boyradd

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Archive for the tag “discipleship”

Can you tell me about Jesus?

John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

So today, after the snowstorm of the century in Maryland (actually, it was only the 7th worst storm in the last 30 years), I decided to go to the grocery store. Safeway was not busy at all, so I got a space pretty close to the front. Since there weren’t a lot of cars, I was able to pull through the parking space and into the next space.

When I came out of the store, I rolled the cart to my car and started to put the groceries in the trunk. The space behind me was still open, and there were several other spaces throughout the parking lot that were actually closer to the store than the one behind me.

I just put the last bag in the car as it dropped and the groceries went all over the back of the trunk. I started to clean them up when a car started to pull into the spot. The woman blew her horn and proceeded to yell at me through her windows. I couldn’t understand what she said because all her windows were up, but she clearly was not happy at me.

I held up my index finger to say, “give me a minute” and continued to clean up the groceries in the trunk.

She blew her horn again and, as I looked at her, she threw up her arms in frustration and stared at me until I was finished.

I rolled the cart to the cart return area as she parked right behind me. As I walked back to my car I noticed a couple of Christian decals on her car.

When she got out of the car, I decided to ask her if she could tell me about the gospel message.

She gave me a nasty look and turned and walked away from me and into the store.

My mentor shared a sermon once as the church handed out bumper stickers to everyone that he didn’t want people to put the stickers on their cars if they were going to not act like a Christian as they drove places. This woman was clearly the subject matter of his sermon.

Now when I asked this woman to share the gospel message with me I clearly had a ulterior motive (I needed a topic this week for my blog!)

But the point, to me, is clear as crystal.

The world is watching us.

What would have happened if it wasn’t me, but someone who really needed to hear the gospel?

What if someone was contemplating the sermon they just heard and whether they need Jesus in their life and then they have this experience.

Now let me say that I don’t know what this woman was going through. She may have had a serious problem happen in her life that I don’t know about that she is struggling with that set her off.

But the world doesn’t know that, unfortunately.

The world just sees a supposed Christian woman acting very un-Christian like.

When that happens, we lose our testimony.

I know a lot of people who would say that this woman is not a Christian because of the way she acted. And she may not be.

But what if she really is?

As I said, she might just be having a very bad day that set her off.

But Satan isn’t trying to “unsave” the Christians.

Satan is trying to destroy our testimonies.

Satan knows that he can’t take us out of God’s hands. So he wants to bring doubt, confusion, anger, bitterness, sarcasm, and other demons into our lives to make sure that Christians can’t share their testimony.

That might have been the case today. This woman might have been having such a bad day and she was trying to handle everything on her own instead of relying on God. What that does is causes us to handle our issues incorrectly.

We lash out.

We say those four-letter words.

We hurt those we love.

We get our testimonies destroyed by the one who comes to kill and destroy.

So what is the answer? How do we ensure that Satan doesn’t kill our testimonies?

Well, even though Jesus, in the beatitudes, commands us to “be perfect,” you are not perfect. You won’t get it right all the time.

But God…

God has enough grace and mercy to love you and give you your testimony back.

The way to do that is to follow what is written in the Bible,

James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

While I only chose James 4:7, the entire beginning of James 4 is pertinent to this post. James asks us what causes quarrels among us? It is our passion. It is our desire to put ourselves on the altar and not God.

But you might say to me, “Fred, I asked God for help and he never answered me.”

What does James say about this?

James 4:1-12 – What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

James pretty much pegged what that woman this morning was going through. Even though I don’t know the specifics, the fruit of her actions is evident. She didn’t submit to God. Even if she asked God for help, she ask wrongly.

And that is our problem as Christians.

We tend to think that God will do so much more for us that He already did.

Jesus already died on the cross. He did that so you could have an eternity with Him. But sometimes I believe we expect Him to fix every problem that comes our way. To replace the rainy seasons with rainbows, to take away our bad attitudes and idolatry and replace it with smiles and peace.

God is not a genie in a bottle.

We have accountability in this life. If we choose to humble ourselves, God will exalt us. If we choose to exalt ourselves, God will humble us.

Here is my challenge to you, Christian.

Over the next week, take everything you do and place God before it completely. Are you about get in your car and go to work? Pray and ask God to guide you. Are you about to go eat lunch? Pray and thank God for the provision. Are you about to come into a rainy season? Pray and ask God to give you clarity about how to get through it.

It may seem awkward at first. But eventually you will feel more and more comfortable with talking to God and you will learn how to talk to Him and how to listen to Him.

Learning to be a Blogger

Mark 16:15-16 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

So I just got my stats for blogging for 2013.  They look very interesting and I am able to make some very (un)scientific conclusions from the results.  I’d like to go through some of the stats and explain how I think my writing will change over the next 12 months.

First, the number of people to my site doubled in 2013 and the busiest days for my blog were basically the month of July.  This is very similar to 2012 when the majority of my visits came in at the end of July.  So what happened in July of both years?

I went on a mission trip to Peru.

CONCLUSION #1:  People love Peruvians.  Ok, maybe THAT isn’t the conclusion to draw here.  I think that people love to read about mission journeys.  The reason for that, I believe, is that everyone really has a desire to travel the world to help someone in need.  Years ago when I was preaching in Nigeria, there was a kid who had very little telling me, “Sir, thank you for coming to my country to preach to us.  The reason you do so is that we can come to your country on missions trips and save them.”

That comment has never left my brain.  It affected me so much that from that moment forward, I knew that my life is small compared to what God’s plan is for this world.

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Next, of my top 5 posts, four of them in 2013 were direct apologetics or theological statements.  The fifth was on farting (spiritual farting, but farting nonetheless).  And of those top 5 posts of 2013, three of them I posted in 2012!!!

CONCLUSION:  People love apologetics and farting.  Ok, maybe that is a little off base as well.  But 2013 I spent a lot more time trying to use my direct experiences to lead people to Christ.  But the most read posts were ones that simply led people to study the Word more.  Maybe that is what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me in my posts, that I should spend more time digging into the Word on my blog rather than applying it personally.  My top read posts for both 2012 and 2013 were on predestination and election.  Those posts for two years straight have been used as sources in seminary papers even!

Well, I can tell you that I am feverishly working on where my own views of theology lie.  I’ve been reading Millard Erikson’s Christian Theology and peppering in many other sources as I read through his 1300 page book.  Slowly, I am finding that I agree with much of the systematic theological method and that I have some concerns as well.  Throughout much of 2014, I plan on posting pieces of this theology as it grows inside me.

Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Third, where people found me is not very surprising.  In 2012, Twitter and LinkedIn were my top two referring sites.  This year, Twitter was number one with Facebook number two.  What is interesting about that is that I don’t even have a Facebook account.  This means that my blog is being posted on other people’s accounts and other people I don’t even know are clicking onto my blog.

CONCLUSION:  If you are in ministry, you should be blogging, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on LinkedIn.  While this is unscientific, I have posted multiple times about the use of social media and how it can be used to gain significant traffic to your sites and eventually your brick and mortar churches.  Pastors…BE ONLINE.

This next piece kind of goes along with the above information.  In 2012, I had people from 26 countries visit my blog.  That is 13% of the world’s countries.  In 2013, I had 64 countries find my blog, including places like China, North Korea, and Iceland (I know Iceland isn’t filled with danger for Christians, but it is a really cool thing that someone from Iceland read my blog!).  64 countries equals 33% of the known world!  My goal is to have my blog touch at least one person in all 195 of the countries in the world today.

CONCLUSION:  We are called to make disciples in all nations.  I understand that reading an electronic blog is not discipleship in the traditional sense.  But in many countries, especially in countries where the church is persecuted, the only opportunity Christians have to get the Word is either orally or digitally.  Don’t you think it would be wonderful for members of the persecuted church to get actual digital representations of the Bible on their computer?  They wouldn’t need to save it to their computers where militants could find it and persecute them more.  They could just go to your website and find a verse here or there with a parable, story, or explanation.  How cool is that!

2 Corinthians 2:14 – But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

So what am I taking away from all of this blog analysis?

First, I will write more studies on the Word and more apologetics.  I’ll still use parable, story, and experience but it is evident that my readers want more meat and potatoes.

Next, I will strive to get the word out about this blog so that it can touch lives in all 195 countries of the world.  Please keep that in prayer.  That is one vision God has given me and I would love to see that come to be.

Finally, I will remain a voice to the church about turning social media into God’s channel.  I learned today that groups like Al Quaeda and the mafia have been using social media to get the word out about the dark dealings.

Why can’t we use it to shine the light of Christ?

We should strive to own the world wide web!  We want to take Christ and the gospel into all the world, right?  What better way to take Bibles into places where there are none?  What better way to spread the gospel to places that have little or no missionaries.

What better way to become a missionary?  A digital missionary!

So church, let’s work together to take the Word of God to the world.  Not only physically, but digitally.  Let’s show the world that we as Christians will not be silent.  That we will go into the places that no one else will and share the love of Jesus.

Amen.

Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

The Church has Left the Building

Acts 1:8 –  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

A few days ago, I was driving in MD when I saw this van.

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THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS SUPPOSED TO BE!

I got so excited.  I looked at my son and said, “take a picture.”  When God eventually allows me to plant a church, THAT is what I want the church to be about!

How many churches are focused on making bigger or better interiors which are more comfortable for people to come to while the world is still a cold, uncomfortable place for the Christian?  It is our job as the leadership in a church to equip our members to go out and bring more people “in.”  I put quotes around the word “in” because while we want these new converts to come to our church, we should just want them to go to any Bible-believing church.  It isn’t about our numbers.  It is about heaven’s numbers.

Acts 2:47 – Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

It is no secret that a church needs to make its numbers.  It needs to bring in tithes in order to support the paid members of the staff.  This is precisely why it is imperative for Christians to support your local church.  God expects us to give our 10% to the local church.  The expectation of God is to support our local ministry.  It is up to the local ministry to manage that tithe to support the local community.

In return the local ministry provides much more than a weekly pep talk on Sundays.  Your tithe goes to missions work.  That missions work can be international or local.  For example, my church supports ministries in India, Dubai, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, and many other countries.  Beyond that, we support local organizations such as a local elementary school, a food pantry, and multiple outreach missions.

Your tithe goes to support those organizations.

Malachi 3:10 – Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

But then your tithe goes to supporting discipleship training.  When I tell someone on the street that I am a disciple, they get this look on their face that makes me think I have a snot ball hanging from my nose.  Discipleship training is simply teaching someone how to live a life like Jesus.  Yes, we will never be perfect at it.  But there is no arguing that Jesus led a life that no one can claim was corrupted.  If we strive to live like Him, then we will find that we, too, will live a life that is moral.

Your tithe also goes to supporting programs that will improve the church so that the next generation can be served.  My parents loved the church I grew up in.  They would take me and go every week.  I thought it was THE most boring place on earth.  They didn’t allow the kind of music I liked (of course, I don’t know of too many churches that play “Rock All Night” by KISS).  I thought the pastor was focused only on the old people with the style of preaching he did.

Our churches are no different.  Our kids want to go to a kids program that is relevant.  Don’t roll out a kids program unless it is age specific.  First graders should not be combined with fifth graders.  Yes, they are both elementary students, but both learn very differently.  Our middle schoolers and high schoolers should begin having their own Bible studies.  But those studies should be targeted to what THEY are going through.  Sending an 8th grader to a book study on Song of Solomon is not quite what an 8th grader needs.  Perhaps something more on an 8th grader’s life, such as peer pressure, lying to your parents, or working hard need to be the focus of the study.  Young adults need a different way to learn as well.  Those young professionals enjoy going out in large groups, maybe to a sporting event.  Their discipleship needs to happen while life is being experienced.  It is how they learn.  Crusty, old guys like me enjoy one on one discipleship.  We like to remember our past and share it with others.  Us old folk like to relive our past, while the young adults like to experience the future.

So your tithe goes to supporting various programs to multiple different demo- and psycho-graphics.

Other than 7-11, how many companies that we spend much more than 10% of our income on are targeting every type of person out there?  Shouldn’t we be supporting a church that is working to not just give Jesus to people (that itself is enough to want to support a church) but also striving to improve the lives of every person who sets foot in the building.

To do that, the church needs to have the equipment necessary to reach every person.  To do that, the church needs to be able to seat all the people, create opportunities of fellowship for the people, and create some amenities for enjoyment for the attenders.

It is difficult to support ancillary programs in a church.  The programs may seem like luxuries.  But without some of those items that we may consider luxuries, the next generation will be stuck in a building that will become a burden for them to visit.  The next generation will have no desire to go outside the building and bring others into the building.  The church will die.

Ephesians 4:11-12 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

If you truly want your church to leave the building, then you need to get it ready to equip them before they leave and make it a place that they want others to come.

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