Showing items filed under “Pastor Ralph”
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I never really liked sitting on the bench. I had joined the football team because I loved the game, I loved my school, I loved my coaches, I loved the brotherhood that was developed with other players on the team, and I really, really, loved playing in the game and making a contribution toward winning, accomplishing the common goal of everyone on the team.

But here I was...on the bench...and it was my own fault. I wasn’t in the game and I was anguishing over the fact that I was making no contribution at all to the team.

I had been on the bench before, when I was a sophomore. I had been injured in the previous game and had to sit on the bench for the next couple of weeks in street clothes until my high ankle sprain had healed enough for me to resume play. It was weird because I was a part of the team, but I wasn’t. I certainly didn’t feel like a part of the team, because I wasn’t playing in the game and I noticed guys that were playing in the game kind of avoided being over by me. Maybe they thought my injury was going to jump off of me and cling to them and relegate them to the “bench”.

I had noticed during my injury rehabilitation time while relegated to the bench the different kinds of people that populated the bench area while the game was being played. Just to name a few:

There was Bobby Backup. He was on the bench, but he didn’t want to stay on the bench. He wanted to be in the game. During practice, throughout the week, he was a great contributor to the team; learning, and developing, playing on the Scout team, doing whatever he could to prepare himself so that he was ready when the coach gave him the call to get out into the game. He would watch every play and cheer and encourage all the other players until it finally would come time for him to play in the game. For eventually he would play in the game. Usually him not playing was just a matter of it not being his time yet. But no doubt, he was a real contributor to the team effort. He was “engaged”.

Whenever there was a team meeting he listened intently and with great joy as he learned everything he could to make himself a better player.

Then there was David Detached. He was on the bench and he could care less about what was going on in the game. He would look up into the stands and wave at people and find other detached players who were on the team but didn’t want to really be on the team that much and they would just find each other and hang out during the game. He never cared about playing in the game, or about the game at all. Maybe his dad had played in the game and expected him to play for the team. Or maybe, he wanted the recognition of being a part of the team, even though he made no contribution. Or maybe, a buddy had joined the team, so he thought he ought to join it as well. Maybe a pretty girl would be impressed if he was a part of the team. His motivation and “heart” was all wrong. He did the same thing at practice he did during the game; nothing really. I mean, he went through the motions, but really made no contribution at all. Guess he wanted the “letter” for his letterman jacket, but never had the “heart”, the love, the passion, the drive for playing in the game. He would always remain on the bench. He was “disengaged”.

Whenever there was a team meeting he would be bored with what was being said and would find himself drifting off and dreaming about other “stuff” that was really important to him. He didn’t care about what would make him a better player. He was just there, because he was “supposed” to be there.

Then there was Rowdy Ralph. He was on the bench because he had not followed the instructions of the coach and had gone off on his own, thinking he could play the game any old way he wanted to without any repercussions.

That was me on that night. I had blown it. We had practiced all week for a play that Edison would use during the game where their slot receiver would go out into the flat for a pass from their quarterback. Then the quarterback would fake a pass. Then the receiver would turn up toward the goal line and speed past the defender (that would be me on that night) and catch the ball as it floated over the defenders outstretched arms.

What made that play work the best for Edison was when the defender was over aggressive and not willing to wait until the right time to make a break for the football for an interception. And that was me to a “T”. I had this problem of being over-aggressive and not patient...I always wanted an interception. I was proud and loud.

So I disobeyed. I broke on the ball and doing so I had broken a commandment that had been clearly set forth by the coach, who decided who would play in the game and who wouldn’t. The ball floated over my head and into the arms of the receiver and they had a big 40 yard gain.

After that “sin”, I was pulled out of the game, and placed on the “bench”. Did I mention how any player worth his salt would hate being shelved to the bench?

I was miserable. I had “sinned”. I knew I had “sinned”. I had let my team down, and I wasn’t playing in the game, and all of that really hurt. How could I have been so proud and disobedient? The costs of disobedience was weighing on me and weighing on me hard. I had been “benched”; put on the shelf; put away: It was a “bummer”.

Do you see any similarities between the game of football and the game of life? If you stop and think about it for just a minute you might see some of the players on God’s team on the bench for the same reasons they were on the bench on my team.

As a member of God’s team are you playing in the game, or are you on the bench?

If you’re Bobby Backup, just keep preparing yourself for playing in the game. Hone your talents and gifts and be ready when the “Coach” calls. I know you will because your “heart” is right. And I happen to know right now He is using everybody who’s prepared. Listen for that call and get out there.

If you’re David Detached, for you to get in the game your priorities are going to have to change. That won’t happen without a change of heart. Remember your first love, when you became a Christian and you followed Jesus out of your love for Him. Before you know it you’ll find yourself enjoying team “meetings” (worship) again and you’ll get something out of those meetings that you can use for the good of the team. Get engaged.

If you’re Rowdy Ralph, for you to get back in the game, you’ll have to do what David did after he broke at least two commandments of God, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had Uriah killed to try to cover it up. He was broken hearted. That led him to confess his sin and he repented. He experienced a godly sorrow that led to repentance. (Psalm 51) He changed in character and renewed his commitment to the Lord and the Lord’s team and demonstrated it was genuine by the way he lived. God forgave him. And David went on to reveal he was indeed a “man after God’s own heart”. He ended up being inserted back into the game.

I got up from the bench that night and went over to the Coach. I told him I was sorry and I was wrong and I wouldn’t do it again. You can send me back in to the game and I’ll play it like you want me to play it. I was sorry. I want to play, but I’ll do whatever you say.

A few plays later he called my name. He pulled me up by the face mask, and said, “You better never let that happen again”...and then cracked a slight grin to let me know all was forgiven and I was good to go. You know, it was great being back in the game, and you know what - I got an interception that night. It was like the quarterback was throwing the ball to me, instead of his teammate, all because I did it the Coach’s way. Funny how that works!

Why not get off the bench and get in the’ll really be glad you did. Why? Because our team wins in the end...and you’ll be glad you’ve made a contribution on the winning team.

No one should like to sit on the “bench”!


Posted by Ralph Sawyer with
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I was reading the most recent blog written by Dr. Albert Mohler, the current president of Southern Seminary, one of our six Southern Baptist Seminaries, and I found it to be quite thought-provoking. He was summarizing some comments written by Charles Taylor in his book The Secular Age and giving commentary on those comments.

In his summary, he noted that the gist of the book was the identification of three major intellectual ages in history and the impact those ages have had on the mindset of mankind regarding their belief in God while including the ways that believers can hold on to and spread their biblical convictions and biblical principles. He identified the ages of pre-enlightenment, the enlightenment, and the post- modern intellectual epochs. They are also named by some as the pre-modern, modern, and post-modern ages. Others have labelled the post-modern age as the post-Christian era.

In the pre-enlightenment era it was impossible for people not to believe in God, on the whole. There were largely no other worldviews that were available for consideration by society in the West. Everyone related their life, their world, to the Bible or the “enchantment”, supernatural world views. There were no atheists in that day. He notes that the descriptive word “atheist” didn’t even exist in the English language until Miles Coverdale invented the word while studying the Bible to describe someone who didn’t believe in God. Obviously, no problem, on the whole talking about your faith, the gospel or the principles derived from the Word and applied to your life.

The enlightenment became a time when people began to have options to consider. They could take a different world view in opposition to the Christian worldview. It now became possible not to believe. I mean now you could choose a naturalistic worldview as opposed to a supernatural or theistic worldview. Most didn’t, because the theistic worldview was still the most persuasive and the most engrained world view, it was held to by most during this time. It became more difficult to engage society with the truth of the gospel and the principles gleaned from the Word of God, but the hostility and derision was not anything like that which would come to fruition during the next epoch.

The post-modern age has become the age where secular thought seeks to reign supreme. It has become virtually impossible to believe. In a relative short period of time, three-hundred to four hundred years, the secularization of our society now overshadows our daily living. Now we live in a society that all but erases the legitimacy of the Christian worldview. How many University professors, outside of Christian educational institutions, do you believe hold to a Christian worldview? Obviously there are Christians in each age, including the age that we now live in, but the environment has become more hostile and dismissive of a Christian worldview.

This age, on the whole, wants to erase God from the landscape and replace Him with another religion that is false, that being human secularism. But of course, that will not happen. You cannot erase God or His disciples or the truth written in the Word of God.

Since the intellectual constructs of our society have becoming increasingly hostile toward the Christian worldview we must be prepared to engage human secularism and opposing world views in the marketplace of ideas with the truth and power of the gospel, in love.

How many of our children or our grandchildren find themselves thrown out, by us, into the “lion’s den” without a proper preparation for the hostility and derision they may find from a society that ridicules their most precious faith. How many will find a teacher in the public educational system that will believe it is his or her duty to challenge and destroy the faith of every believer that is uncovered. Most of us have had a teacher like my Mr. Boyce in high school, the science teacher, or the many others encountered at the University level...that believe it is their job to do so. How many of us are going to remain oblivious to, or surprised at, the continual effort to erase God from our society, when the effort is manifest every day, even on His birthday, Christmas.

It’s probably time to pull our heads out of the sand and make preparation and engage opposing world views with confidence and tenacity. The best thing that you can do for yourself and your family is to study the Word of God, learn it, and live it. When you know the truth you can identify that which is untrue and ungodly, and when you apply it to your life and live it by faith daily you give witness to the power and plan of God for living. With that testimony you will enjoy a credibility that will make it easier for people to entertain the truth of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and to convert.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

In the Old Testament we find Daniel, as a young teenager, uprooted from his homeland and family, indoctrinated educationally for three years by a society that wanted him to forget where He was from and who God was and who He was, but he didn’t. He knew His Bible. His parents had instructed him well, and he had the foundation that enabled him to live it in a hostile environment. He lived his life in such a way that it gave witness to the one true God of the universe...and then he left the results in the hands of God. You can find his story and example in the book of Daniel. It gives us a clue... on what to do.

We, like Daniel, find ourselves in an ever increasing hostile environment directed towards our faith. It shouldn’t be a surprise.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)

Indeed, not everyone is as open to entertaining the truth of the Scripture as in days gone by. Most are becoming very intolerant and would like for us to forget God and certainly not speak of Him or His truth in the public square.

But we also live in the public square and we will not be ashamed or unprepared. We will not be surprised by attacks or obstacles but will with love and passion live and share the gospel, the hope of all mankind. But this reality does call upon us, in our preparation, to know our audience, the age we live in, and to employ the most effective manner possible in sharing the gospel and the principles of Scripture in every venue possible. If I were preaching to a group of miners I would seek to speak to them in a manner that would be markedly different from the way I might speak to a group of surfers on the beach in Hawaii. (By the way, anybody who would like to send me to Hawaii for a couple of weeks to do so...please...give me a call!) But the one thing you could count on is this, the message of the gospel would be unchanged, for it is the “power of God for salvation to all who believe” (Romans 1:16) but the manner by which I delivered it might be a little different, without violating Scriptural principles. Our message will remain unchanged...the good news...the gospel...for it is the only hope for every person in the world.

Get prepared, and prepare your family, and other disciples of Christ to no longer be surprised by the age we live in, and engage the culture with the gospel, with what we say and how we live, for the glory of God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (ESV)


Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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