Friday, April 30, 2010

Isaiah 6:8

Today in my daily reading, one of the verses I came across was Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah 6:8
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

and I just wanted to post a quick thought.

I wonder what this world would be like if all Christians were this eager to be used by God at His calling. I once heard a saying that the only ability God cares about is availability. Let's be available, willing, eager.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Selah Selah

Have you ever been reading a verse in the Bible and at the end of it there is the word "Selah"? If so, do you know what it means? I have been thinking about the significance of this little word; for those of you who don't know what it means, it means "stop - and think about what you've just read".

Today I would like to stop and think about stopping and thinking about what we read in the Bible. Too often it is easy to read the Bible and just process the words as we move along. We go from verse to verse, sometimes chapter to chapter, and we don't really meditate on what Scripture is saying.

So, with the Bible being so rich and full of truth. I would like to suggest that when we read it (whether at church, or a daily reading plan, or whatever) that we imagine there is a "Selah" at the end of every verse.

Psalms 119:18
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jesus is the Cure, Not the Curse

Perhaps you know someone who believes, or maybe you believe, the message of Christianity is that a non-Christian will go to hell because they don't believe in Jesus. This is a misconception, and it is wrong. This assumption supposes that the cause of going to hell is not being a Christian. But, the reality is far different.

The message of Christianity (as proclaimed in the Bible) is that the cause which results in the effect of going to hell, is sin. Jesus died because He is The Way to be forgiven, He is the provision which took your sin on Himself. Without Jesus, yes a person will go to hell; but not because of Jesus, but because their sin demands it. Jesus is the cure, not the curse.

John 3:17
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What it Means to be a Christian?

In a some of my posts I mention hypocrites that claim to be Christian. I am unsure of how I come across when I do this, because of a discussion I am having with an individual in the comments of an older post. And so I am writing this post to try and clarify myself a little better.

The Simple Side of Salvation

First I must address that there is a simple side of what it means to be saved (which is what makes one a Christian). It goes like this: If you will repent (turn from your sin to Jesus) and put your faith in Jesus (like you would a parachute) - you will be saved. Simple enough. But; there is also a complicated side of what it means to be a christian

The Complicated Side of Salvation

In his book, “Unmasking The Cults” – which addresses cults of Christianity (as defined by theology), Dr. Alan W. Gomes writes,

"Central doctrines"
of the Christian faith are those doctrines that make the Christian faith Christian and not something else.
1. The meaning of the expression "Christian faith" is not like a wax nose, which can be twisted to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.
2. The Christian faith is a definite system of beliefs with definite content (Jude 3)
3. Certain Christian doctrines constitute the core of the faith. Central doctrines include the Trniity, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and salvation by grace through faith. These doctrines so comprise the essence of the Christian faith that to remove any of them is to make the belief system non-Christian.
4. Scripture teaches that the beliefs mentioned above are of central importance (e.g., Matt 28:19; John 8:24; 1 Cor 15; Eph 2:8-10).
5. Because these central doctrines define the character of Christianity, one cannot be saved and deny these.
6. Central doctrines should not be confused with peripheral issues, about which Christians may legitimately disagree. * Peripheral (i.e. non-essential) doctrines include such issues as the timing of the tribulation, the method of baptism, or the structure of church government. For example, one can be wrong about the identity of "the spirits in prison" 1 Peter 3:19) or about the timing of the rapture and still go to heaven, but one cannot deny salvation by grace or the deity of Christ (John 8:24) and be saved.
7. All Christian denominations — whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant — agree on the essential core. The relatively minor disagreements between genuinely Christian denominations, then, cannot be used to argue that there is no objectively recognized core of fundamental doctrine which constitutes the Christian faith.

So there are essential doctrines that define what the Christian belief is - and if any are denied, then the individual or group cannot claim to be Christian (this is why Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc aren't Christian).

And to expound a more complete list of these essentials let me share The 12 Undeniable Doctrines (in no particular order): The Deity of Christ, The Verbal Inspiration of Scripture, The Virgin Birth, The Sinless Life of Christ, The Vicarious Death of Christ, The Bodily Resurrection of Christ, The Blood Atonement, The Omnipotence of God, The Depravity of Man, The Doctrine of Redemption, The Doctrine of Damnation, Salvation in Jesus Alone.

I apologize that I cannot detail all of what these doctrines mean and their Scriptural reference here (I don't want this blog post to be too long - but feel free to email me if you would like an explainiation).

The Evidences of Salvation

And then there are two evidences of salvation.
1) The inward evidence - the direct witness of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).
2) The outward evidence - a life of righteousness and true holiness; being set apart (Ephesians 4:24, Titus 2:12). This is why the title "Christian" came about (it means Christ followers)

As such, if either evidence is missing there is great cause for concern.

So to sum it up

Many claim to be Christian, but not all are. There will be many who claim to be Christian and Jesus will say to them "I never knew you, depart from Me" (Matthew 7:23). My hope is that my posts that address these folks would compel them to examine themselves - and that in doing so they will repent and put their faith in Jesus. and truly be a Christian (as the Bible defines it).

What do People Think of Us?

I believe that one of the main reasons that sharing the Gospel is so often neglected (even though it is so often commanded in the Bible) is because we fear what people will think of us. Well I would like to share a couple perspectives from non-Christians that should compel us, rather than stop us.

Letter From an Atheist (this is an excerpt from a letter written to Ray Comfort from an atheist)

"You are really convinced that you've got all the answers. You've really got yourself tricked into believing that you're 100% right. Well, let me tell you just one thing. Do you consider yourself to be compassionate of other humans? If you're right, as you say you are, and believe that, then how can you sleep at night? When you speak with me you are speaking with someone who you believe is walking directly into eternal damnation into an endless onslaught of horrendous pain which your 'loving' god created, yet you stand by and do nothing.

If you believe one bit that thousands every day were falling into an eternal and unreacheable fate, you should be running the streets mad with rage at their blindness. That's equivalent to standing on a street corner and watching every person that passes you walk blindly directly into the path of a bus and die, yet you stand idly by and do nothing. You're just twiddling your thumbs, happy in the knowledge that one day that 'walk' signal will shine your way across the road.

Think about it. Imagine the horrors Hell must have in store if the bible is true. You're just going to allow that to happen and not care about saving anyone but yourself? If you're right then you're an uncaring, unemotional and purely selfish (expletive) that has no right to talk about subjects such as love and caring."

And also this video from Penn (of Penn and Teller)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something Interesting Happened

A few days ago, I saw a comment in one of my posts from a Andrew Holmes, and in the comment he gave a web address to a post on his blog Live Like Dirt. I was amazed to find that he had posted something in response to what I had written. And so I obviously read what he wrote and responded in his comments. As we discussed, there were some comments from others; one in particular came from Tristan Zimmerman:

"...morality isn't something where one side can prove to the other who's right or wrong. It's not testable. It's philosophy; it's logic. And depending on what assumptions you start out with, you can come to radically different conclusions, with NO WAY to reconcile them... Me, I believe that my gut is the best judge of whether something is right or wrong – I trust my upbringing to be my moral guide."

Then a little later Andrew said "For right now I’m going to avoid any arguments about morality and the Ten Commandments" I replied "you said you do not want to discuss morality and the 10 Commandments - for now. When you do, I would love if you commented on my blog to start the discussion" and I was happy with his response "Sure I'll come on over to your blog for a little 10 commandment talk"

So this post is for Andrew and Tristan (but anyone can feel free to join in commenting; but to let you know, I moderate comments to prevent foul language)

The Ten Commandments and Their Purpose

A little girl was once watching a sheep eat grass and thought how white it looked against the green background. But when it began to snow she thought, "That sheep now looks dirty against the white snow!" It was the same sheep, but with a different background.

When we compare ourselves to man's standard we look pretty clean, but when we compare ourselves to the pure snow-white righteousness of God's standard—His Law, we can see ourselves in truth, that we are unclean in His sight. That Law is the holy standard by which humanity will be judged on Judgment Day.

This is the purpose of the Ten Commandments. This is why we cannot trust in our gut, or let our upbringing be our moral guide; when we do, it is easy to say compared to others we are pretty good - but how are we compared to God's standard?

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Have you always loved God above all else?)
  2. You shall not make yourself an idol. (Have you made a god in your mind that you're more comfortable with, a god to suit yourself?)
  3. You shall not take God's name in vain. (Have you ever used God's holy Name as a cuss word?)
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder. (God considers hatred to be as murder - 1 John 3:15).
  7. You shall not commit adultery. ("Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart" Matthew 5:27-28; this also includes sex before marriage).
  8. You shall not steal. (Have you ever stolen anything? the value of the item is irrelevant).
  9. You shall not lie. (Have you lied even once? Including answering these questions).
  10. You shall not covet. (Have you ever jealously desired what belongs to others?)
Who of us can say we are not guilty of breaking these Commandments? All of us have sinned, and just as with civil law, you don't have to break ten laws to be a lawbreaker, so the Bible warns, "For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)

The Law of God is merely like a mirror—all a mirror does is show you the truth. If you see egg on your face, you don't try and wash yourself with the mirror, it's purpose should be to send you to water for cleansing. Neither should you try and wash yourself with the mirror of God's Law...that's not its purpose. The sight in the mirror is not a pretty one, but if you don't face it and acknowledge that you are unclean, then all that "dirt" will be presented on Judgment Day as evidence of your guilt, and then it will be too late to be cleansed.

This may sound strange, but the solution is not to try and clean up your lifestyle—you realize that you have sinned, so from now on you will keep the Ten Commandments, do good deeds, say the right things and think only pure thoughts. But should a judge let a murderer go because he says he will now live a good life? No, he's in debt to justice and therefore must be punished.

If you read in the newspaper that a man received a $5 fine for a crime, you could conclude that his crime was insignificant. But if a man received multiple life sentences, you could conclude that his crime was heinous. In the same way, we can catch a glimpse of how terrible sin must be in the sight of God by looking to the punishment given for it—eternal punishment.

Perhaps you think that God is good and will therefore overlook your sins. But if you were guilty of terrible crimes in a civil court and said to the judge, "Judge, I am guilty but I believe that you are a good man and will therefore overlook my crimes," the judge would probably respond by saying, "You are right about one thing; I am a good man, and it's because of my goodness that I am going to see that justice is done, that you are punished for your crimes." The very thing that many are hoping will save them on Judgment Day, God's "goodness," will be the very thing that will condemn them. If God is good, He should punish murderers. liars, thieves, etc., and Hell will be their dreadful fate.

Can you see your predicament? You are guilty of sinning against God Himself, and, because you have a conscience, you have sinned "with knowledge" (conscience means: con-with, science-knowledge) Isn't it true that every time you lied, stole, lusted, etc., you did it with knowledge that it was wrong? (Maybe this is the "gut" Tristan was referring to)

God Himself is not willing that you perish. To make clear what an incredible thing He has done for you in the Gospel, let's look again to civil law: You are standing in front of a judge, guilty of very serious crimes. All the evidence has been presented and there is no doubt about your guilt. The fine for your crime is $250,000 or imprisonment, but you haven't two pennies to rub together. The judge is about to pass sentence...he lifts his gavel, when someone you don't even know steps in and pays the fine for you. The moment you accept that payment, you are free to go. Justice has been served, the law has been satisfied, and what's more, the stranger who paid your fine showed how much he cares for you. His payment was evidence of his love.

That's what God did for you, in the person of Jesus Christ. you are guilty, He paid the fine 2,000 years ago. It is that simple. The Bible puts it this way: "he was bruised for our iniquities . . . Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us...God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

It was no small thing for Jesus to die for us. The only thing that would satisfy the demands of Eternal Law was the suffering death of the sinless Son of God. What love God must have for you! He suffered unspeakable agony, so that you wouldn't have to be punished for your sins. His sacrificial death and resurrection mean that you need no longer be in debt to the Law, and God can now grant you everlasting life if you obey Him -- death no longer has a legal hold upon those who belong to Jesus Christ.

What should you then do? Simply repent (turn from your sin to Jesus) and put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord -the same way you would put your faith in a parachute; you don't just "believe" it will benefit you, you actually trust yourself to it by putting it on.

Don't put it off until tomorrow.

* most of this explanation of the 10 Commandments and it's purpose comes from Ray Comforts booklet "are you good enough to go to heaven"

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's All Greek

I always thought it was a funny statement to say "It's all Greek to me" in reference to not understanding something. I don't know how Greek was chosen, because if I look at any foreign language - they are all as confusing as the next. But anyway, the thought I wanted to bring today is the way in which people discuss the original languages of the Bible.

I have heard many times (and have even thought myself) that if I could learn both Biblical Hebrew and Greek; I would study the Bible like never before. I think of how much learning could be gained from reading the text as it was recorded. I have never actually went as far as going to college for this purpose, but many have.

But, what if we studied the Bible in our language the way we say we would if we learned Greek/Hebrew? Would we not gain the same? Seriously, what if we looked to the words and expounded them out, read intensely, and were open and eager to hear God speaking? I know English, I have an English Bible; put the two together and what's the difference?

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

What are your thoughts? post a comment

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Court Credibility

When talking about sharing the Gospel with others, "witness" and "testimony" are two terms that are used quite often. Along with this, these two terms also apply to court - and they are also more or less synonymous there as well. But in thinking about court and witnesses and testimonies; I also think that there is almost always brought into a trial "character witnesses".

Character witnesses don't testify to the case, but to the credibility (either for the positive or the negative) of those who have testified about the case. And this type of testimony is very important to the ones making the final verdict, because your life says a lot about your trustworthiness.

So taking this thought back to sharing the Gospel with others; what would a character witness say about us? Does our life say "yes, he/she speaks the truth" or "no, don't believe him/her"? Does it make the message any less true when our life is that of a hypocrite? No, truth stands as truth - but it's believability is compromised in the minds of those who need that truth. Our lives can actually be a stumbling block, keeping people from accepting the message of salvation.

I think every Christian should understand that we are obligated, commanded, required, to preach the Gospel (this is one of the main messages on my blog); but I would agree with Charles Spurgeon (a famous preacher) who said if you live the life of a hypocrite, before you speak about God, you should go 2 miles outside of your town - then when you go to open your mouth, you should say nothing.

The solution however, is not in following Spurgeon's advice; it is to stop living the life of a hypocrite - then open your mouth and proclaim Jesus; living in obedience. Let people reject God because they reject His message; not because they reject us and the message of our character.

1 Timothy 3:7
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

To...Is To...


To know Him, is to love Him
To love Him, is to serve Him

If you're not serving Him, it's because you don't love Him
If you don't love Him, it's because you don't know Him

Because to know Him, is to love Him
and to love Him, is to serve Him

John 14:15
If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Responsibility and Accountability

The Bible is the Word of God. It is without error, and everything it says is true. Right? Absolutely. But what about the parts that say something we don't want to hear? Should we ignore them, or deny them - Of course not! We should welcome the verses that yell at us to change - and we should be eager to change; especially if Scripture attaches a warning of our responsibility and accountability. Let me give you an example of what I mean. The great commission says we are to preach the Gospel to every creature - If I choose not to, I am being disobedient; but maybe that doesn't concern me. Well, does this concern us:

Ezekiel 33:8
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Pretty serious.

We know God has said to the wicked, they shall die. And we know in which way we are commanded to warn them from their way (with the Gospel). Are we the watchmen that God has ordered us to be?

When I think about entering eternity; I'm not really concerned with how many crowns I may receive (because I am not worthy of anything, and anything good I receive belongs at the feet of Jesus); but, I certainly don't want the blood of countless souls on my hands. To be honest, I fear how many already are.

I also want to say, I don't know what it will look like when God requires the blood on our hands; but I do know it is far better just to be obedient - warn the world, warn those you love, warn those you don't love; and tell them how Jesus made a provision for them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Peculiar People

Have you ever found yourself amazed at sports fans? I know I am. The extent that they will go to unashamedly display their devotion and loyalty to their favorite team. It's pretty remarkable. Body paint, costumes, poor weather - and off they go unhindered; telling the world whose banner they wear.

It's not at all expected that these fans should try and blend in a little more with everyone else. Or that their attitude should be "you have your team I'll have mine, but let's be quiet about it". No, actually we can all imagine a stereotype of what we expect from the hardcore sports fan.

So what about our loyalty and devotion to Christ? Should we be any less eager to let the world know whom we belong to? To be clear, I don't think we should be set apart by body paint, costumes, bumper stickers, and other such stuff - but we should be set apart, and it should be displayed with our lives.

And what about a stereotype. Is this what we fear that keeps us from opening our mouth in obedience to the Great Commission? If it is, we already have a stereotype; the world thinks of Christians and the stereotype of hypocrisy comes to their mind. There is also the televangelist image and hunger for money, health, wealth. There is the stereotype of being full of religion, but no love. We shouldn't fear having a stereotype; we should work to fix the stereotypes we have created already. Let's live like we should - as Jesus commanded. Yes it means we will be a peculiar people, but lets live as peculiar people surrendered to Christ - so that when the world thinks of Christians, the stereotype that comes to mind is the Gospel on their lips, and proved with their lives.

Titus 2:14
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Everything Skit

Most of the time when I post something, it is something written. A brief thought, idea, inspiration - something of that sort. But sometimes, I come across something else. And this is one of those times. My wife showed me this video, and I can't help but share it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Am I a Cemetery?

Several years ago my family and I lived in a little town in North Idaho. As the night sky darkened and all lights went out you would see on the hill side a lit up cross. This was one of the first things I had noticed when we moved there, and so it was one of the first things I had asked about. As I inquired what this cross was, I was informed that it was the local cemetery. This struck me then and has stayed with me since.

I think of cemeteries and what they bear witness to. The first truth is the inevitability of death - 10 out of 10 people die. They also bear witness to the uncertainty of life; that we are not guaranteed a long life - cemeteries are filled with those of all ages; from young to old, and all in between. With this, this particular cemetery had the cross lit up bearing witness to what Jesus did 2000 years ago.

I thought on this and I was amazed at the idea of how much could be gained from thinking on the witness of this cemetery. But I was also humbled to think on how much more of a witness this cemetery had compared to many churches, and unfortunately many Christians.

And I began to think - am I as much a witness as this cemetery? Do I speak the truth I see displayed here? The truth the Bible proclaims. This isn't just an idea that may be good for someone while another has their own way - This is humanities only hope!

Oh but telling people they will die may be offensive. Well, is it offensive when someone tells others about the need for life insurance? Hardly. How much more is the necessity for Christ?! But yes, the Gospel is offensive. Let's look at it.

We die - we die because of sin. Sin is breaking God's law (the 10 Commandments), and from the moment sin entered our world, so did physical death; but with physical death came spiritual death. We are separated from God because of our sin. The Bible also says that there is a second death called the Lake of Fire (hell) where God must send those who break His law (which is all of us as a blanket statement, but means you if you take away that blanket).
- this is offensive -
Yet, 2000 years ago God became flesh (Jesus), lived sinless, and chose to die in our place. In His death, He took on Himself our sin, and our punishment. We broke God's Law, Jesus paid our fine.
- this is good news -
The Bible says if you will repent (turn from your sin to Jesus), and put your faith in Jesus (like you would a parachute), God will forgive you, and grant you everlasting life. If you don't, you will get what you justly deserve. Don't put it off, do it today; you may not see tomorrow.
- this is both offensive and good news -

The Gospel is offensive because it says yes you can be forgiven; but it is not on your terms - it is on God's terms. The Gospel is offensive because you can't hold on to you; you must let go of your life, and give it to Christ.

For those of us who have (us Christians), are you a cemetery? Not any other plot of land that builds on itself, or stays empty doing nothing; are you set apart for a special and specific purpose - proclaiming Jesus, His work, and His message; the world is full of those who are dying.

Matthew 5:14-16
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Preachers in Hell

There is a story of two preachers who died and both went to hell. The first preacher told the second preacher "I believe the Bible teaches once saved, always saved. I thought I was saved while I was on earth, yet I am in hell. I must never have been saved to begin with". The second preacher said "I believe the Bible teaches you can lose your salvation. I thought I was saved while I was on earth, yet I am in hell. I must have lost my salvation". This is a pretty ridiculous story, but it has a very good point to it. What is the point?

The point is not "can a person lose their salvation, or not"; the point is that it is most important to "make sure you are right with God". That you will not spend eternity in hell. Examine yourselves, see if you are in the faith!

Some of the scariest Bible verses for "Christians" are found in Matthew 7:21-23

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

How is it than that one examines themselves. More importantly, how does one make sure of their salvation? Well your life should be evidence of your salvation, if your life speaks the opposite - there is a definite concern. But, changing your life is not how you make sure of your salvation, you must repent and put your faith in Jesus - the same as a non-Christian. Surrender your life to Christ.

I don't know if anyone reading this is thinking on their life, and finding themselves concerned; but if you are - don't put it off. You are not guaranteed another day. Humble yourself, make peace with God today.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Message from my Son

This morning I was editing some stuff on this blog and my six year old asked what the blog is for. I told him it was to write about God; to which he asked if I write about Bible verses. I said yes, and so he asked if he could put John 3:16 on this blog so people can read it :)

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Praise is Not a Substitute for Obedience

I once heard a saying that "knowledge is not a substitute for action". This is such an amazing and truthful statement and we do not think about it near enough. We learn, we can repeat, but do we do? It is a little ironic that we will learn, repeat, and know that we are not to be hearers only, but doers - and yet our ears tend to be more exercised than out lives.

Today in church, the sermon was on a perfect example; The Good Samaritan. The priest and the levite both had knowledge of the Word of God, but it was the Samaritan that had action. Why then, are our churches so full of "priests and levites" and no "samaritans"? And more importantly, which are we?

But, this is not the title or subject of this post today. What is on my mind is the thought about the action that we cannot substitute with knowledge - and, what action are we taking? The title and subject of this post is "praise is not a substitute for obedience".

I have children (I am lucky and thankful to be a dad). And when I consider my children's response to my parenting (an awesome responsibility); what I desire is their obedience. Sure the "I love you dad" I hear from my children has great value, but it looses it's value when my children refuse to obey.

As Christians who claim to love God, when we say "I love you" with our praise but have no obedience - can there be any value in that? Is not this more of an insult? God's great commission (His command to all of His followers) is that we preach the Gospel to this lost and dying world. Yes, we should praise Him (tell Him we love Him) but we must also answer "yes sir". Our service cannot and should not be only from our lips - our service must be our lives laid down on an altar of obedience as living sacrifices.

Matthew 15:8
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Only Because of Jesus

Amazing song! And yet without Jesus, that list of all our wrong will condemn us - without repentance and faith in Jesus, the verdict will be GUILTY! Please surrender to Christ today, you may not have tomorrow and eternity is a long time.

Only Twice a Year

Did you know that according to the Bible we (as Christians) are only commanded to share the Gospel twice a year? It's true. I imagine upon reading this, there are probably some of you who sigh in relief saying "thank goodness" - and there are probably some of you who may be thinking "that's ridiculous". Well let's look to Scripture to see what I am talking about.

2 Timothy 4:1-5
1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

In season and out of season - the only two times we are commanded to do the work of an evangelist. This means when it is popular, and when it is unpopular. This means when it is easy, and when it is hard. This means during the holidays (like Christmas and Easter), and on the normal ordinary days. Really this means all the time.

If you are not already obedient in this command, may today be the day that you begin a new walk with your Savior living in obedience. "I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Not Commit Suicide?

Many Christians are familiar with the command from God to die to self - this post is not about that. It is about the suicide of ending ones own physical life.

How many of us believe or would assert that "to die is gain"? We often tell others when someone dies that "they are in a better place". We tell people heaven is more than we can even begin to imagine in its perfectness, loveliness, wonderfulness and so much more. Heaven can only be described as... heaven. Along with this, this world is full of hardships, and trials, persecution, suffering, etc. Yes there are those things we love in this life; family, friends, the comforts we find amidst it all. But, all that we love in this world is nothing compared to how amazing heaven will be - right?

So why not commit suicide?

Let me say first, I am not saying that we should kill ourselves. I am just asking why are we here, and why are we supposed to be here. What is our purpose? We do have a purpose, there is reason for us being - for us living.

Where Paul wrote, "to die is gain" he began with "to live is Christ". He continued "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. " (Philippians 1:23,24)

In these words of the Bible, we find the reason for life. Our purpose is others. Some would say that our purpose is worship, I would not entirely disagree; but if it is worship - once again, why not commit suicide, and spend an eternity in worship? The call is that it is needful for others that we are here. The world is full of those who will enter eternity, condemned in their sin, without Christ. And as such, there will not be heaven for them; their fate will be hell. Far worse than anything we can imagine.

So knowing this, what our life is for - is it our focus? Our life is set apart to be a tool to bring others to know and serve Jesus - do we live in light of this truth? If not, it's probably because our focus is ourselves. So let's change the focus. It's not about me, it's about everyone else. It's about being about His work, His Mission, His message. It's about evangelism. Truly, there is no greater purpose.

This Same Jesus

I wonder what it was like 2000 years ago when Jesus walked among us. How amazing it would have been to see Him - see Him heal the blind, cause the lame to walk, call forth the dead (and watch as they obey). Or to hear Him teach and preach - to listen to the Sermon on the Mount from His lips. I wonder if I would have stood in fear as He threw over tables in the Temple - or fell in awe to see all stones dropped with the adulteress. I wonder what it would have been like to see so few fishes and loaves become so much. I wonder.

And then I read one of the most exiting verses in the Bible. "... why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. " (Acts 1:11)

This same Jesus - that healed the blind
This same Jesus - that caused the lame to walk
This same Jesus - that called forth the dead
This same Jesus - that spoke the Sermon on the Mount
This same Jesus - that threw over the tables
This same Jesus - that forgave the adulteress
This same Jesus - that fed 5000

This same Jesus - that died in my place...took what I deserved...made the way to be right with God - is The Way to be right with God
This same Jesus - that rose from the dead

He is coming again!

It may not be with the same purpose and position; rather than suffering servant, He will be a conquering King. None the less, "this same Jesus" - who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

For the Love of the Lost

Jesus said that there is no greater love than if someone will lay down their lives for a friend. And I think people agree. We make movies, read stories, have medals given, and many other ways in which we honor someone who gives up their life for another. We think of soldiers who will place themselves on a bomb, to save their fellow brothers. We think of people who step in front of a bullet, so that it will not pierce a loved one. We think of a stranger who will rush to push a child out of the way of a speeding car, and get hit instead. And to some degree, there are reasons for this selfless act. The soldier knows more may die, if not for his sacrifice. The loved one is so valued that the other would rather take the bullet, so they live. The stranger sees the preciousness of the little life that would end too soon, and doesn't even consider his/her own life. We think there is nothing greater someone can be willing to give up. But there is.

Can you imagine someone who would be willing to give up their eternal life? How about not just willing but even asking for such a fate - for the sake of others? This is no small thing, according to the Bible; hell is forever, never ending torment - pain - suffering - sadness - no presence of God - no end in sight - hopelessness. And yet in the Bible we read that on two different occasions, this request was made.

Exodus 32:32
Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

Romans 9:3
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

Both Moses and Paul were willing to give up their eternal life for the sake of others. I imagine the reasons were much the same; if it meant more would have life - because of the value of the soul - because of the soul's preciousness. Even then, who of us would be willing? Maybe if it was our mom or dad - maybe? Or how about a child, our child - maybe? But Moses and Paul were not talking about children and parents. Moses had just given God's law to the Israelites, went to the mountain, and came back only to find these people in utter idolatry. Paul was being persecuted and wanted dead by those he speaks of.

If there is something that should humble us - it is how much less we care about the lost. One cannot give up their eternal life for another; but what kind of love could be contained in a human that they would be willing to? And if this love can exist inside a human (which it can - but only when we allow God's love to be our love), then why are we so unconcerned about the fate of those without Christ? Most of us live in the joy that we have this eternal life, which is in and of itself is not wrong; but when we focus on our comfort of security to the point that our heart does not break into millions of pieces because of the knowledge that others are perishing - and often the thought doesn't even cross our mind. Than what good are we?

If this love can exist inside a human (which again, it can if we allow God's love to be our love) than may we all seek to surrender ourselves fully to experience it. May God's love be our love.

The Phone Number to God

Phone numbers are pretty neat. Actually more than neat, for me they are quite mind boggling. I have no idea how they work; but I do know if you dial a specific number of numerals, use the specific numbers, in a very specific order; it will ring the line of the exact phone you are desiring to connect to. Pretty cool. I also know that if you dial different numbers; or keep the correct numbers, but change the order; or even just change one single number - you will not connect to the line you wish to.

Religion is very similar to this. There are several religions that are so different from each other that you could say they don't even use the same numbers. Then there are religions that are similar enough you could say they have rearranged the numbers. There are even religions that are so close to each other, you could say they have only changed one number. But, do all religions lead to God? NO - there is only one phone number to God, and it is Jesus (and His work on the cross).

"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father, but by Me" John 14:6

And the only way to call, is with saving faith. Not belief (intellectual knowledge of Jesus and his existence 2000 years ago), but believing (entrusting yourself to Jesus, who by dying and taking your sin on Himself, is your only way to be right with God). The difference can be seen with a parachute - I may believe a parachute has life saving ability; but unless I entrust myself to it and put it on, when I jump - I will perish. Don't jump (die) without Jesus. Repent and put your faith in Him. If you do, God promises to answer your call!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Beauty in the Words not the Tone

Have you ever heard "It's not what you say, it's how you say it"? This little saying is quite applicable in so much of our lives. How we talk to people we know, strangers, loved ones, children, parents... on and on it goes. But when it comes to worship, and the songs we sing to the Lord; often we are focused on how we sing, and not what we are singing.

Truly the words are precious in the hymns that have been penned from hundreds of years ago, even into modern day. On Sunday mornings if you'll stop singing long enough to listen to what you are singing; you may find yourself with uncontrollable tears in your eyes. You may find yourself amazed at God's love. You may even find yourself praying. So with this thought in mind, I would like to share one of my favorite hymns - and prayerfully its words will soak inside us.

Set My Soul Afire

1 - Set my soul afire Lord, for Thy Holy Word, Burn it deep within me, let Thy voice be heard
Millions grope in darkness in this day and hour, I will be a witness, fill me with Thy pow'r

Set my soul afire Lord, set my soul afire.
Make my life a witness of Thy saving pow'r. Millions grope in darkness, waiting for Thy Word. Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire!

2 - Set my soul afire, Lord, for the lost in sin, Give to me a passion as I seek to win; Help me not to falter never let me fail, Fill me with Thy Spirit, let Thy will prevail.

3 - Set my soul afire, Lord, in my daily life. Far too long I've wandered in this day of strife; Nothing else will matter but to live for Thee, I will be a witness for Christ lives in me.

May this not only be a song for us, but a prayer from our hearts.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Freedom of Religion

I don't know if it's an American thing, or a human thing - but people seem to talk a lot about "what if..." and "one day..." and the responses they believe they will have in specific hypothetical situations. This isn't a bad thing; but it can be quite interesting. I find it especially interesting when Christians talk about "what if Christianity became illegal"; or the certainty that one day it will be. To add to this, we even think of the punishment that will be dealt - death for being a Christian. And almost always the response is that if Christianity became illegal, even if it would cost our lives - we would choose to be unashamed (even bold) to declare Jesus, His work, and His message.

I find this to be incredibly amazing; but not because the response is amazing. The response is what should be expected - how could we hide the One who is the source of our life (both eternal and physical)? How could we not be bold for the One who laid down His life willingly for us? How could we live with our Christianity as a secret, knowing Jesus said that He would be ashamed of those who were ashamed of Him? No, I don't find the response amazing; I find it amazing that the response is so disproportionate to the reality of how so many who claim to be Christians live. The vast majority of "Christians" will say they would die for Christ, but why aren't they living for Him? Why aren't we consumed in our heart with His Gospel to the point it burns in our bones and we can't help but speak (As the prophet in Jeremiah 20:9)?

What adds more amazement, and more sadness, and more humility - is to know and consider that Christianity is not illegal here in America, and you will not be put to death because you're a Christian. Actually, in America you are protected by the freedom of religion; found in our bill of rights. It may not always be this way (and probably won't be) however, for now it is. But maybe it would be better if we lived as if it were illegal. Maybe then the world wouldn't see so many that they point to and say look at all the hypocrites. Maybe we would see revival.

Your talk talks, and your walk talks; but your walk talks louder than your talk talks. This may be a bit of a tongue twister, but may its truth be impressed upon us. Does your life speak of your boldness for Jesus, or your shame?

Oh and just two little thoughts left.

1) I am not saying that we can replace our command to speak the Gospel to the world by claiming our life does that for us - but that our life should match the message of the Gospel as we speak it to the world.

2) When I mention being unashamed and bold as Christians, I am not talking about extra bumper stickers and cross necklaces - but that we live dead to self, and alive for Christ.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Cost of Salvation

Let me share with you a conversation my cousin and his wife had about the cost of salvation.

My cousin brought up how amazing it is that God offers us salvation absolutely free; surprisingly enough his wife said that God does not. Then came a back and forth spousal "He does" and "He does not" and finally my cousin asked "what do you mean?". The response was "Salvation costs us everything". What makes this conversation so profound is that both my cousin and his wife are absolutely correct. Let me explain:

We (mankind) are dead in our sins, awaiting a day when God will judge us according to His law (the 10 Commandments) - the verdict can only be guilty (because we have all broke God's law; from lying and stealing and lusting, all the way down the list), the sentence can only be hell (the just and righteous sentence from a just and righteous God). We are hopeless :(

But God made a provision for us that would allow us a way to be forgiven and made right and at peace with Him. He put on flesh and blood becoming man (Jesus Christ) lived sinless, and then died for us - because of our sin, in spite of our sin, and to cover our sin (and then He rose again the third day just as the prophets recorded in the Old Testament). What happened 2000 years ago was that even though we broke God's law; Jesus paid our fine - WITH HIS BLOOD. And if we repent (turn from sin to Jesus) and put our faith in Him (entrust ourselves to Him, as our only hope) we will be granted eternal life. This is the Gospel truth, the message of salvation. But I haven't yet explained how it is free to us and at the same time costs us everything - so here goes.

What makes salvation free? It is free because we can't purchase it, we can't earn it, and it is offered to anyone and everyone. To clarify what is meant by our inability to purchase or earn salvation, there is nothing from our life that we can offer God that says we deserve salvation. Our life is filled with disobedience to God and our "good deeds" cannot begin to be payment for the life of the Creator of the universe, especially because they cannot negate our wickedness (bad deeds). Salvation is free because in utter deserved condemnation, Jesus offers salvation to anyone and everyone regardless of the fact none of us deserve it, or can earn it; regardless of the fact that all of us have earned (the wages of sin) and deserve hell. Salvation is free because Jesus says it's not what you have done, It's what I (Jesus) have done. - so what do we do about that? This is where we can see salvation costs us everything.

What makes salvation costs everything? It is the repentance and faith that we must put in Christ to be saved - which when we do, we are surrendering our life to Christ. We are turning over the ownership of ourselves to Him - and there cannot be anything we refuse to let go of when we make this choice. And to be a little more clear, it was brought up that we cannot purchase salvation; more than dying as payment for sin, Jesus was purchasing us - we cannot accept His payment for our sins, if we are not simultaneously accepting his salvation as payment for our lives. We cannot accept Him as Savior if we are not accepting Him as Lord.

So the choice is clear. Jesus gave His life (freely) to offer you life (which you don't deserve) if you'll surrender your life.

Live Risen Daily

It's officially Easter. The day each year when we reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ; and although we should be reflecting on this every moment, we have made today a holiday for this purpose. This Easter lets be challenged - challenged in a way that changes our life to be more of the living sacrifice it should be.

The Bible speaks many times about dying to self, dying to the flesh, and dying daily. The challenge this Easter is the other side of that coin; walking in newness of life, by faith, filled with the Spirit.

"But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live after the flesh" Romans 8:11,12

Yes, let's die daily - but let us also live risen daily!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What does it mean to be a Missionary?

Occasionally people will talk about adoption - and the conversation will focus on the necessity of providing homes for orphans, and children in need. From there, it is common that passionate opinions are given about how we should focus our resources to the children here (where we live) instead of adopting from another country. Valid points are given on both sides of the argument; but what is most seen is that there is a need both here and there. But what about reaching people who don't know Christ and His Gospel?

Often, the missionary idea is only thought of in regard to foreign countries. But what about the need here? Yes, there is a need in other countries, but should we ignore the souls of America any less than we ignore the children who need homes in America? Shouldn't our heart cry for the eternity of those who haven't surrendered their lives to Jesus? We think of tribes who "haven't heard" - but what about those we aren't telling? Is the value of one soul more precious than the other?

This isn't to say that we don't have domestic missionaries, but what is the difference in their vocation? A foreign missionary will live for the one goal of bringing the Gospel to the people - a domestic missionary may plant churches. I understand these are blanket statements that aren't true of all missionaries (foreign and domestic) but they are typical.

And then there is the way that a foreign missionary lives. They will be in a culture but they are not part of that culture. They live with their needs met, but don't desire wealth.

Folks, we are all called to be missionaries - in the way we imagine the foreign missionary - and we are called to be missionaries in this way, even if we never go to a foreign country. We are in the world but not of the world, God will meet our needs and our desire should not be for wealth and success, but in leading people to Jesus. This is the purpose of our lives!

Evangelism Resources

Evangelism Resources