“It’s a process.”
My coworkers will tell you that I say this often, as much of what I do in my job is based on analysis, study, conversation and commiseration. I’ve learned that when I follow a careful process and work the process diligently, I achieve the best outcome.
The Christian life is a process, too. Once we come to faith in Jesus, we are saved. But that is just the beginning. When we truly understand the magnitude of what Christ did for us on the cross, there ought to be some sense of urgency to share this good news with those who do not yet know Him. The qualities described here are outward signs of the faith that is living and growing within us. They set us apart and cause some to wonder what it is that makes us different, and thus they open doors.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It requires effort. Disciplines such as regular church attendance, daily Scripture reading and prayer, and the encouragement and support of Christian brothers and sisters are all integral components of our growth. As we grow, we tune in to our words, our behavior and our conduct and make changes when those things point away from Christ. We make mistakes, and when we do we confess our sins and work to change.
Growing in faith requires effort. Indeed, it is a process – an ongoing process. And the outcome is oh, so worth it.
Quite some time ago, my employer at the time conducted an investigation that involved me and several other employees. Outside attorneys were brought in, and we were called before them multiple times. The process was a tough ordeal, but through it all, I had no sense of worry; no sense of fear. One morning, as the interviews were approaching their conclusion, a non-believing coworker came into my office and closed the door. He told me that he was impressed that I had maintained such a calm demeanor through the investigative process while others were short-tempered, lashing out at coworkers and visibly concerned. He asked me what it was that enabled me to maintain my calm. I told him that I trusted God for the outcome, and that I prayed every morning that He would see me through. My faith in Jesus Christ would not allow me to despair. He simply said, “oh” and left my office. We didn’t speak of it again.
We Christians are commanded to share the Gospel with the world around us. This can seem quite daunting, and even rather intimidating. The world has thrown up barriers to witness in the very places we spend most of our time: our schools and our workplaces. But one thing the world cannot do is forbid us from leading godly lives that catch the world’s attention. Our actions and behaviors are, themselves, witnesses to something, and I pray each morning that every aspect of my life will point straight to Christ. I don’t always get it right, but my hope and prayer is that the Lord will open doors for me to share the Gospel with somebody who hasn’t heard it, or has heard it and rejected it just as He did with this coworker. And when God opens that door, we need not fear for Jesus promised in this passage that the Holy Spirit Himself will equip us to respond.
As we seek and await opportunities to witness, what should we be doing in preparation? Awhile back, Pastor Keith Sanders of First Baptist Church in Keller, Texas shared three ways to witness that I have sought to put into practice:
- Seek to become an expert witness by reading and studying God’s Word.
- Seek to become a character witness in the way I live my daily life.
- Seek to be an eyewitness by sharing what I have seen and heard.
As promised, the Holy Spirit will equip us to do these things if we simply make ourselves available and ask Him to do so. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that this is unequivocally true.
We are in the process of relocating to Houston, Texas. We plan to join Grace Presbyterian Church, whose mission statement is “Making disciples by encouraging people to make Jesus visible in their daily lives.” You see, this is where the rubber meets the road. Our daily lives are where witness happens. This past Sunday, each of us were given a tag to place on our key chain reminding us that “We are Here” and this is where we are to start living to make Jesus visible. “Here” is wherever we happen to find ourselves at any given time.
I intend to honor God by seeking to follow Jesus’ commandment to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and I am thankful that the Holy Spirit has used faithful pastors like Keith Sanders, Trey Hill and others to equip me to do so. He also equips me through my morning reading and study time. I am convinced that, by living my daily life in a manner pleasing to God, people will notice and some will ask what it is that I’ve “got”. God will give me the opportunities to speak and the words to say. I just have to be available and ready.
What about you? Are you prepared? Are you available? Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38) Friends, we live in the harvest field. It’s time to get to work.
Soli Deo Gloria!
As we observe the goings-on in today’s world it is easy to become dismayed. The Bible is full of information on what the last days will look like, and many believe they are upon us. The Bible also tells us that they will come like a thief in the night, implying that people will be asleep, unprepared, or otherwise distracted from what is truly important. For those people, the last days will bring eternal disaster.
Sounds rather dreadful, doesn’t it? Don’t lose heart. Among all of the writings on the last days and the fate that awaits us sinners is this promise that pervades Scripture – the promise of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a promise of God-pleasing righteousness imputed on us through the sacrifice Jesus made in our behalf on the cross. It means that the dreadful eternity that awaits is not the eternity we who are in Christ will face. Our eternity in Christ will be anything but dreadful; it will be amazing. We will be in the awesome presence of God Himself. That promise is real; that promise is available. Do you believe that? Have you come to faith in Christ? Have you claimed the promise for yourself? I hope so. If not, I’d be honored to discuss it with you.
I read this passage during my morning Bible study yesterday, and it got me to thinking.
(Jesus’ words): For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sin. ~ Matthew 6:14-15
Boom! That first part sounds great. But Jesus tells us that we face a consequence if we withhold forgiveness and it’s a big one: we are not forgiven by Him. Have you ever considered that?
I wonder if we sometimes think that withholding forgiveness somehow punishes the person who wronged us. To the contrary, I have learned that withheld forgiveness unnecessarily places a burden upon me that I simply do not need. Withheld forgiveness makes me stew over things that happened in the past, sometimes long ago. Withholding forgiveness is like fastening shackles around my own ankles and then trying to run this marathon we call life. Withheld forgiveness is a source of stress, and who needs more stress?
Lance Morrow, author and writer for Time magazine said this about forgiveness:
“Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another’s control… to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else’s nightmare.” (Lance Morrow – The Chief: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons)
I couldn’t agree more.
As a Christian, I am called to be Jesus to a world that largely does not know Him. This means that I am to strive to live a life that looks as much like Jesus as I possibly can. God will honor that, even when I stumble and fall. Among many things, Jesus is the Master of forgiveness. As he hung on the cross for our sins, enduring great pain and anguish as the crowd mocked Him, Jesus said,
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Even in His great pain and anguish, even as he suffered a punishment He didn’t deserve, even as He was mocked by the very creation He came to save, and even though they didn’t ask for it, Jesus offered forgiveness. This, my friends, is God’s grace at work!
What about you? Do you have somebody you need to forgive? Are you carrying that unnecessary burden? Are you wearing the shackles of bitterness and resentment? It’s time to free yourself. It’s time to be Jesus to your world. Unsolicited forgiveness. Try it. You will be freed and God will honor your action.
Soli Deo Gloria!
You were born in Mexico. You know that your chances of giving your family a better life than you’ve had to this date are far superior in the United States. You also know that the US government is extremely lax in enforcing their immigration laws. Knowing those things, do you stay in Mexico and begin the long and arduous process of immigrating legally? Or do you take your chances and swim the Rio Grande in search of that better life for your family?
Before you answer, consider this scenario:
You’re driving down the freeway. The speed limit is 70 miles per hour. You know that state troopers will allow 5 to 7 mph over the limit before they stop you and possibly issue a ticket. So, do you drive the speed limit or, knowing you won’t be stopped, do you drive 75? Or do you own a radar detector so that you can exceed the speed limit by an even greater margin, comfortable that the likelihood of being stopped is significantly mitigated?
If you are consistent, you would either (1) go through the legal immigration process in the first scenario and drive the speed limit in the second, or (2) disregard the law by swimming the Rio Grande in the first scenario and by exceeding the speed limit in the second.
So what’s your point, you ask? I’m betting that many of those who support a position on illegal immigration that all who entered this country illegally must be deported because they “didn’t respect our laws” are some of the same people that fly by me on the Interstate on a regular basis. I would opine that the habitual speeders, especially those who use technology to evade detection “don’t respect our laws.” Would it be unfair to call the people belonging to the “deport all illegals (because they don’t respect our laws) while I continue to speed down the freeway” group hypocrites? I don’t think so.
We have an immigration problem in the United States. The root cause of the problem is not a disrespect of our laws by some who want to live here. The root cause of the problem is a lax and negligent federal government who, for decades, has turned the other cheek as people flowed into this country illegally. Just like the state trooper who sits on the shoulder as speeders fly by is inviting the traveling public to exceed the speed limit, so also is our government’s failure to enforce our immigration laws an invitation to come on in. Yes. Our illegal immigrants were invited to be here. Many of them have had children here (legally US citizens) and raised their families here. I believe that the vast majority of them truly are here to improve their lives, not to do us harm. And now, many of my fellow Americans want to yank the rug out from under them, separate families, and build a symbolic wall to keep them out once and for all. Shame on us.
Here is what I propose:
- The federal government must develop and implement a plan to enforce immigration laws currently on the books to stop the flow into the country. Until this is done, the problem will not be solved.
- Get rid of the wall idea. Enforce the laws. Invest the money that would go towards building the wall (no way will Mexico pay for it) in enforcing the laws.
- People who have entered the country illegally would have a reasonable amount of time during which they would have the opportunity to identify themselves and apply for legal residency.
- Of those in number three above, any with felony or greater criminal convictions would be immediately deported.
- Any person in the country illegally that is affiliated with any gang, even if they have no criminal convictions, would be immediately deported.
- At the expiration of the registration period, any person in the country illegally would be subject to immediate deportation.
- Amend the law to provide that children born in the US to parents who are not US citizens are not granted automatic citizenship; their status would match that of their parents.
Our government created this problem. We citizens stood by and let it happen. There is a humane and reasonable way to address this issue that could benefit millions of people while showing the world that the United States is still the world’s brightest beacon of opportunity. Let’s not be hypocrites. Let’s be kind, caring, understanding, and compassionate.
I support Marco Rubio for president. His immigration views align more closely with my own than any other Republican candidate in the race. Rubio is the compassionate conservative America needs right now. He is pro life. He is a constitutionalist. He is fiscally conservative. I believe that he is best positioned and most desirous of working towards healing the divide that the current Administration has nurtured over the past 7 years.