“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
I am sure that most parents wonder what the future holds for their new child. As a Christ-follower, I believe God has a wonderful plan for every person born. That plan was established before we are born. “Before I shaped you in the womb, I [God] knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you:…” Jeremiah 1:5
In 1969 my wife and I stood at the church altar to dedicate our infant son to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For those who maybe unfamiliar with this ceremony; allow me to explain. A baby dedication is a ceremony in which believing parents make a commitment before the Lord to submit a child to God’s will and to raise that child according to God’s Word and God’s ways. (See Luke 2:22)
We watched as God took our son and called him to be a pastor. This past Sunday I had the privilege to stand at the church altar and pray for my son as he prepares to go to Guatemala on a Work and Witness missions trip. We never imagined God giving our son the honor of taking the Gospel message to people in another part of the world!
My wife and I would appreciate you praying for our son and the team as they depart tomorrow. Below is a picture of our son [on the right] with a team member from his church.
I have been a Christ-follower for over thirty years and I have thought a lot about why the Church has lost its effectiveness in impacting and changing our culture. Today, I think I have found the answer. I wish I could say that it was due to my own intellectual prowess but the truth is my “discovery ” came from watching a message by Andy Stanley (http://yourmove.is/episode/pro-motion/)
Allow me to share the truths that I have gleaned from his message.
Christians for the most part have substituted devotion for action. We have a tendency to believe all the right things, so that means me and God are good because I believe all the right things. Believers are often content to believe something rather than do something.
We are good at making a point; showing what is wrong but if all we do is make a good point and don’t make a difference; we are not good Christ-followers.
It is NOT enough to believe, you have to DO something with what you know! We need to “put some motion in our devotion.” James 2:27 “…faith by itself is dead if it doesn’t cause you to do any good things.”
Your devotion to God is authenticated by love for others. When my faith stops at “How am I doing God?” we are telling the world “we know it all and are better than y’all.”
In 1986, a child actor named Gary Coleman started in a Television program called “Diff’rent Strokes.’ His spunky attitude and signature catch phrase — “Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” — endeared him to audiences and helped him gain more roles.
It may sound obvious to say that our words matter but I’m not convinced that we really believe that. I say that because we spend a lot of time talking about things that don’t matter. We talk about about sports, politics, how unfair the boss is or how busy we are.
In Luke 6, Jesus says that the mouth says what the heart feels. In other words…we talk about the things that matter to us. Think about it. If someone tracked our speech; what would be revealed that matters to you? Where would Jesus, faith, and God’s mission rank in the subjects that matter to you?
I believe it’s fair to say that Jesus needs a little more volume in your life. He shouldn’t be a rare sighting in your public life! In the book of Acts, Peter and John are told to quit talking about Jesus and they respond by saying that they cannot quit talking about what they have seen and heard! There are many times in life where courage to speak. Even the great Apostle Paul asked for prayer in Ephesians 6:20. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.
Did you know that 106 of first 108 colleges and universities in America were founded on the Christian faith? Did you know that students at Harvard and Yale were required to read the scriptures twice daily? Harvard’s founders said, “All knowledge without Christ is vain.”
They didn’t say, “All knowledge without a higher power” or, “All knowledge without a supreme being.” They didn’t just say, “Without the Almighty.” These guys were not afraid to call on the Name of Jesus. They were not hesitant to say, “Christ is the only way.” They did not insult other religions. They knew that this nation was founded on principles that did not force Christianity on anybody and that people could worship however they wanted. However, as far as this nation and the governing of this nation was concerned, we were founded on Christian principles.
Are you ever even slightly ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Does the political spirit ever make you want to keep your mouth shut, lest you get verbally attacked? Guess what? Jesus has already made a way for you to repent.Look for an opportunity every day this week to share the love of Christ with someone in word or in an act of loving kindness.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16: NKJV)
This morning I am on Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island, Florida at the beginning of a wonderful vacation. The sun is shining, there is a cool ocean breeze and everything is right with the world. Well, not really.
There is a steady stream of people filling the beach: young, old, families with children, singles, surfers, sunbathers and a myriad of others. To that add the billions of people around the world. The thought came to me that one day we will all be together again but in a different setting.
“We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. It is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’. It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions.” Romans 14:12
I look at all the people playing in the surf, searching for shells, playing volleyball etc. The majority of people are not even aware that such a event is going to take place! Which leads me to my second thought: Who is going to tell them? Preachers cannot reach those who do not come to church, so it is up to all of us to share to message.
A young ministerial student was reminded by his professor that one of the graduation requirements was he had to preach in front of his peers. He told him that he would be preaching at the next chapel service. He went to his room, got out his study books and began to prepare.
The day arrived for him to preach, he stepped unto the platform and said, “How many of you don’t know what I am going to say?” Hands were raised all over the chapel. “Neither do I. Go in peace, you are dismissed.” His professor met him as he was leaving the platform. “That message was not acceptable. I am going to give you a second chance.”
His second message began, “How many of you know what I am about to say?” Hands were raised all over the chapel. “Since you already know what I was going to say, there isn’t any reason for me to say it. Go in peace, you are dismissed.” His professor met him as he was leaving the platform and once again he said “That message was not acceptable either. I am going to give you one last chance.”
The next chapel service had a standing room only crowd. Everyone wanted to hear the student’s next (and maybe last) sermon. He began his message by saying, “How many of you do not know what I am going to say?” Half the room raised their hands. He continued, “How many of you know what I am about to say?” Half the room raised their hands.
He finished his message by saying, “Those of you that know what I was about to say; please tell those you do not know what I was going to say.” His professor shook his hand as he stepped down from the platform. “Excellent message my boy! Excellent.”
We that know the Good News of the Gospel must tell others that do not not know. Jesus said to his followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.
Years ago, my wife and I stayed in a Howard Johnson Inn while vacationing in Florida. As I was walking down the hallway, I past their lounge. I wasn’t particularly surprised that they had a lounge but what did surprise me was the lounge’s name: Saints/Sinners. Being a Christ-follower, I was taken back that “Saints” would be used in reference to a bar. I have pondered that name often but as I was reading the Gospels, that name came back to me.
I guess the name first caught my attention because of the vast contrast between the two names; they are total opposites of each other. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than the attitude of the “saints” and the sinners” of Jesus’ day. No “saint” would ever associate with “sinners” and that was one of the reasons that Jesus was hated by the religious establishment. Jesus not only associated with THEM but He went into THEIR homes and even shared a meal with THEM.
Before we start throwing stones, have you ever been at a party and felt uncomfortable around certain people? We tend to associate with people like US, don’t we? You can almost see the separation in the room between THEM and US. I can visit a church and almost point out to you one of THEM. THEM will often sit by THEM-selves and you can often see they are uncomfortable being in the presence of so many of US.
What are we to do? The “US” must take the first step in tearing down the walls that separate US and THEM. Ask if they would mind if you sat with them during the worship service. Purposely start a conversation with that person that is being overlooked at the party. Invite one of THEM to go with you to a ballgame with you. (You paying for their ticket of course!)
Let’s US do everything possible to make THEM one of US!