I saw what seemed tongues of fire burning along the rails in Chicago Transit lines. Had Judy find it on the internet. Lo and behold, this winter’s frigid weather in the Windy City offered the explanation. Without heat generated by gas-fed lines adjacent to the rails, frozen “switch points”, especially at “A-2, Chicago’s busiest interlocking,” would paralyze mass transit throughout the region. A few weakened railroad ties constitutes the only cost in the present system. Internet 2/23/18
God designs adversity as Chicago engineers design gas-fed lines heat lines. They to keep interlockings working so mass transit can function. God to keep faith in him alive, active and ascendant in discipleship. Consider the patriarch Jacob at approximately 70 years of age. Before birth God promised him rule of his older brother. Yet his father Jacob, because he loved his son Esau’s tasty wild meat dishes—which, by the way, his wife Rebekah so cleverly imitated with domestic sheep he didn’t know the difference—would have betrayed God’s command and given the rule to Esau.
The point of the blog, however, is Rebekah’s confidence that Jacob would leave home only “for a while,” Genesis 27:44-45, until Esau’s hatred diminished. That “while” turned into 20 years. A score of years! Because Jacob needed that time for spiritual character development. He learned under the hard, unfair tutelage of his father-in-law that God alone could protect and provide. That exile saved Jacob for God’s work.
What could God be teaching us as we undergo trying times we wouldn’t have chosen to endure? Whatever it is, let God have his way, in his time. A more Christ-like person will result from whatever we are now; a more dedicated Christian, however dedicated now. None of us has yet paid in blood to grow in Christ. Most of us have yet to break a sweat in the effort.
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Andy Williams and an art-afficionado acquaintance Peter Tillow attended an art exhibit, featuring a set of paintings of pin-tail ducks by the Ward Brothers. On Peter’s advice, Andy agreed to go as high as $6,000 for the set.
However, the bidding continued beyond $6,000 to $8,000, then $10,000, Peter involved and an increasingly frantic Williams fruitlessly trying to stop him. The bidding finally stopped at $29,000, with Andy in shock. With a well-chosen profanity he exploded: why did Peter so casually ignore his appeals and why did he crash through the ceiling that both agreed to honor? He had no response to the reply: sometimes you have to take a chance. Moon River, 222-223.
Sometimes you do have to take a chance. Nothing is certain in life, but doing nothing will usually achieve an equivalent result. Doing something may very well have the same result, but it also may bring success.
Non-Christians face the challenge: should they take a chance and surrender to Jesus? Can they survive the loss of habits to which they have become habituated, even addicted? Or long-established companionship with like-minded friends? And on and on.
Christians don’t escape the challenge. Do they dare take a chance in discipleship: accepting a role they fear but find necessary; serving in an area they have previously avoided; risking failure or rejection by witnessing to a friend or acquaintance. And on and on.
Sometimes you have to take your life in your hands and TAKE A CHANCE! Christians have this assurance: if God wants it done, and us to do it, he’ll empower skills we haven’t used, and maybe didn’t know we had. And this assurance: if we try and fail, the very effort increases our confidence to keep trying. For in Christian service, the “behinder we get the greater our forward motion becomes.”
Significant differences distinguish Christian ambassadors from motivational speakers.
The first is authority. A motivational speaker relates experiences from his own life; a Christian ambassador relates God’s word, whether or not he has personally experienced it. (We are commanded to be Christ-like. We aren’t told to be silent if we aren’t. Indeed, if all disciples could teach about Jesus only what we have practiced, we would mostly be silent).
The second is purpose. A secularist can urge others to overcome a problem, a disease, a failure because he has. A Christian has only one message to the lost: God through Christ wants to forgive your sins so you can be restored to fellowship with him. The Bible, as seen in Berea, Acts 17:11-12, is our textbook, not our personal experience.
The third is potential. The secularist offers possibility, the Christian inevitability. A call to hope exists in any success story: if it happens to another, it CAN happen to me. The Gospel message isn’t, “it could happen to you”, but “you absolutely will be forgiven and restored to God’s presence if you accept Christ and are baptized.”
The fourth is permanence. Overcoming a near-death experience now prolongs our life only temporarily, for we still die. In Christ, blessed promise, believers “cross over from death to life” John 5:24, meaning eternal life with him begins at our baptism and continues past physical death. Since Satan had no power to prevent Christ’s resurrection, Acts 2:24, death has none to keep God’s people from rising from the dead at the Last Day, no tubes poked into our nose into our vitals, no extensive, stressful therapy needed, no consultations with medical practitioners to make us whole. No...but instantly renewed in body and brain—alive as never before, alive forever and ever by the Presence of God’s Spirit!
In short, what Peter preached on Pentecost remains the uncrossable divide between motivation and proclamation: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” Acts 2:32. Proclaim Christ’s resurrection every way possible: by word, by example, by song. HIS guarantees OURS! Fini
While still duking it out with a nasty sinus infection, this writer returns to blogging.
A story in Judy’s Woman’s World Magazine , 1/21/19, told the story of a young lady afflicted by a rare but life-threatening brain-stem stroke. Given little hope for survival, she nonetheless survived. Then, given no hope to ever move again, within a month she could use her right arm. That began a grueling therapy that eventually returned her to physical health.
Once restored to health, she became an author and a motivational speaker: a poster-child of hope when physical disability hits. She survived in order to encourage others suffering life-threatening diseases and accidents to persevere in hope and effort.
As Christ’s ambassadors Christians don’t motivate; that’s the Holy Spirit’s role in teaching, preaching and conversion. Nor do we relate our personal experiences as proof of God’s integrity; though an excess of such “sharing” gluts books and pulpits today.
No, ambassadors devoted themselves to their country’s resources, potential, interests and destiny. They served so zealously that a historical saying quipped that ambassadors were good men sent abroad to lie for their country. Christians have an entirely different role as they serve as Christ’s ambassadors. End Part I