A Voice in the
Wilderness

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                           *** PORTIONS ***


Re: Playing by the rules

"And also if anyone competes, he is not crowned unless he competes 
lawfully." (2Tim2:5)

Friday night (3/19) the TV channel that usually has one of the few 
things I schedule for myself to watch throughout the week was pre-empted 
by NCAA basketball. Since nothing was on any other channel that was 
worth watching, and one of the teams playing was our local state, 
University of Washington "Huskies", I left that channel on "mute" while 
I listened to the stereo whilst archiving more LPs to MP3. So, I was 
listening to Sir Georg Solti (orchestra conductor), and watching 
basketball. (With such a combination of activities; Now, you-all 'know' 
I'm crazy!)

Even though I'm not really into basketball, this particular game was 
quite interesting to watch. Scoring was down-to-the-wire, and closed 
with Washington getting beat, 102-100. With such a high score, and so 
close, you might well-imagine....it was a 'scrappy' game; not in the 
sense of 'fighting'...but lots of hard running, aggressive offensive and 
defense. And one pattern emerged, something I heard the announcers also 
comment on, the few times I unmuted the volume.

Washington might have won, except they had this little flaw in their 
tactics: Washington would charge down the court and attempt a lay-up, 
but would miss. The other team, then, would catch the rebound. And then 
the Washington fellow who had just attempted the lay-up would put his 
hand out and 'push' the opponent who had just caught the rebound. FOUL. 
The other team (Alabama?) was scoring so many points at the free-throw 
line...if Washington could have just kept their hands to themselves, 
everything else being equal, the outcome might have been different. 

Another amazing thing to watch was, that Washington NEVER LEARNED, in 
order to CHANGE STRATEGY and STOP FOULING. Several players had 4 fouls 
on them, and a couple had fouled-out. Typically, if a person touches a 
hot stove and gets burned, they learn to avoid the hot stove. They slip 
on the ice and break a bone, in the future they are more careful around 
ice. Etc. You know what I'm saying. But Washington -kept- on making the 
-same- mistake, over-and-over-and-over. It got to the point that the 
announcers began anticipating the fouls, each time Washington went down 
to their basket (Is it going to happen again?), waiting for them to miss 
the shot, and then foul the opponent that got the rebound, "Yup, he did 
it again!"

You foul an opponent, the "rules" of the game give the ball to the one 
fouled, for a "free-throw" (or two). You're not supposed to foul the 
opponent. Those are the rules. You break that rule, and pay the 
consequence, in that it opens the door for the other team to make some 
(relatively) easy points. You break the rules often enough, you're out 
of the game.

Now, when a foul is made, and the foul is -obvious-, everybody saw it 
plainly, and the referee blows the whistle and calls "foul", do people 
complain? If the ref has been calling things "fairly" all game... No. 
The foul was committed, and the consequence is a free-throw.

But when it comes to the Christian life, or matters of eternity, when 
the rules say that the "soul that sins shall die" (Ezk18:4), and people 
are observed in -obvious- sin, and so the observation is made that the 
"corrupt tree" is producing "evil fruit", and that "from their fruits 
you will know them" (Mt7:17-20), thus concluding that sinners are on 
their way to the "Lake of Fire" (Rev20:15)....suddenly sinners are all 
upset...that God's "rules" should be observed and kept...that life and 
eternity are adjudicated by God's spiritual rules...that there aren't 
'exceptions' for them. I mean: they reach their hand out, grab, push and 
trip the opponent such that the opponent now has a cut that is bleeding, 
and the blood is dripping all over the place; and then complain at the 
ref's "interpretation" of their actions. Or the ref (God) "just isn't 
being -fair-!!"

The rules say that the disobedient are cast out into "outer darkness" 
where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt8:12); that to receive 
rewards one needs to repent and receive Jesus as Savior (Ac2:38, 
Jn1:12), and to "bring forth fruits worthy of repentance" (Mt3:8), 
building on the foundation of Jesus Christ and experience testing of his 
works. (1Co3:11-15)  But when the person refuses to humble themself 
before God, nor to acknowledge their sin and receive Christ; then, they 
have the nerve, "knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who 
practice such things are deserving of death" (Rom1:32), to whine that 
God is cruel and unjust to "torture somebody in hell forever".

That's like the losing team being angry at the winning team for winning 
the trophy, and them going home empty-handed. Or it's like parents of 
the children on the losing team, whining and griping because -their- kid 
didn't get a trophy or ribbon, anyway, when they lost...going into 
tantrum fits, picking fights with parents of the winning team and the 
referees..."My kid deserves a prize, too!! You would deprive him?? What 
kind of an outfit is this?!  Hmph!!!"

Well, no, he doesn't (deserve a prize). He didn't put out, to win. 

Isn't "everybody a winner"?? That's what today's society would have us 
believe. According to the dictionary: "to achieve victory or finish 
first in a competition" Everybody can't be "first"...by definition.

Here's how Paul says it, "Do you not know that those who run in a race 
all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may 
obtain it." (1Co9:24)  And the person must compete with "endurance", 
running the entire course; not cheating and cutting across a shortcut; 
but, yes, FOLLOWING THE RULES.

"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of 
God, you may receive the promise: (Heb10:36)

Amen!