Diminishing Opportunities

The Probability of Diminishing Opportunities

Life gets by us quickly. What we hope to do usually falls victim to what we have to do. Before we know it, days turn into years, and years into decades and so much is left undone. The important things of relationships, time with God, or giving the gospel to a neighbor, form a pile of regrets and missed opportunities. Time spent is forever gone. There is an arresting verse in the OT.  Isaiah 55:6 Establishes that we must, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,call ye upon him while he is near”.

A couple clear conclusions can be drawn:

1. There are more obvious times that God is close and is drawing us near.

2. God is not always close to draw near to.

 

We must make the most of the times God is speaking, or our pile of regrets will mount. Such was the curse of the town and region of Bethsaida.

Bethsaida had it’s chances. Philip, Andrew, and Peter were from this quiet area around the northern shores of Galilee (John 1:44), and it appears that the feeding of the 5,000 happened in it’s outskirts (Luke 9:10). They had plenty exposure to truth and the wonder of God.  But it seems God was not impressed with their responses to these moments of glory. He boldly scolded them later in Luke 10:13.

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

Jesus concluded that they had plenty of chances to respond to His exhibition of truth. Oswald Smith said it this way:

 “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.”

 This sad truth brings us to the final mention of the people of this quaint town. One of  their own was blind, and looking for healing. Here is how Mark penned it:

 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. (Mark 8:22).

 Nothing out of the ordinary. Jesus encountered lots of people with ailments. To most, He was a walking hospital clinic. It wasn’t the man, or those that brought him, that acted suspicious. Actually is was Jesus. Look what He did.

And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him… (Mark 8:23).

 A miracle was about to take place. Jesus was preparing to reveal His power and glory in this situation. But not everyone would get a front row seat. Especially those in Bethsaida who still refused to respond appropriately to the previous opportunities. So Jesus led the blind man to a secluded place for his personal miracle. His faith was about to have an energy boost. Had the town seen it, they may have believed more in Jesus. Jesus even told the man after he was healed to not tell anyone in the town.

 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town. (Mark 8:26).

 Bethsaida had a pile of regrets. If they could go back, they would have taken time to listen more, ask more questions, and stay in the presence of Jesus longer. It may have saved their lives and their eternities. But not on this day. Maybe never.

 Oh that I would learn a lesson from Bethsaida!

 

Closing thoughts:

1. Listen when I know God is speaking. He may be quiet for a while.

2. Make the most of what is really important in life.

3. Pray for faith! (“Help thou my unbelief”)

 

 

 

 

First Reponders

I want to be a first responder. Not in the sense of being a paramedic or firefighter, but one that immediately turns to God as situations arise. Notoriously, I am one that works to figure out a solution, run for a second opinion, get advice, or just be distracted with worry. Imagine how different things would be if my first response was running to God.

2 Kings‬ ‭19‬:‭14-16
And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.

Kings have counselors. At his disposal are the wisest and the smartest strategist and thinkers. Yet Hezekiah, when receiving the threatening news, skipped the “war room” and went right to the prayer closet. The real intriguing part of his prayer is that it was not one for protection or mercy, but it was notably one of worship. Hezekiah chose to sit in the shadow of the Almighty. His first response was not typical, as a matter of a fact, it was odd for a king. But in the end, the strategists of the kingdom enjoyed another day of life because the king ignored their expertise.

Oh to be a first responder like Hezekiah. This makes me think of an old hymn..

What a Friend we have in Jesus
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Closing Thoughts:
1. Learn to skip by the war room and make way to the throne room .
2. Learn to do more than ask and beg. Take time to worship.
3. God loves to respond to someone that recognizes His power and ability.

Enough of God

We all like the benefits of a relationship with God, especially when it’s convenient. Truth be told, we would prefer buffet discipleship.

We volunteer for the peace, protection, joy, prosperity, and companionship. Then we willingly pass up on the cross, difficulties, persecution, discomfort, and discipline. Maybe if our mouth spoke what our heart secretly believes we would say something like:

Give me enough of God to make me comfortable, but not too much so as to interrupt my schedule

2 Kings 17:33
They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence
.

Like Israel of old, we have added God to our shelf of other gods. Gods of pleasure, health, technology, happiness, money, and a stack of other favorites. We often act like a kid with a new baseball card. We show God off and then stick Him in a box with all the other run of the mill player cards we have.

Our consumer brand of being a Christ-follower convinces us that God is ultimately concerned with our happiness. So we add to our lives whatever we believe will fulfill that. Before we know it, God is overcrowded in our lives with stuff. The reality is, God is less concerned with our happiness than we imagined. He is actually concerned foremost for our holiness.

Wilbur Reese said it this way…

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.
Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.

Closing Thoughts:
1. God refuses to share the shelf with our gods of choice.
2. God already set the guidelines to discipleship, and it’s family style eating, not a buffet.
3. Gods offer of being a Christ-follower is an all or nothing deal.

The Holy Huddle

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The Holy Huddle usually has a negative connotation to it.. But hear me out..

All parents have probably experienced it before. I give advice that was solid. I actually impress myself a little. The response of my kids though shows they are less than convinced. Then one day they come through the door with a bit of excitement. They figured out the obvious solution to their problem. After asking a few questions it is discovered that the solution they got from the outside source was almost word for word what I had said days before. I stand there wondering if my kids are deaf at home but find perfect hearing when they walk out the front door. (this has only happened once ever :))

The truth is, there are times that advice is often more clear and convincing when it comes from someone other than dad and mom.

Outside encouragement can end up being the life-changing input our kids need. By the way, this very issue found its way onto my prayer list for my girls. I long for the right people to speak into their lives. God's timeless Word promotes this concept. Solomon penned it pretty clearly in Proverbs.

Proverbs 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

It would be lunacy to assume that the writer was talking of having just a group of random people giving input. For this to be a positive experience, these must be good, wise counselors. Godly people. Holy followers of God. People with experience. More than likely, people that are at least 5 years older than our kids. Better yet, an interested, truthful, alert adult. Cool doesn't hurt either.

Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

Truth is important. People that “prove” truth to be real to young moldable minds is immeasurably powerful. No amount of money can purchase the power of the God-story of a veteran believer in the lives of our children. And this input cannot be left to chance. Wisdom demands that we plan for it, not hope for it. Here is a scary truth— if we don't proactively encircle ourselves and our children with good people, they will get default counselors. This could be the most destructive miscalculation ever made.

Whether by grand design or by God's grace alone, we learned this early on in the lives of our girls. For each of them, we invited a young, more spiritually mature girl to “disciple” them. I would drive them weekly to a location where they could hang out together and let life meet life. Questions were asked and answered. Laughs were share. Prayers were prayed. This decision by my wife and me remains some of our wisest. As I write this, my youngest is spending a week in Indiana with her “discipler”. She met Tiffany when she worked camp this last summer. She was a dorm mother to Alyssa that quickly turned to much more than that. Over the eight weeks together, a bond was developed and God has not only directed Alyssa in outward ways, but changed her heart. I would give my bank account for this! (although right now that is not very much :)) The relationship has been so powerful that Alyssa saved up $250 to make the journey on her own from airport to airport to see Tiffany.

While discipleship of our families lays squarely on the shoulders of us as parents, parents should be proactive in surrounding their kids with a solid circle of counselors. One of the wisest decisions you can make is to build a team of counselors that can link arms with you in loving your son or daughter to the Savior!

 

Silent Gospel

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Forgotten. That one word would terrify most of us. While there are many longings of the human heart, the ones of being needed and important reign supreme. The fact is that we all desperately want to leave a legacy, an imprint on those around us. We want to leave one that is so deep that if we were gone, we would be the topic of everyone's conversation. We would be trending on twitter. There is obviously many mega themes throughout the Scriptures, but one that will make that wanted imprint indelible is to humbly love the needy and helpless. Actually, this one issue is a measuring stick of whether we are genuine God-followers or just coldly religious.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)

One book that has greatly challenged my perspective and my heart on this theme is a one called,“The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. In the book Stearns explores Jesus' call to love our neighbors and shows us how to use our time, talents, and money to heal a broken world. While there are countless ‘stop and check your heart’ quotes, I will highlight just a few in this post. (found in red)

1. “When we say we want to be His disciple, yet attach a list of conditions, Jesus refuses to accept our terms. His terms involve total surrender”.

Ouch. This goes contrary to the current culture of ‘me first’. The call of Jesus goes beyond what is comfortable, easy, and humanly possible for us. God wants us to live above all that or else we are attempting to steal glory from Him.

2. “Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything… If you think you are too small to make a difference, try spending the night in a closed room with a mosquito.”

3. “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just” Abraham Lincoln

There is no kindness too menial, and no gift too small in reaching out to those marginalized by a life of tough knocks. A giant bank account is nice, but God never calls us to save all we have for a possible future need. Whatever we have right now is what He is asking for us to use. If it is small, then it is still sufficient.

4. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic [malicious] words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people”

5. “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” Martin Luther King Jr.

6. “the rich man did not abuse Lazarus, didn't beat him or mistreat him; He simply ignored him, passing by him, day by day, with indifference… he was aware of the beggars plight, had the power to relieve his suffering– yet chose to do nothing… all too many [in the church] have been.. more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stain-glass windows.”

The biggest travesty of the church may not be that we did too little, but that we did nothing. Too many of us have so drown ourselves in technology, debt, and frivolous possessions that if a starving person was laying in our path to work, we would have to pat him on the back and tell him that help is on the way. And it is not just a resource problem, it boils down to a cold heart issue. Honestly we just don’t care. Try saying that out loud where you are right now. Go ahead. ‘I don’t care’. It is almost as difficult as saying ‘I am sorry’ right? Sometimes the truth hurts.

“I'd like to ask God why He allows hunger.. Injustice when He could do something about it.. But I'm afraid He'll ask me the same thing”

Oh boy. Is that not the truth? While we may wonder how a God of love could stand aside while people die of hunger and disease, we are walking on paper-thin ice. Everyday we could do something for someone in need. We would not have to venture on a plane trip to Africa or Papua New Guinea. We could go on a simple 15-20 minute ride to our closest town or city. We are so insulated that we think we only see such needs on the Nightly News or in National Geographic. God must wonder how we could see the need, and simply do nothing. And in doing nothing, we make the gospel a little more distant to those looking for love and God.

One last quote from the book. It is how I want to close. It stings me because I am guilty. I want to see people come to Jesus. I never want to be a cause of someone not coming to Christ. The distaste of our lack of compassion can really sting. This is how Mohandas Gandhi said it. “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Maybe we just need to slow down enough to be able to notice the most obvious needs of people.. Maybe its not a homeless man, or a starving orphan. It could be a co-worker, a neighbor, or a person that sat in your pew last Sunday. In being more aware, we give the gospel some context in their life.

Join me on www.goodreads.com to find what your friends are reading and what the a book is all about!

 

The prayer that could save your life.

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The infamous easy button. This popular yet fictional red button solved the many difficult office needs many executives face in daily management. The commercials were humorous and the ploy of that one office supply store being the answer to our problems was great for sales. Many people actually purchased the button just as a funny paper weight. There sits a big red with large white letter that read, “EASY”. The sad part is that it can do no more to make life easy than any other paper weight!

There is more alluring button I wish we had access to. A REWIND button.

If life had such a button, the symbol would be worn off. There are so many regretful words spoken in the heat of an argument that we would all erase. There are countless situations that we would skip by had we a second chance. And how about those moments of temptation that we would all love a second chance at? Those moments when we knew what was right, but chose to ignore God's gentle warning of imminent danger.

This life saving Rewind button will have to stay in the 'wish we had' file for another life. It is not a possibility even for the most ingenious inventors. But There is another option that could net similar, if not better results.. One that is not only available, but recommended by Jesus in the pages of Scripture.

It's was the night of the betrayal. Jesus took His men for a last walk to their favorite resort at the edge of Jerusalem. Making their way through the darkened garden, they arrived at a place that was often used by them for prayer with their Discipler. Knowing the dramatic and terrifying events about to unfold, Jesus looked at His disciples like a father fearful for the safety of his children, and gave them a recommendation that we should also live! Here is how I read it Matthew 26:41:

Pray so that you don't enter into temptation. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your flesh will fail you every time!

Wow. Better than the rewind button is the ability to request a pass from the Creator on a possible life-altering temptation. What? Why would we not wear the symbol off of that button? Why would we not be obnoxiously praying that one request morning, noon, and night?

Could It be that we don't see the danger of temptation the way God does? Are we naive like the simple man in Proverbs 7 that didn't realize the temptation he faced was “for his life”?

On any given day, there could be that one temptation that we did not adequately prepare for that will rock our integrity, our family, and our very life. We are walking a field of active sin mines.

Temptation is not a kitty licking our hand, it's a lion chasing us down as a needed meal.

Let's beg God for a pass. Let's wear out the path to our prayer closet asking for guard rails that keep us on the straight path of holiness.

“Father, you said there are temptations that are unnecessary for me to experience. Would you rearrange my schedule so I can miss those dangerous moments today? Based on your Word, and the recommendation of Jesus, would you steer me away from that person, that conversation, that website, or that thought of my own heart that could spiritually wreck me? Allow your grace to rescue me from what is not necessary. Deny my enemy the permission he is requesting to rattle my cage.”

Don't get me wrong, God never promised to remove every possible temptation in our future, but He does say that if we ask there is great possibility to get that much needed pass! Remember, we never know until we ask, and we many times we don't receive because we fail to ask for it.

Better than a Rewind Button, we have access to the God that directs our daily path. Let us by all means beg for a pass!

 

Temptations Reality

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Ever had one of those dreams where everything is in slow motion? Literally, it is my most common. Someone is chasing me and suddenly I cannot move. I lean forward and give it all I’ve got, but it’s like running up a steep sand dune. You feel the chaser getting closer, and all your effort is in slow mo.

I have a sense that this can be a full color illustration of our spiritual warfare experience. The enemy is after us, but our responses are never enough.

Maybe a shark experience is more accurate. Fortunately, I don’t have a personal one, but I have read enough of them.

It’s perfect day for a swim. The sky is sunny, and the ocean is cool and refreshing. You are minding your own business splashing around in the cool waters that would be just over your head. Below the surface, just out of your awareness, a shark is stirring, and circling. You are having the time of your life, unaware of the extreme danger just at your feet.

This identifies our spiritual warfare!

Let’s face it, we have an enemy that is not just hoping for our demise, he is planning for it. Every new morning he meets with his minions and modifies plans and tailors them specifically to our personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The destructive nature of our enemy will make the hair stand on end.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Kill. Steal. Destroy. No love found there. When offering his devious scheme against Job, Satan received one guideline from God– “save his life” (Job 2:6). Conclusion: Given the green light, Satan’s first passion would have been to suffocate the life right out of Job. If we think for a moment he has a better, more hands-off plans for us, we are more naive than expected.

The fact that we often live day after day without noticing the obvious schemes to lure to sin should terrify us.

It’s there, and so is he. Satan is never on vacation. He is never at a loss for ideas. He will hunt you down like a hound on the scent of a raccoon. He will not call off the dogs. Peter gives such a clear warning that should awaken us better than any caffein fix.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8).

Here is my version:

Be cautiously, and constantly alert. You are living in a wildlife preserve filled with hungry lions who are aggressively hunting for their next meal.

Talk about the ultimate reality show! The picture of a lion hunting us down to illustrate the spiritual battle is creepy. Day in and day out the temptations will come in waves. No commercial break. It is a daily onslaught that has no pity on naivety. James reminds us that, “EVERY man [and woman] IS tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust..” (James 1:14).

Maybe today’s prayer is asking God to open your eyes to the reality and dangers that surround you. Closing your eyes does not make a walk through a mine field any more safe. Proverbs 7 warns us that we are not playing a game, this is for our very life.

  • What is your weakness? You don’t need a quiet weekend away to determine what you seem to give in to each time it is offered. You know, you just need to admit it.
  • What is your plan to ‘survive’ the next wave of attacks against your integrity? Is there a plan? Or do you just live day to day hoping for the best?

The enemy is real, and vicious. He is lurking in the edges of the zoned swimming area; just below your feet.

Ask, Ask, Ask. Then ask again.

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There are a few people that stand out in the Bible as ‘Wow’ stories. Common people with an outlandish experience. You can pick these people out of the thousands mentioned because God does. He literally mentions them by name. While we all can build our own list of all-stars, here are a few that quickly come to mind:
    • Mary- Chosen among all to bear the Savior of the world (Luke 1:28).
    • David- a man after God’s own heart chosen as the Messianic line forever (Acts 13:22).
    • Moses- a friend that spoke face to face with God like no one else has (Exodus 33:11).
    • Noah- A just man and perfect and walked with God protected through the flood. (Genesis 6:9).
    • Job- Perfect and Upright and God mentioned him to the devil as a stalwart (Job 1:8).
How about Zacharias and Elisabeth? Easily overlooked. They probably didn’t make their way on anybody’s short list for sure. Maybe not even on a detailed one. Yet, as God faithfully watches the private and public lives of His creation, these two grabbed His attention.

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:6).


It seems that this was the catalyst that stirred the Lord to do what He did. And what He did was truly miraculous.

Zach was just an ordinary priest. Quiet and unassuming. His responsibility on this day was to disperse incense in the temple during the time of prayer. While doing what he did hundreds of other times, something extraordinary happened. As the chain was swinging in his hand, and as the sacred smoke encircled him on his slow walk, there was a voice. A voice coming from a dark corner where it should be silent. He thought he was alone.

But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John (Luke 1:13)

Maybe the conversation sounded something like this:

“Hey your prayer was heard, and God sent me to let you know its been answered!”

“Oh that is awesome… wait.. Which prayer? I mean.. I've prayed a few over the years..”

“The big one. The earth moving one you prayed every day for, for over 20 years”

“Can you give a few more clues?”

“The family expansion one. The request for God to give you a son.”

“Oh.. Yeah.. Haha.. That one. We stopped praying that one 20 years ago when my wife was no longer of capable of having kids.”

“You got it! Thats the one! God sent me to tell you it's time.”

“What? Wait! No, literally we gave that one up over twenty years ago when I would at least be in a wheelchair when my son started walking! I am over seventy now!”

“God never forgot that prayer. He wants to honor your request and your faithful living! And your son will be more than just an average jewish boy, he will prepare the way for the Savior.”

Imagine it. I just did. Either way, the faithful prayers that Zach and Elisabeth quietly, faithfully, and persistently prayed were not ignored.

They prayed when their heart told them that there was no hope. The begging they did continued when friends patted them on the back as if to say, “Not everyone has kids– its ok”. They repeated their same prayers even when their common sense said it was too late. Not one was forgotten. Like a seed planted, faithfully and slowly growing out of sight and in the soil. Each one waiting for the season of growth.

This answer could possibly be 30 years late.. In human calculations. On God’s timetable, it was right on schedule. The request would be “fulfilled in their season” (1:20). God gave Zacharias and Elisabeth just what their hearts longed for. God blessed the aching of their soul because they never quit.

God files my prayers away for safe keeping. Some He may keep beyond what I feel is reasonable. He may even keep some of them in storage forever. The lesson for me is to keep praying..and trusting His wisdom. My persistence just may stir God, in His timing, to do a miracle.

If you think this sounds similar to a previous post called Prayer Seeds, it is. Maybe God is trying to get through this thick head.

 

Get Outta Here.. For a while..

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It's intriguing…

..the unrestrained excitement of those returning from a short-term missions experience. There is an urgency in their stories. You never have to ask how their trip was, they will tell a stranger who may accidentally catch eyes with them. For that matter, the fee collector at the airport exit will get a synopsis… What is it about these trips that captivates the hearts and minds of short-term missionaries? There are a few common testimonies that surface without fail…

    • …There was something attractive about the simplicity of life on the field.
    • …There was an amazing draw about the contentment of people's hearts.
    • …There was a stunning acceptance experienced even as a total stranger.
    • And the kids…if they had the money to start an orphanage for those in such great need they would 'accidentally' miss their return flight and forfeit life back in the leisure of the states.

There is something immeasurably good about abandoning the comforts of our spoiled existence here; even for the short term. There is freedom in loosening the tether of technology. There is a draw to finding little faces waiting for someone to pick them up and be Jesus to them. Something so much richer than air conditioned homes, smart phones, and social networking. It's the same draw that stood Jesus up and pulled Him to abandon His throne.. Even for a short term.

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Jesus was stirred by the “short term” missions trip. Stirred, not by the simplicity, kindness, or acceptance of those He was visiting.. But by our great need. If we could grasp this same heart, we would be missionaries every day, everywhere. This brought to my mind a few gripping quotes about missions..

Consider the Passion of these men:

    • “We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” — Oswald J. Smith
    • “If I had 1,000 lives, I'd give them all for China” — Hudson Taylor
    • “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light” — John Keith Falconer
    • “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” — C.T. Studd

Listen to the Realization of the great need of people:

    • “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” — Oswald J. Smith
    • “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time” — Carl F. H. Henry
    • “As long as there are millions destitute of the Word of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will be impossible for me to devote time and energy to those who have both.” — J. L. Ween

Now read these statements confronting our lack of involvement:

    • “Sympathy is no substitute for action.” — David Livingstone, missionary to Africa
    • “In our lifetime, wouldn't it be sad if we spent more time washing dishes or swatting flies or mowing the yard or watching television than praying for world missions?” — Dave Davidson
    • “Can't you do just a little bit more?” — J.G. Morrison pleading with Nazarenes in the 1930's Great Depression to support their missionaries.

Two take-away lessons:

1. Everyone needs to experience the soil of a foreign land under their feet.

2. We need to beg God for this same zeal and love experienced by short term missionaries for those we cross paths with everyday!

Get outta here.. As soon as possible.. It's worth it!

 

Edge Walkers

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We are strange creatures..

We love having someone guide us, but we hate being led. We enjoy browsing a map, but not when we are lost. We look for a path through the woods, but enjoy wandering off of it more than on it.

Although we love the protective sense of boundaries, we also choose to walk the crumbling edge of the cliff behind the “no trespassing” sign. There is something about the challenge of, “Don't look”. Or, “this cannot be done”. The lure pulls us in like a mosquito to a soft bare arm.

What is it about our human nature that asks for boundaries but doesn't like being confined by them?

It's nothing new. Jesus saw the rebel heart in those around Him too. It was no more evident than with the man living under the tyranny of leprosy (Mark 1:40-45). This disease was cruel. Slowly, skin blotches white. Fingers and toes begin to rot. You feel the sting of death. Nothing is secret. Everyone knows. The lines are drawn and you are shunned. Your epitaph is being written. This will kill you.

Enter Jesus.

Hearing of Jesus' ability to heal, this man knows this is his chance. If not now, never. He begs and Jesus obliges. With one simple touch the world comes to a halt and he is healed. All evidence of leprosy has disappeared. He is a miracle.

Jesus gives one curious obligation. “See thou say nothing to any man”. Just give an offering at the temple and shhh. Jesus knew word of this miacle would spread on its own. So don't make a big deal.

Human nature to go against the flow kicks in. The desire to walk off the path hits overdrive. “Don't say anything” is just a challenge.

“But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city,”

Truth be told, the excitement of regaining control of his life from the slow death of leprosy was too much to contain. He knew what it was to have life slowly choked out of him. This leper felt the stares and disdain of those that avoided even a conversation. He experienced the heckles of those that assumed the judgment of God for some assumed secret sin. He lived with the lingering burn of self hate. Now his prison door has been flung open. His death sentence was canceled.

Really, this is our story of salvation. The disease of sin was undeniably killing us. It was spreading through us more rapidly than a wildfire. As our time of death inched closer, God came near. The Savior reached out and pardoned us.

Jesus told this man to hush, but he couldn't; Jesus tells us to proclaim Jesus and we run and hide.

This truth is just part of the larger picture. Really the problem is that we don't like being told what we should and should not do. Therefore, we leave the clear path to wander on the forbidden. We forsake safety for adventure. We want to look around the bend and be our own navigator.

The bottom line is.. It's not that we need new truth. For most of us, we don't need another message, another class, or another book. We just need to start to live what we already know. Application to known truth is at famine levels among us as believers.

What is that one thing God has been pestering you to do, that is still left undone? What is one simple expectation God has put out to you that you still refuse to submit to? Forgiving someone? Telling a co-worker about Jesus? Giving to a cause? Starting a converasation with an undesireable? Renewing a fight with a sinful habit?

Whatever it may be, It is right where you left the path, and the same place in which Jesus is waiting for you. Bad-aids in hand.

 

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