“Unmasking the Fiend Within”

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Oct 292017

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE:  “Unmasking the Fiend Within”

By:  Ron Woodrum


    In a few days doorbells all across America will ring and residents answering that summons will discover some of the most hideous faces, monsters, and figures standing on their doorsteps beckoning “trick or treat!”  Admittedly there is much debate in the Christian realm whether this is a holiday that Christians should participate in with such enthusiasm!  Some Churches have resolved the dilemma by having a trunk or treat experience where Children experience goodies as a gift in the Church parking lot, with tracts pointing them to the Savior.  Not a bad idea I guess.  But then I also see a hidden bit of wisdom in this annual charades.  Truth be known we all wear masks.  We all hide the true person we are-sometimes even from ourselves!  Maybe this is a holiday we should participate in as a reminder of facing the reality hiding in the deep recesses of our inner-most being and reminding us of who we would be apart from the Grace of God active in our lives.  We all have heard the phrase-“but for the Grace of God go I”.  The story is widely circulated that the phrase was first spoken by the English evangelical preacher and martyr John Bradford (1510-1555).  Bradford, upon seeing a group of prisoners being led to the scaffolds to be executed reportedly said, “There but for the Grace of God goes John Bradford”.  Bradford may have been paraphrasing a statement of the Apostle Paul’s in I Corinthians 15:8-10, where the Apostle tells the Corinthians “I am the least of the Apostles, not even fit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God…but because of the Grace of God I am what I am: and His grace was bestowed upon me not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the Grace of God that was with me!”  Truth be known, apart from the Grace of God, all of us “paint a pretty ugly portrait!”


     I love the story that Eugene Peterson tells from his days as a seminary student.  He was working at a Presbyterian Church as an intern, in New York City.  He became friends with a man who was working as a janitor at the Church.  They became good friends.  This encounter changes Peterson’s life.  Listen to how he tells it-from his autobiography Running With Horses: “Willi Ossa was an artist, the first artist I had ever known personally…Willi was the Church Janitor.  But janitor was not who he was.  Janitor was his job.  He himself was a painter, a serious painter.  He painted mostly on canvas with oils…Willi had a severely negative opinion of the Church.  Severely negative is an understatement.  It was outraged hostility.  He had lived through the War and had personally experienced the evil of Hitler, perpetrated by the German church.  His pastor had become a fervent Nazi…and He couldn’t understand why I wanted anything to do with the Church.  He warned me of the evil and corrupting influence it would have on me…He liked me and didn’t want to see his friend destroyed.  He asked if he could paint my portrait.  I agreed to sit for him, at his apartment, one hour a week.  He wanted to work on a new form of painting so he would never let me see the portrait until it was finished.  One afternoon, as the project neared completion, his wife came into the room bringing refreshments.  She looked at the portrait and exclaimed ‘Krank! Krank!’  I knew enough German to hear-‘Sick! Sick!’  In rapid exchange of sharp words between them, I caught Willi’s ‘Kicht krank, aber keine Gnade’-‘he’s not sick now, but that’s the way he will look when the mercy gets squeezed out of him’.  He had painted me in a black pulpit robe, seated with a red Bible on my lap, my hands folded over it.  The face was gaunt and grim, the eyes flat and without expression.  I asked him why he had painted me that way.  I did not resemble that image at all! His response was twenty years from now you will if you continue on with your aim of being a Pastor in the Church”.  Peterson put that painting up in his study for years as a reminder of what he could potentially become if the Grace of God ever was withdrawn from his life.  It was a daily reminder that without the Grace of God that all of us, like the Church that fell under the influence of the evil of Hitler, can become evil and corrupt.  We all have potential for evil beyond our own understanding.  That is why Jeremiah warned us in Jeremiah 17:9 that “the heart is desperately wicked-who can know it?”


     Adrian Rogers, Pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee used to tell his people that there are three people in your pew.  There is the person you currently are.  There is also the person you could be if you had never experience the grace of God in the forgiveness of sins, and transformation of the indwelling of the Spirit of God, as a believer; but there is a third person potentially there.  The person that you could become if you would choose to fully surrender yourself to God, no holds barred.  We need to face up to who we are really.  We need to confess our worst selves to God.  He has dealt with those sins on Calvary’s cross.  We need to deal with them rather than conceal them!  That is why Soren Kirkegaard wrote “No one is so terribly deceived as he who does not himself suspect it!”  It is time to quit kidding ourselves.  Take off the mask.  Bring the real you and me to the foot of the cross.  Let the grace of God that transformed Paul transform us.  It will make a Grateful Saint out of us for the rest of our days!  Today’s message is about a woman that experienced that Amazing Grace.  Her sins which were many were forgiven.  She showed her gratitude by washing His feet with her tears.  Tears of repentance and tears of rejoicing.  Jesus asked the question “who loves the most?”  The answer is the one who fully understands the magnitude of his or sins as an affront to the holiness of God and has experienced forgiveness fully, freely, finally forever!


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Oct 222017


By:  Ron Woodrum


One of the most moving scenes in the Bible is the narrative of John 21 when Jesus revisits and restores the Apostle Peter to the ministry Jesus had called him to.  Peter was commissioned by the Lord Himself to be a shepherd.  On the Shore of the Sea of Galilee, the risen Jesus said to Peter-“Feed my sheep-tend my lambs-feed my sheep“. (John 21:15-17)  Peter’s understanding of the importance of this commission is revealed in his first letter to the Churches of Asia Minor.  He must have recalled Jesus’ words and teaching about sheep: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand”.  Clearly Jesus revealed Himself as The Shepherd of the Sheep.  The theme of a shepherd tending sheep runs throughout the Bible.  Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David are all identified as shepherds in the Bible.  The revelation of Jesus being the Shepherd of the Sheep, “the flock of God” (Ps. 100:3; I Peter 5:2) is beautifully revealed in three Psalms 22, 23, and 24.  These Psalms are often collectively referred to as the Shepherd Psalms, and point to Jesus as the Good Shepherd; the Great Shepherd; and the Chief Shepherd.  Psalm 22 tells of the Good Shepherd-the suffering servant-messiah who lays down his life for his sheep.  This Psalm speaks of the cross of Jesus, who came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel and gave Himself as the sacrifice for sin, according to the law, as the unblemished Lamb of God to be sacrificed for the sin of the world.  He conquered death and lives to be the door through which the sheep enter the sheepfold and the Shepherd who calls them:  “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘most assuredly, I say to you I am the door of the sheep…if anyone enters by be, he will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture…I am the Good Shepherd…the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’ (John 10:7,9,11).  JESUS IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD.


But then we progress to Psalm 23, which is call the Great Shepherd Psalm.  It speaks of the risen Lord who protects, directs, and corrects His sheep.  Sheep are very foolish animals.  They wander off the path and need the Shepherd to keep them headed in the right direction.  Sheep easily go far astray and lose their way.  They need a Shepherd to bring them back to the fold.  Psalms 23 speaks of the Shepherd’s love, comfort, and faithfulness to meet the sheep’s daily needs, and gives them direction and hope all the days of their lives.  The parallel New Testament passage that reminds us of the Perfecting work of our Shepherd in our lives if found in this passage:  “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead, our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect, in every good work, to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21). JESUS IS THE GREAT SHEPHERD.


The third Psalm, in the Shepherd Psalms, tells of the Chief Shepherd.  This Psalm speaks of a time yet to come, when Jesus will come for the sheep who have heard his voice and have followed Him.  It is the future glory that awaits all who belong to the Chief Shepherd.  It is a future time when all the earth will know that the Shepherd of the Sheep is the Sovereign over all (Ps. 24:1).  This Psalm proclaims the fulfillment of God’s purpose and plan and the Chief Shepherd’s role as the King of Glory:  “Lift up your heads, O you gates!  And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!  And the King of Glory shall come in.  Who is this King of Glory?  The LORD strong and mighty.  The LORD mighty in Battle.  Lift up your heads, O you gates.  Lift up you everlasting doors!  And the King of Glory Shall come in.  Who is this King of Glory?  It is the LORD of hosts, He is the King of Glory!”    Of course the Book of Revelation talks about the Lamb who Saves the World, and conquers in victory and comes to reign as the rightful Sovereign-THE CHIEF SHEPHERD.  Peter alluded to this in his first letter when he wrote:  “when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive, as his under shepherds, the crown of glory that does not fade away!” (I Peter 5:4).  JESUS CHRIST THE CHIEF SHEPHERD!


In the meantime we are to be under shepherds feeding the flock; tending the flock; caring for the little lambs; seeking the straying ones; rescuing them and rejoicing in their salvation.  Proving our love for our Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd.  Such sincere service to Him will not go unrewarded!  Amen?  Amen!


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Oct 152017


By:  Ron Woodrum


Charles Swindoll, in his book The Grace Awakening, tells a humorous story that was told by the late J.Vernon McGee during one of his preaching assignments in Chafer Chapel at Dallas Theological Seminary.  This is what Swindoll shares, “I remember sitting in Chapel as Dr. McGee was waxing eloquent on Romans 6.  He told the story of a lady who lived in the Deep South and had a close relationship with her childhood sweetheart.  She fell in love and ultimately married him.  Their life together was not perfect, but it was rewarding.  There was faithfulness and there were times of joy.  This continued for years, until he was suddenly taken from her side with a heart attack.  Not being able to part with him visible, she decided to have him embalmed, put in a chair, sealed up in a glass case, and placed immediately inside the front door of their large plantation house. Every time she walked through the door she would smile and say-‘Hi John, How are you?’  Then she would walk up the stairs.  Things rocked along as normally as possible month after month.  There he sat day after day as she acknowledged his presence with a smile and friendly wave.  A year or so later she decided to take a lengthy trip to Europe.  It was a delightful change of scenery.  In fact, while in Europe she met a fine American gentleman who was also vacationing over there.  He swept her off her feet.  After a whirlwind romance, they got married and honeymooned all over Europe.  She said nothing of ol’John back home on the farm.  Finally they traveled back to the States.  Driving up the winding road to her home, he decided-This is my moment to lift my bride over the threshold and carry her back in her home-this wonderful place where we will live together forever!  He picked her up, bumped the door open with his hip and walked right in.  He almost dropped his bride on the floor!  ‘Who is this?’  ‘Well it is John.  My old man from’…He is history…he is dead!’  The new husband immediately dug a big hole and buried her former old man in it, case and all.” 

That is exactly what Christ has done.  However, without realizing the effect, many Christians put the old man in a case and greet him every morning and cater to him every day of their lives!  We live as if the “old man” is alive, even though the Bible says that we are dead to him, since Calvary.  He has no right to be in our conscious thinking.  We serve a New Master who has walked us across the threshold, who has awakened us to a new life, new love, and new relationship, and entirely different future.  But we still struggle with how to break the habit of thinking of and catering to the old man and start enjoying fully the benefits of our new relationship with Him.

C.S. Lewis talked of doing just that, when in Mere Christianity, he illustrated this truth in his analogy about the Tin Soldier.  Lewis says, “Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man.  It would involve turning his tin into flesh.  Suppose the tin soldier did not like it.  He is not interested in flesh.  All he sees is that the tin is being spoiled.  He thinks you are killing him.  He will do everything he can to prevent you.  He is an obstinate soldier.  To be obstinate is to be stubborn, and the tendency of humankind toward God is extreme stubbornness.  The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God…the natural life in each of us is something self-centered, something that likes to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives…and especially it wants to be left to itself:  to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small…it knows that if the spiritual life should get hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth an nail to avoid that.  Yet the Second Person…the Son, became human Himself…a real man of particular height, weighing so many stone, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language…becoming not only a man, but before that a baby, and before that a fetus.  Think how you would like to become a crab or a slug.  The result was that now you had one man who really was what all men were intended to be:  one man in whom the created life allowed itself to be completely and perfectly turned into the begotten life…He choose an earthly career that involved the killing of His human desires at every turn-poverty, misunderstanding from His own family, betrayal by one of His intimate friends, being jeered and mishandled by the authorities, and executed by torture.  And then the Man in Christ rose again: not only the God, The whole point is just that!  For the first time we saw a real man.  One tine soldier-real tin soldier.  By the same Spirit that transformed Him He longs to transform us, to become alive, splendidly real and alive”.  Time to bury the old man.  Time to yield the old tin flesh and put on the transforming glory of the risen Christ.  II Corinthians 3:18 tells us that “we behold with unveiled faces the Lord, and are transformed from glory unto glory”…tin to transform…enjoy the process…it is glory!  Well glory!

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Oct 082017


By:  Ron Woodrum


Richard Ellsworth Day, in his book Filled With The Spirit, tells a story about David Falvey that speaks ever so pertinently to regrets. He writes, “David Falvey had a painful memory of his aged father’s death. The old man, more weakened than anyone realized, had forgotten to perform a very small chore-closing the barnyard gate. When David returned home that evening, weary from a days work, he found the cattle trampling upon the lawn. He answered his father’s greeting with a sharp reprimand, something which had become a habit with him lately. An hour later, sorry for his burst of temper, David was determined to make amends and tell his father how sorry he was. He went to the side porch where the old man had been sitting, to ask his forgiveness. When he got there, during the interval, the old man had passed away, leaving his sorrows behind. As time passed, the memory of what he had done haunted David. One day he could bear it no longer-he sobbed, ‘Oh God that was horrible. I was so brutish. There was no excuse in the world for me to treat my father that way! I did not have enough quality in me to act as a son ought to act: I should have laughed, and said Never Mind Dad! It’s all right! But I was just too little. And I am still the same way. Oh God help me! In Christ’s name heal me!’ ”


To those of us who have experienced divine forgiveness through Jesus Christ, this story comes home with special meaning. For like David Falvey, we too have often failed, in word or deed as Christians. It is in such straits that we come to the throne of grace, wondering if He can ever restore us to fellowship, joy, and service. There are those who would tell us that it can never be. It was Aldous L.Huxley who wrote, “The unseen opponent in the great game of life, while scrupulously fair, will allow no back moves, and makes us pay in full for every blunder!” While it is true that there is in the Christian life that element that makes back moves difficult, back moves are possible. In the end, there can be restoration, fellowship, and full service. The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:1 that when we see a brother, overtaken in a fault, that we who are spiritual should restore them, considering the fact that “there but for the grace of God go I”. The word “restore” is the word-katartidzo. It was a medical term used in Paul’s day for setting a broken bone. It was also a term used in New Testament times for repairing fishing nets that had been broken. While broken, of course, the leg and the nets were not very useful to anyone. But the goal of restoration is to see them return to full usefulness again. That is what that passage means! Even after a fall, there are back moves of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration possible. Not only can the sin be forgiven and forgotten. Not only can the conscience be cleansed. But also a return to usefulness can occur. They are those who would not permit that! The fallen one must “pay in full for their every blunder!”-for the rest of their life.


A poem, by Hezekiah Butterworth, reiterates that view. The poem goes like this: The Broken Pinion


I walked through the woodland meadows,

Where the sweet thrushes sing;

And I found on the bed of mosses

A bird with a broken wing.


I healed its wound, and each morning

It sang its old sweet refrain

But the bird with the broken pinion

never soared so high again



I found a young life broken

By sin’s seductive art,

And touched with a Christ-like pity

I took him to my heart.

He lived with a noble purpose

And struggled not in vain

But the life that sin had stricken

Never soared as high again.


But the bird with the broken pinion

Kept another from the snare;

And the life that sin had stricken

Raised another from despair.

Each loss has its own compensation,

There’s healing from every pain;

But the bird with the broken pinion

Never soars as high again.


What a beautiful verse…but falls short of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. In Colossians 2:14 we are told that when Jesus died on the cross that he took the record of our sins out of the way, blotting them out. There are two words for blotting out in the New Testament. One is the word Chaidzain- Which means to “cross out” To put an “X” over it. It meant a debt was cancelled. But what was cancelled could still be seen. But the word used here in Col 2:14 is the word exalaphain-it means to “wash away”. In New Testament times they wrote on papyri…which was very expensive to produce. They used it over and over again. After you filled a page that you did not want for a permanent record you could wash it away. They wrote with an ink that was made of water and soot. A wet sponge would remove the ink, leaving a blank piece of papyri. The record would be expunged! What a beautiful picture of complete forgiveness and restoration for the Christian. That truth should cause the poem above to be revised! Dr. Stuart Holden, had a member of his congregation who had experienced full restoration, revise it to read:


But the soul that comes to Jesus

through failure, shame, or pain,

by His wondrous love and mercy

may soar as high again!


That is all because of His Amazing Grace!


 Posted by at 11:55 am

“His Finger on the Text!”

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Oct 012017

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “His Finger on the Text!”

By:  Ron Woodrum


On January 31, 2014 German scientists announced that after almost 26 years of research that the bones interred for centuries at Aachen Cathedral in Germany were the genuine bones of the Emperor Charlemagne. Researchers confirmed on that Wednesday evening, 1200 years to the day since Charlemagne died-that the 94 bones and bone fragments are really those of the famous Monarch. Professor Frank Ruhli said, “Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne”. Charlemagne had died in 814 A.D. at the age of 72 He had left instructions to be carried out and he was to be buried, in the Palace Chapel, on his marble throne, dressed in his Imperial purple robes, crown on his head, and scepter in his hand. That is exactly how he was buried. An Edict was in place that his tomb was not to be opened with the threat of a curse on anyone breaking the Edict. On the Day of Pentecost 1000 A.D. King Otto III broke the Edict. He had the vault opened. He took out the throne, scepter, and a few other relics the Emperor had been buried with. It was reported at the time that the Emperor was perfectly preserved. Still sitting on his throne. Scepter still in his hand. Crown still on his head. His Bible lay open on his lap. The vault was opened again in 1165 A.D. by Emperor Frederick Barborosa. He placed the remains in a sculptured marble sarcophagus; allegedly the same one Caesar Augustus had been buried in. In 1215 the tomb was opened again by Frederick II, who had the bones placed in a gold and silver casket preserved in the Chapel. These are the bones now residing at Aachen Cathedral, in Aachen, Germany, now identified as those of Charlemagne.

Charlemagne was originally Charles I, King of the Franks. (The nation of France takes it name from that kingdom). He took the throne upon the death of his father, Pepin the Short. He ruled the Franks from 768; Conquered the Lombard’s in 774; and became Emperor of the Romans in 800. He united much of Western Europe during the Middle Ages, and really is responsible for Modern day Europe as we know it. He was summoned to Rome on Christmas 800 and declared the Holy Roman Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by Pope Leo. Charlemagne was tall and strong. He had blue eyes, curly hair, beard, and handsome features. While he often dazzled the public with the splendor of his royal robes, he generally dressed as a soldier, carrying his great sword; he called “Joyeusse”, which was so heavy few warriors could handle it! He was so great, so rich, so brave, and so powerful that his fame spread beyond Europe, even into Asia. The Caliph of Bagdad, as a token of respect, sent ambassadors bringing wonderful presents-a monkey, an elephant, an organ, a mechanical clock, and most of all the keys to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. When he died it was said that “No one can tell the mourning and sorrow that his death caused everywhere, even the pagans wept for him as for the father of the world!” Yes he nearly revived the Roman Empire, though it was short-lived. Napoleon would nearly succeed at that accomplishment1000 years later. Hitler would himself try again with his Third Reich! But why have Charlemagne as the subject of a Pastor’s Perspective of a Baptist Church bulletin you ask? Here is the reason. When his tomb was opened, and he was found to be on his throne, crown on his head, scepter in his hand, sword at his side, Bible opened on his lap-what was also discovered was his finger was pointing to a Scripture verse. What verse? Mark 8:36. “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul, for what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” HIS FINGER WAS ON THE TEXT! THAT IS THE TEXT OF THE MESSAGE TODAY. Another of the piercing questions of Jesus that is ever relevant to our day. The only answer can be there is nothing worth exchanging your eternal soul for.


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