Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3540

Jump Start # 3540

Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay.”

  It was hard to find. Down a gravel road and up a path that led to the top of a hill. There in the clearing, among trees,  was a very old cemetery. And, tucked in the very back of that cemetery was the grave that I was looking for. His name was Obadiah and he was a preacher of the N.T. way, a long time ago. Nearly forgotten completely by this generation, there are just a few traces of reports that he submitted to a few publications a long time ago. But, oh the good that he did.

  He came to Indiana when there were more bears and Indians than settlers. But as a young man he caught that restoration spirit that was beginning to fill the prairie landscape. The Bible and only the Bible would be his rule of faith. Worship that modeled what was found by those first churches in the book of Acts, was the course and the direction that he followed.

  Obadiah and others began preaching in tiny log cabins in Indiana. Quickly, enough pioneers became believers that congregations were formed. The first congregation established in Owen County was called Bethel or more commonly, Dutch Bethel, because of the community of Dunkards who spoke a form of broken German that people referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch. Within a dozen years the Bethel congregation numbered over 200 and soon another congregation was formed, called Bethsaida. Obadiah became the preacher at that new congregation.

  Today, there no longer is a congregation at Bethel. An empty church building sits across from a cemetery. Bethsaida is the name of a road. There are no remains of that church building today. But down that dusty gravel road sits a cemetery back in the woods where lies many of those first believers who made up those pioneer congregations. There has always been a special tug on my heart for sweet Owen County, Indiana. It is here that my ancestors settled and many were some of those first believers who met in the log cabins in the wilderness in the mid-1820’s.

  And, one of those steady and consistent voices in those early years was Obadiah Winters. His name is found on some early marriage records. He submitted a few updates and reports concerning the wellbeing of the congregations in those communities. And, that’s about it. I find no articles that he ever wrote. In books written about the restoration movement, his name is ignored. Even books specifically about Indiana restoration, one would not find his name. He has been forgotten by history.

  Our passage reminds us that David served the purpose of God in his generation. Every generation has a few names that are carried on by their achievements and history. But most are forgotten. And, that is true Biblically. Beyond the apostles, we know a handful of names that are listed throughout the text, but think about those 3,000 in Acts two or the 5,000 in Acts four. Who were they? Forgotten by history, but known to Heaven.

  And, from this there are some lessons for us:

  First, those who strive to make a name for themselves usually make a mess of things. Just think about your direct descendants. You may be able to know the names of several generations back in your family, but for most of us, that’s about it. A name. A name and some dates. Born. Married. Died.

  Even the superstars are soon forgotten. Such is the nature of life. The road to glory and being famous and known comes with a price most shouldn’t pay. One looses their humility, dignity and focus by trying to be something that they are not. The early Christians were simple, common people. Those early Indiana disciples were cut from that same mold. We live. We work. We try to make a difference in these times.

  Second, God never forgets those who belong to Him. A cup of cold water given in the name of the Lord is remembered by the Lord. Our toil. Our labor. Our efforts. None of these are in vain. Those who live for shout outs, recognition and praise, miss the focus of what our work in the kingdom is about. It’s not us. We are merely tools that belong to the Lord. We are shovels, and rakes and hammers and saws and it is the Lord who works through us. What is accomplished isn’t about us, it is to the honor of the Lord. God will grant rest and peace to those who have labored in His kingdom.

  Third, as I stood in that tiny, nearly forgotten cemetery, looking at the grave of Obadiah, I said a silent prayer. I hoped that I could do the good that he has done. And, when my time comes to leave this place, I may be lost in a forgotten cemetery. If there be coming generations, no one may know of the work that I have done. But the Lord will. And, that’s what truly matters.

  A moment in time. A drop in eternity. Battles for the truth. Passionate preaching. Love for lost souls. Although our times are so different, ole’ Obadiah and I have a lot in common. And, I do hope that I can spend some time with him in the eternal.

   An old grave in a forgotten tiny cemetery. A voice that once preached. A heart that made a difference. Obadiah Winters (1804-1876) – one of my unknown heroes.