Encouraging Reading

The Jewish believers of the first century found themselves in the middle of a storm. To leave Judaism with all its rituals and sacrifices, its temple and feast days, to seemingly turn their backs on Moses and the law, was to their contemporaries unthinkable. But they had done all this to turn to the Lord Jesus--the fulfillment of all that the Old Testament anticipated. The struggle was long and hard and it cost them much: imprisonment, loss of property, public ridicule. This took its toll on the minds and hearts of these believers.

So he took up his pen and pointed them to Christ. This One is greater than angels, has more honor than Moses, will lead us into a rest better than Joshua, a high priest after a better order than Aaron--based upon a better sacrifice and on a better covenant and who has made the way into the holiest possible.

While we may not be Jewish and we don't live in the first century, it still costs to a) resist sin and b) to come to a maturity which yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. And we still become weary and faint in our minds. So we still need those who will take pen in hand and point our hearts in the right direction--to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have just finished reading a little book that does just that. It is called A Word in Season by Chet Plimpton. Chet and his wife Anita have spent several years helping men and women prepare for the challenges of the mission field. And when they return, battle weary, he and his wife have offered the support and encouragement they need. This encouragement is now available to us who may be weary from the battles we also face daily. This book arms us for the battles that come through interpersonal relationships, discouragement, and our own sinful flesh. The author gives solid, scriptural help.

Each chapter is self-contained so the book can be read a little at a time. Its 24 chapters cover many aspects of Christian life. You will not only be instructed but encouraged.

Another way in which we can be encouraged is to read a good biography. In this we see how the Lord worked in others lives and thus we are helped to see the Lord's work in our own lives. One that I have read recently is the history of Oliver Smith. He lived in northeast Iowa, near Waterloo. During the middle part of the 20th century, up and down this rural part of the Midwest, God used this man mightly. Towns like Hitesville, Stout, Clayton, Aplington, none of them more than a few thousand in population, were visited by a unique man with his "gospel car" and an unusual style of personal witness. And in these towns groups of Christians (many of them led to the Lord by Oliver) met to remember the Lord, teach His Word, and preach the gospel. In his lifetime as many as 20 assemblies were formed in which he had some part. Many of them are still going on and growing today.

His style was unique. Painting rocks with gospel texts along the road, throwing tracts onto driveways wrapped around pieces of garden hose, door-to-door visitation and gospel tents were all a part of his spreading the good news of eternal life to all who believed.

The book is filled with pictures that, to all who knew him, will bring back memories. But to those who never met him, the book is an introduction to a life that will inspire and encourage gospel effort. Titled A Man Called Oliver, the volume was compiled by two young men from that area, Steve Walvatne and Dave Reiss. It is obviously a labor of love. It must be ordered from Mr. Val Brandt, PO Box 107, Garnavillo, IA 52049. Please enclose $12 (US Funds) and he will mail the book to you.

"Lest you be wearied and faint in your mind"--we have a great cloud of witnesses to whom we can look, but most importantly we look to "Jesus the author and finisher of faith." May you be encouraged as you read these books to look to the One who is the "God of all comfort."