Tuesday, March 31, 2009

tuesday martyr: the thundering legion

The "Thundering Legion" is a name attributed to a part of the Roman army. The name is under some suspicion about whether it came from a battle or was used a hundred years previously. The story of the battle is most certainly true, but the name Thundering Legion being given in tribute to the soldiers is uncertain. I'm not debating the origin of the name, I'm simply telling the story of a group of a couple of groups of Christian soldiers who have been called the Thundering Legion.

Around 174 AD a Roman army was surrounded by enemies and trapped without water. There was little hope for survival. A group of Christians among the soldiers began praying earnestly to God for help. God answered with rain to quench the thirst of the Romans and hailstones and lightning to kill their enemy. Whether they were part of the Thundering Legion or were named after the event, it was the same battalion that was to be martyred nearly 175 years later.

Around the time that Constantine declared Christianity to be legal, a governor named Licinius increased his persecution and declared that all soldiers must make an offering to the Roman gods. Forty men from the Thundering Legion refused.

After many attempts to persuade them, by threat and promise of reward, a man named Camdidus spoke, "You offer us money that remains behind and glory that fades away. You seek to make us friends of the Emperor, but alienate us from the true King. We desire one gift, the crown of righteousness. We are anxious for one glory, the glory of the heavenly kingdom. We love honors, those of heaven. You threaten fearful torments and call our godliness a crime, but you will not find us fainthearted or attached to this life or easily stricken with terror. For the love of God, we are prepared to endure any kind of torture."

After this, Licinius ordered that the men be stripped naked and placed in the middle of a frozen lake to suffer hypothermia and die slowly. For hours they stood and encouraged one another. After a time, one of the men succumb to the torture and ran to one of the warm places the governor had set up to tempt the men.

Seeing the one man abandon the group, a soldier who was set guard to watch the troop threw off his clothes and joined the men on the ice declaring "I am a Christian."

By morning all the forty were dead.

May we live such lives as those 39 that even facing death our lives bear testimony to Christ and some might be saved.


Info gathered from Jesus Freaks, Tactical Athlete, and The New York Times. Picture from Roman Officer Art.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

lest we drift away

"Therefore, we must pay much closer to the things we have heard, lest we drift away from it." - Hebrews 2:1

More than any verse in the last year, this one has been burned into my mind. In recent months I have been caught repeating it over and over again. I have prayed over it, meditated over it and been confronted with the enormity of my sin of complacency.

And I'm not talking about my inaction within the church or in life (although a good case could be made for that), I'm talking about my apathy towards this "great salvation" that Hebrews speaks of so highly.

The first chapter of Hebrews is a Christ exalting hymn of praise. God spoke to us by His Son, the heir of all things, creator and sustainer of the world, God made visible and mightier than angels. Therefore, we should pay attention to it. Because it is a great and awesome thing that God has come down to save us. PAY ATTENTION because it is worthy of all attention.

And then the sober warning, "lest you drift away from it." What a terrible thing, to drift. So subtle. So easy. So deadly. It takes no energy to drift away from something. It's not like taking an oar and working to pull yourself away from Christ. It's not doing all the impure things of this world. It's simply refusing to pay attention. That's easy. And I do it all the time.

And the scarier part is that you can be drifting and still doing things that look good. You can still be evangelizing, helping the poor, teaching in the church, and faithfully tithing. You can be the first to volunteer for every event and the last to leave. You can be, outwardly, a great Christian and still be drifting away from Christ.

So, I encourage you with the writer of Hebrews, to "take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:12-13)


Monday, March 9, 2009

tuesday martyr: missionaries to the aucas

Many of you know their story (or at least heard their names): Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming and Rojer Youderian.

In the mid 1950's they attempted to reach out to the Auca indians of Ecuador and were killed by the tribe. You can buy the book Through Gates of Splendor here and the movie, made a few years ago, End of the Spear here.

Here, instead of the story of these men, I will give you a taste of their passion for Christ and the unreached people of the world. (Taken from Through Gates of Splendor.)

Jim Elliot wrote

"'He makes His ministers a flame of fire.' Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things.' Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul--short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God's house consumed Him. 'Make me Thy Fuel, Flame of God'"

From Pete Fleming:
"I am longing now to reach the Aucas if God gives me the honor of proclaiming the Name among them...I would gladly give my life for that tribe if only to see an assembly of those proud, clever, smart people gathering around a table to honor the Son--gladly, gladly, gladly! What more could be given to a life?"

And (thanks to Adrian Warnock) a challenging quote to put your faith into practice from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
". . . The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans and Methodists was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it. Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart you need not train him to witness; he will do it. He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there. It is a plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics. The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all, and they have spent hours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love. The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy type of man can do in a century. God forbid that we should ever make of activity an end in itself. Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive must ever be the love of Christ."

May we all be filled with the holy zeal of evangelism because we are so enraptured with Christ and His call on our lives that we cannot help but comply.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

almost back

I know I said I'd be back up and ready today, but I'm not quite ready yet. This month has been great, being away from blogs (with the exception of a few friends) and I'm excited to be back.

I've got a bit of reading to catch up on (though I'm not going to read the estimated 1500 posts I've missed.)

See you all soon with a new, updated version, of the Tuesday Martyr next week.