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Archive for the ‘witnesses’ Category

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.
– Acts 1:8 (NIV)

Jesus shared that the Holy Spirit would come and empower His followers.  He pointed out that His disciples would serve as witnesses of Him all over, even “to the ends of the earth.”

He spoke of specific places where they would witness, but He also shared of how the message would transcend their locale “to the ends of the earth.” Their witness was so powerful that others caught on fire with the Good News and took hold of it.  They shared the gospel message and it spread throughout the world as God’s people were dispersed under persecution.

You should be a witness of God’s gospel of grace and forgiveness.  Let your testimony speak of God’s lovingkindess towards all men.  Let your witness spread throughout the world.  Speak of God’s goodness and grace by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Speak of it and spread it “to the ends of the earth.”

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“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman (Christian clergyman, author, and activist)

Analyze where the Christian church stands today.  Take an honest look at the standing of one of the most treasured institutions of society.  Make an earnest appraisal of the modern church.  See where the church stands today.

For far too long, in the eyes of many, the church has remained in isolation.  In the opinion of some, the church has appeared inactive, almost docile, dormant and dulled, if not deadened.  Others have said that the church has simply dwindled into a state of sheer ineffectiveness.

George Barna has studied and evaluated the church for years.  Henry Blackaby has shared some insights and findings as well.  John Maxwell has offered multiple volumes on Christian leadership.  Rick Warren weighed in with The Purpose Driven Church.  There is no shortage of Christian perspectives of what the church is not and where the church has fallen short.

Don’t disregard the Reformation or the Great Awakening.  Don’t toss aside the Progressives or the Abolitionists.  Do not forsake the social activism of Prohibition and the Salvation Army, YMCA, and YWCA.  Don’t forget how Christians fought Darwinism and the teaching of evolutionism in the U.S. school system.  Forget not Azusa Street and the likes of Oral Roberts or Billy Graham.  Do not frown upon the church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war protests, and the pro-life debates.  Consider all of the church’s storied past.

Recall that the church has been called to be more than a building.  The church has a calling as the body of Christ.  Look at Luis Palau, Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship, and the countless missionaries and ministries that exist today.  See how many are fed, clothed, sheltered and ministered to through street ministries and storefronts alike.  See the church playing an active role in society.

Do not grapple with public opinion.  Do not spend hour upon hour debating with the church’s critics.  Stand proudly and boldly to be counted among the many who diligently serve the Lord by doing all that they can with what little they have for “the least of these.”



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 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. – Matthew 28:19-20 (KJV)

The Great Commission gives us the disciple-making formula.  We have been referencing it for years.  We have used it for our mantra in evangelizing the entire world, putting much of our focus on the going and baptizing with regards to all nations and unto the end of the world. 

What about the teaching part?

. . . and teach all nations. . .
. . . Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . .

Our discipleship process should make a difference.  It should make a difference in the people who are discipled by us.  It should make a difference in them as they become fishers of men.  It should make a difference in them to the point where they make a difference in the world around them.  We, as the body of Christ, are to develop difference makers.

Get ideas and insights on how to develop difference makers:
We need today’s Christian to be able to sort through the muck and the mire.  We need Christians who will know what is truth and what is false, calling out the false prophets and standing for the truth.  We need Christians who are not blinded by the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, MTV and other fantasies.  We need people who will stand upright as the world goes astray, working in this ministry of reconciliation.  We need Christians to serve as Christ’s army.
Read the likes of J.C. Ryle, Francis Chan, Oswald Chambers, Watchman Nee, William Wilberforce, and William Carey.  Try to get a hold of the works of Hudson Taylor, Richard Allen, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Al Sharpton.  Look into men like William Tyndale, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and John Bunyan.  Let the words of these men sink into your heart, mind and soul.  See how they made a difference.  See how others taught and trained them.  See how you can develop others to make a difference.

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D. L. Moody: The Greatest Evangelist of the Nineteenth Century
“If we are all Christians, we shall all be missionaries.”- D.L. Moody

Missionaries are on a mission.  They go out and about, spreading the gospel and good works.  Some teach English in foreign lands while teaching the Bible.  Others conduct special projects through urban ministry.  Missionaries do the will of God by doing the works that God called them to do among those who believe and others who are in unbelief.  They serve the Lord by serving people.

www.urbanministry.org
http://www.outreach.com/
www.paisproject.com

Share your spiritual gifts and spread the gospel.

International Bulletin of Missionary ResearchThe Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of FaithThe Autobiography of A MissionaryWorks of Love Are Works of Peace: Mother Teresa and the Missionaraies of CharityChristians and Missionaries in India: Cross-Cultural Communication Since 1500William Carey: Obliged to Go (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)

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good shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.- John 10:11 (NCV)

Lost people need help finding their way.  They end in the wrong places because they don’t know how to find their own way.  They need someone who can help them find their way step by step and day by day.

The Good Shepherd helps the lost find their way.  He comforts them like no one else can.  He lays down His life for the sheep within His flock.  The sheep recognize His voice.  The lost sheep are in dire need of the Good Shepherd.  He offers the sheep more than any other shepherd ever can.

Lost people need help finding their way through life.  Lost people need help finding their way in church and Christian social circles.  Lost people need help finding their way to Jesus.  Once they find Jesus, lost people will have the Good Shepherd present, protecting and providing for them all the way.

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and my sheep know me,15 just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.– John 10:14-16 (NCV)

 

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In the beginning God created…Genesis 1:1

God is active.  He’s always doing something.  Even from the very beginning, God was actively engaged in creating.  The mental picture that is set forth in this phrase has our minds seeking to formulate the pre-creation thoughts of One whose thoughts and ways are far above our own.  We cannot fathom it at all.

Henry Morris writes: “The work of creation, however, is uniquely a work of God.” We must not lose sight of that theological fact.  God is the Creator.  All things were made by Him and for Him.  In fact, John writes that nothing was made without Him.  The triune God was at work from the beginning.

The word used for God’s handiwork of creation is “bara,” “used always only of the work of God.” When we look at the majestic and mighty work of God through creation was marvel at how God set things in order from the very beginning.  Thus, if He is not the author of confusion, He is an orderly God.  Even in Creation, He keeps things in order.

Look out today at His power to create waves that cease at invisible walls to create tides that subside upon soft sands of beaches.  Witness how He created trees to reach astronomical heights but still not reach the very outer edge of the heavenly realm.  See how His creation lives and breathes in harmony, whether it be the animal kingdom or the plant kingdom.

He created.  He created from the beginning.  He created by His own power.  God is a creative force as the Creator.

*From Eden to Egypt is a series for Life Path Ministries by Rev. Bruce Jackson that chronicles a daily study and reading of the Book of Genesis and The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris.

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“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What we discover when we read this quote from Bonhoeffer is horrific and even terrifying when we think of Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom and other accounts of the terrors of the Holocaust.  As a minister and pastor in WWII Germany, Bonhoeffer probably watched on as other demographic groups were isolated as threats to the regime within the Fatherland.  However, by his own admission, he ignored much until the day came when they came for him and his comrades.

Advocacy is about being a voice for those who have no voice of their own.  Think of how you may be able to address the needs of children and the disabled.  How about the elderly and immigrants? You may not agree with everyone’s values and ideals, but you do have to agree that there are some certain civil and human rights that we should ensure that people have as a matter of human decency.

Where is your voice? Who have you spoken up for?  for whom have you stood up and spoken out on principle?  Where is your voice?

“We often expect more from others than we are willing to do ourselves.”- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.- Galatians 3:28 (NLT)
There are some who consider their congregations “open,” but their reality is something entirely different.  However, some of the churches that come out of a background of putting the protest in Protestant find it difficult to include all others when those others support gay marriage, abortion or legalized marijuana.  These churches are open in the name of Jesus, but they must remain mindful to stick to the way of Jesus.

I used to live near a Methodist church that prominently posted this slogan on its marquee and advertisements.   Open Hearts… Open Minds… Open Doors… Open what? I keep wondering just how “open” they are.  Are there doors more open than their hearts and minds? I should hope not, seeing as how I know some well-meaning Methodists and Wesleyans.

Our churches need to intensify their inclusion.  America has its first African-American president in Barak Obama.  Now, as we go forward in faith, let us open up and crank up our inclusion of others. 

Let us become:

  • More Intense with Inclusion
  • More Intentional with Inclusion
  • More Inclusive with Inclusion

Does your church invest in supporting underserved community members with necessary programs? Is your church campus a safe haven for at-risk youth and abused women and their families? Can those in recovery walk into your church without the shadow of shame? Can those returning from prison and jail enter your congregation without being judged and condemned all over again?

I love the story of Rick Warren and Saddleback Church’s origin as told in the Purpose Driven Church.  Warren shares that the ministries at Saddleback were developed based upon the needs of the people who came to the church.  He developed ministries that helped meeting the needs of people who came to them and who lived around them. 

As you help others get better and to live differently, they become the spokespeople for what is possible within your church.  Ex-addicts go back and share the Word with other addicts who struggle with addiction.  Former gang members and drug dealers spread the word on the streets of what your church has done for them since they met Jesus at your church’s altar.  Your job? Keep intensifying your inclusion.  Touch lives like never before.  Make a difference in the lives of people who attend your worship services and who live around and near your church.  Remain open to innovative and inventive ways to invite and include people to be part of the family since we are all one in Christ Jesus.

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Since meeting Jesus:

  • Who have you brought to Him?
  • To whom have you brought Him?

It makes sense. If you have a relationship with someone and you think someone else should meet that peron, you arrange a way for the two to meet and get together. Levi held a party for his fellow tax collectors and others after leaving his tax collection table to follow Jesus. Zacchaeus hosted Jesus as well. Andrew took Peter to meet Jesus after John the Baptist showed Andrew and the disciple whom the Lord loved the Lamb of God- Jesus Christ of Nazareth. People introduce other people to Jesus. That’s how it happens.

As believers, we are to bring people to Christ and bring Christ to people. We take the Word out into the world. We bring the world face to face with its issues as we bring people into a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and the message of God’s Good News.

The believer is seeking out open opportunities to lead people to Christ daily. The believer’s chief concern is not to get people to the church for mid-morning service on Sunday. The chief concern for the believer is to take God’s Word to people who need a personal introduction to Jesus Christ.

Read Matthew 5:16; 16:24; John 1:29-46; Luke 19:1-10

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And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. -John 1:14 (NKJV)

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He is Immanuel (Emmanuel), called “God [is] with us.” Imagine the majestic and masterful presence of God being in our midst. John writes that He came to His own and His own did not receive Him (John 1:11).

What we discover is that the Word is beyond the beginning. The Word serves as a model for us and our living, a guide for our actions and interactions on this earth with an eternal outlook. He became flesh to provide us an example and provide the sacrifice necessary for our salvation. As the Word, He speaks life and truth to all who believe in Him. He lives as the Logos and the rhema; He is the Word as well as its utterance that speaks life.

He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. – John 1:11 (NKJV)
Warn those who do not understand who He is to this world. Help others to learn more about Him. Live as an example to others as Jesus lived as an example among His own people. Make a difference by becoming and being different.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.- Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)

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