Hello there, Mr./Mrs./Miss Contender. Well, here we are in the final month of “the nineties,” and I hope that it finds you rejoicing in the Lord, and in your personal relationship with him as a fellowlaborer contending for the faith. Is that a privilege, or what?
Of course, everyone is all hepped up about the New Millennium. This would be a great opportunity for the Daytimer company to launch a major sales campaign, pointing out that the Old Millennium is not over for another year! Well, anyway, I think that many people will perhaps be even more reflective this December 31st than they usually are at the end of a calendar year. Think about all the millions of people on the planet who will have to reflect upon the past year as another one in which they did not find truth, meaning or real purpose to energize their lives, and who look ahead to the year 2000 and beyond with no idea of how that will change. I, for one, cannot help but marvel at God’s amazing grace in allowing me to be a part of the biggest thing happening on the earth — the ministry of reconciliation. That the Creator would invite me to participate with Him in accomplishing His purpose for mankind is rather invigorating, to say the least!
One thing by which I am very stimulated each day is the indescribable privilege of knowing the truth of God’s Word. When you really evaluate what most Christians believe about the Bible, it is almost heartbreaking. Some years back, I was in Capetown, South Africa, and the door had opened for me to speak to about 600 people in the Anglican Church. One of the first things I told them was that I was very moved by their readily apparent love for God and their enthusiasm to serve Him, but they reminded me of what Paul said in Romans 10:2 about Israel, “they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (see also Prov. 19:2). The dear saints in Capetown were badly hindered by the error they had been taught and were currently believing. If knowing the truth makes one free, then believing error puts one in bandage (I am leaving in this God-breathed typo!) to some degree, and I do not like to see my Christian brethren in bondage (or bandage). Doesn’t it inspire you to know that, amidst the chaos outside the Church and the confusion inside it, you have a knowledge of the truth?! Maybe the question is whether or not we have enough love for others to reach out to them with the truth we know?
Another thing that motivates me is my love of the fight. True, I was born clutching a small basketball and have been a competitor from Day One, but Paul, an obviously studious fellow who never had the unadulterated joy of bringing the ball up the floor on a fast break, was the guy who told me about fighting “the good fight.” Actually, he told Timothy and I read his mail. It would appear from Paul’s statement that there are also “bad” fights that one could choose to fight, and I’m sure I have done that too. Remember that the “fight” in 2 Timothy 4:7 is about keeping the faith. Satan has never relented in his assault on the Word of God that he launched in Genesis 3, and today he wages war on countless fronts, from Pokemon to Postmodernism. Don’t you just want to jump into the fray and “win one for the” God? Don’t you want to see Him get the recognition and love He deserves rather than the blame for people’s problems? Even if there were no future rewards for standing up for Him, it would be worth it in regard to enjoying today what true life is really all about.
Hey, speaking of the fight, my secretary Eleanor just came in and told me about what just occurred on her way to work. I think that the Lord saw me sitting here early this morning trying to write this column, and he wanted you to get something worthwhile out of it, so he worked with her big time. She was driving on a four lane street and stopped at a light at a major intersection with several cars ahead of her in each of the two lanes on her side of the street. Suddenly, the man in the car right in front of her starting screaming and cursing at the guys in the car beside him. Eleanor realized that she better start praying fervently, because this was the kind of thing that has too often resulted in someone getting shot. Then the guy jumped out of his car, ran over to the other car and put his face up to the window, yelling for the guys inside to get out and fight him. They were apparently terrified and just sat there with the door locked, waiting for the light to change.
Observing these goings-on, Eleanor had a decision to make. What would you have done? Maybe that’s too hypothetical, but I’m afraid most Christians would err on the side of holding back in a situation like that. But Eleanor is not like “most Christians,” and she realized that she could make a difference. Who knows whether or not she saved some lives this morning? Remember Littleton, Colorado? All God needed was one person there to stand in the gap with Him. Eleanor rolled down her window and yelled at the top of her lungs, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I bind your mouth and I cast you out.” She said that what happened then was amazing. It looked to her like a movie reel being run backward, with the guy being pushed along backward toward his car, trying to stand his ground but having no chance against the power of God that was unleashed in the situation because of Eleanor’s decision to get involved, and thus involve God.
Remember the Greek word kairos? It means “the right moment in time” as opposed to chronos, which means time in general. It is sometimes translated “opportunity,” as in Galatians 6:10 and Ephesians 5:16. I grieve the many kairos moments I have missed by letting the opportunity pass without saying or doing anything. A kairos moment will become a Kodak moment in the Book of Life if you act on it according to God’s guidance. I guess that during eternity we’ll get to check out a lot of videos and watch many great adventure movies. I look forward to watching some in which you play the starring role, and I hope there’s popcorn with real butter and not that fake stuff you get at movies today, called “I Can’t Believe It’s Made of Lard and Yellow Paint.”
Hey, the Devil is the god of this age, remember? The whole world lies under the control of the wicked one (1 John 5:19). When people do not obey God, life is random at best. God and His Son are always trying to do their best to help everyone, but they are limited by people’s choices. Too many people, including some Christians, are “accidents waiting to happen” when they should be waiting to stop “accidents” from happening. I trust you will read my book review of The God Who Risks, and take note of the quotes about prayer as it relates to your fellowlaboring with God. I can’t tell you how much more alive my prayer life is since I read that book. History is different than it would have been had you and I not prayed. So when I am riding with someone who is mentally occupied with conjugating Hebrew verbs or who apparently loves to memorize other license plate numbers and comes to a stoplight and stays in the right lane as car 14 rather than change lanes and be car 2, I can use that time to pray and change what will become history. Is that cool, or what?
In looking back at this past year of my life, my thanksgiving to God is boundless. Only a few people know the details of what He and the Lord Jesus have done in my heart, but I am overjoyed that many people in the world are reaping the benefits of it. I cannot tell you what it means to me that people pray for me. If you are among them, thank you and may God bless and reward you for doing so. At times, I feel sorry for God that He is stuck with me as one who goes many places and touches many lives, but I am humbled by His mercy and His grace to stick with me and work with me to make me more like Jesus. I love loving His people, and I am thrilled to see myself slowly getting better at it. It only whets my appetite for more. I want to remain “Always thankful, never satisfied.”
The same God who loves me loves you as if you were His only child. The same Lord died for you and lives for you. He is “The Man,” and he will mentor you daily in the art of trusting our Father. So here come another 365 windows of opportunities. What will you do with them? The past is past, and if you need to account for missed opportunities, or change your perspective of what happened to you, just do it. The present is too important, because the choices you make determine the quality of your future. Praise God that He is a second-chance God. Actually, He’s a 70-times-7-chance God, which is good news for humans like us. Too often, I’ve imitated Frank Sinatra and been an “idiot” (which comes from the Greek word idios, meaning “one’s own”). That is, “I did it my way.” Actually, Adam wrote the song, everyone since him has sung it and Frank made the money.
I can’t wait to see what God will do with our new book, and I am very excited about being out on the road four out of the first five months of 2000. I love the camaraderie of those committed to the truth, and I am eager to see all that God will do with us in this coming year as we walk and work with Him. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!! I love you.