Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Great Omission

Sadly, the great commission that Jesus gave to all believers before His ascension has become the great omission of the Christian life. But I think that some of that may come from a slight misunderstanding of Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Most of us think that the command from this scripture is the "Go". We focus a lot of energy on the "go". Most of us will fail at the "go". I wonder if you and I were to fully understand Jesus' words here that we might have new energy in sharing our faith.

The command of the great commission is "make disciples". You and I are called to help convert nonbelievers into fully-devoted life-long followers of Jesus. But how? Jesus gives us the model here:

1) Go- Most of us get off the mission here because we don't really understand what Jesus is saying to us here. We think that "go" means go to a foreign country. Go around the world. Go to a different people group. And it does mean those things. But when you study the original language closely and understand the context in which Jesus is speaking these words to the disciples, then you understand what Jesus means by "go". A better translation for us might be "as you go along your way". As you go to work...make disciples. As you go to school...make disciples. As you go to the grocery store, to your kid's soccer game, to a friend's house...make disciples. What if Christians actually did the "go" part of Jesus command this way? Wow! Significant impact and you didn't even have to go to Mongolia to fulfill what Jesus asks.

2) Baptize them- Step 2 is baptism. This is a part of the command that points to true conversion and placing faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I've never met anyone who is truly converting who does not want to be obedient to Christ's command for baptism here. In the book of Acts and the rest of the new testament, we see over and over people putting their faith in Jesus and being baptized. I know that there are many brothers in the Lord that want to minimize baptism, but I think it's important because Jesus commands it, models it, and the apostles practiced it. Make disciples, Jesus tells us. How? As you go along your way baptize them.

3) Teach them to obey- Step 3 is something that we are weak at in many churches. Sometimes we are good at going and baptizing but not "teaching them to obey everything I've commanded you". Many times people put there faith in Jesus and are baptized and then their told to read their Bible and pray and that's it. But Jesus tells us to "teach them to obey everything"! Wow! That's quite a job! But that's our calling none the less. Teach them to read the Bible and understand it. Teach them to pray. Teach them to share. Teach them to take communion in a worthy manner. Teach them how to grow and mature. You wonder why the church today has so many immature baby Christians that have known Jesus for 40 years? Because no one ever took the time to teach them to obey everything that Jesus told us.

The good news about this task is that Jesus ends the commission with "as you're doing this, I'm going to be right there with you" (my translation, the EIV- Eric International Version). Jesus is telling us that the supernatural part of this, the Holy Spirit part of go, baptize, and teach...He's in charge of all of that. We are just called to trust and obey. You'll be simply amazed at what Jesus can do with simple obedience. (Check out many of the old testament greats!)

And when more Christians do this it will turn the world upside down. As you go along your way today, this week, and this year...make disciples.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Emergent or Submergent?

Some great points about the Emergent Church from Greg Laurie. Feel free to leave a comment. The Emergent Church has some scary stuff going on with it. Be alert!

"There are many ways to God."
"Jesus is just my way."
"All religions are true in their own way."

We have all heard statements like those before. Sometimes, even Christians who don't understand their Bibles will say them.

Have you ever wondered how God reacts to this? It's insulting.

I have mentioned the emergent church before. It's a popular movement within the evangelical church that has caught the interest of many.

Here is a statement from one of its unquestioned leaders:

"Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be right, while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion."

Sorry to disagree, but that is all wrong.

First of all, Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. Plain and simple. As Paul wrote, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief" (1 Timothy 1:15).

He did not come to "help some people be right, while leaving everyone else to be wrong." We all were wrong and separated from Him by our sins. The Bible says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And only those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved.

Another emergent leader I quoted before writes:

"I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherence to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts."

This sounds very inclusive and loving, but it is flat-out wrong and unscriptural. We want people to become "followers of Jesus" in a biblical context!

The Bible teaches that you become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Jesus plainly said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life . . . "

That brings us to the sin of insulting the Holy Spirit. What is that? It's when we reject the work He has come to do.

It is the office of the Holy Spirit to present the saving work of Jesus Christ to the unbeliever. Jesus said, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8 KJV).

But when someone refuses to accept Jesus Christ, he is really denying the very mission of the Holy Spirit and is saying that he doesn't need salvation. They are saying that Jesus cannot save them and His shed blood was a waste! His death was unnecessary.

This is a blatant insult to the Holy Spirit of God. As it says in Hebrews 10:29, "Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to his people" (NLT).

To resist the Holy Spirit's appeal is to insult God and cut off all hope of salvation.

The Bible poses this alarming question: "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fingerprints on my Desk

I have a really nice desk here at the church office. It shines when it's clean (and when you can see it). Many times I bury it in paperwork. Over the last few weeks I've tried to be more conscious of trying to keep it clean. That makes me feel better and work better. Ah, the power of a clean desk!

As I'm picking up my desk I notice little fingerprints. My little darling girls leave fingerprints everywhere on my desk. They don't mean to, they just do. Seems like kid's hands always have something on them. I think that it's part of being a kid. Even at the house we have fingerprints: on the kitchen counters, bathroom counters, on the table...just about everywhere.

Sometimes I get annoyed at those little fingerprints. It's one more thing to clean up. They are messy and smudgy. They don't look good on my desk. But today I'm enjoying those little fingerprints and thanking God for each one. Each of those fingerprints come from 3 special little girls that God has put into my life. I have the privilege of them calling me daddy. I think that they help me to see God more in daily life and think about His affection for us. God loves us so much and I love my girls! They mean so much to me!

We've all had messy hands and I'm sure that we've left some fingerprints on His desk. I don't think He's annoyed though. I think that God smiles and appreciates each and every little fingerprint. It reminds Him of His kids.

I'm doing the same today. I'm smiling and thinking about my kids. And I'm leaving these fingerprints on my desk....

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Texting While Driving

This one cracks me up because it is so true. I had a teenage girl run me off the road this morning as she veered into my lane while texting. Talking on the phone is one thing, at least you can keep your eyes on the road. But texting...come on! Pull over or concept...just call 'em! (talking is faster anyway!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Freely Chosen Path

Here are some good thoughts from Greg Laurie.

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live." — Deuteronomy 30:19

Hell was not made for people; hell was created for the devil and his angels (see Matthew 25:41). It was never God's intention to send a person to hell. He does everything He can to keep us out of it. But God has given us a free will. We have the ability to choose, and God will not violate that. If you want to go to heaven, then you will—if you put your faith in Christ. If you want to go to hell, then you will. It is your choice.

People will protest on that final day and say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" (Matthew 7:22). And Jesus will sadly but firmly say, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (verse 23).

Some people might say, "Wait! I went to church on Sunday!" And, "Wait! I received communion!" And, "Wait! I was baptized." But Jesus will say, in effect, "But I never knew you. It was just a thing you did. We never had a relationship. You broke My commandments left and right. It's your own choice that you are facing."

It is not enough to say you believe in God. It is not enough to acknowledge that God exists. You need to turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, as Savior and Lord.

As Timothy Keller said, "Hell is simply one's freely chosen path going on forever." If that is what you want, then that is what you will get. God wants you to go to heaven, but He will not force you. He gives you a choice, and it is up to you what you do with that choice.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hell Is Real

I know, you don't really like to talk about it. Most people don't, especially church people. The reality is that there is a heaven and a hell. If you find yourself doubting that, then just read the Bible and wait for the end of your life on earth. We don't like to talk about hell because it makes us uncomfortable. It's awkward and can cause us worry or maybe even depression. But let me tell you that Jesus spoke more often about the reality of hell than all of the other preachers in the Bible combined. Bible scholars estimate that of the 40 parables that Jesus told, more than half of them dealt with God's eternal judgment and hell. Hell is a reality for some and we must not ignore that as Christians.

I would say that most people believe in heaven and most people believe they are going there. Many believe that but don't understand how to get to heaven and what all of that entails. Jesus said, "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it." (Matthew 7:13) Let that sink in for a moment. Many...many people go the way that leads to destruction. If we believe the Bible, then we have to accept the fact that most people are actually headed to hell. I'm very uncomfortable with that. You probably are too. But the truth is that hell is real and many go in by it according to Jesus.

As a pastor, I want to teach the Word of God so that it can change many eternal destinations. I want to help people grow in their faith as life-long followers of Jesus. But the greatest thing that I want to see happen in ministry: that many people who were on their way to hell will be on their way to heaven instead. As God's people, we are to be about changing people's eternal destinations. That is why I do what I do. If you are a Christian, then how about you?! Are you trying to help snatch people from the fire and save them? (Jude 23 "snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Roll Ushers

Maybe we should strap them on for Sunday morning! I'm just trying to picture some of our guys on skates doing that. Too funny!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Disciples

I don't know about you, but I have really enjoyed the "Daily Readings from the Life of Christ" over the last few days. In the devotional we've been looking at the disciples one by one. It's great to be reminded of who these ordinary men were who did extraordinary things for the Kingdom of God. I take courage and enjoyment in seeing how God used these men and to think how He still uses us supernaturally today to accomplish His purposes in our lives.

A disciple is a fully-devoted life-long follower of Jesus. Our goal as God's church is to make disciples. We are called to go to them and meet them where they are, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded us. Then we, as ordinary men and women, can live the extraordinary Christian life as disciples, true followers of the Way. What a privilege and honor it is to serve God in such a way!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Izzy's First Haircut

Izzy got her first haircut tonight. The whole family went and I was the official photographer. She didn't cry and was quite enthralled by the whole thing, I think. A couple of times she looked at the lady with big eyes questioning, "What are you doing to me?!" But no tears and no drama. Izzy is pretty good at adapting for her age, especially compared to the 2 older sisters. She's a cutie! I love my girls, and I'm so glad that they all took after their beautiful mama. I'm blessed!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Snow Fort

One of my greatest joys in life is my girls. I love them and they are a lot of fun. (They have a lot of hair too! That's for another day!)
Anyway, Madalyn started the project and got too cold, but Abi and I worked and built a snow fort for about 3 hours on Friday morning. It was awesome! I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with Abi and we built a great fort together. After we were done (and getting hungry because it was around 1PM), we had a snowball fight, just me and her. I don't think that she realized the value of the snow fortress till we started the snowball fight. Then it clicked. I think that she thought I was just building her a playhouse or something. Anyway, we had a great time and it was a blast. As most of you know, I love winter and snow and in Oklahoma, we don't get too awful many snows like that, so this was really something. I think that our final count was around 9-10 inches, so we had a lot of fun. Just thought I'd share the pics and the memories made.
We also went sledding on Saturday with Grandpa Keller. I've got some pics of that too, but I've got to get them off of the camera. It was fun. Madalyn even went daredevil on me and tried a sled run with a 5 foot drop off a snow drift. She just laughed right through it. It was a good time and such a good snow. Abi and Maddy ere really trucking down the slope and I was a bit surprised at their joy over speed. Guess it runs in the family! Ha!
Thank God for the snow. Good times and good memories! Feel free to comment and tell me about your snow experiences.