Archive for December, 2011

Closing Pandora’s Box

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

Closing Pandora's Box.

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Closing Pandora’s Box

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

From Wikipedia; Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology, taken from the myth of Pandora’s creation in Hesiod’s Works and Days.[1] The “box” was actually a large jar (πίθος pithos)[2] given to Pandora (Πανδώρα) (“all-gifted”), which contained all the evils of the world. When Pandora opened the jar, all its contents except for one item were released into the world. The one remaining item was Hope.[3] Today, to open Pandora’s box means to create evil that cannot be undone.

According to Greek Mythology, Pandora was the first woman of the world. It is always amazing to me that ultimately the stories of so many societies bear a resemblance to the Bible in some way. Eve, the first woman in the world, was tempted by satan and yielded to sin.

That aside, I want to suggest to you that the journey into sin is a slipperly slope that is so similar to the story of Pandora’s box. Like a narcotic, one small compromise creates a hunger for more and more. It is a temporary pleasure that satisfies only for a moment and requires a greater thrill in order to achieve the same result.

As someone has said, “Sin will take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to be, and make you pay a price higher than you wanted to pay.” Some who read this will open or have opened Pandora’s box only to find it impossible on their own to put the lid back on. The hope of overcoming is only available through Jesus Christ. And it is not found in praying some simple prayer, filling out a card at the front of the church, and sitting on your blessed assurance the rest of your days.

Victory is found in surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It is denying self, taking up your cross, and following Christ wherever that may lead. Any resolutions that you make in the strength of your flesh for 2012 will surely fail. Only what you genuinely purpose through surrender to Christ has hope of overcoming. Cry out to Jesus today. You will be glad you did.

Well, the dude in California got it wrong twice this past year. How embarassing to set the date for the end and be wrong? That should destroy any confidence anyone has in you. But I am willing to go out on a limb. I want to make a prophecy that is absolutely for sure and for certain. No chance for error.

It ends tomorrow. December 31 is absolutely the day. No question about it. 2011 comes to an end. And the day after marks the beginning of a new year, 2012. Both facts are 100% sure.The world will not end tomorrow. Jesus said, “The Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached to every people group and then the end will come.” That has not happened. We have had 2000 plus years, but we still haven’t done it. Cell phone service, Coca-Cola, they can do it. But the church hasn’t.

Notice, I didn’t say the church cannot, because we can. But we have to quit leaving the work to mercenaries and recognize every believer is to be a soldier of the cross. We must take the gospel to the ends of the earth, now.

People in America have looked at the Christian church and they see little difference between people who claim to follow Christ and themselves. In fact, many have said, “If you have it, I don’t want it.” And honestly, based on the average church goer, it is hard to blame them.

Jesus once said, “These people give lip service to me, but their hearts are far from me.” That is a pretty good description of the average person claiming to know Christ. So where is the power that the Bible promises? Where is the transformation of life? Where is the joy and the peace? Why is it that so many people in church are just plain mean?

Satan is a great deceiver. If he can substitute a religious “churchianity” for the reality of a living relationship with God, then pretty soon the church will be dead. Read the statistics from the Barna organization as they survey folks in church.One study has indicated that 51 % or more of pastors in churches don’t even have a Biblical world view.

There is a reality to Christianity. The Bible promises that anyone who is truly in Christ is changed and is a new person. (2 Cor. 5:17).
There are pockets of this reality spreading across America today. At Church Unleashed @ Beulah we are seeking to be a part of that reality. We have called on people to know Christ, and to partner together to reach the community and world around us. We are just beginning a new journey. Some don’t understand it. Some even oppose it. BUt the heart and soul of church is alive and well and 2012 will demonstrate a fresh move of God. Watch and see.

It was time for the annual distribution of Christmas gifts in the state prisons. Baptists from all across the state had put together packets of essentials for the occupants. Soap, toothbrushes, gum, envelopes with stamps,and similar items. As we handed them out, the men thanked us as though we had given them thousands of dollars.

It seemed to be a chance encounter. Jim, the executive director of our state convention, was there doing the same thing that I was. A brief conversation led to an appointment for lunch. Lunch was mostly a friendly visit, but ended with the gift of a book, Real Life Ministries, and a reminder of the importance of discipleship.

I devoured the book over the next couple of days. Jim Putman, a former wrestling coach, planted a church in the middle of nowhere, Idaho. In a small town of 10,000 people a church of 8,000 has grown up in eight years. No fancy show. No big time entertainment evangelism. Just a faithful commitment to reach people and disciple them in faith.

Jesus said “Go into all the world and make disciples.” (Matt. 28:19). I remember reading many years ago a book by Leroy Eims entitled, Disciples are Made, Not Born.

All of this to say, I have made a simple decision that has emerged from a chance encounter (or was it) in prison. I am going to devote the rest of my life to making disciples. I am going to be a faithful disciple, and I am going to make disciples of Christ. What will you do with the rest of your life?

What Will You Do with a New Year?

Posted: December 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

All across America it has become somewhat traditional to write resolutions for the new year. I will lose 30 pounds. I will spend more time with my family. I will go to church more than just Easter and Christmas. I will find a new job. I will read a book. I will take more time to play golf or go fishing. And for many they will fall by the wayside.

It seems to me that we all have three choices with our year ahead. We can spend it, we can waste it, or we can invest it. I vote for investing. We all have the same number of hours and minutes and days ahead of us. For some each day will come and go, and whatever happens happens. No plan, no strategy, just whatever. Wasted.

Others will use it up on their dreams and ambitions. Spend it. You only go around once so grab all that you can. WHen you die, whoever has the most toys wins.

But what if we have been created for a greater purpose (we have)? What if life is to be so much more (It is)? God created us to glorify Him. We are here for His purpose. So let me challenge you to invest your life this year in advancing the Kingdom of God.

In Matthew 4 Jesus called some fishermen, and he said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Here is the simplest explanation I know of that tells what it means to be a Christian and to engage in God’s plan. Jesus challenges us to leave behind our plans for His. Jesus calls us to follow Him, and then He promises to change us and use us in His mission.

Consider how you will spend, waste, or invest 2012.

We are a news obsessed society. We have 24 hour news on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and others. We have morning, midday, and evening national and local news. We have internet news on every search engine. We are obsessed with the news.

News isn’t news unless it is reported. Someone has to tell it for it to be news.The nature of the word “news” requires a story be told. When we come to Christmas, we are reminded that the angel announced to the shepherds in the fields, “I bring you Good News.”
And the angel said it is “Good News” for you, and it is “Good News for all people.”

The nature of news is such that it has to be reported. For it to be Good News, it has to be reported to all people in time. If the message is of a Savior, and it is, people cannot be saved from their sins by Him if they don’t hear the message in time.

Not too long ago someone asked me, “Is ‘gossip’ always bad, or can it be good, sometimes?”
It is bad when it is detrimental, but it is good when it is in obedience to the command of God. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them all I have commanded you.” We should indeed “Gossip the Gospel”. Christmas presents us with a remarkable opportunity to tell the story once again.