Thursday, August 16, 2018


The decline in the percentage of people who call themselves Christians but never read the Bible is increasing at a more rapid pace than even ten years ago, as the number of Biblical illiterates grows by leaps and bounds. As the quantity of the spiritual unwise, unredeemed and face it – spiritually dead in their iniquity- climb, the wisdom of the wise is now being called foolishness, some even inside the assembly.

But what does mean for the Faithful? How does the Remnant respond when we are now in the shrinking minority of those who walk boldly in the Word, all day, each day? This illustration from the hills of Tennessee should give us some sort of direction.

There was once a wood-chopping contest in the Smoky Mountains, similar to the rail-splitting competitions in Central Illinois town of Lincoln, Illinois.  President Abraham Lincoln was the rugged outdoorsman who split huge blocks of wooden rails with his ax, long before he became the great 16th President of the United States. Back to this wood-chopping contest in the Smokies: two men decided to compete against each other in this contest.

One man chopped wood all day long. The other man chopped, then took a break, then chopped some more. The first man who chopped without stopping began to get frustrated as he saw the other guy, apparently taking multiple breaks yet his pile of wood was getting bigger and bigger. Finally, at the end of the day, this frustrated man lost to the other gentleman who has taking many breaks and seemingly not working as hard. 

Exhausted and full of exasperation, he went to his winning competitor and asked him, how in the world he was able to cut so much more wood when he took so many breaks. The reply was "what you did not see was, that when I took all those breaks, I was sharpening my ax!"

This is so illustrative of what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 10:10 when Solomon writes " If the ax is dull, And one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength, But wisdom brings success". The wisdom spoken of here can only be learned over a period of time. 

Jesus Himself illustrates the ultimate in sharpening your spiritual ax, while in the act of not becoming like the rest of Christianity or the secular world. In Luke 10, verses 38-42 we see Mary and Martha, who were Jesus' closest friends. Mary was seated at the Feet of Good News - Jesus - and soaking in every single word He said. Martha was busy preparing the meal and serving etc. Both were doing a great thing. Both were like the two men chopping wood, but only one will end up with more fruit and rewarding blessings. Here is what Jesus said to Martha after she asked of the Lord for Him to request her sister get off the floor and come to help her with the food prep. Apparently, Mary was ignoring her.

Luke 10:40b-42 "Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”"

Jesus Himself says that the necessary and important part of this life, is not WHAT we do and how busy we stay doing "good things", but where we place our identity and priority. Martha is given to us as one who knew where her real food came from - hearing Divine Revelation at the Feet of the Master, period.

So many times, we think we have to do this and that for God and then run, hither, thither and yon. We should do all of this only AFTER we have been in the Presence of Jesus, in the appropriate place with Jesus and listening to the Word of Jesus. In other words, contrary to popular thinking in both the lost world and cultural "Christianity" (which are strangely one and the same, it seems), it is all about Jesus!

Therefore, this is the message and the key to keeping our Faith ax sharp - Jesus. We must not just be "people of the Book (the Bible)" but have a mindset like the great ancient Father of the Faith- Athanasius. Athanasius went "Contra Mundum" - against the World and stood for the one true faith - Biblical Christianity when heresy was abounding all over the place.

These are some practical steps which have worked for many of us, who are completely in the Camp of the Messiah:
Be intentional about reading Scripture daily. After giving thanks for another day, read the Bible first before praying. It will focus mind, body, and soul on the Lord so our thoughts do not get sidetracked as soon as we get praying. Anyone who has prayed for many years knows what this means. The world, the flesh and the devil know how to interject a thought, off through the side door, while we are praising Yahweh and praying to His Holy Name. Even reading a short Psalm or five verses in context, will focus us on His Word, His Person, and His Power. This practice, day after day, builds our love not just for Jesus but the Bible! We can't put it down! We want it in our car, our desk at work, our locker at school, next to our bed, on the shelf.....everywhere!

- Be honest with yourself so you can be transparent with God. You and I cannot fool God. Why? His Spirit lives in the believer and He knows what we think, feel and do and when we are about to do something really stupid. We already know what lies to the Holy Spirit did to Ananias and Sapphira when the Church was first formed in the Book of Acts.

- Become friends with the Holy Spirit.  Being full of biblical knowledge and how to apply it will be ineffective if not backed up by a full measure of integrity. When in doubt about ANYTHING, ask the Holy Spirit. He is sent by the Father for a reason - to be our counselor and guide. You would be amazed if this specific discipline is developed. As you grow in complete dependence on speaking to the Holy Spirit, a spirit of divine discernment and revelation will grow in us. We even start seeing with the Eyes of Christ as we develop the Mind of Christ, through Reliance on His Spirit. There is no doubt this equation works.

- Be patient and wait on the Lord. The longer we walk with the Lord and see through His Eyes, because of our permanent Home in the Word and Spirit, we become more disciplined in patience. The more we comprehend that God's Timing is well, God's Timing and not ours, the less stressed out and tense we will be. This does not mean we do not have some measure of anxiety and even fear, but Faith and Hope always conquer fear....which is, as the song says, is a liar. Here is the reward of "waiting on the Lord", even when He appears to have gone silent for long periods of time. Remember - He is still God and has our best interest at heart. Isaiah 40:31 "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary".

- Be an Evangelist. In other words - tell somebody what Jesus has done for you. Any true Christian has a story. Our story is His story. It is our history with the Lord which, if done according to Biblical principles become our family legacy. Any true Christian has a testimony which must be developed into a lifestyle. We cannot become like cultural Christians who cut corners in business and/or morality. We cannot do things close to the edge of ungodliness and say "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission". This is misusing Grace, which the New Testament specifically warns against. Let us be known not just for our testimony of conversion and a life of Faith, but for a consistent daily life of honor, generosity, service, love, and gratitude. May we be the first line of defense and a refuge where a troubled family member, friend or co-worker would seek solace and prayer, because by our faith and lifestyle, they know we are the real deal. 

These five disciplines are easily accomplished. They can sharpen our Faith. They can cut through the noise. They can show the Love of God in Christ, to a lost and dying world.

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