Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dear Brothers, Why Must We Fight?

Dear Brothers,

Why must we fight amongst one another over such small issues in the light of eternity? How is that helping the cause of the gospel to go forth? Is God really pleased that among our churches we have "worship wars?" Can we see past small, minute details and still fellowship with our brothers and sisters who see things a little differently? You know, Christ died for them as well. If only we took Jesus' command to love one another seriously. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Is this the message we are sending the world by fighting with each other? What if we all went back to the cross of Christ, not a certain denomination or worship style, and made that our identity. Instead of forming little "camps" separated from everyone else, let's embrace the Kingdom that we're a part of.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Christianity: The "Don't" Church?

Unfortunately, too many people know Christianity as the "don't religion." You can't do this, you can't do that. Which, frankly, sounds pretty unappealing. At the end of it, it's like "Alright, what can I do?" I don't think this is the way God intended us to view our relationship with Him. Yes, we are called to give up things to follow Him and yes we're to stop sinning. But it's because we've been made new in Christ! And we no longer want to sin because it doesn't bring glory to God.

I believe we're to focus on our freedom in Christ. We are freed from the bondage of sin! Don't let religion bind you to a list of things you can't do. Instead, see the freedom that Christ offers apart from sin and religion. Because, to be honest with you...religion will always leave you feeling like you have to do more. Whereas, Christ says "It is finished!"

I firmly believe we are free to have fun in this life. God has created the ocean for His glory and our enjoyment! He has created us with the desire to have pleasure. And when we find that our pleasure is completely satisfied in Him, it opens up a huge door to enjoy His creation.

Christianity shouldn't be known as the religion of "don'ts", but rather as the freedom experienced by being saved by Christ. No longer a slave to sin! But freed in Christ to enjoy Him forever. Don't get me wrong, Christ tells us that we will have to deny ourselves to follow Him. But, God delights when His children delight in Him. Not when they are tied down to a list of rules they have to follow. Our love for Christ should drive us to want to live to please Him. That's freedom. When you get to the point of seeing that what we do on this earth can glorify God. Whether it be eating, laughing, or fellowshipping, we can do all to the glory of God.

So instead of being the "don't" church; let's strive to be the church that understands that through Christ it is "done" which compels us to live life to the fullest enjoyment here on earth in Christ.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Three Ways to Not Waste Your Days (Guest post by: Mitch Miller)

Every day of your life is a gift. We get a very limited number of them, they all count, none are worthless. All days have potential…massive, incredible potential…to do great good and great harm. The days we go through add up and equal a life. Our life. It can be wasted or it can be fruitful.

And here’s the bottom line, no one gets to their deathbed and is surprised at what their life amounted to (or didn’t amount to).

If a life is wasted, it’s done so a day at a time. If a life is fruitful, that fruit grows a day at a time.

A day is a powerful thing. A day is a weighty thing. A day is a thing to be taken seriously. So don’t waste even one…Here’s my three tips:

1. Remember what’s important

I’m not going to tell you to do your devotions everyday. Because, and some of you need to sit down for this, the Bible does not say, “read the Bible everyday”.

Here’s what the Bible does say in Psalm 1 and Joshua 1 – “meditate on God’s word day and night”.

Here’s what God’s word tells you – Here’s what you should be meditating on

·      If you’re saved, you’re going to heaven, so the worst that can happen to you is dying into an eternity of hanging out with Jesus.
·      If you’re in Christ, God literally CAN’T be mad at you, upset with you, disappointed in you, ashamed of you or far from you. So quit with the guilt trips. He said, “It is finished”. Trying to add to that is blasphemy.
·      God likes you more than you like you, wants to keep you close to him, and will provide for anything that you really do need.
·      The people around you either need to meet Christ or grow in Christ and God’s number one call on your life is to give both groups the gospel by how you act and talk.
·      The point of life is worship not grades, popularity or money. So freak out about worship, not the other stuff, for it should simply lead to worship anyway.

Meditate on these things and you will avoid wasting a LOT of time every day.

2. Notice the things around you

First of all, if you’re reading this, you’re either on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Right now, I literally want you to stop reading and sincerely thank God for the chance to use such great technology. You don’t deserve that so be thankful. Unthankful people waste their day by default.

You will waste your whole life wanting stuff. And you look ridiculous. Because your life is already full! You already have a family, transportation, roof, bed, more than one change of clothes, food, water, vision, hearing, the ability to walk, to feel a breeze and to smell bacon…you have so much. You just need to look up, notice it and say, “Thanks God” once in a while.

3. Ask someone what they need 

The person who makes your coffee, the people you live with, your co-workers, your classmates, your friends…ALL have needs. Ask them what they are and do all you can to meet them. This is how Jesus lived and you follow Jesus, don’t you?

This will surely prevent you from wasting your day. People are never a waste. You are the waste.

I mean, stop and think. We’re in America. Almost everyone I know has a phone, car, degree and place to stay. Yet the whole country is depressed. We’re a giant, medicated moody teenager of a nation. Want to know why? It’s because our culture has encouraged us to think about, look out for and please ourselves. Such a waste.

There is no sadder thought, than a person dying, and no one showing up to their funeral. But it happens. It happens to people who waste day after day focused on themselves, neglecting the needs of others.

I urge you don’t waste another day! Remember what’s important, notice the things around you and ask someone what they need. Your life depends on it.

Twitter - @mitchmillerme
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Broken Over Sin

I think many of us tend to think of the wrath of God when we think of our sin, but do we think about how sin deeply saddens Him when His child chooses to go against His will and gratifies their flesh by embracing sin instead of the Savior. We are quick to quote Romans 8:1 which states that: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Now don't get me wrong, that's incredible--that through Jesus we are completely free from the condemnation of sin. But then we forget that sin still hurts God as He watches His children indulge in sinful acts here on earth.

What we need is the same broken heart over sin that our God has in our own heart.

I tend to compare my sins with other people that are much worse than me, thereby justifying my sinful deeds...right? What is that?! I somehow think that because I haven't killed someone, that makes me more holy in God's eyes. Ha. That's worthy of laugh. The fact I told a lie should so break my heart that I would never want to tell a lie again because God was so grieved by that lie I told. We've toned down certain sins, usually the common ones that everyone struggles with, to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.

How sinful! God, forgive us!

"Father, give us a glimpse of how you view sin. Give us a better understanding of the cross of your Son. That demonstrates the grief You have towards sin. You couldn't look at Your own Son because He was stained with the sins of the world. We need Your help to have this mindset toward sin. Break us down to build us back up stronger. Give us the hatred for sin that You have."

Let's be broken over sin just as the Father is broken over sin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Unashamed of the Gospel

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

Are you ashamed of the gospel? Does your life prove otherwise? If you were put on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you? The apostle Paul lived his life unashamed of the gospel because it was that gospel that set him free and he couldn't help but tell others about it. That's what happens when Christ truly changes a person; he can't help but tell the people around him about what happened. The gospel isn't something that is meant to be kept inside Christian's hearts. To be honest, it's quite the selfish mindset to not tell others about the freedom we experience in Christ.

Get out in the community and preach Christ unashamedly to those who are dying and on their way to Hell as you read this. I feel as though there is a lack of urgency in Christians today to give the gospel of Jesus Christ out. Is it because we are ashamed of the gospel?

"But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:33

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Entertain Me, I'm Bored...A Christian Mindset?

Sitting in Olive Garden the other day, I noticed a shirt that had the quotation: "Entertain Me, I'm Bored." and I couldn't help but think that may sum up many of the young "Millennials" in America today. We live in a day where viral internet videos have taken social media to a whole new level. Comical pictures and clever sayings are the things we tweet and we post. But what always seems to come true is the fact that something better will come along. Something funnier or more clever will always come out to replace that saying, picture, or video. Always.

I feel this mindset is making its way into the Christian realm of life. People get so hyped up about a certain video with a relevant presentation of the gospel, but then it's forgotten or replaced by some other "hip" video. It's not to say these videos are wrong. But the Christian life is not meant to be lived searching for the next coolest video, saying, or picture. We should get hyped up about being in the Word! I don't think God intended for us to wait around for a viral internet video to hype us up enough to go out and spread the gospel to those who are lost. That's what His Word is for. Find your consistency in Him.

It's almost as if the way we choose a church is based on this mindset as well. Instead of looking for the church where we can best serve, we are searching for the church that can best serve us by entertaining us each and every Sunday. People go to a certain church because it has the best band, the biggest venue, the most charismatic pastor, or the best programs. This all leads back to this mindset of "Entertain me, I'm bored."Again, find your consistency in the truths of Scripture and in Jesus.

Instead of finding entertainment (satisfaction) in those things, find it in Jesus and His Word. Instead of accepting this mindset the world embraces, embrace the love of the Savior who sets you free. The world changes, Jesus doesn't.

Just some thoughts.....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Principles for Missions

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” John Piper accurately brings the truth of missions   in this quote. Because worship is eternal and the Bible tells us that people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will worship the Lord, missions is temporary on this earth. In this paper, I will explain six axioms of missions that are crucial to understand to rightly understand missions.
            First, the primary issue is not missions, the primary issue is knowing God. People who have been changed by the power of the gospel will have a right perspective on missions because they will see the need for sharing the gospel with the nations. As people passionately live out their faith, others will see it and want it, and because God won’t hold truth back from them, they’ll receive Christ and the cycle starts over again. Knowing God and growing in the gospel should characterize the life of a Christian, only then will missions be effective.
            Second, missions is more about God than it is about men. Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, and William Carey are a few of the great missionaries of the Christian faith. All these men gave their lives not for themselves, but for the sake of His name that He would be made known in all the nations. Instead of missions becoming about the greatness of the missionary, it ought to be about the greatness of our God.
            Third, missions is overflow. When a person has something incredible happen to him, it is only natural that he wants to share his experience with others. The same is true when a person is changed by the gospel of Jesus. How selfish of someone to hold back life-changing news! Missions will happen when a person is consumed with knowing God and being filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the natural overflow of the heart.
            Fourth, a missionary is an initiator. A missionary is one who brings the Good News of the gospel to a certain group of people. He initiates the work of the gospel, finds and trains the nationals to reach the core group of the people, and then he goes to repeat the cycle somewhere else. The nationals are the ones who can best reach their own people. Therefore, it makes sense for the missionary to invest in the lives of a few nationals that are able then to better reach the city or village.
            Fifth, the principle activity of missions is discipleship. One of the things that is neglected to notice from the Great Commission is the fact that Jesus commands His disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations . . .” That second part of the command is important to apply to missions. Making disciples is the most important part of spreading the Kingdom of God. By this, people are evangelized, converted and then taught the Scriptures, and then are able to function as a church to further the Kingdom and worship the Savior.
            Sixth, the Holy Spirit is the authoritative Agent in missions. It is the Holy Spirit who directs, restrains, calls and sends the missionary. He is the one who has the authority to send people to reach those who are lost. He is the one who works in and changes a heart. The power of missions comes from the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is Him we ought to rely on for power, not ourselves.
            Most importantly though, is the fact that everyone is a missionary. Once a Christian realizes this, it has great implications on his life. His entire life should be one that is spent sharing what has happened to him by being changed by the power of the gospel. Through people passionately living their faith out, sharing what Jesus has done in their lives and by making disciples out of converts; the gospel has the power to change the world. And it starts with you making the decision today to initiate conversations with the lost. 

Much love,

Monday, February 6, 2012

You Are A Missionary

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a missionary as “one who is sent on a mission, especially one sent to do religious or charitable work in a territory or foreign country”.  So, even the dictionary recognizes that a missionary is generally known as someone who goes away from home carrying some form of message to share with the desired people.  Too often this is what our Christian culture believes a missionary is: one whom we send out, support financially and maybe, just maybe occasionally pray for. Is this the only kind of missionary there is? Or is it possible for you to be a missionary in your neighborhood, school, or workplace?
            This point is crucial to understand before we begin discussing anything about witnessing. Anywhere you go/attend regularly is your mission field. At my high school, there was a sign above the doors entering the hallways saying “You are now entering the mission field.” I used to think it was backwards, but then it hit me, that saying was right on. I was entering my mission field as a student by going into the hallways. There were plenty of unbelievers at my school and they were the ones God wanted me to reach.
            Our sub-culture of American Christianity tends to forget about the lost souls just across the street. When you think of an unbeliever, you probably naturally think of someone from a far away country that worships some wooden idol. And yes, no one will argue that this guy doesn’t need Christ. But, are you going to be in contact with him today to reach him with the gospel of Jesus? That’s the point I am trying to make in this post. There are millions of lost souls in the world and we as Christians are called to reach the ones in our sphere of influence today. That’s not to say that you can’t have a burden for the people in the Amazon. And I firmly believe that we should pray for those people now. But if those people are not in your circle of influence now, then I would argue that God hasn’t called you to reach those people right now.
            In Matthew 28, Jesus gives His disciples one final command: Go and make disciples of all the nations. I don’t mean to downplay global missions, because it’s a way God brings souls to Himself. But how can you think that God will use you on the “global stage” when you’re not bringing the gospel to your neighbor. We, as Christians, are all on a mission to bring the good news of the gospel to those who have not heard it. So maybe we should focus solely on the first word of Jesus’ command here in Matthew 28: Go.  
            Go. Go to the grocery store to speak to the clerk that works every Wednesday; go to the park to play soccer with that guy on Saturday mornings; go and find ways to give the gospel of Jesus to those who desperately need it. Because if we don’t go and tell them how will they hear? And if they don’t hear, they’ll spend forever separated from God in Hell. Do you see that this simple word Jesus says has life-altering implications depending on if we choose to obey Him or not.
            So the question is: will you go? Will you go develop true friendships with the people in your community? Sure, the easy way is by giving them a tract and never talking to them again. But, I believe the Biblical way is by developing a lasting friendship with them. I understand this is a lot harder than just giving a tract. But how far are you willing to go for the sake of the Kingdom of God? Will you sacrifice your time to invest in a soul that will spend somewhere for eternity? Or will you just go about your day, living as though they don’t even exist?
            What I want you to see is that God has placed unbelievers in your path for a reason. He wants you to share His love with them. He wants to use you to further His kingdom. The unbelieving people in your circle of friends is not a coincidence, it’s directly from God. He’s given you that influence for the sole purpose of sharing the gospel message with them. Do you see it now? You are called to reach these people! This is your mission field. 
(Tentative Chapter 1 for From French-Fries to the Gospel - Cam Lawson)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Wasted Generation?

It seems as though the generation commonly known as "the Millennials" is one with a ton of potential. Yes, I am part of that generation so there may some bias, but I also think we are well on our way to being, what I call, a "wasted generation". Too many of us just live solely for the weekend to where we can party it up, forgetting the week behind and not thinking about the week ahead. I'm here to tell you: there's so much more to life than that. If you can't wait until the day you can get wasted on your 21st birthday, I think it's safe to say, you'll living for yourself. Which frankly may not be that big of a deal to you. But I return to my point: life is much bigger than your weekend.

So, why do I care so much? It's because I see so much potential in our generation to make an impact in the world. And it kills me to see the Christian Millennials accepting the cultural standards our world has set for them. It's no longer rebellion to have sex before marriage, smoke, etc. It's almost as if rebellion is now living a holy life not embracing the pleasures of this world. Because hardly anyone is doing that now. I dare you to rebel against the cultural standard the world has set for you. Together we can make a difference in this world by the power of the gospel, but it requires us to humble ourselves and stop living for us and start living for Him.

So will we settle for being a "wasted generation" or will we embrace the fact that God has called us to a higher calling and expects us to rise above the cultural standards by living a life pleasing to Him? We need to grow up and realize that we are the next leaders in the world. And we desperately need Christian leaders who are not content to waste their lives living for themselves, but are passionately seeking to love God and others with their lives.

Much love,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Why I'm Not A Fan of Tracts

A tract. In our Christian circles it's something that gives the gospel message to another human being. Not a huge fan of these and I'll give two reasons why. But first, I understand that people can be saved by reading one of these. And praise God for that! And I realize that this is just my opinion and others may come to a different conclusion, which is fine. Not something worth arguing for. Just thought I'd throw my two cents in for what's it worth.

First reason I am not a fan of tracts would be that Jesus called the church (the people of God) to reach the lost. Yes, a tract can be used to do that. But I firmly believe that God created us to relate to people, build relationships with them, and give them the gospel. In the early church I don't see tracts. I see people passionately caring about a lost world and going to them in their culture to build relationships with them to lead them to Christ. Why has anything changed?

That leads me into my second point being that building a meaningful relationship with someone is a lot harder than just handing them a tract and walking away and never seeing them again. Why should that person listen to you and what the tract says? They have no idea who you are. Think of it this way: when someone hands you a flyer, what's your reaction? You probably take it out of courtesy, then dispose of it and the next available trash can. Maybe without even glancing at it. But on the other hand, when someone cares enough about you to invite you to something or let you in on some knowledge they have acquired, you're more apt to listen to them right? It's the same way with unbelievers. You build that meaningful relationship with them to where there's a degree of trust, you have a golden opportunity to share Jesus with them.

So, in conclusion. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not against tracts, I just feel that we, as the church, ought to utilize the meaningful relationships we have to the fullest. Work at those relationships with unbelievers to bring it to the point where they respect you enough to listen to what you have to say. It's a lot harder than just handing out a tract, but it seems to be the Biblical way in my opinion. So strive to build relationships with unbelievers and for those you come in contact with only briefly, a tract may be the best option. But don't neglect building a relationship with someone in your circles out of laziness or fear, cause it's sin.

Much love,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Jesus Is The True and Better - Tim Keller

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about him.