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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.

Dear Mr. Trump:

Two things: You have my vote and I’m not happy about it.

That last comment deserves an explanation.  I’m not going to sit here and jot down all your character flaws. You know who and what you are, and I suspect that your defense might be that what some see as failings are the very things that have gotten you as far as you have, and they have in fact brought you to this national platform where you could become the next president of the United States.

I would say that you shouldn’t discount God in this equation.

The Bible says that God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). It’s the Lord who gives and takes away (Job 1:21), and He does so for all people. God blesses those who believe in Him and those who don’t, but what many people do not know is that those blessings cease for the non-believer as soon as their last breath is expelled.

What does this have to do with Donald Trump?

Honestly, Mr. Trump, I’m concerned for your salvation. If I may paraphrase a few of your remarks on Christianity, Jesus, and salvation, you said: “I have no need to ask for forgiveness; I’m a good person; I try to do good things.”

Excuse my directness, but those statements are false and they show a lack of understanding of the Christian faith. I am telling you these things in love. If your claim of not needing forgiveness is true and that a person can earn a ticket to Heaven through their own good efforts, then God had His son Jesus brutally murdered on the cross for nothing.

If your claim of not needing forgiveness is true and that a person can earn a ticket to Heaven through their own good efforts, then God had His son Jesus brutally murdered on the cross for nothing.

Here’s the issue in a nutshell, Mr. Trump: without a heartfelt understanding of your sinful nature (common to ALL men, Romans 3:23), and your need for a remedy that is found in Christ Jesus alone, you are a nominal believer; that is to say that you are a Christian in name only. The Good News is that this condition is easily corrected. The question that remains is, “Are you willing?

You might be interested to know that Jesus did not tell His followers to go out and share the Gospel message to make converts to Christianity, but rather to make disciples (students) of Christ. It’s through discipleship that we come to know Jesus in a fuller way, whereby He will change us for the better, thus making us better equipped to serve Him. Not only will He replace our character faults, He will replace them with better things; things He can use to accomplish His good will and purposes.

Mr. Trump, I am going to vote for you because I see through all the negative issues and see a bunch of positive attributes that will help to get our nation back on its feet, but at the same time I know that Jesus Christ must be part of this equation, otherwise we are merely building a nice house upon a foundation of sand – it might look good for a while, but in time it will crumble. That’s not my opinion, that’s God’s word.

Because of your occasional foul tenor and errant theology, some of my Christian friends have abandoned you, Mr. Trump, while some higher-ranking, Christian folks have opted to bash you rather than help you. That is to their shame.  What I see in you is someone who has identified themselves with Christ Jesus and is in need of some wise, Biblical counsel. I am no theologian, Mr. Trump, nor am I a pastor. I am just a follower of Jesus trying to be obedient to His commands the best I am able and of course, with His minute-by-minute help.

Mr. Trump, if nobody else in the global, Christian church will step up to get you on the proper and narrow path, then I hereby volunteer. I will meet you anywhere, at any time, and on my dime to have just a few moments of your time.  I’m not bragging, but God has blessed me more than I deserve and I will gladly spend whatever it takes to have this most important conversation with you. I am genuinely concerned for you and for our nation and believe we need to have this critical dialog.

Sincerely,

David Wells
Oakhurst, NJ

A note to my readers:

Yes, I do understand that the likelihood of Donald Trump ever seeing this blog is incredibly slim. For that reason, I am in prayer. I am confident that God is going to do something, I just don’t know what it is. My only recourse is to jot down a few words and pray for God’s will to be done. If you’re on the same page as me (and have read this far), please share the blog and pray for Mr. Trump, the POTUS, and the leadership of this country.

25 January, 2016 11:22

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Take notice that this passage begins ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ and NOT the fruit ffof the Christian, the reason being that the fruit belongs to God and is for bringing Him glory. The fruit of the Christian is a myth. When the Bible declares in Matthew 7:16 that people will know us (identify us as Christians) by our fruit and that good trees bear good fruit, the reality is that they will know we are followers of Jesus when they see the Holy Spirit and His attributes in operation.

Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:14)

When we receive the Holy Spirit, it’s a package deal – where He goes His fruit goes and it’s consumer-ready from day one WITHOUT law or regulation. The Christian on the other hand is the shipping crate and it’s his duty is to pop the lid off and display this Spiritual produce to God’s glory.

Let us abandon the notion that we’re babes in Christ and that our fruit needs to mature or other such nonsense. The reality is that in ourselves we will never master these qualities, but we have something better in the Holy Spirit. We just get need to get out of His way (die to our selfishness) and allow Him to do what He desires to do. As a result folks will occasionally notice how loving or how patient we are, at which point we will say, “Dude, that’s not me. To God be the glory.”

It’s not the power of the fruit, it’s the Power behind the fruit.

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

Knowing the Enemy

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)

Nothing Changes

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.

Now What?

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)

“So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:17)

You’ve heard (and perhaps asked) the question a thousand times: What is God’s will for me?” Well according to Ephesians 5:17 it’s a very good question to ask.

Let’s examine the 25 times the phrase theWill of God is mentioned in the Bible and then consider the wiiwshort answer that each verse provides.  I say ‘short answer’ because there is much, much more to be gleaned in going back and examining the Scripture references in their Biblical context (click on the verse to read it in context). We would also do well to remember that while the Lord has a specific plan for each of us, it’s not primarily about us — it’s God’s will that as we’re transformed and that we conform to this bigger picture of His.

God’s Will

It’s the will of God that you do the will of God (duh), “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

It’s the will of God that you serve, “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers” (Acts 13:36)

It’s the will of God to fuel your Christian walk, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (Romans 1:10)

It’s the will of God to know you and intercede for you, “And he that (searches) the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he (makes) intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

It’s the will of God to change you for the better, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

It’s the will of God that you draw upon His joy, “That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.” (Romans 15:32)

It’s the will of God to send you out with the Gospel, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God” (1 & 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1)

It’s the will of God that you be submitted to Him and to every believer, “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)

It’s the will of God to deliver you from evil, “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4)

It’s the will of God that you are obedient, “Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:6)

It’s the will of God that you work enthusiastically, “Always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12)

It’s the will of God for you to be holy, pure, and set apart, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

It’s the will of God that you demonstrate continual gratitude, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It’s the will of God that you are faithfully confident until your great inheritance is realized, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)

It’s the will of God you abstain from lust, be honest, and obey the law of the land, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2:15)

It’s the will of God that you could suffer for doing what is right, “For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (1 Peter 3:17)

It’s the will of God that you be Christ-minded, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)

It’s the will of God that if you suffer it is not as criminals, but as unashamed, God-glorifying Christians, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:19)

It’s the will of God that you know: “The world (passes) away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God (abides) forever.” (1 John 2:17)

I can hear some of you saying, “Yes, I know it’s God’s will that I serve Him, that I’m obedient, that I’m enthusiastic, etc. etc. etc., but what does the Lord specifically want me to do!”

What do you want to do?

According to Psalm 37, there’s a good chance God has already put a desire in your heart, that is, if you are trusting in Him, if you’re delighting in Him, if you’re committed to Him, and if you’re resting in Him. Now couple this God-given desire with His plan that we share Jesus with a lost and dying world, praying for direction how two realities can function as one.

I begin each day asking the Lord, “What would you have me do today?” Often times I sense the Lord saying back, “What do you want to do?” Sometimes my answers are errant and the Holy Spirit is faithful to correct me. But a lot of the time my answers reflect the desire that He has put in my heart and I go and do that thing. That’s not to say that things always go as I had planned, but they do always seem to go as He has planned.

Get in the habit of doing God’s will as He has already prescribed in His word and watch Him lead you directly where He wants you to be.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

When I heard the news and saw the magazine cover, I was stunned. Before my heart beat again, the Holy Spirit mutely cautioned, “Don’t caitlynsay it.” He knew exactly what was percolating inside my wicked heart before I did. So I paused, asked Him for help, and promised not to write or post anything that day.

It was difficult. My flesh was chomping at the bit. “Let me at him,” it kept saying (I appreciate it when my sin nature is brash – it makes it easier to recognize). In contrast, the Holy Spirit was communicating tenderly, as usual. Actually it was as if He invisibly gestured no with His head and the maneuver created a holy breeze I somehow felt and interpreted to mean no. Needless to say, His counsel was unobtrusively powerful.

So I began this morning asking the Lord what, if anything, should I say? I felt the Lord immediately unburden me from the notion that I had to be a part of the national dialogue about homosexuality (in general) or transgenderism specifically. There are plenty of good folks out there already lovingly doing that. No, what I felt compelled by the Lord to do was to prepare myself to talk to Caitlyn directly (not literally, because that just isn’t going to happen). I should know what to say to the Caitlyn’s of the world if the opportunity arises.

The first thing I discerned was that I need to say the name Caitlyn. Yes, it pains me, but here’s the reality: as it pertains to a name, people have a right to go by whatever moniker they want and as long as it is not vulgar or obscene (in the traditional sense of those words), we should use them. Generally speaking, names are innocuous and we shouldn’t get too hung up on them and observing their requests give us a common ground where a dialog can begin.

However, re-identifying gender is another thing entirely and that of course is our first sticking point. Caitlyn is a he. Names we can change, but we cannot undo God’s workmanship. We can de-petal a rose and it’s still a rose. We can strip the stem bare of its buds, leaves, and thorns, and it is still a rose. We can toss the pieces into the furnace, collect the ashes, and but still undeniably it was a rose. There are no alterations so great or complex that can overrule the Creator’s design.

So what would I say to Caitlyn in that regard?

Nothing, at least not at this juncture. Caitlyn doesn’t need advanced theology instruction, she needs fundamental Bible lessons, for in Caitlyn’s mind everything I wrote above is foolishness. God would agree. Let me qualify that last sentence: God would agree that Caitlyn’s perception of the account is foolishness. 1 Corinthians 2:14 bears witness to that.

“[T]he natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Caitlyn does not have the capacity to understand these maxims because the Holy Spirit has not taken up residence, therefore these premises are nonsensical; it’s exactly the condition God has told us about in His Word. It’s at this point the church should see the road sign advising us to turn around and take Caitlyn back to the basics; if there’s to be any hope for Caitlyn, we need to share the Gospel.

That’s easier said than done, right? The answer is maybe. It depends if you fully grasp these words of Jesus:

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

It’s God’s job to draw the sinner to the cross and He often does it through divine appointments. All that is to say that if we find ourselves suddenly having an audience with Caitlyn, it could very well be said that God ordained the encounter. God drew Caitlyn to this discussion, despite the fact that Caitlyn’s flesh is likely doing everything in its power to undermine the exchange. What makes it easier (for us) is that God doesn’t necessarily want us to give a Gospel presentation, but rather engage in a conversation where the soil can be prepared so the Gospel can be presented. In order to do that, we need to talk to Caitlyn, but more importantly, we need to listen to Caitlyn. There’s a door that needs to be opened and the only doorknob is on Caitlyn’s side. If it’s opened we must be careful to not barge right in and throw dirt on the carpet (the not-so-subtle technique used by vacuum cleaner salesmen). Sure, we’re aching to dive into Romans 3:23, but we must listen before we can be heard.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

I suppose all that is to say [that] we need to be compassionate; the more outraged and incensed we might be, the more grace we need to exhibit. It makes no sense whatsoever to bowl the Caitlyn’s of the world over with Scripture that denounce their actions if they’re not saved. Essentially it’s like teaching calculus to a five-year old before they’ve learned 1 + 1 = 2.

So where do we begin?

If I ever get the opportunity it will go something like, “Hi Caitlyn. My name is Dave… so tell me about yourself.” If an ambassador for Christ can’t get past this first line, then it just might be that they need to return to the rudiments of our faith. If that’s where you are, rejoice! You have just been given an opportunity to grow spiritually.

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