Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things Are Not What They Seem

Here in Southern California, the calendar says that it is Autumn. The leaves in my neighborhood (on trees all planted in the last 20 years because I live in a converted high desert) are changing color.

But on my morning jog this morning, it sure didn't feel like Fall!

That's just more evidence that things are sometimes not what they seem - kind of like this life. We are in this world, we can see the world around us. But there's that feeling in our hearts - for some its an ache - that there must be more to this life than what we see! And so there is.

There is more to this life than what we experience. There are beings hidden from our physical eyes, that are battling for us against the powers of evil. The powers of evil - Satan and his minions - want to destroy us. Why? What did we do to him? Nothing, other than be the object of God's love. Satan hates that because he once felt that love but rejected it and was banished from heaven. Now it is his mission to destory all that God loves.

So many are going through this life oblivious to the war being waged all around us. Its time to open our eyes, focus on Christ who is our Warrior-Shepherd, and step up to the battle against darkness. Christ is a true leader - He leads from the front. He went first into the very pit of Hell to vanquish Satan. Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He gives us new life, abundant life, eternal life. Let us follow Him as we bring this Good News to a dark world

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Afraid of the Truth?

What are we afraid of? Why are we scared to death of speaking the Truth?

I know why I am. I want people to like me. That’s not such a strange, out-of-the-question desire, is it? I want people to like me. I want people to be happy with me. I want to live and work and play in such a way that people aren’t mad at me or disappointed with me.

But God has slapped me upside the head. Not literally. I wouldn’t be able to survive that. But God has gotten my attention, through books, through ministry, through being a pastor of three different congregations. Don’t intentionally make people mad, He says to me. But also don’t shy away from speaking the Truth, He’s also telling me.

And you, too.

God’s Word – the Truth – is very clear in many places. Like John 14:6 “"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is no salvation, no heaven, no paradise, unless we believe in Jesus Christ. That’s the Truth.

And we’re afraid to tell it because this truth will offend people. There’s no way around that. Look at what happened to Jesus when He said it! They nailed Him to a cross. So we can expect pretty much the same.

But tell it we must. Why? Because even though many people will not want to hear the Truth, they desperately need to! We all need to hear the Truth. We all need to hear that Jesus Christ came to this earth from heaven. That God sent Him because He loves us so much He didn’t want us to suffer an eternity separated from Him. The Truth is that Jesus Christ took all that separates us from God – our sin – on Himself and paid the price for that sin. And Jesus’ death and resurrection are the only means of salvation for all of us. All we need is faith in Christ. There is no other way.

Yet “other ways” are exactly what people look for. Why, I don’t know. It’s so simple. Faith in Christ means salvation. Yet two thirds of the people of this world struggle to find other ways to save themselves.

And so many Christians – the other third of the planet – let them struggle by telling them it’s ok to believe in some other way of salvation. So many of us are afraid of offending them, thinking that it wouldn’t be very loving if we ticked them off by telling them that there is only one way to heaven.

Yet, that is the Truth. It is simple and yet very hard. What needs to happen is that we Christians need the courage and strength of Joshua. To stand up for what God has done for us and not “go along with the crowd.” It won’t be popular but Christianity isn’t a popularity contest.

It is a life-and-death struggle against evil. It can be won, but only by believing and telling the Truth.

©2008 True Men Ministries.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why We Fight

I’ve been reading the memoirs of some of the men who served in World War II as part of Easy Co. of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army. I’ve been fascinated by these men’s stories and they are told so well. But this goes beyond just a good story. My grandfather fought in World War II as a member of the U.S. Army’s 1st Division (the “Big Red One”). I never really got to talk much to my grandfather and never about the war. He’s been dead for over 20 years now. But these memoirs of Easy Co. soldiers helps me understand what my grandfather lived through.

These men went to war because their country needed them. Easy Co. men were all volunteers. Many men were drafted in World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam. But that doesn’t make them any less honorable. Whether draftees or volunteers, these men went to war because they loved their country. They believed in the ideals of the United States of America, in her promise, in her future.

But when they were “boots down” in the theaters of war, love of country only takes you so far.

They fought heroically not for love of country but for love of their brothers in arms. Winning a war wasn’t the day-to-day priority, survival was the number one goal. Getting themselves and their buddies, their brothers, through the day alive.

I will never understand this as they do. I had my chance to serve in the Unite States Military and passed it up to go into full-time church work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not embarrassed by that. We all serve where we are best suited. I truly believe that. God puts us exactly where we need to be and where we are needed to be. I’m sure I could be of better use writing and speaking and teaching then I could ever be firing a rifle (I’m a lousy shot – I couldn’t hit a bullet with the broad side of a barn).

But while I’m not embarrassed for never having served in the military, I deeply and greatly admire those men and women who have. They will never admit it and will fight me for saying it, but they are heroes to me.

Heroes don’t do heroic things, as such, they simply do the job that needs to be done with more regard for others than for themselves.

And that’s exactly what Jesus Christ did, isn’t it? He’s the Son of God, through whom God the Father created the entire universe. Still, Jesus gave it all up to become a human being. He lived His whole life for others. Never a thought for His needs, His comforts. His desire was for others, not for Himself.

Jesus is the ultimate brother in a band of brothers. He gives up, sacrifices, everything for His brothers and sisters. And in doing that, He wins the war. He defeats, completely, the enemy. His victory brings us peace and eternal life.

What will we do with what Jesus won for us?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself about the sacrifice of our nation’s heroes. They served, fought, bled and many died to give me freedom. Freedom to vote – and so I will. Freedom to worship – and so I will. Freedom to speak – and so I will.

By their sacrifice, I’ve been given so much. And so I will give back the best ways I know how and in the best ways I’ve been gifted.

Jesus gave me freedom from sin, death, and the power of the devil. I will use that freedom to share this good news with others – and if necessary, I’ll use words!

What will you do?

©2008 True Men Ministries

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Lord Is a Warrior!

One of the things that the Christian Church – that’s you and me, folks – has forgotten or just missed is that we are at war! We are at war, not with flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

The American Christian Church is especially susceptible to a complacency of thinking that we are at peace. Except for being made fun of, American Christians do not know persecution first hand. So it’s easy to see why we might think we are in peace-time.

It is time for the American Church to open her eyes! We are at war and have been for nearly two thousand years.

War can mean fear for a lot of people, and understandably so. What we need to remember is that the one who fights with us is more powerful than the one who fights against us.

Here are words that have encouraged Christians for millennia:

The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. (Ex. 15:3 NIV)

The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. (Isa. 42:13 NIV)

But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. (Jer. 20:11 NIV) [The NASB translates mighty warrior “dread champion.” Goliath was a dread champion; the mighty men of David were dread champions. King James has it as “a mighty terrible one.”]

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. (Ps. 24:7–8 NIV)

Our God is a warrior, mighty and terrible in battle, and he leads us. He fights for us. He fights by our side.

©2008 True Men Ministries.