Perspective

I was riding today and prayed, “God give me your perspective.” I don’t do this enough. I mean, I don’t seem to pray this prayer enough… Think this enough… Want this enough…

There are people all over the world right now, who don’t know Jesus and it’s far to easy to just sit… watch… listen… Let’s take action, friends.

7.4 billion people in the world. As of 2010 an estimated 2.2 billion of those claim to be Christian. Who knows how much less really follow the claims of Christ… Lets go with the 2.2 billion who claim to be Christian though, that still leaves us with 5.2 billion people in the world who are without Christ spending eternity apart from the God of the universe.

So, thats billions of people who may have heard the gospel, yet reject it. Billions of people who have never even heard the gospel of God. Billions of people who are captive to other gods and have never heard of Jesus…

Please,

Join in praying for all people to know Christ.

Join in going to all people with the gospel.

Join in sending your friends and family in going to all people with the good news of Gods salvation through Jesus.

Seek out resources online and in your Christian community to get more involved in what God is doing all over the globe!

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Practicalities of intentionality

What does practicalities of intentionality mean? Now, read this article carefully because how I am going to answer this question must manifest itself in the context of the Holy Spirit changing us and guiding us as we seek God in our relationships. Ultimately it must spring out of genuine love for others and an urgency for people to be reunited with God. Otherwise it’s only a matter of personal gain, and that has no eternal value. In the following paragraphs I will try to answer the question with 3 practical steps in being intentional in our relationships. These steps lead in one direction; spreading the gospel and discipleship.

Meeting people – This is step number one. What this means is simply taking initiative and trying to meet people, get their contact information so you can move on to step number two. I learned this the hard way on an overseas trip to Central Asia. Our team would teach English to university students or go to the park to play sports and meet people. Well, often times we would meet someone, hit it off, and then forget to get the person’s number and never see them again. I would always kick myself for forgetting to get the guys number, because it meant I could not further our friendship. Now, we must remember God has purpose in all of our encounters no matter how long or short. So, don’t be discouraged if you’ve had this happen to you before, but we can strive to invest more heavily in people.

Inviting people – There are two parts to this. Inviting people you’ve met into your life, and then seeking an invitation into their lives. Jesus invited people into His life. He made it a point to ask people to follow Him. He invited 4000+ people to eat with Him, twice! He gave an open invitation to all, but He also invited Himself into the lives of His friends. He sought invitation into the lives of the tax collectors; such as with His disciple Matthew or the Samaritan woman at the well. He even invited Himself into the vary places where people hated Him. Jesus not only invited people into His life, but He showed a genuine interest in the lives of those He invited.

You can’t go wrong with this step. Everyone want’s to feel loved and inviting someone over for dinner or out to coffee is a way to show that love and belonging. So, even if they say no, being faithful to simply inviting is worth it. Also, you must remember who you are in Christ. For even if people deny you, you are not denied by God! He sent Jesus to be denied on our behalf so that we could be accepted and loved by Him.

Investing in people – This is the long term commitment to a friendship. This is what is born out of step one and two. This is what you should be striving for as you seek to be intentional with people. This is most often the time that someone get’s to really share the gospel or their testimony for the first time.

This step starts when you start inviting people into your life. The only thing with this step is you don’t stop doing it until God literally stops you. This might be because you are no longer geographically near each other or able to see each other or maybe the person you’re investing in has simply moved on. We must trust God and be faithful as we invest in people no matter how long or short.

Here are some principles to remember as you take these steps in your relationships:

Philippians 2:3-7 Have a servants attitude putting other’s above yourself.

Galatians 6:9 Keep at it! Don’t stop doing good; don’t stop meeting people, inviting people, and investing in people.

2 Corinthians 12:15 Even if you don’t feel any love in return God’s love for you will not change. Look at Ephesians 3:18-19 and Psalm 103:11-13 to see how much God loves you.

Multiplying Disciples

Here are a few things you need to hear about discipleship. Like the previous post on maturity in Christ; this is no exhaustive list and I am no expert. I simply want to get people thinking about who Jesus was and what He want’s of our lives.

  1. Jesus was serious about His followers making disciples.
  2. Making disciples means multiplying disciples.
  3. This verb “disciple” is all about helping others grow in their love for God, maturity in Christ, and their vision to helps others grow in the same way.

Firstly, before I expound on these thoughts I want to make clear what a disciple is. A disciple is simply someone who has professed faith. A Christian. I was reminded of this last night as I listened to a quick talk by John Piper. I do not want to elude anyone to think that there is a difference between a disciple-maker and a disciple; they are one in the same. The means to which we make disciples range as wide and far as God’s eyes can see. Isaiah 55:8-9 makes it clear that our God’s ways are different than ours. Also look at proverbs 19:21.

  1. Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus makes it clear that His disciples are to “go out into the world and make disciples.” This was a commission or mandate to His followers.
  2. 2 Timothy 2:2 shows Paul’s heart for there to be generations of disciples. Paul encourages Timothy to pass on what he heard from Paul to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. We see four generations here: Paul, Timothy, faithful men, Others also.
  3. Discipleship is all about helping and encouraging others to come into a closer relationship with God. This is discipleship in it’s rawest form. If you look at Jesus’ life; wasn’t that exactly what He did and continues to do? He constantly tried to help His followers get closer to God. Jesus shared His prayer life with the 12. Jesus shared His public life with the 12. Jesus even brought some of the 12 into the presence of God (or even in Himself Jesus constantly brought people into the presence of God). This is exactly what we are to do with those that are in our lies. Read the entire chapter of 1st Thessalonians 2 and get a picture of what this looked like with Paul.

If you were to look back at your life and ask the question: As a follower of Christ, was I helping others grow in their relationship with God, their maturity in Christ, and their vision to do this with others? Because doing this should be of absolute importance as we seek to spread the gospel throughout the whole world.

Here’s a link to the 9 minute talk from John Piper

 

Sacrifice

Sacrifice. It is selfless. Being selfless is hard.

I wish I was a better example of this, but I’m not. Maybe some of you can relate. My hope is that by God’s strength I can be more selfless every new day.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23.

Every day I wake up and I want… I want, I want, I want. Just like a baby. It’s instinct to to be selfish. I’ve gotten to spend the last 3 weeks hanging with family which includes my two year old niece. I love my niece to death, but it’s funny to watch how selfish she is (I’m not saying this of her character obviously, but her humanity). Humans are clearly born with a predisposition to be selfish, it’s hardwired into our brains and for many it stays hardwired.

But, Jesus asks two BIG things of those who come after Him.

1. deny self: Above all, think of yourself last. Selfless.

2. pick up cross daily: Deny yourself to the point of suffering every single day. In Jesus’ time the cross was a device of torture; it killed a person slowly and painfully. Sacrifice.

The truth is, Being selfless is not easy and sacrificing is not painless. But if we truly believe Jesus, it is completely worth giving our whole lives to Him. In my opinion this is the biggest, and most important sacrifice we can give. In essence, this is denying self and picking up our cross daily and following Jesus.

Getting the gospel to the nations will require us to give it all to Jesus. Literally.

Pray with me as I really want this to be true for my life, as well as yours.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:5

 

The search for meaning

The search for meaning is a life-long journey for most people. Over the last few months I’ve had multiple conversations with a friend that lead to this assumption. “There’s gotta be more,” he’s said. There’s gotta be more to a relationship than surface level conversation. Or “there’s gotta be more to this life than work. Well, there’s the weekend I guess.” “But when I said, “but even then weekend…” Implying, even the weekend lacks meaning or purpose. He seemed to agree.

See, every human being is going to have to come to terms with this very simple question. What’s the meaning and purpose of life? If it’s only to toil, and strive, and struggle, what’s the point?

I met a guy about 7 year’s ago at a small community college. He and his twin brother were in my philosophy class. I loved the guys. They were more bold than I’ll ever be and they were only 17; I was 19. They’d ask tough questions or share their faith in bold response to fellow classmates condemning Christianity. I admired them and eventually we became friends.

One day I asked one of them for his story. He shared and it was powerful. What stood out most profoundly was when he mentioned the philosophical reality; that if their is no meaning or purpose in this world there is no point to life… Like the guy was extremely distraught as he serious searched for true meaning in life. He couldn’t find it. He looked in all the right places in my mind: other religions, science, philosophy… But he couldn’t seem to find it. He was incredibly smart, yet still could not find true source of meaning for his life.

I remember him telling me that he even contemplated suicide, for if there was no meaning why struggle in life and experience all the pain in the world for 80 plus years? He wasn’t the kind of kid that seemed like he would do something so extreme. In fact he seemed the exact opposite as he was a 4.0 student, working toward a college degree at age 17, and extremely bright. None the less, no meaning meant no life. Through the struggle to find truth he finally came to a conclusion. He concluded that Jesus had to have been right. My friend began to receive and believe Jesus’ teachings as truth, and what happened next was incredible. His life began to change and he found true meaning and purpose for his life in the source of the God of the universe who sent Jesus Christ into the world to reconcile sinful man to God. My friend found meaning in that truth.

Now, I’m writing this in response to the conversations I’ve had or to people I’ve seen who’ve been out of college for several year’s and seemed to have settled into a comfortable life and routine. I want to encourage people to see anew the bright purpose God intends for our lives. Jesus asked His followers to “pick up their cross daily.” Please consider those words with me. It’s so easy to go through life half heartedly. To just “get by…” I don’t want to settle for that, And I don’t want to see other Christians settle for that either.

I want to pick up my cross daily as I serve my friends, and those I don’t know very well, and those that might even be hard to talk to… I want to pick up my cross daily as I seek God in His Word and in prayer. I want to pick up my cross in thankfulness praising the God who extends grace every day. I want to pick up my cross and not look back or put it down until the day I die. I want to repeat with Paul those iconic and terrifying yet purposeful words, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Living in a land of darkness

Matthew 4:12-17

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:

 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
    the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
    Galilee of the Gentiles—
 the people living in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
    a light has dawned.”

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

This is where Jesus starts His ministry. He goes to a place of darkness; to “those living in the land of the shadow of death.” And in that place He shines as a light. I’ve read this passage many times and I almost always focus purely on Jesus asking Peter and Andrew to leave there job’s and follow Him. This morning was different though. I was struck by where Jesus started His ministry. He did not necessarily start it among those who already knew God or were even seeking God, but rather He went strait to the unreached. And it was there that He called out His first disciples to follow Him. Think about this scripture awhile. Ask God where He’s at work. And join Him there.

A story of faithfullness

A lady had some time to spare after landing in Boise. She rented a bicycle and rode to a small coffee shop filled with people. With only a few available places to sit she decided to sit around a coffee table amongst four other people. One couple was practicing for a upcoming play, another man was vigorously writing, and the fourth young man was reading the Bible and journalling. As he was journaling a prayer came out. Something like this, “I pray that others in this room would be met by God, as He is faithful to meet me here.”

Minutes later the lady asked the young man a question. “Why do you read the Bible?” The young man explained why, and their conversation continued. The lady stopped praying and reading her Bible many years ago because of a tragedy in her family. How can a loving God allow terrible things to happen to good people she thought, and asked aloud. In conclusion the lady told the young man that she wanted to start reading the Bible again. On this particular day God decided to meet her. The simple prayer asking God to meet others in the room was answered.

God is faithful and stories like this are happening every day all over the world as He desires to reach all people and give ALL PEOPLE the chance to know Him. As followers of Christ we must be ready for anyone that God want’s to speak to or meet; through us. We are the vessels He use’s to spread the Gospel of Jesus. As we choose to live for Him, He will live through us, and as He lives through us, we will live for Him. For He is faithful.

I don’t smoke, but I desire to share hope

Today I heard a piece of a friends story that reminded me of the urgency of the gospel. After working 4 hours with a few guys unloading a truck, we ate lunch and then went out back for a smoke break. I don’t smoke, but lately one of the guys, a Bosnian has been offering me an American Spirit. I gently decline and we usually start up conversation about sports, his garden, or what ever else might be on our minds. Today was different though, he asked a question that I am still learning how to answer. He asked, “Teddy, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink, why not?” I  gave him a short explanation as to why, and then he proceeded to tell me the story of his Nephew who died at age 22 after drinking and driving.

His nephew fought in the front lines for his country (Bosnia), was shot in the mouth by a sniper, fully recovered, and then relocated to the United States. From the story he was a smart kid… He was applying himself… In our western culture he may have had a nice future for himself… All this was destroyed. My friend looked sad, I was sad, I didn’t know what to say. All I could think about was how nothing in this world satisfies. I wish I would have told my friend how Jesus satisfies, and thats why I don’t smoke or drink, because Jesus satisfies me and gives me hope. 

There is an urgency for people to hear of this hope as we live in a hopeless society where everyone lives in uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring. As followers of Jesus we are the administers of the gospel, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring for those who do not know God. Learn to live like this with me. Learn to live with an eager urgency to share the gospel of hope and reconciliation with everyone you encounter. 

The responsibility of those who believe in Esa

We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel of God. We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Chris, be reconciled to God. Each one has received a gift, use to serve one another as good stewards of Gods varied grace. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Here’s what God said to Ezekiel in Chapter 3 verse 18. If I say to the wicked, ‘you shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

How serious are you taking your responsibility of telling others about the gospel of God: All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the Gods punishment is death apart from Him in an eternal torment. There is one way for that relationship to be fixed; Jesus Christ satisfied our punishment giving all the ability to know God through repentance and faith in Him.

Pray that God would open your eyes to this responsibility and share this message as often as God allows.

Sharing in the midst of Struggles

There’s a mighty big problem in the world. Here it is: After the fall of man sin became an issue and the world was consumed by it. I know people are struggling all over the world. Whether big or small there are issues that come up in our lives that can cause us to stumble or become distracted from our relationship with God. Just like when I was in High School I was distracted from my relationship with my parents because I was focused on myself; on being accepted, finding the next high, or having money. The issues are different now and I may not struggle as much, but it’s in those times of struggle that the devil tries to keep me from not only pursuing God, but sharing His gospel. We can, in the midst of struggles, share the gospel of God. In fact God is all about giving opportunities to do this. This last summer there was a night that I was feeling shame.  That particular night we were hanging out with some friends when God gave me an opportunity to share my testimony and the gospel of Jesus. In the midst of struggle God made this happen and helped me share.

Don’t forget why God has kept you alive. None of us deserve it, as we have all sinned and if God wanted to take any of us up to Him, He could. But He decides not to because of this: Matt 28:18-20, Philemon 1:6, 2 Tim 2:2.

Don’t let personal issues distract you firstly from loving God with all your heart, strength, and mind, and secondly don’t let them keep you from sharing your faith with others.

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