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Chameleon Evangelism

For though I am free from ALL, I have made myself a servant to ALL, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become ALL things to ALL people, that by ALL means I might save some. I do it ALL for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings  – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (emphasis my own)

In 1 Cor. 9, Paul tells the church that he is bound only to God, that Paul is releasing his rights. He then goes on to tell the church that while he is free he subjects himself to the requirements of sharing the Gospel. It is in the sharing of the Gospel that Paul find reward, not in financial security or his own desires. Although Paul does tell the church in v. 14 that is only right that one should be supported financially by the proclamation of the Gospel, but that is for another time I think.

Paul’s desire to share the Gospel is universal. Repeatedly Paul uses the term “all.” He is not beholden to anyone save God, but he voluntarily subjects himself to the strictures of communities for the sake of the Gospel. He becomes a part of the community to which he is speaking. He gets inside a people group and understands  them and is then understood in turn.

What does this mean for us? I was once taught a maxim, “all means all, that is all; all means.” Paul tells us to “be all to all, so some will believe.” Paul’s statement about the Law is telling, his understanding was binary. You were either a person under the Law (Jew), or a person not under the Law (Gentile). It is an enormous leap of love and commitment to make the statement in 1 Cor. 9 for Paul, and honestly a great exemplar for us. Christ told us that Love is the greatest commandment, and it seems we miss this mark often.

It is easy to say we love another, that we are unconditionally committed to them, it it quite difficult to actually demonstrate that love without condition. We, the Church, looks as sinners with disdain. They are the unforgiven, and we pay them at best lip service. Jesus would have been there with them, showing them His love. Yet, we don’t do this. Instead we tell each other what good believers we are, we turn Church into a social club that is locked from the inside.

I propose that to follow Paul and Jesus we need to heal from the inside out and open the doors of the Church both physically and personally to the lost. We need to welcome the lost into our midst, but more importantly we need to go into theirs and be a light.

Be All, to All, so that Some will come to believe.

Until next time…Fight the Good Fight…Fairly

T.

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Posted by on March 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

What has love got to do with it?

John 13:31-35:

31 When therefore he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; 32 if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately. 33 “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You shall seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, I now say to you also, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NASB

    

I would like to go a bit further. Unfortunately, at least linguistically, English is semantically complex as most languages go. That is to say that it is often difficult to articulate precisely what one intends to express with it. The term “love” offers some illustration in this regard. In this case the root in Greek is agapao, what we refer to as agape or God’s love. Often this “love” has as its intent moral obligation. Jesus calls his disciples “little children,” it seems that He is expressing an acceptance of them in adoption; they are literally members of the family of God.

Vs. 34 then lays out the new commandment, shortly put: Love others as I would, and care for one another as I have. It is by these actions that everyone will know that you belong to me. This is not longer Jesus the teacher, but Jesus the King telling his “court” how they will be identified. Jesus makes this statement at this time and not earlier for at least two essential reasons. First, he doesn’t make this statement until after Judas Iscariot is gone. Judas could not hear these words for at least two reasons that I can think of immediately. Jesus does not want to deepen Judas’ moral quandary and possibly not be crucified. Also, while Judas was an intimate, this overt language could tip off the Jewish and Roman authorities that killing Jesus will not solve their problem. I am certain that Judas and the authorities know there will be some fall out, but the surest way to silence a movement is to remove the head. Secondly, when the statement is made it made to a room full of disciples who know that Jesus is not just another great teacher. Most if not all have a deep surety that he is the Messiah and what they have seen tells them that he is also most likely God. If Jesus had not lived out the statement before them, it would have less force.

What the disciples had seen at this point was the King of all Heaven, the greatest monarch that could possibly be conceived, love without reservation. They had seen the destruction of his righteous indignation and his deep and tender caring. They had seen God walk amongst the sick, the wounded, and the very refuse of humanity. They had seen Jesus break the barriers of hallakah, the 614 Jewish oral laws that protected one from violating Torah. They had seen God model right moral obligation for them.

What are we to make of this? It is simple. God is our King, as such we must serve Him, and we are physically and morally obligated to do so. In so serving we are identified as one of His. This tabard offers the protection of heaven but also invites with vigor the rejection of those in opposition to our King. What Jesus told the disciples and through extension past, present and future believers is that simply that we most love without reservation. We must do so recklessly with little regard to the earthly consequences; even if it means our life. It is this love that marks us. It is for this reason that we go out and tell people about Jesus. It is for this reason that people lose their lives for the “great work” of the Gospel.

Love has everything to do with it. We love the unlovable, and touch the untouchables. We go where the hurting is, and we raise those who have fallen. We are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and give drink to the thirsty. We, the followers of Christ, may be the only Christ that some will ever know. It is what Jesus would do. The “Christian” life is not easy, and often it is downright uncomfortable, but the rewards both earth and heaven bound, are more than worth the pain.

 

Until next time, Fight the good fight, fairly.

Ty

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by: Joan Chittister

This book function exactly as one would expect it to. It is a great addition to the Ancient Practices series. The book begins on the first Sunday of Advent and concludes the following November, the purpose is to help one become more attuned to a life in and through Jesus Christ. This book along with daily Scripture study does exactly that.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Book Review: The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

This book acts as a sort of sequel to the Traveler’s Gift. Dave Ponder is back, and Andy Andrews trademark combination of riveting narrative and stunning history intertwine to tell this story. Humanity has a singular chance to save itself after centuries of debauchery, and it is contained in a single principle; which can be expressed by just two words. Will Ponder and many of history’s greatest minds solve the riddle in time? You will have to read to find out, I highly recommend it.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Spirits among us: Spiritualism and culture

Recently I have been reading a great deal about Spiritualism. This is not new, spirit based religions have been around since times immemorial. What is interesting though is the focus of ghost hunting. The ferreting out and containment of ghosts is also not something new, but usually it is to stay away from them, not to see what they know.

There are examples of such behavior in history, but usually ghost/spirits are not nice to meet. At the very least many people have done all they could to not meet them. It is likely that the first well know spirit medium was the oracle at Delphi. She set a precedent, and it follows today. In our modern culture we see a variety of mediums, in fact it is difficult to go anywhere and not see signs for Palmistry, Psychic Readings, Séances and other spiritually driven activities.

The Fox Sisters, Kate and Maggie, really brought this idea to American culture, and arguably launched modern Spiritualism. They would later debunk the faith they had started and die in poverty. Harry Houdini, Erich Weiss, at the loss of his mother turned to Spiritualism for comfort and found it unfulfilling and deemed it nothing more than badly executed legerdemain. He would become one of the most visible and vocal of Spiritualism’s opponents. The Davenport brothers, famous cabinet mediums, were shown to be nothing more than good magicians putting on a show. This does not discount the source behind the illusions.

Our modern culture has seen and continues to see great influence of Spiritualism; Jonathan Edwards, Sylvia Browne, Ms. Cleo and the Psychic Readers Network, to name a few. It is in our popular culture there are shows about supernatural/spiritual occurrences: Medium, Ghost Whisperer, Ghost Hunters, etc. This idea has been embedded in our culture, and perhaps is hard coded in our psyche. We wonder about the unknown, the hereafter. There is even a town called Lily Dale in New York, which is a haven for Modern Spiritualists, as well as the alleged childhood home of the Fox Sisters.

One of the more amusing interpretations of psychic phenomenon is the USA show Psych, in which the main character is openly debunking, at least for the audience, psychic phenomenon. In much the same way Simon Baker’s character in the Mentalist does the same thing, in fact that character is hard baked against anything that appears to be supra-natural. He in one case goes about outing a psychic by destroying his information network, so the psychic cannot “read” his clients.

There are answers in the hereafter, but the ghosts do not have them. Those who have gone before cannot communicate with us, the living. God has the answers, and has given them freely. We need not fear or consult with spirits, the Bible tells us we should not and that it is wrong. I will admit, at times it makes amusing television, and I am not talking about the serial shows like Psych and the Mentalist. I am rather referring to things like T.A.P.S. and their show Ghost Hunters and its spin-offs. In many cases, those same hunter discover a very mundane source for the “haunting.” In the other cases, like all ghost hunters, they see what they want to. They bring their supposition and superimpose them on the situations. In short, people see ghosts not because they are there, but rather because they want to, even if such desire is subconscious. There are no ghosts to be hunted. They can tell us nothing, because that which does not exist cannot have an opinion. What are perceived as “ghosts” are some manifestation of one’s own subconscious.

There are certainly spirits and a supernatural realm, but these are not things that we interact with regularly, and certainly should not be brought to a level of worship. This is the state of culture, and it is disturbing. We chase what we desire to have. In opposition to organized religion the soul still longs for the supernatural, for answers beyond our kin. If we dispose of God and the Bible, and the instructions contained within, we are left bankrupt and destitute. We have nothing, and something other fills that void.

Fight the good fight….Fairly

T.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2011 in Things about God, Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: Hole in the Gospel

Richard Stearns’ “Hole in the Gospel” is a must read for every Christian. We here in America are vastly blessed. Most of us have no idea what life is like in another country. This book tells it like it is.
Many Christians sponsor a child or a whole village, and believe this is enough. Jesus however told us to go into all the world and make disciples. Mr. Stearns did just this. This book tells the actual story of global poverty, it pull no punches.
He does this by telling the stories of the actual people for whom poverty is deeper than just sleeping in a shelter or standing in line at a soup kitchen. The reality of the global poverty is a lack of clean water and food for days at a time. Here in America it is rare that anyone would know such destitution, but not elsewhere in the world.
I cannot begin to describe the stories that are recounted, but I can tell you that everyone should read this book. It is not deeply theological, but it is the utter truth as far as I can tell.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Review: Radical: Reclaiming your Faith from the American Dream

Radical is a great title for this book. In it David Platt challenges a larger variety of our preconceived notion about Christianity. The most radical of them all is the much needed reminder that following Christ is hard, the world will hate us and we will not be popular. This was certainly the case with the early disciples, how can we expect anything less. They gave up everything to follow Christ. We should do the same.

I wholeheartedly believe this, it is a hard truth though. We are so settled in our ways, and it is difficult to change. I will admit that some of what Platt posits sounds a bit like overkill, however perhaps he is correct. The fact is if truth were easy to accept and digest, then everyone would already know it.

This is a much needed tome in the church today, even it if does seem to go a bit too far. I recommended it to many of my friends and acquaintances in the church.

This book provided by the christianaudio Reviewers Program (Christianaudio.com)

 
 
 
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