“But I’ve a notion to just wander off in wild country and live best as I can.” –Louis L’Amour (Passin’ Through)
“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” –Psalm 84:5 (NKJV)
Well, the Lord let me live another year! If you go by weeks, it was a year ago yesterday that I had my heart attack. If you go by the day it will be a year ago tomorrow. Strange the way life, or death, comes at you at times. However, it is not so strange for the hand of the Lord to intervene. The Reaper may have had it in for me, but the Redeemer said, “No, not yet.” When He does removed His hand for death to come, He will also be the One to hold mine as I pass over.
I keep getting asked the question, “Am you going to retire?” I’m really not sure what that means. What is retirement anyway? Annie’s Uncle John said that he might “retread” but he would never “retire.” They will certainly come a day when it is time to leave the classroom of academia, but that doesn’t mean retirement, it simply means changing and doing something else.
People say, “You need to enjoy life. You’ve worked all these years.” From where does that thought come? I’ve often wondered about that. I already enjoy life. I have been given another year to enjoy life. And work, what was man put here on earth for if not to work? (Read John Piper’s “Rethinking Retirement”)
There are several places in the New Testament where lists of virtues or character traits of a believer. Paul, James, and Peter all have lists given to them by the Holy Spirit. I want to look at one of those lists this summer from the Apostle Peter.
“Since his divine power has bestowed upon us all things that are necessary for true life and true religion, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, and since through these gifts there have been bestowed upon us precious and very great promises, that through them we might escape the world’s corruption caused by lust and become sharers in the divine nature–since all this is so, bend all your energy to the task of equipping your faith with courage, your courage with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with stedfastness, your stedfastness with piety, your piety with brotherly affection, your brotherly affection with Christian love.” –2 Peter 1:3-7, Barclay translation
I like where he says, “bend all your energy.” The NKJV states, “giving all diligence.” Therefore, it must be a very important of the Christian walk to look at this portion of Scripture. Barclay refers to this as “equipment” or a “ladder of virtues.” Lloyd-Jones calls it the “balanced life.” Contrary to what some in the church might said today and for exclaiming that dreadful word of “legalism” the Bible is clear that God expects His people to live a certain type of life.
God has saved us by grace, but there is such a thing as “growing in grace.” There is something that Peter is depicting that we must also do our part. God has already done His. Peter states, “bend all your energy to the task of equipping your faith with courage… .” This is often translated “virtue.” But what is virtue? It is moral power, or moral energy. In our society today, that is a trait that is sorely needed. This is a time in our history that “moral energy” is definitely needed. It starts here with our faith and then there must be a continual moral progress. Barclay writes, “[the] supreme effort of man must cooperate with the grace of God.” Moffat states, “The Christian life must not be an initial spasm followed by a chronic inertia.”
Remember faith is “unquestioning certainty”! We are justified by faith, but that does not exempt a man from works (i.e., James). Barclay contends that, “Faith is not only commitment to the promises of Christ; it is also commitment to His demands.” There that should give you plenty to ponder on for a few days.
I have a great little book written by Terry W. Glaspey, “Book Lover’s Guide to Great Reading.” From time-to-time this summer I will give you some of his thoughts on books that should be in the Christian’s library. Yes, L-I-B-R-A-R-Y; remember we are to study. Glaspey states, “Because we live in a culture that is sometimes not very receptive to the Christian faith, we must make the effort to think through the meaning of our faith.” I know, there are some hard words and thoughts in that sentence, especially “effort” and “think”.
There seems to be more and more fads upon the scene. There seems to be more distraction taking us away from the “important things.” I challenge you to take time to read the words of Christians of the past. Glaspey writes, “In modern Christianity we are often prone to faddishness, placing our concerns in the ephemeral and transient rather than the weighty and eternal.” We get caught up in the trivia rather than developing the foundational.
Here are a couple to start with: “The Confessions” by Augustine, and “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. “Confessions” is written in the form of prayers of thanksgiving and praise to God. It is the story of Augustine’s intellectual and spiritual journey; the soul in search of God. If you read Bunyan compare your life to the character of Christian. This is a Christian journey and you are on a Christian journey. What stands in your way?
Pretty heavy thoughts for around the campfire, but I’ve done plenty of thinking at places like that. However, not to leave you overwhelmed or your brain to addled I’ll close with some simple truths from a farmer. I don’t know the author, but here are a few.
“Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.”
“Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.”
“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”
“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”
P.S. Remember the sacrifice of those on D-Day.