Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Who Can Be Saved?

June 24, 2011

Then who can be saved?  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:26b-27

Many of us Christians have someone in our life who just does not agree with us on this whole Jesus thing.  That person may be a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or just an acquaintance.   Their face probably just flashed into your mind.   I have many of those faces in my life.  I see many of them every single day.  I know where their hearts are.  I know what they think about “religion”.  I know that they do not recognize the redeeming work of Jesus.  I know that they are lost.  I know what the Bible says that their future will be and I do not want that for any of them.  Yet, I say nothing! 

The majority of us have people in our lives that are lost and yet we say nothing.  What are your reasons? 

An excuse (yes, I said excuse) that I have used is that I just don’t have the gift of evangelism.  That is usually translated as meaning that there are people out there who have this way (this gift) in presenting the gospel that is so convincing that the skeptics just fall like dominos.  Is that true?  Is it possible to mimic their evangelical method?  What happens if I don’t remember the method or I get confused in the discussion; will I screw things up? 

I recently preached on Mark 10:23-31.  Peter wanted to know who could be saved.  Jesus’ response was that no one can save themselves.  It is impossible for anyone to do that.  Jesus tells us that salvation is only possible through God and by God.  The implication of that is staggering.  It is unique to Christianity.   When anyone receives the gospel it is a complete work of God.  It is not about you or what you do or do not say.  It is about God.  Here is the comforting aspect of this truth – “you cannot screw up presenting the Gospel”.  Does that comfort you enough to share the gospel with that face in your mind?  Or is there something else that makes you hesitate? 

Are you afraid of being that “religious guy”?  If we are honest, I think that the fear of offending or being rejected is the main reason that we don’t talk about Jesus.  We all need to assess the impact of our vanity in relation to the eternal destination of those we care about.  Could it be that the “gift of evangelism” is simply the willingness of a person to set aside their vanity and be rejected and scorned for the sake of the gospel?  Are you willing to be hated for His name’s sake (Matt. 10:22)?

(Imagine from www.aaronproffitt.com)

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Be Thankful for What You Have

June 17, 2011

I was recently reading an article in World Magazine about how fantasy novels with bleak futures are all the rage among teenagers.  I have to admit that I do not have the pulse of the teenage fantasy novel market.  However, that trend does tie into a mood that I have been watching and sensing in discussions among my friends and from what I see in the media.  It should not be surprising if our teenagers pick up on our general pessimism of the future.  There is this mood that our better days are behind us.  That America is in decline.  That the die is cast.  That may be true but it may not be true.  We can be sure of one thing, which is that no one really knows.  Therefore, all this doom and gloom and general discouragement over the bleak future that our children have in front of them is entirely speculation.  I don’t know for certain and neither do you. 

We have a tendency to overreact to bleak news and be blinded by it.  As a Christian, I believe that all of the prosperity and hardship that we personally and as a nation experience are fully within the control of God’s sovereign plan.  We need to be careful about not being thankful for what we have, when we feel like we are losing something.  Since many people feel like the U.S. is in decline and that our economic futures are tied to that decline, let me use U.S. manufacturing as an example.   There is this notion that U.S. manufacturing is a thing of the past and it is just a matter of time before all of the jobs in the U.S. will be low paying service jobs.  Are you aware of the great extent to which the God has blessed the U.S., particularly in the area of manufacturing and the wealth that comes from it?  I don’t think that most people understand the scale of U.S. manufacturing.  In 2009, the U.S. ranked #1 in the world for manufacturing, and produced 14% more output than second-ranked China ($2.04 trillion) and twice as much output as third-ranked Japan ($1.15 trillion).  That is how we sit next to the #2 and #3 manufacturers in the world.  The chart below is a better help to give us an understanding of the scale of our blessings.  The perspective that we should not lose is that the U.S. produced almost as much manufactured goods as the #4 through #10 manufacturing countries in the world, combined. [1] 

That is impressive.  That is an incredible blessing.  We need to remind ourselves that God has given to our country above and beyond what we should expect.  It all is His and it may be in His sovereign plan to take it away.  However, we need to be grateful for what He has given us and what He continues to give.  We also need to remind ourselves that our security, joy, or hope is not in a strong economy.  It is in a strong and powerful God.


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How Big is Big Enough?

June 14, 2011

I recently ran across an article by The Economist online (Jun 8th 2011).  It contained a graph that I found rather shocking.  I consider myself reasonably informed and yet I had found myself wholly uninformed regarding the proportions represented by this graph.  The graph is of the biggest military spenders in the world.  I am a child of the “Cold War”.  I remember those years of “conflict preparedness”.  I remember how military expenditures were represented as necessary to match the aggressive build-up of the Soviet Union.  My impression from that period was that we were near equilibrium with the single threat to our nation.  I know now that was not an entirely accurate perception but that is what I thought.  I provide that caveat because I think that my “cold war” military expenditure mentality may have created an assumption regarding current military expenditures.  That assumption was that we were seeking some of equilibrium with other military spender or some other combination of military spenders.  That is why this graph of the biggest military spenders was so enlightening.  We clearly are not seeking equilibrium with any specific country or combination of countries.  We are seeking to exceed the military expenditures of ALL the major countries of the entire world. 

What conceivable threat would require that the United States spend more than ALL the major countries of the entire world, combined?  We are spending 4.8% of our GDP on the military.  The majority of the other countries are spending approximately half of that amount.  How brilliant is that?  If you are friends with the toughest guy on the block, why do you need to work-out? Why do you need to learn how to defend yourself? You have the toughest guy on the block that is willing to defend you.  That frees you up to spend a lot of your time on other things that are much more profitable.  Japan, the number 3 economy in the world, spends 1% for their GDP on their military.  Germany spends 1.3% of their GDP on their military and they are the number 5 economy in the world. That is brilliant.  They don’t need to spend more because the American people are spending it for them.  All you have to do is let the U.S. have a base in your country and you will save billions of dollars a year.  All you have to do is be friends with the toughest guy on the block. 

I am all in favor of a strong military.  I understand that the consequence of having a strong military is that there will be a lot of military related costs.  I get it.  I support that.  However, the basis of that discussion needs to change.  We should not say that we need a strong military because there is no reference to that statement.  The pentagon can always make the military stronger.  They do not have an incentive to restrain their strength building programs.  Our statement regarding our military should be that it should be stronger than “X”.  The politicians and general can then define what “X” is.  They can define the quantitative threat that we are defending against?  Defined that and then spend appropriately.

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What makes you special?

January 4, 2010

Gen. 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

The self-help industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry.  This industry is built on the reality that millions of people do not like who and/or what they are.  Why do so many people dislike themselves?  There is no simple or straightforward answer to that question.  However, a component of the answer lies in the reality that many people live with a fundamental failure in understanding whose image we are created in. 

Man was created in the image of God almighty.  God is the most incredible and magnificent, entity in all of creation and outside all of creation.  Man was created in His image.  That fact is what makes each and every person special beyond our own understanding.  We bear His image. 

Sin has defiled man’s representation of that image but sin cannot obscure the image.  We have value because there is no other creature that was created that can better point back to the creator and bring Him the glory that He desires.

Let us take joy in the image that we bear and work to fulfill our purpose, which is bring glory to the Creator.

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That Vile Weed

October 17, 2009

I live out in the country on nine acres in rural Idaho.  It is wonderful and quiet but did I mention 9 acres.  There is a concept called land stewardship that I am learning the hard way.  I had a lesson in land stewardship that I think I will be re-learning for many years to come. 

Have you ever heard of “puncture vine” (a.k.a. Goatheads)?  It is a nasty weed that grows these spiked horned seed bombs that come straight from  hell.  These little horned devil seeds are horrible.  They stick into everything so they get packed all over.  They pop bike tires, make a lawn a “shoe only zone”, and cause all sorts of problems for animals.  That little plant can produce from 200 to 5,000 of those spiny land mines a season and these seeds can survive for 20 years.  This is not something I have recently learned.  I have a long cultiveated hated of this weed.  Thus, my lesson in land stewardship is without exuse. 

We have a long, gravel, driveway.  This spring, as I was driving to work, I noticed a small patch of puncture vine.  I thought to myself, “I need to stop and pull that weed before it goes to seed”.  Every morning, as I stopped at the end of our driveway and I looked to the right for passing car, I would see that patch of noxious weeds growing.  I really needed to do something about that.  So, I did do something about it…in September.  I waited so long that I had a 4 foot dimeter pile, a foot thick, of the vile weed by the time I got done pulling.    Worse still were all these horned little devil seeds strewn all around. 

My spring apathy will result in future years of extra work and necessary diligene to make sure that this miserable plant doesn’t invade our place.  My poor land stewardship in this small matter will result in a lot more intense land stewardship in the future.

This got me thinking about the vile weed of sin.  Consider all of those little things in your life that you know are sin.  You think, “I need to stop doing this or that.  I need to root this activity out of my life.”  Yet, we often will not take the effort and refuse to experience the pain of denying ourselves.  So, the sin remains and grows and bears fruit (little spiked devil seeds of sin).  We are then surprise when the next season of our life comes around and we are emerse in an entire weed patch of vileness and we wonder “how did this happen”.  We need to be good stewdards of our lives in all seasons.  When we will kill sin as a sprout, it is a lot easier to pull up and we reduce the amount of life weeding we face in the years to come.

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GOD and a LEXUS

February 23, 2009

The economic struggles that we, in the United States, are currently experiencing, raise many profound questions regarding wealth and being a Christian.  What do we value the most?  That question should be one that we should continually ask ourselves.  It can be a very meaningful question as we are faced with the reality of losing possessions that we have either taken for granted or especially cherished.

Let me state a fundamental presumption:  A Christian’s life is guided upon biblical principles.  A Christian should have a biblical basis for every aspect of their life.  So, we all have decisions about money.  We spend money for our home, food, clothes, vehicles, entertainment, and on and on.  We can spend a little to meet our needs or we can spend more to meet our desires.  The amount that we spend and where we spend our resources is a reflection of what we cherish the most.  These decisions about our money should have a biblical basis.

This is the question that I have been working on:  Should a Christian own a Lexus?  What is the biblical basis for a Christian owning a Lexus?  1 John 3:16-18 is a passage the must be addressed to answer these questions. 

16 By this we know love,  that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18, ESV)

These are the principles that strike me from this passage:

1.      We are to love our fellow Christians in a “self-sacrificing” manner.

2.      We are to be giving our stuff to our fellow Christians that are in need.

3.      Our love for our fellow Christians needs to be demonstrated in real practical means.

So, we are faced with the very practical reality of what are we to do with our worldly goods that are beyond what we “need”.  The term “need” also needs some clarification.  If we are to give in a self-sacrificing manner then we need to give to the point that it hurts.  We need to give to the point that we are uncomfortable to say the least.  Giving in a “self-sacrificing” manner means that we are not giving from our excess.  We are giving from our necessity.

There is an abundance of Christians in this world that are in need.  How can a Christian live in luxury while their needs are not being met.  That sounds a lot like closing ones heart to a need. 

So, how can a Christian own a Lexus?

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GOD PROVIDING FOR HIS MINISTRY

February 13, 2009

At the beginning of this year, I made a goal for myself of reading through the Bible in a year.  Remarkably, I am currently reading through Exodus and have not fallen behind in my reading plan.  I have been stuck by God’s direction and provision in the creation of His tabernacle.  God gave Moses precise directions in how the tabernacle and all its accessories were to be constructed.  God rose up men who He filled with the “Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship” to build His tabernacle.  God even stirred the hearts of the Israelites to be generous in giving the gold, silver, bronze and all the other material necessary to build His tabernacle.  God’s people were so generous that Moses had to tell them to stop giving because they had more than enough to complete God’s design. 

I am Chairman of the Board of Directors for a local Pregnancy Resource Center and we have our own project before us.  We are undertaking the steps necessary for the Center to provide ultrasound testing to our clients.    These steps are many and large.  However, we are confident that through God’s provision each step will be accomplished to His glory.  We, as the Board of Directors, are confident in the direction that God is leading the Center.  Now, we are reliant upon God providing us with individuals of ability, intelligence, knowledge and all craftsmanship and the generosity of the Body of Christ.

It has been awesome to see God provide us with our own Bezalef (See Exodus 31:2) in the form of a retired General Contractor who has agreed to volunteer as our General Contractor for the project.  We are now anxiously awaiting God providing other people who have skills and ability in construction to come around “our Bezalef” to help him accomplish this task.  I have heard many times from a variety of people that they believe in the ministry of the Center but they just do not know how they can be involved.  The construction of the new Center will allow us to provide ultrasound services.  I am fully confident that many of our clients when they are informed of the viable pregnancy within them will choose life for their child.  Every person involved in the construction of the Center, down to the last nail driven, will have the privilege of having a part in God’s work of protecting that unborn child.

The other very necessary component is the required materials to construct the Center.  In this day and age, that means money.  My humble request to all supporters of the ministry of the Pregnancy Resource Center is to prayerfully consider whether God is rising up within you a “generous heart” for this ministry and project.  We cannot do this project without the financial resources.  Those with a “generous heart” for this ministry are essential to this project.  Every check written for the Center is a statement about the sanctity of human life. 

I am so very encouraged and excited about this project.  The support that the Center has already received regarding pursuing ultrasound services has been overwhelming.  Now it is time for the Body of Christ to move from “words and talk” onto “actions and deeds”.  Please prayerfully consider how God may be intending to use you through this project for His glory.

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