Tonight, of course, is the NCAA Men's Championship game in New Orleans.
The game tonight pits two of the most historically successful programs in all of men's basketball and I would imagine it should be a good game. Both teams won tough games in the semi-finals to advance (much to the disappointment of my son and resident OSU fan, Josiah).
In our little bracket challenge, we find ourselves in a very unusual position where tonight's game is going to be the deciding factor on who wins the bracket challenge. Going in to tonight's game, last-year's second-plac finisher, Andy Efting has a very slim two-point lead in the A Thinking Man's Tourney Time challenge over last year's winner, Andy Rupert. The problem for Mr. Efting, however, is that he picked North Carolina to win it all and has no team in this game. Mr. Rupert, on the other hand, has picked Kentucky to win it all. So, if Kentucky wins, Andy Rupert will repeat as champion, but if Kansas wins, Andy Efting gets to grab the elusive title.
Don Johnson has also performed admirably in this year's tourney -and with Kentucky as his pick, he still has a chance to add some points tonight, as well.
No matter who wins tonight, someone from our little group will have picked the champion, as 3 of the seven picked Kentucky and Sarah (a champion from a couple of years ago who has had a rough tournament) picked Kansas and will be only one to get it right if Kansas pulls off the upset.
Our standings going into tonight's game is as follows.
Rank Player Points Games Champion
1 Andy Efting 221 41 North Carolina (135)
2 Andy Rupert 219 42 Kentucky (138)
3 Don Johnson 198 40 Kentucky (172)
4 Frank Sansone 193 33 Duke (135)
5 Matt Jury 189 36 Kentucky (125)
6 Josiah Sansone 163 32 Ohio St. (147)
7 Sarah Nething 114 21 Kansas (135)
I think I can safely say without offending either team - Let's Go Blue. :)
Just my thoughts,
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Tonight, of course, is the NCAA Men's Championship game in New Orleans.
Posted by Frank Sansone at 2:13 PM
A Thinking Man's Tourney Update
Want to get this update up before the Elite Eight is over.
Going into the Elite Eight, Andy Efting has overtaken me to take the lead in our bracket challenge.
1. Andy Efting 202 points 38 correct games
2. Frank Sansone 193 points 33 correct games
3. Andy Rupert 189 points 37 correct games
4. Don Johnson 187 points 38 correct games
5. Matt Jury 178 points 34 correct games
6. Josiah Sansone 151 points 30 correct games
7. Sarah Nething 101 points 19 correct games
Andy E. still has the possibility of getting all four Final Four teams correctly. Andy R. has six of the eight Elite Eight teams (but none from the West).
I am pretty much dead in the water. UNC is my only hope for any additional points in the Tourney.
Posted by Frank Sansone at 6:38 PM
Tonight begins the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Things have been very busy and I have not had much time to check things out, but I thought I would update the standings from after the round of 32.
1 Frank Sansone 184
2 Andy Efting 178
3 Don Johnson 165
4 Andy Rupert 161
5 Matt Jury 155
6 Josiah Sansone 137
7 Sarah Nething 90
While I have the lead (which is actually pretty unusual for A Thinking Man's Tourney Time), I believe I am the only one who has had his eventual champion already eliminated, so unless Kentucky, UNC, and Kansas take a fairly quick exit, I don't think my lead will hold.
Posted by Frank Sansone at 9:50 PM
Just discovered that this never made it past "draft" mode. A little out of date, now, but it was supposed to go up on Saturday - oops.9
Wow, what a first round (okay, technically it is now the second round because of the "First Four" thing, but even the brackets don't really recognize those first games as real games :) ). The first day was fairly uneventful as far as upsets go, but yesterday was a different story. Let's hear it for the Norfolk State Spartans and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. There have only been four times before when a Number 15 has beaten a Number 2 seed - and then it happened twice in a matter of hours.
I had picked Duke to win it all, so Lehigh annihilated my bracket - a fact that will become much more evident as the tourney rolls on.
I thought it was pretty cool that the Patriot league champions, Lehigh, has a player by the name of John Adams - and another whose last name is Hamilton.
After the first round (I realize by the time I am able to post this, we will be well into the next round, but these scores reflect just the first round).
1. Frank Sansone 130 points
2. Andy Efting 125 points
3t. Andy Rupert 117 points
3t. Don Johnson 117 points
5. Matt Jury 115 points
6. Josiah Sansone 104 points
7. Sarah Nething 81 points
Posted by Frank Sansone at 8:51 PM
For a number of years I have run a free NCAA Bracket challenge just for the fun of it. Those of you who were with me at Heritage or even GCCS, may remember filling out brackets back in the day. For the last few years, I have done this online through my blog - A Thinking Man's Thoughts. Although I have not written much on the blog for a long time, due to a couple of requests, I thought I should at least go ahead and do another edition of "A Thinking Man's Tourney Time."
It is that time of year again and I thought I would expand my invitation to those of you on Facebook. So, if you would like to participate, follow the link provide. If you need the password, it is "tourney".
I am sure I have not watched a complete college Basketball game all year - I am not even sure if the total of all the pieces of games I have watched this year would equal one full game. However, it is Tourney Time, and that means it is time for the greatest event in all of sports. So, feel free to join us as part of this year's "A Thinking Man's Tourney Time."
If you would like to participate, the link is at http://athinkingmansthoughts.mayhem.cbssports.com/e
The pool password is "tourney"
If you have participated before and already have a CBS Sports ID, all you need to do is
1. Follow the link above
3. Enter the Pool Password: tourney
4. Make your picks
If you have never participated before and would like to do so, follow these steps:
1. Follow the link above
2. Register for a CBS Sports ID (it's free)
3. After registering, it should ask you for the pool password - enter "tourney"
4. Make your picks
(Note: If you end up somewhere else after registering, just return to this page and follow the link and the instructions above :) ).
If you did not participate last year, we would love for you to join us this year.
A NOTE ABOUT THE RULES:
1. You are allowed to make up two brackets - one for your head and one for your "gut" if you wish.
2. Scoring is a Weight + Seed method of scoring
*In other words, points are awarded based on what round the game is in, plus the seed of the team. If you pick Morgan State to defeat W.V.U. in the first round and get it correct, you will get 16 points for that pick - 1 point for getting it correct in the first round PLUS 15 points for correctly picking that 15th seed to win. So, correctly picking an upset can help you out a lot, but it also means that if the team you pick to lose that game goes deep (and you picked them to go deep), you could be leaving a lot of points on the table. For example, in the previous example, if you chose WVU to beat Morgan State and to make the Final Four - and you are correct - the choice of WVU in that scenariou would actually be worth more than the upset pcik because WVU would earn you ultimately 18 points during the tournament (1st round - 3 [1+2], 2nd round - 4 [2+2], 3rd round - 5 [3+2], and 4th round - 6 [4+2]) (CONFUSED, YET?)
Just my thoughts,
"So Who's at the Next Table, Anyway?" - That is the title of a recent post by my friend and fellow bi-vocational pastor (in Scotland) Jon Gleason.
Pastor Gleason is a good thinker and a great pastor. I have really enjoyed his comments and writings in a number of areas over the last few years. He has recently begun a new blog called Mind Renewers that I have found to be very thoughtful and very pastoral. I have added his blog to my blog list on the left side of this blog and I encourage you to visit and read there often. You will challenged and you will be edified.
In the post linked to above, Pastor Gleason relates two experiences of overhearing conversations in restaurants (one serious and one humorous) and then encourages us with some piercing thoughts in conclusion:
Who is listening when we start exercising our jaw bones and wagging our tongues? Do you know who is at the next table? How would we moderate our speech if someone different were sitting next to us? What would we be saying about someone if the person at the next table is his neighbour or cousin (maybe it is)?
Both cases reminded me of the need to give consideration to the question: ”Who might be listening?”
Make sure you go over to his blog and read his last sentence - for it is the crux of the whole thought and one that we all ought to consider.
Just someone else's thoughts,
Last night, Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury hosted the Regional Premiere of Milltown Pride, a new film from Unusual Films (a division of Bob Jones University).
It was good to see some folks out for the film and I pray the film was an encouragement to those who came out. For those who were unable to make it out, we are planning a second showing of the film on the evening of July 15.
Milltown Pride follows the path of Will Wright as he pursues his dream of playing baseball in the big leagues. Growing up in a wealthy family, Will leaves the wealth of his home and family in pursuit of his dream as he goes to play baseball for the local Newton Mill in the Mill League and signs up for a job at the mill in order to be able to play.
While the bigger setting is the baseball that caries the picture, the reality is that baseball is not the only struggle for young Will Wright - or even the most important struggle. Will struggles with alcohol and anger, but most importantly, Will struggles with pride - as he thinks he can do everything on his own, not realizing that it is in Christ that "we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28).
How often do we find ourselves choosing to go "our own way?" Whether the path is baseball, booze, or business - when we focus our choices on what we want instead of what God wants, we have made a foolish choice and placed ourselves on the throne of our lives instead of living with God on the throne of our lives.
Who is on the throne of your life? Whose direction and desires are you pursuing? When you make choices throughout the day, who are you choosing to please - God or self? When you make a choice today about your entertainment choices - will you choose to please God or yourself? When you make a choice this week about being in God's house for the services - will you choose to please God or yourself? When you make choices about how to spend your life - are you choosing to please God or to please yourself?
May God help us all to choose to please Him.
Just my thoughts,
Some of you know that one of my favorite toys/tools of the last couple of years was the Kindle that my wife got me for Christmas a couple of years ago. In fact, in my seminar on reading that I did at last year's Annual Conference of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches, I spent some time discussing the use of electronic readers and may have helped Amazon sell a couple of Kindles in the process.
Unfortunately, my Kindle died while we were down at BJU for Bible Conference in March (I tried to make it fit into an area it could not fit and broke the screen).
However, with the way Kindle has developed over the last couple of years, you can still access any of your previously purchased Kindle books through other Kindle applications, such as the Kindle for PC application that I use.
Now, a Kindle on your PC is not nearly as good as a Kindle in your hand, but ... it will do in a pinch - especially if you think you may eventually get a Kindle (or replace your broken Kindle).
One of the nice things about Kindles is that there is often a good amount of free content that is made available from time to time. Most older classics are already available free, but even newer books come up from time to time and some of the older religious books become available as someone takes the time to convert them into the Kindle format.
I noticed some recent free additions to the Kindle library that I thought I would pass on to those who still happen to read this on occasion.
Over at Bring the Books, the author has converted a number of Puritan (and other older works) into Kindle format - including The Sovereignty of God by A. W. Pink, The Complete Works of John Bunyan, Spurgeon's Commentary on Matthew and Sermons on Proverbs, Christian in Complete Armour (William Gurnall's three-volume work on Ephesians 6), William Wilberforce's Practical Christianity (which Jim Berg refers to at length in Essential Virtues), biographies of John G. Paton, George Mueller, and J. Hudson Taylor, and many more works by men like Richard Sibbes, John Owen, Thomas Manton, and more.
The link for the Free Kindle Books is here - http://www.bringthebooks.org/search/label/Free%20Kindle%20Book
Even if you have some of these in dead tree editions, at least some of these may be useful in electronic format due to the ability to search through the electronic book in a much faster way.
Anyway, hope you find this useful.
Just my thoughts,
Posted by Frank Sansone at 12:44 AM
I just discovered that I accidently put this post up at the church blog (The Pastor's Pen) rather than here at my personal blog (A Thinking Man's Thoughts). This was posted on the Monday of the Championship game (and I am going to publish it as though it was here on that date so that I can find it easier next year if I need to do so).
Tonight is the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game between the University of Connecticut Huskies and the Butler Bulldogs.
The fact that these two teams are in the Finals is extraordinary in a lot of ways. I have not had a lot of opportunities to watch many of the games this year, but I have greatly enjoyed most of the ones I did see. There are some incredible athletes at this level - and as a fan of the underdog, this game has provided a bunch of upsets as the little guys took down the top seeds over and over again.
Last year when Butler made the Final against Duke there were a lot of comments and comparisons between Butler and the movie Hoosiers with the small school underdog Hickory winning the Indiana High School basketball championship. Since Butler made it this far last year, their return trip has not generated quite as much as surprise, but in some ways this trip is actually more similar to the REAL story underlying upon which the movie Hoosiers is (loosely) based.
For instance, while the coach in the movie is an old grizzled coach and the team makes an incredible one-year run, in real-life the Milan team was coached by a very young coach (who was a graduate of Butler University) and the championship in 1954 was actually the culmination of an incredible 2-year run like Butler is currently experiencing. (The Milan 1952-1953 team had surprised everyone by reaching the Indiana High School Final Four in 1953 and then came back the next year to win it all.)
I commented on some of the other similarities last year - here.
Included were these comments (original includes a couple of links - and please excuse the self-quote):
For instance, the movie's final scene where tiny Hickory High won the championship was filmed at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, the real person upon whom the movie's basketball star "Jimmy Chitwood" is based upon was a young man named Bobby Plump, who followed his career at Milan by playing at ... you guessed it - Butler University. The coach of the 1954 Milan team was a graduate of ... Butler University.
I am rooting for Butler, but Connecticut has had an incredible run in their own right with an incredible run throughout the Big East Tournament preceding this tournament.
A Thinking Man's Tourney Time Results
Since no one in A Thinking Man's Tourney Time has either one of these teams reaching the finals, we can declare the final results of this year's tourney.
This year A Thinking Man's Tourney Time was the year of the Andys. Winning it all this year is Andy Rupert. Andy followed up his runner-up finish last year to win it all this year with an impressive bracket in a year of bracket-busting games and bracket-busting teams. For instance, Andy had 11 of the Sweet 16.
Congratulations to Andy!
Not only did we have an Andy win it all, we also had an Andy come in second place. Andy Efting rebounded nicely this year as he almost went from worst to first, falling about one early game loss away from winning it all in an impressive display of bracket redemption.
# Player Points Wins Championship Pick
1 Andy Rupert 185 38 Ohio St. (145)
2 Andy Efting 180 35 Ohio St. (133)
3 Jon Knisely 166 35 Kansas (141)
4 Matt Jury 163 35 Ohio St. (198)
5 Ron Bean 162 34 Kansas (155)
6 Frank Sansone 159 34 Duke (179)
7 Sarah Nething 151 29 Kansas (157)
8 Don Johnson 144 31 Ohio St. (147)
Thanks again to all who played.
Just my thoughts,
Well, with the Sweet Sixteen half-over, I thought I would give a quick update on The Thinking Man's Tourney Time.
We have a pretty close tourney this year, although Andy Rupert has a pretty significant lead overall and I am not sure he can be caught. Andy Efting has got a pretty solid 2 position, but the next three players are only separated by a total of four points.
In the wild world that is the tourney, last year's winner is bringing up the end, but everyone's eventual champion is still alive except for mine (Duke).
I am enjoying Bible Conference at BJU, so I have not had much time to post or to watch games.
Here are the standings so far.
1 Andy Rupert 176 points 36 correct
2 Andy Efting 164 points 32 correct
3 Ron Bean 158 points 33 correct
4 Jon Knisely 157 points 33 correct
6 Matt Jury 154 points 33 correct
7 Frank Sansone 150 points 32 correct
8 Don Johnson 140 points 30 correct
8 Sarah Nething 140 points 27 correct
March Madness is my favorite sporting event of the year. I love the event for the excitement of the actual games and for the great story lines that usually come out each year. It is neat to see the little guys make a run at the big guys and send them home. It is exciting to see players come out of nowhere and have the tournament of their lives. It is cool to have so many games going on at once (at least in the early rounds) - this also allows you to skip out on the ones that are blowouts and watch the more interesting games.
Each year for a number of years, I have completed a bracket and I have run bracket competitions. I am not sure when I started this, but I know I have run bracket competitions but I remember students at HCA and GCCS being involved in bracket competitions and doing the scoring manually before the days of all these nice internet sites that figure out the scoring for you. For the last few years I have hosted a bracket challenge here at A Thinking Man's Thoughts and this year is no exception.
I have not had the opportunity to watch much of the tournament yet, but I have enjoyed the parts that I have had the opportunity to watch. (I have had the opportunity to listen to some and have found Westwood One to be doing a great job with the radio broadcasts of the game.) I happened to be home briefly (I was bringing home a couple of bookcases) on Thursday and was able to see the last minute or so of the Temple v. Penn State game. Even though I was only able to watch about a minute of the game, I saw two incredible plays in just that little time.
With about 17 seconds left, Penn State's Battle put up a three-point shot from well beyond the arc to tie the ball game. It was an incredible shot and I yelled "Wow" to my son. He came in and watched the last seconds of the game with me. If you watched the game, you know that this was not the end of the story. Temple came back with ball and Fernandez had the ball in his hands with the time running out. He pivoted over and over looking for a shot, but was pretty well defended. With one second left, he leaned over to his left and put up an incredible leaning shot that went in to win the game for Temple. Wow! What a play. THAT is why I love March Madness.
Anyway, after the first round of this year's NCAA Tournament, out standings at The Thinking Man's Tourney Time show a couple of Andy's up in the lead. Long-time sufferer Andy Efting has taken the early lead with 127 points, followed closely by Andy Rupert with 121 points.
Ron Bean has a perfect West Region Bracket so far and Jon Knisely has a perfect East Region Bracket. Everyone other than Matt Jury and I have at least all of their Elite 8 teams remaining. Matt was perhaps doing a little more "rooting" than picking since he had Penn State in the Elite 8. I was a little too convinced in the chances for St. John's since they had knocked off some pretty good teams this year.
So, here are a standings and totals after the Round of 64.
1. Andy Efting 127 points
2. Andy Rupert 121 points
3. Frank Sansone 112 points
4. Matt Jury 110 points
5. Jon Knisely 109 points
6. Ron Bean 108 points
7. Don Johnson 107 points
8. Sarah Nething 102 points
John Murray was a theologian who taught at Princeton Theological Seminary and then helped to found Westminster Theological Seminary along with J. Gresham Machen and others.
I saw some comments attributed to John Murray regarding the difference between preaching and lecturing here.
The comments are simple and helpful, so I thought I would pass them on. I feel like I have heard this somewhere else before (perhaps in one of my preaching classes?), but I thought I could not hurt repeating.
So, here is what Murray says distinguishes the two:
A sermon must be Personal.
It must be Passionate.
And it must involve a Plea.
Just someone else's thoughts,
Warning: Political comments (sort of)
Sometimes when we hear all the big numbers involved in things like the federal budget it is easy to let it go in one ear and out the other. I read this article on the Powerline blog and thought it was a great way to illustrate the current debate over the federal budget.
Anyway, the article is here.
Just someone else's thoughts,
In a couple of days is the "Ides of March." While most of us do not use the terms "ides", many of us have undoubtedly heard the expression, "Beware the ides of March."
William Shakespeare includes the following exchange in his play, Julius Ceasar.
Act 1, Scene 2Later, in Act 3, Scene 1
CAESAR Ha! who calls?
CASCA Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!
CAESAR : Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry 'Caesar!' Speak; Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR: What man is that?
BRUTUS : A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR: Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS : Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CAESAR What say'st thou to me now? speak once again.
Soothsayer Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
CAESAR [To the Soothsayer] The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer Ay, Caesar; but not gone.
While we generally think of the exchange as simply a story by Shakespeare, according to ancient Greek historian Plutarch in his "Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans", a similar exchange did exist - and it was this that Shakespeare later based his scene upon.
Plutarch - Life of Caesar
The following story, too, is told by many. A certain seer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the day of the month of March which the Romans call the Ides; and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: "Well, the Ides of March are come," and the seer said to him softly: "Ay, they are come, but they are not gone."If the story is true, Julius Caesar was warned to be on his guard and even warned what day it would be - but he refused to take the warning seriously.
Warnings are important. Warnings often make the difference between life and death and between success and failure. In Ezekiel chapter 3:16-21 and Ezekiel 33:1-9 we find some important instructions about warnings.
Eze 3:16 And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.
One of the things we notice in both of these passages is that there is a proper way that warnings are to be dealt with and there is an improper way. Our need to deal properly with warnings is evident whether we are the one giving the warning or the one receiving the warning. We must deal with warnings properly.
I. If we are going to deal properly with warnings we must understand the Nature of Warnings
One of the Leadership Principles from AACS: "Discipline is good, not bad." We could correctly paraphrase that as well to tell us that "Warnings are good, not bad."
When we view warnings as bad, we are hesitant to give the needed warning and when we view warnings as bad, we are angry when we have been given a warning.
A Biblical understanding of warnings, however, tells us that warnings are not a bad thing. Warnings are not given against the person, but are given for the person.
A. Warnings are designed to enlighten, not enrage.
B. Warnings are designed to protect, not punish
When you love someone, you want to protect them and so it is necessary to warn them.
C. Warnings are a depiction of concern, not condemnation
When Paul writes to the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 4:14, he mentions the relationship in connection with the warning.
I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
Solomon reminds us of this truth, as well:
Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Therefore, we need to understand it is the loving thing to do to warn others and that the person who is warning you is the one who is loving you. The one who is telling you it is okay to continue in your sin is the one who is hating you.
II. If We are Going to Deal Properly with Warnings, we must understand the Instruments of Warnings
There are some instruments that God uses to warn us. Two of those instruments are mentioned in this passage.
A. The Word of God - "hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me." (Ezek 3:17)
The Psalmist and Paul also remind us that the Word of God gives us warning and reproof.
Ps 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That is one reason why it is so difficult to be faithful to your devotions when you are choosing sin - you don't want to hear the warnings from God's Word. It is also one of the reasons why it is easier to get involved in sin when you are not being faithful with your time in God's Word - you are missing out on the warnings from God's word.
Someone has said "This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book."
The second instrument that God has chosen to give warning is his people.
B. The People of God
This whole passage emphasizes the fact that God has chosen people to give warnings.
The reality is that we, as believers, are to be instruments of warnings to others.
Paul repeatedly emphasizes this point:
Ac 20:31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Ro 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
III. The Response to Warnings
One of the most important things to understand about warnings, is the response to warnings. In Ezekiel 33:3-5, we have a record of the two responses to warnings:
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
A. A Warning May Be Rejected
When legitimate warnings are rejected, the one rejecting the warning is heading for destruction.
Again Proverbs reminds of this:
Proverbs 29:1 ¶ He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
(See also Proverbs 1:24-31)
Repeatedly we see this in Scripture. Ahab & Jezebel rejected, rather than accepted the warnings of God through Elijah - and God destroyed them. Pharoah & the Egyptians rejected, rather than accepted the warnings of God through Moses - and God brought great destruction.
B. A Warning May Be Accepted
Ezek 33:5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
David understood the proper response to a warning and he said in Psalm 141:5 "Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities."
God in His great mercy and love offers you a different path. If you choose to heed His warnings, you shall be delivered rather than destroyed.
This is the desired response - by God and by the warner. (Matt 18:15 - "thou hast gained thy brother"; Gal 6:1 - "restore such a one")
Warnings are important and we must deal with warnings properly. When we understand the Biblical truth regarding warnings, we should be much more inclined to deal with warnings properly. We must understand the nature of warnings - that they are "Good, not bad" - that they are designed to enlighten, not enrage, they are designed to protect, not punish and they are a depiction of concern, not condemnation. We must understand the instruments of warning - that God has chosen to warn us through His Word and through His people. And we must make the right response to warning - accepting rather than rejecting the warnings.
The story of Harry Randall Truman from Mt. St. Helens is a great illustration of the danger of refusing to heed a warning. (You can read of Harry Truman at Wikipedia here.)
Harry Truman was warned again and again of the dangers, yet he refused to heed the warnings and destruction and death came.
What is God dealing with you about today? What warning has God brought up to you? Perhaps God is warning you about the danger of your eternal soul - will you heed his warning today? Perhaps God is warning you about a particular sin that you are allowing into your life - will you heed his warning today?
Will you deal properly with warnings today?
(The preceding reflection is based on this morning's sermon at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury.)
One of our men leaves this coming week to serve our country in the middle east. He is a good man and he loves the Lord, he loves his family, and he loves his country. He will be missed around here by many (including me and my family), but I rejoice in his willingness to serve our nation and I will pray for his safety as he is away, as well as for his influence for Christ amongst his fellow-soldiers and for his family that is left behind.
The Bible often uses the picture of soldiers and physical warfare to remind believers of the very real, but invisible, spiritual warfare of which we are all involved. As I thought of my friend in preparation for leaving this week, I was drawn to Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:3-4
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Paul uses a number of illustrations in this passage regarding the nature of Christian service and Christian living. Among these illustrations are comparisons to racing or competition ("strive for masteries"), to farming ("the husbandman that laboureth"), and this passage here on being a good soldier.
When Paul speaks of this soldier, I find it challenging to consider the traits that he lists, for these traits ought to be evident not only in the lives of good soldiers who are fighting the physical battles, but of all of us who desire to fight successfully in the spiritual warfare.
A Good Soldier Endures Hardness
One of the realities of being a soldier is that there is often times great hardship in being a soldier. There is the hardship of the conditions in the field. There is the hardship of the lost opportunities of things that could be done were the soldier at home instead of far away. Perhaps the greatest hardship, however, is the hardship of separation from loved ones.
In the spiritual realm, there are times when there may be physical hardships in the spiritual battles - and Paul certainly knew something of those hardships (see 2 Corinthians 10, for instance), the reality for most believers in America is that any "hardness" we may have to endure for Christ is not likely to be that of the physical nature. The reality is that the hardness that you and I are most likely to be called to endure involves relationships - relationships that are strained as we seek to do those things that are pleasing to Christ rather than following through with the world's way of doing things. Of course, as believers, we can take heart in the Lord's promise that this is to be expected (John 15:18).
A Good Soldier Ends Entanglements
Another reality of being a good soldier is that the soldier who is on the battlefield has to recognize that the entanglements of this world need to be avoided if he is going to fight successfully. Focusing on the things of his world back home instead of focusing on the task at hand can be very dangerous on the battlefield. Even good things must be left behind for the sake of successful soldiering.
In the spiritual realm, the picture is again obvious. Believers need to be careful to end entanglements with the things of this world if we are going to successfully serve as soldiers for Christ. It should be obvious that the sinful things of this world ought to be avoided - after all, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) However, successful soldiering does not just involve ending the entanglements with sinful things. Successful soldiering also often requires that we get rid of the silly things and even the "not bad, but unnecessary" things.
A Good Soldier Pleases His Commander
Another reality of the characteristics of a good soldier is that the good soldier is careful to do those things that please his commander. He does not follow his own agenda in the battle, but he instead follows the orders and instructions given unto him by his commander. A soldier that "goes rogue" is a danger to himself and those around him.
In the spiritual realm, believers need to be focused on pleasing Christ. While we recognize that we can do in our own strength apart from Christ (John 15:5), He has nevertheless given us instructions and commands and as good soldiers it should be our hearts desire and our life's practice to please Him. Too many times it is easy for believers to pursue our own agenda rather than Christ's agenda. Our flesh wants us to please it, instead of pleasing Christ. The world around us clamors for us to please the world instead of pleasing Christ. A good soldier focuses instead on pleasing Christ.
What about your life? Are you a good soldier of Jesus Christ?
Have you shown yourself to be a person who is willing to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ? Are you willing to take the ridicule of "friends" and even family for standing up for Christ and the truth? Enduring hardness requires dedication to the cause and discipline to carry through.
What is your relationship to the entanglements of this world? Are you eliminating all sinful, silly, and useless entanglements or are you caught in a web of wrong actions, wrong affections and wasted time?
When we think of our daily walk, whose agenda are we pursuing? Who are we seeking to please? Are we seeking to please our Master and Commander or are we seeking to please ourselves?
May each of us strive to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Just my thoughts,
* The preceding is (to some degree) a summarized reflection on the message I preached this morning at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury.