Whether by Twitter, or Facebook or just by ordinary media, Television or Radio, just about everybody in the world would have heard by now that Usain Bolt, the man who holds world records in the 100M, 200M and in the Men's Sprint Relays, is human after all. This after losing both the 100 and 200 to the emerging star Johan Blake, in the now, as I write, just concluded Jamaica Trials for the London Olympic Games. This kind of performance and competition among the men was also reproduced by the women, when Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce beat the reigning Olympic 200M winner Veronica Campbell Brown ( VCB,) in both the 100M and 200M. Many expected a close race in the 100M, as Shelly is the reigning Olympic title holder, but not in the 200M where VCB has reigned supreme for years. And not even a superb performance by the now legendary Spanish football team at this year's Euro 2012 final, at least in this soccer mad country, could compete with the excitement generated by the performance of the athletes of this small but powerful island over the past four days.
But in the midst of our celebration we cannot help but recall that a couple days ago we were " quarreling", being very contentious with each other, about the sale of tickets for the event and also about an attempt by the officials in Track and Field to the "freedom" of journalists who were planning to cover this eagerly anticipated Trials. As one of our more senior journalist's put it, " it is sad that here we are arguing about tickets rather than talking about the expected performance of the athletes", and who we expect to make us proud in London. We almost got our priorities wrong, but thank God those issues are behind us now, and hopefully next time the prize tickets will not have been " sold off", before the general public has a chance to make their purchase.
During this week, more importantly, in fact of eternal importance, the Lord reminded, and instructed me how we have gotten our priorities wrong. Perhaps none of the message were as important as the one below which sets the stage for a completely new understanding of God's plan for the human race.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST AND DISCIPLINE - OSWALD CHAMBERS ( COMPLETE WORKS)
( Galatians 2:20)
...............Nowadays the great passion is for souls, but you never find that passion mentioned in the New Testament, it is the passion for Christ that the New Testament mentions. It is not a passion for men that saves men; a passion for men breaks human hearts. The passion for Christ inwrought by the Holy Ghost goes deeper down than the deepest agony the world, the flesh and the devil can produce. It goes straight down to where Our Lord went, and the Holy Ghost works out, not in thinking, but in living, this passion for Christ. Whenever the passion for souls obscures the passion for Christ, Satan has come in as an angel of light.
I have been thinking about that observation by Chambers, a lot.
Lord renew thy church beginning with me,
Lord renew thy church,
that the church may renew the nation(s)
Sent from my iPad
Many of us have a theology, an understanding of God, grounded in the fact that God's plan for mankind is make us useful for Him. To win souls for Christ. To set the oppressed free...especially as we ponder this year of Jubilee, which in the Old Testament times as we read in the lesson appointed for today in the Book of Deuteronomy, was an occasion for canceling debts. And thus removing the burden of debt, often onerous and dehumanizing, from the " backs" of ordinary people. The point that Oswald Chambers makes times and time again in " The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers", and whose book of daily meditations which forms part of the complete works, " My Utmost for His Highest", is reportedly second only to the Bible in popularity, is that our focus must always be on Christ alone, and not what we can do for Him. Or even what more He can do for us, as the great gift to mankind was wrought on the Cross of Calvary in that great act of Atonement for the sins of all mankind. And thus being true to the Scriptures which instruct us to " seek ye the first the kingdom of God, and all other things will be given unto to thee".
The great problem then in the church, and even worse outside of it, is that like Peter who began sinking after walking on water for a while, we have taken our eyes, redirected our focus, from the " author and perfecter of our faith", Christ Jesus, and placed it " elsewhere". And which " elsewhere" may be good, but there is better.
In fact, just last night, or perhaps the night before, I came across another reflection by Chambers which really " shook me up", in terms of my own desire to do good works for the Lord.
VESTED INTERESTS OF THE FLESH
.............Dominant interest vs. Interesting details. ( For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ in Christ Jesus hath set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2)
We can estimate our life on the spiritual line by our dominant interest. How do we know what is our dominant interest? Is it not the thing that occupies most of our time. The dominant interest is a peculiarly personal one...viz...the thing that is really fundamentally ours in a crisis. In sorrow or joy we reveal dominant interest. We are taken with interesting details; Jesus Christ was not. His insulation was on the inside, not on the outside. His dominating interest was hid with God. His kingdom was on the inside, consequently he took the ordinary social life of his time in a most unobtrusive way. His life externally was oblivious of details, he spent His time with publicans and sinners ( prostitutes for example) snd did the things that were apparently unreligious. But the one thing He never did - he never contaminated his inner kingdom.
God may be dealing with on the line of the lilies. he is causing you to take deeper root and meanwhile you do not bear flowers. For a time your experience is - " What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light". The only ones who knew who Jesus was, and what he came to do, were a handful of fishermen. After He had died and was risen again, He distinctly told them to wait in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. According to ordinary reason they would have said, " That is absurd, this is not the time to wait; we are the only ones who know these things, we ought to be proclaim the the truth." Jesus said, " Tarry...until....."
Don't get impatient with yourself; your dominating interest is taking deeper root. In all probability in your time of active service you were living from hand to mouth on spooned meat, your nourished your life by the interesting details of religious life, you had no nutritious root, your work proved to be an elaborate way of evading concentration on God. There are far more people interested in consecration than concentration. It is easier to fuss around at work than to worship; easier to pay attention to details, to say our prayers or conduct a meeting, than to concentrate on God. Has God put you on the shelf deliberately? Why cannot He be glorified by a man in the dust as well as in the sunshine? We are not here to tell what to do with us, but to let Him use us as He chooses. Remember, God's main concern is that we are far more interested in Him than in work for Him. Once you are rooted an grounded in Christ the greatest thing you can do is be. Don't try and be useful; be yourself and God will use you to further His ends.
Wow! Different messages for each one of us. As a result ever since I was inspired to write that sermon last week on being an ambassador for Christ, and coming to terms with the practical outworking of that profound instruction of the way of life of a disciple of Christ, that " it is when I am weak that I (in Christ) am strong," and that " His grace is sufficient for me", I have began to take more seriously and be more obedient, not completely but with God's grace on the way, to the words of the following song.
Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way, have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay!
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Search me and try me , Master today!
Purer than snow Lord, wash me just now,
as in thy presence humbly I bow.
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power all power surely is thine!
Touch me and heal me, Saviour divine!
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway!
Fill with thy Spirit till all can see
Christ only, always, living in me!.
Finally, and I love sports, especially athletics, the Lord led me to read, actually re-read during the final hours of the televised Jamaica trials this evening, and so I missed most of it, except the 200m for men and women, a meditation from Chambers a part of which was included in the full version of the sermon last week. And as I read it, the very topical issue which is currently almost diving the worldwide Anglican church, Homosexuality came to mind. And I added my own interpretation and sent it out to some senior persons in my church as instructed - and then I was allowed to watch the two races. But the issue of holiness and immorality and how we treat with both of them according to our priorities, our dominating interest, is greater than that single and contentious matter. But rather goes to the heart of the moral confusion besetting our nation and the world today.
Immorality and holiness are absolute, you cannot get behind them......................... When our Lord talks about the radical evil of the human heart ( e.g. Mark 7:21-22), it is a revelation we know nothing of ; it comes from the shores of our lives in immorality and holiness........... Immorality has its seat in every one of us, not in some of us. If a man is not holy, he is immoral, no matter how good He may seem. Immorality is at the basis of of the whole thing; if it does not show itself outwardly, it will show itself before God.
The New Testament teaches that no man or women is safe apart from Jesus Christ because there is treachery on the inside." Out of the heart of men, proceed....." The majority of us are grossly ignorant about the possibilities of evil in the human heart. Never trust your common sense when the statements of Jesus contradict it, and when you preach see that you base your preaching on the revelation of Jesus Christ and not on the sweet innocence of human nature. When you hear a man cry out, like the publican of old, " God be merciful to me a sinner", you have the problem of the whole universe.That man has reached the realization of himself at last, he knows that he is a guilty, immoral type of man and needs saving.
Never take anyone to be good, and above all never take yourself to be good. Natural goodness will always break, will always disappoint, why? Because the Bible tells us that " the heart is deceitful above all things. and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Never trust anything in yourself that God has not placed there through the regeneration of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and never trust anything saving that in anyone else.
That is the stern platform you have to stand on when you present the truth of God, and it will resolve you on a lonely platform, because your message will be craved for but but its way of being presented will be resented. The gospel of Jesus Christ awakens an intense craving and an equally intense resentment. Base on personal love for the Lord, not on personal love for men. Personal love for men will make you call immorality a weakness, and holiness a mere aspiration; personal love for the Lord will make you call immorality devilish and holiness the only thing that can stand in the light of God. The only safety for the preacher is to face his soul not with his people, or even his message, but to face his soul with his Saviour all the time.
As I thought about the above meditation by Oswald Chambers which was written under a heading termed " First things First", in His Complete Works, my mind recalled the debate on homosexuality in the church and the measures being made to resolve the differences. And I suppose other matters concerning issues of morality also. The stern presentation by Chambers suggests that the matter is irreconcilable if it is indeed " devilish". And the matter is of some importance as the Lord inspired me to read again what I had written about before, rather than watch the Trials of the Athletic meet which are now on TV.
Sent from my iPad
And so bearing in mind all these things, words from another song helped me a lot this week.
Search me, O god, and know my heart today;
try me, O Lord, and know my thoughts I pray:
see if there be some wicked way in me,
cleanse me from every sin and set me free.
I praise thee, Lord, for cleansing me from sin;
fulfil thy word, and make me pure within;
fill me with fire, where once I burned with shame,
grant my desire to magnify thy name.
Lord take my will, my passion, self and pride;
fill my poor heart with thy great love divine;
take all my will, my passion, self and pride;
I now surrender - Lord, in me abide.
O Holy Ghost, revival comes from thee;
send a revival - start the work in me;
thy word declares thou wilt supply our need;
for blessings now, Lord, I humbly plead.