“The Black Velvet that Displays the Diamond of the Love of God”.

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Sep 222019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Black Velvet that Displays the Diamond of the Love of God”. By:  Ron Woodrum

 The Parable of the Prodigal Son has been called “The Most Beautiful Story Ever Told!”– (William Cowper-Hymn writer). It has been called “The greatest short story ever written-with such drama that is so clear and precise that everyone can relate to it-and cannot miss its central point” (Max Lucado-author). It was called a “Lifeline to God” by Fyodor Doestevesky. Rembrandt was so touched by it, his last painting put an exclamation point on all of his masterpieces! That very painting captivated Dutch Theologian Henry Nouwen for over four hours, after which he wrote his most important book-The Return of the Prodigal Son. He said, “I become the Prodigal Son every time I seek for unconditional love anywhere but where it can only be found, in the heart of the Father!” The Parable and the painting changed his life and ministry forever. If we would spend a few minutes this morning in meditation on its central message it can do the same for us! Great men of history have been so touched they have written poems and songs as well! We all know the name John Newton. His greatest masterpiece of hymns is the famous Amazing Grace! But he wrote a very touching summary of the Parable in a poem. He wrote:


Afflictions though they seem severe

In mercy oft they are sent

They stopped the Prodigal’s career

And led him to repent


Although he no relentings felt

Till he had spent his store

His stubborn heart began to melt

Though famine pinched him sore


 What I have gained by sin he said

But hunger, shame, and fear

My father’s house abounds with bread

While I am starving here


I’ll go and tell Him all I’ve done

And fall before His face

Unworthy to be called

His son I’ll seek a servant’s place  


His father saw him coming back

He saw, He ran, He smiled

And threw His arms around his neck0

Of His rebellious child


Father I have sinned, O please forgive!

I’ve heard enough He said

Rejoice my house, My son’s alive

For whom I mourned as dead!


Now let the fatted calf be slain

And spread the news around

My son was dead, but lives again

Was lost, but now is found.


 Somehow, we manage to make the prodigal son the central message of this parable. I think that when we do that, we miss the main point Jesus had in mind when He told that story to its original audience. Jesus was telling the audience that they had totally forgotten the true nature of the heart of His Father. The central point of this Parable is that the Father always has, and always will welcome prodigals from the far country of sin and rebellion to come home to His loving forgiveness and restoration. This Parable is about the Loving Father, not the Lost Son! Kenny Bishop has written a song entitled The Prodigal’s Dad. Listen to it on U-tube. Look up the lyrics. It has a remarkable message. It is about the broken heart of our Heavenly Father that goes from Sad to Glad, when his Prodigal Son comes home! That is the message of the Parable we are studying today. That is the thrust of the sermon’s message today! The point of this parable is not the depths of the lostness of the rebellious son. It is the depth of the love of the restoring Father. The depth of the lostness of the son is shown only to highlight the depth of love of the Father. THE LOSTNESS OF THE SON IS THE BLACK VELVET AGAINST WHICH THE DIAMOND OF THE LOVE OF THE FATHER IS DISPLAYED IN ALL OF ITS FACETS AND SPLENDOR! Please don’t miss that. If you do you miss everything!

 Posted by at 2:20 pm

“Jesus in Running Shoes-muscular Christianity with a radiant godliness”.

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Sep 152019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Jesus in Running Shoes-muscular Christianity with a radiant godliness”.  By:  Ron Woodrum

  At the 54th Academy Awards, 1982, honoring the movies of 1981, there were many excellent films vying for the best picture award. There was On Golden Pond, starring Henry Fonda, in his last film, along with Catherine Hepburn, and his daughter Jane Fonda. Fred Astaire starred in his last movie-Ghost Story. Burt Lancaster hoped his film Atlantic City would win the award. Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson had Death Hunt. Then of course there was Harrison Ford in a little-known movie-Raiders of the Lost Ark! There were many more movies and stars that felt deserving. The favorite of the Hollywood crowd was Reds, Starring Warren Beatty; Jack Nicholson, and Diane Keaton. To everyone’s surprise another movie took the top honor…it was Chariots of Fire! It was a movie about two Olympic runners who were willing to sacrifice it all to win Olympic gold medals. One was Harold Abrams, and English Jew, who runs to overcome prejudice, and win the glory for himself, and for his race. The other was Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian, and missionary in training, who runs for the glory of God. His sister Jennie, when hearing that he is competing in the 1924 Olympics try to talk him out of it. She is afraid that the glory will distract him from the call of God on his life. He tells her-“I know that God made me for a purpose, (to be a missionary to China), but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure!” He did run fast, and the pleasure of God was all over him when he did run. The Guardian newspaper wrote “When he appeared in the heats of the 400 meter run at Paris in 1924 he had a huge sprawling stride, his head thrown back, his face up to heaven, his arms clawing the air, caused the Americans, and other sophisticated experts to deride him with ribald laughter!” A year earlier England had seen his gift of running. In a quarter mile race, he was tripped by another runner named J.J. Gilles as they rounded the first curve. Liddell fell off the track. The runners quickly left him 30 yards behind. The official shouted for Eric to get back in the race. He did just that! He ran at a pace that had him soon pass all the runners before him, passing up Gilles, he crossed the finish line to win the race, collapsing in exhaustion! That earned him the title the “Flying Scotsman!” The Scotsman paper wrote, “The circumstances under which Liddell won that event made it a performance boarding on the miraculous…and in the history of athletics that quarter mile win was the greatest ever track performance ever seen!”

As the events of the 1924 Olympics approached, Eric was the favorite in the 100 Meter Event. When the schedule was announced it became apparent that the 100 Meter Run was on a Sunday. Eric withdrew from the event. He felt that it would dishonor the Lord to run in the event on the Lord’s Day. He withstood national and world pressure to submit. He forfeited glory for conviction. At the last minute he accepted an invitation to run in the 400 Meter one that he had never trained for. When asked how he would win that race he said, “I will run the first 200 meters as fast as I can, for the second 200 meters, with God’s help I will run even harder!” That is exactly what he did. In crippling heat, he ran the first 200 meters in 22.2 seconds. The American challenger said, “I could not believe a man could set such a pace and keep it up to the finish”. In spite of the American straining every nerve and muscle he finished second behind Liddell. It was said, “Liddell ran the entire race in a sprint as a man possessed”. He set the world record of 47.6 in an event he had never planned to ever run! After finishing the race, and winning the gold medal Eric told those who encouraged him to continue his career as an Olympic runner these words-“It has been a wonderful experience to compete in the Olympic games and to win a gold medal. But since I have been a young lad, I HAVE HAD MY EYE ON A DIFFERENT PRIZE. You see each of us is in a GREATER race than the one I have run here in Paris, and this race ends when God gives out His medals”.

Eric finished his theological education and went as a missionary to China. When asked if he regretted that choice he said, “It is natural for a chap to think over all that at times, but I’m glad for the work I am engaged in now. A fellow’s life counts for far more at this than the other!” He certainly did make his life count for so much more! He served as a missionary to China from 1926-1945. After China was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 all missionary work became dangerous. Eric sent his wife and daughters home to Canada, and hoped to join them soon. But in March of 1943 he, along with all other foreigners were imprisoned in an Internment Camp by the Japanese. Eric continued his work without missing a beat. he taught the young people both secular and spiritual subjects. He organized sports to keep them occupied, and even refereed their games. he was fondly known as “Uncle Eric”. He gave special care to older people, the weak and the ill. Despite the squalor of open cesspools, rats, flies, and disease, he made life in this hellish place a normal routine for those imprisoned there. Had it not been for Eric many would never have survived. Mary Taylor Previte, who had been there as a young girl prisoner, said “Uncle Eric was like Jesus in Running Shoes”. Another prisoner said, “None of us will ever forget this man who was totally committed to putting God first, a man who combined muscular Christianity with radiant godliness!” Another Pastor interred there wrote, “He became the moral and spiritual leader of the horrifying reality of that camp”. Landon Gilkey, a liberal Pastor who was there at the same time, wrote “It is rare indeed when a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, He came as close as anyone I have ever known!” Others said he had one desire-“to see every man, woman, boy and girl in China to come to know Jesus as their Savior!” In the latter years of his imprisonment Eric was stricken with a brain tumor. His body grew weak. He spent his last days in the infirmary. On February 21, 1945 Eric finished a letter to his wife and daughters from his sick bed. He spoke to a friend, “It is full surrender”, and he fell into a coma and died shortly thereafter. As the movie Chariots of Fire reveals at the end, “All Scotland mourned his death”. What the movie did not tell us is that “Heaven’s Great Cloud of Witnesses cheered as Eric crossed the finish line to that Greater Race and won a Different Medal, one that God gives to those who sacrifice everything for Him”. Eric had often said that too many “miss the best by settling for the second best!” He made the right choice. The title of the movie Chariots of Fire has a deep meaning. It was chosen from a poem by William Blake called Jerusalem.




And did those feet in Ancient Time

Walk upon England’s mountains green

And was the Holy Lamb of God

On England’s pleasant Pastures Seen!


Bring me my Bow of Burning Gold

Bring me my Arrows of Desire

Bring me my Spear: Oh clouds unfold

Bring me my Chariot of Fire


I will not cease from mental fight

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand

Til we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green and pleasant land!


That was Eric Liddell’s desire for his country. When it becomes our desire for ours then we too will have made the first choice, and we too will have chosen the different prize of the greater race, that alone is worth sacrificing everything to stand in that winner’s circle. Run your race!

 Posted by at 10:00 pm

“Can Christians be Indubitably real ever again?”

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Sep 082019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Can Christians be Indubitably real ever again?” By:  Ron Woodrum

  The Wesleyan revival of the eighteenth century was one of the great outpourings of the Spirit, and the secret to retaining the fruits of revival was the class meetings that were held by the Wesley’s. They emphasized Bible reading, prayer, holiness and dedication to be practiced by the converts. The classes provided fellowship and accountability. After many years Wesley decided to write a guide-a manual for the class in an effort to carry on with the movement. But the power and vitality of the movement seemed to diminish from that point on. This troubled Wesley so much, he wrote: “It was a common saying among Christians that ‘the soul and the body make the man’ but ‘the spirit and discipline make the Christian’: implying that none could be a real Christian without the help of Christian discipline. But if this be so, is it any wonder that we now find so few Christians, for where is the Christian Discipline?” (Causes of the Inefficacy of Christianity-a sermon by John Wesley). Wesley put his finger on an ongoing problem confronting Christians of all eras-how do you sustain real Christian living on an everyday level? Thomas A Kempis, author of the Imitation of Christ, warned “Know well that the enemy labors to hinder the desire, (of the Church), for holiness and make you fail to attain all good spiritual exercise.” Thomas Aquinas, seeing this loss of power, did his best to communicate it. On one occasion he was confronted by Pope Innocent II, who showed him all the property of the Church, all her magnificent buildings, and large sums of money. Innocent said, “You see the Church is no longer in the age which she has to say, ‘silver and gold have I none’-she can no longer say that!” Aquinas acknowledged that is true, then said, “Neither can she say, In the name of Jesus Christ-rise up and walk!” For entirely different reasons, the Church today finds herself with the same inability to impact our world for Christ. We profess to know Christ. We have committed to be His followers. But there is a veritable “Grand Canyon” of difference between Who He is, and who we are! It seems the Church has “fallen and we cannot get up!” Henry David Thoreau used to say, “men, (Christians), lie on their backs talking about the fall of man, but never make an effort to get up!” It sure seems like it! Leo Tolstoy, in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You, “All men, (Christians included), of the modern world exist in a continual and flagrant antagonism between their consciences and their way of life”. How have we drifted so far from the real Christianity we witness in the New Testament? Richard Halverson, Presbyterian pastor, and past Chaplain of U.S. Congress, wrote years ago, “In the beginning the Church was a Fellowship of men and women centering on the Living Christ; The Church moved to Greece and became a Philosophy; The Church moved to Rome and became an Institution; The Church moved to Europe a Culture; The Church moved to America and became an Enterprise!” That history is very revealing about how we got to where we are at today. Donald Miller says “the inner reserves of Christianity have been largely depleted!” Richard Foster says “most conservatives by the early seventies generally accepted that being a Christian had nothing essentially to do with actually following Jesus. Most Christians are NOT like Him. The main popular bumper sticker became ‘Christians are not perfect, just forgiven’. The only absolute requirement for being a Christian is to believe proper things about Jesus”. (Discipleship: For Super Christians Only). That explains the modern impotent Church. The salt has lost its savor!

William Iverson identified that very thing. He wrote “one quarter of the population of the United States professes an evangelical conversion experience. Jesus said that those who claim that are to be the salt of the earth. He deduces-a pound of meat would surely be affected by a quarter pound of salt-wouldn’t you think? Where is the effect of which Jesus spoke?” (William Iverson-Christianity Today– 1980 p.33). Henry Churchill King, long time President of Oberlin College, and well-known theologian raises a very pertinent question for our generation-“What happened to Christians being indubitably real?” (Indubitably is a word hardly used anymore that means “something so real it cannot be doubted”). What has happened to “that kind” of Christianity? When Christianity, in the past, slipped away from being the real deal kind of Christianity there usually came a revival to bring them back to their real identity. Revival was the means of restoring a life of spirit, genuineness, and power to the fallen Church. But how about today? Richard Foster, in his book The Spirit of Disciplines, says “that doesn’t work any longer. The mainstay-revival is no longer what it used to be. Revival in the classic sense is the overwhelming infusion of spiritual life coming into the Church, and into the whole community. But that kind of revival has been replaced with meetings, still called by the old name. But people who make decisions remain substantially unchanged from what they were before. Revivals are no longer an influx of Word and Spirit. Now one can have an ‘unsuccessful revival’ and still have revival-which if you think about it that makes as much sense of having a raising from the dead without having a raising at all!” Paul Scherer says the number one problem of the Church today is that it has become “too trivial to be true…empty and powerless…and this is accepted as the norm these days!”

  What do we do? We need to take the attitude of Darrell Royal. He was a very successful coach of the University of Texas for many years. When he first started his career at Texas he got a call from the President of the Alumni, after the first game. The president said to the coach-“Darrell when can I come over to give you some constructive criticism?” Coach Royal replied, “Never!” The President of the Alumni insisted-“We have a group that meets to do just that after every game!” Coach said, “Not anymore! I work best when people affirm me, and tell me what I am doing right, not what I am doing wrong! I need supporters to cheer me on!” His supporters became just that and for years the University of Texas had a very successful football program. We need that kind of support for the Church. Not that we are to stick our head in the sand concerning diagnosing where we are at. But we need to be cheered on to return to the Church that walks with the Lord…in the Light of His word…filled and empowered by His Spirit again. John Mackay, past president of Princeton University, and Scottish missionary for many years, used to speak to Churches all across America. He always started his messages with “Let the Church Be the Church!” Theologian Helmut Thielicke always said, “The Church cannot permit its authority to be defined by people who have no idea of its mission!” We need to stop trying to Follow in His Steps-in the power of the flesh. That is why we are failing. We do not need an Imitation of Christ…but an Incarnation of Christ. Paul was right. “Christ In You-The Hope of Glory”. That is our only hope! That is possible only by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. We must be yielded to Him again. We need to pray the poem of Amy Carmichael-Oh Flame of God.


From the prayer that asks that I may be

Sheltered from the winds that beat on thee

From fearing, when I should aspire

From faltering when I should climb higher

From silken self, O Captain free

Thy soldier who would follow thee


From subtle things of softening

From easy choices-weakening’s

(not thus are spirits fortified)

Not went that way the Crucified

From all that dims Thy Calvary

Oh Lamb of God deliver me


Give me a LOVE that leads the way

A FAITH that nothing can dismay

A HOPE no disappointment can tire

A PASSION that will burn like fire

Let me not sink like a clod



The entire population of a small town gathered to watch the Baptist Church burn to the ground. In the crowd, with their parents, watching the disaster were two young children. The little girl said to her brother, “I’ve never seen so many people at Church”. There was silence for a minute. Then the brother replied, “The Church has never been on fire before!” THAT JUST MAY BE THE ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEM! Indubitably real Christians must catch fire again to be Indubitable!

 Posted by at 1:23 am

Inspiring Quotes and Scriptures about Worship- Part 2

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Sep 012019

PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Inspiring Quotes and Scriptures about Worship- Part 2 By:  Ron Woodrum

8. Worship is the right response to God

“Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because he is worthy, delightfully so.”—D.A. Carson No one has to teach a Christian to worship God. In some way, every believer responds worshipfully to an encounter with God. It’s really the only rational response. If we never feel those pulls toward worship, it might be a sign that we’re drifting away from our first love.


9. Worship is a remedy for apathy

“Who will deny that true religion consists, in a great measure, in vigorous and lively acting’s of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart? That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless, wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference.”—Jonathan Edwards

When we experience a life-changing encounter with God, worship is a natural impulse. As Christians mature, however, we discover that worship can’t simply be reactive. We must learn to be proactive in glorifying God, even when it’s not our current disposition. As David was known to do, we need to command ourselves to worship by declaring: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”—Psalm 43:5


10. We choose to worship

“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which ‘comes upon you,’ but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Graham Kendrick

There are times when something stirs in our hearts and everything inside of us responds in worship, but those are grace-filled promptings of the Spirit. It’s important that we make worship a conscience choice, and a willful act. Worship involves all of us-intellect, emotion, and finally our will!


11. Worship must be grounded in truth

“The worship to which we are called in our renewed state is far too important to be left to personal preferences, to whims, or to marketing strategies. It is the pleasing of God that is at the heart of worship. Therefore, our worship must be informed at every point by the Word of God as we seek God’s own instructions for worship that is pleasing to Him.”—R.C. Sproul

While we all have personal preferences for the kinds of music we enjoy or the sort of environments we find most worshipful, our praise should be grounded in our common understanding of God from His Word.


12. Watching out for fuzzy worship

“Put it this way: if your idea of God, if your idea of the salvation offered in Christ, is vague or remote, your idea of worship will be fuzzy and ill-formed. The closer you get to the truth, the clearer becomes the beauty, and the more you will find worship welling up within you. That’s why theology and worship belong together. The one isn’t just a head-trip; the other isn’t just emotion.”—N.T. Wright.

Amen! Too much of what we call worship is pseudo-worship…entertainment that satisfies the flesh! God help us!  


13. We are God’s temple for worship

“There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us.”—Ravi Zacharias

The reason that everything we do can be an act of worship is because God has made each one of us a temple where he dwells through the Holy Spirit. When we become aware of that presence, every moment of our day is sacred.


14. Worship is part of a healthy spiritual life

“But just as your body needs sleep, your soul needs time to rest in God. To learn more about Him. To talk to Him. To worship and praise Him. To fellowship with other brothers and sisters.”—Craig Groeschel

Like food and water, worship is a necessary part of human existence. It’s easy to think that we can exist without it because we still exhibit all the outwards signs of life, but that’s not the existence we were created to have. We were created to flourish. .


15. The world needs to see our worship/When they really do it will bring revival!

“God directs his people not simply to worship but to sing his praises ‘before the nations.’ We are called not simply to communicate the gospel to nonbelievers; we must also intentionally celebrate the gospel before them.”—Timothy J. Keller

Everyone in the world is worshiping something, because their spirits are hungry. For most people, their worship amounts to spiritual junk food. The world is longing to experience something truly worthy of praise. When they see us making ourselves living sacrifices in true worship, they discover the nourishment they’ve been starving for. It would be enough if our worship simply honored and magnified God, but he uses it to edify us as well. Worship prepares us to spend eternity with Christ by drawing us closer to him, making us more aware of his amazing attributes, and conforming us to his image.

James Stewart, professor of New Testament in Scotland, told Bill Bright these words: “If we could show the whole world that being committed to Jesus Christ is no tame, humdrum, sheltered monotony, but instead the most thrilling, exciting adventure the human spirit can ever have, then those who have been standing outside the Church, looking askance at Christ would come crowding in to pay allegiance to Him, and we would see the greatest revival since Pentecost!” That is what happens when Christians really worship Him!

 Posted by at 1:32 am