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Strength and Beauty
By Dr. Jack Hyles
Originally printed in 1971 by Hyles-Anderson Publishers.
First Electronic Printing, April, 1997 by FFEP.
Another BLUE DENIM AND LACE. After the author's famous book, BLUE DENIM AND LACE, was published, readers began asking for more. That is exactly what is found in STRENGTH AND BEAUTY-- more of BLUE DENIM AND LACE. To show that every Christian should combine strength and beauty in his personality, Dr. Hyles uses, among others, the following chapters: "To a Rose After a Funeral," "Here, Hereafter, and Afterwards," "How to Make a Man Out of a Boy," "Leadership," "Mistakes of Job," "A Coffin or a Hope Chest"' "I Need You," and "The Glory of Your Presence."
Dr. Jack Hyles is the Pastor of the famous First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. During the twelve years of his pastorate here, he has seen the church grow from a little over 700 in Sunday school to an average of over 5,000. Now with property valued into the millions of dollars, the First Baptist Church in Hammond operates a fleet of 108 buses; its own junior high and high school, with plans to open an elementary school in a few months; a full-time rescue mission; a nationwide radio broadcast heard on 66 stations; a work with retarded children; a ministry for the deaf; and a special program for Spanish-speaking people, along with many other ministries.
Dr. Hyles has authored 16 books. Among the best known of these are THE HYLES CHURCH MANUAL, THE HYLES SUNDAY SCHOOL MANUAL, BLUE DENIM AND LACE, JACK HYLES' CHURCH BUS HANDBOOK, and LET'S GO SOUL WINNING. He now presents this new volume hoping that it will enable God's people everywhere to possess both strength and beauty.
Order from Hyles Publications, 523 Sibley, Hammond, Indiana 46320
Strength and Beauty
Another "BLUE DENIM AND LACE"?
Yes, those who have read my book, BLUE DENIM AND LACE, will be reminded again and again of its pages as they explore STRENGTH AND BEAUTY.
In both, I have tried to encourage the beautiful to be useful, and the useful to be beautiful. It was said of our Lord that He was full of grace AND truth. The Psalmist admonishes us that strength and beauty can associate in the same personality, and that honour and majesty should blend. The Apostle Paul reminds us that zeal and knowledge should accompany each other. It is sad but true that these pairs are too seldom seen together; yet it is also true that they may and should be found in all of us.
In my life I have found that when I attain grace, truth often flees, and when I acquire truth, grace is absent. It seems that knowledge and zeal are strange bed-fellows, and that strength and beauty refuse to go steady. Like the children's see-saw, the proper balance is hard to find.
To that end, I give you STRENGTH AND BEAUTY. May the Holy Spirit use it to help us to acquire zeal AND knowledge, honour AND majesty, grace AND truth, strength AND beauty, with the proper proportion of each.
May He use it as another BLUE DENIM AND LACE.
Dr. Jack Hyles
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. A DAD'S CHRISTMAS MEDITATIONS
2. TWENTY-FIVE HOURS IN A DAY
3. HOW TO MAKE A MAN OUT OF A BOY
4. GREAT SIMPLICITY
5. THE MEANS, THE END, AND THE BY-PRODUCT
6. TO A ROSE AFTER A FUNERAL
7. HURRY BACK
8. HE MADE THE STARS ALSO
10. THE GLORY OF YOUR PRESENCE
11. THE UNFINISHED MAN
12. HERE, HEREAFTER, AND AFTERWARDS
13. WHEN IT'S OVER
14. UPS AND DOWNS
15. HOME WITHOUT A MOTHER
16. THE LOVE CIRCLE
17. AFTER HIS KIND
18. I NEED YOU
19. THE MISTAKES OF JOB
20. FRIEND OR SLAVE?
21. A COFFIN OR A HOPE CHEST?
22. STRENGTH AND BEAUTY
1. A DAD'S CHRISTMAS MEDITATIONS
It is so late on December 25 that it is December 26.
The children have long since finished their day and Dad is alone watching a melancholy Christmas tree which, like Cinderella, occupied itself so much with the activities of the day that it forgot midnight would come.
But it did come, as all midnights do and with it, I think I saw the branches droop, realizing that tomorrow they will have served their usefulness.
"Why all the fuss!" Dad thinks, as his mind wanders from his checkbook to his pay check and back to his checkbook again.
Why did I spend hours looking for the one Christmas tree in all the world that seemed like one of the family, only to see it neglected and carted off where all good Christmas trees go?
Why did I look for hours for just the right doll which in a few hours was to become a double amputee?
Why make another trip to "Friendly Bob Adams" and add another coupon to that ever-increasing library?
Why sweat and work all year to pay for a toy seldom used that soon becomes jealous because the baby gives its box more attention?
As I sit here tonight wondering about the month left at the end of the money, why was I such a soft touch?
Why the bicycle, the ball, the games, the candy, and the dress that didn't fit! Why did I stay up so late Christmas Eve putting "Tab A" in "Slot B," and trying to put two left peddles on a bike I couldn't afford as I fought gallantly to keep from backsliding because they put in the train box the instructions for how to assemble an electric razor.
Why, why, why?
Maybe it is because I remember that yesterday I thought all other days were days made simply to get ready for Christmas.
Maybe it is because I realize that tomorrow you will be grown and I will miss the misery of attaching "Part 4" to "Slot B."
Maybe it is because today I love to glean every twinkle from your eyes while they twinkle for me.
There are a thousand "whys," but they all add up to the truth that you have an awkward old dad who feels that maybe this is his best way of saying, "I love you."
I hope, dear ones, that you read the language and that you realize that as I tear off each coupon, I will say again, "I love you."
And now, Mr. Christmas tree, it's just you and me. You have fulfilled your purpose, and your usefulness is over. I weep with you, for I, too, one day will have ended my usefulness; and those who centered their lives around me find other avenues of happiness.
May I live as beautifully as you have lived, to bring joy to others, and may I end my days of usefulness with all of the queenly beauty and dignity which I see in you tonight.
And now I go to rest, thanking God that the One who made yesterday possible will never pass away.
(Written Christmas night, December 25, 1966)
2. TWENTY-FIVE HOURS IN A DAY
Everyone has the same amount of time-the learned and unlearned, the old and young, the rich and poor, the big and little, the high and low, the president and peasant, the rich man and poor man, the beggar man and the thief. We all have 1440 minutes to spend each day.
The important thing is how we spend that 1440 minutes.
People often ask me, "Pastor, how do you get so much done? Pastoring over 14,000 members, presenting a daily radio broadcast, conducting a weekly broadcast on over 60 stations, writing fifteen books, traveling across the country and around the world, how do you get everything done?"
I decided to share with my people some secrets to getting more done in my 1440 minutes a day so it could seem that I have "twenty-five hours in a day." I share these now with you, dear reader.
1. Do two things at one time. One can read while eating or while getting a haircut. A housewife can iron and listen to the radio. She can also do the dishes while she listens to good music or a record. Such things as driving, eating, ironing, washing dishes, bathing, etc. should never be done so as to occupy one's complete attention. Much of this book has been dictated while I was driving on the highway. I have for years kept a Dictaphone machine in my car. Much of my mail is answered in this manner.
2. Always have a paper and pencil or pen handy. A thought can come through one's mind one time, never to return; it should be jotted down. One should never trust his memory.
3. Avoid people who are time wasters. Everyone has in his sphere of activity people who are time wasters. They love to sit and talk about nothing in general. Much care should be taken so as to not spend too much time with this type. Someone has said, "Great minds talk about ideas; good minds talk about things; and weak minds talk about people." Seek those who have great minds. Flee those who have weak minds unless there is an opportunity to help them
4. Use the early morning and late evening hours. The man who gets ahead is the man who works while others sleep. He is up before others are up and is awake working after others have retired. The most quiet and uninterrupted hours of the day are those in the early morning and late evening.
5. Work the hardest when you are the most alert. Everyone has his best hours. Maybe one person is a bit sluggish after lunch. Perhaps another finds it hard to work late in the evening. Find the hours when work comes the easiest and when most can be done. By all means, utilize those times to their limit.
6. Use travel time wisely. When on a train, car, bus, or airplane and when at an airport, depot, or train station, do not just sit idly. Use that time. Always have a good book with you that you can read during idle hours. Perhaps there is some project on which you can work, but plan to use your travel time wisely.
7. Plan your day at its beginning. It has been my policy for many years to lie in bed about five to ten minutes in the morning after I awaken and plan the activities of the day. What I do today I must do on purpose. I must not let external circumstances control my schedule. I must let my schedule control my external circumstances. This is not to say that an emergency or two will completely ruin my day; it is to say that I must have goals for the day and I must work to reach them.
8. Use waiting time. This is much like the travel time. Take your reading material to the doctor's office. Don't let what he chooses govern your thoughts while you wait. That 1932 magazine that you are reading in 1970 will do little to enrich your life. Decide what you are going to read in the doctor's office; take it with you.
9. Do not do what would be better for another to do. A man who could make $5 an hour at work would be better off paying a boy $1.50 an hour for mowing his yard than to tie himself up and thereby lose $3.50 an hour. Don't be timid to get help. Spend your time on your specialty. When there is someone who can do the job far better and far quicker than you, get help.
10. Eat right. This is very vital. No car can run its best without proper fuel and no person can work his best without proper food. Take extra care to eat properly. Also exercise properly; keep a healthy body.
11. Fellowship only with a purpose. If YOU need some time off, if you need to sit and chat awhile, if you need to relax your mind, do it on purpose; plan it. Don't just be a member of the "Spit and Whittle Club" unless you need to spit and whittle. So many millions of hours are wasted every day by people who have no purpose in life but to "chew the fat" with whoever walks by. Have an organized life. Do what you do on purpose.
12. Sleep on purpose. Don't be a sluggard and fall asleep. Decide when you are going to sleep. Decide how much sleep you need; go to sleep by a schedule and wake up by a schedule. Intemperance concerning sleep can ruin one's effectiveness and usefulness.
13. Plan your worry time. When you think of something that worries you, write it down and vow that you will worry about it at "worry time." This will keep you from worrying while you are busy. Make a list of your worries; set a certain time regularly when you worry. This will concentrate your worry time into one little area of life and will not render you ineffective for the rest of your schedule. You will find by the time worry time comes that not worrying while you are working has eliminated your worries, for most of our worries can be worked out by a strong body, a disciplined personality, and a planned life.
14. Don't dwell on minor decisions. Do not make a big production out of small jobs and minor decisions. Some people use a lot of energy about the small things and never get to the big ones.
There are many other things that can help one in his daily activity. Things that I have found helpful are having a daily schedule, not worrying about a decision that has been made after careful deliberation, using of of the fastest transportation available, making a list before shopping, deciding at night what clothes I will wear the next day, etc.
One of the most important things of all, however, is this: DO ONLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW. Don't worry about what you did awhile ago, or what you are going to do after awhile; hide yourself in your present activity.
If you are prepared for the day, that which you are going to do after awhile will care for itself after awhile. This is one reason I can get so many different things done. If I am to broadcast in ten minutes, I will broadcast in ten minutes, but not now. I have prepared myself for this broadcast and I need not worry about it. My mind must be on the activity of the present. When the broadcast comes, I must not worry about the appointment that follows, or I will not be my best now. I must center my attention on what I am doing; I must lose myself in the present task, not wondering about my effectiveness of the previous one, nor worrying about the effectiveness of the one to follow. I have prepared myself for the day; I must not render myself ineffective for the present because I am worried about the failures of the past or the schedule of the future.
Using the aforementioned ideas and many others, there are many times when I feel that I have been able to spend "twenty-five hours in a day."
3. HOW TO MAKE A MAN OUT OF A BOY
My only son, David, is sixteen. God has called him to be a preacher, and he is already preparing for the ministry. A couple of summers ago while David was working as a cowboy at the Bill Rice Ranch, he was asked by Dr. Bill Rice to preach on his local radio broadcast. Several people came to me telling of the blessings they received because of David's sermon; one person especially spoke highly of his radio message and asked me if I would be using David to preach at the First Baptist Church in Hammond. I replied in the negative! He was shocked and asked, "How do you expect to make a preacher out of David if you never let him preach!" My answer was, "I am not trying to make a preacher out of David; I am trying to make a man out of him, for if I can make a man out of him, God can make him a preacher!" We have too many preachers now who are not men. I have spent thousands of hours trying to make a man out of my son. The words that follow will explain how I have tried and the methods I have used.
There is a great need for men of leadership and men of decision in every phase of our American life. The Kinsey report revealed that four per cent of our males over 16 years of age are homosexuals. In California, a sadly misguided preacher found to be a homosexual has founded a church for homosexuals. In the larger cities, clubs for homosexuals have been organized so they can meet regularly together. In our big cities there are homosexual men who live with other men and in a large city recently there was a wedding ceremony which united two men in matrimony. The "Gay" or homosexual community has its own beaches, restaurants, bars, and barber shops; its own tailors, gymnasiums, and apartment houses; its own books, magazines, and periodicals; its own male prostitutes and conventions.
The Wolfinder report says, "Homosexuality between adults in private could no longer be a criminal offense. It is not the law's business."
A leading official of the United Church of Canada said, "The church should solemnize marriages between men."
In New York City the Homosexuality League polled 400 homosexuals and asked them, "If you could be cured, would you want to be cured?"
"No," was the answer given by 96% of the homosexuals polled.
Apart from the homosexual problem there is yet a great void in American life. We need men of conviction, discipline, integrity, decision, character, and leadership. Since nothing happens accidentally, if we rear a generation of such men, it must be done in the homes, in the churches, and in the schools, by the parents, pastors, and teachers.
Let us answer the question, "How can I make a man of my boy?"
1. Dress him like a man. As soon as his hair gets a bit shaggy, have it cut! It is better that little Johnny start life being masculine than to retain those beautiful ringlets at the age of two. Cut off those ringlets and make him look like a man. From the very first time that he is old enough to wear clothes, dress him like a boy, cut his hair like a boy, and make sure he always looks like a man. Teach him to be around boys that dress like boys. Teach him it is not Scriptural for a boy or man to have long hair or effeminate tastes in clothing. Read I Corinthians 11:14.
2. Teach him strict obedience. He will never be a good leader until he has learned to be an obedient follower, for, to be a leader, one must know the heartbeat of the follower so he will know how to handle followers. Let him know the rules; state them plainly so he knows what they are. Tell him exactly what the penalty will be if he breaks a rule. Define the crime and the punishment so he knows before he commits it whether it will be worth it or not. Always make the punishment so great that the committing of the crime will not be worth it. If I were a boy eighteen years of age and my dad said to me, "You get home by 11:00 o'clock tonight; I'm going to fuss at you if you don't!" I might be tempted to spend an extra half hour with my girlfriend and take Dad's scolding. However, if my dad were to take the car away from me for a month if I were late returning home, I would stop to realize that any time I was late I would be trading a few minutes with my girlfriend for a whole month of dates and that is not a good bargain! Make the punishment so uncomfortable that it will not be worth it to break the rules. Make your son live by strict discipline and obedience. Teach him to say "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir" and "No, ma'am."
3. Punish him immediately and properly. Do not jerk him up and call him a little brat. Take him to his room, make him sit down, tell him what he did wrong, tell him what you are going to do, then do it and tell him why you did it. Make a big ordeal out of it. Make the punishment private, but make it immediate, proper, and plain.
4. Make him fulfill all obligations. When my boy was three and four years of age I started teaching him to pay his bills promptly and to fulfill his obligations completely. I would ask him, "Son, if a debt is due on the first of the month, when are you going to pay it?" He would say, "On the first of the month."
Then I would ask, "Son, if an emergency arises and you cannot meet your obligation, what are you supposed to do?"
He would then reply, "I am supposed to go to the person I owe, shake his hand, look him in the eye, and have an understanding as to what can be done."
What the American male needs is honor, just plain, old, downright honor. We need men of the old school who sat straight in their chairs and led with firmness and love. When the kids walked in they felt like they were before a Supreme Court justice. Maybe they didn't like him then or understand him, but later they rose up and called him, "blessed." He was of the old school-a man who was very careful about going in debt, a man whose word was as good as his signature, a man who was up-right, honest, aboveboard and who helped his neighbor when he was in trouble. Teach your boy that promptness is a part of character. Teach him to take care of his obligations properly.
This is one of the things that is killing fundamentalism today. We have some shiftless, dirty, irresponsible, lackadaisical, sluggards who are fundamentalists that refuse to pay their debts, take care of their property, keep their word, press their pants, and shine their shoes. They know nothing of courtesy, etiquette, ethics and are bereft of integrity, honesty, decency, and honor. Let this not be true in the life of your son.
5. Teach him physical coordination. I do not mean that he has to be a great athlete, but his body should be coordinated. Insist that he participate in athletics. It is a grave danger for a boy to be indoors too much and grow up not knowing how to coordinate his body properly.
6. Teach him to want to win. We have stressed to our children, "Be a good loser, be a good loser, be a good loser," until we have rubbed this good loser bit in the ground! I taught my boy to play to win. We have bragged on good losers until our boys have received more rewards for losing gracefully than winning properly. The result has been that we now have a nation of young people who do not want to fight for their country and who are willing to let the strongest nation on earth bow down in shame before a little nation like North Vietnam. It is tragic, but true, that I know hundreds of men who couldn't beat their wives at Chinese checkers. Junior has been taught to be a good loser; he has been rewarded for being a good loser, so winning becomes less and less important.
I was approached by a pastor in Rockford, Illinois. He was somewhat effeminate and less than a man. He came to me and with his dainty voice he said, "Dr. Hyles, can I ask you a question? You strike me as being a very poor loser. Is that true?"
I looked at him, paused a moment, and answered, "I don't know...l ain't never lost!"
If you are going to make a man of your boy, teach him to be a winner. Yes, he must accept loss gracefully, but he should never enjoy losing. This is where we get our General MacArthurs. This is how Billy Sundays are made. Teach your boy to want to win.
7. Make him play with boys and with boys' toys and games Let him play with guns, cars, baseballs, basketballs, and footballs. As soon as I could I taught my boy to play baseball and football. When he was about thirteen I bought him an air rifle. When he was fifteen I bought him a .22 rifle. Invariably, when someone admits to me he is a homosexual he relates that he played a lot with girls and participated in feminine activities.
8. Compliment character, not talent. Never has David stood up on the hearth at home to sing a song for applause. I have never applauded him for his talent, but many times I have applauded him because he obeyed. Compliment his character, not his talent. It will make a better man of him
9. Do not keep him "under your thumb." Let him spend the night with other boys (good Christian boys). Send him off to camp in the summertime; even when he is seven or eight years of age. Let him learn how to kill a snake, put frogs in his pocket, tie a knot, build a fire. Let him get blisters on his feet and at an early age let him start doing what men ought to do.
If the music director doesn't choose him for a singing group, don't be the kind of parent that complains in defense of the boy's talent. If care is not taken, you will rear a boy that expects you to come to his rescue and bail him out every time he is in trouble. If he is going to be a man someday, he must start in childhood having some responsibilities, some discomforts, and some manly obligations. He will not jump from being a little boy into being a man; it is a gradual process. Be sure this natural process is allowed to develop.
10. Always stand for proper authority. Not long ago one of my staff members came to me complaining that his boy was disciplined too heavily by his church choir director. I lovingly warned my staff member that he should thank God that his boy was being disciplined. If the punishment is too severe, it will still be a lot better for him than the boy learning that his dad will take his side over proper authority.
One of our finest boys who is going to be a preacher came to my office the other night and said, "Brother Hyles, my teacher is persecuting me."
"Why?" I asked.
He said, "I come to church on Wednesday nights and am so busy in activities that I don't get all my homework done and my school teacher is going to give me a bad grade for that."
"She ought to," I said.
"Well," he said, "I have been coming to church faithfully."
I said, "Okay, then, study when you are at home, but don't come to me because your grade is bad when you don't do your work." The boy who is going to become a real man must learn to respect authority.
11. Teach him to defend himself. Yes, you read it right. Teach him self-defense. Yes, you still read it right. Teach him how to fight. Teach him to be rugged enough to defend his own, his home, his loved ones, and his friends.
When David was just five years of age, I bought him a pair of boxing gloves. In fact, I bought one pair for David and one pair for the big boy across the street. I got them together and let them box. The boy punched David in the nose; David wanted to quit, but I wouldn't let him. I was going to teach him how to defend himself, how to be a man-physically a man, emotionally a man, mentally a man, and spiritually a man. He learned to fight until now he can protect his sisters.
One day when David was about nine I looked out through the upstairs window and saw him across the street straddling a little fellow and beating him up. He was hitting him right in the face until blood was coming. I ran down the stairs, out the door, across the street and pulled him off. "Son, what in the world are you doing?" I said.
He looked up with quivering lips and with anger in his eyes and said, "Dad, he was calling my sister (Linda) a dirty name."
I said, "Then get back on him and let him have it!" When I walked away he was back on him again beating him up. God pity this weak-kneed generation which stands for nothing, fights for nothing, and dies for nothing.
12. Teach him to shop alone. By the time he is around ten or eleven years of age, let him shop by himself for a few things. There is nothing any more disgusting than to see a big eighteen-year-old boy trying on pants at men's shop with his little mother breathing down his neck. Maybe he won't match his socks exactly with his tie, but I would rather he be a man than to have matching tie and socks. Now, to be sure, my preference is that he be both proper and a man.
The other day I saw a big six-foot, two-inch eighteen-year-old boy walking in a store beside his five-foot, four-inch mother. The salesman asked, "What size do you wear, son?"
The mother said, "He wears size 42."
The salesman asked, "Son, do you want something single-breasted or double-breasted?"
The mother replied, "He wants single-breasted."
There were two words I would like to have used to that lady. The first one was "shut" and the second was "up." Mothers, let your boys become men. One of these days he will grow up and have to marry a mother instead of a wife. His wife will have to pick out every tie he wears, lay it on the bed every morning, and burp him before he goes to bed at night. What you will have is a grown son who will have to marry a mother or he won't be happy. You are robbing some lady of having a man for a husband and you are robbing your boy of ever having a chance to be a man. If he is going to be a man of decision someday, let him make some decisions now. He is not going to lead a big corporation if he cannot buy his own tie by the time he is old enough to make the football team.
At a very early age a boy should start making his own decisions. Now, to be sure, there should be governing and over-seeing, and there should be limits, but if he is someday going to make decisions that are going to affect a great church, city, nation, or a great corporation, he must be taught while a little child to make the decision about what socks he is going to wear.
13. Talk to him like a man. Some mothers say to their sixteen-year-old boy, "Take the garbage out, baby," "Bye-bye, sweetheart," "Good morning, precious," "Be sure you are back on time, sugar baby," or "Be careful, honey doll." Talk to him like a man. When he becomes a teenager, don't kiss him in public unless he initiates it.
No teenage boy ever comes into my office and is treated anything less than man to man. They walk in my office like men, they dress like men, they shake my hand like men, they look me in the eye and talk to me like men, and they say, "Yes, sir" and "No, sir," like gentlemen. Don't treat the boy like a baby if you want him someday to be a man.
14. Give him work, authority, and responsibility. Be sure he knows how to work (for that matter I think a boy should know how to take suffering, pain and punishment). That is one reason I like sports. When David was just five years old I got a baseball, went out in the yard, knocked him grounders, and gave him a quarter for every one he could catch. He didn't make a single quarter. I hit them too hard. They bounced up and hit him in the chest, in the nose, in the head, and in the shoulder. He came in bruised and broken, but more a man.
Give your boy responsibility. Give him something to do as regular work and make him responsible for it. Don't breathe down his neck. Teach him to have initiative.
One of the reasons ladies ofttimes turn out to be better leaders than men is that city life is conducive to this. There are not many chores for boys to do like milking the cow, chopping the wood, etc. There are chores for the girls. What happens? Boys grow up without any chores, no milking cows, no feeding pigs, no gathering eggs, no chores like we had on the farm or at the edge of town. Girls, however, can iron, keep house, cook, wash and dry the dishes. Hence, they are taught initiative whereas the boys find few masculine duties to perform. Hence, the parent must work hard to find masculine-type duties.
I never let my boy do feminine chores. The dish washing has been done by the girls. He does no ironing, etc. He must keep his room clean and tidy, but his chores have been masculine chores such as cleaning the basement, taking out the garbage, having an afternoon job, mowing the yard, etc.
A few years ago Dr. Bill Rice wrote me and said, "Dr. Hyles, would David like to have a pony?" I thought, "Where in the world are we going to keep a pony?" Well, I said we would find some place. We went to a neighbor who has a big back yard and a little shed. We borrowed his shed. Yes, right in the city we had a pony. At night the phone would ring and it would be the police department calling, "Do you have a horse? It is running down Schreiber Street." After a while every time the phone would ring at night I would pick it up and say, "Where is the horse now?"
I told David, "Son, you wanted the horse, you have to feed him." David would get up in the morning, trudge through the snow in sub-zero weather, carry a water bucket in one hand and a bag of feed in the other, and go feed the horse. He learned to ride the horse even though the horse spent more time at the police station than he did in the shed. David owned one of the few ponies in America who had a police record.
A boy needs responsibility; he also needs to assume authority. Give him that responsibility and authority and teach him to work.
15. Do not make a mold for your boy. If you are a lawyer, don't decide before he is born that he is going to be a lawyer. If you are a preacher, let your son decide what God wants him to do. Don't let him think you will be disappointed if he is not what he thinks you want him to be. Now everyone knows that I would like for David to be a preacher, but I will let God decide that. If David becomes an honest man of character and becomes the best garbage collector in Hammond, his dad will be proud of him It would be wrong for me to make a mold for him.
16. Give him opportunities to lead. Though David is younger than my oldest daughter I have always preferred to leave him in charge of the family. When I am away on a trip, it is understood that David does the manly chores. He has learned to be protective of his sisters and the house. The family feels as safe when he is there as when I am there. He has been taught and trained to be physically capable as well as emotionally capable.
17. Teach him to have proper heroes. This is one of the greatest things my mother ever did for me. She pointed to men whom I could emulate and who could be my heroes. I tried to become like those men. I will be eternally grateful for the fact that my mother gave me heroes. This is one reason why parents should choose a church which has a masculine pastor. Mothers and dads should be able to say to their sons, "Grow up and be like your pastor," without having to fear that he will be effeminate. It is wise for the parents to choose older boys who are gentlemen and yet real men and set them as examples for boys. Proper athletic heroes, Sunday school teachers, manly pastors, and older boys could be chosen.
David and I have been buddies from his infancy. He always waits for me after church and rides home with me. Since I have duties to perform I always come home later than the rest of the family, but David has always waited for me. As a little boy four or five, he wanted to wait for Daddy. Now as a teenage boy on the basketball team, he still wants to wait for Dad. For years I drove him home and now he drives me home.
Recently David had to wait two and a half hours on Sunday evening for his dad. When we got home someone asked him why he didn't come home earlier with the rest of the family. He replied that he wanted to wait for his dad. Then they asked him, "What did you do for two and a half hours alone out in the hall?"
David stood up and with masculine physique and presentation he said, "I will tell you what I did for that two and a half hours alone in the hall: I walked up and down the hallway realizing how many people would love to wait two and a half hours to get to ride home with Dr. Jack Hyles, and I thanked God that I have the privilege."
Nearly seventeen years ago I got on my knees over the body of my only son and prayed for God to make him a man. I never prayed that he would be a preacher; I prayed he would be a man, a Christian man with integrity, discipline, leadership, ability, courtesy, gentleness, strength and honor; yes, in every way, a real man. I have tried now for almost seventeen years to help him become a man. I think he will. I believe I am now ending the work that I set out to do that day. I think I have about made, with God's help, a man out of a boy.
4. GREAT SIMPLICITY (MUTT AND JEFF)
Many years ago while reading the comic strip of "Mutt and Jeff," I learned a great lesson. I would like to share it with you on this page. Jeff was lying under the shade of a tree sleeping. Mutt came up and said, "Jeff, why don't you get up?"
Jeff said, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can get a job."
Jeff said, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can make some money."
Jeff said, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can save it."
Jeff asked, "Why?"
Mutt replied, "So you can get a lot of money."
Jeff asked, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can retire some day."
Jeff asked, "Why?"
Mutt said, "So you can just lay around and do nothing."
Jeff replied, "Why Mutt, that is what I am doing now, why go to all the trouble"
There is just a fine line between the lazy Jeff and the successfully retired man. What is the difference? The difference is simply this: The man who retired has earned the right to lie in the shadow of the tree, whereas the man who has not worked has not earned such a right. Have you ever noticed how similar the ignorant man is to the genius? They are very close to each other and yet they are very far apart. The genius has made the cycle of life; he has worked and learned about life. In so doing he has learned to be simple so he can help a simple man. They live right next door to each other, but it is a long trip from one house to the other, for there is a wall between them. One cannot take the short-cut of the cycle and go right next door. He must go around the entire circle and take the long trip to become the genius. Someone wrote, "So nigh is grandeur to our dust, so near is God to man, when duty whispers, Lo, thou must,' the youth replies, 'I can.' "
Greatness is earned simplicity. A man who knows perfect English has a right to break its rules. He has earned that right. A man who knows all the rules of public speaking has a right to break them; he has earned that right. This is why the greatest men often are not recognized as great. The greatest theologians often remain unrecognized as great theologians, for they have made the cycle of greatness which brings them around next door to simplicity. The farthest point from simplicity is also the farthest point from greatness. It is that spot at the top of the circle when one is halfway between being simple and great. These are the people that are judged great by a world that is unqualified to judge, because they are farther from the simple. They have not made the entire cycle which puts them finally next door to the simple. It is at this point when one thinks he is the greatest when he is farthest from simplicity and also farthest from greatness. When a person reaches true greatness he realizes he lives next door to simplicity and is willing to make his greatness readable to the simple.
Yes, the road between simplicity and greatness is a long one that goes around a circle and takes us right back to greatness. The great man has a right to be simple. The simple man has no claim on greatness.
Two men lie in the shade of a tree; they enjoy the same shade, the same refreshing breezes, and the same sunshine. They may even be talking about the same subject. One has earned his right; the other is a bum. The naked eye cannot tell them apart, but one is great and one is simple.
Let us pay the price for simplicity. Let us make the entire cycle so that we may help the simple man, and may we become so great that the simple man cannot recognize our greatness. Let us not stop halfway around the circle, for it is then that we are farthest from simplicity and greatness.
5. THE MEANS, THE END, AND THE BY-PRODUCT-- IN PROPER ORDER
The most important thing in success is for one to discover the end to which he is working and be sure that every means points to the desired end. There are three definite parts to success: the means, the end, and the by-products. As long as a person keeps these in their proper order, he can be successful. Success is tripped up, however, when one gets so enraptured with the means that one of these becomes the end. He then loses sight of his goal and becomes unsuccessful.
It is equally as dangerous when one enjoys the by-products of success and of the reaching of his end and his goal that he becomes enraptured with one of these by-products and chooses it as his end. When one's great reward is reaching the goal and not the by-products of reaching the goal, and when one's means are always used as tools with which to reach a certain goal or end, he then has learned to be successful. When either the means or the by-products become the consuming part of a person's life, he has been diverted from the path to his goal, and inevitably he will find himself unsuccessful and his life unfulfilling. There are many means with which to reach an end and there are many by-products of having reached an end, but there is only one end, only one goal, and 'tis this which brings fulfillment and joy.
Let us examine the mistake of allowing means to become ends. A preacher prepares a sermon. His goal is to change the lives of people with that sermon. He becomes so engrossed, however, with the preparing of the outline that the outline becomes most important. Perhaps he becomes so engrossed in its delivery that the delivery becomes the important thing. He may decide this is a great sermon, and the greatness of the sermon may become the end instead of his means. He then will find himself not accomplishing his end, his goal--changing the lives of people.
In the life of a church this can also happen. A church can say that its main end is reaching souls for Christ; so the people meet to study the Bible so they can become better soul winners. They get wrapped up in Bible study, however, and forget the end. The means become the end and the souls perish. Perhaps they get so engrossed in praying for sinners and the prayer meetings are so wonderful that prayer, which was meant to be a means to an end, becomes an end in itself and again, the souls perish. This is the way churches get off the main track and begin "riding hobbie horses."
The same thing is true concerning a life. One sets out as his great main purpose in life to do the will of God. He finds the will of God for his life, and he chooses means to accomplish the desired end. That means may include formal education. Then comes the day when the person becomes so enraptured with formal education, he loses sight of his end and of his goal. Formal education becomes an end in itself, which it was never intended to be.
Remember in the earthly ministry of our Lord it was said that He set His face "like a flint" toward Jerusalem. Why? He came to die! Everything He did pointed to Calvary. He spoke of Himself as a corn of wheat falling in the ground. He mentioned the destruction of the temple (His own body) and that He would raise it up after three days. On the Mountain of Transfiguration while Peter wanted to have a camp meeting, Jesus talked of His coming death.
Life is successful only as far as a person has wisdom to use the right priorities. It is so easy to look at the means and get captured. One might want to be a soul winner and seek wisdom and in so doing, he becomes more infatuated with wisdom than with souls and spends his life philosophizing.
I imagine sometimes God would like His gifts to be returned. He has given us gifts with which to accomplish a desired end, and we have forgotten the end and played with the gifts. How sad and how fruitless our lives become when we lose sight of the goal. There are many means to a well rounded life, such as sports, art, money, pleasure, etc. These are all means to give us diversion, enjoyment, and recreation. When used properly each can so enrich our lives that the main goal can be reached easier and no doubt sooner. I know a young man who played high school football so he could be a better testimony. He fell in love with football, went to college on a scholarship, then played professional football for many years, hence postponing his life's work which was the ministry. The means had captured him, now the end must wait. I know many untalented little fellows who have no such means; they seemingly get more done for God because they have kept their eyes on the goal.
This is so true in the lives of churches. When music ceases to be a means and becomes an end, the church is in trouble. When the business of the church ceases to be a means and becomes an end, deadness is near. Any facet of the church program used as a means to the one great end of winning souls and building other soul winners can so easily be transferred to an enemy of the church when the foothills become the peaks, the highway becomes the destination, and a means becomes an end in itself. Many churches have gotten sidetracked on the tongues movement or some doctrine like prophecy or predestination, the fighting of a certain enemy, etc. The gifts of the Spirit are often misconstrued and misunderstood. Many cults have arisen from sincere people with holy intentions of reaching a goal and splendid means with which to reach that goal, but who lose sight of the end in the enjoyment of the means.
The second great enemy to success comes when one is captured by one of the by-products. Whereas the first enemy prevents any success, this enemy prevents continuing success, for this enemy can be created only after success.
God has many precious and wonderful rewards that He gives to us as by-products of success. As long as we accept these rewards with gratitude and thanksgiving and begin our next endeavor with the same goal that we have set for life, they can bring to us much enrichment. However, if one while enjoying the pleasures of the by-products enjoys them or one of them more than the attaining of the goal, he is tripped up and his life will not be complete.
Here is a preacher who fights the battle for God. His goal is to win the battle; his goal is to stay faithful. This he does; the end comes; the goal is accomplished. Though he makes some enemies, he also makes rabid friends and followers. In so doing, he enjoys their friendship so much that he bends over backwards in the future in an attempt to make friends. He forgets he made the friends not trying to make friends but fulfilling the duties, tasks, and responsibilities of life. 'Twas his marching toward the end that prompted God to give him a friend. Now he forgets the end and wants the friend, but the friend comes because we reach the end. The end will never came if we seek to reach the friend.
Here is a person who has given his entire life to the reaching of a certain goal. Ah, the fulfillment is wonderful. There is joy and happiness in the reaching of the goal. This person gets so wrapped up in the joy and the happiness until he seeks joy and happiness and in so doing he not only loses the goal, he loses joy and happiness. Joy, happiness, and peace are never found when they are sought. They are realized as by-products of duty performance.
The other day I was flying and had a layover in a certain city. It was Saturday so I bought a newspaper and checked the sermons of the preachers for the next day. One man was preaching on "Fifteen Ways to Find Happiness and Peace." As I read his sermon title I thought that that brother has an impossible task to perform on the Lord's Day. There are absolutely no ways to "find" happiness and peace. No one finds happiness; no one finds peace; no one finds joy. Happiness, joy, and peace find us, and they are not looking for rabbit chasers or duty shirkers. They are looking for people who are not looking for them, for they like to surprise us and surprise us they will if we keep trying to introduce them to others and quit trying to court and woo them ourselves. By-products are looking for goal winners, not seekers!
Since people who reach goals and desired ends often are complimented, this by-product sometimes captures us. There are other similar by-products that are not wrong to have but wrong to seek. This is why God has to sometimes remove the means and the by-products from us or prevent us from having them. We are not able to keep our eyes on the end and still retain the proper means and the proper by-products. God is gracious in not allowing some to have a formal education and in keeping others from having certain talents. How sad it is when we must forfeit good things such as sports, formal training, art, money, pleasure, etc. because we are not wise enough to appropriate them properly and give them their deserved priority. Each in his own place as a means or as a by-product is splendid. As an end it becomes wrong and even sinful.
There are many areas where these two enemies lurk to capture us. God may give one a good personality and it captures him and renders him ineffective. Another may exercise and care for his body as a means to serving Christ. He becomes captured by physical exercise and health care; it becomes bigger than the original goal. Another may realize he needs relaxation in order to better pursue his goal. He is captured by golf, fishing, or some other form of relaxation and it becomes the big thing in his life jumping over more important priorities.
Another may realize that there is a need for money in the reaching of the goal. Soon he is captured by money, loses sight of his goal, and becomes unsuccessful.
A church can be a great church and God gives it as a by-product great joy and sweetness of fellowship. They substitute that joy and sweetness of fellowship for spirituality and lose sight of what made them great.
A denomination can become a means rather than an end. One could even enjoy Bible study so much so as to forget that even that is a means. Bible study is simply spiritual food. How many people do you know who once ate to live and now live to eat! How many Christians do you know who once studied the Bible to gain strength with which to serve God and now live to study the Bible rather than to serve God?
Don't forget your purpose! Keep your eye on the goal! Never lose sight of where you are going. Use every legitimate means possible, but never forget what the means are and what the end is. Enjoy the by-products, thank God for them, but realize how they were gotten and that they are only secondary blessings as compared to the fulfillment and enrichment of reaching the goal and accomplishing the end.
The lessons of this chapter form one of the great secrets, if not the great secret, to a successful and happy life. Most miserable and unhappy people arrive at these conditions because of an improper alignment and an improper order of means, end, and by-products.
Now a word to the reader: Read this chapter again! It may well change your life. It will certainly help you. Learn it; not the words, but the truths. Find out for what specific purpose God has placed you on this earth. Point everything toward its fulfillment. Use every means possible, but use them as means. Accept every by-product with gratitude, but don't park on the by-product. Find your greatest joy in life in the fulfillment of reaching the goal which you believe God has set for you and the end to which you are pointing in the will of God.
6. TO A ROSE AFTER A FUNERAL
The funeral is over and I once again have tried to comfort a family who thinks the clouds will never part and the sun will never peek through again. It has not been easy. I could not cry, though I, too, loved the brother whom I eulogized. I could not share in the weeping though I, too, will miss his companionship. I could not break down, for I was the preacher, but now with you, dear rose, I sit alone and weep. I weep because one whom I loved has left me. I weep because people whom I love are brokenhearted. I weep because some who have not yet received Christ refused Him in the funeral. I weep because the load is heavy and the strain is great. I weep because I, too, am human though I dare not reveal that to others.
Oh, to be quite honest, beautiful rose, I slipped in a tear or two as the family was walking out and I viewed the body of my beloved brother, but I was granted just a brief time to weep before I must turn again to catch the tears of others.
Now, rose, it is just you and I. Do you know you are mentioned only twice in the whole Bible? You are spoken of in Isaiah 35:1 and Song of Solomon 2:1. Do you know that you are called the Queen of flowers and that you are a symbol of friendship? Whatever is one's favorite flower, you are loved by all. You, lovely rose, have a special place in history. Edward III impressed a rose on his coins. The House of Lancaster had as its symbol a red rose and the House of York, a white one.
Do you know that you have a place in poetry? Byron wrote, "And her face so fair stirred with her dream as rose leaves with the air." Tennyson said of his Maude, "Queen rose of the rose bud garden of girls."
The sculptor with his chisel has tried to capture thy beauty. The poet with his pen, the orator with his eloquence, the singer with his voice, the artist with his brush, and the philosopher with his mind have all sought to describe thy loveliness.
You, dear rose, have been chosen to be a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. You, like Jesus, add beauty everywhere. You are found in the cottage of the poor and the palace of the rich; the marriage altar and the funeral chapel; the altar of the church and the hands of the bride; in the restaurant and the banquet room. You are found in the hands of a lover; on the dress of a lovely lady; in the rich man's garden; and in a poor man's field. The busy businessman enjoys thy fragrance and the stumbling nomad is revived by thy scent. The stingy Scotchman can afford thee and the proud German kneels to catch thy fragrance.
May I, like you and like Christ, lend beauty wherever I go.
Then too, Queen of flowers, you, like Christ, are for everyone. You brighten the eyes of the rich man as well as the poor. You are cut by the hands of the saint and also the sinner. You are found on the White House lawn and your beauty also brightens the ghetto. Your beauty may be seen on the desk of the boss as well as on the bench of the workman. You are found in bunches in the debutante's corsage and you walk alone in the poor girl's hair. You aid the sermon from the preacher's lapel and beautify the bride as you come from her hands.
Your honor, you make lovely any vessel. Your stems rise from cut-glass bowls and also from pickle jars. You live in flower pots and also in coke bottles. You brighten the wedding and also the funeral. Just a few moments ago people whom I love looked at you and somehow were comforted. You seem to be just as beautiful in a rusty tin can as in a golden vase, and you are just as admired in a slum window as in mansion's parlors.
Everywhere you go you are always more beautiful than the vase. Maybe this is why we call Jesus the Rose of Sharon; He has to find in us a vase. May I learn that the Rose of Sharon can beautify a tin can like me as easily as He can the golden vase.
Your majesty, you also meet every need. To those who are unloved has been given the Moss rose which symbolizes love. Saddened ones have received the Daily rose which symbolizes a smile. Those who find life complicated have found the Burgundy rose, a symbol of simplicity and beauty. The dull life is brightened by the Day rose which symbolizes pleasure. Those carrying heavy burdens love to look at the China rose which stands for grace. Those whose eyes are weary look at the Mush rose which symbolizes conspicuous beauty. The one who is cold can look at the Provence rose which represents a warm heart.
But, Queen of flowers, I must tell you, your petals will soon fall; your beauty will soon fade; you have been cut from the source of life. You have, however, not died in vain. Your death brought joy and comfort to saddened and bereaved hearts. Maybe this is why the Saviour is called the Rose of Sharon, for He was also cut off from the land of the living and in so doing brought life, hope, and eternal life to the world. May I learn from you the lesson that to die is to bless, and may I thank you for giving your life to bless, comfort and encourage someone, yea, several someones whom I love.
7. HURRY BACK
A little while ago I left for a brief trip. Someone whom I love said "Hurry back." As I left I was moved and warmed by those two beautiful words. I was asked to "hurry back." This means several things:
1. Someone wants to be with me. I wonder how many people in the world tonight have no one who longs for their presence. Yet, there is someone who wants to be with me; how blessed am I!
2. Someone will be waiting for me when I return. Oh, the coldness of coming home to an empty house, the loneliness of having no one waiting upon returning. Millions have no one waiting for them tonight and they will return to loneliness. Thank you, God, that someone is waiting for me.
3. Someone wants me back soon. This compels me to do my job well but to hasten my return. I am wanted because I am loved. Someone wants me because of a desire to meet my needs. Someone wants me because my presence is enjoyed. 'Tis lonely traveling tonight. No one in the world knows exactly where I am, but someone waits for me, loves me, and bids me to "hurry back."
Thank you, Lord.
8. HE MADE THE STARS ALSO
Moses tells us that God made the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. Then he drops a beautiful little orchid, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, when he says, "He made the stars also." (Genesis 1:16) The Bible has much to say about stars. Daniel tells us, "...they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." (Daniel 12:3) Job tells us that the morning stars sang together at the dawn of creation. We are reminded that Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star. When Deborah and Barak fought against Sisera, the stars in their courses fought for the right. When God became flesh, a star hovered over Bethlehem's manger.
I love the stars. It has not always been so. As a boy I loved the sun best. When I got about seventeen, suddenly a strange thing happened to me. My affection turned toward the moon. Those days have long since passed and gone, and now I prefer the stars. I often say at night "Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky." Sometimes I look at the stars and say, "Star light, star bright, first star I've seen tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight."
Now what does the Lord mean when He says, "He made the stars also"? Well, to be sure, there is only one sun and only one moon, but there are many stars. There is only one Saviour, and there are very few bright leaders, but everyone can be a star. The stars in the Bible often are used to describe the angels, or God's messengers. Could we then say that the stars represent what we would call "little people"? It is wonderful how God uses little people. There were many great and wealthy men living in Palestine the night of the coming of the Christ Child, but the angels chose to appear to lowly shepherds watching their flocks by night. There were many scholars of the mast profound and various learning dwelling in Palestine, but to humble men of the fields did Heaven's choir sing that night. There were ascetics who had left home to fast and pray in deserts, but they heard not the angelic choir. It was not to them that angels appeared; it was not their ears that heard the angel's song. The greatest news the world has ever heard came to "stars," simple men, the kind like you and me.
None of the elite were chosen to carry the Babe of Bethlehem; this was reserved for a star named Mary. None of these were chosen to rear Him; this was reserved for a star, a carpenter, named Joseph. This is the way it has always been; God uses stars. Who killed Goliath? He was the least likely of all the son of Jesse-young David. Who defeated the Midianite army with 300 men? He was the least boy of the least family of the least tribe of the least nation of the world--little Gideon. Where do we find the leader of the Israelites who led them across the Red Sea? We find him in an ark made of bulrushes daubed with pitch by the hands of a slave lady and placed in the Nile River. Who gave birth to the great Moses? His mother was the little slave--Jochebed. Who sent the mighty Naaman to Elisha that he might be healed of his leprosy! A little maid did so. Who provided the food with which Jesus fed the 5,000? A little lad gave his lunch. Who rimmed the Mediterranean Sea with the Gospel and shook Europe for Christ? A little Saul of Tarsus. Who was the greatest giver mentioned in the Bible! A little widow. Who was chosen by Jesus as the greatest of all? A servant. Who drew Jeremiah out of prison? An unknown, Ebed-Melech. Who were the apostles? Simple men of Galilee were chosen. Yes, God gets His big lights from the stars.
One day God made a star and put it in the heavens. He said to that star, "I want you to shine in this one particular place. No one will ever notice you, but you'll be a part of the beautiful heavens." That star took its place the first night and the second night, the first week, the first month, the first year, the first decade, the first century, the first millennium, and for millenniums that star filled its place seeking no attention and getting no attention. No one ever looked and said, "What a beautiful star," but many looked and said, "Aren't the heavens beautiful tonight!" After millenniums of faithfulness, the Heavenly Father Who made the star one day said, "Star, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will now make you ruler over many. Go and hover over Bethlehem's manger and tell the entire world that Christ is come; God is made flesh; a Saviour is born. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, J will make you ruler over many."
The great men of the Bible made mention of "their stars." Sometime read the last few verses of Paul's epistles and notice how many times he mentions the little people. Read David's farewell speech as he mentions his mighty men. Read of Moses who had his hands lifted by Aaron and Hur. Read of the band of men whose hearts God had touched who accompanied Saul when he went forth to Gibeah.
Not only does God bless little people, but God blesses little places. We all like the big places. When Jesus was born there were palaces, universities, estates, plush homes, and hotels, yet to a manger came the Saviour of the world. Where was the Saviour born? In a small manger he lay. Where was the Last Supper conducted? In a borrowed upper room they met. Where was Pentecost begun? Also in a borrowed upper room were they gathered. Where was David found? He was found humbly tending his sheep. Where was Gideon? He was threshing wheat behind the wine press. Where was the Son of God buried? In a borrowed sepulchre they laid Him. Where were many of the epistles written? Paul wrote many of them in the Mamertine Prison. Where was Moses called? From a simple burning bush did God speak to him. Where was PILGRIMS PROGRESS written? In a jail on milk bottle stoppers was it penned. To whom did Jesus appear and where did Jesus appear in the Old Testament? To the Hebrew children in a fiery furnace and to Jacob by the river Jabbok did He appear. Where was the book of Revelation written? John wrote on the lonely isle of Patmos. Where did Paul see the third Heaven? From a suburb of a little town called Lystra Paul viewed the heavenly beauties. Yes, God can bless your place. He uses little places.
Years ago when I was in college, I had been called to pastor the Marris Chapel Baptist Church in east Texas. I went back to college the next day and attended the preacher boys' class taught by the President of our college, Dr. H. D. Bruce. Dr. Bruce began with the front row and said, "Fellows, tell me what you did for God over the weekend." I was the first one asked of the over 200 students in the preacher boys' class. I stood and said, "Dr. Bruce, I was called to pastor a little church up in the country yesterday."
He said abruptly, "Sit down, Mr. Hyles!"
I couldn't understand. All the boys testified, but to none other did he say, "Sit down." After the last boy had testified, I stood and said, "Dr. Bruce, could I ask you why you made me sit down?"
He replied, "Mr. Hyles, you said you had been called to pastor 'a little church' up in the country." Then he looked at me sternly and said, "Mr. Hyles...there are...no...little churches!"
Not only does God use little people and little places, but He uses little things. He uses such things to carry out His purpose as a manger, a stable, swaddling clothes. What did Jesus use to feed the 5,000? He used five leaves and two fishes. What did He give Shamgar with which to slay the 600 Philistines? He gave him an ox goad. What did Moses use in the parting of the Red Sea and in the smiting of the rock? He used a shepherd's rod. What did God use with which to call Moses? He used a bush. What did the Saviour use in restoring the sight of the blind? He simply used mud! In what type of containers was the water poured which was turned into wine? They used old water pots found beside the road.
There are no little things to God. He upholds the sparrows' wings, paints the lilies of the field, and numbers the hairs on our heads. We find that even the insect under the microscope is as complete as a man with every minute detail arranged. Maybe you do not have much to give God. He does not need much; He just needs what you have. Don't forget that Christ appeared to shepherds in the field, to Stephen outside the gate, to Jacob as he slept with a stone for a pillow, to the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and to John on Patmos. He can appear to you; He can help you; He can use you--a little person in a little place with little things.
Our God also uses little tasks. Jesus could have preached a Sermon on the Mount every morning, but did not choose to do so. Each night He could have settled a stormy sea, but He did not. At Pilate's hall He could have been transfigured, but such was not the case. He could have ascended to Heaven daily at noon, but this He did not do.
His concern was about little tasks. On the cross while dying He cared for His mother and her needs. When He rose from the dead He folded the napkins and laid them in order. Michelangelo said, "Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle." What is your task? Do it and do it well. A little person in a little place can use a little thing and perform a little task and receive a great reward.
A star can bring light, lend beauty, bring folks together, give direction, and do many other things. Oh, to be sure, all of us cannot be the sun, and all of us cannot be the moon, but all of us can be stars. Thank God that He made the sun to rule the day. Thank God that He made the moon to rule the night, but thank God that "He made the stars also."
One of the great needs of our generation is that of leadership. In every area there is a need for men who are leaders of men; there is a need for men in politics with the ability to lead. This same need is found in the home, community, school and yes, far too often, the church.
Actually the Bible seems to teach that the real "call to preach" is, after all, a call to leadership. Bible preaching is simply soul winning; the commission to preach the Gospel is to every creature. If one can preach the Gospel to one, that is good. If he can preach the Gospel to two, that is better. If he can preach the Gospel to 10,000, that is even better. Yet the fact remains that the commission says, "to every creature." This means that in the Bible sense all are called to preach.
What, then, is this "call to preach" about which we talk so much? Really it is a call to leadership. God's call to Moses in the burning bush was a call to leadership. God's call to Abraham to leave the Ur of the Chaldees and seek for a city "which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" was basically a call to leadership. God's call to Gideon as he threshed wheat behind a wine press was simply a call to leadership. God's call to Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land was basically a call to leadership. Since all Christians are to be "preachers" (that is, soul winners), the final deduction is that what we term "the call to preach" is simply a call to be a leader of other Christians. We oftentimes think of the call to preach as being a call to be a public speaker. Nothing could be further from the truth. Preaching the Bible is simply telling others how to be saved and winning unsaved folks to Jesus Christ. To some, however, is given that Divine call to lead other Christians. Such was the case of Paul, Peter, Moses, Elisha, and others.
If the aforementioned be true, then every man who is called to preach the Gospel is, in a real sense, called to lead. Hence, a great portion of the pastor's time should be given to developing leadership abilities.
The tragic truth is that oftentimes when a man surrenders to preach, he really stops preaching. Many fine laymen have become effective soul winners. They rejoice so much in this privilege they believe God wants them to preach. Hence, they give up their soul winning and become public speakers. Actually, they are giving up Bible preaching for the public speaking field. Then, what is this call? It, of course, includes public speaking and preaching the same Gospel to many that one had preached to a few. In order to do this effectively, however, the pastor must become a leader of men.
1. Such leadership is Cod given. There are many suggestions, ideas, short cuts, etc. that can help or improve one's leadership abilities. Yet, the ability to lead men for God is first and foremost a gift from God. Someone has said, "When God calls He qualifies." Gideon was not a natural leader; neither was Moses, Paul, or Peter. These all received from God a supernatural gift of leadership. Oh, how the ministry needs it today. It is most significant that the two greatest men in the Bible were not possessed with what we consider the gifts necessary for being great preachers. The greatest leader of the Old Testament was Moses. There are those who think that apart from Jesus Christ Moses is the greatest man who ever lived. Yet, Moses had an impediment of speech. The "gift of gab" was not his. He was not the extrovert that we think preachers ought to be, but the gift of leadership was his. He stands out like a mountain in the Old Testament.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the Apostle Paul is the greatest person mentioned in the New Testament. Paul wrote the Corinthian church and reminded them that they said his speech was contemptible. It is interesting that the great lights in the both Old and New Testament were men not gifted with public speaking abilities. The men who do the great works for God are not necessarily the best speakers or the best preachers. They are, without exception, great leaders who have been filled with the Holy Spirit. Let the busy pastor take time for supplication with God, asking, yea begging, for this vital gift.
2. Magnify the office of pastor. Though the pastor should not magnify himself, he certainly should magnify his office. There is no position in the world higher than that of the pastor of a New Testament church. If people respect it as such, it will be because the pastor magnifies it as such.
I can recall how difficult it was for me to visit a funeral home or a hospital in the early days of my ministry. I simply felt unworthy. Especially was this true of visiting a hospital when the doctor was present. I would feel that he was so much more important than I that I should not bother him. Then one day the realization came to me that the office of the pastor is more important than that of a physician. Subsequently, instead of timidly tip-toeing into the room and giving preference to the doctor, I now take time to realize that my presence is more needed than his, and I act accordingly.
Just a few months ago I was visiting a hospital where a dear lady was about to have surgery. The doctor was in the room preparing for her needs just before surgery. He informed me that he was busy, and he asked me to step outside. Realizing that the lady would lapse into an unconscious state momentarily, I suggested that I pray first. The doctor seemed very upset when I insisted that he step outside and wait while I have a prayer with the lady. Hence, we sought the help of the Great Physician before she was placed in the hands of the local physician. Of course, the pastor should not be presumptuous in such cases and should exercise care and courtesy, but he should realize that his is the most important ministry to perform and that he fills the greatest office in the world. When the office of pastor is magnified as such, leadership will come more naturally.
Preacher brethren, the pastor is somebody. He, himself, in the flesh is just an unworthy, undeserving sinner saved by grace, but that unworthy, undeserving sinner saved by grace placed in the position of pastor of the New Testament church makes him the most important person in all the world. Let us never forget it.
3. The leader should know the follower. The Apostle teaches us that not many wise are chosen to be leaders but that God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Could it be that God planned it this way so the leaders could be chosen from followers and so that the leader could know the heartbeat of his followers? It was said by Ezekiel that before he became a leader among the captive people he first "sat where they sat." He became a captive that he might know how to lead captives. He wept that he might know how to lead those who weep. He was not fully qualified to lead the people until he first had been one of the people. This is, no doubt, why God usually chose His great men out of the rank and file. Most of the apostles were humble fishermen, and other Bible leaders were men of humble backgrounds.
Perhaps this is why our Lord Himself came to earth in the form of a man and took upon Himself infancy, childhood, youth, and manhood. He, thereby, could know the heartbeat of all ages and could more compassionately enter into our suffering.
Not long ago I was visiting in a home. A lady came to the door and informed me that her husband was an alcoholic and she was rearing her boy alone. She immediately recognized me as being Pastor of First Baptist Church and was so honored and pleased that I would come by and see her. She invited me in, when suddenly her countenance fell and she began to apologize for her meager and humble furnishings. Immediately I reminded her that my mother had reared me alone and that our houses were not nearly as nice as was hers. Her face brightened as she realized that I had one time sat where she was now sitting. In a few moments I won both the lady and her son to Jesus Christ and I baptized them both the next Sunday morning.
No doubt many of us have wondered why as children living in poverty we could not have the luxuries of others. What we saw through a glass darkly, however, we now see face to face as we realize that God was preparing us to lead people. If we would be leaders, we must first know the follower.
4. Give due credit to the follower. Most people will give servitude to a leader in whom they have confidence and whom they can trust. Such a leader is always ready to share credit and glory with the follower. Just as a follower needs a leader, a leader needs a follower. Sincere gratitude should be expressed by each to the other.
5. The leader should identify himself with the follower. A wise leader of children will often tell of his childhood experiences thereby reminding the child that he was once a child. This identifies the leader with the follower and makes each feel closer to the other. The successful pastor who has known poverty should be ready to admit to his people to this fact and relate stories that will identify him with the follower.
I often speak of such things as hog-killing time, my banking the wood stove, the cranking of the old jalopy, etc. Again and again I have had people say that as I was relating a story that was like theirs they felt we had lived the experience together and thereby they felt closer to me.
6. The leader should assure the follower. Someone has said the pastor should not be constantly be reminding his people how unworthy he is; someone might believe him. Certainly our people should know that we feel unworthy, but they should not mistake this for a feeling of incapability. The pilot who comes out of the cockpit and asks the passengers, "Does anyone know where we are?" will not keep his job for long! He would never say to those boarding the plane that he is not much pilot and that he feels so unworthy and incapable to fly the plane, but if they will pray for him, he will do the best he can! He does not remind them that there are many others on the plane who could do a much better job than he! Neither does the successful pastor remind his people of his inadequacies! While letting them know that he feels unworthy, he nevertheless generates in them confidence toward him and his ability. In other words, he should convince the people that he knows what he is doing, that he knows where he is going, and that with God's help, he is capable of leading them.
7. The leader should watch his posture when he is before his people. The ministry could certainly borrow from the military in this respect. The pastor should walk like a leader, sit like a leader, stand like a leader, and his very presence should generate confidence and assurance in the hearts of those who follow him For years I have practiced walking to the pulpit. Such a walk should be one of dignity and propriety. I practice sitting in my chair on the platform I want to walk like a leader, sit like a leader, and stand like a leader. How important this is!
I have also examined my own nature and have found that certain body positions, hand gestures, etc. create in me certain moods. Hence, if I would create a particular mood, I should be careful to use the posture, gestures, etc. that would help in doing so. Some readers may find this a bit trivial, but no one should find trivial the importance of a leader standing, walking, and sitting with definiteness, propriety, dignity, and care.
8. The leader should use his voice properly. Certain voice fluctuation and tone can aid or hinder leadership. It is quite common to hear a public speaker raise the last syllable of each sentence. This usually takes away the definiteness of the statement and places a subconscious question mark in the mind of the hearer. In fact, such statements oftentimes sound more like questions. It is alarming how unimportant speaking seems to be to a leader. The singer spends many hundreds of hours in voice training and voice care. Why shouldn't the speaker do likewise? Many pastors could increase their leadership ability by learning more about the care and use of the voice.
9. The leader should use his eyes effectively. He should learn that one of the most important contacts he has with the follower is the eye contact. Hence, the eyes should not be shifty, but they should be sincere, direct, and honest. Many sincere and would-be-successful pastors leave a void in the mind of their congregations because the eye contact is absent or the eyes do not carry a ring of sincerity and earnestness.
10. The leader should not admit professional weaknesses. When one goes to the doctor he would prefer not to hear the doctor say that he himself is a physical wreck. When a surgeon stands above a patient before surgery and says, "Pray for me, I don't feel worthy to perform this operation," the patient is hardly possessed of complete assurance. Now the pastor may confess to his people certain weaknesses, but these should not be professional weaknesses. People should feel that he is capable of doing the job and fulfilling his responsibility. They should feel that he is a trained and qualified leader. Now a doctor may say that he is stubborn, but the patient would still be assured. The doctor could admit to having a temper or being impatient, but he should certainly not admit professional weaknesses to the patient; neither should the pastor.
11. The leader should do first what he expects of the followers. When I was in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper, two men headed up our division as generals. One was James Gavin. We called him "Gentleman Jim." Every time the division jumped, he was the first man out of the plane. We were proud of him; we respected him. We later had another general who did not jump. He somehow did not go over so well with the paratroopers. We wanted someone to lead us, not push us. The same is true of God's people. They need someone to say, "Follow me as I set the example." I have always tried to give as large an offering as any of my people give during a financial drive. If a pastor expects his people to go soul winning, he first should go soul winning. If a pastor expects his people to give, he should give. If a pastor expects his people to be faithful, he should be faithful. The leader should do first what he expects of the follower.
12. The pastor should dress like a leader. The pastor should know appropriate dress. This is not to say he should always wear a black suit or a navy blue suit. He should, however, on occasion, know when and how to wear both. On occasion, the pastor may wear sport clothes. Care should be exercised in choosing such occasions and, of course, this would vary with the age of the pastor. As a younger pastor, I dressed more conservatively than I do as a middle-aged pastor. When I was barely past twenty, I was pastoring a Baptist church full-time. I found it necessary to discard the clothing of a twenty-year-old in order that I might convince my followers of my maturity. If a youth becomes a policeman, he should wear the policeman's uniform If a youth becomes a pastor, he should dress accordingly with the maturity and dignity of a pastor. As a pastor approaches and enters the middle years, the need for establishing his maturity is lessened; hence, he may find himself more able and desirous of wearing more youthful clothing. Much care should be taken, however, so as to avoid being excessively flashy and gaudy. The pastor should know when and where to wear sport shirts, slacks, dress suits, formal attire, etc. The congregation should grow to expect the pastor to be appropriate in his dress at all times. Not only will this generate confidence in the follower, but also in the leader himself.
13. The leader should not tell his problems to the follower. For a number of years now it has been my privilege to help younger and less-experienced pastors with their problems and to counsel with pastors across America. When these men ask me how my church is doing they always receive an optimistic answer, for if I would help them, I must earn the right. If I went to a pastor and told him I was having church problems and asked for his counsel, he would hardly come to me and ask my counsel when his problem arose. A leader must learn to take his problems to the One Who is called Wonderful,. Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Extreme care and caution should be taken in sharing problems with the follower. This is especially true when the problem involves something that is within his sphere of leadership.
14. The leader should never appeal to the sympathy of the follower. People rally to inspiration, not the seeking of sympathy. It is folly for a pastor to stand up and tell of his problems and burdens and ask the people to follow him because he is heartbroken. This will lead to frustration and failure. People follow dynamic leadership, not heartbroken failure.
Fortunate is the church member who has a leader for a pastor. The people should feel that when the pastor walks in "everything's all right in the Father's house." There should be a feeling akin to the way a child feels when his daddy is at home at night. The pastor who has learned to be a leader will exude assurance and confidence to his people. Fortunate is the pastor who has received this gift and who has developed it. Fortunate is the member whose pastor has done so.
10. THE GLORY OF YOUR PRESENCE
(In the author's book, BLUE DENIM AND LACE, there is an article entitled, "The Glory of Your Absence." This is the other side of that article.)
Your presence was lovely; his eyes met mine in devotion; his mind met mine in admiration; his heart met mine in love; his soul met mine in dedication, and there we stood, your presence and I, heart to heart, mind to mind, and soul to soul. He was all of life's joys blended into one perfect moment.
Then suddenly all that could leave of you left and all that could be separated from me was gone. I could not hear your voice, nor see your face, nor watch your grace.
It was then that I met your absence. We, your absence and I, spoke of your presence. Your absence was kinder in his words concerning your presence than your presence had been when he described your absence. Yet, though I had dreaded to meet him, your absence spoke so well of you I found the presence of your absence very interesting.
We talked and talked about you and your presence. Your absence described your presence in terms of which I had never dreamed. He described your eyes as being even more devoted than I remembered, your mind as being even more admiring and admirable, your heart as being even more loving, and your soul as being even more dedicated.
"'Tis true," I said to your absence, whom I was beginning to like more and more, "his presence has no absence. Yet you have exaggerated, absence. You are just trying to make the heart grow fonder."
So in the absence of your presence I thought of you as I grew fonder of the presence of your absence.
I wondered why your absence was absent when your presence was present. Yet, sure enough, your absence had become absent when I again stood in your presence.
Here I stand in the glory of your presence only to find that your absence has adequately described the beauty and glory of your presence and that now your presence is even more glorious than it was before I met your absence. You are exactly all that your absence said that you would be. Your soul has grown lovelier, your heart has grown bigger, your face fairer, and your mind keener. Yes, I still far prefer your presence, but no longer dread an occasional, brief visit with your absence, for I lov4e to hear him talk of you as we did all the night through.
So, though I shrink from the absence of your presence, I delight periodically in the presence of your absence, for we both see you through eyes of love.
So, in the glory of your presence, there is always the presence of your glory. Yet, in the glory of your absence, there is no absence of your glory.
Hence, we are never absent, just more present. When your absence and I looked at you we found your presence had never left.
Say, if that be so, your absence was not really absence, but it was really omnipresence, for we are knitted souls! Whether in the body or out of the body, your presence is never absent and your absence is never present and we are always one because of the GLORY OF YOUR OMNIPRESENCE!
11. THE UNFINISHED MAN
Ah, thank God for the unfinished man-- the fellow who knows he is not yet finished. Far too many men think they are equipped simply because they have been called to a certain task. Still others think they are equipped because they hold a certain position. One of the hardest things that I have faced through the years as Pastor is combating the idea that subconsiously creeps into a person who becomes a staff member at our church. He is now on the staff of one of the world's largest churches. He becomes suddenly the finished product. No he is no more than he was before he came. Actually, he is less finished now. He has a bigger task to perform with the same equipment that he had. If he could only realize that he is the unfinished man and even less finished than before, he will have begun the first step toward equipping himself for the new task.
Somebody has said, "Good, better, best, never let it rest, 'til your good is better and your better, best." Just because someone holds a big title or receives a multitude of compliments does not mean he has arrived. The truth is that none of us ever arrive. We must constantly be improving. It was Einstein who said he used only five percent of his potential. If this be true, think of the undiscovered potential in those of us who are normal human beings.
Along the same line, character is developed, not acquired. A man may have his sins forgiven at salvation but that does not mean that he has necessarily developed character. Character is the subconscious doing of right. It is developed by the doing of right so often, so regularly, and with such habit that it becomes embedded. A person does not have character just because he is saved, called to preach, or a little educated just as a person is not considered to be educated because he bought a text book, or a pianist because he bought a piano.
Let us remember that our Lord said He would pour water on him who is thirsty. One will not drink unless he is thirsty and one will not improve himself or be improved unless he is hungering and thirsting for improvement.
Don't forget that the Bible says, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Romans 11:29) You will notice He doesn't stop after the calling. There are gifts to follow. A calling should not be thought of as an equipping but rather as an unequipping.
I well recall as a college lad going out in the country one Thursday afternoon to visit an old missionary who at the time was in his nineties. He had served for many years. His name was Gustave Norling. Several of us young preachers would go out and listen to his bits of advice. We came to a time when we thought we had arrived. We had enough education and we were more spiritual than the professors. We told Brother Norling we thought we ought to stop attending school because the professors, in some cases, were "dead" and those who pastored churches were not succeeding. We felt they had nothing to offer us. The old man lifted up his head and spoke wisely as he said something like this: "Young men, no doubt some professors are "dead", but, bear in mind, these men are not well-rounded men; they are not complete men. Each, however, is an expert in one field. I would not advise you to emulate these men or to be like them, but I would advise you to find out what each one knows. You can take from an incomplete man what he knows in his field and by learning from many incomplete men, you can become a complete man. Stay in school, learn all you can from each man as he teaches his own specialty, and then become the well-rounded preachers that I want you to become."
I learned a lesson that day that has helped me in my entire life.
Again, may I say, a calling should not be thought of as an equipping, but rather as an unequipping. A calling or a position is simply an opportunity.
Once I thought of hiring a man as an assistant pastor. I talked with him and told him something about what I had in mind and asked him to pray about it. Several days later we discussed the matter again. I asked if he had thought of any questions.
"Yes," he said, "I have two questions: 1. What would my title be? and 2. What would the remuneration be?"
I answered both questions but discounted the possibility of employing him. Oh, for men who are unfinished and who in their own eyes are never finished; men who can learn from lesser men; men who are strong enough to be weak, tough enough to be tender, hard enough to be compassionate, cold enough to be warm, and knowledgeable enough to be understanding.
There are so many people who read my books and use my methods. One fellow said one time, "I have used all your methods and I just don't seem to be able to succeed."
I said to him, "Young man, using Hyles' methods will only go so far; using Hyles' philosophies can open limitless methods of your own."
The wise school teacher continues to learn. The wise mechanic continues to study the newest cars. The wise leader will not settle in his position nor be impressed by his title nor be aware of the shingle on his door. The successful man is the unfinished man-one who keeps his eyes open, learns all he can from everybody, employs all men as his teachers, and realizes that the greatest of all is not the leader, but the servant, and even the leader must be a servant.
When we think of greatness we point to the one who gives the orders. When God thinks of greatness He thinks of the one who obeys the orders. When we think of greatness we look at the head table. When God thinks of greatness He looks at the servers.
Oh, to be an unfinished man always!
12. HERE, HEREAFTER, AND AFTERWARDS
When our Lord was in the upper room, He was asked a question. He told the disciples "hereafter" they would know. Later on He was asked another question. Here they were told that "afterwards" they would know. "All things work together for good to them that love God and to them who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) We have to trust the Lord in this respect, but we do not always know here and now, why and how. To be sure, there are many things that we can see here. We can know "here" why God did a certain thing. On the other hand, some things we will not know until "hereafter." Later on in life we will see why God did what He did. I used to wonder why my dad was a drunkard. I used to wonder why I was hungry and couldn't wear nice clothes. I used to wonder why we couldn't live in a nice house. Now I know. I did not know "here," but now I know "hereafter." We have to trust the Lord, for He knows what is best.
In spite of the fact that some things I know "here," and some things I have found out "hereafter," there are still things that have happened in my life that I will not know the why or how until I meet the Lord in Heaven. These things I must find out "afterwards." I must trust Him now that all things do work together for good.
I can recall when I was a little boy my mother used to embroider quite a bit. I would be playing on the floor and she would be embroidering. I would look up and say, "Mother, what are you doing?"
She would say, "Embroidering, son."
"Mother, what is embroidering?"
She would try to explain.
Then I would say, "Mother, it looks like a mess to me. Just a bunch of jumbled thread on a cloth in a hoop."
Then my mother would smile and sweetly say, "Son, you just go about your playing and trust Mother. After awhile I will be finished and I will bring you up where I am and show you what I was doing all the time."
I would go about my playing and sure enough after awhile my mother would say, "Son, do you want to come up and see?"
She would then put me on her knee where she was and let me see it from her side. To my surprise there was a beautiful flower or some other scene. Then Mother would look at me and say, "Son, there was something you couldn't see from the underside. There was a design from my side not visible to you. I was simply following that design."
I look up at the Lord today and say, "Dear Lord, what are You doing!"
He says, "I am embroidering a life, my child."
I reply, "It looks like a mess to me."
He says, "You go about doing My will and after awhile I will bring you up here in Heaven and let you see it from My side."
One day I will be carried to Heaven and I will see it from His side. He will show me that it was all according to a Divine plan that He could see our I could not see. I should simply trust by faith that He knows what is best and that all things do work together for good to those who love God and to those who are the called according to His purpose.
I thank God for the things God does that I can see "here."
I also thank Him that there were things that once I could not see but that "hereafter" I could see.
Then I must thank God in faith for those things which happened to me for which I can see no answer "here" or "hereafter," but will understand when He calls me where He is and shows me why He did what He did "afterwards."
13. WHEN IT'S OVER
These thoughts are being written on December 29, 1970. Two days ago my oldest daughter, Becky, who is married and a student at Tennessee Temple College, left to go back to school. I have been thinking about her leaving and my mind turns to all of the millions of people who had to say good-bye in the last few days and the millions of others who will join them in sad farewells. The furlough that has been anticipated so long has now come and gone. The long-awaited days home from college are now over. Misty-eyed parents try to busy themselves in the activities of life, and weary grandparents mull over memories and thumb through family albums realizing it will be perhaps another year until the cutest grandchildren in the world come again. How may one prepare himself for these difficult times? In order to answer, let me go back 28 years and relive with you an experience from my youth.
I was always a rather small boy and as timid as I was small. Perhaps it was my introversion that led to much meditation. Every Sunday night and every Wednesday night after church services I would walk about a mile to a pharmacy in order to buy a malted milk, which in those days sold for a nickel! I would walk slowly and meditate about life. One night after a mid-week service I asked a buddy of mine, whose name was Bob, if he would join me for a malted milk. I was flushed (the proud possessor of 10 cents), so I invited Bob to join me for the two-mile round trip to the pharmacy for a malted milk. As we slowly walked I began to meditate and I spoke my meditations to Bob. I said something like this: "Bob, do you realize that everything finally comes and that everything ends! We await a ball game and think it will never come. Yet, sure enough, the day comes and we are sitting on the bench awaiting the start of the game. Bob, everything eventually comes. Do you know that death is that way and life is that way? It seems to us now that we will never grow up, but we will. It seems now that we will never get married, but we will. It seems now that we will never go to college, but we will. It seems now that we will never go to the service, but we will; and it seems now that life will never end for us, but it will."
I am afraid I may have bored Bob somewhat with my philosophizing, but a long time after we said good night I was lying awake in my little room, six feet by eight feet, in the back of our small apartment. I was thinking of those times when something delightful has ended for people. Maybe it is the time when the furlough ends, the vacation ends, the child goes off to college for the first time, the boy leaves for service, retirement comes, etc. I began to wonder how a person could eliminate that empty and melancholy feeling which comes at the end of something delightful.
Two things came to my mind. First, one should plan a new beginning to start at every ending. In other words, one should plan something to which he can look forward to doing the day following the termination of a happy time. Here is one of the great secrets of life. On the airplane on your way back to college, read a book you have wanted to read for a long time. Save your money for days and weeks ahead so that on the very day you return from your vacation or trip you may purchase that one thing you want so badly. Have a hobby that is so interesting that it becomes an avocation upon retirement. Be ready for that last day. Be ready to attack that melancholy feeling with a new beginning.
Of course, that is exactly what being saved is. When each person faces the end of life (and each one will!) he should have prepared for a new beginning. Blessed be God, that is exactly what happens to the Christian. He has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ, and the sadness of death is minimal because of the new beginning that follows.
During the night in the little bedroom after the malted milk I also decided this: One should spend his life on things that are eternal. Hence, I dedicated myself to seek out the things that will never end and invest my life in them Such things as soul winning, the Word of God, love, etc. have occupied most of my attention and time since that night. These are eternal and will never pass away.
I told Bob that night that the day would come when life would be over and that we would, as in the case of the ball game, be facing eternity. As I write this article "that day" may have come for Bob. He is in intensive care at St. Paul's Hospital in Dallas, Texas, after a serious heart attack, partial paralysis, open heart surgery, and other complications. Bob is now at death's door. Neither of us thought seriously about death that night drinking the malted milk at the pharmacy, but I reminded Bob that it would come as all things do. Now it may have come. As much as I would like to escape the thought, it will come for me, too. Thank God, I have made provision for my new beginning. Thank God, Bob has made provisions for his new beginning. He, as Pastor Bob Keyes, has for many years been a faithful preacher of the Gospel and one of America's great soul winners. He has given much of his life to things that are eternal and has prepared for a new beginning. I, too, must spend my life on things that are eternal, for everything finally comes to pass on this earth and, like the ball game, the end of the vacation, the termination of the furlough, and the day of returning to college, death will come and life on earth will end.
14. UPS AND DOWNS
Life is full of its ups and downs they say, and they say aright, for no one is always on the same plane. However, one can work on his ups and downs until they can become hills and valleys rather than peaks and gorges. There are some simple things that have helped me to make my ups and downs shorter trips.
1. Realize that change does not bring happiness, just temporary enjoyment. One should not build his happiness around the unusual times but rather around the usual times. The usual can register positive and then the unusual can be even more delightful, and the trip from the unusual to the usual will not be a sad and melancholy one. Far too many people depend on the spectacular to bring them happiness. The spectacular was not made for happiness; it was made for enjoyment. Happiness is a state of mind. Enjoyment is something caused by external stimuli. If one is wise enough to recognize the purpose for special occasions and unusual circumstances, he then will have enriched his life greatly. If, however, one thinks that happiness is brought by the peaks, he is going to spend some miserable days in the valleys. If the valley can be happiness, the peak can be bonus! If the peak is happiness, the valley will be dreary.
2. Enjoy the normal days most. Wise is the person who looks forward to the tranquil time and not to the spectacular time. The well-adjusted person is just as happy when the special time ends and the normal begins as he is when the normal ends and the special time begins. In other words, one should not put too much stress on diversion. One who enjoys his work does not need diversion for pleasure or enjoyment, but simply as an aid to becoming a complete, well-rounded person.
The transition from the unusual to the usual and from the usual to the unusual should not be stepping from drudgery to fun, but rather from one form of fun to another form of fun. This makes the step down as pleasant as the step up. It makes Monday as good a day as Saturday.
3. Remember that someone would love to take a vacation doing what you do every day. Do you work downtown in Chicago, in the Loop, in the big city, in New York's Manhattan? Do you know that your drudgery would be a vacation to millions of people? Do you live the simple life without life's conveniences? Do you know that rich men take their vacations camping out and doing what you are doing? Do you go to one of the great churches in America? Do you realize that there are thousands of people who plan their vacations around a visit to your church? It is said that on the weekend the country goes to the town and the town goes to the country. Now, why couldn't the man in Manhattan enjoy Manhattan and the man without the so-called luxuries of life enjoy his life as much as the city dweller who camps out on his vacation? Ah, much of life's happiness is wrapped up in these truths.
4. Be slow to acquire everything. I believe this is one of the reasons for the rise of the hippie movement in our generation. Many of them were raised by sincere, yet overly protective and overly generous parents who gave them everything too soon. If one can stretch out his acquisition of possessions over an entire life, he will be much happier. Many of our suicides are committed by those who have acquired everything. In other words, they have lived life too fast. They have lived all of life in a span of time that was faster than it was intended for it to be lived. Now their lives are over, but they have some years to spend. They turn to whatever they haven't had yet. It may be dope, it may be liquor, it may be the hippie life, or it may be suicide. Parents, be slow to let your children acquire everything.
5. Do the hum-drum best. The best preacher is not the one that preaches the best convention sermon, but the one who preaches the best sermon Sunday by Sunday. Someone has asked, "Who do you think is the best preacher in the world?" The answer is, "I do not know." There would be no way to find out unless I could hear the man preach in his own pulpit for a year. The best carpenter is not the one who makes the prettiest sound as the hammer hits the nails or has the most graceful stroke with the saw. The best carpenter is the one who builds the best house. The best preacher is not the one who is the best orator. He is the one who builds the best Christian.
In plain old Army language, we should always be ready for inspection. Make the hum-drum day just as important as the exciting one. Play the practice game with just as much fervor as the Bowl game. Plan the first day home from vacation with the same anticipation with which you plan the first day of vacation. 'Tis not the one who has the most fun on the mountain top that finds happiness; 'tis the one who has the most peace in the valley.
6. Preserve happy times and relive them. Have a camera; keep a diary; or have a scrapbook. Keep files; don't throw away letters from ones you love. A happy time need not end when it is over. It can live on and on if we learn to relive it and if we preserve it to be opened and re-enjoyed in future days.
15. HOME WITHOUT A MOTHER
In 1952 I became Pastor of the 92 members who met in a $6,000 building and called themselves the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. I had just reached my 26th birthday. That was the beginning of one of the most blessed ministries that a preacher could enjoy. Little did I know what God had in store for me when the blessings of God began to fall, and on the first anniversary of my ministry there we had 617 in Sunday school (My first Sunday as pastor found 44 people attending Sunday school). On our second anniversary we had 1,180 in Sunday school, and on our third anniversary 2,212 attended. Of course, these were peak days with unusually high attendances, but to say the least, the growth was phenomenal and the blessings of God were tremendous!
We had building problems. We needed a new building, but the church was so young no one would let us borrow money. Finally I found a layman who would risk us to the tune of $13,000. Rather than hire a general contractor, I decided to be the general contractor, in spite of the fact I knew little about building. It is true that I had worked my way partly through college by laying oak floor, hanging dry wall (sheet rock), etc., but as a general contractor I had literally no experience.
Since I was general contractor, I decided to be my own architect and engineer. I drew a floor plan, went to a concrete company, and asked the owner if he would pour some grade beams and pier holes. I showed him a penciled floor plan. He smiled and asked how high the walls would be. I told him and he came and poured the grade beams, pier holes, and a slab floor. Then up went the walls with volunteer help. I put up the sheet rock myself.
Being in my usual hurry, I put at least two or three nails in every piece of four feet by eight feet piece of dry wall. Then we put on the roof and finishing touches, and finally came Dedication Day. Though it was far from a basilica, it was nevertheless new and clean and a place to meet. We had a big Dedication Day for our new $13,000 building. The mayor was there, the city councilmen were there, the head of the city planning commission was present, and the crowd had gathered around the front door for ribbon-cutting ceremonies. Folks were congratulating me and though the building was less than ornate, they were amazed that I, a preacher, could be the general contractor for the building. One of the important guests spoke to the others as he participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony and said something like this: "Pastor Hyles, you are a remarkable man to have built this building for $13,000. We all congratulate you. May I ask you, Pastor Hyles, before cutting the ribbon, what kind of heat does this building have...?"
"Heat?" I asked. "H-h-h-h-heat! Heat! Heat?"
"Yes!" he replied. "What kind of heat? Is it gas, electric, oil? Just what kind of heat do you have in the building?"
"H-e-a-t ?...Heat.. .H-h-h-h-heat?"
"Yes, what kind of heat do you have in the building?"
The next morning I got a star drill and a hammer and knocked holes in the walls and ran some pipes down the center of the hall, through the holes, and down the inside walls of the classrooms. I then put a gas jet at the end of the pipe and a little gas heater at the gas jet. (For years they called those the "Hyles Pipes.")
The power of God continued falling; and the blessings of God continued coming until finally one day, to my complete surprise, God called me away. I thought that day would never come. These were my own converts. I had won nearly all of them to Christ myself. I had grown up with the church; I loved the town. I could not feature ever having to leave; I had planned to spend my life there. Yet suddenly and without warning God had led me to become Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. I rebelled, yet finally yielded to God's will. With a broken heart I stood before my people one Wednesday night announcing my resignation. The people had no forewarning and the resignation dropped like a bomb. I have never seen a meeting so sad. People were weeping, some few were: screaming, and many were uncontrollable. Finally, we just all cried. In an effort to control myself I slipped out a side door and heard a lady's voice praying. It was my secretary. She was alone in the dark. She did not know that I was near, and these were the words of her prayer: "Dear Lord, Miller Road Baptist Church without Brother Hyles is like a home without a mother." These were the words she said over and over again. I never forgot them.
The weeks and months passed and I did become Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. It wasn't long until the news came from Garland, Texas, that my secretary had gone to the hospital to deliver a baby and during delivery had suddenly stopped breathing. She was gone to be with her Savior. Now her husband, Joe, and her two children had "a home without a mother."
Yes, ministries will end, pastorates will cease, life will pass away, it behooves each of us to do his best where he is, for soon another will be in his pulpit and others will live in his house.
Death or the will of God will lead me on. I must work the works of Him Who sent me while it is yet day, for soon my shoes will be filled by another and 'twill be "like a home without a mother."
16. THE LOVE CIRCLE
WITH WHOM WILL WE LIVE IN HEAVEN? Here is a searching question that nearly every Christian must someday face. I believe the Christian will live in Heaven with his "love circle." By that I mean he will live with that circle of people for whom God has given him "agape love." Love is foreign to the unsaved man, for he needs no preparation for Heaven. Love is a heavenly quality that is given to prepare men to enjoy the heavenly city more. The unsaved man has no preparation even to enter the city; hence, he needs no preparation for added enjoyment.
When God saves a man, He, by grace, gives him true love for some. Since the Scripture says that those who die in the Lord are followed by their works, that love (*) goes with them to Heaven (*the love that God gave them for certain individuals). God never has a subject without a predicate, never creates an appetite without a fulfillment, and never gives a gift without a promise that it will be used. Hence, when God gives us an eternal, heavenly love for another, He is preparing us to live with that person forever. God is getting our "love circle" ready for Heaven.
Love is a gift of God. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Love never faileth; hence, it accompanies us to Heaven. The objects of that love must do likewise.
John tells us that we will, in that day "be like Him." In Jesus' resurrected, glorified body He appeared to many, but to whom did He appear first? He appeared to those in His little circle. To Mary Magdalene first, to His closest apostles, to the women, and to His dearest followers did our Lord appear. In our resurrection bodies no doubt we will also spend much of our time with those in our "love circle."
It is true that the Bible seems to teach that the family circle will be together in Heaven. Our Lord reminds us that many shall come and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (grandfather, father, and son). We are reminded by Moses that Jacob was "called to his brethren." Yet, the same Word teaches us that there is no marriage in Heaven as we know marriage now. This is not to say that the family circle will not be together; it is to say that in Heaven one's circle will be deeper than family ties and physical relationships. It is my feeling that God will allow us in Heaven to be with those for whom He has given us the deepest love. We will be with Him Whom we love the most and Who loves us most. We will live forever with Him and with our "love circle."
17. AFTER HIS KIND
After I had spoken one evening in a distant state, a preacher came to me and asked what accounted for the spirit of love that exists at First Baptist Church. He mentioned that he had been to our church and noticed our people love each other and love the pastor, and that the pastor loves the people. He said that he also had noticed a sweet spirit of compassion on the part of the people and that they are always happy and singing the victory song. He then asked me, "What is the secret?"
Suddenly a thought passed through my mind that had never entered before. I thought of the first verses of Genesis where everything bore fruit "after his kind," (Genesis 1:11,12) and I said to the preacher brother, "My brother, it is 'after his kind.' "
Everything reproduces itself. Animals reproduce animals, plants reproduce plants, human beings reproduce human beings, and attributes reproduce attributes. If a pastor would have people who love, he must love, for it is "after his kind." If a pastor would have people who are not critical, he must not be critical of other preachers, for it is "after his kind." If a pastor wants people who sacrifice and give, he must sacrifice and give, for it is "after his kind." The great need of America, the great need of our churches, the great need of our nation, is leadership. Proper leadership stimulates proper "fellowship."
Dr. Lee Roberson has said for years, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." This is so true. Leaders who criticize followers will have followers who criticize the leader. Many a pastor has suffered heartache in his church simply because he was critical of other pastors. If a pastor would have soul winning people, he must be a soul winner. If a pastor would have warmhearted people, he must be warmhearted. The proper kind of leadership will reflect itself in the followers very shortly. It is "after his kind." Optimism begets optimism and pessimism begets pessimism Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm and lethargy begets lethargy. Generosity begets generosity and stinginess begets stinginess. Love begets love and hate begets hate. Success begets success and failure begets failure. Everything reproduces "after his kind."
One day after a service a mother brought her little boy in to tell me of some things he had been doing that were wrong.
"Tell him what you did," she said.
The little boy said, "I lied to my teacher and kicked her in the shin."
I couldn't believe it and I expressed my sorrow to him. It was in the month of September, as I recall, and I told him if he would be a good boy for three months, I would take him on an outing. A good boy he was! His teacher said he was so improved; and his mother said he was a new boy. So, shortly before Christmas, I went by his house and we had an outing together. I took him to McDonald's and we had hamburgers, French fries and milk shakes. I took him to a five and ten cent store and bought him a toy. I was so proud of him, and we had a wonderful time.
The next Sunday I told the story (without using the boy's name) and told my people about his improvement. After I baptized that day a little fellow about seven years of age met me outside the dressing room door. He looked at me and said, "Pastor, I have done some things that are bad."
I said, "What have you done?"
He said, "I have been lying to my teacher and kicking her in the shin."
Before I got to the bottom of the stairs, another little fellow had been lying to his teacher and kicking her in the shin.
When I got to my office three boys were waiting to tell me they had been lying to their teachers and kicking their teachers in the shin (included in this group was a son of one of my assistant pastors).
I had the suspicion that all those little boys liked McDonald's hamburgers, French fries, and milk shakes and they wanted to go on an outing with their pastor. This is just a simple little illustration to show that everything is "after his kind."
Occasionally I will wear a sport coat and slacks to the mid-week service. This is a very rare thing for me, but four or five times a year I will do so. One Wednesday I had bought a new green sport coat. I thought it was the prettiest thing I had seen. It went real well, I thought, with black slacks, black tie, and the black handkerchief I put in the coat pocket. Now many years ago I ceased thinking I was handsome and now I settle for being just above tolerance level, but this particular night, I must confess, I thought I was really all "dolled up." I just couldn't wait until the people saw me in my new green sport coat. As I got out of my car, I walked a few feet and one of my members met me and said, "Pastor, how do you feel?"
Realizing I was wearing my best, I said, "I never felt better in my life."
She said, "Well, I was just wondering."
I walked inside the door and another member said, "Pastor, do you feel well?"
I said, "Yes, I feel pretty well. Thank you." "You're just not looking up to par," he replied.
I walked on down the hall and just before I entered my office another lady saw me and said, "Pastor, have you had a check-up lately? How do you feel?"
"Not so good," I replied. I walked on into the office, got my Bible, and went down to the Teachers' and Officers' Meeting. As I walked in a lady across the table said, "Pastor, could I ask you a question?"
I answered, "No, you can't! I feel miserable! I'm a nervous wreck and I'm going for a check-up tomorrow."
In less than fifteen minutes I had gone from a handsome Mr. America to a broken-down old man.
What was the problem? They had influenced me. They had affected me. The pessimists were bearing fruit after their kind.
Let not the pastor criticize his deacons, for it is "after his kind." Let not the pastor be critical of his people, for it is "after his kind." Let not the leader slander the followers, for it is "after his kind."
Leader, go home and look in the mirror and you will find a follower. May I, as Pastor of First Baptist Church, so love, so give, so witness, so work, so sacrifice, so pray that when my members become "after my kind" they will be pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ; and may I in so yielding to Him become "after His kind."
18. I NEED YOU
Dear members of First Baptist Church of Hammond, I need you. Dear born again preacher brothers across America and around the world, I need you. Dear Christian eating rice in the poverty of India, I need you. Dear African missionary, I need you.
Yes, I need every Christian. None of us can do without the rest of us. I do not know in what way I need the unknown peasant of India, but I need him, for I am taught in the Word of God that I am a member of the body of Christ and every member of that body needs every other member of that body.
I have never seen many of the organs of my body. I have never seen my liver, my gall bladder, or my stomach, but I need them all just as I need every Christian whom I know but have never seen. There are, however, many organs in my body about which I do not know. I do not even know the names of all the members of my body, but I need them. If one became inflamed or infected, I would suddenly realize how much I needed it. Likewise, there are millions of Christians whom I do not even know, but in a strange and mysterious way I need them. Especially is this true because I am a leader-a leader God's people chosen to pastor, and in a sense, to pastor pastors. There are several things that I have found about my need for you.
In the first place, if a leader builds followers, he builds a more secure foundation under himself. Likewise, if the follower helps to build his leader, he builds a more sure building above himself and offers himself more security and more chance for service for Christ. Hence, if I would be the best leader I can be, I must build the best followers I can build. They hold me up; they support me. If I would be strong, they must be strong.
There is another way in which I need you. I can learn from you, for all men are my teachers. There is a motto by which I try to live. It is as follows: "Every man knows something that I do not know. I must probe until I find it; hence, all men are my teachers." I have often said that a leader is simply one who collects ideas from each of the followers and compiles them and gives a copy to each follower. The Apostle Paul said he could but speak the things which he had seen and heard. A leader is one who sees and hears a lot and retains what he sees and hears. When I go to another church to preach, however small the church may be, I travel through the Sunday school departments, the classes, the pastor's study, the offices, etc., looking for new ideas. Many of the ideas which I have given to people across the country and around the world have been found in some little obscure church. I need you to teach me.
I need not criticize you, for you are me and I am you. We are of the same body. When I criticize you, I criticize myself. When I tear you down, I tear down myself. We are in the same body; we are to do the same things. Let us suppose, for example, that I can do ten times as much as you can. If I tear down ten people like you, then I have rendered myself ineffective. For my sake I must not tear you down; for your sake, please do not tear me down. We are of the same body; we need each other. Many people in one day can tear down someone with more responsibility and influence and can do more harm in one day to the cause of Christ than the good they can do in a lifetime. The leader needs the follower. If he criticizes him and tears him down, soon his leadership is no longer effective. The follower needs the leader; in fact, we all need each other. Because I need you I must pray for you. I must not criticize you. I must love you. I must build you up. I must edify you, for you are me and I am you and we need each other.
Yes, I need you. I need your prayers, I need your help, I need your confidence, but if I know of no reason why I need you, we are still of the same body. For some reason unknown to me, I need you; and even if you are unknown to me, I need you. I do not know you, I do not know why I need you, but I do know that we are in the same body and I need you and you need me.
When one goes to the top, he must be pushed up from the bottom, not pulled up from the top. If I rise any higher, you must help me do it. If you rise higher, I must help you. Let us love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, for you need me and most certainly, I NEED YOU!
19. THE MISTAKES OF JOB
There is a great temptation to deify Job. There is a similar temptation to praise him too much. On the other hand, there are those who lavish excess condemnation on Job. Exactly how should we look at him? We should consider him as the best Christian in the world who still needed to improve. One can find exactly what happened to Job by looking at John 15 and seeing how the Lord purgeth the tree that beareth fruit. This summarizes what happened to dear Job.
Yes, he lost everything: his children, his riches, his home, his health, and the loyalty of his wife; yet, he stood the test. This is admirable, but in the standing of the test we not only see how far he had come but how far short he had fallen. As we admire him for standing true, let us notice and learn from his mistakes.
1. God let Satan have him in order to get him to improve. See Job 42:5,6. God was not punishing, He was purifying. The better the Christian, usually the more severe the measures of purifying.
2. Job made the mistake of comparing himself with man and not with God. Yes, Job was the greatest Christian on earth. Hence, it became difficult for God to reveal to him that he needed more spiritual growth. How much higher can a man go than to be the best Christian on earth? The honest answer is that he can go a lot higher. One is not to compare himself to the sinners or the saints, but with the Saviour. In Job 39-41 God had to remind Job to compare himself with God and not with man. This seems at first to be a bit unfair, but with further searching we find it very fair, for this is the way that God enabled Job to continue to grow.
This is often the case when a man is going to be a great leader. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he said he was unclean. God allowed Joshua to see the Lord; He allowed John on Patmos to see the Lord; He allowed Ezekiel to see the Lord. The temptation for them and for us is that we become the best of our group or the best of our kind and we are complacent. God has something better for us! Even though one be the best Christian in the entire world, he still would fall short. Now he must start comparing himself with God or he will languish in his own complacency.
3. Job looked at how high he had climbed not at how far he had to go. This also limited his spiritual growth. When one gets to the place where he looks down on all others, he then must look up to God and say not, "Look how high I am," but "Look how low I am." He must not say, "Look how high I am compared with other men." He must say, "Look how low I am compared to what Christ is and what I ought to be." Look up, not down, and you will not see your successes. Look up, not down, and you will not measure your stature. Look up, not down, and you will not know your greatness. Look up, not down, and you will see your imperfections, not your perfections. Compare yourself with Him Who rules above rather than those who are beneath if you would grow in grace once you have become a good Christian.
4. Job would not accept help from those beneath him. 'Tis true, his friends were false ones, but 'tis also true that they gave him some good advice. Job had not learned the lesson that there are lessons to be learned from those who may not be as mature as are we. Many an adult has learned a good lesson from a little child. We are admonished in the Bible to consider the ant and learn lessons from him. Does this mean the ant is our superior? Of course, it does not. It simply means that when one becomes the best Christian in the world he can still learn from those beneath him. It is startling to stop and think that great men must learn al that they learn from folks who know less!
5. Job learned that birth and growth come only with pain. The birth of a great ministry, the birth of a child, the birth of a church, the birth of a new work, the birth of a school, or the birth of anything that is worthwhile comes through great pain. Growth is the same way. All of us as children experienced growing pains; such is the case in the spiritual life. Pain comes with birth and pain comes with growth.
The greatest Christian reading this page can learn something from the weakest Christian, and certainly the greatest Christian in the world has not yet arrived. May he compare himself not with those beneath, but with the One above, thereby doing himself a favor and not committing the mistakes of Job.
20. FRIEND OR SLAVE?
Up until John 15:13-16 our Lord had called His disciples servants or slaves. Now He says He plans to call them His friends. What is the difference between a friend or a slave; or, better still, a friend or a servant?
Here is a man who gets a job. He does not particularly like or dislike his boss, but he is a man of character and he does his job. He does it well. He gets to work on time, works until quitting time, and occupies himself with the task at hand while he is at work. He is a good employee, a good worker; his boss has no complaints. Then one day he suddenly feels friendship toward the boss. He ceases to be a servant; now he is a friend. He works no harder, for he was already working up to his capacity. He gets there no earlier; he stays no later; he does his job no better, but now he is a friend. When one gets to the place that he serves willingly, happily and voluntarily, he is then a friend. He may or may not do any more work or work any harder, but he enjoys his work more because he is a friend of the boss.
In this simple truth there is great reward for the Christian. There are some who are servants of Christ; there are others who are friends. Both the servant and the friend come to all the services of the church. Both the servant and the friend tithe. Both the servant and the friend witness. Both the servant and the friend read the Bible. Both the servant and the friend pray. Both the servant and the friend teach a Sunday school class. Then what is the difference? The servant does it because he is supposed to do it; the friend does it because he wants to do it.
Ah, 'twas a happy day in my life when I began preaching because I wanted to. I recall those days when I would dread Sunday coming, stay awake all night Saturday night, lose my breakfast after the Sunday morning meal, and walk in the pulpit with dread and fear. Then one day I became His friend; I wanted to preach. Maybe I preached better, or maybe I didn't but I preached with more enjoyment. The motive was different; I was His friend. Ah, how wonderful preaching has been since that day.
I can recall the days when giving was a chore. Tithe I did, and give I did, because I was supposed to give. I was His servant; I was obligated to give. Then one day I became His friend. Now I give because I want to give, because it is a joy to give. The same thing could be said about soul winning, church attendance, obedience, etc.
Wonderful is the day when the Christian changes his motive for service. He does what he does because he wants to do it, not just because he has to do it. He has changed from being a servant to being a friend.
21. A COFFIN OR A HOPE CHEST?
In the last verse in Genesis, we are reminded that Joseph died, was embalmed, and was buried in a coffin in Egypt. It is most interesting that the word "coffin" here also has another meaning. It also means "hope chest."
How well do I recall the day my sister came home and announced her engagement. I remember that she got out the old family cedar chest and made a hope chest out of it. It had been just an old storage chest, a combination sofa and cabinet, but now that old chest took on new life. It became a hope chest. Week after week she placed things in the hope chest looking forward to the day of the marriage. Finally, the day before the wedding she opened it and took out what she had placed in it. The old cedar chest was a hope chest and the wedding day had come.
To the Christian a coffin is not a coffin but a hope chest. That hope began the day of salvation and the old drab looking casket is now a hope chest. Day by day we are putting things in that hope chest as we serve the Lord and lay up treasures in Heaven. One day perhaps we shall be buried in what the world calls a coffin, but in what we know to be a hope chest. Thank God, on the "wedding day," the hope chest will be opened, and what was placed in it will come out. We shall be with Him and like Him.
Isn't it wonderful that Christ changes everything! It is so wonderful that He changes even death. He takes what to us is the most morbid thing of all, a coffin, and makes of it a hope chest.
Someday you and I must be buried. Will you be buried in a coffin or a hope chest?
22. STRENGTH AND BEAUTY
By Dr. Jack Hyles, Hammond, Indiana
Address delivered at Fall Convocation of Toronto Baptist Seminary - October 14, 1968
Text: "Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." (Psalm 96:6)
Dr. Slade, Faculty, Trustees, Student Body and Interested Friends:
This is my second visit to your fine institution and to this famous church. I am delighted, honored, and thrilled to share with you the blessing of this occasion. The last time I was here, I brought the Commencement address, and this time, the Convocation address. Last time I finished you up; this time I will start you off, and I trust that God will meet with us and speak to our hearts. It was a real joy today to renew fellowship and communion with the brethren here. I often think of Dr. Slade and this great church and the School and faculty members, and very often one of your faces will cross my mind and I will think positively and gratefully of this place and the work that is being done here.
Now notice the 96th Psalm, verse 6, "Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary."
Strange companions are these walking together in the 96th Psalm, "Honour and majesty are before Him." Think for a moment how seldom you see honour fellowshipping with majesty. In political offices, people of high estate who have majesty so seldom have honour. When we think of honour, we do not think of majesty. When we think of majesty, we seldom think of honour.
In the Word of God there are several such pairs that are seldom seen together. For example, the Apostle Paul speaks about "zeal and knowledge." How rare it is to find in the same package both zeal and knowledge! Somebody has said, "Scholarship and fire seldom walk together." How wonderful it is to find some scholar who has the fire of God in his soul. As he secures his education and training and gains his scholarship, he keeps the same zeal and fire of his youth.
There is still another pair that seldom walk together. It is said of Jesus in John 1:14, that He was "full of grace and truth." Did you ever stop to think how difficult it is to mingle grace and truth? Dr. Slade, you are a great defender of the faith. You and I know what it is to fight the battles for the truth. Have you noticed about the time you get enough of the truth, you lose your grace? Just about the time that I get courageous enough, I get mean. Do you have that problem, Dr. Fletcher? About the time I take the stand that I ought to take for this blessed old Book, I find myself losing my warmth and love. I have truth, but not grace. So I work on my grace, and I become a sweet, gentle, preacher. Then I find I have lost the truth; I want to join the National Council of Churches! (Ha) The honest truth is, these seldom go together.
Now here is another pair, just as rarely found together as grace and truth, or majesty and honour, or zeal and knowledge. "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." What a strange combination! The Psalmist looks at the temple and lists two qualities he sees that seldom travel together. The entire Psalm, I think, is a picture of the Psalmist looking at the temple, the center of all Jewish life. As he looks at the temple, he says, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." We think of the strong, with its solidity, and find it difficult to associate with it grace and loveliness. When we think of strength, we think of crudeness. When we think of strength, we think of someone who has few manners or little ethics. We oftentimes disassociate anything lovely with anything strong. Conversely, when we think of the beautiful we think of it as fragile and delicate. We hardly ever think of anything beautiful being strong. I am advocating this evening strength AND beauty, honour AND majesty; zeal AND knowledge, grace AND truth. I am saying that I do not believe one need sacrifice grace to have the truth; one need not sacrifice honour to have majesty; one need not sacrifice zeal to have knowledge; and one need not sacrifice beauty to have strength or strength to have beauty. The Psalmist looks at the strength of the marble pillars and sees the undergirdings of the temple and the strength of the pillars, and then he looks at the exquisite carvings and says, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." I look around this lovely building tonight, and I see the strength of this building and the delicate carving and beauty contained therein, and I say with the Psalmist, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary."
STRENGTH AND BEAUTY IN THE TEMPLE
The Psalmist looked at the great porch upheld by the two famous pillars of bronze, cast by the most skillful workers, and on the top of the pillars was lily work. How beautiful! Realizing the strength of these two bronze pillars of the porch and viewing the delicate, dainty needlework at the top, the Psalmist said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary."
The Psalmist looked at the massive stones and cedars of Lebanon. Then as he compared them to the delicate carvings of cherubim, he said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." He looked at the immense stone foundations, and at the same time, at the interior overlaid with pure gold, and said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." He looked at the immense size of the temple, and then at the figures of cherubim, palm trees, and flowers and said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." He looked at the cost, the expense of the temple, and all the elaborately carved utensils, and as he compared them he said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." He looked at the beautiful architecture and the strength upholding the great massive building. At the same time he noticed precious stones gleaming midst the gold, and said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." He looked at the high walls and compared them to the woven tapestry that was hanging on every side. As he saw the strength of the walls and the beauty and loveliness of the tapestry, he said, "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary."
Now all of this is to say this: We face a generation that does not compare strength and beauty. We face a generation that says, "You must be strong, you must stand, you must fight, you must not yield, you must not give." On the other side, we see there are other people who believe in the arts, who believe in the beauty of nature, who believe in beauty as opposed to strength.
What is wrong with fundamentalists having strength AND beauty? What is wrong with fundamentalists having zeal AND knowledge? I was in Canada, in your capital city, preaching at a series of holy week services for the local Fundamental Evangelical Ministerial and the churches that they pastored. A pastor who was up in years came to me and said, "Dr. Hyles, I admire you; I admire your zeal. When I was a young man I, too, chose between zeal and depth." That spoke volumes to me! He said, "When I was a young man, I looked on one side, and I saw the depth of teaching the Word of God, and exposing the Scriptures. On the other side, I saw those who had zeal; they passed out tracts, and they had fervor and fire and zeal, and I decided I would choose to be deep instead of zealous."
I said, "My dear sir, if you will forgive me for being a little bit rude and a little bit unkind, I would like to say, if I could have talked to you for five minutes back then, I could have saved you from having to make that decision."
"Well," he said, "I am not the hollering type. I just expound the Scriptures and expose the Word of God."
I said, "All right, if I had talked to you, I would have reminded you that you could read the Scriptures, then stop and say, 'Glory to God!' and then read the next verse."
Now, I am simply saying this: Why should there be a choice for a young man to make? Could not a young man have the zeal of youth and the wisdom of age? Could not a young man have a compassion for souls and a zeal for the Word of God and the work of God, and at the same time, experience what it is to know the Scriptures and teach the Word of God? I commend to you, and I recommend to you that you consider strength and beauty.
So the Psalmist looked at the sanctuary, at the beloved temple, and as he examined the strength on one side, and the loveliness on the other, the strong pillars with their lily work at the top, the strong sides, the walls, with their exquisite carvings and interior covered with gold, the Psalmist shouted, "Strength and' beauty are in His sanctuary!"
STRENGTH AND BEAUTY IN OUR MINISTRY
Now there is a temple today. In 1968 there is another temple. It does not stand in Jerusalem on the site of Solomon's temple; it sits in this auditorium this evening. This temple of today will be walking the halls in this Seminary, sitting in the chairs provided by the Alumni, studying at the feet of you professors, for this temple of today is the body of the Christian. If you check the New Testament very carefully, especially Paul's writings, you will find that the temple of today is the body of the believer. Now this body, this temple, should have in it both strength and beauty. Maybe there is some young preacher in the student body who this evening is trying to decide what he ought to be-a Bible teacher or an evangelistic, compassionate preacher. I commend to you: Be both! Have both strength AND beauty. Have both grace AND truth. Have both honour AND majesty. Do not trade one for the other, or the other for the one, but rather combine in your ministry the depth of the Word of God and the zeal that God would want you to have in the propagation of that blessed Word.
I heard a beautiful story about Dr. George W. Truett, who served for many years as Pastor of the great First Baptist church of Dallas, Texas. (I think he served for over forty years in Dallas, my home town.) One day he was in his study preparing his message for the next Lord's Day. His little five-year-old granddaughter was bothering him, as most five-year-old granddaughters do well. "Grandfather, I want a drink," she said. As most grandfathers do, he spoiled his granddaughter. He got her a drink. He sat down to study his sermon, when suddenly, just a few moments afterwards, she said, "Grandfather, I am thirsty again, may I have a. drink?" He got up again and gave her a drink. In just a matter of five minutes she said, "Grandfather, may I have a drink, please ?"
(That reminds me of a little girl who said, "Daddy, may I have a drink!" He said, "If you ask me for a drink one more time, I am going to get up and spank you." She said, "Daddy, when you get up to spank me, would you bring me a drink, please?")
Dr. Truett got her a drink, and then he said, "Honey, leave Grandfather alone, I am busy, I have to preach Sunday and I need to be alone." So he happened to think-there was a jigsaw puzzle of a map of the world in his office Dr. Truett got the box that contained the puzzle, and he said, "Honey, do you like jigsaw puzzles?"
She nodded her head.
He asked, "Would you like to put a jigsaw puzzle together?"
She said she would. Dr. Truett put her in the outer office, gave her the jigsaw puzzle, the map of the world. He thought, "That will take care of a five-year-old for awhile."
Five minutes passed, and she said, "Granddaddy, I am through with the puzzle, and I want a drink."
"Yes, I am through."
Dr. Truett said, "How could it be that you could get the world all fixed up? You do not know where all the countries are." He walked to the outer office, and sure enough, every country was in place. She had taken hundreds of pieces and put them perfectly together in five minutes. Dr. Truett said, "How did you do it?"
She said, "It was easy, Granddaddy. On the back side was a picture of a man's face. I didn't work on the world. I worked on the man. When I got the man right, the world took care of itself."
That is what you need to work on, my young friend. Great societies and poverty programs may or may not be well and good, but those will be unnecessary when preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ return to preaching the Gospel to men. The need of our day is to reach men. As Dr. Slade said awhile ago, we need men! If only we had the intelligence and sense of that little girl, who at five, said, "I worked on the man, and the world took care of itself."
Faculty members, those who lead these students, I commission you not to use these students to build a school, but use your school to build these students. It is so easy to use patients to build a hospital, or use members to build a church, or use students to build a school, but our job is to use buildings, faculty, trustees, administration, books, and all the rest of it to invest in the lives of individuals, that they may have grace and truth, honour and majesty, zeal and knowledge, strength and beauty.
STRENGTH COMES FIRST
Now I want you to notice this. In the first place, the Psalmist said, "strength." He did not say, "beauty and strength," for beauty without strength is worse than strength without beauty. The first thing he said was "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." It's better to be strong than ornamental. Do not do wrong rightly; do right wrongly if you have to make the choice. I would rather do right rightly. If I could, I would like to take the Word of God, Dr. Slade, and stand on it, and say, "I believe it, I will fight for it, I will die for it," and do it with beauty, grace, love, kindness, meekness, and humility." If I had to choose between being cantankerous and hard to get along with and standing for the truth, and being sweet and kind in denying the faith, I would ten thousand times rather stand on this Bible wrongly, than stand off this Bible rightly. Strength comes first!
Character is more important than talent, for character will seek talent, and talent ofttimes will flee character. True character, when it is instilled in the lives of young people, will find the talent necessary to perform a task. Oftentimes excessive talent makes one think he needs not character, and so he runs from character and loses the thing that he needs the most, when character is far more vital to success than his talent.
I have often made this little statement: I do not care who hates me because of my position, but I do not want anybody to hare me because of my disposition. Now, if I had to choose, however, between the right position and the right disposition, I would choose the right position. I am simply saying, strength and beauty should adorn every Christian, but the first thing that ought to adorn us is strength, character, and standing for the truth, the Bible, Christ, and soul winning.
I recall a Texas farmer whose boy went off to college. Nobody had ever been to college from that area. Everybody was impressed because one of their own farm boys had gone off to college. Well, the boy came home from college the first time, and the dad was ploughing in the field. The neighbor at the next farm said, "Hey, Zeke! How did your young'un do in college this year!"
He said, "You'd never believe it. Why, it used to be when my boy ploughed a row with the mule, he would look at the mule and say, 'Whoa, Reb, turn and giddap.' Do you know what he say now? He say, 'Halt, Rebecca! Pivot and proceed!' "
Now, I think it is best to say, "Halt, Rebecca! Pivot and proceed!" but I think it is better to get Rebecca turned around than to know how to speak good English. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. used to say, "I would rather a fellow say 'I seen' that seen something, then say 'I have seen' who ain't seen nothing."
STRENGTH AND BEAUTY IN CREATION
I suggest to you, and I recommend to you, that you get all the Christian grace, charm, ethics, and principles you can, that you adorn the Gospel of the grace of God, but let me say before you do get the polish, you be sure you get the merchandise. You be sure you have the strength before you work on the beauty. You decide you believe the Bible is the Word of God! Every word of it, every page of it, and every line of the Bible is inspired by God. You live for it, die for it, live by it, die by it, stand for Christ, stand for the Bible, have no patience with error, stand for the truth that is in the faith; and once you get that, then you can look at the next word, which is beauty. "Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." Someone has said, "Never mind about the beautiful; give us the useful and the durable." Let that one look at the yellow gold of the grain field, the emerald green of the meadow, the silver white of the lake, the purest blue of the sky, the fresh green of the spring, the snowy white of the winter, the glory of the sunset, the sevenfold beauty of the rainbow, the towering mountains with their ceaseless lights and shadows. Let him look at God's creation; the strength of a mountain range, and yet the beauty that is incomparable, strength and beauty. God has a wonderful way of adding the beauty to the strong. Look at a tree sometime. Look at the strong, durable, sturdy trunk of that tree; then at autumn time, look at the fading of the leaves and the foliage, and notice how God blends the strong and the beautiful in the same tree. Look sometime at a hill. Look sometime at a river-the beautiful flowing river with its strength, power, and potential.
Once you have gained the strong, may you then add beauty. Once you have become a fundamental believer with the zeal of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, then add love, grace, gentleness, kindness, and all the Christian graces, but be sure the strength is there first.
STRENGTH AND BEAUTY IN CHARACTER
Faculty members, out there waiting to come here, is a young lad. He is a farm boy. He is spiritual and he is strong. He has strength, but his English is atrocious. He hangs his gerunds, splits his infinitives, dangles his participles. He comes to you. He has strength, he has character, but he needs beauty. I charge you: Give him beauty, but don't tamper with his strength.
When I was a young preacher, I had two sermons: One was on cigarettes and the other was on movies. I would preach to my little church on cigarettes on Sunday morning and on movies on Sunday night. I wanted to be varied in my subjects, and so I preached the next Sunday on movies in the morning and cigarettes at night. I guess I was the crudest preacher that ever came off the East Texas sand hills, but I had conviction. I believed this Book was the Word of God, and I believed that Jesus Christ was God's Son. I knew I was born again, and I belonged to Jesus Christ. I knew right was right and wrong was wrong. I knew black was black and white was white, and I was dedicated not to make it gray. I thank God for those teachers and helpers and those who prayed for me and tried to lend a little bit of beauty along with it. Still my beauty fades oftentimes when compared to my conviction. I thank God for those teachers who gave me a few of the graces and taught me you could hold a teacup on your knee, do it properly, and still be a fundamentalist. I thank God for those that tried to make something out of me, and taught me that proper English could robe fundamentalism. I thank God for those who helped me and taught me that a person could say, "Good Morning," and smile and still be a fundamentalist. You do not have to trip old men when they walk across the street to be a fundamentalist. I thank God for those people that taught me that love, grace, beauty, honour, and majesty are important. At the same time, they did not tamper with the strength.
Faculty, out yonder waiting to come before you some day is a high school lad. He is intelligent, and he is spiritual. He is gentle and he is kind. He has love and he has charm, but he needs an intestinal fortitude. He needs strength. He has the beauty. Don't steal his beauty, Let him keep his kindness, let him keep his gentleness, let him keep his goodness, but when he comes here, instill in his heart strength for the Word of God and the work of God.
Out yonder is someone who will be before you. a young lady. She is lovely and talented, but she needs conviction. She comes to you to get it. Out yonder there is a preacher lad who has conviction and potential, but he needs love. Don't cast him aside. Add love to his conviction, add kindness to his courage, and make him full of strength and beauty.
As I look to you students this evening, most of you are far younger than I. As I look in your eyes and think about the potential for the future, I exhort you to earn a degree while you are in Toronto Baptist Seminary. We shall call it the S.A.B. degree: Strength and Beauty! As you walk across this platform and receive the diploma for which you are working, as you walk out the doors, take off your caps and gowns, go out to your place of service, may people know you as someone of strength. May they always say, "There is a man who believes the Bible; there is a man who has convictions for which he would live and die," but at the same time, "There is a gentleman; there is a man who pays his debts, and pays them on time, there is a man who has the love of Christ in his heart, there is a man who walks with God, there is a man who has strength and beauty."
Maybe it is like the Quaker who kindly said, before he killed a man, "I would not hurt thee, nor harm thee, nor lift up my hand to do thee wrong, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot."
Dr. Frank Norris said of Dr. John Rice, "He is the kindest, gentlest man that ever scuttled a ship or slit a throat." There ought to be some of that in God's people. There ought to be that as we teach our students.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Ye soldiers of the Cross; Lift high His royal banner, It must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory His army shall he lead Till every foe is vanquished And Christ is Lord indeed.
As you stand for the truth, may you have grace, and as you seek grace, may you never leave the truth. As you have strength, may you have beauty; but as you add beauty, may you never lose your strength. As you have zeal, may you have knowledge; but may your knowledge never dampen your zeal. As you have majesty, have honour; but may your honour never take your majesty, nor your majesty rob your honour. May it be said of you, that you are simply "Strength and Beauty."
That is what this old world needs tonight. The world is dying for the Gospel of Christ and preachers to preach that Gospel. It does not take a brilliant person long to find that we are in dire need of the Moodys, Sundays, Jonathan Edwards, and Charles G. Finneys. It does not take this old world long to find that we need some Wesleys and some Spurgeons. It does not take this world long to find that we need some George Whitefields, some Sam Joneses with their strength, some R. A. Torreys with their culture and refinement and yet spiritual zeal.
Dr. John Rice, as a young preacher, went to the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, one afternoon to hear the famous Gypsy Smith. At that time, Gypsy Smith was in his heyday and in demand all across America and all across the world. He spoke on soul winning. He said, "We ought to take every advantage to witness to others about the Saviour." Then he said, "We ought to leave this building this afternoon to cover this town with the Gospel of Christ."
Dr. John Rice said, "Dear Lord, when I leave this building, I am going to witness to the first person I see." The service was ended, the benediction pronounced. Out the back door went this young preacher, John Rice, in his early days. Around the corner from the First Baptist Church of Dallas, was a taxi cab, with the driver standing beside his cab. "Taxi?" he said.
Dr. Rice said, "No, I do not want a taxi, but I want to ask you a question. 'Sir, are you a Christian!' "
The cab driver moistened his eyes and quivered his lips as he said, "Yes, I am. "
Dr. Rice said, "Good. When did you become a Christian?"
The taxi driver said, "Just a minute ago. A Gypsy fellow walked out the speakers' door, and led me to the Lord Jesus Christ."
Emerson wrote the following:
So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near is God to man, When Duty whispers low, "Thou must," The youth replies, "I can."
Oh, for revival of fundamentalism ! Oh, for revival of old-fashioned hell-fire and brimstone preaching of "Ye must be born again" with the altar call, the mourner's bench, the sawdust trail, and sinners repenting; and the old-fashioned Gospel of Christ where hundreds are saved, buildings are filled, the power of God comes, people repent, mourners mourn, folks turn to God, and we have real, genuine, old-fashioned revival back in America and in our country! But-it will come only when we have Christian people who mix genuine grace with the blessed truth.
May God give us, may God give me and you a knowledge burning with zeal, a majesty built on honour, a grace founded by truth, and a beauty built with strength.
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