Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Bigger Interrupter Than Kanye


From Dare 2 Share-

"A Bigger Interrupter Than Kanye

Under the category of “Did that just happen???,” I’m sure by now you’ve heard about or seen Kanye West’s wildly inappropriate outburst at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Of course this is not what you would call a great career move to say the least, but I guess the silver lining for Kanye is his honorable mention in the Urban Dictionary:

Imma let you finish [eye-ma-let-yoo-fin-ish]:

1. Obnoxious way to interrupt someone and steal their moment, while wrylymocking that media train wreck that is Kanye West.

Based on West's instantly infamous interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video with his insane microphone-stealing shout out to Beyonce.

Bob: Thank you Mr. Brown for having us in to give this sales presentation. We'd like to talk to you today about...

Alfred: Yo, Bob, I'm really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but I just got to say our product is one of the best products there is!

I guess West did let Taylor finish…sort of. But the cool part was the moment Beyonce recognized Swift and gave her a chance to have her moment of glory.

Have you ever been completely and rudely interrupted? I’m thinking the majority of us can relate - but how about interrupted during an extremely important moment by someone who obviously doesn’t care about you or your mission at that moment?

OK, let’s take it one step further. The VMA disaster was a physical interruption and as I watched it play out, a thought occurred to me that I’d like to share. No seriously, Imma let you finish, but first consider this:

Are there ever spiritual interruptions that are as rude and inconsiderate as Kanye’s? I sure believe so, and there’s a very well defined plan behind them.

Think about it…have you ever stopped to take some time to pray, and suddenly your thoughts are bombarded with worry or unpleasant memories? Or have you planned out a quiet time to read the Bible, and suddenly the phone rings, or you remember something you have to take care of first?

Or worst of all, have you ever tried to share the gospel with someone and out of nowhere, people cut into the conversation or something sidetracks the person away from the most amazing message on earth?

Not a coincidence folks…Satan and his army of demons are completely dedicated to preventing and halting any efforts on your part to connect with God through prayer and reading the Bible. And they are literally hell-bent on halting even a single word about Jesus Christ from escaping your lips.

Just check out a few descriptions of this from God’s Word:

Satan, who leads the whole world astray… (Revelation 12:9).

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

See what I mean? Satan just sits back and waits until you try to take the stage for Jesus Christ, then he jumps in and steals your microphone and your chance to glorify God.

Oh - and he doesn’t let you finish.

Here’s the great news though. If you can see an interruption coming, you can usually prevent it or ignore it. And now that you know spiritual disturbances are headed your way whenever you try to connect with God or share the gospel of Jesus Christ, you can be more prepared.
How?

First, recognize the interruption and take it to God. That way, what Satan meant for evil will actually focus your thoughts more on your Heavenly Father! Pray something like: “Father, I know that what’s happening right now is an attempt to keep me from connecting with you. Please help me keep my thoughts and spiritual eyes focused only on You.”

Second, resist Satan, and you can be sure of this promise:

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you (James 4:7-8).

Here’s the way The Message version of the Bible puts it:

Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time.

Finally, refuse to give up. When you stop praying, you miss out on God’s peace and blessing. When you stop reading the Bible, you lose out on God’s truth and strength. And when you stop sharing the gospel, you trash the opportunity to lead someone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Bottom line: stay the course in connecting with God, reading His word, and sharing your faith. Refuse to be interrupted and never give up. On Judgment Day, God will call you back on stage and you’ll hear the words from Jesus that are more valuable than any earthly praise:

“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Now that is how you should finish."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jewish Eschatology


Here is an interesting link on Jewish Eschatology.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_eschatology

I find it interesting because it would agree with our eschatology...only they missed their Messiah the first time. Hopefully they will submit to Him before they die & then have to face Him as a "goat" or one who will be condemned for rejecting God's great salvation!

I asked a friend, our tour guide in Israel, who is not a follower of Jesus, about Zechariah 12 & what he thought about the phrase,

"so that they will look on Me whom they have (b)pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one (c)mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. 11 "In that day there will be great a)mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the (1)plain of 2)Megiddo. 12 "The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves."
I told him that I believed that this one who was pierced was Jesus. I said, "What if the Messiah really is Jesus?"
Ronny kindly replied, "Then when he returns I will follow him."
I asked him another question, "But what if you die before that happens and it is too late?"
We got interrupted.

Anyhow, I thought the Jewish eschatological parallel with Christian escatology was interesting.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Is God Just: What about those who haven't heard?


So back to the question that I wanted to discuss with Abigail D. about a month ago.

Is God Just: What about those who haven't heard? Would God send them to Hell without at least a chance?

Abigail, you said that this was THE issue that turned you off to Christianity. And I have to agree that I struggled with this question. It had been gnawing at me for years, because how can you call God just when he will judge people who haven't even had the opportunity to reject Him? Well, here is what I see in Scripture regarding this-

1. Jesus is the door to salvation, anyone can enter God's presence, but only through faith in Him.
John 3:16-21; John 14:6; John 10:9; Acts 4:12; Luke 8:12; Acts 16:30-31

2. God uses everything to draw people to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

"who (God) desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
-1 Timothy 2:4

External witness- Nature (Romans 1:20)
Internal witness- The Holy Spirit (Romans 1:19; Ecclesiastes 3:11; John 16:8-11)
Relational witness- People & Jesus (Luke 11:47; John 12:32)
Prophetic witness- The Bible, prophecies (Matt. 12:39; 2 Timothy 3:16)
So you see, God uses everything to make himself known. For those in obscure parts of the world, the have at least both an external & internal witness, which is sufficient.

3. God wants people to go into all the world and tell people about Jesus.
This is the great commission to the Church- Matthew 28:18-20, which is what the Church is doing. In fact, today every area of the earth has been reached, there are just certain tribal groups that have not.
Romans 10:12-17

4. Jesus will not judge the world until every people group is reached.
Matthew 24:14; Romans 11:25

5. If someone seeks after God, God will reveal more of Himself to that person.
My favorite example of this playing out- Acts 8:25-40
This man was trying to understand, so God told Philip to go to the man and tell him.

Objections
1. What if there is none who are willing or able to go, say before we had good transportation?
Well, I have heard several reports from missionaries who explain that when they reached a tribe, there was either a Christ-type, or even crosses present in the tribe & they already understood. So I believe that God can use this external, internal witness & possibly even angels.

I have an interview from a former Shaman who says he knew exactly who Jesus was before any missionaries came. However, the spirits within him told him that this being in white, Jesus was an enemy. If you want to hear it, I have a copy I can send you.

Also, I think that God is able to sustain someone who has not heard & is seeking until they come to faith. But I have no proof for this.

So Christians, this is why it is important to hit the mission field. Not to get people to join your religion, but to tell people about Jesus and give them an opportunity.

2. If people could be saved apart from faith in Jesus, then it would be better to NEVER tell anyone about Jesus. However, this goes against all biblical teaching.

3. What about infants or those who are mentally unable to make decisions? I would appeal to God's mercy in these cases, but not for those who could volitionally decide to either reject or accept the revelation that they have received.


In conclusion-
If you could be saved apart from Jesus, then God would still be a brutal savage & the cross would be emptied of all value; it would be meaningless.

God wants all men to be saved & come to a knowledge of the truth. Only those who accept Jesus as lord & savior can be forgiven & stand before God. God uses EVERYTHING to reveal himself to people. People who respond favorably to this revelation will receive further revelation. People who reject or ignore this revelation will not be given more (Mark 4:24-25).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fear Itself


FDR, in his first Inaugural Address said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
In the context of that day I am sure that it was a good speech & necessary with the times our nation was facing.

I want to look deeper at the issue of fear, primarily one of my favorite verses on fear- Proverbs 3:25
"Do not be afraid of sudden fear Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught."
I don't know about you, but I am not afraid of dying and facing God, I am afraid of getting to the point of losing control. Of control dropping out from under me.

So let's look at this verse-
"Do not be YARE (afraid, revere) of PITHOM (sudden, lit. to open the eyes & see, fig. a storm that comes up suddenly) PACHAD (dread)."

In other words, do not be afraid of fears that quickly form. Do not be afraid of a sudden storm in life that comes upon and would threaten to overwhelm you. The godly do not need to fear sudden fear or of the onslaught of the wicked. the godly are the only ones who can truly have SHALOM (peace) because the lord is our confidence & will keep us from being destroyed. He is sovereign, loves us, & is working out things for our good.

So, we need not fear fear itself. If we are believers, instead, we can walk confidently into the storms knowing that we are cared for & that everything is completely under control.

Romans 8:28
Ephesians 1:11

Monday, September 7, 2009

Peace & Conflict


So I have been thinking a lot about peace lately. Probably because I just had a conflict with someone, that went badly & am doing some "searching" to see what happened.
I want to be realistic about peace. I don't want to be one of those guys who thinks that he is always right & is never to blame for things, but I also don't want to be the guy who always feels in the wrong. I want to be realistic.

So regarding peace, the Bible teaches, "as far as it concerns you, live at peace with all men." -Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14.

So what does the word "peace" mean?
1. It comes from the Greek word eirene, which comes from the words eiro, which means "to join". In Hebrews it implies looking out for the welfare of another, in Romans it implies more of bringing peace.
2. In Hebrew, peace describes a state of completeness, soundness, well-being of the complete person.
3. Also often in the New Testament, it has to do with tranquility, hope, trust & quiet of the soul & mind, brought about by a reconciliation to God (Luke 2:14; Matthew 5:9; John 14:27).

Another passage that comes to mind on peace is Jeremiah 6:14-15.

"They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace. Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD."

So, going further. Is the Christian called to live at peace by:
a. Being a peace-keeper. By not bringing up an issue.
b. Being a peace-maker. Not searching for conflict, but if there is a conflict, dealing with it.

I prefer a. That way, I can ignore people who are off the mark, struggling, or hurting themselves. Dealing with people who are messed up is often very hard & often they bite back. It would be wonderful to sweep problems under the mat & ignore them. It would be wonderful to just let people make their own choices & just worry about my choices. If someone wants to screw up their lives living in bitterness, or using drugs, or cheating on a spouse, then have at it! We are called to peace.
However, I have a hard time submitting to a. Inside of me there is a gnawing. And in the Bible there seems to be a calling for us to sometimes not pretend everything is okay. Sometimes we need to warmly, patiently, gently, kindly confront people who are being destructive. The hard part is that often things blow up & there is all out war from the one who is confronted (especially in today's day and age where people are hyper-sensitive, neurotic, easily wounded, irreconcilable...aka 2 Timothy 3).
Then again, maybe option c. may be best. "C. Both A & B". There are times where we need to keep the peace, but there are times where we need to get into the mess of making peace (by the way, people who are following after Jesus often are very open to b. when they are the ones being confronted. This is something I have experienced & have been in awe from).

Regardless, I love the Greek word, how it implies "to join" & to watch out for the welfare, for what is the best for others. If confrontation is best then do it. If it is best, at that time to just have harmony, then do it. And regarding how to know when situation calls for what, maybe that is why God has called us to ask Him for help & to walk in the Spirit.

Peace,

Jeff