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Friday, November 19, 2010

The Wisdom of this World and Anneken Jansz (a martyr)

As my oldest son approaches adulthood, many have been asking him about his future plans. What does he want to study in college? What college does he want to go to? What job would he like to have? And other such questions ... they are all basically the same, right?

What if our focus is all off?

What if our children never have a 'good education'? What if they always struggle with spelling and writing? What if they never get a 'good job'? What if they never go to college and learn all about ethics, psychology, science, history, math, and so on? What if all they can ever do is work 'odd jobs' here and there? What if they can never afford to buy a 'decent house'? What if all they could ever manage was a little shack? Or even just a sleeping bag? What if they only had one or two changes of clothes? What if all their possessions could fit into a back pack? What if they were hated and despised by nearly everyone that met them?

Maybe that sounds like it would be pretty shameful ... at least shameful to the parents, right? Or would it be?

What if their focus was eternity?

What if all our children knew was Jesus Christ and Him crucified? What if that was all the knowledge they could offer to this world? What if all they knew was the foolishness of preaching the cross? What if their whole upbringing was centered around and totally focused on how to serve the Lord and how to serve others? How to love the Lord, love their neighbors and love their enemies? What if all they ever learned was that HE IS WORTHY of ALL that they have? What if they choose to live a life of poverty in order to better serve the Lord and others?

Luke 6:20And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. 23Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. 24But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

I'd much rather my son live in a cardboard box on the streets and serve the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, than to have some piece of paper that enables him to get a 'good job' somewhere where he can then have a 'nice house', a 'nice car', 'climb up the corporate ladder', store up treasures on earth, and coast right into hell.

Are we hoping to equip our children for life in this world? or equip them for life in eternity? What are we here for? This is a battleground - and it is not our home, we are just passing through! Will a good college education truly equip them for life in this world? Well, I guess that depends on where your focus is. I believe you do not need a college education to do the Lord's work. If the Lord has called you, He will equip you without having you to go to a worldly institution where you will be taught humanistic ideas and philosophies, and have your head filled with all sorts of worldly knowledge that means absolutely nothing in eternity. Think about it.

Maybe there are cases where a college education would be called for (???) but please do not send your child to such a place. It would take a very special person so strong in their faith and focused on following the Lord to make it through a college education without being spotted by the world. If your child does need some sort of training, there are so many other options. Please do not turn to worldly institutions. Worse yet, do not turn them over to religious institutions.

1 Cor 2:1And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. ... 4And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
On judgment day, the Lord will not care one bit how much we know about various worldly things. He won't even care how well we can read, write and spell. And, believe it or not, He will not be giving us a theology test. All He will care about is what we did with His Word. Yes, He will judge us by His Words according to our works ... did we obey His Words or did we trample them under our feet and make a mockery of them?

Matthew 7:21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

How much education do you need to obey the teachings of Christ?
Matthew 25:31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 8When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

While writing this, the account of the martyr, Anneken Jansz, came to my mind. She was drowned to death in icy water because she decided to follow the Lord during a time when it was not popular to do so. Here is a short explanation of why she was martyred and also the letter she wrote to her then 1 1/4 year old son, Esaias. The letter she wrote to her son is so beautiful ... and fits very well with what I've said above. This account was taken from the book, "The Secret of the Strength".
On the Koppenstraat in the Dutch city of Briel, Anneken Jansz led a sheltered life in the large house of her parents. They had money and she was their only child. Anneken, in the flower of her youth, met a young man called Arent. He was a barber-surgeon and their love led to marriage. They should have been happy. But money, parties, nice dresses, and expensive wines did not meet the longings of their hearts. Then one night another youth came to the Jansz home. His name was Meynaert and he spoke of following Christ.
Before he left, he baptised Arent and Anneken upon the confession of their faith.
Because they got baptised, Arent and Anneken had to flee. They left her parents’ home and escaped across the English Channel to London. There a baby, Esaias, joined their family, but Arent took sick and died. Anneken packed her few belongings and returned to be with believers in the Netherlands.
Back in the Netherlands, on a wagon loaded with people travelling from Ijsselmonde to Rotterdam, Anneken and a companion, Christina Michael Barents, sang Christian songs. It was a cold morning in December. A passenger suspected that they were Anabaptists and reported them as soon as they got to the city. The police arrested them as they boarded a boat to Delft.
For one month the women were in jail. Anneken cared for Esaias, now a year and three months old, and wrote a confession of faith. Then they sentenced the two women to die.
On the morning of the planned execution day, Anneken woke up early and wrote a letter:

Esaias, receive your testament:
Listen, my son to the instructions of your mother. I am now going the way of the prophets, apostles, and martyrs to drink from the cup from which they drank. I am going the way of Christ who had to drink from that cup himself. Since he, the shepherd, has gone this way, he calls his sheep to come after him. It is the way to the waterspring of life.
This is the way the kings from the land of the rising sun came to enter the holy age. It is the way of the dead who cry from beneath the altar: “Lord how long?” It is the way of those who are sealed in their foreheads by God.
See, all these had to drink from the cup of bitterness like the one who rescues us has said: “The servant is not greater than his Lord, rather it is good enough for him to be made equal to him.”
No one comes to life except through this way. So go through this narrow gate and be thankful for the Lord’s chastening.
If you want to enter the holy world and the inheritance of the saints, follow them! The way to eternal life is only one step wide. On one side is the fire and on the other side the sea. How shall you make it through? Look my son, there are no short cuts. There is no easier option. Every alternate route leads to death. The way of life is found by few and walked upon by fewer yet.
My child, don’t follow the crowd. Keep your feet from the way of the majority because it leads to hell. But if you hear of a poor, needy and rejected little group that everyone makes fun of and hates, go there! When you hear of the cross, there is Christ!
Don’t draw back from the cross. Flee the world. Hold to God and fear him alone. Keep his commandments. Remember his words. Write them on your heart and bind them to your forehead. Speak of them day and night, and you will become a fruitful plant. Keep your body holy for the Lord’s service so that his name will be made great in you. Do not be ashamed to confess him before men. Do not be afraid of men. Rather leave your life than depart from the truth.
My son, struggle for what is right, unto death! Put on the armour of God. Be a true Israelite. Kick injustice, the world and all that is in it away with your feet and love what is from above. Remember that you do not belong to the world, just like your father and mother did not belong to it. Be a true disciple of Christ and have no community with the world.
Oh my child, remember my instructions and do not leave them. May God let you grow up to fear him. May the light of the Gospel shine in you. Love your neighbours, feed the hungry, and clothe the naked. Do not keep two of anything because others are sure to need what you do not. Share everything God gives you as a result of the sweat of your brow. Distribute what he gives to you. Give it to those who love God and hoard nothing, not even until the next morning; then God will bless you.
Oh my son! Lead a life that fits the Gospel, and may the God of peace make you holy in body and soul! Amen.
Oh holy Father, sanctify the son of your maidservant! Keep him from evil for your name’s sake.

After writing the letter, Anneken folded it and tied it up in a piece of cloth along with a few coins she had left. She dressed Esaias and at nine o’clock, in the white winter sunlight, they led her and Christina down the street of Delft toward the city gates and the River Schie.
Crowds of people lined the streets. On the way, Anneken called out: “I have a baby five quarters of a year old. Who will take him?” A baker, a poor man and father of six, reached out and took Esaias. Anneken gave him the folded piece of cloth with the coins and the letter. Then they tied the women up, broke the ice, and threw them into the river to drown.
It was January 24, 1539.

4 comments:

  1. I hear you! My husband and I have degrees coming out our ears. It was the thing to do when we were younger. Homeschooling was rare then. Smart people were supposed to do smart things and that demanded college. Oh, how things have changed. I wouldn't want my younger son on a college campus, even a "Christian" campus. I know there are some skills that demand certain kinds of training. If God called him to be a doctor, he'd have to go to the right schools, but He hasn't. So, he is at home and studying on his own. He has taught himself to learn, just like people used to do before the university mill became a big business. God showed him that he should learn Greek so that he could understand the New Testament better, so he is teaching himself. I have studied Greek and Hebrew and am impressed with his thoroughness and grasp of the language. People CAN teach themselves, especially when God is leading them to do it. I haven't a clue where this is leading, but we don't have to know today. God will show him the next step. As for poverty, I don't think it is the goal, but simply following Jesus. A man should be able to provide for his family. That is New Testament teaching. I know some people God has gifted to make money by the buckets, and they are good to share it with God's servants. I certainly agree with you that we shouldn't make riches our purpose in life. Oh, it's not so easy being a mom, is it?? God bless you and your children, Liz

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  2. What an awesome post. So much food for thought~!!

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  3. I went to school on the *christian* campus. I know what they were doing 25 years ago. And now that my nieces and nephews are there, I know what it is like now. And it is not good....

    Thanks for the link to the book. I'm going to share it!

    Blessings,
    Linda

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  4. Liz "university mill" ;) That is a good thing to call it. By 'poverty' I mean choosing to live as poor as you possibly can and then give everything you can away to those in need. I am not against making money ... even making a lot of moeny ... it's how you spend it that matters. I have a few articles about 'voluntary poverty' on here that a brother wrote. I think he said it very well that it's hard to justify living in such ways when there are so many around us that are in need. The Bible speaks of how if we have two of something to give the other away ... certainly there's someone else who can use it. I try to apply this as best as I can in my life.
    No, it's not easy being a mom ... but of course I know none of us would trade it for anything. I am so thankful for all the help we have now ... praise the Lord!!

    Linda - hello :) the book, The Secret of the Strength, is such a blessing. I really like how it has a lot of quotes in there from early anabaptists. What's interesting is that many of the quotes go directly against what modern anabaptists are doing today. We have not read the whole thing yet, but are working on it.

    Lord bless you all!

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