Showing items filed under “Pastor Ralph”
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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (ESV)

No, you read that right, it’s not a misprint. A Bass landed me. Usually, it’s the other way around. You go fishing and you land the bass but that’s not what happened to me, at least on this occasion. At the time I was landed, I was eight years old and my family resided in Plainview, Texas. I was a typical west Texas boy, thoroughly interested in all sports, adventurous, couldn’t wait to get up the next morning to find out what me and the “boys” were going to do that we hadn’t done before. It was a great way to begin the trek of life.

The “boys” were all the guys in the neighborhood that hung out together every day and all day. No locks on the doors back then, no unending busyness that sucked away all of your time, except for Little League baseball. All the sports back then had their own delineated seasons and rarely overlapped much, if at all, and you could play all of them if you so desired.

But we had time, time to find adventure and explore, and we did both. Sometimes it might cause a little issue here or there, but most of the time we just engaged in endless games and activities we just invented on our own.

During the season of my eighth year of life another boy, not from my neighborhood, but within my circle of friends, asked me to go to a Hot Dog Supper at his church. He said there would be plenty of food and girls and games. The trifecta, how perfect was that? So, I asked my mom if I could go. It progressed through the proper channels to my father and agreement was soon settled upon and I was able to give Jon the word that I was “good to go”. I couldn’t wait!

Seemed harmless enough, no worries, but as I look back on it now, I was the subject of an intentional act of love from Jon Bass to introduce me to Jesus Christ. Someone (the Lord) had put somebody else (me) on his mind and heart, enough that he was willing to risk taking me to church so that I might hear the gospel. I was in his circle of “influence”. I was one of the people that he knew, that he had some type of relationship with, and was unsure if I had ever trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

I still remember the “gist” of that evening. I remember the “hot dogs with chili”, I remember Monica Moat, my earliest affection, and I remember listening to the gospel. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, I just knew that I believed what the man was telling us, that I needed Christ to forgive my sins. For one thing was certain, I knew I was a sinner, but I didn’t know the consequences of being one, he told was separation from God, and everlasting death in hell. Well, needless to say that when I received that news I was intensely focused in on what he was saying about being saved (rescued) from my dire situation and the Holy Spirit was revealing the truth to me, and convicting me, and leading me to Christ. I said yes, but I didn’t tell anybody, although I did raise my hand when he asked if anyone had decided to follow Jesus, but it wasn’t till later, at a “revival” service that I told my mom that I wanted everyone to know that I wanted Jesus to be my Savior. She started crying. I thought I had done something wrong, later to discover those were tears of joy.


I was landed by a bass. For Jon Bass had been fishing, not for fish, but for souls. Later I would discover that his whole family had been involved, and that since the time of playing football with Jon in the city league they had been praying for me at family meals, and “intentionally” planning on how and when to share the gospel with me. As I look back on it, there were numerous times the subject had come up with Jon and his family, but it wasn’t until the “Hot Dog Supper” that I “listened”.

What about your circle of “influence”? Your family, your extended family, your neighbors, your vocational friends, your extracurricular activity buddies, your acquaintances. Just make a list of those people, as many as you can think of, and ask yourself whether or not they are Christians. Then moving from the inside circle of influence, to the outside, intentionally pray for their souls and plan to tell them about Jesus. Be intentional. You are intentional with everything else you do.

When I go to the range for target practice, if I don’t intentionally pick a target, I won’t hit a target. Very rarely, could I just step out on a range and randomly hit a target. That’s how some Christians have been about sharing the gospel, no wonder we’re not hitting anything, we’re not aiming.

It’s true for every area of life. If I want to graduate and go to college; I had to target certain classes in order to reach my goal. If I want to succeed in business, I have to target my customer or I will not be successful. In fact, I had to “target” my wife before she became my wife. You get the drift. We need to be more intentional about sharing Christ.

Sometimes it’s good to be a target, when you’re a target of love and compassion. That’s what I was to Jon and his family. They cared enough to risk their relationship with me in order to share with me the best “news” I’ve ever received... about Jesus and His love.

Who is it that you know that God loves and they haven’t ever heard about it? Maybe you could tell them? Maybe you could “intentionally” go fishing...just like Jon. He caught me with a “hot dog” and the Lord did the rest. Just throw out the lines and leave the results to the Lord.

Yep, I was landed by a Bass, best day of my life.


Posted by Ralph Sawyer with
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So I went to the doctor a while back after chugging Ibuprofen wasn’t doing the trick and was reminded of something that I should have remembered. Just because you have pain in a particular area of the body that doesn’t necessarily mean that area is the problem. I mean I should have remembered once before when I was having the old gall bladder issue and it had to be removed. I remember my back was feeling like someone was taking the end of a baseball bat and grinding it into my back with all the strength and intensity they could muster. I thought I had a back problem, but it was a gall bladder issue. They call it something like “displaced pain”. The area of the pain is not necessarily where the problem is. Looks like something similar may be occurring this time. I’m always thankful for the age that I live in, to have available people who can determine what the issue really is and help me to deal with it so that I can get rid of the root problem. I mean, what did they do in the “old” days? I guess they just suffered until they...died. But not today, thank the Lord.

You know the same thing can happen in the spiritual life. You think you’re having a marital issue because of the pain you’re experiencing in the relationship, or a financial issue because you get call after call about that debt that you’ve incurred, or maybe it’s an health issue that has arisen because of a weight issue, or maybe the disconnect from a child that is causing a lot of angst. The list could go on and on, and yet, it appears that so much of the time those aren’t the issues at all. The root of the problem goes back to our relationship with the Lord and whether or not we are walking in the Spirit. That our life as the Lord designed it to be maximized as we are led by the Spirit throughout the day, week, month, year...lifetime. Listen to this:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25 (NASB77)

Whenever a person responds in a relationship or to a crisis or any situation in an “inappropriate” way...I’m talking about “sinning”, there are consequences that cause pain. Whenever a person violates the Scripture and loads on debt they can’t handle...there are consequences that cause pain. Whenever a person has increased their weight with disregard for the body, which is a “temple” of the Holy Spirit, there are consequences that cause pain. Whenever a parent farms out the discipline and training of their children to someone else with complete disregard to Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6, there will be consequences that involve pain. Whenever a person lives selfishly in a marriage relationship in violation of the Scripture, there are consequences that cause pain. You will notice in each one of those areas mentioned that if not diagnosed properly, the same pain will hang around, get worse, and will often be repeated over and over, and over and over. You think you have a marital problem, or a debt problem, or “whatever”, but the real problem is a person’s relationship with Christ, because they are not being led by the Spirit.

Imagine if marriage relationships were defined by and lived according the Word of God as led by the Holy Spirit and couples were no longer selfish, but saw themselves as being helpers and builders of one another...WOW. If people in a marriage relationship would just stop being selfish...which is what we are and what we do when we “live in the flesh”, most pain would be taken care of. You know why? Because the real problem would have been addressed. Because when you’re selfish, you have a God problem. Selfishness is not a “fruit” of the Spirit no matter how much the world tells you it’s OKAY and you should take care of number one no matter what. Same thing with all the examples I mentioned, and most of the others I didn’t mention, but you thought of. I mean if we hadn’t incurred all the debt and followed the admonition and wisdom of the pain. Really the debt problem is a God problem. If you don’t walk in the the Christian life for “real” every’ll live in the flesh...which is painful.

Be encouraged, you’re just a human, but being saved by grace you can start to alleviate the pain by working on the real issue. Ask yourself the question. Just how Christ- like am I in the way I live? Am I living like Christ wants me to? Am I asking, “What would Jesus do”? And “Am I doing it”. That’s where the Spirit will always lead Jesus...and the we can be set “free”...from the pain.

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, " If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31-32 (NASB77)

Stop wasting time ignoring the “root” of the problem...which is your relationship with the Lord...that’s why things are messed up. In the end, you can’t control anybody else...only you...and then just respond to the situation just like Jesus would. Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the “desire”, yes, it says “desire”. Our selfishness is often the driver behind ungodly behavior and the pain we experience, but if you walk in the Spirit you will not carry out the “desire” of the flesh.

Displaced pain...what a bummer, but thankfully we live in a day where someone can tell me what the real problem is. It can be dealt step at a time.

Take the first step today with your “displaced” “walking” in the Spirit. It’s a whole lot more effective than Ibuprofen.

Posted by Ralph Sawyer with

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