Don’t Follow Your Heart!

A man is not a murderer because he kills; he kills because he is a murderer.

For out of the heart come murders (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not an adulterer because he cheats on his wife; he cheats on his wife because he is an adulterer.

For out of the heart comes adultery (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not sexually immoral because he preys on children; he preys on children because he is sexually immoral.

For out of the heart comes sexual immorality (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not a thief because he steals; he steals because he is a thief.

For out of the heart comes theft (Matthew 15:19).

A man is not a slanderer because he gossips; he gossips because he is a slanderer.

For out of the heart comes slander (Matthew 15:19).

The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.

The “heart” as described in scripture is who you really are. So, in this Matthew passage, we see where Jesus puts his finger on the culprit of every sinful behavior . . . our corrupt, deceitful, desperately wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9).

Jesus said to the Pharisees, Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. (Matt. 26:25-26)

The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

“Jesus teaches us that there is something far more fundamental to our sinfulness than the actual sins we commit,” Tom Ascol goes on to say. “Our sins do not make us sinful. Rather, we commit sins because, at the very center of our lives, we are sinful. Sin has invaded the inner recesses of our personalities.”

We can spend hours discussing the recent events of our world and try to come up with man-made answers and “band-aid” solutions to the murders in 2022, the war in Ukraine, the angry outbursts and ungodly actions from political leaders, the trafficking of humans, the abortion of babies, and the continual sinful behavior displayed daily on our phones and ipads, but the answer and solution is only found in the Word of God.

Sinful man must have a changed, transformed heart through the power of the gospel (John 3; Romans 3:9-23; 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Once he repents and believes in Christ alone for salvation (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit comes to indwell that man whereby he is now able to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of his heart/flesh (Galatians 5:18-24; Romans 6-8).

Much, much more to be said, but I’ll end with a word of great hope:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

According To Your Word

My soul melts from heaviness (Psalm 119:28a). This describes my heart since Sunday afternoon.

The heaviness that has come over me because of the effects of sin.

The grief that has gripped me due to the deep deceitfulness of our wicked hearts.

Wednesday around 2:00 a.m. I was abruptly awakened out of my sleep, praying out loud for the many drowning in sorrow in Uvalde, Texas as well as those picking up the pieces from the SBC/Guidepost report released Sunday afternoon. As I thought of those precious elementary children, I thought also of my dear grandsons.

Oh Lord, strengthen me according to Your Word!!!

As I rolled out of bed, I grabbed my phone on the night stand and went to Wednesday’s scripture reading from Psalm 119:41-48. I needed strength! I needed to hear from the Lord! I needed my heart to be calmed!

Let Your mercies (lovingkindness, steadfast love) come also to me, O Lord— Your salvation according to Your word. (Psalm 119:41)

These were the first words I read. How marvelous to know that God has extended mercy and grace to me as a poor, lost, hell-bound sinner and has rescued me according to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 2:1-9; 1 Timothy 1:12-17) . . . according to Your word.

You see, for true salvation and assurance of eternal life in heaven, for our wicked hearts to be changed, for sin to be correctly and adequately dealt with, for quietness in our soul in the midst of such wickedness and sorrow, for an understanding of perilous times, to have “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” . . . it can only and always be . . . according to Your Word.

Remember the word to Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life (Psalm 119:49-50).

According to Your word!

P.S. Take some time to read Revelation 21

It’s Friday . . . and Sunday’s Coming!

Preacher, are you ready?

May I share three things to encourage you toward Sunday?

1. Prepare your heart

In this atomic age when forces are being released that stagger the thought and imagi­nation of man it is well to remember that prayer transcends all other forces. (F. J. Huegel)

Men, Jesus said, Without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5)! Preparing your heart through prayer is more important than delivering your sermon. Passionate, dependent, scripture-filled prayer says, “Lord, You are able, I am not!”

2. Prepare your message

Men, we have been challenged to Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2) since the day we sensed God’s call to the ministry. Those folks who gather to hear you Sunday need hope and to see Christ. Therefore, preach the Word under the control of the Holy Spirit from a heart set on fire by God!

Give the sheep good grain, a message from God’s Word, not just a sermon.

3. Prepare your family

Saturday evening, gather your family together and share what the Lord has taught you and what you will deliver in the message on Sunday. Have them pray for you and with you.

Make your family a vital part of the ministry team!

Preacher, will you be ready?

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29)

A Dark Room: My Heart & Abortion

Having held my lifeless stillborn daughter in my arms almost 35 years ago can bring a rising level of emotions to my heart when I consider the current scenario being played out in the SCOTUS Roe v. Wade “leak” and upcoming ruling.

My heart. Yes, . . . that’s the key word in the previous sentence. Years ago, I heard someone say, “The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.” What gives that principle gravity is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He said, For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:21-23). What Jesus describes here is the fallen condition of our heart.

Described in Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

The heart, as referred to in the Word of God, is not the vital human organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies; that keeps us going, moving, breathing. The heart is summed up in all that we are . . . our emotions, our will, our mind. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that the heart determines the course of your life (NLT).

The whole of the abortion issue is one of the heart. Man by his very fallen nature has a heart that is selfish, short-sighted, manipulative, greedy, lazy, hedonistic, irrational, unreasonable, murderous, wicked, covetous, sensual, proud, corrupt, deceitful, faithless, ruthless, confused and much more.

Romans 1 describes the heart that refuses to acknowledge God as “foolish” and “darkened” (1:21).

The world’s response to abortion, those who perform abortions and those who have an abortion are simply . . . following their heart. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead (Ecclesiastes 9:3).

Now, I have just described my own heart. All of the above characteristics dwell within me, too. The only difference . . . at the age of five, based upon the truths of God’s Word and by His grace alone, Christ came to live in my heart, took up residency within me, and now I do not live the Christian life, Christ lives His life through me (Romans 3:23; 5:8; 6:23; 10:9-13; John 14:17-23; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 1:27).

As a disciple of the Lord Christ Jesus, the worst decision I can make each day and throughout the day is to follow my heart, to go my own way. Man left to himself destroys himself and those around him.

The only way to overcome the battle that rages within me, my heart wanting to have its own way, is to surrender to Christ within me. He is life and has the words of life (John 6:68-69; 14:6; Matthew 11:28-30).

The answer to the abortion issue and the downward spiral of my heart is the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ.

As I think back to those days after the stillbirth of Ashley Marie, I am oft reminded of the dear lady who Denise visited in the hospital three months later who had experienced the same. When my wife walked into that room filled with sorrow and pain, she entered into the darkness of that dear mom’s heart when she said, “I just went through the same thing three months ago.” Then and there, Denise was able to share Christ with her.

Because of the condition of my heart, I can empathize with all in this world who are for abortion at any level. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Each of these need Christ. Each of these need someone to share the message of the gospel with them.

Especially needed is the dear mom who now lives with a broken heart, the painful scars of her decision to have an abortion. For you dear lady, there is forgiveness at the cross of Jesus Christ. To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [God] made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:6-7).

Today, may we have an opportunity to enter into that dark room of a heart filled with sin, sorrow, pain, and brokenness and share the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.

Today, will you turn to the light in Christ alone and be set free from the dark room of your heart?

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry #11

Two marriage failures. One sexual abuse. One suicide.

I heard about these four tragedies in a two day period. These were all ministry leaders.

Only the Lord knows all the facts about each of these scenarios, but the following is for certain:

  1. These sins could have been prevented.
  2. The heart of every issue is an issue of the heart.
  3. Men in ministry are not above temptation.
  4. The root cause is unbelief in God which leads to discontentment which leads to discouragement which leads to despondency/depression which leads to despair.

This is why I have written these several recent blog posts about overcoming discouragement in ministry. As I heard of the aforementioned moral failures, my heart ached. I wept. I realized again how susceptible I am in my own heart to fail. Everyone of us is one decision away from bringing reproach on the name of Christ, destroying our testimony, marriage, family and ministry.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:12-14)

Ministry is made up of two worlds, public and private. Public ministry life has its share of hurts and struggles which brings the temptation to deal with it in a sinful way in the private world, where there is no accountability.

Will you read the following from Paul Tripp and soak your soul in the grace of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Who has brought deliverance and rescue to us all?

“Why do I struggle with the same sin over and over again, and how can I break the cycle?”

Someone submitted this question not too long ago. I could feel their discouragement through the email. Have you ever felt stuck in a cycle of sin, seemingly unable to break a pattern that dishonors the Lord and reaps a harmful harvest?

I know I have, and when I do, my mind immediately jumps to Romans 7. “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (vv. 18-19)

So what do we do when we hit that wall? I think Romans 7 provides us with some practical steps and encouragement to break the cycle of sin.

The first is this: Don’t sign a premature armistice agreement with our sinful nature.

As believers, the Bible declares that our heart of stone has been removed and replaced with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Yes, we are new creatures, and yes, the controlling power of sin over us has been broken … but the presence of sin remains.

I think many of us have seriously underestimated the drama, the power, and the depth of remaining sin—how deep it is inside of us and how it infiltrates every aspect of our being. There is a tremendous moral and spiritual war still raging on within us.

I am surprised by how many Christians, myself included, live with a peacetime mentality. While we might be active fighting our culture or protesting outside evil, some of us seem to expect the luxuries and leisure of peace in our heart—where the war rages most fiercely.

And then suddenly, we get surprised or discouraged when sin starts winning!

Don’t misunderstand: because of the wonderful atoning work of the Prince of Peace, the war between God and us has ended. And when Christ returns, our struggle with sin and the Enemy will be complete. But until then, a battle of hostility inside us still rages. Perhaps the problem is that we think that the adversary within—remaining sin— has been conquered long before it actually has.

In the middle of this spiritual war, there’s a second thing you must do: Don’t argue for your own righteousness.

Perhaps the biggest and most tempting lie that all of us tend to embrace is that our most significant problems exist somewhere outside. This is partially true because, in a fallen world, people sin against us and we experience bodily pain and suffering. The Apostle Paul experienced both of these and doesn’t minimize them by writing about them elsewhere in Scripture, but in this particular passage, he’s only concerned about his own sin and heart. He doesn’t argue for his righteousness.

On the contrary, in Romans 7, Paul locates his struggle inside himself. He knows that when you argue for your righteousness, you convince yourself that you don’t need the grace of God—the only thing that can protect you from sin.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Are you feeling discouraged in your battle with sin? At first glance, Romans 7 can be a pretty discouraging passage! Paul exclaims, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

But the passage doesn’t end there: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Eternal rescue has been supplied, but rescuing grace is still necessary every day. What we have received in Christ, we still desperately need. Romans 7 calls us to be aware and serious; the war for our hearts is not over. Our need for a conquering Savior has not ended.

Reflection Questions

  1. What sin have you conquered or left behind by God’s grace since becoming a believer? How have you become a new creation by being in Christ?
  2. What sins or weaknesses do you find yourself still struggling with? When was the last time you wrestled with the flesh because of it? What was the outcome? Do others know of this consistent battle?
  3. Are you more committed to fighting the sins of the culture than you are fighting remaining sin in your heart? Why is the latter more of a danger to you?
  4. Consider a recent time when you deceived yourself by arguing for your own righteousness. Who, or what, did you blame? How did you justify your selfishness or sin?
  5. What does the daily rescuing grace of Christ look like in your life? How can you pursue it today? Be specific.

Ministry friend, if I can be a listening ear for you with a heart of compassion and truth, please contact me at bcbcpastor@comcast.net. Let me help you before you become a statistic.

From a pastor’s heart!

dale

Let’s Do It Again Next Sunday!

Easter is always a special day! Certainly, the fact that we celebrate the preeminent truth of Christianity, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, is enough to make much of the day!!!

There are many other elements leading up to and a part of this day of rejoicing:

  • Good Friday Services
  • Choir rehearsals
  • Preparation for guests / many invitations made
  • Easter programs
  • Music ministry
  • Joy-filled congregational singing
  • Resurrection themed sermons
  • The gospel is proclaimed
  • Lives changed
  • Partaking of communion
  • Reading of Scripture and prayer
  • Entering the Sunday morning gathering with a spirit of expectancy and joy
  • Family gatherings and hundreds of pictures
  • Buffet meals and desserts
  • Wearing new spring clothes

Why not? After all, This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Craig Keener gives us some good insight on this “day.” Psalm 118:22-23 was fulfilled in Jesus’ ministry as He claimed (Mark 12:10-11), so also was Psalm 118:24: the great and momentous day the Lord had made, the day the Psalmist calls his hearers to celebrate, is the prophetic day when God exalted Jesus, rejected by the chief priests, as the cornerstone of His new temple (cf. Eph. 2:20). The verse points to a truth far more significant than merely the common biblical truth that God is with us daily; it points to the greatest act of God on our behalf, when Jesus our Lord died and rose again for us.

Next Sunday, we will corporately gather again and . . . our hearts, minds, bodies, and ministries should be as engaged and intentional as we were yesterday! We will not have all the “pageantry” of Easter, but we’ll still be celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ because He was raised on the first day of the week! We will proclaim the name of our living Savior in song, conversation, testimony, preaching, and prayer that in all things He will have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).

So, let’s do it again next Sunday . . . and the next . . . and the next until He calls us Home!!

Blessed Redeemer

1 Up Calv’ry’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ, my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on the cross,
That He might save them from endless loss. [Chorus]

2 “Father, forgive them!” thus did He pray,
E’en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;
Praying for sinners while in such woe–
No one but Jesus ever loved so. [Chorus]


3 O how I love Him, Savior and Friend,
How can my praises ever find end?
Thro’ years unnumbered on heaven’s shore,
My tongue shall praise Him forevermore. [Chorus]

Chorus:
Blessed Redeemer! Precious Redeemer!
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree;
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading—
Blind and unheeding— dying for me!

In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Good Friday – The Crucifixion (Mark 14:53-15:41; 1 Peter 1:18-21; Luke 22:47-53; 23:39-43; John 19:1-37)

[“Blessed Redeemer” written by Avis B. Christiansen]

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#6)

Friends!

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:11-15)

What a statement from the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ, No longer do I call you servants, . . . but I have called you friends. Oh the blessedness of being a friend of Christ! And, you are already ahead of me, . . . and we know that Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), and He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Obviously, the greatest friend anyone can have is the Lord Jesus Christ Who gives us access to the Father who knows us intimately and completely (Psalm 139:1-16), is our compassionate High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), and our life (Colossians 3:2-4). Therefore, it goes without saying that one of the greatest ways to overcome discouragement is to soak your soul in the reality of the friendship and relationship you have with the Lord Jesus Christ. Go ahead. Stop reading right here, and sing with all your heart, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”!!!

The second level is daily enjoying and developing your friendship with your wife. Beyond the Lord Jesus Christ, your wife should be your best friend. She should be the one with whom you share your heart, your sorrows, your joys, your burdens, your heartaches, your dreams, your passions, your time, your recreation, your meals, your life. She is the other half of you!! You are one! Take her alone for the ride! She’s not Mrs. Pastor . . . she’s your wife, your companion, your sweetheart, your friend! When you are discouraged, let her pray with you and encourage you!!

The third level is having friends within your congregation, but especially outside of your congregation. Pastors are notorious for not having friends! We may have some surface friends, but we need some David/Jonathan friendships! You say you are too busy. Then you are too busy and that needs to change! Close friends (2-5 at least) are those you can call and be transparent. They are not the ones who want to know “How many’s your church runnin’?” or “How’s your church doing?” They are genuine friends who care for you, ask heart questions, and can hold you accountable. They can laugh with you, recreate with you, pray with you, share scripture with you, preach to you in a loving way when you are down, and identity with the rigors of ministry life! Who are these men in your life?

This week, enjoy the friendship of Christ, your wife and some other men! They can help you stay out of the ditch!

Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry (#5)

The call to shepherd the flock of God and preach His eternal Word is an extremely weighty matter. Just as being a Christian is a contrast to the world, so is the role of a pastor.

The world tells you to climb the ladder of success; be somebody; be true to yourself; use people to reach the top; get a good education so you can make money and go places; make a name for yourself (leave your mark), etc.

Jesus lived the opposite. Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus said, For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

Paul followed Jesus’s example. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) and whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-8).

To overcome discouragement in ministry, we must find our identity first and foremost in Christ. We must surrender to Christ Who lives in us and the indwelling Spirit who will only enable us when Christ is the celebrity and not us. Only then will God be glorified.

You see, the ministry that God has called us to is not ours. We have no power to make it succeed. We do not have the foresight to control it. We are not the “main man” of the ministry. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches and apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

No wonder we get discouraged. We think that everything rises and falls on us. Friend, with all due respect, it rises and falls on God. Jesus said, I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH (Matthew 16:18). Paul said it so well as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (AMPC), Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).

How often I have become discouraged because a program I started failed, a church member did not do what I thought they should, numbers of people weren’t getting saved like I thought, revival had not come (yet it did come to the church in the next town), etc. These were my expectations. These words in Psalm 62:5 are a fulfilling guide for the Lord’s ministry, My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation (hope) is from Him.

I lost sight of Christ in my busyness. I had failed to be still and listen to Him in the prayer closet. The world and others had set my standards to be successful because they had “achieved success.”

Men, the person of ministry, the builder of ministry, the preeminent One of ministry and our identity in ministry is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And He {Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Colossians 1:17-18).

So, when ministry doesn’t meet up to your expectations, find your identity in Christ, surrender to the Christ in you, and soak your soul in the following:

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthians 4:5-11)

St. Patrick & the Pinch

In my child/teen years attending school, it was important that you wore green on March 17th. Why? It had nothing to do with St. Patrick, the man. It was to avoid a classmate pinching you due to not wearing the color of the day! If you did not wear something green, be sure you were in for a long day!!

But really, who was St. Patrick?

Here’s an article from The Gospel Coalition written by Mike Pettingill that will shed some very interesting light on this man.

Today most people know St. Patrick for green beer, banishing snakes from Ireland, using shamrocks to teach the Trinity, or his walking stick growing into a living tree. Indeed, none of these legends has anything to do with the real Patrick.

However, the factual accounts of Patrick, missionary to Ireland, are even more compelling than the folklore. Telling the true story of Patrick provides an inspiring lesson in God’s grace and mercy.

While other 1,500-year-old characters in history are difficult to research because too few writings have survived time, Patrick is hard to study because so much has been written about him. The bulk of the writings on Patrick are lore, fiction, and embellishment. In uncovering the real Patrick we must sift through ten fictional accounts of his life to find one factual work.

From Slave to Evangelist
As a teenager Patrick was kidnapped, taken from his home in southern Britain, and sold into slavery on the island of Ireland. During his six years as a slave he converted to Christianity and earned a reputation as a fervent evangelist. In the dark of the night Patrick escaped his bonds and fled Ireland. Following a long journey home he entered theological training and full-time service to the Lord. God spoke to Patrick in his dreams and told him that he would return to Ireland and serve as a missionary to the people who had kept him in servitude.

In AD 432, 25 years after fleeing Ireland, Patrick returned to the place of his bondage. He did not return with malice in his heart, but as a missionary eager to convert the Irish. Patrick served in regions of Ireland where outsiders had never traveled. While roaming through Ireland he preached to pagans and also instructed Christian believers. Patrick trained Irish helpers and ordained native clergy. He was bringing a new way of life to a violent, war-oriented pagan culture. His work was both groundbreaking and Christ-honoring.

“Daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises,” Patrick wrote while serving in Ireland. “But I fear nothing, because of the promises of heaven.”

Many brutal kings and warlords felt threatened by Patrick’s work. In order to obtain the favor of local leaders and to gain safe passage, Patrick paid penance, or bribes, to authorities. He used the rulers to gain access to their lands just as they used Patrick to gain wealth and favor with Christians. Of the bribes he paid, Patrick proclaimed, “I do not regret this nor do I regard it as enough. I am paying out still and I shall pay out more.”

Missionary Ahead of His Time
In fifth-century Ireland women were a commodity. Selling a daughter or arranging a politically strategic marriage was common and advantageous to a family. Patrick upset the social order by teaching women they had a choice in Christ. As God converted these women to Christianity, some became full-time servants of Christ in the face of strong family opposition. Patrick told women they could be “virgins for Christ” by remaining chaste. This newfound control was appealing to many women, but it angered many men who believed Patrick was taking away their prized possessions.

At the time many scholars regarded Ireland as the end of the earth, or at least the edge of the inhabitable portion of earth. The collapsing Roman Empire supported many beliefs that civilized society was drawing to a close. Politicians and philosophers viewed Ireland as barbaric and untamable. Many Christians did not believe the Irish were worthy of being saved. At that point in history, Patrick truly served as a pioneering missionary to a forgotten people.

Patrick advocated learning among Christians. He promoted the ascetic life and monasticism. The Irish culture did not place great value on literacy or education. Patrick, however, promoted studying the Scriptures as well as reading books written by fathers of the faith.

Recovering the True Patrick
Patrick entered an Ireland full of paganism and idol worship. But just a few short decades after Patrick arrived, a healthy, Christ-honoring church was thriving. The Irish church was so strong that in the centuries to come it would send missionaries to evangelize much of continental Europe. Patrick’s legacy lives on through the countless spiritual grandchildren he left to continue his work.

Patrick lived in a way that brought honor to God. His devotion and resolute obedience offer examples for all followers of Christ. Patrick stood in the face of great challenges and did not falter. His service, his life, and his unwavering commitment to spreading the gospel of Christ are as commendable today as they were in the fifth century.

We as Christians have allowed the modern, secular customs of St. Patrick’s Day to steal away one of the greatest missionaries in Christian history and reduce his memory to leprechauns, green beer, and fictional tales. Let’s take back our beloved servant of Christ and share God’s glory achieved during the life of Patrick the missionary to Ireland. Let’s share the true legacy of this great Christian evangelist.

What a great day to share the gospel as the Lord opens the doors and . . . go ahead, wear green! No need to be fearful of the pinch! Share the good news!!