Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why don't we want to tell them?

A number of Christians are going back to the roots of the Gospel found and not hidden in the pages of the Bible, God's Word, the Holy Scriptures - both the Old and New Testaments. It is a matter of both understanding the Gospel  and preaching the Gospel to ourselves as we seek the LORD and realize that it is in the seeking of our God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit that we will find everything we need.

Recently, I listened to an explanation just of the word "Gospel" which means good news, not good teaching, not good rules for living, not a theory about God and godly living. Evangelizing does not mean racking up converts - it does mean sharing the good news, reporting what Jesus has done and leaving the soul winning up to the Holy Spirit.

Why do Christians not want to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others? Most of my own reasons or rather excuses are based in self-centered fear which leads me to the fear of man. There are many excuses but really no good reason to keep us from sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.  I think the biggest reason for not sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is we don't really understand the simplicity and yet incredibly profound meaning of the Greatest News that mankind has ever heard.

The simplicity: it is news. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened in the Middle East just over 2000 years ago. It wasn't just any life, or common death or the resurrection of a sinner. This was the perfect sinless life if Jesus Christ who took on flesh, being 100%man/100% God. He is the LORD for all eternity. Jesus Christ never stopped being God, hence he lived perfectly and was 100% righteous in his earthly life. His death was to pay for the sins of "the multitude that no on can number" for those who believe His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, the wrath of God was pour out upon Him so that we would be granted a righteousness not of our own doing. Jesus did not stop there, it was in His bodily resurrection that He conquered death.  Jesus is now interceding for us at the right hand of the Father. He has given us New Life in His finished work that he did through his life, death and resurrection.  For this we say Hallelujah and Amen.

The profound meaning: the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in a number of ways an incredible mystery. Foundationally, we are not here on this earth for our own good, our own pleasure and our self-determining ways. This is our Father's world, I can rest me in that thought, not just in the beauty of creation which is a mere shadow to the new heaven and new earth to come but in the fact that God in His loving mercy would choose to save me from sin and death. The longer I am on this earth and the longer I choose to reflect on the holiness of God, the more aware I am of my sinful heart and can hardly get my head around the fact, the Jesus willingly, as in the not my will but Thy will be done fashion, went to the cross knowing that he would drink the cup of wrath so that we would be able to drink the cup of joy - eternally.  We are here on this earth for His Glory.

The point is not to sell the news, just deliver it. Don't make an emotional appeal, don't put any spin on it, don't promise things that are not found in The Book, don't be ashamed.  Do speak the truth in love. Do proclaim that the Love of God is displayed in the laying down of His Life. Do declare that God's doing is for His Own Glory, in other words it is God's Glory that is central to the Gospel.  

Jesus Christ is to be lifted up. He has done it all. ONLY Christianity says Rest, Jesus has paid it all. Only Christianity says, Remember what Jesus has done and be thankful. Only Christianity says, Life is not fair, aren't you glad that you don't get what you deserve (death). Only Christianity claims that GOD has done for you, what you could never do for yourself. Our best efforts will never be enough. Jesus demonstrates the perfect love, the pure grace and overflowing mercy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Everyone has a story

Each and every person on the planet has a story. We are drawn in by stories, taught by stories and living out our own story.  The LORD Jesus Christ used the story as his main tool to carry truth to his hears. The writers of the New Testament called them "parables," what we would call stories. The Greatest Story ever told has been preserved through the ages in a book entitled, The Holy Bible.  The Old Testament (first section of this book) points and prophecies of the coming King, The Messiah and the New Testament (second section of this book) testifies of the Life, Death and Resurrection of this King, The Righteous One, second person of the Trinity, the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth and tells us to watch for the time when HE will come again.

This morning I picked up a novel by a 19th century writer and I am hoping that my mother will let me read it to her. It is by George MacDonald, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, who wrote prolifically in his day. He wrote across several genres and my favorite is the adult novels. I hesitate to call them what they are: Jesus the Lover of my soul is the romancer in these stories. It is uplifting because the characters are believable people who have messy lives, needs and of course, they are all souls in need of a Savior.

There are compelling reasons that stories are so important. For this blog post I will talk about three reasons: 1. We all are living out our own story. 2. The LORD Jesus used the story to teach truth 3. It is an art that Christians need to recapture.

The stories of our lives start out in a time and place. In my case, it was 1965, the year I was conceived and resided in my mother's womb and my parents lived in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston. There is a story to tell here. Each person who is reading this post is in the midst of their own story. My believe is that the Author of Life has already penned my story and that I have the privilege of discovering what it is and rejoicing in it, in the midst of it all, that is the good, the bad and the ugly. If you happen to be reading this and you don't believe in an Author of Life, I would love for you to ponder one question: (especially if you are over 30) Did you ever imagine that your life would look like it does today?

Most people know the story of the Good Samaritan. Sure, most of those people just think of it as helping a stranger or even a friend in need when not asked. Jesus was showing the Pharisees evidence of what loving your neighbor as yourself looked like. The story of the Prodigal Son is also common knowledge. Lots of people are inspired by the bad boy son who has not had his conscience seared, comes to his senses and finds mercy and celebration from his father.  We remember these stories because Jews hate Samaritans and the Samaritan is the hero and that a son who lives recklessly and is led to repent on remembrance of his father's generosity and kindness leave an impact on the reader/listener.

Lastly, books, films and music lyrics all tell stories. We as a redeemed people are commanded to be Ministers of Reconciliation. Preach the Word, preach the Truth and don't be afraid to use your Imagination to tell a story, whether it is your own story of a sinner saved by grace, another saints story that has gone on before you and yes, the story that came to you as you walked along the Pilgrim Highway. One John Bunyan penned a story that has captured the hearts and minds of people for hundreds of years, leading people to The Truth and helping them find their way to the Celestial City.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Temporary Housing

We have finally gotten to this place, our new home (....which we have said more times than we want to count in the last 4 years) and Dan says, "it still feels like this is someone else house." And I said, "that is because it is, we are just the managers.  This house is the Lord's every room under this roof." Today I would add every blade of grass in the yard, the couple of places where the hardwood is original and it gives a little squeak, kind of like my knees that I find myself more today than when I first believed and it is not just from painting the baseboards ;-), the street we live on and the plot of land that straddles the town line, He is Sovereign. As some of you know, it has been some time since we have had a place of permanency and the process of waiting has brought me to the conclusion, it is ALL temporary housing. Sure houses tend to last longer than people, none of us gets out of here alive unless you are the next Enoch or Elijah.
I have a paint brush with my name on it but I just wanted to keep this blog going.....It was a matter of being inspired by one of my favorite writers as a high schooler, Ray Bradbury. (I listened to a lecture he gave at Point Loma Nazerene University) There is just so much to say about temporary housing, eternal perspectives, home, hospitality, the arts, the power of the written word fiction and non-fiction alike, beauty in the cracks, the running of paint that you missed now "permanently" running down the wall unless you sand, prime and paint all over again, motorcycle alley, what it means "to do it right," imperfections in a "perfect place" (which does not exist in this world, by the way), etc. Yes, this is my list of just some things to write about.........