Evangelism, life, mentoring, Mission, purpose

Let The Redeemed Of The Lord Say So!

We’re On A Mission From God, Literally

Brothers and sisters, there are not enough preachers and teachers of the gospel in the entire world to reach everyone with the Good News. We have people in our own groups who don’t attend church, don’t own a Bible, were not raised in a Christian home, don’t know Jesus, and don’t know they are missing out on the most indescribable gift.

If they don’t go to church, how will they hear the message the preacher is preaching? If they don’t own a Bible, how will they read the story of how Jesus died to save us? If we don’t live out the grace of God in our circles of influence, how will they see the way to go? It may be difficult to fathom, but there are millions of people in the world who don’t know why Jesus is such a Big Deal. We know some of these people. We probably interact with them daily.

In God’s plan of salvation, believers are assigned the mission of sharing the truth of Christ with the people He places in our path. That means you and I are responsible to them for their eternal future. If we fail to meet this responsibility, there may not be another opportunity for them to hear and see Jesus. This is the work of “Faith Without Works” fame. Keeping the glory and joy and peace of Christ to ourselves, when there are so many people who need these things, is the evidence of dead faith. You and I, in our secular, local, personal space are evangelists. The Bible does not tell Christians to go to seminary or Bible College, then go to all the world. It doesn’t tell us to get a degree in theology and then go tell the people the Good News. It doesn’t even tell us we have to be qualified or prepared or ordained. Being washed clean of our sin by the blood of Jesus Christ makes us qualified. Knowing that Jesus died and was resurrected and has chosen us out of the world is our ordination. The Holy Spirit that He sent to be our Helper is our preparation. There are no excuses that will cover our failure to share the risen Christ with anyone who will listen and to show by how we love others that we belong to Him.

Calling The Unqualified

We have been called out of our routines and comfort zones for the greatest rescue mission ever. Limitless numbers of people are counting on us to do our part and to carry out our assignments with excellence. Most of them probably don’t even know it, though.

We can all come up with dozens of excuses to justify why we’re not right for the job. We are unqualified, untrained, and unprepared. Some of us think we are too young or old or shy or afraid. We don’t know how to do it “the right way.” The fact is, though, that Jesus called you and me the same as He called fishermen and tax collectors. He called the tongue tied and the hot headed and the doubtful. He cared little for what they had, or we have, to offer and all for what He came to give. The moment we accepted the invitation to join with Christ, we became heirs to the kingdom of God and, along with that, received our assignment to share the Good News with the rest of the world. That may mean for us the far corners of the earth or the corner grocery store. We are the ordinary people called by God to accomplish extraordinary things for the kingdom.

Family, if we spend less time worrying about how to do it and more time doing it, God will take care of the details. As many have been called, all have been given what is needed to accomplish the work. Just talk about it. Tell your neighbor, your brother, your schoolmate, your work buddy what Jesus did for you. A degree in theology won’t accomplish more than a heartfelt , loving conversation about the joy of the Lord or your victory in Jesus.

Each One, Reach One

If every Christ follower, regardless of age or sex or profession or denomination, were to seek out just one person among their circles who doesn’t know Jesus and share His love and forgiveness and truth with them, the balance of the world could shift. If we, every one of us, did this, one person at a time, how many broken hearts could be mended, lost souls recovered, and captive spirits freed? Surely you can find just one person to share Jesus with. Surely there is one among your family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors you could share a coffee and a conversation with. There is, most definitely, someone near you who will benefit from knowing you are praying for them and that you and Jesus love them. It will not require a heavy theological discussion to show someone what spectacular joy is found in Christ. Tell the story of how and where Jesus found you and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

We have been given access to all of the tools and skills that we need to accomplish this mission. We just have to know how to use them properly.

Prepare For Battle

As I said, we have been given all of the tools we need to carry out the mission. But, first, we need to get ready for battle. Make no mistake, the world is not always a safe place for Christ followers. Jesus knew this to be the case before He left the first time. That’s why He gave us a Helper who would stay and provide the support we need to navigate the darkness and light the world. The Holy Spirit is here helping us to prepare.

Put On Your Armor

We are not fighting against flesh and blood people. The battle is against powers of darkness and the forces of evil in the heavenly realm. Because of this, we must rely on the protection only the armor of God can provide.

  1. Belt of Truth so we can hold firm against the enemy and we will not be led astray as society ebbs and flows with what is acceptable and what is not.
  2. Breastplate of righteousness to protect our hearts from attack, living out the new life we have in Christ.
  3. Feet shod and ready for any occasion with the gospel of peace, always willing to love one another as Christ loves us even when we are the most unlovable.
  4. Shield of faith to protect against the enemy’s flaming arrows, having confidence that God is with us and that we are secure in Him through Jesus.
  5. Helmet of salvation to guard our minds from fear, doubt, and confusion, knowing that our future is secure and that Jesus is our Rock.
  6. Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, which is sharper than any sword and able to judge thoughts and attitudes of the heart and provides us with the preparation and the power to do the work set before us.

Once we have prepared ourselves with these, we are ready to dig in to the work.

The Mission

Our mission, which we’ve already accepted when we accepted Jesus, is to do all in our power to ensure that the people we are doing life with know Him. By modeling the love of Christ in our families and neighborhoods and workplaces, we will have the opportunity to share that love with the people we encounter. Forgive people as freely as Christ forgave you. Tell others where you were before Christ and what He has done to save you. Talk about the glory of God. Spread sparkles of light and life wherever you go. Be authentic. Seek out the captives and help set them free. Shine with the light of a soul set free from darkness.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses.

Psalm 107: 1-6

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Evangelism, life, Mission, purpose

How To Talk About Jesus At Easter

For Christ followers around the world, Easter week is the most anticipated and sacred week of the year. It is our time to celebrate the sacrifice Jesus made for us and to remember the tremendous cost of this gift of salvation He gave us. For so many among our circles of people, though, Easter has a different meaning altogether, or no meaning at all. It is difficult for some to see past the plastic eggs, Easter bunny photos, retail mania, and sugar overload to find any kind of deep meaning in the day. Easter is not about bunnies and eggs. Instead, it is about the Lamb. It is up to us, the redeemed, to show them the miraculous love that Easter really represents. For many of us, this may be difficult or overwhelming. Anyone who hasn’t had much practice sharing the Good News of Christ may not have developed the social and spiritual muscles needed to make them feel up to the task. Remember, though, that as many as were called to join Christ, He equipped to carry out the work. If you have not been one to share Christ in the past, this Easter week is the best possible time to start.

There are some great truths that you may find helpful, and shareable, as you take up your assigned mission of sharing Christ with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers this week. Whether you share these directly, or just use them as a refresher to clarify or organize your own thoughts, I hope this is useful to you.

Observations To Share During Easter Week

  1. God is real and He intentionally created us to be with Him and to spend time with Him. We are not truly complete if we do not have that relationship. In other words, there is a God shaped space in our souls that no one or nothing else can fill or satisfy. (Psalm 139: 13-16, Jeremiah 29: 11-14)
  2. God is holy. He has set the standard of right and wrong that does not change with time and is the same for all people, always. (Psalm 99, Isaiah 5: 16, Psalm 77: 13-14)
  3. Because He is holy, He cannot associate with anyone or anything that is not holy. Even the temple of God had a curtain that kept the people from being directly in the presence of God, because they would surely die. The high priest was permitted to go past the curtain only one time per year in order to offer sacrifices to God on behalf of the people. (Leviticus 16, 1 Kings 6, Hebrews 9: 1-7)
  4. Except for one man, every person since, and including, Adam and Eve, have done things that violate God’s standard of right and wrong. These violations are called sin. It doesn’t matter what those violations may have been, they all result in the same thing. Every violation of God’s law makes us worthy of death and separation from God. (Romans 3:23, Romans 3:10, Romans 6:23)
  5. God loves us more than we will ever know. He is not willing to let any of us stay in our separated state, so He arranged a way for us to be washed clean from our sin and to be declared blameless. As the law required, a lamb, pure and without blemish, was to be sacrificed for the sin of the people. Unfortunately, these sacrifices were only temporary arrangements which had to be offered regularly for the forgiveness of sin. God sent His only Son to be a permanent substitute. Jesus, who is called the Christ, came to earth to serve as the Lamb of God who takes away sin once and for all time. He is the pure, unblemished lamb that satisfies the law for ever. (Hebrews 10:1-13, Romans 3:25-26)
  6. Jesus came to earth as a baby born to Mary. During His childhood He surprised everyone by His understanding of Scripture. When He was an adult, He began His ministry by calling disciples and teaching any who would listen about God and His Kingdom. He performed many miracles in order to show people the power and love of God. He healed people of disease and physical impairments. He brought some people back to life. As He taught, He told the people that He would be killed, but that in three days He would be raised back to life again. The people did not understand what He meant. (Mark 6: 1-7, John 2: 19-22)
  7. Jesus gave a new law. The message of Jesus was that we should all love God with all our heart and mind and spirit, and that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus did not come to pass judgement on anyone. He came to seek and to save that which was lost, that is, you and me. (John 13: 34-35, Matthew 22: 36-40, John 12: 47)
  8. The religious leaders of the time did not approve of this new law, they were jealous and afraid. They had Jesus beaten and nailed to a cross and hung up to die. While He was dying, people yelled insults at Him and harassed Him. For His part, He asked God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. (Matthew 12:14, Mark 15, Matthew 27, Luke 23, John 19)
  9. Two thieves were crucified at the same time. One of them joined in the insults. The other recognized that Jesus was innocent and asked to be remembered when Jesus got into His kingdom. Jesus promised him that he would be with Him in paradise that very day. In this He shows us that He accepts, immediately and completely, all who acknowledge Him as the Son of God and who seek forgiveness of their sins. (Luke 23: 39-43)
  10. As Jesus drew His last breath, the curtain of the temple that separated the people from God was torn completely in two from top to bottom. Thus, by His death, He has become the High Priest who makes atonement for the sins of all people and He has given us direct access to the presence of God, forever. Jesus died, taking on death and hell in our place. He took our suffering on Himself. He endured the separation from God that sin creates on our behalf and paid the price for our redemption. Because He died in our place, we can be washed clean from our sin. We can have access to the presence of Holy God because Jesus has opened the way. (Luke 23: 44-46, Hebrews 9: 11-15, Romans 5: 1-2)
  11. After He was dead for a short time, He was taken down from the cross and placed in a rock tomb. A huge rock was placed over the mouth of the tomb and military guards were posted at the tomb to make sure His followers did not come and steal His body. (John 19: 38-42, Luke 23: 50-56, Matthew 27, Matthew 27: 62-66)
  12. On the third day after His death, some of the women who had followed Him went to the tomb to properly prepare His body for burial. When they arrived at the tomb, the rock had been rolled away and the guards were gone. The body of Jesus was not in the tomb where it has been left. After discovering that Jesus was not in the tomb, some men appeared to them wearing clothing that shone like lightning. The men asked the women why they were looking for a living person among the dead. They told them that Jesus was risen from the dead, and was alive, just as He said He would be. (Luke 24: 1-12, Matthew 28: 1-15, Mark 16: 1-8, John 20: 1-10)
  13. After His resurrection, Jesus was seen by many. He gave them instructions to go to all the world and tell everyone the Good News of salvation. After this, He went up into heaven to be in the presence of God where He intercedes for us with God. He is preparing a place for us so that, in due time, we can be where He is. (Matthew 28: 16-20, Luke 24: 13-53 , Mark 16: 9-20, John 20: 11-31, John 14: 1-4)
  14. As many as believe in Him, He gives eternal life and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. Accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord brings us into relationship with Him. We become brothers and sisters in Christ. When we take on Christ, God no longer sees the things that we have done wrong. He sees the righteousness, or rightness, of Jesus. The blood that Jesus shed on the cross washes us clean forever. This relationship is freely given, but must be accepted. Although we are free to accept or refuse this unspeakable gift, at some point every person will acknowledge Christ as Lord. If we do not do so before we die, it is too late. Jesus is the only Way. He is the only Truth. He is the only Life. Any others claiming to offer these things are wrong. He is the only Hope of the world. (John 1: 12-13, John 14:6, Acts 4: 10-12)

There are many ways to share the Good News of Christ. The most important thing is that we do it. Sometimes we will have need of laying out the gospel verse by verse, sometimes by telling our own stories of redemption. When we talk about what Christ has done in our own lives, people are often able to see more clearly what Christ offers. You will probably encounter people who do not believe you or who think that the gospel is ridiculous. That is to be expected. As the Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 18) Don’t worry about that. Always be sincere. Always remember that we are not the judges, we are the witnesses. It is not up to us to decide who will get into the kingdom. It is up to us to show and tell what we know and have seen of Jesus Christ. Whether you practice what you will say or use notes the first couple of times you talk about Jesus is not as important as actually carrying out the deed. The Holy Spirit will prepare you and will provide the words to say if you need help. Do not be afraid, just tell the story. Because of Christ, the story has power all on its own.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

John 3: 16-18

Encouragement, Evangelism, leadership, life, purpose

It’s Time To Wake The Neighbors

If your house is on fire, what do you do?

Do you hope someone will come along and get everyone out, or do you work like mad to wake the people up and get them out of the inferno? Well, the house is on fire, and you are right here. It’s time to start working like mad to wake the people up and save them from the coming flames.

In diverse places around the world, Christians are under attack. Entire villages have been destroyed in Nigeria, just in the past couple of weeks, with hundreds of people murdered because they claimed the name of Jesus Christ. It’s against the law to own a Bible in dozens of countries. Christian churches are targets of government harassment and physical attack in more places than we can keep up with. In the United States, there is a concerted effort to have crosses, prayer, and expressions of faith removed from public view and exercise.

Now, more than ever in our lifetimes, we need leaders who will stand in the gap in prayer and speak the truth of Christ into this generation.

But, who will these leaders be? Where will they come from and where will they lead?

We, brothers and sisters in Christ, are the leaders this generation and this time requires. Jesus said so Himself. He told His followers to “Go!” He told them to, “Make disciples of all nations.”

He was talking to you and me. He was telling us that the house is on fire and we are the chosen to show the people the way out.

One of our biggest mistakes, as believers, is to think that only certain people are responsible for sharing the gospel. The message of Christ is not just for the trained or the ordained to tell. It is for the rescued and redeemed to proclaim. That’s us. All of us who have been washed in the Blood should be shouting it from the housetops. Jesus died for our sin, was raised back to life, and will be coming back to take us with Him. It is time, right now, to be making sure our families and friends and coworkers and neighbors are ready to go.

It’s time to show Jesus to our people. It’s time to share the Good News of Christ wherever we are and in whatever we do.

It is time to love and serve and give like Jesus.

It is time to wake up, you sleeper, and invite the neighbors to the wedding feast. There is no time to waste and no excuse that will cover our failure to act.

We have brothers and sisters literally dying for Christ, how do we dare keep the miracle of Christ quiet, especially when we are in no danger for the sharing?

YOUR MISSION:

  1. Pray for the people in your circles of home, work, and community to be open to the urging of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
  2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to arrange opportunities and openings for you to share Christ.
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need and answers to questions that may be asked so you will be ready when the openings occur.
  4. Cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by keeping a close relationship with Christ.
  5. Love the people God has placed in your path, without judgment or condemnation.
  6. Live out the joy that Jesus came to give everyone who follows Him.
  7. Encourage others with words filled with life and love.
  8. Forgive always as you have been forgiven.
  9. Follow the example of Christ and establish relationships with others in order to share life together, encouraging and edifying one another.
  10. Share the Good News sincerely, kindly, joyfully, gratefully, compassionately, and peacefully with all who have ears to hear.

Brothers and sisters, there is work to be done and not enough workers to do it. Jesus is coming soon. Plant the seeds now, while it is still daytime, and when He returns He will gather a great harvest of souls. Surely there is no one we want to leave behind.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, the send out workers into His harvest field.

Matthew 9: 35-38, NIV



Encouragement, life, purpose

Pick A Different Ending

How’s life going for you these days?

Are you where you want to be?

Is this the way you imagined things would be when you were growing up?

When you were a kid, what did you want to be? Did you make it? Are you there?

Are you happy?

If your spirit is filled with peace and joy, regardless of what is going on around you, that is awesome! I am so happy for you. Continue on!

If your spirit is struggling with fear or anxiety or regret or pain, I am sorry for you. No matter what you thought life would be like when you were young, this probably isn’t it. As children, we are usually filled with hopeful expectation and anticipation of what adventures the future may hold. Some of us get there, and some of us do not.

Are you struggling with the result of poor choices, addictions, bad habits, or unfruitful thought patterns? Do you see more darkness than light at the end of the tunnel? Have you traded the days of hope for nights of hopelessness?

Has anyone ever told you it doesn’t have to be this way?

As long as there is time for one more choice, it isn’t too late. This next choice could be the one that makes the biggest difference. As long as there is time to do something differently than you did the last time, then there is time to be more, to have more. Just because every choice you made in the past may have been the wrong one, you don’t have to keep making that same choice.

There is time to make a different choice. There is time to change the path you are on. New paths lead to new destinations. Just because you’ve always done a thing doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. It’s okay to choose another way. Just because you’ve always taken that first drink or placed that first bet or said that first angry thing or thought that first defeated thought, you don’t have to do it this time.

I’ll ask again. Right now, regardless of your age or circumstance, what do you want to be when you grow up?

It is not too late to have a better day today. It is not too late to have a better tomorrow.

God created you for a purpose. He loves you and has a plan for your very best. You are not an accident or a failure. Jesus died for you. Jesus is alive today, for you. Today is the day the Lord made. Make a choice today to rejoice and be glad in this day. Even if you didn’t win yesterday, you don’t lose unless you give up. Jesus makes old things new and dead things alive. He changes hopelessness into victory. He’s right here, right now, rooting for you. The entire host of heaven is cheering you on. They know you can do it. They know you can choose a better ending for this day, and for the rest of this life.

If you need more, if you want better, it isn’t too late to make a different choice. You are not alone. There is more for you. There is better for you.

All you have to do is pick a different ending.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make the way of escape, that you will be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13, NKJV



life, purpose

Climate Change

Is our planet doomed?

Are we really in danger of being washed away by rising seas or of being incinerated by the heat of an unshielded sun?

Though debate rages over whether or not earth’s temperature is rising, there is still no definitive answer. Those who believe we are headed for imminent disaster and those who think climate change is a hoax are often each unwilling or unable to interact rationally with one another. Because of this, we are no closer to a unified understanding on the topic than we were at the beginning of the debate years ago.

Regardless of your side of the debate, I know, at least partly, why we cannot reach a satisfactory verdict.

Climate change is real…but it may not be what you think.

The real climate change has nothing to do with weather.

It isn’t in our heads. It is in our hearts.

Human beings have wandered so far away from the Garden of God’s creation that souls are left dry and dusty and hearts are dry and brittle. We have become obsessed with finding the fault for this, but are unwilling to give credit where credit is due. Instead of looking for the God of the Garden, we seek out a more “rational” explanation for our deserts of despair.

As we feel more and more parched and thirsty in our spirits, we cast blame everywhere but where it should be. Our politicians have failed us, our neighbors have too many children, the roads are filled to overflowing with bad drivers, life isn’t fair. The truth is, though, that these are all lies we have told ourselves for so long that we believe them. The truth is that taking away the cars or the kids or the politicians won’t fix the dehydrated hearts that are at the root of the problem.

We need water.

We need to open our hearts and minds wide so we can be refreshed. Instead of blaming everything we can possibly think of for why we feel so stingy in our spirits, we should be looking for the water that quenches thirsty souls.

Now, possibly more than ever in history, we need the Living Water.

Forget political correctness and party politics. Put aside race and gender. I am not your enemy, and you are not mine. We are all in this together. No matter what path we take, we will, sooner or later, reach the end of our time on this earth. What happens then will be decided by what we do now. Will we drink the water that keeps us from ever thirsting again, or will we push the cup aside and stay in a cocoon of wilting self pity and want that can be never be satisfied?

Right now, today, you and I need Jesus.

The water He offers is, all at once, refreshing, life saving, and endless in supply. Come, drink the water with me. Join me at the Spring of Living Water. Sit with me by the stream of pure, fresh, cleansing water that washes away the desert dust and causes the seed of life to sprout and grow and thrive.

This is how and where we will change the climate.

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

–Revelation 22:17, NIV