Levi Lusko - Dot, Dot, Dot... Done
Psalm 103, as you can see in the text, is a psalm of David. And that's all the details you're going to get, literally, because it's all we're told. The psalm of David. Sometimes it would say, a psalm of David when this dude was trying to kill him, and so he had to hide in a cave for a hot minute. Other psalms will say, a psalm of David after he went into Bathsheba and slept with someone who wasn't his wife. Ruh-roh. Right? And I'm actually really grateful that there are Psalms for both those occasions. And if you feel like you're being hunted today by someone who's unfairly treating you, and you're living in a cave, and you don't know where your next meal is going to come from, I'm telling you there's a Psalm for that. You can cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you.
And if today you have committed some sin, and you feel dirty, and you feel unworthy, I'm telling you something, there is a psalm for that too. And you can come to the One who made you and loves you and find forgiveness for your sin. And I find no amount of, no small amount of pleasure knowing we preach this message of forgiveness and restoration and new beginnings into the Montana State Prison, as we do every single weekend, and into the prison system spread out across the whole country through the Pando app. And so we speak forgiveness and hope and new beginnings into your life and in restoring what is lost. But this psalm, Psalm 103 is just called a psalm of David. And commentaries say that's significant because we don't know anything meaningfully that was going on in David's life. And sometimes we have years like that.
There are years that you're going to face, they're going to be really hard years. And those are years to worship God. And there are going to be years that you're going to go through where you failed in some way, small or large. And you know what, those are years to go to God. And as we come to the end of 2021, you might feel like, you know, I'm not really in either of those camps. I'm just, This is, You know what, here's what you have. A psalm of David. This is a psalm to sing in the time when there's nothing really to report. It's still time to worship God. And so I present to you the psalm that Spurgeon said is a psalm so beautiful that 1,000 pens could never begin to approach the magnitude of what is contained. And he compared it to looking at the Himalayas, but seeing one peak rise above the rest.
And I wouldn't know, because the only chance I had to see the Himalayas, it was foggy that day. And we had driven like eight hours across Nepal to see the Himalayas, and we couldn't see nothing but fog. So is what it is. Not bitter. Just saying. Verse 1. "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's". "The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities".
"For us the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For he knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone. And its place remembers it no more". "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to our children's children to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts you ministers of His who do His pleasure. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion".
And then David ends as he began. "Bless the Lord, O my soul"! Come on, aren't you thankful for God's word? Are you grateful that we've been given it? I know I am, and I think it's worthy of noting that David here, three different times, tells his soul what to do. And maybe it's for good reason because I think our souls automatically know that we need to seek God when we've made a big mess. Our souls sort of automatically know we need God's help when we're up against a crisis, and we don't have a job, and we did the thing that we said we weren't going to do. And it's like, it's sort of human nature to beg out to God for mercy. Those foxhole moments of life our soul is screaming, help. But maybe, just maybe, it's in the times when it's just sort of another year, and things are OK, or maybe we've had a really good year, it's in those times that we have to do what David said, and say to ourselves, hey, don't forget you still need Him. Don't forget all of His benefits. Bless the Lord, soul. Don't go to sleep in there. It's time to wake up and serve, and time to wake up and praise Him.
And then David, he gets so fired up on all this, forget not all His benefits, that he starts telling the angels what to do. Starts telling creation what to do. Starts getting all bossy bossy pants over here, right, because he's just filled up with praise. He's encouraging. He's participating. And the tone here, as the psalm ends, is perfect for our purposes as we consider the significance and the impact of the first time in history a railroad was built across a continent. And just as Lincoln signed into law the Pacific Railway Act, ensuring there would be built a railroad from east to west, so David here, on his radar as he's worshipping God, is the merciful loving kindness of a God who separates us from our sin, verse 12, so that they're as far from us as the east is from the west. He does not treat us as we deserve. He does not treat us according to our sins. He looks at our sins, but looks to the cross, and treats us like Jesus deserves to be treated because He treated Jesus as we deserve to be treated.
And so we're asking the question, what does it look like to build a path for God's mercy, and for that message to go to more places. Because before they could ever lay down the railroad ties, before they could ever lay down the 500-pound rails, before they could ever spike them into place with 7,000,000 spikes, first surveyors had to go out and look and find the route. Crazy Judah had to say, I think we can get through the Sierras if we take the Donner Pass. And then the graders had to go out, shovel-load after shovel-load, wheelbarrow-load after wheelbarrow-load of dirt to make a path. To make an elevated highway. To do what John the Baptist did, and what I believe all of us are called to do to, make straight the way of the Lord. We're not the track. We're not the train. Jesus alone can bridge heaven and earth, but He's called us to shovel some dirt, y'all. He's called us to do what we can. He's called us to use the language of John 11.
Only Jesus can speak Lazarus out of that grave, Lazarus, come forth. But what did Mary and Martha get to do? They rolled away the stone, and they unwrapped the mummy. They both got rid of the barrier separating the need from the Savior, , and then once the miracle had happened, they had to take care of it. After Jesus raised a little girl from the dead once in the Gospels, He told those in the room now you give her something to eat. So we got to feed our miracles. Someone comes to Christ in this ministry, it's our job to talk about, OK, now next steps. Now baptism, now here's how to read your Bible, now here's how to pray, now here's how to be discipled, now here's a group of people. Here's what's in your life that's going to need to change, and as you grow and walk with God, here's what that journey and process looks like.
And before someone can be sitting there to hear the message, someone's got to send them a link. Someone's got to share about that thing that happened on their Facebook page so someone can watch it. We have heard more things than you can imagine from someone coming to an Easter gathering who saw an invitation in a bathroom stall on the floor and picked it up and said maybe, and I hope to God they washed their hands, but they came to church and heard the message. That's us rolling away the stone. That's us making the level grade that the track can go on. Like Paul said, I planted, and this person watered, but God gave the increase. All right? So someone's the surveyor, and someone's the grader, and this person's got this tie, and we all together can do what none of us can do on our own.
That is the history of the Church. It is the original crowdfunded campaign. I'm telling you, God has called you to be a part, and you to be a part, and he's given me a part to play, and if we'll roll the stone away, and if we'll unwrap the mummy, I'm telling you Jesus Christ has the Resurrection power. And that's what this vision is all about. And there are, like I said, I don't have a sermon, but just some thoughts that I had as I was letting Psalm 103 just swirl around in my mind and thinking about when that final golden spike was driven in. And I have here a replica of the final spike. This is in every single way the same as the one that was driven that day, except that that one was solid gold. So you don't need to mug me after the service. This one's not. But in every other way, the details, the words that are written on it, the names that are written on it. Every single, the fact that it says the last spike right on the top.
A jeweler from San Francisco made the original. It's in Stanford library in Palo Alto, California. Apparently you can go see it, but this is a replica. But before that spike was driven in, there was a lot that accompanied it. And after the spike was driven in, there was a lot that was unleashed through it. And so we have similarities here to what's before us in Psalm 103, because, man, there were so many incidental things that took place after the railroad was built. It changed the way we sing. If you look into it, songs that have their roots in the railroad, both songs that were sung while it was being built and songs after the fact, there's some incredible songs that have, or tie-in in some way to the railroad. Movies. Think about how many movies you've seen that involve the railroad. In. On. Upon. Around. Right?
There's no train movie that doesn't involve with someone on the roof, like some epic fight scene on the roof of the train, right, ducking under tunnels or decapitating Gene Hackman with a tunnel, right? Well done, Speed. There's some incredible things that have unleashed on our culture. Even the way that we speak. Think about it. If you've ever described a project as going off the rails. Or a part of a town as being on the wrong side of the, Tracks. Which, by the way, came from when the original locomotives that burned wood to create the steam, they would have billowing, billowing clouds of smoke coming off of them. And whatever windy side of the city, the smoky side of the city became known as the wrong side of the tracks. Even phrases that we would use, like a double header, two baseball games in a row. We got a double header this weekend. That came from trains that were going up hills in the Sierras, and so one locomotive couldn't pull it.
So they would, and to this day, attach two engines, and it would be a double header that would be needed to pull that train. There's also interesting things like someone who has a busy day at work and then they get home and going to watch a little bit of TV or just chill for a little bit. Why? Because I need to blow off some, Steam. We speak locomotive. We speak railroad. It's in our blood. We are a railroad people. This country linked up east and west because, and made possible by, the railroad. Even the way that we keep time. The fact is, I have on my wrist watch. The time you have yours, wherever you're watching across the country, we're divided up by time zones. That's only because of the railroad. Think about it. Before the country was linked up by these two strips of iron, time was basically attached to where you were, and you would say what time is it. I don't know, where's the sun at.
All right, that's high noon. That's what time it is here. And so clocks, which were a relatively modern phenomenon attached to this period in history, were all kept based on where the sun was where they were. But as you know, as you travel, every 13 miles and minutes are attached to where the sun moves and so the time is somewhat different. And so it needed to be standardized if, when this was all done, people could be standing at the train tracks with their suitcases ready for their journey. Ready to go across the country. Thank you. Ready to not travel six months around South America. That sounds refreshingly nice. And to not spend $1,000 and take your own life into your hands to get to this new West, to get to the Gold Rush, to get to this new Louisiana Purchase or the Oregon territories. To not have to go out on a wagon and have grandma die of dysentery, and uncle Ted get bit by a snake, right?
But listen, if you're going to stand there as this train, every day, predictably, which transformed what was dangerous, what was expensive, and what was unpredictable, into something that was standardized, efficient, systematic, and affordable. Because a coach ticket on the transcontinental railroad would cost you $65. That's a lot better than $1,000 ship ticket to go around the long way. But when is the train coming through my city? When is the train coming through where I'm at? They had to find a way to standardize time so that you would know when to show up at the tracks for the train to come through the station. And so they developed something called time zones and a standard time that would be reflected in unity all across the country. I'm telling you our lives have been changed in so many ways that we don't even realize by the connection of the railroad.
Now these were incidental things. These were things that were overflow. This wasn't what they had in mind. Lincoln wasn't like, all right, we're building a railroad so that we can figure out time. We're building the railroad so that Boxcar Willie can make up some wonderfully cute folk songs down the road. No, we're making a connection east to west was the heart, and all of these other things were added on as incidental overflows. Like David says in Psalm 103, where there are so many benefits to following God. And he said don't forget how many there are. Your youth gets renewed like the eagle's, who doesn't want that? Spiritual Botox for you and spiritual Botox for you and spiritual Botox for me. Man, when I'm feeling run down, when I'm feeling my miles, when I'm feeling my age, I can wait upon the Lord and have new strength? That's amazing.
Oh, how about this? He crowns you with tender mercies and lovingkindness. Who doesn't want a crown? And that's just one of many crowns spoken of throughout the pages of scripture. There are so many promises of different crowns that God wants to give to each of us. And part of the reward ceremony in heaven when we stand before Him is Him giving us, whether we, with our own potential, stacked up to wood, Paul said. Hay, Paul said. Stubble, Paul said. Or gold and silver and precious stones. And by the way, whether your crown is a crown of wood or a crown of silver is not an amount, like you didn't give enough. It's what you gave in proportion to what you received. So all of us must not only ask the question, what should I give, but what should I give out of what I have been entrusted, and that changes upon season of life, upon blessings God has given.
And so we can't roll through it in cruise control. We have to always say, bless the Lord, O my soul. Because God remembers our frame and my frame and your frame. These are different things. I could give a gift that would earn me wood, that would be gold for you, or vise versa. But the big thing is not the crowns, and it's not youth being renewed like the eagle's, and even the fact that it says He's going to heal diseases. That's wonderful. The power of healing. The power of miracles. My wife and I, even in this past week, have had confirmed words of prayers we've asked. We've seen God do things. We saw God do something this week that made a pastor change his theology right in front of us. Literally, he goes, after this prayer meeting we were in Florida, this pastor goes, I don't even believe in signs and dreams, and one just happened.
And he was like, walked away mad, like, dang it, now I have, like there's just nothing he could say because God so, in the moment, through someone he had never met before, spoke something into his exact situation that mirrored up to what he was facing. It was God showing up as a hedge, as a strong right arm, which He is to you to this day. But let me tell you something. The healing from the diseases, the prophetic words and dreams, the youth being renewed like an eagle. That's not the point. The point is He took your sin as far as the east is from the west from you, and that made all those other things possible. You see, the point is, we must never bury the lead. Jesus said to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven you. And all his friends were like, bro, homie needs to walk. And Jesus said, that's not his most pressing need. His most pressing need is the forgiveness of the invisible problem.
And after that, we can talk through and work out all these other things. I think we have a generation coming to God for goodness and mercy, but He always wants us to follow our Good Shepherd believing goodness and mercy will follow after us. They're overflows of the gospel, but the gospel is and always will be, there is one mediator between man and God. It is the man, Christ Jesus. And if you come to Him, He alone can save you. He alone can forgive you. He alone can separate you from your sins as far as the east is from the west. And when he deals with that, then the process and the journey, then the eagles and the crowns, then the diseases and the dreams, then the callings and walking those things out, but not ever getting the caboose before the locomotive.
So, there are so many things that make this beautiful. And I wrote just down three words before we all give together. And the three words, I'll just give them to you now, are waiting, participating, and celebrating. Waiting, participating, and celebrating. We can't talk about railroads without talking about waiting, because when you wait for a train, if you've gone Amtrak, you've found they're oftentimes not on time, right? If you've gone BSNF, you have found that there's often a delay. Delays are a part of the experience. Interestingly to me, that of all the things that I laugh at about the golden spike is the fact that the wrong date is on the original golden spike. This one has written, May 10th, 1869. But actually, May 8th, 1869. Dang it. It's cursive. So hard to read.
The actual ceremony took place on May 10th, but they engraved it May 8th because that's when they thought it was going to be finished. But how many of you know, like following God, God's ways are not our ways. Oftentimes things don't happen like you think they're going to happen. And part of the reason it didn't take place for two days from when they thought it was going to happen was because Dr. Ant, Thomas Durant, who was the head of the Union Pacific, was coming in Lincoln's Pullman, Lincoln's funeral car that they had pimped out for Lincoln to ride, and then he died, they used it for his hearse. Then Durant was like, well, I'm going to make it mine, and he swagged it out. Pimp my train car. And now it became how he rolled around the country. Choo choo. Right? The wheels spun even at stoplights, and it was like funky train with hydraulics on it. I'm joking.
Well, he was coming to the ceremony, the golden spike ceremony, on his way, and all of a sudden there was a huge pile of railroad ties in front of the tracks. And 300 of his disgruntled workers stopped his train and held him hostage because they hadn't received back pay of $200,000. And they said, hey, ain't nobody going through these tracks until we get paid, homie. And don't mess with them. And most of them are Irish, all right? And so he had to telegram back to the East Coast, and he was able to scrounge up $50,000, and that tided them over, and so they let the train go through. But many people who were Durant's co-workers, after the fact, thought that he actually was complicit in all of this because he owned a lot of the companies that were subcontracted out through Crédit Mobilier, and this huge scandal. And that he may have very well held his own self kidnapped to pay himself with their money before he would go to the ceremony.
He did not give a speech on May 10th when the actual ceremony happened, and that's because of how much whiskey he drank on the way there. And in the pictures you can tell him. He is looking like the sun is a little too bright in the sky for him to have anything to say on this day. It's some interesting stuff. God uses all kinds of people, I suppose. But delays are a part of the process. And when we read a verse, like, God heals all our diseases, that hits some of us differently, because some of us have a prayer for something that we are not seeing. And it's a perfect space for us to enter into this conversation of waiting, and God's delays, and I engraved May 8th on the spike, but it's May 9th, and where is the train. And that is to say that we are sitting in this moment inside a season of waiting, called Advent, and a journey of hope, and a sense of expectation. And you remember the hundreds of silent years in between the Old and New Testament, in between Malachi and Matthew. Where is God? You're taking too long.
What I want to say to you as we embrace the waiting, is that God's delays are not His denials, for while we're waiting, He is working. And even as many in the nation of Israel were giving up, the Messiah was on His way. And the waiting time is a time of testing. It's a time of embracing. It's a time of God doing what we don't even have the faith to ask Him to do. So I say we embrace the waiting for it is not wasted time where we wait and believe. We're waiting here, God, for You. And He fills that delay with His presence. He fills it with his grace. I sit in this Advent season, like you, with things in my heart that I believe God will do, that He will not do fully until heaven, and knowing that being reconnected with those we love, and in that perfect place.
My wife's been reading the Joni Eareckson Tada updated biography that just came out. This young girl, who at 17, broke her neck in a diving accident, and then spent every day of her life in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic. And she has chosen to paint with her teeth and write and speak. And she longs and looks forward to a day when He will heal all her diseases. She will walk again. She says, after a quick leapfrog over the tombstone, I will be in a body that can dance and cartwheel and sing freely. And so our waiting is not just in this life, but we also look to all of eternal life for God's full promises to be made perfectly clear to us. That what we were waiting for was worth it. And every single one of us, in his presence, in fullness of joy, we will look back on what He did that didn't always line up with our May 8th itinerary that we had printed in, etched into the side of the Golden spike, and we say God, this is when I would like my miracle, and we will look in eternity, back on this life and we will say God, You have done all things well. I would not change a thing.
And so waiting is an important part of the process. Secondly, participating together, believing that teamwork is what makes the dream work, the 25,000 people that were involved in this project, it rivaled, in scope, the Civil War itself, which was playing out, at least for the final two years of the Civil War, at the same time. So many different jobs. So many parts. The contributions so different from place to place. And coming at it from, I love this, two different directions. And throughout this whole time, not only been thinking of our locations and campuses and even watch parties, but then also thinking about church online family, and people cheering this on who have believed from day one and have loved and fought for this to happen.
I love that we're coming together from both directions, from sea to shining sea. And to get a letter in the mail this week, and have someone angry when you push that picture up, and you showed how many people are engaged in the Fresh Life family around the world, I noticed my country in Africa was not highlighted, but I'm a faithful part of it. I am so sorry. Our graphics department must have missed that one. There is something so big happening, and I love that it's happening from multiple different fronts, and we get to meet in the middle. We're participating collaboratively. The spike layers, the rail layers, the tie layers, the surveyors, the graders. It takes all kinds, and every contribution is significant. Every contribution. I mean, look at the photo of when the final golden spike was driven in.
This is the photo from the ceremony. Andrew Russell took this photo. It's one of the most noteworthy photos in American history, where east meets west. And all these people, look how many different people it took. And here's the interesting thing about this photo. Who's not in it? Who's not in the photo? Well there's a lot of people missing from this photo. Most notably, it has been pointed out there is not one single Chinese person in this photograph. 8,000 people from China were involved in the building of the transcontinental railroad, and when they posed for this celebratory photo, as Jupiter and Number 119 engines were going to touch, and the men at the top were going to trade champagne bottles back and forth, and handshakes were taking place. And Dr. Ant was super hungover. They did not allow one single Chinese person to be in this photo, which is an absolute travesty, since it is arguably the Chinese who made the greatest contribution in this entire Herculean effort. We put on Instagram captions, not pictured. This photo is a story of, not pictured, those who actually did the hardest job in making this thing happen but were not invited to be celebrated.
And here's what I want you to know. No matter your contribution, God is keeping track. God sees what is done in secret and will reward you openly. You might not feel like you have the biggest gift to give, but God sees not the size of your gift, He sees the size of the sacrifice. And each and every year, we see people with modest means saying, I'm going to give a sacrificial gift, and yes, there are some who say, well I've been entrusted with more, and I can do more. But the key is that it's a weighty gift to you. I'm holding this. There's a heft to this. Our central staff gathered and prayed and got on our knees for the church this week, and as we passed this spike around, you feel, there's a sense of preciousness to it. All we're asking you to do as you give your gift is make sure there's a preciousness to you. That it is not a gift you could just give flippantly. It's not a gift that you could just give lightly.
And every year we have people ask, can I transfer stocks? How can we do this? And you can contact the church for those special requests. And we have people ask questions about estate planning, and how can I prioritize the kingdom of God when I go home to heaven. And all those conversations are important, and I think, reflect that there's a weightiness to it. That there's a thought of, I'm praying, I'm calculated. This is not an afterthought to me. This is a, I seek first the kingdom of God. Remember, bless the Lord, O my soul. Don't shift into a complacent mode. I'm participating. Every contribution is significant. And I think along those lines of, not pictured, those who did it, is to me the beauty of our being able to sort of, jujitsu some of what were arguably very negative things to come out of the building of the transcontinental railroad. And I told you at the beginning, there are a lot of what, what about, what about, what abouts that we would ask when we're kind of lionizing and celebrating this beautiful project, which did so much good and change the world in so many good ways. We do need to ask the question of the elephant in the room, What was the negative side of this? What's the dark underside of this?
Included in that conversation would be the way this was one of the worst things that ever happened to Native Americans, who were already living in this country. And opening up of the West, and blazing a trail, and honey we're home, and this land is my land, and this land is my land. And what about you? You don't get any land. And the railroad played a massive part in harming the way of the life for those who were already living in this country. And one of the big pieces of that puzzle was the way that the train, going across the country, nearly drove the wild bison into extinction. And they offered for sport, once the train was going, you could rent a rifle and be on the train and stand at the back of this boxcar, and you just get to shoot buffalo as you go by. Why? Because what else are you going to do? You're here for days, and you have a lot of money. We'll kill some buffalo on the way. And it was like the first video game in history. And you're like, how bad could it be?
Well, you tell me. Look at this photo. This is a pile of buffalo skulls, bison skulls, that were piled up in Michigan during this period. And one of the reasons they were incentivized to do this was because many of the Native Americans did not want to go to reservations, but people said if we kill all of their food supply, they will have no choice. And this trail of tears, that is a real photo of Buffalo skulls. They wouldn't even eat the meat. The train wouldn't stop. They were just shooting the buffalo and the bison as they went by across the great vacancy, the spacious vacancy, as Robert Louis Stevenson called the plains. And they just killed every single one in sight. History records the only time they stopped slaughtering the bison on the train was when the rifles grew too hot to touch. And some would kill hundreds in a day. And the meat would just rot in the sun. They wouldn't even take any of it.
And it's a horrible atrocity. And that's why I love, if you have had the time to look through this pamphlet of some of the things that are going to happen, as we together, all come together in giving, is we're going to go onto the Flathead Indian reservation and continue our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County that serves the Flathead Indian reservation. We're going to continue with safe-harbor funding the renovation of an apartment that will be used as a transitional unit for survivors of domestic violence. We are going to, as well, continue our priority of our Families First connection with the reservation, and this is providing essential food and essential supplies and school supplies. And many of you know we've taken steps of faith to meet and match and even exceed budgets that were lost for this beautiful non-profit on the Indian reservation to the South. And we were getting contacted by the tribal council and invited to come into one of their meetings. And they just wanted to thank our whole church on behalf of what we've been doing.
So we want to continue those partnerships. Our golden spike can do, in many ways, some of the spiritual jujitsu of what this original one did. Anybody thankful to prioritize, And that's just scratching the surface of the ways that we can fight for those not invited to be in the picture. There's ministry that's going to be done all around the world. Opening blind eyes in India and Nepal. Sending Samaritan's Purse out to do the work they're doing in Afghanistan. Going to the Philippines again and building and funding the Happy Children's Ranch. And on and on and on it goes. And I think that if we ask the question, where is the world going? Because some of us are asking that, aren't we? What's happening to this world? Where is the world going?
Well, you don't have to look anywhere other than Revelation. Here's where the world is going. Every tribe, every tongue, every language, every nation before the throne of God. That's where history moves. We are either on that train, or we are missing out on potential, on the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing. That is where the world is going. All of history culminates in a throne room. And invited to the party are those often not pictured in the photograph. And we will never miss out fighting for the lost, the last, the least, and the forgotten. And not just when it comes to races. Also when it comes to situations and setbacks. And to see what I'm talking about, please draw your attention to the screen.
There is some argument among historians as to which moment in history was the most disruptive and brought about the most cataclysmic change in a single moment. But a lot of people, myself included, would put the moment that the golden spike was driven, May 10th, 1869, just outside of Salt Lake City in Utah, as the moment when, more than any other, life changed. Historian Stephen Ambrose put it this way. "A man whose birthday was in 1829 or earlier had been born into a world in which President Andrew Jackson traveled no faster than Julius Caesar. A world in which no thought or information could be transmitted any faster than in Alexander the Great's time". Just think about that. That's 2000 years where life pretty much stayed at the same clip. "In 1869," though, "with the railroad and the telegraph that was beside it," Because they simultaneously were building the railroad and connecting the country for telegrams. "A man could now move at 60 miles per hour and transmit an idea or a statistic from coast to coast almost instantly. Senator Daniel Webster got it exactly in 1847, when he proclaimed that the railroad towers above all other inventions of this or the preceding age".
Now some would say, come on Levi. Train? Telegram? What about the airplane? What about email? What about the atomic age? And I would say those things steadily and incrementally built upon what you were already doing. But when you went from just being able to walk however fast you could walk is how fast you could go, to now you can go 60 miles an hour. Now you can go across the country while just gazing out the window and having a cup of coffee. When you went from the Pony Express, I'm going to mail a letter, it's going to take six months to get there, to now, instant communication from Washington, D.C. All the way to San Francisco. That, it has been said, was when, like never before or since, has more change happened more instantly. And the nation realized the implications when this crazy dream, that was so laughable that they said you might as well build one that goes to the moon, was now realized in the country who had been following along with bated breath.
Getting end of the track reports from the telegram dispatching back we made it a mile today. We made it 4 miles today. Everyone's following the news. It was like it was like fantasy football, in its time. And when they finally realized, oh, we're about to connect, oh, it's happening on this day, there were crowds of people waiting all across the country for the news. And someone in many cities was called upon to lead a prayer, realizing that this was a moment that was pregnant with expectation. And I looked at a lot of the different prayers that were prayed, including the one that was prayed from Utah, but my favorite was a prayer that was prayed in New York City, in Trinity Church. A Dr. Morgan Dix stood up to give a blessing, and he said, "Oh God, the Creator of the ends of the Earth, Who upholdest all things by the Word of Thy power, without Whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; we bless and magnify Thy glorious name that by Thy goodness the great work which we commemorate this day has been accomplished so that the extreme borders of our land have been joined and brought nigh together, and a pathway opened between remote parts of the earth, both for the commerce of the nations and for a highway and a way whereby," look at this, "Thy gospel may have free course and Thy holy name may be glorified. We thank Thee that the wilderness and the solitary place are made glad, and that the desert may rejoice and blossom as the rose".
He was praying that this new cutting-edge thing being given would be harnessed, even though evil would happen as a result, but that good would take place as the gospel would move around the country. And that's exactly what happened. One small way is the fact that someone had the brilliant idea of saying, hey, if people are going to be traveling let's go to where the people are. And so 13 chapel cars were put into commission around the country, that ran until the year 1930. And these were cars, like the dining car, the observation car, the sleeper car. Oh there's the church car. Here's a photo inside it, where there would be pews, and there would be a pulpit, and there would be a pastor who would get on the train every day and just give sermons to people who are willing to come in and listen to them. Some of the things they did in these chapel cars are awesome. Some of them I cannot endorse. Like they did tracts. I love the railmen's prayer tract they made to give the railroad workers.
Look at this one. It's a little prayer for people who work on the railroad. Blessing on their day. It had the gospel inside it as you opened it up. This one I can't get behind. This one a little more creative, but which route will you take? Damnation railway? The quick route to hell. Look at leaving from suicide avenue on the lightning train. This train stops at worldly depot where proud formal church members takes a sleeping car for hell. Right? They didn't, they just called it like it was. Who's the conductor on this train? The Prince of darkness. Right? Wow. A little heavy-handed. But I like the spirit, right? What are they trying to do? They're trying to take something God gave to them, we didn't ask for the train. Here it is. Now let's use it for God's glory. And that's what we want to do. One podcast at a time. One web stream at a time. One broadcast at a time. People are online. So let's put the gospel on the railroad.
So the country is waiting, and people are standing in the street, and there's been red, white, and blue bunting put up everywhere, coast to coast, and the golden spike is there. Before it's driven, a wire is wrapped around it, and all the other spikes have been put into place and they've been, three hits of the hammer per spike. And once they're all driven, the final golden spike is now put into position. And with the wire wrapped around it going up to the telegram pole which has now been connected, all across the country, the first information superhighway. Whenever the hammer touches it, making the solid connection, oh, I forgot tell you my sermon title. "Dot, Dot, Dot, Done". Because that was what was going to be broadcast in San Francisco and New York City and everywhere in between. Dot, Dot, Dot, Done. Whenever the hammer would touch it.
But they had linked up a bunch of cannons in New York. They put 200 cannons facing the Atlantic Ocean, and the fuse of these cannons was connected to the telegram line. A 15-inch gun was set up in San Francisco Harbor, facing the water. It too connected to the spike. Every fire alarm in the entire country was wired to receive "Dot, Dot, Dot, Done". It is finished. And they were going to ring every single building with a fire alarm. It was going to go off. Fireworks displays were set to be triggered by this all. And when it happened, when the final spoke was driven, when the final spike was driven, when that nail went in, "Dot, Dot, Dot, Done". It was just the sound of a simple hammer in Utah, but around the country people began to dance in the streets. A seven mile long parade in Chicago took place. It was the longest parade up until that point in the city's history.
People realized what had been unleashed when that spike was driven. And I can't help but go to Colossians when I think about this imagery, because they even for the occasion chose to break the rule of no ringing the Liberty Bell. And when that spike was driven and all the pandemonium that was going on in the cannons being shot off and the people dancing, someone rang the Liberty Bell. And the thought that just shook me to the core was a spike being driven, and the sound of liberty ringing out across the world. And that's what Colossians says our story that we don't want to forget, the story that causes us to want to bless the Lord, and how do you bless the Lord? You do for him what he wants to be done to his sons and daughters.
My kids never bless me more than when they love and serve each other. The thought that they will take care of each other to the grave is what brings my fatherly heart joy. What can we bless the Lord with? Bless the Lord, O my soul. What would bless God if not to fight for the gospel to ring out from sea to shining sea. For Colossians says, on the day that Jesus died at a hill called Calvary, that is where we were though dead in our trespasses and the uncircumcision of our flesh, we were made alive together with him, forgiven all our trespasses. He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. How did he do it? He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. It is not lost on me that every spike was driven with three taps of the hammer, and as I think about our Savior willing to go to the cross where a spike was driven through his hand, and his other hand, and a spike through his feet, it was with the sound of a hammer on a nail that liberty has rung out across the world. We are not dead. We are alive, so let the sound of liberty ring out from our lives.
And so Father, that's our prayer. Our prayer that we would see our lives as a part of the parade, as a part of the track being laid so that more people can know, so that more people can hear, so that those who are hurting and hungry and helpless can be shown love and kindness and grace. We bless the Lord with our souls, not forgetting all His benefits. Today we nail our spikes down, God, but it is as a response to what You laid down, the golden spike of Your son, Jesus Christ. Bless now Your people as they prepare to give, and we ask above all things that if even one person listening to the sound of my voice does not know You, is without God and without hope in this world, we pray You would draw them to yourself.
Friend, listen. Life is a vapor, and as the text said, like the grass that withers because the wind blows on it, so we must remember we are about dust. And there's going to come a day when we're going to leave this world, and we really will end up in heaven or hell, and it has everything to do with Jesus. The only One who can save, the only One who can heal, the only One who can forgive. And He wants to take your sins and separate them from you like the east is from the west, but you have to invite him in. He says, all aboard, and you have to be willing to board that train.
And if you're here today watching online, and you've never yet said yes to Jesus, there are going to be religious people in hell, there are going to be preachers in hell, there going to be so many people who know enough to be saved, but it's not about knowledge. It's about participation. It's about acceptance. Have you given your heart to Jesus? Or perhaps you're here, like the Prodigal Son or daughter, you grew up knowing all about God, but you have gone your own way. And I would ask you, have those things you've gone looking to the world to give you brought you satisfaction? They bring a hollow pleasure, and then they bring heartache. Today's the day to come home to your Father, rededicating your life to God. I'm going to pray a prayer. And if you're ready to invite Jesus into your life or rededicate your heart to God, I want you to say this prayer out loud, after me. God will hear you. The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. Say this. Church, say it with us:
Dear God, I need You. I'm lost without You. I give my life to You. Come into my heart and make me new. In Jesus' name.