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Nov 102019


  The book of Genesis makes no attempt to conceal the fact that Jacob was, among other things, a crook. What’s more, you get the feeling that whoever wrote up his seamy adventures got a real kick out of them.

Twice he cheated his lame-brained brother, Esau, out of what was coming to him. At least once he took advantage of the blindness of his old father, Isaac, and played him for a sucker. He outdid his double-crossing father-in-law, Laban, by conning him out of most of his livestock and, later on, when Laban was looking the other way, by sneaking off with not only both the man’s daughters, but just about everything else that wasn’t nailed down including his household gods. Jacob was never satisfied. He wanted the moon, and if he’d ever managed to bilk heaven out of that, he would have been back the next morning for the stars to go with it. But then one day he learned a marvelous lesson in a marvelous and unexpected way.

It happened just after he’d ripped Esau off for the second time and was making his getaway into the hill country to the north. When sunset came and nobody seemed to be after him, he decided that it was safe to camp out for the night and, having left in too much of a hurry to take his bedroll with him, tucked a stone under his head for a pillow and prepared to go to sleep. You might think that what happened next was that he lay there all night bug-eyed as a result of his guilty conscience or, if he did finally manage to drop off, that he was tormented by conscience-stricken dreams, but neither of these was the case. Instead, he dropped off like a baby in a cradle and dreamed the kind of dreams you would have thought were reserved for the high saints.

He dreamed that there was a ladder reaching up to heaven and that there were angels moving up and down it with golden sandals and rainbow-colored wings and that standing somewhere above it was God himself. And the words God spoke in the dream were not the chewing-out you might have expected, but something altogether different. God told Jacob that the land he was lying on was to belong to him and his descendants and that someday his descendants would become a great nation and a great blessing to all the other nations on earth. And as if that wasn’t enough, God then added a personal P.S. by saying, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.”  

It wasn’t holy hell that God gave him, in other words, but holy heaven, not to mention the marvelous lesson thrown in for good measure. The lesson was, needless to say, that even for a dyed-in-the-wool, double-barreled con artist like Jacob there are a few things in this world you can’t get but can only be given, and one of these things is love in general, and another is the love of God in particular.

Jacob didn’t have to climb his ladder to bilk heaven of the moon and the stars, even if that had been possible, because the moon and the stars looked like peanuts compared to what God and the angels were using the ladder to hand down to him for free.

Another part of the lesson was that, luckily for Jacob, God doesn’t love people because of who they are, but because of who God is. “It’s on the house” is one way of saying it and “It’s by grace” is another, just as it was by grace that it was Jacob of all people who became not only the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, but the many-times great-grandfather of Jesus of Nazareth, and just as it was by grace that Jesus of Nazareth was born into this world at all.

Genesis 25:24-28:17

~originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words Buechner has also depicted the life of Jacob in his novel Son of Laughter.

 Posted by at 3:38 am

“The greatness of a man is the measure of his surrender!”

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Nov 032019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The greatness of a man is the measure of his surrender!”  By:  Ron Woodrum

  Most of us are very familiar with the ministry of the Salvation Army. We have all given donations to the Red Kettle, and probably many of us have even taken a turn or two at “ringing the bell”.  Every major town or city has its Salvation Army Church and ministry center right in the heart of where it is needed most! That was the aim of their founder from the beginning. William Booth started this ministry in 1865, on the East Side of London England with that very intent. He said, “Go for souls…and go for the worst”. He did that very thing. He encountered and won the prostitutes, gamblers, alcoholics, and homeless beggars to Christ. His ministry revolved around the three “s”‘s-Soup-Soap-Salvation! He was converted under the ministry of John Wesley, carried on by Wesley’s followers after his death in 1791. Booth found Christ at a Methodist revival in 1844, at the age of 15. He said, “I worshipped everything that bore the name Methodist. To me there was one God, and John Wesley was his prophet. I had devoured the story of his life. No human compositions seemed to me to be comparable with his writings…the best hope for the salvation of the world was the faithful carrying into the practice the letter of the spirit of his instructions”. He spent his life doing just that! He said. “The greatness of a man is the measure of his surrender!” In that regard William Booth is a great man and a great example of those who would follow Jesus.

Let me share a few of his impactful quotes. He said, “to get a man soundly saved it is not enough to put on him a pair of new breeches, to give him regular work, or even to give him a University education. These things are all outside a man, and if the inside remains unchanged you have wasted your labor…you must graft on the man’s nature a new nature, which has in it the element of the Divine!” Listen to this: “It is against stupidity in every shape and form that we have to wage eternal battle. But how can we wonder at the want of the sense on the part of those who have had no advantages, when we see such plentiful absence of that commodity on the part of those who have had all the advantages!”. Called to ministry? His view: “Not called! Did you say? Not heard the call. I think you should put your ear to the Bible and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened agonized hear of humanity and listen to their pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters not to come to this place of torment. Then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world!” “God loves with a great love the man whose heart is bursting with passion for the impossible!” “We must wake ourselves up or somebody else will take our place, and bear our cross, and steal our crown”.

He said the danger for the future is: “A religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and heaven without hell!” He was a very perceptive prophet. Listen to his determination. “While women weep, as they do now. I’ll fight. While children go hungry, as they do now-I’ll fight. While men go in and out of prison, as they do now-I’ll fight! While there remains one dark soul without the light of God-I’ll fight. I will fight until the very end!” “We are not to minister to a congregation and be content to keep things going. We are sent to make war and to stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus”. When he was asked to speak to a graduation class of clergymen he said, “If I would have had my way you men would not have be graduated with just these studies. I would have had you spend twenty-four hours in hell to experience the torments of those who are damned and then turned you loose on a dying world!”. Toward the end of his life he was unable to attend the annual meetings of his denomination. They asked him to telegraph a message for the congregants. He responded with one word-“Others!” When he was told that the work was failing and they did not know what to do next-he responded with a two-world telegraph-“Try tears!” It would not hurt us to take a refresher course in the theology of General William Booth. He sounds very much like our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen?

 Posted by at 3:31 am

“If they’re breathing-they need Jesus!”

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Oct 272019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “If they’re breathing-they need Jesus!”  By:  Ron Woodrum

  One of the most interesting and convicting authors I have ever read is Mark Cahill. He has only written two books. One is the book One Heartbeat Away: Your Journey into Eternity. It is a disturbing account of how we live with death every second of our lives, and must be prepared for eternity. His follow up book is on witnessing, titled One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven. In the latter book, in a chapter entitled “If They’re Breathing They Need Jesus!” He tells about a couple witnessing encounters he had with two very famous people. Mark Cahill went to college and played basketball with Charles Barkley. He even roomed with Barkley while the team traveled. They became very good friends, and are still friends today. On one occasion, after their college days, he was speaking at a Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, where Barkley lives. Upon arriving in town, he called Charles to see if they could get together, after the conference that night. Charles said, “absolutely, we’re hanging out tonight at”, (and he mentioned a famous club). Mark asked him who the “we” was. He said, “Quin Buckner, Alex Rodriguez, and Michael Jordan”. He of course accepted. How could he miss an opportunity like that! When Charles introduced Mark to Jordan, he told him, “Michael this is my good friend from college I was telling you about!” All night they talked about basketball, baseball, golf, and occasionally religion, due to input from Mark. As they were leaving, they headed out to the limousine that would take they all to their various destinations. As we walked together toward the car, I said, “Michael, I am speaking in town this week, and I would like to ask you a question”. Michael said, “Ok, shoot!” I asked, “Michael, when you die, what do you think is on the other side? What do you think is out there when we leave here?” Cahill said that a very serious look came over him, he started nodding his head, and was silent for about ten seconds. Then he responded, “I think there are those pearly gates, when we die”. I knew I didn’t have much time; the others were catching up with us. So, I got right to the point, and asked, “Michael have you ever committed your life to Jesus Christ?” Quicker than he leaves the floor for one of his famous jump shots, he shot back “yes I have” and quickly asked, “Have to talked to Barkley about this?” Cahill assured him that he had done that several times. Michael shook his head as he walked away to the limo. He later found out that Jordan used to discuss Jesus a lot with Horace Grant when they played together on the Bulls, but after his father was murdered, he just clammed up about his faith, and refused to talk about it any longer! Even NBA stars need Jesus.

On another occasion, Mark was invited to come to Charles mother’s home in Leeds, Alabama for the holidays. While there he had the opportunity to meet Charles’ family. He really hit it off with Charles brother Daryl. Daryl told Mark, “I recently had a heart attack”. He went on to tell Mark that after the heart attack that he had a near death experience. He said that while in the operating room his spirit rose up out of his body, he saw the doctors and nurses working with his body on the operating table. He said he went on a journey where he saw burning trees, burning grounds all around the base of the trees, then a lake of fire with people in it screaming for help. With terror in his eyes he said, “I saw hell! Then I came back!” Mark asked, “Daryl, if you would have remained dead where would you have gone?” Daryl replied, “I would have gone to hell!” Mark asked, “Do you want to go to hell?” Immediately he answered, “No, I want to go to heaven!” “Do you know what you need to do to go to heaven?” Mark asked. “Yes, committing my heart and life to Jesus Christ”, Daryl affirmed. “Have you done that now?”, Mark inquired. “No-I love the things of the world too much to do that right now!” Mark warned him, that with a bad heart, he was playing Russian Roulette with his soul. Daryl acknowledged the risk he was taking. A few years later, Daryl had another heart attack that took his life. It was March 20, 2009. He died young, at the age of 42. What about his destiny? If you look up Daryl Shawn Barkley…you see his grave which says, “Deacon Daryl Shawn Barkley”…Did he embrace the faith that his mother taught him, and serve his Lord in his final days? If so, that near death wake up call changed his eternity. That is a vision that would be good for all of us to wake up to. We will never be the same for time and eternity. What a difference it could make in the lives we touch for Jesus, while there is still time.

On a grave in a cemetery near Jackson, California are the following words:


Remember me as you pass by,

As you are now, so once was I

As I am now, you soon will be

Prepare for death, and follow me.


Someone wrote below those words in marker:


To follow you, I am not content

Until I know-which way you went!


Today’s message should encourage us to encourage everyone to know which way you are going while there is still time!

 Posted by at 3:25 am

The Church’s Last and Lasting Promise

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Oct 202019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: The Church’s Last and Lasting Promise  by:  Ron Woodrum

  The names Saipan, Iwo Jima, Samoa, Guadalcanal, Bataan, Corregidor to name just a few, meant very little to Americans in the early 1940’s. They were just some God-forsaken pieces of real estate somewhere in the South Pacific! But they would soon become household names all across the free world. We were having the time of our lives in this God-blessed America. The Depression was over. We were enjoying all that the world had to offer in this new age of electronic gadgetry. We had new automatic washers and dryers; new toasters; new Sunbeam Mixmaster’s we used to mix our margarine, after dropping in the orange food coloring ball to give it it’s yellow color, and make It look like butter.  We had new automobiles that looked like boats on wheels, with huge long fenders, and men were on the street corners saying, “If the fenders get any longer one of these days, they are going to be one great big fender! I’ll go as far as to say, one of these days they are going to take those running-boards clean off!” We didn’t care about Europe; Germany; or a man named Hitler. We didn’t care about Italy or a guy named Mussolini; We didn’t care about Japan, and a guy named Hirohito. We still had vivid memories of the “War to End All Wars”, and we did not intend to get involved in any new global conflicts!

We watched as the Netherlands fell; we watched as Poland fell; We watched as Neville Chamberlain and the Allies signed Treaty after Treaty with Hitler, and He broke Treaty after Treaty! Chamberlain made so many concessions with Hitler that his name became a synonym with “concession”. When he invaded France, we watched with worried eyes fearing that sooner or later we would become involved, but we were definitely opting for “later”. But December 7,1941, a day FDR said “would live on in infamy” elements of the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked our Naval Base at Pearl Harbor destroying 15 ships, killing 2,402 Americans, and wounding 1,282, while simultaneously attacking the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Attacking us and the Philippines they “kicked the sleeping giant” and our President declared war immediately! Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was made the Commander and Chief over our forces in the European theater, while Gen. Douglas MacArthur was placed over the forces in the Asian theater. The Japanese proved themselves strong as our forces met defeat on the Island of Bataan. Bataan fell and we moved to Corregidor, that Island nicknamed “the Crimson Island” due to the 1,000’s of gallons of American blood spilled on it. When things did not go any better on Corregidor MacArthur, at the command of Roosevelt, decided to go to Australia to regroup so that he could come back and win the war in “American fashion” in a day and age when we fought wars to win wars! But it was a sad, sad day when we left the Philippines! The Filipinos watched as we prepared to leave. Their eyes were fixed on that Great Benefactor, who represented everything that was good, from that Utopia called America. Surrounded by terrified Filipino soldiers, who feared the worst, and would not be disappointed, MacArthur stepped up on the ladder of that DC3 plane, turned and spoke the words that would become “household words” all over the free world. He told them- “I WILL RETURN!” The day he left was March 11, 1942.

After we left the Filipinos suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese over the next two- and one-half years. They were imprisoned. They were tortured. They were made to march the Bataan death march where over 60,000 died. They kept watching day after day. Waiting day after day for the promise to be fulfilled. One day off in the distance, they heard the rumbling sound of thunder. The skies grew dark. It was the rising crescendo of deliverance. The sun was blotted out with the planes that filled the sky. Those planes had the red stars and blue stripes! Suddenly the skies filled with paratroopers over the islands of the S.Pacific. Soon they heard the words of that great General-“I HAVE RETURNED!” The day was October 22, 1944. Their deliverer had kept his promise and returned in victory.

Two thousand years ago, another General stood on the Mt. of Olives. He too was leaving. His troops, the disciples were surrounding Him. They too feared the worst and they too would not be disappointed. They would suffer at the hands of a Nero-led Roman world. They would be crucified. They would be beheaded. They would be set-afire as candles to light the gardens and racetracks as Nero would race his chariots. They would be boiled-to-death in hot oil. They would be chained together and forced to walk into the Mediterranean to their death for their faith. He looked into their terrified eyes and spoke the words, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, Believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go away, I WILL COME AGAIN, AND RECEIVE YOU UP UNTO MYSELF, THAT WHERE I AM YOU SHALL BE ALSO”. (John 14:1-3). Over the years we too have suffered. The Church has been persecuted and prospered. But the hope of every generation, as our eyes watch the skies, and we wait with great anticipation has been for our Deliverer who promised us that Blessed Hope of returning to keep His promise for us. The verses are many. The Scripture says, “In a little while He that shall come, will come” (Heb. 10:37). “The Lord shall descend from Heaven with a sound of a trumpet, and the voice of the archangel, and the dead in Christ shall rises first, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up to meet Him in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:12-18). It says that, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in the twinkling of an eye, when this mortal shall put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:51). It says we are “citizens of Heaven, from which we look for our Savior who shall transform our lowly bodies, and fashion them like unto glorious body” (Philippians 3:20). We wait for that “Blessed Hope and Glorious Appearing of our Great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). That next event on the prophetic calendar is what we are waiting for. When Jesus the Bridegroom left us here, He promised, as all espoused grooms of His day did, to go to the Father’s house-prepare the place-when ready come back and claim her to Himself! That event is called the Rapture. That is what our subject is today. It is closer than we can imagine. As we watch all of the events that will be actualized during the tribulation and precede His second coming with HIs Saints, we cannot help but realize that at least 7 years prior to that He will come for His saints, (the Church). Jesus said, “when you begin to see these things come to pass lift up your heads for your redemption draweth night and watch and pray that you might be counted worthy to escape ALL these things that shall come upon the earth and stand before the Son of Man”. (Luke 21:28 & 36)

Even the French Scientist Pierre Berchelt, over 150 years ago, recognized the signs of the times when he said, in his book Re-Entry,” In side of one hundred years of physical and chemical science, man will know what the atom is. It is my belief, that when science reaches that stage, God will come down to earth with His big ring of keys, and say to humanity, ‘Gentlemen, it’s closing time!'” Before that time comes the Church, who was told by Jesus, their groom, to “occupy til I come” i.e. “carry out business, needs to heed the words of Vance Havner, “It does no good to revel among the clouds of prophetic truth if it stir us not to practice it on the cobblestones questing for souls…prophetic truth , like all other truth, should be fuel for the fires of evangelism…It is not enough to lament the apostasy so vividly described in the book of Jude. It is not enough to build ourselves up in the faith; it is not enough to pray in the Holy Ghost; to keep ourselves in the love of God; to look for the mercy of the Lord. There is further duty-“and of some have compassion, making a difference…saving them with fear, pulling them out of the fire…hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23).

 Posted by at 3:15 am

“The Right Side of the Cross”

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Oct 132019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Right Side of the Cross”. By:  Ron Woodrum

  As you read the New Testament narratives that describe the Cross of Jesus Christ you follow his footsteps along the Via Dolorosa-The way of suffering. On this crosswalk there were various Divine appointments that Jesus had with certain individuals as this cross walk intersected with the lives of these individuals. Their lives were changed forever-some for the better some for the worse! Pilate’s life was changed for the worse, which eventually ended in his suicide. Simon of Cyrene was changed for the better, and the lives of his wife and children Alexander and Rufus. There were two individuals that died with Jesus. They were two thieves that died on opposite sides of His center cross. Jesus, and His cross, not only divides history, but the people of history. All the gospels record the fact that Jesus died between two criminals, one on the left and one on the right. Matthew calls them “robbers” (lestai). Mark uses the same term, quoting it as the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12. Luke says that they “were two criminals” (kakourgougoi). What is the difference? According to Josephus neither of those words were the common word for thief. He says the common word for “thief” was-“kleptos”- (kleptomaniac?)-The word “lestai”-was used of those who “robbed as an activity in insurrection and revolution”. In other words, they were a part of Barabbas band of revolutionary robbers that terrorized the Roman soldiers and citizens. The term that Luke uses is a compound word that is very expressive. Kakos-“evil”-Ourgos-“workers”. He puts the emphasis on their evil character that was bent toward evil and criminal activity. John simply states that Jesus died with two others…with “Jesus in the center”. What a picture! Jesus the divider of men! On the left side of the cross is an evil doer-a robber…a revolutionary. He is dying for his own sins. He remains unrepentant and blasphemes the Son of God. He is, as the Book of Hebrews says, “trampling under foot the Son of God”. In the center is Jesus, the Sinless Son of God. He is not dying for His own sin for He had none. The Bible says, “He who knew no sin became sin for us”. Pilate said, “I find no fault in Him”. The other thief, an evil doer also, says-“We are dying for our own crimes, but this man hath done nothing amiss!” The Centurion will say, “Surely this was the Son of God”. Max Lucado says, “there sits God, in silence, while the sins of the world is placed upon Him. Was it right? No! Was it fair? No! Was it love? Absolutely! In a world of injustice, God once-for-all tipped the scales in favor of hope!” The thief, on the right side of the cross stops in mid sentence, after hearing Jesus pray for His executioners, and realizes that he too needs that forgiveness, and is included in that prayer request that Jesus addresses to His Father. He in turn requests of Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. What did he mean by that?

John Drury quotes the ancient Sicilian historian Diodorus Siculus about a Sicilian slave named Eunus, who kept telling other he would one day be free, and would rule as the King of Sicily. His master’s friends mocked him and taunted him by saying, “Remember us when you come into your kingdom”. How are we to understand this thief on the right side of the cross? Were his words a taunt? Irony? More railing, like the words of the thief on the left side? I don’t think so! The great Southern Baptist Scholar, E. Earle Ellis, in his book Christ and the Future in New Testament History, is more accurate concerning the meaning of this criminal’s plea. Dr. Ellis verifies that the words “Remember Me” were common inscriptions on several graves in Palestine in the first century. Many who died in that day, had evidence on their tombstones that they had a hope, a desire, a concern about being remembered as one worthy of resurrection and heaven. This thief simply shares his heart concern with Jesus, before his family will have opportunity to write it on his tomb! Jesus answered, not with a vague reference to future resurrection and bliss. He gives him the assurance of eternal life will be his possession this very day, as he accompanies Jesus into the very “paradise of God”, the recipient of a gift and passport to paradise because he was on the “right side of the cross”-i.e. “the believing side of the cross!”

John Piper has a beautiful poem entitled “Justified” that expresses this great truth so beautifully. Let me share it with you:




 It was as though a thousand layers

Of fraud, and murder, and affairs

Each wrapped around his shrinking heart,

And hard as steel, had come apart


He hung there silent, numb, and hoarse

And filthy language of his soul

Dried scarlet on the splintered pole


No strength remained to comprehend

How these few quiet words, could rend

The wicked wineskins of his life

Where every other moral knife


Had snapped like twigs against the rock

The Lord, and joined them at the first

He saw Him keep His peace, and thirst,

And with this tongue he whipped and sliced

The folly of this feeble Christ


And then by some strange providence

Of grace, above his impudence

He heard the word of Life-not preached

But whispered low, and that it reached

His ear above the blasphemy

Of his own lips was gift, as free

As gifts could ever be

He heard above the mockery, the Word


“Oh Father, please forgive, I beg of you

Forgive, they know not what they do”

A curse half-formed beneath his teeth,

Fell silent to the ground beneath,

Like slaving ropes and prison chains,

Like fears and rage and guilt and pains


But now his vicious mouth was still

And something deep within his will

Begotten by the quiet prayer

Of this reputed King was there

And firm from his lips there came a word

That no one else had ever heard

He turned his head so he could see.

“Jesus is there any hope for me?”


At first he feared the Lord was dead

But then He lifted up His head

“Today with me in paradise,

You’ll reign beside this Risen Christ!”


And do we not this time of year

Repeat these words with Godly fear

And stand in awe of Sovereign Grace.

That put our God in the sinner’s place

And turned His head to hear our plea!

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?


The awesome truth of Candle Three:

A sinner justified and free!

 Posted by at 3:02 am

“The Burden of Living in All Three Tenses-at One Time!”

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Oct 062019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Burden of Living in All Three Tenses-at One Time!”  By:  Ron Woodrum

In his book-For The Living of These Days, William M. Elliott Jr. observes, “The reason so many of us are overwrought, tense, distracted, and anxious is that we have never mastered the art of living one day at a time. Physically we do live one day at a time. We can’t quite help ourselves. But mentally we live in all three tenses at once-past, present, and future…And that will not work! The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today makes even the strongest falter!” Perhaps this helps us understand why the Word of God repeatedly tells us the fact that man’s time on this earth is measured in terms of days! Hear these witnesses: “Our days upon earth are a shadow” (Job 8:9); “Are thy days as the days of man? Are thy years as man’s days?” Job asks… (Job 10:5); “Man that is born of a woman is of few days” (Job 14:1); So, Moses prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). That is one lesson it seems to take a lifetime for all of us to finally learn it. I came across a story, written by a songwriter, turned newspaper column writer by the name of Billy Rose. He had a famous column years ago called “Pitching Horseshoes”. One of his stories speaks to this very issue of learning to slow down and let God give us his perspective on life and how to live it in such a way to make an impact for Him, instead of letting it go by in a hectic hurry, and coming to an end with regret and sorrow. We still have time to rewrite our story! Slow down and live it for Him…while you still have the “days” of your life.

Here is that story, from “Pitching Horseshoes”: “There was once a fellow who, with his father, farmed a little piece of land. Several times a year they would load up their ox cart with vegetables and drive to the nearest city. Except for their name and the patch of ground, father and son had little in common. The old man believed in taking it easy…and the son was the go-getter type. One morning, they loaded the cart, hitched up the ox, and set out. The young man figured that if they kept going all day and night, they’d get to the market by the next morning. He walked alongside the ox and kept prodding it with a stick. ‘Take it easy’ said the old man, ‘you’ll last longer!’ ‘If we get to the market ahead of the others’ said the son, ‘we have a better chance of getting good prices for our vegetables’. The old man pulled his hat down over his eyes and went to sleep on the seat, four miles down the road they came to a little house. ‘Here is your uncle’s place’ said the father waking up, ‘Let’s stop and say hello’. ‘We’ve lost an hour already’, complained the go-getter. ‘Then a few more minutes won’t matter!’ said the father, ‘My brother and I live so close, but we seldom see each other’. The young man fidgeted while the two old gentlemen gossiped away for an hour. On the move again, the father took his turn leading the ox. By and by, they came to a fork in the road. The old man directed the ox to the right. ‘The left is the shorter way’, said the boy. ‘I know it’, said the old man, ‘but this way is the scenic way’. ‘Have you no respect for time?’ asked the impatient son. ‘I respect it very much!’, said the father, ‘that is why I use it to take in this beautiful scenery’. The right path led through the woodlands filled with blossoming wild flowers that would take your breath away. They only irritated the young man! He was too busy watching the sinking sun. Twilight found them in what looked like one big garden. ‘Let’s sleep here’ said the old man. ‘This is the last trip I take with you! replied his son. ‘You’re more interested in flowers than in making money!’ he scolded. ‘That’s the nicest thing you said in a long time!’, replied his dad. A minute later he was asleep. A little before dawn, the young man shook his father awake, and they went on. After a mile and an hour, they came upon a farmer trying to pull his cart out of a ditch. ‘Let’s give him a hand’, said the farmer. ‘And lose more time?’, exploded the son. ‘Relax’ said the old man. ‘You might be in a ditch some time yourself”. By the time the other cart was back on the road, it was almost eight o’clock. Suddenly a great flash of lightning split the sky. Then there was thunder. Beyond the hills, the heavens grew dark. ‘Looks like a big rain in the city’, said the old man. ‘If we had been on time, we’d be sold out by now, and on our way back’, grumbled the son. ‘Take it easy’, the old man said, ‘you’ll last longer!’ It wasn’t until late afternoon that they got to the top of the hill overlooking the town. They looked down on it…for a very long time! Neither of them spoke a word. Finally, the young man who had been in such a hurry said, ‘I see what you mean now father’. They turned their cart around and headed back home…and drove away from the city that had once been the city of Hiroshima, Japan!” LORD TEACH US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS, AND LIVE IT OUT FOR YOU…ONE DAY AT A TIME. IT’S A BURDEN TO LIVE IN ALL THREE TENSES AT ONE TIME!

 Posted by at 2:44 am

“The Black Velvet that Displays the Diamond of the Love of God”.

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Sep 222019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Black Velvet that Displays the Diamond of the Love of God”. By:  Ron Woodrum

 The Parable of the Prodigal Son has been called “The Most Beautiful Story Ever Told!”– (William Cowper-Hymn writer). It has been called “The greatest short story ever written-with such drama that is so clear and precise that everyone can relate to it-and cannot miss its central point” (Max Lucado-author). It was called a “Lifeline to God” by Fyodor Doestevesky. Rembrandt was so touched by it, his last painting put an exclamation point on all of his masterpieces! That very painting captivated Dutch Theologian Henry Nouwen for over four hours, after which he wrote his most important book-The Return of the Prodigal Son. He said, “I become the Prodigal Son every time I seek for unconditional love anywhere but where it can only be found, in the heart of the Father!” The Parable and the painting changed his life and ministry forever. If we would spend a few minutes this morning in meditation on its central message it can do the same for us! Great men of history have been so touched they have written poems and songs as well! We all know the name John Newton. His greatest masterpiece of hymns is the famous Amazing Grace! But he wrote a very touching summary of the Parable in a poem. He wrote:


Afflictions though they seem severe

In mercy oft they are sent

They stopped the Prodigal’s career

And led him to repent


Although he no relentings felt

Till he had spent his store

His stubborn heart began to melt

Though famine pinched him sore


 What I have gained by sin he said

But hunger, shame, and fear

My father’s house abounds with bread

While I am starving here


I’ll go and tell Him all I’ve done

And fall before His face

Unworthy to be called

His son I’ll seek a servant’s place  


His father saw him coming back

He saw, He ran, He smiled

And threw His arms around his neck0

Of His rebellious child


Father I have sinned, O please forgive!

I’ve heard enough He said

Rejoice my house, My son’s alive

For whom I mourned as dead!


Now let the fatted calf be slain

And spread the news around

My son was dead, but lives again

Was lost, but now is found.


 Somehow, we manage to make the prodigal son the central message of this parable. I think that when we do that, we miss the main point Jesus had in mind when He told that story to its original audience. Jesus was telling the audience that they had totally forgotten the true nature of the heart of His Father. The central point of this Parable is that the Father always has, and always will welcome prodigals from the far country of sin and rebellion to come home to His loving forgiveness and restoration. This Parable is about the Loving Father, not the Lost Son! Kenny Bishop has written a song entitled The Prodigal’s Dad. Listen to it on U-tube. Look up the lyrics. It has a remarkable message. It is about the broken heart of our Heavenly Father that goes from Sad to Glad, when his Prodigal Son comes home! That is the message of the Parable we are studying today. That is the thrust of the sermon’s message today! The point of this parable is not the depths of the lostness of the rebellious son. It is the depth of the love of the restoring Father. The depth of the lostness of the son is shown only to highlight the depth of love of the Father. THE LOSTNESS OF THE SON IS THE BLACK VELVET AGAINST WHICH THE DIAMOND OF THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS DISPLAYED IN ALL OF ITS FACETS AND SPLENDOR! Please don’t miss that. If you do you miss everything!

 Posted by at 2:20 pm

“Jesus in Running Shoes-muscular Christianity with a radiant godliness”.

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Sep 152019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Jesus in Running Shoes-muscular Christianity with a radiant godliness”.  By:  Ron Woodrum

  At the 54th Academy Awards, 1982, honoring the movies of 1981, there were many excellent films vying for the best picture award. There was On Golden Pond, starring Henry Fonda, in his last film, along with Catherine Hepburn, and his daughter Jane Fonda. Fred Astaire starred in his last movie-Ghost Story. Burt Lancaster hoped his film Atlantic City would win the award. Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson had Death Hunt. Then of course there was Harrison Ford in a little-known movie-Raiders of the Lost Ark! There were many more movies and stars that felt deserving. The favorite of the Hollywood crowd was Reds, Starring Warren Beatty; Jack Nicholson, and Diane Keaton. To everyone’s surprise another movie took the top honor…it was Chariots of Fire! It was a movie about two Olympic runners who were willing to sacrifice it all to win Olympic gold medals. One was Harold Abrams, and English Jew, who runs to overcome prejudice, and win the glory for himself, and for his race. The other was Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian, and missionary in training, who runs for the glory of God. His sister Jennie, when hearing that he is competing in the 1924 Olympics try to talk him out of it. She is afraid that the glory will distract him from the call of God on his life. He tells her-“I know that God made me for a purpose, (to be a missionary to China), but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure!” He did run fast, and the pleasure of God was all over him when he did run. The Guardian newspaper wrote “When he appeared in the heats of the 400 meter run at Paris in 1924 he had a huge sprawling stride, his head thrown back, his face up to heaven, his arms clawing the air, caused the Americans, and other sophisticated experts to deride him with ribald laughter!” A year earlier England had seen his gift of running. In a quarter mile race, he was tripped by another runner named J.J. Gilles as they rounded the first curve. Liddell fell off the track. The runners quickly left him 30 yards behind. The official shouted for Eric to get back in the race. He did just that! He ran at a pace that had him soon pass all the runners before him, passing up Gilles, he crossed the finish line to win the race, collapsing in exhaustion! That earned him the title the “Flying Scotsman!” The Scotsman paper wrote, “The circumstances under which Liddell won that event made it a performance boarding on the miraculous…and in the history of athletics that quarter mile win was the greatest ever track performance ever seen!”

As the events of the 1924 Olympics approached, Eric was the favorite in the 100 Meter Event. When the schedule was announced it became apparent that the 100 Meter Run was on a Sunday. Eric withdrew from the event. He felt that it would dishonor the Lord to run in the event on the Lord’s Day. He withstood national and world pressure to submit. He forfeited glory for conviction. At the last minute he accepted an invitation to run in the 400 Meter one that he had never trained for. When asked how he would win that race he said, “I will run the first 200 meters as fast as I can, for the second 200 meters, with God’s help I will run even harder!” That is exactly what he did. In crippling heat, he ran the first 200 meters in 22.2 seconds. The American challenger said, “I could not believe a man could set such a pace and keep it up to the finish”. In spite of the American straining every nerve and muscle he finished second behind Liddell. It was said, “Liddell ran the entire race in a sprint as a man possessed”. He set the world record of 47.6 in an event he had never planned to ever run! After finishing the race, and winning the gold medal Eric told those who encouraged him to continue his career as an Olympic runner these words-“It has been a wonderful experience to compete in the Olympic games and to win a gold medal. But since I have been a young lad, I HAVE HAD MY EYE ON A DIFFERENT PRIZE. You see each of us is in a GREATER race than the one I have run here in Paris, and this race ends when God gives out His medals”.

Eric finished his theological education and went as a missionary to China. When asked if he regretted that choice he said, “It is natural for a chap to think over all that at times, but I’m glad for the work I am engaged in now. A fellow’s life counts for far more at this than the other!” He certainly did make his life count for so much more! He served as a missionary to China from 1926-1945. After China was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 all missionary work became dangerous. Eric sent his wife and daughters home to Canada, and hoped to join them soon. But in March of 1943 he, along with all other foreigners were imprisoned in an Internment Camp by the Japanese. Eric continued his work without missing a beat. he taught the young people both secular and spiritual subjects. He organized sports to keep them occupied, and even refereed their games. he was fondly known as “Uncle Eric”. He gave special care to older people, the weak and the ill. Despite the squalor of open cesspools, rats, flies, and disease, he made life in this hellish place a normal routine for those imprisoned there. Had it not been for Eric many would never have survived. Mary Taylor Previte, who had been there as a young girl prisoner, said “Uncle Eric was like Jesus in Running Shoes”. Another prisoner said, “None of us will ever forget this man who was totally committed to putting God first, a man who combined muscular Christianity with radiant godliness!” Another Pastor interred there wrote, “He became the moral and spiritual leader of the horrifying reality of that camp”. Landon Gilkey, a liberal Pastor who was there at the same time, wrote “It is rare indeed when a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, He came as close as anyone I have ever known!” Others said he had one desire-“to see every man, woman, boy and girl in China to come to know Jesus as their Savior!” In the latter years of his imprisonment Eric was stricken with a brain tumor. His body grew weak. He spent his last days in the infirmary. On February 21, 1945 Eric finished a letter to his wife and daughters from his sick bed. He spoke to a friend, “It is full surrender”, and he fell into a coma and died shortly thereafter. As the movie Chariots of Fire reveals at the end, “All Scotland mourned his death”. What the movie did not tell us is that “Heaven’s Great Cloud of Witnesses cheered as Eric crossed the finish line to that Greater Race and won a Different Medal, one that God gives to those who sacrifice everything for Him”. Eric had often said that too many “miss the best by settling for the second best!” He made the right choice. The title of the movie Chariots of Fire has a deep meaning. It was chosen from a poem by William Blake called Jerusalem.




And did those feet in Ancient Time

Walk upon England’s mountains green

And was the Holy Lamb of God

On England’s pleasant Pastures Seen!


Bring me my Bow of Burning Gold

Bring me my Arrows of Desire

Bring me my Spear: Oh clouds unfold

Bring me my Chariot of Fire


I will not cease from mental fight

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand

Til we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green and pleasant land!


That was Eric Liddell’s desire for his country. When it becomes our desire for ours then we too will have made the first choice, and we too will have chosen the different prize of the greater race, that alone is worth sacrificing everything to stand in that winner’s circle. Run your race!

 Posted by at 10:00 pm

“Can Christians be Indubitably real ever again?”

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Sep 082019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Can Christians be Indubitably real ever again?” By:  Ron Woodrum

  The Wesleyan revival of the eighteenth century was one of the great outpourings of the Spirit, and the secret to retaining the fruits of revival was the class meetings that were held by the Wesley’s. They emphasized Bible reading, prayer, holiness and dedication to be practiced by the converts. The classes provided fellowship and accountability. After many years Wesley decided to write a guide-a manual for the class in an effort to carry on with the movement. But the power and vitality of the movement seemed to diminish from that point on. This troubled Wesley so much, he wrote: “It was a common saying among Christians that ‘the soul and the body make the man’ but ‘the spirit and discipline make the Christian’: implying that none could be a real Christian without the help of Christian discipline. But if this be so, is it any wonder that we now find so few Christians, for where is the Christian Discipline?” (Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity-a sermon by John Wesley). Wesley put his finger on an ongoing problem confronting Christians of all eras-how do you sustain real Christian living on an everyday level? Thomas A Kempis, author of the Imitation of Christ, warned “Know well that the enemy labors to hinder the desire, (of the Church), for holiness and make you fail to attain all good spiritual exercise.” Thomas Aquinas, seeing this loss of power, did his best to communicate it. On one occasion he was confronted by Pope Innocent II, who showed him all the property of the Church, all her magnificent buildings, and large sums of money. Innocent said, “You see the Church is no longer in the age which she has to say, ‘silver and gold have I none’-she can no longer say that!” Aquinas acknowledged that is true, then said, “Neither can she say, In the name of Jesus Christ-rise up and walk!” For entirely different reasons, the Church today finds herself with the same inability to impact our world for Christ. We profess to know Christ. We have committed to be His followers. But there is a veritable “Grand Canyon” of difference between Who He is, and who we are! It seems the Church has “fallen and we cannot get up!” Henry David Thoreau used to say, “men, (Christians), lie on their backs talking about the fall of man, but never make an effort to get up!” It sure seems like it! Leo Tolstoy, in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You, “All men, (Christians included), of the modern world exist in a continual and flagrant antagonism between their consciences and their way of life”. How have we drifted so far from the real Christianity we witness in the New Testament? Richard Halverson, Presbyterian pastor, and past Chaplain of U.S. Congress, wrote years ago, “In the beginning the Church was a Fellowship of men and women centering on the Living Christ; The Church moved to Greece and became a Philosophy; The Church moved to Rome and became an Institution; The Church moved to Europe a Culture; The Church moved to America and became an Enterprise!” That history is very revealing about how we got to where we are at today. Donald Miller says “the inner reserves of Christianity have been largely depleted!” Richard Foster says “most conservatives by the early seventies generally accepted that being a Christian had nothing essentially to do with actually following Jesus. Most Christians are NOT like Him. The main popular bumper sticker became ‘Christians are not perfect, just forgiven’. The only absolute requirement for being a Christian is to believe proper things about Jesus”. (Discipleship: For Super Christians Only). That explains the modern impotent Church. The salt has lost its savor!

William Iverson identified that very thing. He wrote “one quarter of the population of the United States professes an evangelical conversion experience. Jesus said that those who claim that are to be the salt of the earth. He deduces-a pound of meat would surely be affected by a quarter pound of salt-wouldn’t you think? Where is the effect of which Jesus spoke?” (William Iverson-Christianity Today– 1980 p.33). Henry Churchill King, long time President of Oberlin College, and well-known theologian raises a very pertinent question for our generation-“What happened to Christians being indubitably real?” (Indubitably is a word hardly used anymore that means “something so real it cannot be doubted”). What has happened to “that kind” of Christianity? When Christianity, in the past, slipped away from being the real deal kind of Christianity there usually came a revival to bring them back to their real identity. Revival was the means of restoring a life of spirit, genuineness, and power to the fallen Church. But how about today? Richard Foster, in his book The Spirit of Disciplines, says “that doesn’t work any longer. The mainstay-revival is no longer what it used to be. Revival in the classic sense is the overwhelming infusion of spiritual life coming into the Church, and into the whole community. But that kind of revival has been replaced with meetings, still called by the old name. But people who make decisions remain substantially unchanged from what they were before. Revivals are no longer an influx of Word and Spirit. Now one can have an ‘unsuccessful revival’ and still have revival-which if you think about it that makes as much sense of having a raising from the dead without having a raising at all!” Paul Scherer says the number one problem of the Church today is that it has become “too trivial to be true…empty and powerless…and this is accepted as the norm these days!”

  What do we do? We need to take the attitude of Darrell Royal. He was a very successful coach of the University of Texas for many years. When he first started his career at Texas he got a call from the President of the Alumni, after the first game. The president said to the coach-“Darrell when can I come over to give you some constructive criticism?” Coach Royal replied, “Never!” The President of the Alumni insisted-“We have a group that meets to do just that after every game!” Coach said, “Not anymore! I work best when people affirm me, and tell me what I am doing right, not what I am doing wrong! I need supporters to cheer me on!” His supporters became just that and for years the University of Texas had a very successful football program. We need that kind of support for the Church. Not that we are to stick our head in the sand concerning diagnosing where we are at. But we need to be cheered on to return to the Church that walks with the Lord…in the Light of His word…filled and empowered by His Spirit again. John Mackay, past president of Princeton University, and Scottish missionary for many years, used to speak to Churches all across America. He always started his messages with “Let the Church Be the Church!” Theologian Helmut Thielicke always said, “The Church cannot permit its authority to be defined by people who have no idea of its mission!” We need to stop trying to Follow in His Steps-in the power of the flesh. That is why we are failing. We do not need an Imitation of Christ…but an Incarnation of Christ. Paul was right. “Christ In You-The Hope of Glory”. That is our only hope! That is possible only by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. We must be yielded to Him again. We need to pray the poem of Amy Carmichael-Oh Flame of God.


From the prayer that asks that I may be

Sheltered from the winds that beat on thee

From fearing, when I should aspire

From faltering when I should climb higher

From silken self, O Captain free

Thy soldier who would follow thee


From subtle things of softening

From easy choices-weakening’s

(not thus are spirits fortified)

Not went that way the Crucified

From all that dims Thy Calvary

Oh Lamb of God deliver me


Give me a LOVE that leads the way

A FAITH that nothing can dismay

A HOPE no disappointment can tire

A PASSION that will burn like fire

Let me not sink like a clod



The entire population of a small town gathered to watch the Baptist Church burn to the ground. In the crowd, with their parents, watching the disaster were two young children. The little girl said to her brother, “I’ve never seen so many people at Church”. There was silence for a minute. Then the brother replied, “The Church has never been on fire before!” THAT JUST MAY BE THE ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEM! Indubitably real Christians must catch fire again to be Indubitable!

 Posted by at 1:23 am

Inspiring Quotes and Scriptures about Worship- Part 2

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Sep 012019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Inspiring Quotes and Scriptures about Worship- Part 2 By:  Ron Woodrum

8. Worship is the right response to God

“Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because he is worthy, delightfully so.”—D.A. Carson No one has to teach a Christian to worship God. In some way, every believer responds worshipfully to an encounter with God. It’s really the only rational response. If we never feel those pulls toward worship, it might be a sign that we’re drifting away from our first love.


9. Worship is a remedy for apathy

“Who will deny that true religion consists, in a great measure, in vigorous and lively acting’s of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart? That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless, wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference.”—Jonathan Edwards

When we experience a life-changing encounter with God, worship is a natural impulse. As Christians mature, however, we discover that worship can’t simply be reactive. We must learn to be proactive in glorifying God, even when it’s not our current disposition. As David was known to do, we need to command ourselves to worship by declaring: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”—Psalm 43:5


10. We choose to worship

“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’ but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Graham Kendrick

There are times when something stirs in our hearts and everything inside of us responds in worship, but those are grace-filled promptings of the Spirit. It’s important that we make worship a conscience choice, and a willful act. Worship involves all of us-intellect, emotion, and finally our will!


11. Worship must be grounded in truth

“The worship to which we are called in our renewed state is far too important to be left to personal preferences, to whims, or to marketing strategies. It is the pleasing of God that is at the heart of worship. Therefore, our worship must be informed at every point by the Word of God as we seek God’s own instructions for worship that is pleasing to Him.”—R.C. Sproul

While we all have personal preferences for the kinds of music we enjoy or the sort of environments we find most worshipful, our praise should be grounded in our common understanding of God from His Word.


12. Watching out for fuzzy worship

“Put it this way: if your idea of God, if your idea of the salvation offered in Christ, is vague or remote, your idea of worship will be fuzzy and ill-formed. The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. That’s why theology and worship belong together. The one isn’t just a head-trip; the other isn’t just emotion.”—N.T. Wright.

Amen! Too much of what we call worship is pseudo-worship…entertainment that satisfies the flesh! God help us!  


13. We are God’s temple for worship

“There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us.”—Ravi Zacharias

The reason that everything we do can be an act of worship is because God has made each one of us a temple where he dwells through the Holy Spirit. When we become aware of that presence, every moment of our day is sacred.


14. Worship is part of a healthy spiritual life

“But just as your body needs sleep, your soul needs time to rest in God. To learn more about Him. To talk to Him. To worship and praise Him. To fellowship with other brothers and sisters.”—Craig Groeschel

Like food and water, worship is a necessary part of human existence. It’s easy to think that we can exist without it because we still exhibit all the outwards signs of life, but that’s not the existence we were created to have. We were created to flourish. .


15. The world needs to see our worship/When they really do it will bring revival!

“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises ‘before the nations.’ We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.”—Timothy J. Keller

Everyone in the world is worshiping something, because their spirits are hungry. For most people, their worship amounts to spiritual junk food. The world is longing to experience something truly worthy of praise. When they see us making ourselves living sacrifices in true worship, they discover the nourishment they’ve been starving for. It would be enough if our worship simply honored and magnified God, but he uses it to edify us as well. Worship prepares us to spend eternity with Christ by drawing us closer to him, making us more aware of his amazing attributes, and conforming us to his image.

James Stewart, professor of New Testament in Scotland, told Bill Bright these words: “If we could show the whole world that being committed to Jesus Christ is no tame, humdrum, sheltered monotony, but instead the most thrilling, exciting adventure the human spirit can ever have, then those who have been standing outside the Church, looking askance at Christ would come crowding in to pay allegiance to Him, and we would see the greatest revival since Pentecost!” That is what happens when Christians really worship Him!

 Posted by at 1:32 am