PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Avoid the reefs of the New Year!” (By: Ron Woodrum)
Let’s say that your phone rings tomorrow morning, and it’s a call from the manager of your bank. He tells you, “I received a very unusual call the other day. Someone who loves you very much and is quite wealthy, has given you a large sum of money. This anonymous donor will be depositing 86,400 cents into your account every single day”. “How’s that again?” you ask. “Every single day this person will deposit 86,400 cents into your account”. Is that much money you wonder? Your calculator reveals that it amounts to $864 every day. That’s pretty good. “But there’s one condition-you have to spend it every single day. You cannot save it up! What is not spent is taken away. This person will do that every day…but you must spend it daily or it will be wasted!” You go back to your calculator and figure out that that $864 times 7 equals $6,048 per week. That amount, multiplied by 52 comes to $314,496 per year. That’s a pretty good deal. BUT THAT IS FANTASY! But in REALITY…Somebody really does love you. He does give you 86, 400 seconds per day. Each moment is worth more than all the money in the world. Money could not even buy one second of life…if you have a terminal disease. That someone is God. The condition is you must spend that amount every day. You can’t save up time today and use it tomorrow-there is no such thing as a 27-hour day. You have opportunity each day to invest your precious commodity of time-or to waste it. How will you spend your daily gift? The Psalmist wrote “Lord show me…the number of my days…how fleeting is my life”. (Ps. 39:4). Paul said, “Redeem the time, because the days are evil…do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is for you”. (Eph. 5:17).
As we race into 2019, almost two decades into the new millennium, we should make it our goal to spend our days wisely. How do we do that? The overall understanding of that is too broad for a Pastor’s Perspective…but let me exhort you to consider two important areas of investment. The first one is WORSHIP-Personal and Public-Individual and Corporate. Gordon Dahl describes the modern dilemma that most Americans face, He writes: “Most Americans tend to worship their work; work at their play; and play at their worship”. (He hit the nail right on the head!!!). But he continues…”As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their lifestyles resemble a cast pf characters in search of a plot!” What a diagnosis. Charles Hummel, in his book Tyranny of the Urgent, has his finger on our pulse when he writes: “When we stop long enough to think about it, we realize our dilemma goes deeper than a shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities…failure to do what is really important. The winds of…demands…have driven us into the reefs of frustration”. The Apostle Paul talked about those whose “faith was shipwrecked” (I Tim. 1:19). One of the likely causes may be how we fail to prioritize our time to put worship first in our lives! Faith without worship is doomed to failure! C.S. Lewis knew that well. He told us the secret of starting our day from Heaven’s perspective. He wrote: “It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your cares of the day rush at your like wild animals. The first job each morning consists in shoving them back; listening to the Other Voice, taking the Other Point of View…standing back from the fussing’s and fretting’s; coming in out of the wind.” Giving God the first 30 minutes of the day in reading His Word and Prayer takes you out of the winds that would shipwreck you on the reefs of frustration and failure. Time well invested in personal worship.
But also, we need to remember that the Scripture teaches us that there are no lone-wolf Christians. The writer of the Book of Hebrews, writing to help Christians avoid relapse and apostasy from the faith, tells them to “stop forsaking the assembling of themselves together, as the habit of some have become”. (Hebrews 10:25). Ravi Zacharias tells us the best definition of worship that I have ever heard. It was a definition that originated with Archbishop William Temple. He wrote: ” Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God. The quickening of our conscience by His Holiness; The nourishment of our minds with His Truth, (His Word); The purifying of our imagination with His Beauty; The opening of our hearts to His Love; The surrender of our will to His Purpose-all this gathered up in adoration, that is the most selfless emotion our nature is capable of”. A weekly investment in that kind of Worship, at least 2-3 hours per week minimum, in corporate worship with other believers is the only way to guarantee the development of genuine Christians. But worship without service is incomplete. Jesus told Satan, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve!” (Matthew 4: 10). Submission must lead to service. Worship must lead to wonder and witness. T.S. Eliot, in his poetry made this very plain…he wrote: “You are not here to verify-instruct yourself, or inform curiosity, or carry reports. You are here to kneel!” We must never forget that! One of the most important books I have ever read is the book The One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill. It is a book of practical theology on Witnessing and Winning the Lost. The book is filled with convicting quotes that Cahill shares from his favorite preacher- (one of mine too), Charles Haddon Spurgeon. These quotes are prods used by the Holy Spirit to remind us of our most important response to worship and that is to witness. In closing let me share a couple of them. “Every Christian is a Witness or an Imposter!” “If there is any one point in which the Christian Church ought to keep its fervent white heat it is winning the lost. If there is anything about which we cannot tolerate Luke warmness it is the matter of sending the gospel to a dying world”. “If sinners will be damned at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they perish, let it be with our arms about their knees…in the teeth of our exertions, let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for!” “Spit on me, but repent! Laugh at me, but believe in my Master. Trample me under your feet like dirt in the street, but damn not your souls!”
Time invested in worship that leads to witness will be greatly rewarded in eternity. Learn those lessons now-you won’t be able to reclaim lost time in Heaven. Any faith that fails to spend time wisely in those two disciplines, by God’s measure is a “shipwrecked faith-blown onto the reefs of spiritual frustration!”.