Friday, May 29, 2009
For too many, "successful" evangelism/witnessing/rescuing occurs when someone makes the decision to follow Jesus...and another notch gets cut into our "get-'em-saved" six-shooter...
But the following reminds us that "salvation is of the Lord," and that "no one comes to the Son except the Father draws him":
“What is success in evangelism? Is it when the person you witness to comes to Christ?
"Certainly that’s what we want to happen. But if this is success, are we failures whenever we share the gospel and people refuse to believe?
"Was Jesus an “evangelistic failure” when people like the rich young ruler turned away from Him and His message? Obviously not. Then neither are we when we present Christ and His message and they turn away in unbelief.
"We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism. We ought to have an obsession for souls, and tearfully plead with God to see more people converted, but conversions are fruit that God alone can give.
"In this regard we are like the postal service. Success is measured by the careful and accurate delivery of the message, not by the response of the recipient. Whenever we share the gospel (which includes the summons to repent and believe), we have
succeeded. In the truest sense, all biblical evangelism is successful evangelism, regardless of the results.”
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
"Silence, as someone has said, is the mother of prayer and the nurse of holy thoughts. Silence cuts down on our sins, doesn't it? We can't be sinning in so many different ways if we are being quiet before God. Silence nourishes patience, charity, discretion."
Monday, May 25, 2009
Alas, vacation ended as we pulled into our home this Memorial Day afternoon. What a wondrous, peaceful, joyous, fun, genuinely relaxing time we had! Here is a photo of Jack, Jane, Janelle, and Jacob on the boat that took us back to Southport, NC from Bald Head Island. Maybe more photos later...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I admit it...I am not a race fan, NASCAR, Indy, whatever...but I did see a bit while channel surfing a couple days ago...and I am fascinated and marvel while watching the pit crew do their thing...
And as I watched the other day I smiled as I thought, "That's how a local church should operate." Each person doing their task, quickly, efficiently, cooperatively.
Who is most important? If one guy on the pit crew blows his assignment, disaster.
Is it not the same with the Body?
We who claim to be redeemed, adopted, and forgiven need...as in every day...to remember the One who gave His life as a ransom for many...and to guard ourselves against apathy or, worse, getting so "deep in the things of God" that we forget that which is "of first importance" - the Gospel (1 Corin 15)
Read, slowly, the following:
“If you are not aware of the fact that this is the greatest good news that has ever come into the world, or has ever been received by man, it may be due to the fact that you have an inadequate sense of sin, and an inadequate realization of your own sinfulness.”
Dr. David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Vol. 1 of Romans, 58
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The criteria for coming to Jesus is messiness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”
—Paul Miller, A Praying Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2009), 31-32
Sherman was correct - "War is hell." As a vietnam veteran Memorial Day brings memories happy as well as sad...guys I served with who came home in bags rather than Freedom Birds...and I pray for our troops in harms way today...and pray especially they are given the means and freedom to protect themselves as well as America.
In the hustle of the holiday, don't forget the reason for Memorial Day.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Our vacation on Bald Head Island, NC (pictured) got off to two great days, but Monday was cold, rainy and extremely windy.
But I ventured out on a jog/walk and walked down the beach to Cape Fear and watched, amazed, as waves crashed into each other over the submerged reefs. Along the way I collected shells.
Jane and I had walked the beach Saturday and discovered many broken sand dollars, and Jane said she really hoped to find a whole one.
As I walked I prayed about a lot of things, and specifically asked that I might find an entire sand dollar...
During part of the walk the wind was so hard I felt I was in the midst of a sandstorm...like getting a thousand shots a minute!
As I turned back I had a bucket full of shells, but, alas, no sand dollar.
Just as I got to the path leading back to our house, the Lord provided an answer...a nearly-complete sand dollar with all its' markings.
Well, my experience is that "coincidences" happen a lot more often when I pray!
“Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it He bought for us every blessing–temporal and eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, God’s elect are destined to be sons of God. Because of His cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Therefore, every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ–the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life–the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.”
- John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 59
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday was Armed Forces Day. I post this just to remind us...price paid in so many wars (to include the ones going on now). As a Vietnam Veteran I am grateful that the folks who are against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are, in the main, not against the warriors.
Vance Havner makes an observation that bothers some:
"Salt seasons, purifies, preserves. But somebody ought to remind us that salt also irritates. Real living Christianity rubs this world the wrong way."
The more I live for Christ (by His power, Spirit, and learning to "live dead") the less I should expect the mayor to give me the keys to the city.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
As the slaughter continues, as extreme "seeker-sensitive," "best life now" folks ignore the tragedy, thank God for those like Piper who keep it clear, current, and passionate.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
My response to people who say "I'm just gonna let my light shine, and people will know I'm a Christian." No, they will think you're a Mormon because the LDS have a better public relations program than "we" do.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Every moment, every trial, every testing gives followers of Christ a choice - whine or worship.
Peter Marshall reminds us,
"When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow
strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure."
Thursday, May 7, 2009
"Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.
And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace."
"Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they have earned God’s blessing through their behavior.
Guilt-laden believers are quite sure they have forfeited God’s blessing through their lack of discipline or their disobedience.
Both have forgotten the meaning of grace because they have moved away from the gospel and have slipped into a performance relationship with God."
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.
Chase the lion.
I urge you to get the book!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This is a bit long, but unless you are a "Prayer of Jabez"ite (hard to fathom it's been a decade since the Jabez-mania hit!), you will find this hilarious. It's from Jonathan McKee (http://www.thesource4ym.com/) who provides a host of youth ministry stuff from the aforementioned website.
The Prayer of Eutychus
If you think the prayer of Jabez was a blessing . . . hold on to your shorts!
An Abridged version of the new hit book, “The Prayer of Eutychus”
by Jonathan McKee
Ever feel tired and weary? Does your job got you down? Tired of getting home from work only to find that your dog ate your remote control, your new white shirt just went though the wash with your new red towels, and your two year old just tried to play a fruit roll-up in your CD player?
Well a young man named Eutychus had the exact same struggles. “Who is Eutychus?” you ask. He’s only found in two little verses of scriptures. Two small verses that you can miss if you blink. And these two small verses can change your life for good . . . that’s what you want to hear right?
Here in the middle of the 20th chapter of Acts, Luke inserts two small life-changing verses about a young man named Eutychus, and I’ve built a theology on it! Check out the blessings in store for you.
Let me give you some back history. Paul is speaking to a group in a three story house in Troas. It is hot, and a young man named Eutychus sits by a window for some fresh air. The name Eutychcus is Greek, so we can only assume that this is a man of Greek birth. Therefore we can only conclude that he frequented a lot of the Greek Restaurants in Troas, and these restaurants load their food with Garlic. . . thus, explaining everyone making him sit by the window. But as Paul speaks . . . something magnificent happens. Let’s look together:
Acts 20:9-10 (NIV)
Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.  Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. "Don't be alarmed," he said. "He's alive!"
Wow. These two verses can change your life.
Many of us feel like Eutychus. Maybe it’s because we are young, like verse 9 says Eutychus was. Maybe it’s because are surrounded by rich friends. You’ll notice that this was a 3 story building. Only the very rich could afford such an edifice. So we can only conclude that the host here had some PHAT BANK!!! And Eutychus, a young Greek boy invited into this environment, must have been a close friend of these homeowners. Possibly best friends. Eutychus probably went bowling with them every Friday night. If he would walk into a restaurant, and these friends were there, they would all yell in delight, “Eutychus, come join us. But please . . . sit over here by the window!”
We also see from this passage that Paul talked “on and on.” We all can relate to that. Sitting in church listening to some guy who THINKS he’s Andy Stanley! Guys that aren’t Andy, and just put us to sleep!
Many of us might also relate to Eutychus because we are working on our computers all day. The reference is subtle, but the verse clearly says, “seated in a window.” The New Centurion Version of the scripture said “as Eutychus was in . . . Windows.” We can only conclude that this is a prophecy as to the upcoming computer age where many of us will spend much of our time in “Windows.” It doesn’t specify whether this means Windows 2000, or XP, but it clearly says in Windows, unfortunately for our Mac user friends, God Bless their souls.
Well, Eutychus did what many of us feel like doing: just going to sleep. He slept and then fell “to the ground.” Notice this scripture says “to” the ground not “on” the ground. If it just said he fell “on” the ground, then the journey to the ground wasn’t important. But because it said “to” the ground, we can only conclude that this journey was important!
Greek culture teaches us that a journey is a time of storytelling and expression. Any Greek young man living in Troas, going on a journey in that day, would always share his feelings on that journey, he would express himself. The jewel that is here in this small overlooked verse in the book of Acts is a prayer: The Prayer of Eutychus. (You’ll find keychains and devotionals at your local Christian Bookstore- let’s share the blessing together!)
Eutychus cries out a prayer as he’s falling from the window, as he’s escaping his overwhelmed situation, as he’s fleeing his rich friends who always make him sit by the dang window! We don’t get to hear the prayer, but we know it was something like, “Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuugh!”
Do you ever feel like just crying out to our Lord, “Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuugh!” I sure do. But what the Lord is telling us here is that when we cry out to him in the midst of our retreat . . . he will declare us ALIVE, just like the Apostle Paul did to Eutychus.
How many of you would like to feel alive. Well, God wants to give you that feeling, and you don’t even have to jump out of a window. You simply pray the prayer of Eutychus, “Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuugh!”
Many of you aren’t sure how to pray the prayer of Eutychus. And it’s good to be sure, so make sure you buy any of the guidance books in the Prayer of Eutychus series:
“How to Pray the Prayer of Eutychus Properly’
“Worship Like Eutychus”
“Using Windows XP Like Eutychus”
“Croc Wrestling and Yelling Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuugh!”
And you can feel much better sipping coffee out of your “Prayer of Eutychus” coffee mug, making toast in your “Prayer of Eutychus” toaster oven with the “Prayer of Eutychus” toaster cozy and sleeping in your “Prayer of Eutychus” comforter set. These are just a sliver of the blessings you can purchase if you want to feel alive.
So don’t let life get you down. You too can say “Aaaaaaaauuuuuuuuugh!” and be made alive! You too can experience the Prayer of Eutychus and be blessed.