Articles by Buddy Smith
Acts 8:26-40 (2005 Version)
Bring The Books
Acts 8:26-40 (2005 Version)
"Lord, are you sure about this? You want me to leave my church in Sydney and go to Lightning Ridge? I dunno if I can do it, Lord. I know, I said I’d go where you want me to go, and I’d say what you want me to say, but this is asking a bit much.
You know I’d be stepping down from my Megachurch ministry. Why, Hybels and Schuller are going to be here in a month for our Church Growth Seminar. And you know we’ve got the Hillsong Praise and Worship Team coming, too. I can’t just up and leave, Lord. What would they think?
I just got our Ministry’s new website up and running, Lord, and already it’s getting over 10 000 hits a day. It’s been nominated for the Website of the Month Award. Who would go to the banquet to receive the cheque if I shoot through?
And, Lord, you wouldn’t want me to go someplace out in the boonies to serve you if there’s not a good Internet Service Provider there, would you? How am I going to keep up with the sports scores? I hear they don't even have Broadband out there in the bush.
You know, Lord, the little wife has a really good hairdresser here. I might have problems if we have to shift way out there. The climate out there is murder on a woman’s hair.
And the kids. Lord, they’ll kill me if I take them away from the games arcade in the shopping mall. They’re at that delicate stage right now, Lord.
I don’t mean to be stubborn, Lord, but my golf game is going really well, and I’d hate to miss seeing the football finals. You know how much trouble I had getting those tickets.
So, if you don’t mind, Lord, I think I’ll pass on this one. I’m sure you’ll find somebody."
The 4wd pickup slowed as it neared the campground. A long plume of dust drifted downwind as the driver braked to a halt beside a fireplace. The driver stepped down, and stretched. The sun, a ball of red fire, hovered on the horizon for a moment, and then dropped out of sight.
Swag rolled out, and tea dishes washed, the traveler hung a gas lantern on a branch and went to the truck to find something to read. He fossicked around on the parcel shelf until he dug up a small paper bag. He turned up the lantern, and settled back against the trunk of the tree. His posture betrayed his curiosity as he bent to peer closely at the words. He read a few words from the first page, smiled to himself, and began flipping through the pages, finally settling on a spot about halfway through. He read aloud, slowly, seeking to understand each word, "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living…"
He read the words again, and gazed into the fire for a long spell, and said, "I wish I could understand what this is all about…"
The road lay empty and quiet, and no one passed by.
Written by Buddy Smith
(Used With Permission)
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John Bunyan's name is familiar to most Christians. Some months ago I came across one of his short books, 'The Acceptable Sacrifice'. It was originally a sermon based on Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise". It was his last book.
My heart was deeply moved by this book. Not only is the content impressive, weighty and convincing, but Bunyan's grasp and use of Scripture is amazing. The book is absolutely compelling simply because of his knowledge of the Word of God. This was no contemporary sermon consisting of a joke, three points and a poem; this is a cobalt bomb in hardcover and the reader stands at ground zero.
My heart began shouting questions at my mind. "How did he write such a sermon? Where did he get such substance, such wisdom, such power? What did he use for study aids to be able to compile such a masterpiece?" In the midst of these questions I realized Bunyan had almost none of the resources we use everyday. Strong's Concordance was 200 years in the future, Cruden's a hundred.
Thayer's, Gesenius, Robertson, Wuest were all unknown. Bunyan's biographers mention Luther's commentary on Galatians, Foxes Book of Martyrs, and an anonymous concordance. We suppose that Bunyan, the prolific writer, would be a voracious reader. But there is the one resource book, his chief study aid he mentions again and again. Hear him: "As I was sitting by the fire...suddenly...this word sounded in my heart, 'I must go to Jesus'. I said, 'Wife, is there ever such a scripture, I must go to Jesus?' Thus unexpectedly questioned, she cannot tell".
"Therefore," says Bunyan, "I sat musing to see if I could remember such a place. I had not sat above two or three minutes but it came bolting in upon me, 'You are come to Mt Zion...and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Testament" - Heb. 12:22-24". This, then, was Bunyan's chief resource, his chief study aid, the Holy Scriptures themselves, taught him by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.
He thoroughly knew the Scriptures. He memorised long passages. He meditated much upon the Word. He looked and longed and lingered until the Holy Spirit brought to mind the needed truth for each crisis. He knew by daily experience the truth of John 14:26, "But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost...He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance..."
Bunyan used this resource when discouraged. He used it when he prepared sermons. He used it when he stood before magistrates, accused of preaching without a license. He used it when in jail where he began writing Pilgrim's Progress. He used it when he preached from his cell window. He used it when he pointed the lost to Christ. This is Bunyan's secret: the Spirit and the Word - the sufficiency of Scripture! The Comforter, who is our tutor, was Bunyan's best study aid. His utter dependence upon the Word of God and its Author is what gave his life and literature their impact.
What a contrast he makes with the modern minister! Somewhere between the TV sports show, the trip to the airport, and the golf game, he must prepare his message. No problem! Just light up the new IBM (Inspired Business Machines?), and open up the Super Sermon Maker Program. Memorisation, meditation and midnights are displaced by gigabytes, nanoseconds and mousy sermons. No blood, sweat, no tears, no Bible, no prayer, no blessing, no people, too bad, so sad! ("No message tonight, folks. The computer is down.") Study aids? Sure, but used sparingly remembering that no man's thoughts, programs, floppies, or CD ROMS can ever compare with the Word and the Spirit.
Bunyan's computer is still available, but it's expensive. It will cost the user time. Time in the Word. Time waiting on God for truth.
Is the price too high? Not if your sermons are to be still a blessing after 300 years.
(Used with permission)
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2 Timothy 4:13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
Bring The Books
Of all the gifts I receive I like books the best. It's a simple fact of life, books make the best gifts. Chocolates? Soon eaten and forgotten. Tools? They rust. Money? Too quickly spent. Shirts wear out or get stained and socks tend to go walkabout and lose their mates. Ties? Got a thousand. Books are best.
I was given a book the other day and I can already tell it is going to be a great friend. It is a book of sermons by Robert Murray McCheyne, the youthful preacher whose fiery soul flamed forth and illuminated Scotland for eight brief years. Every preacher ought to buy a book of McCheyne's sermons and bask in the light of his fire for God. The liveliness of that 19th century Presbyterian puts to shame many inert 21st century Baptists! His boldness in confronting the indifference of his people, the clarity of his gospel messages, the humility displayed in handing his church over to the interim pastor under whose preaching revival had come, all these move the reader of McCheyne nearer Heaven.
If our ministers would only read the old books, the books that take a year to read because we have to stop and think for a day or two about a truth that pierced us through and through. And if we would read them with the fear of God, such light would burst forth as to scatter the creeping darkness in our souls! In our day, good reading seems to have "fallen in the street." We tend to read trivial, frothy palpitation pulp, bound in hardcover and priced way above the value of its content. The entertaining, "feel good" books written by the megachurch gurus are selling millions of copies this year, but will be forgotten next year. They do not contain enough solid truth to stand the test of time. Pragmatism (Big is good!) and its paparazzi have become the pied pipers of evangelicalism. (Ah, if only we had eyes to see past the apparent to the actual.)
It is needful for us to pause for a moment and consider this category of books. Books that are good enough to give to others belong on a special shelf. One book given to me now rests on a shelf far away, but I will never forget it. It was the first book anyone gave me after the dear Saviour found me, the life of Nate Saint, called Jungle Pilot. The giver has been in Heaven many years, but I will always remember them. Another "given" book taught me about living by faith. It brought me to my life verse, II Cor. 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." It was the Life of George Muller by Basil Miller, and was a gift from an old Dutch preacher. He had been trying to give it away, but God wouldn't let him give it to anyone but me. I stayed up all night reading it and went to bed as the sun came up, a changed man. Given books are special books. I have been given a book on the life of Elijah, and a book on God's wonderful preservation of the Received Text, and a book by Spurgeon on eccentric preachers, and a book on the attributes of God, and a book by F.W. Boreham, and dozens more. These gifts have blessed and changed and guided my life, gifts that broadened my horizons, gifts that enriched my preaching. Given books, blessed books!
Now, there is a text we ought to consider before we wander off to find a book to read. It is Acts 20:35, "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." We all know this verse, but I must confess I didn't know that these words of our Lord are nowhere recorded in the gospels. The Holy Spirit has preserved them for us in the counsel of the apostle to the Ephesian elders. It is the truth of the verse we need to heed. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I know, it flies in the face of a covetous, welfare oriented society, but it is true. This is not a worldly proverb. This is the word of God. There is more blessing in giving than in receiving. There is a love for others in giving. There is a level of spiritual maturity in making the necessary sacrifice to give to others. There is a good conscience in giving. The clear sighted wisdom in knowing what to give, who to give it to, and when to give it is a gift from God. The sharing of a treasure is a blessing. And then there is the sweet assurance that giving is sowing, and the harvest is always larger than the sowing. At least in God's paddock. These are blessings that come to the giver. Admittedly there are blessings in store for the receivers of our gifts, but the blessings for the giver far outnumber those awaiting the receiver.
Have you given any books away lately? There is a blessing waiting for you.
Just yesterday a precious little granddaughter asked for a book of mine. It is a book of missionary stories written by Dr. Ben Kendrick. It is the book her mum was reading to the kids when her eyes were opened to the gospel, and she wanted to own it. What a joy to give it!
Which book given to me has been the best? It would have to be the book given me by the pastor of the church I attended as a child. When I graduated from high school and blundered off into a dark world, I took that book with me. It wasn't very big and I didn't read it very much until my world started to crumble. When I did start, I read it in stops and starts, here a bit and there a bit. All unaware of its influence, I began to think on the things of God, and was soon converted. Its title? Surely you have guessed by now. It is called The Holy Bible. Thank you, Bro. Henderson, for sowing the best of all gifts into my heart. Untold blessings have come from that one gift. Blessings for the giver and blessings and for the receiver. I expect one day soon the giver and the receiver will worship side by side before the throne and rejoice together in the blessings of giving.
So Bring the Books. We can give them to others.
By Buddy Smith
(Used With Permission)
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