Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Your Church Is a Mission Outpost

Have you ever thought about the possibility of your church shutting its doors for good?

Sounds weird to most of us, I suspect.

Most of us see a building and a parking lot and a staff of professional speaker/teachers and think of our church as a well-established institution.

We understand when a radio station or podcast ministry says they depend on the financial support of their listeners. We get it when a missionary in Africa or Central America expresses a need for funds to be able to reach the unreached. But somehow, we expect our church to, like Old Man River, just keep rollin' along, no matter what.

Truth is...your church is just as much a mission outpost as a no-walled, thatched-roof shelter in the jungles of Nicaragua. It is a tiny portion of the Body of Christ embedded in a culture that is foreign to the ways of Christ. And it depends on the grace of God, expressed through the financial support of her members (that would be you), to continue to exist and serve and advance the Kingdom. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #23

It's interesting that the author of this week's Jesus quote identified himself as "an historian." H. G. Wells is best-known for his works of science fiction like The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. Maybe he considered such works as before-their-time history books.

He certainly had a keen eye for the condition of humankind and the intricacies of sociology, and it led him to make the following observation:

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

It brings to mind the piece, "One Solitary Life," attributed to James Allen Francis:

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30. Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn't go to college. He never lived in a big city. He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied him. He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth. When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned--put together--have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.

Truth is...Whatever a person makes of Jesus, it's certainly difficult to ignore him. Non-believers often go to the point of using his name to swear...that in itself implies some kind of significance, does it not?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Laughing All the Way to the Throne

Humor and holiness are not enemies.

Case in point: "He'll Take Care of the Rest," which is the fifth song on Keith Green's album, For Him Who Has Ears to Hear.

In the midst of encouraging his listeners to trust in God's providence, Keith light-heartedly recalls some Bible stories that are examples of God's trustworthiness. It's not the silly, laugh-out-loud humor experienced in many of Randy Stonehill's songs, but it's enough to at least make a person grin.

You know it ain't no use in banging your head
Up against that cold stone wall
'Cause nobody's perfect, except for the Lord
And even the best bound to fall

Remember He is divine and you are de branch
He'd love to get you through it if you'd give Him a chance
Just keep doing your best and pray that it's blessed
And Jesus takes care of the rest

Yes the Lord said that He'll take care of the rest, He's gonna do it
Well He'll take care of the rest, He'll see you through it, yeah
Well He'll take care of the rest, the devil blew it
Well He'll take care of the
He'll take care of the rest

Just think about Moses, in front of the burning bush
Barefoot on the holy ground
You know, he must have been thinking
Hey what's an old dude like me gonna tell 'em all
When I go down? (Go down Moses!)

The Lord said, "Hey Moe
Don't you worry about you going down south
I'll be saying every word that comes out of your mouth
You just keep doing your best and pray that it's blessed
Hey Moe, I'll take care of the rest"

Yes the Lord said that He'll take care of the rest, He's gonna do it
Well He'll take care of the rest, He'll see you through it, yeah
Well He'll take care of the rest, old Pharaoh blew it
He'll take care of the
He'll take care of the rest

Just believe and you'll receive
That comfort you need
You just think about all those lonely people you know
They got everything they want
but they got empty souls
Well, He'll take care of the, He'll take care of the
He'll take care of the, care of the rest

You just think about Noah toting his umbrella
When there wasn't a cloud in the sky
All his neighbors would laugh at his pet giraffe
And they would snicker as he'd passed by

But the Lord said, "Hey Noah
Be cool, just keep building that boat
It's just a matter of time till they see who's gonna float
You just keep doing your best, and pray that it's blessed
Hey Noah, I'll take care of the rest, I'm the weatherman"

The Lord said that He'll take care of the rest, He's gonna do it
He'll take care of the rest, He'll see you through it, yeah
Well He'll take care of the rest, his neighbors blew it
He'll take care of the
He'll take care of the

He'll take care of the rest
He's gonna do it yeah
He'll take care of the rest
Only Jesus will see you through it
He'll take care of the rest
Yes, yes, yes
He'll take care of the
He'll take care of the

He'll take care of the rest
You better believe it
He'll take care of the rest
Only the pure in heart receive it
He'll take care of the rest
Yes, yes, yes
He'll take care of the
He'll take care of the

He'll take care of the rest
He'll take care of the rest
Only Jesus can give it to ya

He'll take care of the rest
©1977 April Music

Truth is...I once was asked about my "ability" to go from laughing to praying in a blink of an eye. The answer is, what with Yahweh loving me so well, how could I separate the two to begin with?

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

4 Signs You've Got a "Hot Dog" Faith

I like meat.

Beef, pork, chicken, fish (I don't care WHAT some people say, trout is meat), rabbit, bison...practically anything except escargot is more than fine with me. (And even escargot is tolerable with enough garlic butter.)

I even like hot dogs, though there is an argument to be made they don't technically qualify as being meat. (Ball Park's ingredient list features corn syrup, potassium lactate, salt, sodium phosphates, water, sodium erythorbate, maltodextrin, and  -  oh look! some actual meat!  -  pork and "mechanically-separated chicken".)

I am not, however, a fan of hot dog faith.

I came across this term in my Sunday School class while we were using J. D. Greear's study on the book of Judges, produced by RightNow Media. It refers to constructing a faith by mixing together pieces of Biblical truth with cultural norms and popular philosophies...basically taking the Grade A U.S. Choice steak of Truth and turning it into a hot dog.

Here's a partial list of things some well-meaning people firmly believe that just aren't scriptural:

All roads lead to heaven.  -  This is a pleasant attempt to dissolve any sense of conflict between different religions but doesn't make much sense for the religions that don't even believe in the existence of heaven. It also stands in stark disagreement with Jesus' statement, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

God is in control.  -  I've written a whole post about this (which you can read by clicking here), but suffice it to say that not only is this not found in the Bible, but it leads people to actually reject Yahweh: "If God is in control, he must be an uncaring monster. Look at all the bad stuff that happens!"

Everything happens for a reason.  -  This is a cousin to "God is in control," and is a misreading of Romans 8:28, "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." That does NOT say that God causes everything. IF it's true that everything happens for a reason, sometimes the reason is that people make bad choices.

God has a wonderful plan for your life.  -  "Now wait a minute, Dewey! This is the first of the four spiritual laws that have helped to lead thousands of people to Christ. Are you telling me it's not true?!!?" Slow down, my friend. Take a breath. This one is true, but only to a certain extent. It's true that God has some glorious intentions for us to live a life filled with joy that extends into eternity, but nowhere in Scripture will you find anything about God's plans for our lives involving which college to attend, who you should marry, or which route to take to work.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Enjoying a Labor Day hot dog is not going to have a long-term detrimental effect on your health, but a steady diet of nothing but potassium lactate and mechanically-separated chicken isn't going to take you anywhere good.

Let's feast on the Word.