CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A Piece About Priorities

Jul 15, 2019

Having your own website can be both good and bad. You can write on whatever you want, when you want, and for whatever reason you want. That may seem like a good thing, but it can also be a bad thing, as you might go off in rather odd directions.

This piece might be like that. Some may think it too autobiographical or too personal or too unnecessary. So it might be best to advise you now to perhaps read no further if you prefer, as it may not be to your liking. But then again, that is probably true of all my articles: many folks would just not like them.

That is always my dilemma. I need to overlook the critics and determine if what I am doing is what I am supposed to be doing. So I need to remain in regular prayer. I often ask God if I should even continue this ministry. I know most folks are either uninterested in what is said here, or dislike what is said here. Those who actually like what is found on this site, and more importantly, benefit in various ways from what they read here, may be few and far between.

So I am often lifting this ministry up to the Lord, asking him if I should stop and/or maybe do something else. Unless this work is of God, and is being used by God to impact others, it is just a waste of time. So I need to keep putting it back on the altar, and keep praying that this is indeed what God wants me to do.

Even this piece I had to pray about: “Do you want me to write this article Lord?” Unless it is of some use for the Kingdom, why bother? I realise I can be far too melancholic and introspective, but it is good not to assume what you are doing is always what the Lord wants. It is good to keep asking questions and keep giving things back to the Lord.

Indeed, I did that just again moments ago. And then the mailman comes, and I get a letter from someone I think I have never met, saying he is being helped by my ministry, and a kind financial gift is enclosed! So that encourages you to keep on keeping on.

Although at the same time I realise that it is easy to surround yourself with “yes men” or those always singing your praises, and end up thinking that this must mean that God approves of what you are doing. The truth is, you can be getting a lot of praise from men, while God may NOT approve of what you are doing! So we always need to be cautious here!

Hey, I told you this would be rather personal and autobiographical! But let me move on to more important matters here, although still very personal in nature. It involves two very recent things that have just happened – both of which I have been following somewhat closely.

For what it is worth, I am not a very emotional guy. I tend to be far too cerebral! But sometimes I might latch on to some odd thing, and find myself getting a bit emotional about it. For some strange reason, I have taken a bit to following Roger Federer and his amazing career of late.

He seems like a nice guy and a humble guy, and for various reasons, he seems to remind me of one of my sons. So anyway, when he gets into a big tournament, I follow him and hope he wins. Anyone who likes tennis knows exactly where I am going with this. But for those who are utterly clueless, he just played in a Wimbledon final.

At 37 years of age it is amazing that he was even there. The same with Serena Williams. But while she bombed out of her final big time, Roger lasted the whole five sets in a gruelling 5-hour marathon. I actually went to bed during set one, but could not sleep, so got up to watch the last set.

He just lost in the tie break, after a 12-12 draw in the fifth! While Novak Djokovic is also a nice guy, and a Christian as well I believe, I did throw up a few prayers along the way for Roger. I did want him to win, as did millions of other Federer fans.

But it was not to be, and I went to bed at 4am a bit sad. Later this morning upon waking I read his post-match remarks and he too is sad, not surprisingly. This may have been his last chance ever to win another Grand Slam. But he has had an amazing career without doubt. Many consider him to be the greatest male tennis player ever.

Anyway, I must say that when I do shoot up a prayer for him to win a match, I also shoot up a prayer for his salvation. I am not sure of where he is at spiritually (he may have had a Catholic upbringing), but being in right standing with God through Christ is far more important than being the greatest tennis player ever.

So while I was a bit sad about him losing again, I will keep praying for the much more important matter of him becoming a real deal Christian who knows the much greater joy of knowing the Lord. So it is a question of priorities of course. As Jesus said, ‘what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?’

And the other incident that just took place really does help to put things into perspective. Around six years ago I was invited to speak for a week at a YWAM school in Hawaii. While I can reach various people through a website, it is even better to do face to face teaching ministry.

Often friendships will result from these sessions that will last and grow. Sure, most students who have heard me teach over the years have forgotten all about me. But sometimes a few will be really keen, and follow me online long after I have left. This was true of a terrific mother and daughter who were there.

They befriended me right away during the week, and on the social media. We have kept in touch ever since. But the last few days the mother has posted about a sudden health issue for her daughter. So I kept them in prayer of course. I even thought how much more important this matter is than some dumb tennis match.

And I also reflected on the gift of friends that God gives. As mentioned, the great majority of those you have taught over the years will quickly and permanently forget all about you. Some will have quite disliked you. But a few will have appreciated you and your ministry, and will stay in touch.

Thus my shock and surprise when this morning I discovered on the social media that this champ had died in hospital! This is what I just posted on my own page:

A FB friend and YWAMer (a student that I taught some years ago), has just suddenly passed away. Please pray for her mother Yolanda and other family members. I was just thinking yesterday that most people I have taught over the decades quickly forget about you. But a few appreciate your teaching, keep in touch, and continue to be good friends. Roxanne was like that. She would often send me personal messages about current events stuff she thought I should be aware of. Bless you Roxanne.

Yes please do keep them in your prayers. As I said, it is rare when a former student keeps running with you and your ministry years later. So Roxanne was special – and now she is home with her Lord, with her mother having to deal with all this. Bless you Yolanda.

As I say, life is about priorities. Roger is hurting right now about his tennis loss – it was so close. But at the end of the day it really is not the most important thing in life, and hopefully he knows that as he still has his wife and children that he clearly loves. He may regret last night for some time to come, but in the eternal scheme of things, it does not really matter at all.

But losing a beloved daughter is so very difficult for anyone, no matter how strong your personal faith may be. But this we know: Yolanda will see Roxanne in heaven one day. And one day I will see both of them as well. What a glorious reunion that will be.

And someone like Novak sounds like he will be there as well. As he once said, “Before being an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian.” So it appears I will rub shoulders with him as well when we get to the next life. I am not sure how much the two of us will talk about tennis, if we meet and have a chat.

We both will be far more interested in talking about our wonderful Lord who graciously made it possible for us to be set free from our sinful lifestyles, and find new life in Christ. That is what we Christians want for all people. I want it for Roger.

Yes it would be kinda neat if he could win one more Grand Slam. But I would much prefer that he never wins another game again, if it means I will join him in heaven singing praises to our Lord, shouting “Worthy is the Lamb”. In the meantime I will keep praying for people like Roger.

And please join with me in praying for Yolanda and the other family members.

And remember that one day the Lamb that was slain will wipe away all our tears.

[1658 words]

31 Responses to A Piece About Priorities

  • Dear Bill,

    I understand how you feel when you say (above): “I know most folks are either uninterested in what is said here, or dislike what is said here. Those who actually like what is found on this site, and more importantly, benefit in various ways from what they read here, may be few and far between.”

    My personal advice to you, Bill, is please keep up your magnificent work.

    I read your columns daily. Your CultureWatch website, like your copiously researched books, is an indispensable resource for the thinking Christian.

    I am also grateful for all those pre-Internet writings of yours, going back many years, that you’ve uploaded to your site.

    Australia would be a poorer place without your vital contributions.

    May God bless your work and increase your ministry.

  • G’day Bill, May our Lord bless you ‘real good’ as Billy Graham used to say. I open you daily for a challenge to keep a watch on our culture, for your sound and balanced theology, your warm Christ Centred spirituality, and today, your sensitive and honest heart. Bless you, hang in there! Andrew Campbell

  • Many thanks indeed John and Andrew for your very kind and encouraging words. They are much appreciated. God bless you both.

  • Hi Bill. I only found your website recently and I want to say how much I, and I reckon all of us appreciate you and your services for the Lord. You give us a fair go by allowing us to send in our comments and to have our say on various topics. Keep on with the good work Bill. Will keep you in prayer for guidance and strength.

  • Hi Bill. Please be encouraged to continue this ministry that the Lord has gifted you with. I rarely comment but have read the vast majority of your posts since first being recommended by someone 2 years ago. Your messages are instructive, challenging and a real blessing. I look forward to reading them and I believe God uses them to challenge me in my faith and walk with Him. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Thanks for that Geoffrey.

  • Don’t get disheartened Bill, it is an important work you are doing. I read your stuff often and also enjoy the feedback posted by many readers as they are glimpses of sanity in a world that is going mad. The encouragement alone provided by you and other contributors is so vital, to know we are not on our own. I also enjoy posting comments at times (not as frequently as some though) and feeling part of the Christian community that you have fostered. I have also had the privilege of speaking to you face-to-face and experiencing some of the genuineness (and genius) that is Bill Muehlenberg. Whatever you do don’t stop! Sent a few hundred to your account to encourage you in your work – anyone else out there want to encourage this terrific brother in this practical way? (Yes I know there are regular givers – I tip my hat to you wonderful people – just a reminder for those of us who may benefit without regular deductions).
    God bless you Bill, you are having an impact.

  • Many thanks Peter for your kind words and kind gift. Bless you heaps.

  • Hi Bill,
    I read your article/s in CultureWatch everyday and I’m encouraged by your words because you challenge Christians to be faithful to God’s word (The Bible).

  • Hi Bill,
    Please keep up the incredible work for as long as you feel you are able.
    You provide great support and invaluable information to many appreciative people, like me.
    Your articulate and at times humorous writing is a valuable rarity and joy in this troubled world.

  • Bill…I echo ALL of these wonderful comments regarding you and this “work that God has prepared for you”. I was trying to imagine what FB would be like without your input and realized that you are an anchor in keeping me even connected to it. Please carry on!
    I’m afraid that I don’t follow tennis, so was not initially aware of this champion among men…but do follow your articles (and commenters) and am so very sorry for the loss of Roxanne’s earthly friendship and support. Thankfully, her mom, Yolanda, has you to offer comfort to her.

  • Bill, keep the faith. Stay in the fight. You are truly a voice in the wilderness!
    Many times I’ve thought, “Just what I wanted to say!”
    God has given you a gift for communicating His message. You are appreciated!

  • Thank you Bill for your wonderful insights and valuable resources in your blogs. I always look forward to reading them.

  • I have often thought this was one of the many things Karl Marx was wrong about – sport is the opiate of the masses – but I will repeat here what I have said before and that is I have not known anyone like you to write so many words and yet get so many right.

    Please don’t ever consider giving it up because I would sorely miss my regular feed of muelenburger.

  • Carol and I pray for you both, and for you family, every day. You are a breath of God’s fresh air in our home. We are Federer followers too and pray regularly for him and his wife and family to come to know Jesus too. Keep up the excellent work won’t you Bill.
    Robert

  • Sir, I first noticed your work when I was a 3 day per week volunteer at Australian Christian Lobby back in it’s infancy days in 2000. I think you worked in some Family Council in Victoria at the time. I went to Jim Wallace (a man I greatly admire), and said “this man’s work is outstanding”. When I heard that you’d been saved out of the hippie scene, I immediately connected with that, as I had been too. When you came to Canberra I picked you up from the airport, and you had an hour or so to kill, and all you wanted to do was go to a Koorong bookstore. I was happy to oblige, as I love them too. Over the years, I have noticed that you tend to be a little sombre and morose (but so do I), but if you could just allow me to tell you how many times I have had my understanding of an issue clarified and expanded by your work. You inform and steer my thinking in Godly directions. I don’t always agree with you, but we are not clones of each other, and we have the gift of free will, but if you were to stop doing what you are doing I am one who would be very much the poorer for it. I can’t say you are the wind beneath my wings, as Jesus is that, but you sure are a big help in my walk with the ALTOGETHER LOVELY ONE. God bless you and keep you, O Instructer of the Saints. Love in Jesus always.

  • Well, well, the man CAN be a bit emotional and not altogether cerebral. So good 🙂 Thanks for sharing as you have Bill. I well remember my first “meeting” with you when you did some teaching at Harvest Bible College a number of years ago and, later down the track, when you spoke at Ballarat when Julie and I were pastors there. Excellent, passionate teaching. Anyway, for what it is worth, I (along with many others I would suspect) may not write often regarding your posts but appreciate them greatly. You make us think (now there’s something novel 🙂 ) and whether or not we agree with you, as readers, we know that you have put much prayer and thought into what you have written. Be encouraged Bill and keep writing and challenging the reader to think Biblically. God bless you in this ministry.

  • I too have been a fan of both tennis players! Admirable role models in perseverance, discipline and faithfulness.
    You are a great source of inspiration for many of Christ’s warriors. Your wise use of such extraordinary gifts, discernment, eloquence and spirit cuts through. I have often recommended your wonderful works, eternal in nature. Thank you. I love reading your posts whenever time permits.

  • Many thanks guys and gals!

  • Haha – tennis! Bores me silly. But I have other vises to combat… Love your comparison with something of real significance though. The people I have the most respect for are the ones who keep their eyes on the ball, stick to the job at hand, and just keep on going. Many would have switched to something else, or moved on to other things five times by now.
    No wonder Jesus said the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matt 24:13 And Paul says many times things like let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Gal 6:9
    We have a Bible is full of ordinary people who just plod away getting the job done. And God makes it extraordinary.
    I reckon you are hitting the mark Bill. Culturewatch is a very handy news update in matters that really matter. My inbox would not be the same without it.

  • Your incisive and constructive writing is still necessary and maybe always. As you work the mix between grief for our nation and joy for today, may you always know God’s blessings.

  • Keep up the good work Bill, and while tennis is only a game, it does give opportunity for those with true christian values to be a great example to the populace. Its sad to hear of your friend, and most of us know how hard and sometimes confusing it is to lose good christian friends in such seemingly un-God-like ways, so don’t be discouraged about her loss, just chalk it up to one of the sad things that happen in this fallen world.

  • Bill, another thing that I was reminded of today – people like yourself, who work in a somewhat depressing (often) subject matter, are a bit like frontline soldiers, ambos, rescue people, who need to develop ways to de-compress and be lifted up again after the traumas you endure. I hope you have developed a network of loving and encouraging brethren who will surround you and keep you going good brother. The hate mail you must receive on a regular basis I’m sure would be enough to sink a battleship. Keep on going Bill, towards Him who is MY GLORY AND THE LIFTER OF MY HEAD.

  • Many thanks again Ian. Amen to all that you say. And yes I have those who support me and encourage me along the way, some directly, some indirectly.

  • Please don’t be disheartened by circumstances and situations, Bill! I praise God daily for your insights and openness in your writing, which is an enlightening and encouraging daily dose of spiritual wisdom to me. I’m the lady who chased after you and introduced myself to you at the March For The Babies in Melbourne some years ago. I can see you are putting your principles into practice as well as into writing! I know you are being constantly hassled by those who disagree with you and your principles, but please accept the acclaim of those who do! God bless you!

  • May I add my vote of thanks to you Bill for all of the work you put in upholding Christian values. It always gives me a thrill when I open my emails and see Culture Watch. You are a meeting point for Bible believing Christians and I know no other like you; a place where we can go to get a good Christian perspective on current issues.

    Please keep up the good work and God bless you.

  • Good article Bill on our priorities, and bless you for your service to our King, a good work which ripples far and wide, and influences so many. Like many good works the feedback is only the tip of the iceberg of the impact of which is inestimable.

    God willing, may you continue it for many a year.


    probably OT, but thought it may interest some…

    Like you I like tennis and have always wanted Federer to achieve the greatest stats in the modern era of tennis to fittingly round out his career, but when these two play I find it difficult to root for one of the other.

    Like a small number of players before him, Federer has not just been one of the greatest players statistically but also an inspiration to tennis. He took the game to place it had not reached before and was for a period head and shoulders better than the worlds best, holding the no.1 position for 310+ weeks (so far) and for a 237 consecutive weeks between 2004-2008 – a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten in the open era. This is an amazing feat as the competition during the time of his reign has been some of the fiercest ever in tennis.

    But in the last few years my allegiance has been changing to Novak.

    Djokovic has been a beneficiary of the Federer era, but he too is clearly a standout player. He has achieved more in fewer sets of tennis than anyone in the modern era, by a long shot, and unless injury is an obstacle, at 32 he is very likely to challenge Federer’s total of 20 grand slams titles in the next few of years. Many of his shots are on par with how amazing Federer’s were.

    What sets Novak apart is that he is accepted among his peers as one of the most gracious people to have graced the game and has always been so. Yes, Federer is now a much beloved statesman of the game, but it wasn’t always so. Djokovic is a national treasure to his people – his generosity and humanitarian efforts are legendary, and it seems that when he plays tennis, he plays for more than just himself. Yet tennis does not define him as a person – he himself defines himself as a Christian and a Serb and then a tennis player.

    As an aside, Federer still doesn’t come close to our own Rod Laver’s exploits. It is hard to imagine that Laver’s record 200 titles could ever be topped, nor his 7 straight years at no.1 (1964 – 1970) and his double Grand Slam (winning all four Slams in the calendar year). And this is omitting a further 5 years as the no.1 tennis player in the world when he was excluded from Grand Slam tournaments (due to tennis politics at the time). There has never been a time in tennis when people felt so much like they were playing for second spot as they were during Laver’s era – he was almost unstoppable, and yet was also a gentleman of the game.

Leave a Reply