Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Just People In Pews?

For years, Christians have been encouraged to invite friends to worship with them. In that encouragement, the question “Why?” is often left unconsidered and ultimately unanswered. In response, many members conclude that the invitation of a friend to worship is the entire goal. That conclusion may even be reinforced by the announcement of attendance numbers the Sunday following a “Friends and Family Day”.

While inviting friends and family to worship is a good practice, the end goal must consist of more than people in pews. Christians have been called to make disciples (Mt. 28:19-20), and accomplishing that goal requires more than sitting in a pew together. When a friend visits the Lord’s church, consider what they see and take the opportunity to make a disciple.

What will they see? If we are the church Jesus purchased with His blood, they will see a great deal.

  • They will see true, pure love between members (Jn. 13:35). 
  • They will see imperfect people who help each other with their struggles (Gal. 6:1-2). 
  • They will see worship in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23-24)
  • They will see people listening to and seriously contemplating the Scriptures together (1 Tim. 4:13).

Now take the opportunity to make a disciple. These sights may well be enough to spark a visitor’s curiosity concerning the Lord’s church. In that curiosity rests an opportunity to make a disciple of Christ. A curious mind is fertile ground for the truth of the gospel. When that curiosity presents itself, listen and show them passages like these:

  • “[God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)
  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16)
  • “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mk. 16:15-16)

Invite a friend to worship, yes, but realize that sitting in a pew together does not a disciple make. When they see the love, patience, and dedication to the Scriptures that is found in the Lord’s church, their curiosity may be sparked. And if they are unfamiliar with the gospel, you, Christian, must show them. Talk about what they saw, listen to their thoughts, and offer them the Scriptures so that they might be saved.

Remember our mission, brothers and sisters! Let’s teach the world, starting with the people we already know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

No Man's Sky

A few months ago, June 2014 to be exact, a company called Hello Games released a video showcasing their new game called, “No Man’s Sky”. By the time the 3 minute video ended most who watched were utterly astounded. Wonder and amazement have followed this team of developers ever since that video was shown. Why? Because the game itself contains an entire (make-believe) universe, with so many planets that it would take you 5 billion years to explore each one for one second. There has never been a game quite like No Man’s Sky before.

When onlookers started to understand the vast nature of this game, one question was continually asked: How did you do it? You know, I wonder what people would think if they said, “We just started up our computers one day, and there it was!” Nobody would believe that, right? It’s absurd to think that such a complex and massive game could possibly exist simply by chance, right? 

And yet, that’s exactly what people believe about the REAL universe in which we live. Theories like the Big Bang and Evolution have many believing in the absurd idea that an infinitely complex and expansive universe could exist completely by chance, without a Creator of any kind. I’m sorry, but that logic doesn’t track. If a video game, with relatively few moving parts, MUST have a creator, then the universe, with infinitely many moving parts, MUST ALSO have a Creator. The Bible says that’s exactly what our Creator wants us to see:
...that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  (Romans 1:19–20, NASB95)
Part of the reason our planet and universe are so complex is so that we will realize that it wasn’t created by chance, it was created by the all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal God, who deserves our honor and obedient submission. 

Tonight, take a step outside or look out your window at the stars and be amazed, because that’s no man’s sky. We could never create something so massive and beautiful. God has created it for our amazement, and so that we would understand that He is God and worship Him. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Axe

The axe swung hard into the trunk of the massive oak tree, and with each consecutive chop the axe thought to itself, “My, how sharp I am, how well balanced, why, I’m even mightier than this great oak! I don’t need this lumberjack at all!” And with that, the axe flew from the lumberjack’s hands far out into the forest, and though the lumberjack searched night and day, he could not find the axe.

The axe remembered fondly the time it spent soaring through the air, not knowing where it might land and all the while pitying whatever tree it would find nearest. The axe was overjoyed upon landing, for next to it, only inches away, was a tree larger than any it had ever encountered in all its swings.

Eager to start the work, the axe prepared for a mighty chop. But, to the axe’s terror, it could not move at all. The axe tried again, hoping that perhaps the first failure was a fluke. Nothing. The axe tried again and again, and with each consecutive failure the axe began to realize that it was not as strong as it had once thought. The axe was not so well balanced that it could swing itself, nor the blade so sharp that it could cut without momentum. And so the axe sat, through rain and snow, silently mourning its foolishness.

You see it was the lumberjack, not the axe, in whom the power resided. Unfortunately for the axe, it realized that truth when it was far too late. Some years later, a small child came across the old broken pieces that were once so mighty and gathered them up, considering them worthless for anything other than firewood.
“Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.” -Isaiah 10:15 (NASB95)
We must always remember: We are but tools in the mighty hands of God, and as sharp and well balanced as we may be, we need His strength and wisdom to accomplish anything at all in this life. Oh what a sad day when one of us says to ourselves, “I do not need God!”

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

28 Seconds

Over the past few days a video has gone viral, and at the time of this writing has amassed over 8 million views. The video is only 28 seconds long. What could possibly entrance so many people across the globe, you ask? It’s a tutorial on how to quickly peel a hard-boiled egg. I can’t make this stuff up. I’ll admit, I wasted the 28 seconds and watched the video and rationalized that I might save many minutes because of the investment. But even as I watched the short video (sound off because I had music playing – see, multitasking! I’m saving even more time), I thought to myself, “Why am I watching this? Aren’t there better, more important things to do in life?”

While 28 seconds might not seem like much, there is danger there. Not with the egg, but with the rationalization. “It’s just 30 seconds,” we tell ourselves. Then, before we know it, there have been ten or twenty 30-second videos, and then a few more after that. Each video leads to another, and with a rapidly clicking finger we can spend hours in front of the computer doing absolutely nothing productive, constantly telling ourselves we aren’t wasting any time. I’m reminded of a proverb I heard A LOT growing up (thanks Dad):
“I passed by the field of the sluggard And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense, And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles; Its surface was covered with nettles, And its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. “A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest,” Then your poverty will come as a robber And your want like an armed man.”    -Proverbs 24:30–34
I can’t help but wonder: what was the sluggard doing with his time? Perhaps he had gained much knowledge concerning the proper peeling of an egg. 

Is it a sin to spend 30 seconds watching an instructional video? Of course not. But we must take care that we aren't swept away in the endless tide of time-wasting temptations that the Devil places in our path. If you're going to rationalize 30 seconds away, let’s think of better reasons. 
  • Rationalize an opportunity to share the gospel
  • Rationalize a moment of unexpected kindness
  • Rationalize a compliment
  • Rationalize a listening ear 
  • Rationalize a smile. 

These are much better ways to use 30 seconds, and in the process you might just be a brighter light that points the lost to Jesus.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

They Were Afraid To Ask

Jesus was, among other things, the best teacher to ever walk the earth. His teachings apply to real life and they are deep, but not always the simplest to understand. Often times His disciples asked Him to clarify His teachings for them (Lk. 8:9; Jn. 14:5). In one instance, however, we see a problem that still exists even today: They were afraid to ask the questions that plagued their minds. Look at Luke 9:44-45:
““Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this statement, and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask Him about this statement.” (NASB95, Emphasis mine)
How many times have you sat silently in a Bible class, too afraid to ask the questions rolling around in your brain? Perhaps you think that you are the only one with questions, or that your questions are not important enough to ask. When you feel this way, remember:

  • Bible Classes are for You:
    Your understanding of God’s Word is the point of the class. Bible classes are first and foremost designed for YOU, the student, listener, and studier. Bible classes are intended to teach YOU the Bible. Questions are a natural part of learning. Whether the question is simple or complex, it is what you need answered to learn the Word of God effectively. Ask your questions, because your understanding of God’s Word is the point of the class!
  • Questions Help Your Teacher:
    As a teacher, it helps me know what my class needs when they ask questions. Does my class know who Abraham is? Do they understand why the Law of Moses doesn’t change the practices of the church today? Do they understand what John means when he says, “whoever believes in Him shall…have eternal life”? If a hand is raised in class and a question is asked, it helps me teach exactly what needs to be learned. Questions help your teacher. 
  • Questions Encourage Your Brethren:
    Often times the questions you have are questions someone else also has. When you ask your questions, you may be helping someone else without even knowing it. Even if they don’t have the same question, they may be more courageous to ask a question on their mind because of you. Asking questions is an excellent way to encourage your brethren. 

Sometimes we get this picture in our minds of the church as people who already know everything. There is no greater lie than that. The church is full of people who all have questions, and a congregation who asks questions is a congregation who grows in Christ. Let’s ask questions, study God’s Word together to answer them, and be filled with the fruit of righteousness as we find and apply the answers to our lives.
"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." -Philippians 1:9–11 (NASB95)