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05 February, 2013

Show Me Your Ways Lord -- Part 2

Charles Templeton was a major figure in the Church and a very good friend of Billy Graham. After I heard a sermon about him where my pastor mentioned that he was not a saved man, I remember how the Church was divided on the issue of his Salvation. I was not deep enough in the Lord and I had my own problem that I was dealing with in terms of making Salvation real in my soul. So, I listened to all who approached me and I never made a comment.

About two years ago I decided to investigate this guy. After I read his biography I decided to listen to his sermons just because I wanted to understand why people were flocking to him like a herd. I was able to put my hands on some of his sermons and to my disappointment, his sermons while beautiful were hollow and I felt I was dealing with a slick marketing VP kind of thing. From the emptiness and the absence of the Holy Spirit in his preaching, I concluded this man had head knowledge but the Gospel never made it to his heart mind and soul.  I sadly concluded like my pastor, this man has never been saved. The man was charismatic and a great business man, so all the time he was in the pews preaching, he was selling himself.
 He was sought after by the evangelical associations and climbed fast and high. Isn’t sad that all those leaders of Christianity wanted him, but none could see he was an empty shell. This was not a question of not knowing his heart.  As you read his sermons, even the four gospels kind of commentary he wrote, there is nothing but complete emptiness. The only way you could not grasp the emptiness in him is if you yourself lack the Holy Spirit inside you.
 But while Templeton was going through the crisis of unbelief, he felt it was wise to seek out a pastor who believed in God knows what. Templeton got access to his library and found books like: Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, Voltaire's The Bible Explained At Last, Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian, as well as speeches by Robert Ingersoll, well-known atheist of the late 19th century in his library.  So, of course Templeton studied these books like there was not tomorrow. Needless to say he got out of there, weaker than ever and convinced Christianity was a hoax, until finally he resigned from his thriving ministry in 1957
 When doubts plagued our minds, it is okay to hash it out with God, but resolved to stay the course. What Templeton did could have happened to anyone of us in the Church. Very often you will find those that are sitting in the pews and after years never manage to make Christianity real to them; they do not like anyone singing a different tune. The reason is that if they listen to you, they would have to start examining themselves and actually make a decision. So to make things easier for themselves, they rather seek the company of those in the same comatose relationship with God. (Misery loves company)
I would like if I say that being a Christian is not frustrating sometimes. The reason is that we serve a God who is real and not dead. We serve a God who is GOD and every time you think you got close enough, you realize, you know nothing about Him. The vastness between us and Him will never end, even when we are in heaven. Yet, as a human being it does a number on us and we struggle, especially when life is messy, when we feel like a rat in a cage and there is no way out.
 In fact, just last week I had to wrestle with doubts in my heart just for a couple of hours. They lasted that long because I entertained them and secondly, my doubt is never about God’s Word. I BELIEVE in His Word and I KNOW the Word is Christ Himself. I love this God of mine with everything I am and I cannot imagine my life without Him. But, time like that, even through my doubts, I know that I am blessed beyond measure. And whenever I make things right with Him, I always break down in tears for the lack of gratitude I allow myself to indulge in, even for a few moments.
 Even Moses who was so obedient and so meek ended up displeasing God and his sin was actually, disobedience to God and a lack of meekness (Numbers 20:9-11) As a human being, I understand Moses and the reason he lost it for a minute which cost him dearly.
 In my experience when I deal with doubt, you can be sure three things are present
1)     I am going through something that requires faith and God is testing and stretching me beyond measure
2)     Whenever I feel I have doubts that I cannot ignore, it is because I am in the flesh
3)     Whenever I have doubts, Satan’s presence is so near that I have to be mindful of him and also make it right with God right away because out of Him, I have no power to deal with Satan and if I do not make things right with God to remain in Him, I am giving Satan a foothold in my relationship with Him.
 In my case I found the gratitude I have in my heart for having experienced Him more than the average Christian. Knowing that I have come to know Him so well because He chose to make Himself so real to me, a puny being deserve that I continue the path even if the road is hard and circumstances insurmountable.
 Will we have doubt in this journey? You bet we will.  In fact the lack of doubt would be a good indication that you are not growing in faith at all.
What we do with them will make us or break us.