I’ve read the Gospel story
The miracles and such
The preaching from the hilltop
The crowds He loved so much.
The fish and bread
The girl raised from the dead
The stormy sailor crossings
The supper when He said
His death was at the doorway
His blood a new life paves
And none would dare stand with Him
When Evil rants and raves.
And Peter e’er the leader
Would cringe, deny his Friend.
A fear he thought beyond him
Would break him at the end.
And I can see the limits
To what this story proves
That God is good
And God is just
And hurting ones He loves.
But do I need salvation?
I try my best ya’ see
And over-much religion
Is sure to hamper me.
A business has me running
With corners cut to gain.
And friends would soon be shunning
If I proclaimed His Name.
And pain would come large measure
If I turned right around
And changed my speech
And changed my paths
For mercy I had found.
No, I must draw the limit
For history’s matchless Christ
He’s not my Lord
He’s not adored
I just won’t pay that price.
And surely all these drawbacks
Each modern person knows.
…What’s that? I hear out yonder
Somewhere a rooster crows!
Note: The good news is that some of the “Peters” of this world receive the rebuke, repent and enter into the life of joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)
Mine eyes run down with waters
I see the judgment come
And not a one in Zion’s walls
Repents to save our home.
The women leave the homesteads
The children roam in sin
And not a priest will call it foul
The heresy we’re in.
The young men waste their vigour
The judges issue floss.
So You have launched your arrows
And You have brought us loss.
And bread has caught our bellies
The search transcending all
Neglecting writ of righteousness
And plunging fast, we fall.
It starts with my own person
Left weak and in the pit
And feeling, right or wrong, your ire
And terrified by it.
Our prayers don’t leave the temple
Not solemn now or real
And strangely, you still harbour hope
Though all this muck you feel.
Lord please hear my petition
Let Sovereignty dash our foe
And not just archers from without
The barbs within must go.
Then maidens pure will sing and dance
And young men pledge their heart
And children rest in safety’s arms
Your people set apart.
Lamentations 3: 42-50
Hebrews 2: 3, 4
Note: The Greek word for church “ecclesia” means a people set apart unto God.
Perhaps you have a child who has strayed away from the faith. Or a
spouse who insists belligerently that religion is only a crutch for
the wounded. Or a neighbour who seems to be checking out your slant on
an issue “because of the Christian thing”. He is curious.
You have prayed and taken what seemed to be a God-ordained opportunity
to explain your hope in Christ. You get only the lack lustre answer,
“How nice that must be for you.”
What do you do next? Can you come on too strong? Can you dampen the
process by poor timing?
It is good that you have these concerns. Remember Ezekiel’s words in
the 33rd chapter:
8When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if
thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man
shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
9Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if
he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou
hast delivered thy soul.
The testimony should focus on specific scriptural points. Your
opinions are not life-begetting. God’s word is. But then step back and
pray. It will be the Spirit’s work to show that individual his/her
And remember there is not a set of circumstances which cannot be used
to draw that individual to the Cross. Is he popular? Lonely? Rich?
Poor? Accomplished? Invisible to others? Bold? Timid? Law abiding?
Every one of these scenarios can become tiresome. Unsatisfying.
Hypocritical. Tenuous. And the individual will say as did the old
Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is?”
We have a neighbour who is in his nineties. Before sun-up every day he
goes out and shuffle-jogs, carrying a walking stick in front of his
chest. He is robust, prone to come out with an unanticipated joke or
quip, perpetually smiling…a man of persistent good humour. Recently
however I have seen the pride aspect to all of this. ‘Yeah he has kept
himself going with the positive formula in it all. He is disciplined,
jolly and lucky…yesseree.’
Last Saturday outside the grocery store, he just couldn’t wait to be
“funny” with me one more time. I was almost tempted to say that the
only reason now for his continuation down here is the matter of
contract with Jesus. Unfinished business.
But no, God is in charge, and loves this chap with more than I could
And oh yes, there are always facts in the thing unknown to me. But if
he asks me again for the reason I have to hope…
Luke chapter 22 shows two opposite positions of heart.
Judas “went his own way” and communed with the chief priests how he might betray Jesus.
Our Lord prayed for consecration in the Garden saying “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done”.
The first position is that of Adam in the Fall.
The second is that of Messiah in the Restoration.
Jesus knew that each of His disciples, each of us, would face a similar test.
His words of counsel upon entering Gethsemane were very potent. “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (v. 40). Seven words*, the perfect number.
Pray. Do not go to sleep through self-interest, self-pity or the lullabies of shallow testimony, shallow gathering or shallow preaching.
Pray, and in frank acknowledgment of your weaknesses, doubts and stumblings, beseech the Lord that you might have more of Him and of His gracious intercession. I did not say more of His ethic or virtues. I said more of Him; His life essence.
Verse 40 occurred right before the final chapter of His passion. He was in Gethsemane and His disciples all fell asleep. They longed for the happy days beside Galilee – the teaching, the feasting, the miracles, the vigorous travel. When it came to praying, and to considering in depth the weighty sayings of the Olivet Discourse (chapter 21) and of the Last Supper, they became drowsy. What about staying awake, and keeping Jesus company in His agenda?
I would suggest that today many of the churches are doing the same thing. Jesus wants them to share His burdens and selfless service. They want Galilee, fellowship, smiles, signs and wonders, knowledge and spiritual giftings to build themselves up. All in the name of good and successful Christian living. Such a sad second- best.
They would be slow to foot-wash, slow to pray, slow to seek the lost sheep, slow to bear the reproach of Jesus (Hebrews 13: 13). The coin has been tossed in favour of going their “own way”.
May these be good words of counsel for many to launch the New Year of 2015. This is my prayer…Doug
You’re hearing your spirits
No inkling of mine
Your comfortable pillows
Your surfeit of wine
You utter a burden
But it is a fraud
Your people are careless
And far from their God.
The peace that you utter
Is no peace at all.
You flee from sound doctrine
You’re ready to fall
The walls that you’re trusting
As Zion’s defense
Are crumbling and white-washed
With putrid pretense.
And folk rush to hear you
The touted “now” word
But you are clear bankrupt
Your message absurd.
And I will soon visit
And pull down your wall
And leave you defenseless
With no strength at all.
The evil then follows
And rolls ‘cross your land
And you’ll miss my favour
Once closely at hand.
Oh had you just waited
My counsel to hear
You would have stood valiant
With nothing to fear.
Nearly caught me, she did
At the River’s final bank
The Eternal City shining through the mist.
My journey near complete
Tired back, aching feet
Wonder! Then by her wiles nearly kissed.
She has toppled many souls
Casting just one sultry look
And bankruptcies and scandal fill her book.
How could I, Standfast,
Wobble at a dress or a scent,
Stumble at one vain, come-hithering look?
Madame Bubble, harlot
Strumpet of the world.
See the wreck that befell a simple lass.
And she tried me, she did
Not a single trinket hid
Only Heaven’s keeping care got me past.
I come behind in no spiritual gift
Not a one.
Signs and wonders occur
As I share the Word.
Stubborn hearts soften
And Jesus gains new siblings.
I am constrained to do these things.
By Love, and not of my origin.
But the gainsayers are suspicious
They allege I have no diplomas on the wall.
(Heavens, I have no wall.)
I do not hold my breath for their approval.
Their measure is evil.
Competitive and fleshly.
I battle against it
Like some plague.
Until the Spirit within laughs
He nudges, saying
“How can you boast in a gift?
Wasn’t earned or learned, Son.
Be thankful. Period.
You wrote, yourself, that the dispensation
Is all of my choosing.
The Body develops
If it will only listen
And take the small roles
Member by member.”
Yes I hear you, Comforter
And your irony.
Better I boast in my infirmities
The stretchings, the slander,
The stoning, the shipwrecks
The starvings and sleeplessness
For sake of my Master.
And His glorious grace.
Yes, better I boast of such.
And leave the swelled heads in a tizzy.
(2 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11)