The Preacher Says....  
  Rumination interesting word. I’m reminded of my father, who used to start conversations like this: ‘This is something that’s not nice to talk about’. And I always resisted the impulse to say, well, let’s don’t talk about it, Pop. But he always plowed on and started to talk about what was not nice to talk about. And ‘rumination’ may be something you’d rather not know much about. But here goes.

We think of the word rumination meaning to reflect. It’s actually from the Greek word,‘ruman—R U M A N--, meaning ‘to reflect’ again, and again—to reflect a second time, because a ruman is the second stomach of a cud chewing animal, like the cow who swallows food whole without chewing it, then it goes into the ruman. From there it is regurgitated, and the animal—at rest—thoroughly masticates the food, which then proceeds back down through the abdomen where it’s ultimately digested. So, when you ruminate about something you think about it a second time, you ponder, or reflect upon it.

And so, that is what I want to do here this morning. You know, animals that chew the cud look wise. They have a very stern , passive visage, as though great thoughts were on their mind while listlessly chewing the cud. Well, we all know that cows are not wise, and so when you hear somebody do as I do this morning, as I ruminate about things, you are reminded that if he doesn’t speak according to the law and the testimony, then he’s not speaking the truth. I give you that warning. Whenever somebody tells you, “I’ll tell you what I think about a subject”, you need to arm yourself.

A few weeks ago, I listened to a lecture on the subject of secular humanism. The speaker gave many examples of the pernicious effect that that doctrine has had on our country, individuals and educational system, which comes about as man tries to create a new religion for himself. The unholy triumvirate of Darwin, Freud and Marx effectively destroyed religion for many people. They, the higher critics of scripture, were capped off in the 1960’s by Bishop Robinson of the Anglican Church, who declared God dead. This assault on religion made it possible for man to create his own religion, essentially secular humanism. A notion that has been around for a long time.

Unhappily, humanism has been a long time dying. It has been dying a slow death because of men like Norman Lear, for example, the TV producer, who spearheaded the movement of secular humanism in this country; and men like Carl Sagan, who popularized scientific theory, professor of astronomy at Cornell. Implicit in everything they teach is that we know how to make up our own rules. That we’re responsible only to ourselves. The idea has had a sweeping influence on American society, but we see signs that things are changing. The uncertainty of today’s world has caused people to take another look at the meaning of it all.

You know, we’re overwhelmed by our environment. We spend so much time—and rightly so—setting up our defenses—our defenses on the front, on the flank, on the rear, against this overwhelming environment. But often we neglect or forget to ferret out the fifth column in our midst, a phrase which came into being during the Spanish Civil War, a few years ahead of WWII, where it gained wide currency. At that time everyone was braced for Hitler’s onslaught which was coming at them. Inside the country the fifth column –the enemy within--was at work, an invisible enemy they were hard put to identify. My point is, we can’t always identify the enemy within, but with the right mindset we can.

A week or so ago, I woke up very ill, I couldn’t get out of bed, and I had a fever and chills and was laying there all huddled up. I asked my wife to turn on the television to get my mind off my troubles. Something came on called the Jerry Springer show, which I had never seen before. But you wouldn’t believe what they were doing on that show—and I won’t tell you. That’s not something nice to talk about it. I was too weak to get out of bed, and it went on, and I was just a captive of this hideous, horrible (how can I describe it?) of this savage exhibitionism. Finally, even at the risk of death almost, I got up and dragged myself over and cut the thing off—the content of the show was so offensive, it was easy to do--II was not going to be overwhelmed by my environment.

There’s a tendency to say –and I’ve quoted it often--all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Fortunately, all these things will pass away. The future that God has promised man gives us a sure hope of something better. In the meantime, what we are supposed to be doing is keeping ourselves unspotted from that world where the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life run rampant. The enemy on this show was easily discernible, but others more sinister lurk around us. In one example, the 59th Psalm begins, Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; defend me from them that rise up against me; deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. For lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the multitude of thy mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord, they run and prepare themselves . . .and so on. He brings down a terrible punishment on his enemies, which they no doubt deserved in that Psalm. The same man in Psalm 51, (appearing earlier in the text, but I suspect was written later), sings a different tune. He says, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according to thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from all my sin. For I acknowledge all my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Here’s the man who was praying for his deliverance from his enemies, and yet murdered a man so he could commit adultery with his wife. And didn’t know he’d done it—apparently he didn’t know it was wrong. He had to be told by Nathan the prophet. David didn’t recognize the enemy within—the fifth column. Somebody had to tell him what he did. It’s a great example of the deceitfulness of sin—being wise in our own conceits—false notions of ourselves—the images we build of ourselves that don’t reflect reality.

But listen. God so loved the world –the world of these lusts—that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved (John 3. 16, 17). This fact gives us reason to think long and hard about seeking the truth, when you ruminate about your life in the world. Why? Your action makes it possible to reach a place in the kingdom of God. During the time of the prophet Elijah there were 7,000 who did not bow the knee to Baal. You are not alone. Today, thanks to Jesus Christ, God’s grace abounds for those who worship Him in spirit and truth.

Imagine we were washed up on a desert island together, free from the influences of the world, how would things be? Here we are on this desert island and somebody is going to be in charge of the matches, and somebody’s got the blankets, and somebody’s in charge of dividing cocoanuts, and somebody gets to sleep on the lee side of the hill. I think we could store up enough misbehavior in this situation to prove that we need to worry about—more than anything else—the fifth column. You can’t avoid it because each one of us is unique. We’re all different—5 million people on the earth, and we’re all different. And we all have character—but do we have enough strength of character to make right decisions about life. You can say, ‘I’m going to do this, or that’, or more important, ‘It’s right to do this, it’s wrong to do that’. Our very uniqueness, tempered with the word of God, gives us the ability to make decisions in accordance with God’s will. ‘Go with the flow’? No way. It’s a dead end.