Nov 272016


By:  Ron Woodrum


     Thanksgiving is now past.  The major post-Thanksgiving sales are on.  Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday.  Then all the adds that remind us exactly how many days to Christmas.  The Christmas season is suddenly on us!  Every year each Pastor is faced with the challenge of preaching the great Christmas themes and presenting the incredible Christmas story.  The preacher finds himself in the role similar of the monument-cleaner.  A monument cleaner is someone who comes and removes the debris that has covered up the beauty of the original artwork-to polish up the monument to help us perceive the original beauty.  That is the challenge of preaching the Christmas story.  The goal is to help us see the Christmas story as we have never seen it before-letting the original message and beauty come shining through.  That is a challenge!

Much of Christmas’ beauty is its sameness.  Think about it.  The same traditions.  The same meals.  The same songs.  The same candlelight services. The same shopping habits.  Yet each Christmas is a little different.  Sometimes the change is noticeable and unexpected, at other time a mere matter of flexibility.  But each year’s celebration somehow speaks its familiar message with freshness that can only be heard by ears a year older.  So in the next series of Christmas messages let me invite you to bring your this-Christmas life within the reach of God’s Christmas story, to look at these same pictures of love and grace from a new vantage point, to spend a few weeks letting God’s comforting sameness reveal His new-every-morning side.  It’s time to experience Christmas again-in the same old-brand new way.

As we begin our journey toward Christmas 2016 the first consideration I want you to meditate on is this-There is one word that describes the night that Jesus was born-ORDINARY!  The sky was ordinary.  An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air.  The stars were sparkling diamonds on a black velvet backdrop.  But then they ordinarily do!  Fleets of clouds floated in front of the moon.  It was a beautiful night-but not really an unusual one.  No reason to expect a surprise.  Nothing to keep a person awake.  An ordinary night with an ordinary sky.  The sheep were ordinary.  Some fat.  Some scrawny.  Some with barrel bellies.  Some with twig legs.  Common animals.  No fleece made of gold.  No history makers.  No blue-ribbon winners.  They were simply sheep-lumpy, sleeping silhouettes on a hillside.  And the shepherds were ordinary.  Ordinary peasants.  Probably wearing all the clothes they owned.  Smelling like sheep and looking just a wooly.  They were conscientious, willing to spend the night with their flocks.  But you won’t find their staffs in a museum nor their writings in a library.  No one asked their opinions-about social justice-the Torah-or actually about anything! They were nameless and simple.  There you go-An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds.  And were it not for a God who loves to hook an “extra” on the front of ordinary, the night would  have gone unnoticed.  The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have slept the night away.  Neither would have be memorialized from generation after generation in bath robes in local Church Christmas pageants!

But God dances amidst the common.  That night it was the greatest of Waltzes!  The black sky exploded with brightness.  Trees that had been shadows jumped into clarity.  Sheep that had been silent became a chorus of curiosity.  One minute the shepherds were dead asleep, the next they were rubbing their eyes, scared out of their wits, staring into the face of a host of aliens-angelic hosts praising God and saying “Peace on earth, good will toward men!”.  The night was ordinary no more.  The angels came at night because it is at night that lights are best seen and when they are needed most!  God comes into the common for the same reason.  He delights in making the “ordinary” into the “extra-ordinary”. That is what His Son had come to do for the entire human race!  He came to transform ordinary sinners into extraordinary saints-all through the birth, life, death of resurrection of his ordinary, but extra-ordinary Son-The Lord Jesus Christ.  Isaiah would say-“His name shall be called “Wonderful”.  The Hebrew word “wonderful”  is the word “pela”.  It refers to something or someone that makes a person marvel.  It is something or someone that causes wonder, amazement, astonishment, worship and awe!   That is exactly who He is and what He does for everyone that encounters Him.  Let the celebration of His birth be that and more for you this year!

One of my favorite authors, as you know, is Frederick Buechner.  In his book Secrets in the Dark, he gives a perspective concerning Christmas that spoke volumes to me.  He writes, “Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of Him again.  Once they have seen Him in a stable, they can never be sure where He will appear or to what lengths He will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of human-kind.  If Holiness and the awful majesty of the Power of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that this Holiness can be present there too.  This means we are never safe, that there is no place we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from His power to break in two and recreate the human heart, because it is just where He seems most helpless that He is most strong, and just where we least expect Him that He comes most fully!”.  That is an awesome start to our celebration of Advent!  Let Him transform our ordinary to His extra-ordinary.  He loves doing that.  That is why He came!


 Posted by at 3:07 pm

“Making the Daily Christian life Really Daily!”

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Nov 202016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Making the Daily Christian life Really Daily!”


     Someone, hoping to catch the witty cowboy entertainer Will Rogers off guard, asked him, “If you knew you only had 48 hours to live how would you spend them?” He responded, “One at a time!”  Days, like hours, (and minutes and seconds for that matter), must be lived one day at a time.  A cleaning lady was once heard telling her customer-“the problem with life is that it’s so daily!”.  Howard Hendricks used to say, “The problem with the Christian life is that it is so daily!”  There is truth to that.  The children of Israel grew “weary” of the daily manna from heaven.  We become weary with our daily gifts of 24 hours from God.  We take them for granted and miss out on their intended fulness.  Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say “If the stars only came out one night a year, we would stay up all night to look at them!”  But because they are daily we take them for granted.  That being said, there is a special opportunity to embrace the Christian life being “so daily” and making it “Really Daily!”…by making sure that it is lived to the fullest intention of God!  Otherwise we might be wasting our days instead of living them.  Again, Emerson was convicting at this point.  He said, “you cannot kill time without injuring eternity!”  The challenge before us as Christians is to live one day at a time with the measure and meaning God intended,  In his book For The Living Of These Days, William Elliott Jr. observes, “The reason why 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 the strongest falter!”  He might be onto something…we see alot of “faltering Christians”.  Maybe it is because they have not yet mastered “the art of living one day at a time”.  The Bible has much to say about the living out of our days.  It reminds us “Our days upon earth are but a shadow” (Job 8:9).  “Are thy days as the days of man?” (Job 10:5).  Man that is born of woman is “few of days” (Job 14:1).  It is no wonder Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).  The Bible gives us some wisdom as it  discusses daily activities that will ensure that are daily lives are “Really Daily” from God’s perspective.

First of all our days are to have a Daily Code.  The dictionary defines a “code” as a “systematic code of law”.  For the Christian his Daily Code is of course the Word of God.  Days not spent in the Word of God are days robbed of Divine Perspective and Purpose!  One of God’s great servants used to call the Bible “The Kings Highway Code”.  Others have called it “The Christians Road Map”.  We all should keep a daily appointment to spend quality time in God’s Word.  It should be read; it should be studied; it should be memorized; it should be obeyed; it should be shared DAILY!  We read that the Berean Christians were First Century examples for us.  “They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures DAILY whether those things were so or not!” (Acts 17:11.  Peter told the believers he was nurturing to“as newborn babies desire earnestly the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby” ( I Pet. 2:2).  A baby’s  number one desire, above all else, is for “milk”.  They desire it daily…several times daily!  That is the kind of appetite that God delights to see in His growing children.  The nineteenth century British statesman William Gladstone echoed that sentiment when he spoke of Christians needing to spend time in God’s word.  He said, “This great spiritual library shows me how to meet and overcome life’s temptations, sorrows, and oppressions.  It furnishes me techniques for the mastery of fear, anxiety, and despair.  The Word of God corrects my perspective, and saves me from being undone by the immediate.  It gives me somehting which all of us need so much in these desperate days-the long view.  It tells me-in Emerson’s words ‘what the years and centuries are saying as against the hours’ “ We need that daily-OUR DAILY CODE!

The Psalmist points out to us another imperative “daily activity” to help us make our daily lives REALLY DAILY.  He reminds us of our Daily Call.  He writes, “LORD I have called out daily unto thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee” (Ps. 89:9).  Asaph writes, “Offer  unto God thanksgiving: and pay thy vows unto the MOST HIGH and call upon me in the Day of Trouble: and I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me!” (Ps. 50:14-15).  I believe that every day should involve the daily call.  Some call to the LORD as they start their day; others all througout the day; others as they close out their day.  Actually we are told to “pray without ceasing” meaning that our days should be filled with daily calls to the LORD,  That is one thing the disciples learned about Jesus.  He could not go long at all even during His busy days without “CALLING HOME TO THE FATHER”.  One of the touching scenes in E.T. is the expression of his heart’s  desire to “phone home”.  That should be our daily heart’s desire.  We are people of the Daily Call!  One of the things I regret the most is that while living away from my parents that I did not call and talk to them more.  Oh to be able to do that today!  Don’t let your prayerlessness cause you to regret.  Practice faithfully your Daily Call.

A third gem from the Book of Psalms reminds us of another Daily Discipline.  The Psalmist writes, “So will I sing praise kunto thy name forefer, that I may perform my daily vows!” (Ps. 61:8).  There it is-we have a Daily Chore.  The dictionary defines a chore as “a small or odd job”. In his Devotional Book Daily Readings, W.E. Sangster tells of a shy Christian who sought the face of God for a way to minister by his life.  God led him to have a ministry of encouragement by sending cards.  Cards to those who were sick.  Cards to the discouraged.  Cards to the bereaved.  Cards to family; cards to strangers; to people he read about in the paper; he heard about in conversations.  His whole life took on a new twist.  What a small insignificant thing to do.  But only eternity will reveal the impact of that secret single daily chore of a dedicated servant of Jesus.  Can you and I find some daily chore to vow to do for God.  Seek His face.  Make that commitment.  Daily keep your vow!  We have given our days some structure.  A Daily Code; A Daily Call; A Daily Chore; now lets go a little deeper.  Jesus insisted that our Days must include our Daily Cross!  Listen to Him as He says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and keep on following me!” (Luke 9;23).  We all have our own little interpretations of the the “crosses we bear for Jesus”.  But A.W. Tozer makes Jesus’ intention very clear...”we must recognize that the cross was the symbol of death; it stood for the abrupt, violent ending of if the life of a human being.  The man who took up his cross and started down the road in Roman times had already said goodbye to family and friends.  He was not coming back.  He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have his life ended!  The cross made no compromises, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely, and for good.  It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim.  It struck swift and hard, and when it was finished, the man was no more!”  So it is when you give your life to Jesus.  Your life. lived only for yourself, and for your interests, benefits, and desires, has be lost in His cause.  To lose it, is to gain it.  To try to keep it is to lose it all.  Daily pick up your cross.  Paul said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).  That is the essence of the Daily Cross.  I love Elizabeth Cephane’s hymn/poem demanding nothing less.  She wrote:

     ” I take, O cross, thy Shadow For My abiding place;

       I  ask no other sunshine than The Sunshine of His face;

       Content to let the world go by, To know no gain or loss,

        My sinful self my only shame; My glory all His Cross”

Lastly there is our Daily Care.  Jesus had a daily burden.  He said, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save them that are perishing” (Luke 19:10).  Jesus invested His days as the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep.  That was His Daily Care.  It took Him into locations;  into individual lives; into conversations with sinners, publicans, harlots, and demoniacs, not to mention lepers, and even crimminals.  On the cross hear him engage with crimminals about heaven and the forgiveness of sin.  We talk about the weather; about the Cubs winning the world series; about our jobs; our families; our hobbies.  How about our Savior?  Daily?  Stephan Olford tells about a converted cleaning lady named Aunt Sophie.  After she found Jesus she used to say that she was “called to scrub and preach Jesus”.  Daily, she engaged everyone she met about her Savior Jesus.  Someone made fun of her saying that they saw her talking about Christ to a wooden Indian in front of the town’s Cigar store.  Sophie heard about it and said, “Perhaps I did.  My eyesight is not too good anymore,  but talking to a wooden Indian is not so bad as being a wooden Christian and never talking to anybody about the Lord Jesus.”  Something we are told to do daily, some of us never do at all ever!  To make our Daily Christian lives Really Daily we need that Daily Code-Daily Call-Daily Chore-Daily Cross-and Daily Care.  Don’t let today pass without them!  If you do you are “killing your daysand injuring eternity!” 


 Posted by at 2:16 pm

“A Plain Heroic Breed that Loved Heaven’s Silence More than Fame”

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Nov 132016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE:  “A Plain Heroic Breed that Loved Heaven’s Silence More than Fame”.

By: Ron Woodrum


     One of the greatest ways to study the Bible is to do a study of Bible Personalities.  There is much to be learned about God, and about ourselves, as we delve into the narrative of how God was involved in the lives of men and women of Scripture.  Probably the classic example of such studies is Alexander Whyte’s volumes Bible Characters.  These six volumes, written in the 1800’s covers 159 Bible characters, both the well known, and the little known.  In recent days a noted Evangelical author, Charles Swindoll, has given us some real biographical Bible Character masterpieces covering such personalities as David, Paul, Esther, Joseph, and others.  But one of the well-known, yet little-known characters of Scripture is the intriguing figure of Isaac.  What we mostly know about Isaac is that he was the mircacle baby given by God to Abraham and Sarah.  We also know that God demanded that Abraham sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah, and that was one of the first glimpses of John 3:16 in all of the Bible.  But other than those facts, and the fact that his narrative covers Genesis 17-35, we know very little about Isaac.  He is listed in the Hall Of Fame and Faith in Hebrews 11 with only these words-“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau about things to come”.  Yet we know so little about this hero of the faith.  One reason may be that biographies do not always tell the real story of a life.  Mark Twain pointed this out when he said, “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words!  His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself.  All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those of other things, are his history.  These are his life, and they are not written.  Everyday would make a whole book of 80,000 words-365 books a year.  Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man-the biography of the man himself cannot be written”.  That being said, I think we can learn alot by taking a look at Isaac’s “clothes and buttons”, as painted for us in Scripture.

I went first to check on what Alexander Whyte had to say about Isaac.  I was a little dumbfounded.  He wrote, “When I read Isaac’s whole history over again…it becomes clear as a sunbeam to me that what envy was to Cain, and what wine was to Noah, and what lewdness was to Ham, and what wealth was to Lot, and what pride and impatience were to Sarah…venison and savory meat were to Isaac…Old Isaac…is the father of all those men who make their god their belly”.  Really?  After reading Genesis 17 through 35 the most glaring thing about Isaac is that he enjoyed some venison made for him by who he thought was Esau, though it was actually Rebekah, and served by Esau?  I have not  so read the story of Isaac.  Granted, his life was not to be compared to his father’s, (Abraham), or to his son’s, (Jacob), or even to his grandson’s (Joseph), for that matter.  But the epitome of those whose “god is their belly?”  I think that is a little gilded!  I prefer W.H. Griffith Thomas’ summary of Isaac a little better.  He says Isaac “was the ordinary son of a great father, and the ordinary father of a great son”.  That more adequately reflects the true picture!  But having acknowledged that fact, we have to conclude that there was a certain “glory to that commonplace life” which all of us who call ourselves Christians would do well to emulate.  Isaac was a man that could embrace the description that James Russell Lowell mentioned in his poem All SaintsHe speaks of some saints being “a plain heroic breed that loved Heaven’s Silence more than fame”.  Both of those descriptions are fitting for Isaac.  He shows us the “glory of the commonplace”.  He shows us that you can be a “plain heroic breed” not basking in the “applause of heaven” necessarily and still make an impact.

In Genesis 26:24-25, God, after Abraham’s death, is renewing His covenant with Isaac.  The Holy Spirit shows us that ‘the clothes and buttons’ of Isaac had some spiritual design to them.  We read, “The LORD appeared to him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy fahter:  fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.  And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac…digged a well” 

     What a paragraph!  At once, that text introduces us to the revelation which Yahweh gave to this commoner, in which He confirmed His covenant with Abraham’s miracle son!  But it is Issac’s response that I believe the Holy Spirit of God recorded for us, as Paul said in I Corinthians 10, was “written for admonition”.  It is behavior we would do well to emulate-not literally of course, but in what each stands for.  First of all, Isaac “built an altar”.  In the Old Testament times, altars were many and varied.  Their importance may be gleaned from the fact that the term appears in the Old Testament over 433 times.  It appears first in the days of Noah.  When Abraham took Isaac as a lad to go to Mt. Moriah he explained that they were going to worship the LORD.  The first thing they did on arrival was “build an altar”.  The altar is a vital part of Worship.  But then quickly Isaac learned that the altar was a place of sacrifice.  Total sacrifice for him and his father.  Their worship pictured the Greatest Sacrifice of all-Jesus on the Cross, and their worship involved a proper response of giving themselves back to God in total surrender, as Paul referenced as a “living sacrifice”.  Paul said that in response to Calvary that is our only “reasonalble worship”.  isaac was an example of that kind of worship.  We must not miss that! Isaac had been taught by his father that “sacrifice is total”   and that God’s claim on us comes FIRST!  Call Isaac commonplace if you must, but there is something glorious about a son that learns from his father that true worship involves recognizing God’s rightful claim on our lives!

After the altar was in place, it tells us that “Isaac pitched his tent”.  That tent intrigues me; there must be more to it than the skins and stakes which formed the materials.  May it not mean that the Spirit of God was trying to inform us that Isaac had learned that “this world was not his home-he’s just a passing through?”  That tent symbolizes a life of spiritual pilgrimage.  He was confessing to all who knew him that he was a stranger here, on his way to something better.  Where had he learned this?  Hebrews 11: 9 tells us that “By faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tents with  Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:  for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God”.  Do you see that we must cast our lot with this dear man and his fathers?  Have we forgotten the admonition of Peter, writing to Christians facing persecution at the hands of the Romans, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11).  You see we are in the world but not of it!  This world is not our home we are just passing through! For that reason, we must not drive down our tent pegs so firmly as to suggests that we intend to stay here forever  In the Greek New Testament there are two words for “dwellers”.  One is the word “Kataoikos”.  Kata means down.  These are those who have settled down-moved in permanently-driven in their stakes deeply, with intentions of remaining.  But  a second word is the “Paroikos”.  We get our word “parochial” from that.  Para means “beside”.  It means someone who dwells beside, but is not a permanent resident.  That is what Isaac epitomized.  We would do well to emulate him.  A word from C.S. Lewis, from his great work Mere Christianity, is quite convicting here.  He wrote, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next one.  It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this”.  That is the lesson that our friend Isaac has so effectively exemplified for us.  Loosen up those tent stakes!

But Issac’s spiritual “clothes and buttons” have one last piece.  It says that “Isaac…digged a well!”  To a modern reader who lives with the commonplace luxury of “running water” that may not seem like much.  But in Isaac’s day a well was a source of life giving water.  There was no living without the necessity of the well.  That motley crowd of families with their flocks that Moses led to the promised land was accutely aware of water.  God had provided water miraculously out of the rock, but on the occasion of digging a well we read in Numbers 21 about the occasion of community rejoicing and singing.  “Then sang Israel this song; Spring up, Oh well; sing ye into it: the well that the princes digged, which the nobles of the people delved with scepter and staves!” (Num. 21:17).  What a blessing, then, that well that Isaac dug must have been to him, to his family, the community, and for generations to come!  In John 4 we read of the woman at the well.  She asks Jesus if he was a great as Jacob, who dug this well at Sychar, and drank from it, his family, and flocks.  That well was still blessing others two thousand years later! (John 4:12).  Jesus affirmed the physical blessing of the well that Jacob had dug, but suggested we dig deep into our relationship with God, through Himself, and we would then tap into a spiritual source of life giving water that would spring up into everlasting life to all we extend a drink to.  That too is what Isaac epitomizes for us.  Ever feel like “a plain heroic breed…experiencing Heaven’s silence more than fame”?  Build your altar!  Pitch your tent!  Dig some deep refreshing spritual wells.  That is how to transform the commonplace into the glorious and make an impact that will leave a lasting legacy…JUST LIKE ISAAC DID!  Don’t let anyone mistake you for someone whose “god was their belly”..i.e. physical appetite over spritual appetite.  Emulate Isaac.


 Posted by at 1:54 pm

“Uncovering the buried original shimmering you!”

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Nov 062016

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE“Uncovering the buried original shimmering you!”

By:  Ron Woodrum


     In the play Death of A Salesman, written by Arthur Miller in 1949, which won a Purlitzer Prize for drama, and a Tony Award for Best Play, there is one scene that speaks volumes.  Willie Loman has committed suicide.  The family is standing at the graveside.  Happy, Willie’s 32 year old son says “he had no right to commit suicide”.  Linda, Willie’s faithful wife, wonders where are all the friends and acquaintances that knew Willie?  His eldest son, Biff, hits the nail on the head in explaining his tragic end when he declares “Willy had all the wrong dreams…he never knew who he was!”  That epitaph could be written over the lives of most Christians, who for all practical purposes have committed spiritual suicide with the lives that God intended for them to live.  We often miss out on the fulfillment of fully following Jesus because we spend all of our waking hours “chasing all the wrong dreams and failing to realize who we were really intended to be in Christ!”  The great intellectual Christian thinker G.K. Chesterton saw this dilemma when he wrote in his magnificent book Orthodoxy these words-“We all feel the riddle of the earth without anyone to point it out.  The mystery of life is the plainest part of it. . .Every stone or flower is a hieroglyphic of which we have lost the key; with every step of our lives we enter into the middle of some story which we are certain to misunderstand.”  Any attempt on our part to sort this confusing story out will end in futility and frustration.  Robert Jenson points out the inherent reason why this is true.  He says, “Human consciousness is too obscure a mystery to itself for us to script our own lives”.  Any attempt to script our own lives leaves us trapped in an eternal present, we come to a sickness of heart like that of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, the Scottish nobleman who sells his soul to play the role of the king who sells his soul to play the role of king in his own small story.  At the end of his life he laments,  “I am sick at heart…tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time; Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard from no more!  It is a tale told by and idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Act V, Scene V).  Frederick Buechner, in his book Telling Secrets, also points out this dilemna facing Christians.  He says, “the world sets out to make us what the world would like us to be, and because we have to survive after all, we try to make ourselves into something the world will like better than it apparently liked the selves we originally were.  That is the story of all our lives, needless to say, and in the process of living out that story, the original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us hardly end up living out of it at all.  Instead, we live out all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather”.  Chesterton, in Orthodoxy, calls this dilemma a “mental calamity” that robs us of our “spiritual identity”.  He clearly points this out by saying, “We have all read in scientific books, and indeed, even in romance novels about the story of the man who has forgotten his own name.  This man walks about the streets and can see and appreciate everything; only he cannot remember who he is.  Well, every man is that man in the story.  Every man has forgotten who he is….We are all under the same mental calamity; we have forgotten our names.  We have forgotten what we really are.”   Most, including most Christians, never escape this “calamity”.  Though we know God, through His son Jesus, we settle for far too little.  We chase all the wrong dreams.  C.S. Lewis said it so well-“We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink, and sex, and ambition, and religious efforts, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant b the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”


     How do we get out of this dilemma?  How do we escape this mental calamity?  How do we uncover our original shimmering selves?  It is beyond our reach to “script our own lives!”  Simon Tugwell clears this up for us.  He says, “So long as we imagine it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart.  But it is the other way around-He is looking for us!”  A.W. Tozer becomes more explicit in explaining how this works for us.  He writes-“Thirsty hearts are those whose longings have been wakened by the touch of God within themselves”.  George Herbert, marveling at the message of Isaiah 62:4, 12 which reads, “No longer will they call you Deserted.  They will be called…the Redeemed of the LORD; you will be called the Sought After”, caused him to write, “My God, what is a heart; that thou shouldst it so eye and woo; powering upon it with all thou art; As if thou hadst nothing else to do?” (Mattens).  Chesterton explains how he came to the conclusion of God’s work bringing this to reality in our lives; “I always had believed that the world involved magic; now I thought it perhaps involved a magician…I always felt life first was a story; and if there was story there must be a story-teller!”    Anne Dillard, calls this divine wake up call a mystery.  She says, “We wake, if ever we wake at all, we wake to mystery!”  Frederick Buechner gives us this advice-“listen to our lives”  and God will speak in a clear way which way to follow Him.  He writes in Now and Then,If God speaks to us at all, other than through such official channels as the Bible and the Church, then I think He speaks to us largely through what happens to us…if we keep our hearts and minds open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize, beyond all doubt, that however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling!”  C.S. Lewis referred to this divine communication to our hearts, this eternal tug from God, as the “secret signature of each soul”.  He says, God speaks to our hearts “of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are watching for, looking for, listening for?  You have never had it…tantalizing glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear.  But if it should ever manifest itself…and did not die away…you would know it.  Beyond all possibility of doubt you would know it and say ‘here is the thing I was made for’.  We cannot tell each other about it.  It is the secret signature of each sould, the incommunicable and unapeasable want…If we lose this we lose it all!”  Responding to this call of God to our inner heart, choosing to follow the way of salvation, provided by God in His son Jesus, and giving ourselves fully to His call and direction.  That must not just be a once in a lifetime decision, though it begins with that, it must be a pursuit of our whole heart, to know Him, and follow Him, and let Him transform us with His love, presence, and power.  George MacDonald put it this way, ” But we who would be born again indeed, must wake our souls unnumbered times a day”.  Once we have awakened to God’s call, and responded to Him by trusting in the finished work of His Son on the Cross, our lives must consist of putting Him first, following in His steps, to do that consistently means turning all else away to listen for His direction.  C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, put it this way, “It comes at you the very moment you wake up each morning.  All your wishes and hopes of the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists simply of shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that larger quieter life come flowing in.  Standing back from all your natural fussing and frettings; coming in out of the wind!”  (Mere Christianity).    Responding to this inward call of God.  Embracing His Son as our Savior, and choosing to lose our lives following Him-is to finally know who we are…understanding our story…no longer chasing the wrong dream…finding fulfillment and joy we have been longing for all of our lives.  But in order to make that born again reality a continued experience we must pursue Him with a whole heart…listening to the other voice…the larger perspective, let His eternal life come flowing in.  Today’s message talks about how Unprofitable Servants of His are Made Profitable.



 Posted by at 2:03 pm