Friday, August 30, 2013

Try on a pair of someone else's shoes!

The Gospel remains the answer for the world and its problems!

At this moment in time, our national and political leaders are weighing the options and considering whether our country should enter into military conflict with another country that has supposedly used gas weapons to kill their own citizens.  The Bible is clear that we live in a fallen world and that it is corrupting more and more as each day passes.  Thus, wars and rumors of war should not surprise us or catch us off guard.  This conflict has reminded me how important it is that we pray for our national leaders and our troops.  I believe God has blessed the United States and its military success in the past, but that the pivotal part of that past success has been from the prayers of His people. 

Prayer is a much more powerful weapon in warfare than the gas weaponry Syria has supposedly used to kill its own.  Perhaps we in the USA need reminded that our idols are getting in the way of the necessary and daily conversation with God that we often put off.  National warfare reminds us that there is One who remains in control of the nations and that we should seek Him while He may still be found.  In fact, Isaiah 40:15 says, "The nations are like a drop in a bucket and are considered to be like dust on a scale" in God's eyes. 

Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes."  I think this is a great quote in this time both for national leaders and citizens.  Before making decisions that will impact an entire country, leaders should put themselves figuratively in their citizen's shoes.  How do the people of the United States feel about going to war?  Remember, this is supposed to be a democracy.  How would I feel if I put my son or daughter on the battlefield to fight this war and he or she may possibly not come back home?  On the flip side, citizens should remember the great weight upon its notational leaders and that to be in their shoes would be a great burden to carry. 

Pray for our troops & God Bless the USA!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Can we prove God exists?

The Bible states that in the end days, love will grow cold.  My brother recently travelled up from Georgia to come visit me.  He described to me a situation in his church and asked me what I thought.  I told him that love is the thing we are missing the most today.  Love overlooks a lot!  Where love is, destructive (opposite of constructive) criticism will cease.  Love builds up people rather than tear them down.

I recently finished up a youth retreat.  One theme that arose out of the weekend which I did not plan was the old hymn, "They will know we are Christians by our love."  The hymn originates from John 13:34-35.  Faith, hope, and love remain but the greatest of these is love.  I Cor. 13 should not just be read at weddings.  The love chapter is the roll call for every believer when he wakes up and steps out of bed each morning.  Colossians 3 echoes this call!  Before we put on our clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, we are to put on love which binds all of these other clothes in perfect harmony.

I would encourage every believer to do an in depth study on the subject of love.  In my college years, I went on a love fast after my study and prayer in the Word.  I challenged myself to open every door for the person behind me, to put others above myself and myself last.  The little things mean the most.  I had come to the place in my spiritual walk where I really understood the love chapter.  I had come to understand in my walk with God that fasting, giving, praying, going, spiritual gifts, and even myself are nothing without love.

If asked the question, Can we prove that God exists?, many people would say no and that is why we must have faith.  But after this latest youth retreat, I learned something invaluable.  Jeff & Rachel Lovingood in their curriculum Live it Tell it said this: The Bible's criteria of proof are your love for God and your love for others.  In other words, we can prove to others that the ultimate love act of Christ dying on the cross for our sins is reality.  The old hymn had it right the whole our love by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

What is the Spirit's role?

The Bible teaches believers of Jesus Christ that they are the righteousness of God, covered in the Son's blood, fully forgiven as far as the east is from the west of all their past, present, and future sins at the moment of surrender.  That's gospel (the good news)!  Because of these facts, we as believers should be walking around full of joy, peace, and love.  However all too often, we beat ourselves up or allow the devil to beat us up as we remember the distant past or even our latest failure or sin.  We walk around like we are guilty and depressed rather than forgiven and grateful.  WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT'S ROLE IN ALL OF THIS?

Over a month ago, I was sitting at my computer in NC on facebook.  I accidentally scrolled across a quote from my cousin's husband (he is a Pastor of the only Acts 29 church in Tyler, TX).  In the quote, he said the bible teaches that the role of the Holy Spirit is to CONVICT the unbeliever of sin, but that in a believer's life, the role of the Holy Spirit is to CONVINCE the believer when they have sinned.  His quote made me take a step back in my mind because two opposing ideas were in conflict with one another: 1. What he said went against everything I had been told my entire life in church, home, etc.  2. I have read the entire Bible and I could not see where he was wrong in saying this.

The Bible does teach that the Holy Spirit has come to convict the world of righteousness, sin, and the judgment to come.  So at this very moment of time, the world does stand convicted.  Jesus said it best.  He said I have not come to condemn the world but to save it.  But he went a little further.  He said whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in him is condemned already.  So this judgment is not a future judgment where God weighs your good deed versus your bad deeds.  This judgment is now and you either stand forgiven or guilty now based on your belief in Christ.

For the believer, the Bible teaches we are no longer under any condemnation but have freedom in Christ!  How can the Holy Spirit convict us when we already stand guiltless in front of the Throne?  How can the Holy Spirit convict us when we have already been washed in the blood?  The Holy Spirit's job is not to convict us or to make us feel guilty but rather to bring about godly sorrow in us for the sins we commit after salvation by convincing us we have sinned.  The Holy Spirit can use other believers in our life to sharpen us into looking and acting more like Christ on earth (sanctification).  The believer is a new creation and his desire is to glorify God on earth.  Believers working alongside The Holy Spirit makes all of this possible! 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Gospel Answer!

As I view the world and America in particular, things are going from bad to worse in a hurry.  I am a visionary and thus always looking toward the future.  But I am also a realist with a constant eye on the present.  The bad news is our world is looking more hellish by the second yet on the flip side, Christ Followers are increasingly becoming more radical in their faith (read Radical by David Platt)!  The buzzword "missional" still takes on grand meaning in church life.  Adoptions are increasing, ministry to the helpless, the homeless, and the hurting are increasing, and giving, praying, and going to the nations for gospel advance are increasing for these "Radical" Christ-Followers (As Francis Chan says, is there really any other type - "There is no middle road").  Yes, Great Commission Christians are on the rise!  These type see the Gospel as the Answer to all of the world's problems!  Really, the world has always had one problem - the sin problem - and the gospel is the only answer for that problem!

What is America coming to?  Tolerance will not prove to be the answer in 20 years.  If you think we are the Divided States of America now, just wait 20 more years.  Imagine with me as we walk down this road...................Muslims vs. Homosexuals, Muslims vs. Feminists, Blacks vs. Hispanics, political upheavel, increased poverty, increased terrorism, increased gang life, etc.  It is said Muslims will take over Europe without a war just by birth rate alone.  The Islamic increase is also on the rise in America and you will see it more clearly once amnesty is granted to illegal immigrants (They're not all Hispanic as the media leads you to believe). You see.  American can't be Burger King where everyone gets to have it their way.  The bumper sticker "coexist" cannot happen on this side of heaven.  Tensions will continue to rise in the Middle East and around the world.  Homosexuals preach tolerance.  Muslims preach kill the homosexuals.  Feminists preach women rights.  Muslims preach women should be quiet and modest at all times.  Lets be real.  Blacks and Hispanics as a whole are increasingly becoming less and less happy with each other as welfare rights are taken from one group and given to another.  And I cannot imagine what secular culture will look like on tv, radio, internet, social media, etc. in 20 years. 

There really is no middle road.  The narrow road is getting narrower and the broad road is getting broader.  As Christian Rapper Lecrae says "its God or the World and the two don't mix" (Yes, he actually got that from the Book of James).

A missional shift continues to take place in the church!  Church planting continues to rise!  As bad as things are getting, I hope this blog encourages you, the faithful, to stay excited, enthusiastic, and passionate for the Lord's kingdom building work on this earth yet also expectant, watchful, and hopeful for His return! 

God is doing something amazing today in the church!  Worship and Preaching are becoming sharper as our hearts are ablaze.  Gospel centrality in expository preaching with a Christocentric focus is the fire coming out of many pulpits!  Simply put, the entire Bible (OT & NT) points to Christ and ultimately the Gospel! Missionaries are using situational bible stories to eventually bring about oral chronological bible storying with a gospel centeredness to a biblically illiterate world. Musicians are using narratives to sing about the Grand Narrative of the Gospel in their songwriting. Preachers are expounding the text and drawing The Story from biblical stories!  I just bought the first edition of a 10 year bible commentary called Christ-Centered Exposition (Exalting Jesus in 1&2 Timothy and Titus).  David Platt, Danny Akin, and Tony Merida were the editors and I can't wait to collect the entire commentary over the next 10 years!  See, God is up to something special in His Church in the years to come and we need to be anticipating and expecting a great move on His part!  

Just yesterday, SBC president Fred Luter preached at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary!  Yes, a black man is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention!  That in itself shows God is up to something!  The Church is beginning to look more like heaven on earth as our diversity shows up in the pews! Perhaps in 10 years, the 11 o'clock worship hour will not be the most segregated hour in a given week in our country.  Back to Rev. Luter - He knocked the ball out of the park and was the perfect speaker and message for this new blog to promote.  Check out his message on the transforming power of the gospel! ---