Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
In my line of work, email can be the primary vehicle of communication between people. For many business relationships that I am a part of, the typed word is my very identity to the other person. Because of this, I've become fascinated with the typed word.
For my career, I have studied the art of effective emailing. It occurred to me, we Blogosphere Christians ought to study the art of effective blogging. My identity to you is this blog; similarly, all I know of you is what I read on your blog or what you post on my blog. To this end, let's study the ways in which we can create a blog persona which will effectively reach the lost. Always think, "What's the purpose of what I'm typing right now?" and "Who is my audience?" and "How will this post affect them when they read it?".
There is some great material available to learn how to become effective typers. Just thought I'd share.
Monday, January 26, 2009
My life is very busy.
Sometimes there is so much to do and so much going on that the thesis of my prayers frequently becomes, "Lord, help me to focus on you today." I tell Him that I need Him to help me think of Him throughout the day. I need Him to help me live in the Spirit today. I need Him to help me remember to pray throughout the day. Does anyone share a similar experience?
It seems like a have a million things to do before I leave for work. At 7:00 am. I know I have a million things to do at work. My job is a very busy one, in which I have to be proactively ready for anything, at any time. I work 10 or 11 hours a day, always trying to outperform in a high-stress environment. And I need to keep up on the news. And investments. And devotionals. And the internal politics of the office. And in my line of work, I have 2000 bosses. And then, once I leave work, there are a few million more things which need my undivided attention before I can lay my head down to sleep. And I don't even have kids (yet!).
I prayed to God this morning to help me focus on Him today, through the hurricane that is my life. And, I thought of you. If you share a similar lifestyle, I pray for you, too. If you feel compelled, say a quick prayer for me.
Let's focus on what really matters, in light of eternity.
Friday, January 23, 2009
"Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;
and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master,
when he will return from the wedding,
that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.
Blessed are those servants whom the master,
when he comes, will find watching.
Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them
sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.
...Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."
-Luke 12:35-37, 40
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Jesus is the living God, the Word incarnate.
"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters."
Christians, let us gather with Jesus. Closely and intimately. Let's huddle near to Him. If we stay in His Word, we are gathered close to Him. He is the incarnate Word of life, alive and true. Diving into His Word is like gathering close in His arms. And disregarding His word is not without consequence; He says it will cause us to "scatter". Let's stay close.
Let's study the Word with alacrity and vigor. Meditate and pray over it. Just as our bodies cannot survive without food, our souls cannot thrive without the food of the Word. And Christ Himself calls us to not only read His Word, but to obey it completely.
"More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
"Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
Remember the importance of the Word, daily. It's not just a book. It is God's living Word. God's spoken word created this world. God's Word will triumph in the end.
"Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword (the Word), that with it He should strike the nations."
-Revelation 19:11, 13, 15
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
An historic election. Barack Obama is now the President of the United States of America. Change is here.
Most likely, the path of the American Christian will be more labored. President Obama is certainly not a friend of evangelical Christians, despite what he may claim.
A new atmosphere will form in this country, furthering the the ideals of the "social progressive". This is the path that results in Christians being even less tolerated.
The Word of God will be even less respected. Being saved & sharing your faith will be even more taboo.
Take heart, Christian! This is promised to us. This is part of the story. We are promised it will get even more difficult. And more, and more, and more difficult.
Stay the course.
We're not of this world.
If this world hates us, it hated Him first.
We belong to Him.
Be sober and vigilant.
Be wise and discerning.
And don't compromise!
One of my most important mentors in becoming a Christian is a man named Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Do you know him?
I didn't meet him until 2004. He died in 1988.
I stumbled across his radio ministry as a young Christian. His down-home demeanor, unique voice & dialect, and methodical way of going through the Bible - the entire Bible - to teach his listeners one half-hour at a time was curious (and addictive!) to me.
Anyways, he taught me much of what I know of Scripture. I may not have always agreed with the stances he took on certain things (most of the time I did), but I love the way he teaches! And his voice is reaching the lost in over 100 languages & dialects, more than 20 years after his death.
I look forward to the day I meet Him, in Heaven. Here's a short excerpt from one of his newsletters. It's nothing revolutionary by any means, but I always feel indebted to him, to share his voice:
God of Our Past and Our FutureBrethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13, 14)
As one year departs forever and a new, unknown year is here, the thoughtful person remembers and meditates on days past and ponders the future.
It seems there are two opposite suggestions in Scripture. Paul reminds us to forget those things that are behind and to reach out to those things that are before us (see Philippians 3:13). However, God commanded Moses to remember all the ways in which He had led him and the children of Israel (see Exodus 13:1-3 and Deuteronomy 5:15).
Is not God saying to remember the good and forget the bad, except as it can be a deterrent for future mistakes? We can be so immersed in guilt over our failures as to forget that God can still forgive and use us. Confess and forget that bad stretch and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Athletes work through slumps and come out stronger.
In remembering God’s marvelous guidance, our faith is fortified to face a nebulous unknown. If He could bring us through last year, can we not trust Him for this year? “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12).--From a January 1985 newsletter written by Dr. J. Vernon McGee
Sunday, January 18, 2009
-1 Corinthians 10:13
I hope you are doing well, whoever you are. I'm happy the Lord led me to create this blog a week or two ago. I'm meeting lots of nice people. Some of you I've been praying for.
For one of you, I'm not the only one praying in my neck of the woods.
I thought I'd share this video today. It's beautiful.
Watch it, and think: "For me. This was all for me." What a humbling thought.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Jonathan Edwards was a man who made resolutions, though not in the form of New Year's resolutions. In his long list of resolutions he included:
Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live;
Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can;
Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him;
Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge;
Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
These are fantastic resolutions, regarding eternity. The last one is particularly meaningful. Let's tweak it a bit, to say, "Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish had done as I ponder this earthly life for the rest of eternity."
Now THAT thought is a game-changer, is it not?!
What a wonderful way to live. Let us do our best to keep in mind that the choices we make, the things we do, the way we use our time & money, the opportunities we have with others, and every other aspect of this life are more important than we know. So important, actually, that we'll have eternity to pore over them.
Are you going to be pleased about what you're doing today, then?
Friday, January 16, 2009
How tragic that the US Airways plane hit a flock of birds, taking out both engines.
How wonderful that the pilot was incredibly skilled & able to glide the plane down to a safe landing in a crowded river, with no deaths.
How....predictable!...that the reports you read from passengers on the plane describe people praying desperately as the plane went down.
The first interview I saw on TV regarding this crash was with a passenger named Jeff Kolodjay. His voice was still shaking; he was still visibly unnerved.
As he described the events that tranpired, he said,"...and everyone was just...praying, actually..."
He stuttered for a second, uncomfortable about revealing this fact.
The people on this plane got this report from the pilot: "Brace yourselves, because we're going down." Just like that, they were forced to face death.
Many people on the plane started praying. Audibly, at that. How many of these praying people do you think are practicing Christians? How many are saved of the Lord, in Christ?
How many of these people, the day before, would have felt uncomfortable in the presence of somebody praying at a restaurant? How many would have made fun?
Impending death made them suddenly realize that they weren't in control, so they began to plead to God!
Nothing they had ever done in and of this world mattered any more. All that mattered was God!
How many of these people, had the plane crashed and burned on land, would have been told, "Depart from me...I never knew you"?
Let's pray for these people. God used this aviation disaster to make himself suddenly real to all the people involved. All of a sudden, God wasn't something to be mocked! Praying out loud in public wasn't something for religious fanatics! They were instantly changed. Let us hope that it impacts them - all of them, for the rest of their lives. And those people involved who were ignorant of, opposed to, or indifferent to the Word of God and the truth of salvation before this incident...let us pray that they never forget the day they faced death.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
And oh, how important our hectic schedules are! We must conquer the world! And these zealous non-believers...they're so numerous. And our family members, they'll surely roll their eyes if they're subjected to any "God talk". And this society. Oh, this society. Being a Christian is borderline taboo. Christian practices are being outlawed in nations around the world. Will I be able to write this blog in 10 years? Will you be able to carry a Bible in public? No one can say. Can the whole world be wrong? How can I be right if the whole world thinks I'm wrong? I feel dazed.
The fog becomes more dense...our eyelids become heavier...the daze takes over, without our permission. The world becomes more important. Seeds of doubt are allowed to sprout. The path of least resistance seems like a comfortable choice. We're lulled into a daze, with our priorities in disarray.
WAKE UP! This is the way it's supposed to be! There are no surprises here. These hurdles are not only supposed to be here, but the Word promises that they will be in our path. We might be rejected by some, but the world rejected Him first! We are promised hard times. We are told we are not of this world. If we're not of this world, we cannot let this world become the center of our lives. Refuse!
And, by God, we're told that the closer we get to the End of Days, the harder it will become to be a true believer in this world. And it will get even harder than it is now. Perpetually. Christians will become an offense to more and more people. The Word will be shunned. So our guard must be up, our resolve must be firm, and our head must be clear.
Until the End of Days, let's strive for the End of Daze.
1 Chronicles 28:9
I sat, with two friends, in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town square. The food and the company were both especially good that day.
As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There, walking into town, was a man who appeared to be carrying all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying a well-worn sign that read, "I will work for food." My heart sank.
I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him. Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief.
We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set out to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful,
knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back in my car. Deep within me, the Spirit of God kept speaking to me: "Don't go back to the office until you've at least driven once more around the square."
Then with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square's third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the store front church, going through his sack.
I stopped and looked; feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from God: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town's newest visitor.
"Looking for the pastor?" I asked.
"Not really," he replied, "just resting."
"Have you eaten today?"
"Oh, I ate something early this morning."
"Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"Do you have some work I could do for you?"
"No work," I replied. "I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to take you to lunch."
"Sure," he replied with a smile.
As he began to gather his things, I asked some surface questions.
"Where you headed?"
" St. Louis "
"Where you from?"
"Oh, all over; mostly Florida "
"How long you been walking?"
"Fourteen years," came the reply.
I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark yet clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is The Never Ending Story."
Then Daniel's story began to unfold. He had seen rough times early in life. He'd made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a large tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought.
He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God
"Nothing's been the same since," he said, "I felt the Lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now."
"Ever think of stopping?" I asked.
"Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me, but God has given me this calling. I give out Bibles. That's what's in my sack. I work to buy food and Bibles, and I give them out when His Spirit leads."
I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a moment and then I asked: "What's it like?"
"To walk into a town carrying all your things on your back and to show your sign?"
"Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn't make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people's
concepts of other folks like me."
My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned to me and said, "Come Ye blessed of my Father and inherit the kingdom I've prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in."
I felt as if we were on holy ground. "Could you use another Bible?" I asked.
He said he preferred a certain translation. It traveled well and was not too heavy. It was also his personal favorite. "I've read through it 14 times," he said.
"I'm not sure we've got one of those, but let's stop by our church and see" I was able to find my new friend a Bible that would do well, and he seemed very grateful.
Where are you headed from here?" I asked.
"Well, I found this little map on the back of this amusement park coupon."
"Are you hoping to hire on there for awhile?"
"No, I just figure I should go there. I figure someone under that star right there needs a Bible, so that's where I'm going next."
He smiled, and the warmth of his spirit radiated the sincerity of his mission. I drove him back to the town square where we'd met two hours earlier, and as we drove, it started raining. We parked and unloaded his things.
"Would you sign my autograph book?" he asked. "I like to keep messages from folks I meet."
I wrote in his little book that his commitment to his calling had touched my life. I encouraged him to stay strong. And I left him with a verse of scripture from Jeremiah, "I know the plans I have for you, declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a future and a hope."
"Thanks, man," he said. "I know we just met and we're really just strangers, but I love you."
"I know," I said, "I love you, too." "The Lord is good!" "Yes, He is. How long has it been since someone hugged you?" I asked.
"A long time," he replied
And so on the busy street corner in the drizzling rain, my new friend and I embraced, and I felt deep inside that I had been changed. He put his things on his back, smiled his winning smile and said, "See you in the New Jerusalem."
"I'll be there!" was my reply.
He began his journey again. He headed away with his sign dangling from his bedroll and pack of Bibles. He stopped, turned and said, "When you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
"You bet," I shouted back, "God bless."
"God bless." And that was the last I saw of him.
Later that evening as I left my office, the wind blew strong. The cold front had settled hard upon the town. I bundled up and hurried to my car. As I sat back and reached for the emergency brake, I saw them... a pair of well-worn brown work gloves neatly laid over the length of the handle. I picked them up and thought of my friend and wondered if his hands would stay warm that night without them.
Then I remembered his words: "If you see something that makes you think of me, will you pray for me?"
Today his gloves lie on my desk in my office. They help me to see the world and its people in a new way, and they help me remember those two hours with my unique friend and to pray for his ministry. "See you in the New Jerusalem," he said. Yes, Daniel, I know I will...
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
He chose to create a blog with the intention of attracting atheists. He then debates them. On any given day it's like 40 against 1 (or a few, if you include the Christian bloggers). And why did he do this? To polish his writing skills? To satisfy his ego? No. Hardly. He did it because he cares for the atheists. So he lays himself out there to be ambushed by these folks, because he wants to help them. And they come, every day, without fail. I mean, come on, it's like they're beating on a pinata. He lays an article out there and it's like shaking the chum bag over the sharks' heads, and then unleashing them.
I think he's a good guy.
In 1980 a young man from Rwanda was forced by his tribe to either renounce Christ or face certain death. He refused to renounce Christ, and he was killed on the spot. The night before he had written the following commitment which was found in his room:
“I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made- I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed vision, worldly talking, cheap giving & dwarfed goals.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me & when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.”
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
This is a comforting thought as we live the struggle that is being Christ's chosen in this crazy world. While it's not meant to be taken literally -- of course no work like running (or any other human work, for that matter) can save anybody, let alone one of their family members -- it's a thought to keep tucked away in your memory banks, to pull out and think about when things get tough.
We would gladly do any number of things to guarantee anyone's salvation. Salvation is not up to us, though. It's God's. Alone. He is the Author of salvation. But your efforts come with a guarantee -- His Word will not come back to Him without bearing fruit. So give out the Word and keep running the race. You don't know what your race path will look like once we're in the Lord's presence, looking back on our lives. You don't know who is reading your tracts, reading your blog, watching how you live, or listening to your sermons. Keep on running the race.
This blog is part of my effort to glorify God through Jesus Christ, the Author of eternity.