be all the more deadly, inasmuch as the faculties thus degraded are the nobler. ‘The light of the body is the eye.’ ‘If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!’ For instance, a man may enter upon some intellectual investigation from a corrupt motive. There are some departments of Natural Science which are most noble in themselves, which offer to the physician the largest opportunities for practical usefulness, which open out to the student the widest fields of scientific research. But this man’s motive is neither philanthropy nor science. A worse than idle curiosity prompts him. He approaches the subject with a sullied touch; and it rots and crumbles in his hands. Here then he has sown to the flesh; and according to the sowing will be the harvest. In the bitter retrospect, when the curse has descended upon him and he is driven from the garden of his happy innocence, he will confess in sorrow and shame the intense moral significance of the earliest pages of that oldest book—at once the oldest and the freshest of all books—where the simple test of obedience is the abstaining from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and yet this one prohibition is too stringent for the sinful curiosity which pronounces it ‘pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise.’ Or, again, take a different instance. Past and contemporary literature will furnish only too many examples, where, through the faculty of imagination, the seed has been sown to the flesh, and the inevitable harvest of corruption reaped therefrom. Better—a thousand times better—never to have risen above the dead-level of mediocrity, never to have left any trace on the literature of your country, better to have lived obscure and died forgotten, than once to have prostituted this, the divinest of all intellectual gifts, to minister to the passions of man, and to plant the seeds of corruption in generations yet unborn. Of all possibilities this is the future which we should most deprecate for any man here—worse than the worst reverses of fortune, worse even than the utter degradation of his own personal character, for then at least the evil may perchance die with him, the whole harvest of woe may be reaped by the sower alone. Cultivate then, as you are bound to do, your choicest intellectual endowments; but so cultivate them, that they may become also your best spiritual instruments; so cultivate them, that you may lay them down a less unworthy offering at the footstool of the Eternal Throne. He, and he only, that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life eternal. This spiritual capacity is the crown and glory of human life. To it all other graces, faculties, endowments, lead up. It is their anointed sovereign, their divinely-ordained consummation. Without it the character is mutilated in its most essential part. With unfeigned pity you will have looked on some poor idiot, in whom the light of the intellect has been quenched, whose rude physical health seems a mockery of his mental state, who retains the features and exhibits the gestures of a man, while yet the vacant stare and the inarticulate muttering and the loose gait tell only too plainly that the nobler part of man is not there. With some such sentiment of compassion we may imagine that a higher being will look down on one of us, rich though he may be in all intellectual gifts, lavishly endowed with the powers of reason and the graces of imagination, in whom nevertheless the divinest faculty of all—the spiritual nature—is a dreary hopeless blank, crushed out by worldliness, or wasted away by disuse. His great intellectual capacities seem only to point the contrast, and to flaunt and to mock at the vacancy of this higher part. But this spiritual faculty, in proportion as it is the most precious, is also the most delicate part of our nature. It demands the most careful tending. It will stand no rude treatment. It soon withers away with neglect. Without self-discipline and without prayer its life cannot be sustained. Not without self-discipline. I have heard it advanced in conversation and I have seen it stated in sermons, as an axiom which is not open to question, but must at once command belief, that self-denial, if imposed for some immediate beneficent purpose, as for instance to enable us to minister to the wants of others, is an excellent and praiseworthy thing; but that when there is no such end in view, it is morbid, worthless, delusive. But is this so? Does reason or, analogy or experience lend any countenance to this statement? Can the habit of self-denial be formed in any other way than by repeated acts of self-denial? The Apostle is wont to compare the training of the moral and spiritual character to the gymnastic training of the body. Is not the comparison eminently just? It does not do to put off the exercise of self-denial, till there is a distinct demand for self-denial. You can no more deny yourself at pleasure, unless you have undergone a preliminary discipline, than you can put forth the muscular strength and skill requisite for some athletic feat, without the proper physical training. And therefore I say, if you would live the higher life, if you would sow to the Spirit, exercise a stern discipline over yourselves now. Use the rules and the restraints of this place—the fixed hours and the appointed studies—as the instruments of this discipline. It is only by your willing surrender to them that they will be made truly effectual. This do, and conquer sloth, conquer listlessness, conquer indulgence, conquer self. Not without self-discipline; but also not without prayer. Prayer—the communion of the human spirit with the Divine—is the proper food of the spiritual life. How far this is the daily habit of any member of this congregation, is known to himself alone. But if we turn to our public services, is it hopeful, that, when morning and evening opportunities of common worship are offered to all, so few are found to attend regularly, and so many think it irksome if they are required to attend even now and then? Is it hopeful, that when Sunday after Sunday the Lord’s Table is spread and you are invited to participate in this supreme act of Christian worship—the last command of the dying Saviour, the truest bond of our universal brotherhood, the most intimate communion between the finite and the infinite—so few respond to the call? And yet, if this College is ever to rise to a sense of its highest mission, it must shake off this spiritual lethargy, and throw itself earnestly into this divine life. It is impossible to watch the tide of vigorous youthful life, as it streams through our antechapel on Sunday evenings, without feeling what untold possibilities of good have been enclosed within the four walls of this building. Here is a vast capacity, an undeveloped spiritual power, which, duly fostered and concentrated, might change the face of society, might revive a Church or regenerate a nation. And yet—it is a painful thought—in a year or two all these elements will be dispersed. This generation too will go forth, as in the parable, on their several ways, ‘one to his farm, another to his merchandise.’ The call will be neglected; the good will remain undone; one more glorious possibility will have passed away. Shall this continue, until the College shall cease to be? Shall generation succeed generation and nothing be done? ‘And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, Thou knowest.’ ‘Lord, how long?’ Lightfoot, J. B. (1890). Cambridge Sermons. London; New York: MacMillan and Co. (Public Domain) Frost and Thaw Frost and Thaw "He giveth snow like wool: he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow."—Psalm 147:16–18. LOOKING out of our window one morning we saw the earth robed in a white mantle; for in a few short hours the earth had been covered to a considerable depth with snow. We looked out again in a few hours and saw the fields as green as ever, and the ploughed fields as bare as if no single flake had fallen. It is no uncommon thing for a heavy fall of snow to be followed by a rapid thaw. These interesting changes are wrought by God, not only with a purpose toward the outward world, but with some design toward the spiritual realm. God is always a teacher. In every action that he performs he is instructing his own children, and opening up to them the road to inner mysteries. Happy are those who find food for their heaven-born spirits, as well as for their mental powers, in the works of the Lord’s hand. I shall ask your attention, first, to the operations of nature spoken of in the text; and, secondly, to those operations of grace of which they are the most fitting symbols. I. Consider first, the operations of nature. We shall not think a few minutes wasted if we call your attention to the hand of God in frost and thaw, even upon natural grounds. 1. Observe the directness of the Lord’s work. I rejoice, as I read these words, to find how present our God is in the world. It is not written, "the laws of nature produce snow," but "he giveth snow," as if every flake came directly from the palm of his hand. We are not told that certain natural regulations form moisture into hoarfrost; no, but as Moses took ashes of the furnace and scattered them upon Egypt, so it is said of the Lord "he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes." It is not said that the Eternal has set the world going, and by the operation of its machinery ice is produced. Oh no, but every single granule of ice descending in the hail is from God; "he casteth forth his ice like morsels." Even as the slinger distinctly sends the stone out of his sling, so the path of every hailstone is marked by the Divine power. The ice is called, you observe, his ice; and in the next sentence we read of his cold. These words make nature strangely magnificent. When we look upon every hailstone as God’s hail, and upon every fragment of ice as his ice, how precious the watery diamonds become! When we feel the cold nipping our limbs and penetrating through every garment, it consoles us to remember that it is his cold. When the thaw comes, see how the text speaks of it;—"he sendeth out his word." He does not leave it to certain forces of nature, but like a king, "He sendeth out his word and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow." He has a special property in every wind: whether it comes from the north to freeze, or from the south to melt, it is his wind. Behold how in God’s temple everything speaketh of his glory. Learn to see the Lord in all scenes of the visible universe, for truly he worketh all things. This thought of the directness of the Divine operations must be carried into providence. It will greatly comfort you if you can see God’s hand in your losses and crosses; surely you will not murmur against the direct agency of your God. This will put an extraordinary sweetness into daily mercies, and make the comforts of life more comfortable still, because they are from a Father’s hand. If your table be scantily furnished it shall suffice for your contented heart, when you know that your Father spread it for you in wisdom and love. This shall bless your bread and your water; this shall make the bare walls of an ill-furnished room as resplendent as a palace, and turn a hard bed into a couch of down;—my Father doth it all. We see his smile of love even when others see nothing but the black hand of Death smiting our best beloved. We see a Father’s hand when the pestilence lays our cattle dead upon the plain. We see God at work in mercy when we ourselves are stretched upon the bed of languishing. It is ever our Father’s act and deed. Do not let us get beyond this; but rather let us enlarge our view of this truth, and remember that this is true of the little as well as of the great. Let the lines of a true poet strike you:— "If pestilence stalk through the land, ye say the Lord hath done it— Hath he not done it when an aphis creepeth upon the rosebud? If an avalanche tumbles from its Alp, ye tremble at the will of Providence— Is not that will as much concerned when the sere leaves fall from the poplar?" Let your hearts sing of everything, Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is there. 2. Next, I beg you to observe, with thanksgiving, the ease of Divine working. These verses read as if the making of frost and snow were the simplest matter in all the world. A man puts his hand into a wool-pack and throws out the wool; God giveth snow as easily as that: "He giveth snow like wool." A man takes up a handful of ashes, and throws them into the air, so that they fall around: "He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes." Rime and snow are marvels of nature: those who have observed the extraordinary beauty of the ice-crystals have been enraptured, and yet they are easily formed by the Lord. "He casteth forth his ice like morsels"—just as easily as we cast crumbs of bread outside the window to the robins during wintry days. When the rivers are hard frozen, and the earth is held in iron chains, then the melting of the whole—how is that done? Not by kindling innumerable fires, nor by sending electric shocks from huge batteries through the interior of the earth—no; "He sendeth forth his word, and melteth them; he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow." The whole matter is accomplished with a word and a breath. If you and I had any great thing to do, what puffing and panting, what straining and tugging there would be: even the great engineers, who perform marvels by machinery, make much noise and stir about it. It is not so with the Almighty One. Our globe spins round in four-and-twenty hours, and yet it does not make so much noise as a humming-top; and yonder ponderous worlds rolling in space track their way in silence. If I enter a factory I hear a deafening din, or if I stand near the village mill, turned by water dropping over a wheel, there is a never-ceasing, click-clack, or an undying hum; but God’s great wheels revolve without noise or friction: divine machinery works smoothly. This ease is seen in providence as well as in nature. Your heavenly Father is as able to deliver you as he is to melt the snow, and he will deliver you in as simple a manner if you rest upon him. He openeth his hand, and supplies the want of every living thing as readily as he works in nature. Mark the ease of God’s working,—he does but open his hand. 3. Notice in the next place the variety of the Divine operations in nature. When the Lord is at work with frost as his tool he creates snow, a wonderful production, every crystal being a marvel of art; but then he is not content with snow—from the same water he makes another form of beauty which we call hoarfrost, and yet a third lustrous sparkling substance, namely glittering ice; and all these by the one agency of cold. What a marvellous variety the educated eye can detect in the several forms of frozen water! The same God who solidified the flood with cold soon melts it with warmth; but even in thaw there is no monotony of manner: at one time the joyous streams rush with such impetuosity from their imprisonment that rivers are swollen and floods cover the plain; at another time by slow degrees, in scanty driblets, the drops regain their freedom. The same variety is seen in every department of nature. So in providence the Lord has a thousand forms of frosty trials with which to try his people, and he has ten thousand beams of mercy with which to cheer and comfort them. He can afflict you with the snow trial, or with the hoarfrost trial, or with the ice-trial if he will; and anon he can with his word relax the bonds of adversity, and that in countless ways. Whereas men are tied to two or three methods in accomplishing their will, God is infinite in understanding, and worketh as he wills by ways unguessed of mortal mind. 4. I shall ask you also to consider the works of God in nature in their swiftness. It was thought a wonderful thing in the days of Ahasuerus that letters were sent by post upon swift dromedaries. In our country we thought we had arrived at the age of miracles when the axles of our cars glowed with speed, and now that the telegraph is at work we stretch out our hands into infinity: but what is our rapidity compared with that of God’s operations? Well does the text say, "He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth: his word runneth very swiftly." Forth went the word, "Open the treasures of snow," and the flakes descended in innumerable multitudes; and then it was said, "Let them be closed," and not another snow-feather was seen. Then spake the Master, "Let the south wind blow and the snow be melted"; lo, it disappeared at the voice of his word. Believer, you cannot tell how soon God may come to your help. "He rode upon a cherub and did fly," says David; "yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind." He will come from above to rescue his beloved. He will rend the heavens and come down; with such speed will he descend, that he will not stay to draw the curtains of heaven, but he will rend them in his haste, and make the mountains to flow down at his feet, that he may deliver those who cry unto him in the hour of trouble. That mighty God who can melt the ice so speedily can take to himself the same eagle wings, and haste to your deliverance. Arise, O God! and let thy children be helped, and that right early. 5. One other thought: consider the goodness of God in all the operations of nature and providence. Think of that goodness negatively. "Who can stand before his cold?" You cannot help thinking of the poor in a hard winter—only a hard heart can forget them when you see the snow lying deep. But suppose that snow continued to fall! What is there to hinder it? The same God who sends us snow for one day could do the like for fifty days if he pleased. Why not? And when the frost pinches us so severely, why should it not be continued month after month? We can only thank the goodness which does not send "His cold" to such an extent that our spirits expire. Travellers towards the North Pole tremble as they think of this question, "Who can stand before his cold?" For cold has a degree of omnipotence in it when God is pleased to let it loose. Let us thank God for the restraining mercy by which he holds the cold in check. Not only negatively, but positively there is mercy in the snow. Is not that a suggestive metaphor? "He giveth snow like wool." The snow is said to warm the earth; it protects those little plants which have just begun to peep above ground, and might otherwise be frost-bitten: as with a garment of down the snow protects them from the extreme severity of cold. Hence Watts sings, in his version of the hundred-and-forty-seventh Psalm,— "His flakes of snow like wool be sends, And thus the springing corn defends." It was an idea of the ancients that snow warmed the heart of the soil, and gave it fertility, and therefore they praised God for it. Certainly there is much mercy in the frost, for pestilence might run a far longer race if it were not that the frost cries to it, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther." Noxious insects would multiply until they devoured the precious fruits of the earth, if sharp nights did not destroy millions of them, so that these pests are swept from off the earth. Though man may think himself a loser by the cold, he is a great ultimate gainer by the decree of Providence which ordains winter. The quaint saying of one of the old writers that "snow is wool, and frost is fire, and ice is bread, and rain is drink," is true, though it sounds like a paradox. There is no doubt that frost in breaking up the soil promotes fruitfulness, and so the ice becomes bread. Thus those agencies, which for the moment deprive our workers of their means of sustenance, are the means by which God supplies every living thing. Mark, then, God’s goodness as clearly in the snow and frost as in the thaw which clears the winter’s work away. Christian, remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity. Rest assured that when God is pleased to send out the biting winds of affliction he is in them, and he is always love, as much love in sorrow as when he breathes upon you the soft south wind of joy. See the lovingkindness of God in every work of his hand! Praise him—he maketh summer and winter—let your song go round the year! Praise him—he giveth day and sendeth night—thank him at all hours! Cast not away your confidence, it hath great recompense of reward. As David wove the snow, and rain, and stormy wind into a song, even so combine your trials, your tribulations, your difficulties and adversities into a sweet psalm of praise, and say perpetually— "Let us, with a gladsome mind, Praise the Lord, for he is kind." Thus much upon the operations of nature. It is a very tempting theme, but other fields invite me. II. I would address you very earnestly and solemnly upon those operations of grace, of which frost and thaw are the outward symbols. There is a period with God’s own people when he comes to deal with them by the frost of the law. The law is to the soul as the cutting north wind. Faith can see love in it, but the carnal eye of sense cannot. It is a cold, terrible, comfortless blast. To be exposed to the full force of the law of God would be to be frost-bitten with everlasting destruction; and even to feel it for a season would congeal the marrow of one’s bones, and make one’s whole being stiff with affright. "Who can stand before his cold?" When the law comes forth thundering from its treasuries, who can stand before it? The effect of law-work upon the soul is to bind up the rivers of human delight. No man can rejoice when the terrors of conscience are upon him. When the law of God is sweeping through the soul, music and dancing lose their joy, the bowl forgets its power to cheer, and the enchantments of earth are broken. The rivers of pleasure freeze to icy despondency. The buds of hope are suddenly nipped, and the soul finds no comfort. It was satisfied once to grow rich, but rust and canker are now upon all gold and silver. Every promising hope is frost-bitten, and the spirit is winter-bound in despair. This cold makes the sinner feel how ragged his garments are. He could strut about, when it was summer weather, and think his rags right royal robes, but now the cold frost finds out every rent in his garment, and in the hands of the terrible law he shivers like the leaves upon the aspen. The north wind of judgment searches the man through and through. He did not know what was in him, but now he sees his inward parts to be filled with corruption and rottenness. These are some of the terrors of the wintry breath of the law. This frost of law and terrors only tends to harden. Nothing splits the rock or makes the cliff tumble like frost when succeeded by thaw, but frost alone makes the earth like a mass of iron, breaking the ploughshare which would seek to pierce it. A sinner under the influence of the law of God, apart from the gospel, is hardened by despair, and cries, "There is no hope, and therefore after my lusts will I go. Whereas there is no heaven for me after this life, I will make a heaven out of this earth; and since hell awaits me, I will at least enjoy such sweets as sin may afford me here." This is not the fault of the law; the blame lies with the corrupt heart which is hardened by it; yet, nevertheless, such is its effect. When the Lord has wrought by the frost of the law, he sends the thaw of the gospel. When the south wind blows from the land of promise, bringing precious remembrances of God’s fatherly pity and tender lovingkindness, then straightway the heart begins to soften, and a sense of blood-bought pardon speedily dissolves it. The eyes fill with tears, the heart melts in tenderness, rivers of pleasure flow freely, and buds of hope open in the cheerful air. A heavenly spring whispers to the flowers that were sleeping in the cold earth; they hear its voice, and lift up their heads, for "the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land." God sendeth his Word, saying, "Thy warfare is accomplished, and thy sin is pardoned;" and when that blessedly cheering word comes with power to the soul, and the sweet breath of the Holy Spirit acts like the warm south wind upon the heart, then the waters flow, and the mind is filled with holy joy, and light, and liberty. "The legal wintry state is gone, The frosts are fled, the spring comes on, The sacred turtle-dove we hear Proclaim the new, the joyful year." Having shown you that there is a parallel between frost and thaw in nature and law and gospel in grace, I would utter the same thoughts concerning grace which I gave you concerning nature. 1. We began with the directness of God’s works in nature. Now, beloved friends, remark the directness of God’s works in grace. When the heart is truly affected by the law of God, when sin is made to appear exceeding sinful, when carnal hopes are frozen to death by the law, when the soul is made to feel its barrenness and utter death and ruin—this is the finger of God. Do not speak of the minister. It was well that he preached earnestly: God has used him as an instrument, but God worketh all. When the thaw of grace comes, I pray you discern the distinct hand of God in every beam of comfort which gladdens the troubled conscience, for it is the Lord alone who bindeth up the broken in heart and healeth all their wounds. We are far too apt to stop in instrumentalities. Folly makes men look to sacraments for heart-breaking or heart-healing, but sacraments all say, "It is not in us." Some of you look to the preaching of the Word, and look no higher; but all true preachers will tell you, "It is not in us." Eloquence and earnestness at their highest pitch can neither break nor heal a heart. This is God’s work. Ay, and not God’s secondary work in the sense in which the philosopher admits that God is in the laws of nature, but God’s personal and immediate work. He putteth forth his own hand when the conscience is humbled, and it is by his own right hand that the conscience is eased and cleansed. I desire that this thought may abide upon your minds, for you will not praise God else, nor will you be sound in doctrine. All departures from sound doctrine on the point of conversion arise from forgetfulness that it is a divine work from first to last; that the faintest desire after Christ is as much the work of God as the gift of his dear Son; and that our whole spiritual history through, from the Alpha to the Omega, the Holy Spirit works in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure. As you have evidently seen the finger of God in casting forth his ice and in sending thaw, so I pray you recognize the handiwork of God in giving you a sense of sin, and in bringing you to the Saviour’s feet. Join together in heartily praising the wonder working God, who doeth all things according to the counsel of his will. "Our seeking thy face Was all of thy grace, Thy mercy demands, and shall have all the praise: No sinner can be Beforehand with thee, Thy grace is preventing, almighty and free." 2. The second thought upon nature was the ease with which the Lord worked. There was no effort or disturbance. Transfer that to the work of grace. How easy it is for God to send law-work into the soul. Yon stubborn sinner, you cannot touch him, and even providence has failed to awaken him. He is dead—altogether dead in trespasses and sins. But if the glorious Lord will graciously send forth the wind of his Spirit, that will melt him. The swearing reprobate, whose mouth is blackened with profanity, if the Lord doth but look upon him and make bare his arm of irresistible grace, shall yet praise God, and bless his name, and live to his honour. Do not limit the Holy One of Israel. Persecuting Saul became loving Paul, and why should not that person be saved of whose case you almost despair? Your husband may have many points which make his case difficult, but no case is desperate with God. Your son may have offended both against heaven and against you, but God can save the most hardened. The sharpest frost of obstinate sin must yield to the thaw of grace. Even huge icebergs of crime must melt in the Gulf-stream of infinite love. Poor sinner, I cannot leave this point without a word to you. Perhaps the Master has sent the frost to you, and you think it will never end. Let me encourage you to hope, and yet more, to pray for gracious visitations. Miss Steele’s verses will just suit your mournful yet hopeful state. "Stern winter throws his icy chains, Encircling nature round: How bleak, how comfortless the plains, Late with gay verdure crown’d! The sun withdraws his vital beams. And light and warmth depart: And, drooping lifeless, nature seems An emblem of my heart— My heart, where mental winter reigns In night’s dark mantle clad, Confined in cold, inactive chains; How desolate and sad! Return, O blissful sun, and bring Thy soul-reviving ray; This mental winter shall be spring, This darkness cheerful day." It is easy for God to deliver you. He says, "I have blotted out like a thick cloud thy transgressions." I stood the other evening looking up at a black cloud which was covering all the heavens, and I thought it would surely rain; I entered the house, and when I came out again the sky was all blue—the wind had driven the cloud away. So may it be with your soul. It is an easy thing for the Lord to put away sin from repenting sinners. All obstacles which hindered our pardon were removed by Jesus when he died upon the tree, and if you believe in him you will find that he has cast your sins into the depths of the sea. If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 3. The next thought concerning the Lord’s work in nature was the variety of it. Frost produces a sort of trinity in unity—snow, hoarfrost, ice; and when the thaw comes its ways are many. So is it with the work of God in the heart. Conviction comes not alike to all. Some convictions fall as the snow from heaven: you never hear the flakes descend, they alight so gently one upon the other. There are soft-coming convictions: they are felt, but we can scarcely tell when we began to feel them. A true work of repentance may be of the gentlest kind. On the other hand, the Lord casteth forth his ice like morsels, the hailstones rattle against the window, and you think they will surely force their way into the room, and so to many persons convictions come beating down till they remind you of hailstones. There is variety. It is as true a frost which produces the noiseless snow as that which brings forth the terrible hail. Why should you want hailstones of terror? Be thankful that God has visited you, but do not dictate to him the way of his working. With regard to the gospel thaw. If you may but be pardoned by Jesus, do not stipulate as to the manner of his grace. Thaw is universal and gradual, but its commencement is not always discernible. The chains of winter are unloosed by degrees: the surface ice and snow melt, and by-and-by the warmth permeates the entire mass till every rock of ice gives way. But while thaw is universal and visible in its effects you cannot see the mighty power which is doing all this. Even so you must not expect to discern the Spirit of God. You will find him gradually operating upon the entire man, enlightening the understanding, freeing the will, delivering the heart from fear, inspiring hope, waking up the whole spirit, gradually and universally working upon the mind and producing the manifest effects of comfort, and hope, and peace; but you can no more see the Spirit of God than you can see the south wind. The effect of his power is to be felt, and when you feel it, do not marvel if it be somewhat different from what others have experienced. After all, there is a singular likeness in snow and hoarfrost and ice, and so there is a remarkable sameness in the experience of all God’s children; but still there is a great variety in the inward operations of divine grace. 4. We must next notice the rapidity of God’s works. "His word runneth very swiftly." It did not take many days to get rid of the last snow. A contractor would take many a day to cart it away, but God sendeth forth his word, and the snow and ice disappear at once. So is it with the soul: the Lord often works rapidly when he cheers the heart. You may have been a long time under the operation of his frosty law, but there is no reason why you should be another hour under it. If the Spirit enables you to trust in the finished work of Christ, you may go out of this house rejoicing that every sin is forgiven. Poor soul, do not think that the way from the horrible pit is to climb, step by step, to the top. Oh no; Jesus can set your feet upon a rock ere the clock shall have gone round the dial. He can in an instant bring you from death to life, from condemnation to justification. "To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise," was spoken to a dying thief, black and defiled with sin. Only believe in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. 5. Our last thought upon the operation of God was his goodness in it all. What a blessing that God did not send us more law-work than he did! "Who can stand before his cold?" Oh! beloved, when God has taken away from man natural comfort, and made him feel divine wrath in his soul, it is an awful thing. Speak of a haunted man; no man need be haunted with a worse ghost than the remembrance of his old sins. The childish tale of the sailor with the old man of the mountain on his back, who pressed him more and more heavily, is more than realised in the history of the troubled conscience. If one sin do but leap on a man’s back, it will sink the sinner through every standing-place that he can possibly mount upon; he will go down, down, under its weight, till he sinks to the lowest depths of hell. There is no place where sin can be borne till you get upon the Rock of Ages, and even there the joy is not that you bear it, but that Jesus has borne it all for you. The spirit would utterly fail before the law, if it had full sway. Thank God, "he stayeth his rough wind in the day of his east wind," At the same time, how thankful we may be, that we ever felt the law-frost in our soul. The folly of self-righteousness is killed by the winter of conviction. We should have been a thousand times more proud, and foolish, and worldly, than we are, if it had not been for the sharp frost with which the Lord nipped the growths of the flesh. But how shall we thank him sufficiently for the thaw of his lovingkindness? How great the change which his mercy made in us as soon as its beams had reached our soul! Hardness vanished, cold departed, warmth and love abounded, and the life-floods leaped in their channels. The Lord visited us, and we rose from our grave of despair, even as the seeds arise from the earth. As the bulb of the crocus holds up its golden cup to be filled with sunshine, so did our new-born faith open itself to the glory of the Lord. As the primrose peeps up from the sod to gaze upon the sun, so did our hope look forth for the promise, and delight itself in the Lord. Thank God that spring-tide has with many of us matured into summer, and winter has gone never to return. We praise the Lord for this every day of our lives, and we will praise him when time shall be no more in that sunny land— "Where everlasting spring abides, And never withering flowers. A thread-like stream alone divides That heavenly land from ours." Believe in the Lord, ye who shiver in the frost of the law, and the thaw of love shall soon bring you warm days of joy and peace. So be it. Amen. Spurgeon, C. H. (1882). Farm Sermons. New York: Passmore and Alabaster. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.