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Wrath and Results

June 21, 2016
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This title is admittedly a weird way to think about evangelism. I get it. Most Christian guilt trips towards obedience never work, and if they do, it’s temporary. The ones that sustain are Spirit-wretched works that produce love and understanding. And yet, there’s this other side of the coin that often goes about extremely silent and hidden in the corner. “Nobody puts baby in the corner.”

What exactly does this silent side of the coin reveal?

It reveals wrath and results.

John 3:36 says He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him;

Isaiah 55:11 says So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

These two verses have everything to do with God’s sovereignty, man’s responsibility, the state of man that doesn’t believe, the work of the Word of God, and salvation.

The word of God accomplishes what God sets it out to accomplish. This is good news because we no longer have to worry about the results. God has already taken care of that. As it is shared with folks from all walks of life, whatever God desires for it to accomplish that time it will do just that! These are results that we cannot manufacture. No longer is the burden on us. There’s freedom in the gospel and now there’s freedom when we share the gospel.

The other connecting part to this is the wrath of God. All of those who do not believe in or obey the Son continue to deal with the wrath that remains on them. In other words, none of us come out the womb believing and obeying the Son, therefore, we are covered with the wrath of God. Looking dapper and suave and smooth every day of the week, and twice on Sundays, yet wrapped up in wrath. So all the millions of people who don’t believe in the Son are in this condition.

So this leaves us back at where we started in this blog. Evangelism is never to be about guilt, but about God. See God plans things out, who needs to hear it, and who will be the one to tell them with what Scripture. This condition that millions are in is the same condition Christians used to be in, and even God used these same means to accomplish what he desired for us which happened to be salvation. So may we not fret any longer about which exact words to use, the right verses, having the right arguments etc. None of that saves anyway. The word of God is what’s sharper than any two-edged sword! Not our cleverly polished well thought out words.

Therefore, believer, does the wrath of God remaining on folks you know and don’t know concern you? Does the fact that the results are in the hands of God sound like music to your ears? Does the point that God wants to accomplish changed lives through salvation draw you into obedience? If none of this compelling believer, then what will be?

Press on.


Luke 15 is Much More

June 18, 2016
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This is not a frustrated blog. It’s more of let’s see this chapter from a biblical theological whole Scripture view.

Genesis 3, I believe, helps us understand Luke 15 better. In Genesis 3, God comes walking in the cool of the day looking for Adam and Eve. This is no small thing though I fear it’s read so casually. The creator of the universe came looking for his creatures. From this account we already see there is no high horse that our God sits on that he has to get off. There is no nose up in the air God that is described in the scriptures.

In Luke 15, Jesus is talking to the high horse, nose up in the air folk alongside the common folk with no philosophical nose to turn up in the air. But what’s bigger than these 3 parables is the bigger picture here. I have heard this chapter preached more times than I count, and a lot of them were great sermons. I have never heard the chapter preached in one sermon. And not that it’s a necessity; I just fear bigger things are missed that don’t help us get a sense of awe of God.

“This man receives sinners and eats with them” is a great depiction of the character of God. God is a missionary God in the sense that He’s always going after people. Jesus is giving these two groups of people a description of Yahweh that they ought to know from Genesis 3. He’s walking in the cool of the day doing stuff that isn’t considered respectable to these hearers. And why is God doing this? To receive sinners and eat with them. Jesus was charged with this by the nose up in the air folks, yet they didn’t know Jesus was doing what God has done and wants him to do. Receive sinners (those not deemed respectable) and eat with them! This is what followers of Christ are to do as they imitate Jesus.

Back to the story.

Jesus continues to describe Yahweh as the type of God that goes after disrespectful, lost, strong willed, desiring to be independent, selfish, broken, embarrassing, and unwilling to seek repentance individuals. This describes what God did in Genesis 3. This describes what God has been doing ever since the garden. God goes after those types of people. He always has and will until the end of time.

Luke 15 is about the God who goes after people to receive sinners and eat with them. This is a salvific and eschatological phrase. God saves sinners and will eat with them at the heavenly supper and for eternity. Yes, it’s been preached in the past about God. And yes it’s theologically correct. However, the parables are about the purpose of this missionary God going after unworthy sinners.

May we see this chapter in light of Genesis 3 from now.


Don’t Pigeon-Hole

June 5, 2016
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As often as I talk newmanity, transcultural communities, racial reconciliation, social justice, the both/and perspectives to life as citizen and Christian, I am reminded of one great fear. The fear of being pigeon-holed. It’s happened to vast amounts of people throughout the history of this country and the world. Whatever they’ve become famous or infamous for is the thing they’re asked to speak about the most. And only that. And that’s where the fear sets in.

It’s ok to have an expertise and be a go-to person in regards to certain topics. But if you’re only asked to speak about one specific thing, I personally fear that one thing becomes your only thing. So whenever you’re asked to speak, folks who’ve already heard you no longer care to come with open minds and ears. And folks who’ve never heard you get to experience it and label you irrelevant.

Labels are often thrown at people without the boomerang affect. Once it sticks, you’re tagged once and for all. And while I understand the danger of being a mile wide and an inch deep, I also believe there’s unknown danger in being a mile deep and an inch wide. Therefore, I strive to bring up topics with the same folks that haven’t been introduced before in our talks. I await moments when I can stretch them in their mental capacities in considering other points of views that neither of typically share. And I encourage you to do the same.

Here’s why.

The good news of Jesus Christ finds its way into the way we as humans look at each other, view marriage, act in parenting, seek for equality, work our jobs, care for the widows and orphans, love on the poor and hurting, talk about government officials, treat those unjustly wronged and convicted, surrender to authority, show concern for the disabled, and spend money. There is no pigeon-holing the gospel. Neither should the people of the gospel be. Our ability to have our minds and hands into many pots doesn’t render us ineffective, but rather mindful of the far-reaching implications Jesus ought to have in societies, countries, homes, businesses, schools, and social clubs.

But this doesn’t come naturally. It must be fought for. And we believers must do the fighting. One of the greatest ways to fight this is in how we stop pigeon-holing others. Do you get it? The less we try to limit folks to one thing they do well, the more freedom we give them, the more freedom we’re given. And there’s freedom in the gospel that must be maintained and allowed. Assimilation and conformity are ploys of the prince of the air, not the prince of peace. So Christian, fight against the temptation to pigeon-hole first, and watch (and feel) the freedom opened up to you from others.


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Newmanity and Strongholds

June 2, 2016
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Ever ask yourself what is a stronghold? Ever been asked?

I find it best to start with definitions so that our time isn’t spent wondering just exactly what this big 5 dollar word means. A stronghold is best described as a person placing greater value, thoughts, or desires on some thing or someone more than God.

In reality, every person in this world has at least one stronghold. For the nonbeliever, it’s fully expected. Some want nothing to do with God, so what they crave and value will always come before the creator. Some want to have a comfortable affixed relationship with God in order that their conscience will feel better. Some just don’t want to pay the cost of following Jesus for the rest of their lives. Any way you look at it, they’ve got the type of strongholds they can’t get relief from.

Believers on the other hand are in a different boat as expected. Having been nonbelievers for any length of time, they come into Christianity with a specific set of strongholds. Depending on the type of home and local church environment, there comes another set of strongholds. And there’s this pesky thing called self-righteousness that every Christian struggles with.

In Galatians 5, Paul lays out a concrete framework for the believers to understand that Jesus died on the cross to set them free. Then in verse 16, he commands them to go live in the Spirit. But there’s a vital part missing in this link. Those Galatian believers were at one point bound in chains before being given freedom in a spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental sense. Talk about radical change. And now they’re supposed to go live controlled by the Spirit. But how?

What a person thinks controls them. Do you believe that? Go ahead of think back to the last few things that you really wanted more than life itself, and all the steps you took to get it. Those were strongholds you encountered that most likely led you to sin because you were controlled by the fleshly desires. And some of our desires can be good, but they become over-desires that take the place of God in our lives. In other words, we take good things and make them into God-like things that we believe deserve our ultimate allegiance until it’s acquired.

Paul isn’t done. “Live (controlled) by the Spirit and you won’t gratify the desires of the sinful flesh.” First question is, do you believe this sentence? Does this inspired verse hit home in your heart and mind? I sure hope so

Second question, do you read this sentence and automatically jump to this –¬†well I’m not perfect; I’m a work in progress? I sure hope not. Paul isn’t commanding perfection. He’s stating a simple truth. Live controlled by the Spirit and you won’t gratify your fleshly desires. On the flip side, gratify your fleshly desires and it’s proof you’re not being controlled by the Spirit.

Third question, does this sentence encourage you to fight through your strongholds? I sure hope so. If you can rightly place your fleshly desires where they go, you can conquer your stronghold so that you won’t sin.

Be encouraged believers and nonbelievers. Strongholds are defeated by the same power that raised Jesus from the grave. The Holy Spirit is key to your powerful living in the freedom that you’ve been given, believers. Trust him.