This picture reminds me of the Tom Cruz movie "The Last Samurai". Near the end of the flick the dying rebel leader sees a PERFECT cherry blossom and feels that his life is complete. This picture was touted as a "Rose in HD" and the definition is truly something wonderful. Just this week, I added Ben Fronczek to my list of competitors to the blog. He is the evangelist and also one of the elders for the Granville church of Christ in up-state New York. Now, I haven't seen him since I graduated from Northeast School of Biblical Studies in 1979, but although his outward appearance has changed but little, still, he is now an ELDER in the church at Granville. That says something of his growth in character and work as a CHRISTIAN. Just take a look at the qualifications for the eldership (1 Timothy, Chapter 3 and Titus, Chapter 1) and you will see what I mean. Now, I have to ask myself- How did Ben get this far? For me, the answer is found in the following passage from the book of Philippians...
Philippians, Chapter 3
1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not tiresome, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh; 4 though I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I yet more: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.
7 However, what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; 11 if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.
13 Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, think this way. If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind. 17 Brothers, be imitators together of me, and note those who walk this way, even as you have us for an example. 18 For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who think about earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subject all things to himself.
The apostle Paul had training and zeal, but not according to knowledge (at first). Then, in Acts, Chapter 9, his contact with the risen Christ changed his life forever. His religious duty changed from a system based on works to that of grace and he was a different man. The thing is: Paul kept trying and trying and continued to try to please God. His perfection was not just a goal, it was a PROCESS. When we reach out for God and keep reaching we become perfect. This does not mean that we never sin, but rather that at any given time we are the very best we can be- and are dissatisfied with that. Yearning to become continually more in touch with God, we view both our sin and accomplishments differently- and we just never stop growing. Recently, I was made painfully aware of my own shortcomings and as a result, this message of Paul to the Philippians means more to me than ever. I know that I will probably NEVER be an elder like brother Ben, but I will strive to be the very best I can be and push the envelop to be even better- God enabling. Today, try to follow Jesus more closely and never, ever give up. Who knows what you may accomplish???? You might even reach high definition....
PS. For more information about Ben Fronczek and the work at Granville, New York, why not go to their website- http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/