Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. The aftermath of a natural disaster leaves individuals and families in fear of what tomorrow may bring. However, after a crisis, the Salvation Army focuses on serving the whole person, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our national network of trained disaster staff and volunteers can be sent to wherever they are needed, prepared to serve first responders and survivors. No matter how big or small, your donation makes a difference.
Visit helpsalvationarmy.org to offer your support. Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Bernie Dake.
And I'm Cheryl Gillum. Sadly, this is our final episode of this series called Pathways with our friend, Mike Harris. It's been so good.
If you've missed any of these episodes, which launched on October 17th, go ahead and visit salvationarmysoundcast.org or subscribe on your favorite podcast store to get caught up. In this final study, Mike discusses again one of the most crucial elements of our growth and understanding of our faith, experience and reason. And this goes back to evangelism, too. There's a difference between having a knowledge of God and having an experience with Him.
Right, right. I like to think of the Word of God as the bread of life. And I like bread, Cheryl. The listeners, this is not a visual medium, so they don't know, but if you saw me, you'd realize that's a man that likes bread. And if the Bible is the bread of life, you know, you just want to put a little peanut butter on it and consume it.
And I love that. That's the protein that we could live on is the Word of God. Absolutely. And when we digest it, when we are partaking of it, you know, it's not just a knowledge that we have, but we become practitioners of our faith. Not just an education or a knowledge-based faith, but it really is living it out in an experience.
Yeah. And I think while you're doing that, people will see God in you. It's the old, is it St. Francis of Assisi, or was it Mother Teresa? One of them said, preach the gospel, use words when necessary. It's just a cool thing.
You know, we can just be who God wants us to be and live out that experience, like you say, from what we know of the Word of God, our pathways. And, you know, we really hope that you've enjoyed this series, and a special shout-out to Soundcast media editor, Steven Nolan, for helping develop this series with Mike. Believe it or not, next week, we'll be launching our Christmas series. And to learn more about that, visit SalvationArmySoundcast.org.
Hello, this is Major Mike Harris again, with the final installation of our sessions called Pathways. And in many ways, what I want to do today as we look at the importance of thought life is to almost go back on the first session and perhaps recount many of the things that we've talked about over these last few podcasts. In session one, I talked about the Wesleyan quadrilateral, these four sources of our theological conclusions. Scripture, which is the ultimate authority, the authority beyond which we should never go. Our tradition, that is our belief system as a church or as a denomination, that shapes our theology. There is experience, your testimony, your experience with God, quite frankly, that also shapes your theology.
And then reason, your ability to think, your ability to reason is part of your theology. And what we've discovered is that most Christians who go to Bible-based churches are Biblically illiterate. So in many ways, our ability to exercise these elements of our theology is rather difficult because of our incapacity to know where the barriers are for Scripture.
People don't know what to believe, therefore perhaps they don't believe it. And part of the problem is it appears that less and less people are having a life-changing experience with the Holy Spirit. That just not enough testament is anymore. And so therefore our ability to reason, that is to think theologically, is drastically handicapped because of our limited knowledge of God, therefore we are primed to fall for the devil's lure of creating a personal theology based on a notion of what God looks like. Simply put, we're as exposed to the temptations of this world as Adam and Eve were.
2 Corinthians 11, Paul writes, I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as pure as a virgin to him. But I'm afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the snake's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if one comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. Simply put, friends, you must be sure of who Jesus is, you must be certain of the power of the Holy Spirit, and you must be sure of the gospel because if you're not, there are plenty of people who will teach it to you their way. Friends, simply put, we were all born sinners, totally depraved and justly exposed to the wrath of God, and for all sinners there is a discontent about life and who we are. It's just natural if we sinned against God, we're always going to feel ill at ease.
And no amount of human affirmation or justification will take away that sense of failure. And what we need therefore is at some point in our lives for somebody to tell us the hard truth, no matter how hard. Back in 1997, I came to Atlanta for the Salvation Army's commissioning and ordination of new Salvation Army officers or ministers. And the guest for that weekend was then retired General Eva Burroughs. And during her address in one of those meetings, Eva Burroughs shared a very interesting story.
It was a story of a young lady, and this young lady had not been raised in a Christian church, and this is a story that goes back to England, had never been raised in a Christian church, knew nothing of Christ, lived a good life, she lived in a close family, her family loved her, she was somewhat sheltered. However, when she went away to university, suddenly she was exposed to all of these temptations. It's almost like things were laid out like a smorgasbord for her. And yes, she indulged herself in pretty much all of them. And before you knew it, she dropped out of school.
By now we're sleeping around regularly, doing drugs regularly, partying, drinking, the whole kit and caboodle. And after about a year, about a year, her parents lost touch with her in the days really before cell phones were prevalent. So she just kind of wandered off and they never heard from her for quite a while. And she continued to live this life of well, if you will, debauchery until one morning, one morning, she woke up, she looked in the bed next to her. And there was a man that she didn't even like. Somehow she got herself to this point of making decisions or not making decisions, if you will, because her life had become such a mess because of the drugs, because of the alcohol. And she felt an enormous sense of remorse.
In fact, she hated herself. And after a brief moment of thinking, well, maybe I should just end my life. She realised, well, maybe I should just go home. So she packed her bags and went home. And can you imagine the delight her parents had when she walked back into their home, as they hugged her, as she walked through the door, she immediately went upstairs to her room and she slept for quite a long time. And then when she was ready, she came downstairs to talk to her parents. She said, I've made some horrible mistakes.
I've done some awful things. Her parents were caring and loving and they said, Oh, we love you. We're just happy to have you home.
She said, but I need to, I need to reconcile this. I want to go to church. My parents, as I said, had never been church going folk, but they were so happy to have their daughter home.
They were willing to try whatever. So the first Sunday, the first or the next Sunday, they go to church and there's a sitting in the congregation. They hear a preacher talking about blessings and how God will bless you if you give money to the church. When she got home, the parents said, well, how was that for you? She said, no, that wasn't what I needed to hear. Well, they said, maybe church isn't it? She said, no, no, I need to try another church. I think church is it just not that one. The next Sunday, she goes to church and from the pulpit, she heard someone preaching politics.
It was all about politics. Again, they got home. The parents said, are you sure church is the answer? She said, I really do believe it is just not that one. The third Sunday, she went to the Salvation Army and there she heard a message where the Salvation Army officer said to the congregation, you have sinned. You have broken God's law. You deserve God's wrath, but Jesus came to save you. Jesus came to love you.
Jesus came to forgive you and to redeem you. That changed her life forever. She didn't need someone coming alongside us saying, it's okay, you can do what you want. Within herself, she knew there was something very, very wrong.
What she needed was someone to say, yes, yes, you've done something wrong. But Christ is the answer. Christ will forgive you. And now that young lady had a testimony in which her thoughts were held captive by Christ. What's your testimony? Have you ever felt convicted by your sins? Have you ever asked Jesus for forgiveness? Have you ever truly experienced the transforming grace of Jesus Christ? If your answer is no, then believe this to be true and allow Christ to bestow his grace upon you.
If you refuse his grace and forgiveness, which is your prerogative, then recognize that your belief system has no real foundation and your thoughts will search out and settle upon a different gospel, which preaches a different Christ and a different spirit. Remember your ability to think, your ability to reason is a gift, a precious gift, born out of God's love for you. But it's used to its fullest when you align it to God himself. That's the design for your thoughts.
That's the design for reason, an alignment for Christ for the sake of the world. Let me pray with you one more time as we finish up this series. Gracious God, I so thank you for the privilege which has been mine to be able to share the thoughts that you've placed upon my heart. And my absolute and earnest prayer, Heavenly Father, as we present these podcasts, is that at the very least people start to think, to think about their own experience, about their own testimony. But Lord, more than that, I pray that it invokes change, first in the individual and then next, Lord, in the world in which they live.
Their neighbors, their friends, Lord, all of us can affect people. All of us can persuade people to follow you to your eternity. So Heavenly Father, use these words, use these podcasts and bless all who listen and all beyond. I pray in Jesus' name.
Amen. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.
And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at radioatuss.salvationarmy.org. Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.
Box 29972, Atlanta, Georgia 30359. Tell us how we can help. Share prayer requests or share your testimony. We would love to use your story on the air. You can also subscribe to our show on iTunes or your favorite podcast store and be sure to give us a rating. Just search for The Salvation Army's Words of Life. Follow us on social media for the latest episodes, extended interviews and more. And if you don't have a church home, we invite you to visit your local Salvation Army worship center. They'll be glad to see you. This is Bernie Dake, inviting you to join us next time for The Salvation Army's Words of Life.
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