“The Question that Never Get Asked-or Answered!”

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Oct 302016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Question that Never Get Asked-or Answered!”

By:  Ron Woodrum


I recently heard Ravi Zacharias talking about Jesus dodging entrapment by the Pharisees.  The story is recorded in Luke 20:24.   A Pharisee asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay tribute/taxes to Tiberius Caesar.  Jesus asked for a denarius.  He asked whose image was stamped on that coin?  He was told Caesar’s image.  Jesus then told him to “render-i.e. give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…and then add and render-i.e. give unto God what belongs to God!”.  Jesus did not follow up with another question, but inferred it, “who’s image is on you?”  The answer would be “the image of God”.  That being so, the Pharisee was admittedly ingenious for not asking-“what should we be rendering-i.e. giving to God?”  But that is the question he did not ask.  That is the question that we do not ask.  That is the question we never ask nor answer.  But we must!  After all it is that image, imprinted on us,  that haunts us and reminds us of a more fulfilling Divine intent for us.

Frederick Buechner has a way of saying things in writing that makes you say “I wish I’d said that!”  He also points out things that make you say, “I know exactly what he is talking about”.  In his book A Room Called Remember, a book of uncollected pieces that he had written, which he called a veritable “grab bag”,  chapter one, which bears the name of the book, is worth the price of the book.  He writes:


“Every once in a while, if you’re like me, you have a dream that wakes you up.  Sometimes it’s a bad dream-a dream in which the shadows become so menacing that your heart skips a beat and you come awake to the knowledge that not even the actual darkness of night is as fearsome as the dreamed darkness, not even the shadows without, as formidable as the shadows within.  Sometimes it is a sad dream-a dream sad enough to bring real tears to your sleeping eyes, so that it is your tears that you wake up by, wake up to.  Or …there are dreams that take such a turn so absurd that you wake laughing-as if you need to be awake to savor the richness of the comedy.  Rarest of all is the dream that wakes you with what I can only call its truth.  Deep out of where dreams come from, something rises up that shakes you to your foundations…for an instant it is as if you glimpse a truth truer than any you knew, that you knew if only a truth about yourself.  It is too much truth for the dream to hold and the dream breaks.

     Several years ago I had such a dream, and it is still extraordinarily fresh in my mind.  I dreamt I was staying in a hotel somewhere and that the room I was given was a room that I loved.  I no longer had a clear picture what the room looked like, and in the dream it wasn’t really what the room looked like that pleased me, but was the way it made me feel.  It was a room where I felt happy and at peace, where everything seemed the way it should be, and everything around me seemed the way it should be too. Then as the dream went on, I wandered off…always returning to the same hotel again.  Only this time I was given a different room which I didn’t feel comfortable in at all.  It seemed dark and cramped, and I felt dark and cramped in it.  So I made my way down to the man at the desk and told him my problem…I said, I had this room which was just right for me in every way, and I would like that room again.  The trouble …was I hadn’t kept track of where the room was, and didn’t know how to find or ask for it. 

     The clerk was very understanding.  He knew exactly what room I meant and that I could have it any time I wanted.  All I had to do was ask for it by its name.  I asked him the name.  He said the name of the room was Remember.  The name of the room I wanted again was Remember.  That was what woke me.  It shocked me awake, and the shock of it, the dazzling unexpectedness of it, is so vivid to me still.  I knew I had a good dream, and I felt in some unfathomable way, it was also a true dream.  The fact that I did not understand its truth did not keep it from being in some sense also a blessed dream, a healing dream, because you do not need to understand healing to be healed, or know anything about blessing to be blessed. The sense of peace that filled me in that room.  The knowledge that it could return whenever I wanted it to or needed it to-that was where the healing and the blessing came from; that was at the heart of the healing, though I did not understand why.  The name of the room was Remember”.

     The Divine Image that is upon us is like the Room Called Remember, that Buechner had dreamed about.  That image is a reminder of a state we no longer have, but until we surrender to His sovereignty and give to God what Is rightfully His, we will spend sleepless nights remembering more glorious days, and living spiritually frustrated days.  Since God’s image is upon us, and we must submit willingly to His sovereignty, what is it we should be giving to Him?  I believe it can be summed up in three things.  One He deserves our Worship-that is surrender.  He deserves our Walk-that is service.  He deserves our Witness.  That is our stand!

Because we bear the image of God, (Deo Imago), He has laid His claim to us.  To our Worship.  We cannot live lives of fulfillment if our lives exclude the Worship He deserves.  That is why Augustine said, “We are Restless Until We Find Our Rest in Thee Oh God!”.  That begins with our Worship.  The best definition I have ever heard of worship is one by William Temple.  He writes, “Worship is the submission of all of our nature to God.  It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of our mind with His truth; the purifying of our imagination by His beauty; the opening of  our heart to His love; the surrender of our will to His purpose-all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.”

The second thing we owe God, whose image is stamped upon us, is to walk in His Ways– Be a follower of His Son- Following in His steps honors Him.  If we seek to imitate Him, and let His Spirit incarnate Him in us, that is service that will transform us.  Jesus told the Devil that “We should only Worship the Lord our God, and Him only serve”.  Listening to any other voice; following the direction of any other steps is not service in direct response to our worship.  Worship directs our Walk.

The third thing we owe God, whose image is stamped upon us, is our Witness.  Jesus warned, “if you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father who is in heaven. If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father in heaven”. (Luke 12:8).  Confessing Jesus before men is bearing witness to the one whose image we bear.  We owe Him that!  There are three words for witness in the New Testament.  One is the word -“apoptomai” (apo- “from the side of” and optomai-“to behold”).  The sense is to stand beside and behold.  It was used of those who were in the inner circle with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration.  They beheld His glory and were called upon to testify to that glory!  Witness is our shining opportunity to reflect our encounter with Him.  Moses, descending from Mt. Sinai has nothing on us.  It is this kind of encounter that Paul referred to as “beholding Jesus with an unveiled face, and being transformed from glory to glory”.   (II Corithians 3:8). The second word used for witness is the word “autoptomai”-  (word from which we get autopsy.  It is made up of auto-“self” and optomai‘to behold for yourself”.  This is a term used only by Luke.  In the first chapter of his Gospel about Jesus he states that he structured his  narrative about Jesus by piece-by-piece life-changing testimony about encounters with Jesus.  His Gospel witness became an autopsy of truth about Jesus.  The third word is the word “martus”.  from which we get the word “martyr”.  The etymology of this word focuses on testimony of an accurate memory. Originally it referred to bearing testimony to facts you knew by experience and memory to be true.   It was a legal term describing one who gives testimony to stand up in a court of law.  The O.T. law required that the truth of a matter be established in the mouth of the minimum of two witnesses.  So when we add our testimony to the words of Jesus, or the words of His Father, the truth is then established in the mouth of two or three, and those who hear will be without excuse in the day of Judgment!  Render to God those three things that reflect His glory in the image He has placed on you.  Finally spend some time in that “Room Called Remember”.

 Posted by at 1:58 pm

“Would you take my regrets?-For I Remember Everything.”

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Oct 232016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Would you take my regrets?-For I Remember Everything.”

By:  Ron Woodrum


     Sara was rich.  She had inherited twenty million dollars.  Plus she had an additional income of one thousand dollars a day.  That’s alot of money any day, but it was immense in the late 1800’s.  Sarah was well known.  She was the “Belle of New Haven”, Connecticut.  No social event was complete without her presence.  No one that was anyone hosted a party without inviting her.  Sarah was powerful.  Her name and money would open almost any door in America.  Colleges wanted her donations.  Politicians clamored for her sukpport.  Organizations sought her endorsement.  She was rich.  Well known.  Powerful…and MISERABLE!!!

Her only daoughter had died at five weeks of age.  Then her husband passed away.  Whe was left alone with her name, her money, and her memories…and her guilt.  It was her guilt that caused her to move west.  A passion for penance drover her to San Jose, California.  Her yesterdays imprisoned her todays, and she yearned for freedom.  For deliverance.  For an answer to her guilt and regrets.  She bought an eight-room farmhouse plus one hundred sixty adjoining acres.  She hired sixteen carpenters and put them to work.  For the next thirty-eight years, craftsmen labored everyk day, twenty-four hours a day, to build her mansion.  Observers were intrigued by the project.  Sarah’s instructions were more that eccentric…they were eerie.  The design of her mansion had a macabre touch.  Each window was to have thrirteen panes; each wall thirteen panels;each closet tkhriteen hooks; eachk chandelier thirteen globes. The floor plan was ghoulish.  Corridors snaked randomly, some leading nowhere.  One door opened to a blank wall; another to a fifty-foot drop.  One set of stairs led to a ceiling that had no door.  Trap doors. Secret passageways; Tunnels.  This was no retirement home for Sarah’s future; it was a castle for her past.  The making of this mysterious mansion only ended when Sarah died.  The completed estate sprawled over six acres; had six kitchens; thirteen bathrooms; forty stairways; forty-seven fireplaces; fifty-two skylights, four hundred sixty-seven doors, ten thousand windows; one hundred sixty rooms, and a bell tower.  Why did Sarah want such a castle?  Didn’t she live alone?  “Well-sort of”, those who were acquainted with her would answer.  But Sarah “had visitors”…oh every night “there were visitors!”

The story goes that every evening a midnight, a servant would pass through the secret labyrinth that led to the bell tower.  He would ring the bell…to summon the guests.  Sarah would enter the Blue room, a room reserved for her and her nocturnal guests.  Together they would linger together until 2:00 A.M.  Then the bell would ring again, and Sarah would return to her quarters, and her ghostly guests would return to their graves.  Who were these legion of pohantoms?  They were Indians and soldiers killed on the U.S. Frontier.  They had been killed by bullets from the popular rifle in America-the Winchester.  What had brought millions of dollars to Sarah Winchester had brought death to them.  Sarah spent her remaining years in a Castle of Regret, sharing her home with spirits of the past, who haunted her nightly with regrets.  You can visit San Jose, and tour this Castle of Regret.  But you know…most of us don’t have to make that trek to be familiar with regret.  We all are acquainted with our own Castle of Regrets that we have built over the years.  They sometimes visit us nightly to torment us about “what might have been” had we made different choices; gone different directions; made better choices; followed the Lord’s leading better; resisted our own selfish choices, and chose His best for ourselves.

People deal differently with those regrets.  Frank Sinatra, in his song My Way. a song later recorded and released by Elvis Presley, just before he died, expressed how he dealt with regrets.  He wrote:


“And now the end is near,

and so I face the final curtain

My friend, I’ll say it clear

I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain


I’ve lived a life that’s full

I’ve traveled each and every by highway

But more, much more than thkis

I did it my way.


Regrets, I’ve had a few,

But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do

I saw it through without exemption


I’ve planned, each charted course

Each careful step along the by way

And more, much more than this

I did it my way”.


Many of us can echo that, but when it comes to regrets it is not often easy to say “too few to mention”.  Often the are too many to enumerate!  What do we do with them?  Do we live in our own Castle of Despair, in a prison of the past?  I googled the words “What do I do with my regrets”.  Guess what came up.  A song, by a popular group called Five Finger Death Punch.  I know nothing about them.  But listen to their lyrics of their songI Remember Everything.


“If I could hold back the rain

would you numb the pain

Cause I remember everything

If I could help you forget

would you take my regrets

Cause I remember everything”


Many people sing that song every day.  “Would you stop the rain?  Help me numb the pain?  If I help you forget.  Would you take my regrets?”  The Bible is filled with stories of people who are filled with regrets.  Eve for listening to the serpent.  Adam for listening to Eve.  Cain for killing Abel.  Jacob for stealing his brother’s blessing and birthright.  Moses for killing the Egyptian and hiding him in the sand.  David for committing adultery with Bathsheba, and killing her husband to cover it up.  Peter for denying the Lord.  Judas for betraying the Lord.  Saul of Tarsus for murdering Christians in the name of God.  Regrets.  Regrets.  Regrets.  The ghosts of the past  that come and let us entertain them nightly in the blue rooms of our memories!  Asking and never answering the question “what if”.  John Greenleaf Whittier said it best, in his poem Maud Muller, when he wrote,


“The saddest words of tongue or pen

Are the words, ‘it might have been’ “


The Apostle Paul had the answer when he wrote to the Philiippians these words…”forgetting those things that are behind.  I keep on reaching to those things ahead…I keep on pressing toward the high mark of the upward calling of God, in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:14).  There is the answer to regret.  Deniers become Declarers.  Persecutors become Proclaimers.  Murderers become Monarchs that glorify God.  Give your regrets to the one who had none, His blood can cleanse the deepest stain, and He can put those ghosts to bed once and for all and help you make sense of your castle of regrets.  He’ll take your regrets and give you restoration!


 Posted by at 1:12 pm

“More Star-like Than a Star”

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Oct 162016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE:  “More Star-like Than a Star” 

By: Ron Woodrum


     This past week Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, citing the reason being his masterful talent of writing lyrical poetry like no one else in history.  Most who are familiar with Dylan’s music, would admit that his vocal abilities are sometimes hard to endure, but his lyrics indeed are masterful.  One of the songs/lrics that have been chosen to illustrate his lyrical-poetic talent is his song It’s Not Dark Yet.  Here are some of the words:


Shadows Are Falling

I’ve Been Here All Day

It’s too hot to sleep,

Time is Running Away

Feel Like My Soul is Turning to Steel

I’ve Got Scars that the Sun Didn’t Heal

There’s Not Even Room Enough

To Be Anywhere

It’s Not Dark Yet,

But It’s Getting There!


Well My Sense of Humanity

Has Gone Down the Drain

Behind Every Beautiful Thing,

There’s Some Kind of Pain…

Sometimes my burden,

Seems more than I can bear

It’s Not Dark Yet,

But It’s Getting There!


I was born here, and I’ll die here

Against My Will

I Know It Looks Like I’m Moving,

But I’m Standing Still

Every Nerve In My Body

Is Vacant and Numb

I can’t even Remember,

What I came here to Get Away From

Don’t even hear a Murmur of A Prayer

It’s Not Dark Yet, But It’s Getting There!


Darkness.  Darkness seems to be falling all around us.  Even the most optimistic seem to agree with Dylan.  “It’s Not Dark Yet…But It’s Getting There”. Darkness has always been something I have avoided.  Thanks to my older brother, who loved to frighten me during early childhood, I was afraid of the dark early on.  I used to fall asleep in bright light, having protested so vehemently that my parents left my bedroom lights on at night!  I lived in Hannibal, Mo., during college years.  Visitors often requested that we take them to Mark Twain Cave.  Every trip included the tour guide taking us deep into the cave, recounting the story of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher being in there, when their candle went out!  Then as he turned the lights out-he illustrated that fact by introducing us to darkness so dark you could not see your hand in front of your face, though you were touching your nose with it!  That is darkness.  There would be no way out of that cave without light in the darkness.  Years later, with a youth group spellunking in a cave in the Ozarks, it dawned on me that even though we had two or three flashlights among us, all it would take is for the batteries to burn out; another get dropped; and get separated from the leader with the last light, then it could end in disaster.  It was time to head back to the entrance of the cave…back into the safety of the light!


As Christians we are watching with worried eyes as our world’s days become darker.  The question we must ask and answer is what role do we play in these dimming days?  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”( John 8:12).  He also said, “You all are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).  Paul, in writing to the Philippians, told them to “shine as lights in a crooked and perverse world…hold forth the Word of Life”(Phil. 2:15).  The Bible makes it clear that we who know the Lord, who are a part of His Church, have a role to play in the darkening of our days.  We are the ones who have a role to play in the “not dark yet!”.  Adlai Stevenson, in paying tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, in a speech before the United Nations, in November of 1962, spoke these words, “She would rather light a candle, than to curse the darkness!  Her glow has warmed the world!”.  Proper example for Christians to emulate in these last darkening days.  I recently came across a poem, in my mind also fitting for a Nobel Peace Prize for Literature for its author, though he never got one-It is called Love’s Lantern, by Alfred Joyce Kilmer.  Here is his masterpiece.


Love’s Lantern


Becauses the road was steep and long

And through a dark and lonely land,

God set upon my lips a song,

And put a Lantern in my hand.


Through miles on weary miles of night

That stetch relentless in my way

My lantern burns serene and white,

An exhausted cup of day.


O golden lights and lights like wine,

How dim your boasted splendors are

Behold this little lamp of mine,

Is more star-like than a star!


In Matthew 13:43 Jesus prophesies, by quoting Daniel 12:3, of those who are Wise believers who “will shine as stars, (though Jesus says, ‘as the Sun'”.    But then remember, our sun is a star!  One of the smaller ones in the universe.  But what a powerful one.  One that daily overcomes the darkness of the night with its sunrise. So is our daily assignment in these darkening days.  We are the reason it is “Not Dark Yet!”.  Don’t spend your time “cursing the darkness”  but “light and lift your lantern!”  Voltaire, the famous French Athiest and Philosopher, told his generation that he was seeing the “twilight of Christianity”.  Charles Spurgeon responded that Voltaire did not know the difference between a sunset and sunrise.  He said, “It might be twilight…but it is the twilight just before the dawn!”  Christians-“let’s hear the song on your lips, and the Lantern in your hands”.  You are the reason “it’s not dark yet!”  Christian-“get your shine on!”

 Posted by at 6:21 pm

“Finding out where joy resides…and giving it a voice”.-(Robert Louis Stevenson)

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Oct 092016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE“Finding out where joy resides…and giving it a voice”.-(Robert Louis Stevenson)

By:  Ron Woodrum


Robert Louis Stevenson said, the real work of the Poet is “finding out where joy resides and give it a voice beyond singing.  For to miss the joy is to miss it all!”  Every man, woman, boy, and girl on this planet is on a pilgrimage in search of joy.  Most, even Christians, seem to be “missing the joy”, and therefore, concluding that we are in danger of “missing it all!” Many even dismiss our lack of joy as actually following in the steps of Jesus, who Himself is designated in Scripture, not the man of joy, but the “man of sorrows”. There is an Epistle, called the Epistle of Publius Lentulus To The Roman Senate.  It records a description of Jesus.  Listen to what it says about Jesus:  “He is a tall man, well shaped and of an amiable and reverend aspect; his hair is of a color that can hardly be matched, falling into graceful curls…parted on the crown of his head, running as a stream to the front, after the fashion of the Nazarites; his forehead is high, large, and imposing; his cheeks without spot or wrinkle, beautiful with a lovely red; his nose and mouth formed with exquisite symmetry; his beard, of a color suitable to his hair, reaching below his chin and parted in the middle like a fork; his eyes bright blue, clear, and serene…”  Then comes the statement that has really had a greater influence on the Church, and on us, more than we care to admit…it says, “No man has seen him laugh”.   The inference is that Jesus never did laugh; that humor had no part in his life, and since we are his followers, it should have no part in ours!  But I reject that.  Two reasons.  First of all, The Epistle of Lentulus has been shown to be a fraudulent document.  It was published in 1514 in Venice, Italy and widely circulated throughout all of Europe.  You can even find a copy of it in the rare book room of the Library of Congress.  But it is a fraudulent epistle!  What it says about Jesus, especially about Jesus not being a “man of joy”-misses the true picture of our Lord and Saviour.  After all, when Jesus was born, the angels said, “I bring you Good News of Great Joy!”(Luke 2:10).  Even John the Baptist, still in the womb of his mother Elizabeth, upon hearing about Jesus, “leaped for joy in her womb!” (Luke 1:44).  The second reason for rejecting it is the truth of Scripture that infers Jesus was a “man of Joy”.

Professor John Knox says, Jesus was “a Man of incomparable moreal insight, understanding and imagination, of singular moral purpose and integrity, of extraordinary moral courage and ardor, of intense devotion to duty, and of joyous trust in God…although He took life very seriously, there is no reason to think He took it solemnly;  Perhaps He took it too seriously to take it solemnly!  He presented the whole gamut of human life with absolute fidelity and freshness and gread good humor…He believed what is beautiful and good in the world and in human life is to be enjoyed without apology” ( The Man Christ Jesus. c. 1942).  Elton Trueblood, another author and writer from that era, agreed whole-heartedly and even wrote a book on The Humor of Christ.  Jesus sent out His disciples on their first preaching ministry, and when they came back, they were rejoicing that “even the demons were subject to them”. (Luke 10:17 “they returned with great joy”).  He told them, “rejoice because their names were written, and would remain written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).  Then Luke includes a footnote here.  He writes, “At that time Jesus, FULL OF JOY THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT, SAID, ‘I PRAISE YOU FATHER, BECAUSE YOU HAVE HIDDEN THESE THINGS FROM THE WISE…AND REVEALED THEM UNTO THE CHILDREN”. (Luke 10:21).  There it is…”Jesus, full of JOY through the HOLY SPIRIT”.  Paul tells us in Galatians 5:20  “The fruit of the Spirit is…JOY”.  Jesus was filled with the Spirit all during the days of His flesh.  He is an enigma.  He was a “man of sorrows”  but also “a man of Joy”.  At the close of his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton declares that “joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian”.  He adds that Jesus, when He came to earth, kept that secret to Himself as well.  “He concealed something…He restrained something…There was something that He hid from all men…some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth”-i.e. “His Joy”.   In Hebrews 12:2 we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, who for “the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God”…His work finished.  That gave Him great joy.  His death was the only way to secure our names on Heaven’s saved list!  How do we know that He felt that joy?  On Easter morning, when Jesus encountered the women for the first time, in His resurrection body, His redemptive mission complete, for the joy that had been set before Him, we hear Him greet the women.  Matthew 28:9 says, Jesus said, “All Hail”.  What a lame translation.  It has been translated many ways-“Good morning”-“Greetings”-even “Peace”.  But the Greek word is-“Chairete”-  It should be translated emphatically-“Oh Joy!”.  Why?  The agony was finished; the arrest, the trial, the conviction, the sentencing, the mocking, the beating, the torture, the crucifixion, the blackness of sin, the torture of hell, was all past, the price paid, the mission complete, the offering accepted, the atonement made.  The only thing left to do was to Celebrate with Great Joy.  Walter J. Chantry had this in mind when he wrote, “The only lasting and fully satisfying joys for any man lie on the other side of the Cross”.  That is why when C.S. Lewis came to Christ he referred to his conversion as being “surprised by joy”.  He said, “joy is the serious business of Heaven”.  S.D Gordon said, “joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing.  It is the reverse of happiness.  Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort.  Joy has its springs deep down inside.  And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens.  Only Jesus gives that joy.  He had joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross”.  And we could add “even, especially because of the shadow of the cross!”. 

William Barclay, a British writer not always known for being conservative in his theology, expressed Jesus’ joy being manifest in the lives of His disciples in a magnificient way.  He said, “The blessedness which belongs to the Christian is not a blessedness which is postponed to some future world of glory; it is a blessedness that exists here and now.  It is not something into which a Christian will enter; it is something into which he has already entered.  It is a present reality to be enjoyed.  The Beatitudes say, ‘Oh the bliss of being a Christian!  Oh the joy of following Christ!  Oh the sheer happiness of knowing Jesus Christ as Master, Saviour, Lord!’  They are a statement of the joyous thrill and radiant gladness of the Christian life.  Joy that shines through tears.  The world can win its joys and the world can lose its joys.  But the Christian has the joy that comes from walking forever in the company and the presence of Jesus Christ!” 

Blaise Paschal, the French mathmetician and genius who died in 1662, after running from God until he was 31 years old, on November 23, 1654 at 10:30 P.M. met God, through His Son Jesus Christ.  He was profoundly and unshakably converted to Jesus Christ.  he wrote his experience down on a piece of paper and sewed it into his coat.  Though he testified and wrote of his Christian faith, this experience was not discovered until after his death, by his family.  He had written “Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November…from half past ten until twelve thirty, FIRE!  God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars.  Certitude. Heartfelt JOY.  Peace.  God of Jesus Christ.  God of Jesus Christ.  My God and your God.  JOY, JOY, JOY, TEARS of JOY…Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ.  May I never be separated from Him!”  Robert Louis Stevenson, in that search for “finding out where joy resides” did not always fare well in his search.  He wrote, “If I have faltered more or less in my great task of happiness…Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take and stab my spirit broad awake (with it)”.  For he knew to miss the Joy of the Lord is to miss it all!  He found it.  Blaise Paschal found it.  Have you and I found it?  It resides in Jesus…giving voice to Him is giving voice and reality to joy!  No wonder there is joy in the presence of the angels this morning!

 Posted by at 12:44 pm

“So I Have Believed…Here I Plant My Foot!”

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Oct 022016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE“So I Have Believed…Here I Plant My Foot!”

By: Ron Woodrum


Most of us know about the fame and the spiritual impact of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement.  But we do not always hear much about the impact of his brother Charles.  We probably know relatively little about his hymn-writing brother.  Listen to what Professor David Lyle Jeffrey, in a biographical account of Charles Wesley, says of him:


“…his spiritual character was luminous, and communicated itself immediately to those who came into conversation with him.  William Wilberforce…was captivated by Charles.  He met him in 1786 in the house of Hannah More,  and his later recollection of that encounter reveals something of the special presence of this unusual man-‘when I came into the room Charles Wesley rose from the table, and coming forward to me, gave me solemnly his blessing.  I was scarcely ever more affected.  Such was the effect of his manner and appearance that it altogether overset me, and I burst into tears, unable to restrain myself’ ” 

That encounter affected him for the rest of his life, for the cause of Christ!  That effect, only greatly magnified, was true of Wesley’s Master Jesus Christ.  That is exactly what Jesus expected of those who responded to the call to “follow Him”.  He expected a life-time commitment.  He expected a total life commitment.  That is what the writer of the Book of Hebrews had in mind as he challenged a second-generation of believers to run the Christian race by focusing on Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith” ( initiator of our race and the finisher of our race) who for the prize that was set before Him, endured His cross, despising the shame, (but finishing His race).  The only way we can run our race to the finish, is to fix our eyes on Him, looking to Him, and away from everyone and everything else, (meaning of the Greek word translated “looking unto” -aphorizo). (Heb. 12:1-4).  As followers of Him, our race will take us to a cross as well!  Jesus said the disciple is not greater than His master.  If He endured a cross-so must we!  That is why he said,”If anyone will come after me let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”…all the way to the end!  (Luke 9:23).  “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27); “is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:38).  That is why the author of Hebrews reminds them to follow until they have “resisted unto blood” (12:4)…something they had not yet done, but must be willing to do, as genuine followers of the Jesus of Calvary!

When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Henry David Thoreau answered “unanimous!”.  That is what Christ expects of us.  Undivided loyalty to Him even if the path of following Him takes us to “the cross!”  Anne Morrow Lindberg spoke about such focus when she wrote: “It is more basically how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.”    The cross keeps us centered-undistracted.  On focus.  Unanimous.  Some unknown author wrote, “You, as a followr of Jesus, are bound to a cross.  I beg you not to struggle.  The more lovingly the cross is carried by the soul, the lighter it becomes”.  That is commitment.  Loving commitment!  That commitment should define us as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ.  Paul Tournier had that in mind when he wrote, in Seasons of Life, “there are few special moments that count for more than all the rest because they mean taking a stand, a self-commitment, a decisive choice.  It is commitment that creates the person.  It is by commitment that man is revealed!”

One of the greatest works of literature is the Novel by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.  In that book Jane Eyre is about to fulfill her greatest desire-to marry the man she loves-Edward Rochester.  But it is revealed to her that he cannot marry her because he is still married to someone else…(it’s a long story).  He tries to explain…but finally pleads with her to come and live with him in France, disregarding what the rest of the world thinks!  All of Jane’s life she has dreamed of such a love.  Rochester’s pleadings are almost irresistable.  Only the memory, the vision, the ideals, only what she had covenanted in her soul saved her; but save her it did.  Her response is one of the shining words in all of literature:


     “I care for myself.  The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unstained I am the more I will respect myself.  I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man.  I will hold the principles received by me when I was sane and not mad, (in love), as I am now.  Laws and principles are not for the time when there are no temptations; they are for such moments as this; when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor.  Stringent they are; inviolate they shall be.  If at my individual conscience I could break them, what would be their worth-SO I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED AND IF I CANNOT BELIEVE IT NOW, IT IS BECAUSE I AM INSANE; WITH MY VEINS RUNNING FIRE, AND MY HEART BEATING FASTER THAN I CAN COUNT THE THROBS. HERE I PLANT MY FOOT!”  Wow!  there is commitment.  There it is…”so I have believed…and here I plant my foot!”  That is the follower”s commitment.  That is what Luther said, when he was told to recant or die.  His response was…”Here I stand…I can do no other.  God help me!”  That is the kind of commitment that honors our Saviour.  That is the kind of commitment He is looking for today in His followers.  We are willing to follow Him…but all the way?  Even if it leads to our own personal cross?  Our own Via Dolorosa?  Our own Calvary?  No other commitment is worthy of Him.  That is why the hymn writer asked-“Must Jesus Bear the Cross alone?  And all the world go free?  No there’s a cross for everyone!  Yes there’s a cross for me!”  And for you!  Can you and I be unanimous and bear our cross?

That is why Amy Carmichael asked:


Hast thou no scar?

No hidden scar on foot or side or hand?

I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,

I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star;

Hast thou no scar?


Hast thou no wound?

Yet, I was wounded by the archers spent,

Leaned Me against the tree to die, and rent

By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:

Hast thou no wound?


No wound, no scar?

Yes, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are whole, can he have followed far?

Who has no wound?  Who has no scar?


How far have you followed?  Your hands and feet will tell…


 Posted by at 12:10 pm