J.C. Ryle in his book Practical Religion (first published in 1878) encourages his readers to examine their spiritual lives by asking themselves 10 probing questions. The questions are as relevant today as we too live in an age of great spiritual privilege and great spiritual danger.
We’re interested in the question because decision-making is such a big part of our lives. We make hundreds of choices every day.
Every time we make a choice we receive the consequences of that choice – intended and unintended.
Often our seemingly most insignificant decisions have the biggest consequences.
We could make the choice to leave 5 minutes early for work and be in a terrible car accident that affects the rest of our lives.
Because we don’t know the future, making decision-making can be tough.
How should we make decisions? How do we hear God’s voice? How does God Guide us?
In a world of unfaithfulness, what does a faithful gospel worker look like?
Phumezo Masango is a great example.
Phumezo is a good friend of mine and a lecturer at George Whitefield College, the Bible college affiliated with our denomination. He has also been a minister at Christ Church Khayelitsha for many years.
He has faced many challenges serving among many who embrace African Traditional Religions, where the ancestors are venerated and prayed to for help, guidance and protection.
Phumezo and the team at Christ Church Khayelitsha face particular challenges around the practice of circumcision.
They don’t have a problem with circumcision itself, but they do have a problem with the boys being part of rituals that call upon the ancestors.
I confess that I love to read revenge books. I especially like the author Lee Child. Child’s novels are all about an ex-military police major, Jack Reacher. Reacher, as he is known, is a no-nonsense guy, a man’s man who goes about getting justice his own way. You don’t want Reacher to be chasing after you because Jack Reacher definitely does not love his enemies, nor does he do good to those who hate him. The Reacher series includes the books: Bad luck and Trouble; Make Me; Personal; Killing Floor; and Die Trying. I’m sure you get the picture.
In the world’s eyes, Reacher is a hero and a winner. But not so much in God’s eyes.
In Luke 6:27-36, Jesus tells us to be the exact opposite of Jack Reacher: to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. This passage is of the most challenging of the teachings of Jesus.
Joaquín Guzmán ( Nickname “El Chapo”, which means shorty) is a Mexican drug lord and been in the news lately. Forbes magazine called him the “biggest drug lord of all time. El Chapo was arrested in 2014, but he escaped from prison again in 2015 by exiting through a tunnel dug to below his cell. He was then recaptured by Mexican marines in 2016 after granting interviews to people like Sean Penn – because he wanted a movie made of his life. El Chapo escaped his prison cell, but due to his own foolishness and pride, ended up back in bondage.
The same may happen to us as Christians. We are freed from sin’s penalty, power and prison; and as free people we are told not to return to sin’s bondage.