Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Bible Lesson in Golf

Those in the know tell us the secret in golf is not slicing (causing the ball to curve). They say if you want to get distance, you must, as they call it, “Follow through.” That is, complete your swing, not stopping short. One expert tells us that 90% of all amateur golfers do not follow through.

After over half a century of observing professing Christians, I am convinced that the above ratio could possibly be correct when describing so-called saints today. In the game of life God has placed them in, it seems they always come up short; they never follow through.

As the little poignant saying goes, “If it’s worth starting, it’s worth finishing.” At the end of their lives, both our Lord and Paul gave testimony they’d followed through with what God gave them to do. They went the distance because of the fact they did follow through!

When Jesus said, "Follow me," He expected them to follow through.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let Me Do it Daddy

If it does not endanger the child, and provided it does not incur significant financial loss, it’s a wise father who allows his child to discover life’s great secret, which is, the father is more capable than the child in handling things he or she knows nothing about; even though the youngster is convinced of the opposite; that is, until they learn the hard way, by making a mess of everything.

The child’s problem, like our own with our Heavenly Father, stems from thinking he or she is superiorly qualified in working things out on their own. They actually, but erroneously, imagine they can do better; that they are more competent than their qualified parent.

It is well for each of us as Christians to always remember, when we take things in our own hands, we can only get what we are capable of producing. But when placing them in God’s omnipotent hand, we experience what He alone is able to create. Therefore, when we have made a mess of everything in life, it is a wise child who brings the shattered pieces to their Heavenly Father and says, “Daddy, will you please fix it?”

Once you’ve placed something into God’s hands to fix, don’t hang around trying to help Him!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Comfortable Clothing

“He hath clothed me…He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.” There is no doubt the song writer had this text in mind when he penned, “Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.” I can understand the lost religionist, as the Jews of Paul’s day, “…going about to establish their own righteousness”; but for saints “complete in Him,” it’s hard to understand.

Why anyone would go back to an old discarded pile of “filthy rags” to adorn themselves, when they are clothed in His spotless robe, I’ll never know. I can only guess that it is the old self-righteous, Adamic nature still attempting to cover itself with shrinking “fig leaves.” I find such people live under constant condemnation in just about everything they do, not realizing they’re “accepted in the Beloved.”

Righteousness is not naturally ingrained, it is divinely imputed! The more cracks in the earthen vessel the more it shines forth. God is not fooled by our external showmanship. We may impress blinded believers but never an all-knowing God. To acclaim one’s own righteousness is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ. For the Bible plainly tells us, “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who God is made unto us…righteousness.”

As people grow older they no longer concern themselves with impressive attire, but rather, with comfortable clothing. I am very comfortable and relaxed clothed in His Righteousness!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

*Set Backs

“Woe is me for my hurt!..Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.” If ever a man had set backs, Jeremiah did. He knew there was no escaping them. That let downs were part of the hard facts of life, and that sooner or later our dearest dreams will be shattered and our best laid plans dramatically changed. Some never rise above these and drown in the sea of disappointment. Others view them as character building blessings in disguise.

It’s important to realize a Christian in the will of God, when taking two steps backward, will ultimately take three forward. Like our time change, we may “fall back,” but we also “spring forward.” Many of God’s children, who experience disappointing times in their lives, return to the world. But set backs never excuse us for going back.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Armchairs and Wheelchairs

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” You can acquire a much deeper knowledge of God Himself from a sufferer in a wheelchair, than a scholar in an armchair. The latter may know doctrine, but the former knows Deity. The first is meant to lead us to the second. But sad to say, many intellects come short, falling in love with the lesser, and never following on to experience the greater, true love.

A healthy child studying geography may be able to tell you more about the five continents; but the little crippled brother, carried constantly by his parent, knows more about his father. An intellectual knowledge does not guarantee Spiritual intimacy. As J.I. Packer says, “John Owen and John Calvin knew more theology than John Bunyan or Billy Bray, but who would deny that the latter pair knew their God every bit as well as the former?”

God does not condemn intellect, nor does He condone ignorance, but He does highly commend those who know Him out of both these categories. Writing on the subject of scholarship C.S. Lewis pens, “The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to be a road, and it may be the appointed road for us. Of course it will be so only so long as we keep the impulse pure and disinterested. That is the great difficulty.”

The best combination is an intellectual mind condescending into a devoted heart.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sovereignty and the Saint

To some, the word “sovereignty” is a word that separates saints. But, to me, sovereignty is a solace to the soul. The consolation it brings me is unspeakable. To know and accept the fact that God is Omnipotent (all-powerful) is the one most comforting aspect of my Christian life. To realize everything and everyone is under His almighty control is truly an anchor of the soul in this turbulent, troubled world.

Once a saint grasps sovereignty, it will transform every avenue of his or her life. The answer to prayer, the result of witnessing, and the extent of suffering will all be placed into His hands, for Him to work out the details according to His will and good pleasure.

One of the popular commercial advertisements of our day says, “Take the bus, and leave the driving to us.” I believe, once we see Him in the driver’s seat, we can rest for the duration of our journey, even through those stormy times.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

To Whom Are You Looking?

“Look unto me…” It’s futile to look unto anyone else. “For vain is the help of man.” True, God can, and does, help man through man. But never can man find help from man alone. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it by looking unto Him. This is the one, absolute condition; and the moment you do, everything falls into place, like looking into a kaleidoscope.

If you need help, “Look unto me,” says the Lord. It’s not difficult or hard; it’s simple and easy. Just look to God. That is, direct your attention to Him, as one we expect aid from. Like a drowning man who casts his eyes upon one standing on the shore who alone is able to save him. We must look to Him in our helplessness if we are to get help.

Oh, dear saint, will you not just now turn your eyes from all others and look only unto Him? Listen to God’s darling, David:
“They looked unto him, and were enlightened.”

Everything associated with man is temporal and perishable; with God, eternal and lasting. To whom are you looking?

Inside Issues within the Body of Christ

In the dedicatory of the King James 1611 Bible the translators wrote, concerning those they knew would oppose their work, “We shall be maligned by self-conceited brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking to nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil.”

My oldest daughter, Leah, who lives in Ohio, along with my eleven-year-old granddaughter Skyler, surprised me last week by visiting me for Fathers Day. In passing conversation, Leah mentioned a large Fundamentalist school in the mid-west that is attacking Southern Gospel music as being satanic, and not to be listened to.

In all honesty of full disclosure, I must confess, my grandson, Joseph, is lead singer for the Southern Gospel group, The Perrys. But those who know me best will not be prone to think that would bias my judgment. They consider me to be like Vince Lombardi. When a black player was asked if he was fair to all the team, he answered, “O yeah, Vince treats us all like dogs!”

Those who do not care for contemporary music need to realize it was all contemporary at one time. Isaac Watts’ father thought it blasphemous when his son wrote such songs as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” He believed in singing only the Psalms, saying, “You can’t improve upon King David.”

As I’ve said in previous articles, I find that dogmatists on minor issues end up in the dog house. A good example of not thinking things through is the Fundamental, Separatists, who believe their ladies are modestly dressed. But the Amish believe their attire to be worldly; and 1st Century, Christian women would believe the Amish to be so.

In Revelation, we’re told we “Sing the song of Moses.” But we also sing “A new song.” My test of Gospel music is like my test of any other music; Paul, the singer, says, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with understanding also.” And this, of course, was done to the Glory of God. Just make sure your heart pants, before your foot pats.

A good rule to go by if you do not like a certain kind of music is, don’t listen to it. I have no right to impose my preference upon others. When people argue that they like the old-time way, they invariably are referring to the immediately previous age. The one that always seemed better than the one in which they now live.

There is no doubt some Southern Gospel is commercialized today. But aren’t profiteering Mega churches and large Christian Schools, also? What of selling “doves” for more than they’re value, in the vestibule of the Temple (books, CD’S, DVD’S, and trinkets)? Be careful when you throw stones; they may boomerang upon your on pate!

As Dr. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “If an old hound dog comes to town and barks for Jesus, I’m not going to try and stop him.” That’s my sentiment exactly. You might feel differently; and that’s your prerogative. This is just one man’s opinion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Courageous Cowards

Years ago at a youth camp, a somewhat delicate preacher was trying in his timidly bold way to say that we needed more John the Baptist types. I whispered to my wife, “Its one thing to say we need, and another to be”. As someone has said, “The pulpit can be a coward’s fort.” I’ve labeled these kinds of Christians, “courageous cowards.” They are easy to spot; they hit first, then run away, saying they won the fight; they voice loudly their convictions, but from under their beds; they preach hard, but to an agreeing choir; they’re brave on the firing range, but stay in the fox hole in battle; they like to rattle the lion’s cage, but never enter the public arena with him; and probably worse of all, they speak of the ills of the sick around them, while keeping the cure a secret.

These pseudo courageous souls cannot take being ostracized. When they are, they play the part of an ostrich and hide their head in the sand. In private they flex their muscles in a mirror, but refuse to carry anyone’s burden. They live in their little self-made monasteries called churches, homes, and schools, but never venture out to face the rest of the world. They know nothing about a hands on, up close and personal ministry. Everything is viewed at a distance. They are not comfortable with confrontation.

I’m not advocating a Christian machoism. The truth is, most of England’s early martyrs who were burned at the stake, were indoors men and book worms. What I am saying is that all of us, with the help of God, need face up to whatever needs to be faced. No matter what the personal cost, pain, or results. May God give each of us the courage to keep us from being a courageous coward!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Influential Sayings

Job said, “How forcible are right words.” What we say can influence a life as well as how we live. The following are some words of wisdom I’ve picked up from others as I have traveled life’s pathway. Needless to say, they fell from the lips of those who loved and adored the same Saviour as I. Anything of Spiritual worth in my life, these brief adages helped mold. Many were said at crisis times in my life and were turning points for me.

Dr. Bob Jones Sr. - “You can do what you ought to do.”

P.A. Sandlin
– “You can’t run from your humanity.”

Joe Henry Hankins - “Sonny boy, get their heart. When you get the head you have only half a person. But when you get the heart you have the whole man.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – “When everything becomes dim, come back to your foundation. What you know for sure.”

Peter S. Ruckman – “Stay in the Book.” (Said at my conversion; referring to K.J.V. 1611)

Oswald Chambers – “Some time you must go on like there is no God.”

An old used book – “When is the best time to plant a fruit tree? Twenty years ago! But when is the second best time? Right now!

J.I. Packer – Referring to himself living before God he said, “I’ve learned to live without pretending either to be what I am not or not to be what I am.”

My Mother – When I asked her why she scrubbed floors for a living. “Son, someone has to do it.”

My Wife – When I asked if she liked herself. “Yes; after all, I’m all I’ve got.”

C.S. Lewis – What I have learned as a writer from him, Brevity is best. (And so I end this)

Monday, June 8, 2009

*Transforming Your Prayer Life

A.W. Tozer tells a story of an old minister, whose Christian life was revolutionized. When asked what brought about this noticeable change, he answered, “I simply promised God I would never again pray a prayer I didn’t mean.”

Some years ago while in Ireland, I picked up an old Welsh hymnal; in it is a children’s song I think conveys the old minister’s sentiment. Here is the first verse of it.

I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the words I say?

I may as well kneel down
And worship gods of stone,
As offer to the living God
A prayer of words alone.

For words without the heart
The Lord will never hear;
Nor will He to those lips attend
Whose prayers are not sincere.

Lord, teach me what I need,
And teach me how to pray;
Nor let me ask Thee for thy grace,
Not meaning what I say.

(John Burton 1803-77)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

*Chips, Scratches, and Breaks.

One great danger facing those who long to be Spiritual is in forgetting that in this life we will always be “earthen vessels.” God in His wisdom, for reasons known only to Him, has seen fit, so to speak, to indwell old, marred, crock pots. Yes, chips, scratches, breaks, and all. The only perfect person He ever inhabited was His lovely Son.

Some of us spend a lifetime running from our humanity, until we come to realize that’s all we’ve got. There “ain’t” nothin’ else we have to offer Him. Since God sent Jesus in human flesh, He more than understands now our cry, “Lord, I’m only human!” Remember, we’re not supermen, just a part of frail humanity.

Though the spirit is willing, the flesh will ever be weak.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

He'll Get Around to Yours.

Immediately upon calling His first disciples, Jesus said, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also." Then, later on we're told, “He departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.” Oswald Chambers, commenting on our latter text says, “Jesus comes where He commands us to leave.” The disciples had left all to follow Jesus. He now rewards each of them by coming to their towns. Whenever we put God first, especially in the area of clinging to loved ones, you can be assured that they will ultimately receive a personal visit from Him.

Do not rob those you love of the personal attention of Christ by refusing to let go of them. To be sure, if you put God first above all others, He will get around to seeing them sooner or later. Don’t debate Him; just obey. If you don’t, you’ll only be in the way of His plans for them. Leave all the consequences with Him. The day of their visitation will come, and they will know it when it arrives.

Our time zone is different from God’s. Our calendars are always one day ahead, and our clocks five minutes fast.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Room Full of Doors

Our Heavenly Father would have His children live a life of faith. Without it, we are told, it is impossible to please Him. The highest respect we can pay God is in believing His Word, no matter what! To stand before Him when all is dark, when stripped of everything we hold dear, and all hope is gone, to say, “I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me,” is the greatest honor one could bestow upon Him.

The way in which the Lord teaches us this vital lesson is to “shut [us] up unto the faith.” He puts us in an impossible situation and shuts every door except one. After weary and worn from trying all the locked doors, in desperation we finally try the door of faith. And when we do, we find that all the time it was the way out, just waiting for us to enter through it. Reach out and turn the knob, you never need a key, it’s always open.

Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. And lo, no one was there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

*Divine Set-backs

“Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.” Paul was compelled to leave behind one of his traveling companions because of sickness. This faithful friend was, no doubt, of great help to the Apostle in his missionary journeys. What a set-back this must have been for both Paul and Trophimus. Nevertheless, Paul went on, and his co-worker stayed behind. In spite of the disappointment to both, there was no complaining to God or blaming Him. Their motto was always, “The will of the Lord be done.”
We are told of the remarkable healing powers entrusted to Paul, but neither he nor his sick friend had faith to claim healing. It is written “God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul,” but it was not so in this case. Why? Simply because it was not in God’s plan. Contrary to the teaching of some today, it is not always God’s will to heal or deliver. Paul’s eye problem stayed with him till death; and young Timothy had stomach problems all his life.

Our gifts, powers, and possibilities are subject to the limitations of God’s perfect will. Our prayer should always be,
“In sickness and in health, the will of God be done.”Set-backs can’t keep back a person who does not hold back his life from God.

Monday, June 1, 2009

*The Singing of the Birds

The wise man tells us in Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season.” The Christian life, in the true sense of the word, is seasonal. In one of Peter’s sermons, speaking to God’s people, he mentions “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”; but in his first Epistle, he adds, “...for a season…ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” There are pleasant times, but also painful ones in the Christian life.

In the Song of Solomon, we find the Beloved coming to His betrothed, after the long wintry snows, and the cold rains, have passed. Listen to her as she tells us of this incident: “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone...the time of the singing of the birds is come...”

To some of us it’s been an exceptionally long, cold, barren winter, in our spiritual lives. May God bring back the springtime to our heart’s soon. And we hear the words of our Beloved say again, “The time of the singing of the birds is come.”