St. Patrick: Banish the Blarney, Then Let His Life Inspire You Today

st patrick
A number of years ago there was a character featured on Saturday Night Live, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary on TV.

A depressed-looking, bug-eyed, frumpy woman named Debbie Downer had a knack for sharing negative information when others were trying to celebrate. Hang with me for a moment as this commentary starts with a Debbie Downer moment.

• Patrick was not Irish.
• As a young man he had no interest in God.
• He never drove out any snakes because there were none in Ireland.
• His use of a shamrock to teach the Trinity is cute for children but it’s just a myth.
• There is no such thing as a leprechaun.
• Patrick didn’t drink Guinness beer because it didn’t exist.

Waaaah Waaaah!

Now I’m not a party-pooper. I enjoy a celebration but enjoy it even more when I understand what’s legitimate and what’s legend. With St. Patrick’s Day and all the green, the parades, parties with Irish stew and toasts to the “luck of the Irish,” let’s get behind the blarney to focus on an incredible man of God who transformed a nation through the proclamation of the Gospel and the planting of churches.

The Real Story of St. Patrick

Years ago when I ministered in Ireland, I recall the descent of the plane and how absolutely awestruck I was as I beheld for the first time the Emerald Isle. This deep green countryside is the picture conjured up in the hearts and minds of tens of thousands of Irish celebrants who annually dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day. And in celebrations throughout America this special feast day is a sign of spring, bringing welcome relief after the cold of winter.

But what’s really behind this day and the man we honor? After all, he died over 1554 years ago on, guess what, March 17th, 461.

Patrick was born in Britain in 390 A.D. He was raised in a Christian family but his interest in God was almost nonexistent. He also was illiterate.

Teens are often apt to wander and Patrick sure did, reaping the consequences. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped by thugs and taken hostage on a ship to Ireland.

Imagine the trauma and grief his parents experienced while praying for God’s miraculous intervention and the return of their son.

What was he doing while being held captive in Ireland? For six agonizing years he was trapped as a slave working as a shepherd on hills where he tended the sheep. He was alone. He was scared. In desperation he began to cry out to God to rescue him from his plight.

Picture your teenage son or daughter on that hillside, trembling and fearful for their very life.

Yet God was at work in Patrick’s soul (just as he is in your wayward son or daughter!). In his classic “Confession” he painfully wrote, “I would pray constantly during the daylight hours” until finally God broke through and revealed Himself in a dream and specifically said the following to this young, lost soul, “Your hunger is rewarded. You are going home. Look, your ship is ready.”

Risking his life but pierced to the core by the call of God on his life, Patrick journeyed some 200 miles to the Irish coast! He bravely boarded a ship that was going to Britain and he knew instinctively God was taking him back home.

This young “Millennial” returned to his family transformed by the grace of God (wouldn’t it be great to see this homecoming captured on video?). In time he even entered a Christian training center, a monastery, to pursue the calling to full-time vocational ministry as a Catholic priest.

Patrick excelled in his understanding of the Scriptures and his character impacted his superiors and peers. Eventually they affirmed him in becoming an overseer/bishop in the Church.

Three decades from his initial abduction, Patrick sensed God stirring his heart. The Holy Spirit was directing him to go back to the pagan land of Ireland to evangelize the people mired in deception and darkness.

Not only would this be an arduous journey as there were no 747s to swiftly carry one to a destination, but this meant facing a hostile culture of pagans known for their angry outbursts and violent behavior.

Next time you hear the term, “Paddy Wagon”, think of its origin with the influx of Irish immigrants (nicknamed “Paddies” after Patrick) who not only became policemen, but whose fighting and drunkenness forced pickups in these padded wagons.

Patrick recorded his sentiments as he wrote, “I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved – whatever may come my way!” May his courage ignite something in our hearts to reject silence and cowardice in the face of our cultural attacks today. May this man’s bravery inspire us to speak the truth in love regarding homosexuality, militant Islam, dishonesty, fornication (living together or casual sex), adultery and compromising “Christians” yielding to pornography and a host of carnal indulgences in our day.

“For Zion’s sake we will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake we will not remain quiet, ‘til her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” Is. 62:1

In the face of mockery and physical opposition – history records he was beaten by thugs and harassed by Irish royalty – Patrick persevered in proclaiming the Gospel and training converts in their newfound faith. Like John Wesley who would follow in his footsteps a 1000 years later, he also provided for the training of leadership to shepherd the new churches being planted.

As Patrick crisscrossed the countryside, God blessed him mightily. Tens of thousands of Irish were converted and hundreds of churches were established! Thomas Cahill writes in his book, “How the Irish Saved Civilization”, through Patrick’s courageous leadership, this warrior populace “laid down the swords of battle, flung away the knives of sacrifice, and cast away their chains of slavery.”

As we look at the moral decline in America today, it is easy to get discouraged. This is why it’s important on St. Patrick’s Day to reflect on the exploits of this man of God who was instrumental in saving a nation.

From the fall of Rome, culture was disintegrating on the European continent. Patrick, like Paul the apostle, Wesley, Booth, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, Chuck Colson and other fearless Christian activists of whom we read, did not retreat in the midst of overwhelming odds. All of them prayed, preached the gospel, affirmed Biblical Christianity and confronted evil fearlessly. Cahill honors Patrick and other champions of the faith who brought transformation to society. Because of him and others who rose to the occasion, “The Irish not only were conservators of civilization, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.”

100 years after Patrick’s death in 461 A.D., multitudes of churches and monasteries remained training future leaders as a testimony to this mighty man of God. His legacy should make us, excuse the expression, “Green with envy.”

Here’s the Deal: On this St. Patrick’s Day, may I encourage you to post and pass along this commentary to many so they’ll likewise learn why tribute is given this hero of the Christian faith, 1554 years to the date of his home-going to heaven. Instead of drunkenness and debauchery on this special day, let’s humble ourselves and pray that we and our families can follow in Patrick’s footsteps.

“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,

’tis like a morn in Spring.

In the lift of Irish laughter,

you can hear the angels sing.”

by Larry Tomczak

http://barbwire.com/2015/03/16/1000-st-patrick-banish-the-blarney-then-let-his-life-inspire-you-today/

The Priority of Our Prayer

Mark 1:35-37

Our Father does not consider prayer an optional part of the Christian life. The Bible tells us that two-way communication with God is essential.

The discipline of prayer includes . . .

• An expectant attitude. We must believe that God has something important to say to us. It could be a strengthening reminder of His love, an insight into our situation, or the answer to a petition. With such an outlook, we’ll be listening more than we are speaking.

• A focus on our heavenly Father.
When we praise the Lord, our minds will let go of worldly things and center on Him. Thinking of His perfect character and sacrifice at the cross readies us to hear from Him and obey.

• A willingness to see ourselves the way God does. The Holy Spirit works in us to produce Christlikeness. That means uncovering what is unholy and replacing it with righteousness. It also includes our recognizing when we demonstrate godly character (Gal. 5:22-23).

• A surrender to His leadership. When we submit to Him as Lord, our petitions will be more in line with His will.

• A regular “appointment.” It takes commitment to develop a life of strong faith. Daily activities will crowd out our conversations with the Lord unless we set the time and place to pray.

Everywhere Jesus traveled, the multitudes approached Him with their needs. Even though there were many people for Christ to help, He would regularly step away from the demands of the crowd to interact with His Father (Mark 6:45-46). Won’t you give prayer that same priority?

Glorious Holiness

“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

Our finite minds would never grasp the idea of holiness if not for the revelation granted to us in the Scriptures. God’s “separateness” requires even the awesome four-faced, sixwinged Seraphim to “rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

Samuel’s gentle mother, praying before the tabernacle, was no doubt moved by the Spirit of God to proclaim, “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee” (1 Samuel 2:2). Her short statement of faith is the core of holiness—the separate unique character that only the Creator of the universe can possess.

Those who have been “born again” (John 3:3) are called “saints” (Romans 1:7, etc.) when they were “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). Our “holiness” is part of the “gift of God” from the One who is holy, “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Because our Creator, Lord, and King is “righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works” (Psalm 145:17), it should come as no surprise that “as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

The “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) given to us by our gracious Lord are the spiritual means by which we can “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Our destiny is sure. Our duty is clear. “Yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength” (Isaiah 49:5). HMM III

Spiritual Discernment

She therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? —1 Kings 3:9

That so-called Bible religion in our times is suffering rapid decline is so evident as to need no proof, but just what has brought about this decline is not so easy to discover. I can only say that I have observed one significant lack among evangelical Christians which might turn out to be the real cause of most of our spiritual troubles. Of course, if that were true, then the supplying of that lack would be our most critical need.

The great deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual discernment, especially among our leaders. How there can be so much Bible knowledge and so little insight, so little moral penetration, is one of the enigmas of the religious world today….

If not the greatest need, then surely one of the greatest is for the appearance of Christian leaders with prophetic vision. We desperately need seers who can see through the mist. Unless they come soon, it will be too late for this generation.
And if they do come, we will no doubt crucify a few of them in the name of our worldly orthodoxy. But the cross is always the harbinger of the resurrection.

Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. Amen.

Truth Addresses Itself to the Total Man

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17

The Bible is, among other things, a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out.

These are facts that were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost took away that veil no mortal man could know them.

The lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.

What is generally overlooked among humankind is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot
be discharged by grasping it mentally.

Truth engages the citadel of the human heart and is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing.

Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection!

Except Ye Repent

Heaven no repentance no admittance
The rest of the men… repented not. REVELATION 9:20

There are many compelling lessons to be drawn from the Scriptures, and one of the clearest is that sinful and rebellious people can never be forced into repentance.

The same act that may cause one person to repent and believe will cause others to hate and despise God!

The same Bible sermon that brings the person to tearful submission at an altar of prayer will send others out with pride and a resolve to have their own human way.

Students of the Scriptures are aware that the Old Testament prophets and the writing apostles of New Testament times foresaw and proclaimed God’s coming day of judgment—the consummate settling of accounts between the Sovereign God and His rebellious and sinful creation.

How desperately we would like to believe that in the face of coming judgment, all lost men and women will cry out to God, but such will not be the case: “The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands…” (Revelation 9:20).

Lord, I pray today that a massive number of people who do not yet know You will turn away from their sin and receive new life in Jesus Christ.