Tag Archives: witness

The Harvest is Ripe…

For me, there is nothing like live music. I admire those who have been blessed with musical talent and I enjoy music of most genres. Last night I had the privilege of attending Carlos Santana’s show at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Until now, I’ve been a very casual fan, if that. It was a business event and I was given a free general admission ticket along with the other business colleagues attending the conference. “I’ll stay for a few songs, then I’ll sneak out to bed.” Was I wrong or what?? His music is infectious, and I found myself not wanting to leave. Just over two hours later, I’m on my feet with the rest of the crowd applauding this man who has truly mastered his craft.

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Carlos Santana performing at the Mandalay Bay House of Blues, February 2, 2017. He is a master at his craft, and his music is infectious! Taken on my iPhone.

A little more than halfway through his show, he spoke to the audience. He told them that there are people out there teaching about “wretched sinners”, that those people are mean and we should run from them. He said that we all have this light inside us, and we should live out our lives in that light, enjoying life, being kind. Many in the crowd enthusiastically received and applauded his message. And that made me sad; sad because the only part of the Gospel message he’s apparently heard is the part about sin and death. If he only knew how beautiful the other side of that coin is – the truth about redemption, salvation, and eternal life through Jesus Christ, he could have shared that Truth with his audience.

As he launched into his next song I looked around the room – all those people. How many know Christ, and how many don’t? How many took his false message to heart? I turned to the colleague standing next to me and said, “His theology is a bit off.” My colleague responded, “He’s talking about his god.”

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We live in a lost and fallen world. As Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37) My sense of urgency is increasing, but I sometimes struggle to find my place. Talking about things of God is easy in church, but it’s frowned upon in the workplace. Screaming the Gospel at a colleague I just met in a loud music venue doesn’t seem right either. I know God wants me to share the Gospel. This morning I prayed about the harvest and my role in helping gather it. I look forward to seeing how God chooses to use me, and I pray that He will give me with wisdom and courage to seize every witness opportunity He presents.

Soli DEO Gloria!

What Do You Want for Christmas?

What do you want for Christmas? I bet if I had $1 for every time I’ve been asked that question through the course of my life I would be a wealthy man! But in all seriousness, this is a question that each of us should ponder during this season of Advent. What do you want for Christmas?

As a young boy growing up in Minnesota I never had any difficulty answering that question. One year it was a 10-speed bike and another it was a new parka. In middle school I wanted corduroys and silk shirts. After moving to Texas at age 15 I became enamored with our Western heritage and I wanted a new Resistol cowboy hat and ostrich skin boots. My wants turned more practical as I grew into adulthood – money to keep my car running, clothes for work, coffee makers and kitchen items. Now, here I sit at age 53. What do I want for Christmas?

The gift I want the most is not available in any store. It cannot be purchased online. In fact, there is no dollar amount sufficient to purchase what I want for Christmas.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” ~ Luke 2:8-14

God has already given me a gift that carries more value than any human could possibly measure: He has given me saving faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. I want my family to know Him as I know Him. I want them to grow in faith and walk with the Lord along the path of sanctification.

But it doesn’t stop there. You see, the evidence of sin is all around us. Watch the news. Watch almost any television show or Hollywood movie. Listen to the songs on the Top 40 lists of just about every genre of music. Thumb through many of the novels on the NY Times bestseller list. Observe what goes on around you. Our world, and our very American society, suffers from a sin sickness for which there is only one cure. The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Fortunately, God loves us so much that He sent His Son into this broken and fallen world to save us from the eternal consequences of our sin. It is the birth of His Son that we celebrate at Christmastide.

What do I want for Christmas? I want to be equipped to be salt and light to all with whom I come into contact. I want to be an effective witness for my Lord and Savior whenever and wherever God provides the opportunity. The world needs to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. God willing, I will have a role in sharing it.

How about you? What do you want for Christmas?

The Treasure of God’s Word

Are you a Christian who believes that the Old Testament has nothing to offer we Christians in these modern times?

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. ~ Luke 24:27

Soon after His resurrection, Jesus joined two of His followers as they walked along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They were kept from recognizing Him. Jesus asked them what they were discussing along the way, and they described the recent events concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and reported resurrection. They expressed their disappointment that Jesus of Nazareth apparently was not the Messiah as they had come to expect.

Jesus then opened the Scriptures to them, explaining the prophesies of the Old Testament that point straight to the Messiah. Later, as they dined together, Jesus broke bread and their eyes were opened; they recognized their risen Lord and Savior!

God reveals Himself to us in many ways. We look at the wonder of creation and see His handiwork all around us. We see Him in the faith and sacrifice of those Christians who have gone before us. God reveals Himself to us in His Holy Word – the Bible.

I’m always amazed when somebody claims that the Bible is nothing more than an elaborate hoax on humanity. Some claim that it is all made up, and that we believers are fools for believing it. They claim that it is out of step with modern-day humanity; that it was useful before, but no longer useful in this so-called evolved and intelligent society. They accuse those of us who believe God’s word of wallowing in fantasy. Such thought, my friends, is the work of the devil himself.

Many modern day believers set themselves up to fall into this trap by ignoring God’s Word, or by only studying portions of it. When we Christians limit our study of Scripture, we do not partake of God’s full revelation of Himself and we open ourselves up to buying into the hoax. As I read God’s Word, the majesty of who He is springs forth from the pages. As I read Old Testament prophesy and New Testament revelation, I see a more complete picture of God and I realize that those proffering the hoax theory are the fools.

In this passage, Jesus intentionally keeps His companions from recognizing Him so that He would have the opportunity to relate Scriptures to Himself – to alleviate their doubts, from God’s Word, that Jesus is the Messiah. Later, when He opened their eyes over dinner, the full picture of Jesus became crystal clear to them and they were ready to share the good news.

Christian, if you are not studying God’s Word in its entirety, you are missing out on God’s gift of revelation to His people. It’s not too late. On January 1, I began a one-year Bible reading plan. Each morning I read passages from the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as Psalms and Proverbs. The reading plan is sequential – I am in the Old Testament book of Judges and the New Testament book of Luke as I write this. And, already, my understanding and awe of my Lord and my God is rapidly growing. As He reveals Himself to me in this Treasure of His Word, my faith is growing stronger as well. Bible reading plans don’t have to start on January 1 – won’t you join me?

For the complete account of Jesus’ encounter with His followers along the road to Emmaus, read Luke 24:13-35.

Equipped to Witness ~ Acts 14:21-28

Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. ~ Acts 14:21b-22

As Paul and Barnabas’ visit to Lystra concluded, we are told how some Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and won the crowd over against Paul. They stoned Paul and, thinking him dead, dragged him out of the city. Interestingly, “after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.” (14:20) God still had work for Paul to do.

The visit to Derbe is mentioned only in verse 21. Then Paul and Barnabas backtrack through the cities they have visited, including Lystra, Iconium and Antioch where Paul had been stoned (Lystra) and where Paul and Barnabas had been persecuted. The purpose of the return visits was to “strengthen the disciples and encourage them to remain true to the faith” (v22). They appointed elders for the churches and then returned to Antioch where they “reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (v 27)

Witnessing with Fortitude

Witnessing with Fortitude (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

The church is about winning people to Christ; but it is primarily about strengthening, nurturing, and encouraging those who already believe. God works through the church to equip us believers for Kingdom work; to go out into the world as the Holy Spirit would guide us and allow God to work through us to win the lost to Christ. The church is not premised on “If we build it the unsaved will come,” paraphrasing a line from the movie Field of Dreams. Rather, the church is premised on God’s desire that modern-day apostles go forth from the church to seek and save the lost according to His will.

We modern-day apostles can learn much from Paul and Barnabas. Their message hit home with people; it hit home so strongly that many persecuted them for their determination to stand firmly upon God’s Word. Faced with such severe persecution, they did not give up; they pressed on. This was not of their own accord, but of the Holy Spirit. Paul later wrote these words in his letter to the Romans:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. ~ Romans 4:3-5

When we speak God’s Truth and face persecution because of it, we must rejoice. God is using us. What an honor and privilege that is!

Ponder this: I must stand firm on God’s Word. When am I most tempted to weaken?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, help me to press on in the face of persecution according to Your good and perfect will. Let me be Your minister of the Gospel and let me be a productive and useful member of Your church. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Available? ~ Acts 13:1-3

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. ~ Acts 13:3

My wife and me!

Selfie pic: My wife and me!

For any relationship to work, we must be available to the one with whom we seek the relationship. This applies to all relationships in life; my relationship with my wife, with my kids, with my friends – if I am not available to them or them to me, a relationship cannot happen.

The same is true with my relationship with God. If I am not available to Him, then the relationship will not grow. I will not learn, nor will I mature in my faith. But also, I will not serve Him because I am not available to hear and heed His call.

The first three verses of Acts chapter 13 show us what it looks like to completely avail ourselves to God’s calling. The prophets and teachers at the church at Antioch were together, worshipping the Lord and fasting. Their focus was solely on God, and because of that they were able to hear the Holy Spirit’s calling when it came. Barnabas and Saul were to leave and go preach on the island of Cyprus. The group prayed together, laid their hands upon Barnabas and Saul, and the two departed.

I see a sense of purpose here, a sense of knowing God’s will and following it completely. What if they hadn’t been available? What if they had been drinking in a bar or working overtime? What if they had decided they were too busy or too tired to join together in Christian fellowship? What if they had been watching some mindless TV show with a glass of wine in their hand? Would they have heard God’s calling?

Bible Study 2

Bible Study 2 (Photo credit: DrGBB)

These questions, of course, are not about Barnabas and Saul. They are about me. And what I realize so clearly is that, although I like to think I am available to God, I’m often not. I must be more regular and deliberate in worship. I must be more regular and attentive to reading and studying God’s Word. I must seek like-minded believers with whom I can spend time in fellowship, Bible study and prayer. I must watch less mindless TV and drink less wine and instead focus more on God’s Word. I must be completely available to Him so that I can heed His call when I hear His voice.

Ponder this: What distracts me from fully knowing God’s purpose for my life? Are there life changes I need to make in order to be fully available to Him?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for the sweet nectar of conviction. Reform me, Lord and help me to be more conscientious with how I spend my time. Help me to be more available to You. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

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