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cause

It’s the Eternity, Christian!

By | Envision

While I typically attempt to express myself in a manner that my words would be applicable in any season, I’ve written these thoughts in the wake of the re-election of Barack Obama to a second term as president. And so I have felt free to borrow the title from the slogan of a prior campaign, the purpose of which was to continuously align the proponents to focus on what they recognized as the essential issue.

As followers of Christ, we have many responsibilities. But our essential issue is the Gospel. There are many actions and activities that flow from the Greatest Commandment but the continual refrain of Kingdom proponents should be Christ, Gospel, Eternity.

Each day that we have the freedom to live for Christ, we must take every opportunity to make His priorities our own. His values are own. His focus our own.

Jesus was never distracted from His purpose of redemption, His ascent to the cross, His development of His disciples, His obedience to His Father. Was that because of the cooperation of the Roman Empire? Herod? Pilate? The Sanhedrin? The culture of the nation?

Followers of Christ do not need to bicker about whether the current political or social landscape is desirable. We will pray for the leaders of the land and take our duties of citizenship seriously, but our first allegiance is to God and His Kingdom. Not only is it our priority, it is the only thing that’s going to last.

We could diverge upon a discussion of how biblical heroes led under various administrations (e.g. Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther, Paul, Peter, John, etc.,) and perhaps on another day, I will. But these are all subservient to our mission: proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.

We must be aligned to the Gospel and the timeline of eternity. It will not matter who won which election on the day your friend dies, or your neighbor, or your co-worker. The only decision determining his or her eternal destiny will be whether he or she has trusted in Christ and accepted His payment for sin and His gift of eternal life.

So let each of us be reminded, Christian, that if our allegiance is to the One True God, our eyes must be on Him, and our lives must revolve around His purposes. Let us cry out to the nations that our only hope is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Set your eyes, your heart, your mind, your family, your calendar, your budget, and every decision entrusted to you on the Gospel. It’s the Eternity, Christian!

 

Stand Firm

By | Envision, Headfirst, Involve, Media, Personal
[pullquote_right]This interview’s theme is  from 1 Corinthians 16:13[/pullquote_right]

We filmed this video to invite men to be part of a missions trip to Haiti.  While it was edited for a particular weekend men’s retreat, the honesty and authentic stories shared by these men has been included here in hope that others would be inspired to fully entrust their lives to God, and choose to give their all for Christ.  Along with the exhortation for evangelism and discipleship, we also aim to continue bringing awareness and to recruit involvement to missions work in Haiti and to all the nations.

Among the panelists is our ministry’s international director.

Thank you to Crossline and LifeTogether for the production of this video!

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Upstream / Downstream

By | Envision, Headfirst

Disclaimer: Before I become the focus of anyone’s theological condemnation, let me affirm the truths that following God’s will can be painful, difficult and fatal.  Jesus told us following Him means we must bear our cross daily.  At the same moment, living the Spirit-filled life also sets us free, brings us joy, is an easy yoke to bear, and gives us Jesus Himself, a fountain of living water.  Several New Testament exhortations to persevere and endure literally mean for us to “stand up under” the pressures and trials (e.g. 1 Peter 2:19.)  So in this paradox it is possible that God’s will for me can lead me to brutal martyrdom, and to peace and simplicity.  There is no mutual exclusivity between suffering and joy.

So with that out of the way, let me honestly admit, I’d rather be the leaf floating down the stream than the salmon swimming up the stream.  Life is hard enough, ministry has relentless challenges; sometimes I am compelled to ask “why is it so hard?”  And since I’m a principled man, I think it makes a lot of sense that when given the freedom to choose – when neither selection is “right” nor “wrong” – there is nothing wrong with choosing the simple path.  Perhaps even the easy path.

Is it not accurate that God gives us choices, and we can choose to be blessed?  For instance:

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  • God has made us stewards, and gives us great freedoms in our stewardship.  But we also know that giving generously is a blessing to others and to ourselves.  And it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35.)
  • The Lord promised Abraham that He would bless His descendants, and thereby all who bless Israel will be blessed and all who curse her will be cursed (Genesis 12:1-3.)  I choose blessing Israel!
  • Christ’s best known sermon included the Beatitudes which are all about how to be blessed.
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I’m aware that the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to salvation – but sometimes we make spiritual matters far too complicated and difficult when Jesus regularly brought clarity to the world for His disciples.

This might seem a simplistic example, but God created our world with physical laws, including gravity.  This means that it’s a lot easier for a human, when stepping off the edge of a cliff, to fall rather than fly.  It’s more natural.  No one is surprised by falling.  Yet many followers of Jesus assume that once we are talking about the spiritual world, it makes sense to attempt to violate spiritual laws – at least if we pray a lot about them.

If there is truth to the premise that when we discover where God is working we should join Him in His work, that might mean that if we’re toiling fruitlessly we should ask ourselves whether it is hard soil that God has called us to labor in, or whether we are flapping our arms in the wind with futility as we fall toward earth.

Sometimes living out God’s calling and staying in His will is hard.  Sometimes an easy path is not from the Lord.  And sometimes Jesus offers us a simple path of blessing to follow.  Should you be swimming upstream or downstream?  I don’t know the path that God has called you to sojourn – just make sure that you’re on it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”  (Matthew 11:28-30.)

Giving Well

By | Equip, Involve

I was asked to write a two-part article on “Choosing a Cause and Giving Well.”  Here is part two of the article, which is also available as a pdf download.  (Or jump to Part 1: Choosing a Cause.)

You’ve chosen a cause you believe in – but are you really making a difference?  There’s more to it than the size of your gift.  Giving well is wisely stewarding what you have and making a life impact with it.  From a biblical perspective, everything you have belongs to God, and you are to steward those resources while they’re in your possession – which is a process of giving it back to him.   If you observe the biblical practice of tithing, please note that giving well is about giving above and beyond your tithe. Read More

Choosing a Cause

By | Equip, Involve

I was asked to write a two-part article on “Choosing a Cause and Giving Well.”  Here is part one of the article, which is also available as a pdf download.

Let’s be honest – hundreds of books have been written on stewardship and charitable giving.  This brief article isn’t meant to compete with those books, but to supplement them with a simple set of criteria to help the average person make a few wise choices and get connected quickly with quality causes.

Passionate Connection

Frankly, I lose interest in a cause that I don’t connect with.  Media I see requesting money often feels manipulative, playing on my guilt.  I’m told I must “hurry” to give because the world may end without my immediate involvement.  If an appeal touches my heart, that’s fine.  If a request shames my conscience, I will find another place to give. Read More