Saturday, November 22, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
2This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Thursday, March 27, 2014
8The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the LORD for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.” Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
In the wake of the killings of Christian relief workers in Afghanistan in August ResonateNews.com asked several spiritual leaders, including me, the question, "Given the climate of the times, should Christians evangelize or share the Gospel?
That’s a very good question and one that every believer and every Christian leader should ask themselves often.
When Jesus told his disciples that they were going to be bearers of good news, He didn’t limit this activity to any nation or language group or season (or climate). He also didn’t give them a detailed “how to” guide to reach different cultures or to operate in different environments. Instead he encouraged them with the words they needed desperately to hear: He said “I’ll be with you”. As difficult as it may be to share our faith today, it’s hard to imagine that Jesus didn’t anticipate the challenges we face. It’s also hard to imagine that He’s at a loss on how to draw people to his table of love and forgiveness and hope and peace when these essential elements of life are becoming so scarce today.
But I think there’s a word missing from the above question.
Too many believers know the answer to the question in its present form but I’m afraid we won’t get much heavenly credit for that. When you add the word “how” just before “should” you get a question that won’t leave us feeling self satisfied or comfortable.
“Given the climate of the times, how should Christians evangelize or share the Gospel?”
Sharing the Gospel in the world today presents some challenges that previous generations didn't face, but just because the climate is different doesn’t mean that seeds can’t be sown and produce an abundant harvest. It does mean that it is vitally important that we don’t just copy the techniques of those who have gone before us, even if they were successful. Instead, we should emulate the partnership they shared with Christ and his Spirit. After all, isn’t every successful sharing of the gospel more to the credit of Jesus’ compassion and wisdom and sacrifice and relevance than to the servants he used to make them known.
That’s especially true in the climate of these times.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
A recent retreat for the men of our church included a paintball competition that was eye opening on several different points.
The safety equipment consisted solely of a plastic helmet with goggles.
Eye opener #1: I guess our mothers were right when they identified the salient danger in shooting activities as being the loss of an eye. (One of our guys discovered that other protective gear a little farther south on the anatomy might have been a good idea as well. Can’t believe nobody thought of THAT ahead of time.)
Our rules of engagement for the fast paced games of capture the flag on a relatively small course, were pretty simple: All participants had to start with a hand touching their home base. At a given signal competition began. The winning team was the first team to grab the white flag hanging from a stick in the middle of the course and return said flag to their home base. The only other rule stated that (obviously) if you’re hit by a paintball, you’re out, but if anyone from your team touches you after you’re hit, you’re back in the game.
At the opening signal my teammates and I sprinted for the makeshift barricades strewn randomly around the course, firing wildly in the general direction of the flock of enemy players flying headlong from their own home base. Paintballs zzzinnnnged from the barrel of my weapon, hooking and slicing with a randomness reminiscent of my few disastrous golf outings.
Eye-opener #2: The fear of stepping into the line of paint pellet fire made all of us appreciate the courage veterans in our group must possess to have faced live rounds from real enemies.
It only took about 30 seconds for me to get thwapped in the appendix by a lucky shot from one of my fellow men’s ministry “brothers” on the other team.
“I’m HIT!” I said, using the designated sign of holding a hand up. That’s when I realized that I was separated from my teammates by at least 10 yards. No one even looked my direction. They were all focused rather intently on the battle before them, firing their weapons and squeezing themselves as tightly as possible behind what little cover they had found.
Eye opener #3: (And this one is a life lesson) Your teammates have their own battles to fight and skin to save, so keeping a big distance between you and them means when you’re hit, you may be out of action for a while.
I knelt there, powerless to help, as the bad guys steadily gained ground over my outnumbered team. Suddenly one of the brothers on my team jumped from the safety of his wooden spool and dashed across the open ground toward me, slapping me rather rudely on the head and diving for a tree as bright balls of paint splattered all around.
I leapt forward to a spot alongside a teammate crouching behind a pallet and began firing anew. Almost immediately I was dinked on the head by another shot, but being so close to my teammate, he simply reached over, slapped my back (kinda hard), and I was instantly back in action.
Eye opener #4: (Another life lesson closely related to e.o. #3) The buddy system is the way to go if you want to stay in the game.
We “played” as long as we had paintballs to shoot. Afterwards we showed off our welts, laughed at each other’s war stories and headed back to the dorm. On the way back I couldn’t help wondering: if one of these men were shot down by a fiery dart from the enemy, is it possible that they might only require a simple compassionate touch from a brother willing to go out to them to get back in the battle?
Maybe that’s what Galatians 6:1 means, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”
It's certainly worth a try.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Luke 19:1-10 Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.
When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.”
Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”
Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham!
For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.”
When it comes to saving people, Jesus was (is) truly the master. Zacchaeus is living proof that our natural reactions to “sinful” people, i.e. our attitudes of hostility and prejudice, don’t help change people. It only drives the bad behavior deeper.
If the townspeople had the authority to require Zacchaeus to change that would be one thing, but since they couldn’t make him change, their attitude toward him only made him more determined to look out for number one.
Jesus changes everything with just a word, a kind word. And suddenly, we see a different man in Zacchaeus after this brief conversation with Christ.
I like the look of natural wood. I like to see the grain of the wood. I think it is more beautiful than the most original tint or texture of paint.
Why do we paint things anyway? To make them match, to cover things up.
That’s what bad behavior is. It is an attempt to change the subject or cover something up or protect ourselves from something.
The problem is that when we try to remove the paint, if we’re not careful, we don’t just remove the paint,. We may scrape or cut or gouge the wood underneath.
The question we have to answer is “What is underneath the surface that we can't see?”
There is a person under that covering, under that paint if you will, that God dearly loves and wants to deal with in a loving way.
A lost child that he wants to restore.
Maybe they have applied a coat of paint to themselves as a cover up, to make themselves appear differently than they are, to protect themselves.
Jesus can remove this coat of paint, this façade of behavior with just a simple knock, a kind word. We should be careful let Him have his way.