Archive for November, 2010

18
Nov
10

There’s a Time to Move on!

“Then Paul and Barnabas boldly said: “It was necessary that God’s message be spoken to you first. But since you reject it, and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles!” -Acts 13:46 (HCSB)

Having been appointed, ordained and sent on mission by the Church, Paul and Barnabas set out and clearly presented the Gospel to the Jewish community.  Instead of understanding the truth and readily accepting it, they instead were offended by it, and rather than displaying an attitude of repentence they rose up in opposition to Paul and embarked on a campaign of name calling, finger pointing and slander. 

In spending some time examining the OT prophets, the post resurrection Church missionaries(including men like Paul and Barnabas), and even the earthly ministry of Jesus Himself one thing emerges as a characteristic of their style of preaching.  If their message met with rejection, they did not whine about it, and they did not waste much time arguing about it or defending their postion.  They simply took their message and traveled somewhere else to proclaim it.  Clearly, their philosophy was one of of expedience and urgency, understanding the time constraints and the eternal peril on the lives of the people whom they sought to reach.

I love the phrase that Andy Stanley uses again and again in his sermons and teaching, “Everybody is going to spend eternity somewhere.”   The implication is that every day, and in fact every minute someone is leaving this life for an eternal destiny either in heaven with Christ Jesus, or in Hell eternally separated from Him.  It makes me wonder how many of them never heard the clear presentation of the Good News of God’s plan of salvation because we were busy trying to convince someone who has continually rejected it and declared it either untrue or irrelevant.  Or worse yet, we have spent too much time bickering with another believer or group of believers over a point of doctrine or theology.

Here is what I believe we should consider when trying to reach a resistant unbeliever.  1)  Have we made the message of the Gospel easy to understand and have we delivered it with clarity?  2)  Have we presented the message of Jesus Christ and His saving grace with love and genuine concern for the person’s present and eternal good?  3)  Do we view the person as one for whom Christ paid the ultimate price or are they just another number and notch on our spiritual gunbelt? (Is this for our own good or the people we desire to reach?)  4)  Are our efforts based on our own ability and communicative skill or have we prayed up and been empowered by the person of the Holy Spirit?

When the above considerations have been met fully and the person before us still rejects the message we are presenting, then perhaps it is time for us to literally and figuratively pick up our soapbox, unfold our tent and move on to the next town.  No time to point our finger and tell them what a reprobate they are or condemn them for their stupidity and stubborn spirit.  Paul rightly recognized that it was not he himself who considered them unworthy.  They filled that role quite nicely without anyone else saying it to them.  There is another waiting, perhaps at the next door down, who is eagerly awaiting for some…any…good news!  No time to waste…..GET TO THEM NOW!

04
Nov
10

The Conversation

“Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

“pray continually” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV)

Pray without ceasing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (KJV)

No matter which Bible translation you use or prefer; the idea of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 remains the same.  Prayer is communication with God that is not intended to have an ending.  And yet we tend to pray in paragraphs.  So, how can we accomplish such a thing as unceasing prayer?  I believe it can be as simple as seeing it as being conversational.

I have a friend whose prayer style used to kind of freak me out.  We could be right in the middle of talking with each other and suddenly without warning I would be aware that he was no longer speaking with me, but with God.  He’d make the transition without any indication that he was about to begin praying.  No bowed head, no closed eyes, no announcement…just “and Lord, we come agreeing today…”  The first time it happened I must have thought something like, “How weird!”  But then it occured to me that it is the most natural thing imaginable.  My friend was just speaking to and including in our conversation, the other Person present with us at that moment…the Spirit of God!  I mean it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Suppose I am at home with my wife, relaxing and haging out together and she starts to say something to me and I respond, “Sorry, its not time to chat, and you didn’t begin with the appropriate address of me (such as ‘My dear husband…’ or ‘Most respected spiritual head of our household…’), so I can’t talk to you right now.”  Yep!  It would be a pretty cold night on the couch at my house!  NO!  There should never be a time when the lines of communication between husband and wife, or parent and child, or friend and friend should be closed.  Do we think our Heavenly Father is ever too busy, or too distracted, or too uncaring to hear from His children?  There may indeed be times when we react this way as a spouse, or a parent, or a friend, but not our Sovereign Father.

Or maybe we might think that God is not available for us.  Maybe we think He is away and has left a voicemail message for us.  “I’m sorry for any inconvenience, but the Great I Am has stepped away from the throne for a bit.  Please leave a message at the trumpet tone and I will get back to you as soon as I am done with the current Kingdom business.”  Perhaps, we imagine that Almighty God might say to us when we bring some need to Him, “Hey, I don’t mean to interupt, but could I get right back to you later?  I have something really important to attend to  right now.  We can take this up another time…OK?”

When Paul wrote, “Never stop praying,” could it really be that he meant, “There is never a reason for you not to speak with and expect to hear from God.”?  Right this very minute…even as I am writing this blog, I can actually be in continual communication with a God who is present in the room with me at this moment?  And as you read this, you can speak to Him and hear from Him?  My prayer at this moment is that He will say clearly to you, “YES!  I am here right now and I deeply desire to hear from you and for you to hear from Me!”  So yes, even right now there is an ongoing conversation taking place with our Heavenly Father!

So, what are you waiting for?  Click out of this blog right now….turn off the computer….turn off the TV…or don’t!  Just tell the Lord what’s on your heart right this second and then LISTEN!  He’s in on this conversation too!

02
Nov
10

WWJD: You really want to know?

There was a wide spread fad not too long ago among Christian circles that seems to have passed.  Maybe you recall everyone (including this writer) wearing arm bands and t-shirts and bumper stickers and all kinds of parafanalia with the letters WWJD imprinted on them.  WWJD, of course, implying the question, “What Would Jesus Do?”  Sadly, the very fact that it has passed is perhaps an  indicator that it was only a fad and not a genuine movement.  I wonder if many of us during that time began to discover what Jesus really would do, and decided that it was not what we were willing to do?  WJWD (What Jesus Would Do) was just a little too tough a standard to follow!

Today, I hear good folks say, “I just want to be more like Jesus.”  To which I say, “Hoorah!”  That’s a great thing to want!  In fact, it is the highest standard for all believers to desire, and to strive for.  However, I hope I don’t sound too cynical when I say that most of us (intentional self inclusion), when confronted with what “being more like Jesus” really looks like,  draw back from actually being like Him.  Why?  Here’s what it would take:

 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

 Though he was God,
      he did not think of equality with God
      as something to cling to.
 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
      he took the humble position of a slave

    and was born as a human being.
   When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
      and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
      and gave him the name above all other names,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.
   -Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT)

Simply put, there was No Thing that Jesus was unwilling to let go of…to surrender…to abdicate …to sacrifice for the good of people (His creation) and for the glory of God.  Conversely, there are far too many things that we are unwilling to let go of…to surrender…to abdicate…to sacrifice for anything, because it would mean our own discomfort.

So…”What Would Jesus Do?”  The better question might be, “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do.”  Want to be more like Jesus?  WWID?  What Would I Do for that to happen?  Again, the better question is, “What wouldn’t I do?”