The Chris­tian Walk Is A Jour­ney With A Be­gin­ning, Mid­dle, End

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - CHURCH - RON WOOD IS A WRITER AND MIN­IS­TER. EMAIL HIM AT RON@ TOUCHEDBYGRACE.ORG OR VISIT WWW.TOUCHEDBYGRACE. ORG. THE OPIN­IONS EX­PRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AU­THOR. Ron Wood Colum­nist

My wife re­minded me that in the Angli­can ex­pres­sion of wor­ship, their li­tur­gi­cal cul­ture in­cludes par­tic­i­pa­tion in cer­tain help­ful rit­u­als, ex­po­sure to the Scrip­tures, and reg­u­lar par­tak­ing of the Eucharist. They call this prac­tice the Daily Of­fice. Most churches have less rit­ual yet read less Scrip­ture.

I re­mem­ber when I was pas­tor of a Bap­tist Church in Florida, I de­vel­oped a pat­tern of min­is­ter­ing to fam­i­lies as they came for­ward to re­ceive the Lord’s Sup­per. That his­toric church had lovely kneel­ing benches, padded, curved, lo­cated at the front of the small au­di­to­rium. When­ever I served com­mu­nion on Sun­day morn­ings, we would have wor­ship, mu­sic and singing. As each fam­ily would come and kneel, I passed in front of them pray­ing bless­ings, some­times speak­ing words by the Spirit, serv­ing them wine and bread. It was a holy mo­ment. The Lord was pow­er­fully present among us. Tears of joy of­ten came spon­ta­neously to many. Grace from God was im­parted and re­ceived.

At Billy Gra­ham’s fu­neral, his el­dest daugh­ter, Ann Gra­ham Lotz, de­scribed how her mother and fa­ther would read the Bible and pray with the fam­ily ev­ery day. Later, as Billy grew in­firm, he asked her to read the Scrip­tures to him. She would ex­plain why she chose a pas­sage, read it to him, com­ment on it, and then pray. This was like a daily of­fice.

When I was a child, be­fore my fa­ther ac­cepted Christ at a very late age, my mother was the one who led us boys in prayer each night. Her Bible was marked up with fre­quent notes and un­der­lined verses. Her old KJV Bible was dated where she had read it through eleven times! She lit­er­ally wore it out.

The Chris­tian walk is a jour­ney of faith that has a be­gin­ning, mark­ers along the way, and an end­ing. To end well, we need to main­te­nance our soul, tend to our is­sues, and feed our faith. We can’t do it alone. We need our fam­ily and we need the church.

Ev­ery be­liever in Je­sus is of­fered a ba­sic pack­age of grace just by ac­cept­ing Christ based on what He did on the cross for us. It starts with for­give­ness. Know­ing that our sins are for­given is a cause for joy. My Sav­ior dealt with the judg­ments due me for my sin. He bore the curse of sin, so I could have His gift of right­eous­ness, plus re­ceive eter­nal life. How amaz­ing!

Be­yond for­give­ness, we can re­ceive free­dom. Free­dom is an aspect of whole­ness, of de­liv­er­ance. The ar­eas in which we need free­dom in­volve break­ing the bondage of ha­bit­ual sins, ex­pelling tor­ment­ing evil spir­its, and the heal­ing of our self-im­age; our iden­tity in Christ as de­light­ful chil­dren of God.

An­other level awaits us; the Fa­ther’s fa­vor! Fa­vor is the un­de­ni­able and un­de­served bless­ing that rests on our life. We move from the do­ing to be­ing, glid­ing on grace, not striv­ing by self-ef­fort, all the while ex­pe­ri­enc­ing God’s prov­i­den­tial good­ness in the land of the liv­ing. This multi-gen­er­a­tional fa­vor causes our life to be­come sig­nif­i­cant. For­give­ness, free­dom, fa­vor. What’s next?

Thanks to the re­minder of Billy Gra­ham’s life and death, there is an­other joy that awaits us. We can be­come “fish­ers of men.” Ev­ery fol­lower of Je­sus, re­gard­less of vo­ca­tion or sta­tion, can and should be a wit­ness of the res­ur­rected Christ so that we will at­tract peo­ple to faith in Je­sus.

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