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Lowell Brueckner

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Harvest Convictions




young man found himself in a cornfield with a few other workers. Each had a bag strapped over his shoulder and they were walking down the rows, picking corn ear by ear and putting them into the bags. 

By and by, they heard a powerful engine and turning saw a giant reaper charging through the field, gobbling up rows of corn. The driver, as he passed, nodded condescendingly towards our humble pickers. They, in turn, bowed sheepishly, embarrassed by their puny efforts and the minuscule results of their handpicking. 

  The reaper encircled the field several times, but meanwhile a decided change took place in the atmosphere. A north wind began to blow. The air chilled and our workers, to keep warm, walked and picked faster. Snowflakes fell, then sheets of snow, and soon the ground was covered. An inch collected, and then two and now, they noticed, in the wide path of the reaper, it left stalks behind and mangled the ears. 

  The storm worsened, but the pickers continued faithfully down their rows and presently came upon the great reaper, no longer able to function, stalled in the snow. At this, the workers looked up and saw, scattered throughout the field, many, many pickers, each with his individual bag. In strategic places, a bonfire was lit and from time to time a number of workers would gather around the bonfire to converse and warm themselves. Then, back they would go to the rows, gathering the harvest ear by ear… 

  The preceding is a dream of a young missionary, shortly after arriving in a foreign country, where he was to serve. He is now a veteran and a personal friend. I consider the dream to be significant.

   After 40 years in the ministry, 33 upon foreign soil, it is not difficult for me to find an interpretation to this simple parable from God´s heart. I have observed the apparent success of church corporations, Christian TV networks, missionary organizations and social endeavors. I have watched people, with God´s touch upon them, leave their individual calling and succumb to the security in the machine. The lure is great and the way is easier. Less personal responsibility, faith, and risk is required. They divide their loyalty to Christ and become fuel for the machine. The day is coming, when the machinery will be ineffective. Then God’s workers will turn exclusively to rely on anointing and an individual relationship with Him.

The Holy Spirit´s Position

  Although the Holy Spirit is mentioned in our teaching, for all practical purposes, we leave Him aside, substituting organization, expensive equipment, and clever ideas. Present movements, some initially born of God, follow the example of historic denominations. They adapt worldly wisdom to spiritual situations, resting upon human minds and strength. They tamper with scripture to make it fit into their experience and equate human ingenuity to the moving of God. 

  We must do more than stir people to work and evangelize. The famous missionary to China and survivor of the Boxer Rebellion, Jonathan Goforth, said it better than I can in his powerful book, By My Spirit.  Having attended a missionary conference in 1910, he made this observation: “Listening to the addresses that day, one could not but conclude that the giving of the gospel to lost mankind was largely a matter of better organization, better equipment, more men and women.”  

Organizational Puppets

  Bible schools and training programs are the refineries that provide the fuel for the machine. They produce uniform graduates, more an example of their school or organization, than a reflection of God´s glory. No diploma, degree or human appointment offers anointing or furthers heavenly purposes. 

  We ought to approach the candidate with the audacity of the islander, who met Duncan Campbell, as he stepped off the ferry onto Lewis, “Are you in touch with God?” When and where did you meet Him, pore through the Word on your knees, beg God to reveal Himself to you and know that He answered you?” 

A Crisis Pentecost

  Education, eloquence and popularity are no substitutes for anointing in delivering the gospel to men´s hearts. Moody,  Finney, Wesley, Whitefield and many others spoke of an experience, apart from the new birth, when heavenly power equipped them for ministry. I turn again to Jonathan Goforth for a simple quote: “Nothing can clothe with victorious might but the baptism with the Holy Ghost and with fire; and no one can possess such a baptism without knowing it.” 

God´s Work Requires Men of Faith

  Jesus first sent His disciples out without purse, shoes, or staff. They needed to be certain that the spring of their supply was not worldly. It is rare in our day to see people launch into God’s work without assurances from their fellow man. When did Jesus, Peter and Paul hold fundraising banquets or itinerate to raise support? Wherever we got our present methods, it certainly was not from the early church. 

  George Mueller supernaturally fed and housed 2,000 orphans. Bruce Olsen left Minnesota at 19 years of age to reach an Indian tribe with a plane ticket for Ecuador and $100 in his pocket. In 1965, I left for Mexico with a promise from my home church for $10 a month, only to have that meager support dropped after I reached the field.  

Spiritual Needs Met by Spiritual Means

  Mission efforts have turned almost entirely to meeting temporal needs. It is easy to raise an emotional response to photos of nearly-starved children or scantily-clad natives with missing limbs and teeth. Would to God we had shots of multitudes, gnashing their teeth in eternal flames! Paul tells us that the unseen realities are eternal; the seen are temporal. 

  To meet spiritual needs, the means and abilities can never be worldly. The apostles did not need to be professionals in order to influence society. They were Spirit-trained. We read that in the first church there weren’t many wise or mighty. 

  Can you imagine the disciples going to villages, acting out dramas? They didn’t act; they lived and preached the gospel. While it is true that radio and TV can be used to send the good news, they will never fulfill Christ´s great commission, “Go YOU into all the world, discipling… baptizing.” People need to see a heavenly example lived before their eyes. The way of the Spirit of God and faith is simple and inexpensive. Individuals, called and empowered by God, simply go and pick the harvest.  Opposition only speeds them.   

The Unreached are Top Priority

  Jesus said, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also; for therefore came I forth.” The book of Acts began in Jerusalem and soon spread to Judea and Samaria. Missionaries went to Crete and on to modern Turkey. Before long, they pushed into Macedonia and Greece, and then landed on the distant isle of Malta. 

  Who today will go to the tribes hidden along a tributary of a tributary of the Amazon? Who will infiltrate the Moslem world? Not the machine. It is paralyzed by government restrictions and modern requirements. The apostles faced the same opposition and more, but they defied earthly authority, in light of Jesus´ command and provision, “All authority is given unto me… go therefore.” They stated, “We ought to obey God rather than man.” 

  Finally, the hand-pickers assemble, but their fellowship is integrated into the harvest. Testimonies and worship springs from the experiences in the field of labor. “Those who feared the Lord talked with each other: and the Lord gave attention and heard it … They will be mine, says the Lord … in the day when I make up my jewels … You will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” The gathering around the fire is not traditional or ritualistic, but a heart-felt joy with mutual edification in the manifest presence of God.  Then, they return to the field to finish the work. ■



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