Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Conversion of Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon, the well-known 19th century Baptist preacher, was reared within the Congregational church.  His grandfather was a well-known Congregational minister. 

In later years, Spurgeon would credit a snow storm for his conversion.  As he was headed to a certain place of worship, he turned aside into a Primitive Methodist Church because of the weather.

That morning the minister did not show up. And so, as Spurgeon would say, “a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up to the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was, ‘Look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 45:22).”

The man was not a great preacher. There was little or no eloquence about him. But he pressed the simplicity of looking unto Jesus. Anyone can look. You don't need to go to college to look. A fool can look. Even a child can look.  

After about ten minutes, having run out of anything else to say, the man looked directly at Spurgeon and called him to put his faith in Jesus Christ.  And so he did. Charles Spurgeon looked unto Jesus in faith.  And in a moment, the darkness rolled away.  God saved his soul.

Having professed his faith in Jesus, Spurgeon also decided to become a Baptist. When his mother heard that news, she said, “I prayed that you might be a Christian, but I never prayed that you might be a Baptist.”

To this Spurgeon replied, “nevertheless, I became a Baptist, for, as I reminded her, the Lord was able to do for her exceedingly above what she asked or thought – and he did it!”  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Finishing Well

  A couple weeks ago I wrote about how the Christian life is often lived through a lot of mundane things.  A lot of the Christian is – for lack of a better word – boring.  It is simply day in, day out faithfulness.

And the call of the Christian life is to keep doing it. Not give.  Not stop. At all. Ever. 

Looking to the world of sports can help give us a picture of what it means to keep at it, no matter what.  As I write, the Cleveland Indians have just won 22 games in a row – it is the longest unbeaten streak in American League history. And arguably the longest winning streak in all of baseball (but there is an argument about that – and engaging that argument is not my point). 

Anyway, in the 22nd game, the Kansas City Royals were beating the Indians 2-1 in the bottom of the 9th.  With two outs and two strikes against him, Francisco Lindor hit a double – batting in the tying run.  He didn’t give up. He played till the end.

In the bottom of the 10th, Jay Bruce was 0-3, when he got his first hit of the game –a run scoring double.  The winning RBI of the game.

Such descriptions are just baseball.  In the perspective of eternity, they are not that important.  And yet, through the game – and others like it, we can learn how to prepare for eternity. 

Day in and day out, we live faithfully before God. Day in and day out, we read the Bible and pray.  Throughout the week we talk with other people about Jesus.  On the Lord’s Day we gather with a local church to worship the risen Lord Jesus. 

Sometimes it may not feel like much. Sometimes it is not all that exciting.  But we keep doing it day after day – until the end. We keep doing it day after day until Jesus calls us home. 

We don't give up. We don't stop. We keep pressing towards faithfulness.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

The End?

Recently on Facebook – that wonderful place for all kinds of information – I saw a quirky post about the end of time.  Someone noted the recent eclipse – then there was Hurricane Harvey, now we await Hurricane Irma.  Last night there was an earthquake in southern Mexico. All the while, North Korea is murmuring about war. 

Unfortunately the Facebook post treated the Bible like a puzzle.  Someone looked at the dates of the eclipse and the hurricane landfall and found a Bible verse coinciding with those dates.  There are a number of problems with this kind of Bible reading.

In the first place, the Bible is not a puzzle book with hidden messages.  God has actually spoken to us with normal noun, verb agreement.  Yes some parts are prose and others are poetry. But the Bible is not a hidden code book that only the initiated can understand. 

Further, such readings tend to be very ethno-centric.  We put our nation or our people group at the center of the Bible.  Jesus is at the center of the Bible. God’s heart is for the nations – all nations!

In addition, such readings tend to stir up fear and anxiety. 

The fact is, the Bible says there will be wars and rumors of wars – but that is not yet the end (Matthew 24:6).  There will be false prophets and they will mislead many.  There will be earthquakes and famines and strange sights in the heavens. 

But in the face of such events, the Bible tells us to “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life” (Luke 21:34). 

Is this the end? I don’t know.  But I do know that the Bible calls me to be ready whether it is or not. And I do know that I am not to worry and run around like Chicken Little. I know that I am to be alert and I am to pray.  And so, I try to do just that – to be ready and not worry about it.