Bethlehem
Christian
Center
Our Pattern

          One is reminded of the plight of the miner who sought dinner in a northern city. He had been prospecting, without results for many tedious months. Throughout the entire duration of this trying time, he had been obliged to exist on nothing but canned food. At last he became so sick of canned beans, canned salmon and sardines that he shuddered at the very thought.

          Then one day he struck it rich. The pick which had so frequently fallen fruitlessly on barren rocks, sank into a soft, yellow vein of gold.

          With a glad cry, he fell feverishly upon the newly discovered treasure. He filled his belt and knapsack, staked out his claim, and set off for the nearest city to register his mine and to enjoy his first real meal in many moons.

          Late in the evening he arrived at his destination. Pausing before a pretentious restaurant, he entered, rubbing his hands with satisfaction and smiling in anticipation as he looked appreciatively at the expanse of tables with their gleaning silver lying upon snowy linen.

          Upon each table lay an impressive, leather-bound menu. Mouth watering with anticipation, he read:

          "Roast turkey!

          "Roast duckling!

          "Baked chicken!"

          Dozens of dishes listed in luscious array.

          "Waiter! Waiter!" called the half-starved man. "Bring me a large order of roast turkey, quickly."

          "Sorry, sir," the waiter shook his head, "but the roast turkey is all gone."

          "Bring me some roast duckling then."

          "That's out of season, sir."

          "Well, let me see - bring me some roast chicken. That is always in season."

          "Sorry, sir, but I'll have to blue-pencil that. The dinner hour is over."

          "Oh! Then bring me some roast beef."

          "Sir, the dinner hour is over," he reiterated, "there are no more roasts to be had. In fact, it is almost closing time."

          "Well, how about a nice porterhouse steak?"

          "Sorry, sir, but that man over there ate our last steak. Now I could have a can of beans opened and warmed for you and perhaps some salmon or something similar," the waiter suggested apologetically.

          Needless to say the miner shuddered and left the restaurant in a rage, determined to find a restaurant which was open at all hours and where all good food had not been blue-penciled from the bill of fare or marked "out of season." Yet, as we smile sympathetically at the story we are struck with the aptness of the simile.

          The hungry miner is the hungry man of the world who is seeking after the heavenly food with which to satisfy his famished soul.

          The "restaurant" is the Church of God.

          The "bill of fare" is the Word of God.

          The "canned goods" is the cold, powerless, mechanical, modernistic, and supercritical preaching with which the real Word of God is substituted by the unbelieving and backslidden preacher.

          The "waiter" who blue-pencils the "menu" is the minister who crosses out or eliminates the real meaty promises of the Word of God.

          Even now this half-starved man comes to the door of the church. Hungrily he ruffles the pages of that divine menu card, the Bible.

          "Preacher! Preacher!"

          Eagerly he calls for food.

          "In Acts 2:4, and in Acts 10:46, and in Acts 19:6, I read of a mighty and glorious Baptism of the Holy Spirit. I would like a full order of that if you please. Oh, the glory and the power of it! The reality and the sweetness of such an experience! Hasten and serve to me the message which shall bring it hence, I pray."

          "My dear sir, I regret to inform you that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is out of season now: Twas merely for Bible days. But we have a very fine canned product called 'self-effort' and 'human substitutes' which might appeal to you."

          "No, thank you."

          "But see here, in James 5:14 and in other places, I read of divine health. I am ill and broken. May I have my healing immediately, please?"

          "I am sorry, sir, but they of the Apostolic Age ate the last of the Divine Healing which was on the bill of fare. Now could I interest you in some fine 'canned medicines' coupled with a prayer that the good Lord may bless the earthly meats?"

          "No, thanks. But might I have the real born again experience of which I read so glowingly in the sacred page?"

          "Sorry, but we consider all emotionalism passe today so have no more altar calls, with the attendant "know so" experience. Could we offer you as a substitute, a card to sign or a nominal church membership?"

          Not so preached Peter on the Day of Pentecost!

          "The promise is unto you," he cried, "and to your children, and to them that are afar off, and even as many as the Lord our God shall call."

          God is no respecter of persons. What He has done for us, He waits to do for you. His shelves are not bare. His cupboards are filled. His tables groan with the weight of food which He has to offer. Come, draw up your chair, place your feet under the Father's table and feed your hungry souls.

          As Peter spoke, a change came over his audience. Scorn turned into curiosity, interest quickened into conviction, and finally gave place to anxious inquiry.

          And now their hearts were transformed by joyous acceptance and assurance.

          "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common, and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."       (Acts 2:41-47)

          There is our pattern as sure as the sun is in the heavens.

 

From Fire From on High, by Aimee Semple McPherson, Foursquare Publications, 1969.

Bethlehem Christian Center and Bethlehem Christian School

PO Box 303, 1858 Maple Street, Bethlehem, NH  03574

603-869-5401       bcs@cfaith.com