Uncategorized  Comments Off on “THAT INCREDIBLE CHRISTIAN”-TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
Feb 282016


By:  Ron Woodrum


     In the 300’s A.D. The Roman World was struggling to retain its greatness.  The citizens of Rome were disillusioned with the religions of the pagan empire.  Life was hard.  The future was uncertain.  People were starting to search for a deeper meaning in life.  The Christian message was starting to impact the Roman world.  The Empire was striking back with persecution.  The Emperor demanded submission to the religions of the empire, which included worship of the Emperor himself.  People watched as Christians refused to submit even in the face of death.  One of the outstanding leaders of the time was Cyprian-Bishop of Carthage.  He eventually was executed for refusing to offer sacrifice to the gods, and say “Caesar is Lord!”.  One of the most intriguing artifacts from that time was a letter that he wrote to a friend explaining his faith.  He wrote, “It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world.  But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of life.  They have found a joy and wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful lives.  They are despised and persecuted, but they care not.  They are masters of their souls.  They have overcome the world.  These people Donatus, are Christians…and I am one of them”.  In the midst of his generation Cyprian had been changed by a group of people who stood out incredibly good in an incredibly bad world.  That influenced him enough to join them.  We too live in an incredibly bad world, which is getting worse each day.  What is needed today is Incredible Christians who shine brightly as lights in the darkness.  A.W. Tozer had an article I read years ago that I have never forgotten.  It is called That Incredible Christian.  It describes how God transforms our lives in such a way that we stand out as people who are “Incredible”-almost unbelievable.  Let me share it with you and see how we compare today.


“But let us bring the whole matter down from the uplands of theory and simply observe the true Christian as he puts into practice the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Note the contradictions:  The Christian believes that in Christ he has died, yet he is more alive than before and he fully expects to live forever.  He walks on earth while seated in heaven and though born on earth he finds that after his conversion he is not at home here.  Like the nighthawk, which in the air is the essence of grace and beauty, but on the ground is awkward and ugly, so the Christian appears at his best in the heavenly places but does not fit well into the ways of the very society in which he was born. The Christian soon learns that if he would be victorious, as a son of heaven among men on earth, he must not follow the common pattern of mankind, but rather the contrary.  That he may be safe he puts himself in jeopardy; he loses his life to save it and is in danger of losing it if he attempts to preserve it.  He goes down to get up.  If he refuses to go down he is already down, but when he starts down he is on his way up. He is strongest when he is weakest and weakest when he is strong. Though poor he has the power to make others rich, but when he becomes rich his ability to enrich others vanishes.  He has the most after he has given the most away and has the least when he posseses the most!  He may be and often is highest when he feels the lowest and most sinless when he is most conscious of his sin. He is wisest when he knows that he knows not and knows least when he has acquired the greatest amount of knowledge.  He sometimes does most by doing nothing and goes furthest when standing still.  In heaviness he manages to rejoice and keeps his heart glad even in sorrow.  The paradoxical character of the Christian is revealed constrantly. For instance, he believes that he is saved now, nevertheless he expects to be saved later and looks forward joyfully to future salvation.  He fears God but is not afraid of Him. In God’s presence he feels overwhelmed and undone, yet there is nowhere he would rather be than in that presence!  He knows that he has been cleansed from his sin, yet he is painfully conscioius that in his flesh dwells no good thing.  He loves supremely One whom he has never seen, and though himself poor and lowly  he talks familiarly with One who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He feels that he is in his own right altogether less than nothing, yet believes without question that he is the apple of God’s eye and that for him the Eternal Son of God became flesh and died of the cross of shame just for him. The Christian is a citizen of heaven and to that sacred citizenship he acknowledges first allegiance; yet he may love his earthly country with the intensity of devotion that caused John Knox to pray, ‘God give me Scotland or I die!’.  He cheerfully expects before long to enter into that bright world above, but he is in no hurry to leave this world and is quite willing to await the summons of His heavenly Father.  The cross-carrying Christian, furthermore, is both a confirmed pessimist and optimist the like of which is to found nowhere else on earth.  When he looks at the cross he is a pessimist, for he knows that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemns in that one act all nature and all the world of men.   He rejects every human hope out of Christ because he knows that man’s noblest effort is only dust building on dust.  Yet he is calmly, restfully optimistic.  if the cross condems the world, the resurrection guarantees the ultimate triumph of good througout the universe.  Through Christ all will be well at last and the Christian  waits the consumation.  Incredible Christian!”

     As Christians we should, by the power of God be walking paradoxes!  Incredible sights to observe.  We should be God’s burning bushes attracting the world to the glory of God being manifest in our lives.  We should be amazingly “Incredible”.  But I am afraid that our failure to manifest the power of the Lord in our lives make us more “incredulous” than “Incredible!”


 Posted by at 2:19 pm


 Uncategorized  Comments Off on “Reconciliation-Reconstruction-Renovation
Feb 212016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Reconciliation-Reconstruction-Renovation”.

(By:  Ron Woodrum)


     Remember as kids when we sang the nursery rhyme “London Bridge Is Falling Down”?  It went something like this-“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.  London Bridge is falling down.  My Fair Lady”.  The next verse said, “build it up with wood and clay”.  That verse was followed by the warning “Wood and Clay will Wash Away”.  Answer-“Build it up with Brick and Mortar”  But the retort followed-“Brick and mortar will not stay”.  How about reinforcing it with “Iron and Steel?  Iron and Steel?  Iron and Steel?”; “Iron and Steel will bend and bow, bend and bow, bend and bow!”; “Build it up with Silver and Gold,Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold”…”Silver and Gold will be stolen away…My Fair Lady”.  “Set a man to watch all night…watch all night…watch all night”.  “Suppose the man should fall asleep? My Fair Lady”.  That little rhyme is packed with theological truth.  Man’s best creations…man’s best defenses…man’s best efforts are doomed to fail!  Fallen man is hopeless without the intervention of God in his desperate situation.  St. Augustine expressed that truth very well when he wrote, “Adam himself lies now scattered on the whole surface of the earth.  Formerly concentrated in one place, he has fallen;  having been broken to pieces, as it were, he has filled the universe with his debris.  However, God’s mercy has gathered together from everywhere his fragments, and by fusing them in the fire of His love, has reconstituted their broken unity!”  Satan led mankind into the fall that has brought our race to the brink of destruction.  History has been a vivid story of the hopelessness and helplessness man has found himself trapped in-awaiting the final destruction.  But God, in Christ, and through the Cross has provided the way of Reconciliation-The Way of Reconstruction-The Way of Renovation.  Paul was engaged in that kind of gospel ministry in the first century.  His ministry was described in II Corinthians chapter 5.  We too are challenged to join him in carrying out that ministry in these last dark days.  To do so is to be numbered among “Heaven’s Heroes!”. 

Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, in their book In His Image, illustrates this truth with a vivid example from history. In September 1940 London Bridge was literally in danger of “Falling Down”.  Hitler had unleashed the unrelenting “Blitz” on London.  It was his famous “Luftwaffe”.  Brand writes graphically these words, ” In forty years of surgery I have encountered my share of human drama, but nothing has surpassed my early experiences as a surgical student during the German bombings of London in World War II.  Daily, squadrons of ugly, fat Luftwaffe bombers filled the sky, their engines growling like unbroken thunder, their bomb bays belching out cargoes of destruction.  I remember one direct hit on a Turkish bathouse in the Imperial Hotel.  The raid had come without much warning, and the baths were still full when the bomb exploded.  When I arrived it was a scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno.  Another night, I was watching from my hospital roof when a bomb fell into an infant ward at the nearby Royal Free Hospital, causing the upper floors to collapse into smoldering ruins.  There volunteers dug for newborns, most less than a week old, and found survivors and casualties covered in blood, grime, and glass.  Rescuers set up a human chain, like a fire brigade, to pass bundled infants out of the hospital rubble to the waiting ambulances.  The babies thin cries seemed a pathetically inadequate response to the horror of that scene!…During one period, the Luftwaffe attacked our city on 57 consecutive nights, with the raids lasting as long as eight hours without pause.  Fifteen hundred planes came each night, in waves of 250.  In those dark days, we could not help believing that everything we cherished-our freedom, our nation, our families, our civilization-would be buried in the wasteland created by those hated bombers. 

Only one thing gave us hope:  The courage of the Royal Air Force Pilots who rose in the skies each day to battle the Germans.  We could watch the aerial confrontations from the ground.  Royal Air Force Hurricanes and Spitfires, tiny and maneuverable, looked like mosquitoes pestering the huge German bombers.  Although their cause seemed futile, and more than half of them were shot down, the Royal Air Force pilots never gave up.  Each day they sent a few more of the dreaded bombers cartwheeling in flames toward the earth, and all of us spectators cheered wildly.  Eventually Germany could not sustain further loses from the increasingly accurate fighter pilots and Hitler called off the raids.  London sept again!…I cannot exaggerate the adoration that Londoners gave to those brave Royal Air Force pilots.  Winston Churchill , if anything, underestimated that grattitude when he said, ‘never, in the history of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few!’ “.

Paul saw the ancient world facing such destruction at the hands of the evil one.  He was enlisting brave Christians to join him in the rescue mission of reconciliation, reconstruction, and renovation included in the power of the the Gospel Ministry he preached.  Like those brave Royal Air Force pilots, these men and women were “heaven’s heroes” going up against all odds to “rescue the lost and perishing from his evil grip!”.  That is the message of II Corinthians chapter 5.  C.S. Lewis talked about our ministry in this activity when he wrote “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and godesses, (he is referring to those made in the image of God, and His Son Jesus Christ), to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.  All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations!’  That is the ministry of Reconciliation provided through the cross of Jesus Christ.  God, like Paul, is looking for those who will enlist in this kind of ministry.  The sad truth is…people are perishing and none of us seem to care.  Psalm 142:4 says, “I looked to my right hand, and beheld there was no man that cared for me…no man cared for my soul!”  How tragic.  In Ezekial we hear God saying, “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it…BUT I FOUND NONE!” (Ezekial 22:30).  Will you join Heaven’s Heroes in this Courageous Ministry in these last days?  In heaven the word will be “Never has so many owed so much to so few!”  Are you willing to join Jesus and Paul in this great ministry? That is our calling!

 Posted by at 8:27 am


 Uncategorized  Comments Off on A GENERATION QUESTIONING GOD
Feb 142016


(By:  Ron Woodrum)


Disappointment with God:  Three Questions No One Asks Aloud,  is the name of a book written by the amazingly able and influential Christian writer Phillip Yancey.  What are those questions?  Number one is, Is God Unfair?  Number two is, Is God Silent? Number three is, Is God Hidden?  The book was the product of Yancey’s discourse with a student named Richard, a graduate student at Wheaton College.  Richard had approached Yancey and asked him to read a term paper he had written on the Book of Job.  That term paper was only his presenting problem.  It was actually a launching board for him to uncork, from his life, how he was disappointed in romance-he had loved, and it didn’t work out.  How in his vocational life he had experienced only shattering  dissapointment.  His religious life he had found to be filled with “heaven’s silence“.  His physical life was filled with illness and suffering.  He looked to Yancey to find some support for his premise that he had GROUNDS TO BE DISAPPOINTED WITH GOD!  Richard’s experience is not an isolated experience.  All of us, if we are honest, have experienced things in our lives that have caused us to ask those questions, even if not out loud, concerning the nature of God. Jonah too experienced such disappointment.  He to belonged to the club that found the actions of God bewildering.  He would have been glad to run for president of that club!  After warning Ninevah of the coming judgment of God, and sitting down with his hourglass, waiting for the fireworks, only to be told they had been cancelled!, Jonah was angry with God.  He felt God had acted unfairly.  In fact, He had acted unjustly.  Indeed, He had acted beyond what Jonah thought God could ever do.

Today, that same kind of bewilderment with God is very prevalent.  After all, we live in an atmosphere of what I call “Insurance Company Theology”-i.e. An Act of God is Defined as a Calamity no one else but God is responsible for!  Such a view is often seen on two fronts-both poles apart in their world views.  Modern day athiests, like Christiopher Hitchins, sees the evil in the world as evidence that, if there is a God, He is certainly not Great! (That by the way, is the Title of his recent bestselling book).  His thesis is, if God is great, (morally good), then He must not be “all-powerful”, for if He was, He would do something to eliminate evil from His world.  Conversely, if He is “all-powerful”, and does not eliminate evil, then by anyone’s standards, He cannot be considered “good”.  (This is faulty logic, failing to take into account that God will do something about evil once-and-for-all, but on His, not our timetable, and any delay in so doing is indication of what a Good, Compassionate, Loving, Long-suffering, Gracious God He really is, grace that allows Hitchens, Dawkins, and other athiests the freedom to write, and live in luxury from books that denigrate his Goodness).  But athiests are not the only ones struggling with this issue.  On the other end of the spectrum, even Christian authors and apologists, like C.S. Lewis, knew what it was to grapple with these divine complexities.  After his wife Joy died an untimely death, due to cancer, Lewis, though he had long written Christian truth, and defended the faith, found himself in the twilight zone of doubting the goodness of God.  In those dark days of grief he wrote,


“Meanwhile, where is God?  When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, if you turn to praise Him, you will be welcomed with open arms!  But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find?  A DOOR SLAMMED IN YOUR FACE, AND THE SOUND OF BOLTING, AND DOUBLE-BOLTING ON THE INSIDE!  AFTER THAT SILENCE!  YOU MAY JUST AS WELL TURN AWAY.”


Two Books of the Old Testament discuss these very perplexing issues about God.  One is quite monumental-The Book of Job.  The other is quite miniscule-The Book of Jonah.  Both, in the end, declare the great, glorious, and gracious nature of God.  Both Job and Jonah, I believe, came to that conclusion, after all was said and done!  Job shows that although sometimes we as humans are caught in the cross-fire of a cosmic conflict, and sometimes suffer extensively, that we serve a sovereign God who will eventually bring us the victory, crushing the enemy, and bringing to us such results, that we will in the end, wonder why we ever questioned God.  The other, the Book of Jonah, presents a Holy God, who has set boundaries for both His creation, and His children.  When they cross those boundaries, He has promised that there will be consequences, and that He is no respecter of persons.  The poet has described this truth so aptly,


     “There is a time, we know not when, a point, we know not where,

that leads to glory or despair


There is a line, by us unseen, that crosses every path,

The hidden boundary between God’s patience and His wrath


There is a path, though by men unseen

That once it has been crossed


God Himself, in all His love,

Has sworn that all is Lost!”

-Joseph Addison Alexander (1809-1860)




That being true, the Book of Jonah clearly declares, with Ezekial, that “God has no  delight in the death of the wicked”

(See Ezekial 18:23).  Jonah discovered what the New Testament would later clearly affirm.  “God is longsuffering, and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” ( II Peter 3:9).  “For this is good in the sight of God…who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4).  The Book of Jonah is not about a Prophet; a Whale; A great city-Ninevah.  It is about a Great God who, though Holy, is more than that, He is Good, Glorious, Gracious in Compassion, Longsuffering, Kindness.  His Name is greatly to be praised!




 Posted by at 1:26 pm


Feb 072016


(By:  Ron Woodrum)


The Swiss Evangelist and hymn writer Cesar Malan always liked to speak a word for Jesus. One day, while visiting England, he spoke to a young lady who was sitting at his table. He said he hoped that she was a Christian. Charlotte Elliott bristled! She would rather not discuss that question as he felt it to be a private matter of no one else’s business. Malan apologized if he had offended her. For Charlotte, however, Malan’s witness was a turning point. She could not get his suggestion out of her head. Three weeks later, she met Malan again. He asked her again about being a Christian. This time she told him that she had thought of nothing else for three weeks, but did not know how to do it. She had been trying but felt unsuccessful. He then told her “you have nothing of merit to bring to God. You must come to Him, Through Jesus, Just as you are!” That is exactly what Charlotte did. She rejoiced in her new found faith.

From the age of 33 until her death, Charlotte suffered crippling fatigue. “My Heavenly Father knows, and He alone, what it is day after day, and hour after hour, to fight against bodily feelings of almost overpowering weakness and languor and exhaustion, to resolve, as He enables me to do, not to yield to the slothfulness, the depression, the irritability, skuch as a body causes me to long to indulge, but to rise every morning determined to take this as my motto, ‘If any man will come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me’ ” Despite her ailment, she made herself useful. For example she edited the Religious magazine The Religious Remembrance. In 1835, twelve years after her conversion, her brother was raising funds for a school for the daughters of clergymen–St. Mary’s Hall. Unable to help with the project Charlotte felt useless. Perhaps even God have rejected her! She fell into deep doubt. As she pondered her situation she remembered the words of Cesar Malan and decided to write a song for others who were in her same situation. The song she wrote became one of the greatest soul-winning songs in the history of hymns.





















Charlotte’s hymn helped many come to faith. Dora Wordsworth, daughter of William Wordsworth, came to faith because of the hymn, and asked to have the lines read to her again and again on her death bed. What is more that when Charlotte died in 1871 that more than one thousand letters were found in her personal papers written by people who had come to faith through the message of the words she wrote in that hymn. What is more, in her own lifetime Charlotte learned that copies of the poem were being sold for money and the money was being donated to St. Mary’s Hall, the very project she thought she had not been able to help.

Later it came to be public knowledge that her poem had greater impact than ever imagined. In 1934 a Crusade came to Charlotte, N.C. an Evangelist Mordecai Ham was holding the crusade. William Franklin Graham, a high school student came to the crusade to see the evangelist who friends told him preached like a man fighting a swarm of bees swirling around his head. Mordecai Ham preached on hell. Billy was terrified of dying and going to hell. He joined the choir to sit behind the evangelist, who seemed to be preaching right to him. But that did no good. The first night in the choir he responds to the invitation and receives Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. That night the hymn that spoke to his heart was Charlotte Elliott’s Just As I Am! When Billy began his crusades years later guess what Invitation Hymn he choose for his moment of decisions-JUST AS I AM. Even today when you watch a replay of Billy Graham Crusade Classics it takes your breath away when the first stanza of that great hymn begins people by the thousands begin to pour into the aisles rushing down to receive Christ! Charlotte Elliot never dreamed how God would use her simple hymn to speak to the heart of millions of people all over the world. That is how our God works! He takes those who give their best to Him, and reproduces it to accomplish more than we ever imagined!


 Posted by at 8:14 am