What Others Say

I look forward to reading your column every week! You have a great way of using both the Old & New Testament to reflect on His Love.
Jackie G.

forward to a friend.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

When God Calls Your Name

Some readers have asked when I am going to write another Buddy column.  Buddy is our tri-color Pembroke Corgi that we adopted nine years ago.  His story is available on Amazon in a book I wrote, “just the way he told it to me.” He is still happy and healthy, but his energy level, like mine, has diminished.  Instead of retrieving a ball all morning he chases it 2 or 3 times and lays down. He thinks that is enough. After 9 years, Buddy knows my voice and he knows his name.  When I call, he comes! 

Sometimes he comes when I first call him, running at top speed, which is not all that fast.  Sometimes he loiters around, distracted by new smells and sounds  So, I call him again.  Occasionally I have to clap my hands.  And sometimes he comes at a very slow walk, grudgingly. But he eventually comes when I call.

It seems to me that I am a lot like that with God.  There are times when I sense God’s call, and I come running. But there are other times, much more often I think, when I am distracted by other interests, worries and concerns.  I don’t listen for his voice as I should, and I don’t come as quickly as I should.  Sometimes I come grudgingly.

When I was a child my parents always took me to church.  At the end of every service the church offered an “invitation.”   We all stood and sang a song while the preacher waited at the front to talk with anyone who wanted to make a decision for Christ.  Sometimes we sang an old hymn.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
Patiently Jesus is waiting and watching
Watching for you and for me.

Come home.  Come home.
You who are weary come home.
Earnestly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

One day, I let go of the pew in front of me and went forward.  Those first few steps made all the difference. When He called, I came.  Ever since that day, I have been listening for His voice. I have never heard God speak audibly, though I do not doubt God can speak audibly to whomever He chooses. For me, it is an inner voice.  Sometimes His voice acts like a compass, pointing the way forward.

 Even when we wander away, drawn away by smells and sounds of the world, He is always calling, waiting and watching for us to come home to God.

Jesus said, “The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.     (John 10:2-3, 14-15).

In Psalms the Bible says, “He heals the broker hearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”  (Psalm 147:3-4).  God knows your name. He knows mine.  If we listen, we can hear him calling.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Culture at the Crossroads

We just laid to rest Billy Graham, only the fourth private citizen to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol rotunda, his casket supported by the same bier that held Lincoln’s casket in 1865.  Mr. Graham was given this honor because he profoundly shaped the spiritual life of our nation in the last half of the 20th century.  Preaching a simple message of saving faith in Jesus Christ, his messages inspired millions to repentance and faith.

Our nation’s history has been largely written by repeated spiritual awakenings.  In the 1730s George Whitefield preached in the colonies along with John and Charles Wesley.  Benjamin Franklin made reference in his autobiography to the profound spiritual change that took place.  He noted that “one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without psalms sung in different families of every street.” Orphanages were established.  Princeton was founded to educate preachers, the same purpose for which Harvard and Yale had been formed earlier.

A Second Great Awakening swept America from 1790 into the 19th century.  Millions came to Christ through camp meetings and revivals. Thousands of churches were started including Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and others.  Much of the movement was led by young people under 25.

In the 1870s Dwight L. Moody teamed up with Ira Sankey to launch evangelistic meetings that swept the U.S. and England.  The movement extended all the way to China through Moody’s connections with Adoniram Judson.  

Without these movements of faith in Christ our nation’s history would have been written far differently.  The moral and spiritual fiber of the United States has been paramount to its successes and achievements.

Someone once said, God has no grandchildren.  Every generation is accountable before God.  The faith past generations experienced will not sustain us. We must experience our own life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. While there is evidence of such movements in other parts of the world, especially in South America, Africa and Asia, the evidence of our own spiritual dearth is profound.

We are awash in an opioid epidemic never before known.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 90 Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Suicide rates have surged to their highest level in 30 years. Suicide tripled among girls age 10-14 since 2000.  The Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2015 reported that 8.6% of youth in grades 9-12 said they made at least 1 suicide attempt in the past year. 

Innocent men, women and children have been gunned down in our churches, schools, theaters and the open streets. Teenagers are demonstrating for change. They have never known a world without metal detectors and x-ray machines.  Sexual misconduct and harassment is rampant with a list of politicians and celebrities too long to name.  Abuse is widespread. Prejudice is rampant.

Who can doubt that this generation needs a Savior?  Our nation and this generation are at a crossroads. 

The challenge Moses issued in his day is relevant to every generation: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendents, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him.”  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)  Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10).