1. PTL! TYL! Hallelujah! We can sing the famous Vesper song:
"Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening drift across the sky.
Jesus, give the weary, calm & sweet repose,
With Thy tenderest blessings,
May their eyelids close. Amen!"
2. I used to play a record of that hymn out of my church belfry (in Valley Farms) every evening at sunset, and then ring the chimes and play 2 or 3 hymns. And lest I forget to turn'm on at that hour, I always had my special little "Rube Goldberg" equipment set up! All I had to do was flip one switch to turn on the amplifier and start the record playing and the chimes. The chimes were on a record. Most electrical switches in the States, you flip'm up to turn'm on, but I turned this one over so it'd flip down to turn it on. Then I set a little table right underneath the switch and screwed a little alarm clock firmly to the table so it wouldn't walk off when it started to unwind.
3. It was the old-fashioned wind-up kind of alarm clock, so all I had to do was tie a string onto the winder and through one of the loops in the key, and then a couple of times around the winder, then I tied a little loop around the light switch. And when the hour came, the alarm clock would go off and the little winder in the back would turn around and around and around and would wind up the string until it pulled the light switch down and turned on the chimes!
4. I'm a real Rube Goldberg! Ha! You guys probably never heard of Rube Goldberg. Well, he used to have these funny cartoons in the newspaper of all these funny kinds of inventions. He made an automatic fly swatter out of a little tiny delicate scale, like a postal scale, with fly paper on top. The fly would land on the postal scale‚ it would go down a little bit and the pointer would go up a little bit and make an electrical contact with something else that did something else that did something else that did something else! Finally it'd let go of the trigger of the fly swatter which came down and swatted the fly! Really crazy!
5. (David: The fly must've flown off by that time!) No, he got stuck on the fly paper. You probably never saw fly paper, huh? (David: Oh, sticky kind of paper.)—Sticky paper, sweet paper that the flies love to land on because it smells so nice and good like sugar, and they get stuck! They get glued to the paper. They still have it in some places. It used to come in a roll and you took one end of the roll and the rest of the roll went down in a kind of a spiral, and you hung it up in the middle of the room somewhere. I know back in Oklahoma or Texas, they always had a nice big collection of flies on'm, which really showed it was doing the trick! It was a lot cheaper than those electric fly killers and it didn't make a big noise every time a fly got stuck! Sometimes the flies made a little noise, but that was all.
6. So every evening at Vespers it would go off at the right time, about sunset‚ and it would play this first record of beautiful belfry chimes! I had these big speakers up in the belfry of the little church I built. I got everything second–hand or given to me, and I put it together and it worked just fine! It sounded just like real bells up in our belfry in my little community. Some of them liked it and some of them didn't like it!
7. Some of them were like that guy when the chimes rang in the Chicago Loop! Right downtown in Chicago there's this huge tall multi-million-Dollar church, and I'd say that was about the best part of their ministry, when the chimes rang downtown every hour. The chimes would ring the hour and then play a verse of one hymn. I asked this tough newsboy, "What is that? Where is it?" I really wanted to know where it was coming from. It was like you were down there in a canyon between all those high cliffs! "Ah," he said, "it's some of that Christian propaganda!" He got the point! Ha! It was their testimony‚ it was their witness!
8. I went there for church one Sunday when I was staying in Chicago on business‚ practically next door to the Planter's Hotel, and the auditorium was only about a third full on Sunday morning. Then I went on a guided tour through this three-million-Dollar downtown Chicago church. That was a lot of money in those days! It was about 20-some stories high, a skyscraper with huge tall steeples!
9. They took you through all the different rooms of the church and showed you the back end of the organ and all that sort of thing! They showed you how all the equipment worked and then the vestry and up through the belfry and all over the church! About six floors of it was devoted to offices because it was the headquarters of the Methodist Church, and it was actually an office building, right in downtown Chicago with an auditorium and offices and rooms, and I'd say it would have been a practical thing if they'd used it.
10. So on the guided tour they finally sat us down in the balcony—that was the supreme grand final—overlooking the sanctuary. Our guide said in hushed tones as we tip–toed into the gallery, "Shhhh! This is the sanctuary!" In other words, "Be quiet‚ God is in here!" There wasn't anybody else in there, so it must've been God! You had to be very quiet because apparently God doesn't like too much noise! In fact, it's empty nearly all the time except on Sunday morning, so God had it all to Himself!
11. So he was describing it and then he finally said, "Do you have any questions you'd like to ask?" I said, "Yes!" I knew he wouldn't understand if I said‚ "How many souls got saved here this past year?" So I said, "How many new members did you receive into the church this past year through original profession of faith?" This is a technical theological term they use when they don't want to say "get saved" or "get born-again." In other words‚ not just mere transfers from some other church, but transfers from the Devil, from all the bars down below!
12. He was talking about how many members they have, "Over 900 members!" I said, "Where were they Sunday morning? There were only about 300 here!" He said, "Well, many of them are very old and crippled, shut-ins and old people, you know, that can't come, but they still consider themselves members."
13. So I said, "Well, there weren't many young people! What happened to all the young people?" He thought it was kind of funny and he said, "Well‚ I guess they all grew up and got old!" "Well‚" I said, "isn't your church going to die if you don't get some new members and young people?" "Well," he said, "there'll always be somebody!" In other words‚ I guess there'll always be some suckers who'll come! Ha!
14. So when I asked him how many new members he had by original profession, first profession of faith‚ he said, "I think we had nearly 30 this past year!" Well, I thought that was pretty good for a formal church like that! I said, "Hmm‚ 900 members and you had 30 folks won to your church this past year." I did a fast calculation in my head, 30 into 900‚ and I said, "It takes about 30 members to win one new church member! That's a lot of work!"
15. "Well," he said, "they didn't really do it, it was the preacher! We have one of the finest preachers in the country, you know. We pay one of the highest salaries of any Methodist Church in the United States for the preacher here. We pay him"—and he mentioned some phenomenal figure—"to preach here. He's from one of the greatest of our seminaries"—and he went on raving about the preacher. "Well," I said, "it seems to me like that's an awful lot of work!"
16. He told how much it cost to run the church every month and how they didn't get nearly enough in the offerings, they had to have subscriptions, sort of like taxes, to try to keep it going, and contributions from businesses down below and all sorts of things. And when he said how much it cost to run it‚ I said, "Man! That means it costs about $25,000 for each new member! Those are pretty costly new members, aren't they?" I said all this with a very sober, straight, serious face‚ you know, like I was really amazed.
17. "Yes," he said, "it does, it costs a lot of money to run this big church! This is the tallest church in the United States and it's one of the most expensive churches in the United States, and the highest-paid in the whole Methodist denomination, the largest Protestant denomination in the World!" I could've gone on and said a few more things, but I decided I'd better quit while I was ahead and not upset him or make him mad, and just leave him in his delusion of grandeur!
18. But I went back to our little Florida Soul Clinic Bible School in Miami and I said, "Boy‚ if we have got any student here who couldn't win 30 souls in one month, you oughta quit! You go out witnessing every afternoon, all afternoon, you oughta be able to at least win one soul a day! And it only costs us about $2,000 to run our little Bible School for a whole month!"
19. I said, "Just think‚ for only $2,000 a month we're winning 100 souls a month! That's only $20 a soul! And here it's costing that huge big church tens of thousands of Dollars to operate and it costs them $25,000 a soul, and God only knows if they're even saved!" Well, excuse me, I don't know how I got to telling you that story. Vespers—my little church had vespers and vesper chimes! PTL! TYL! Well, we didn't quite finish the Fourth Psalm, did we? Someone lead us in prayer, will you? (Family prays.)
20. (To Techi:) Grandpa's going to read the Bible! Sit down now and be real quiet, OK? (To Techi's stuffed toy lamb:) Lambie, you be quiet too. You're so quiet! You're the quietest little lamb I ever saw. You hardly ever say anything! Baaaaaaa! Lambie was saying‚ "Yes‚ I'm a good little girl like Techi! Baaaaaa!"
21. (Verse 4:) "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still. Selah." I guess that's pretty self-explanatory, huh? Don't you think about the Lord the last thing at night and the first thing in the morning? You have prayer as you go to sleep and prayer as you wake up, and you stand in awe, awesome respect and reverence to the Lord and thanksgiving for how good He is to you and how He kept you through the night or kept you through the day.
22. He says, "Sin not!"—How? What kind of sin is He talking about? He says, "Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still. Selah." So what kind of sin would He be talking about? (Family: Not listening to the Lord.) Yes, or forgetting the Lord‚ not thinking about the Lord.
23. I often think about how many people go to bed at night without a thought about God‚ or wake in the morning without a thought about the Lord, or see a beautiful day and never think about the Lord. They see the beautiful scenery and the creations of God, the trees and all and the sunshine and even the rain, and never give the Lord thanks or credit. What a sin that is!
24. They simply don't want to have God in their understanding! Even though He is manifest in all these things‚ they recognise Him not as God. They don't want to think about Him. And that's almost the worst sin of all, right?—To just ignore God. "Sin not, commune with your own heart."
25. Commune with Whom? Is He saying commune with yourself, just talk to yourself? (Family: With the Lord.) Yes, it doesn't mean to commune with your heart, but it means commune with God with your own heart. "Commune with the Lord in your own heart upon your bed and be still. Selah." Think of that. Be quiet.
26. In the wee hours of the night‚ if you wake up sometime, is a good time to pray and think about the Lord and commune with Him within your heart. Amen?—When you're perfectly still and all is still and all you can hear is the crickets and the dogs barking and the birds once in awhile. That hammer bird came as close last night as he's come for quite awhile. He was out here in the field, the rascal! Did you notice he left right after we prayed and rebuked him in Jesus' name? He went so far away we could hardly hear him at all any more. That's the strangest bird! I would really like to know something about that bird!
27. (Verse 5:) "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord." What do you mean? On your bed in the middle of the night? Huh? How can you offer sacrifices of righteousness on your bed in the middle of the night?—By prayers and praises! These are the fruit of your lips, the sacrifice of your lips and the sacrifices of your heart.—Heb.13:15. These are the most important sacrifices of all.
28. Jesus said what about sacrifice? (Family: "The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart."—Psa.51:17.) Yes, that's another good Scripture. And He told the Scribes and the Pharisees what about sacrifices? (Family: "I will have mercy and not sacrifice!"—Mat. 9:13.) Exactly! He said, "I would have mercy and not just these burnt offerings."
29. But your mercy is a sacrifice! To forgive someone is a sacrifice, to be sorry is a sacrifice. So even in the middle of the night you can be offering sacrifices of righteousness to the Lord in prayer and putting your trust in the Lord, right?
30. (Verse 6:) "There be many that say, who will show us any good?" "Where's anything good? Everything's bad, the World's going to pot, it's gonna blow up soon, everything's wrong! Where's God? I don't see any God in all this or any good in all this, everything's bad!" All they can see is the hole in the doughnut and they can't see any good.
31. That's really a perverted mind, right?—Anyone who can't just look around and see the goodness of God in all the Creation! Of course, these people that live in cities like New York‚ it'd be pretty hard for them to see any good, that's for sure! All they can see is the concrete jungle and all the horrors that go on in a place like that.
32. Did you know that New York City could not even exist if it were not supported by the Federal Government and the taxes of the rest of the country? The city has been long bankrupt, can't even support itself‚ and yet the government keeps on keeping it alive because it's the symbol of Babylon! It'd be a terrible reflection on the Great Whore if her crown were to topple into the sea! Only I agree with dear Barry Goldwater, who said the best thing for New York and the whole country would be if they'd saw it off and take it out to sea and sink it!
33. "There be many that say, who will show us any good? Lord‚ lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us!" How do we see good? Can't you see the light of God's countenance even in the trees out here in the yard? In the grass and the sun‚ the clouds in the sky, the rain, everything around us bespeaks the light of God's countenance! Amen? (Sings:)
"This is My Father's World!
Oh, comfort with this thought!
All nature sings of Christ her King,
This is My Father's World!"
34. (Verse 7:) "Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased." What does that mean? (Family: They're happy at harvest time, but we're happy continually!) Yes‚ they're obviously happy with the abundance of their riches and their material increases‚ corn and wine. That's when they're happy, when they get to see all that good corn and all that wine, and then they're happy because they think they've really got it made with all their wealth and riches. But David says, "Thou hast put gladness in my heart! I'm happier in You than they are with all their riches!" PTL?
35. I'm trying to help you to understand these verses and expressions, because some of the old English is a little old for you youngsters‚ the way they express things poetically. It's very beautifully done and it's amazing how they could have translated all this and still kept the beauty of the language and the poetic expressions, etc., which are still classical in the English language. People use quotations and old expressions every day and don't even know they're quoting the Bible! Or they think it's just Shakespeare, but he was quoting the Bible! So our joy is in the Lord, our riches are in the Lord, amen?—More than all of the corn and the wine. PTL!
36. (Verse 8:) "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." You know, it's quite a commission of trust to lay yourself down on a bed, close your eyes and commit yourself to unconsciousness, the closest thing to death in this life.—To lie there and drift off into almost total unconsciousness and unawareness.
37. I can't say sleep is a total lack of feeling because actually your body still continues to function throughout the night. Your eyes sometimes even continue to function, in your imagination you see things, in dreams‚ etc. Your ears, believe it or not, are continually just like a computer, monitoring all the sounds around you, and the normal sounds that your ears are accustomed to hearing every night won't wake you up at all. It won't make any difference.
38. But if there's one little unusual sound that you're not accustomed to hearing, that doesn't normally occur in the night‚ it can wake you just like that!—Like that rustling of the paper last night. I'd already fallen asleep when that shopping bag finally slid to the floor, and some of that paper they have in this country is the crinkliest, noisiest stuff! It must be rice paper or something. They do make paper out of rice chaff, and it's supposed to be a pretty good paper. But some of those shopping bags are made of the noisiest paper!—Crinkly!
39. So when you think of all the things that could happen‚ to commit yourself to sleep is quite an act of faith and trust! The wicked do it too, of course, and they just think nothing of it, and sometimes they can't sleep. It says that the rich can't sleep for worrying about all his riches, whereas the poor man, the labouring man lies down to sleep and his sleep is sweet.—Ecc.5:12. Mostly, probably, because he's good and tired from hard work! But the rich man's lying there all the time thinking about how he's going to make more money, and mostly how he's going to hang on to what he's got and how to avoid taxes and how to do this and do that, and he can't even sleep for thinking about money all the time!
40. Sometimes I can't sleep in the night, but it's for another reason. I think sometimes maybe it's because I've had too much sleep or a nap in the daytime. I decided to quit taking naps in the daytime because I can sleep better at night when I'm good and tired. Sometimes I'm pretty tired in the daytime, but if I just keep on working and keep on going, usually I get over it. Or if I just lie down for maybe ten minutes‚ take a little quick cat-nap, just enough to doze off‚ it's really refreshing! Don't just force yourself to keep on going if you're really tired. If you need a little rest or nap, take it!—But you don't necessarily have to sleep all afternoon—most people don't anyhow. PTL!
41. Anyhow, to lie down and go to sleep is a great blessing. Sleep is counted in God's Word as a blessing, as an act of trust and faith in God that the Lord will help you to dwell in safety and not worry, fret or fear. I must admit that the first few nights in a strange place I'm quite conscious of every little sound and everything going on, till finally I kind of settle down. When I've finally figured out all the sounds and their origins and what's making them and figure out that everything's okay, I sort of settle down and sleep better. But the first two or three nights in a new place I'm sometimes a little wakeful.
42. But I'll tell you, if you didn't trust the Lord, that could sure keep you awake‚ huh?—Worrying and fearing about every little thing! You'd be worrying about robbers and thieves and enemies and varmints and critters and insects and lizards. I'll admit, after seeing that huge lizard I was really pretty conscious of noises for a few nights until the boys got the screens on the doors.
43. Well, we had a big noise last night! I think I'd just fallen asleep and all of a sudden there was a kind of a big rasping scratching noise. I thought, "What is that?" I was kind of sleepy but I've always found it's a pretty good idea to investigate. If we hadn't gone out and investigated that night we had the big lizard, he might've been up in your room in your bed!
44. (Techi: I like lizards in my bed!) Those little lizards‚ they're OK, but I wouldn't want'm in bed with me! (Techi: I would!) Oh well, that's sweet of you, I'm glad you can say that, we'll wait and see what happens when one of them does! (Techi: They'll just lick me but they won't bite me.) That's right‚ that's true! I don't expect them to bite you, not even a big one.
45. But anyhow, I'm glad we investigated that night, aren't you? (Family: Yes!) I thought, "Well, I'd better go look!" The hallway was dark but the light was on outside and there was a cat sitting in front of the door. Apparently he'd tried to climb in, climbed up the screen and I recognised the sound—I can remember hearing cats climb screens—and then he couldn't find a way in so he'd scrambled down and it made those kind of scraping rasping sounds. He was outside our back door trying to get in.
46. I think Maria must have more faith than me, because nothing keeps her awake except me! It doesn't matter what's going on, the noise doesn't wake her up, nothing wakes her up—unless I make the slightest move! I can roll and toss on the bed like normal and that doesn't wake her up, I can thrash around and make a big stir in the bed and not even wake her up a bit!
47. But if I try to very quietly creep and sneak out of the bed‚ I hardly even get my feet over to touch the floor before she's saying, "Where are you going? What are you doing? What's wrong? I'll get it! I'll go, I'll go!" And she jumps out of bed before she even knows what I'm doing or what I want to do or anything! Well, I say, "You can't go to the toilet for me" or whatever it is!
48. She's trying so hard to take care of Grandpa that she tries to jump out of bed before I can jump out of bed! It's almost like I'm tied to her with a string or something and I can only get so far and then the string jerks her into wakefulness. It's really a problem sometimes! I've even been kind of aggravated about it sometimes, but I decided, "Well‚ I guess it's the Lord. He wants her to know what I'm up to, what I'm doing!" So PTL!
49. Anyhow, if you trust the Lord‚ you should be able to sleep! Many is the night I've had problems or had things to worry about and I finally just had to do like they said dear old Bishop Asbury once testified. He'd been lying awake half the night worrying about his problems and all his churches and his diocese and all this, and finally he said he got the Scripture, "Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He shall sustain thee."—Psa.55:22.
50. He said, "All right, Lord, I'm going to throw the whole thing on You now and I'm going to turn over and go to sleep and let You worry about it the rest of the night!" So that's what I've had to do sometimes: "Well, Lord, I've thought and prayed about it enough now, I'm going to go to sleep and You can worry about it the rest of the night." But I'm sure He won't worry because He knows all about it! He knows the solution and He'll work it out. PTL? (Family: Amen!)
51. Well, amen, so you can "Lay down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord only makest me dwell in safety!" PTL! And that's what you're going to do in a few minutes‚ so shall we pray our little prayer? TYJ! Will someone lead us in closing prayer? (Family prays.) Amen! PTL! TYL! As we pray our goodnight prayer. (Prays: "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," Psa.19:14.)
52. "The Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make His face to shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee! The Lord lift up His countenance upon Thee and give thee peace."—Num.6:24-26.—And give our whole Family around the World peace, and their children and their friends and loved ones‚ Lord, who love Thee, in Jesus' name! Bless and keep them and protect them and provide for them and keep them busy for You, Jesus, and we know You will.
53. Thank You for all the good books and publications and Word and music tapes and everything that You've helped us to feed Thy Family around the World! Bless them and continue to make them a blessing‚ in Jesus' name. Give us all a good night's rest, safekeeping and strength for tomorrow, in Jesus' name.
54. Rebuke the devourers, the insects and the mosquitoes and the bugs, Lord, the fishflies and termites and any unwanted critters, Lord. Thank You for the screens that the boys put up so faithfully, in Jesus' name. Amen, Lord, and have Thy way about the war in the Falklands‚ You know what's best. Thy Will be done in Jesus' name. Both of these countries have persecuted Thy children (Britain and Argentina), so we ask Thee that Thou shalt judge them accordingly, in Jesus' name, and protect Thy children. Amen! PTL!