Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments
Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
Some times it can feel like our life is a ship on the verge of breaking apart in a violent storm. Maybe we placed too much trust in the now creaking wooden planks that buckle and groan over dark turbulent waters. In a last stitch effort to stay afloat, we madly rush about throwing any non-essentials overboard.
At times we turn to anything or anyone in an attempt to discover some lifesaving advice— perhaps a miracle? If you’re a child of God, you’ve got access to salvation even in the storms. Jonah 1:4-5 depicts chaos, panic, and overwhelming fear. Those sailors on the boat with Jonah had no idea where they should turn for their salvation. With each passing moment their ship threatened to burst into splinters and “each one cried out to his god” (v. 5).
But Jonah? He’s asleep. He has some kind of knowledge and relationship with the Creator, but he doesn’t fully understand how powerful his God really is.
The application, then, is humbling. Today our communities are filled with people whose lives are rocked and they’re looking for a savior with lifesaving power. They turn to the things in which they’ve placed their trust, and to no avail. How many of us hold the answers they need, but at times find ourselves spiritually sleeping— selfishly keeping this message to ourselves?
Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Writing to a church filled with multiple ethnic groups, Paul has a broad goal in mind in writing the Roman epistle. Having dedicated himself to “world-wide” evangelism, as Acts and his letters show, his heart was on more than winning Jews in one small part of the world.
In Romans ten, Paul is reaching the crescendo of the doctrinal argument he makes in Romans 1:15-17 about salvation through faith in Christ. In the middle of the chapter, he states some principles that are worthy of our attention. Consider briefly Romans 10:5-17.
Here, we have the message expressed (5-10). It is the message Paul has been stressing throughout the letter, a message of “righteousness based on faith” (6). It is a word of faith (8), one emphasizing what the scriptures say (Paul quotes Deut. 30:12, 14, 21, Psa. 19:4, Isa. 28:16, 52:7, 53:1, 65:1-2, and Joel 2:32 just from Rom. 10:6-21), and a message meant to touch the heart (8) and lead one to eternal salvation (9-10). Thankfully, the same word that tells us to “make disciples” tells us to do that through the divine message of scripture.
We also have the men envisioned (11-13). Twice, Paul says that “whoever” (11,13) calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The Lord’s riches are for “all who call on Him” (12). He makes no distinction between Jew and Greek (12). That underscores the biblical idea that God wants all men everywhere to be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4).
We have the means executed (14-16). Paul exalts preaching and preachers. This is honorable work requiring honorable people. They are an indispensable part of God’s soul-winning plan (14). They are divinely sent (15). They are positively described (15b). They dispense good news (16). As Paul writes Corinth, preaching is God’s medium for saving men’s souls (1 Cor. 1:18).
Finally, we have the mission embodied (17). The word of Christ must be heard, and faith results by hearing that word. People do not teach themselves. Societies are not won accidentally or incidentally. There must be deliberate, often sacrificial, activity—preaching, planting seed, and perseverant persistence—to fulfill that mission.
We have mission work to do right here. We have it to do daily at our jobs and in our more immediate communities and neighborhoods. Whether you are going across the street or around the world, fulfill your mission!
Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bomb itself, compared to the city, was quite small; the devastation is still at the front of many minds today.
There is a lot of evidence on earth of multiple meteor impacts. It is chilling to watch re-creations of how those impacts would have affected the earth. A meteor just six miles across has the potential ability to destroy most of this planet, which is 24,901 miles in circumference. So, something just 0.024% of earth’s size can potentially destroy it entirely.
This country has 321,400,000 people. The church makes up about 0.03% of the US Population. We are ahead of meteors in terms of our ability to make an unforgettable impact.
It is far too easy for us to think, “I’m just one person,” or, ”We’re just a couple hundred people in a community of thousands,” but God can do mind-blowing things with just one person. With His Son, He gave all humanity across eons of time the ability to be saved. With just 12 apostles, the church grew into a global fellowship. With just one faithful Christian, an entire community of lost souls can be reached.
When a meteor strikes the earth, it’s not the crater that creates such devastation: it is what happens afterward. Maybe you convert just one soul. That soul turns around and converts his/her family. That family reaches out to their connections and shares their newfound faith. Before you know it, hundreds of lost souls are now in Christ. All because of the effort of one person to convert one soul!
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:9-10).
Friday’s Column: Supplemental Strength
I convinced my parents to watch a show I enjoyed with me. I doubt I converted them to watching the same kind of programs as I like but I was happy they enjoyed what we watched together. I was acting as an evangelist, wasn’t I? I told them about something that I felt fervently about, convinced them to look into it themselves, and then encouraged them to commit to following through with it. As I enjoyed the afterglow of the moment, I was hit by a realization. Why is it easy for us to tell others about a book or movie but not about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I suppose one answer is fear. If a friend thinks my movie suggestion is stupid, then he will just think I have bad taste in movies. At worst, he won’t ask me my opinion about movies again. The Gospel is different, though. We’re putting ourselves out there. What we present doesn’t just require the forfeiture of an hour and a half, but a lifelong commitment. What we fear is the loss of that companion since we feel as if we are requiring something great from them. The truth, however, is that it is not we who put forth the requirement. God does. We merely relay the information. Thus, regardless of a negative reaction, if we’ve spoken the truth in love (Ephesians 4.15) we’ve done what we are supposed to do in letting them hear what God requires of them (Ezekiel 3.17-19).
I suppose another answer is shame. I don’t fear what my friend thinks about my secular choices. However, I am reminded of the adage that one never publicly discuss religion and politics. Certainly, we have seen with the latter how divisive of a subject it can be. People unfriended me following the last Presidential election simply because they knew I supported the candidate for whom they didn’t vote! Imagine how that person will take the news that the cherished religion of his grandmother was not one that was true to the teaching of the New Testament? The Thessalonians felt their world had been turned upside down (Acts 17.5-8), and I am sure that my friend would feel the same way too.
Yet, that is not the truth, either. I have no power to condemn any grandmother to hell or grant her access to Heaven. God’s Word is truth (John 17.17). If the truth turns one’s world upside down, the fault lies within the worldview that was turned the wrong way, to begin with. As brother Keeble used to say to such a one bothered by the fate of grandmother, “If she had been taught what you’ve been taught, how do you suppose she would have reacted?” Just the fact that discussing religion in polite company is frowned upon is insufficient to dissuade the one genuinely loving his neighbor.
The next time you find yourself excitedly chattering on about something you’re zealous about to a friend, remember that it is possible to talk with them about Jesus that way as well. The only reason that we don’t is that we feel that we cannot. Love casts out fear (1 John 4.18). And if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father (Matthew 10.32-33). Hobbies are great, but may we not find ourselves more energized by them than by the Living God.
Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
We need to know the Bible, to study and apply,
And teach and share with others, their faith to solidify.
But often, before they’ll listen to a consonant or vowel,
They need to see us on our knees, with our basin and our towel.
For fine speech can lose its luster, and argument its shine
When its power in our own lives, is unseen and unapplied.
“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day,”
Is the common man’s mantra, as he’s searching for the way.
And a teacher whose compassion and listening ear is offered,
Will open up a heart before one single verse is proffered.
For the adage, often spouted, is a proverb we need to share,
People do not care how much you know til they know how much you care
The way to reach an eternal soul involves more than the mind,
And every servant of Jesus knows it takes service pure and kind.
Loving care that costs us in terms of money, effort, and time,
Will soften hearts made hard by worldly greed and grist and grime.
Dear Christian as you pray to God, “Lead me to some soul today,”
Keep your eyes peeled for a struggling, straggling soul astray,
Then be a neighbor, show him mercy, you just might be surprised,
When he listens to the truth of God you have actively exercised.
In World War I, German intelligence was able to steal American plans at will. Tapping enemy lines was extremely easy, especially at night. Faced with such a dilemma, a regiment full of Choctaw Indians thought of a potential solution. The commander inquired into how many Choctaws knew their mother tongue. The men hesitated. The first English word some of them had learned was “soap.” In basic training, they were threatened with having their mouths washed out if caught speaking their native language. Now, their regimental leaders wanted them to speak it. The Choctaws were dispersed among the various divisions and attached to communications. From that point to the end of the war, all important orders were passed along in Choctaw. The Germans were stymied and finally caught off guard by the Americans’ war plans (from PBS’ American Experience: The Great War, Episode 3).
Today, our society does not want to hear us speak the message of Christ. Many find it offensive and restricting. They may even put great pressure on us to keep quiet. But, we cannot. These have been taken captive by the devil to do his will (2 Tim. 2:26). Especially when someone sees the spiritual crisis in his or her life, there will be a desperate desire for an answer. Where will they turn? If they have heard us speak of Christ and His way, they may need us to communicate the most important message ever spoken. Don’t keep quiet about Jesus, especially given the dire danger in this spiritual warfare (2 Cor. 10:3-5). God is counting on us to speak for Him, and so is a lost and dying world! Keep sharing Him.
- Pick out a local church leader and pray for him and his family for several minutes, being very specific in your petitions on their behalf.
- Email a missionary to encourage them and get an update on how their work is going.
- Buy a gift card and try to give it anonymously to a young or struggling family you know.
- Thoughtfully select several people to compliment and encourage by writing on their Facebook wall or other social media platform.
- Briefly visit a brother or sister in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
- Ask a co-worker, classmate, or neighbor what you can be praying for them about.
- Listen to a book of the Bible in its entirety on your commute.
- Let go of a grudge or deep-seated resentment.
- Do an unexpected deed of kindness for a random stranger.
- Speak to someone you see regularly about your faith–what God is doing in your life, what’s going on at church, etc.
- Spend some one-on-one time with one of your children (playing a game they enjoy, going for a walk, taking them out to eat, etc.).
- Show love to your mate in some tangible way you know he/she enjoys (speak their “love language”).
- Practice pleasantness with everyone you meet today, being mindful of your facial expressions and body language.
- Carve out some time for meaningful, personal devotion (including Bible reading, singing, and prayer)–make worship more than a Sunday matter!
None of these are overly time-consuming. Pick as many as you can. If you cannot get to them all today, then pick up where you left off tomorrow. Grow your list. Use your imagination and creativity. Find yourself looking and acting more like Jesus! See yourself in Matthew 5:13-16.