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Spiritual Unemployment

I’ve been in too many grocery stores where it seems that a tornado went through and rearranged everything randomly so that I could have a “fun” challenge to find what I was looking for that day. Maybe you’ve shared my experience? My thoughts…? …Where are all the workers? Why are they not doing their jobs!!! How about trying to find an employee to ask a question at a hardware store? Yep, same question. Where is everyone? I need help after all!

Now, before you get too sucked into a handful of bad memories, think about some history. Maybe your history. Have you ever been in a job where you felt overwhelmed, felt that management should provide more workers to get the job done? What happens all too often today is what? Yes, the company cuts the workforce even further and expects you to work EVEN MORE! Crazy and infuriating, correct?

The fact of expecting more from workers is in the blood of our nation historically. This attitude is a failing and not a strength. Maybe you disagree, but I doubt it.

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, to send out workers into his harvest field.”LordofHarvest2_987450940

Jesus recognized the problem that we are all too well acquainted with! This passage from the end of Matthew 9 is regarding Jesus sending out the disciples. Whether you are a Christian or not, you most likely know that Jesus did a lot of work over a short period of time (3 years or so). If he hadn’t, then there would be no way the Christian faith would still be around today. Or am I wrong about that theory?

Let’s think this through. Jesus did turn a lot of heads and did die for ALL sin, so I’m not belittling the sacrifice. I am going to say that it wasn’t really Jesus who propagated the Christian faith. It was the workers. Read that passage again. Jesus tells his disciples to pray for workers to be send out. Doesn’t Jesus know that he IS sending out his Disciples? Of course he does! Jesus knows that there needs to be a lot of workers!! Note that in this instance he didn’t say to pray for those that needed help…he said to pray for workers. I don’t think we do this…and we wonder why there are billions of unbelievers and starving people around the world.  Hmm.

So, are you a worker? Do you pray for workers to go into the “harvest fields”? You see, in our culture we have failed to study, to really read the words of Jesus in many ways. We sit at home, we read about other people doing the work, we wonder why things aren’t getting better…. We are sickened at the disarray of the Church, sad that more people have not come to faith in Christ, and lost as to how to do anything about it…

In much the same way, we are baffled at poorly kept grocery shelves, no help to find the garage door part we need and having to do the work of three people. Do you see any links here?

  • We need to pray for workers to enter the mission field, Jesus said to do this.
  • We need to stop and listen and be a part of the solution
  • We need to look in the mirror at our culture to see exactly why our faith is so weak.

You may be employed at a job, but are you spiritually unemployed? What are you going to do about it? You might want to consider starting to pray. After all, in many places like South Korea they fill stadiums up at 4am to do nothing but pray. What are we missing?  They fill stadiums just to pray.  We ARE missing something.

Thanks God and to David Platt whose book Radical inspired my thoughts today.

The Waiting Game

A nudge, give me clarity.

A feeling, give me a sign.

A command, will I listen?

Have you had a feeling?  You know the one where you seem to have found a sixth sense? No, not like in the movie…”I see dead people”.  More like someone is watching you, or knowing the time is right? How often? Do you wait on these feelings before acting?

I am challenged in my life. Over the years it’s seems that I’ve had clear feelings about the direction I should be taking with my life. Am I right to expect this now, or am I using it as an excuse? Are you?

What are your plans for your life? Have you thought about it, or do you coast by day by day with no plan? Let me talk about this idea of a plan first, then we’ll wrap up.

I think as American’s or those living in wealthy countries we typically have or had at one time a plan for success. It’s who we are. Maybe these plans got sidetracked or squelched. Maybe there is no light at the end of the tunnel, seemingly. Let me challenge you to consider the plan outlined in the Bible. See if it can be sidetracked or squelched as compared to your personal plan.radical

God challenges us to “Go”, to “Make Disciples”, and “Baptize” from Matthew 28. God’s plan is all about telling the story of salvation, to making it known what this thing called sin is and to helping usher in as many people into the Kingdom of Heaven as possible. If you believe as I do, then this is a worthy cause. Much higher than my goal of making tons of money (which as you know can’t be taken with us upon death).

I’ve been reading an excellent book by David Platt, called “Radical”. I highly recommend it for Christians and non-Christians. Why non-Christians? Because this book truly and unabashedly explains what a true Christian should be all about. It clears the air over the argument that “I don’t want to be a Christian because of what the Christian’s I know are like”. It paints the picture of what God expects and ironically, it’s straight from the Bible in which we’re supposed to be reading, supposed to be learning from though prayer and meditation. It’s a challenge, but should that be a surprise?

Consider these biblical truths…. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All liars…will have their part in the lake of fire. You are saved by faith not by works. Everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Believe and be baptized, every one of you.

God’s plan is for us to all be saved. Who is going to spread the word? Have you considered that the Bible does not say that only a couple of people are to GO? All of us are to spread the Gospel. All of us are to BE teachers and speakers and vessels for God’s plan to spread. If we choose not to, we are fooling ourselves, we are passing the buck. We are waiting for someone else to do the work, when we have already been called.

Do we wait for the feeling, the nudge? Or, do we listen to the clear command that has already been placed on our lives? You have been called to be a part of the plan. There are no excuses.

For clarity, FEEL the nudge.

For a sign, READ what is already there.

To listen, OBEY His command.

What would Satan do?

Listen. Sometimes you have to give an article a flashy title to get people interested, okay? In this case though, this is exactly what I’m going to be talking about.

If you have ever read the biblical account of Job, then you may know Job went through hell on earth by being tested through several trials, like disease, loss of family, loss of wealth, loss of respect and all at the hands of Satan. See my old post “What Happened to Job“, if you care to read about this great story. We learn in the book of Job that Satan has been allowed many “abilities”, some of which allow him to do great harm and manipulation in our world.

First, let’s backtrack and set the stage. Most of my readers live in the USA and for the most part we live in a culture that epitomizes the American Dream. The dream that we can make ourselves into whatever we want. We can work hard and get whatever we want. We can make it happen if we try. Sounds good on the surface doesn’t it?

Now, let’s dig into this ideology. We see words like ourselves and we in the definition above which equates to me, myself and I. Are you with me? Good. I thought this would be easy for you. Moving on, we can easily see that this American Dream concept has also translated into an “I want this”, and an “I want that” mentality. A mentality of materialism.materialism

Next, we can look at how we live. Why do we dream? Isn’t it to make money so we can buy something or earn respect in someone’s eyes or provide a grand lifestyle? I like a statement I’ve heard my pastor and others proclaim.

We work so we can buy something we don’t need, so we can impress the people around us that we don’t even like or even care to know.

How sick and wrong is that? Can you honestly deny that you’ve taken part in this mentality? Now let’s transition to the meat of this rumination. What does the church look like in your neighborhood?

Let’s think about all of the church splits, church arguments about money, doctrinal battles and overall strife among denominations. Where does this come from? Obviously in the church, it comes from having an attitude like that of Christ and the concept of loving your neighbor as yourself, right? Ha! LOL! Where does it come from people? You tell me. How about, “I want this”, “I want that”? Hmm.

Sorry to say this, but I contend that the idea of the American Dream is a tool that Satan has used VERY well to get us to forget the real mission of the Church (with a capital C), so that we would spend our energy worrying about MY church (little c) and what type of music SHOULD be played. Our churches have become materialistic, our attitudes revolve around this concept and it shows.

In the bible Job was a righteous man and he was tested in oh so many ways. He passed the test and came out better in the end. How are we doing in the midst of our testing?  What do our attitudes truly show?

Jesus said, GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS

….oh, I’m not called to do that…I can’t, I have a church meeting about the building project…isn’t that the job of missionaries?…here, have some money so I feel like I’m a part of the work…this year I’m going on vacation maybe next year…I can’t give now because I have a cable bill, cell phone bill, car payment and credit card bill due.

What would Satan do?

In this case does he even…..need…..to do…..anything..…else?

Snake Oil Salesmen Did it Right

Back in the day, and I mean BACK, small towns would sometimes be graced with the presence of the traveling salesman. Sometimes what was sold would be “snake oil” or something pretty good! These guys made their way across the country, working hard.snake-oil-salesmen Today, we could equate this work to a talented inventor working diligently to get his idea out there to make a difference in their realm of influence. And, on a larger scale, a company advertising hard to let the world know about their products so they could grow and make a living for their employees.

It’s funny to me how snake oil salesman was the first thing I thought of for this post. After all, many people have equated this profession to the world of religion. There is a huge distinction that I will make though and it will make complete sense if you stick with me. First, let’s take a look at the Great Commission again (see last post).

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matt 28:19)

In today’s church culture, it seems that we stick to our church buildings. We might talk to a neighbor, or do some meaningful work in the city, but for the most part we are not sharing the gospel are we? Think about that. If you are a born again Christian, true Catholic or committed to your denomination, meaning that you have stepped off the podium of life and placed Jesus on it, then how many people have you honestly shared the gospel with this past week, month, year(s)? I have to ask this question of myself too.

Let’s think back to the salesman, or the inventor, or the company looking to sell their goods and ideas. How successful would they have been if they just talked about helping people and served some food, but never talked about the real product they were invested in? What would it look like if they rode into town proclaiming they were a salesman but never explained what they were selling? WOW. Let’s read that again in a slightly different way.

What would it look like to proclaim to be a Christian, but never explain to anyone what that meant?

Hi, I’m a Christian! Yep, my calling is to proclaim the gospel to all nations! Here’s $10, I’ll pray for you! Here, have a meal, the potatoes are great tonight! Oh, you have questions? Here’s my church address…and my pastor’s phone number…

Are you uncomfortable yet? I hope so, since this is the church for the most part in the USA today with a few exceptions. Go and make disciples…this takes effort, commitment and time…of all nations…this means leaving your town, your country and getting the word out if you are able…baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…this means taking the next step, coming alongside a new believer and bringing them into the Kingdom.

It’s not just the pastor’s job, it’s every Christians’ job. Be like the snake oil salesman, not in the product that they sell, but in the effort in which the work was done. Have you ever considered why God has blessed the USA with so much money? Maybe it was so we would have the means to be able to fulfill the Great Commission, not so we could go out and buy one more thing that we don’t truly need.

Next up: Materialism and why the USA has already lost. Oh, this should be good!

All About “Me”?

Jesus died for “Me”

Of course, Jesus died in order to take away the sins of the world. The lies, theft, misuse of God’s name, all the times God was not put first in our lives.  Believe in the lordship of Jesus and be baptized, as the bible says, this may not be what your pastor has told you…(Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31-33, etc)

Jesus died in order to give God glory

Now, here is the part we seem to have missed or forgotten. Everything, and I mean everything that happened on the cross, at the hands of Jesus, with the Israelites in Egypt, the walls of Jericho tumbling down, and Paul’s many journey’s witnessing to the Gentiles and beyond, everything was done to bring glory to God. God, the one and only. God the Creator. God, the only one who deserves it… (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Ps 96:1-9, I Chron 16:23-29, John 17, I Cor 10:31, etc)

Jesus died so that I could give God the glory20150116_124617

So, when we think of our salvation, or consider the idea of salvation if you are not saved from your sins, we must put these thoughts into context. The reason God wants us to be saved is more than the fact that he loves us, it’s that he also calls us to bring him glory! In all things we are to bring glory to God…(I Cor 10:31)

Give God the glory by Going and Making Disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

At the end of Matthew, Jesus proclaims the Great Commission as written above. Go and make disciples etc, right? Why? To give glory to God. Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why? To give glory to God! Go and baptize, making disciples of all nations. Why? To give glory to God…Not because God simply loved “me”.

Summary

“Me”, “Me”, “Me” sounds like a line from The Matrix Trilogy when Agent Smith was duplicating himself.  If Jesus simply died for “me”, then when I am saved I am done! Yipee! I figured this salvation thing out!

I think God is disgusted with us.  The goal is to glorify God and our culture misses this fact. Read John Chapter 17 to get a feel for this concept, or do a little searching and you will find the concept of giving God all the glory pervades scripture. Jesus died for me so that I could bring glory to God through my salvation, to all nations. Going to church once a week for an hour doesn’t fulfill this command. Serving food in a homeless shelter once in a while doesn’t fulfill this command to go, go, go either, does it?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus clearly preached that the path to hell is wide but the path to eternal life is narrow and only a few will find it? (Matt 7:13-14).  Have you ever meditated on this scripture and wondered what it means?  Have you bought into a watered down version of Christianity?  Will you one day say “Lord, Lord”, but Jesus will say he never knew you? (Matt 7:22-23)

Next up: All nations doesn’t mean your town, your state or simply your nation. More on that in my next blog post!

One Sin

 must admit, at times I feel that it seems harsh that one lie would keep me out of heaven.  It’s true, but at the same time, hard to swallow at times.  So, like I usually try and do, I went to my trusty bible to try and make even more sense of this truth I have known for many years.  AND… I got my answer.

I’ve read the book of Romans a ton of times, but WOW, these verses in Chapter 5 hit home and really made this whole sin issue make a lot more sense.  If we read Romans 5:16-19, we see several references to the “one sin”.   This being the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Adam was right there with Eve, but allowed the “one sin” to occur when they ate from the tree God told them not to eat of.  Paul wrote clearly about this history as recorded in Genesis.  Paul is also clear that this “one sin” is why we all have a problem with disobedience, lying, stealing, lusting, hating, sin, sin, sin.

So, to clear up my original confusion in paragraph one, I came to the realization (again) that God is completely Holy, Perfect and Sinless.  To God, having sin around is kind of like throwing hot oil into water.   BOOM!  THEY CANNOT MIX.  So, no matter how I may perceive sin, or how bad “one lie” really is, God sees it ALL as hot oil that can be thown into that pan of water.  No amount of it is good, or okay, or just a white lie.  It is ALL worthy of hell.  Can you imagine trying to coax the water into not reacting to the hot oil being spilled into the pan?  This is the same as imagining God dealing with sin, any amount of it.

So, to sum up, “one sin” will keep you out of heaven just like water will explode with even a drop of hot oil.  That’s why we need a Savior that was meant to wash us of that sin, or in this context, remove that hot oil so the water will be pure and calm.  Pretty cool.

Blessings,

Jeff

-Original posting was June 5, 2008-

Evil

I’m between overwhelmingly distraught and sinfully angry.  I’m tearful about the kindergarten kids who lost their lives and the families affected (RE Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown CT).  I’m angry at the moral decline of our nation (and the world).  I can’t be quiet and politically correct anymore.https://i1.wp.com/a.abcnews.com/images/US/ap_10_school_shooting_sandy_hook_nt_121215_ssh.jpg

First, I realize that some crazy person could have done this same act of horror 100 years ago, but really, this is almost becoming commonplace!  Why?  What do you think?  Evolution?  Anger over not having what someone else has?  Genetically born problems that are increasingly more common?  Why?

What I do know is that evil is real; it has never taken a rest.  I’ll tell you who has taken a rest, us!  Evil is combated through prayer, faithfulness and being a part of a community that holds each other accountable.  We don’t do this enough anymore.  We don’t live this enough anymore!  Instead we fight it, we whine, we spend our energy battling about the display of the Ten Commandments and Christmas Trees instead of the truth behind the displays.  All the while, the agenda of evil never changes.  We change.  We lose.  We drift and become what you see today.  What is truth?  It used to be known, but today everyone has their own truth, hmmm.

We’ve seen shootings several times over the past few years and it has truly nothing to do with gun control.  Forget trying to get political here, this is way bigger than politics, gun control or parental decision making.  We have put God in the backseat or even the trunk and we now have what we asked for… Why?  Are you surprised?

The evil in this world, as written in the Bible, is something that people are a part of and don’t want to be seen as being a part of…The Bible uses Light and Dark to explain this concept.  Evil does not like the light, for then it is exposed!  If we all bask in the darkness, the world is submerged in evil!  All believers are to be the light, we are to expose the darkness for what it is, evil!  Too often we are afraid to be the light because we know we have also done evil or been a part of evil in our lives.  As long as we are fearful of our past, we can never be the Light Jesus talks about.

Until we decide to make a shift in this country in the other direction, we will continue to be consumed by the evil in this world.  Are you seriously surprised?  If you are not, then what are you doing to combat evil?

I pray for the families affected and cannot imagine their grief.  I’m just so sad and sickened by this shooting.

The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” — C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) The Screwtape Letters