Saturday, September 7, 2013

Taking time to Explain the Gospel

Last Saturday, Shayna, me and Jeff went to Herman Park to see if we could get into some gospel conversation. God brought 3 curious kids over to where I was writing on my whiteboard. And what followed was about an hour long conversation explaining sin according to the law, the wrath of God, the perfect life of Jesus, his substitutionary death, and resurrection from the dead. The kids asked a variety of questions about hell, heaven, the Bible, and good works. 

Towards the end of the conversation I asked them if they were to die tonight and stand before God and he asked "Why should I let you into heaven?" what would you say? Two of the children said because they did good things, the other one said that God shouldn't let him into heaven. It's interesting that even after careful attention in explaining that salvation isn't based on works two of the children still were holding to the false notion that their good deeds will out weigh their bad. So, Jeff, Shayna and I took some more time and explained again why their good deeds cannot make up for their sins. We used various analogies and then I asked Jeff the question if he stood before God and was asked why he should be allowed to enter heaven. Jeff expounded on the one kid's answer that he doesn't deserve to go to heaven and explained that the only reason he would be able to enter heaven is through the grace of Jesus Christ. It's because of Jesus we can enter heaven. Not because of anything we have done. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all our sins, washes us, and covers us with the righteousness of Christ. Jesus is our only hope. My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness. 

We left the children with gospel tracts, New Testaments, and invited them to our church. Pray for them.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

To Swear or Not to Swear

I recently had Jury duty and not soon after sitting in the jury pool room. Everyone was asked if they would like a Bible to swear in on. About 20-30 people raised their hands. The other half were going to affirm their oath. When the Bibles were distributed a guy next to me asked what the difference was, between swearing on the Bible or affirming. I told him by swearing on the Bible a person is appealing to the ultimate authority Jesus Christ, recognizing that the oath about to be made is not a trivial matter but you are acknowledging that Jesus Christ is the highest authority over your life. Basically saying that if you take this oath and break it, you deserve the judgment that God says liars should receive. On the other hand, those who affirm their oath, in essence, are acknowledging that they are their own ultimate authority. They choose not to be held accountable to God for their actions.

A couple minutes go by. Half the people present swear in on the Bible, testifying that Jesus is the ultimate authority and they will tell truth because they will have to give account to Him when they die and face the judgment. We sit down and then the rest stand up to affirm their oath. It was odd feeling to see so many people proclaiming that they themselves are the ultimate authority in their lives, without any fear of God in their decision making process.

I know what some of you are saying, "what did Jesus say?"

The below is from

Jesus' Teaching on Oaths

I say to you, ‘Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King’” (vv. 34–35).
Matthew 5:33–37

Oaths and vows are commended in Scripture, but not every oath or vow is legitimate. Certainly, a vow to commit a sin must not be kept, for we are never to break God’s law. David realized this when Abigail’s actions kept him from his vow to kill Nabal (1 Sam. 25). Moreover, no one should swear an oath indiscriminately or frivolously. The Westminster Confession of Faith says oaths are appropriate only in “matters of weight and moment” (22.2). This reflects a biblical pattern wherein oaths are commonly associated with covenants (Gen. 26:3Ps. 132:11). We should make vows only in matters of great and lasting consequence, such as marriages or court proceedings.
Yet, we are left with some New Testament texts that, on first glance, seem to forbid oaths in our day. Today’s passage, for instance, calls us to “let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matt. 5:37). Note, however, that the early Christians did not read Jesus’ words as prohibiting all oaths. Paul took vows during his ministry (Acts 18:18), and John records his vision of an angel who swore an oath (Rev. 10:5–6).
Understanding common first-century Jewish practices helps us see what our Savior was getting at in His teaching on oaths and vows. To keep people from breaking the law’s rules regarding our promises (Num. 30:1–2), Jewish teachers and leaders invented a system by which they could determine whether a vow had to be kept. Extrabiblical literature indicates that many rabbis did not consider it a sin to break a vow if it was not made explicitly in the name of God. Oaths made in the name of heaven or even the gold of the temple were not regarded as ultimately binding. As we might expect from sinners, this led to people making oaths by persons or objects other than God to give them an out in case they did not keep their word.
In Matthew 5:33–37, Jesus points out the foolishness of this teaching by reminding His audience of God’s omnipresence. People might think they can get out of their obligations because they did not swear an oath in the name of the Lord, but the Creator is present with those things by which people might swear, and He is the sovereign Creator of all. All things exist by His authority, so to swear an oath at all is to finally swear an oath in His name. A mere change of words does not give one a “get-out-of-oaths-free” card.

Coram Deo

Jesus’ teaching leads us to conclude that it is better not to make a vow than to swear an oath that we have no intention of keeping. It also reinforces the point that oaths and vows should not be made on just any occasion, but they should be reserved only for occasions of great import and lasting significance. In other cases, we should let our yes be yes and our no be no. But in all circumstances, we must strive to keep our word.

Passages for Further Study

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Today on the way back from our evangelism trip from Virginia Beach, my wife and I stopped in to a restaurant for some lunch. As we were finishing up an older man who looked well dressed in a worn suit approached through the patio entrance and asked if someone there could give him some money to purchase a couple sub sandwiches for him and his wife to eat tonight because they didn't have any money until the first of the month. I was hesitant and he asked again, I was waiting to hear what another table adjacent from us would respond. They kept silent. I reached into my pocket and pulled out an American Hero gospel tract and said to Alston, here you go it's a gospel tract. He looked at it and inserted it into his pocket. I told him that I didn't have any cash to give him but I would by him some food. Go on in and look at the menu and get whatever you want, I said. His look was one of gratitude. A few minutes later I went in and checked on him. I walked over to where he was at the counter and paid for his food and chit chatted with the man for a few minutes. The lady at the register looked shocked that I was purchasing the food for the man. And then I walked away.

Back in the car, we continued our journey home and discussed briefly why I felt the Spirit's leading to purchase this man's food and did not feel led to give money to another guy we saw near Elizabeth City who was holding up a sign. Alston, asked for food and I had the resources to help him out. The man outside a Walmart near Elizabeth City was not asking for food or money but for work. If I lived in the area and had a business I would have given him some tasks to do for some money. 

I thought about how it would have looked to, if the table across from us were unbelievers and I had only given Alston a gospel tract, and he then asked the unbelievers again and they bought him some food. Would my faith be without works? Would the unbelievers who saw and heard me give him a gospel tract think that my faith in Jesus was just words and no deeds?

I then was reminded about an incident that took place a week and a half or so ago. On the way home from work I saw an older, rough, looking man pushing his moped down the road. I passed by and God prompted my heart to turn around and offer to put his moped in the back of my truck and give him a lift to where he was going. I turned around and pulled up next to him and asked if he wanted a ride. The man never acknowledged me and just kept heading to his destination. I said to myself, okay Jesus, I did what you asked me to do and headed on home.

It dawned on me what God was trying to show me through these divine appointments. It's not about helping people, it's about the glory of Jesus. Jesus deserves to receive the reward of his suffering. Jesus wants me to be obedient to the Spirits leading, not for the purpose of helping people, but for the purpose of Glorifying the name of Jesus. It's true that people are helped when Christians follow the Spirit, but helping people for the sake of helping people is not the ideal behind being a follower of Christ. It's all about Jesus!

Paris Reidhead's sermon titled Ten Shekels and a Shirt resonates in my mind [1]. He went to Africa to preach to the heathen in hopes that they would not suffer in hell after suffering so much in this life. When he got there, he discovered "they weren't poor, ignorant, little heathen running around in the woods looking for someone to tell them how to go to heaven. That they were MONSTERS OF INIQUITY!!! THEY WERE LIVING IN UTTER AND TOTAL DEFIANCE OF FAR MORE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THEN I EVER DREAMED THEY HAD! " 

Reidhead was angry at God and struggled with why God had sent him there and it was then that God spoke to his heart, "I didn't send you to Africa for the sake of the heathen, I sent you to Africa for My sake. They deserved Hell! But I LOVE THEM!!! AND I ENDURED THE AGONIES OF HELL FOR THEM!!! I DIDN'T SEND YOU OUT THERE FOR THEM!!! I SENT YOU OUT THERE FOR ME! DO I NOT DESERVE THE REWARD OF MY SUFFERING? DON'T I DESERVE THOSE FOR WHOM I DIED?"

I encourage you to listen or read the Ten Shekels and a Shirt sermon. It is a good reminder that we should avoid pragmatic humanism in our evangelism. We should be faithful to the gospel and serve Jesus despite how ineffective our outreach seems to be. Remember, it's about God's glory, not about how many people repent and put their faith in Christ.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shirt on Backwards

The other day, I go to put a shirt on and it wasn't until I looked in the mirror that I noticed it was on backwards. Haha! Oh the truthfulness of a mirror. It's weird how right it felt, but oh so wrong it was.

Likewise, when you trust your own heart rather than looking to God's law/word as the authority, you have a warped view of reality. Things that the Bible declares bad, you will call good. And the good things God says, you will despise (Isaiah 5:20). God's law is the standard; not your heart, not your feelings, nor your emotions.

Take this as another reminder of which you will be held accountable for on judgment day. Myself included.

Here's a question for you. Why are you prone to follow your own heart? Why, after knowing the truth and having received the Spirit of God, do you (if you are a Christian) still experience the pull of sin? What is the remedy in fighting and resisting that pull?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

How does one find knowledge?

Proverbs 2:1-5

"My son, if you receive my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
    and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God."


What does the wise son do?

Desire for wisdom that propels one to diligently apply God's Word to his or her life is what makes someone wise of heart. Wisdom says to "receive my words," "hide my commandments with you," "incline your ear unto wisdom," "cry after knowledge," lift up your voice for it," "seek her as silver," "search for her as for hidden treasures." Do these things and you will find the knowledge of God, that is, the fear of the LORD. To increase in wisdom is to increase in fearing the LORD, which is loving Jesus by obeying his commandments. The one who says he loves God, but does not keep God's commandments has not the fear of the LORD and therefore has not received the wisdom of Christ.

How should a wise son value wisdom taught by his parents during family worship?

The wise son is someone who recognizes that having the fear of God is of utmost importance. To value something is to pursue it. Pursuing the fear of God is to value the wisdom of God as revealed in the Bible. So, how does the wise son value the wisdom his parents teach him during family worship? He is to soak up the instruction his parents give like a sponge soaks up water, and he thinks and meditates on the matters day and night anticipating the opportunity to apply the teaching to his life, whether it is thoughts, words, or his deeds. 

Do you struggle to appropriately value the wisdom you hear in church and family devotions?

The struggle to value wisdom is my lack of meditating on the principles that are learned heard. Or are they even learned? To some extent, yes. Maybe I should say heard. The lack of intentionality in applying God's Word reveals the value that one places on the Word of God. To think about circumstances and situations, filtering them at all times according to the Scripture is to meditate on God's Word day and night. Meditation is not simply meditating on Bible passages isolated from life. Meditation is thinking on Bible passages in order to apply the principles of Scripture to your life--every area of life--home life, education, work, hobbies, politics, everything. The struggle is to be consistent and view, engage, and interact with everything from a thorough Christian worldview. Valuing wisdom takes practice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Do You Reject Wisdom?

Proverbs 1:24-33

"Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster."

What will happen to the fool who rejects the wisdom of God?

God will laugh at the calamity that comes upon the person who has rejected the wisdom of God. The Bible says that God will mock the fool when terror, distress, and anguish come upon him. At this point the fool will want God's help after all the years of rejecting God, but God will not have it. He says, "Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me." The fool will get what he deserves and eat the rotten fruit he has produced. Because the fool does not have the fear of the LORD, he in his simplicity is killed; his complacency destroys him.

What will happen when you listen to the wisdom of God?
Wisdom declares that the person who listens dwells secure from the destructive path of fools. The person who loves wisdom will be at ease, having peace, and not have the dread of disaster that comes upon fools. The wise person is answered upon by wisdom. God does not mock or bring punishment upon the people who love and obey his commandments. Loving and obeying God's commandments is rooted in the fear of the LORD. The Christian wants God's counsel and turns to God's wisdom in search for how to live this life in a way that God calls good and righteous. God pours out his Spirit to those who fear him. The fool will only get God's wrath in the end. Are you a fool? Do you reject wisdom?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gospel tract SALE & GIVEAWAY!!

All of our Christmas and New Years Gospel Tracts are 20% off. 
This Saturday & Sunday ONLY.
This is a great time of year to spread the glorious news of the gospel. 

Get 1000 business card sized gospel tracts for $40!!! That includes shipping within the continental U.S.!! 

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