John Schmid Music

Month: February 2023

What Will It Take?

I sang in three “lock up” dorms in a maximum security prison in northern Florida at the annual “We Care” Prison Ministries Week in January. I set up a small speaker and sang in the hallway between the two rows of solitary confinement-type cells. The cell doors are thick steel with bullet proof glass windows and a small opening to shove the food through to the inmate.

I could hear the applause, but also the banging, kicking and yelling of disapproval coming from within the cells. (Not everybody appreciates country/gospel music.) I could see faces in the windows. My singing echoed and bounced back and forth off the bare concrete walls and steel cell doors.

In each dorm, after I sang for close to an hour, we went cell to cell to hand out little booklets and try to communicate through the crack at the edge of the door. We asked how we could pray for them. I was not supposed to “preach” because since the men did not come to our service voluntarily (we were “invading” their space), federal law prohibits religious “indoctrination.”  But I could sing the gospel. Even though most were appreciative, several refused our offer to pray for them.
“I’m fine…” 
“I don’t need that…”  
“I’m an atheist…”

It got me to thinking about atheists. Maybe this isn’t a foxhole in the war, or a near death experience, but I had a hard time trying to figure out this kind of hard heartedness in what I consider a desparate situation. What will it take to get their attention?

Since I had just read a tract telling the last words of five famous atheists, I’ll print them here:

Thomas Paine, atheist and author of two of the most influencial pamplets (Common Sense and The American Crisis) at the start of the American Revolution – “Stay with me, for God’s sake; I cannot bear to be left alone, O Lord, help me! O God, what have I done to suffer so much? What will become of me hereafter?… O Lord, help me! Christ, help me! For I am on the edge of Hell here alone. If ever the Devil had an agent, I have been that one.”

Sir Thomas Scott, a member of the British House of Lords around 1572-“Until this moment I thought there was neither a God nor Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty.”

David Hume, Scottish philosopher (1711-1776)- “I am in flames!”

Sir Francis Newport– the first Earl of Bradford (England), 1694- “You need not tell me there is no God for I now know there is one, and that I am in His presence! You need not tell me there is no Hell. I feel myself already slipping… I know I am lost forever! Oh, the fire! Oh, the insufferable pangs of Hell!” A fellow atheist companion tried to dispel his thoughts, but he had nothing to offer.

Anton LeVey, founder of The Church of Satan-“Oh my, oh my, what have I done?! There is something very wrong… there is something very wrong…”

Voltaire, (1694-1778) Anti-Christian French Enlightenment philosopher, famous for his wit and his criticism of Christianity- “…I am abandoned by God and man.” He said to his physician, Dr. Fochin: “I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months of life.” When he was told this was impossible, he said, “Then I shall die and go to hell!” His nurse said: “For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness.”

Steve Jobs, (not necessarily an atheist)- “Oh, wow… Oh wow… Oh wow…”

Chuck Wilson, an ex-convict friend who spent 30 years in London (Ohio) prison. Everytime he goes past a graveyard he says, “There is still time.”

Folks, there is still time. Give your heart to Jesus. Don’t end up in a tract about atheists.

Ray Comfort: “God doesn’t believe in atheists.”


Day and night the four living creatures never stopped saying,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come.” Rev. 4:8

As much as I look forward to Heaven, the assignment of saying, “Holy, holy, holy…” day and night, 24/7, in Heaven did not look very exciting to me. Then I heard E. V. Hill explain: “The reason the four living creatures are praising God day and night is because every time they bow and say ‘Holy, holy, holy’ they lift up their heads and look, and God has done something new AGAIN(!), so they bow down and praise Him again! He never stops doing something new!”

The people of God are marked by the set of their face. They look to the future, and they look with anticipation. Implicit in fellowship with God is the promise that the best is yet to be. Of course, there are those in the Old Testament who did not see this. The writer of Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun, that what has been will always be, that all things are more wearisome than one can express. (Ecc. 1:8-10) But this is a minority voice in the Old Testament.

-The psalmist tells us of a new song the Lord has given him. (Ps. 42:8)

-Isaiah writes of new things to be learned and a new name (Isa. 42:9, 62:2) and of a new heaven and a new earth (Isa. 65:17; 66:26).

-Jeremiah proclaims a new covenant and new mercies every morning (Jer. 31:31; Lam. 3:22,23).

-Ezekeiel tells of a new spirit and a new heart (Ezek. 11:19; 18:31; 36:26)

The New Testament picks up this theme and promises:

-a new birth (I Per. 1:3)
-a new life (Rom. 6:23)
-a new self (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10)
-a new attitude (Eph. 4:23)
-a new commandment (John 13:34)
-a new and living way (Heb. 10:20)
-a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15)
-a new heaven and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 2:1)

It should be no surprise to us, after we have considered all of the above, to find the concluding word coming from God Himself: “See, I have made all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) Apparently God never quits making things better because His word comes as the last word in human history. He is the God of the eternal renewal.

But what about the doleful words from the author of Eccesiastes? He may be a keener observer than we thought. He says there is nothing new under the sun, and he is right! The true newness never comes from us, from the natural. It comes from beyond us, from the God with whom we have the privilege of walking. Our response has to be: Everything is new under the Son, for it is He who makes all things new.

As I look at these last days of 2022 and into the future of 2023, my thoughts here are mixed with Dr. Dennis Kinlaw’s entry from his Jan. 2 meditation in the book, This Day with the Master. Dr. Robert Coleman, Professor of Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminay, often said, “The best is yet to be!” In this crazy world of conflict and evil, Isaac Watts said, “He rules the world with truth and grace, and He makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.”


The Name of Jesus

Dennis Kinlaw was the president of Asbury College. He is probably the most brilliant man I ever knew personally. He was a true scholar. He read the Bible in the original languages (Greek and Hebrew), but when he preached, a six year old (and I) could understand him. He had the gift of bringing complex thoughts to the level of the common man. Here is one of his meditations on the Christmas season:

In a few days the world will pause to acknowledge the birth of Jesus. How many world leaders will see a relation between the One whose birth is celebrated and the events that take place in our world? Most of the Western world will again hear Handel’s Messiah, but few will think that the “Hallelujah Chorus” has anything to do with actual world events and history. The reality is that those lines- “King of kings and Lord of lords, and He shall reign forever and ever” -are not just music. They are truth. Jesus will reign. Better still, He does reign. It is He who presides over world history, even though the media and the politicians do not know it. Jesus is Lord.

Sam Kamaleson was preaching in an evangelistic crusade in Romania just as the Communist world of Eastern Europe was collapsing. His audience, so long deprived of God and His Word, was large and attentive. One night as he preached, Sam became conscious of an unexpected sound that swept across his audience. Slowly he recognized that the wave of sound came every time he used the name of Jesus. Then he realized that it was the women in the audience weeping. The sound increased, and he realized that the men were weeping as well. Sam said that soon, he found himself weeping everytime he mentioned the name of Jesus. He explained, “You know, when the last alternative option to Jesus has been exhausted and shown for its true bankruptcy, the name of Jesus takes on great power and allure.”

Sam’s statement is the best expression of the biblical philosophy of history that I have ever heard. When we choose to go our own way, God does not stop us. He lets us go until our lives collapse around us. Then in the chaos and hurt we become open again to the One from whom we have turned, and we find hope in His name. This is true for institutions, movements, countries, and cultures as well as individuals like you and me. We may reject Him for a long time, but at the end of every road will be the ultimately inescapable Christ. Ezekiel has a word for this, recurrent through his prophecy: “You shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezek. 13:23)                                                            
– Dennis Kinlaw, This Day with the Master, pg. Dec. 2

Merry Christmas! May the Christ become more real to you this Christmas season!