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Introduction to Personal Bible Study - Videos (2007)

4 short introductory video studies First recorded in 2007, posted to GodTube in 2010  These short videos were made nearly 14 years ago. ...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Monkees, The Messiah & Me

God's Prerogatives

Earlier this year, at Daystar Church, Pastor Allen taught from 2 Cor 4 starting with the verse below . The reminder to confess our full dependence on Him alone to accomplish His will, shook some cobwebs in my mind.
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2 Cor 4:7)
The first thing I must do is to state what I am not saying. I am not saying that we are to use the rudiments of the world to accomplish the will of God. That is not our prerogative. What I do acknowledge is The Lord is free to use our weaknesses and our own desires to draw us unto himself. Often that involves bringing us to an end of ourselves, the revelation of the futility of our efforts or carnal pursuits, thus, opening our eyes to our need for him. Other times, The Lord may use an interest we have to draw us into the truth. Again, that is HIS prerogative, not ours.

I placed my full knowledge of salvation and my resting in the finished work of Christ on October 5, 1991. I won’t replay the details here. What I want to do is back up a few years to look at how The Lord was calling me to Himself before that eternal day. Having been raised in a religion to which I had pledged my undying loyalty, The Lord decided to plant the gospel seed in unexpected ways, using unexpected people. My heart was not fertile ground and needed softening.

I can never undervalue the role my brother Joe had in turning my thoughts to the gospel of grace or the importance of the radio ministry of the late Dr. Oliver B. Greene. I have written and spoken of these elsewhere. The short story I am about to share is not meant to glorify the things of the world. My hope is that it will accomplish two things:

  1. give glory to a patient God who sought to reach me even through my foolishness
  2. give encouragement to those who plant seeds, but who may not see the fruits of their labor immediately (or in this life)
So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (1 Cor 3:7)

God Disrupts Life Behind the Curtain

When my family moved from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 1980, I was in quite a cultural conundrum. I didn’t fit in, in any way, and my only social outlet, baseball, only covered a limited part of the year. Fortunately, I met some other transplants in my neighborhood also looking for new social outlets. With new friends from New York, Chicago and Boston, we created a makeshift street hockey league. We pooled equipment, drafted some locals, and set about to play some street hockey!

The games went on from the fall into the winter months, until baseball came along again in February. One of my hockey mates, another Italian kid, this one from Boston, was also on my baseball team. I kept up with the other kids during the school year and one day they came around my house with an adult friend to take the whole gang over to little Luper Park in a nearby Greensboro neighborhood for a little backyard baseball. I was eager to join.

I excitedly jumped into his open hatch back. The rest of the gang was crammed into the other seats. The guy popped in a cassette and on came... The Monkees! Well, I knew all the words. I had been a hardcore Monkees fan since I could remember (I was 15 at this time). As I’m singing, I hear a voice call back, “hey, who’s singing back there?”

“I am,” I replied, “I’m a huge Monkees fan.”

“You’re kidding?” came the incredulous response from the driver. That opened the door to getting to know him a little better. I knew he was a friend of my friend, what I didn’t know is that he was a youth pastor (well, without understanding the concept until many years later, I’m assuming that’s who he was).

Time, games, and Monkee songs passed and I was invited to a retreat weekend with their church. All I can remember was that it was a Presbyterian church of some kind. I remember that weekend for two distinct reasons. During one of our gatherings, I heard the gospel of grace faithfully proclaimed for possibly the first time. I didn’t quite understand it at the time, but I knew I was under some kind of conviction. I didn’t have the vocabulary to identify what I was experiencing, I can only define the feelings now that I have been enlightened. Looking back at the sand, I can see the footprints.

Another Faithful Servant

The other thing I remember is a girl named “Amy." I was a very shy boy, but I took a shine to Amy. We became retreat friends and spent a lot of time together. I had a big crush on her. When we returned to Greensboro, we tried to stay in touch, but being at different high schools, we eventually drifted.

Fast forward several years to 1986. The Monkees, with revived popularity due to the rebroadcast of their TV show on MTV that year, announced a new tour! Well, of course I got tickets to see them when they came to nearby Chapel Hill. I bought three tickets. One for me, one for my friend Ron, and another for a girl who decided she had no interest in The Monkees and even less interest in me.

So, I was stuck with a ticket. I don’t remember how or where or why I ran into Amy just days before the concert, but I did. We spent time catching up and I asked her if she had any interest in seeing The Monkees. Lo and behold she did! We went to the concert that night and had a great time. As I drove her home, she turned the conversation to the gospel. As I’ve written about elsewhere, I had been exposed to it during my freshman year NC State in 84/85 and had been wrestling with it, trying to truly understand it. Amy did her best to answer my questions, and she suffered well my bumbling retorts.

Something was different about Amy. She was no longer the flirtatious 15-year-old I had met at a retreat or the coy girl I had gone roller-skating with. She was committed Christian who saw past my own facade and saw my need for Christ. We parted on great terms, but we both knew the issue of the gospel was a chasm that prevented us from pursuing anything more beyond that show in Chapel Hill (at least that's how I felt).

So, neither the church retreat speaker nor Amy nor the guys who shared the gospel me with at NC state... and later... nor Oliver B. Greene nor Donald Grey Barnhouse nor J. N. Darby nor E.W. Bullinger nor Charles Welch nor Stuart Allen nor countless others.... ever saw the fruit of their faithful work.

The latter list of teachers lists six men who were all deceased at the time their words affected my life (most dead before I was born). Not to mention the witness of men like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Hus, Gaebelein, Scofield, Anderson, Chafer... and so many more that I cannot list them all.

You may never know in this life how merely being faithful to the truth has affected the lives of others. So strive to be faithful and let God give the increase!

Remember: So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (1 Cor 3:7)

And you never know what The Lord may use to introduce truth into someone’s life. Be faithful. You “have not run in vain or labored in vain.” The great Apostle Paul still speaks to us. And going all the way back to the beginning, the faithful servant Abel is forever remembered by the Lord for his “more excellent sacrifice.

God testifying of his gifts; and through it he [Abel] being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4)

Merry Christmas!