Popular Posts

Friday, January 27, 2017

Saints and sin

Here is an excerpt from my Dad's journal, which I hope you all know is still available - The Journals of Jim Elliot. It's deep because there's a lot of commentary on his own Bible reading, and covers from 1948-1955, before the month that he was killed. Those of you who are real readers of books would enjoy it and be inspired by his sincere desire to glorify Christ. "Only by looking upon sin exactly as God looks upon it, can saints glory in the devastation of the wicked. Our attitude toward sin is an indication of the degree to which we have allowed the “mind of Christ” to possess us. O Lord Jesus, my Lord and Master—I do long that Thou shalt be all in all to me. I thank Thee that I have the mind of Christ, since I am “in Christ” and He in me. So let me dwell upon this truth, accepting it moment by moment from Thee, that Christ may be magnified in me." I pray also that I would have the mind of Christ, that I would look upon all events and circumstances as allowed and directed by His hand, so that I can continually give thanks and be completely and perfectly satisfied with Him alone!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Wow, it's been over a year since I last posted in this blog!  I'm sorry to those who had hoped I might post more...but maybe in this next year, I'll have more to offer.  I've been reading the letters of my parents to each other from 1948-1953, and there are so many gems of truth throughout that I have been grateful for the idea which came to me about 4 years ago, to put them into a book. I have also been reading all their journals (of course, my father's is published- The Journals of Jim Elliot.) My mother's have not been published, so it is a special privilege to be able to soak in what she wrote privately, and as I add them to the book, I hope that her words, as well as my father's in his letters, will be a catalyst to many, to live for Him alone.

Here's an example of her writing to him in the spring of 1951, when he was working with Ed McCully in Chester, Illinois.  They were reaching out to the down and outers, teens, and had attempted a once a week radio ministry, where one of them preached, and Ed played his trumpet before and after the preaching. They also had to work to pay for food, a $40 a month apt (!) and a car. They wanted to "see souls saved" but felt pretty discouraged, since there was very little response.
First is his letter to her about their discouragement, and then is her answer.

Box 242, Chester, IL

"Many thanks for writing Mom.  She noted her appreciation of your letter in my last from 7272, [Elliot home in Portland, Oregon] and I am confident that she was sincere.  Her attitude toward you has been decidedly better since I have been away from home—I cannot tell why.

Things are not any easier here.  Discouragement has hemmed us sharply this past week, for, although we have known no lack in the outward things, there has been a strong sense of not having possessed boldly as we should have.  Ed grows depressed more easily than I, and the scarcity of blessing hereabouts has not been easy to take.  He said yesterday, “Brother, everything I do here is putting out the fleece; if souls aren’t saved and this isn’t my calling, I see no point in putting my life into it.”  I couldn’t find words somehow and there was a long silence after.

The radio work, a joy in itself, has yielded only one card of encouragement, and that from believers.  We have asked, and are asking for a witness that will divide the whole city on the TRUE ISSUE.  But as yet there is no sign. 

The Thursday night Bible study goes on fairly well over in Sparta—20 miles distant.  All I know is that God sent us to Chester—to that I am resigned...or is that the right word?  I wrote to Billy about the situation and he responded with this a week ago which I thought was of help:

Again we circled ‘round in search of door;
A jeering voice said, “Fools! You’ve come for naught.”
In vain we knocked, and pled, and searched the more
And leaned upon our only cheering thought:
In honesty of heart we moved where Spirit Taught.

So, weary now, we rested; stillness rose
And led us to acknowledge: He is God
Who is our banner; opens, none may close!
Ascended swift our spirits ‘bove the sod:
These walls, this Jericho will fall beneath His rod!

So it must be.  Integrity, simplicity have been our guides under God and are now our defense before Him. This Jericho must fall or I shall be unable to go on in the path of faith. Pray for us, as Jesus for Peter, that our faith fail not. 

Today we got access to a store front in the slums down along the riverfront.  We hope to use it for children’s meetings but it must have some work done on it first.  It has fallen into a terrible state, and will probably take time to recondition.  There are many of the little “raggedies” about who will be our first fruits in Chester, we trust.

Thus far I have had no word from the Selective Service outfit.  So far as I know, nothing has been stated as to the status of boys with 4E classifications.  Waiting is living these days.

There is a certain despairful loneliness snooping about these days and I can almost hear the streets and building bristling with the note that haunted David—“Where is thy God?”  I don’t mean to sound dismal, but there is a certain bleakness about a place like this where no liberating truth is being sounded out.   The “synagogues” are full, but still hollow with unreality.  Oh, Bett, if earth in its brighter shades be so drear, what must its denser ones be?  Thank God for that sense of “looking for a city which has foundations”, which prevails when one sees the basis of these. The business world is a crude one, almost animal in certain aspects, and powerfully affecting to a newcomer—as I regard myself.  The very principle of making money by selling things at a profit is distasteful at times, yet it seems to be my job for now.

I made a couple of big sales on Wednesday amounting to nearly $700 turnover of funds.  Exhilarating but emptying.  Ed’s folks were here that day on their way home from a few days in “Floriday”.   There were an encouragement.  Almost anybody from outside would be now.

We went visiting in the slums last Monday night. Not easy, but comforting to be among those blessed poor…with Jesus in a sense we are not when among the self-sufficient.  We must go again soon…it makes one scornful of vanity and not much I love with life…especially this life of banks and bills and rates and percentages. I think Service somewhere sings a derogatory dirge called the song of Fire-percent.  I never caught the meaning of it until now.

With all this sound of shadow the word came to minister this morning.  Check the Rensed marginal renderings of Isaiah 42:1-4.  Quoted concerning Christ in the gospels the passage speaks beautifully of Him in His seething, contrasting Him as servant with Jacob (41:8) the fearful and Cyrus the frightful (44:27, 45:1).  “He shall not strive nor cry…a bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will He not quench…He will not fail (burn dimly, same word as above) nor be discouraged”  (be bruised).  Not despairful or failing Himself, still He does not crush those who are such.  This is the grace of the Flesh-God, the one with eyes who sees and, hearing ears, hears, and possessing heart, feels.  Not like any God conceived is the Man-God.  It is here that the Moslems miss Him.  Their creed, “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet,” fails in its first postulate, for Allah is not the breasted God (El Shaddai) of Israel.  He is one, but coldly, austerely so.  Our God is one but vibrantly,  lovingly, warmly  so!  Praise be to that name Jesus!"

3/15/51 [My mother was in Moorestown, NJ at this time]                            

"It was not hard to detect the discouragement in your last letter—it seemed to drag each word back.  In a letter from your mother she says she sensed the same in your letters home.  Jim, dear brother, it is just here that the nature of your consecration—which is the same as saying the nature of your love to God—is test.  The decisions which are made in “green pastures” are tested (a good word, isn’t it? Think of the test tubes in a lab, etc.) in the “valley of the shadow” – for it is here that He is most vitally with us, if I may use the expression, although He is forever equally “with us,” since He tabernacles within us!  You say “This Jericho must fall or I shall be unable to go on in the path of faith.”  Surely you were not really thinking when you made that statement.  The very principle of faith precludes any and all necessity of dependency upon anything but God Himself.  When He has left us, in actuality, then, and only then, may we be unable to believe.  Ah—He will never leave us or forsake us!  (And remember the 5 negatives of Heb. 13:5) Do you love God for Himself alone?  Or do you love Him for His gifts, His conscious presence, His love to you, His evident blessing upon what you do, etc.?  Jim, I truly believe there comes a time in the progress of the soul who truly desires to be conformable to Christ’s image, when God strips him not only of earthly props in the form of friends, possessions, talents, or whatever he may have outside of God—but also a time when the all-wise, all-loving Father strips that soul of even His own conscious and evident blessings and gifts (these may include an infinite variety of forms—joy, a sense of His nearness, conscious grace in prayer, fruits which may be seen or definitely enumerated, experience, etc. etc.).  This process, however devastating it may seem, must be recognized as another further providence.  Another gracious answer to our supreme cry of faith – “Thy will be done.”  Oh, far, very far above us are His purposes.  Far beyond our expectations are the methods used by the Master-Potter in molding His vessels after the fashion of His Son.  When He declares His ability to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think this includes the accomplishment of His sanctifying word in the soul.  When we ask in the most entire honesty of our hearts to be made like Christ, we ask usually with certain more or less vague ideas as to just what that means.  Christ takes us at our word, and indeed, why shouldn’t He, for it is He who inspired that very prayer in our hearts!   --and does exceeding abundantly above all that we asked or thought?  And He purposes holiness—nothing less—in His child.  So He sets about to produce just that in us, by His own methods.  No truth stands out more clearly and forcibly to me just now than the fact that the whole work of sanctification in the believer is accomplished exactly as was the whole work of salvation—namely, the simple principle of FAITH.  It is the duty of the Christians to receive.  He receives the initial step of salvation, which of course includes the Scriptural truth of immediate sanctification, but he also receives just as truly thereafter each new step in his progress of conformity to Christ.  It is wonderful to know that it is not only required that we love God with a pure heart, but is also possible.  The soul who loves God only for Himself, apart from His gifts, knows indescribable peace.

I find that I have written one paragraph of three pages!  I feel that I could write a book, just about now.  Forgive me.  How I wish I could talk to you.  The Lord has been so merciful, in leading me, in teaching me to trust in a way I never dreamed possible.  I want you to trust Him wholly, Jim, for the accomplishment of His will in you there in Chester He will be glorified—only believe.  And I am trusting Him for you and Ed.  Perhaps He does not purpose that you should ever see “results” (oh earthy word!  Not in Scripture!)  --in order that you may the more clearly see Him, who is “before all things.” So long as the object of your faith does not fail, your faith need not fail.  If that object however, is the visible gifts of God, it may fail.  If the object is God Himself, it will never fail!

I thank God for your friendship, and I praise Him over and over for the way in which He has directed our paths and our relationship.  I can’t get over how wise and loving and merciful and Father-like He has been!"