Wired For Success

Wired

Wire Head

Almost everybody respects a successful general in battle tested conditions.  Admiration is higher if the general is on “your” side.  It’s usually not until the war is over that battle plans and strategy can be analyzed and evaluated.  Generals George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall all displayed a knack for planning, strategy, heroism, determination and execution.  But then several for the other side did likewise.  British Bernard Montgomery was brilliant and Germany’s Erwin Rommel was so respected they nicknamed him, the ‘desert Fox’.  Campaigns can be military, economic, territorial or personal.

The New Testament records the very personal campaign of one man who is known for his planning, strategy, and execution of his plan to “Git R Dun”.  Exactly what was this man’s obsession?  Why was he so fanatical about its execution?  The Bible is full of strong personalities and men of action, but this man was so focused on his task, God intervened and stopped him cold.

His name was Saul of Tarsus.  His training as a Pharisee was the finest available, his zeal was unparalleled, his intensity was unmatched, his belief that the newfounded Christian movement was a deadly threat to Judaism was intensely sincere, and his efforts to do what he thought was right changed his life!  In an instant.  Saul was wired for success and determined to “round up” all these newly minted “Christians” and return them to Jerusalem for questioning or worst!  Saul not only was good at his job, he was very effective.  He was the number one enemy of the state.  Saul was arrogant and God was going to humble him.  This man was making so much progress thwarting this new movement that Jesus literally stopped him in “his tracks” on the Damascus road, and had a heart-to-heart talk with this headstrong individual.  Saul’s meeting with Jesus, and his subsequent ‘conversation’ is found in the Book of Acts chapter 9.  The entire life of Saul is found in Acts chapter 7 through 28, and his letters.

No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul.  Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus changed his life forever.  He never lost his fierce intensity, but from then on it was channeled for the gospel.  God did not waste any part of Paul—his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses.  God does not waste our time either—he will use our past and present so we may serve him with our future.

It doesn’t end there, it begins there!  Saul’s name was later changed to Paul.  His personal campaign to stop this new movement of people following Jesus Christ was turned on its head.  Once he reconciled the Lord of the Old Testament was intertwined with Jesus of Nazareth, he became the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Paul wasn’t wired for success; he was wired to pull millions, perhaps billions, into heaven.

Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.”  Philippians 1:21

The Good news is that forgiveness and eternal life are a gift of God’s grace received through faith in Jesus Christ and available to all people.

One Tough Choice

One Tough Choice

Man in desertThere was a movie several years ago about a woman in a German concentration camp that was forced to choose between her two children.  She knew that one child would be permitted to live and the other would surely die.  It was famous actress (Meryl Streep) in a famous movie role (“Sophie’s Choice”, 1982) and it was based on a novel written by William Styron in 1979.  She played a Polish immigrant and was forced into prostitution to protect herself and her family.  It was a moving movie.  Aren’t the best stories?  Aren’t the most tragic?

A story in the Bible had a similar gut wrenching decision that had to be made.  We can witness the mitigating factors that led up to the fateful decision.  One man was being hunted and although he could have run and escaped, he chose to give himself up.   He knew the consequences would be fatal to him and that he had to make the right decision.  He didn’t shy away from the decision, but he didn’t jump at the decision either.  We have a record of his agonizing over it.  The decision was made only after all other contingencies were explored and rejected.

Can you possibly imagine a person willingly surrendering to his enemies, knowing that they would beat him, torture him, ridicule him, and ultimately kill him in a brutal manner?  Wouldn’t that be a story for the ages?  For eternity?

The story happened just in the manner described.  If the story didn’t happen Christianity would have probably died out.  The Easter holiday as we know it would be non-existent.  Eternal life would be agony, hope would be abolished, and re-connecting with your Creator would be a pipe dream at best

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.  On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”  He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.””  Luke 22:39-42

Jesus not only experienced the horror of crucifixion but, even worse, he would have to suffer the total separation from God in order to die for the world’s sins.  Have you thanked him—again?

What Can One Strike Do?

 what can one strike do

With just one strike a life can be destroyed, a home, a tall building, a city block, even an entire metropolis could be wiped from the face of the earth.  Lives that are forever changed, scars that never fully heal, mementos and treasures forever lost, a contented life thrown into absolmatchesute turmoil.

Does one strike mean that it’s the last strike?  In the game of baseball, three strikes and another player is given the next chance.  What if after three strikes ‘you’ are given another chance!  What if after three strikes ‘you’ are in the running for MVP (most valuable player)?!  What can one strike lead to?

Simon Peter was a plain fisherman called by Jesus to join him; Peter became a new person with ambitious goals and lofty priorities.  Peter didn’t become a perfect person; he became a ‘changed’ person.  Jesus’ first words to Peter were, “Come after me”  Mark 1, and Jesus’ last words to him were, “Follow me” John 21  What did Jesus see in this man that caused him to grant him a new name, Peter—“The Rock”!

Peter is more a composite of ‘everyman’ than any other apostle.  He often rushed to judgment, was rather brash and impulsive.  Few could match his enthusiasm, and fewer still could match his devotion to Jesus.  What a life filled with extremes he lived.  Who could forget his presence during Jesus’ trial?  Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus!  This was without doubt the lowest period in Peter’s life.  Any normal person would be crushed and fade into obscurity, but not Peter.  He wept—bitterly, and then remembered.  Peter remembered the things Jesus taught, the people Jesus forgave the lives that Jesus restored, the incredible power of forgiveness Jesus showed.  Peter was forgiven, restored, and became the leader of Jesus’ disciples.

“But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

What can one strike do?  What can a million strikes do? It can change things.  What can one carpenter’s Son do?  He can change ‘lives’!  I ask you again what can one strike do?  If you believe and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you can ‘strike it rich’, forever!

Your comments are welcome.  Just click on the leave your reply link just above this post.  Thank you for your readership and may God bless you richly through His Son, Jesus Christ.