The Training Table: Don’t Make the Road Less Traveled “Highway 101”!
Welcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race? (2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Galatians 5:7)
The “101’s” of Life
Def., “101”— the basics, the elementary knowledge, the ABC’s, the essentials, the foundational principles, the introductory course work, the bedrock, nuts and bolts… that upon all else rests. (Matthew 7:24; 1 Corinthians 3:11-13; Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 11:3; 2 Peter 3:17)
This bible-based and carefully basted feast at the Training Table is devoted to the concept of building any sort of structure or any sort of life: The foundation is the first thing to build upon, and the last thing that any thoughtful architect, leader, or human being hoping to have a satisfactory life… will approach in an unthinking or sloppy manner! Right?
And yet… And WAY yet… As we all know, and have likely experienced in a whole host of ways, there are far, far too many people and things that are being built-upon today that are sorely lacking in the realms of having a rock solid foundation under it, at all. All sorts of things are tumbling down all around us… And being put back together in very foolish ways.
If Humpty Dumpty’s shattered state is only tended to by the world’s ways, it will be much more than a good egg such as he that will take a fall: Civilizations come and go based on the same false paradigm.
Be Aware… It’s a Foolish Era
Especially in our day—having lived a while in a culture of relativism where no True Truth exists anymore—the very notion of foundational things… things that have been, are now, and will forever be TRUE… is usually left way up in the air and completely unattended to… Until things begin to topple. And if this truism is left unattended to for a long enough period of time even after things topple, and we’re frantically trying to clean up all the mess, putting things back together devoid of Godly foundational concepts is a fool’s errand to say the least.
And yet we do this every single day. Having expunged God from so many realms of the culture, the first thing we need to build or rebuild is usually the last thing on our mind.
The “101’s” of Faith…
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion (Proverbs 18:2).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).
Over the course of my life my own story, my hardwiring, and God’s redemptive influence in my life, for better or for worse, it has left me with a propensity of looking at things beginning on a foundational level… On the level of always asking myself and others things like:
What’s the net-net here? What are the basics of this problem? What’s the vision and mission of the organization? Let’s start with what we do know and what we all can agree on. What sort of foundations are we attempting to build upon here? As we begin to make and grow disciples, what is an example of ‘Discipleship 101’? What’s the milk and where’s the beef? What sorts of things will never, ever leave us or forsake us? What are the doctrines that we cannot compromise on? When someone comes to Christ, what will we use to help him or her know, grow, and sow in faith?
As this personal tendency pertains to a particular penchant I have as a member of any given church—knowing that, in more cases than not, the congregation consists largely unchurched people—my hope is to hear leadership in the church use any opportunity to recapitulate about the tenants… Or “The 101’s”… Of the faith. Now is the time the planks of the Reformed, biblical faith must be remembered, re-laid as a firm foundation, and used as a platform for all else in word and deed!
[I personally believe that this is a particularly important subject and process for churches to be spending an inordinate amount of time, talent, and treasure focusing on: What are the “101’s”, “102’s”, “103’s”, “104’s”, and “105’s” of the Reformed faith?! The lack of any systematic Discipleship principles, programs, and processes always leads to infant Christians taking on adult problems—and non-Christians to rely on works to save themselves. It’s an inexcusable and bad deal all around.]
Come Rain, Sleet, Snow or Shine… Highway 101 Here I Come!
In the fall of 1982, I saw it all! Rain, sleet, snow and [some] shine… But I had a foundation to build upon… “Stick to Route 101”!
I was as excited as I ever was by plotting out another solo bike tour route for myself. The 3-4 week route would begin in the small town of Campbell River on Vancouver Island and end somewhere in northern California.
But there was one major caveat: I aimed to hug the coast every mile of the way it was possible to do so. This was my goal on subsequent tours while pedaling the coast of Maine and circumnavigating the coast of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton… as well as Bonnie Old Scotland a tour or two down the road. And I loved every mile of the way(s)!
On the Maine, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton tour, I followed the coast of Maine north on Highway 1, hopped the ferry to the Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Highways 101, 103, 7… all the way around the two islands.
Circumnavigating Scotland was equally wonderful in sticking to the comparable “Hwy 101’s” like the coastal byways of A90, 96, 9, 838, 894… Just pedal as close to the coast as I could… And relish in some of the most spectacular places, people, and God’s natural surroundings imaginable.
With the exception of Route 19 out of Campbell River southeast to Victoria, and winding my way through and around Seattle, Highway 101 and I could be likened to rain, sleet, snow and [some] shine… “Adventure 101!”
By Analogy… “Another 101”
What are the Foundations, “The 101’s”, of Your Faith?
When I first began to think about the basics of my really wonderful experiences on the sort of bike tours mentioned above, it was on the occasion of celebrating the 497th anniversary of the Reformation this past October.
As I began to think about the basics of my bike rides, the foundation upon which I built a route and the aim to achieve it until the very last measure—and how my “cycling routes 101” crossed paths with “the Reformed foundations of my faith 101”.
Having a plan in mind and plotting out the route to achieve my plan in cycling yielded some of the most wonderful relationships, places, and experiences of my life. There were not only some great difficulties, nasty falls, and near-death-misses along the way, but also times of great joy, victory, warmth, camaraderie, and innumerable blessings for all of my senses and sensibilities!
Way personal and foundational…
In fact, it was in the course of my bike ride around Scotland, and following in southwestern France, that was used of and by God as the seminal moment in my temporal and eternal life where I came to the end of myself and the beginning of Christ in my life.
My own conversion occurred “along highway 101” as I pedaled my bike, recycled my sin-filled life, and began a new adventure unlike any before!
So, for me to say that the foundations or “the basics of 101” are important, I am stating an understatement so significant that it will take me the rest of eternity to mete it out. What exactly are “The 101’s of Your Life?”
In the course of recently celebrating the anniversary of the Reformation—and some of the founding people and principles that were involved at the time—I thought I would offer a handful of those founders who built upon the foundation… To serve as a feast of the heart and your edification.
Especially in our day of lax, often-muddled, even completely mangled doctrine, we need to feast on “The 101’s of the Faith” frequently, friends.
Clearly, when it comes to the foundation of the Reformation, the “Five Sola’s” is a term used to designate five great foundational rallying cries of the Protestant reformers. They are as follows: “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory).
Each and every new creation in Christ should make it their business to unpack the Five Sola’s. Sound, Biblical Doctrine is the ultimate and divine feast of the born-again heart! Without it, spiritual starvation, emotional deprivation, and then behavioral aberration is inevitable.
But getting down to the grassroots level, I would like to offer some of the “Reformation 101” foundational comments from the founders and lovers of God and the Reformation. These pithy quotes need a lot more unpacking than this space allows, but please spend some time chewing, digesting, sharing, and living God’s truth and love that’s contained therein.
Please don’t let the Old English prevent you from reading and wrestling with these gems, chewing on them, gobbling them up, meditating on them, and using them as a way to increase your love of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and those God-loving folks who the Trinity has providentially placed in your life.
Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately upon them.
Sin is best described not so much as doing bad things but rather making good things only things. God will often use the things of the world, the flesh, and the devil that we have turned into idols as a way of personally and intimately breaking us—and in our brokenness be made whole in Him. This is exactly how I came to faith. Lean on Christ and Christ alone.
All our words ought to be filled with true sweetness and grace; and this will be so if we mingle the useful [truth] with the sweet [love].
For the born-again, Christ-centered person, speaking the truth in love, loving others truthfully is the summum bonum, “the highest good”, of the faith. The perfect balance between love and truth will not be achieved until Christ comes again. We all tend to err to one side or the other. But try we must each and every day. Do we know the Truth? Are we capable of loving? Light and salt is God’s Truth and Love incarnate in you and me and let loose in this dark and decaying world.
Wherefore I esteem more highly the judgment of a simple Christian laborer, being one of the elect of God and regenerate by His Holy Spirit, than that of all the Popes, bishops, priests, philosophers and doctors who are infidels and hypocrites.
The “common”, born-again, new creation in Christ, as a vessel of God’s truth and love and God’s light to reveal ignorance and salt to heal decay, is more real, valuable, and redemptive that all the wisdom, institutions, prognostications, and false premises the world could ever dream of providing.
God would not rub so hard if it were not to fetch out the dirt that is ingrained in our natures. God loves purity so well He had rather see a hole than a spot in His child’s garments.
In Christ, all punishment for sin has been taken care of—“It is finished!”—on the cross. So in God’s providence He will use the brokenness of this world, and even our own sin/idolatry, towards the end of achieving our purity, our holiness, our sanctification, are maturity, our Christ-likeness. The Puritans spoke about the command, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2) in terms that they actually looked forward to the next trial, incidence of suffering… faithfully and experientially knowing God would providentially use it to further transform them into “little Christ’s” (Luther).
The whole life of a Christian should be nothing but praises and thanks to God; we should neither eat nor sleep, but eat to God and sleep to God and work to God and talk to God, do all to His glory and praise.
Admittedly, it is strange to hear that the first worst possible consequence or outcome of not believing in God, E.g., “suppressing the truth of God” (Romans 1:18-23), is not giving thanks. So simple and yet so fundamentally telling. So, looking at the absolute opposite of not believing in God, based in the first command of God, is in Exodus 20, “You shall have no other gods before Me. And loving God with our whole heart mind soul, strength…” And thanks! If it were possible for us to follow each heartbeat, each breath, with a heart of gratitude and thanks to God… that would just be the beginning of all the blessings He has heaped on top of these things!
It is not the glorious battlements, the painted windows, the crouching gargoyles that support a building, but the stones that lie unseen in or upon the earth. It is often those who are despised and trampled on that bear up the weight of a whole nation.
The life of a single Saint, the repentant, born-again Christian… you and I… undyingly devoted to the cause of Christ can, and has, changed the world. When we gaze on high at the most glorious cathedrals imaginable, it’s so important to remember that memorials of this kind are built for Christ—alive and well in each and every converted and indwelt heart! Sin makes us addicts of God’s creativity; sanctified service in Jesus’ name grafts us to Him with infinite intimacy.
How soon are we broken on the soft pillow of ease! Adam in paradise was overcome, when Job on the dunghill was a conqueror.
Sin, pride, selfishness, egomania is deeply rooted within the hearts of all men. When comforts of any kind come into the life of AnyFallenMan, the sinful heart defaults to its worse condition—self-sufficiency, pretense, humanism. Stripped of our creaturely comforts, naked of our foolish notions about even one breath or heartbeat being possible devoid of God, we are [once again] forced to resort to reality: Sinners saved by grace, indwelt by the Spirit of God, are more than conquerors! In our weakness, we are most strong.
Don’t Make the Road Less Traveled “Highway 101”!
Whether it’s being given the most precious gift of grace-based faith by your Father God’s election of you, His Son’s death on the cross for you, and the Spirit’s regenerating act to bring you back from your spiritual death, or it’s finding and following the very best route to and from any of life’s little and long journeys of any kind, the Bible is “the 101″… For All of the Highways and Byways of Life! And the many Saints who have written many awesome things that reflect the Bible is for your spiritual, emotional, psychological, and physical well being and that of any whom you impart any of it to, Beloved of God.
We should make it our daily bread to feast on “The 101’s of the Faith”!
Stand to Reason