Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Devotion 1.13.16

The Boston Red Sox had a catcher, Moe Berg, from 1923 - 1939.  Educated, he was a brilliant coach after his playing days.  Moe's secret?  He was a spy.  Moe Berg's brilliance was told in a book called "The Catcher Was a Spy" by Nicholas Dawidoff in 1994.  I'm certain Moe and other people who have served as spies would be complimented to learn that just last week, Sean Penn served as a spy for the Mexican military in finding the drug lord "El Chapo" by appearing as an actor interested in writing a biopic about the drug lord.

I once had the privilege to spend an hour or so talking to one of the biggest names in the cigar industry - Carlito Fuente of Fuentes Cigar.  He's probably my age, but he's called "Carlito" because his father, Carlos, is still around.  We talked about a variety of things, some dealing with cigars, but others dealing with other things in life, including a hat he wears that is prominent in the Fuente ads which pictures him and his father in the tobacco fields, presumably in Central America, as they examine the large leafs of tobacco that make up a cigar at some point (filler, binder, wrapper).

You ever think of allowing customers to visit your fields in those areas? I asked.  "Absolutely not," he answered, not rudely.  "Too many corporate spies in our business."  Spies?  I'd never thought of that, but I know they exist.  Go in and see what your competition is doing and how they are doing it.  Money is big in that business, and so secrets are protected.

What about "spies" in the church?  Paul had to deal with this in Galatia as he tried to turn the eyes of the Galatians, made up of Jews and Gentiles, to the cross and away from their long-held beliefs of the past.  What made his job difficult is Jews known as "Judaizers" - those who insist on following the Law, rules, and customs of the Jewish faith in order to be made right in the eyes of God, which included circumcision - came in to spy.  "Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in - who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery."  (2:4)  Sadly, this kind of activity exists in the church today in probably every church (not the building but the body of Christ) in the Christian faith.  Are you teaching the true Word of God?  Are you following the tenets of the faith as it was established in the past?  Based on conversations, no church escapes this - denomination and non-denomination alike.

This kind of legalism keeps us from being the "boots on the ground to deliver God's Word" (a phrase I heard in a prayer Sunday and I loved it) as we spend time and energy, as does Paul, reviewing our credentials and our activity and confirming that it is within the Word and guidelines of what we believe and teach.  Paul spends a considerable amount of time in Galatians emphasizing the Law and its role in our faith and Christ, the source of our faith and salvation outside the Law but within the promise given to Abraham.  Paul emphatically writes, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (5:1) 

Pray we use our freedom in Christ to be boots on the ground, taking his Word to the people who have not heard it or not listened.  Pray we enjoy our freedom of salvation in Christ in a way that shows people our love rather than bite and devour one another, not being consumed by one another (5:15).

Hope Men's Ministry

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