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Put your trust in God but keep your powder dry

Dear BBC Family,

“Put your trust in God, my boys, but keep your powder dry.”  This statement is attributed to the English statesman, Oliver Cromwell.  “Pray and keep your powder dry” is a shorter variation of this maxim.  I am no expert on warfare in those days, but it is my understanding that if your gunpowder became wet, it was useless.  So if you did pray and ask God for His help and protection but did not at the same time diligently seek to “keep your powder dry,” you were not following the exhortations given by Cromwell.  I’m not sure all that Cromwell intended when he originally addressed this statement to his army before they invaded Ireland, but I believe there is a ring of biblical truth represented in this well-known saying.
In Psalm 127:1-2 the Holy Spirit, through the pen of Solomon, warns us not to put our hopes and confidence in our own labors.  Whether we are seeking to build something or protect what we have already built, we must not put our ultimate trust and confidence in anything or anyone else besides the Lord (Jer. 17:5-8).
However, does this mean that we should not seek to build or to protect what we have built?  Is that the lesson that we are supposed to take away from the teachings of Psalm 127 or Jeremiah 17?  Or when it comes to our sanctification, are we supposed to just, “Let go, and let God”?
Here are just a few passages of Scripture that would teach us that God does expect us to take precautions and to make efforts:

  • Nehemiah 2:20 (NASB95) — So I answered them and said to them, “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem.”
  • Esther 4:16 (NASB95) — “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.
  • Proverbs 22:3 (NASB95) — The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it. (cf. 27:12)
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NASB95) — But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
  • 1 Timothy 4:10 (NASB95) — For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

So as these verses show us (and many more could be added to it), God does expect us to take risks (Esther) and to build (Nehemiah), to take precautions (Prov. 22:3; 27:12), to labor and strive according to the grace given us (Paul in 1 Cor. 15:10 and 1 Tim. 4:10).  But all the while, regardless of how hard and diligent we might work, we never put our hope or confidence in our efforts.

And this brings me back to the quote that I began with:  Pray and keep your powder dry. As Christians, we are called to trust God completely and to pray without ceasing and to bring all of our concerns, anxieties and cares to the Lord (Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Pet. 5:7).  And yet, God also expects us to act and to work and to labor and strive.  He calls us to be wise and diligent and prudent.

There is a tension that exists in the Christian life that we must not ignore and we must be careful to diminish neither the necessity of faith nor the necessity of duty.

Two practical applications of this truth that we practice at BBC are the following:

  • Security Ministry:  each week, we have several men who look out for the security and safety of our members, the children, and anyone else attending BBC.  Herb Gross is the coordinator over this ministry and he is seeking to implement improvements and training so that we can be diligent to protect those whom the Lord brings out to our corporate gatherings for Sunday worship.
  • Mock Fire Drill:  this coming Sunday, 10/13, immediately after the morning worship service, we will be having our first-ever fire drill led and organized by Herb Gross. As many of you know, Herb has many years of experience as a Firefighter, Fire Lieutenant, and Fire Marshall.  We are thankful for the years of experience that the Lord has given to Herb and that he is willing and able to use those skills for the good of the body of Christ at BBC.  More details regarding this drill, will be sent out via email soon.

So… we look to the Lord and trust Him completely for His hand of protection.  And yet at the same time, we are going to seek to be diligent and faithful in taking practical measures to safeguard all of you and anyone else who the Lord brings out to BBC.  
In Christ alone,
Pastor Matt
Pastor George

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