Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God." ~ 2 Corinthians 5: 21


We reach them with the truth. No need to sugar-coat it, water it down or soften it up. The Word of God is more than sufficient to save people today just as it has done for thousands of years. The power of salvation starts in the heart when a person fully realizes they are a sinner, lost without hope. This is the point at which they begin to see how glorious, merciful and loving God is because of what He did for us in spite of our wretched, sinful condition. Through the Word, people will hear this message and through the Word, the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin to soften hearts for the Gospel message.

Salvation is not about what Jesus can do for our lives (He already has done it). It's not even really about us... It's about Him and what He did for us. Grace. Mercy. Substitutionary Atonement. We are not deserving of this amazing grace nor is there any amount of good works that will save us.

We are called to proclaim the good news... The Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the message we are to share with the world. All of the acts of charity, compassion and "being the hands & feet of Jesus" mean absolutely nothing if we are not sharing the Gospel. Jesus didn't suffer and die on the Cross in order that we may have a better life... He did so in order that we may HAVE life in Him. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was to save us not from our sins but from the just wrath of God.

Listen to John MacArthur explain this simple yet powerful truth of the Gospel.
This is what it's all about!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009


((conclusion of "Why Some Cannot Find The Way"))


The greatest thing we can do to show our love for others is to bring them to Christ. If our greatest joy in life is found in God, would we not then desire that others find this as well? How then do we introduce others to Jesus Christ?

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." ~John 14: 6

Jesus was more than just a kind, compassionate teacher. He was (and remains) the Truth. If we are to desire that others find their desire in Him, we must share this truth with them. We do this through prayer, through outward acts of kindness, compassion & sacrifice and through sharing the Word of God. Through the conviction of sin, the softening of heart and the realization of the love & grace of God demonstrated on the Cross, the Holy Spirit begins to open their eyes and minds to the truth and it is this truth that will set them free from sin to experience the joy of God (
John 8:32). We must remember that the sharing of the truth is not contingent on whether the results are what we expected or whether the truth is accepted. We do not compromise or change the truth.

"Jesus is not a pragmatist when it comes to loving people with the truth. You speak it, and if it does not win belief, you do not consider changing the truth." ~ John Piper


We live in a world consumed with self and the pursuit of earthly pleasure. As a result, many will not find God as they are 'blinded' because of this. They do not 'see' the truth because they are in darkness. There is a popular contemporary Christian song that talks about a "God shaped hole" in all of us. Some liken that to being this sadness or longing that can only be filled by God. While there may be some truth to that, I tend to believe that this "hole" within us is actually our conscience. We are created in the image of God and with an awareness of right & wrong. We go through life chasing after happiness only to find that it's short-lived or never enough. Some will live and die, never having found the true joy of life. Some find it later in life when they realize they are not good enough to meet God's standards and that only one thing (Christ), can fill this 'void' inside.

We are to be the light in this dark world that draws people out of the world and to the Son. This is exactly why Christians should not look and act like the world. We are to be different in a way that they will want what we have. Not the external but the internal. This is where the outward acts of love take shape. Giving without expecting in return. . An attitude of anonymity. All that we do should point to Jesus Christ. People should beA kind word. Sacrifice. Walking in their shoes. Listening. Forgiving. Acts of compassion with a humble heart drawn to Him and not impressed with our works...

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." ~ Matthew 5: 16

In all the good that we do for others, our aim should be for them to know Christ. The full picture of love for one another means nothing if we think giving to the needy is enough without following through with sharing the Gospel. If we are content only with the satisfaction our giving provides regardless of whether they find salvation in Christ, we are not demonstrating love at all. Our compassion, generosity and kindness for all should remain even if they reject Christ.


Nothing speaks louder than experience. People can relate to others who are going through or have gone through what they have. The impact of what you share means that much more when you can demonstrate the effect it has had on your life. God is in the business of transforming lives. He does this through Jesus Christ. If someone is drawn to Christ because of what we do or say, it should be the result of them seeing the hope, peace, contentment and joy in our life. They won't find "The Way" through empty promises of having their best life now. The Christian life is not a guarantee of success or happiness according to the world. When Christ left the Apostles over 2000 years ago, what followed was not prosperity or popularity. They suffered far more than we ever will for the Gospel. Many gave their very lives for the sake of Him and His Word. Are we this willing to take up our cross and get out of the boat to serve & follow Him?

This attitude of serving Christ at all cost should be evident in our walk and talk. The world should be attracted to Him because of the work He has done in us. Regardless of the rejections or negative response we may get from the world (even demonstrating love), we must remain committed to sharing the truth without compromise.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil." ~1 Peter 3:15-17

In the end, Christians can demonstrate the love of Christ, share the truth, be a light in the world and live a life that shows the transforming power of God and still, some will still not find the Way. Many will find that what they thought was the Way, was not (Matt.7: 21-23)The Bible reminds us that many will be deceived and reject the truth (2 Tim. 4:3-4). The very nature of man is drawn not to the things of God (1 Cor.2:14) but instead, to the things of the flesh. Self. Pride. Lust.

"If a man will reject God, even as a Savior, there must be a dreadful venom in his heart against God." ~ Charles Spurgeon

Mere knowledge of God is not what saves a man nor is it the lack of that sends him to hell...

"A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God." ~ Ravi Zacharias

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." ~ 2 Timothy 4: 3-4




Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. 'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." ~Matthew 22: 36-40

Why do we do what we do? Why do some devote their lives to doing good towards others? Why are Christians known for their compassion and self-sacrificing more than any other religion? Because the One whom we follow led by example. Jesus Christ demonstrated the greatest act of sacrificial love that mankind has ever known. He suffered and died on the Cross, paying the price for every sin of every human being to ever live. Secondly, he demonstrated a love towards others that He expects us to have. Putting others before self. Teaching us to be humble servants. Desiring for others what we would desire for ourselves.

Our acts of love should be a direct response to our love for God. If we love Him, we will obey His commandments (John 14: 15). As a follower of Christ, our purpose is clear: Glorify God. How we live and what we do with our lives should revolve entirely around this objective. Above all other things, we are to glorify Him by loving Him, obeying Him and honoring Him.

I believe this command from God is likely one of the most difficult things we can do in life. Love is more than a feeling. It's more than doing something nice for someone. Throughout Christ's ministry on earth, He lived an example of perfect love. Reaching out to those in need, serving those who expected to serve Him. Accepting those others rejected. To actually love someone regardless of whether they are lovable or deserving of our love is outside of human understanding. The love God intends for us to have towards others is that we desire for them what we would desire for ourselves (Matt. 7: 12)

Take a moment to think about that kind of love. This is far beyond simply wanting to make someone feel good or bringing a smile to their face. This love requires us to step outside of our human nature. In order for us to wrap our minds around this, there must be a transformation within our very souls. Unless we first love God, it's impossible for us to love others according to His design for love. This ability to love comes through the life-changing experience of receiving Christ as your Lord & Savior. On our own, we are incapable of loving on this level.


What did Jesus mean by this?

"Why does he say it in this way? I think what he means is that when you see people love like that (fulfill the Golden Rule), what you are seeing is the visible expression of the aim of the Law and the Prophets. This behavior among people manifests openly and publicly and practically what the Old Testament is about, It fulfills the Law and the Prophets by making the aim visible. Loving God, however, is invisible. It is an internal passion of our soul. But it comes to expression when you love others. So loving other is the outward manifestation, the visible expression, the practical demonstration, and therefore the fulfillment of loving God and therefore of what the Old Testament is about." ~ John Piper "What Jesus Demands from the World"

Basically, our love for God is realized visibly when we sacrificially love others.
This brings a whole new perspective to our role as Christians. In loving others, we are loving Him and fulfilling the purpose of the entire Word of God. Not for our gain or pleasure but for His glory. Everything was created for His glory and everything that we do for Him should be with that same attitude. So then, what are the ways that we demonstrate this love towards others?



Friday, January 16, 2009


Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."~ John 3:3

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14

What is it that prevents a person from becoming a Follower of Christ?

No doubt, the mission of so many churches today is to reach the 'seeker' and the un-churched. Great efforts are made to understand what exactly the 'seeker' is looking for in a church.

Surveys are conducted to find out what it takes to get them into church. Research and marketing studies are used to determine the best methods for doing church. Many have grown tired of the traditional church and are desperately trying to change everything in order to appeal to the seeker.

Apparently, the Word of God is no longer interesting. The Gospel too offensive. Theology too boring. If church isn't entertaining, they simply won't come. Many popular books have been written to teach churches and pastors how to do church in a culturally relevant way so that people will like going to church. The successful model church today is constantly coming up with new ideas to align with the latest social trends in order to keep the people coming.

Despite the attention that so many popular mega-churches are getting, despite the huge turn-out of people and the record sales of catchy 'Christian' how-to books, the results of so many polls and studies are revealing a different story. The Emergent movement determined that everything must change. Well, things are changing but is it for the better?

Recent Barna & Pew research results show that just because someone claims to be a Christian does not necessarily imply that they believe everything about the Christian faith.

- 61% of Christians pick & choose from the beliefs of different denominations.

- Nearly 50% of Christians do not believe in hell.

- A third believe that Jesus sinned while on earth.

- Two-fifths don't feel that they have a responsibility to share their faith.

- 65% of Christians believe many religions can lead to eternal life.

- 29% of professing Christians believe salvation is based on what you do in life.

Even within some of the largest Christian churches in America, there are surprising results.

- 47% do not believe in salvation by grace.

- 57% do not believe in the authority of the Bible.

- 56% do not believe Jesus is the only way to God.

Instead of wondering why so many Christians have beliefs that contradict the Bible, isn't the bigger question, "Are they even saved in the first place?"

I think the answer is simple. We've stopped preaching the Word. We've softened the Gospel message and we've turned church into Burger King ("Have It Your Way").

We are reminded all throughout scripture that mankind is a wretched, self-centered being.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
~ Jeremiah 17:9

The things of God are offensive to the unregenerate person. They are ok with Christ's message of love but they really don't want to hear about sin, hell, repentance and the wrath of God.

These topics are often avoided in church so as not to offend the seeker. Theology is considered too boring or judgmental. It should come as no surprise then when we see the results of easy-believism church in America.

Many within the seeker-friendly churches argue that for too many years, the church was preaching a shallow, un-loving, judgmental Gospel. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in this to some extent. Instead of reaching out and demonstrating a Christ-like love in presenting the Gospel, some have attached works to salvation by focusing more on the rules than grace. Sadly though, the response has went to the other extreme and now we're seeing the results. People have forgotten that church is not about us. It's about Glorifying God.

"The grand design of God, from which He never has and never will swerve, is to glorify Himself: to make manifest before His creatures what an infinitely glorious Being He is." ~ A. W. Pink

The Law was given to show us our sinful condition; Not to keep us in line or enable us to work our way into Heaven. Love, grace and compassion should be evident in the lives of every believer. These should be the effects of the Gospel; Not the Gospel itself. Likewise, the highest act of honoring God is to share the good news of the Gospel to the unbelieving world. It's not enough to simply be kind or do nice things for people. This alone does not save a person just as going to church or reading the Bible does not save. The Holy Spirit saves when a person is humbled and their heart is broken over their sins before a Holy, Loving, Just God.

The responsibility of a Follower of Christ is first and foremost to glorify God...

“Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Secondly, we should be sharing the Gospel and living a Christ-centered life that is a testimony to the world of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Our goal should not simply be to get as many people as possible into church. Nor should it be to lead people in a sinners prayer or get them to "Ask Jesus into their hearts". We are commanded to share the Gospel. The Holy Spirit does the rest. We need to be especially careful that we do not make compassion our goal. Acts of kindness and charity are to be the fruit of our salvation and not a substitute for the Gospel itself.
Church should be a place where God is glorified. Where His Word is preached and ALL of the focus is on Him; not us. It most certainly was not intended to be a place designed exclusively for the lost (seeker?) in order to make them feel comfortable. The church SHOULD be different from the world; not a trendy-copy where it's all about you.

Lastly, we should be striving individually and as a church to be transformed by the Word and led by the Spirit in all things in order that God is Glorified.

(Next: Part 2 "Love One Another")


Saturday, January 10, 2009

GETTING IN THE BOAT (before we walk on water)

"If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat"

(John Ortberg)

This post is not a book review to criticize or support John Ortberg. Instead, I'd like to focus on the bigger topic.... Getting INTO the boat
Before a person can "walk on water", they must already be in the boat.

Before Peter's faith was tested in Matthew 14: 28-31, he first got into the boat.

The realization of who Jesus really was caused Peter to recognize his sinfulness. It was at this point, Peter was called to "get into the boat" and follow Christ Luke 5: 1-11.
Note that Jesus didn't teach any of the disciples how to have their best life now nor did He work to build their self-esteem and encourage them to find their purpose in life. No, the first thing He did was reveal Himself to them. That alone was enough to cause them to leave everything behind and follow Him. Only after this did Christ begin to teach them the Way.

The problem within the church today is not so much about walking on water as it is getting into the boat in the first place. There seems to be more of an emphasis these days on experiencing the blessings of God than there is experiencing who God is and how to really know Him. Instead of teaching the 'seeker' how to be more fulfilled in life, how to be happy, how to improve this or even how to love others, shouldn't the priority be to teach the Gospel? There are hundreds of self-help books out there. Oprah has become somewhat of a 'religion' herself by promoting the latest guru of self-help to encourage us to find ourselves. Churches all across the country are jumping from one program to the next trying to appeal to the 'seeker' and be culturally relevant without coming across as too churchy.

Is this what Jesus intended when He commanded His disciples to share the good news? Does our motivation and passion to serve Christ come from a self-help book or topical Sunday message? Whatever happened to being awakened, led and fed by the Spirit of God?

The latest motivational book, message, conference or sermon is not what will transform a life to the point where someone will leave everything and follow Jesus. Only the Gospel of Christ can do this. Is it any wonder why so many people are not desiring to walk on water when they are taught that they too can become a Christian if they only "Ask Jesus into their heart"?

((Paul Washer- The true life changing Gospel ~Romans 10))
Only when we see what we are (a sinner) and where we're going (to hell) can we understand why we need to be saved and from what (God's wrath). Repentance and trusting Jesus Christ is what brings us into the boat from which we can walk on water. Without the saving power of the Gospel, everything else is meaningless. We can be purpose driven, have our best life now, be a barbarian, become wild at heart, discover blue like jazz, ponder the velvet Elvis, find God in the shack, seek a new earth and even believe that everything must change however, none of these will transform your life into a 'water-walker'. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God can life-change happen.
As for the popular social gospel that seems to be getting so much attention these days, this focus on compassion alone will not save a person. Only when a person has experienced the transformation that begins to take place when they hear the Gospel of Christ, can they be moved into the effects of the Gospel. Unless we first understand what it means to love God with all our heart, soul & mind, we will not be able to fully grasp the concept of loving others.

To those who are seeking God.... He can be found only through the Gospel and with a contrite & humble heart.

If you claim to be a Christian and are perfectly content just staying in the boat, you might want to do a thorough self-examination with God to make sure you're even in the right boat. Once you're "in", you cannot help but be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay in the Word and through it will come a burning passion to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the world... both in word and in deed.


Thursday, January 1, 2009



Another year behind us, a new one to look forward to.

As we reflect on the year behind us, may it be a time of thanksgiving, not regret.

Indeed, we have much to be thankful for... the wonderful memories of the past and hope for the future. God has blessed us in spite of our shortcomings, mistakes and poor choices. This is what makes His grace so amazing!! In our wretched, sinful condition, He saved us. That which is most precious to Him (His Son), given to be the sacrifice, the payment, the substitute for our sins. Not just once or for a few but for ever and for all. How often we take this for granted or forget this most treasured thing that should be the source of our joy.

In our human nature, it's natural for us to be thankful for the superficial things in life. The things that we often tend to associate with happiness.... stuff. Earthly things. A job. Nice this or that. Prosperity. Food. Nice house. Health and even family. How often we express our thankfulness in this way.... "Life was good this year. I made a lot of money, did this, bought that, met him or her, found this, overcame that, won this, got promoted, moved into a new house". Bigger, better, more. Common indicators of what we often use to measure what is good, better or even blessings from God. Yes, health is important. Family important. Having our basic life essentials all very important. God certainly knows what we need. But, how often do we really stop and consider what we have to be thankful for? Where does our joy and contentment come from? What made 2008 a good year for you?

As a Follower of Christ, a Believer, a Christian, Born Again... whatever the title we like to put on it, do we fully appreciate what it is that makes us this? For many of us, it's difficult to even imagine being anything else. Sure, we could have been born somewhere else. Raised with different religious upbringing. Different values. We could be Muslim or Hindu or even an atheist. Still, we'd have things to be thankful for.

But we wouldn't have eternity to be thankful for.

Consider what Jesus spoke of concerning what really matters in life...

Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." ~ Luke 9: 23-26

We value our life based on what we can see, experience and touch. Health. Food. Things. Yes, even love. God teaches us that these things although nice and even essential for our existence are really secondary to something else. Where we spend eternity. Despite what the latest pop-psychobabble, feel-good book may say, we were NOT created simply to experience success & happiness in life. At least not how the world measures it.

We were created to glorify God. Yes, even to the Muslim, the atheist, the Mormon. Each and every one of us has a primary purpose in life and that is to love, serve, honor and magnify God in all we do. As the popular book tell us, "It's not about you". And yet, we make it about us. "God wants me to be happy". We blame others when our little joy bubble bursts. We expect things from others in order that we might be happy. At some point, we are hurt, rejected, taken advantage of, disliked, disrespected, unloved, overlooked, stepped on, used, abused and have our self-esteem ripped away. And then... "Life sucks". Life is unfair. We blame the world and we say "Enough!.. I'm tired of worrying about everyone else. It's time I start thinking about ME first."

How utterly ridiculous we really are when it comes to being thankful.
It's a good thing that God Himself didn't respond that same way every time WE did those things (and more) to Him.

The very God who created everything, who loved us above all creation, who became flesh to suffer and die for us in order that we might know & love Him...The One who created within us the very thought and ability to experience what it is to be thankful. And yet, we rarely if ever thank Him for the very air that we breath let alone the greatest gift that could ever be given.... Life. Not just the here & now. Not simply 70 or 80 years of living and breathing. But eternal life. More than this, He DIDN'T give us what we deserved. Death. Eternity in hell.

The grace of God is the greatest thing we could ever be thankful for.
The Cross separates us from God's justifiable wrath.

Because of this, everything about our lives should be affected. Life becomes that much more precious. Family means that much more to us. Hope really means something. Everyday is a gift. Giving actually feels good. Love becomes more than a feeling; it becomes a way of life.

So, as we look back and look ahead, may our motives, thoughts, desires, passions and actions be Christ exulting, God glorifying. May the Way of Truth humble hearts, change lives and inspire all of us to share the gospel to every living person... in love. This is where true joy is found.