One Solitary Life

“A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.

Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years [now twenty!] and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life.”

– Dr. James Allan Francis, “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).

Commit to the Lord here and now.


Ref: https://www.anointedlinks.com/one_solitary_life_original.html

No Longer Slaves


Augustine of Hippo said “he who sings prays twice,” once with our music and once with our words. This song has pierced my heart as only music can. It is my anthem of freedom.

My fears were drowned in perfect love. Jesus, You rescued me. No longer a slave to sin: I am a child of God!

Pray this song. “No Longer Slaves,” by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser

https://youtu.be/f8TkUMJtK5k

Why Are Churches Dying?

closed-church

Churches are dying. Some are thriving, but the overwhelming majority are not. Attendance is dwindling. Most are hanging on by a thread. Many will have to shut their doors in as little as one generation.

A lot of this is because we live in a Post-Christian society that embraces the emerging postmodern worldview.

  • Millennials (born ’82-’04) aren’t being reached.
  • Generation X (born ’61-’81) & Y (born ’77-’95) are dropping out.
  • Baby Boomers (born ’46-’64) are ready to pass the torch.
  • The Builders (born ’25-’45) are going home.

Look, people: we are at a tipping point. It is the 4th quarter and we are trailing.

We must re-think, re-tool, and re-frame. We must shift, evolve, and adapt.

If not, we will be mourning church closing after church closing.

“Churches across this country are going out of business, closing their doors, because they’ve lost their relevancy. They chose not to change with the times. They chose to keep people over 60 happy and forget about reaching people under 30. They, like my granddaddy, measured faithfulness by doing things the same way year after year, regardless of the response or the results.” – Edward H. Hammett

Please read that quote again only slower this time.

(I can feel you nodding your head in agreement.)

Traditions are great. But if traditions are only servicing personal preferences, then we need to take a hard look at them.

  • Are we inwardly-focused or outward?
  • If we closed, would the community even notice?
  • Are we a museum for saints or a hospital for sinners?

I know these are tough questions, but they need to be asked and honestly answered.

I’m convinced that people love Jesus, but have lost their love for church. I’m not saying that is correct, I’m just saying that seems to be the trend. The next generation does not see the relevancy church.

How do we reach a new generation for Jesus Christ? How do we help them fall in love with church again?


Ref: Hammett, Edward H. Reaching People under 30 While Keeping People Over 60: Creating Community Across Generations (TCP the Columbia Partnership Leadership Series): TCP Books, 2015.

http://thomrainer.com/2017/08/dying-churches-die/

Please Take Jesus Personally

Lunatic liar lord

How many times have you been told, “now, don’t take this personally, but…”? Well, I want you to take this personally: Jesus is THE ONLY WAY to God.

The postmodern ear may bristle at that, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Jesus, Himself said that. Not me. Not anyone else. JESUS.

“No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

Either you believe that or you reject it. There is no riding the fence. John Duncan called this argument, “inexorable” (meaning unbending, unyielding, & unstoppable). It is black or white, one way or the other, but it can never be both or neither.

For a much more eloquent argument, look up C.S. Lewis’s “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord” trilemma in Mere Christianity.

Exclusive claim? Oh Yes. The claim is indeed, exclusive,but the invitation to accept it is 100% inclusive and universal (Gal. 3:28)!

So, please take this personally! In fact, it doesn’t get any more personal!

How do YOU answer the very same question that Jesus asked His disciples: Who do YOU say I am? (Matt. 16:15)

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Ref:

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis%27s_trilemma

http://merecslewis.blogspot.com/2010/11/deciding-about-jesus-liar-lunatic-or.html

How Can a Loving God Send Anyone to Hell?

Snowball

How can a loving God send anyone to Hell? Why unlimited punishment for a limited behavior? Isn’t Hell cosmic overkill? Too harsh! Not fair!

I’ve heard this objection many times and it seems reasonable… at first.

John Bunyan said, “No sin against God can be little, because it is against the great God of heaven and earth.” Jonathan Edwards said, “The greatness of a sin is determined by the greatness of the being against whom it is committed.”

Erwin Lutzer gives the following scenario:

To throw a snowball at a mailman is one thing; to throw one at a policeman is another. And if you throw a snowball at the President of the United States, you will be arrested. Using that analogy, think of the infinite crime of sinning against an infinite God. Sin is much more serious to God than it is to us.

I’ve never had the opportunity to throw a snowball at the POTUS, but I’m sure if I tried – the Secret Service would tackle me faster than you can say Barry Allen. And that’s just the President! Imagine throwing a snowball at God? Unthinkable.

God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, they send themselves.

Heaven is God giving people want He wants. Hell is God giving people what they want. C.S. Lewis said that the doors of Hell are locked from the inside.

God wants ALL PEOPLE to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23, 32). He patiently wishes that NONE perish (2 Pet. 3:9).

Does a doctor enjoy telling her patient: Hey, you have asthma; smoking is not healthy. You should stop. Does she enjoy it year after year, telling the patient the same diagnosis? You should stop. Here is the medicine. Please take it! Of course not. Is God any different? But He won’t force the medicine on us. He loves us too much for that.

Here is justice in its purest form: You reap what you sow.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Gal. 6:7-8

You wouldn’t let just anyone come into your home, would you? Would you let in a thief? A murderer? A rapist? No. You have a standard. So does God. Unfortunately we can never meet that standard. So He made it easy on us: we come in with His Son (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

It all comes down to how you respond to Jesus.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. – John 3:17

The real question is: Why would God send anyone to Heaven?

– If you were blessed by this please like & share!


Ref:

http://www.biblebb.com/files/bunyan/sayings.htm

https://www.monergism.com/jonathan-edwards-we-are-inclined-sin

https://www.moodymedia.org/articles/god-unfair/

Are You Getting Jesus or the CliffsNotes?

cliffs-notes

Remember CliffsNotes? I’m not sure if they still even have them now or not. Kids probably just use Google. But anyways for those too young (or for those who actually DID do their homework), CliffsNotes were the abbreviated version of literature classics. If you didn’t read the actual thing, you could buy the CliffsNotes and get the gist of it.

Are you getting Jesus or the CliffsNotes?

“The right understanding of Jesus Christ is essential to understanding many other vital truths, particularly the gospel and salvation. There’s no good news apart from Christ.” – John MacArthur

Let me give you just one verse. It is short and easy: “I and the Father are one.” – John 10:30.

I was at a restaurant once and they poured my Ginger Ale over a ton of ice. I could hardly taste it. It was gross, really. I have harsh words for anyone who waters down the Gospel to make it easier or more user-friendly.  Its gross, really.

MacArthur also admonishes those who make their faith a “private” matter: “If your faith is ‘a private thing,’ it’s not the Christian faith.” I have heard this defense as I’m sure you have too.

Nothing about the Great Commission sounded “private” to me.

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].” – Acts 4:12 (AMP)

Don’t make that private. Make it public!

Don’t settle for an abridged rendition of Jesus. Demand the full version!

Don’t read the CliffsNotes. Read the original!


Ref:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CliffsNotes

MacArthur, John. Good News: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2018.

Your Sins Have Been FIRED!


Let’s say someone comes up to you, removes your coat, and sends it away. Would you say you still had your coat?

No. It was removed. It was sent away. Literally, the coat is no longer here.

Jesus takes our sins away. (1 John 3:5). When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:19)!”

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to FORGIVE US OUR SINS and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 (Emphasis mine)

Just like that coat; they’re gone. Now, of course we don’t miss the coat or go shopping for new coats, right?

“No one who is born of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin,” – 1 John 3:9 (AMP)

Therefore, if we repent and turn to Him, Jesus forgives our sins (something only God can do, by the way).

The Greek for “forgive” carries the word picture of discharging something so as to leave.
I note it because:

  • It is so much fun to say: aphiémi (af-ee’-ay-mee).
  • Its roots are apó, “away from” and hiēmi, “send.”
  • Properly then, aphiémi means: send away; release (discharge).
  • By forgiving our sins, Jesus removes them and discharges them.

Therefore, because of Jesus’s wonderful Love & Grace, your sins have been:
Let go; fired, dismissed, sacked, axed, laid-off, and canned. They have been given their “pink slip” and “walking papers.” Like Elvis, your sins have left the building.

  • Stop re-living them.
  • Stop obsessing about them.
  • Stop beating yourself up over them.

Brother and sister, they are not even there! (Heb. 8:12, Rom. 11:27, Mic. 7:19, Psa. 103:12)

To pretend otherwise is to act like you still have that coat on that someone removed from you and sent away.

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Fruit Inspectors

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

All of these characteristics can be in your garden if you let God grow them.

In contrast to this fruit are the works of the flesh. They can equally be in your garden… if you water and feed them.

In Matt. 7:15-20, Jesus says you know a tree by its fruit. Even a child can grasp that concept.

Fruit presupposes life, growth, and cultivation.

How’s your fruit? X-Ray your heart. Inspecting the fruit in your life is a healthy (although painful!) habit to practice. In a sense we are all fruit inspectors.

Does your fruit pass inspection, or fail it?

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What Comes Out When You Get Tripped Up? Fruit or Works (Gal 5:16-26)

Ever been seated at a restaurant and a waiter goes by with a tray full of bowls? You can’t see what’s in those bowls but everything is nice & neat. Everything is in order… until they get tripped up. Then what’s inside comes tumbling out!

What comes out when you get tripped up?

What’s inside your bowls: the fruit of the Spirit or the works of the flesh? (Gal. 5:16-26)

God Makes His Home With You

belonging_ducks excluded

Come on now, we’ve all felt like the odd-man out. We’ve all felt like we didn’t know the secret handshake. We’ve all felt left out. But I promise you, there is a place where you belong.

There is a home for you with Jesus.

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” – John 14:23

Don’t just skim over that: the God of heaven & earth and His Son, Jesus the Christ will make their home with you. That seems pretty substantial. Give it some serious thought.

Your heart is God’s. He made it. Return it to Him. He doesn’t exclude you. He invites you. He meets you where you are and elevates you. Turn from your former life and run to the Savior. Keep His word. Be changed from the inside out.

  •  There is no need to go it alone.
  • There is no need to stay out in the cold.
  • The wolves are coming.

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted & grounded in love, – Eph. 3:17

There is a place you belong. There is a home for you with the Lord.

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Inspired by X Ambassadors, “Home.”