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Re: Competing "lawfully"

Pardon another 'personal' example here. Yes, with another customer.
This time, a Spokane motorcycle policeman. 
For a time they were personalizing their bikes with their names, and
some other things, and I was cutting the vinyl letters for the purpose. 
With his repeat visits I got to know this particular  officer somewhat 
better than other customers. And since I ride motorcycle, too, we have 
some friendly conversations. I've learned a little about what their 
training is like, and got to make some letters for one of them when 
they shot their own bike during tactical training maneuvers, and
they made a -plaque- with the shot motorcycle parts mounted to 
'commemorate' the incident.

The other day he came to pick up the order, and as usual, we were 
talking. He spoke of when he came from another state to take his test. 
What test? Motorcycle endorsement. And as we talked it came out that 
while in this other state, he rode his motorcycle without his driver 
license being endorsed for riding motorcycles.

Well, let me tell you! Here was my 'chance'. Me, the 'lowly civilian'
talking across the counter with the uniformed officer. 'Couldn't let 
such a 'choice' opportunity pass by, ignored! No sirree!!

Interrogation time:  You rode your bike down there (in the other state)
without an endorsement?? Yes. As you would commute to work? Yes. To
work as a POLICEMAN?? (Sheepish grin) Yeah!  At which point we both
busted out laughing... well I guess I didn't need to worry about
telling him how my 'Wing starts to "wobble" a bit when it gets up to
95mph. (something I found out -years- ago, in my younger days.)

This account probably doesn't translate as "funny" to you reading it,
as it was when it happened. You had to be there. While we can laugh, it
illustrates a point that Christians have a problem with all the time.
Here was an officer, (a detective and whatever else he did as he grew
through the ranks) sworn to uphold the law and enforce it...  breaking
it, himself.  He, of course, talked about how a person can actually get
away with a lot of things, if they "don't get caught".  That often, the
only way some things are discovered is when there is an accident or
infraction for which a person is 'pulled over'. But, nevertheless, in
the strictest sense of the "law", he was breaking it every time he went
to work on his motorcycle, unendorsed.

Recently we have considered the use of Rock music in the "church". Of 
the Scriptural exhortation to keep the unbeliever out of the assembly. 
Keeping the "leaven" out. (1Cor5:7) Several e-mails came in of a nature 
to say, in effect; yes, I agree with what you said, and we should "try 
to" do these things "when we can". And I sometimes sense a 'whiny' tone 
as though to say "Oh, it's sooo hard, though!"

Well, there's a RIGHT WAY and a WRONG WAY to do God's work. And, while 
we are covered by God's "grace", Paul asks the question, "Shall we 
continue in sin so that grace may abound? Let it not be!" (Rom6:1-2a)

I don't expect there was a 'whinier' bunch, next to Israel, than the 
church at Corinth. To them Paul chides, While we may be living in this 
world "in flesh, we do not war according to flesh. For the weapons of 
our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down 
of strongholds." (2Cor10:3-4) The "church" today thinks it can "win 
them for the Lord" by bringing all the world's filth into the meetings 
to entice them; much as the world has huge "blow-out bashes" and all
such campaigns to get the masses in. And so, they use the filth; and
God's Word, the Scriptures, get lost in the shuffle. But recall that
Salvation comes through the "..WORD of God." (Rom10:17) That being
"approved to God" involves "rightly dividing the WORD of Truth."

Oh, but if even 'one person' comes to God, wasn't it 'worth it all'?
Mmmm??? To that, Paul retorts, "And also if anyone competes, he is not
crowned unless he competes lawfully." (2Tm2:5) If you spend your time
"fouling" the opponent, he gets all the free-throws. You do not 'win'.
You do not receive the prize.

It may seem like -I'm- harping on this point. But there were just
enough 'whiney' e-mails, it is obvious that not everybody is
understanding God's Word in this matter. Not everybody is SUPPOSED TO
have 'free access' into God's assembly. Yes, we have been sooooo
conditioned over the decades, that we must "bring them in from the
fields of sin" ... thinking we must do so, breaking God's commands to
do so, after all, won't He be pleased at all these souls -we've- won
for Him? 

Saul used the same argument to Samuel. He said, essentially, I 
[disobeyed] in order that we could offer sacrifice to God. (1Sam15:15) 
And what does Samuel retort? "Stop! ...Does the LORD delight in burnt
offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold,
to obey is better than sacrifice! To listen is better than the fat of 
rams! (~vs16,22) And then tells Saul how the kingdom will be given to 
someone else. But before it's all over, Saul whines to Samuel, "but I 
-did- obey the Lord...see?" He just didn't "get it"; just like people 
today don't.

Hear God's Word again, "And he set the gatekeepers at the gates of the 
house of the LORD, so that the unclean IN ANY WAY could NOT GO IN." 
(2Chr23:19) Notice the wording: "IN ANY WAY". That's not, "if we can" 
or "as much as possible" or "we're trying".  For those guards it was, 
"There's NO WAY the unclean is getting past me!" It's not "try"...
but, "DO IT!"

Of course it's hard! Who said the Christian life was easy??  Jesus
said His followers must "count the cost". (Lk14:28)

Let's see one of Israel's 'good' examples of obedience. They had just 
crossed the Jordan on dry land, during flood season. They are 'now' 
right next to Jericho, their first up-coming military endeavor. And now 
what does God command? "Make sharp knives for yourselves and circumcise 
the sons of Israel..." (Josh5:2) Wait, Lord! You have this all wrong!  
We are going to battle. Don't you realize what a sharp knife does to a 
man when used in that way?  We'll be weak. ..."sitting ducks". They'll
come and kill us when we're vulnerable. And we're boxed in between them
and the Jordan river.

But you see, Israel was a "holy" people to the Lord. Circumcision was a
symbol of that holiness. As they would see at Ai, when Achan sinned,
they were defeated. But, when they obeyed God, He kept them safe until
they healed. There was so much fear in Jericho that they were
"completely shut up" (Josh6:1) Human wisdom would have said "wait" with
the knives; it will make us -weak-.  But it was "right". They were
playing by God's rules.

When the fledgling Church was separated from the world, they did not
lose "clout" or opportunities to minister and win people to the Lord.
The "people magnified them; and more believing ones were added to the
Lord, -MULTITUDES- both of men and women." (Acts5:13-14)

'You want 'numbers'?  "..compete lawfully" (2Tm2:5)