A Date with My Girl

Yesterday I went on a date with my girl and had a blast. First we went to Long John Silvers for some good food. She chose the table. It was one of the booths in the side room, and she seemed pleased that after we’d been there a few moments the only other people in the room left, leaving us with the entire room to ourselves.

Our next stop was Wal-Mart. As we passed through the automatic entrance doors, she rushed toward one of those shopping carts that has two seats at the back for toddlers. “I get to choose the cart,” she grinned. My heart sank, but of course I acted like that was perfectly OK and off we went. “I want the candy aisle first,” she informed me. When we arrived at aisle 6, I recommended she get out of the cart and actually walk the aisle so she could see the dainties close up. Without too much hesitation she picked up a container of “Gourmet Fruit Slices.” The price? $4.00. I tried to convince her that this was by no means the best bang for her buck, but she insisted. I told her it was OK as long as she realized it would come out of her Christmas money from some friends. She didn’t care where the money came from.

Next stop was the toy department. “We need the boys’ aisle,” she remarked. Our mission was to buy something to replace the remote control four-wheeler she got for Christmas but had to be returned because it didn’t work. She picked up a small remote control car and said that was what she wanted. It was OK with me because it was on a half price sale. But as we inched along the aisle, other things began to engage her attention until she came to a much larger blue remote control car which she decided was much better than the one she had in her hand. And even though it was more expensive than the first one, I didn’t really worry too much because it, too, was on a half price sale.

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Touch Not the Lord’s Anointed

Does “touch not the Lord’s anointed” from the Old Testament equal “don’t criticize the preacher” in the New? Read on to find out.

In Sunday school this morning we studied the incident in 1 Samuel 26 where David passed up the opportunity to take Saul’s life. (For those who don’t know, I’m not the teacher this year.) A deep sleep from the Lord was upon Saul and his men. David’s colleagues encouraged David to use this seemingly “open door” to snuff out Saul’s life and be rid of this troublesome enemy. However, David strongly objects to–even recoils from–this idea. His reason? He will not touch “the Lord’s anointed.” How is Saul God’s anointed when he has already forfeited the kingdom through disobedience and David has long ago been anointed king in his stead? David clearly believes that even though Saul is not currently “anointed” in the sense of enjoying the blessing and hand of God on his life, he is still anointed in the sense that he is still the king of Israel–he still holds the office for which he had been anointed years ago by Samuel.

So why do modern day preachers think “touch not the Lord’s anointed” means “don’t criticize the preacher” or “don’t disagree with the preacher”? I’m not sure, but the idea doesn’t get any support from this Scripture, not from the similar one in 1 Samuel 24 or the one in Psalm 105:15. In all of these Scriptures, the context demands that “touch” means “physically harm” or “do violence to” or even “kill.” When David said he would not touch the Lord’s anointed, he meant that he would not kill him. That’s a far cry from disagreeing with the preacher or challenging erroneous teaching. Remember that the Bereans in Acts were commended for checking out the Bible to see if the things being taught were Scriptural. Remember also that Paul openly rebuked Peter at Antioch for his wrong conduct. Yes we should respect the preacher and obey the truth preached when it lines up with God’s Word, but we are not to sit there and unquestioningly swallow everything just because the preacher said it. Trust me, I’ve done that before, and it’s not good for your spiritual health. We need to be good Bereans, making sure that what we are taught lines up with God’s Word.

Further, it’s important to note that the New Testament regards ALL believers as being “anointed.” Read 1 John 2. Look at verse 20: “But ye [all Christians] have an unction [anointing] from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” Then look at verse 27: “But the anointing which ye [all Christians] have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” One of the great New Testament truths the Reformers of the 16th century recovered was that all Christians are priests–the priesthood of all believers. No one person is more anointed than another. Yes, God has placed authority figures in the church to guide and instruct us, but these should never be regarded as infallible. We should respect the overseers that God has placed over our local flocks, but at the same time, we should search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so. And the overseers (pastors, elders, whatever your particular flock calls them) should not hide behind “touch not the Lord’s anointed” as a cop out when someone disagrees or points out a potential point of error.

July 4th Party, 2011

Cramming for Exams

OK, this is my last G. H. Lang quote for today. I promise.

It was of God that at this susceptible age I was under the influence of Mr. McCall, this wise Christian teacher. I owe him much. He taught but did not force his pupils. There were examinations, but he had little belief in them; he considered “cramming” for them to be injurious and the passing of examinations by this means to be fallacious as a test of knowledge and ability. He said it was like stuffing string into a box and getting it out again, if you could. There is something in this simile, for if knowledge so gained is recovered by the memory it is too often like tangled string, confused and troublesome.

 

Importance of Punctuality

Here’s another quote from G. H. Lang. This time he’s talking about the virtue of punctuality, learned by him as a child.

The virtue of punctuality had been formed by us children having to be at the breakfast table at 6.30 a.m., summer and winter, and by the example of our dear father who left at 7.10 to catch the 7.20 train to London (never without reading a Scripture and praying with us), so as to be at his office by 8.30 to open the heavy mail of the wholesale house where he was chief of the counting house. The habits of far too many young people today are deplorable. At school, at college, in one of the services, they are compelled to be punctual; but the moment holidays or furloughs start they lapse into complete disregard of time and of the courtesy due to others, and waste hours of the morning in bed. It shows an absence of morals in doing what is wise and right; they are in time only so long as they must be so, not at all because it is good and right. Yet of all the things we use time is easily the most valuable, for some of it must be expended on every other act. Some words of Gladstone to the students of St. Andrews University made in me a lasting impression. I give them from memory: “Gentlemen, let me recommend to you thrift of time. It will repay you with a usury beyond your utmost expectations.”

 

G. H. Lang’s Conversion

Proofreading G. H. Lang’s autobiography, An Ordered Life, is like rediscovering buried treasure. I am reminded of so many things that captured my mind and heart the first time I read it many years ago, and am finding many things I have forgotten. The account of his conversion at 7 years of age is classic. Read it and be blessed:

I was recovering from an illness, scarlatina I think. My mother sat by my bed and talked with me, quietly and simply; and as she spoke the Spirit of Truth spoke by her and made the truth effective. She said nothing more than I had heard from infancy, but what new and powerful influence it exerted! She spoke of sin: I felt myself the veriest sinner under the sun. No particular sins were mentioned, but there rose before me childish falsehoods, petty pilferings, anger, disobedience. I saw these as guilt, as wickedness, as making me obnoxious to the holy God and His holy wrath. I had not been brought up in a morbid, prudish, restrained manner, constantly checked, reproved, restricted, but in a simple, healthy, happy atmosphere. There can be no accounting for this sudden, intelligent, overwhelming perception of the true nature of sin by a child of seven but as a fulfilment of the words of the Son of God, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come He shall convict the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

My mother spoke of God, His holiness, His anger against sin, and the coming judgment. Her words were few, but oh, the solemnity they caused to settle upon my heart. She went on to remind me of His infinite love, love so mighty that He sent into the world His only and beloved Son on purpose to save sinners, for though He hates sin He loves the sinner. And I thought and felt what a wonderful, amazing thing it is that the great and holy God, who made the stars and this great earth, loved a naughty, sinful little boy like me. If I but shut my eyes, and lean back in my chair in thought, again I feel the hot tears that trickled down my cheeks as the sense of this overwhelming love of God melted my heart. Continue reading

Believing in Christ

I’m currently working on the preparation of a reprint of G. H. Lang’s excellent autobiography, An Ordered Life. When it’s ready, it will be available in paperback, as well as in Amazon’s Kindle format and Apple’s iBooks format. His was definitely a life totally surrendered to God and led by Him. Here’s a paragraph from the very end of the book:

It is thus with us today. Believing in Christ means that we sincerely own that He is what He is, the Son of God, and therefore sanctify Him in the heart as LORD (I Pet. 3:15). This produces deep heart-searching, a sensitive conscience, a putting away of all known sin, a humble, resolute carrying out of His commands, a trembling at His word, a genuine and detailed testing of all acts and practices so as to secure conformity to His will. It is in the measure that the believer is sincere and practical and thorough in this that light is granted, the heart is filled with the Spirit, and the living waters overflow to the refreshment of others. For God gives His Spirit to them that obey Him (Acts 5:32); that is, to those who do truly purpose to give to Christ the position which God has given Him, those who in reality “crown Him LORD of all.”

 

Prayer and Exercise

Strange title you say? Yes, I thought so too. A couple of months ago or so, I did a breakout study in our adult Sunday school class on the importance of personal devotions or having a daily “quiet time.” We take it for granted that healthy bodies require regular food, exercise and sleep but too often we neglect any kind of regular maintenance for our spiritual lives. I ended the series with an illustration using a jar with rocks and pebbles that showed very graphically that if we get the important things into our life jar first we actually get more in. Translation: you can’t beat having your quiet time in the early morning. No phones. No kids. No distractions. Your time with God then becomes the organizing principle around which the rest of your day revolves and you actually get more done and end up being happier and less stressed out in the long run. One of the best illustrations in Scripture is the manna in the wilderness. It always fell in the early morning, and if you didn’t get up and about and collect your manna, it disappeared with the rising sun. I’d like to write a book about it some time, but when will I get time for that?

Now to the exercise part. This evening I was doing some internet research (don’t you love Google!) on the question of whether it’s more beneficial to exercise in the morning or the evening. What I found was that it doesn’t really matter all that much as far as weight loss, etc., BUT studies do show that those who exercise early in the morning are more CONSISTENT. In other words, of those people who begin a new exercise program, those who chose the early morning for this activity were more likely to still be doing it a year later. Why? Because it’s easier to establish and maintain a consistent habit early in the day. Those who chose the afternoon or evening were more prone to allowing other activities to crowd out their exercise time. Which is exactly why the early morning is the best time of the day for establishing a regular, consistent devotional life. I was especially impressed with posters on a certain internet message board who reported regularly rising at 5:00 in the morning to exercise! Talk about commitment! I remember once reading one of the old time Puritans or early Methodists who said he was ashamed whenever he awoke to the sound of workers on their way to their daily labors in the early morning hours and he had not yet started his quiet time with God. The early morning exercisers ought to shame us into keeping an early morning appointment with God.