Monthly Archives: November 2017

Let us share with reckless abandon!

Category : Uncategorized

As I sit in Thailand, I am once again amazed and reminded of the power of God’s Spirit to bring change, reform, and restoration. The energy and life of the Thai, Lao, and Myanmar people is incredible. There is absolutely no question that they love God and truly desire to give their lives in service to Him.

Pastor Chad teaching in Thailand

Pastor Chad teaching in Thailand

But there is something that strikes me to the core of my heart. I was talking to Pastor Ed about the mission of humanity to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and he made one statement: “We have to take the gospel to people every day, because people are dying here every day.” This statement sticks with me, because it seems to easy to forget about the fragility of life. We often think that we have time to wait and waste, but that is not the case. We are engaged in a struggle for life and death – especially in the spiritual realm.

And, if you do not believe that, let me describe our situation last night. Pastor Chad is sharing about the early church in Acts and how the disciples were faithful to the mission to share the message of Jesus to the world. Literally, in a matter of years following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, there are thousands of new disciples all over the ancient world. Disciples have gone into Africa; disciples have gone into India; disciples have gone up into Russia; and, disciples have gone over into Europe. As we sit and hear this message of the disciples’ faithfulness, you can just see the excitement building in the room. By the end of the message, the people are clapping, praising the Lord and exuberant over their chance to continue sharing the good news.

But Pastor Ed stands up after Pastor Chad sits down. And as he looks at everyone, you can see the tears watering his eyes and he begins to speak with a cracking voice. He says, “In Acts, the Holy Spirit kept Paul from going into Asia. But, I think that God is telling us that it is now time to take the gospel of Jesus to all of Asia.” And in a heartbeat, the people started praying for the whole continent of Asia. In that moment, I heard the cry to God on behalf of the Asian people. Almost everyone’s voice was praying aloud for their people, their villages, and the unreached people groups in Asia. And all I could do in that moment was cry. I just stood there and cried. And I am still crying.

People around the world are dying every day and most of them have not heard of Jesus or have heard about him and rejected him. It is time for us to rise up and start taking the message of hope to people who are in desperate need of salvation. People may turn away from you; people may choose to ignore you; and, people may even get angry with you. But that does not diminish the enormity of the task before us.

Your mission, if you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus Christ, is to spread the message of hope that comes through him. You may think to ignore the command, but I must insist that you think carefully about where God is calling you to minister. Let us take the message of Jesus to the nations with reckless abandon!

On behalf of the many who still have yet to hear, I thank you.

 


Seasonal Service

Category : Uncategorized

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas on its heels, this is the time of year for family, friends, food, celebrations, and an overwhelming number of great service opportunities. Service opportunities???  Yes!

This time of year there are numerous opportunities to show the love of Christ to others. You can volunteer a few hours to ring a bell for the Salvation Army or to serve meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas days at numerous churches and community organizations. You can buy a few extra groceries and drop them in a basket on your way out the door. You can even collect everything from toys to coats to benefit children locally and around the world.

This time of year there is no shortage of opportunities for you and your family to serve. I hope you will take the opportunity to show the love of Christ to others. If you have children, get them involved. Make service a regular part of family life.

I also encourage you to take it step further. Christmas and Thanksgiving are times when it seems we can go on service overload. This is not a bad thing. The season brings out feelings of gratitude and good will, and I challenge you to allow these attitudes to live in your heart all year long. Consider these facts. Food banks run short of volunteer workers in the summer.  Giving to non-profits falls in the spring and summer months. Blood banks run low in the summer.

Why not make volunteering in our community something we do regularly not just during the Holidays? How about sponsoring a food drive in March or providing a meal in July? Let’s show the love of Jesus all year long.

Don’t avoid serving during November and December, but be more than a seasonal servant. Make service a part of everyday (every month) life.


Discipleship and Holiness

Category : Uncategorized

Recently, I was re-reading the Life and Diary of David Brainerd. The personal and intimate diary describes many accounts and stories from the life of the Brainerd, an American missionary to various New England Amerindian tribes in the 18th century. The part that gripped me most was Brainerd’s longings for personal piety and his consecration to holiness. He wrote:

 

Oh for holiness! Oh for more of God in my soul! Oh this pleasing pain! It makes my soul press after God; the language of it is, ‘Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake in God’s likeness,’ (Ps 17:15) but never, never before: and consequently I am engaged to ‘press towards the mark’ day by day. O that I may feel this continual hunger, … to reach forward in the narrow way, for the full enjoyment and possession of the heavenly inheritance! O that I may never loiter in my heavenly journey!”

 

Here we see a man who demonstrated in private and hidden pages of his journal an enormous appetite for holiness. The truth is that I hear few Christians who today still hunger for that kind of holiness and separation unto the Lord. Yet the Bible tells us in 1 Peter 1:15-16 “…just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘“Be holy, because I am holy.”’ According to this scripture the disciple of Jesus can attain holiness in “all” that they do. It seems reasonable that a disciple should become more like the one they follow – and Jesus is holy! Furthermore, because God is holy, every time we sin we do something that God despises. Consequently, we need to cultivate hearts that share the same hatred of sin that God possesses. When a person claims to be a disciple and remains comfortable with sin, we can be quite certain that they are not walking intimately with the Lord. Peter goes on to say, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) Notice, God sees you as “a chosen person” a “Priest”, part of a “holy nation and His special possession.” As such, a follower of Jesus must not take sin lightly!

There is an old saying, “you are what you eat.” The idea is that in order to be healthy you need to take in good food. Contrarily, consuming bad food leads to detrimental effects on your body. Eating Twinkies 24/7 may not kill you directly, but it may contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and many other disorders in your body the will inhibit your from living a long and fruitful life. The same is true if we want to live healthy, holy lives. We need to be conscious about what we allow into our lives. While removing all ungodly influences from your life would require exiting the planet (see 1 Cor. 5:9-10), there are many things that we can purposefully avoid in order to promote a healthier spiritual life. Many spiritual “Twinkies” or even poison come from the influences of friends, what we look at on the internet, how we spend our time, and the entertainment we choose to consume. In order to attain holiness disciples must eradicate some of these influences from their lives, and remain very selective of the types of things they consume spiritually.

 

Do you crave holiness? Does your heart inwardly long to be more like Christ similar to those longings of David Brainerd? If no longings for holiness exist, we need to more deeply contemplate how serious we are in following Jesus because Christ followers naturally long for holiness.