Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Do the work of an evangelist – 2 Timothy 4:5

1. Evangelism is Action – Do

We do evangelism.  It is an activity.  We’ve tried to make a part of our everyday activities rather than a special event that requires us to gather in one spot, touch home base (the church building) then go out together following a program.  However, sometimes we get a little off-centered and we exchange other activities for evangelism.  Some of these activities include; fellowship gatherings, conferences, concerts, bible studies, community service, hanging out at the coffee shop together, hanging out at the park together, hanging out at the building together. We do a lot of stuff that doesn’t equal evangelism.  The Great Commission, the last instructions given to the church prior to Jesus ascension, is to make followers of Christ out of all nations.  That’s something specific to do.  Let’s do it.

2. Evangelism is Labor – the work.

This is not easy.  It will be much easier to talk about it, to preach about it, to read about it, to blog about it, to sing about it, to dream about it, to plan it, to program it, and to organize it,  The work is difficult and challenging.  The result do not come easy.  The risk is great. We are commanded to go (Matthew 28:19) but we are not sent alone  (Matthew 28:20).  So we must team up with Jesus and get to work.

 3. Evangelism has a Focus – of an evangelist.

We are to do the work of an evangelism which is evangelizing, which is telling people the simple good news of Jesus Christ.

Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor. – Spurgeon

(I took this outline from evangelismcoach.org)

no regrets

There is a current trend in social media to promote the worldly philosophy of “no regrets”.  Essentially, the philosophy is to not regret anything.  Don’t regret anything that once made you smile. Don’t regret because at one time that is what you wanted.  Don’t regret your past, just the time you spent with the wrong people.  Regret nothing.

If I understand the concept, people don’t like the feeling of regret, nor do they like the self-punishment that comes with it. They seek to alleviate these negative feelings with the philosophy; regret nothing. Social media and blog content list unfortunate actions that lead to regret; dating a jerk, getting a misspelled tattoo, buying a Prius, and staying in a miserable dead-end job. I highly recommend that for these behaviors and similar, move on and get over them. The rest of this article does NOT deal with these embarrassing situations.  However, there are numerous examples of immoral behavior that the proponents of this philosophy wish to escape;  drunkenness, becoming pregnant at 14, sex with a stranger, selfishly destroying a relationship, wasting time, and stealing.  It is in this area that I am concerned.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10

Regret and guilt are synonymous (the philosophers will say that guilt is extreme regret).  Sin leads to guilt.  It is best to respond to guilt with repentance rather than a stubborn denial of accountability.  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.  You can live with no regrets with simple faith in Christ and repentance from sin.  That’s a much better deal than a mantra. Here are the easy steps

How to Deal with the Feelings of Regret

1.  Identify the source – regret is that nagging feeling that you wish you had done something differently.  What is that something?  Do you regret the action or the result?

2.  Recognize who you owe – “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  – Romans 3:23.  It is God whom we owe. So let’s deal with him concerning our guilt/regret.

3.  Confess your sins to God. – 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”

4.  Trust in God’s promise to remove the sin and thus the guilt/regret.

So, don’t fall into the world’s philosophy of ignoring the condition of your soul.  God has provided a simple (to us) way of dealing with the guilt associated with our sin.  God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and pay the penalty of our sin.  If we’ll trust in Him, He’ll remove our sin and forgive us. Thus no regrets.

This won’t fix that jerk you dated in 10th grade or your obsession with One Direction or the mullet.   Those decisions will keep you awake at night.  But you don’t have to carry the guilt/regret of your sin.  Just repent.

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Step One: Focus your Fancy

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your  life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4

Paul tells us to set our hearts and our minds on things above.

He means for us to focus our eyes, mind and our whole self on Heavenly, Spiritual and Godly things.

Focus your thoughts on the things of God not the things of the earth. He tells us this because our thoughts lead to our feelings and our behavior.  If I focus on worldly activities and desires I will behave in a worldly and sinful way.

So, how to I set my mind on heavenly/godly things?

I read the Bible, I memorize Scripture, I meditate on the Word, I pray, I obey God.

The natural result of your thinking is that your behavior changes to match.

Step Two: Finish the Flesh

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 

Put to death means to mortify or to kill.  The famous phrase in the video game “Mortal Combat” is “Finish Him.”  When it comes to you flesh, you can’t control it, you can’t reform it, you have to “Finish” it.  You must put to death whatever belongs to that earthly nature.

He gives a list of this earthly nature.  The list is all sexually related and deals with everything of sexual immorality, plus the immoral thoughts, ideas and fantasies that come with it.  Paul continues adding to this the evil desires to sin and the deep dark evil sexualized passions that well up inside us.  He includes greed in the list because this form of sexual related sins always demands more and more until the sexual perversion becomes an idol, it is worshiped.

We live in a culture that has made an idol of sex.  It is pushed in every aspect of our life.  Constantly.  We are just as depraved and perverted as the first century Greeks and Romans mentioned by Paul.

These are all part of our sinful nature, they are sins of the flesh and we are not told to get our flesh under control or to reform our flesh, we are told to kill it, to mortify it, to finish it…

How do I do that?  By Focusing my Fancy on things about and not on earthly things.  I’m not looking at porn, or at ladies body parts, or at sexually suggestive television, or listening to provocative sexual songs, or reading sexual stuff…I’m mortifying the flesh…I’m killing those sinful sexual desires. (I highly recommend getting married and having a healthy sex life, though)

6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 

Step Three: Fire Your Fury

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:8-10

The fleshly sexual sins are part of our worldly and earthly nature and must be put to death.  But this next list are part of our emotions dealing with anger and are not so easily “finished off.”  We are told to get rid of these items, like getting rid of a horrible employee.  You are fired.

We are so angry.  We see this anger in the way we snap at people, the cussing, the passive aggressive facebook updates, the eye rolling, the arguments where we drag in events to happened a while back, the mean behaviors we do toward others, the lies, the slander.  We are angry people.

Bruce Banner (in the Avengers) revealed his secret as the Hulk.  He is always angry.  Most of us are the Hulk in waiting.  We are always angry and it doesn’t take much for us to turn green and smash everything.

Our anger is caused by hurt.  People hurt us and we get angry.  When we do not deal with the anger it turns to resentment which is that built-in never leaving anger.  We are hurt people and we hurt other people in our hurt.

Paul gives us the way to put off that anger in verse 12 to 14.  We must forgive.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

You can’t get even enough to take away the anger and pain of the hurt.  There is not enough vengeance, there is not enough telling off, there is not enough withholding love that will heal our hurt.  The ONLY healing is to forgive.

Fire Your Fury by Forgiving your Foe

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Here is the key, Jesus forgave you for all the sin and hurt you causes him with your rebellion and your selfishness, your worldly thoughts and earthly behavior, your violation of his Law and His nature.  He forgave you for sin thousands of times greater than the hurt caused you by others.  If Jesus can die on the cross to forgive your sin, if he can forgive you, you can forgive others. You can forgive to the extent you understand this forgiveness.  That’s the secret…forgive.

Focus your mind on the things of God, kill the fleshly desires for sexual immorality, put aside the anger through forgiveness.  Get on it.

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

  1. He is the representation and manifestation of the invisible God. Col 1:15
  2. He ranks higher than all of creation.  Col 1:15
  3. God’s fullness lives permanently in Him. Col 1:19
  4. Jesus created everything. Col 1:16
  5. He is the head of the church. Col 1:18
  6. He holds everything together.  Col 1:17
  7. He has reconciled believers to God through His death on the cross. Col 1:22

 

I was hiking down a road in Iowa (County Road L31) south of Council Bluffs when I spotted an old grave yard.  The ancient tombstones caught my attention so I went in to investigate.  There was a marker for Samuel Allis, the first Presbyterian missionary to this area.  (Moses Merrill was the first Baptist in 1833, Allis arrive in 1834).  Allis ministered to the Pawnee people who liked him and let him live with and among them.  There were no conversions to Christianity during his time with them, though by the 1920’s about 25% of the tribe were members of a Protestant Church.  Allis wrote in May of 1837;

“There are so many difficulties and hindrances at present, among [the] Indians, the prospect of introducing Christianity among them at present is rather discouraging … it is a mistaken idea that many Christians have at the present time, thinking that nations of Indians are to be born to God in a day … I believe that many years will pass first.”

Allis had some great missional ideas; he lived among the people, he travelled with them during their semi-annual hunts, he learned their language, he even suggested to his mission board that it would be a good idea to marry into the tribe (for stability and credibility). The Mission Board became upset that the missionaries spent so much time travelling with the Pawnee and not establishing a permanent mission station.  The board and the rest of this first missionary movement had a fatal flaw; they believed they had to get the Native Americans to give up their traditional lifestyle and begin to live and act like New England farmers before they could become Christians.

Now, the lessons from the past.

1.  Our mission is NOT to convert them to our culture but to Jesus Christ. 

These early missionaries spent a lot of time trying to convince the Pawnee to stop their semi annual hunts and take up farming full time. Their goal was simply to fit the Pawnee into the missionaries idea of a church community; a building with people living around it.

We’ve been trapped in this mindset for some time.  We get a nice building, a nice sound system, a great worship service and then expect the people to come to us.  When they come we bad-mouth everything they like; rock music, tattoos, long hair, video games, MTV, etc…

When they meet Jesus, He’ll clean up their culture.  Getting people to act like us in not the goal, following Jesus is the goal.

2.  Living missionally among them is the right way.

We need to follow their example of living in the community, learning their language, participating in their world, and having some legitimacy there (no need to marry for that any longer).  We can’t go to a church activity every night and then expect to have time to connect with the natives.  Meet some people.  If a non-believer invites you into his world, go.  Redeem what you can, don’t do what you shouldn’t.

3.  It takes time, obedience to God is the plan. 

We are living in a post-Christian America.  They do not know our stories, nor do they naturally respect the institution of the church.  So we can’t expect that they understand us.  The Spirit of God has to move people a long way from their pagan, self-worshipping ways to an understanding of the grace of God through Jesus Christ.  This will take time.  Let’s let the Spirit work. We must love people, remain consistent in our obedience to Christ and continue to serve and minister to others.  Don’t get in a hurry and “force” the conversion.  Don’t give up, either.

Philippians 2:7 “he made himself nothing….

Russian Orthodox icon of the Transfiguration (...

The Transfiguration Image via Wikipedia

The Greek word here is “ekenosin” which is the third-person singular aorist active indicative form of the verb “kenos” (BOOM: parsing). The word means “empties” and in the entire phrase we find “self-empties.” Jesus emptied himself. There is a lot of talk as to what this truly means and it has a name; the Kenosis Theory. Of what did he empty? How empty is that? What did He keep?

In the context we find the emptying has to do with his equality with God (His Deity) and the humbling has to do with his becoming a servant and a man (Incarnation). So of what did He empty himself? The context tells us the “very nature” of God which means the characteristics and attribute of God. We can safely say he didn’t keep his omnipresence while in the flesh. We can also say that He somehow subdued his Glory, also. (He did reveal it in the flesh during the Transfiguration). But we struggle with his other incommunicable attributes like omnipotence and omniscience. We can see in His life that he kept the communicable attributes of Love and Mercy and Justice but did He keep the full extent of those attributes? A. H. Hodge explained When Christ became incarnate, He was one person with two natures, divine and human, “each in its completeness and integrity, and that these two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that no third nature is formed thereby. In brief, to use the antiquated dictum, orthodox doctrine forbids us either to divide the person or to confound the natures.”

We don’t want to fall into the mistake that he quit being divine for a time, this would be wrong. He is always 100% God and 100% man, it’s just difficult to grasp in our finite minds.