Weekly Thought – July 23, 2019
Fred cultivated friendships, nurturing them for a lifetime. During one hospitalization the doctors told him his days were short. Rather than mope, he made a list of friends and asked to have each called. For an entire day he told others how much they meant to him, specifically appreciating experiences. Gratitude was a core value of Fred’s, especially for his friends. One friend and mentor was Ray Stedman, theologian, pastor, and author. When someone asked about Dr. Stedman, Fred shared these remembrances.
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My friend Ray
I know of no one who can interpret the Scriptures quite as clearly as he. Once I asked him if he ever got burned out. Christian periodicals were featuring lead articles on the examples of many preachers and ministry leaders. He responded, “How can I get burned out discovering the mysteries of God?” He never lost his enthusiasm and excitement for Scriptural study. I also remember one of the last times we had time to visit. We were riding to the airport after a men’s meeting. It was Saturday night. “What are you preaching about tomorrow? What are you going to say to the congregation?” Those were my questions to him. His answer was truly Ray: “I’m going to tell them to stop praying for what they’ve already got!” His study was in Ephesians and he wanted them to realize what they possessed as Christians. He wanted them to realize they sometimes pray for something they already have.
“They just need to have a realization of their blessings.”
Once we were talking about what the Scripture meant to us. Ray said, “My life changed when I found out that God was FOR me and NOT AGAINST me.” So often we think of God as judging, not bestowing. This misconception of God causes so much anxiety.
Probably the most unique thing about Ray was his total freedom from ego control. Oswald Chambers talks about going through the white funeral of losing our ego before we go through the black funeral of losing our life. Ray was probably one of the very few men I’ve ever known who has truly been through the white funeral. He didn’t look nor act like the expected preacher image. He didn’t go around speaking in a theological brogue, or take on an affected piety which offended and alienated others.
He was not soft on sin and certainly never preached “cheap grace.” BUT, he preached Jesus who brought words of life. He often engaged in cultural discussions with college students in his Palo Alto area, sometimes without identifying himself. When they saw how interested he was in them and his honest involvement they wanted to know who he was. He then invited them to church, telling them how welcome they would be.
He reminded me one time that Jesus encountered the woman at the well in a way that was beyond acceptance. “Yes, He accepted her, but after she accepted Him, she was never the same again.” That was Ray’s heart – changed lives.
(BWF Note: Ray Stedman’s sermons are archived at www.raystedman.org)
This week consider the following: 1) Who has influenced my thinking about God? 2) How am I engaging others around who God is? 3) What has scripture meant to me?
Words of Wisdom: “My life changed when I found out that God was FOR me and NOT AGAINST me.” (Ray Stedman)
Wisdom from the Word: “What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 NET Bible)