Thursday, 9/24/20 – Discipleship – Evangelism

Evangelism

I wonder if “evangelism” might receive less flack from the world if we called it “advertising?”

I know, I know, “A rose by any other name…” But “advertising” does seem quite socially accepted these days… in fact, advertisers have duped us into believing that targeted ads are no longer an annoyance, but a service.

Data collecting software now has virtually each one of us catalogued according to our personal likes and interests. This data is sold to advertisers who channel lifestyle specific products into our cyberspace activities: email, chat sites, internet browsing and social media.

“Evangelism,” however, is viewed as something quite different. Instead of the Good News which meets the soul ache of every man, woman and child across all cultures, countries and centuries, it is seen as an unwanted invasion into an individual’s more stimulating, virtual or material worlds.

Though we have become a very “spiritual” society we have grown a much more Christ-less society. Instead of looking upward we prefer to avoid the gaze of God and look inward, outward, backward or forward for answers — or try to escape the ache and look downward into the unreal worlds of our technological devices, chemical crutches or temporal treasures.

The fact that evangelism is denigrated should come as no surprise to the believer. It is part and parcel with the proclamation of the Gospel that the evangel exposes himself to what Paul called “the offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:11). Why? Because it demands we repent!

The gospel flattens human pride until, like Nebuchadnezzar*, we all become desperate creatures, naked before our Creator hoping only in His mercy to bring us life!

The “offense” is that not one of us can take pride in doing anything to effect our salvation. Indeed, as Paul expressed it to the Ephesian believers, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Nonetheless, “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). God Himself has become one of us, walked among us, died and rose again for us because indeed He yet loves us. His gift is free, and all people must be told of it.

Press on…

* Read Nebuchadnezzar’s story in Daniel chap. 4

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 9/17/20 – Discipleship: Fellowship in Heaven

Fellowship in Heaven

There are no black people in Heaven. There are no white people in Heaven. There are no red, yellow, brown or grey people in Heaven. There are no rich people, no poor, no famous, nor obscure people in Heaven. In Heaven there are no movie stars, no fashion models, no fat, thin, tall or short, no kings or queens, no presidents, prime ministers, or even political pundits. We will find no homeless or landlords, no strip malls or office towers, no jackhammers, cell phones, traffic snarls or laptops in Heaven.

Souls have no color, no nationality, no social strata, no rank nor special privilege at all. They have no currency, commerce or commodities. Souls are eternal, and saved souls need and want only one thing: Christ. As Paul yearned,

“…that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ…” (Phil. 3:8-10).

Yes we will be in fellowship together, but not around things which might have drawn us here below, not around fame, or possessions, or race, or social standing, but as John, the disciple who perhaps loved Christ Jesus the most, describes… ”…our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3).

Apart from the mention of “fellowship offerings” the Old Testament mentions the word but once. Speaking of that heavenly date, the prophet Zechariah proclaims, “In that day,’ says the LORD who rules over all, ‘everyone will invite his friend to fellowship under his vine and under his fig tree.’” (Zec 3:10). Jesus is that Vine… that tree from which the strong branches grow. It is to that Tree, that Vine, every Christian is called go “God… has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.“ (1 Cor. 1:9). We are to “abide” there… i.e., to make Him our Abode… the place in which we live. “In Him we live, and move, and have our being,” asserted Paul (Acts 17:28).

In Him, we are all one Family, one Church, one Household of faith, one Bride of the Lamb. “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things” concludes the apostle (Phil. 3:15). To do so we must see one another in this eternal light. Abiding in Christ is what makes this possible. Let this happen in you this day. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin in your heart… today.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 9/10/20 – Discipleship – Prayer

In Prayer – Does it Make a Difference Philip Yancey writes,

“I have sometimes found that I get an answer to my persistent request after I have learned to do without it. The answer then comes as a surprise, an unexpected gift of grace. I seek the gift, find instead the Giver, and eventually come away with the gift I no longer seek.” (p. 154)

Someone else once summarized that the answer to any prayer is God Himself. Jesus said that when we seek first the kingdom of God He would look after all the other things. We need not even give them our attention. God looks after His own. (See Matthew 6:33).

This is why Paul could say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13).

Paul did not need to learn many things, i.e. how to be content when in need, how to be content when hungry, how to be content while living in plenty… No, he had only to learn one thing: to abide in Christ… to be in his Presence always, to “pray without ceasing,” as he urged the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:16).

Prayer is essential. It is as essential to one’s spiritual life as breathing is to one’s physical life. In fact, it is more important, for physical life is temporary, but spiritual life is eternal!

When a newborn babe comes into this world an abrupt slap on the rear is sometimes required to ‘kick start’ that first breath. Thereafter the child needs no further instruction in it. It gasps, and then simply continues throughout its physical life.

Do you need a spiritual “slap on the rear?” Paul got a slap on the rear as he journeyed along the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-7). Thomas received one when he saw the risen Lord (John 20:28). Peter gasped out to God as he began to sink on the waters (Matt.14:30). He is all around you now, waiting for you to reach out… to grasp… to gasp… (Acts 17:27). Gasp out to God now, cry “Abba! Father!” Then… pray… without ceasing.

Press on…

Thursday, 9/3/20 – Discipleship – The Bible: Get your Wiggle’s Worth!

The Bible: Get your Wiggle’s Worth!

Smith Wigglesworth (1859 – 1947), was a British plumber become evangelist and faith healer. Here’s what He said about the Bible,

Smith Wigglesworth

“The Bible is the Word of God: supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in valor, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, inspired in totality. Read it through, write it down, pray it in, work it out, and then pass it on. Truly it is the Word of God. It brings into man the personality of God; it changes the man until he becomes the epistle of God. It transforms his mind, changes his character, takes him on from grace to grace, and gives him an inheritance in the Spirit. God comes in, dwells in, walks in, talks through, and sups with him.” – Smith Wigglesworth* (Emph. Mine)

Wow! Sounds like a ‘best-seller’ to me, and according to Guiness Book, that’s exactly what it is.

“Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion.”

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction

The International Bible Society reports that the complete Bible has been translated into 670 of the world’s 7,099 languages. The complete New Testament only has been translated into a further 1,521 languages, and an additional 1,121 languages have portions of the New Testament.

Why Is the Bible the most popular Book of all time? Simply this: the Bible is the only book which claims God as its Author! It is a unique book, in fact a collection of 66 books inscribed by holy men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, written across many centuries yet telling one cohesive story.

More than that, reading it transforms the reader. As someone once noted, “The Bible is the book that reads you.”

Let it read you… inspire you… convict you… transform you…

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” (1 Pet. 2:2).

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 16-17).

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).

Reading the Bible may sometimes make you squirm or wiggle, but let it. Reading it will make you a better believer. Be sure to get your ‘Wiggle’s worth‘ daily!

Press on…

Would you like to be discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would like to begin this journey by committing your life/ to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/27/20 – Discipleship – Priorities

First come, Last served

When I was a kid Marvel comics were my drug of choice, but I also read D.C. Batman was my top-gun there, then Green Lantern but I also read some Superman. However Superman interested me least of all; the Kryptonian kid was just a bit too mighty for my “Marvel-ous” liking. It was tough to find a formidable foe for such a “Man of Steel.” Perhaps the D.C. comic editors also found it difficult because pretty soon things just got goofy.

As if “Mister Mxyzptlk” wasn’t offbeat enough, D.C. also created the square planet of “Bizarro World,” a place where everything was backward or bizarre! ‘Yes’ meant no, ‘no’ meant yes, alarm clocks signaled bedtime, failing marks were a pass, and “Unhappy birthday” was wished on birthdays.

Mister Mxyzptlk

To some, the kingdom of God might also seem a bit “Bizarro.” The economy of the kingdom God is quite different than the economy of The kingdoms of this world. It is an enigma of opposites. Lose life to save it, childlikeness is greatness, giving results in receiving, servanthood is leadership, vulnerability answers violence, one seeks heaven and earthly needs are met, the last become first and the first become last.

When a Christian comes to selecting life’s priorities the equations of the kingdoms of this world are flipped. Instead of seeking one’s own best interests and satisfying one’s own desires, one “lays up” for the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:19-21). The Christian knows more than anyone the fleeting brevity of his or her present experience. The Christian senses eternity beckoning, covets Christ’s “Well done,” and seeks to lead others to Him. The Christian’s priorities are informed by the Spirit of Christ within. The Christian’s priorities become more and more the priorities of God.

When that happens Jesus promise becomes real: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7). But, as James reminds us, we go amiss when we pray selfishly, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (Jas. 4:3).

Setting priorities — successful priorities – is, for the Christian, more about obedience and submission than an array of options. Anything less than that is simply Bizarro!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/20/20 – Discipleship – Freedom from the Mire.

Freedom from the Mire

person s face covered with mud

We have such a petty, primitive, puny — human — view of freedom. We think freedom has to do with being released (and it does, but also much more), of being enabled to do whatever one wills, (and to a degree, yes… it can, but much more). We think freedom is a return to a former state of being… a “back to how it should be.” But that is exactly where we go sideways.

person with clay mask on her face

God wants to pull us out of the mire all around us, but not simply to set us down again on the earth! No, He wants to pull us out, and up… Up to the heavens… up with Him. “Look up,” He says. “See Me. – Do you see Me?

Jesus said to Nicodemus,

No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again… no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:3,5).

sunset beach people sunrise

Of course apart from faith in Christ no one can enter heaven, but in another deeper, daily sense it is true also that no one can perceive the Christ Who is standing there beside them, waiting for that one to “feel after Him” (Acts 17:27). Apart from the Holy Spirit no one can “enter in” to the spiritual realities around them.

Elsewhere Paul writes,

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Jesus further told Nicodemus “We speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen…”

On this, Oswald Chambers comments,

“My spiritual history must have as its underlying foundation a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. To be born again means that I see Jesus…. The new birth gives me a new power of vision by which I begin to discern God’s control.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Aug. 15 entry)

Freedom… true Christian freedom… is in seeing the kingdom of God. One raises his arms to be pulled out higher away from the mire. There is no thought of bringing some little bit of it with Him.

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/13/20 – Discipleship – Assurance

Does this make sense?

thoughtful ethnic man in casual wear with book in hand on blurred background of classic building

A buddy was sharing with me the other day about an idea he had that was a little quirky, but valid. He spoke at length from his heart and then asked, “Does that make sense?” I assured him it did. Though I was not sure I agreed with his conclusion I could certainly follow his reasoning and see how and why he had come to the position he now described.

A few days passed and I found myself in conversation with another friend. He was describing how he planned to make adjustments to his tool shed partly by enlarging it and partly by repurposing some of its existing elements. When he was done he looked at me and asked, “Does that make sense?”

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

I began to notice the phrase popping up again and again. Perhaps in these uncertain times we have begun doubting other things as well… even our own selves and ideas. We seek assurances and ask “Does that make sense?”

Assurances, guarantees, affirmations… some sign or indication that what one believes to be true is truly true indeed, truly worthy of the faith one has placed in it.

Jesus’ disciples sought assurances too. Thomas once asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life…” Then Philip added, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

fashion footwear grass outdoors

But Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father…. Believe me… or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” (See John 14:6-11).

This is what living by faith is. We choose what it is we will trust: our own selves, or the Creator and sustainer of all things. As we trust Him He shows Himself trustworthy. He said “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17). His Creation also shouts that He is True:

“…since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20)

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command…” (Heb. 11:3).

Ultimately the choice is simple, as Peter summarized “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69).

Only Christ offers hope beyond this life, and choosing Him makes a great deal of sense!

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 8/6/20 – Discipleship – Soon Return of Christ

Soon Return of Christ

20200804_180857The number “666” or the identity of the “Antichrist” have over recent years been associated with Catholics, the papacy, Freemasons, leaders of Israel, leaders of Islam as well as with the United Nations. Individuals such as Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, plus U.S. presidents including Roosevelt, Kennedy, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and now, unsurprisingly, Donald Trump have all had the moniker pointed their way.

shopping business money pay

Other objects of the title have been the Washington Monument, the European Union, energy drinks, our modern barcode system, the “www” Internet prefix, RFID seals, smart cards, and now the anticipated Coronavirus vaccine!

Fear of the number 666 now has a clinical name: “hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.” The phobia has in recent times moved individuals to re-number their street address, change highway Route and Legislative bill numbers, and worry over giving birth on the date 6/6/06.

person taking pill

Certainly, at some point, growing nearer every day, something will truly emerge as the fateful “Mark of the Beast” and … and someone as the prophesied “Antichrist.” We do well to be alert and ever-ready as believers for the return of our glorious Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. But we also do well not to grow fearful.

Satan, Peter writes, “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Pet. 5:8). But when Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah ROARS… well, as scripture says,

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon… The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’” (Ps. 29:5,9).

So let us not fear. Let us not suffer with those who have no hope, but let us bravely lead them to Him Who can alleviate these fears. Instead, let us remember as Jesus directed us, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).

Press on…

photo of child reading holy bible

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, would you like to begin this journey by committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 7/30/20 – Discipleship – God’s Will

God’s Will

20200729_195834Homo-sapiens do not like rules. Ironic when You consider what the Latin derived name of our species means: homo = human being, + sapien = wise! Wise men? Yet, give a homo sapien a rule and right away he wants to break it.

Consider how we’ve responded the protective protocols of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Three simple rules: 1. Maintain physical distance. 2. Wear a face mask in public. 3. Wash hands often. Yet we’ve all seen the mass gatherings at beaches, rallies, protests – and some protests are protesting the three rules! Indeed, we are bent on insisting upon our own free will in all things. We do not like to follow the will of another.

apple apple tree apples branch

Long ago God gave homo sapiens our first rule. “Don’t eat that one!” What did we do? Well, you know what we did and what resulted was a very hard lesson indeed! We are reminded of it every time a woman gives birth or a man weeds his garden!

Some centuries later God gave us a few more rules — rules made necessary by our breaking the first rule. He kept the list short as possible: ten. But we did not do well with those either!

beige sand with heart engrave

So God sent His Son and His Son kept all the rules. He paid the penalty for all the broken rules and said instead “Follow Me!” Those who do, come to love Him. “If you love me, keep my commands,” Jesus said. “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” (John 14:15, 23). Jesus made possible a whole new way to do God’s Will. Paul called it “the most excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).

And God’s Will is not difficult to discern. We simply start from obedience to what we know and then He teaches us more… The more we obey Him the more He proves Himself to us. “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” said Jesus.

What we will not do by rules from above we can and will do by the rule of love… Agapé Love… “God’s love… poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:5).

Love God… Do His Will…

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 7/23/20 – Discipleship – No Evangelism in Heaven!

No Evangelism in Heaven!

20200722_084608This past Sunday I spoke regarding how in this life only is it possible for us to demonstrate courage and virtue… patience and hope… see the trials we face as opportunities which will only be possible in a world where opposition, evil and hatred may exist. I also stated that this brief lifetime (when contrasted with eternity) is the only window of opportunity we will have in all eternity to evangelize! In eternity there are no second chances at salvation.

20200722_085333Recently my wife and I took a day trip to St. Martin’s, NB. We did not learn till it was much too late that the route we had chosen involved a short section of closed highway. The detour we took was for awhile confusing and the road we eventually followed was rougher than the highway we might have chosen. But we did get to St. Martin’s and we did enjoy our time there. But once we were in St. Martin’s there was nothing we could do about the journey there that had robbed us of about an hour of our day. We could not then re-choose our poorly chosen route. That time had passed.

20200722_085307So too, in Heaven. We cannot then undo our failures to share Christ during our lifetime. We cannot re-choose. We cannot make up for it and evangelize anew in Heaven, for there are no lost souls in Heaven. What we may have failed to do during our lifetime will forever remain failed to have been done by us.

I know it’s scary. The first disciples – the first evangels – were scared initially too. Jesus knew they would be, so He gave them first, before the great commission to evangelize (Matt.28:18-20), these instructions:

Stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49).

And when the Holy Spirit filled these men everyone was astounded at their boldness!

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13 – See also vss.29, 31)

So pray… pray now… press in to God and invite His boldness… then go… speak… evangelize those the Lord has brought into your sphere… your world… and by all means…

Press on…

Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to begin this journey by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.