Archive for the ‘evangelism’ Category
The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer (May 5, 2016) is ‘Wake Up America.’ The emphasis is upon the need for Christians to “return to the God of our Fathers in reverence for His Holy Name.” The representative verse the NDP committee has chosen is Isaiah 58:1a:
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.”
I like it, but before we all set out to participate in this year’s event, I’d
like to elaborate upon their import, at least as far as it pertains to consequence, as I suspect a certain presidential candidate’s name is going to come up a lot in our prayers today. If (or when) God pours out His wrath on America it won’t entirely be because of a heathen in the White House, but because there are heathens in His house as well. So before we go around proclaiming, “Surely God’s wrath is coming now!” we should submit to a little self evaluation.
Let us consider the NDP theme Scripture verse from a few years ago:
If you’re a Christian and you’re concerned about the wrath that is coming, focus on the log that might be in your own eye — that person you’re shacked up with, that lifestyle you embrace, that porn you watch, that substance you abuse; you get the picture. Be ye revived! Some would say you aren’t even born again, so if that’s the case, be ye born again!
We know they got it right because not one soul was lost.
Outwardly, this ministered to me in that we [Christians] have a very precise, albeit simpler message to deliver. I took note that in the Exodus account there was not one man [who received the message] who said, “Okay, I will now pray for the Lord to give me an open door or a ‘Divine appointment’ to share this Good News.”
The notion of being sent out was implied in the urgency of the original message. If for some reason there was a man who could not go, I suspect he frantically searched for another man to go in his stead.
Where does that leave us?
I believe in Jesus and therefore I follow Jesus. He has given us the directive to share the Gospel Message and our obedience is implied in the word “Go.”
We’re not to alter the message in any way, we’re just to pass it on in order that souls will not perish. We can (and should) pray for ‘open doors’ and ‘Divine appointments,’ but chances are we’re not going to see any of them unless or until we actually set out to deliver the message. Oh that’s not to say that God won’t send opportunities knocking upon your door (He does do that on occasion), but consider that if Israel had waited in this fashion there likely would have been a lot of dead Jewish people in Egypt on that first Passover.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:4-5)
Oh no. Looking back we see that Israel has made a grievous error. When God chimes in, we see the full depth of their mistake and the consequences that will follow. Take note: these consequences are in essence a promise from God.
The Lord speaks (verse 7):
The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.
We immediately see the root of the problem – the people have rejected God. These religious folks only wanted to be religious up to a certain point. They would be great Jews on the Sabbath, but as for the rest of the week, well not so much. As a result they would receive exactly what they asked for and the consequences that would go along with those choices.
There Are Always Consequences
So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king. He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:10-18)
It Doesn’t Matter Who You Choose
When a nation collectively rejects God, this is what we get. I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect there were at least some Jews who did not want a king. Too bad for them. We can assume that their efforts were in the minority and had no bearing on what Israel would ultimately receive. So it is for our nation.
Am I suggesting that this First Samuel passage is applicable for today? That’s exactly what I’m suggesting and I can’t find anything in the Bible that undoes the consequences (promises) that God established as a result of our historical desire for secular leadership.
But we’re Christians! Jesus is Our King!
This is true. But nevertheless, the consequences linger – we have adopted a system of governing ourselves and we are stuck with it. The best men can do is modify this broken system, which in many instances only makes the situation worse; i.e., communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, etc. At the end of the day, and regardless if we rightfully claim Christ as our king, we will have this earthly leadership, that is, until Christ returns. Then and only then will the kingdom be restored.
But Until That Day…
“(Let) Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)
God in His infinite wisdom has given us a way to deal with it. In the same way God placed regulations on slavery (not because He condoned slavery, but because slavery is a reality to this day), God gives us regulations for living in harmony with the secular, government system. Again, we’re stuck with it (in subjection to it), until Christ’s return, so this is how we’re to deal with it. God puts it this way: “This is my ordinance and if you oppose it, you’re bringing condemnation upon yourself.”
This is my ordinance and if you oppose it, you’re bringing condemnation upon yourself.
The American Dynamic
It appears to me that God allowed something unique for the United States. Don’t get me wrong – God is not a respecter of persons in that regard, but at the same time God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
I believe God showed our founding fathers some of this mercy when they set out to create a republic that fully recognized God as creator and the giver of rights. As a result, we the people were given access to God-given rights that in many cases the government had previously denied. Just that we could now cast a vote for our leaders was positive, but this system went even further: we could dictate the kind of leader we desired, including his religious affiliations. Naturally, in these early elections, Christians were commonly running against Christians, and therefore Christians commonly won.
So what happened?
I suppose we could call it the Ancient Israel Syndrome: through the years we wanted less God and more of ourselves. In a word, the system is still broken. We redefined Christianity over and over in our desire to make our faith fit our culture, rather than having our culture conform to our faith. As a result we have a country with laws (I still can’t believe it) that allow drug use, homosexuality, murder in the womb, and general moral decline. We have become a nation of ‘those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (Isaiah 5:20)
The Christians Rebel
Is it too late for this country to recover? Can Christians rally to get a solid, evangelical, fundamentalist Christian in the White House to save America? I believe it’s too late, but in the same way that it was too late for Israel way back in First Samuel. Ever since they rejected God and desired secular kingship, the dye was set and rule will not be restored until Christ returns to establish His Government.
Let’s go back to Romans 13:1-7. In it we see a brief description of what we and these God-ordained leaders are supposed to do.
Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
Ideally, if we do good (if we obey the laws of the land as long as they’re not in opposition to God’s law), we can live fearlessly. This is of course where Christians have the advantage; if we adhere to God’s Biblical mandates and are persecuted for it, we have the assurance that our eternal futures are secure. Non-Christians have no such promise.
The passage goes on to say that these leaders are sword bearers, in other words they are the God-ordained mechanism for protecting the people militarily. So, if you’re pacifist, no worries! God has established a government to fight for your protection; avengers and bringers-of-wrath to evil doers! But take note that while these rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this wrath, that does not necessarily mean that they are followers of Jesus Christ or (hold on to your Easter bonnets), do they have to be.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I want ALL my leadership, from the POTUS to my local town mayor, to be Christian. Why? Because I know that Christians (theoretically) have the same moral values. However, the reality in these United States is that although we have the freedom to vote, we really don’t have the freedom to elevate the best candidates to be elected. That process is pretty much done by the government and as a result, our choices are severely limited. Honestly, sometimes our choices are horrid.
Then Don’t Vote!
Not voting is not really an option and I’ll remind you why: Romans 13:1 says we’re to be in subjection to the governing authorities. These authorities have established laws and our civic privileges, and as good citizens we’re to take full advantage of them. If collectively we refuse to vote, the system will take advantage of our failure and usher in a dictatorship by default.
That leaves us with voting for what we’re given, and if we’re not pleased with the choices, we’re to essentially choose the candidate that will do the least amount of damage to our moral structure, national security, economic stability, and personal freedoms. Keep in mind, Billy Graham is not running for president this year, nor is Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, or Greg Laurie.
Now this might shock you, but I’m not sure I’d vote for any of those guys anyway. Sure, they’re abundantly equipped in one particular area, but I suspect they fall way short in others. Obviously I don’t know what kind of expertise they would bring to the table, I’m just making a general observation.
As for 2016 (and at the time of this writing), the field has been effectively narrowed down to three possible candidates (for me) and my choice (which I have voiced on social media) is not sitting well with many of my Christian brothers and sisters. Actually, the phrase ‘not sitting well’ is being kind. Some of my ‘brothers and sisters’ have become outright nasty over my choice because (I gather), he is the least Christian of the bunch. While they’re hoping to pick a ‘Pastor-in-Chief’ from the group we’re given, I’m leaning towards that sword-bearing, avenger of wrath that God told me about, praying that in addition to keeping the nation secure, he will also serve to protect what’s left of our Christian morality, despite the fact he isn’t the model of Christian morality himself. In other words, through constant prayer, I’m trying to vote for the best overall candidate given the circumstances.
Vote For Whoever You Want
I hope that it’s clear that you should vote for whoever you want, but if the last paragraph riled a few Christians up, remember to love others, love your enemies, and behave in a way that is pleasing to God. If you have a beef with your brother or sister, go to them privately and try to settle it, keeping in mind that every player in this next election has a log in their eye, skeletons in their closets, and a penchant to sin.
Are you a fisher of men?
There are many ‘plumb lines’ in God’s word; those verses that we can use to decide if we’re on the right path, spiritually speaking. One of my favorite plumb line verses is Matthew 11:30 where Jesus tells His disciples, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If a Christian finds that ‘light and easy‘ is not characteristic of their walk with Jesus, he immediately knows something must be askew.
Matthew 4:19 is another one of those verses.
And (Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
If you’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ for a reasonable amount of time, God’s promise to you is crystal clear – He will make you a fisher of men; i.e., an obedient Christian whose will is in line with Christ’s for saving souls.
What is the implication if you’re not a fisher of men?
Well that’s clear too – you’re not following Jesus as closely as you think you are. I am not saying that you’re not saved. That could be the case, but that’s not what I’m saying here. That’s between you and God. I’m merely pointing out that if you’ve been a Christian for a while and you’re not an active (regular) participant in the sharing of the Gospel message in some way, shape, or form, you’re either not following Jesus close enough or you’re just plain ignoring Him.
If that comes across as an accusation, please don’t become angry or defensive, for if you have concluded that Jesus has not fulfilled this promise in your life, it’s very good news and one of the reasons we find these golden nuggets in the Bible.
As we read God’s word, we stumble upon these occasional checkpoints and they give us pause, or at least they should. Some of us read them, make a nanosecond determination that we’ve fallen short in our Christian duty, and quickly move on to the next verse. That of course isn’t helpful. Please know that these are not tests that God puts in our path that we might fail, but rather brilliant lights that show us where we may or may not need improvement.
So, if you’re not a ‘fisher of men’ then rejoice! You’ve identified an area of your Christian life that needs attention and more importantly, you know Who to go to, to remedy the situation. Confess it and submit yourself to becoming what Jesus has promised to those who follow Him.
Posted in Bible, Christianity, discipleship, evangelism, tagged false religion, Islam, Jesus, jihad, loretta lynch, Muslim, obama, religion of hate, religion of peace, Terrorism, the way, witnessing to Muslims on December 7, 2015| 2 Comments »
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hosea 4:6)
Is Islam God’s Enemy?
The answer to that question depends upon who you’re asking, so just to be clear, I’m addressing Christians only: ‘Are followers of Islam the enemy?’
My guess is that the answer is split within the Church. There are some Christians who discern Islam to be a false religion [as described by the Bible] and that alone is sufficient to make it adversarial. Others would note the Jihadist aspects of the religion [as defined in the Qur’an] and say that is what makes Islam nefarious. Then of course there are Christians who maintain that Islam is merely another way to God (aka: a true religion) and/or peaceful in their existence. This is similar to the position President Obama has taken. It’s to this last group I am writing.
As to Islam simply being another way to God the Father, cover-to-cover the entire Bible disputes that notion. I do however commiserate with those who have taken this position because as a brand new believer I once thought the very same thing. It was not until I got into a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching environment (and later a Bible-believing and teaching church) that I learned the truth. Jesus said it best, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)
Look at this way. If there were many ways to God and Heaven, then God the Father had His only son Jesus horribly tortured and murdered for no reason at all. Why kill Jesus if there were these other ways?
Now to the second point that Islam is by and large peaceful, the best evidence against that ideology is the Qur’an and the accepted Islamic doctrines themselves. In an effort to keep this article short I’ve provided a link (HERE) to those teachings. A quick review destroys the argument.
Of course some might object and say that the Qur’an has many peaceful principles as well. That would be correct; there are nonviolent passages in the Qur’an. The question is then why – why are there verses in the Qur’an that advocate ‘present day’ peace and violence. The answer to that question is summarized in the following video. It’s 24 minutes long, but if you desire to know the truth about Islam, you must watch it.
Islam is the Enemy: Now What?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
The only difference is that now you are informed – you now know that the followers of Islam likely see you as their enemy too. I say that they ‘likely’ see you as their enemy because Islam, like every other religion of the world (including Christianity), has an undefinable number of nominal believers. That is to say that they are Muslim in name only. Like nominal Christians they do not read their doctrinal literature or ascribe to the directives of their religion. Having said that, the potential for nominal believers to become true believers is real, just as it is with Christians. These true believers, those who have submitted themselves to obeying the Qur’an, want to either convert you (remember, it’s a false god they follow) or do away with you.
First, God would have you protect yourself. When Jesus sent His disciples out, He counseled them to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus was very clear about the situation. He said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16).
If you do not want to arm yourself, that is certainly your choice, but know in advance it’s not what Jesus recommended and thankfully we live in a country where it is permissible to varying degrees, depending upon the state in which you live. Of course we’re also advised to don the full armor of God.
Jesus would also be clear that these safeguards were for defensive purposes (self-protection) only, not offensive ones. We’re authorized to protect ourselves and those close to us, but we are not called to proactively deter evil by force. That’s what the Lord instituted and ordained governments for: to be a destructive force against those who unite in battle against us; avengers to execute wrath upon those who do evil (Romans 13:1-4). If our government is not doing their job effectively, then according to the Bible it is our duty to support candidates that will do the job effectively. I pray that is clear.
Our mission is to continue to lovingly share the Gospel message. The Christian faith does not allow us to cower in fear because of overt terrorism, political correctness, or if the Attorney General of the United States threatens to have us arrested. If we’re afraid, we bring that anxiety to the foot of the Cross; it is but an emotional catalyst moving us towards Holy Spirit empowerment. And if we hate the hands that shed innocent blood, we have an Advocate who understands, for He does too. But amazingly, He simultaneously loves His enemies, so much so that He sent His only begotten Son to die for them. It’s difficult to fathom, but love and hate can coexist, just know that the former must not rule over the latter. We bring all our emotions to the Cross and allow Jesus to direct our righteous path – He desires that none should perish.
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. For you will heap burning coals on his head, And the LORD will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22
If you are literally able to feed and water your enemy, then do so in the Name of Jesus, but more importantly we are to figuratively feed them with the Word of God and giving them Living Water (John 7:38) to consume, in that they might be saved. Don’t misread this passage of Scripture – ‘heap burning coals on his head’ is a good thing, not a bad thing, as it speaks to kindling a fire that is about to be snuffed out. Jesus would never have us do good for the purpose of doing evil.
Finally, those outside the church will revile you for speaking about Islam truthfully, despite the fact you repeat over and over that you ‘love everyone.’ Do not be dissuaded. I suspect there is coming a time in our country that if you proclaim Islam to be anything other than a peaceful and truthful religion, you will be prosecuted. Again, do not be discouraged or distracted from the mission Jesus has given us – sharing the Gospel in truth; the truth that cannot be properly expressed without exposing the lie.
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
One last word about the enemies of God – at one time or another, before we received Jesus Christ as both Lord of our lives and Savior of our souls, we too were enemies of God. No one is exempt. So it is not a hateful thing to establish that Muslims are God’s enemies, it is a truthful thing to make this designation and it is a loving thing. It is loving because recognizing who and what we are outside of Christ Jesus is the first step towards reconciliation in Christ Jesus.
[W]hen we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? 1 Corinthians 6:9a
Did you know that homosexual perversion (while still a sin), is not nearly as rampant as heterosexual perversion? It’s true. Drawing upon the data from recent surveys, there are over 8 million adults in the US who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. That’s only 3.5% of the population. That leaves us with a population of over 96% that are heterosexual. Of those, 75% have had sexual intercourse (outside of marriage) by their late teens!
We’re Not Hurting Anyone
“We’re not hurting anyone,” is an excuse common to both the homosexual and heterosexual camps, but the sad reality is that casual heterosexual sex has directly contributed to the death of almost 60 million babies in the United States and over 1.3 billion globally. Let that number sink in. 1.3 billion abortions due largely to casual sex between a man and a woman. In steep contrast AIDS has only claimed the lives of 39 million people. It sure makes me wonder if our homo-myopia is yet another satan-fueled diversion. Could it be we’re shooting our own foot?
What’s my point?
Hear me out — I am not defending homosexuality. Heaven forbid. Having said that, homosexuality is a frequent topic of conversation (as it should be), but it should not be so at the cost of all other sin. Chances are the folks sitting next to you in church are not gay (based on the data), but might very well be involved in some type of heterosexual sin that is being largely overlooked in our discussions and our pulpits.
Do you ever wonder how many of the people who rightfully denounce homosexuality are ‘habitually’ viewing pornography or are fornicating outside of marriage? Porn alone will claim 70% of these men. How many of these have slid under the church’s radar, or more accurately, beneath the span of the spotlight we shine on what’s generally perceived to be the more grievous sin? We’d be wise to remember that homosexuality is a sin worthy of discussion, but it’s not the only sin.
I’ve heard the arguments and I have even cited them myself: the ‘gay agenda’ is being crammed down our throats. It’s an undeniable truth. Everywhere we turn the culture, the media, and the government are defending, supporting, or creating law in support of homosexuality, thus encouraging sinners to wrongfully proclaim ‘gay is not a sin.’ We stand against this assault because souls are being lost. I get it. I’m merely putting forth there’s a larger picture we should not ignore.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed , but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
This is going to hurt a little, but I’m going to say it anyway. When it comes to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and social interaction in general, we’re afraid of our heterosexual friends. By that I mean we don’t want to make them angry, nor do we want to lose any of them. We may only have a few gay friends and/or family members, but we have a gazillion sexually active hetero friends and family, and we do not want to further alienate them.
You might not like it, but hatred of this kind is inevitable. You can espouse your love for them until you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day most sinners will choose their sin over your suspect love or friendship.
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake:but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Matthew 10:22
What Are the Options?
In an attempt to thwart Bible prophecy, some Christians have determined that they won’t talk about any sin, at any time, with anybody (aka: Joel Osteenism). I submit to you that is not a viable option for a follower of Jesus Christ. We’re called to share the Gospel message and its foundational principle: all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. In other words, we cannot ignore the issue of sin, but we’re to approach the sinner in a loving and Biblical way.
The Bible makes reference to three kinds of judgements and encourages the followers of Jesus Christ to actively participate in two of those three. The third type, judging unto condemnation is forbidden — God alone makes that final determination. The other two are:
- Judging for the purpose of identification.
- Judging for the purpose of restoration.
An example of the first sort might be ‘determining that a person is highly intoxicated,’ and based on the situation concluding that the wisest option is to walk away. An example of the second type is similar, but in addition to making the identification we see an open door to assist (restore) that person.
Christians are called to identify (judge) sin, and then by means of the Holy Spirit discern if we can act on God’s behalf to restore such a one. Sin is very often the leaping off point by which we deliver the Gospel message, but if we’re primarily focused on just one sin, we’re inevitably going to miss a slew of other closeted-folks who need a little light shined in their direction in order that they might know the full grace of God this side of Heaven.
Are You Going to Heaven?
My blog is primarily intended for a Christian audience, but I realize that on occasion non-believers happen upon it. It’s for those folks I’d like to give an opportunity to know and follow Jesus Christ. Please click this link to learn more.