A Voice in the
Wilderness

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                           *** PORTIONS ***

Re: To Hear the National Anthem

"For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we are looking for
the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil3:20)

In the men's Olympics triathlon on September 17 the man from Canada won
gold. When interviewed, he was asked what his motivation was for
striving for the medal, "I want to hear the [Canadian] national anthem".

The triathlon is a most gruelling event. It begins with swimming in
cold ocean waters. Then, they must get their bodies warmed up to
immediately get on a bicycle and ride for over 20 miles. And with legs
all tired from pedalling, switch their leg muscles into running mode
and run for six miles. And the last big stretch to the finish line is
uphill. This race goes on for something like an hour and a half,
non-stop.  While they speak of "pacing" and "strategy", even during the
slower speeds they are pushing faster than most ordinary people would
dream of. To us amateur observers, it appears that they are 'all-out'
the whole distance.  

Having helped out with the motorcycle for the cycling trials which were 
held around Spokane prior to the Seoul Olympics a decade ago, I saw on 
my speedometer the speeds the cyclists go.  They go uphill faster than 
I go downhill on my bicycle. And downhill, they go speeds faster than 
many people are comfortable with in their cars. [This one big hill on 
the local road-racing circuit is usually a 40-50 mph hill for cars 
because of its steepness and curves, and I was clocking the cyclists at 
60 mph following behind the break-away group!] They push the limits of 
the human body's endurance capabilities!  Amazing stuff!!

In gymnastics the American big shot, Blain Wilson, was messing up his 
landings, double-stepping, missing the bar; such an intense person, he 
was mentally thrashing himself, throwing his wrist wraps out of disgust 
with himself for messing up so many times, repeatedly; having a bad 
day.  Another, after hurting her foot, summons up the courage and 
determination to do her vault again. A Chinese, gets some cramps 
massaged out, does his vault, and immediately hurts the same muscles
again. After bragging that they were going to "break the [Auzzies] like
guitars", the Australians beat the previously unbeaten American men's
relay swim team. And as the winning team good-naturedly taunts the
Americans after their victory by pretending to strum their 'invisible'
imaginary guitars, the stands are exploding in thund'rous cheers; 
because, of course, the winning team was from Australia... the "home 
team". And they conquered the hot shot 'unbeatables'. There is national 
pride.

These all, beating themselves up, summoning courage, reaching for that 
last ounce of strength, do it..  "..that they may receive a corruptible 
crown.." (1Cor9:25)  And while a glint of a tear may come to one's eye, 
watching North and South Korea enter the arena together, hand-in-hand 
with a common flag, as they would seem to be on the brink of unifying 
again; and for all the talk of "unity" of the world that the Olympics 
represent; there -IS-, nevertheless, individual 'nationalistic pride'.  
There is allegiance to one's home country. As that Canadian triathlete 
was at the podium having received his gold, he could not contain
himself... but was crying almost uncontrollably as his 'National 
Anthem', which he had competed so hard in order to hear, was playing.

As Christians, Believers into Jesus Christ are "[running] a race that
is set before us.." (Heb12:1b)  How much dedication do we put into it?  
Their medals are merely gold, silver, bronze...and fame and fortune 
once they return home. But they eventually die. Our "crown" is 
"incorruptible". (1Cor9:25)  When we get to our Home there is a "new 
song" that is for nobody else. (Rev14:3) Yes, I know that verse refers 
specifically to Israel, assuming it's the same group as. (Rev ch7) But 
the concept remains true, that Believers await "crowns" in Heaven.  
Crown of righteousness (2Tm4:8) which is for all who know Christ and 
love [anticipate] His "appearance" [Rapture].  Crown of Life (Jas1:12, 
Rev2:10) for those who endure trials and temptations faithfully to the 
end. There is the Crown of Glory (1Pt5:4) for those who tend to the 
flock faithfully as faithful stewards. (1Cor4:2, Mt24:46) But what is
our 'national anthem'? "Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain, to receive 
power and riches and wisdom and stength and honor and glory and 
blessing." (Rev5:12) "Looking unto Jesus" (Heb12:2)

Why is it that modern 'christianity' thinks "it doesn't matter" what we 
do? After all, God "accepts us JUST AS WE ARE". It's OK if we sin, 
because, after all, God knows we have flaws, and His "graaeeesss" 
covers it. [Editor: apparently they are not familiar with Rom6:1-2!]
We're not saved 'by works', He just hands our salvation to us 'on a
silver platter'. We don't even need to repent and acknowledge any 
wrong-doing or sin. He saves us "just because we -need- it".

It is true that we are saved "by grace through faith...it is a gift"
(Eph2:8-9)  But how do we know a live baby has been born? It cries, and
-does- baby things. In the same way, when we are "born" (Jn3:3) of the
"Spirit" (Jn3:8) into Christ, all things are "new" (2Cor5:17) and we
begin to do the things a Believer would do. We are saved "-UNTO- good
works". (Eph2:10)

And out of love for our Lord and His "country" (Jn14:15, Heb11:16),
which is where our "citizenship" is, we put everything into it towards
that crown. We "buffet" ourselves (1Cor9:27) like the athletes do.

As the swimmers come to the end of their race, they "streeeetch" their
arms/hands to 'touch' the wall. When a runner approaches the ribbon, he
"stretches" his body and head to get some part of his body across that
finish line ahead of the next person. The LITV words the familiar
passage a little differently than we are used to, "..forgetting the
things behind and -STRETCHING- forward to those things before, I press
on after the mark..." (Phil3:13-14)

What is the 'mark' towards which we "stretch" as we "run with patience
the race that is set before us"??  We are "..looking to Jesus.."
(Heb12:1-2)

We are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth". But so many so-called
"Christians" are trying with all their might to be as much like the
world as they can, and explain away why it's OK to be that way. They
turn God's grace into licentiousness [unbridled lust]. (Jude4) When a
person sees such "fruit" (Mt7:20) one begins to wonder where their
citizenship is.  When they don't seem to much care for Heaven's
'anthems', but prefer the world's titillating slop, their citizenship
certainly seems to be manifest for 'where' they are 'from', and where
they are going.

The Canadian man would not have been very appreciative if the music had
started up "O say can you see...?" His anthem goes, "O Canada..." As an
American, that's all I know of the Canadian anthem. But I do know the
US anthem, because I am a citizen of America. And strangely enough, I
noticed that all the Australians for -some- reason seem to know the
Australian anthem, even though I'd never heard it before. Where in the
world did they learn it? Well, they are 'from' Australia. In the same
way, when a person only knows (and only -WANTS-TO- know) the world's
filth, and despises God's holiness, it can only mean one thing...
despite all pretentious rhetoric for "loving" and "worshiping" God!!
With all the modern songs of "fill me" and 'make me feel wonderful'
there is an 'anthem' I have not heard in -MANY- years, I expect,
because people's desires have changed.  Speaking of when we get to
heaven, thinking about all the things we might anticipate
investigating, and people and loved ones we want to meet in Heaven,
it says,  "..but I want to see my Savior first of all.."

Just as an athlete must be focused single-mindedly at the job at hand
if he expects to medal, so too, the Christian must be of "single eye"
to be "full of [God's] light" (Mt6:22). We cannot "serve two masters",
(heaven and the world). (vs24) We cannot claim/pretend to be headed to
heaven, while at the same time "wallowing in the mire" (2Pt2:22) of the
world's filth.

"How shall we sing Jehovah's song in a foreign land?" (Ps137:4) The 
reason today's apostates like the world and its music, is because they 
are -OF- the world. Take Israel's yearning for Jerusalem and slip the
name "Jesus Christ" in there, and we have the Christian desire, "If I
forget You, O [Jesus Christ], let my right hand forget. If I do not
remember You, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth; if I do not
prefer [Jesus Christ] above my chief joy." (Ps137:5-6)

"No one putting his hand on the plow, and looking at the things behind,
is fit for the kingdom of God." (Lk9:62)

Amen!