Grace and Truth
How should we, as Christ-followers, communicate with our culture? We shouldn’t forget, how we share is as important as what we say. Unless truth is spoken in love, it becomes un-hearable, and not truth at all. The Bible says, “…the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, ESV) If we ever hope to speak for the God of love, we will need to season His marvelous truth with grace. In order to represent Jesus well, the One who loves everyone unconditionally, we will need to “…be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT) “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15, ESV) “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” (James 1:19)
Prayer for Luis Palau
Life sends challenges our way, that bring us to our knees and cause us to cry out to God for others. We are our brother’s keeper and guardian, (Genesis 4:9) and “sit together in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 2:6, NKJV) As members of Christ’s body, “…If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26, NLT) And so, here is a special prayer request. Luis Palau, a world-renowned evangelist who’s touched millions, needs our prayers. He’s battling cancer. Recently, I saw a video he made with his two sons, Kevin and Andrew, that so humbly presented the need it made me cry. Like Aaron and Hur, his godly sons, filled with faith in their God, and love for their father, stood next to him explaining the need for prayer. So, I ask that you pause for a moment and pray for Luis Palau and his precious family.
Music and Unity
We all love music. It warms our soul and comforts our heart. It lifts us up when we are down and heals us when we hurt. But music can also teach us how to relate to one another in healthy ways. Music’s harmonies affirm our diversity. Music’s modulations take us to new heights. We don’t have to walk in uniformity. We can celebrate our God-given differences. Harmony is actually meticulously crafted diversity. We sing our songs together, in harmony, not in unison, and our harmonizing creates a marvelous unity, once again demonstrating the oneness in God’s diverse and complex creation. The boredom of uniformity will eventually drive you to discord. Sing the one-of-a-kind melody God has given you and find others with like-hearts. Living in that kind of harmony will actually bring Heaven to Earth.
Jesus’s Target Mission
Are you part of God’s target audience? Let’s see. Jesus came to Earth on a target mission to reach a particular audience. The Bible says, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) He only came to Earth for those who know they’re lost. He said, “…I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13) Jesus only came for people who know they’re sick, proclaiming, “…only sick people need a doctor.” (Mark 2:17) We’re all lost. We’ll all sick. Sadly though, most people are in denial and will never allow their Creator to rescue them…the Divine Physician to heal them. If you’ve been in denial about your need, today is a perfect day to pray, “Jesus rescue me! Heal me! And I will follow You all the days of my life.”
Robert Jermain Thomas
Robert Jermain Thomas, as a missionary seemed to fail miserably. But amongst South Korea’s Christian community, this Welsh missionary is a household name. He brought the first bibles to Korea 150 years ago, and now Korea is perhaps the most Christianized country in the world. At 27 years old, after losing his young wife and baby during childbirth in China, he went by boat to Korea, gave away thousands of bibles, but was beheaded and martyred for his faith. Though it would take 40 years, the seed of his obedience and death eventually led to many thousands of Koreans coming to Jesus. Decades after his martyrdom, one of the men who killed Robert Jermain Thomas came forward during a late-night church service. His public acknowledgement brought a spirit of repentance that sparked a revival that continues today.
What Are We Spreading?
Every one of us are spreading something! The question is, what are we spreading? The ten spies were given the privilege of conquering the land God had promised them, but instead of walking courageously into this marvelous inheritance, they gave into doubt and unbelief and consequently spread fear throughout the wandering nation of Israel. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, had a different spirit. Believing God’s promise that they would inherit their promised land, they spread a message of faith, standing on the truth of God’s Word and promises. Their obedience and courageous proclamation did not immediately persuade the masses, but eventually they would lead their nation into all God promised. What hope, faith and love has God given you to spread. Don’t base your success on how others respond, but on whether you are obedient.
Capture the Flag
One of the most exhilarating games I played in my youth was Capture the Flag. It so reminds me of the spiritual rescuing I endeavor to do every day. The objective of the game is for players on two teams to make their way into the opposing team’s territory, grab a flag and return with it to their own territory without being tagged. On their own ground players are “safe”, but once they cross into the opposing team’s zone they’re vulnerable. Enemy players who are “tagged” are placed in jail. The thrill of the game is either running through enemy territory to liberate those in jail, or to be captured yourself and waiting for someone to liberate you. Being liberated, and then liberating others is the greatest joy in life! Isn’t that what Jesus has done for those of us who know Him?
Aerial Snowboarders and Their Coaches
While watching Aerial Snowboard Jumpers in the Winter Olympics, I heard a marvelous fact that reminded me of the criticalness of following God’s Spirit. Aerial Snowboarders ski off 10-foot ramps and are propelled 20 feet into the air while performing multiple flips before landing on an inclined hill. Some aerialists can perform triple back flips with five twists. It’s thrilling to watch! But, there was a hidden reality even more breathtaking. As the jumper’s twist and turn in the air, they lose their orientation. Consequently, they must rely completely on the voice of their coach who is offering direction during their jump. Their coach sees what they can’t see. If they listen to their coach, they land safely. If they don’t, they can potentially suffer serious injury. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Only He knows how to help you land safely.
Haven’t you found that there are different levels of believing. At times, I’ve met unbelieving believers; believers who were living as if they didn’t really believe anything of great consequence. At other times, I’ve encountered believing unbelievers; unbelievers who were so passionate and dedicated in proclaiming something that frankly was not worth believing. Yet, the fervency of these unbelievers made me only wish that all of us who are genuine Christ-followers would be as abandoned and committed as those who have given themselves fully to what was not worth believing or following. The question is, who are you and I: believers in Jesus who are filled with faith or unbelief? And who are the unbelievers around us who would gladly believe, if we modeled and then offered them a Jesus worth believing in?
Loving Your Enemies
Jesus loves your enemies. Will you join Him? We can see Christ’s heart with the Woman at the Well. She’s an outcast Samaritan, offering Him water at a Samaritan well. He’s a Jew, offering her the only water that leads to everlasting life. He wanted to help her, to love and heal someone least like Himself. The Message says, “This is what God does. He gives His best…the sun to warm and the rain to nourish–to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” (Matthew 5:45, The Message) Unlike God, the devil comes to destroy. We can tell whom we represent by our end goal: to see others fulfilled or destroyed. Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) Jesus is still coming to love and heal. Will you join Him?
Listening is Loving
Our willingness to listen is one of the greatest indicators of how much we love. Jesus said that in the Last Days, “…the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12) More and more people are not listening to one another. They’re talking over each other, disinterested in what others think. Often, so adamant about what they believe, they’re no longer willing to hear. But, have you noticed, God doesn’t talk over us. He listens. He hears. He’s a very present help. And that’s why His Word says, “Be quick to listen. Slow to speak.” (James 1:19) I live with a gifted listener, my wife. I’ve watched her for decades, giving her complete attention to each person she talks with. It makes them feel valuable, special, significant, because they really are. It’s actually how, when we know God, He wants to make us feel?
Normal vs. Common
It is always mind boggling, and more often than not troubling, when I hear the latest new perspective society is now calling, “normal behavior”. It can make you laugh or cry, or both. But, at the end of the day, only God, the Creator of all things can determine what is “normal” and “healthy”. A sin-filled culture can’t define normalcy. It may be trending, popular, common, even fully accepted, but unless our beliefs have God’s seal of approval, they’re not normal, and never will be. The Bible challenges us, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you… For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father…this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.” (1 John 2:15-17, NLT)