Saints and Sinners

How should the church respond to the lost world? We seem to go to the extremes of either approving of worldliness and sin or pointing fingers and railing at those who do what we would never do. There’s a better way. Jesus was called “a friend of sinners,” and I believe He bore that title with delight rather than shame. That doesn’t mean that He joined them in their sin, but He loved them out of it. He was tender with wounded souls, gentle with the ones who didn’t understand, and kind to those who had been harassed by the enemy. And He saved His harshest words for the religious crowd who rejected the lost, the poor, the lonely, and the wounded – and Him. They were the self-righteous scholars who diligently studied the Scriptures, but missed the whole point of God’s plan. 

Paul said, “The Lord’s servant must . . . be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful,” (2 Timothy 2:24).  The goal of such kindness – that God will grant the lost repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26). As believers, our character should be the same as Jesus: kind, gentle, helpful, and sympathetic.  Why?  Because unbelievers have been taken captive by the devil.  They have been deceived, led astray, fooled, and fed lies to the point that they can’t recognize the truth.  They are under the influence of satan, and they deserve our compassion rather than our hate.

Christian, you have a call to be “salt and light” in the world.  Salt to make people thirsty for God and light to lead the way to the cross and redemption. Finger-pointing, harsh words, and belittling attitudes will never win anyone to Christ.  But a kind and gentle spirit can.

If you are not a Christian, let me assure you that Jesus does not look at you with hatred or disgust; He does not see you as His enemy – He died so that you could be His friend for eternity.  He loves you with an everlasting love that will never turn you away.  Please come and see for yourself that He is a gentle King and a kind Savior.

Rock the Boat!

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When I read in the Scriptures about the early church, I’m jealous. They had such an incredible experience witnessing “many wonders and miraculous signs” (Acts 2:43).  I long for the sense of purpose and community that they had: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v.42). They met daily and “broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God (v. 46). And He blessed them greatly: “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (v. 47). What an exciting, fulfilling time to “belong to the Way” (9:2). Even the community outside of the faith appreciated them, “they enjoyed the favor of all the people” (47).

Well maybe not everyone.

After healing a man who had been crippled from birth, Peter and John proclaimed the gospel to the astonished crowd.  A great number of people believed and that angered the Jewish authorities. They questioned the apostles who then boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus to them. They commanded Peter and John to stop teaching in His name. Their response? “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (4:19-20). Later they arrested and flogged them. Remarkably, they rejoiced at their mistreatment “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (5:17-41)

How very different from our modern, western culture, where religion is regarded as a personal preference and not a life-giving entity. In the US the battle cry is “separation of church and state,” and in our workplaces, schools, the public square, even among our peers, we are told to keep our religion to ourselves. Unlike the bold apostles, we do it because we don’t want to rock the boat. But true Christianity is all-or-nothing. It spills over into every aspect of our lives because “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” We’ll gladly take the scorn of the world for the Name. Besides, it’s only going to get worse, not better. Beloved, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, it’s time to not only rock the boat but get out of it and walk on the water.

Waiting…

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;”            Psalm 37:7

“Wait a little longer,”                              Revelation 6:11

How good are you at waiting? I think in our “hurry up” society, waiting is a lost art.  We have instant conversation, instant information, and an instant meal, all at our fingertips.  Have you ever found yourself wishing the microwave would hurry up?

Waiting was a constant for the people of the Bible.

Genesis 7-8 tells us Noah, his family and all those smelly animals spent a little over a year shut up in the ark, from the first raindrop until God allowed them to come out.  According to Genesis 12:4 and 17:1; Abraham, the Father of the Hebrew faith, waited 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise, the birth of his son, Isaac.  Joseph waited 13 years – through mistreatment, false accusation, imprisonment and estrangement from his family until the fulfillment of God’s purpose. (Genesis 37 – 50)

What was the key to their ability to wait?  In a word – FAITH.

They had faith in God. Notice I didn’t say they had faith that God would work everything out in their favor.  They had faith in God, in His character, in who He is, not just in what He could do.  They had faith that whatever God did, in whatever way He did it, and however long it took, it would be the right thing.  In forty plus years of following Him, God has never done anything the way I expected.  But what He did was always right and good.  Because He is always right and good, and His purpose is always right and good.

Waiting on the Lord, according to Charles Stanley, “is not hopeless resignation, but firm faith in His good purpose.”

The question we need to ask ourselves is “What are we waiting for?”

Are we waiting for the answer we want, the spouse to come to church, the kid to straighten up, the funds to turn around, the tests to come back clear? Or are we waiting with our eyes fixed on God, trusting that He, in His goodness, faithfulness and love, will do what will ultimately be for our best; whatever, however, and whenever that may be?

The secret to patiently waiting is trusting, and the secret to trusting comes in knowing the One you trust.

Holy Father, I want to know You by heart so I will trust you by faith.  Amen.

A New Thing

A new thing. A new adventure. A new obedience.
As I sit here watching the cursor blink over the empty page before me, I am making a new step of faith. This is a little intimidating for me, but still very exciting.
God pointed me in this direction over a year ago, but it has taken me a little while to follow through; and thanks to my college friend, Hannah Ostrus, I am all set to do what God has called me to do.
“Write…all the words I have spoken to you.” Jeremiah 30:2

God’s Word is my passion. Teaching and writing about God’s Word is my purpose.
Eight years ago, in the midst of a very trying season, God spoke to my heart. He asked me a question: “Child, who am I?” “You’re God.” I replied. “Who else could You be?” He answered, “Yes child, I am God, yet there is so much more to Me than you realize. I want you to know Me, then tell others about Me.” Know God? How can I know the Indescribable? God is far too big to fit into my finite little mind. But He had spoken to me, and His words were very clear.

Not many days later, I came across a Scripture that has become my life verse.
It is Jeremiah 29:13, which says “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” I knew that this would be a life-long search, but I had His promise in the very next verse – “I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:14a)
Through the ups and downs of the years that followed, I have come to know God in amazing and wonderful ways, yet I haven’t even scratched the surface of who He is.

Incredible, isn’t it? God wants you and me to know Him. He has said so over and over again in Scripture. He sent His Son Jesus to reveal Himself to us. He gave us the Bible so we could know Him through His Words. Even the world that surrounds us was designed to draw us to Him. (see Romans 1:19-20)
God is real. He is everything He says He is and more than we can ever fathom.
He is not hidden – He wants us to know Him…so much so that He pursues us and draws us into a love relationship with Him, a relationship that will last for eternity.

This blog is my new step of obedience; it is God doing a new thing through the pages of an ancient, yet still living and powerful Word. Will you join me on this journey of seeking to know Him?