Tag: Blog

Sleep In Your Car?

Recently I heard a businessman on a conference call of business people tell about a period of time in his life when he would sleep in his car in order to build his business. He made that sacrifice because he was very committed to what he was doing.

As I listened to him, my heart stirred within me, not about sacrificing to build a business. In that moment, I found myself asking, what sacrifice am I willing to make for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ? Would I sleep in a car for a period of time to make progress in getting the Gospel out? I have a very comfortable bed, in a nice bedroom with an ensuite. Would I be willing to do something as simple as leaving that comfortable environment, for even a short time, to serve Christ? It might not be sleeping in a car. It could involve any kind of sacrifice. That was a real life story that God used to challenge my own heart in that moment.

I’m thankful to live in a country where honest businesses can be built. It is always encouraging to hear those kinds of stories from people who have successfully built their business. Done the right way, a good business serves people while making a profit. But, if people are willing to sacrifice to eventually make a temporary monetary profit, why wouldn’t Christ followers be willing to sacrifice to make an eternal difference in the lives of people?

Jesus led the way in sacrificing for His Kingdom!  We are very familiar with the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  However, consider the sacrifices before that one.   He left Heaven and all it’s glory to come to Earth and be born as a baby.  In doing that He willingly “emptied Himself”,  temporarily restricted the use of some of His divine attributes and veiled His full glory while here on Earth.  While He lived here, as an adult, He said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  Matthew 8:20  Jesus was willing to be “homeless” for the sake of the Kingdom!  Beyond that, He suffered temptation, weariness, and persecution, all BEFORE He ever went to the cross!

Over the last 2000 plus years, since Jesus ascended back to Heaven, there have been many men and women who have sacrificed and even died for the sake of the Gospel.  After Judas Iscariot hanged himself, all but one of the remaining original eleven Apostles, died as martyrs.  The Apostle John didn’t die as a martyr, but he surely suffered.  He was imprisoned on a narrow, rocky island, the Isle of Patmos, in his 90’s, where he penned the last book of the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Since then, many more have been imprisoned, beaten, tortured, deprived, separated from families, and killed for the Gospel and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  To this very day, people in many nations are still suffering, not denying their faith in Jesus.

So, when the question of whether I would sleep in my car for a period of time, or any other little “sacrifice”, to see the Kingdom advanced is asked, it seems almost trivial!   Jesus put it this way in calling out the crowds that followed Him during His earthly ministry.  “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.  He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”  Matthew 10:38  Essentially, what Jesus was saying there is this… if you are not willing to sacrifice to follow Me, you are not worthy to bear My name!  Tough words, but true.

Most of us will never be called on to make the tough sacrifices mentioned in the last paragraphs.  But, we are called to be ready to sacrifice in some way for the glorious cause of the Gospel and the Kingdom!!  God help us!

What Guides Your Life?

We ALL, with no exception, have an influence or philosophy that guides our lives. That is true, even if we are not aware of it. We make decisions, and act on those decisions, based on some belief or opinion.

There are three statements we often hear that reflect the prevailing guiding philosophy in today’s culture. Read them and see if they sound familiar. Then, consider whether they are valid for directing your life.

1. Let your conscience be your guide.
2. If it feels right, do it.
3. If it makes you happy, go for it.

Honestly, on the surface, all three look reasonable. Shouldn’t we be guided by our conscience? Can’t it keep us on the straight and narrow? Aren’t we supposed to follow our gut instincts, listening closely to our feelings? And who wants to be unhappy?!!

Within every Christ follower there is a desire to do life His way, even if we don’t always accomplish it. That means we have to know what His way is and follow it. Included in that is the need to evaluate what we hear and see in the world, in prevailing culture. So, with that in mind, let’s look a bit more closely at the three statements above…

1. Let your conscience be your guide. Not necessarily! That all depends on what is feeding your conscience. Our conscience is an internal moral compass that has to be set to true north. When we feed it with the wrong information, it gives back wrong information. The Bible clearly says that our conscience can be messed up. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,” I Timothy 4:1-2  A “seared” conscience is one that no longer is bothered by sin, by wrongdoing. When nerves are seared or burned, they are no longer capable of sending a warning message of pain to alert us to pull back from danger or get help. When the conscience is seared, it no longer is sensitive true right and wrong.

2. If it feels right, do it. Although our feelings or gut instincts may be right sometimes, relying on them alone is dangerous! Here again is what the ultimate authority, the Word of God, says. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man accoding to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

3. If it makes you happy, go for it. If happiness is our motivation, we are in trouble! Happiness is always tied to circumstances. Realistically, no one always has happy circumstances! A Christ follower’s ultimate aim in life is not happiness, it is to honor God. “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6:20 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31

By now, it should be fairly clear what guides the lives of Christ followers! “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 The Bible is the true north to which we set the compass of our lives! It will regulate our consciences, our feelings, and our motivation. As Christ followers, we must consistently feed our minds with the Word of God and guard our minds against accepting the views of prevailing culture!

All Good People Go To Heaven?

He holds the highest recorded vertical leap in NBA history, according to bleacherreport.com! Michael Jordan’s jump, from a standing position, has been measured at an amazing 48 inches!

I used to compare my jump to MJ’s when speaking to the church I pastored. I obviously fall way short of his huge accomplishment!

However, we both fall far short of an impossible goal… jumping to the moon. There’s more to this story and we will get back to it shortly.

The recent death of a “good” man, who was part of another religion, caused me to reflect on a subject that is taken for granted in today’s culture.  Polls reveal that most people believe good people go to heaven.  So, the question is, do good  people go to heaven?  The answer is yes, IF they meet God’s standard of good!

Most people’s belief system is like my comparison of Michael Jordan and myself in a jumping contest.  They believe they are really good when compared to other people.  Of course MJ is much better at jumping than me!  What is forgotten is the target we are both trying to reach, the moon!  Neither of us have even the slightest chance to jump there on our own!  The target is way too high.  The same is true of being “good”.  It also is unreachable!

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Romans 3:23  The standard that God uses to determine “good” is Himself.  All of humanity has sinned and comes  up short of God’s measure.  The most moral person we can think of is still tainted by sin.   The best way to illustrate this truth is to  think of a pure glass of water.  Add just one tiny drop of arsenic to it.  It is now polluted and undrinkable.  Just one impure thought, one tainted motive, one bad attitude, one wrong word, is that tiny drop of arsenic! We are now polluted and no longer meeting God’s standard.

Being perfectly righteous and sinless is God’s standard and no one ever meets it on their own!  It would be more possible for MJ and me to jump to the moon than for any of us to meet God’s standard of “good” on our own.

That’s the bad news, but there is good news!  If we were invited, MJ and I could get to the moon!  We could get there by a power not our own, a big, powerful rocket!  I’m not holding my breath, waiting for an invitation to that though!

We HAVE been given an invitation to meet God’s standard of “good” by a Power not our own!  The Gospel gives us the way.  Jesus, the God-man, lived the only perfect, sinless life ever lived, then died to pay for our sin.  Because of that, He now offers us forgiveness and the gift of His righteousness!  We can meet God’s standard of perfect righteousness by having Jesus’ righteousness credited to us!  It’s our “rocket to the moon”, the place we could never jump to on our own! When we respond to God’s invitation, trust in Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins, we get in the “rocket” to meet God’s high and holy standard!

When I think of the “good” man who died recently and I see all the people believing that good people, according to their standard, go to heaven, it makes me sad.  It also reminds me that, even if misunderstood or hated, I have been given the mission of telling all who will listen, the truly Good News!

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It is always exciting to begin something new! This post begins a new, weekly blog. It is a challenge I’m taking on, one that I have been contemplating for some time now. Here, in a nutshell, is why I am doing this… to teach the Word of God in a simple way, so that it can be understood and obeyed! My tag line says it all, “simple Bible teaching”!

I am already doing a 15 minute podcast, currently 3 times per week, to accomplish that goal. It has been going for almost a year and has been well received. This blog is just one more avenue to get the Word out. I am looking at other ways to do that as well in the future.

We all have a world view, a way of looking at the world around us and of living our lives. A world view is a system of belief. It directly impacts how we view world events, form opinions and beliefs, make decisions, and live our lives everyday. There are two main world views… a biblical world view, and all others. Under the “all others” category there are numerous subsets. My concern is not to enumerate them, but rather to focus Christ followers on the biblical world view.

I’m told that, in some banks, when their tellers are trained, they are familiarized, in detail, with what authentic money looks like. The thought behind that approach makes sense. When a counterfeit bill appears, they will spot it immediately because they know very well how the real thing looks!

True followers of Christ want to live their lives in a manner that pleases Him. They want to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. (II Peter 3:18) Learning what He has communicated to us in His Word is the basis of growing and living a life pleasing to Him! As we learn and apply biblical truth, we will live life that is based on a biblical world view.

There are numerous, wonderful, sound, biblical teachers and resources available to those who are serious about their faith walk. I am only one more small addition to that list, striving to be faithful to my calling and hopefully making a difference in the lives of those God brings across my path!

I invite you to stick around and read this little blog on a weekly basis. I would love your feedback and input. I would especially love your prayers for the ministry of Sharing Real Hope!