Saturday, January 28, 2012

Are we clear?

I used to not get it. When the preacher said we weren't supposed to only act saved on Sundays, I'd smile and say "yeah, thats right!" Then I would do what I'm not supposed to do.

When we *truly* surrender our lives to Christ, we are taking up His Cross and we're making it our cross. Jesus told us to take up our cross. Paul said he picked his up and implied every day.
I love that scene in A League Of Their Own, you know, the movie about the ladies baseball league back in the 40's. (Some of you may not have watched it because Madonna is in it.) Tom Hanks cries out. "Crying? There's no crying in baseball!" Sometimes, when I'm looking in the mirror of God's word I say to myself, "Laying your cross down? There is no laying your cross down. Jesus didn't lay His cross down. He never said, 'take it up and lay down, what-EVER.' No He said take it up and follow Me!"
OK, its true, I talk to myself more than is probably normal, but sometimes you just have to tell yourself what to do!

I usually don't like pictures of Jesus, something about the second commandment strikes me as important. But in this instance, it's not meant as an object of veneration, its just meant to make a point. And I think I'm OK with that. (He really ought to be darker and more middle-eastern looking.-But I digress.)
What I like is how you can plug so many things into the sentence where the word 'Twitter' is. Lets face it, most people are not on Twitter. So how about these possibilities:
No I'm not talking about just Sundays.
No I'm not talking about just Bible Study.
No I'm not talking about by email.
No I'm not talking about Facebook. (had to get that one in there)
No I'm not talking about following me 'in spirit'
No I'm not talking about when people are watching.
No I'm not talking about just to hang out.
No I'm not talking about when everything is going well.
No I'm not talking about _______________ . (You fill in the blank.)
Jesus made it very clear, "If ANYONE wants to come after Me, Let him take up his cross and follow Me."
Through the cross is the only way.
Oh but what a glorious way it is. Scary? Sure! He's asking you to come and die. But if you're seeking your life you'll lose it. You have to give it to Him to find it. 
Counterintuitive? You Betcha! 
True? You Betcha!
It's in losing our lives that we find it; Grace Abundant, Mercies Galore, God's riches in ridiculous amounts. 
When we seek pleasure we find death.(Rom 3:23) When we seek death in Christ, we find pleasures beyond belief.(Psa 11)
Jesus really meant "Follow Me."
I get it now!
We're clear!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Gospel in Post-Christian America

So, is this post-Christian America? That right there will bother some people. Fewer and fewer attend church, or say they are believers in Christ. Recently I heard a British Evangelist named Pethers share a story from the UK. About a Vicar who was giving a class from public school a tour of his church building. They knew almost nothing about church so he was teaching them words like pulpit, pew, baptismal and every time they walked by a large crucifix on the wall one boy tried to get his attention. Finally he turned to the boy and asked him to ask his question again. The boy pointed to the crucifix and said who's the bloke on the wall.
Some say that's the USA in 50 years, Pethers said we're only about 20 years behind them.
Christianity is a forgotten religion to the present generations.

So, how do we share a gospel in a world that has no respect for scripture, no knowledge of man's bent toward sinning, Hell, Heaven, or whether they should even be concerned. Its not that they have chosen not to care, they don't know they SHOULD care. They don't know there is anything to care about.

They like Christmas for the materialism and family traditions. Easter is probably an enigma except for Rabbit eggs. The baby in the manger is irrelevant and they don't even know who is on the cross.

Pethers suggested something I like, he said, what if we made it our goal, not so much to share "The plan of salvation" with people, but we just bring them a little closer to thinking rightly about God. Everyone is in a different place. When you interact (build relationships) with them try to leave them a little closer to God than when you found them. Put in a nice word about what Jesus has done for you. Why Jesus came to earth. Maybe why salvation is even necessary. Don't assume ANYTHING.

But I want to add to that. There is a place, still, for sharing the "Gospel" if not jumping right into the "Plan of salvation." Because, after all, they aren't the same thing. The "Plan of salvation" is NOT the power of God unto salvation, the GOSPEL IS! (Romans 1:16-17) The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. But Good News needs a context; That requires the Bad News. While Jonathan Edwards preached to a very different crowd than exists today, his emphasis on the reality of Hell, and man's incredibly awful predicament as sinners hanging by a thread over a fiery pit, is still not a bad idea. As Janet Denison said in her blog, talking about Heaven is much more socially acceptable than talking about Hell. Heaven is just a nicer subject all around. But as terrible as it is to talk about about Hell, Janet points out, "I don't want to go around scaring people with the existence of hell.  But there is a worse thought.  I don't want them to go there." (

So what do we do? How do we present the good news? How do we keep the USA from this downward spiral of unbelief? Well, First of all, we can't keep that from happening. God can, we can't, lets be honest. But we can be faithful witnesses of A) our own testimony of what Christ has done for us, B) proclaiming the Good News in light of the Bad News, and C) build relationships with people and bring them closer to understanding the gospel; Little by little. A seed is pretty small, but it can bring forth a lot. A little watering of the seed and prayer for the seed are both in order.

But in the final analysis we have to trust that God knew what He was doing when he told us to go make disciples, and that the good news of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will break a man or woman's heart; even today in 21st Century America; this post-modern, post-Christian era of biblical apathy.


Friday, January 6, 2012

One Anothering

I didn't invent that phrase. It has apparently been used for years. The first time I recall hearing it is when I heard pastor Al Meredith speaking to a group of ministers in Fort Worth. Al is pastor of Wedgwood Baptist,which, in 1999, was the site of multiple shootings by a lone gunman during an evening youth rally. As you can imagine, that shakes a church up.
One of the things they needed to do was love one another in a more genuine fashion than they ever had. The shallow form of loving one another most church members do wasn't going to cut it when a tragedy like that struck the church body.
But do we have to wait for tragedy?
Actually tragedies often cause us to do many things. Increase our sense of security by installing an alarm system on the house or motion sensor lighting. We remind our selves to be more thankful and treasure the days God gives us. We try to remember not to take people for granted. We try to not hold things too tightly lest the Lord take them away from us and at the same time to love more deeply while we have the chance. All in all tragedy is a real bummer, but it has a silver lining.
So, in light of all that, maybe it will help to return to the simple command of Christ; "Love one another." Simple? Yes. Fun? Maybe. Easy? Not really. But a command just the same.
There are a dozen or so verses in the New Testament where we are told to love one another. Jesus said it several times, as did Paul, John, and Peter. Seems like an important teaching of the New Testament, eh?

So how do we do that?
Let me suggest some other "One Another" verses in the Bible and let you look down the list to see which of these you are doing. If "loving" is "doing" then these ought to get the love flowing. Feel free to check off the things you've done in the last couple months.

Wash one another's feet.

in love serve one another.
In honour preferring one another;
receive ye one another,
Salute one another
Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. (2x)
Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.
Be kind one to another,
forgive one another,
Bear ye one another's burdens,
forbearing one another in love;
Forbearing … and forgiving one another,
comfort one another with these words.
teaching and admonishing one another
admonish one another.
edify one another,
exhort one another
exhorting one another:
consider one another to provoke unto love.

So, how did you make out? Are you One Anothering?
Think its time to start? Or step it up a notch?

Maybe you're doing well. Maybe all your checkmarks are in the teach, admonish, exhort category. If so, work on the "Be Kind and forgiving" group.

Consider this training for Heaven. After eons of worship, praise and celebration we all have to live together for eternity! 
Can't wait, can you?

God Bless you all, Bro. Clark

Joh_13:14  Gal_5:13 Rom_12:10  Rom_15:7  Rom_16:16  1Co_16:20  2Co_13:12  1Pe_5:14  Eph_4:32 Gal_6:2  Eph_4:2  Col_3:13  1Th_4:18  Col_3:16  Rom_15:14  1Th_5:11  Heb_3:13  Heb_10:25  Heb_10:24