Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’

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“PREPARING MY DEFENSE” – April 9

April 9, 2013

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews.  Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.”  Acts 26:2-3

Pro se is the legal term for advocating one’s own behalf before a court.  My experience with the legal system has been limited and mostly unpleasant.  I would not ever consider going pro se before a court if I had any other recourse.

Recently, I participated in a mediation process to resolve a dispute between my company and a former client.  The process went exceedingly well.  We agreed to accept less than what we thought that we were due but received more than we dared to hope for.  I think the resolution equally displeased both parties, which probably makes it a good compromise.  The best result was that we stayed out of the courtroom.

However, we were both represented by our legal advisors in the mediation.  My legal team was very instrumental in resolving the complaint and keeping it from getting larger and more expensive.  I am afraid if I had gone pro se that my ignorance of the legal system would have caused a more unsatisfactory result.

I have never faced a court when life has been on the line.  I would be terrified to be pro se when the potential sentence is death.   Yet, that was exactly what Paul had to do in front of the courts in Caesarea.  Paul stood before Porcuis Festus, the Roman Governor, King Agrippa and Bernice, military tribunes, and all the prominent men of the city to make a defense of his actions.

I wonder if Paul had longed for legal representation.  I don’t know if that was even an option or if he had decided to go pro se.  What I do know is that Paul presented a wonderful defense of the gospel:

He told of his life before he came to Christ (vs. 4-11);

He told of his conversion (vs. 12-16);

He spoke about the reality that all men are in darkness and under the power of Satan and must turn to the light and God (vs. 18);

He referred to the scriptures, the prophets and Moses, and how they taught that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he proclaimed light (vs. 23);

He spoke the truth in a rational manner (vs. 25);

He spoke with boldness (vs. 26);

He appealed to all those who heard him to change and become like him – a follower of Christ  (vs. 29);

In many ways, all followers of Christ are advocates.  We are all in a pro se defense of our beliefs in which the goal is not to convince others that we are right but to appeal to them to become like us.  We do not have the option to hire someone to make our own personal appeal.  We must advocate on our own behalf in the court of other people’s opinion because we want them to be like us – children of God.

How much time have you spent on the preparation of your defense?

I can attest to the fact that my company spent a lot of time and money in preparing our case in our recent dispute.  Money was all that swung in the balance in that case.   In the case of the gospel, the eternal lives of those who have not come to Christ are in the balance.

How much time and preparation is that worth?

I wrote a very similar post as this one awhile back, about the need to be prepared to present the good news of Jesus Christ.  GREAT INTENTIONS – March 5 .  Sherry, a fellow blogger at He Hath Said , made the following comment to that post:

I believe those Christians with blogs, no matter the subject, should have a page that introduces their unregenerated readers to Christ Jesus and the reason they need Him as their Lord and Savior. We must look for opportunities to share the Gospel in any godly way possible. But, let there be prayers by all for the raising up of laborers to bring in the harvest as well as the preparing of an unsaved soul by God’s Holy Spirit to receive the salvation upon hearing the Word of God presented.

I heartily agreed with Sherry and promptly did … nothing.

The Apostle Paul and Sherry have encouraged me to do something.  Therefore, I am going to take the next day or two to prepare my defense.  My next post, Lord willing, will be my own personal defense that will find a home on a new page of my website, as Sherry suggested.

Therefore, I beg that you will, at that time, read patiently the appeal of my heart.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for giving me your Spirit.  Thank you for giving us your Spirit to bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God.  Lord, fill me to the brim with your Spirit.  Make me overflow with the goodness that comes only from You.  Help me set my mind on You and the things of your Spirit.  May I glorify and enjoy You in all that I do for all of my days. . . Amen.

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“CLEAN OR UNCLEAN ASSOCIATIONS” – Mar. 12

March 12, 2013

“In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”  And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”  Acts 10:12-15

There is a new church coming to your town.  I wonder if you will attend.

It is a church where:

Children run up and down the aisles;

Your race is the minority;

People talk at inappropriate times during the service;

Some are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction;

An ashtray is outside for the smokers;

The worship service has some hip-hop;

A few believe that deodorant is optional;

The police are aware of a few of the attendees;

The guys have longer hair than the girls;

Some are struggling with pornography addiction;

Some unwed teens are pregnant;

Not all have homes to return to;

A few effeminate men and masculine women attend;

Occasionally, feet are placed on the furniture;

The underwear of several young men can be seen;

Some, struggling with cursing, fail here;

The local tattoo artist references many attendees in his portfolio;

There is no doxology.

Church HDRIs this the type of church that you seek?  I know the reasons why these are not the attributes that appeal to my family and me.  I don’t see these attributes in the vision statements of most churches.  I wonder how much of our religious Church culture creates the same results as the Jewish culture of Peter’s time.

And he (Peter) said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” Acts 10:28

Our Christian doctrines don’t have specific laws about who we can associate with or visit like the Jews did.  However, consider the end results.  Isn’t the typical church on a Sunday morning almost as homogenous as any Synagogue in Jerusalem during Peter’s time?

Mine is.

It is as if the welcome mats at our Sunday gatherings have an unwritten expectation of what we consider clean and acceptable.  The unclean don’t seem to get past it.

Are there folks out in your community who you would prefer not to associate with on Sunday morning? 

Are there some who you consider too rough? 

Are there some who are simply uncouth? 

Are there some who you have determined are unclean and should not be associated with?

Peter was sent to the very people he believed he should not associate with.  God showed him that he should not call any person common or unclean.  I have never heard anyone in the mainstream of Christian community call any group of people unclean.  However, do our actions confess to a heart that has judged another person as unfit to be associated with?

To my shame, I think that my actions do.  I don’t think that I have actively pursued a course of pious dissociation but I look at the reality of my life.  I rarely associate with anyone who does not look like me.  I wonder what a disinterested third-party would infer of my beliefs based on an evaluation of the people with whom I associate.

I think that we all need to be very careful about letting our social preferences creep into our definitions of acceptable.  In Galatians 1:11-14, we are told that Peter stumbled due to this mindset.  He withdrew from the Gentiles.  Those same people whom God had said were clean he withdrew from because of social pressures. We don’t have any written rules or laws about who we can associate.  However, we sure seem to withdraw from those who make us uncomfortable.

Brothers and sisters, let’s evaluate our hearts to make sure that the reason for the uniformity of our associates is not due to some attitude of withdrawal that has the effect of keeping the uncomfortable away.  Remember, those who make us uncomfortable need a Savior just as much as you and I.  I am not sure how to immediately apply this to my life.  Maybe, we are to be like Peter, when the Lord sent the unclean to him.  Peter opened the door and was welcoming.  Maybe, we should prepare our hearts and make sure we display a welcoming attitude for all those who expect to be rejected.

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t know if the reason for the similarity of all my friends is due to an inappropriate attitude or simply due to where you have me.  Either way, examine my heart, Lord.  Don’t allow me to be unwelcoming to those whom you bring into my life.  Lord, I want to be like Peter and go to those who you send to me regardless of social pressures or personal preference.  Father, may your Church be the most welcoming place in the world for those who are truly seeking you.  Amen

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“GREAT INTENTIONS” – Mar. 5

March 5, 2013

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:35

I have been asked a couple of times, “Why would you want to do that?” after explaining my goals for the coming year.  These goals include:

A few (at least two) triathlons; one of them being Emmett’s Most Excellent Triathlon.

Cycling the 4 summit challenge and riding a century (100 miles).

Running a 10K race.

I realize that these activities are not what many will list on their recreational itinerary.  They are not on my recreational itinerary either.   On my list of preferred activities, the endorphin rush has yet to displace the sedentary sedation of a shade tree and glass of iced tea.   Physical endurance activities can be satisfying but anything that involves some sort of physical discomfort is hard for me to categorize as fun.

I did not pick these goals to be a source of entertainment.  I set these types of goals so that I might achieve a very specific and important long term goal.  My long-term goal is to be fit.   I simply feel better when I am in shape. I prefer to live the type of lifestyle that being in shape affords.  I hope that my later years of life will be blessed to be very active.  I want to be that guy who people consider helping across the parking lot but are then blown away by him on the ski slope.  I want to be that grandpa who can teach his grandkids what a hard day’s work means.  I want to be that old guy who everyone in the Church under-estimates his age by twenty years.  It is unlikely that I will have an active future if I exist in the sedation of a sedentary present.  The best way of realizing that future me is to start working on this present me.

When is the right time to get into shape?

I am full of great intentions. We all have that image of the person who we want to be.  I think that the day-dreams of our youth still reside in most of us but have been relegated to the mental trash heap of the unrealistic to be compacted by the weight of adult responsibilities and expectations.  I wonder what the younger you would think of the older you?  Great intentions need a push to transform into anything else.  I have learned that I must be intentional for an intention to become a reality.  There are so many distractions that can sidetrack good intentions into the languishing world of unrealized dreams.

It is important for me to make a goal in order to push intention into intent.  My intent motivates me to prepare for these shorter-term goals and the shorter-term goals do the transforming work of achieving the longer-term goal.

I think that we stay spiritually fit in a similar manner.  We should have shorter-term spiritual goals to help us stay on task for our primary goal.  It is so easy to allow our good intentions of getting serious about our faith to languish as an unrealized dream while we are distracted by a pursuit of entertainment and the weight of adult responsibilities. We need to evaluate our lives and determine those areas where the Spirit is leading us to get serious.

When is the right time to start glorifying God and enjoying Him?

It is important for us to move from intention to intent.  Most of us know what we should be doing.  Most of us have great intentions but we are caught in the spiritual sedation of busy lives.  We need to allow the Spirit to lead us from our great intentions and motivate us to prepare for these short-term, realistic goals and these shorter-term goals will transform us into our true desire to glorify God and really enjoy Him for forever.  Aren’t you tired of living with unrealized intentions?

EvangelismI don’t know what the most glorifying things we can do for God are but I have to think that evangelism has to be very high on that list.  There is a celebration in heaven for each soul who is born again.  That should tell us how big a deal evangelism is from God’s perspective.  I don’t know how I can love God with all that I am without the wonder of my Savior spilling into my conversations.  I don’t know how I can love my neighbor as myself without telling him about the most loving act that has ever been done for him.  It is actually unloving not to tell someone about Jesus.

It seems to me that evangelism should be part of the life of every follower of Christ who is striving to glorify and enjoy God.

I think that evangelism is one of those great intentions that many Christians have but don’t act upon.  I have heard many folks talk about sharing the gospel in terms of “I could never do that.”  The context is often relegated to the realm of  “giftings.”  Those who have the “gift of evangelism” are the ones who should go about sharing the gospel.  I believe that God has gifted some brothers and sisters with a wonderful and unique ability to proclaim the good news about Jesus.  However, I don’t believe that gets the rest of us off the hook.  Just because one servant is gifted such that they bring in a ten-fold harvest does not make it right for me to bring in no harvest.

Many people steer clear of spiritual conversations because they do not feel confident explaining the “good news” and their faith.  They often are disappointed when they see an opportunity float by and are uncertain what to say.  It has happened to me.  I don’t want to be like that.  I have let too many opportunities drift past due to an insecure hesitation.

I want to be like Philip.  Philip was great at glorifying God.   Philip could engage a conversation, jump into the scripture, open his mouth, and explain the good news about Jesus.  I want to be like Philip; that is my great intention.  I want to be ready to open my mouth and let the Lord take a conversation where He wills it to go.   I want to glorify God.  I want to bring in a harvest of some kind.Evangelist Ray Comfort open-air preaching at a...

Now, here is my reality.  I am more of a writer than a conversationalist.  A long conversation can easily exhaust me of words and land me in the world of awkward silence.  Meeting new people is as uncomfortable as a dental appointment for me.  I am not a quick thinker.  I like to ponder and mull over my responses.  I do not have the gifts of what I think an evangelist should have.

However, I still want to be like Philip.  How will I push my intention of sharing the gospel into the reality of doing it and glorifying God?  I will probably always fight my insecurities of real-time conversations so the best way for me to be like Philip is to prepare to be like Philip.

I participated in CRU when I was in college.  I think that they prepared us very well to be like Philip.  They had us practice our testimonies.  We wrote out our own personal stories of how God transformed our lives and then we memorized it.  We were prepared to tell our own story of Christ’s grace and mercy in a concise, non-rambling, logical manner.  I need to go back and update my testimony and know my story of personal transformation. 

We practiced sharing the gospel.  We practiced by using tracts and we practiced just talking about God and bringing it back to the good news of Christ.  I shared the gospel a lot more when I was prepared.  I was better prepared when I was involved with other people who were preparing with me.  Preparation and accountability resulted in actually doing what we wanted to do.  I need to practice making a clear presentation of the gospel and find some folks who are wanting to do the same thing. (Ray Comfort has some excellent tools to teach us how to share the gospel at the Way of the Master.)

I believe that being intentional about preparing and sharing the good news about Jesus is a wonderful way to realize the good intentions of a desire to glorify our Lord and Savior.  We get the blessing and enjoyment of participating in the miraculous work of the salvation of the lost.

That is the life I want to live.  That is the life I want when I am old.  That is the life that I want now.  Let’s get spiritually fit and bring in a harvest that we always intended but have never thought possible.  All things are possible for those who are the Lord’s.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving us such incredible news to tell this world about.  Thank you for using us to preach that good news.  Use me Lord.  Prepare me Lord.  Give me eyes to see the opportunities that are floating around me.  Give me confidence to open my mouth for your glory.  Lord, I want to see your word go forth; I want to see lives transformed; I want to see your Kingdom expanded and souls saved.  Father, I love You – use me as You will.    Amen

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GATES OF MY INNER FORTRESS – Dec. 7th

December 7, 2012

“If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Luke 16:31

I watched a documentary on Cheyenne Mountain. Cheyenne Mtn. is a military command center built inside of a granite mountain. It is home to elements of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The facility is located a third of a mile inside of the mountain and protected by 25 ton blast doors. It is an incredibly secure facility.

However, it seems to me that even Cheyenne Mountain is not as secure as what is within some – a hardened heart. I don’t think that we really grasp the resistive strength of a hardened heart and the miracle of salvation. We often think that if we can just have the right reasoning then the barriers of a hardened heart will be overcome and this person will come to the free gift of eternal life. The rich man was told in Luke 16 that even if a dead person were to come back from the grave, people would still not be convinced. The scriptures completely contain all that is necessary for anyone to be saved.

I have wondered if there were more conversion experiences like that of Paul on the road to Damascus   many more people would be saved.  According to Luke 16, it is not true. So, why do some reject the Word of God, refusing to believe, and some accept it unto salvation?

I don’t know – it is a mystery that breaks my heart. It is a mystery of the hardened heart.Doubleblastdoors_540x359

Every person has a secure fortress deep within them that has impregnable gates. Those gates are locked from the inside. There is no reasoning, cajoling, guilting, shaming, begging, or pleading, that I can do to force those gates open. I cannot devise a method to pick those locks. I don’t even have access to them – they’re on the inside.

The gates of a hardened heart can only be opened by the rebel within, as he or she is drawn out into the light by the King of kings and Lord of lords. Why do some give up their rebellion and come out while others refuse? Why did the rich man in hell not repent and beg to be saved? Why do the demons, knowing who Jesus is, continue in their rebellion, assured of their fate?

I don’t know – it is the miracle of salvation. All I know is the scriptures tells us that God calls His elect to Himself; People will only open the gates of their inner fortress to the Shepherd that they already know (John 10:3-4).   One day we will understand it all.  I have long since stopped trying to figure out how God does things. It is beyond me. I am but a clay pot in His hands.  He is God and can do as He pleases, for His own glory.

Today, I stand in awe of the miracle of salvation; in gratitude to my Savior for calling me out from my own fortress of sin and death. That is a treasure that words fail to explain. Today, I will continue to spread the seeds of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for His glory, and let the Spirit do the work of calling His children to the glorious light of our Father.  A work that only He can do.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for saving me, a sinner, while I was still in my sin.  Father, continue your work of calling your sheep by name and leading us all out.    Amen

Image from http://news.cnet.com/2300-13576_3-10001119-2.html

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BENEFITS OF A HYDRATED SOUL – Dec. 4th

December 4, 2012

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

I have been a little preoccupied with water for a while. I read an article that being well hydrated should be part of every fitness program and that guys need to be drinking three liters of fluids per day and ladies need 2.2 liters per day. That is the minimum.  If you are working out, pregnant, breast feeding, sick, or live in a hot/humid climate, then you are supposed to drink more.  Dehydration results of falling below those targets which can have an assortment of health consequences.

I don’t want to experience those consequences so I developed a hydration plan – it consists of me drinking a lot of water. I am at work most of the day. Therefore, my plan has been to down 2/3 of my minimum fluids requirement at work.  I have a big glass to divide it all up. I have to drink four glasses before lunch and four throughout the afternoon.

Wow! That is a lot of water. Other than nearly wetting myself when a phone call went too long, it has be uneventful.  However, my company needs to start budgeting for carpet since I have significantly shorted the life cycle of the carpet between my office and the restroom.  If this is what normal fluid consumption is like, then maybe being a little dehydrated is not such a bad thing.

I have learned a several things from my little experiment:

  1. Being well hydrated and road trips are not a good combination; when your body is well hydrated, those fluids flow right on through. I realized that I regularly walked around a little dehydrated since the strategic location of restroom facilities has not been a concern for me.  Those fluids don’t normally flow through as they do when I am focused on being hydrated.
  2. It is too late when we rely upon thirst to indicate a need of fluids. Thirst is a physiological urge that comes from our body working to regulate a healthy fluid level.  However, it is a backup. Under normal conditions, most fluid intake actually comes through the normal courses of our day. (eg drinking with meals or at work breaks, water in food). To be able to drink my allotment, I had to drink when I was not thirsty. When I wait to be thirsty, I am already dehydrated.
  3. My “thirster” was out-of-whack.  I think that my body had adjusted to functioning in a partially dehydrated state.  Since I have been working at being hydrated, I get thirty quicker. It is not what I expected but I have found that my body is now more sensitive being under-hydrated and my “thirster” kicks in sooner.

My little water experiment got me to contemplating the hydration of my soul. I think we all can relate to the psalmist’s prayer for the thirst of his soul to be quenched by the abiding presence of the Lord. However, I wonder if our thirst is the same as the psalmist’s. He proclaimed a thirst accompanied by an earnest searching for his Lord. We know from the other Psalms that David drank daily from the deep well of the scriptures in his searching. I don’t see a lot of Christians earnestly seeking God like the Psalmist. That makes me think that the Church is full of dehydrated souls.

I wonder if our “thirsters” are out-of-whack.  The thirsting of the Psalmist is that of the well-hydrated man who is habitually filling himself with the scriptures before the sense of thirst strikes him.  Today, many believers are normally dehydrated and seek God only when their comfort has been jarred by need. I think that many Christians are so perpetually dehydrated of the presence of the Lord that they don’t even know what normal should be like. They hear the plea of the Psalmist and relate that to their own experience but their thirst has become accustom to being perpetually dehydrated; accustomed to a parched life. It is out-of-whack.

By the time they seek the Lord based on an out-of-whack thirst, many find themselves severely dehydrated. If you only seek God when you thirst for him then you are already parched. A well hydrated soul is the one that is drinking in the Lord when they are not thirsty.

There are several results of fully hydrating our souls on a daily basis:

  1. We can quickly respond in time of need.  We will not be in a critical unhealthy state so that we can respond appropriately to the various trials, temptations, suffering that we might face. We all will face various challenges.  We are better prepared for those challenges when we our souls are well hydrated in the Lord.
  2. Our desire for our Lord will increase. When we are regularly filling up on the Lord’s presence, our thirst for our Savior becomes more sensitive and reactive. Our thirst will be a better regulator of what is healthy for our soul.
  3. The Lord will overflow from us.  When we are saturated from seeking the Lord it is inevitable that it will come out of us (in a good way). I think that some folks are so dehydrated that every ounce of the Lord’s presence gets sucked up into their own parched soul. Our Father is so great that there is no limit to his presence. We need to be drinking deeply and that is when we will overflow into the world around us.

How is the hydration of your soul? Are you drinking deeply from the spring of living water?  There will be a day when we will no longer thirst. There will be a day when we no longer need to work at hydrating our souls but that is not today. Today, we need to be drinking before we thirst; drink deeply my friends.

PRAYER: Lord, You are the essential of my life. I will dry up and blow away without you refreshing me.  Lord, refresh me today – replenish me today. Father, I want to overflow with your presence; fill me with your Spirit. Give me a desire for you that is not my own.    Amen

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SHARK TANK – Dec. 3rd

December 3, 2012

“The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.” Luke 16:8

shark-tank-121There is a reality TV show called the “Shark Tank” that provides a glimpse of a world that most of us never get to be a part of. The show is about small business people with an idea or a product that are seeking investors, who are the “sharks”. These small business guppies are pitching their great new thing to the moneymen of the shark tank with hopes of obtaining a partner that will enable them to make a fortune. The problem is that these “sharks” are shrewd and they know the game better than most and the “guppies” of the show face a real risk of getting swallowed whole.

It is a fascinating look into the shrewdness of capitalism. One will quickly understand the axiom of “it takes money to make money” and why “the rich always seem to get richer”. The “sharks” are experts at identifying an opportunity. They also have the resources to act upon those opportunities.  That combination sets them apart. I have a MBA so I know the theories of that world and I work in management but I am not a “shark”. Whatever your opinion of these businessmen, one has to admit that they are very good at what they do.sharks

The Bible tells us that we Christians can learn a thing or two from these “sharks”. “Sharks” are primarily driven by a purpose of maximizing profits. Christians have a purpose – “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”. Now, what if we believers pursued that purpose as shrewdly as a “shark” pursues profits?

Just consider all of the opportunities that we are provide to bring glory to God, how many of those do we act upon? Are we even looking for opportunities? Are we actively out there trying to make our purpose happen?  Do we even know our chief purpose? I am ashamed to admit that shrewdness does not describe my purposefulness. Lackadaisical may be a more appropriate word.

That is not the way it should be. We should know how to deal with our own generation. We all will face a day when we will no longer be able to use our wealth and gifts for our chief purpose.  Now is the time to be making the most of the opportunities that we have to glorify God and be “making friends” for the Lord. There is an amazing promise here in verse 9 of being welcomed into heaven by those individuals who we had a part of reaching for Christ.  Will there be anyone to welcome you?

There is still time to invest wisely and seek opportunities. Only the exceptional, will be called a shark. Let’s strive to be exceptional for our Lord. Let’s be diligent about our purpose and act as shrewdly as any shark with the opportunities we are given.

PRAYER: Lord, Thank you for all the opportunities that you have given me to serve you. Forgive me for “cherry-picking” the ones that are most comfortable to me. Forgive me for not considering which opportunity will give you the most glory. Lord, I want to be a good servant. Give me a heart to desire to be about your purpose in all that I do, every day, this very day.    Amen

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COME ON, LICK ME – Dec. 1st

December 1, 2012

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile.” Luke 14:34-35

I live in cattle country. In cattle country, you can drive from one destination to another, passing pastures and corrals filled with cattle. There is a commonality between the enclosures that is easy to overlook. It is a tiny little block that looks of no consequence but is very important. It is called a salt lick.

A salt lick contains all the essential minerals that a healthy bovine needs, compressed into one rock-like block. Cattle that are deprived of these essential minerals will suffer all sorts of health problems and can even die. A good cattleman will avert all of those negative consequences with the use of a salt lick.  All that has to be done is to drop one of these blocks inside the pasture and let the cattle do the rest. They are instinctively drawn to this strange block and will start licking to their hearts content. After a season, cattle will turn a salt lick into a respectable modern art sculpture. However, there are two things necessary for the creation of this art form – saltiness and proximity.Salt lick

A salt lick that is not salty will be neglected to dissolve in the weather. Cattle will not be drawn to it since there is nothing that differentiates that rock-like block from a rock. A salt-less salt lick is of no use.

The other necessity of a salt lick is accessibility. A salt lick has to be within tongue length. It has to be close enough to be licked. There is no other way for those essential minerals to get from block to animal but through the contact of a long abrasive tongue. Therefore, the salt lick has to be in the same enclosure as the animal. Otherwise, the salt lick cannot serve its purpose. A negligent salt block is easy to spot. It retains its pristine geometric shape, which betrays that it is of no use.

It is not an illustration that my pride appreciates but we are God’s salt licks in this world. We are the essential salt that this world needs.  Just like a real salt lick, we need to meet the two essential characteristics of an effective salt lick – saltiness and proximity.

It is our saltiness that differentiates us from the world around us. So often, we try to fit into this world. The fact that people can tell that there is something different about a Christian is evidence of saltiness. It is the Spirit that makes us salt. One has to question what is going on, if you can just blend in.  There should be some salt to your life. Our saltiness is at the essence of God being able to use us for his purpose.  We have no use unless we are salty.

The other characteristic of a good salt lick is that you are close enough to be tasted. That requires allowing people, who desperately need Christ, to get close enough to you to sense that there is something different about you.  We Christians are very good at building morally pristine hedgerows around our lives that protect us from the world. We can have these pristine facades that the world thinks are fine examples of our piousness.  All the while, that facade is a testament to our uselessness.

Refusing to interact with the world outside our Church walls is like placing a salt lick in an abandoned pasture.  You will never be of any use unless you allow those who need your saltiness to get close to you.  The downside is that it may get a little unsanitary.  It may be a little abrasive. You might get a little dirty. It may be a little out of control and you might be formed into something that you had not anticpated.

large_cowtongueHowever, consider what you are doing. You are the mechanism that God is using to provide what is necessary to save another person’s life. That is an amazing work to be used in. That is worth all the unsavory aspects of getting licked. We need to realize that as we are being useful to God, He is creating a work of art out of us.

Are you ready to be licked or are you content with being useless?

PRAYER: Lord, Thank you for changing me into new person.  Thank you for freeing me from my bondage to sin. Thank you for making me salt.  Forgive me for all of those times when I have shunned the very people that you have drawn to me. Lord, continue your work in me – help me to see people as you do. Amen

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A MERE SPIN MASTER OF THE RIGHT – Nov. 20th

November 20, 2012

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…” Deut. 30:19

The US presidential election is over but that has not stopped the political pundits from continuing the “spinning” of their party. I realize that intelligent people can mine data for salient facts. However, the simple answer can be pushed aside in all the analysis. My analysis of the election – people voted for the candidate that they feel will provide the best future for themselves and their families. We will find out if it was a good choice. The only other arena with as much advocate “spinning” is religion. 

There is an on-going battle raging between secularists & religion; atheists and God-believers. I am typically cast on one side of the debate. However, is it a debate that I should be having? Christians often get caught up in debating issues that we are convinced will affect our lives and the lives of our family.  We forget our purpose. We cast as foes the very people that we are sent to reach. We alienate, through the pursuit of our own self interest, the people who need the clear choice of the gospel presented to them.

I don’t want to be a mere spin-master of the right. I want to cut through all the spin and distraction of religious issues to clearly speak what I believe about the choice before every person. I want to be like Moses and be able to say that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.  I want my “foes” to know that they are not my foe. I want them to know that I desperately want them to choose life. That is my message, spin free.

PRAYER: Father, Thank you for giving us a clear choice. Thank you for providing a way of escape from death and curses.  Lord, give me wisdom to know what debates I should engage in. Give me the strength to be willing to sacrafice my own self-interests for the purpose of your gospel. Open my eyes to those who feel like foes and love them as you do.   Amen

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CONFUSING THE EROGATE WITH THE SUPEREROGATE

November 17, 2012

I was recently driving home from a business trip.  I was listening to a podcast by Econtalk  regarding John Locke and the rationing attempts following Hurricane Sandy. They used an example to explain a couple of words that I was not familiar with; erogate and supererogate .

 The example was to suppose that you have a life ring and you see a person drowning.  You know that you can throw the life ring and save that person.  You will be able to get your life ring back so that there is no significant expense to yourself. It is a pretty horrible person who would refuse to exert the effort and expense of throwing a life ring to a drowning person because that is an erogatory task. A moral person is obliged to do this type of task. It is a reasonable and normal duty that we owe our fellow human beings.

 Now, let’s suppose that you do not have a life ring and there are riptides and other strong currents that have trapped this drowning person.  You decide to swim out to this person and rescue them at great personal risk to your own life. That is a supererogatory task.  That response exceeds what is expected of a normal moral person.   

 These words and this example got me to think about Romans 10:14

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14  

I think that we consider sharing our faith as a supererogatory act.  However, there is typically no great personal risk. Our lives don’t hang in the balance. There is no great expense to our finances. Yet, their eternal condition is just as perilous as the drowning person in our example.  Telling someone what Christ means to you is not responding beyond what is required or expected, when you consider the unbelievers plight. It is an erogatory task. It is our duty as reasonable moral people.

 Someone may counter with the argument that the person doesn’t know that they are drowning; they don’t believe in God or hell. However, I believe in hell. I believe that the only means to escape condemnation and eternal punishment is through Christ’s work on the cross where he condemned sin in the flesh. That is the life ring that I have to throw. My decision to throw that life ring is not dependent upon whether the person will catch it. I have no control over that. Therefore, my speaking the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is still an erogatory task for me. It is my normal and reasonable duty, based on what I believe, to evangelize.

What kind of person am I if I were to refuse? I think this video by Penn Jillete puts the Christian’s erogatory duty into perspective.

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