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This is a true story.
A minister of God didn’t have anyone to work with, so he asked God to make him available to whatever would be his will. He checked want ads, because he needed some money, and he saw there was a bus driving job made available to him. So he worked as a bus driver in south Chicago. If you know anything about Chicago, it is not south Chicago you want to drive a bus in, but that’s where they had the need. He found out later it was because nobody else would stay on the job. So he drove it.
Before a week passed, some thugs got on the bus and didn’t pay, they sat in the back, sneered and jeered and mocked him. The next day the same thing happened. The third day it happened again. After it went on for about a week, he decided he didn’t have to put up with that. So he decided to call an officer inside the bus and make them pay. He saw one down about a block away and after he got on he told the officer that the fellows back there haven’t paid for several days, would you at least make them pay today? And he did, but unfortunately the officer got off the bus. When the door was closed, the bus driver drove a little further and turned a corner, and that was the last thing he remembered. They knocked a couple of teeth out and stole his money, and when he woke up the bus was empty.
He sat there in confusion and disillusionment wondering, “What kind of ministry is this, Lord? I told you I was available and this was the job you opened up?” And he went home, turned the bus in, took the rest of the day off. He stared at the ceiling as he was nursing his wounds, and he thought, “I’m not gonna let them get away with that.” So, through an interesting chain of events, they rounded up, with the help of some officers, the very guys and took them to court. All four of them.
The of the hearing he stood before the court, and the judge listened carefully, an decided the fellows were guilty. And they didn’t have any money to buy their way out, so they had to spend some time in jail. Suddenly the minister realized, “Here’s my chance.” He said, “Your honor, may I speak for a moment?” The judge allowed it and the minister said, “I’d like for you to tally up all of the time these fellows together would be spending in jail, and I’d like to go in their behalf.” And the judge responded, “Well, that’s highly irregular, it has never been done before.” And the minister responded, “Oh yes it has, about 2,000 years ago.” And then in about 4 minutes he gave them the gospel.
Three of the young men came to know Christ right away and one of them later, after the minister was incarcerated. That fellow was having a ministry with those four guys who heard the message that somebody else wanted to pay the price for their sin. A living testimony for what Christ did for us.
I sometimes wonder what the responses would be if I asked the church I preach for, or any other church for that matter what it means to follow Jesus?
Would they say it means to be happy? It means we need to be serious? It means to obey? It means . . . ?
I must be honest, I don’t understand the Trinity of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Three-in-One. I believe the Bible accurately reveals this truth to us. But understanding and explaining the reality is hard. But one thing I understand, that the relationship each member of the Trinity has with each is one of joy, love, respect, and unity. They trust each other. They trust each other implicitly.
Given that we are helpless sinners, saved by grace through our faith in Jesus, what does it mean to follow Jesus?
I see it comes from the relationship of Jesus with the Heavenly Father. It comes from the love and unity they have. Jesus always obeyed the Father. It was because of love and trust. Jesus tells us, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” (John 14:25).
And the best way to keep Jesus’ commands is to do as he does. It is to become like him in character and trust God with all our might, or as Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 33:37 and 39).
As I noted in my last post, I am involved in a new ministry. In July I left the church and outside ministries I was involved with and moved to Forsyth, Missouri and assumed new responsibilities with the Forsyth Christian Church. Let me explain the process, that took a year or so to develop until I began serving with the church I am at now.
As the summer of 2014 began, I started feeling restless about my ministries and the circumstances that provided the opportunities for these various ministry endeavors. I was a bi-vocational minister for several years, working the midnight shift. There are all sorts of problems that go along with working the third shift, some of them are health issues, especially loss of sleep and the retirement that was supposed to be building was a fraction of what was promised (and it didn’t change when the recession hit in 08 and 09). The center I volunteered as a spiritual leader for was changing and the each change they made (and most of the changes were scheduling issues) made it harder and harder to help the students there.
My family was seeking more of my attention, aging parents, eager grand kids and more. An injury the year before was still a nagging injury, prohibiting me from some of the physical aspect of ministry. My congregation, I noticed was suffering too. I was unable to be available to help the group grow because of lack of energy and when I had to sleep.
These are the core aspects of what made me begin to see if God had other plans for my life as a minister. I talked with my wife, my children, and some close friends and determined it was time to see where God wants me to go.
Sensing these things, prayer was a given and has been throughout. I searched on Ozark Christian College’s and Central Christian College of Bible’s websites for churches seeking a preaching/lead minister. After 27 or 28 resumes, 7 or 8 phone interviews, one church called back and wanted to see me in person.
I met with the board and they invited me back to preach and meet and have an interview with the congregation. When they called us to come, we were ecstatic. Our family and friends supported it, and we were certain in our hearts that this is what God wanted.
Been here 3 months and we are moving in God’s direction and my previous congregation has now called a new minister and I believe will be moving forward where I was unable to lead them and I am very happy about that.
God, through a long process, made it certain that he wanted me to be the preacher for the congregation I now serve. Praise God.
I could talk about what happened in which God led me away from my previous ministry to this ministry. Let me save that for one of the next posts.
With a change in ministry, location, and even variances in job description, comes new focus, purpose, vision, and goals. Here we have about a 12-year-old congregation whose minister retired and they realize where the direction they need to go. The congregation is mostly older folks, in fact, the town has an average age of 51. They sense the need to reach younger families with children and for several reasons. First, those people need the Lord too. They need to have Jesus offered to them. Second, they realize that young people are the future . . . of anything. They grow up to be the church and the leaders in the church and the outreach for the church. So we need young families and so we have a vision of a children’s program with a support program to their families.
They want to bring their music into a contemporary model. Add newer songs and do the music in fresh ways. I know some feel this will draw the younger crowd, and it might, but it is a refreshing that can be a game-changer for all the folks in our church.
And, they are looking forward to a Biblical elder-ship to lead the congregation. Godly, Spirit-filled men leading with love and grace.
We are carrying out the great commission and discipleship development. We are seeking the Spirit’s empowering and guidance to fulfill our role and responsibility in the kingdom of God. We will stand faithful and true to Christ and his Word no matter what.
I have a new ministry focus. Pray for me.
As a Pastor, I often wonder, how do Christians impact culture and society with the Gospel and faith. More than knowing the Word and understanding the truth, but relating the Gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom of God to the rest of the world.
As the Children of Israel left Egypt, they were heading toward the Promised Land, ancient Palestine, aka, Canaan. The land was filled with pagan people who worshiped false gods like Baal, the moon-god, and Asherah, his female counterpart, Moloch, and others. Their worship involved deviant sexual conduct, sacrifices of children, and many other atrocious practices.
Christians as people of the Book (the Bible), carefully trying to discern the times, it seems appropriate to consider that the church is living in a modern form of ancient Canaan.
The society we are a part of carries out the practices of the ancient pagan religions. It is a very self-centered (narcissistic) rather than god directed society, but the values and practices are not a whole lot different. Sexual deviation is obvious. Just watch anything media based and it’s almost impossible to escape some form of sexual expression. Sex is not about pleasing a god, but satisfying the self. Abortion is the modern child sacrifice, and the altar is women’s rights. Lying, tolerance, becoming rich, being a celebrity, being important, and more are the norms.
The church in a sense is living in Canaan.
Remember that Israel was told going into Canaan to eradicate the pagans living there. Run them off, destroy them and rid the land of pagan worship. Don’t let it be a temptation to you. Our dilemma is not that we are in the promised land, that is in the future when God brings the saved into heaven with him after the return of Christ; we have the God-given responsibility to live among the pagans. Their values and influence are powerful and many Christians have compromised their faith, mixing Christianity with the unholy and ungodly practices of the rest of the world.
How do we live in the world and not be a part of it. We can’t separate from them and live on an island and not be an influence to them. We can’t change the laws and force them to believe or at least act like Christians. We can however, present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, living by faith, guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit, showing Christ’s love, fellow-shipping with other believers, and letting God protect our souls while we risk our lives to lead them to Christ.
Too many believers have forsaken the task, holing up in their church buildings and homes, protecting themselves from the influence of the world and making a small almost immeasurable impact for Christ.
The Bible is clear, we are on a mission, a spiritual mission, a war for the souls of people. They are not the enemy, as one preacher (whose name I’ve now forgotten) I heard a long time ago say, “they are captives of the enemy.” The enemy is the devil, Satan himself and he has captured the hearts and souls of the majority of people in the world. For the Christian, it is as if we have moved into Canaan without pushing out the pagans.
The way, is to hold to the truth and be aware of how people accept truth and gain understanding. That is the hard part. The truth is easy. God the Creator loves all people and wants so see them saved (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9), and sent Jesus (John 3:16-17) to save the world through faith in him. And as Peter said, “there is salvation in no other name given among men (Acts 4:12), we have the answer.
Learning how to relate the answer means we need to learn how the modern, spiritual Canaan may relate to and accept the answer. That’s the hard answer.
As we are told, preach the truth in season (when it is popular and acceptable) and out of season (when people don’t want to hear it and even try to stop the preaching of the Gospel).
Do I have the actual answer to every circumstance? No! But God’s Spirit and the teaching and leadership of others who know the truth and have listened to the Spirit can lead into being able to living in Canaan and be obedient to the mission God has called us to in Christ.
Let me share a very concise overview of history. The earliest people believed there was a god or gods. Obviously since God created the world and Adam knew him, the earliest humans were monotheists. As time moved forward, and people moved away from faithfully following God and were perverted in their thinking, many became polytheists, worshiping many gods. There are virtually no atheists in ancient history but the past few hundred years (4-500), atheism has reared its ugly head and is being taught, promoted, even forced on unsuspecting students when they attend secular universities, totally unprepared to keep their faith let alone defend God.
The modern atheist has an agenda, not only to share with people what they don’t believe in, but to aggressively force people to accept that there is no God. The movie God’s Not Dead vividly portrays this agenda. Several books on the modern atheist debunk the arguments from people like Richard Dawkins. Books like Stealing from God, by Frank Turek; and The End of Reason by Ravi Zaharias.
God can defend himself, but he has revealed himself through creation, “the heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” and through the Bible. But, people are influenced through interaction with other people as God has designed, therefore Christians must be, as Peter described, “prepared to offer a defense for their belief” (1 Peter 3:15).
I am getting ready, are you? Are you preparing to offer defense for God?
The “word of God is living and active” as Hebrew 4:12 indicates, and faith comes through the word, but not all people who read or study the Bible come to faith in Christ, or even belief in God. One past atheist knew the Bible so well she would use the Bible as a tool against Christians.
A lot of people read the Bible and begin a journey of faith as they search for truth. All their questions and doubts may not be answered as they travel the road to belief, but often, it is so clear to them that what the Bible reveals is true and truth, it is real and vibrant, and they follow the Word of God into belief and salvation.
Others like the atheist I mentioned above can read and study the Bible, experience the faith of loving Christians and yet never believe. It is impossible to believe without the Word, the Bible, but the Word is not the only part of belief. God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit is involved and some people resist him and reject his work and never come to belief.
As a Christian, a believer in Jesus and caring about what Jesus cares about: people lost in sin (Luke 19:10), it is difficult at times to share faith with others. Not fear, but how do I relate to so many different people from so many different circumstances that I may not be able to speak too from experience?
Well, a couple of things are evident. First, a Christian’s responsibility is not the conversion of another person, but to be faithful and faithfulness includes sharing Jesus. Second, God through his Spirit is responsible for the work of conversion. He works in their heart and mind and soul and leads them to the point of choice. In other words, we share to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Spirit does his job. Some believe and some do not.
I was raised by godly, Christian parents and was part of a conservative church, faithful to God and the Word. I accepted Christ and was baptized at 9 1/2. I have known Jesus a long time. It seems simple to me, but it is not simple to all people.
Knowledge is not belief, but it informs belief. Understanding is not belief, but it guides knowledge. Assent, acceptance leads to belief. I pray that you believe in God and Jesus and that your faith is solidly placed in their hands.