Today’s Blog

Thursday, 7/18/19 – Discipleship: God’s Will

20190717_185934The science fiction TV series Andromeda aired on the Global Television Network from 2000 to 2005. Set thousands of years in the future the basic storyline follows the adventures of Captain Dylan Hunt and his somewhat reluctant ragtag crew of the Andromeda Ascendant as they set out to rebuild the Systems Commonwealth some 300 years after its fall.

A feature of the Andromeda Ascendant is its ability to utilize faster than light ‘Slipstream’ travel.

20190717_190527Slipstream travel has almost nothing to do with the distance between stars. Travel time between points A and B could take minutes… weeks… or months. It all seems to depend on an odd mix of luck, navigation skill, and intuition. Frequently traveled routes have fewer ‘decision points’ and can be traveled at higher speeds than from remoter areas of, or if adrift in, inter-galactic space.

Slipstream Mechanics
A Gravity Field Generator drastically reduces the mass of the ship and then a slipstream drive opens a slippoint which the ship enters. The ship then catches onto the strings by means of slipstream runners. Once hooked onto the strings the pilot then navigates the series of slipstream “strings” until they reach the desired slippoint where they exit the slipstream. https://andromeda.fandom.com/wiki/Slipstream

It seems to me that navigating the Slipstream is something like neurons navigating their way through the brain. There is this supercharged travel, a search for regularly traveled routes, and ‘decision points’ along the way. It’s an ‘intuitive’ sort of travel, navigating one’s way into that certain ‘zone’ that feels just right. Once found — whether the journey be easy or rough — the Slipstream pilot knows he’s on the right course; it’s like finding that perfect spot to scratch an itch.

So what’s all this got to do with knowing God’s will?

back view photo of shepherd walking his flock of sheep in grass field

Every believer at the point of inviting Christ into their heart has the Holy Spirit resident within them as their deposit and seal and guide. “He will guide you into all the truth,” promised Jesus (John 16:13). And He does. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27).

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:3-4).

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

This is the believer’s navigation system — far better than any slippoint or gravity field generator devised by man’s imagination or science. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isa. 30:21). “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14).

Learning to wait for, listen, hear and obey this inner voice of the Spirit is enhanced through prayer, study of God’s Word, discussion with other mature believers in Christ, and looking honestly at the opportunities and challenges opening before you. When God speaks He will speak with clarity and these factors will align with each other.

You are never alone.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Wednesday, 7/17/19 – Pressing on…

A full-fledged believer

administration articles bank black and white

Have you ever noticed in newscasts how certain terms or phrases seem to crop up at length for a time and then fade away?

I’ve noticed how each of these phrases, for example, have had –or are still having– their day: someone would “do a flip flop,” have “a wardrobe malfunction,” be on “the cutting edge,” claim something “fake news,” or preface their personal veracity with “Let me be clear…”

Check out these recent headlines:

“India-Pakistan flare-up: Could it escalate into full-fledged war?” – Feb 27, 2019 AP News
“Hillary Clinton: ‘we are living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy’” – Mar. 3, 2019 MSN.com
“Gillibrand in 2020 Democratic race as full-fledged candidate.” – Mar. 17, 2019 AP News
“Muslim Brotherhood claims Mursi’s death was ‘full fledged murder’” – June 17, 2019 Jerusalem Post

20190716_142327Merriam-Webster tells us the term has been in use since the mid 16th century. Originally, and still today, the word describes a bird that has developed sufficient plumage to be able to fly. The process of acquiring these feathers is to “fledge,” and the still-in-the-nest young bird is called a “fledgling.” When the bird actually leaves the nest it is “fully-fledged” – i.e., a full-fledged bird!

Idiomatically we use the word to describe anything that is “completely developed or trained” (Cambridge).

“His memoirs grew into a full-fledged biography.”
“Her sewing hobby eventually became a full-fledged business.”
“After years of study, Dirk is now a full-fledged doctor!”

OK, once again… here is Pastor Andrew’s Sunday text:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:12-14)

20190716_142300My question to you today is NOT “Are you a full-fledged believer?” I believe many of you are!
My question to you is, “Have you left the nest and flown?”

Meditate on the above passage. Pray. Ask God to show you what He wants you to see in it… what He wants you to do because of it.

God at work through you to do “even greater works” may not be so much a matter of faith as a matter of obedience.

Press on…

Tuesday, 7/16/19 – Pressing on…

Take a New Step

Screenshot_20190715-052347In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon is a classic among Christian literature. Though fictional the novel serves to inspire believers to live daily in this world as Jesus would live. Attempts have been made to modernize the story in print and in film, but I still find the original 1896 version to carry the most charm.

Screenshot_20190715-052037The book tells the story of Reverend Henry Maxwell who challenges his congregation to commit to live one entire year in which they will make no decision and take no action without first asking “What would Jesus do?” and then act accordingly.

Several congregants take up the pledge. What happens next turns the small town of Raymond upside down.

Screenshot_20190715-052232Edward Norman local newspaper man stops publishing a Sunday edition and refuses to run ads promoting unscriptural habits or activity. The paper loses money initially, but another pledger, Virginia Page, is impressed to donate a large sum to help support the creation if a truly Christian newspaper. She also donates to create housing for poor women.

Screenshot_20190715-052053Railroad superintendent, Alexander Powers, quits his job when he finds the company is breaking the law and willfully accepts a lower paying job with another company. Dr. Calvin Bruce visits Raymond and is moved by the transformations. He joins with Bishop Hampton to open the Settlement House in Chicago where poor persons can improve themselves and receive job training. Felicia Sterling opens a bakery to the betterment of the town.

Screenshot_20190715-052114More people are inspired by these examples as they see before their eyes what it really means and looks like when believers take Jesus at His Word and live obediently walking in His steps.

Again, here is Pastor Andrew’s Sunday text:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:12-14)

Do you believe in Jesus?

Take your next step today.

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Media’ for the July 14 message.

Monday, 7/15/19 – Pressing on…

Flickering bulbs…

20190714_131842The stairs to our basement make an abrupt 180 degree turn at a landing about halfway down. There’s a light bulb on the ceiling over top half of the stairway and another light bulb on the ceiling above the bottom half. For a couple of weeks now that bottom light bulb has been flickering momentarily when we first flip the switch.

Screenshot_20190714-132455I have found that generally there are two possible causes for this: One is that the filament inside the bulb has broken yet leaving the two strands close enough together that a spark can still complete the connection and hold it in place while the bulb is lit by sheer electrical magnetism. A bulb usually does not last long in this state and eventually must be replaced. The other cause is that the bulb has just vibrated itself a tiny bit loose in the socket, again forming enough of a gap in the circuit to cause the initial flickering. When this is the case one merely needs to tighten the bulb and everything works as good as new.

I’m not sure which problem we have with that bottom bulb. I haven’t yet gotten around to inspecting it. But whichever it is I know the problem resides within the bulb itself. There is nothing wrong with the power supply.

20190714_131131It’s unsafe if that lower basement light is not functioning. Without the light it’s very dark down there. It’s dangerous! People can trip going up or down the stairs whether they’re the homeowner or a visitor. We know just how dangerous this is from first-hand experience; some of you will remember a few months back when my wife made a misstep and tumbled down that very stairwell. Though her fall wasn’t due to darkness, we know nonetheless that darkness can be deadly.

When you think about it, this is exactly what Pastor Andrew was warning us of this past Sunday. “Darkness comes when there is no light.” he said. And darkness comes to any church when it is not fully connected to its Power!

Abide in Me,” urges Jesus. (John 15:4). Stay connected! Remain in Him.

The church in Ephesus was told to reconnect to their first love, to return to Jesus in living relationship not merely busy themselves in a cause. If not, they were warned, God would “remove [their] lampstand from its place.” (Rev. 2:4), i.e. He would remove their church (See Rev. 1:20).

couple photo

I’m hoping the bulb in our basement merely needs tightening. More than that, I’m praying that all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ will tighten their nearness to Him… feel the full surge of confident, unwavering power running through them and bring light to this dark and dangerous world.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” (John 14:12-14)

“Where is the disconnect?” asked Pastor Andrew. The nearer we get to know someone the more we know we can trust them… we know we can take them at their word.

More tomorrow…

Friday, 7/12/19 – Tough Question

Are the four gospels contradictory?

The gospels are the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each is the author’s personal account of the life of Jesus Christ.

20190711_072915Matthew comes from a strong Jewish perspective. His account contains many references to the Old Testament prophets regarding the coming Messiah as he shows their fulfillment in Christ. Being a tax collector, his account also contains more on Jesus’ teaching and events related to money.20190711_072844

Mark writes in short, to the point statements and often omits details found in other gospels. His is the shortest of the gospel narratives.

20190711_072756Luke was a physician and historian. His gospel is well researched and often reflects a deeper medical knowledge when he describes some of Christ’s miraculous healings and His sufferings. Luke also wrote the book of Acts documenting the immediate early history of the Church, the events immediately following the resurrection and ascension of Christ.

These first three accounts are sometimes referred to as the ‘synoptic’ gospels, for they each provide a ‘synopsis,’ or summary, of Jesus’ life.

20190711_072716John’s gospel is unique. Just read the opening few verses and you will see. Of the twelve, John was perhaps the closest to Christ. He often referred to himself as ‘the beloved disciple.’ His is a crafted gospel, a gospel of love. Each chapter of John portrays Christ in some unique way, e.g. the Word (ch. 1), the Bread of life (ch. 6), the Good Shepherd (ch. 10), the True Vine (ch. 15), etc… John also wrote 1st, 2nd 3rd John, and the book of Revelation.

Each gospel is different in some ways simply because of the authors’ differing perspectives. They are not contradictory, just different. Consider for example the following…

Here is a picture of the Peanuts gang. Look at it, then answer the questions…

20190711_060318

1. Is Woodstock above or between Franklin and Lucy?
2. Is Linus carrying Charlie Brown or is Peppermint Patty?
3. Is Linus beside Lucy, or beside Peppermint Patty?
4. Is Snoopy above Lucy or is Lucy below Snoopy?

Well, you get the idea.

Perhaps another function of having four Biblical accounts is to help us learn patience as we live among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each of us is different. We know and experience Christ in varying ways. As long as our walks agree with the whole counsel of scripture we must learn to harmonize together as the complete Body of Christ. As Paul wrote, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Cor. 12:25).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 7/11/19 – Discipleship: Evangelism

white and green door filled with envelopesEvery six weeks or so I get a sheet of coupons in the mail from one of the big burger chains in town. One of these coupons is always a BOGO (Buy One, Get One) coupon. If I but one of their super large burgers at regular price they will give me a second such burger for free. When I buy this burger they give me a receipt and on the back of the receipt is an invitation to complete an online survey for which, if I complete it, they will send me a code to write on the receipt in exchange for which they will give me another free super large burger.

If you’re doing the math here you’ll see that I now have got three super large burgers while only having had to pay for one. A good deal!

ham burger with vegetables

But it gets ever more, um.. delicious! You see I often end up with two of these coupon sheets within the same six week period. Now, you can only redeem these once at the same franchise location, but this particular franchise has more than one nearby location. So…. Now I’m up to six super large burgers every six week period, and I’ve only had to pay for two! That’s like a burger a week at 1/3 price!

I can’t figure out how this chain makes any money! Everything I’m doing is perfectly legit, but the deal just continues to amaze me!

people sitting in front of wooden table

I tell nearly everyone I knows about it. They are amazed too and many want to get on board. What’s more, now the company has added an app…. also with coupons…. And yep, there it is again, my best buddy BOGO bargain! Just download the app, click, and you’re off!

Know any great news like this? If you know the love, mercy and grace of Christ in your heart, then you do. So tell your buddies about Him. No one can dispute your personal testimony (Your story of what He has done and means to you.)

And that, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is evangelism.

Press on…

BONUS: Here’s a brief 90 second video with Bruce Finn, Church Planting Coordinator, Metro Philadelphia Church Planting Partnership, on the topic “What is Evangelism and Why is it Important?”

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

Wednesday, 7/10/19 – Pressing on…

Analogies aside, how can I share the gospel?

Monday we picked up on the idea of our faithfulness in multiplying souls for God’s Kingdom. Tuesday we considered the zealous activity of the Prince of darkness to ravage the harvest of souls for his doomed kingdom.

shallow focus photography of sheep

We’ve talked about masters and minas, gardens and gatherers. Jesus spoke of becoming fishers of men, shepherds retrieving wayward sheep, and a father receiving his long-lost son. But all analogies aside, what does our fulfilling of the great commission look like in the day-to-day?

20190709_195302Certainly it includes such stereotypical things as the ice-breaker “Have you heard of the four spiritual laws?” and the distributing of tracts, etc. It includes telling someone in crisis how turning to Christ has been a support and comfort to you when in crisis, and throughout your life. It includes the bold challenge of drawing the worldly-minded to consider questions of eternity and life beyond this world, showing them clearly their need for Christ.

20190709_195212But sharing in the work of God can take many other forms as well. Were not those who prayed for Paul, brought him his cloak and parchments, sent to his necessities, and sent him on his journeys also partners in advancing the gospel? Paul even spoke of the financial assistance of the Philippians thanking them for their “partnership in the gospel.” (Phil. 1:5).

person in hospital gown using walking frame beside hospital bed

Perhaps you are a shut-in or in some way physically infirm, socially isolated or have limited language skills. None of these excuse you from the Lord’s mandate to spread the gospel to all the world. You can still be an evangel by supporting other workers in the harvest by prayer, or praying conviction upon specific individuals. You can also financially support a missionary, perhaps disciple a new believer; growing him or her to be a witness for Christ. You can sponsor a Compassion child or assist a youth to attend a Christian camp, placing them where they will be presented with the gospel of Christ.

two brown and red gift boxes on red surface

You can demonstrate the love of God by making care packages for shut-ins, students or homeless persons and include a note or a tract sharing Christ and the plan of salvation. Or, donate to a Christian Bible College or School that trains laborers in the gospel. Invite a Christian worker for dinner, send a note of encouragement or commitment to pray for the individual… Pray for the unsaved souls you know. Write letters to your friends and include your personal testimony.

man wearing blue dress

Finally, do as Jesus also commanded, Pray, and “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:38, Luke 10:2). Whatever your lot, you too have an essential job to do in bringing lost souls to Christ for eternity.

Press on…