Tell them about Jesus

The name dropper

I have a friend that is a major league bragger! He makes sure you know he’s well-connected! He’ll send me pictures of him with politicians, council members, lawyers, and anyone that is a decision maker of any kind. Now, don’t get me wrong. He’s a really good man. He’s reliable, always willing to help and obviously a good person to know. He’ll call me out of the blue and ask me how I’m doing and where I am and who I’m with. I know that what he really wants me to do is ask him how he’s doing, where he is and who he’s with. He’ll casually tell me that he’s at some big-wig meeting somewhere getting paid overtime to hobnob with the upper echelon of his organization.

Now I know he means well. But I also know that it’s also part of who he is. Being a “modest bragger” is a part of his culture. He’ll talk himself up but then immediately after he’ll tell you something like “yeah, well I’m sure you could do the same in my situation”, knowing fully well that someone else may not be able to. I’ll remind him once in a while that he doesn’t need to keep this up with me and that we go way back and he doesn’t need to constantly validate himself to me. He’ll immediately answer me back and say “well if I don’t brag, who will do it for me?”. I always find his answer very interesting: it’s immediate and the same every time.

The name deniers

How about us as Christians: do we brag to our friends of our connections, of our inside scoop, our Friend in High Places? When was the last time you confidently and humbly told someone “I am a friend of God, He calls me Friend!” What brag could be more truthful, more worthy of boast, more favorable, more reliable than having the Creator of the Universe calling you “friend”? Do we go around looking for an opportunity to share with friends about our most recent encounter with God and how He did something amazing in our lives and how we’ve seen Him move.

Do your friends and relatives know that you have a Friend that sticks closer than a brother, a Strong Tower in times of trouble, an ever present Help in time of need? I can’t wait for God to complete a work in my friend’s life! He will be a major league evangelist and preacher and worker in the fields. If this is how he brags about the humans he knows, imagine what God can do with him?

Inventory time

What about us? What has God been able to do with us lately? Have you called a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time and shared how God brought you through a difficult time? Have you called your unsaved loved ones and had the need to tell them of God’s Grace in your life? When your children are complemented by teachers and parents alike, do you take credit or do you forward it immediately to where credit is due? Have people ever seen you praying with your children before they enter the school building? How about blasting Christian Music in your car rather than the worldly songs? Have you ever stood on a street corner sharing tracks with a smile on your face and a song in your heart?

Live it

People need to not only hear that you have a friend in Jesus, but they need to want what you have! If we’re walking around down, defeated, depressed, drowsy, droopy, disheveled, no one is going to want anything to do with our Jesus! They’ll say “If I believe in your Jesus, I can look forward to being like you? No thanks, I’m good!” We need to live His Grace daily! We need to be going around singing and smiling and praising God! If someone asks you how you’re doing, don’t necessarily tell them where you are: “oh I’m having a rough day, week, month, year!”. Tell them what you are: “I’m blessed and highly favored!”, “God is good, I’m better than I deserve”. The Bible says “let them see you…and they’ll glorify your Father in Heaven”. 

More abundantly

God has put us here to be a light. We’re to be a sign post, a compass, a guide. A road map always pointing to His Son. No matter what storm of life you’re going through your attitude should be, “I am blessed beyond all measure!”. We are called to be the “salt of the Earth”. We’re here to give the place some flavor! We are also not called to be “cookie cutter” Christians.

God has created us all different because each of us has a different ministry: some of us are weird, nerdy, quirky, introverts: those brethren speak to people like them. Others are loud, jocks, Prom Kings and Queens. They are called to witness to people like them; still others are debaters and philosophers and thinkers. Regardless of how you are, God has made you special to reach people not in spite of how you are, but because of how you are! 

As friends of the King, we have a responsibility to be ambassadors for the Kingdom. Earthly ambassadors go out of their way to shine a good light on their nation. Even when something is plainly wrong for all to see. They call it “saving face”. As citizens of Heaven, we have an advantage: our homeland has no down side! How much easier is our task than that of earthly ambassadors?! How can anyone speak ill of something with no down side? It’s like speaking ill of water!

Yet, people are always looking at what you’re doing. Notice how no one is looking to see if someone is a good Muslim, a good Hindu, a good Buddhist; no, everyone has their critical eye turned towards the followers of Christ. They are ready, willing and able to cast doubt, blame, ridicule. The Bible says that we are to expect it. If they did it to Jesus, how much more will it be done to us? 

Show them

But being friends of the King is a privilege, being ambassadors for Christ is an honor. We must muster ourselves up to not merely act the part, but live it. A friend of mine was always fond of saying “Life is an interview: dress accordingly”. The Bible teaches us that we should be “living Epistles, easily read of all men”. As Christians we should carry ourselves in a manner that is befitting of our citizenship (Heaven). Our bloodline is Holy (children of the Most High). Our position (Royal Priesthood) is regal, and our destiny (co-heir with Christ) is beyond compare. 

When you start living according to who God created you to be and not what the devil and the world want you to believe, you will see amazing things happen in your life. Blessings you weren’t expecting, favor you don’t understand, influence you can’t explain. You were made for so much more!  As C.S. Lewis would say, more than a “mere Christian”. You are an overcoming, a chain-breaking, a legacy-changing, marriage-restoring, blood-bought saint of the Living God and no weapon formed against you shall prosper! We need to live this Christianity out loud with boldness and in love! 

Out of season

I remember a long time ago when I was just about 20. I was working at a branch of an overseas Italian Bank in the City. It took me a few days but I got a good sense of people. I have to admit. I read people very well. A week in and I started feeling very comfortable around them. As always, I smile a lot, laugh, tell jokes, do my work and go home.

I didn’t advertise the fact that I was a Christian. About a month or so in, I was having a conversation with a colleague and the subject came around to religion. Since we were both Italian she assumed I was Catholic. I politely responded and said in a very mousy voice, in Italian, “no, sono evangelista”, which means “I’m evangelical”. I will never forget her response. She took a breath and with a very long “o” sound at first she said “that’s what’s different about you?!?”

She was shell-shocked and relieved at the same time. Later, she shared that she had finally figured out what the vibe was she was. She told me that “I knew you were different and weird, but in a good way.” Imagine. She figured out that I was “different and weird” under all my sin and worldly living. How much more would she have been able to see if I had been living righteously? She saw, felt, she sensed God’s anointing.

Seemingly aware of His Presence in my life even when I was doing my best to hide it! She was able to read my “epistle” covered under all that gunk and soot and sin. But the Bible teaches us that we are Royal Priesthood, a peculiar people: we can’t hide who we are any more than a leopard can lose its spots or a camel hide its humps! We are created to shine. To stand out. We were anointed to plant in every field and saved to harvest wherever possible! 

In season

We are here to point people to Jesus; show them that there is a Hope, not just “beyond the clouds” but one that is real and practical and tangible, able to help in their everyday lives. We have to show them that there IS something about us, about our lives, in us, in our lives, that gives us an above-human strength to get up every morning and face life with a smile, a sincere smile and face life without fear, confident that life is good because God is good! People need to see us and want what we have! The Bible teaches us that in the “presence of God there is fullness of Joy”.

People need to see in us that our old nature, our sadness, our faults, our sins, our depression, our lack, our struggles were already paid for in full on the Cross: sadness does come, but doesn’t have our permission to stay: lack may come but it’s just a pit stop, it’s not the road God has for us; our old nature fights for a “comeback tour” but we don’t have to buy tickets to any of the stops; our seasons of depression is a surprise only to us, not God! So, as the Apostle Paul teaches us, in ALL things, give thanks to God, knowing fully well that is is more than Ready, more than Willing, more than Able, to do abundantly more than we could ever expect, imagine, or, most of all, deserve!

People need to see that our connection, our Friend, our “Only Phone Call”, our first Resume Reference is God the Almighty through His Son Jesus Christ. When people say it’s impossible for us to get that promotion, we need to be able to say with boldness “Once God makes up His mind, it’s a done deal!” If they tell us we’ll never get that loan, we say “No worries, the Owner of all things is a friend of mine!” Whenever they tell us you’ll never get into that college, we answer “I’ll ask the Head Recruiter and see what He says!”.

And around again

Rain, shine, hail, drizzle, blizzard, earthquake, drought, flood: whatever circumstances we may have around us, we rise above them through our Lord Jesus Christ. And people will be able to see this best, not in our triumphs, but in our defeats! It’s easy to be a “Fair-weather Christian” all is well so God is good. You need to turn that around: God is Good so all is well. If He leaves you out in the rain longer than expected or the job situation takes you beyond the unemployment checks. When the illness needs an extra round or treatment, the marriage counseling needs more time. If the kids are wondering off: will we still be faithful and say “All is well” believing that God is in control of everything.

He has our very best in mind for us: will they see you preaching and praising then? When it counts? Even when it hurts? How about when it’s hard? What if you can’t find the words, will you praise Him then? Will you say like Job, with a sincere heart, “Thou He slay me, yet will I trust Him!”. When it’s pitch black, will you trust that a new day has begun even though you can’t see the sun? Will you walk in victory in spite of the circumstances shouting out defeat?

No posing, please

You see, people have had their fill of “Fair Weather Christians”, but deep down inside of them God has put this yearning to want to hope for something better; they know that despite all our faults and all our mistakes along the way, Jesus is still the only answer to the void they feel inside, they just want to see it done, they want to see what it looks like!

They want to see that it’s real. Believe me when I tell you, when they question things in their lives, they think of you. When they come across a moral dilemma, they think of you; when they encounter a new challenge, they think of you. “What would Billy do in this situation; what would Jane say in this situation”? We are called to let our “light shine before Men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in Heaven”.

Tell them

Our light is not our own. It was bought at a price. A price we could not pay for a debt He did not owe. God is asking us: what will we do with that light, what will we do about His Son? Will we hide like I did for far too long? Hopefully, we will stand and be counted. Counted like Joshua, Caleb, Stephen, John, and Daniel. There isn’t a whole in Creation deep enough from which God cannot rescue and to which His Light cannot reach. People want to, need to see us boast in the Lord. Tell your friends, family, your neighbors, and coworkers, “My God is Able”. These souls need you to tell them. Tell them your smile, sunny disposition, faith, Peace, demeanor, your surrender, and your reasonableness, are not yours. They were bought at a price.

They need to know the Scandal of Grace. Grace is freely given. Since it was freely given then freely you received it. Therefore, freely you share it with them. Tell them there’s nothing they can do and nothing they have to do to earn it. Tell them that they too can claim their right to be called Sons and Daughters of the Most High, Heirs and coheirs with Christ, tell them they no longer have to live under the circumstances but they can live above the circumstances. They need us to tell them that God is always Good and God is Just even if life isn’t fair. Tell them they too can be Friends of the King! God loves them just the way they are.

From the mountaintops

They’re precious to Him. Tell them that. Tell them Jesus died for their sins. Why? So they can finally be at peace with God. Tell them to come just as they are, scars and all; to speak this simple Truth: “I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead”. Tell them that this simple Truth, this only Truth, has set them free! Free from who they were. From who they thought they needed to be. They are free from who they were told to be. Who they wanted to be. Freedom from who they thought they wanted to be. Tell them that now their life starts anew! They are renewed, redeemed and restored! They are reborn. Indeed, born again! If you receive this, let it be done as you have said, in Jesus’s name, Amen!

Who do the people say that I am?

Who do you say you are?

I have a friend whom I’ve known for a long time. After high school, he went into the Army and after that went straight into the Police Academy. He is the epitome of a soldier: happy and cheerful while off-duty but serious and orderly on-duty. He might as well walk around with a sticker on his forehead that says, “I am a cop”.

Whenever we would go out to the movie theaters or bars or diners, we would inevitably strike up conversations with total strangers. We would get to talking and people would ask questions to get to know us better and have a better sense of who we were. One of the questions would always be “what are you?”. Now, in our neck of the woods, that question was always in reference to ethnicity or nationality. His answer, however, would always upset me because I knew where it would inevitably end up. He would say, without missing a beat, “I am a cop!”.

Who do people say you are?

At this point, the conversation would take a sudden downturn. The tone would turn serious. The girls would get scatter and we would end up by ourselves at the counter. Again. For my friend being a cop is not just his profession. It’s who he is. His identity is built around his role, his profession. His reality is shaped by and constructed around his contributions to society. Everyone that knows him thinks of him as, introduces him as, and even stores him in their phone, jokingly and lovingly, as “the Cop”.

The Great I AM

In Scripture, we have countless examples of Jesus describing Himself beginning with the words “I am”; it was this above all, that enraged the religious people of His time more than anything: only God could utter those words and here he was, the son of a carpenter, using the “Lord” form when speaking of Himself. Jesus’s self-identity was clearly stated, in black on white, as inseparable from the Identity of the Father. So why would he ask his disciples, “who do the people say that I am?”. Was He suddenly unsure of His Deity, did He suddenly become sensitive to what the blogosphere of the day wrote about Him, or was He probing for the Truth among his disciples?

Some answered him and said “they say you are Elijah or one of the prophets”, others said “they say you are John the Baptist”. Then Jesus asked and said “but who do you say that I am?”. Simon Peter turned and answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The Lord answered him saying  “Knowledge did not come from within you but as a revelation from the Father in Heaven”. There it was, the Rock upon which He would build His Church, the Truth of the Gospel in the flesh! 

Who do you say that I am?

But what about us: who do the people say that we are? Can they see who we belong to? Is our life a “Living Epistle, easily read of all men”? Do our friends, co-workers and acquaintances know of us as “My friend John” “Bill the Accountant”, “the real nice guy next door” or do they know us as we should be known: followers of Jesus Christ!

Tell me who I am

For many people “who the people say we are” carries much weight in their lives. From who to marry to where to live to what school to attend and what to major in, to where to work… even where to worship. For some, other people’s opinions not only shape actions but self-image and identity.

As children, our parents’ opinions and statements quietly and progressively shaped our self-image, our self-worth, and our identity. For the fortunate among us, their words informed us that we are special, loved, treasured, pretty, smart, talented, thoughtful, kind, adored, considered, appreciated, valued. For the less fortunate, their words informed us, at best, of not being those things. Regardless of which one was our reality, we listened, more carefully than they thought we did, and we made their words our internal mirror. 

Who does God say you are?

By the Grace of God through Jesus His Son, our old mirrors have been smashed to the floor, the shards crunched, recycled, re-kilned, and remade in the Image of Jesus. Where there was pain, now there’s healing. Fear give way to hope. Just as hate is replaced with Love lack is filled with abundance. Guilt is smothered by redemption the same way sin is drowned in forgiveness. Ignorance is overpowered by Wisdom as shame is robed in honor. And, as always, Life overwhelms Death and the Grave through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Does it show?

So our question to ourselves therefore must be: how much of this can and do people see in us? When looking at us, do they see Him? When they wonder what we are, do their own thoughts immediately answer their inquiry? Does their internal dialogue say to them “He’s a Christian”, “she’s Born-Again” or does it say “He’s Hispanic”, “She’s a Feminist”, “He’s a Teacher”, “they’re Republicans”. 

Great. You found God now!

For many of us, our biggest struggle in our testimony is not with strangers on the train or the lady in front of us in line or the customer service rep. on the phone. No, our struggle is with those who are intimately familiar with our inner workings, family members, friends and co-workers alike. They grew up with us and saw us and knew us for far too long for them to simply believe an “encounter” changed us so drastically.

Not impressed

Whether you were a “Christians” in name only or from another religion, coming home to share our new-found Faith is no small task. Everyone is more than ready, willing, and able to put your new identity to the test. They still remember where all your buttons are, what gets you going the most. Your Faith is questioned, prodded and tested. Your every word weighed, and measured everyday for an opportunity to say the dreaded “…and you call yourself a Christian?!”

Speak life

It is what we do in these very moments that will echo in eternity. Not only for us but for those to whom we are witnessing. G.K. Chesterton said, “it is not that the Christian ideal has been tried and found wanting; it’s that It has been found difficult and therefore left untried”. If we truly believe that everyone needs Jesus then we must act accordingly: we must live a life that shows that living for Jesus is not only possible but pivotal: it not only influences who you are now but where you end up later; they must see that; that anyone can accept Jesus.

No matter where or who you’ve been; that living for Jesus means living an overcoming life: not free from trouble but free from worry; that living for Jesus doesn’t mean perfect simply a work in progress and that He accepts us and loves us as we are not who we will become; living for Jesus means living as Jesus, no longer we that live, but Christ that lives in us.

Who do the people say that I am? Share on X

The called-out ones

Living for Jesus has to be seen as the only possible alternative to their unfulfilled, empty, search for that lone yearning that cannot be described, cannot be expressed, cannot be named, cannot be identified: a yearning “too deep for words”. They have to look at us and see that there’s something about us that is different, that is special, that is desirable: a Peace surpassing understanding, a sweet reasonableness, a giving Spirit, a confident humility, a noble serenity, an unrelenting patience, a quiet mind, a pervasive diligence, a Truthful tongue anointed with boldness and Love, and a will that brings all thoughts and deeds into submission to the perfect Will of God.

People have to see us and want what we have! The logic is quite simple: what we have is of  greater quality, better priced, longer-lasting, better warranty and more readily available than anything anyone can promise, think, imagine or deserve. Our identity has to be physically, mentally, and psychologically indistinguishable from the Faith and the Savior we profess.

Living Epistles

If we truly profess that living for Jesus is not only possible but desirable then we must believe that people want to see a life well-lived for Jesus; their Creator built them with a yearning for more. Setting “eternity in the hearts of men” God left a “Jesus-shape void” in their hearts and minds. We must show that the source of all of our desirable qualities is not us. He filled our void. We found the missing puzzle piece. The Bible says “by this shall they know that you are My disciples, that you have love for one another!”.

We need to show the Love of God. Show them that what we are and who we are is inseparable from whose we are. We must show them that perfect Love casts out fear, perfect Love is kind, gentle, remembers no wrong, believes all things, hopes all things. Let’s not tell people what we believe, let’s show them what we believe: they’ll be able to argue what you say but they won’t be able to argue what they see you do, how they see you live, “a living Epistle, easily read of all men.” Scripture teaches us that we should let them see your good works so that they will glorify your Father in Heaven. 

Easily read of all men

Far too many people build their lives around others. Not only that but what those people say of them. Some say, “I am so-and-so’s fill-in-the-blank”. Others say, “I am from such-and-such a place”. However, as Christians, we are called to be there for them. Inevitably, when they are disappointed by fallible people, let down by loved ones, left behind by a significant other or when reality doesn’t match their mental construct, we are called to be there, living a life that points to Jesus.

When they fall apart, lose their way, and experience a moment of loss, our lives should be there preaching. Preaching silent sermons of what Jesus can do if you would just invite Him in. We have to be the kind of people that people want to talk to. We are to be approachable. What if that means being funny, good listeners, and sympathetic? Be it! Perhaps it means being empathetic, loving, patient, giving and kind. Make it happen. They shouldn’t confuse us for Christians. They should confuse us with Christ!

Is this who I am?

Who do the people say that we are? Are we quick to anger, slow to listen, men and women of compromise, “anything goes” or are we the kind of people that when someone is telling a dirty joke at work near you they say “sorry” and move away a bit further? Are we Peacemakers or are we rabble-rousers? Do we invite quarreling or reasoning? 

I’ve been worse

Showing people who we are takes lots of practice and courage. I remember my first attempts at witnessing to people usually went one of two ways: either I was overzealous and would overwhelm and scare them with the tome of information I had just learned or I would give them a list of all the things they were doing wrong in their lives, give them the ole Fire & Brimstone routine and send them screaming down the street. Baby steps. 

Praying for better

But in all seriousness, the Bible teaches us that “a Prophet is never accepted in his own house”. For all these people in our lives that knew us as the “old” us. Showing up to work  one morning or coming home from a “Open Tent Revival” as a Born-Again-Christian is quite the relational monkey wrench! We can’t wait to tell them of God’s Grace and what He has done for us. To tell them how our lives are forever changed.

Cursing and foul language are frowned upon. Lewd comments no longer accepted. Furthermore, the sinful lives we once shared can no longer be the basis of our relationship. Family and friends have seen us at our worst. The countless hours together gives them superpowers. They know what we will say before we say it. They’ve always taken us at our word, believed what we said and trusted our opinions. Now “Born-Again-Christian” is something that they cannot reconcile with the person they once knew. 

Royal Priesthood here I come!

I encourage you to let that be your testimony! Let this Wisdom, that seems like foolishness to the world, be our badge of honor! The Apostle Paul teaches us that we are a “Peculiar People”: let this awkwardness be our defining characteristic! Our goal is to be loving. When others are hateful we must be peacemakers: when others are looking for arguments and quarreling, let us be of a “sweet reasonableness”.

When others speak gossip, let us bring restoration. If others bring only insult, let us only compliment. In the same manner, where others judge, let us be mindful that we were all once “the least of these”. Let it be said of us that we “Speak Life”. That we are a weird and peculiar. That we are a counter-current, group of outsiders. Christians! And if you agree, Let us say: Amen!

King for a Day

Would you rather

When I was growing up we would play a game called “would you rather”. It went like this: one person would ask you to choose between to seemingly polar opposite. The most frequently asked was this: “would you rather be king for a day or live a lifetime as a slave”? You would answer the question and then the roles would revers or, if there were more people playing, the person that had just answered the question would now pose a “would you rather” question to the next person until everyone got a turn to ask and to answer.

Needless to say that your answer to this question spoke volumes of your outlook on life and, most likely, prepared the way for years of therapy. As you can imagine, not many kids were asking to be sheep for one hundred days: everyone wanted to be king, even if for just one day.

Triumphal Entry

Palm Sunday is the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem as a conquering king as the crowds shouted “Hosanna” and “Glory to God in the Highest” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”! But where did we get this idea of Jesus as a conquering king? After all, He told a friend to bring Him a colt that had never-before been ridden. None of that, at least to us, speaks of king! When we think of kings we think of thrones and soldiers and barricades and escorts and stretch limousines and horses and knights! Nothing about Jesus’ entry, apart from the adoration of the crowd said “Make way for the King!”? Or did it?

The religious types of the day. the scribes and the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, Knew all too well the passage in Zechariah 9:9 that specifically foresaw this very scene:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Prophecy fulfilled

Surely, this did not escape them in the least! Great, so now we have proof that the Jews knew He was the coming Messiah. After all, anyone could prance in on a domesticated donkey. A unbroken colt? Let’s just say that the first time on the colt would not have been sooth sailing for anyone…That is, of course, unless you’re God Himself! Besides the fact the the Old Testament if full of precedence where kings rode on donkeys as a sign of peace (rather than on a warhorse as a sign of conqueror).

But what about the gentiles? And the Romans in particular, what would they have thought to themselves of such a scene? The layperson and the foot soldier both had vast knowledge of customs and behaviors. They would not have given the donkey thing much thought. The leaders, however, like Pontius Pilate and others, would not only have been aware of these not so subtle Scriptural reference to Zechariah but would have also brought in their own understanding of Semitic culture of the surrounding area.

Asinine Traditions

On top of that, Romans had a few traditions of their own when it came to donkeys. When Romans conquered a stronghold, they would parade the captured king on a donkey bound and facing backwards. The overthrown king would be made into a spectacle. His former subjects encouraged to take out their frustrations at him for losing the war would throw produce at him as he passed by.

But not so with Jesus! Jesus was neither bound nor put on the donkey against His will. He entered the city, with the whole of Jerusalem watching.  A whole host of foreigners from the Diaspora also found themselves in the Holy City. The people shouted “Hosanna”, which means “save now” or put more explicitly “set up your kingdom now”. These same people that chanted Jesus’ name and called Him Messiah one day would soon find themselves chanting “crucify Him” in less than a week’s time!

Jesus had, in fact, been “King for a day”! The terrible misunderstanding, if it can be called such, is clearly shown by Jesus. Approaching the city, Luke 19 tells us the following:

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

No king, especially Jesus

Unfortunately, the Israelites of the time wanted nothing to do with peace. In fact, they were praying for and expecting a violent overthrow of Roman rule over Judea. So they welcomed Jesus as king. However, not as the sort of King He had been preaching to them throughout His ministry. In fact, in Luke 23 Pilate asked Jesus “are you the king of the Jews”? Jesus replied “you have said so”. Pilate is satisfied. He turns to the chief priests and says “I find no guilt in this man”! Pilate was a shrewd politician and had quickly read the situation.

Maybe he saw Jesus as another misunderstood religious fanatic. Pilate wasn’t in the mood to make any more martyrs. With so many criminals around he wasn’t interested in shedding innocent blood. He quickly tried to remove himself from the equation. But the priests and the people wouldn’t have any of it!

King for a day

They welcomed Him as King and crucified Him as a blasphemer! But the story doesn’t end there. As many of us know and have experienced in our own lives: Jesus is alive! Jesus lives and will return one day soon and this time He won’t settle for a donkey. My most fervent prayer in this time of hardship is that, if you have not yet had a personal encounter with Him, you meet Jesus, the risen Savior. I encourage you to seek Him now before the Grace period expires.

Every day is King Day

Friend, if you’re reading this now and have not yet made a personal decision to make Jesus the Lord of your life I ask you that, if you are willing, repeat these simple words with me. Just say:

Dear Jesus, I repent of my sins, I acknowledge you as Lord of everything and Master over everything. I ask you that you come into my heart and that you take your rightful place as Lord and Savior of my life and of my soul!

Welcome Home

If you repeated this simple prayer with your heart, you are now “Born Again”. Your sins are forgiven. God no longer holds you responsible for them. You’re washed by the blood of Jesus. His blood was shed in your place on the Cross of Calvary two millennia ago. Pray that the Holy Spirit lead you to a Bible-Believing, Spirit-filled church. Then, be faithful  where He plants you. Ask Him to show you how He wants you to serve and do it diligently.

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33!

A mission for the mindless

“We’ve all heard of a “Catch 22”. It’s a situation where no matter which option you choose, you’re always wrong, always in trouble, you’re still stuck. It was made famous by a novel with the same name. As the saying goes, “you’re d—-d if you do and you’re d—-d if you don’t”!

But have you ever considered the implications of the following: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8

The Apostle Paul, here, introduces us to what I like to call a “Catch 33“! Similarly to catch 22, in a catch 33, the system is also rigged. However, it favors Christians. It favors those who have put their Faith, Hope, and Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, life for the Christian is a win-win proposition. In living, we honor God, and in death we honor God. Now, we are in no means a death cult; Christians want to live abundant lives (John 10:10) but we do not fear death.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Share on X

Catch 22: The fear of the hopeless

The number one fear that all unbelievers have, and have in common, is the fear of death, as you can see from the rampant panic on tv. Newscasters continuously introduce all of us to all sorts of new boogiemen: a new disease that is going to decimate the world’s population or the next threat from Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, a food shortage, climate change, hurricanes, earthquakes, asteroids, the “wrong” politician for the job; in a sense, they’re disseminating fear over the one thing no-one has any control: the future.

Catch 33: The hope of the fearless

Christians, on the other hand, have “cheated” the catch 22 system: Jesus defeated sin on the Cross and Death by his resurrection and we are heirs of those victories. Life doesn’t startle us nor does the fear of death paralyze us. There’s a very beautiful secular Italian song where the lyrics speak directly to this phobia; the lyrics, translates literally, read: whoever is not afraid of death only dies once!

Chi non ha paura di morire, muore una volta sola. Share on X

What a beautiful doctrinal Christian Truth! Jesus himself taught us not to fear the first death. The second death is the truly dreadful one: the death that leads to eternal separation from God! If you fear the first death, chances are you are not a Believer. Otherwise, there is something “off” about your walk with God.

Catch 22? Meet God’s Catch 33! Share on X

What’s the catch?

Fear and anxiety will come calling your name. When they do, strengthen yourself in the Lord. In chapter 1 of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

As Spirit-filled, Bible-believing,  born-again Christians, it is our responsibility to live in the light of this truth: whenever those around us, whether at work, at home, at school, or (more often than not) at church, lose heart over the challenges of everyday life, we must be the people in their lives that they can look to and see someone who hasn’t, who isn’t and who doesn’t lose not only their composure but more importantly their compass, their anchor, their focus, their Hope: Jesus Christ!

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Share on X

Shepherd and Friend – Jehovah Rohi

Before he became king, David was a shepherd. Before David wrote the Psalms, he pondered them in his heart. For many years he observed the sheep and studied their behaviors.

Imagine David, out with his flock one day and, as a stroke of lightning, as he tended his own sheep, he pondered the following: (please read with emphasis)

Psa 23:1-6 BSB
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

The realization that God is his Shepherd must have totally changed his perspective on… just about everything. I pray that, like David, you too have come to a deeper understanding of who God is: Jehovah Rohi, God my Shepherd.

Why Sheep

If you were looking for a simple example as to why evolution can not hold up, consider sheep. Sheep are weak, easily confounded and without any natural defense mechanisms. Lambs are even worse. Without the protection of the shepherd, a small pack of wolves would put to death hundreds of sheep in just a few hours. Thankfully, God made Shepherds.

Why Shepherds

The Shepherd lives for the sheep. He defends the lambs, leads them to safety, collects the strays and puts their feeble minds at ease and if necessary dies for the sheep (John 10:11).

The Anatomy of an Insult – Part 2

Sticks and Stones

In a recent post, we discussed how Nathaniel’s unthoughtfully sincere words were not enough to cause offense to Jesus. We also learned how something good can “come out of Nazareth”: whether it be in the natural realm, meaning Jesus Himself, or in the spiritual realm: the majority of the people that will read these words are “gentiles” by birth but Jews and Royal Priests by our adoptions as sons because of what came “out of Nazareth: the Nazarene and His disciples.

The last time you read the passage in John 1:43-51, what probably stuck out to you the most was Nathaniel’s “insult”. Nathaniel’s audacity to speak such a thing about Jesus is not a likely Sunday School lesson. But don’t forget, Nathaniel didn’t know then what he would know just a short time later. Although Nathaniel’s name doesn’t ever return to prominence in the New Testament accounts, his words would surely become the “faithful wounds of a good friend” in short order. 

Fruits worthy of repentance 

For too many people nowadays authentic Nathaniel-like sincerity is insulting. Unfortunately, all too often this is offense-taking sentiment is prevalent in the Church as much it is in the World. Thankfully Jesus shows us how to peer into the heart of the matter, overlook the “letter” of words and find hidden treasures in their “Spirit”. Jesus goes on to teach us the meaning behind “the faithful wounds of a friend”. 

When looking at the loving way Jesus answered Nathaniel’s sincere heart cry for the Truth, it couldn’t have been any more different than the total disdain He reserved for those who insisted they knew better but in fact these scholars and scribes and Pharisees but could not bear witness to anything resembling fruits worthy of repentance“.

One instance where the fruits worthy of such repentance were put on display immediately! In the account of Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:24-29) lies the well-known encounter of Jesus and the disciple Thomas. This passage is where we get the expression “Doubting Thomas”, which we use when people are distrusting of any news, no matter the source. Thomas demanded proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thomas told his fellow disciples that he would need to put his finger into His pierced side and perforated hands. An empty tomb is one thing; saying that the body in the tomb is not dead elsewhere is a whole different story. 

Doubtful by default

The Greatest Insult is Doubt

To be honest, in a secularized modern world such as our own, no one blames Thomas for being so… rational. It is reasonable to imagine that Thomas had seen many people crucified in Palestine. The Romans had made crucifying enemies of the State into an art form. Thomas simply couldn’t conceive how anyone could survive such punishment. I’m sure that many other disciples had even shared his pragmatism until they saw Him in the flesh again. Thomas however, was bold enough and honest enough with himself to speak it out loud. 

As they assembled there together days later, Jesus walks through the wall and puts His hands up for closer inspection by Thomas. He shows Thomas His chest wound where the spear had punctured all the way through to His heart. Thomas falls to his knees and bears witness that Jesus is truly the Son of the Almighty God. 

So, what was it that offended Jesus? Was Jesus even offended at all? Were the “faithful wounds of a friend” that Solomon was referring to the insult and offense that comes from those who are the best positioned to do the most damage and yet handle their words with the dexterity of someone with no impulse control? If Jesus really was offended by Thomas’ words there is little evidence here. However, He does make an example of Thomas and his secularist, materialist mindset. After all, believing after having seen is easy. Jesus takes the opportunity to pronounce a blessing on the billions of Believers that would come to Him throughout the millennia: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed” (John 20:29). After all believing after seeing that no faith at all. 

Friends and their faithful wounds

Jesus was surely not pleased. After raising the dead, walking on water, feeding the thousands, silencing a storm, and healing the sick, one of His most trusted friends doubted this final triumph over the forces and the Laws of nature. Thomas’s doubt was unbecoming of a man that had spent the better part of 40 months together with Jesus.

Unfortunately, Thomas’ doubt and double-mindedness were not exclusive traits to this one disciple. Judas’ internal conflict brought to the end of his rope, it brought Peter to deny Him to a little servant girl and caused the majority of others to run, scatter and hide. In fact, the Gospel accounts only place John the Beloved at the crucifixion of Jesus.

Unmitigated Tamarity

Thomas, like Nathaniel, spoke from his honest internal dialogue. Unlike the latter, Thomas had a purely worldly view of his surroundings. Thomas was perhaps the kind of man that struggled with his doubts even as he witnessed the miracles themselves. Thomas had room for miracles in his mind and as his relationship grew closer to Jesus he struggled less and less. But there was just something about Jesus raising Himself from the grave that was too much for him to handle.  

Pearl of Great Price

It is therefore our greatest fortune that the “faithful wounds of a friend” are the ones Jesus bears on His body to this day. Jesus overlooked, covered, atoned, and erased the insults of both Thomas and Nathaniel. The blood that oozed out of His hands and gushed out from between His ribs paid for not only the insults of those that accepted His forgiveness; it lies in wait to be discovered as payment in full for the countless millions around the world that have not yet come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They unwittingly spew insults on Jesus all day long and bearing in their own lives the cost. It is our sacred responsibility to introduce the world to this magnificent Forgiver of wrongs. For those of us who have found this great Pearl, we too often discard it in the busyness of life. 

Professional Profaners

In an upcoming post, we will discuss antiquity’s best orators of calumnies and Jesus’ favorite hypocrites. When it came to this group of people, Jesus held back no punches. He hit back hard in their war of words. His replies were pubic in the form of plain language as well as in the form of parables. I hope you’ll come back for part 3 when we discuss some of my favorite passages from the Gospels. Also, if you’ve missed out, be sure to read Part 1 of this 3-part series on the Anatomy of an Insult. 

When Christians insult other Believers

When Christians insult other Believers

It seems these days that everyone around you keeps getting more and more thin-skinned. Total strangers get third-party offended. Family members that don’t like what you think of a particular behavior of theirs. Church members, deacons, and even pastors. None of them can take any criticism of anything they say or do with the same “sweet reasonableness” they preach that others should have (Phil 4:5). Needless to say that people are easily insulted these days and some make a profession of it. Now please understand that we are talking about Christians here.  Whether it is intentional or not Christians insult other Believers and, perhaps worse, Christians take offense at the words of other Believers.

Any cheek-turners in the room?

But what about Jesus, how did he handle Himself when people said unkind or insulting things about Him. Now, I’m not referring to the openly insulting statements that He received during His ministry, I’m referring to the little things along the way, the innuendos, the side jabs, the play on words, or simply the things that were not said in public where many would have heard and formed an opinion on. How did Jesus handle those?

The sin of sincerity

I’m sure our personal lives are full of instances where the words of other Christians have insulted us. By the same token, our own words have offended other Believers. Whether it was by sheer naivety or aimed with the intention to wound a friend, Christians have been as guilty at insulting other Believers as the “general population”. Fortunately, not many of Christiandom’s foot-in-mouth instances have been recorded in the annals of history. That is of course with the exception of the Biblical record.

One such comment that comes to mind is when Philip went and told Nathaniel that they had found the Messiah. Philip told him that His name of Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth. Nathaniel, thought to himself and said the first thing that came to his mind and said, “can anything good come out of Nazareth”? When he finally came to Jesus, the Master turned and said to him, “Behold! An Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile”. Not only did Jesus know what Nathaniel had said and not only did He not take offense but rather commended Nathaniel for his sincerity of heart. You see, Nathaniel had his doubts. His doubts were sincere but he still had enough hunger for the Truth to go and find out for himself. When he finally arrived where Jesus was and heard Him say two things. He heard Him say that only was there no guile in him but He was aware of him under the fig tree beforehand, Nathaniel suddenly realized that he was in the presence of God.

Sincerity as a lifestyle

A little background may be called for. Why would Nathaniel blurt out at Philip’s announcement of the Messiah cause offense? In the Jewish custom of the time “nothing good could come from Nazareth”. This was a widespread proverb and this was for two particular reasons. Reasons that are intertwined and, if Jesus was and considered Himself a prophet, He should’ve known better. His (supposed) Nazarene pedigree would automatically bar Him from being considered a prophet by any self-respecting Jew.

The hometown of the thick-skinned

For starters, Nazareth is in Galilee. That’s significant because its border country. Samaria (of the Samaritans) is just southwest of Galilee. Nazareth was a fairly large commercial center. It would have lots of gentile influences (Greeks, Samaritans, Phoenicians, and all manner of other pagan cultural influences). Seeing as Galilee shared a northern border with Phoenicia (of the Syro-Phoenician woman) with cities such as Tyre and Sidon that, although had long outlived their glory days, were still important regional ports of call.

 

Palestine in the time of Jesus

Galilee was not the ideal breeding ground for prophets. With such strong gentile influence,  complicated allegiances to God, Israel, and Rome,  Temple Jews considered Galilee to be a backwater sort of place. Far removed from the Temple cult of Jehovah. The Galileans’ tolerance for outsiders living and working among them made them, for the most part in the eyes of the Temple Jews, ritually unclean. By definition unfit for the office of prophet. This confluence of worldviews created a a “peculiar” people. Galileans were comfortable with speaking their minds and quite accustomed to hearing seemingly controversial comments. The insults and comments simply rolled off their back. It’s the biblical equivalent to being a new yorker. If we were to take offense at everything a stranger said, we would never make it past getting the car out of the parking spot.

Biblical backwater

Along similar lines, in all the history of the law and the Prophets, not one single prophet had ever come from Nazareth. The great majority of them were of Judean descent and many of them with traceable Davidic and/or royal lineage. Jesus, in their eyes, therefore seemingly lacked both the proper stock as well as the correct birthplace to hold such office, whether it be prophet or Messiah.

Surely Jesus was well-aware of the cultural and religious stigma that came from being a Galilean. Although not recorded in the Gospels, many others would have already said or thought such things. Both before then and afterward. However, Jesus was able to see into Nathaniel’s heart and saw the sincere heart-cry of a Seeker. It was  “credited to him as righteousness“. When Philip came to Nathaniel he made specific references to the Law and the Prophets. Surely referring to the countless conversations they had together in the past. Perhaps they scoured the Scriptures together looking for a sign. I imagine many other would-be prophets and Messiahs had come before. As history tells us, many of them and their followers ended up dispersed, discredited, or dead.

An insult revisited

With all of this in mind we can take a fresh look at Nathaniel’s question. It was part incredulous and part hopeful. Nathaniel was open to the idea. He was also hopeful that he had misread or misunderstood something in the Scriptures. He hoped that with a sincere heart he had been sincerely wrong before. Perhaps the time had come for them to finally find the Messiah. Hopefully, to be found by the Messiah.

Jesus revealed to him the condition of his heart. He was perplexed. He asked “how do you know me”? Skipping the actual question  He replies, paraphrasing, “not only do I know you, I even saw you under the fig tree”! Typical Jesus style. What Nathaniel responds tells us a lot about the situation that we, at first glance, are not aware of directly.

Low-lying fruit

Here’s the low-lying fruit here (pun intended). The fig tree must have been out of the line of sight for Jesus. It must have been hidden from from His view. Possibly over a hill or around a bend or something of that nature.  From this Nathaniel would see two things. Not only was the man before Him master over men’s inner thoughts but the forces (read “laws”) of nature. Jesus had correctly identified his internal personal state and his specific geographic location. His thoughts and location would only have been known to Philip.

Foregoing what else Jesus tells the men there assembled about what else they will see and hear in the times to come, we learn a few things about both Nathaniel and the heart of Jesus.  Nathaniel’s eagerness and thirst for Truth pays off. His first answer is a resounding “yes!”. Good things can come out of Nazareth. By association, good things can come from Galilee. Specifically, Jesus and His motley crew of friends. Those men would go on to change history. He also answers his second question. Jesus knows Nathaniel (read your own name there) like a “wheel within a wheel”. Jesus knows our innermost workings even when we are not aware of Him.

Insult, the teacher

Perhaps the most astounding discovery we can take away is His early interaction with His disciples. We see that Jesus is available for questioning. We will study in upcoming posts the way Jesus responds to other sorts of inquiries. Here, we are assured that Jesus does not turn away anyone searching with all their heart (Jer 29:13). Also, He answers the underlying question regardless of presentation. Jesus has no interest in form. His interest is function. Nathaniel’s question may have been or sounded course but it came from a ready heart, from a heart that wanted the Truth, was earnestly seeking the Truth. In exchange for his childlike sincerity, Jesus paid him a truly beautiful compliment, one that we should all aspire to hear from the Master: “an Israelite (read: Christian) indeed, in whom there is no guile”.

Third Temple Believer

How shall we then live? A question for the ages, as the Jews watched the temple being destroyed. The answer can be found in Jesus alone.

In the beginning

Before there was the Temple, there was the Tent of Meeting. Before the Tabernacle in the wilderness, there was Beth-El. There, God’s servant spoke to Him in Spirit. In turn, He answered in Spirit and in Truth. Solomon’s Temple replaced the Tabernacle. Destroyed because of the people’s disobedience. The people rebuilt the Temple. However, because of disobedience, it was once again destroyed. Now both Believers and Jews alike await the final third Temple. 

third temple
Jesus in Disguise

Shadows and dust

Just like anything made by men, the second temple also did not last. After the prophecy of the coming Messiah had been fulfilled, the Lord kept His word and the Temple was destroyed once again.

However, something was different this time. The people scattered to the winds and to the four corners of the earth. Many of them were taken to Rome. They were to become slaves. Others, put to death. Although any hopes of rebuilding the Temple had all but vanished, by some type of miracle, “Jewishness” survived.

To the utter dismay of the Jewish people, millennium-old Temple Judaism came to a sudden and abrupt end. The sect of Judaism that depended on the Temple itself, the Sadducees, disappeared; the Essenes, that preached against the corruption of the Temple, lost their raison de vivre. This left only the Pharisees. These would become what we know now as the rabbinical schools. Also, a new Jewishness also appeared. Christianity.

Honest misunderstanding?

Although no rabbinical scholar would admit, Christianity is Judaism. The reason for not agreeing on this point is purely of a personal nature. Personal in this context refers to Jesus. There is only one difference that separates Temple Judaism from Church Age Christianity. While Jews are still waiting for the Messiah to their own detriment, Christians believe the Messiah has come. 

All else being equal, Christianity is the logical next step of historic Judaism. This is in a very crucial way very unfortunate. I say this because they are scheduled to accept the imitation over the real thing. When the antichrist comes, their eschatology will resemble very closely our own. Obviously with their tragic misunderstandings built in. 

Accepting the imitation

When the antichrist arrives on the scene they will accept as completed all of the Scriptures that Christians already know as fulfilled. This counterfeit Messiah, I believe, will not be Jewish. Neither will he adhere to the ways of his forefathers. Scripture even references him not being…very manly.  

Essentially, there are two types of third Temple believers in this world. On the one hand there are those waiting for the Temple to be built again. On the other hand, although they might not actually be aware, Christians believe it will descend from Heaven in the the form of the Heavenly Jerusalem. So the question is, “who’s right”? Both are.

Built to last

Scripture tells us clearly in Daniel 11 that the antichrist will sit in a physical temple and declare himself to be God. This will come with the initial adoration of the Jews. But in the fullness of time, as Zechariah 14 shows us, Jesus will return and rule the Earth from the Mount of Olives. Having destroyed the antichrist He will bring down the new, permanent, Jerusalem. Enthroned in His rightful place, He will wipe “every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21). 

One third Temple only

Here’s the clincher. There are only two possibilities for who is reading this post. The first option is that you’re waiting for the third Temple. Both Christians and unbelievers alike are on this Earth together at this point. The other possibility is that you’re living in a time of it being physically present. If the second possibility is true, then you have missed the Rapture of the Church. It also proves that no one bothered to take down this post, at which point I’m insulted. However, I’m glad you’re here. The people that went missing around you haven’t vanished. They’ll be back soon. Then, you’ll see what the real Temple of God looks like! But this is your opportunity to repent. Say these simple words, from the heart:

Dear Jesus, 

I repent of my sins. I agree with you that I sinned against You and Your perfect Law. I receive you as Lord and Savior of my life. I accept the free gift of Salvation. I know that it is not by anything that I have done that I have deserved this. I welcome you into my heart, my mind and my life. I thank you for Eternal Life that you have provided for me. 

In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Like sheep among wolves

Friend, if you have said that simple prayer, from your heart, you are born again. Whether you are in the Tribulation right now or still awaiting the Rapture of the Church, we want to encourage you. Find a Bible-believing, Spirit-filled church and look for ways to serve God by bringing this Gospel to others in your life.  God bless you

 

Where to begin….the rubble or our sins?

It is the third week of quarantine, I think. I say “I think” because all of the days have blurred into one. Thankfully, no one in our household has the Coronavirus. We wake up, do school work, eat, exercise, eat, repeat. Meanwhile, Facebook and Twitter ask whether this whole Coronavirus situation is some kind of punishment from God because of our sin (plural). My question is: where to begin? the rubble or our sins?

Where to begin: our sins

I’m reminded of the song Pompeii by Bastille. The lyrics famously read, “where do we begin: the rubble of our sins”? I guess it’s a reasonable question to ask, but I doubt it’s a question for the Believer. As Believers we are not counted among the “judged”, we are counted among the redeemed.

As Christians we are steadfast in the belief that “all things work together for good for those who fear Him and are called according to His Purpose”. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul reassures us that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. So, whether we live through it or at some point succumb to it, we as Christians find ourselves in a Win-Win situation.

Now, I know that it’s trendy, at times, to take advantage of opportunities such as the one we’re in to tell people that this is all because of their sin. Sometimes many brethren are hoping to scare them into the Kingdom: as I’m sure many of us can attest to, it wasn’t fear that led us to Christ but conviction from the Holy Spirit. Fear, as we can attest from recent events, does not produce acolytes; it only produces submission and, over time, rebellion. In fact, I don’t remember Jesus scaring anyone into the Kingdom…not even those who had good reason to fear: Pharisees, Scribes, prostitutes, thieves, Judas Iscariot and so many others.

Where to begin: the rubble

I can still remember the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks: churches, mosques and synagogues were bursting at the seams full of people that were literally running to God after the satanic events of those days. Here is the facts: the life of every human being is underpinned by one constant and one constant only: the search for meaning.  Most people are dead to their innate need for a connection to their Creator. Most of their lives are spent in the mundane and they try their hardest to keep life simple and mundane. We can see this from their wholesale avoidance of spiritual topics, discussion of sin, judging their own or the sin of others, including their refusal of life insurance: life insurance reminds them of one thing and one thing only: death.

When the walls fell

As the months passed, and the months turned to years, church attendance settled to its historic numbers. The committed stayed and the comical returned to their standard operating procedures. Of course, some had true life-changing experiences with the Lord Jesus Christ and remained in the flock but the vast majority were just looking for shelter for their heads like ostriches: their bodies fully in the secular and their heads in the churches just for the time being, waiting for the “all clear” sign to go back to their regularly scheduled programming.

Huff, and puff, and blow your house down

What am I saying? Well, just like the song, some will chose to begin with the rubble and others will address the sin. But, as Christians, it is not our place to scare them into the Kingdom but to love them into the Kingdom of God. Telling people that #Coronavirus is a judgement from God is a half-truth. These half-truths will not hold up under scrutiny. Ultimately, people remain broken disillusioned by scriptural checks Christians wrote that God never had intention of funding. We know that God’s judgement will come, and may be here sooner than we think, but His judgement will not be a trickling but a total overwhelming of humanity; it will not be because of homosexuality or abortion only, but for both and for much more.

The City that we love

Finally, when God comes to settle accounts, Scripture teaches us, it won’t be with just a 2% mortality rate. The death toll in the billions. This is not because He’s sadistic. Rather, it is because He is Just. I write to Christians that know this to be true. Calamities is not God telling us to preach fire and brimstone (John 3:17). We need to preach forgiveness and Sonship through our Lord Jesus Christ. Why else do we tell new believers to start reading the Bible with the Gospel of John and not Lamentations? We want to show them the Love of God through Jesus not what awaits the unbelievers in a lost eternity! Where to begin? Let us begin with our sins.

Again, God is not a God of calamity (2 Peter 3:9). He does not want death not does He delight in suffering. However, the devil is a big fan and a proponent of both. Brothers, sisters, we preach Christ and Christ crucified; we preach the Hope of Glory not the despair of the second death; we preach Life and life more abundant! In Jesus’ name, Amen!

What about the Veil?

This world is full of broken things. Broken lives, broken hopes, broken dreams, marriages, childhoods, broken spirits and broken homes. Over the years I’ve had the honor and the privilege to work with some of these broken things; I’ve listened to their stories, which they somehow tell me freely and without hesitation. I’ve watched them cry at the prospects of living in a shelter, on the street, on their own, or worse: an irresponsible adult! I do my very best to, somehow, sprinkle some Jesus in there but I do it, unfortunately, from a position where I cannot reinforce it in their daily lives: I don’t go home with them; they are not my children.

Thankfully, they are Someone’s children and He loves them with an unimaginable Love! You see, so many times, these “misfit toys” believe, from very early on, that love, like respect, is earned. Dad walked out on us so if I could earn his love, he’ll come back; mom ran away and if I could only have found a way to make her love me, she would’ve stayed. This transactional love is not what our Father imagined when He placed Adam in the Garden. He envisioned an intimate, transparent, reckless love with no blemish or shadows hanging overhead: no quid pro quo’s, no tit for tat: He created us for a relationship with Him and that that relationship would serve as a model for the relationships we have with each other. The Triune God is Perfect Love because there is God the Father who is the Lover, Jesus the Son, who is the Loved and the Holy Spirit which is the how He loves. God was not lonely or bored when He created mankind; He wasn’t involved in a domestic dispute and therefore needed an out: God, in His unimaginable loving Kindness, created us in His own image so that He could, we could experience that immensely deep communion with Him as well.

Our role, as Born-Again, Spirit-filled, Bible-believing Christians is to tell the world, this broken Island of Misfit Toys, the Truth. The Truth is this: God doesn’t need them; God doesn’t need anybody! God doesn’t need them, doesn’t need me, doesn’t need Christians: God has no need for any of us! We are the ones in need! We are the ones that need to tell people the Truth and that is: God doesn’t need them, God wants them! The scandal of Grace is exactly that, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us! There’s nothing to be earned: no parent to win over, no spouse to win back, to hill to climb, to valley to walk through: God wants a relationship. He is Eternally ready, Fully willing, and Perfectly able to love them completely!