Throwing Your Life Away

How much are you worth? What price do you put on yourself? How cheaply would you sell yourself to someone?

The questions have a certain silliness about them, because we don’t imagine that we will ever sell ourselves. But in fact we have all done so already. We sell ourselves short all the time.

Compromise

Maybe the word ‘compromise’ will give you another notion of how you sell yourself or throw your life away. When you make a compromise, accepting less than you wanted or demanding less of yourself that you could, you have sold yourself short. You have accepted a lesser bid for your time, your personal authority and your life than you could have asked for. Some people sell themselves short, while others sell themselves out altogether.

What Am I Throwing Away?

Have you ever disposed of something only to realise later that is was valuable to you and you should have kept it. This happens often and can be by accident or by ignorance. Maybe you have thrown something away last week and then discovered that you need it this week. Maybe you thought it was broken but it turned out to be in perfect working order.

When you throw yourself away what is it that is at stake? What are you throwing away?

You can throw away your time, investing yourself in something or someone that is just eating you up for no real purpose. A mother might say to her daughter, “If you marry that man you are throwing your life away.” What the mother means is that the man is of no value and so spending a lifetime as his wife is a waste of the bride’s life.

You can throw away your talents and potential. A father might say, “Don’t study that easy course, because you have enough brains to be doing the hard course and getting a better outcome. If you do the easy course you are throwing your life away.”

You can throw away your personal, moral authority. God has given you the ability to stand on His side and do business with all of His authority behind you. But if you compromise with sin and evil you are throwing away that personal moral authority.

The Bidding Begins

Early in life we find ourselves being asked to sell ourselves cheaply. Bids are made for our attention, time, commitment and so on. Take for example a young man who is asked to compromise his morality by listening to a dirty story or looking at sordid pictures. This will cost him his innocence and make him a slave to immoral thoughts and motivations. Surely he would not want such a penalty.

However, most young men do not understand the cost of their compromise, so they are unlikely to hold back because of proper understanding of the consequences.

What will aid the young man is his conscience and the inner sense that this thing he is being asked to do is tainted. The attitudes and actions of those tempting him will signal that there is something a little shameful or illicit in what is being offered.

Another thing that can save this young man is the instruction of his parents never to allow such offensive things into his life. Wise parents will instruct their children to avoid things that enslave lives.

The Highest Bid

If the young man is reluctant to participate at first he will find that the bidding is raised quite quickly. At first it will simply be temptation to do something illicit. When he declines he will find that the stakes are being raised to include his reputation or acceptance in the group.

Those tempting him might suggest that he is weak by being afraid to participate or they may advise him that he is not fit to be included in their company if he is not a willing participant.

If he further declines, then someone might try to sell him on the excitement that is on offer, or assert their own superiority to the man because they have already participated without injury, and so on.

What is happening in such exchanges is that the bidding for the young man’s soul is rising, until the tempters cause him to yield.

Sold

When the young man gives in he is “sold” out. He has settled on a price at which he will trade off who and what he is for something. In the end he may do what he is being tempted to do, not for the thing itself, such as to view pornography, but to keep the friendships which are now at stake.

By this process people are selling themselves all the time.

Not For Sale

The only ones who are not sold out are those who do what God wants them to do in every situation all the time. Those ones will resist every temptation and threat. They will stand alone and stand for God no matter what the cost.

The book of Daniel records that Daniel and his three friends each did this in various ways. The challenge to ‘dare to be a Daniel’ represents the idea of resisting temptation and threats so that the right thing can be done all the time, without fear or favour.

Sold Cheaply

I can think of several school friends who sold themselves cheaply. They readily bought into sensuality, drugs, lying, cheating, irresponsibility and so on. They did it so cheaply that they received nothing in return. They did not hold out for respect, privilege or gain, but hastily jumped into the slime to slide into shame, addiction and worthlessness.

Many people do this, especially if they are without the protection of loving and wise parents who guide them to wise choices and a wise lifestyle.

The Israelites sold themselves cheaply in the days of Jeremiah. They abandoned God and built broken resources for themselves that did not work (Jeremiah 2:12). They were keen to throw away their true value for that which is worthless.

If people think they are worth nothing they see no problem in selling themselves cheaply. Yet every person is of inestimable worth and should never be sold out at all!

Bought Back

The wonderful news is that the sacrifice of Jesus allows us all to be bought back from the hand of those who have enslaved us or bought us cheaply. The Bible uses the word ‘redeem’ to describe this process of paying the price needed so the item is returned.

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

If you have abandoned your personal sovereignty in a vain attempt to get some gain for yourself, like Eve selling herself for nothing in the Garden of Eden, then you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That was the price paid for your freedom. Make sure you are bought back from the grimy slavery to sin and are given a fresh start to live as a sovereign child of God who can change the world with His grace and power.

Martin Luther Nails His Theses to the Door

This is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenburg in 1517, and, let it be said, nailed his colours to the mast at the same time!

Every one of those 95 arguments – for that’s what they were – was aimed against the infamous doctrine of “indulgences”, and he even expected Papal support for his crusade against this unholy traffic (Documents of the Christian Church, page 260). Instead the wrath of Rome descended upon him.

Reformation Day – “The most momentous day, as yet, in the history of Europe” is how Basil Atkinson describes it (Valiant in Fight, page 128).

Pope Leo X had sent Johann Tetzel to Germany to raise money for the rebuilding of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. To do that Tetzel marched through the streets with his entourage – a drummer calling the people to come and hear this amazing ditty:
Once the coin in the coffer rings
A soul from purgatory heavenward springs.

Official indulgence certificates were sold – authorised by the Pope himself – declaring that the purchaser could go immediately to Heaven at death, bypassing purgatory on the way. Or an indulgence could be bought for a departed loved one, thus delivering them from purgatorial fires.

Luther’s protest included such sallies as the following:

No. 21: “Those preachers of indulgences are in error who allege that through the indulgence of the Pope, a man is freed from every penalty.”

No. 27: “Those who assert that a soul straightway flies out (of purgatory) as a coin tinkles in the collection box are preaching an invention of man.”

No. 37: “Any true Christian living or dead partakes of all the benefits of Christ and the Church, which is the gift of God, even without letters of pardon.”

No. 52: “Confidence in salvation through letters of indulgence is vain … even if the Pope himself should pledge his soul as a guarantee.”

No. 66: “The treasures of indulgences are nets, with which they now fish for the riches of men.”

No. 86: “The Pope’s riches at this day far exceed the wealth of the richest millionaires, cannot he therefore build one single basilica of St Peter out of his own money, rather than out of the money of the faithful poor?”

And so the die was cast. The Church of Rome took action. Luther remained adamant. The Protestant Reformation was under way.

And many a Protestant church (though alas, not as many as should) will give thanks to God this day for the brave stand taken by Martin Luther.

The Roman Church still teaches the value of indulgences to enable one to bypass the torments of purgatory, though not, let it be confessed, as blatantly as Tetzel propagated the doctrine.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

Hiram Bingham Takes Christ to Hawaii

This is the day that Hiram Bingham was born in Vermont, USA, in 1789.

He was nearly 20 years of age when Obookiah, a young Hawaiian lad, was found weeping on the steps of Yale College. He had arrived in America on a trading vessel. Led to Christ by a young Christian student, Edwin Dwight, it was hoped that Obookiah would return to his own people with the gospel. But in 1818 the young Hawaiian sickened and died.

It was this tragedy that led the American Board of Missions to call for volunteers for the Sandwich Islands, as they were then called. These islands had been discovered by Captain James Cook just four decades earlier and Cook had given these islands their Sandwich name.

By 23 October, 1819, the SS “Thaddeus” set sail with seven missionary couples. Leader was Hiram Bingham, with his wife, Sybil, whom he had only met for the first time a month previously and married two weeks later! (From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, by Ruth Tucker, page 204).

Five months later they arrived at Honolulu, where some of the missionary party were shocked by the sight of the naked savages. “Gushing with tears,” wrote Bingham, “they turned away from the spectacle.”

A new king had recently come to power and put an end to human sacrifice. Nevertheless “polygamy, fornication, adultery, incest, infant murder, desertion of husbands and wives, sorcery …” were still prevalent (Company of Heaven, by G. Kent, page 58).

The presence of a doctor among the Americans, however, opened the way to receiving the king’s favour.

The party was initially permitted to settle in Hawaii for one year. However Bingham stayed on for 21 years, to 1840, constantly involved in mission work and Hawaiian affairs. The two endeavours became practically indistinguishable.

Contrary to James Michener’s anti-Christian novel, Hawaii, the missionaries were soon welcomed by the islanders. Opposition came, however, from white traders whose visits to Hawaii had resulted in widespread immorality.

Bingham invented a 12-letter alphabet and translated much of the Scriptures into the native language. In 1835 a missionary named Titus Coan toured the Hawaiian islands. “He crossed 63 ravines” and saw thousands confess Christ.

Bingham is described as “A controversial figure” who “became enmeshed in island politics through his single-minded efforts to impose Christian reforms on Hawaiians.”

By the time Hiram Bingham returned to America, due to his wife’s ill-health, in 1840, the church numbered 20,000. He died in Connecticut, USA, on 11 November, 1869.

His son, Hiram Bingham Jnr. (1831-1908), carried on the work in the Gilbert Isles of the South Seas, translating the Scriptures into their language. Hiram Bingham III became famous for his explorations in South America and discovery of Machu Picchu.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.

The Domestic Bride

I have met some lovely young brides over the years and been delighted by the heart-felt desire of each one to please her husband. The home and its domestic challenges is an area where many brides long to excel and through which they plan to bless their husband.

Yet the domestic role of a bride is also an area where some misunderstanding and unclear concepts can lead the couple into strife. So this post is for the domestic bride.

Beautiful Bride with a Beautiful Heart

I know that not all young brides are as wonderful as others, but I want to pause for a moment and commend the many amazing and sweet young ladies I have met over the years who earnestly long to delight their husband. Some of those lucky men have been ignorant of how blessed they are. Some of them have gone on to bruise the tender heart of their darling bride.

So, to you amazing and gorgeous young ladies, I commend you for your eager and delightful intention to bless your young man. Mankind is blessed to have the undeserved devotion that you give. I pray that God bless each of you with the rewards of His grace, even if your wonderfully blessed husband does not realise how privileged he is.

Tender Hearts Get Bruised

I am sorry that it is so, but tender hearts do get bruised. Insensitive young men and starry-eyed young brides end up with the pain of disappointment, hurts and misunderstanding. Sometimes the bruises are so sore that the marriage never regains the innocence and tenderness of its initial hopes and dreams.

With the progress of time many marriages completely lose their wonder and delight. Both bride and groom draw back from their innocent hopes and their willing abandonment. Many a cranky older couple started out as two tender hearts longing for things they could never find. I will look at this subject from another angle at some time, with reference to the ‘spirit of the marriage’.

Understand the Problems

Entering into marriage and this wonderful new level of relationship with some understanding may help you. So allow me to cover some points that should help you understand the problem.

In simple terms the main problem stems from the bride’s longing to serve and bless, and the husband’s ignorance of what he wants and how things should be administered. It is hard to effectively serve and bless someone when that service is ill defined.

The Dangerous Assumptions

In marriage, the easy assumptions to make include such things as the idea that you are both wonderfully compatible. Another assumption is that it will just work out fine, all by itself. Then there is the assumption by the man that the woman will somehow instinctively do what pleases him, and the assumption by the woman that the man will instinctively be delighted by what she gives him.

All of these assumptions are dangerous, because all of them are most likely not true. They set the couple up for surprises, disappointment, argument, misunderstanding and hurts.

It is unlikely that the husband has ever clearly catalogued what he likes and what he wants. He has most likely been a passenger in life’s journey, floating along with the things his mother did for him. What ever she did will be what he sees as ‘normal’, even if she is the only person on the planet who does things that way.

If a young husband was asked to explain the domestic management of a home very few would have much depth of understanding. Most husbands are happy to leave things up to their bride. However this creates several problems.

Integration Problems

Since two separate domestic worlds are brought together by the newly-weds they will have to work through the integration issues. If they have never done such a thing before then they will be surprised how many issues arise.

There are often no right and wrong ways to do things. But we each have a sense for what is familiar to us. That familiar process is the one that will “seem right” to us, even if it is the most inefficient process ever imagined. If the bride and groom have different ideas of what is ‘right’ they will end up stumbling over each other’s perceptions. It will be easy to use words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, bringing a sense of condemnation into the relationship. If emotions are aroused, then insults and hurtful words can spill into the situation.

Tender and fragile emotions can be damaged in such an unexpected exchange.

Many a young man has rebuked his wife for not being able to cook meals the way his mother cooked it. His tastes and expectations have been moulded by his family experience and he may not realise that there is such great diversity in food and its preparation.

The Wrong Response

When a person does not have a clear idea of what they want or how to communicate it they can leave the other person directionless. Most young husbands will tend to leave their bride to do her best, not quite sure what she is going to do and how well she is going to do it.

These husbands can’t give positive guidance in such situations so the only guidance they can give is to point out what they think to be wrong. This I call the ‘wrong’ response. And the ‘wrong’ response is the wrong response!

When a husband can only tell his bride what is wrong he is set up to bludgeon her tender hopes into a calloused heart that gives up the hope of pleasing him. Or that gives him what he wants, but without any delight on her part any more.

Negative responses produce negative responses. A husband who guides his bride by disapproval is wounding her heart.

Is There a Simple Solution?

In matters of relationship there is usually no simple solution. I will offer a few simple suggestions, but I doubt that many people will heed them. I fear that many more lovely and tender young brides are going to head down the road to hardened and hurt older wives, despite what I present here. But for the sake of the one or two who may be saved from pain by my thoughts I will venture my simple solution.

Brides should be taught to expect that everything they bring into the marriage will have to be modified. They should be encouraged to go on a two-year journey of discovery of what works best in their home. They should be told that they will face some difficult challenges in this process but that they can succeed and create the most amazing new domestic formula for them both to enjoy.

The reason I put this on the bride is because she is the one who will otherwise be hurt. Her insensitive hero is less likely to be damaged in the sort-out of domestic process than the wife is. So my simple solution aims at shielding the most vulnerable party – that beautiful young woman.

If brides enter marriage with an expectation of their need to change, and a long-term time-line for getting things sorted out, there will be less pain in finding that the couple are less compatible than she hoped. There is time for the two of them to talk and explore their options. There is no silly idealism about it working perfectly from day one.

All of that helps the tender one to be more resilient in the inevitable sorting out process.

Other Helpful Steps

Obviously it is valuable for the young husband to understand the situation and how easily he can and will offend his darling bride. Men should be challenged to expect a long season of exploration and discovery. They should expect food to taste different and things to be done differently, because they are a new family, with new horizons and new possibilities.

I recommend that the couple set up an expectation – possibly suggested to them in the pre-marriage preparation process – that the husband review the bride’s processes and program at regular intervals.

While that might sound very sexist and man-serving at first glance, allow me to show why that is valuable.

The bride is built to please her man. How can she do that if she does not become attentive to what he needs or wants? If she makes her own assumptions and assessments independently of him she may spend her whole life doing things he does not want her to do in ways he does not want her to employ. This undermines her whole design and motivation.

I have also observed that two heads are better than one. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the first to observe that fact. When any person acts for their whole life without the benefit of additional input and review they are in danger of doing the wrong things the wrong way for a long time. The most valuable and understanding contributor to the wife’s situation should be her husband. So having him give input in a regulated and consistent fashion is logical and appropriate.

And I also recommend that young men be given at least some understanding of how to protect the tender heart of their beloved. The pushing of the feminist notion that men and women are equal and almost identical has robbed men of appreciation for the woman’s needs and denied women the loving care that they are due.

Bishop James Hannington the First Martyr in Uganda

This is the day that Bishop James Hannington was martyred. It was 1885 and the place was Uganda, Africa.

Of all the nations in Africa, Uganda was the most responsive to the gospel in the early missionary days. In the 1870’s mission work began in Uganda with the favour of King Mutesa, who died in 1884. Mutesa’s son and successor, King Mwanga, opposed all foreign presence, including the missions. He was suspicious of the Germans who were grabbing territory.

Hannington was to become the first martyr in Uganda. Adventurous from his youth, young James blew off his thumb while experimenting with black powder. In time he became an Anglican clergyman and was successful in his parish work.

He had already been ordained to the Anglican clergy when he read Grace and Truth. And it was this, he tells us, that caused him to “spring out of bed and leap about the room rejoicing that Jesus died for me!” (Crusaders for Christ, by A. Borland, page 46).

In 1882 he left England to carry the Gospel to Uganda. He failed to reach the African nation, due to fevers which left him unable to walk. When he walked, he tied his hands around his neck to relieve the agony in his arms. Yet he made humorous sketches of his plight and recounted the story of his adventures for his young relatives.

Recounting his own misadventures and the deaths of other missionaries claimed by illness Hannington told his readers, “What your uncle under went is only what many out there are going through, and must continue to go through, before a native ministry can be raised up to carry on the grand work of evangelising Africa.” He did not know then just how much he would have to undergo.

Following his recuperation in England Hannington made a second attempt to reach Uganda. En route he is credited with starting the first mission station in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. “First mission station in the area [of current Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro] opened at Moshi, on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, by Bishop James Hannington, just a few weeks before he was martyred by the Kabaka of Buganda.”

Hannington decided to approach Uganda from the north, but was suspected of being in league with the land hungry Germans. A huge war party of 1,000 Ugandan soldiers was sent to intercept him. They took him prisoner on October 21, but showed some leniency. They allowed him to view the Nile.

During the next week Hannington kept a diary of his tortuous ordeal. He was cruelly treated, bound, dragged along the ground, starved and shut up in a native hut without ventilation.

“In spite of all, and feeling I was being dragged away to be murdered at a distance, I sang ‘Safe in the Arms of Jesus’ and laughed at the very agony of my situation.”

Eight days later “a gunshot was heard and Bishop Hannington fell, his body speared by the two natives who stood at his side …” He was 38 years of age.

We know most of this tragic detail because one of the Ugandans kept Hannington’s journal and sold it to a later expedition.

Hannington was not the only one killed, as others in his travelling party suffered the same fate. Hannington’s last words are recorded as: “Go tell your master that I have purchased the road to Uganda with my blood.”

But Hannington’s blood was not the last to flow in Uganda. The first native martyr was the Roman Catholic Joseph Mkasa Balikuddembe, beheaded for rebuking the king for his debauchery and for Bishop Hannington’s murder. Then in 1886 32 men and boys were burned at the stake, including many from King Mwanga’s household.

In recent history, the tyrant Idi Amin killed Christians in Uganda. In 1977 the Anglican Archbishop Janani Luwum and many other Christians suffered death for their faith under Idi Amin’s rule.

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.