Gospel

Methods Change

person holding AC receiver

The Transistor

Here’s a secret. 😉 I’m not young. When I was young, I started working in electronics right when transistors were replacing vacuum tubes. It is staggering to me how much has changed throughout my career. 

11/10/1962 The Detroit tribune. Transistor radio from the Channel Master Corporation
figure 1

I remember being in an electronics class in college and the professor tossing a transistor to me. That means nothing, now, but vacuum tubes imploded when dropped, so throwing a transistor was a shocking way of demonstrating the end of a technology epoch and the start of a new one, the one we live in today.

Here you may righty posit, “Saying that we live in the same technical world as 1971 is absurd.” Well, on this point, I’d have to disagree with you. In 1962 a transistor was about this size of an Apple AirPod. However, it’s not a stretch to say that transistors are in every electronic device you own.

The Core i7 Intel® microprocessor, which isn’t the latest version, contains ~3 billion transistors, and that fits in your laptop. The method for manufacturing transistors has dramatically changed, but the transistor’s purpose hasn’t changed.

Jesus

Infinitely greater is the salvation and life which only comes from Jesus. His Gospel hasn’t changed.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – (Matthew 11:28

Christ’s statement is profoundly disruptive. Jesus said that we find rest is in Him exclusively. It exists nowhere else (John 14:6). It’s not in Buddha or money. It is not in boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, or best friends. It is not in people, places, or things. We can squander our lives trying to find rest for our souls, but we will never find it unless we turn to Jesus. Jesus said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – (John 10:10)

The truth of Jesus has never changed. It was true when He said it, and it’s still true today. When we look at local churches, we find wildly different approaches. 

Some are “high” churches that emphasize reverence. Some are evangelical and quote the King James Version, some are Anabaptist where the congregation leads much of the service, and the list goes on. Nevertheless, they all are called to the same purpose, to fulfill Christ’s call. 

We are to go and lead the lost to Jesus, to provide a community for the saved, to minister to widows and orphans, and care for others’ needs. Methods have changed, but the Message is the same.

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[1] https://news-navigator.labs.loc.gov/data/mimtptc_bath_ver01/data/sn92063852/00279551345/1962111001/0361/010_0_95.jpg from the Library of Congress, Newspaper Navigator Dataset: Extracted Visual Content from Chronicling America

Citizens of the Household of God

round ceramic bowl with lighted candle

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, “then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

As citizens of God’s household, we have the privilege and responsibility to represent Jesus to the world. With our citizenship comes the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. That presence of God within us affects the people around us. To the lost, they feel conviction. We are the smell of death. To the saved, we radiate life and hope. We are the fragrance of Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

God’s Presence Goes With Us

Many years ago, a dear missionary couple told me that they became aware of an unusual thing that happened when they entered a store or restaurant. No matter how empty the business was when they entered the establishment when they left, there would be people in the store. God’s blessing upon them went with them and blessed the places they entered. My wife and I have experienced this, too.

Now you may say, “Whoa, you’re starting to get weird.” That started a long time ago, and it has nothing to do with what I’m saying. 😉 If the Holy Spirit is in you, then you’re not normal. Normal people are under God’s judgment. They are spiritually dead. They cannot understand the things of God.

As citizens of God’s household, we do affect people, but not always in pleasant ways. We can expect people to become angry at us, to try to humiliate us, and, even, to harm us. As the Apostle Paul wrote, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

For Humanity’s Sake, Let Your Light Shine

We may all be getting tired of hearing, “We are living in unprecedented times.” Whether our unprecedented times are different from the unprecedented times of other generations is not relevant. What is relevant is for us to be aware that God’s presence is within us and, regardless of whether it’s well-received or not, we must let the Light shine from us to those around us. We must not hide it. (Mark 4:21-24)

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Missing the Boat

cruise ship heading into the sunset

Missing the Boat

There are few more painful emotions than to arrive late to an opportunity, to God’s calling. I have arrived moments too late to board the plane or train upon which I’d built my entire schedule, only to see it disintegrate just by one missed opportunity.

Perhaps you also have missed the purchase of the house of your dreams or the class you need to graduate or the job you desperately wanted or the person the Holy Spirit told you to witness to because you showed up moments too late.

As our hopes are left behind as our ship carries away our purpose, our calling, our future, having its ropes cast off, and with its engines roiling the sea, it pushes out into the deep while we stand on the dock, helpless, pleading with my Lord for one more chance.

God is not the God of Infinite Chances

God is the God of second chances. The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalms 103:8) However, God’s Word also says, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13) God’s Word also states, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,” (Acts 17:30) And in Isaiah we find, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6)

God is the God of second chances, but not the God of infinite opportunities. Act now, while it is still called “today.” “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

God’s Good News for Us

Before you leave, feeling beat up, let me share two of my all-time favorite verses with you. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) And Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Photo by Alonso Reyes on Unsplash

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Light

a wet road lit at night

In this physical world, we understand that darkness can never “overcome” light, while light always overcomes darkness. Light expels darkness because darkness is the absence of light. Therefore, when a single photon of light enters darkness, it is dark no more.

Jesus, the Light of the world (John 8:12), entered the darkness of the enemy of God’s camp, and Christ overcame it. (Revelation 1:18)

So too, when we speak even a single Word of God, it enters the heart of an unsaved person; life has entered death, hope entered hopelessness, light has entered darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. John 1:5 (ESV) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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A problem with culture

I love to watch documentaries, but it frustrates me to no end when the show intends to tell everyone not to affect a culture or people-group. Hate me if you must, but please read on.

Our world is on loan to us from God. It’s not ours to keep. There will be a day when God will take it back. That’s true of all “things,” including people.

A baby is born, and we see such great potential in that little person. And, God willing, that baby grows, becomes a person, receives Jesus and accomplishes great things in God’s kingdom. But a day comes when God takes that person. Our physical bodies are on loan from God.

How foolish we are when we decide to “protect” cultures and people-groups FROM the Gospel of Jesus. Every culture will pass away. Nothing on earth is permanent. God has other plans. So, how can we arbitrarily decide to damn one people-group while preaching the Gospel to another people-group? They all have a time appointed when they will meet the same God.

Undoubtedly, the people that withhold the Gospel are guilty of a greater sin than those who have never heard the good news of God’s Savior. How can anyone argue against this when God clearly said in Isaiah 45:22 (ESV), “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”

To fail in foreign missions is to utterly fail in any mission.

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It is well

Rich Mullins was an influential, talented Christian singer/songwriter. It’s been many years since he was killed in an automobile accident. Before his death, he wrote songs that are now standards in Christian music. Songs such as “Awesome God,” “If I Stand,” “Hold Me Jesus,” “Calling Out Your Name,” and my favorite, “Creed.”

One of Rich Mullins’ songs is called, “Everywhere I Go I See You.” It’s a very simple song, unlike many other songs he wrote, but the Lord just laid it on my heart today.

Yes, the world is complicated, full of dissent, lies, and pain. And yes, God is complex. And yes, churches struggle to preach Jesus to a world that doesn’t deny Christ but hates Christ.

Nevertheless, if we look, no matter where we look, we can see God at work. The world hasn’t won the battle. The “Gospel Ship” isn’t shipwrecked. God still answers prayers. God still saves. The Bride of Christ is still listening for her call. Hearts are still open; lives are still changed; fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ is still sweet. God is still good. We, as followers of Jesus, can still sing, “It is well, with my soul.”

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Learning from Peter

group of young people gathered around a campfire

There may be times in your life when Jesus places you in a position where you can share the Gospel of Jesus with a group. Perhaps the people are co-workers or in a Sunday school class or other settings.

The fact is that it’s wise to know how to preach to a group. How you do this is very similar to personal witnessing. The most important thing to do is listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Still, there are some things you can do to prepare.

Learning from Peter

To learn how to share Jesus with a group, let’s look at an exceptional sermon preached by one of Christ’s Apostles.

Acts 2:14 (NIV), Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

Let me explain this to you.” Here the Apostle Peter provides us with an excellent example for starting a discourse with a group. Usually there is some catalytic event. Jesus performed miracles, here the Apostle Peter is using the astonishing baptism of the Holy Spirit as the event that drew people into a group.

Acts 2:22 (NIV), “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.”

Identify With the Group

Fellow Israelites, listen to this.” Now the Apostle Peter begins builds commonality by including himself with the crowd. Then the Apostle Peter verifies his statements by reminding the crowd that “you yourselves know.” For us, we can remind people that the written accounts by the Apostles are eyewitness testimonies.

By verse 29, the Apostle Peter has established his intent, his kinship, and the credibility of his core message. So, he moves his message forward by declaring, “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently.” By now, there is no reason for the crowd not to believe what the Apostle Peter is saying.

By verse 40, the Apostle Peter calls on the people in the crowd to response: With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 

Finally, in verse 41, the Apostle Peter concludes the message. He receives those who accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

So now you Know

So now we’ve been shown by an Apostle of Jesus how to present the Christ’s Good News to a group. As always, success in the kingdom of God is not measured numerically.

You may have one person accept Jesus, or maybe no one gets saved. That part is not your job. The Holy Spirit convicts and leads people into salvation.

I pray that our Lord Jesus will give you opportunities to preach His Good News to groups of people. Amen.

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But as for me

Chinese buffet

My Godly eighty-seven-year-old father-in-law (FIL) is a fantastic person. He loves people, is full of hospitality, and has actively sponsored and helped recovering alcoholics since his unbroken sobriety 37 years ago. 

One of FIL’s treats is going to the local Chinese restaurant. I think part of the fun for him is that he gets to choose what he eats. Thankfully, his Chinese restaurant’s buffet has a wide variety of dishes from which he can choose.

No Buffet With God

Christians can enjoy food buffets, but God’s Word is not a buffet. With God, it’s all or nothing. Sadly, this truth isn’t taught very often and is believed even less.

There are indeed some complicated commands which God has given us. Nevertheless, we can’t see the future, and God doesn’t reach the same conclusions which we reach.

But as for me

When you feel challenged by worldly desires, pressured to ignore specific commands from God, or confronted by others to keep your religion “at home,” claim Joshua 24:15 (ESV) for yourself and your family.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Prayer

Father God, as you had the Apostle Paul write in Romans 1:16, help us wholeheartedly declare, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Use us to advance Your will in this world and not to be confounded by the lies of the enemy. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

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Guard Your Minds and be Joyful

Meerkat on guard

As believers, we trust that the Bible is the Word of God. We believe Isaiah 40:8 (ESV), “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Still, what we read in the media and what friends post on Facebook seems to expect our faith in Jesus to take a backseat to social norms.

I found an example of this “pressure” in an article in the Jerusalem Post titled, “Archaeologists Identify City Gate from the time of King David” by ZACHARY KEYSER included this statement: Even though the “House of David” inscription has confirmed the essential historicity of King David from the Bible, scholars have reached little consensus about the nature and extent of his rule.

Let us not hold back our beliefs for an implied agreement. Let us live our faith rather than allow it to be abstract. Let our “I’ll pray for you” be a true shouldering of a burden and not a social courtesy. Let us walk in the power of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 4:20)

As we guard our minds (Philippians 4:7), let us stay engaged in the places where God has planted us. Proverbs 18:15 ESV reads, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

So guard your minds and be joyful. God, Himself, lives in us. As Psalm 16:11 (ESV) reads, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

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Peace, Boldness, Resoluteness

Yelling girl

The Christian owners of Chick Fil A continue to fight for their right to operate their restaurants where other franchises operate. The latest battle is at Kansas University, where many of KU’s faculty have called for a boycott because their “feelings of safety” are threatened

My takeaway from the problem at KU is that all of us should prepare for action. Those aren’t my words. Those are God’s Words: 1 Peter 1:13 (ESV), “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We, as Christians, need to possess peace, boldness, and resoluteness — living as we do during a time when we can quickly falter if these traits are not active in our character.

Apostle Peter certainly prepared his mind for action, the owners of Chik Fil A prepared their minds for action, and we should do the same. We need the same mindset as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16:(ESV): For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

There may be people in our lives that do things to undermine or suppress God’s truth. Their actions may be directed at us just as KU’s faculty boycott is directed at the owners of Chik Fil A. How can we love them when we are hurt by their words or actions? In our heart we must have peace, boldness, and resoluteness. Above all of these, we must have love (Colossians 3:14) — an overwhelming love in the face of all dissensions.

Jesus has given us His peace (Jn. 14:27). We should pray as the believers in Acts 4:29 prayed, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” And embrace Barnabas’ encouragement, “who having come and having seen the grace of God, rejoiced and was exhorting all to abide in the Lord with resolute purpose of heart.” (Acts 14:23 Berean Literal Bible)

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