Uncategorized  Comments Off on “SPIRITUAL EYES TO SEE THROUGH THE 4-14 WINDOW”.
Jun 262016


By: Ron Woodrum


The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody was discussing the results of the previous night’s crusade by telling someone that we had 21/2 converts. The person, puzzled by the 1/2, assumed that two adults had been saved, and one child. To his surprise, Moody emphatically told him that there were “two children saved, and one adult, who had lived most of his life already, resulting in the conclusion that there were only two and one half converts”. Moody whole-heartedly believed that! We hear a lot about his great crusades and the millions of adults that came to faith through his ministry. Little emphasis is given to the fact that he was very involved in children’s ministry as well. Early on in his ministry, he is reported to have secured the use of a saloon, cleaning it after it closed on Saturday night, teaching children about Jesus in Sunday School on Sunday, and setting it back up. It was a labor of love that he felt well worth it-if it meant reaching the “children of Chicago for Christ.” He soon outgrew the saloon, and secured a meeting hall for the number of children his ministry was reaching. Was it worth all that effort to reach children? Did Moody know something we seem to have forgotten? Jesus said, Mark 10:14 “Permit the little children to come to me, forbid them not!” I remember this being emphasized in a pop song from 1970 by Ray Stevens. In the summer of 1970, the song Everything Is Beautiful, hit number one on the Billboard Top 100 hit list, and remained there for two weeks. At the Grammy Awards of 1971 this song won two awards: Best Male Pop Vocal and Best Inspirational Performance. Billboard ranked it as the number 12 song for the entire year of 1970. (Competing with I Think I Love You; War; Tears of a Clown; Mama Told Me Not to Come; Venus; The Rapper; Vehicle; Spirit In The Sky; and Green-Eyed Lady). Listen to the lyrics-“Jesus loves the little children-All the little Children of the World-Red and Yellow Black and White-They are precious in His sight-Jesus love the little children of the world”. I doubt that that song would have that impact on the culture of our day. It is a different world. But the truth is still the same. Jesus loves the little children. He stated that unless we become like “little children” with a “trusting faith” we cannot see the kingdom of God. (Matt. 18:2).


My favorite Gospel movie of all time, The Gospel Road, gave me a vivid illustration of this that has stuck with me for over five decades! Johnny Cash introduces the upcoming scene, as he walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He says, Jesus loved the little children. Whenever He encountered them He invited them to “come to him”. Cash says, “If I had been a little boy and Jesus came around, I think I would have run to him”. Then he begins to sing a song, written by Joe South, (Games People Play and Walk a Mile in My Shoes fame)-that goes like this-“Children go run and jump and play…Children you’ll be men and women some day; then you’ll have to leave your world of make believe; but for now just be children. Children young, carefree Children. Children-need someone to understand; Children-need someone to hold their hand; to cheer them when they’re sad-to spank them when they’re bad…Haughty…Naughty…Children. Children-call each other names; Children-playing grown up games. And the thing that’s really sad-we lose the faith we had when we were Children. Loud, Proud, Children. Children-who think that they are grown; Children-soon to have children of their own. From the cradle to the grave, why must we all behave like Children-Lost, Lonely Children”? I cannot watch that scene without tears and laughter mixed together. Laughter as Jesus takes off his robe and romps with children on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. He digs in the sand with them. He splashes in the water with them. He picks them up and blows on their bellies. Laughing and loving the little children. Oh how He loved them! But the tears come as He does that, when they show flashbacks to His childhood, and flashes ahead to Calvary, showing that from a little Child He knew why He was born. To redeem mankind through His death, burial and resurrection. Of course that includes “all the little children of the world”. (If you have never seen the movie you can watch it all without interruption on God-Tube.)


If we are going to be like our Lord; like D.L. Moody we must pay the price to reach the children of our community. They are ready. Do you know that Child Evangelism has done a study of conversion ages for Christians? Their study has been confirmed by a second study done by the International Bible Society. The results? Hold on to your hats- here are the results. When asked when they were converted here is how Christians responded. 0-4 years of age only 1% of Christians were converted; from 4-14 years of age 85% of Christians were converted!; from 15-29 years of age 10% were converted; above 30 years of age only 4% of Christians came to faith. That has caused the years of 4-14 to be called “The 4-14 window”. It is a critical time to share the Gospel with them. We must find a way to do that. When Jesus used the word children, he used the Greek word “paideia” not “teknon”. “paidia” referred to “little children from infants to youth”; “teknon”-referred to “youth to man-hood”. We must reach them early, using all tools available to us for Children’s ministry. Vacation Bible Schools; Sunday School; Awana; Backyard Bible Clubs; any other ideas! Children’s ministry MUST BE OR BECOME A PRIORITY TO OUR CHURCH! Jesus would say, “Let him who has eyes-SEE! Let him who has ears-HEAR!” While we discuss whether this is true or not…we are missing opportunities that will never be recovered! We dare not wait…we must proceed in “reaching the children”. Awana and other programs will give us that opportunity.


 Posted by at 12:35 pm


 Uncategorized  Comments Off on CHECK-MATE-RIGHT BACK AT YA!
Jun 192016


By: Ron Woodrum


Back in 1977 Billy Graham’s Associate Evangelist, John Wesley White, wrote an excellent book about the Devil called-The Devil: What the Scriptures Teach about Him.  In the book he tells of a painting hanging in the Louvre Art Museum in Paris, France.  It was a painting of a man playing chess with the devil!  It is quite an expressive painting. On one side is the devil glaring at the young man sitting across from him. The devil is grinning ear to ear because he has the young man cornered.  The young man has a look of defeat written all over his face, as he leans on his right elbow with his hand embracing his forehead.  Even his guardian angel, watching at the table’s side, looks pretty bewildered!  White says, the young man is trapped and defeated, with the title saying it all-“Check-mate”.

I checked into that picture.  Is it true?  Does it exist?  Come to find out it is true.  The picture is by a German artist named Friedrich Moritz August Retzch.  Retzch lived 1779-1857.  He was a painter, a draughtsman, and an etcher.  He was also a wine-maker of note.  He was praised by the German writer Goethe.  Goethe and other German writers employed Retzch to illustrate their writings.  This particular painting was an illustration of Goethe’s famous work Faust.  Faust, Goethe’s great dramatic poem in two parts, is his crowning work. Even though it is based on the medieval legend of a man who sold his soul to the devil, it actually treats modern man’s sense of alienation and his need to come to terms with the world in which he lives.  The Faust legend first flourished in medieval Europe and is thought to have its earliest roots in the New Testament story of the magician Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24). During the superstitious Middle Ages, the story of the man who sold his soul to the devil to procure supernatural powers captured the popular imagination and spread rapidly. At some point the name of Faust was definitely attached to this figure. A cycle of legends, including some from ancient and medieval sources that were originally told about other magicians, began to collect around him. One of the most widely-read magic texts of the period was attributed to Faust and many others referred to him as an authority.

The painting, illustrating this poem/drama was actually named “Die Schachspeiler”-“The Chess Player” (not Check-mate).  The painting indeed was in the Louvre until 1999, when it was auctioned off at Christie’s and is now in the possession of a private owner.  Its whereabouts is unknown.  But back to White’s illustration and story…according to White, Paul Morphy, World Chess Champion, was on tour in Europe in 1858. While visiting the Louvre he stopped at the painting and was mesmerized by it.  He studied it for hours.  After a long time he exclaimed, “quick bring me a chess board-it’s a lie.  The king has one more move.”  Morphy had a move, one only mind you, to break the check-mate and steal a victory out of the jaws of defeat!  By the way they tell us that the term “check-mate” comes from the Persian word “shah-mat” meaning the “king is dead”!  The theme of selling one’s soul to the devil is not just a theme that was quite popular in the middle ages-it still is today.  Remember Charlie Daniels song, The Devil Went Down to Georgia? (A number three hit on Billboard 100 for Daniels in 1979) followed by a sequel in 1993 with Travis Tritt as Johnny, and narrated by Johnny Cash, both songs tell the story of how Johnny dodges eternal damnation by winning the match and the rematch with the devil in a battle for his soul.  History is filled with stories of famous people who sold their soul to the devil for riches, popularity, fame and power.  Allister Crowley was spoken of as one who did that. He actually wrote about his relationship with the Devil.  He wrote, “I was not content to believe in a personal devil and serve him, in the ordinary sense of the word.  I wanted to get hold of him personally and become his chief of staff”.   For years it was rumored that Led Zepplin enjoyed success due to the fact that they had sold their souls to the devil. Guitarist for the group, Jimmy Page did practice occultist practices, and bought Crowley’s mansion.  The Rolling Stones, especially after their song, Sympathy for the Devil, were rumored to have done that.  And of course, there is always Ozzy Osbourne!  I think the devil has perpetrated this lie because it hides the real truth.  The Bible teaches he is the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4) and the “prince and power of the air” (Eph. 2:2).  I John says “the whole world lies in the lap of the evil one” (I John 5:19).  If he can deceive us into thinking that we are all ok UNLESS we make a pact selling our soul to him, he will keep us in the check-mate of defeat that we aren’t even aware of!

Since Adam and Eve’s fall all mankind is in checkmate and defeat to the devil.  It appeared hopeless.  But Jesus came, and in one move broke the checkmate and defeated him.  Today’s message is about that very move!  At Calvary, as prophesied in Genesis 3:15, the serpent “bruised” the heel of the Savior, but by the cross “Jesus crushed his head!”  Back to the painting-The King is the most important piece. When he is trapped, his whole army loses. The King can move one square in any direction. The main goal of chess is to checkmate your opponent’s King. The King is not actually captured and removed from the board like other pieces. But if the King is attacked (‘checked’) and threatened with capture, it must get out of check immediately. If there is no way to get out of check, the position is a ‘checkmate,’ and the side that is checkmated loses. Moses and the children of Israel are fleeing Pharaoh. They find themselves hemmed in with mountains on one side, Red Sea in front, and Egyptian army behind-Checkmate.  Our King has one more move! Saul and Israel are cowering before the Giant of Gath.  Checkmate.  But our King has one more move.  Jesus is taken down dead from the Cross.  He is placed in a borrowed tomb.  Checkmate.  But Easter morning our King had one more move and checkmate becomes “checkmate-right back at you”, as He defeated, disarmed, and disgraced the devil.  I recently came across a quote by someone that many thought had sold out to serve the devil.  The truth is, in reality, he has come to know the Savior, and walks in the way of victory over the Devil. I am speaking of Alice Cooper.  He recently wrote, “When you believe in God, you’ve got to believe in the all-powerful God.  He is not just God, He’s the all-powerful God and He has control over everyone’s life.  The Devil, on the other hand, is a real character that’s trying his hardest to tear your life apart”.  Wow!  Most theologians that teach at our seminaries couldn’t have said it any better!  Today’s message is about the encounter that Jesus had face to face with the Devil.  It was a forty-day encounter.  We are given three examples of how the enemy tried to defeat Jesus.  We are shown how our Savior defeated him.  The encounter ends with these words…”Then the devil left him alone…” (Matt. 4:11).  Jesus is the key to our victory.  That is why James, the brother of our Lord, promised us that if we “draw near unto the Lord, and resist the devil, he will flee from us!” (James 4:7).  C.S. Lovett, in his book Dealing with the Devil, says “there is no greater sound than the footsteps of the devil as he turns to flee from you”.  Today we will see how to make that an oft heard sound of victory.


 Posted by at 12:33 pm


Jun 122016


By; Ron Woodrum

     One of the most controversial rock groups since the 1990’s is the rock group Korn.  The Chicago Tribune described the group as “perverts, psychopaths, and paranoiacs”.  Their heavy metal music and expliciit lyrics had earned them quite a reputation-a bad one!  But they made news March 3, 2005 when a close friend gave Korn’s lead guitarist Brian “Head” Welch a Bible.  He was addicted to Xanax, and crystal meth, as well as alcohol.  He was miserable.  After reading portions of the Bible he announced that he had accepted The Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour.  He told MTV and an audience of 10,000 attendees at Valley Bible Fellowship of Bakersfield, California that this is “not about religion, it is not about this Church, it is not  about me.  It is about Jesus Christ and the Book Of Life.  Everyone needs to be taught this.  God went to a rock concert and found a hurting soul on stage.  I am the happiest man in the world”.  Exactly one week later, Welch left skeptics without any doubt, when he and 20 others flew to Israel to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism in the Jordan River.  On March 10, 2005 he and 20 white-robed pilgrims were baptised  by the Pastor Ron Vetti, of the Valley Bible Fellowship in the Jordan River, confessing Jesus publically as Saviour to all the world.  Welch said, “I am going home a totally different and new man”.  He followed up his baptism with a new album and a new autobiography both entitled Save Me From Myself.  Welch’s actions raises alot of questions.  Why go to Israel to be baptised in the Jordan River?  Why be baptised at all?  What does it mean to follow the Lord in baptism?  Most people both in and outside the Church today see baptism as much an enigma as John the Baptist did of Jesus’ baptism over 2,000 years ago.  As we preach this series on “following Jesus” we need to follow him to the Jordan River.  We need to ask and answer why He was baptised by John the Baptist.  What did that act that he initiated His public ministry with mean?  For Him?  For us?  What does it mean for us to “follow the Lord in baptism?”

     According to two N.T. passages Jesus’ baptism was to be an inauguration of the public ministry He was embarking on.  According to Matthew 3:13-17, while John the Baptist was baptising a steady stream of Jewish converts who were showing repentance and readiness for the coming Messiah, Jesus Himself showed up and requested that John baptise Him.  John kept on refusing to do so, declaring his own unworthiness, and need to be baptised by Jesus the Messiah.  Jesus convinced him to allow it at this time “to fulfill all righteousness”.  John agreed.  As he immersed Jesus in the Jordan River, he heard a voice from heaven declaring, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”, and he saw “the Spirit of God descending upon Him in the form of a dove” annointing Him for His mission and ministry as Messiah.  Then as you turn to John 1:31-34 we hear John the Baptist saying, “I knew Him not; but so that He might be made manifest to all Israel I came baptising with water…and I saw the Spirit descending from heaven, in the form of a dove, and abode on Him.  I knew Him not…but He who sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, ‘upon whom you see the Spirit descending and  remaining on Him, is the same that will baptise with the Holy Spirit’.  I saw and bore witness this one is the Son of God”.  Those two narratives describe an event that was a fulfillment of two prophecies about the Messiah.  One is Psalm 2.  In that Psalm we read about the Son of God who will come to rule and judge the rebellious and mutinous nations.  God says, “This is my beloved Son, this day I have begotten thee…and I will give you the nations for your inheritance”. (Psalm 2:1).  But Jesus’ baptism was fully explained in Isaiah 42:1 “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold, in whom my soul delighteth, (equivalent in Hebrew to the Greek ‘in whom I am well pleased’.), and will give thee to the covenant people, and for a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to set free prisoners from prison and the darkness of the prison house.”  As Jesus began His ministry He submitted Himself to a ceremony that symbolized and pictured what His mission would be as the Suffering Servant Messiah.  He would not just be the King, Son of the Most High, come to rule the nations.  He would be Suffering Servant come to give His life as predicted of Him in Isaiah 53.  All of that was pictured in His baptism.  The Spirit would come on Him and empower Him to live a righteous life, and sacrifice Himself as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.   Those who would trust Him to be the one to take away their sins, by His sacrifice, would publically declare it by following His example, and submit to water baptism, as He did.  By that they would foreshadow what His sacrifice would do for them.  His Spirit baptism would put them in union with Him, and His Spirit would enable them to die to sin, self, and the world, and be raised spiritually to walk in newness of life.  His baptism prophesied His mission.  Their baptism prophesied their deliverance from sin.  Psalm 2 ends by giving all the comand to “kiss the Son and give evidence to their faith and trust in Him” to be the Saviour and King He came to be.  Baptism is the public demonstration where we can “kiss the Son” and declare our faith in Him.  Through our union with Him we have died to sin and self and risen to walk in Him.

     Having John baptise Him was Jesus’ “Crossing the Rubicon”.  On January 10, 49 B.C. Julius Caesar, with all of his troops, was sitting on the banks of the Rubicon River that separated Italy from Gaul.  For him to cross into Italy with his troops was to break the law of Imperium, which forbid any unauthorized generals and troops from entering the country as a military unit.  To do so was to be penalized by death for the general and the troops.  That night Caesar and his troops slept on the banks of the Rubicon.  The next morning, stating he had been given a word from god, he uttered these words “alea iacta est” -“the die is cast” and he and his troops “crossed the Rubicon”.  That phrase has become an idiom for going to the “point of no return”.  It has come to mean “make a choice and face whatever consequences it brings”-no turning back.  That is what Jesus did in submitting to John’s baptism.  He was committing Himself to all it would be to “fulfill at righteousness” as the Suffering Servant Messiah and as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.  All of that mission and ministry would be pictured in His baptism.  Entering the water, lying down in the water, being buried totally in the water, and rising up out of the water.  There is the vivid panorama of what it would take to “fulfill all righteousness” in obedience to the will of His Father.  He would be empowered by the Spirit to live under the law, to redeem those who had broken the law.  He would, as Hebrews says, “offer Himself as a sacrifice through the power of the Eternal Spirit, to be the perfect one-time sacrifice, to redeem all those who put their trust in Him. (Heb.9:14).

     Jesus then gave His Church the commission to make disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever He commanded. (Matt. 28:19-20).  That gave all who would hear the good news of the Gospel, illustrated by Jesus Death, Burial, and Resurrection, pictured in His baptism, the opportunity to follow Him in baptism, and thereby trust His redemptive work, which would unite them with Him, in His Death and Resurrection, and Spirit’s filling and annointing, enabling them to die to the old life, and be raised to walk in newness of life.  (See Rom. 6:14).  Our baptism, picturing the baptism of the Spirit, is our “Crossing the Rubicon”.  It is us choosing to “cast the die”.   It is the linking of our faith and trust with His redemptive work, resulting in a transforming salvation.  C.S. Lewis talked about the miracle of this work of Christ in our lives.  He wrote, “The Christian way is different: harder and easier.  Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t so much want your time and so much your money and so much your work: I want you!  I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good.  I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innnocent as well as the ones you think wicked-the whole outfit.  I will give you a new self instead.  In fact I will give you Myself: My own shall become yours’ “  That is what happens when we follow the Lord in baptism, and begin living out the actuality of the Sprit’s baptism.  That is what God wanted when He commanded in Psalm 2-“kiss the Son, lest He be angry with you!”  Paint a picture of Him, by your submission to Him, and display His beauty for all the world to see.

     Charles Spurgeon tells the story about a artist who was a contemporary with him, though he had never met him.  His name was Gustave Dore.  One day when Gustave Dore was working on a painting of Christ, a lady friend came to visit his studio and began gazing intently at the face, almost completed.  As she was gazing, the artist retired from the picture to a corner of the room, and looked at the face of his friend, as she looked intently on the face on the canvas.  Turning around she asked, “Why do you look at me so anxiously?”  “I wanted to watch your face as you  looked at His face-I think you like it”, He insisted.  “Yes I do”, she told him.  “Do you want to know what I was thinking?-I was thinking that you could never paint the face of Christ like you have unless you loved Him!”  “Do I love Him?’ Dore asked in agitation.  “I trust I do-and that sincerely; but as I love Him more I shall paint Him better!”.  Baptism, and the new life that follows, is the opportunity to show our love for Him by painting His portrait on the canvass of our lives for the world to see how our faith, in His redemptive work, is the only hope we have of fulfilling all righteousness, and restoring the glory God intended for us in the beginning.  “Kiss the Son”


 Posted by at 12:26 pm


Jun 052016


By: Ron Woodrum


Chuck Colson, in his book Born Again, tells how he came to the conclusion that you can suceed, by all the standards of the world, even in pursuing all the right goals, and still end up empty and “totally dead inside”.  Months of struggling, of strategizing, of sacrifice had paid off in a landslide victory for Richard Nixon in 1972.  He won 49 states, and carried 61% of the vote-a record victory at that time.  President Nixon, H.R. Haldeman, and Chuck Colson were together in the Oval Office celebrating.  Haldeman was arrogant and sullen; Nixon was gulping scotch; and Colson was feeling let down and defeated for some reason.  In his own words he writes, “there was an unexplainable deadness inside of me!”  Three men at the power pinnacle of the world and not a single note of joy discernable in the room.  He explained, “If someone had peered in through some imaginary peephole in the ceiling of the President’s office, what a curious site it would have been: a victorious president grumbling over the words he needed to say to his fallen foe; his chief of staff angry, surly, and snarling; and the architect of his political strategy sitting in a numbed stupor”.  Colson explained his emptiness as best he could-“We worked hard for something, got it, and realized we didn’t really want it!  Being part of electing this president was the fondest ambition of my life; For three long years I committed everything, every ounce of energy to Richard Nixon-all I had now in return was a total emptiness and deadness inside of me!”

How can you explain that?  C.S. Lewis said it best.  He said, “If you aim at heaven, you will get earth thrown in.  If you aim at earth-you will get neither!”  That is exactly what Colson had done.  He found it  in the end to be hollow-empty-a chasing after the wind!  Peggy Noonan, a speech-writer for Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush explains how we have lost our perspective on living in our generation.  In an article in Forbes magazine she wrote, “I think we have lost the old knowledge that happiness is overrated.  We have lost somehow a sense of mystery about us-our purpose-our meaning-our role.  Our ancestors believed in two worlds and saw this one as the solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short one.  We are the first generation of man that actually expected to find happiness here on earth, and our search for it has caused us such unhappiness!  The reason?  If you do not believe in another higher world-if you believe in only this flat, material world around you-if you believe this is your one and only chance for happiness-if this is what you believe, you are not disappointed when the world does not give you good measure-YOU ARE DESPAIRING!”  That is what Colson had discovered!  You and I will too if we do not find something “bigger than ourselves to give our life’s energies to.”  That is why Dostevesky wrote, in his book The Grand Inquisitor, these haunting but true words-“without clear perceptions of his reason for living, man will never consent to live, and will rather destroy himself, than tarry on earth”.  How often have we seen that?

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, wrote about how important it was to take advantage of oportunities that come our way to make our lives count for more than just the temporary passing things of this world.  He wrote, “Not seldom in life, whenever on the right side, fortune’s favorites sail close by us, We though all adroop before, catch somewhat of the rushing breeze, and joyfully our bagging sails fill out!”.  That is what happened when Jesus Christ crossed paths with lives that were looking for fulfillment and meaning.  The power of His presence and Spirit filled their sagging sails and took them in a direction they never dreamed of going.  But they had to agree to raise their sails by making that first step to follow Him.  If we miss that by not following his call-we will find ourselves identifying with Chuck Colson-“overwhelmed by the total deadness inside”.  Eternity will then be a regret for us.  The great English poet of the 1900’s-William H. Auden wrote of this regret.  He wrote:


“God my reduce you

      on judgment day

      to tears of shame

      by reciting by heart

      the poems you would have written

      had your life been good”


Hearing His call to follow him, putting your hand to the plow and never looking back is the only way to make your life good, and make it count for the most in eternity. That is the road less traveled, but most worthy of traveling.  Years ago, Barry McGuire, who wrote and made famous the song Eve of Destruction, came to embrace Christ as his Saviour.  He surrendered his all and to this day is a faithful follower of Christ, and a relentless witness.  A reporter quizzed him about his conversion.  He asked, “is it true that you too have jumped on the Jesus bandwagon?”   McGuire replied, “Absolutely!  And it is the only bandwagon going anywhere!  Come on along!”  Great idea!  Come on along!


 Posted by at 12:47 pm