12 Point Cure for Complaining – Bill Izard

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I stumbled upon this article, reproduced with permission, while visiting the Berean Wife’s blog.

Friends: may it prick your conscience as it did mine – should the need exist 🙂   (You know I decline to suffer alone! 😉 )

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Complaining is unbecoming of the true Christian and yet we are proficient at it. The cure is found in these verses. In Christ we are never hopeless or forsaken. Every trial has meaning. Meditate on this cure in order to change both your language and your heart.

1. GOD COMMANDS ME NEVER TO COMPLAIN.

Do all things without complaining and disputing. Philippians 2:14(NAS)

2. GOD COMMANDS ME TO GIVE THANKS IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

3. GOD COMMANDS ME TO REJOICE ALWAYS, AND ESPECIALLY IN TIMES OF TRIAL.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Phil. 4:4; Rejoice always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Count it all joy when you fall into various trials. James 1:2

4. I ALWAYS DESERVE MUCH WORSE THAN WHAT I AM SUFFERING NOW, IN FACT, I DESERVE HELL.

Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? Lamentations 3:39 Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:2-3

5. IN LIGHT OF THE ETERNAL HAPPINESS AND GLORY THAT I WILL EXPERIENCE IN HEAVEN, THIS PRESENT TRIAL IS EXTREMELY BRIEF AND INSIGNIFICANT, EVEN IF IT WERE TO LAST A LIFETIME.

The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rom. 8:18; For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:19

6. MY SUFFERING IS FAR LESS THAN THAT WHICH CHRIST SUFFERED, AND HE DID NOT COMPLAIN.

Who when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. 1 Peter 2:23

7. TO COMPLAIN IS TO SAY GOD IS NOT JUST.

Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right? Genesis 18:25

8. FAITH AND PRAYER EXCLUDE COMPLAINING.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

9. THIS DIFFICULTY IS BEING USED BY GOD FOR MY GOOD AND IT IS FOOLISH FOR ME TO COMPLAIN AGAINST IT.

And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

10. THOSE MORE FAITHFUL THAN I HAVE SUFFERED FAR WORSE THAN I, AND DID SO WITHOUT COMPLAINT.

…and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. All these, having gained approval through their faith… Hebrews 11:35-39

11. COMPLAINING DENIES THAT GOD’S GRACE IS ENTIRELY SUFFICIENT.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

12. THE GREATEST SUFFERING, THE WORST TRIAL OR DIFFICULTY, CAN NEVER ROB ME OF THAT WHICH IS OF GREATEST VALUE TO ME AND MY GREATEST JOY, NAMELY THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

Copyright © 2001 Bill Izard
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A Different Gospel, Which is No Gospel

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We’ve established that Rick Warren preaches “another gospel”, that Rob Bell is a heretic, and that Joel Olsteen is a charlatan…but what now?

I thank God that he has placed watchmen at the gate to sound the trumpet. I do.  But I wonder if I have left behind a club of apostasy and heresy, only to walk into another kind of club, the kind where the goal is to glory in not being in the apostasy and heresy club?

Why can’t we glory in being in Christ?

Many of the folk I encounter on the internet who stand firm on issues of the full gospel presentation  and the belief that the preaching of the Word is the means by which the salvation message is to be delivered (as apposed to wrapping it up in pop-psychology in the five minute conclusion to your church’s latest entertainment program) would appear to be Calvinist inclined.

As such, what right have we to be smug?  If we truly believe we are saved by grace alone, by the merciful predestination of God, called by Him and saved by Him when we were dead in our sin and our mind was blackened with the darkness of that death, when we were irresistibly drawn by Him because of His immeasurable mercy, how then can we feel superior to those still in darkness or to anyone at all?

I don’t for a moment mean that we shouldn’t judge our brethren who claim to be Christian, but are showing fruit to the contrary; emphatically, I am not saying that.  But what I am asking is, where is our first love?  Where is the delight in our bridegroom? Our overflowing desire to talk about the wonder of His grace and the beauty of His sacrifice?

Those who know me will know that I am not a woo-woo sloppy sentimental type.  I am not talking about the “Jesus is love, let’s all hold hands and sing Kum ba ya” type of mindset.  What I am saying is that after we have declared something to be false, let’s move on from it, rather than flogging a dead horse. Those in deception will not have their eyes opened by you singing the same song over and over, and those who are aware will not be encouraged toward “love and good works so much the more as we see the day approaching”.

Folks, we have a message of hope for those in darkness, and our brethren. He SAVED me!  Saved me from the fearful wrath and judgment of a Holy God!  That is the news worth declaring!  Can you believe that someone, and not just someone, but God incarnate, died for me?

Has it become “cooler” or maybe less socially awkward, to talk about the state of the church than it is to talk about the Gospel?  God forbid.

We can be diligent in all matters we have been charged to oversee, and I commend the many for the efforts they spend it declaring truth.  But in the midst of the truth about the wolves we’re exposing, let us not lose the greatest Truth.

The best defense against a counterfeit gospel is the presentation of the true gospel.

Paul Washer: A Crucial Message

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Are you in ministry? Sharing the gospel with people? Paul Washer is saying stuff you need to hear. While he addresses concerns with modern evangelism you may have heard before, he shares some brilliant, encouraging truths every Christian needs.

There are some priceless gems of truth in this message: it’s well worth the the viewing time.

All Things to All Men

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What did Paul mean when he uttered that now famous phrase, “I am made all things to all men”?

By comparing scripture to scripture, a conclusion consistent with the teaching of other passages can be discovered.

Firstly, we can conclude that Paul was restricting his rights as a Christian, rather than extending them, with his statement. Specifically, he talks about laying down his rights, forfeiting them for the sake of winning others to salvation.

Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Paul makes a case that he has a right to be supported while preaching the gospel. However, he laid aside that right, lest it should be a stumbling block to any.

1 Corinthians 9:20
20And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

Paul knew liberty in Christ, under the new covenant. He no longer was bound by the burden of the law, yet in order to win the Jews, he laid down his right to exercise his freedom in Christ, and continued to follow the law.

1 Corinthians 9:22
22To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

He was at liberty to eat meat offered to idols, knowing it did not contravene God’s law. However, he again laid aside that right and freedom to eat, lest it be the cause of stumbling to a weaker brother.

This is consistent with Galatians 5:13;

13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

And 1 Corinthians 9:27
27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

An example of this today is not that, “I will listen to rap music, so I can relate to the teenager down the road and not look so uncool, so as to win him to Christ.”

It would look more like, “I have liberty in Christ, yet I will cover myself to share the gospel to the Muslim woman, so that she is not offended by my gross sin of wearing jeans and a singlet top.”

Paul was not talking about engaging in worldly activities so we can relate to sinners. Consider –

1 Thessalonians 5:22-23
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

He was not condoning preaching a soft, inoffensive gospel;

Acts 20;
27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,

21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, consider this vital point:

Paul’s concern was that the gospel not be rejected because of apparent sin:

our concern is that the gospel not be rejected because of apparent holiness.

Friend, this is not consistent with scripture.

Paul conformed to his surroundings in a manner that ensured the appearance of righteousness, so as not to lose a convert as a result of his perceived sin. He did not want the gospel to rejected by the Jews because he failed to observe the law: the law to them represented Godliness.

Contrast this to today’s oft times misinterpretation that we can conform to the world, in order to win the world, and it renders a stark contrast to Paul restricting his freedom in Christ, to avoid the appearance of sin and rejection of the gospel.

A Time of Wandering and Loss

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Why would I stay for years in a church which I believed had left the narrow path?

It was simple. It was painful, anguishing, and simple: my husband went there.

I take it quite seriously that the man has authority to make the spiritual decisions for his family.  Though when we first married, I thought it might kill me, used as I was to making my own decisions about everything.  But God is gracious, and His ways are far above our own, and infinitely better!

I gnashed my teeth, stomped my foot, and almost chewed the flesh from my own arm in frustration.  Why would he wait?   God had many lessons for me, before I was ready to move on. Where was my perseverance?  Where was my faith that God would guide my husband?  Where was my trust in my husband that he was able to hear from God and obey?  There were so many things to learn in that very difficult period.  I learned almost nothing of value from the teaching of the church, but I learned (oh how slowly!) the many areas of my own life that were sorely lacking Godliness.

Because I chose not to be involved in the many programs in the church, and because I spoke up when I believed what was being taught was heresy, there was a resultant cooling of many valued friendships and family relationships.  I needed to learn what was the basis for my faith – and would it be moved by the disapproval of my closest friends and the loss of family?  I needed to learn what my role was in the church, and which battles were mine to fight, and which should only be addressed by my husband.

My husband, ever patient and wise man that he is, gave me a word of advice one evening after I had been decrying the state of the church most passionately.  Ordinarily, it would strike me as very condescending, but there was so much truth, and it was such a sensible idea, and I was so amazed that I didn’t think of it myself, that it quite shocked me into accepting it.  Want to hear it?

While you are in this situation, be the best Christian you can be.

That’s it?  Yes, that’s just what I needed to hear.  I needed to “seek first the kingdom of God”.  When we are surrounded by teachings and practices that seem to tear at the very fabric of Christianity, our response should be to seek further after Him.  Some how, adversity doesn’t naturally effect me that way!!  My heart had become hard and   I  needed a reminder, and in this case, it was also a beautiful reminder of why the husband is the head of the union, and why we wait for him to lead and guide the family.  The man just makes sense.

If we had left the church when I first thought we should, chances are we would have wandered in a wilderness of looking for a new home.  At times when he gave in to my tantrums (oh, spiritual woman I am!) we went looking.  It was always disheartening.  Finally, we could not bring ourselves to go back any longer, and simply went  nowhere for a period of about 6 months.

From there, my husband decided to attend a church we had heard about, but not attended before,  and we have been there ever since. At least weekly, and sometimes more often, it comes up in our family conversation to thank God for that church.  We do not align ourselves with their thinking on all issues and doctrines, but the heart of the people are to be separate, a people of God, declaring His mighty works.  This is enough for us.

While I would not want to live through again that period of anguish, I thank God that he left me there for the time that was necessary to teach me things I would not have learned, had life been more pleasant.

While your story may not be the same as mine, my friend, may I recommend to you to trust your husband to decide what is best for the family, supporting him in prayer for his leadership position, and asking God for the grace to learn all you can from your time of difficulty.

Arising from a conversation on a post on Politics or Religion?

Politics or Religion?

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I used to count it as loss that I was born too late to be a suffragette.   In more recent years, as a Christian,  I have come to question even my current level of political activism, such as it is.  What should my motivation be?

I am not one to campaign about environmental issues. (There’s way too much hot air blowing about in the green camp: and I’m not referring to the effects of “global warming”).  The issues closer to my heart have always involved protecting the safety and innocence of children, and the sanctity of marriage.

There appears to be two camps in Christendom, who are at odds with each other on the responsibilities of a Christian voter.  On the one hand, there is the idea that to vote for any man who is advocating anything but a completely Christian way of life, is to condone the sin, and be in part responsible. I have some sympathy with that line of thought, only in that I could not vote for a candidate who was pro-abortion, and should I be left with only such candidates to chose from, I would be left to throw my hands in the air and wear the fine for not voting.

On the other side of the coin is the passionate protester who believes the voice of the people will be heard. They believe that we should be actively voicing objections to the degeneration of morality in lawmaking policy.  I’m maybe getting too many miles up to hold much hope for this camp. I’ve been involve in the government’s education review process in years past, where consultation with the community was touted as an influencing factor in the decision processes.  What was the outcome of the year long review?  Certainly there was nothing implemented in the new legislation that reflected the concerns of the citizens present at the forums.

On a local and state level, I am continually astounded at the boldness of the government to make moves effecting health and education contra to the will of those most concerned.

So what’s a girl to do?  Does this seem a strange time to pull out the phrase, “Sola Scriptura!”? What does the Word have to say about the church (collective) and politics, and the Christian (individual) and politics?

I see no direct command to involve either the collective or the individual in matters of civil lawmaking.  Example then, is the next benchmark: or it would be, if only it could be found. Did Jesus leave us any example of becoming involved in the political issues of the day?  Did he campaign for rights, or against ungodly legislation, or stage political protests?

When I searched the scriptures in the hopes of gaining a greater understanding on this issue, political activism was conspicuous by it’s absence. In examples of society abandoning Godly principles, we read that God gave them over to evil desires. (Romans 1)  What is the church called to do at such times?  What is the antidote for a sick society?  It is the gospel of Christ Jesus.  This alone will change the hearts of men.

Do Christians have rights, and should we fight for them?  Our obligation is not make this place comfortable for us now by petitioning governments: it is to declare the full gospel Christ.  If Christ could go to the cross without a word of defence,  should I, who am chief of sinners, be crying for my rights?

Preparing for the Underground Church

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This article made me weep, made me ashamed, made me laugh, made me wish I had had the opportunity to know such a man as Richard Wurmbrand. If you are a Christian, it is worth every minute of your time to read it in it’s entirety. It is reprinted here with permission from his granddaughter, Andrea.

PREPARING FOR THE UNDERGROUND CHURCH
By Pastor Richard Wurmbrand

Christian pastors must learn what an underground church looks like and what it does. I spoke with a bishop in Britain for an hour or so about underground church work. Finally, he said, “Excuse me, but you speak of my hobby; I am very interested in church architecture. Would you please tell me if the underground churches use Gothic styles in the building of churches?”

The Underground Church is comparatively unknown. We have it right next door, but we are not ready to join it and we are not trained for it. Every Christian pastor must know this because we might pass through tragic circumstances. Even if we do not pass through these tragic circumstances we have a duty to help and to instruct those who do pass through them.

In Muslim nations, in Red China and so on, many believers have become victims. Many have gone into prisons and many have died in prison. We cannot be proud of this. The better thing would have been to be well instructed on how to do underground work and not to be captured. I admire those who know how to work so well that they are not caught. We have to know the underground work.

PREPARING FOR SUFFERING
Suffering cannot be avoided in the Underground Church, whatever measures are taken, but suffering should be reduced to the minimum.

What happens in a country when oppressive powers take over? In some countries the terror starts at once, as in Mozambique and Cambodia. In other places religious liberty follows as never before. And so it begins. Some regimes come to power without having real power. They do not have the people on their side. They have not necessarily organized their police and their staff of the army yet.

In Russia, the Communists gave immediately great liberty to the Protestants in order to destroy the Orthodox. When they had destroyed the Orthodox, the turn came for the Protestants. The initial situation does not last long. During that time they infiltrate the churches, putting their men in leadership. They find out the weaknesses of pastors. Some might be ambitious men; some might be entrapped with the love of money. Another might have a hidden sin somewhere, wherewith he may be blackmailed. They explain that they would make it known and thus put their men in leadership. Then, at a certain moment the great persecution begins. In Romania such a clamp-down happened in one day. All the Catholic bishops went to prison, along with innumerable priests, monks and nuns. Then many Protestant pastors of all denominations were arrested. Many died in prison.

“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he has done to Thy saints at Jerusalem: But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way; for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake “-(Acts 9:13, 15 and 16).

Jesus, our Lord, told Ananias: “Meet Saul of Tarsus. He will be My underground pastor, My underground worker.” That is what St. Paul was – a pastor of an Underground Church. Jesus started a crash course for this underground pastor. He started it with the words, “I will show (him) how great things he must suffer…”

Preparation for underground work begins by studying sufferology, martyrology. Later, we will look at the technical side of underground work, but first of all there must be a certain spiritual preparation for it.

In a free country, to be a member of a church, it is enough to believe and to be baptized. In the Church underground it is not enough to be a member in it. You can be baptized and you can believe, but you will not be a member of the Underground Church unless you know how to suffer.

You might have the mightiest faith in the world, but if you are not prepared to suffer, then when you are taken by the police, you will get two slaps and you will declare anything. So the preparation for suffering is one of the essentials of the preparation of underground work.

A Christian does not panic if he is put in prison. For the rank and file believer, prison is a new place to witness for Christ. For a pastor, prison is a new parish. It is a parish with no great income but with great opportunities for work. I speak a little of this in my book, With God In Solitary Confinement.

In other books I mention Morse code, which is also part of the training for the Underground Church. You know what this is – a code by which messages are conveyed. Through this code you can preach the Gospel to those who are to your right and left.

Free parishioners look at their watch; “Already he has preached for thirty minutes. Will he never finish?” When arrested, watches are taken away from you; you have the parishioners with you the whole week and can preach to them from morning to night! They have no choice. There have never been, in the history of the Romanian or the Russian Church, so many conversions brought about as there have been in prison. So do not fear prison. Look upon it as just a new assignment given by God.

Men can accept this. But what about the terrible tortures which are inflicted on prisoners? What will we do about these tortures? Will we be able to bear them? If I do not bear them, I put in prison another fifty or sixty men whom I know because that is what the oppressors wish from me, to betray those around me. Hence comes the great need for preparation for suffering, which must start now. It is too difficult to prepare yourself for it when you are already in prison.

TRUTH ABOUT THE TRUTH
How much each one of us can suffer depends on how much he is bound up with a cause, how dear this cause is to him, and how much it means for him.

In this respect we have had in Communist countries very big surprises. There have been gifted preachers and writers of Christian books who have become traitors. The composer of the best hymnal of Romania became the composer of the best communist hymnal of Romania. Everything depends on whether we have remained in the sphere of words or if we are merged with the divine realities.

God is the Truth. The Bible is the truth about the Truth. Theology is the truth about the truth about the Truth. A good sermon is the truth about the truth about the truth, about the Truth It is not the Truth. The Truth is God alone. Around this Truth there is a scaffolding of words, of theologies, and of exposition. None of these is of any help in times of suffering. It is only the Truth Himself Who is of help, and we have to penetrate through sermons, through theological books, through everything which is ‘words’ and be bound up with the reality of God Himself.

I have told in the West how Christians were tied to crosses for four days and four nights. The crosses were put on the floor and other prisoners were tortured and made to fulfill their bodily necessities upon the faces and the bodies of the crucified ones. I have since been asked: “Which Bible verse helped and strengthened you in those circumstances?” My answer is: “NO Bible verse was of any help.” It is sheer cant and religious hypocrisy to say, “This Bible verse strengthens me, or that Bible verse helps me.” Bible verses alone are not meant to help.

We knew Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want… though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death….” When you pass through suffering you realize that it was never meant by God that Psalm 23 should strengthen you. It is the Lord who can strengthen you, not the Psalm which speaks of Him so doing. It is not enough to have the Psalm. You must have the One about whom the Psalm speaks. We also knew the verse: “My Grace is sufficient for thee.” But the verse is not sufficient. It is the Grace which is sufficient and not the verse.

Pastors and zealous witnesses who are handling the Word as a calling from God are in danger of giving holy words more value than they really have. Holy words are only the means to arrive at the reality expressed by them. If you are united with the Reality, the Lord Almighty, evil loses its power over you; it cannot break the Lord Almighty. If you only have the words of the Lord Almighty you can be very easily broken.

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
The preparation for underground work is deep spiritualization. As we peel an onion in preparation for its use, so God must “peel” from us what are mere words, sensations of our enjoyments in religion, in order to arrive at the reality of our faith. Jesus has told us “that whosoever will follow” Him will have to “take up their cross,” and He, Himself, showed how heavy this cross can be. We have to be prepared for this.

We have to make the preparation now before we are imprisoned. In prison you lose everything. You are undressed and given a prisoner’s suit. No more nice furniture, nice carpets or nice curtains. You do not have a wife or husband any more and you do not have your children. You do not have your library and you never see a flower. Nothing of what makes life pleasant remains. Nobody resists who has not renounced the pleasures of life beforehand.

I personally use an exercise. I live in the United States of America. Can you imagine what an American supermarket looks like? You find there many delicious things. I look at everything and say to myself, “I can go without this thing and that thing; this thing is very nice, but I can go without: this third thing I can go without, too.” I visited the whole supermarket and did not spend one dollar. I had the joy of seeing many beautiful things and the second joy to know that I can go without.

DOUBT MAKES TRAITORS
I am Jewish. In Hebrew, the language which Jesus Himself spoke and in which the first revelation has been given, the word “doubt” does not exist. To doubt is as wrong for a man as it would be for him to walk on four legs – he is not meant to walk on four legs. A man walks erect; he is not a beast. To doubt is subhuman.

To every one of us doubts come, but do not allow doubts about essential doctrines of the Bible such as the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or the existence of eternal life to make a nest in your mind. Every theological or philosophical doubt makes you a potential traitor. You can allow yourself doubts while you have a nice study and you prepare sermons, and you eat well – or you write a book. Then you can allow yourself all kinds of daring ideas and doubts. When you are tortured these doubts are changed into treason because you have to decide to live or die for this faith.

One of the most important things about the spiritual preparation of an underground worker is the solution of his doubts. In mathematics, if you do not find the solution you may have made a mistake somewhere, so you continue until you find out. Don’t live with doubts, but seek their solution.

TEST OF TORTURE
Now to come to the very moment of torture. Torture is sometimes very painful. Sometimes it is a simple beating. We have all been spanked as children and beating is just another spanking. A simple beating is very easy to take. Jesus has said we should come to Him like children, which is rather like candidates for spanking!

However, with us, Communists did not stop at beatings – they used very refined tortures. Now torture, you must know, can work both ways. It can harden you and strengthen your decision not to tell the police anything. There are thieves who resist any torture and would not betray those with whom they have co-operated in theft. The more you beat them the more obstinate they become. Or, torture can just break your will.

Now I will tell you of one very interesting case which was published by the Czech Communist Press. Novotny, who was the predecessor of Dubcek and who was a Communist dictator, had arrested one of his intimate comrades, a Communist leader, a convinced atheist, and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. (Not only Christians, Jews or patriots were in prison. One Communist arrested another and tortured him just as they would do anybody else.) They arrested this Communist leader and put him in a prison cell alone. Electromagnetic rays, which disturb the mind, passed through this cell. A loudspeaker repeated day and night: “Is your name Joseph or not Joseph?” (His name was not Joseph.)

They tried to drive him mad. Day and night. He felt that he would lose his mind. At a certain moment, he got an illumination. “I have now met unmitigated evil. If Communists torture a Christian, it is not absolutely evil because Communists believe that they will construct an earthly paradise. Christians hinder them, so it is right to torture Christians. But when a Communist tortures a Communist, it is torture for torture’s sake. There is absolutely no justification for it. But wait a little bit. Every coin has two sides, every electric cable has two poles. If there is an unmitigated evil, against whom does this unmitigated evil fight? There must be an unmitigated good. This is God, and against Him they fight.”

When he was called to the interrogator, he entered smiling into the room and told him that he could switch off the loudspeaker now because it had attained its result. “I have become a Christian.” The officer asked him, “How did it happen?” He told him the whole story. The officer said, “Wait a little bit.” He called a few of his comrades and said, “Please repeat the stop before my comrades.” He repeated the story, and the captain told the other police officer, “I told you that this method will not work. You have overdone it.”

The Devil is not all mighty and all wise like God. He makes mistakes. Evil torture is an excess which can be used very well spiritually.

MOMENT OF CRISIS
Torture has a moment of explosion, and the torturer waits for this critical moment. Learn how to conquer doubt and to think thoroughly. There is always one moment of crisis when you are ready to write or pronounce the name of your accomplice in the underground work, or to say where the secret printing shop is, or something of that kind. You have been tortured so much nothing counts any more; the fact that I should not have pain also does not count. Draw this last conclusion at the stage at which you have arrived and you will see that you will overcome this one moment of crisis; it gives you an intense inner joy. You feel that Christ has been with you in that decisive moment. Jailers today are now trained and refined, aware that there is a moment of crisis. If they cannot get anything from you in that moment, then they abandon torturing: they know its continuation to be useless.

There are a few more points in connection with torture. It is very important to understand what Jesus said: “Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for itself.” I have had fourteen years of prison. Brother Hrapov had twenty six, Wong MingDao had twenty-eight. It seems impossible to bear long years of prison. You are not asked to bear it all at once. Do not bear even one day at a time – bear an hour at a time. One hour of pain everybody can bear. We have had a terrible toothache, a car accident – passing, perhaps, through untold anguish. You are not meant to bear pain more than this one present minute.

What amplifies pain is the memory that I have been beaten and tortured so many times and that tomorrow they will take me again, and the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow, I might not be alive – or they might not be alive. Tomorrow, there can be an overthrow, as in Romania. Yesterday beating has passed: tomorrow’s torture has not come yet.

LOVE SUPREME
The Bible teaches some words very hard to take: “Whosoever does not hate father, mother, child, brother, sister – cannot be My disciple.” These words mean almost nothing in a free country.

You probably know from The Voice of the Martyrs literature that thousands of children had been taken away from their parents in the former Soviet Union because they were taught about Christ. You must love Christ more than your family. There you are before a court and the judge tells you that if you deny Christ you may keep your children. If not, this will be the last time you will see them. Your heart may break, but your answer should be, “I love God.”

Nadia Sloboda left her house for four years of prison. Her children were taken from her, but she left her house singing. The children, for whom the police waited with a truck to take them as she left, told their singing mother, “Don’t worry about us. Wherever they put us, we will not give up our faith.” They did not.

When Jesus was on the cross He not only suffered physically; He had His mother in front of Him, suffering. His mother had the Son suffering. They loved each other, but the glory of God was at stake and here any human sentiment must be secondary. Only if we take this attitude once and for all can we prepare for underground work.

Only Christ, the Great Sufferer, the Man of Sorrows, must live in us. There have been cases in Communist countries when Communist torturers threw away their rubber truncheons with which they beat a Christian and asked, “What is this halo which you have around your head? How is it that your face shines? I cannot beat you anymore.” It is said of Stephen in the Bible, that “his face shone.” We have known cases of Communist torturers who told the prisoner, “Shout loudly, cry loudly as if I would beat you so that my comrades will know that I torture you. But I cannot beat you.” Thus, you would shout without anything happening to you.

There are other cases when prisoners really are tortured, sometimes to death. You have to choose between dying with Christ and for Christ or becoming a traitor. What is the worth of continuing to live when you will be ashamed to look into the mirror, knowing that the mirror will show you the face of a traitor?

LEARN TO BE SILENT
In the Underground Church, silence is one of the first rules. Every superfluous word you speak can put somebody in prison. A friend of mine, a great Christian composer, went to prison because Christians had the habit of saying, “How beautiful is this song composed by Brother _____.” They praised him, and for this he got fifteen years of prison. Sing the song, but do not mention the name of the one who has written it.

You cannot learn to be silent the very moment the country is taken over. You have to learn to be silent from the moment of your conversion.

The secretary to Solzhenitsyn was put under such pressure by the Communists (and she had been denounced by Solzhenitsyn’s wife) that she finished by hanging herself. If Solzhenitsyn had kept silent, this would not have happened.

Another question which is very important: I thank God for the years which I passed in Solitary confinement. I was, for three years, thirty feet beneath the earth. I never heard a word. I never spoke a word. There were no books. The outward voices ceased. The guards had felt soled shoes; you did not hear their approach. Then, with time, the inner voices ceased.

We were drugged, we were beaten. I forgot my whole theology. I forgot the whole Bible. One day I observed that I had forgotten the “Our Father.” I could not say it any more. I knew that it began with “Our Father…,” but I did not know the continuation. I just kept happy and said, “Our Father, I have forgotten the prayer, but you surely know it by heart. You hear it so many thousand times a day, so you assign an angel to say it for me, and I will just keep quiet.” For a time my prayers were, “Jesus, I love You.” And then after a little time again, “Jesus, I love You. Jesus, I love You.” Then it became too difficult even to say this because we were doped with drugs which would destroy our minds. We were very hungry. We had one slice of bread a week. There were the beatings, and the tortures, and the lack of light, and other things. It became impossible to concentrate my mind to even say so much as, “Jesus, I love You.” I abandoned it because I knew that it was necessary. The highest form of prayer which I know is the quiet beating of a heart which loves Him. Jesus should just hear “tick-a-tock, tick-a-tock”, and He would know that every heartbeat is for Him.

When I came out from solitary confinement and was with other prisoners and heard them speaking, I wondered why they spoke! So much of our speech is useless. Today men become acquainted with each other and one will say, “How do you do?” and the other answers, “How do you do?” What is the use of this? Then one will say, “Don’t you think that the weather is fine?” and the other thinks, and says, “Yes, I think it is fine.” Why do we have to speak on whether the weather is fine? We do not take earnestly the word of Jesus Who says that men will be judged not for every bad word, but for every useless one. So it is written in the Bible.

Useless talking in some countries means prison and death for your brother. A word of praise about your brother, if it is not necessary, may mean catastrophe. For example, somebody comes to visit you and you say, “Oh! I’m sorry you were not here before – brother W. has just left.” The visitor could be an informer of the secret police. Now she will know that bro-ther W. is in town! Keep your mouth shut. Learn to do it now.

PERMISSIBLE STRATAGEMS
You cannot do underground work without using stratagems. I know of one case which happened in Russia. The Communists suspected that the Christians were gathering somewhere and they surveyed a street. They knew that the meeting must be there somewhere. They saw a young boy going toward the house where they supposed the meeting would be. They stopped the boy and the police asked him, “Where are you going?” With a sad face, he said, “My oldest brother died, and now we gather the whole family to read his testament.” The police officer was so impressed that he patted the boy and said, “Just go.” The boy had not told a lie.

We are not obliged to tell an atheist tyrant the truth. We are not obliged to tell him what we are doing. It is indecent for his side to put questions to me, an impertinence.

RESISTING BRAINWASHING
One of the greatest methods is not only physical torture; it is brainwashing. We have to know how to resist brainwashing. Brainwashing exists in the free world, too. The press, radio and television brainwash us. There exists no motive in the world to drink Coca-Cola. You drink it because you are brainwashed. Water is surely better than Coca-Cola. But nobody advertises, “Drink water, drink water.” if water were advertised, we would drink water. Some have driven this technique of brainwashing to its extreme. The methods vary, but brainwashing in my Romanian prison consisted essentially of this: we had to sit seventeen hours on a form which gave no possibility to lean, and you were not allowed to close your eyes. For seventeen hours a day we had to hear, “Communism is good, Communism is good, Communism is good, etc.; Christianity is dead, Christianity is dead, Christianity is dead, etc.; Give up, give up, etc.” You were bored after one minute of this but you had to hear it the whole seventeen hours for weeks, months, years even, without any interruption.

I can assure you, it is not easy. It is one of the worst tortures. Much worse than physical torture. But Christ has foreseen all things because with Him there is no time. Future, past, present are one and the same: He knows all things from the beginning. Communists invented brainwashing too late! Christ had already invented the opposite to brainwashing – heart washing. He has said: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, had around him hundreds with big stones in their hands to throw at him. He said: “I see.” And the wife of Stephen probably thought he saw the danger he was in and would run away. But he said: “I see JESUS standing at the right hand of God.” Perhaps she said (it is not recorded), “Don’t you see all the mob around you ready to throw stones at you?” “Oh yes! I see some little ants there below not worth mentioning. I look to JESUS.” He did not look to those who wished to kill him. Blessed are the pure in heart.

I had passed through brainwashing for over two years. Now the Communists would have said that my brain was still dirty. In the same rhythm in which they said, “Christianity is dead,” I and others repeated to ourselves: “Christ also has been dead, Christ also has been dead.” But we knew He rose from the dead. We remembered that we lived in the communion of saints.

OVERCOMING SOLITUDE
One of the greatest problems for an underground fighter is to know how to fill up his solitude. We had absolutely no books. Not only no Bible, but no books, no scrap of paper, and no pencil. We never heard a noise, and there was absolutely nothing to distract our attention. You looked at the walls, that was all. Now normally a mind under such circumstances becomes mad.

I can tell you from my own experience how I avoided becoming mad, but this again has to be prepared by a life of spiritual exercise beforehand. How much can you be alone without the Bible? How much can you bear to be with yourself without switching on the radio, or a record player, etc.?

I, and many other prisoners, did it like this. We never slept during the night. We slept during the day. The whole night we were awake. You know that a Psalm says, “…bless you the Lord,… which by night stand in the house of the Lord.” One prayer at night is worth ten prayers during the day.

All great sins and crimes are committed during the night. The great robberies, drunkenness, reveling, adultery – this whole life of sin is a night life. During the day everyone has to work in a factory, college, or somewhere. The demonic forces are forces of the night, and therefore, it is so important to oppose them during the night.

In solitary confinement we awoke when the other prisoners went to bed. We filled our time with a program which was so heavy, we could not fulfill it. We started with a prayer, a prayer in which we traveled through the whole world. We prayed for each country, for where we knew the names of towns and men, and we prayed for great preachers. It took a good hour or two to come back. We prayed for pilots, and for those on the sea, and for those who were in prisons.

After having traveled through the whole world, I read the Bible from memory. To memorize the Bible is very important for an underground worker.

THE JOY OF THE LORD
Just to make us laugh also a little bit, I will tell you one thing which happened. Once while I lay on the few planks which were my bed, I read from memory the Sermon on the Mount, according to Luke. I arrived at the part where it is said, “When you are persecuted… for the Son of man’s sake, rejoice you, in that day and leap for joy….” You will remember that it is written like this. I said, “How could I commit such a sin of neglect? Christ has said that we have to do two different things. One to rejoice, I have done. The second, to ‘leap for joy,’ I have not done.” So I jumped. I came down from my bed and I began to jump around.

In prison, the door of a cell has a peep hole through which the warden looks into the cell. He happened to look in while I jumped around. So he believed that I had become mad. They had an order to behave very well with madmen so that their shouting and banging on the wall should not disturb the order of the prison. The guard immediately entered, quieted me down and said, “You will be released; you can see everything will be all right. Just remain quiet. I will bring you something.” He brought me a big loaf of bread. Our portion was one slice of bread a week, and now I had a whole loaf, plus cheese. It was white. Never just eat cheese; first of all admire its whiteness. It is beautiful to look upon. He brought me also sugar. He spoke a few nice words again and locked the door and left.

I said, “I will eat these things after having finished my chapter from St. Luke.” I lay down again and tried to remember where I had left off. “Yes, at ‘when you are persecuted for My Name’s sake, rejoice… and leap for joy because great is your reward.” I looked at the loaf of bread and the cheese. Really, the reward was great!

So the next task is to think of the Bible and to meditate upon it. Every night, I composed a sermon beginning with “Dear brethren, and sisters” and finishing with “Amen.” After I composed it, I delivered it. I put them afterwards in very short rhymes so that I could remember them. My books, With God In Solitary Confinement and If Prison Walls Could Speak, contain some of these sermons. I have memorized three hundred and fifty of them.

Out of bread I made chessmen, some of them whitened with a little bit of chalk and the others gray. I played chess with myself. Never believe that Bob Fisher is the greatest chess master of the world. He won the last match with Spassky. He won eight games and lost two. I, in three years, never lost a game; I always won either with white or gray!

Never allow your mind to become distressed because then the Communists have you entirely in their hands. Your mind must be continually exercised. It must be alert, it must think. It must, everyone according to his abilities, compose different things, etc.

I have told you all these things because they belong to the secrets of the underground worker when he suffers. May God bless you.

Richard Wurmbrand

For more writings from this remarkable man, visit Pastor Richard Wurmbrands Biography, where there are available sermons in mp3 format, and articles to read online.

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