Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

Darkness is a strange thing. It isn’t really something in and of itself. It is actually the absence of something. It is the absence of Light. When it comes to spiritual matters, light represents the Presence of God. In fact the apostle John wrote, “God is Light.” (I John 1:5)
We discover in the Revelation that there is no need for the sun or the stars in heaven because God’s Presence is the light.

Throughout the Bible, darkness spiritually portrays people who are far from God. It represents the condition of “lostness”, absolute separation from God. More significantly, even than that, it portrays “deadness”. People who are far from God, not only dwell in darkness spiritually, they are absolutely DEAD. There is no real life. “The wages of sin is death,” God’s Word declares.

Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world.” The Gospel of John says, “In Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness . . .”
God gave His only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, to bring the light of life into our darkness.

While among us physically, Jesus proclaimed His followers, “You are the light of the world.” He entrusted that light of life from God to us, His people. And He called us to let our light shine before men. To place our light in the candlestick so that others might see. Throughout our world today there are great pockets of darkness. There doesn’t need to be, but there is. There are nearly a billion people who have no access to the Gospel of Christ at all. There is no known effort by any evangelical church or group to reach out to and evangelize, make disciples, or plant churches among nearly 3100 different identified people groups.

God has called us, you and me to chase the darkness. He has called us to carry the light of truth in the Gospel message to the dark pockets all around our globe. There is no reason with the resources and technology available to us in the 21st century that we cannot eliminate the darkness. There will always be people who live in darkness, God’s Word says some prefer darkness because their deeds are evil. But there should not be any pockets of darkness on our planet because no one has shared the Gospel. Chase the darkness. Make a difference.5578299322_14502cc7d7_z

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clock

I woke up at 3 am this morning. That is not all that unusual for me. At my age I wake up often in the night to go to the restroom, and then usually go back to bed and fall back asleep. This morning I could not go back to sleep. Sometimes I have found that means God is calling me to prayer and that He may have something to say. So at 3:30 I climbed out of bed, got a cup of coffee, and began to pray and read my Bible. I didn’t hear any voice from heaven, or see any vision, or even doze off and have a dream.

But as I prayed, and as I read the Bible, in the midst of the silence of the house, I heard this, “tick,tick,tick . . .” Just as steady and precise as it could be. I wrote an article on logs turning into crocodiles in yesterday’s blog, so I cannot help but think of Captain Hook and his fear of clocks ticking, assuming it might be the crocodile that bit off and swallowed his hand coming (it having also swallowed a clock.)

This ticking, however, was coming from an orange battery powered clock that sits on the table beside the chair where I have been praying and reading. After prayer and the scripture, I read the last chapter in a book entitled, Dreams and Visions, by Doyle. He has a section in that chapter with the title I have given this article. He speaks of time running out. So all of that in the way of introduction to acknowledge that reality.

Time may not really fly, although it speeds by, but it certainly continues to “tick” off of history. Our lives move us second by second close to our own death. History moves second by second closer to the consummation of the ages. As time goes by, the reality is that all around the world there are people who have little or no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They will die and spend their eternity in a Christ-less eternity. As I have quoted others before, “The Gospel is not Good News if it doesn’t get there in time.”

Early this morning I have been on the websites, International Mission Board, Frontier Mission, Finishing the Task, and the Joshua Project, to mention a few. The numbers are a “moving target” which is ultimately a good thing. We are making a difference for many. But those who are Unreached with the message, those who have no access to the message, and those who are even under-reached are staggering in volume. And ultimately the problem is there are simply not enough workers in the fields of the harvest. Jesus said that over 2000 years ago, and as the population of the world has mushroomed, the lack of workers is still an issue.

Who will go and tell? Someone else has said, “God is calling more than are going.” We can all pray. Almost all of us can give financially to support the work. Many, maybe even most of us, can go in some form or capacity. For some that might be a career call, for others it may be as a volunteer on shorter trips. But God has called every single church to this task. Pray that we hear and obey. Pray that all will hear before time clicks off and there is no more opportunity. One life indeed matters. Every life indeed matters. You can make a difference.

Having been in the ministry more years of my life than I haven’t, I am exposed to a lot of points of view. Having been in more of an itinerant ministry for the last few months I have had a lot of time to visit churches, and I have visited all kinds, big and small, traditional and contemporary, and blended worship and in between sizes So I share this blog post from the perspective of those two realities. One other ingredient I want to throw in the mix. I read two different blog posts this morning that were exact opposites. One could be described as a reform fundamentalist perspective, and the other was nothing short of emergent and syncretistic. Both found lots of fault with everyone outside their perspective.

Over the last few months I have worshipped four different times at Newspring Church, a multi-campus church with a home base in Anderson, S.C. Last week I heard an Anderson resident criticize the church from two points of view. First, they said, “There is not a single Christian symbol in the whole place.” The other comment was, “I think it is just a cult.” When I had the audacity to ask this question, “Have you ever been to a service there?” I was told emphatically, “No, and I never intend to.”

I have to confess that I have honestly looked for things to be wrong at Newspring with what I see when I worship there. And I am sure someone reading this blog, maybe several some ones will be more than glad to give me a list of faults. I am sure that it doesn’t matter to many what my point of view is, but in this blog post I want to give four reasons that I cannot dislike the church. Each time I have attended the church I have been impressed with the fact that the church has learned a skill of communicating the message to a lot of people in our post modern world. The atmosphere and music lend themselves to attract people who have grown disillusioned with the forms of church that are so often found dotting the landscape. Those that they attract in turn are bringing their lost family and friends like Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. They are inviting them with lines like, “Come and check it out, it’s different.” And guess what? Some of those are becoming followers of Jesus, in fact, a lot of those. Some will suggest that they might not all be real decisions, but guess what, that is true everywhere, and who are we to decide what is and what isn’t. Last time I checked, God has the book of life in His keeping.

Secondly, I have heard good sound teaching from God’s Word each time. Two of the times I have attended in recent months it was their lead Pastor Perry Nobles, and the other two it was a teaching pastor, Clayton King. Both did masterful jobs of dealing with the Biblical text and declaring it in an effective and life- changing manner. Today’s message was on the importance of prayer, and it was awesome. I took notes and found areas of my life that I need to let God really help me correct.

Third, I have two daughters, two son-in-laws, and three grandchildren attending the Columbia campus of Newspring. I have watched their excitement for church increase, and more significantly, I have seen personal growth and move toward more Christlikeness in their lives. What parent and grandparent cannot appreciate that?

Finally, the enthusiasm of the people who are a part of that church family is contagious. The greeting in the parking lot, at the doors, and for that matter everywhere you turn is energetic, heartfelt, and exudes warmth and welcome. The joy on the faces is real. It won’t speak to every person. Some won’t see past their traditional views of what church should be like. Some may succumb to a jealousy that sees them as competition. Are they perfect? No, of course not. Can someone come and get lost in the crowd? Absolutely. But guess what, the numbers I keep reading are that only about 10% of “members” of most churches actually do most of the work. I suspect the numbers at Newspring are much, much better than that.

So let me wind this blog post up this way. What can we learn from Newspring about making our message relevant in the style of our presentation while NEVER compromising the message in the process? How can we celebrate the diversity of worship styles and celebrate those who are successful. Thank you Pastor Perry for the difference you make and for not being distracted from the main thing. Let me issue a caution. Let me offer a caution to other ministers and churches. In my opinion, when you offer a criticism of someone else’s ministry and you pass on points of view that you heard from someone else, well, that sounds like Gossip to me. And when you consider that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, it sounds to me like you might find yourself doing the devil’s work for him.

history

History is all behind us, right? And although many writers are re-visionists and in a sense they “re-write” history. In reality they do not change what happened, but they change what those removed from the events by time perceive to have happened. But that is not what I am talking about. History, in my humble opinion, is His Story. It is God’s Story.

You and I have the opportunity to be a part of God’s Story. God is moving in mighty ways all around the world. We are hearing that at least 25% of Muslims who become believers have had visions where Jesus appears to them. We are hearing of healings and miracles all over India, China, and many other parts of our world. In fact, it might be accurately said that God is acting in our world in such momentous ways that they are unprecedented.

But think about the impact of one life. Consider for example, Andrew. Andrew was one of the first followers of Jesus. We are introduced to him very early in the Gospel of John. We don’t know much about him. But when Andrew met Jesus, the Bible says that he went immediately and found his brother Simon. Well, brother Simon is the one Jesus renamed Peter, and Peter is well remembered for his impact on Christianity, and thus all of history.

Who knows what might come out of what you choose to do for God? DL Moody heard someone say that the world had not yet seen the impact of one person wholly surrendered to God, and he said, “I will be that man.” What would be the impact of you or me being 100% available to God, fully surrendered to him? What if you only touched one life, but that life was a Billy Graham, or a Abraham Lincoln, or a Martin Luther King, or for that matter a Martin Luther?

His Story is partially recorded in the Bible. I believe the Bible is complete. I don’t think it is ever to be added to. But His Story is still being recorded on the pages of time and life. You and I can be a part of that. Since Jesus Christ changes the course of history in people and even nations, you alter His Story by obeying His call on your life. Like Isaiah, will you say, “Here am I, Lord, use me.”

The very last word in the book of Acts in the Greek text is a word that translates into English, “Unhindered” or “freely”. It is particularly interesting in the context. The apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome. He is not in a dark and damp prison like some other times, but he is under arrest and he is not free to come or go. But even though the apostle Paul is not free, the Gospel is not hindered. The text says that Paul was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus without hindrance.

In many parts of our world it is illegal to share the Gospel with people, and yet the Gospel is going unhindered anyway. In the U.S. today we celebrate Memorial Day and although we are supposed to have absolute freedom, the Gospel is often hindered. I am not referring to government restrictions, or a ban on prayer from schools, or the seeming opposition by the media at times to the message of the Word of God. I am talking about the fact that as Christians we have bound the Gospel in our little boxes and traditions and hindered the message ourselves.

I believe that God put the word “Unleashed” in my heart and mind several years ago in reference to this. What would it be like if we took the lid off the boxes of our preconceived ideas and simply got out of God’s way? What would happen if we unleashed God’s Spirit from our traditions and rules? I am not advocating anarchy, but simply breaking free of man-made restrictions.

For example. Is God’s Word able to stand on its own? Or does it require our individual interpretations to do its work? In our western culture, someone asks a question and we tell them our opinion of what God says in answer. But notice how often Jesus answered a question with another question, or He simply told them a story. What would it look like if we answered a question with a story from God’s Word and let the Holy Spirit speak through that story to the person’s heart?

Not too long ago I was having coffee with someone, and sharing a vision of discipleship training that has resulted in rapid spread of the Gospel in many parts of our world. The person with me said, “Here is what worries me about that. How do you control it?” I would suggest to you that herein lies some of the problems we face in western cultural church. We want to control the uncontrollable. We have attempted to “control” the Holy Spirit to the point that He is grieved to silence in our presence.

I am just raising the question for you to consider. Paul was not free, but that didn’t stop Him from sharing God’s Word, and it was never bound. We are free, and yet the Gospel often seems to be hindered. So what if we shared the truth and let God do His thing without so much interference from us.