Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's Time To Go!

Tomorrow (Friday, April 1st 2011) I will be on the radio! A friend of mine from my church, Connection Ministries, has a program on 1330 AM every Friday at 5:00, and he asked me to be a guest. So I thought I would invite all of you, who are in the area, to listen. If you are not in the area you can also listen online at I also thought I would give you a sneak preview of what we are going to talk about.

Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-20 are both popular scriptures. They are the two most commonly referred to scriptures when talking about 'The Great Commission', the last thing that Jesus commanded His disciples before ascending to heaven. Here they are for comparison:

"And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen."     Matthew 28:19-20

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.     Mark 16:15-20

In reviewing these two sections there are a lot of differences but two major similarities stick out to me. One is how they start and the other is how they end. They both start with the command to "Go" and end with the Lord being with them. Today I want to focus on the command to "go".

Our churches today often seem to have more of a policy of 'come'. We invite people to come to our building, to our meetings, to our programs, and we think that we are fulfilling the great commission. We want to create a nice, comfortable Christian community and hope that a non-Christian happens upon it so that we can tell them about Jesus, and we think that we are fulfilling the great commission. This is not what Jesus said to do! Jesus told us to go out to the people.

Going takes action, initiative, and creativity. We need to do something! We can't be lazy and sit back in our nice, Christian community. We need to get out, find the hurting, and help! It's time to go! When we do that we then have the promise that Jesus will go with us! This means if you go you won't be alone. In fact in Mark it says He went with them and confirmed the Word with signs and wonders. Charismatics always seem to be seeking manifestations of the spirt. They want to see miracles, well it seems simple to me. If you go out and preach the Word, the Word will be confirmed with signs and wonders!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are Christians a minority in the church?

 This is one of the saddest quotes I have ever read! Why is this sad? The biggest thing is that it is so often true. 
Ghandi had studied all religions and all philosophies. He was officially Hindu but considered himself a member of all major religions. He knew the Bible and knew the philosophy given to us by Jesus Christ. And this was his response.
The word Christian means 'follower of Christ', or even 'little Christ'. How can we take on this name if we are not like Christ? This is one of the biggest difficulties the world has with Christianity; the fact that Christians are supposed to represent Christ and yet they are judgmental, cheap, prideful, and often copy the ways of the world rather than the ways of Christ.
When Jesus met the sinner he made a clear distinction between sin and sinner. He made a clear distinction between the immoral action and the person acting. One of the best examples of this is in John chapter 8. This is the popular passage in which the Pharisees present a woman, who was caught in the act of adultery, to Jesus. The pharisees want to stone her according to the law, but Jesus' response is of course:
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
The pharisees then all drop there stones and leave one by one. After they are all gone Jesus speaks to the woman:
"Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? (...) Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” 

Jesus was very clear: 'You sinned, and what you did was wrong. Don't do it again, but I do not condemn you.' 

Today Christians seem to go to one of two extremes. If this case were presented to the church today there would be two main responses. One side would respond exactly like the pharisees: "Let's grab our stones and stone her!" The other side would say: "Oh that's okay. God knows it's hard to resist having sex with multiple people. When He said "Don't commit adultery" it was really just a guideline, but He knows we can't really follow that. So go ahead and keep doing what you're doing."

We may not be saying these words exactly but these are the messages convey. Neither of them match with Jesus. This is the reason people look at the church like Gahndi did. They see how Jesus had a great philosophy and great commands, but they don't see us following them. Many people probably have the attitude of: "If His own followers don't do what He says then why should I?"

It is time for the church to be filled with Christians, with followers of Christ! Because so far Christians have seemed to be a minority in our church and that is sad!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Passing Through the Storm

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” 
So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. 
A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!" 
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” 
Luke 8:22-25

In this story Jesus was trying to teach His disciples a lesson and they missed it. It's a very popular story and I have heard many sermons on it, but I, personally, believe that most of us miss the main point of the story as well. We tend to think in the same pattern as the disciples; "Wow! Look at how powerful Jesus is! Even the elements of nature obey His command!" But I don't believe this was the main point Jesus wanted to make.

Jesus rebuked them by saying: "Where is your faith?". What did Jesus expect them to have faith for? Did He expect them to have faith to stop the wind and the waves? That's not what I understand. I think He simply wanted them to have faith in the Words that He spoke.

At the beginning of the passage Jesus said: “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” The disciples were afraid of the storm because they did not think they would make it to the other side, even though Jesus already said that they would. Jesus wanted them to have faith, not that the storm would be immediately silenced, but that they would make it through the storm and arrive exactly where He said they would arrive.

There is a measure of faith required to believe that God can calm the storm in our lives, but I think it takes an even greater faith to endure the storm and to understand and believe that the storm cannot hold you back. It takes more mature faith to say "No matter what storm may come my way, I will make it to what God has for me! I will make it to the other side!"

This is the attitude God wants us to have. God wants us to have enough faith to make it through the storm. Then we can help others through the storm. With this method we learn endurance, teamwork, and faithfulness. 

So, “let us go over to the other side"!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

God, what do you want to do today?

When we plan to do something with someone the common question is: What do you want to do today?

There might be occasional times in which we suggest what we want to do, but if we did that all the time we would probably lose our friends. So why do we do that with God. Jesus said in John 15:4:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Abide means to live, to move, to breath in Him. If we are to abide in Him than we need to match our life with His. We need to begin to do things as He would do them.With this thought, it should be natural for us to start our day with the question; God, what do you want to do today? And we should take the time to answer. If we learn to abide in Him and match our life with His, than He will respond by matching His life with ours. This is how we fulfill His will on earth. This is how we live the life that He has prepared for us. It all starts with a simple question:

God, what do you want to do today?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

God, why did this happen to me?

As Christians, when things go wrong in life we often begin to ask God why? Why are things going wrong? Why did this or that happen to me? But in my experience the answer to that question is quite simple. It seems that there is always one of two answers:

Reason #1: You're doing something wrong


Reason #2: You're doing something right

This may sound a bit funny, but it actually goes along with my last two posts God: Our Last Resort and Learning to Fly Like an Eagle. As I talked about in the former of those two posts; when we stop following God's plan for our lives, or stop seeking after God, we take ourselves out of God's protection and make ourselves vulnerable to attacks from the enemy. In other words, things start going wrong because we are doing something wrong.

Understanding this can lead us to the impression that whenever something goes wrong, it's our fault. But this is not true. As I mentioned in the latter post, when we follow God and allow Him to teach us, sometimes there are growing pains. That's not to mention that the devil wants to attack us even more when we are close to God (i.e Job). For that reason, things can go wrong because we are doing something right.

So that begs the question, how do we know which one it is? Well the key question is, have you made any effort to follow God recently? Because that is all God really ask of us, is to put in effort. When we try, God will then direct us in the way He wants to go (as long as we are willing to be directed). So in this case it probably means you are being attacked, because you are doing something right. If you ask yourself that question and realize that you have been complacent in following God, well then you already have your answer.

The nice thing about this though, is that it really doesn't matter what the answer is, because your response should be the same either way. When things go wrong in your life, let that bad experience drive you into the presence of God. Whether it is because you are doing something right, or you are doing something wrong, this needs to be your response. If we respond in this way He will be sure to lead us to our next step!