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Saturday, February 28, 2009

How To Share Jesus Christ

Two songs have been haunting me this past week. U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and REM's "Losing My Religion."U2 Joshua Tree

Over the past few weeks, I've been having an email conversation with two people that have made me question how to share my faith in Jesus. One is a non-Christian who took offense with what this person thinks is my lack of concern over two-thirds of the population of the planet who do not believe in Jesus Christ. This person sees me as arrogant to believe that I have the true religion and he and two-thirds of the world do not.

The other person professes to be a Christian but is also an active homosexual. This person found condemnation in what I would call mainline Christian churches but found a Christian church that accepts homosexuality as a personal choice and not a sin. Again, this person thinks that I'm arrogant and unloving and "cherry-picking" my Biblical texts to support my theology against homosexuality.

Then I heard an interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Thursday with William Lobdell. A friend of Hewitt, he came to faith in Christ through Hewitt's sharing his faith with him. He then became the religion reporter for the LA Times. After covering the clergy-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church he, in his words, "lost his religion." He is now a professed deist bordering on atheism.

What really started me thinking was Lobdell's comment that after losing his religion, he was "at peace with it."

I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I believe that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus Christ lived the perfect life, died on a cross to pay the price for my sin and rose from the dead on the third day to give me eternal life. I believe that Jesus did all this for "the world" so that whoever believes in Him (has faith in Him) will be saved and have eternal life.

I also believe that I have a mandate from Jesus Christ to "go into all the world and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28).

But this past week I've been thinking hard about - and struggling with - how to do that.

How do you share your faith in Jesus Christ and "make disciples" with people who are at peace with what they believe and it doesn't include Jesus? They know about Jesus, they have heard about Him. But they also know about Christians and have a very low opinion of most of them as fanatical, hypocritical, and some criminal. How do you reach a person who doesn't want anything to do with Jesus because a Jesus follower lies, cheats, and commits crimes against children?

I've been taught - and have taught - that people who don't know Jesus as their savior "still haven't found what" they are "looking for." But what if that isn't true? What if they have found what they are looking for in something else other than Jesus? My approach to evangelism (sharing Jesus) has been based on the premise that Jesus Christ will be exactly what people have been searching for all their lives and haven't found. That Jesus will be the source of the peace and hope that they've been looking for.

But what if they've found that peace and hope in something or someone else? This is a distinct possibility that I never acknowledged before.

This has to be dealt with in how I share Jesus Christ with the world. That other people are not going to think that I have the Truth they've been searching for but haven't found.

I believe that it is true, that I actually do have the Truth that they have been searching for, but that can't be my opening line!

I think that First Century Christians had some things a little easier. Practically no one had even heard of Jesus Christ when those Christians began sharing their own faith with them.

But today, in Twenty-First Century America, practically everyone has heard of Jesus. Everyone has at least heard the name of Jesus (although it is mostly as a curse word). And they simply don't care to have anything to do with the message of Jesus Christ. Not because of the message of peace and love and forgiveness, but because of the messengers who appear to not live that kind of life.

I've got my work cut out for me. I not only have to work against people's unbelief, but also their impression of Christians such as sick pastors who abuse children, members of churches who say that God hates homosexuals and liberals, and Christians who don't live the Christian life.

Because I believe that God in omniscient and omnipotent, I believe that God anticipated this very challenging era that I find myself living in. As such, I believe He has raised up our generation of disciples of Jesus "for such a time as this." He has given me and my brothers and sisters in Christ (the Church) the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the reasonable intelligence to figure out the best way to share our faith and make disciples of people who still haven't found what they are looking for (even though they think they have) and have lost their religion.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Perspective

perspective

I've been thinking about perspective while sitting at home battling the flu.

Yesterday, I came face-to-face with the reality of the California budget crisis. In my office was a person directly effected by the fact that the State of California wasn't sending out promised checks to help sustain state agencies. No matter what you think about the politics of this, it is more than just simple politics.

Also yesterday, totally unrelated to the state budget stuff, I received an email about a recent blog I wrote. It was eye-opening. It made me realize that I tend to be narrow-focused about things, especially when I write. There is a wider reality out there. I tend to live in a narrow, little world. I have my circle of friends who think like I do. I read magazines and books that match my philosophies. I even eat the same foods over and over again, rarely venturing into new things.

Jesus Christ can teach me something about expanding my horizons. He visited a wide variety of people, ate with them, and taught them the Truth. He died for the whole world in all its diverseness.

A friend of mine refers to the different denominations of Christianity as "tribes." I like that. It portrays the idea that while we are all different we do have some commonalities.

But there is also the fact that in the diverseness of Christianity we have many people at different places on the faith walk while being in the same faith.

The Truth is the Truth and it never changes - it is the same yesterday, today and forever. But it touches and shapes us in different ways and at different times because we are all different.

For me, the most important thing is to keep the channels of communication open. Keep talking. Keep listening, which may be even more important.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Primary Purpose

And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. - Genesis 1:28

There are two things that are – or at least are supposed to be intimately related: sex and fatherhood.

But our society has separated these two, to our great detriment.

If we keep them together as God originally intended, then the world will be a more livable place.

But let me make one thing very clear. That isn’t our goal, or at least it shouldn’t be. Because if we identify our purpose from Genesis 1:28 as being a father and then make our goal a better world, then our goal is inadequate and too small. It’s too small because this world isn’t going to last. Why try to improve something that will eventually be destroyed? Our goal should be concerned that which will last – people.
Specifically our sons and daughters.

God intended that sex should lead to babies. Because of sin, this doesn’t always happen as God intends or happen at all. God also gave us our “reason” (see Luther’s explanation to the First Article of the Apostles' Creed) and out of that comes the technology to have children apart from sex. This can be used in a godly way. But like everything else, it can also be misused.

We need to get to core issues. The problem is sin. The solution is Christ – his death and resurrection removes our sin and gives us the power to live as God created us to live. Sexual intimacy is intended to be between a husband and wife alone. That is the beginning of being a true father and true mother. It is also how God makes another generation of men and women of God.

Adapted from Man of God: Finding Purpose in an Uncertain World

©2009 True Men Ministries.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Asleep or Awake?

Being a man of God is more than just behaving in a good way. Anyone can do good. But being a man of God, being a true man – as we like to say at True Men Ministries – is more than just doing, it is being. To be someone is to live from the inside out. Not everybody does that. In fact, I think most people don’t live this way – which is to say they are not really living at all.

Patricia – played by Meg Ryan in Joe vs. the Volcano, says that her father says “that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.”

In my experience this is most certainly true. The people that I pass everyday driving to work, standing in line at Starbucks, walking up and down the aisles at the grocery store – they seem asleep. They certainly don’t seem happy, much less alive at all. Don’t they know that they are created in the image of the living God? That makes all the difference in the world – knowing that we are created in the image of the living God, believing that fact in our hearts and letting it seep out through our eyes, our mouths, our fingers and toes!

Genesis 1:27 tells us that we are created in the image of God, male and female. If we connect this to Philippians 2:6 which tells us the Christ is the very nature of God (is actually God) and Matthew 16 where Peter confesses that he believes Jesus to be the Son of the Living God (and Jesus confirms this confession as true), then we see that Christ is the ultimate man in the image of God.

But let’s take this one step further, and take it home to our hearts. Galatians 2:20 tells us that Christ lives in us. So we were not only originally created in the image of God, but we now have the image of God in us through Christ living in us. And Christ is alive. He died on the cross in order to forgive all our sins and defeat death and the devil. And He rose again from the dead on the third day. He now lives in us while He rules over the universe as God’s “right hand man.”

You can be alive. You can live. You do not have to be one of those who are, as Patricia’s father says, asleep. You can live in a state of constant total amazement – for this is truly living. How can you do this? Touch the hand of a small child. Look into the eyes of your wife or husband. Stroke the back of your cat or dog. Listen to the rain fall. Walk at dusk on a snowy day. Spend a half-hour watching the surf roll in. Walk down a city street and smile at each person you pass. Sing a song in the shower.

Do ordinary things that will never be ordinary again because Christ is living you. You bear the image of the living God through Jesus! Life will never be the same again.

From Man of God: Finding Purpose in an Uncertain World

©2009 True Men Ministries.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Male and Female He Created Them

Jesus Christ is key in understanding the image of God and the image of a man. That doesn’t mean He is not key to understanding the image of a woman, but this is a men’s study after all, so let’s keep our primary focus on males.

Actually, we’ll understand women a little better as a result of this study!

In Christ we have a man as he was originally intended – sinless. And understanding who Christ is will be essential in understanding who we are meant to be.

The age-old conflict of “the battle of the sexes” should be addressed. Some would have us believe that since women have been handed the short end of the stick that it is only fair that the tables be turned now. But the logical conclusion is that there must come a time when the tables are re-turned again. This is not how God intended things to be.

Are women better than men? Our society seems to indicate that when it ridicules men more than women.

God created humans to be male and female. God created humans in His image. Therefore, male and female are equal yet separate parts of the overall image of God.

From Man of God: Finding Purpose in an Uncertain World

©2009 True Men Ministries.
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