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“We are making pianos.”

“In the third chapter (of 1 Thessalonians) Paul prays, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love, one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you : to the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father.” He is not praying for something that has been done or for something to be done for unconverted souls, nor for something that is impossible to have done now. And in the fifth chapter he is still praying for the same thing, and that it may be done now. We give you Scripture texts that need not the least twisting or turning to bring them to bear upon this subject. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

This doctrine is not of man, but is taught in the wondrous words of the Son of God, when He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with an thy heart, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,” and is taught in the catechism: “The chief end of man upon the earth is to glorify God, that he may enjoy Him forever.” Amen.

Noiselessly, stone upon stone, grew this great temple of God, built of stones made ready before they were brought. “There was neither hammer, nor ax, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was building.” So is the house on high built of “lively stones,” ”a holy priesthood,” the eternal temple of our God. But the quarry is not a quiet place. There is heard the sound of hammers and chisels. There drills are ringing, and workmen shouting and running and sweating. There goes a blast, and there a great ledge of rock comes thundering down. The quarry is a place of business, and there is the noise and whirl of eager activities, as souls are excavated and fitted for the symmetries and the symphonies of heaven.

A man who had never heard a piano before was so thrilled and enraptured with the wondrous melody that he started off to find the piano factory, expecting there to be ravished by the many, mingling strains of music. But he found only the whirl and buzz of machinery, the rasping sound of saws, the clatter of hammers, the patter of hurrying feet, and dust, and din, and stroke, and shout, with which the work went on. Wait a while; nor chide the din and rush and shout; we are making pianos.

But these “lively stones” after they brought into line, are to be polished. A short time since they were shapeless hard-heads or rough boulders of granite. You can see your features reflect in the massive pillars that rise in front of the court house in Chicago.

God polishes with life’s tests and trials until His saints shine.” – Vivian Dake

These words were just a small part of a message preached by Vivian Dake, Free Methodist founder of the Pentecost Bands in the later 1800’s, as he spoke at a Presbyterian church in Attica, IN. These “Bands” of 4 young men or women were being sent out all over the United States, Europe, and Africa. One of the “Pentecost Bands” of young women sent out by Dake in 1889 was a vital part of founding the Free Methodist Church here in Champaign, IL (originally in Urbana, IL, 1890). Led by Rena Brown, what they found here in Urbana was a famine, as mentioned in Amos 8:11, “Not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

We pray that our lives can be used by God to protect against such a famine returning.  Not only that the words of Scripture would be read aloud & heard, but may they be lived out and actively transforming lives by the power and New Creation Life of the Holy Spirit – setting all people free from that which wounds and oppresses, bringing healing and redemption as it bears fruit for the Kingdom of Jesus.

To read more of the life, ministry, and writings of Vivian Dake, click here.

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Posted in Different Moments, Different Scriptures, Uncategorized

the dirt…

Whether you’re a young person who’s just returned from a summer “Youth Camp/Retreat/Conference” experience, or you’re a little older and still reminiscing on those days, there’s a draw to a particular response. It’s natural. The response we often have is “Oh my goodness, that was a great experience in the presence of God, I wish we could recreate these conditions for all of my future experiences!” It’s good for us to know – we’re not the first ones to feel this way. We shouldn’t feel shame for having such a response. When God meets with us in a particular way, the temptation is to connect strongly to that “way”.

When Sarah and I first started dating, she wore a uniquely fuzzy coat. I remember walking her to her dorm on one of our first dates ever, and giving her a hug “goodnight”, wrapping my arms around the fuzziness of that coat. Just a few weeks later, as I was home on Christmas break, I saw a men’s winter jacket that had the same “fuzziness”, and you know I just had to get it. Even far from her, when I wrapped my arms around myself, I was reminded of that hug and looked forward to seeing her again. It’s part of how God has wired us. The neurochemical responses that form long-lasting memories (especially involving music/singing) connected to our “bonding/attachment” experiences can be a blessing.

Today’s lectionary reading from scripture gives us a similar story. Namaan was a commander in the army of Aram, who’d just been miraculously healed by obeying Elisha’s instructions to bathe 7 times in the waters of the Jordan river. He was saturated in these waters of a particular experience and found himself having a renewal and healing as never before. God was faithful, and released Namaan from the chains of disease. Namaan was grateful, and wanted to make sure he had access to this same experience as he went home. In his culture, gods were often tied to particular areas geographically, so it made sense for him to make this request:

“Then Namaan said… ‘please let two mule-loads of earth be given to your servant; for your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.” (2 Kings 5:17)

He wanted to bring some of this holy ground home so that any time he desired an experience of this God who met him in the waters of the Jordan, he could. We don’t have the response of Elisha recorded, but I wonder if he looked with compassion on Namaan as he helped him load up some dirt.

Imagine if I returned to campus after Christmas break, so thankful for my new fuzzy coat. Whenever I missed Sarah, I could wrap my arms around myself and be thankful for the warmness of such memories. But how sad it would be, if I was so contented/taken by feeling that coat around me, that I never pursued building a relationship or creating new memories of love together with her. It’s a silly illustration, but I hope you’re seeing the connection. How pitiful it would be if we came home, and tried really hard to replicate the transformational moments, missing out on the God who wants us to be aware of His presence in every moment and every location. God desires that we would not seek special moments with him alone, but abide with Him as He transforms every moment with Kingdom purposes (John 15:5).

We can be thankful for the experiences we have had of God, and even have moments where we wrap our arms around such experiences in the future. We should definitely remember these moments, and testify about them to others as we share what God has done. But let us not pursue the ground we stood on. Let us pursue the God who we met on that ground. The good news is – this is the same God who has promised to meet with us wherever we seek Him. (Proverbs 8:17) In fact, scripture says that God rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

May we seek Jesus and His Kingdom today, taking each step in the knowledge that we are entering a space He desires to make holy…

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At the Passing of Vivian Dake

A poem written by Rev. S.K.Wheatlake in 1892, in memory of Rev. Vivian Dake, who died while serving in Africa. It seems a great poem to be read at the untimely passing of anyone serving the Kingdom of Jesus…

He fainted on the battlefield,
Secure behind Faith’s trusty shield;
With Armor on the warrior fail,
Unsmitten by the darts of hell.

He fell beneath meridian sun,
At noon a full days work was done.
No more he treads the battleground,
No more the cross – he wears the crown.

No more he’ll join us in the fight
Against the wrong for God and right.
Close up the breach in which he stood,
Be bold to strike or die for God.

Oft we were blessed, ‘mid battle roar,
To hear him shout his victories o‘er,
And when his sword flashed forth the light,
We waxed more valiant in the fight.

Gird up your loins. No longer weep.
God giveth His beloved sleep.
Soon far beyond the battle fray,
We’ll meet on coronation day.

But Hark! Hear ye that battle cry,
Stand firm, the hellish foe is nigh;
With Spirit’s sword and victor’s song,
Quit you like men. In God be strong.