Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Ride of Life

The sign read, "Bull riding, September 26th at the fair grounds." That was just what my son John was waiting for; a chance to ride a real live bull calf. By the time Friday night rolled around, John was fired up and ready to go. With cowboy boots on and his heart beating through his shirt, John walked into the bull riding ring and straddled three hundred pounds of restless cowhide.
The goal was to stay on for eight seconds without falling off. When the gate opened and the calf took off, John held on with everything he had. When the dust settled and he picked himself up off the ground the clock read 2.8 seconds. The beast had not only thrown him off, but he also stepped on him. Fighting back tears of pain and limping toward me he said, "I want to try that again!” That’s my boy! He got knocked down, but not knocked out.

Life is kind of like a bull ride; the goal is to stay on without falling off, yet many of us seem to spend a lot of our time holding back tears and dusting off our britches. Life takes some unexpected turns at times, and no matter how hard we try to hold on, we often times find ourselves face down in the dirt with a bruise on our backside. 

Throughout the New Testament, we are warned that our journey will be difficult and trying (for example Matthew 7:14). Jesus never promised us a rose garden. God also knew that we would fail at times so He gave us accounts of how men failed but got back up and finished strong. 

Peter stands out as one who thought he could hold on for the whole ride only to find himself face down and fighting back tears of remorse for denying the Lord (Matthew 26:75). He meant well, but when the pressure was on he came face to face with his fears and failed. Later, this same coward would die a fearless martyr’s death.

In Proverbs 24:16, it says that, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” The devil’s plan is to defeat us, but that is not God’s plan for us. In the times when our humanity throws us off in our journey with God, we have only one option; humbly pick ourselves up, wipe away the tears, dust ourselves off, learn from our failures and limp toward our heavenly Father saying, "I want to try that again!" Then get back up and ride.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Repentance vs. Remorse

“No man has truly repented until his sin has wounded him, until the wound has broken him and defeated him and taken all of the fight and self-assurance out of him and he sees himself as the one who nailed his Savior to the tree.” ~ A, W. Tozer

“Never mistake remorse for repentance; remorse simply puts a man in hell while he is on earth, it carries no remedial quality with it at all, nothing that betters a man. . . Repentance is not a reaction, remorse is. Remorse is – I will never do the thing again (but it is only a temporary emotion without any power to change). Repentance is that I deliberately become the opposite of what I have been. . .the disposition of the Son of God can only enter my life by the road to repentance”. 
~ Oswald Chambers
How often have we heard it said “Just believe in your heart and confess with your mouth in the Lord Jesus and you shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

So quickly we quote this scripture hoping to give someone the illusion that by simply saying a prayer that acknowledges Jesus as Lord that they are now saved and on their way to heaven. The only problem is that few people ever explain what accepting Jesus as Lord really means.

To believe that Jesus is Lord is to accept that you no longer have rule over your life. It means that you must repent (change your mind and actions) and turn away from the old life. It means that you have lost your rights. It means that your life must undertake a radical transformation. It means that Jesus will have permission to do with you whatever he wants. In other words, your life is no longer yours… It’s over.

Without repentance there is no salvation. The devil believes that Jesus is Lord and is convinced without a doubt. Believing in the case of Romans 10:9 is more than mental assent. It is understanding and making a choice to die to yourself and live for Him.

I know that this may not bring as many people to the altars, but at least those who come will be making a willful decision to buy the “Pearl of great price." They will be more ready to take up their cross and follow Him. They will be ready to think of the world they left behind as rubbish. They will be ready to live as pilgrims and strangers here on this earth.

It is true that no one is perfect, but there is a big difference between someone who’s born again and someone who’s not. The man who is not born again lives a “life of sin”. A true Christian lives a “life of repentance”. After all, “the evidence of the new birth is a new life”. (Dr. Michael L. Brown)

This is why water baptism is such a big deal and not just a nice doctrine of the church. In baptism, a person is publicly saying that their life is over. They are ready to put their hand to the plow and not look back. They are bidding farewell to the old man and his lifestyle. They are passing from death unto life. In other words, by saying that we believe with our heart and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, we are saying of our old life, “It is finished!”

Yes, true repentance leads to an entire new life. Old things pass away and we become new. This new life brings great freedom and joy with it! Remorse simply makes a man more miserable than he already was. It makes a man sorry who has no intention of changing. Remorse is nothing more than a living lie. 

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19) 

By Tom Zurowski

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Simple Servants of Our Master's Mission

“For Him and Through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Amid his soarings into the superlative splendors, just when with eye undimmed he is strengthened to gaze into the excellent glory, the word “Son of man” falls on his ears, sobering the heart which else might have been intoxicated with the honor conferred upon it. Such humbling but salutary messages our depressions whisper in our ears; they tell us in a manner not to be mistaken that we are but men, frail, feeble, and apt to faint.” (C. H. Spurgeon, from “Lecture to my students”)

There is a tendency in all of us that is quite troublesome. I find that so many of us want to claim bragging rights for the good things God has done through us (or should I say in spite of us?) as if we were the reason for any good that has come out of us.
In Romans 11, Paul makes it very clear that it is only through Him (God) that we accomplish anything of lasting significance for His kingdom. The gifts we have are “of Him” and those gifts are only used correctly “through Him;” thus all glory must go “to Him.”
Many men have become quite famous and have built ministries because of an act of God. Soon thereafter, the man becomes the center of attention instead of the Lord Himself. This is a tragedy and is the result of broken trust between God and his servant. God does not need more ministries that will exalt or stroke the ego of a man; on the contrary, God is looking for dead men to do His greatest works.
Before we became Christians, we were full of ourselves. At conversion we were supposed to be emptied of ourselves and filled with His spirit (attend our own personal funerals and rise to life again). Why is it that so many people are longing to be recognized for what “they” have done in Jesus name, as though the credit should go to them? I, of all men, would be most pitiful if, at the end of my life, I was credited for anything good that has come out of my weakness. This is one reason why it is healthy for us to share the stories of our born again experience with others; so we never forget where we have come from.
We only have one thing to say in regard to our service to Him; “I have only done what a servant should do!” Oh, and by the way, God sees through false humility. As much as He doesn’t need another man exalting ministry, He sure doesn’t want any more Pharisees either.
Let us run the race with simplicity of devotion, blazing hearts and emptiness of self, for God will share His glory with no man. The greatest fulfillment of a love slave simply comes from serving the vision and purposes of his Master. The slave’s deepest desire is not the praise of man but the words of his Master spoken loud and clear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Let us humble ourselves by realizing that we are but needy men (and women), frail, feeble and apt to faint. With this attitude and posture we will remember our need to abide in Him and in doing so, He will receive glory from our lives.

By Tom Zurowski

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Way

“ ‘Take up thy cross and follow me.’ I heard the blessed Savior call; how can I make a lesser sacrifice, when Jesus gave His all?” (A.H. Ackley – taken from the hymn “Take up Thy Cross” in 1922)

"One thing you knew about a man walking down the road carrying a cross; he wasn’t coming back.” (Leonard Ravenhill)

"The principle of the gospel is this... it always brings life to the receiver and death to the giver. If the gospel brought death to our Lord Jesus, why would we think that in preaching the gospel it would mean any less for us? In following Him, it still requires us to take up our cross and crosses are for dying."  (Jackie Pullinger)

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Jesus - Matthew 16:24&25)

When Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him, His plan for us is death. For those who are looking for the abundant life, there is only one road; Calvary. To those that don't know God, this is foolishness, yet to follow in The Way (Acts 9:2), one must die before they can live. There can be no resurrection of life without a Garden of Gethsemane and a bloody cross.

Yes, Gethsemane comes first. It should have come on the day of our conversion. The day we wrestled with God and lost. The day we bid your old man good-bye. The day we surrendered to the will of your Creator. The day we wept bitterly, first in shame, then in joy. Yes, Gethsemane comes first.

Then we are invited to take up our cross and join the Lord on Calvary’s hill. To carry our cross in this pilgrim’s path is joy unspeakable, for there is a joy set before us. The joy of serving our Lord selflessly in the work of His kingdom. The joy of living a life that is well pleasing to Him.The joy of knowing that we have everlasting life with Him. 

But you say, “Tom, there is no joy in that! Didn’t Jesus come to make us happy? It doesn't sound like there is much fun in that!” No one is truly happy when they try to live the Christian life without dying to self. Some of the most miserable people on earth are those who know how they ought to live and don’t do it. Death to self is the only way to obtain the life worth living.

Our flesh is a thief. It does everything it can to hold on to the world and all its allurements and in that, true joy is stolen. We would all do well to attend our own personal funerals today and die to self. It is only in dying that we can truly be born again and to walk in newness of life. That is the secret of Christian Joy.

The journey won’t be long, for as one man once said, “life lived at it’s best is still brief.” The man who dodges the cross has no hope of a resurrection. Let's not kid ourselves, "death to self!" is the battle cry of every true follower of Jesus. Come on... let's take up our cross!

By Tom Zurowski

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

“For Without Me, You Can Do Nothing!”

“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor that is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.” (Leonard Ravenhill)
“Whole days and weeks I have spent prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer.” (George Whitefield)

I cannot say that I have spent weeks prostrate on the ground in prayer and neither can I claim the soul winning success of Whitefield. I find these days that there is far too little emphasis placed on the need to pray.
We have workshops for everything under the sun, but where can we take a class on prayer and intimacy with a jealous God? We have sermons on prayer. We teach the Lord’s Prayer, but many of the people who are teaching on prayer have soft knees and tearless eyes. Where are the people of yesteryear, who felt that they could not work, preach, teach, evangelize or parent without fervent intimacy with their God?
Before we can preach a convicting message on prayer, we must first be convicted to pray. I hear preachers say that they don’t have time to pray and that life is too demanding for long seasons of prayer. They say, “My people need me!” If people want help from a prayerless preacher then they would be better off going to a secular psychiatrist for help.
The truth is, that if we are not endued with power from on high, then we have little to offer to anyone. Without the power of God flowing through us we are simply professionals operating on human strength and skill. Without intimacy with God, we are on a fast track of ending in the flesh that which we began in the spirit.
Remember…? “For without Me, you can do nothing!” (John 15:5)
“Pastor(teacher, evangelist, missionary, prophet), dare you face your folks and tell them that from now on you are going to be a New Testament preacher as Paul was and do what you are ordered to do by the Spirit; “We give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word?” (Acts 6:4) This will revolutionize your life.”
(Leonard Ravenhill)

By Tom Zurowski

Thursday, August 4, 2011

... if I but enjoy Christ

"It doesn’t matter if public opinion embraces a certain concept or if the majority of believers accept a certain standard. If that concept or standard is contrary to the will of God, it must be questioned, challenged, or rejected. …Fellow soldiers, holy servants of the risen Lord, blood bought disciples of the Master, heed the call. It’s now or never; it’s time to put up or shut up. Either we take a stand once and for all, or forever hang our heads in shame. History is awaiting our move. So on with it! Let’s start a revolution!" (Dr. Michael L. Brown)

"I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel." (Keith Green)

"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." 
(D. Bonhoeffer)

In AD 111, Ignatius was thrown to the lions as a result of reproving the emperor openly for his worship of other gods. When he learned of his punishment for confronting the sin of this ruler, Ignatius stated,
“Now and only now do I become a true disciple of Jesus Christ… It is sufficient for me if I but become a partaker of Christ. Let the devil and evil men afflict me with all manner of pain and torment, with fire, with cross, with fighting against wild beast, with scattering of the members and bones of my body; all this I esteem as very little, if I but enjoy Christ.” (Martyrs Mirror)

Revolutionaries and those who are willing to fight for reform both in society and in the religious establishment of their day had better be prepared for their day with the lions.
To stand in the face of ungodliness and lukewarmness is not meant for men who still live. It is for dead men only. Only then can one walk with courage against the flow of popular opinion, the spirit of the age and a sin stained church. 
The one who dares to accept the call to be a revolutionary or reformer, had best be ready for loneliness and rejection. They must be ready to preach, pray or die in a moments notice (The missionaries motto) and be ready to have your head served on a silver platter. But that is nothing compared to the heavenly bliss of a dead man’s march toward heaven or the pilgrim’s prize, or the prophet’s portion and the servant’s reward. 
Jesus bids us to come and die, that we might truly live. For those who think they are the only revolutionaries and reformers out there, remember what God told Elijah, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal.” (I Kings 19:18) 

Don’t lose heart, you're not alone. Keep your feet on the earth but your heart in heaven. Set your face like flint. Be single eyed and close minded. Embrace the cause of Christ and live ( and die if necessary)! It is only then that we can understand the joy of true spirituality the way our church Fathers did. With hearts blazing... take up your cross, forsake the world, be filled with the Holy Spirit and follow Jesus! 

It won't be long and we'll be with Him.

Tom Zurowski

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Desperate Need

"The critical need of the church at this moment is men . . . We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive, it must have men again – the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made.” ~ (A.W. Tozer)

"What's It To Ya?"

19 Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.

Psalm 105:19 (NASB)

Do you read the Word of God for information, or revelation? Do you approach it as the transformative power in your life, or do you simply read it as a resource? Do you try to bend it for your own purposes, or do you allow it to bend you? 
Today’s instructional climate encourages knowledge through education for the purpose of using what you know as a tool to better yourself. We are encouraged to read the latest book with the template on “how to”, watch the latest life coach video, or listen to the most innovative speaker on how to maximize your life. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with these things, there is an underlying mindset that in order to succeed you must gain knowledge and manipulate it for your purposes.  We are encouraged to even approach eternal truths the way a scientist puts his experiment under a microscope. Henry Nouwen wrote: 
“ My growing suspicion is that our competitive, productive, skeptical, sophisticated society inhibits our reading and being read by the Word of God.”

I liken this to eating your food without savoring or chewing each bite. Like taking a food supplement that has all the right nutrients but not taste or relish. 
The Bible has even been used in history to justify the most atrocious acts on humanity. Some Christians wield the Bible the way a person wields a gun. They look for proof texts, to justify their position and use that knowledge to beat on people. In the world of Bible scholars the one who knows how to dissect the scriptures the best wins. Some use the Bible only as a resource to enhance their life or to solve some dilemma. Others use it only for comfort during hard times, or even to yield riches and wealth. What is wrong with this picture? 
Even we Christians can use the Bible in a way that is self serving and manipulative. Just give me the five principles for success in the Word and I will do it.  Instead of being read by the Word the way Joseph was, we merely read the word for It’s informational-how to value, but never as God invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.    
It is clear that the way God views His word is different than just a resource or a set of principles to help us be better people. The word of the LORD tested him. (Joseph). This was a process Joseph could not control or dissect in a laboratory, but could only submit to.  He could master teachings on 3 ways to get out of prison. He could only surrender to the Word of God. That is indeed humbling to our flesh. 
The saints and mystics of old approached the Word of God in a way that is not informational, but revelational. “Lectio Divina” is Latin for divine reading,spiritual reading, or "holy reading," and has been practiced by Christians.  It is a way of approaching the scriptures that calls a person to studymeditatelisten and, pray and (even sing) and speak from the Word, from their heart. This is vastly different from approaching the Word for what it can do for us. Submitting to the Word means that the Word doesn’t just do something for me, but it does something to me. 
It’s not what we read, but how we approach what we read. Do we approach it with a full cup of intellect, or a cracked empty cup meekness? Approaching Gods word is a lot like feasting. First you take a bite,(Read) then you chew, (Meditate) then savor,(speak it) then you digest making it part of your body.(It becomes part of your life)

As we come to the Word, do we say: Lord lay open my heart, my thoughts, and my life. Transform me into what I must become”?

By Lou Perez (A dear friend of The Chapel @ Somerset) 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Persecution Report... Stories of Our Christian Family Worldwide

The Normal Christian Life

Do you desire to live "The Normal Christian Life" as God sees it? If so, we want to invite you to study the Bible with us each Sunday afternoon @ 12:30 on WYGE 92.3 FM (central / southeastern Kentucky). If you can't catch the broadcast at that time, you can listen anytime @ This is a simple and easy to understand study of God's word, with an emphasis on learning for the sake of living. We are currently in 2 Timothy and we would love to have you join us.