My terminal, a DEC

The Secret of Dumb Terminals

My Favorite Terminal, My DEC VT-510.

December 11, 2002 (re-edited March 1, 2006)

Back in 2002 and earlier I had a terminal sitting on my desk. It was a major part of my computing day. It was a VT-510, manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation. Terminals are not as common these days as in the past. I don't want to bore you with dull technical stuff, but I've brought this up because my terminal reveals a GREAT spiritual secret.

You've seen terminals, but didn't really notice them much. You saw them when you went into the auto parts store. It's that keyboard and monitor thing that the clerk used to look up the part number for your car's spark plugs or alternator. Back in the 70s and 80s bank tellers used terminals almost exclusively. Terminals were manufactured with white, amber or green screen characters, most often. In the industry they often called the monitor on a terminal "a mono-chrome monitor," because of it's inability to display more than one color. My VT-510 had white characters on a black background.

Terminals are connected by a cable to a server, usually in the back room. Most often that server is just an Intel-based personal computer that has been programmed to supply data to one or more terminals. If you disconnect the server cable from the back of the terminal, that terminal becomes a "boat anchor." The screen will show a blinking cursor, but no information can be accessed. Terminals are dumb, hence the popular name "dumb terminal." Terminals don't do any computing to speak of. They totally rely on the powerful computer in the back room.

Terminals were once very popular in many businesses because they saved a lot of money. A company could buy one powerful computer and scores of workers could work on cheap terminals connected to that one server. That was a good business model until the price of some computers plummeted below the price of most terminals.

A terminal connected correctly to a serving computer can do word processing, email, spreadsheets, chat, simple games, access databases, use text-based Internet, and even connect to servers all over the world, if it's home server has an Internet connection.

I've watched in amazement as my son would sometimes sit down at my little VT-510 terminal and go on the Internet, and into one of his customer's computers, in a city hundreds of miles away to reprogram something.

But, by itself the terminal is a nothing. It needs to be connected to it's host computer. The host computer, or server, does all the thinking. The host computer knows how to do all the wonderful things the terminal knows NOTHING about.

Now here's the great truth: Dr. Cho, pastor of the largest church in the world in South Korea, was asked what his secret of church growth was. You see Dr. Cho has seen the church he pastors go from a handful of people to three quarters of a million members. Yes, I mean 750,000 members in one church!

Many pastors want to know what Cho's secret is. Cho answered that great question in this way:

"I pray and I obey!"

Cho has learned the secret of being a "dumb terminal." Long ago Cho stopped trying to be a spiritual computer. He stopped trying to give ideas and suggestions to God. He learned that God doesn't need inspiration, ideas or guidance. He learned that God is the CEO of the church. He learned that God thinks up the next project, the next assignment.

So somewhere along the way Cho stopped making suggestions to God. Cho gave up "brainstorming." He started to be just like my dumb terminal. He got connected, by the Holy Spirit, into the mind of Christ, into the Throne Room. He started to listen. He started to do nothing until God directed.

Cho won't preach unless he has heard a direct word from Heaven on what to say. That's why he spends a lot of time in prayer, alone with God. IF he doesn't hear what to preach he doesn't preach!

And this is the secret that is for all believers. We need to pray and obey. We need to be quick to hear and slow to speak, as Saint James tells us in James 1:19. When we pray we need to praise God and thank God....and then we need to do a lot of listening to God.

I've noticed in God's Word that Christians are called to be like sheep. We are not called to be like whales, porpoise, chimpanzees, gorillas or any of the highly intelligent creatures. Instead we are called to be like dumb sheep. Sheep are perhaps one of the least intellectual of all the animals. My daughter dissected a sheep's brain. She tells me that sheep have a relatively small brain. Sheep are so dumb that unlike other animals they can hardly bear their young without the shepherd's intervention.

We need to stop bringing our suggestions for God to okay. We need to start waiting on HIM to assign us HIS plan. God isn't stupid. He knows what HE brought you to earth to do. You may not know what HE created you to do....but HE knows. And HE will tell you when you are at the right place and time in your walk with HIM.

This is a great secret!! And few believers practice this great secret. They make the faith so very hard for themselves. They go to schools, seminaries and colleges to listen to men.

When I was in seminary I had a great question. I was very worried that I was going to be assigned to a church with a building program. I was worried because I am not gifted like some pastors in construction. I can barely hammer a nail in straight! So I asked the professor in seminary, "What do you do if your church is going into a building program?"

The professor replied, "Don't worry, you'll know when the time comes." I wish he had told me that I only needed to pray and obey. I paid a lot of money for his answer.

You mean I moved my family 2,000 miles to another city to attend a seminary. I paid all that money to get a degree. I spent all that time and the answer to my biggest question was "'ll know when the time comes???" I could have learned that at home on my knees!

That just proves that what we need more than anything else is to be in contact with Heaven and the Throne Room. Men don't have the bottom line. God is the source of all the answers!! God has the direct answer. At best men only have "hear-say" answers, that may or may not be correct.

I've discovered that the more degrees a pastor has the smaller the church he might pastor. I've seen men with few degrees and simplicity be on watch as God grows the fellowship greatly. Missionaries have told me how new converts can go back to their tribal areas and become the pastor of a large church, even though they are definitely a "dumb terminal." But God connects them to the Throne Room.

Christian friend, God has the answer. Be a "dumb terminal" that is hooked up with Heaven. Be a nothing. Just be a listener to God. Tune in on Heaven. Pick up your Bible and read or turn on a Bible CD and listen to huge amounts of the Word. Get in your prayer closet and touch Heaven. Follow God's next command. If you neglected HIS last command, go back and do that command, if you can. Just be a good Private First Class in God's Army. Let God be the General. Let God think up the commands. Just pray, salute and obey! You will go far in that way. And God will be blessed by you, HIS servant!