Jul 22, 2014
All The People Said Amen, Matt Maher
Jul 22, 2014
All The People Said Amen, Matt Maher
As young baseball players growing up in Dallas, Texas, we learned a valuable lesson that applies to all of life, and that is: Balance produces power. Our dad taught us that planting our feet firmly in the batter’s box gave us the best chance to swing hard and hit the long ball.
As we would step up to the plate Dad would shout, “Set your feet and swing hard!”
And swing hard we did – all the way through college and into the pros. It was true; the more firmly our feet were planted, the harder we could swing. (David: Unfortunately for Jason he couldn’t swing as hard as I could. Sorry, it’s just the truth).
In our first column – “Bottom of the 9th, America: Time to swing for the fence!”– we tried to inspire people to get back in the game. Over the next several weeks, we’re providing specific keys to victory when you decide to step on the field. And this week we’re talking about how to have power when swinging the bat.
On a daily basis in America, cultural ideas (we call these pitches) are being hurled at us at alarming speeds. When we were fired by HGTV for standing on traditional values, we found ourselves in the batter’s box trying to hit what seemed like 100 mph fastballs. Incoming pitches that fast are hard enough to hit, especially if your feet aren’t firmly planted.
Thankfully, we could stand confidently and face such pitches because our feet were firmly planted in God’s truth, which provided the balance we needed to swing powerfully.
On “The O’Reilly Factor,” we made a statement that “Jesus loves all people, but He does not love all ideas.” This simple statement gave us the balance we needed to swing at the pitches thrown our direction.
It is crucial today that we draw a distinction between ideas and individuals.
Unfortunately in our culture humanist thinking has taken root. The Humanist Manifesto adamantly rejects the dualistic nature of mind and body, which is a technical way of saying that there is no difference between ideas and individuals. If you reject someone’s idea, you are rejecting them as an individual. When this is the backdrop of cultural thinking, it’s really tough to swing the bat when you’re in the game. Essentially, hitting pitches becomes hitting people.
After studying the scripture for more than two decades, it is clear that God distinguishes between ideas and individuals. When it comes to ideas – especially those that set themselves against God’s boundaries for our lives – we are to identify and resist them. Yet, when it comes to the individuals held captive by those ideas, we are to love them and seek God’s best for their lives.
In Chapter 8 of the gospel of John, an angry mob of religious zealots came to stone a woman caught in adultery. Their desire was to defeat not only the idea of adultery but also the individual held captive by it. Jesus then introduced His amazing grace by protecting the woman (individual) when He said to the angry mob, “You without sin cast the first stone.” Then He spoke directly to her behavior (idea) by saying, “Go, and sin no more.”
Jesus delivered the individual yet defeated the idea. He did not simply protect the woman by sending the mob home, but He also dealt directly with her behavior by commanding that she stop. This balance is vital as we step up to the plate today.
Here are a couple points that will help us achieve this balance, which was actually one of our tweets from last week: “We must resist with boldness ideas that go against God’s ways, while reaching out with compassion to people who hold them.”
When you get in the game and want to swing the bat powerfully, you must get your feet firmly planted, and the best way to do this is to:
1) Resist ideas that are against God’s best. Understand that God puts boundaries in place that we may live, and any idea that stands against those boundaries should be resisted and rejected
2) Reach out to individuals who hold ideas against God’s best. We speak to them with no stones in our hand, and we remember the grace of Christ as He sent away our accusers.
Although 100 mph fastballs are hard to hit, they can be hit if our feet are firmly planted and we have balance.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention – the harder they throw the ball, the further it goes when we hit it!
by BENHAM BROTHERS
God’s Spirit works in every believer. He doesn’t limit Himself to pastors and missionaries. If you’ve received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then residing within you is the same great power that raised Christ from the dead. (See Rom. 8:11.) The Holy Spirit creates godly character in all who follow the Lord.
The fruit of the Spirit is the character and conduct the Holy Spirit produces in believers (Gal. 5:22-23). These are qualities that we can’t generate consistently on our own. Especially in this season, the most powerful message we can give isn’t a testimony or sermon; it’s the life we live when the pressure is on, temptation is tremendous, or we are buried under an avalanche of problems.
The world doesn’t need more festive decorations or empty songs. Instead, it needs to witness godly families loving one another, businesspeople working with integrity and frugality, and young men and women who choose moral purity. The world needs to be exposed to believers who are obedient.
By showing peace instead of anxiety, or practicing patience rather than speaking a sharp word, a Christian bears witness to the beauty of the gospel. We attract unbelievers to Jesus through our words and deeds. They may turn down a doctrine, but they can’t ignore a righteous life.
The strongest gospel message doesn’t always come from a pulpit. The most powerful witness for Jesus Christ where you work, where you live, and where you relax is you. In the next few weeks and into the new year, be mindful of the message you preach through your words and actions.
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6)
The number eight seems commonly to be associated in the Bible with a new beginning, new life, resurrection, or renewal; “seven” being the number of fullness and rest, with the seven-day week used ever since the week of creation. The Lord Jesus Himself was resurrected, never to die again, on the eighth day—that is, the first day—of the week.
It is significant, therefore, that eight great spiritual revivals are described in the Old Testament—one each under Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra, and Nehemiah. It is even more significant, however, that each revival was centered around the Word of God. The first, for example, was based on the giving of the law at Sinai. “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7). Then, much later when “Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD. . . . And the word of Samuel came to all Israel,” eventually “all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:20; 4:1; 7:2).
Analysis of all of the other revivals will reveal that they also were based on reception and acceptance of God’s Word. The last was under Nehemiah. “And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God” (Nehemiah 9:3).
There were other ingredients in these revivals, but the Word of God was always the foundation, and there can be no true and lasting revival without it. This is why it is so important in our day, when the need for revival is so desperate, that we first get back to a serious study of the Holy Scriptures, believing and obeying as best we can all that is written therein. HMM
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. —2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Nowhere else in the entire New Testament is the humanity of the great apostle [Paul] seen so clearly as when he staggers under the cruel attacks of the anti-Paul bloc in the Corinthian church. His sufferings are there the most poignant and nearest to the sufferings of Christ because they are inward and of the soul. For always the soul can suffer as the body cannot….
But from Paul and his afflictions we may learn much truth, some of it depressing and some altogether elevating and wonderful. We may learn, for instance, that malice needs nothing to live on; it can feed on itself A contentious spirit will find something to quarrel about. A faultfinder will find occasion to accuse a Christian even if his life is as chaste as an icicle and pure as snow. A man of ill will does not hesitate to attack, even if the object of his hatred be a prophet or the very Son of God Himself If John comes fasting, he says he has a devil; if Christ comes eating and drinking, he says He is a winebibber and a glutton. Good men are made to appear evil by the simple trick of dredging up from his own heart the evil that is there and attributing it to them.
Deliver me from faultfinders and those of a contentious spirit. Silence them for Your glory. Amen.
…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt. Matthew 26:39
Where there is no freedom of choice there can be neither sin nor righteousness, because it is of the nature of both that they be voluntary.
However good an act may be, it is not good if it is imposed from without. The act of imposition destroys the moral content of the act and renders it null and void!
Sin is the voluntary commission of an act known to be contrary to the will of God. Where there is no moral knowledge or where there is no voluntary choice, the act is not sinful; it cannot be, for sin is the transgression of the law and transgression must be voluntary.
Lucifer became Satan when he made his fateful choice: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Clearly here was a choice made against light. Both knowledge and will were present in the act.
Conversely, Christ revealed His holiness when He cried in His agony, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” Here was a deliberate choice made with the full knowledge of the consequences. Here two wills were in temporary conflict, the lower will of the Man who was God and the higher will of the God who was Man, and the higher will prevailed.
Here also was seen in glaring contrast the enormous difference between Christ and Satan; and that difference divides saint from sinner and heaven from hell. The secret of saintliness is not the destruction of the will—but the submergence of it in the will of God!
Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. REVELATION 22:17
There is a strange beauty in the ways of God with men. He sends salvation to the world in the person of a Man and sends that Man to walk the byways, saying, “If any man will come after Me!” No fanfare; no tramp of marching feet!
A kindly Stranger walks through the earth, and so quiet is His voice that it is sometimes lost in the hurly-burly; but it is the last voice of God, and until we become quiet to hear it, we have no authentic message.
“If any man,” He says, and teaches at once the universal inclusiveness of His invitation and the freedom of the human will. Everyone may come; no one need come, and whoever does come, comes because he chooses to.
Every man thus holds his future in his hand. Not the dominant world leader only, but the inarticulate man lost in anonymity is “a man of destiny!” He decides which way his soul shall go. He chooses, and destiny waits on the nod of his head. He decides, and hell enlarges itself, or heaven prepares another mansion!
So much of Himself has God given to man!
Dear Lord, I pray again for my family and close friends. Some of them have not made wise choices and are still on the outside looking in. Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will melt their hearts and that they will come to You at long last.