Only One Gospel Part 8

by Mike Ratliff

29 And if you are Christ’s then you are of Abraham’s seed and according to promise, heirs.  (Galatians 3:29 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

I mentioned many times on this blog that I grew up going to church. Some of my first memories were as a small child in church in 1950’s Oklahoma. I doubt if many today would feel real comfortable in the “church environment” I remember from that period. Of course, I did not come to faith until I was in my mid-thirties so I saw most of what went on during that period as a child, a pre-teen, and a teen in the youth group then as a College and Career young adult as an exercise in religiosity that seemed to have something to do with getting better and better at being righteous. When I went into the military in 1973 I left church until the mid-1980’s, married and with a family of my own. What was so interesting was that it was little different than I remembered. I still couldn’t wait for that last verse of the never-ending invitation hymn to get over with so we could get home.

What changed? I’m still pretty much against religion for religion’s sake. However, one cold Sunday in January 1986 we went to church and as I found my seat in our Sunday School class I came under such a severe conviction that I was lost and that I was being called to come to the Lord Jesus that I couldn’t tell you what went on that Sunday morning in that class or in worship service. I dealt with it all day and when we went back to church that evening, I turned to Christ as Lord and Saviour as we drove those few miles from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma into Tulsa to the original location of Gracemont Baptist Church. I remember being so full of joy all through and impatiently waiting for “invitation” time so I could go tell the Pastor all about it, which I did.

That was in 1986 and a lot has happened since then. We moved from the Tulsa area back to the Oklahoma City area and lived there until early in 2000 when we moved back to the Tulsa area before moving to the Kansas City area in September 2001. In any case, those years between that time of my Justification and now were marked not with a constant upward spiritual growth. No, not at all. No, instead, I did quite well for a few years then in 1990’s I would do well for awhile then have a few years of hardness or dryness followed by a revival of sorts then it would start over. Things really went downhill in 1995 when Timothy McVie blew up the Federal Building in OKC. I was in the blast zone. I found out later that I was suffering from depression and had some anger management problems stemming from that.

I was still dealing with those things, teaching Sunday School, being a Deacon, and having a very flat spiritual walk. My pastor gave me a year off of teaching, which was great. That was in 2003. However, in 2004 he asked me to start a class for young couples. The prayer to prepare for that caused me to draw closer and closer to our Lord in humility and I had a period of revival that lasted from January 2004 through August 2004. By the end of that month I was changed forever. My taste for the “elemental things” of this world became extremely muted because I was seeing everything from a very different perspective. Why? I had just spent many months in almost continual prayer, worship, and seeking the Lord’s face. I was in the Word continually.

It was through this that I started writing and seeking information online. This is how I met Jim Bublitz and Ken Silva at the Slice of Laodicea blog and became involved in discernment ministries. This is also why I knew I had to know doctrine in order to know what I was talking about. Therefore, I began to study it. This is how I became Reformed in my Theology. This change did not go unnoticed at our church and it did not make everyone happy.

Those who were trying to take the church down the Seeker Sensitive road just could not understand why I had issues with the bad doctrine of Rick Warren. Our Pastor hated Reformed Theology. It was only a matter of time. When we left it was because I lost my class and the church was going Purpose Driven no matter what I did or said.

That was in May 2006. If you go back and look at when this blog came online you will see that the earliest posts are from early 2006. It wasn’t much longer after that that I was asked to join the discernment team at CRN.

Why did I share all that? I’ve shared much of it before. It was to show you that we do not become mature believers right out of the gate. It takes time. It takes the Lord taking us through difficult and trying circumstances, the fires of tribulation, in order to burn away the dross so that the likeness of his Son will become evident in us. Why does he even bother? We are heirs if we are in Christ.

1 Now I say, for however much time as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a slave though being owner of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time previously appointed by the father.  3 So also we, when we were children, we had been enslaved under the fundamental principles of the world.  4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under law 5 that he might redeem the ones born under law that we might receive adoption as sons.  6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, “Abba Father!” 7 So, you are a slave no longer, but a son; and if a son, also an heir through God. (Galatians 4:1-7 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

As an heir through God, if I were to die right now, I would go right into the presence of my Lord and that would be great. However, to stay in this life of trouble and tribulation is worth it as a Christian. Why? In this life we both have the opportunity to bring glory to God and to impact others with God’s truth and even be instruments God uses to bring others into the Kingdom.

Are you having a tough time right now? Some of us are, but let us not dwell on that, but instead, focus on the reality of who we really are in Christ and what that means in eternity. I remember distinctly that day in Tulsa in 1986 when I went from a simply religious person who hated those long invitation hymns at the close of church to one with the Spirit of God’s Son in my heart crying, “Abba Father!” Notice, I did not become an expert or huge fan of SBC religiosity after that. No, but I did become one who fell in love with the Word of God and became a Bible teacher after it was discovered that that was my spiritual gift. How was that discovered? It was by my comments in class as a student…well, you get the idea.

No matter what low point I was in, I was still used by God to teach his Word. No matter what my circumstances, good or bad, I was still used by God to teach his Word. That is what I do.

What about you?

Soli Deo Gloria!

18 thoughts on “Only One Gospel Part 8

  1. Mike, it was good to read your testimony about the ups and downs …and flats…in your walk with the Lord.
    That is comforting…because we are all closer to Him only because of His faithfulness…Also consoling is the thought that He has used us even in our low points ..

    What is the latest news on Jim Bublitz, do you know?
    Praying for you, as always, to be found faithful!

  2. Mike – encouraging to read reports of how God has been gracious to a brother. You and I had somewhat similar life experiences – although I’ve not been in a blast zone (I did blow stuff up while a combat engineer in the Army :-).

    Very good word picture, Mickey.

    Let the saints of the living God praise Him!

  3. By the way, this walk we share is far more peaceful beyond all understanding then any walk I walked in the past…And I was quite successful in living self absorbed and hedonistic back then with no regrets at the time, being rather an accomplished socio-path. Godlyness with contentment is great gain, even if it means many fewer friends today!
    Praying for His will to be done is much more successful then praying for my will to be done by Him…and a lot less frustrating as well

  4. Mickey, yeah, I can see those guys trying to do something stupid like that. The extreme anger over it is past now, but if you want to witness a Drill Sgt type person putting his face into the face of another person because they want to trivialize what happened within that two or three square block area around the Federal Building in OKC on April 19, 1995… Well I hope and pray the Incredible Hulk who comes out when people do that has been put to death by God’s grace. I haven’t seen him since that “incredible” spring and summer of 2004 when God brought me to surrender everything to the Lordship of Christ, even his right to allow that tragedy to happen. To God be the glory! I have visited the OKC Memorial since then and even went through that part of the recreation where you get to hear an actual recording of the explosion (yes, it is exactly like I remember). I wept, but everything was under control. It was very healing to go through the museum. I went through the Newseum in Washington D.C. too, which has a large area there devoted to it. I went through the same sort thing there too. God has healed a lot of my wounds from this through my forgiveness of Timothy McVie and others involved and letting go of the resentments, et cetera. But, I do know that God used that horrible day to do a mighty work of redoing this man.

  5. “Godliness with contentment is great gain, even if it means many fewer friends today!” Amen – we have the Friend who is closer than a brother and Who will never leave or forsake us!

  6. It was a horrific scene to me that was for sure! I just can’t wrap my mind around such evil intent regardless of who would perpetrate any of these atrocities!

    But you story sure gives a face to the scripture,
    Genesis 50:20.
    “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

    Now check out these links and be blessed by the Hebrew word, especially Isaiah 57-15!
    http://bible.cc/genesis/50-20.htm
    http://biblos.com/genesis/50-20.htm
    http://concordances.org/hebrew/lehachayot_2421.htm
    http://biblos.com/isaiah/57-15.htm

  7. The difference when you were saved was you entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You fell in love with a Person and saw for the first time all that church going was just dead religion.

    that’s what happened to me. when Jesus washed all my sins away -that wall that separated me from God was GONE and the flood of the witness of God – his love flooded my heart to overflowing. For the first time I could not wait to go to Church. I thought “Oh this is what Christianity is really all about a personal intimate loving relationship with JESUS. It’s not about going to church and playing religion. That’s DEAD and empty and boring..
    No wonder many who are not saved try and change things on the “outside” to make Church more appealing and fun. They don’t realize that the WORD of GOD does not change and it abides forever. It is the word of God that I came to listen to not a bunch of programs with glitz and glamour.

    God is so patient with us and he knows our frame…and it is His Unfailing love that loves us through those valleys of death in our lives. He keeps us poor and we misunderstand this until we realize that we are to seek true riches in CHRIST alone.

    Wonderful testimony Mike to the faithfulness of God in Christ

    Psalm 42:7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;” -Let the thorn like the sand in an oyster be. Let it stay as it agitates and becomes part of me and the beauty of Christ is seen more everyday to bring HIM all the glory and honor for all eternity.

  8. Oh I wanted to share this with you. You probably have already read it. I just thought it appropriate

    “When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man, when God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part, when He yearns with all his heart to create so bold a man, that all the world might be amazed watch his methods, watch his ways. How he ruthlessly perfects who he royally elects, how he hammers and hurts him and with mighty blows converts him into trial shapes of clay that only God understands while his tortured heart is crying he lifts beseeching hands, how he bends but never breaks when His good he undertakes how he uses whom he chooses and with every purpose uses him with mighty acts induces him to try his splendor out God knows what he’s all about,. Unknown Author.

  9. “Godliness with contentment is great gain, even if it means many fewer friends today!” Amen – we have the Friend who is closer than a brother and Who will never leave or forsake us!”

    Amen Manfred

    I thought of 2 Proverbs when you said that

    Pro 16:8 Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
    Pro 16:19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

    We are to Gain Christ and lose all to this world that is passing away. When we get chafed by people and circumstances, I hope that we will be slow in reacting to “our rights” which we gave up when we made a commitment to Jesus and that the fear of the LORD will cause us to look to HIM who is orchestrating ALL things together for the good of those that love him. May our eyes be fixed on the LORD and not on trying to gain victory..

    I was thinking of during Joshua’s time- they -the men were all required to be circumcised and they remained in the camp until they were healed. God turned everything upside down and incapacitated the entire nation militarily. Why? It’s
    Not a very wise military move. But God is more interested in his covenant relationship with the warrior than he is in winning the war. This is not our battle or the others but GODS. A lesson in humility and a lesson of obedience.

    Surrender to Jesus and gain Christ

    Paul said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,,..”

    That pain, that wrongdoing, that hardship that disappointment is all from the hands of our loving heavenly Father. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s Sovereign LORD!.

  10. Mike , This is the latest I have on Jim’s condition through a site called
    http://m.caringbridge.org/visit/BrokenMan/journal/entry

    Written Jul 7, 2012 10:08am by Patty Bublitz

    Jim has had a very full week with visits from family and friends. The doctor is amazed by how much Jim’s body can endure, but still feels his remainder of time on this earth is a matter of days as opposed to weeks. We are blessed that he was still here for Mary’s birthday on Tuesday. He had many lucid moments, which made her birthday that more special! Sometimes people will voice out loud why this had to happen to a guy like Jim? I don’t have an answer – only God knows for sure, but I would like to share something which I read in the midst of when we were heavily seeking the Lord’s will regarding Jim’s decision to have the transplant or not. I will admit it wasn’t something I wanted to read, however I am now encouraged by it and even wonder if perhaps the Lord used it as a means of preparing me for what is to come. I never shared it with Jim until after he made his decision, which gave him further peace about having to make a decision of such magnitude which weighed so heavily on our hearts. I hope it will provide in some part an answer to the question ‘why’. When I pray and do my devotions I sometimes read from a daily devotional by Charles Spurgeon. Several months ago while praying about the decision Jim was faced with, I also read this passage from March 22: O Death! Why dost thou touch the tree beneath whose spreading branches weariness hath rest? Why dost thou snatch away the excellent of the earth, in whom is all our delight? If thou must use thine axe, use it upon the trees which yield no fruit; thou mightst be thanked then. But why wilt thou fell the goodly cedars of Lebanon? O stay thine axe, and spare the righteous. But no, it must not be; death smites the goodliest of our friends; the most generous, the most prayerful, the most holy, the most devoted must die. And why! It is through Jesus’ prevailing prayer – ‘Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am’. It is that which bears them on eagle’s wings to heaven. Every time a believer mounts from this earth to paradise, it is an answer to Christ’s prayer. A good old divine remarks, ‘Many times Jesus and His people pull against one another in prayer. You bend your knee in prayer and say, “Father, I will that Thy saints be with me where I am”; Christ says, “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be where I am”. ‘ Thus the disciple is at cross-purposes with his Lord. The soul cannot be in both places: the beloved one cannot be with Christ and with you too. Now, which pleader shall win the day? If you had your choice; if the King should step from His throne, and say, ‘Here are two supplicants praying in opposition to one another, which shall be answered?’ Oh! I am sure, though it were agony, you would start from your feet, and say, ‘Jesus, not my will, but Thine be done’. You would give up your prayer for your loved one’s life, if you could realize the thought that Christ is praying in the opposite direction – ‘Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am’. Lord, Thou shalt have them. By faith we let them go.
    Written Jul 9, 2012 9:29pm by Patty Bublitz
    Jim has been suffering a great deal in pain whenever he is awake, so at this point he is being kept under continuous sedation. We’ve been told that hearing remains up to the point of death. We have also observed that he appears agitated with any stimuli. This being the case we are going to keep his surroundings as quiet as possible which unfortunately means he will no longer be able to receive visitors. Please pray that Jim will be as comfortable as possible and that our dear Lord will be swift in bringing him to his heavenly home. I don’t think it is possible to fully convey the impact that everyone’s caring love and endless service to our family has made in our lives. How can we possibly ever say ‘thank you’ enough! May God richly bless you all!

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