We all come from the Adams family. Our family inheritance is our earth suit with its sinful nature. We are simply vessels of clay. Clay, as it ages, cracks, crumbles, and disintegrates. We have inherited a world that is cracking, disintegrating, and falling apart — especially if not properly maintained. We inhabit a world that is moving in a completely different direction from what God has planned. This world has a magnetic-like influence on us. If you are not making a conscious effort to stay out of an earthly sphere of influence, you will be pulled in and, before you realize it, stuck to the magnet. Because of this downward pull, we need to constantly look to God's Word to keep us focused.
The well-known author of The Robe, Lloyd C. Douglas, was a university student who lived in a boarding house. Downstairs, on the first floor, was an elderly, retired music teacher who was infirm and unable to leave the apartment. Douglas said that every morning they had a ritual. Douglas went down the steps, opened the old man's door, and asked, "Well, what's the good news?" The old man picked up his tuning fork, tapped it on the side of the wheelchair, and said, "That's middle C! It was middle C yesterday, it will be middle C tomorrow, and it will be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune, but, my friend, that is middle C!" We need a standard that never changes.
I am told that a compass needs calibration. Over time, the hull of a ship builds up a magnetism that interferes with the ship's compass. True north is no longer true north. To remove this influence, the captain takes the ship over special coils. The Bible is your special coil for life. It will keep you on true north and keep you calibrated so that you are headed in the right direction. Without it, we maneuver our own way, and it seems like the harder we try, the further off true north we veer.
I read about a man in a county jail in Australia. He concocted a scheme to escape. Each day he watched as a delivery truck arrived at the loading dock. There was a time during each delivery in which the truck was left alone while deliveries were taken inside the jail. At that very moment, he walked down the loading ramp, crawled under the truck, and held on to the underpinnings of the truck. As the truck drove away, he held on in fear for his life until it finally came to a rolling stop. As he quietly crept from under the truck, he realized in utter dejection that he was now in the State Penitentiary five miles down the road, still surrounded by walls!
When we rely on ourselves, we find that we go from one prison of discontent to the next. We search and search for answers to our problems without the compass to guide us. God has given us His compass in the Scriptures to guide us through the waters of life.
Because of heredity and our environment we are all dominated by something — none of us is free. You might say that you want to be free from brushing your teeth. You can be free from the toothbrush, but you will be dominated by cavities. We are all dependent on something. That is why we need discipline. Discipline without dependence is arrogance; but dependence without discipline is laziness. We play a great part in the successfulness of our lives. Some Christians live with the idea, "Whatever will be, will be." That is not in the Bible — that was Doris Day.
Practicing spiritual disciplines keeps our compass on true north. A thousand monkeys pounding on a thousand pianos in the same way will never result in a piece by Beethoven. It takes disciplined learning, not random pounding, to produce good music. If we don't discipline ourselves we won't be successful. We will only produce random pounding on the pavement of life.
Choosing Christ as your Savior will give you eternal life, but your earthly life is shaped by the choices you make each day. Many of us live life like one old farmer. When lightning struck his old barn, it saved him from having to tear it down. The rain washed off his car, and it saved him from that chore, too. When asked what he was doing on the porch during the harvest, he replied that he was waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes out of the ground. That is the way a lot of us are. We are waiting for God to do the miracle. I have discovered that when we do the mundane down here, then miracles flow from up there.
The bottom line: If you are trying to take a bone away from a dog, he will put up a fight. Let me tell you how to take a bone away from even the meanest dog. You offer the dog a steak. The only way people will give up the old bones of this world is for them to see that God is offering them a steak. He offers abundant life — the best life. So I give you two choices, take it or leave it.
Charles Lowery is a member of First Baptist Church, Bossier City, Louisiana, founder and president of LIFE, Inc., and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or www.charleslowery.com.