Friday, September 28, 2007
Chip was talking about ways to go from Good to Great in God’s Eyes, which happens to be the title of his latest book. It was a great talk, and I really appreciate Chip’s way of explaining the biblical truths in way that we can understand them and get the meaning out them in the context of all that we are living through.
One thing that really struck me was the thought that each of should have three friends, a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy. The friend like Paul is a friend that teaches you, holds you accountable, and expects a lot from you. He leads you in your spiritual journey, and you learn a great deal about what it’s like to live your life of faith from this person.
The friend like Barnabas is an encourager. He helps you as you cope with all that life brings you. He comforts you when you feel down. He encourages you and lifts your spirits when you feel like you’re under attack. You share the trials of this life with him, and he understands what you are going through, and supports you and helps you as you struggle through life.
The friend like Timothy is one who is younger and learns from you. He looks up to you and guide him in his faith. You share with him what you have learned, and are learning, in your walk of faith.
Do you have these friends in your life?
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The ancient church swam against the stream of culture on virtually every issue. In the last few hundred years, we have accepted many modern thoughts (the age of modernity). However, now the age of modernity is past, and we are in a time frame referred to as post-modernity. In postmodern thought, the church can no longer be comfortable with culture.
Postmodern thought clings to ideas that are often contrary to the church. There is a belief that what is right for you might not be right for me – there is no absolute right. The same goes for morals – trying to persuade people to live a moral life is old-fashioned, there is no longer a moral right or wrong, and again, what’s right for you might not be right for me.
Of course, the church holds very dear the fact that there is such a thing as absolute truth – and we know the author! We know that the Bible clearly teaches moral right from wrong.
These are two examples, there are many more, but they suggest that the church can no longer be comfortable in the culture around them.
The real question for the church today, especially the church in America, is this: Have we become too comfortable with culture to begin swimming against culture once more?
Are you too comfortable with the society in which you live to swim against the stream of culture?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
When we share our faith with people, most of us (myself included) aren’t good enough to convince someone that Christianity is the only way based on logic and sound argument. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use logic and sound argument, because while we might not convince someone based on these arguments, we may clear away obsticles that a person has concerning faith, and as we work to remove these obsticles, God can do the rest.
In Matthew 13 we read what is commonly called the parable of the sower. In this parable, a farmer is scattering his seed. Some fell on the path, and the birds came and quickly ate it. Some of the seed fell on rocky places, where it didn’t have much soil. It grew, but withered when the sun came out strong, because it didn’t have deep roots. Some seed fell among the thorns. This seed also grew, but the thorns quickly choked out the young plants. And some seed fell on good soil, where it produced a great crop – as much as a hundred times what was sown.
Jesus explains this parable as having to do with people hearing the Gospel message. The evil one is the bird that comes down and snatches the word from some who hear it. Others hear and begin a faith, but the cares of the world overwhelm them and they fall away.
One way to think about our role in sharing our faith is to realize that a big portion of our task is simply to prepare the soil. Sometimes we have to break up some hard packed ground, sometimes we pick out rocks, sometimes we pull thorny weeds. We have to prepare people to hear the message much as we would prepare a garden for our seed.
Share when they are ready, and only what they are ready to hear at the time, and the seeds you plant will grow and the people you share your faith with will produce abundant fruit.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Today, some thoughts on the importance of using our personal testimony when sharing our faith. On Wednesday, I shared the three things we must keep in mind when sharing our faith. The first of these was that our message needs to be seen, not just heard.
Ravi suggested that because of our growing up in the television age, we have become accustomed to seeing things. Our sense of sight has become a primary way of receiving information. Carrying that to the next logical level, we need to see something to believe it. Often we won’t believe it unless we see, and on the flip side, we see things we believe (on TV, for example) that aren’t true. But because we see it, we believe it.
What does that mean for us as we share our faith. It shows us that we can talk to people all day, and they might agree with us on many points, but they won’t accept it as truth unless they see it. It has to make a difference in your life, and they have to be able to see that difference, in order for them to really believe it. Our lives must reflect our faith. We must be authentic.
It seems to me then, the next step is being able to tell that difference to others. They need to see the effects of our faith on our daily lives, there is no getting around that – they have to see it. But a natural extension would be to share with others the difference that our faith has made in our lives. And that, in a nutshell, is our testimony.
So when you share your faith, make sure to tell people the difference that knowing Christ has made in your life. Hearing that, and seeing the difference in the way you live your life each day, will lead many to a life saving faith of their own
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In the discussion following Ravi Zacharias’ talk at Houghton College yesterday, we talked about two different kinds of apologetics – positive apologetics and negative apologetics. They are valuable ways of defending our faith.
We use positive apologetics when we explain the advantages of our faith, when we tell what God has done for us. It is essential when we share our faith in a positive way to have a common starting ground. This is what Paul did when he was in Athens in Acts 17. He saw the various idols and statues representing the various gods, then he saw one inscribed “to the unknown god.” He started here and began to tell the Athenians of the one true God, the one they honor as the unknown god. He made Him known to them.
We use negative apologetics in two ways. We may respond to an attack against our faith. Someone may say something to the effect of “how can you believe that?” or they may reject God, or they may attack God or some element of your faith. You may explain to them why you believe it. That is an example of using negative apologetics.
Another way to use negative apologetics is when you attack a position that they might believe. For example, if they believe that morality is a personal issue, and that there should be no absolute moral authority, rather leaving it up to each individual, than you can point out where that line of thinking may lead someone. If my idea of morality is up to me, than what is to say that I am going to treat others respectfully, or that I am going to keep the common good in mind. It becomes a free for all, with everybody doing what they want, at the expense of everybody else. There has to be some minimum limit defining what is right or wrong.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Most scholars agree that the age of modernity has come to end. While it was here 300-400 years, it has come to an end. They agree that we are in an era of post-modernity, yet we sometimes struggle to understand what that is. What is clear to most of us Christians who are trying to share our faith, the old argument don’t always work anymore.
I had an opportunity to hear Ravi Zacharias, a noted author, speaker, and Christian apologist, speak this morning at Houghton College. He suggests that there are some things that we need to keep in mind when sharing our faith to people today:
1. Our message should be not just heard, but seen.
2. Our message should be not just argued, but felt.
3. While many question the Bible, we must defend the Bible.
Let me break these down very briefly. First, that our message should be not just heard, but seen, means that while people might listen to our words, they will also look at our lives to make sure that we are consistent. The gospel message might sound good to them, but before they commit to it, they will want to know if it really works for us. We can’t just talk the talk, we must walk the walk. The way we live our lives must be consistent with the way we talk. As simply as it gets, we must live our faith. It must real to us, and visible to outsiders.
Secondly, our message should be not just argued, but felt. We need to know Jesus, personally know what we are talking about. We should include testimonies – what has God done for us? Let them know that you know that your faith is real, because you’ve seen God in action. You’ve experienced the miracles. You’ve felt the love of God first hand. Feeling this yourself will give you a passion for the message that others will feel as well.
Thirdly, our message should include a defense of the Bible. We can’t believe the gospel message of Christ without believing in the Bible. Yet many think the Bible is just another good book. Do you believe in the Bible? Do you defend the Bible? If we are sharing our faith, and our faith reflects Biblical teaching, we must defend the Bible. Many question the authority of the Bible, yet our faith depends on the authority of the Bible.
I would love to hear your comments on these thoughts. I will be sharing a little more, some thoughts that came out of a question and answer period that followed Ravi’s talk, so we will continue this thread for a few days. Please feel free to comment. Whether you agree or disagree, I would love to hear from you…
Saturday, September 15, 2007
You have probably heard by now of Kyla Ebbert. Kyla was taking a flight from San Diego to Tucson, when a stewardess told her that her clothing was too revealing. If she couldn’t adjust things or cover up somehow, she would have to leave the flight. Kyla and her parents have hired a lawyer and taken the case to the public, appearing on NBC’s The Today Show. For at least three days in a row I have seen this story on www.msn.com, my internet homepage.
A second incident has occurred as well, a few days after the first, involving Setara Qassim and the same airline before a flight from Tucson to Burbank, CA. In both cases, the young ladies are very upset at the existence of an “unwritten dress code.”
My reflection on this – remember that all our choices, even what we choose to wear, affects others. We don’t live in a bubble. What we do in public, even what we wear in public, has an impact on others. We should be mindful of this.
As a believer, I would have been very uncomfortable sitting next to either of these young ladies in their chosen outfits. So uncomfortable, an option to get off the plane myself would have be an alternative. It is my understanding that in both cases, a passenger complained, which prompted the stewardess to take action. In my opinion, the airlines actions were appropriate.
In the New Testament, Paul knew that what was lawful for some might be unlawful to others. What is okay for us in some situations might not be okay in others. Our goal then is to make sure that even if we think something is okay, we need to make sure that we don’t offend others who might not think it is okay. These two young ladies offended someone else. Even they thought their outfits were okay, they crossed the line when they offended others.
Be considerate of others, and try not to offend anyone for any reason. We will do well to do this.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Okay, if yesterday’s post confused you, today’s probably will also. This is also from Augustine’s Confessions, and is a little philosophical, I admit. But here is something to think about…
He that knows the Truth, knows what that Light is; and he that knows It, knows eternity. And I behold the other things below Thee, and I perceived that they neither altogether are, nor altogether are not, for they are, since they are from Thee, but are not what Thou art.
Something for you to think about today. The things of this earth are, yet in a way, they are not not. Augustine is saying that they are because they come from God, yet in a way are not, because they are not what God is.
So could it be that we are fulfilled inasmuch as we are filled with God?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Nor was it above my soul, as oil is above water, nor yet as heaven is above
earth: but above to my soul, because it made it me; and below it, because I was
made by it.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In the article it stated that more and more women were leaving the workplace, choosing instead to stay at home with their children. Not just average moms, but the tops in their classes,very bright women. Honestly, I was very glad to heart that. I may offend some career women, and I certainly understand the necessity of both partners in a marriage having to work to make ends meet, but on the other hand, I know that families are not as strong when both partners are out of the home, and day care centers raise the children.
So this trend made feel a little glad. It was interesting though, that not all felt as I did. The article quoted Peter Salovey, dean of Yale College, who is troubled by this trend. As the article quotes, he seems to believe that unemployed mothers are unimaginative. He said, “So few students seem to be able to think outside the box; so few students seem to be able to imagine a life for themselves that isn’t constructed along traditional gender roles.” He may be overstating the issue, as roughly 75% percent of moms are still in the work force.
But the percentage is dropping, it has dropped 4% in the last five years. And new mothers are waiting longer to reenter the workforce after having children, with a 4% decrease in the number of mothers in the workforce with children under age one.
I know that it’s a difficult decision to stay home to raise your children. Whether the mother or the father does it, it’s an honorable task, and we would be wise to care less about what other people think, and instead, know that it can be the best option for the child, and may result in a stronger family.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Don’s message spoke of something that I had been thinking about for a year now. Last year, at an outdoor Church in the Park service, two people came forward and prayed to give their lives to Christ. They prayed “the prayer,” but haven’t been in church more than once or twice since that time. They have obviously not become disciples, and I really feel we have let them down. Not because we haven’t give them opportunities –we have. But because we have implied that if they came forward, they would be saved. If they just said that prayer, they would be okay.
A couple of weeks ago, I met with one of them again, and she told me without question that she knows that she is saved. But where is the fruit? Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, you will recognize them by their fruit. Shouldn’t there be fruit? I’m not the judge, God is, so I’m not going to say that salvation never took place. But there is no fruit…
I got to thinking that Jesus never said repeat this prayer after me and you will have eternal life – he said follow me and you will have eternal life. He said repent. Don even made the comment that it doesn’t matter what prayer you pray, you have to repent.
It seems to me, that as the church, we are doing a great disservice to people if we are telling them that they are saved by virtue of a little prayer, or even by faith, if that faith hasn’t led to repentance.
This has been on my mind since last July, and Don has given me more to think on. I am still thinking and reflecting, and will give a message on it sometime soon, but the more I think about this, the more I am being convicted.
Something Don said Saturday has stuck with me – We surrender this life to God, in exchange for eternity in the next with God. Is your life surrendered? Do you give him all the glory? Do you seek His advice in every decision you make? Have you given Him all the control? If not, please, do so now…
Salvation comes through surrender.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; of the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness, will reign without mitigation or end” (1823)
A lot has happened in the 180 + years since these words were spoken, perhaps Mr. Webster hit it on the head…
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
As I thought about those, the first three concern how we are to act toward our fellow believers, our brothers and sisters in the Lord. The last two concern more about who we are on the inside, sort of how we relate to ourselves.
After the message, a couple of people made comments, especially on the last two, essentially saying that they know people who don’t live that way, but it’s okay, they’ve been through a lot, or they deserve a break, or most often, everybody else does it. Remember that last one, if you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard it a lot. But did it convince you when your children said it? It didn’t, did it!
Sexual purity seems to be one of those really important things to God. Scripture speaks of it so much, it must be very important. And often, as is the case here in Hebrews 13:4, sexual immorality will be judged.
Still, we sometimes try to justify it. Every one else does seem to be doing it. It can’t be that bad. That serpent that spoke to Eve in the garden is still speaking today. He says things like, “that’s not what God meant”, and “Surely, you won’t be judged, after all, everyone else is doing it.”
And if you look to the world, you might even believe him. The question is, are you looking to the world, or are you looking to God? God’s Word is clear, but the fallen world has not heard that Word, or not believed that Word. It’s often easy to justify things we want to do based on what the world does, but that’s often not what God desires for us.
Are you looking to the world for approval, or are you looking to God? There is a big difference…
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