We Need Jesus

Listen to the song.  See if it doesn’t challenge your sense of evangelistic mission.

We Need Jesus

by Dino Elephante, John Elephante & Scott Springer

When will the world See that we need Jesus?
If we open our eyes We will all realize That He loves us
When will the world See that we need Jesus?
When our hearts are as one and believe that He’s the Son of our God

(Chorus)
The Lord is our God and we shall never want
The Lord is our God and we shall live forever
When we share the love of Jesus, See each other as He sees us, Then His love will see us through, His love will see us through

When will the world See that we need Jesus?
When sister and brother Love one another as one
When will the world See that we need Jesus?
Will we ever understand Jesus is the Son of man?
We must live in the shadow of His love

When will the world See that we need Jesus?
If we open our eyes We will all realize That He loves us
When will the world See that we need Jesus?
When our hearts are as one And believe that He’s the Son of our God

When will the world See that we need Jesus?
When sister and brother Love one another as one
When will the world See that we need Jesus?
Will we ever understand Jesus is the Son of man?
We must live in the shadow of His love

1982 Shepherds Heart Music

(emphasis mine)

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Wally’s Restoration

If you know me at all, I am a guitar freak.  I have loved the electric guitar ever since I can remember and I am always looking for deals.  Not like a $4000 Gibson Les Paul for $3000, but a very used instrument that needs a bit of restoration.  It doesn’t have to be old even.

One of the best deals I’ve ever come across was a 1978 Gibson Les Paul Firebrand that I pick up for a measly $250 at a pawn shop in downtown Moberly, Missouri.

It was beat up! Not only had it been played and played a lot, it had been played hard, and it appears, probably in a bar band.  It had nicks and chips and finish wear and buckle rash on the back and pick gouges on the front.  The nickel plating on the bridge and tuners was completely worn away.  The tuners were fatigued from almost 30 years of play and wouldn’t stay in tune.  The bridge saddles were worn so it wouldn’t intone correctly.  This old guitar that I called Wally (the body and neck were made of walnut), had a unique tone, very warm.  Very good for blues/rock, jazz and classic rock in particular.

I took Wally home and began my process.  I played Wally for a while, becoming familiar and comfortable with him.  In the process of handling and playing, I was able to know what needed to be done with Wally.  I replaced the tuners because the others were shot.  I replaced the bridge saddles too.  I cleaned the volume and tone controls and the pickup switch with contact cleaner, tightened a couple of screws, leveled the frets, oiled the fret board and cleaned the guitar (there was a layer of cigarette smoke on it).

With a little tender love and care, Wally was once again a useful guitar that when played by someone who loves guitars and music produced a beautiful tone.  At one time Wally had been used to play music that did not glorify God and maybe took away from God’s glory.  But now, Wally was played to glorify God.

I didn’t refinish Wally, that was a part of Wally’s character.  I only replaced the parts that didn’t work right.  Wally’s character marks were still there as if they were scars from a previous life before restoration.  Wally was a great looking and sounding guitar.

Until it was bought out and morphed into a Facebook page, for several years I moderated the guitar discussion forum of the Christian Music Place.  There I encountered a couple of Christian snobs.  They believed that no Christian should ever buy a guitar that was used in playing secular, non-Christian music.  In other words, it was the devil’s instrument.

I 100% disagree.  And I openly told them so and they didn’t get it.  I believe in restoration.  That is what God is about.  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” Psalm 23:1-2; “The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” Psalm 19:7; “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me” Psalm 51:12.

God restored Adam and Eve after they sinned, God restored Samson after he sinned, God restored David after he sinned.  God restores the repentant believer, whether they are coming to him for the very first time, or like Adam, Samson, David and others in the Bible, returning to God after having fallen away in sin.  God wants to restore the life that he gave in the first place.  That is a primary theme from the time sin entered the world to God’s final redemption of the world when the end of time takes place.

Wally is symbolic of this restoration.  As sinners we bear the marks spiritually of sin.  Scars, injuries and wounds that we know in our hearts and minds and God sees in our soul.  When we come to God, or come back to God with repentance, seeking his forgiveness (and he is faithful and just and will forgive – 1 John 1:9), the wounds are healed and scars like the one on my hand from whittling with my scout knife are there.  The scars are there, but healing has come and God has restored us to a right and righteous relationship with him in Jesus Christ.  Wally has the marks of a former time when he was used and abused as someone played music with him in bars.  But he has been redeemed and restored and is used for a different purpose, to be played to praise God.

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As Good as any Christian

iowa-farmers

These guys are not Perry and the farmer in this account

When he would paraphrase a verse of the Bible he would call it a “Perryphrase.”  Of course his name was Perry.  Perry was a preacher.  He was also an old family friend.  Perry went to be with the Lord a couple of years ago, and he was a faithful man of God.

He preached in a farm community in northern Iowa back in the 1970’s.  When Perry retired, he moved close to where I was preaching in northern Missouri.  I would visit Perry and his wife as often as I could and we would talk about doctrine and the church.  I got my copies of the Simple English New Testament from Perry.  It’s not published any longer, but it’s the only modern version of the Bible that translates the Greek word baptizo correctly as immerse.

One time Perry told me about a farmer he had built a good relationship with and Perry would help him on the farm when he was visiting.  The farmer’s wife and kids were a part of the church Perry preached for, but he was not a Christian.  He was a good person.  He was a very moral person, full of integrity, very honest.  No one could say anything against him.  He  couldn’t see the need to become a Christian especially since he was such a good person, as good as any Christian, not prideful about it, just observant.

We all know Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  Since he couldn’t see and realize that he was also a sinner and needed God’s grace in Jesus Christ, one time while Perry was visiting with him, Perry opened the Bible to Revelation 21:8 and read off each type of sin mentioned in that verse. “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”  As he read this the farmer honestly said he had never committed any of those sins . . . until . . . he came to “and all liars.”  The farmer was as honest as the day is long, but when he was younger, a child or a teen, he had lied to his parents, and it was in this moment that he realized that he indeed was a sinner and he did need Jesus and he accepted Jesus, was baptized and saved.

Perry told me that a few years later that he became a deacon in that church, a faithful and outstanding servant of God and to the church.  He died a few years later at a relatively young age.  He knows salvation now.

The Word of God is living and active and can reach the minds, hearts, and souls of everyone we present the Gospel too.  In this farmer’s case, it was being challenged with sin from the Revelation of John.

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Evangelism is What it is . . . or is it? What must I do to be saved?

crsshartsJohn Stott writes in his book Our Guilty Silence that people in the Bible seemed to ask the right questions.  The rich young ruler asked Jesus what to do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17).  The crowd on the Day of Pentecost pleaded with Peter, “What must we do?”(Acts 2:37).  And the Philippian Jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, (Acts 16:29).

People don’t seem to be asking the questions in quite the same way or the same language.  People are searching and people will want to know what it will take for them to be saved, to accept Jesus, to become a Christian.  And that’s good!

In a previous post, I noted that Acts is a significant book.  It is a book that teaches the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine of salvation and what must happen in a person’s life for them to have this gift of grace, salvation, and eternal life offered by God.  The seeds and some of the mature plants of doctrine and theology are found in Acts.  So . . . what does it say?  What does Acts teach?

Read the following passages and you will notice several elements that are common between all of these conversion experiences in the book of Acts.

In each of these situations because Jesus is preached, people were convicted in their hearts about Jesus and their guilt of sin in relation to Jesus, thus the picture at the beginning of the post.  It begins with preaching Jesus.  We preach Him with our life, with our actions, with our words, and with our message.  Preaching Jesus is the key and believing in Jesus is turning the key that will open the door to salvation [John 3:15-17, 36; 20:31; Acts 4:4; 8:12; 16:31 & 34; Romans 1:16; 3:22; 10: 9 & 10 and tons more).

Another element that we find is repentance.  Some of those are feeling the need to repent and have the heart of repentance, some are having to be instructed to repent, but repentance is there nonetheless.  Repent does mean to change, but more than a sense of guilt, change that moves one away from living in and with sin in their life to moving toward God and righteousness that comes from God because one is in Christ (Acts 2:38; 3:19).

Another element is this, confession.  Like Peter when Jesus asked the Apostles what they believed about Him, “You are the Christ” Mark 8:29.  Confessing Jesus.  I believe he is the Son of God raised from the dead.  I know that I am a sinner and by my repentance at least I am confessing my failure (Romans 3:23).  I even have a song I wrote, inspired by 1 Timothy 3:16 I call My Confession.  I should record it some day.  Carlos Santana hasn’t been available to play on it for me yet – LOL.  It’s that style of music.  The chorus goes like this: He’s my friend, He’s my Lord, He is God, the Living Word.  He’s my Savior, Intercessor, Mighty God.  This is my confession; I confess, I believe Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 10: 9 & 10; 1 Timothy 6:12; 1 John 1:9).

And another element of accepting Christ and becoming a Christian is immersion.  Most Bibles will use the term baptize and baptism.  It simply means to dip, to plunge, to go completely under the water.  And the only part that the one being baptized does in the process of baptism, is that they submit themselves to God and whoever is taking them into the water and bringing them back out.  It is all because they believe in Jesus and are repenting and confessing Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38 & 41; 8:12; 8:36 & 38; 9:18; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27).

What we’re trying to do right here is help those who don’t know what to tell people when you have been able to share Jesus with them and they ask, in whatever way they will ask, what one must do, what must happen for them to receive Jesus and God’s grace of salvation.

If you are not a born-again believer, which according to the Bible would be called a Christian, and you want to accept the gift of grace that God is offering you, do one of a two things; either get in contact with someone from a Christian church and talk with them about your decision to follow Christ, or contact me and I will be glad to help you with all this.  May God bless you!

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“I Didn’t Experience a Big Change When I Became a Christian”

biblestudyTalked with about 20 teens this afternoon.  A couple are Jewish, a few are agnostic, a handful are Christians of various backgrounds.  We had a great discussion about the fact that God isn’t thrown when we have questions and doubts about Him, Christianity and faith.

The students who were willing shared one of their questions that they had for God.  Some of the questions: Are miracles real?  Is my father in heaven or hell?  How is it that God can forgive so easily?  A bunch of good questions. 

But one young lady had a very difficult question.  To help answer a couple of the questions, we summarized Lee Strobel’s story.  How he became an atheist and how his wife, attending a Bible study became a Christ follower and how she changed due to her new found faith, and it made an impact on him and he began an investigation of Christ and the Bible to determine if the claims Jesus and his followers made were true.  We told how after 20 months of investigation he came to the conclusion that it was all true (http://www.leestrobel.com/ & http://www.leestrobel.com/channels/CFChrist.php).

The young lady had something that bothered her.  The story of Strobel’s wife’s change stirred doubt in her mind.  She said she had become a Christian a few years ago but she had never experienced a change in her life.

Ooh!  That’s a hard one.  I think you’ll see why.  Avoiding the possibility of embarrassment, we talked alone afterwards.  I also needed to take time to be sure we were using the same language and began asking her some questions.   I discovered two issues.  That she believed that a person is supposed to experience a dramatic change so that everyone, even herself, will notice a difference from before Christ to in Christ.  Of course there is that possibility.  It could happen, but it is not always that dramatic and noticable especially when the person was really a pretty good person before.  You know, very moral, very kind, full of integrity, honest and such.  Since she expected dramatic change, she thought something was wrong with her.

Assuming that everyone’s conversion will realize dramatic change is a common misunderstanding and something some Christian groups teach as normative, unfortunately.

The other issue is that she was forced (by her family if I remember correctly) to become a Christian, it wasn’t really her decision.  When asked if she believed in God, she said yes, but in a Muslim way.  Now there is going to be a conflict here.  The teachings of Christianity about God, Jesus and salvation are going to be not just different, but in conflict.

I got the opportunity today introduce her to Jesus the way the Bible shows us.  I got to introduce her to Jesus being the Son of God.  I got to introduce her to the fact that change comes, according to Scripture, when a person gives their life to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God and obedience to the teachings of the Bible.

She says she understands now.  I am praying that she will now move in the direction that will result in change, maybe even dramatic change.

PTL that I was able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone who is part of a younger generation.  PTL that I was able to share Jesus with another person.

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