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|Vol. 15 No. 9 September 2013||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
If there is one thing that I would love to know more about it would be the fine art of karate. I have been mesmerized as I have watched masterful students of this unique Asian system of unarmed combat using their hands and feet to deliver and block blows. One part of karate that has always intrigued me is the ability that some students have of breaking boards in half. While I only speak from study and not actual experience, if one is attempting to break through a board and is aiming for a central spot on the board, he will almost always fail. In trying to process the goal, the brain understands the barrier and will subconsciously stop short of the goal. In order to successfully break a board, the student must aim about 2-3 inches below the board. In so doing, the brain is able to see past the board towards the ultimate goal, and the board naturally breaks in the process. What a parallel to Christianity! Consider:
Firstly, we sometimes subconsciously stop short outwardly. In matters relating to evangelism and outreach, we often are discouraged and dismayed due to a lack of observable fruit. We fail to see past the “board” and realize our ultimate goal, which is to simply plant and water the seed of God’s Word (Luke 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:6). Even if not one single piece of visible fruit were seen, we must never stop short! Thusly, some congregations fail to place outreach high on the priority list, and as such, their work becomes inwardly focused instead of outwardly focused! We must never stop short outwardly!
Secondly, we sometimes subconsciously stop short inwardly. Sadly, some folks look at Bible study and worship as a “punch the card” type mentality. Some feel as long as they are present sometimes that they are good in God’s eyes. However, nothing could be further from the truth! How easy it is to forget that inward growth is a joy – a blessing, not just a requirement! The person who views Bible study and worship as a “requirement,” I fear may have missed the entire picture altogether. David affirmed, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). Spiritual activities should never be seen as obligation, but as opportunities! This may be why some are late to enter the meetinghouse and quick to leave. The goal of spiritual activities is not to “punch a card,” but to educate and edify those who belong to Christ. We must never stop short inwardly!
Thirdly, we sometimes stop short upwardly. Jesus emphasized that true worship involves two elements (spirit and truth, John 4:24). Sadly, I fear we stop short in that we are concerned with the truth aspect to the neglect of the spirit. We can sing a scriptural song and fail to please God! Truth is just one element! While we can never please God by changing the truth aspect, we can never please God by neglecting the spirit! For example, to sing “I want to be a worker for the Lord” and fail to lift one finger in the vineyard is stopping short. To sing “Rescue the Perishing” and never leave the ninety and nine (cf. Matthew 18:12ff) to restore the fallen (Galatians 6:1) is stopping short. We must never stop short upwardly!
Surely one of the easiest sins in which a Christian can be entangled is to stop short in spiritual matters. Failing to see “through the board” causes us to become complacent, discouraged and lukewarm, thus causing us to stop short. Outwardly, inwardly and upwardly let’s see past the obstacles and break through to the opportunities that Christ has awaiting us!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Several years ago, country music artist and singer Craig Morgan composed a hit song titled, “That’s What I Love about Sunday.” In it, Morgan sings of some of the numerous reasons he loves Sunday. The song certainly has a nostalgic remembrance of days gone by when most folks gathered for worship in a local setting and then spent much of the day “relaxing” together. In years past, Sunday was certainly a special day for most all religious and moral folks. Sadly, today for many, Sunday is just another “Saturday” – a day to sleep longer, grocery shop, mow grass and catch up on the multitude of other chores that need to be done. Although many have changed their attitudes toward Sunday, it is still an extra special day for me! I, along with Mr. Morgan, love Sunday. Let me share with you, “What I Love about Sunday.”
Firstly, Sunday is a day of reason. There is a very special reason and purpose behind loving Sunday so much. Jesus, our Savior, triumphantly showed Himself to be the very Son of God by resurrecting from the dead on Sunday (Matthew 28:1ff; Romans 1:4). Thus, as each new Sunday dawns, the Christian awakes realizing that Sunday is an extra special day! Without the resurrection from the dead, we are hopeless (1 Corinthians 15:19). Also, it was on the first Sunday following the Ascension of Jesus that He ‘drove the last nail’ into the eternal building project, called the church. The doors to this wonderful project were opened on Sunday. Of course, it was on Sunday that our brethren met together to partake of the Lord’s Supper and other acts of worship (Acts 20:7). Sadly, to many, Sunday is just another day of the week – a day to golf, boat, fish, play sports or just relax, but to those who have been redeemed, Sunday is a day of reason!
Secondly, Sunday is a day of remembrance. Because Jesus asked His followers to remember Him in a special way on Sunday (i.e., the Lord’s Supper, cf. 1 Corinthians 11:24-25), we do just that! Christians look backward remembering the horrific scenes of Calvary (1 Corinthians 11:26a, “show the Lord’s death”). Likewise, Christians also look forward remembering that Jesus will come again (1 Corinthians 11:26b, “till he come,” John 14:3), and then of course, Christians look inward, remembering to examine and observe the Supper in a proper and respectful manner (1 Corinthians 11:28, “examine himself”). If we forget and fail to remember Jesus in the proper way, eternity’s pain will be ours for sure (1 Corinthians 11:29-30)!
Thirdly, Sunday is a day of renewal. I am not sure about you, but Christianity is a constant renewal and rededication to God’s purpose for my life. Sometimes, I get off track! I fail to think and meditate on the spiritual and allow the physical to take over. Sunday is a focal day, the beginning again! Worship helps me to remember what is truly important in this life. Although worship is tiring physically, it is renewing and refreshing spiritually!
While the first day of the week may not have the restrictions placed upon it as did Israel’s Sabbath, Sunday is not just another day! God expects us to use Sunday properly by recognizing its awesome reason or purpose, by using it as a day to remember Calvary and the price that was paid for our sins, and thus, it is a day to renew and rededicate ourselves to the spiritual plans God has laid for us. Reason, remembrance and renewal, that’s what I love about Sunday!