Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Friend of Man

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

—Sam Walter Foss

Warm-Up: Genesis 14:17-24

Melchizedek is clearly a type of Jesus. The book of Hebrews leaves no doubt (Hebrews 7:1-28).

But, he was also a man, and as such is an example of the kind of man I want to be.

I want to be a friend of souls. I want to stand by the way as Melchizedek did, waiting for weary travelers, “laying low, in the places where the ragged people go.”

I want to look for those who have been battered and wronged by others, who carry the dreary burden of a wounded and disillusioned heart. I want to nourish and refresh them with bread and wine and send them on their way with a benediction.

I cannot “fix” those who pass by, but I can love them and listen to their hearts. I can pray with them. I can share a word of scripture when it’s appropriate. I can sing “sustaining songs,” as good Poohphiles know to do. And I can leave them with a blessing.

A “blessing” is more than a parting shibboleth, or a polite response to a sneeze. We bless others when we bring them to the One who is the source of blessing. Melchizedek blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High…” As Billy Graham would say, he blessed him real good.

I cannot strengthen feeble hands, nor can I fortify knees that have given away, but I can bring weary travelers to the one who can. His bread gives endurance, strength and eternal consolation. His wine gladdens the heart and sustains it.

I cannot undo the cruel or dreary circumstances of anyone’s journey, nor can I take away its travail, but I can remind those who trudge by that there is one who walks with them, who holds them with his right hand, who guides them with his counsel, and afterward will take them into glory.

I cannot help the helpless, but I can pray with them; I can take them with me to the throne of grace to find help in time of need.  I cannot show them the way, but I can “show them God,” as John Piper says.

This is my blessing.

David Roper

Monday, April 21, 2014

On Caring For Your Horse

“And so in gymnastics, if a man takes violent exercise and is a great feeder, at first the high condition of his body fills him with confidence and spirit, and he becomes twice the man that he was.” —Plato, The Republic

I was a physical education major in college and have always had an interest in personal fitness. When I was a young man I took a lot of "violent exercise,” and tried to be a "great feeder." I’m a bit stove–in now, but I still manage a little dog–walking, light lifting and Carolyn manages my diet. I find these efforts "beneficial" to use Paul's modest word (1 Timothy 4:8). 

I don’t exercise to extend my life span, for such things are determined in the counsels of heaven, nor am I concerned so much with quality of life issues, though exercise does reduce stress and can produce a happier frame of mind. I exercise to take care of my “horse.” 

I'm thinking here of a remark David Brainerd made to a friend. Brainerd, as you may know, devoted himself to missionary work among Native Americans and drove himself relentlessly and without thought for his health. He died at age 29, having worn out his body. "I have killed my horse," he said "and cannot continue my journey." 

I wouldn't disparage Brainerd's zeal for a moment, for his efforts and diary have turned many to serve God here and abroad. Furthermore, he was driven by the love of Christ and there can be no higher motivation.  But I can't help but wonder what he might have done if he had taken better care of his horse. 

The Wise Man provides some balance: "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory is from the Lord" (Proverbs 21:31). There’s no spiritual power in physical exercise; it’s just a practical consideration.

I think Paul would agree and would recommend walking. He did a lot of it in his time. 


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