Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his
constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit,
the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then lord chancellor, wearing all the regalia of
his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, "Neil!" Not
daring to question or disobey the "command," the entire band of visitors
promptly fell to their knees!
Today in the Word, July 30, 1993.
It is said that on his retreat from Greece after his great military expedition there,
King Xerxes boarded a Phoenician ship along with a number of his Persian troops. But a
fearful storm came up, and the captain told Xerxes there was no hope unless the ship's
load was substantially lightened. The king turned to his fellow Persians on deck and said,
"It is on you that my safety depends. Now let some of you show your regard for your
king." A number of the men bowed to Xerxes and threw themselves overboard!
Lightened of its load, the ship made it safely to harbor. Xerxes immediately ordered
that a golden crown be given to the pilot for preserving the king's life -- then ordered
the man beheaded for causing the loss of so many Persian lives!
Today in the Word, July 11, 1993.
Peter T. Forsythe was right when he said, "The first duty of every soul is to find
not its freedom but its Master".
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991,
World War II was at its height. Forces were engaged in what was known as, "The Battle of the Bulge" -- or "The Christmas
War of 1944." The fighting was fierce in the bitter cold and snow.
The Allied Forces bombed and established control of a strategic area. The commanding officer turned to several of his
men and said, "Sweep across that field, and kill all German soldiers still entrenched in the snow. I want no prisoners.
One of the American soldiers selected gives his account of what happened next. "As I walked, I immediately shot and
killed two wounded and suffering soldiers." He continues, "Then, suddenly I approached a tall, young guy with a broad Teutonic
"He was leaning against a tree. He wasn't wounded -- simply exhausted. He had no food, no water, no comrades in
sight, no ammunition. Fear, fatigue, defeat, and loneliness overwhelmed him. He spoke English with a beautiful
vonderful- vorld-type accent.
"When I noticed a little black Bible in his shirt pocket," he reminisces, "we started to talk about Jesus and
salvation. Wouldn't you know it, that lanky German soldier turned out to be a born-again Christian who deeply loved the Lord.
I gave him water from my canteen; I even gave him crackers. Then, we prayed and read God's Word together. And we
wept together too."
His voice began to tremble, as tears splashed down his cheeks. His face began to reflect anguish.
"It seems like only yesterday. We stood a foot or so apart, as he read a Psalm from his German Bible. Then, I read
Romans 12 from my King James translation. He showed me a black- and-white picture of his wife and daughter."
The soldier took a deep breath. "You see, in those days, I was a young man in my early twenties. I had just graduated
from a Christian college in Illinois and hadn't had time to sort out my thoughts on the war.
"Maybe that's why I did what I did. "I bid my German brother farewell, took several steps
away, then returned to the soldier. Romans 13, the 'thou shalt not kill' commandment, the promises of eternal life, the Prince
of Peace, the Sunday school distinction between killing and murder, the irrationality of war -- all swirled in my mind.
"When the German soldier saw me returning, he bowed his head and closed his eyes in that classic prayer posture.
Then it happened. I said three crisp sentences that I still repeat once or twice a week when I have nightmares about
the war, 'You're a Christian. I am too. See you later.'
"In less than a second, I transformed that defenseless Christian soldier into a corpse."
Jon Johnston, Courage - You Can Stand Strong in the Face of
Fear, 1990, SP Publications, pp. 155-157.
How we admire the obedience a dog shows to its master! Archibald Rutledge wrote that one day he met a man whose dog had
just been killed in a forest fire. Heartbroken, the man explained to Rutledge how it happened. Because he worked
out-of-doors, he often took his dog with him. That morning, he left the animal in a clearing and gave him a command to stay and
watch his lunch bucket while he went into the forest. His faithful friend understood, for that's exactly what he did. Then
a fire started in the woods, and soon the blaze spread to the spot where the dog had been left. But he didn't move. He stayed
right where he was, in perfect obedience to his master's word. With tearful eyes, the dog's owner said, "I always had to be
careful what I told him to do, because I knew he would do it."
Our Daily Bread.
Every conscientious parent recognizes how difficult it is to exercise his God-given authority over his children. The
delicate balance of being tough yet tender is not easy to maintain. Many parents intensify a rebellious spirit by being
dictatorial and harsh. Others yield when their authority is tested. When a strong-willed child resists, the pressure to give
in for the sake of peace and harmony can become overpowering. I am reminded of the mother who wanted to have the last word but
couldn't handle the hassle that resulted whenever she said no to her young son. After an especially trying day, she finally flung
up her hands and shouted, "All right, Billy, do whatever you want! Now let me see you disobey THAT!"
Our Daily Bread.
"It is the impassioned pleading of a quiet little Scottish lady that linked my life with the
Soudan," wrote Rowland Bingham (a founder of S.I.M.). "In the quietness of her parlor
she told how God had called a daughter to China, and her eldest boy (Walter
Gowans) to the Soudan.
"She spread out before me the vast extent of those thousands of miles and filled in the teeming masses of people.
Ere I closed the interview she had place upon me the burden of the Soudan."
A year and a half later Bingham returned to Canada, alone. Walter and Thomas Kent lay buried in Nigeria's interior.
"I visited Mrs. Gowans to take her the few personal belongings of her son," he recalled. "She met me with extended
hand. We stood there in silence.
"Then she said these words: 'Well, Mr. Bingham, I would rather have had Walter go out to the Soudan and die there, all
alone, that have him home today, disobeying his Lord.'"
Our success in this venture means nothing less than the opening of the country for the gospel; our failure, at most, nothing more
than the death of two or three deluded fanatics. Still, even death is not failure. His purposes are accomplished. He uses
deaths as well as lives in the furtherance of His cause.
Rowland Bingham, a founder of SIM.
On Dec. 4, 1893, Walter Gowans and Rowland Bingham of Toronto, Canada, and Thomas Kent of
Buffalo, N.Y., landed at Lagos, Nigeria. Their aim was to establish a witness among the 60 million people of what was then
commonly known as the Soudan, the area south of the Sahara between the Niger River and the Nile. Gowans and Kent died in
the first few months. Bingham returned to Canada, formed a council, and went back to Africa in 1900. That attempt, too, was
unsuccessful. In 1901 Bingham sent out a party that succeeded in establishing the Mission's first base, at
Patigi, 500 miles up the Niger River. When these first SIM pioneers landed in Nigeria, Gowans was 25 years old, Bingham was two weeks away from
his 21st birthday, Kent was 23.
It is not the multitude of hard duties, it is not constraint and contention that advance us in our Christian
course. On the contrary, it is the yielding of our wills without restriction and without choice, to tread cheerfully every day in
the path in which Providence leads us, to seek nothing, to be discouraged by nothing, to seek out duty in the present moment,
to trust all else without reserve to the will and power of God.
It is the old choice which still is presented to every soul; the old crisis which reappears in every experience.
Caesar, or Christ, that is the question: the vast, attractive, skeptical world, with its pleasures and ambitions and its
prodigal promise, or the meek, majestic, and winning figure of Him of Nazareth?
The election remains for each of us. And the moment of the election, in the shaded and solemn "Valley of Decision," will
be memorable in our history, when suns for us have ceased to shine!
Where our Captain bids us go,
'Tis not ours to murmur no;
He that gives the sword and shield
Chooses too the battlefield
Where we are to fight the foe.
Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience.
Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace.
Thomas a Kampis.
I've read that when Edward VI, the king of England in the 16th century, attended a worship service, he stood while the Word
of God was read. He took notes during this time and later studied them with great care. Through the week he earnestly
tried to apply them to his life. That's the kind of serious-minded response to truth the apostle James calls for in today's
Scripture reading. A single revealed fact cherished in the heart and acted upon is more vital to our growth than a head filled
with lofty ideas about God.
One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.
Chambers, Our Daily Bread, March 4, 1993.
Arabian horses go through rigorous training in the deserts of the Middle East. The trainers require absolute
obedience from the horses, and test them to see if they are completely trained. The final test is almost beyond the
endurance of any living thing. The trainers force the horses to do without water for many days. Then he turns them loose and of
course they start running toward the water, but just as they get to the edge, ready to plunge in and drink, the trainer blows his
whistle. The horses who have been completely trained and who have learned perfect obedience, stop. They turn around and come
pacing back to the trainer. They stand there quivering, wanting water, but they wait in perfect obedience. When the trainer is
sure that he has their obedience he gives them a signal to go back to drink.
Now this may be severe but when you are on the trackless desert of Arabia and your life is entrusted to a horse, you had
better have a trained obedient horse. We must accept God's training and obey Him.
Roger Staubach who led the Dallas Cowboys to the World Championship in '71 admitted that his position as a quarterback
who didn't call his own signals was a source of trial for him. Coach Landry sent in every play. He told Roger when to pass,
when to run and only in emergency situations could he change the play (and he had better be right!). Even though Roger considered
coach Landry to have a "genius mind" when it came to football strategy, pride said that he should be able to run his own team.
Roger later said, "I faced up to the issue of obedience. Once I learned to obey there was harmony, fulfillment, and victory."
John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his
It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone
rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.
"Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson."
"He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb him."
"Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him."
"No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you. When I called the President back, he could scarcely control
his pleasure. "Tell that woman I want her here in the White House."
John Kenneth Galbraith, A Life in Our Times,
Houghton Mifflin, Reader's Digest, December, 1981.
When Christian Herter was governor of Massachusetts, he was running hard for a second term in office. One day, after a busy
morning chasing votes (and no lunch) he arrived at a church barbecue. It was late afternoon and Herter was famished.
As Herter moved down the serving line, he held out his plate to the woman serving chicken. She put a piece on his plate and
turned to the next person in line.
"Excuse me," Governor Herter said, "do you mind if I have another piece of chicken?"
"Sorry," the woman told him. "I'm supposed to give one piece of chicken to each person."
"But I'm starved," the governor said.
"Sorry," the woman said again. "Only one to a customer."
Governor Herter was a modest and unassuming man, but he decided that this time he would throw a little weight around.
"Do you know who I am?" he said. "I am the governor of this state."
"Do you know who I am?" the woman said. "I'm the lady in charge of the chicken. Move along, mister."
Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, pp. 5-6.
Dr. B.J. Miller once said, "It is a great deal easier to do that which God gives us to do, no matter how hard it is, than to face
the responsibilities of not doing it."
Today In The Word, November, 1989, p.11.
"It is not the importance of the thing, but the majesty of the Lawgiver, that is to be the standard of obedience...Some, indeed,
might reckon such minute and arbitrary rules as these as trifling. But the principle involved in obedience or
disobedience was none other than the same principle which was tried in Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree. It is really
this: Is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever He commands? Is He a holy Lawgiver? Are His creatures bound to
give implicit assent to His will?"
Andrew Bonar, referring to the laws found in Leviticus, quoted in J. Bridges,
The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 23.
The cost of obedience is nothing compared with the cost of disobedience.
Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give.
If life be long I will be glad,
That I may long obey;
If short--yet why should I be sad
To soar to endless day?
Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than he went through before;
He that to God's Kingdom comes,
Must enter by this door.
Ron R. was discussing the fragility of many marriages with his girlfriend and posed the following question, "What if you wake up
one morning and don't love me anymore?" She immediately responded, "There's always obedience."
Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an
extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, "Look, I'm going to leave. And while I'm
gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I'm away. I will write you regularly. When
I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip." Everyone agrees.
He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often,
communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately
discovers everything is in a mess--weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the
gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back
room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and
with a frown asks, "What happened? Didn't you get my letters?"
You say, "Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We've even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In
fact, we have 'letter study' every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters." I think the president would then ask, "But
what did you do about my instructions?" And, no doubt the employees would respond, "Do? Well, nothing. But we read every
Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of
Mediocrity, p. 242.