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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!

Here I am to Worship

Do you remember?  I do.  I think about you all often.  Where do you stand?

To the CUMC youth and volunteers of the Mexico Mission Trip 2004 & 2005 and BigStuf 2004.  Pass this on to those who went …

Light of the world

You stepped down into darkness.

Opened my eyes, let me see.

Beauty that made this heart adore You

Hope of a life spent with You

I love this song.  Do you remember it?  It’s powerful.  It’s challenging.  Do you HOPE?  Do you ADORE? 

Here I am to worship,

Here I am to bow down,

Here I am to say that You’re my God

You’re altogether lovely

All together worthy,

All together wonderful to me

Do you believe this?  Really?  What do you bow down to nowadays?  Do you feel the Spirit like you once did?  Is it all together lovely?  Worthy?  Do you say it?  Do you know it?  You’re my God?  Where are you today?  Do you still worship Him?

King of all days

oh, so highly exalted

Glorious in heaven above

Humbly You came

To the earth You created

All for love’s sake became poor

Have you learned humility?  Is God King of all days to you?

Here I am to worship,

Here I am to bow down,

Here I am to say that You’re my God

You’re altogether lovely

All together worthy,

All together wonderful to me

Do you really say it?  Here I am, Lord.  Here I am.  Where is the wonder?

I’ll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

I’ll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

I’ll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

I’ll never know how much it cost

Do you even see sin?  Do you even think about the cost?  Your sin.  Your lies.  Your failure to worship.  Your selfishness.  Do you see it from your past?  I sure see mine.

Here I am to worship,

Here I am to bow down,

Here I am to say that You’re my God

You’re altogether lovely

All together worthy,

All together wonderful to me

I AM here to worship.  God IS worthy.  IS wonderful.  IS lovely.  Will you join me?  Join me again?

Here I am to worship,

Here I am to bow down,

Here I am to say that You’re my God

You’re altogether lovely

All together worthy,

All together wonderful to me

I will bow down to God.  He is MY God.  He is Yours.

I’ll never know how much it cost

to see my sins upon that cross—

I may never understand, but I will accept the gift.  Remember those days.  Remember the missions.  Remember the Spirit.  He is waiting.  Stay with him or begin to run back.  His arms are wide open.

BigStuf 2004 & 2005 links:

Click Here  (Scroll down to Ocean Floor Video)

Here I Am To Worship Lyrics

Artist(Band):Chris Tomlin

Atypical Temptation?

popcornWhat do you think of when you hear the word Temptation?  Chocolate?  Putting butter on the popcorn?  Swiping a nice pen from work?

I was reminded, or rather challenged, today while reading through Matthew 16.  Jesus is encouraged and it comes from someone who apparently cares for him deeply.  Can we blame someone for caring enough to warn against something that could hurt us?  Let’s see:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:21-22)

Now, at first glance, it just seems like Peter is a bit emotional, maybe saddened by what he has just heard.  Maybe he is confused.  Maybe he is zealous and feels Jesus is meant to conquer and not die.  He cares.

Personally, I’ve had many instances where I have explained how I am about to do something and people who care about me, friends and family, speak up and question my intentions.  I’ve heard the same words…

“You can’t do that.  You shouldn’t do that.  Why would you do that?  Are you nuts?  What about your family?  It could be dangerous!  What about your career?”

Have you ever made the choice in favor of God’s will and felt the resistance in a caring way?  This too is temptation.  How did Jesus respond?

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:23-24)

So, we must recognize that Satan can even prompt the most “religious” person to worry, your thornsbest friend to try to change your mind, and even your family to question your decisions.  Go back and read what happened to Job.  It comes down to being sure you are following God’s will, picking up that cross, and heading out to discover the challenge that He has placed before you.  Now, every challenge isn’t dressed up in roses and smelling good.  Even roses have thorns that bite.  The cross has splinters, but the Christian is not worried about that.

Now, how do you handle temptation?

What’s Behind the Door?

the-doorAs I continue to read through Matthew, there is so much to comment on.  I’ll pick and choose as I am led.  Today we get a bit of my own history.

After God showed up in my life, as only He can, I honestly began seeking to understand why?, how?, what is the purpose? etc.  You see, my lack of faith was not revealed in the midst of tragedy or at a time of failure.  God revealed himself to me after my wife and I had successfully made it through our “Year of Hell”.

Why?  In retrospect, His plans were way better than any I could have offered.

How?  God opened doors I didn’t know existed.  Me quit my job right before we were to have a baby?  Go to Cuba on a mission trip?  Lead me to work for one specific company only to quit after less than 2 years after starting AND 6 months before Camden was born?  Sounds like my Atheist friends have it right?  You are nuts!

Well, I followed the plan, and WOW.  Here I am with a wonderful 5 year old son.  Still learning how to be a stay-at-home-dad…my wife has been blessed at work…we have been honest with these blessings…and I know God is leading me into some sort of ministry.  THAT’s the PURPOSE.  I can’t wait.  Some days I get ahead of myself.

So, about this door.  In Matthew, verses 7:7-8 were put on my heart as I wrote my “witness” in preparation for the prayer mission to Cuba.  I was still a “young” Christian then.  Jesus says:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

This verse describes nicely what happened to me over the last 9 years.  Answers don’t necessarily come when I want them, after all isn’t God’s grace supposed to be sufficient for me?  Yep, that’s right.  I will say that each morning that I pray, things happen.  The mornings I miss prayer time, things happen too, I just seem to have a much tougher time handling them as a Christian should.  I like this verse because it is very deep.  It can’t be read in a shallow manner.  The language indicates one must have a truly open heart and mind; an expectation.  Notice that is starts with asking or a knock.  That’s humility, being humble of heart.  leather-rockerThat’s not demanding, that’s not “I deserve this”.

I look back on my life and see that humility is how God revealed himself to me.  He gave it to me in a moment sitting in my leather rocker in the apartment back in 1998.  Too simple, yet so life changing.

Tough truth

You have a good job and life.  You are able to buy just about anything you want.  Next year you need more, maybe.  Your job is unsatisfying so you look for a new job to define yourself and support the family with honor.  Are these things bad?  Could they be the wrong ideas?  I’m still reading in John and getting more and more out of it.  From the following verses:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.(The Holy Bible : NIV Jn 12:23-26)

Wow, this really spoke to me.  I’ve heard it before, read it many times before, but it made me really think about my life.  What did Jesus mean by “hate”?  It seems clear to me that He meant our “old life” before becoming a true Christian.  You could also argue that it means all aspects of our life, meaning we should all be missionaries, etc.  In a sense I think both of these thoughts are correct.
—-Let’s look at Paul, in some of his letters in the New Testament he is a “tent-maker” working when he needs to, and staying with supporters when they “support” him.  Paul was not defined by his job of tent-making, he was defined by his relationship with God and what he did about it!
—-Mary and Martha seemed to be hard workers surrounding Lazarus, they had many of the same feelings we have (i.e. busy-ness, sorrow, joy) They were not missionaries like Paul.  They supported Lazarus as far as we can tell and may have supported Jesus for a time too.  Lazarus attracted lots of attention because we was raised from the dead.  In John, it speaks of how many people came to know Christ through Lazarus.
—-Also, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Peter spent a lot of time performing miracles and spreading the Word.  BUT, we must also recognize that they had much help behind the scenes that wasn’t often spoken of in the Bible.  There was the scenario when they needed help dealing with feeding all the widows.  They noted that they needed someone to step up and take care of this ministry so they could take care of their own ministry of spreading the Gospel. (The pastor cannot do everything!)
—-So, what am I getting at?  In just a few examples, we see that we are all supposed to work in some way.  The job may change too.  We do need to put food on the table and take care of family.  The key is that we are also supposed to be ministering in some way.  Feeding the poor, preaching, helping others, encouraging, but doing these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  God says he gave us all spiritual gifts.  Can you tell what spiritual gifts those listed above had?
—-Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?  Have you ever taken what is called a spiritual gift assessment?  Here is a simple one, but there are many out there.  Try a few and see if you have a hidden gift you have never developed!!!
The Bible tells us we are all ambassadors for Jesus Christ.  We are to be defined by a new life in Christ, and we are to look back on our old life and truly “hate it”.  Are you still defined by your job, your standing in life?  Maybe it’s time to take a look, and see what God may truly have in store for you!  Don’t miss out!
In Christ,
Jeff