"An Inside Perspective"

February 2016

My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

It seems to me, as I reflect back on my upbringing, that I was born with a fishing pole in one hand and a rifle in the other. As far back as I can remember, I was hunting or fishing with my father. He was an avid outdoorsman, using the provisions of the wild to supplement his meager income at the time, while he put himself through college. He worked nightly in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, but through hard work he eventually became the CEO of New Jersey Natural Gas Company.

As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, my father was my hero and champion as I grew up. What he did, I did, and what he liked, I liked. His habits became my habits. (in some things that was not always good) The best memories for me growing up were the extensive hunting and fishing trips taken with my dad. It seems we were always in a tent somewhere!

We went anywhere and everywhere to hunt and fish, always seeking the elusive trophy. If we took a six point buck one year, it had to be an eight point the next year. If we caught a ninety pound tuna, the following year, it had to be a 120 pounds. For the unsaved outdoorsman, the bigger the trophy, the greater your boasting rights! We are all aware of the uncanny incremental growth of a fish in the telling of the tale! (smile)

In our pursuit of fish and game, Pops and I read all the magazines and scouted all the best areas. We had topographical maps of all the terrain we intended to hunt. The night before our hunt we studied them diligently, not unlike a preacher who studies the Word in preparation for his Sunday sermon.

Once, we went elk hunting in Alberta, a northwestern province of Canada. We had booked a couple of guides and intended to spend a few weeks at 10,000 feet in the Canadian Rockies. We flew in, met our guides and then drove in as far as we could. For the rest of the trip we rode on horseback with our packhorses in tow.

It's funny, but I had not thought about that trip for many years; and just the other day, out of nowhere, it came to my mind while I was in the shower. I had been asked to bring the Sunday morning message at our church, and as such, I was meditating on the Lord's direction for a Word. Seek and ye shall find . . .

So, did you know that packhorses are very smart, but that they are not for riding? They have only one purpose—they carry (pack) supplies. These horses are broken, trained, and raised from a young age for that very purpose. Unbeknownst to most, when you go to saddle them in preparation for their load, they purposely push their stomachs out as far as they can.

The reason they do this is so that when you cinch (tighten) the saddle around their belly, it will feel tight to you. But, as soon as you leave, those rascals let the air out and the saddle is much more comfortable for them. If you don't know horses, you can easily be tricked by their deception and in danger of an insecure load on narrow backcountry trails.

Those who do know their horses are aware of their shenanigans. So, right when they are about to cinch the saddle, people in the know punch the horse in his belly with all of their might. (In case you were wondering, this does not hurt the horse at all, but startles them, which causes them to let the air out.)

Once the air is out of the horse's belly, the saddle is cinched tight, which safely secures the load. You see, the packhorses broken and trained long ago, were ready for the master's use; but still, in this one thing, they would not submit.

It is written, “However, may the Lord pardon me in this on thing . . .” (II Kings 5:18a)

In this text, we see that Naaman had been graciously healed of his leprosy by the Lord. He then professed publicly that he would serve no other god except the Lord. Naaman surrendered to the Lord, but in one thing he would not submit. He still wanted to be allowed to bow before his master's god, claiming that he would not mean it. He asked to be pardoned before he had even committed the sin. Perhaps, he did not want to suffer the consequences of his obedience to the one true God, and so he wanted to be able to bow before his master's god as a smokescreen?

As believers, we have only one purpose, and that is to do the Lord's bidding. We are His “packhorses”, taking the Word of God to the ends of the earth. Have you been broken, trained, and discipled for that very purpose? Are you ready for “the Master's use?” (II Tim. 2:21)

Perhaps you too have read all the magazines and scouted all the best areas to share the Word? Maybe you even have topographical maps of the unbeliever's regular terrain? Have you boasted to others of your last “trophy soul?”

Precious one, is there one thing in which you will not submit? The Lord is not ignorant of your shenanigans, nor of your self-justification. You know what that one thing is, as does the Lord. Perhaps He has been convicting you of it for years. Be warned: you cannot trick the Lord. If need be, He will “punch you in your belly” and you will let the air out of that sin? Beloved, know that the Lord will . . .


Joyfully in Jesus!
Love Philip