Category Archives: Christian

Christian – lost in the presence of Jesus

Howard Pyle had his nativity in 1853 and his death in 1911.  Between the two dates he became the “father of American illustration,” writing and illustrating “19 books and dozens of short stories.”  He also drew 14 murals.  Young students traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina to study under him.  They carried his spirit into their generation.

Pyle himself lived so completely in America’s past that he created art so realistic it hasn’t been duplicated since.  He spared no effort to make his paintings accurate.  American history Illustrated, April – February, 1966-1967, p. 35

His life in America’s past challenges Christians to live so thoroughly in God’s word that we instinctively respond to any value or belief with, “how does that correspond with Bible teaching?”  To live so completely in Jesus Christ’s Presence that we can say with Paul, our life is hidden with Christ in God Colossians 3:3; with Paul that we consider everything in life rubbish compared to living with him Philippians 3:8; and with Paul that we want to evidentially and experientially KNOW Jesus Christ,…becoming like him in his death…and attaining “to the resurrection from the dead”  Philippians 3:10.

How “lost” in Jesus are we?  Or are we “found” in this world adopting its values, reflecting its morals?  What would we rather have than Jesus?  Or what will we gain or surrender to hide ourselves in him so that one day he will let us share his glory? Colossians 3:4

 

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Christian – needs a spotless reputation

In 1878, Bob Womack found apiece of “float”—a rock containing precious metal—in Cripple Creek, Colorado.  It was 9 inches long, 3 inches wide and light for its size.  Sent to Denver for assay, it returned as $200 a ton gold.

Womack set out to find the vein originating the float.  He wandered over the mountain landscape, digging holes.  Many people began calling him “Crazy Bob.”  Being an alcoholic made the label easier to bestow.  In 1890 he found the source, ironically not far from his first sighting.

When he told of his find, people laughed.  Not only had the 10,000 foot valley been examined by informed, even expert, opinion, and dismissed as useless, but Womack hardly held the credentials needed to inspire people to chase dreams of gold strikes.  Even when his shaft, called, the El Paso, surfaced ore samples worth $250 a ton, his reputation dogged him.  He could interest no investors in his promises.

Only when other miners sank shafts in the extinct volcano mouth did the area zoom into fame.  By 1893, 10,000 miners lived there, increasing by 500 a month.  In 1900 Cripple Creek town had 25,000 people, and its mines produced $18 million in gold.  Womack’s El Paso produced $3 million.  But on a drinking binge he sold it for $300.  In 1909, he lived in Colorado Springs.  There he lived broke.  There he died broke, alcohol his nemesis to the end.  The Miners, Time-Life, 32

The story flings a spiritual gauntlet to believers.  If we’re going to be a witness for Jesus, we better check our life.  To develop the sober living, truthful dealings and personal attractiveness that reinforce our appeal.  With grace that appeals to, not repels believers.  With an evidence-based witness, strongly rational, not featuring emotional surges and withdrawals.  We certainly don’t want cultists and false world religions to inspire their devotees to an example that makes their appeals more impressive.

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Christian – the kind of example Jesus inspires

General Sherman’s letter to General Grant in early 1864 revealed absolute trust in his superior.  (He had learned of Grant’s appointment to Lt. General, a rank granted previously only to Generals Washington and Scott.)

Sherman’s confidence in Grant, his “simple faith in success” Sherman could only compare to the “faith a Christian has in a Savior,” The War Years II, p. 542.

While that statement offered no appraisal of Grant’s religious faith—which was remarkably indistinct—it did reveal an example of persistent faith Sherman had only seen in a disciple’s trust in Jesus Christ.

What nameless Christian had been the example of such faith, we don’t know.  Whoever it was, that person made it easier for others to trust Jesus.

What of our Christian example?  Seeing it, do people want to become disciples of Christ; want to develop virtues they lack; want to shed vices they possess?  We will influence people, for or against Jesus.  Surely, such a Savior as he deserves the BEST of whatever we have in us.

Christian – light of never THAT bright

Advertisers regularly employ big name movie T.V. and sports figures to sell their products.  The human psyche somehow feels convinced that famous faces lend an air of authenticity to whatever they represent.  But all it really means is that manufacturers have, or spend, the money needed to attract attention from the buying public.  They choose their endorsers carefully, aware always of the market to be reached.  Good taste isn’t always necessary, as the Carl’s Jr. ads prove.  But they never want a representative who’s so personally photogenic he/she overshadows the product.

When the apostle John wrote that John the Baptist had come to bear witness to the light, John 1:8, he added that the Baptizer wasn’t the light.  Brighter by far than the religious luminaries of his day, yes.  But not to be compared with the Light that would come.  And never a threat to eclipse the One he introduced.

No one since has posed a threat to Jesus either, Christians certainly not excluded.  However strong our witness and life, we never overshadow the faith we profess and the Christ we serve.  We may outshine each other—or least claim to–but compared to Christ, we, not he,  suffer terribly in the comparison.  Indeed, as he’s by far greater than  any of us individually, he far excels all our lives combined.  In fact, should we combine into one person all the devotion, love, skill, ability and service ever shown in all the centuries by all of God’s people, even that light would be but a pinpoint compared to the noon-day brilliance Jesus Christ surpasses.

Like John the Baptist, our purpose is that of witness to the Light, pointing others to Him.  Unlike the few human  models whose charisma dominate the sponsor’s products, our witness always remains in the shadow of Christ’s radiance.

Christian – our coming change

On their return to Europe after 20 years in the Orient, Marco Polo and his father looked horrible.  Wearing the coarse clothing of Tartar peasants, they reeked of filth and poverty.  No one in Venice recognized them.

The Polo’s prepared a banquet and invited the Venetians.  To the surprise of the guests, the hosts appeared in rich garments, and changed clothing several times during the meal, appearing in something more exquisite each time.  At each change they cut up the previous clothing or gave it away.

Then the Polo’s brought in those foul-smelling Tartar clothes and ordered their linings ripped out and their pockets torn open.  And what fell to the floor but rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds, all from the Kublai Khan!  Washington Irving’s Works,  Appendix, p. 696-697

They weren’t so poor after all.  They had enormous wealth hidden under their peasant garb.   A parable of the change coming for God’s people when the Redeemer finishes his work.  We may now look, act and be like the Polo’s when they arrived in Venice:  terribly weak, sinful and almost hopelessly imprisoned in our skin.

But deep down inside we are something else, and it will one day be freed and allowed to rule the body that has so long dominated it.  When that happens, as Philippians 3:20-21 promises, the redeemed will change instantly and completely, morphing from what mortals had been since post-Eden into the likeness of glorified Jesus Christ.  Then, from that instant and forever afterwards, we’ll be like God’s precious jewels, Malachi 3:17, shining and glowing and sparkling.

All that, and far more than minds can now conceive or tongues can speak, becomes the new reality when Jesus Christ appears and we are re-fashioned in his likeness.  Then we “shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” I John 3:2.  We shall be in his presence and see his face, serve him and reign with him forever and ever Revelation 22:3-5.

 

 

Christian and sense of loyalty to God

The Compromises made by William of Orange in the train of his 1688 Glorious Revolution, and after the debacle Charles II and James II imposed in West Indies and American colonies, renewed the feelings of loyalty to the English crown.  It gave them a revived sense of belonging to a great commonwealth of nations under the oversight and protection of a benign sovereign.  American Colonies, 285.

The Christian understands those feelings and convictions.  We know, like the colonials, that the decisions governing our lives reside with God, not us.  That all truth about the kingdom comes from him, not us.  That his word, not our opinions, determine what we believe and how we live.

To his will we submit; to obeying his will we commit.  We’re not merely inert objects tolerating a despotism we can’t refuse; we consciously and gladly order our thinking and behavior by the Sovereign Lord we welcome as our dictator.

From that relationship we gain and do not lose; in it we prosper and never suffer improverishment.  Unlike the worldling who becomes the pawn of his passions, we govern our drives and wants and desires by the Master’s greater power over us.  And should we fail to adequately fulfill our charge, he graciously extends forgiveness.  In his will we find a faith worth living by, a fellowship worth living in and a cause worth living for.  To him, because of the benefits we receive, we yield the most intense sense of loyalty.