Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Can you hear the stars speaking?

Here's an excerpt from my journal today after reading Matthew 2:1-12 (The Visit of the Magi):

Amazing! Some of the first people to find Jesus and worship Him were scientists! The magi, according to a footnote in my Bible, were "a caste of wise men specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science." They saw the star of the King of the Jews and followed it. Scientists today look for the origin of the universe through the stars. The magi found the Origin of the Universe through observing the stars. I'm stunned by the thought that when God made the stars, He knew even then that their rotations would be synced to His divine, redemptive plan. Genesis 1:14 says He made the stars, sun, and moon to "be for signs and seasons and for days and years."

A theologian once said there are two ways to magnify something: like a microscope or a telescope. A microscope takes something that is small and magnifies it to make it look bigger than it really is. A telescope takes something incredibly big and brings it into a closer view. Christians should magnify God like a telescope with their lives. We should allow others to see Christ in us and bring him into a closer view.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Thanks Tony

God is awesome. In my last post, I mentioned struggles w/ sharing my faith. God plopped an opportunity right in my lap yesterday.

I was at Six Flags for Father's Day with a friend of mine. We were in line for the Shockwave (double-loop, classic roller-coaster). Just as I was about to get on, I heard someone behind me say, "Excuse me, sir." I turned around, and a guy said, "I saw you have a shirt that says you believe in Jesus." I did have a Christian t-shirt on...remarkably, I only have one of these, and I don't wear it very often. Anyhow, he then shot straight with me and asked, "Why do you believe in Jesus?" I was literally getting on the ride when all this transpired, and I did not want to give him a trite answer. I responded with, "I'd love to tell you why. Would you like to talk about it after you get off the ride?" He agreed, so we got on the ride. It actually worked out well, because it gave me a little time to organize my thoughts to respond to his question.

We waited at the bottom of the steps for him. When he came down, I shared with him why I believe in Jesus. Here's a brief synopsis of what I told him:

First, I believe in Jesus because I believe in God. By believing in God, I realize that I am a sinful person and I've broken God's laws. Even on my best days, I've broken His laws. If I just look at the ten commandments, I immediately see that I have broken his commandments agains lying, stealing, and putting him first in my life. God says that the punishment for breaking even one of his laws once is death and eternity in hell. Therefore, I am hopelessly destined for punishment because of my sin. The great thing about God is that he provides a way for my sin to be forgiven and for relationship with him to be restored. John 3:16 tells us that God loved us so much that he gave his son, Jesus, that whoever believes in him will not receive God's just punishment but will instead receive eternal life, and John 17:3 says that eternal life is knowing God, which denotes a relationship. God requires a perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty of my sin, and Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, and died as the sacrifice for my sin...and yours too. I need a savior, and Jesus is the only one who can save me. That's why I believe in Jesus.
He responded with a couple more questions, but as we talked I sensed that I was talking with another believer who was just testing me, and I was right. He was recently licensed and ordained for prison ministry. He said, "The bible tells us to always be ready to give a reason for the hope we have in Jesus, so I just wanted to make sure you were ready. You did a great job. God bless you."

I know he will probably never read this blog or see me again, but THANKS TONY for being obedient to God and challenging me. It was just what I needed... an opportunity to share my faith and "get back in the saddle" of evangelism.

So, how would you answer the question if someone asked you? By the way, rarely will you get this question point blank from a non-Christian. You must initiate conversation and find opportunities to be a witness.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Life's Ponderings

Life sometimes races at warp speed these days. I'm taking a Christian Ethics class, and it's really more philosophy than anything else. We're reading Aristotle, Aquinas, Kierkegaard, etc. The class is quite boring at times...if my mind wanders for a minute, I'm lost for about 20 minutes. Anyhow, I guess it's got me into a reflective mindset lately.

I've been wrestling lately with the complete inadequacy of me. I know that may sound hard to believe, but it's really been pounding me lately. I feel like God may be calling us to plant a church, but I look at the qualities and disciplines often associated with successful church planting, and I come up bankrupt. I don't have an entrepreneurial mindset like most church planters...ambitious go-getters who love to start things from scratch. My personal evangelism is non-existent...an important need if you're starting a church in an unchurched area. I really struggle with consistent times of prayer and bible study...essential in staying fresh and focused on the mission field.

I'm 0 for 3 on the Big 3. It makes me question if God's really calling us to church planting at times. It seems like all I'm hanging onto at times is the notion that God's calling us to do it. Wait a minute! Isn't that the trump card? If I truly feel God has called us to this endeavor, then I must trust that he will equip us to be successful.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Sometimes I feel like the "chief among sinners", but I was recently encouraged by the reason Paul gave for God's mercy in his life through Jesus Christ. Paul said it was so Christ could display his "unlimited patience" (1 Timothy 1:12-17). I need that!

Jesus, I'm walking in Your grace and unlimited patience. Forgive me for ignoring you and being disobedient in my testimony of you to others. I have not arrived yet, and I can't change myself. Holy Spirit, please change me. I submit to You. Grant me discipline to talk with you and meditate on your word daily. Give me boldness and a desire to invite others to embrace You as their King.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You."

Psalm 51:10-13