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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Here am I, send him…

Posted by Gary on August 1, 2014

The International Board of Missions estimates that about 3,100 unreached people groups are presently unengaged — that is, no evangelical group yet is pursuing a strategy for planting the church among these peoples.

3,100 is a small number of remaining peoples to reach when compared to the scope of Jesus’s church. There are 305 million evangelicals in the world. That’s 98,000 evangelicals for every unengaged people group. If 1% of those 98,000 were newly called to frontier missions, 980 could be assigned to each of the unengaged peoples. There are 4.6 million Christian congregations in the world. That’s 1,483 congregations for every unengaged people. There are 44,000 Christian denominations in the world. That’s 14 whole denominations for every unengaged people. There are 4,900 foreign mission sending agencies in the world. That’s two whole sending agencies for every unengaged people. If just 10% of the attenders at Passion, Urbana, and the Cru Christmas conferences last year were called to these peoples, we could have three missionaries immediately for everyone of these remaining 3,100 peoples. 

The remaining task of world missions is not a staggering task statistically. We can do this if we will. That is a big if. The human will is weak when it comes to doing the will of God. The world, the flesh, and the devil war against the human will to finish the Great Commission. All hell is arrayed against this mission. And therefore the church can find a thousand good things to do instead of doing this. (John Piper: The Heart of God in the Call to Proclaim: A Joyfully Serious Courage in the Cause of World Missions)

Are you being unfair to someone?

Posted by Gary on July 31, 2014

…if we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person, and when we do not get it we become cruel and vindictive; yet we are demanding of a human being something which he or she cannot possibly give. There is only one Being who can completely satisfy to the absolute depth of the hurting human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. (Oswald Chambers: My Utmost for His Highest July 30)

The Pilate in all of us…

Posted by Gary on April 15, 2014

Luke 23:13-15  Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. “No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.”

Luke 23:24 “And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted.”

“Pontius Pilate” there are few names more infamous, few people who will be remembered so long as he has. What a tragic man, famous for the ages for ordering the murder of the Son of God.

What thoughts come to mind when you think of Pontius Pilate? I am thinking of him this Easter season mindful of the verses listed above that tell us that after inquiry and consideration, Pilate found no guilt in Jesus Christ. For two thousand years now, Pilate has been marveled at for his willingness to crucify Jesus though Scripture tells us more than once that he found no guilt in him and even sought to release Him (John 19:12).

How careful we must be though not to focus on Pilate and miss the fact that God forces every person to make a judgment regarding His Son. No one escapes their moment in Pilate’s shoes, for God has decreed that every man, woman and child declare either their allegiance to or rejection of Jesus Christ.

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A call to introduce the term “Christophobe” into the public debate on homosexuality

Posted by Gary on April 9, 2014

The default reaction of people who cannot defend their belief or actions on their merits is to disparage those who contradict or condemn their position. We have seen this done quite effectively by those from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual (LGBT) community for some years. The aspersion “homophobia” is drawn like a knife and stuck into every person who condemns homosexuality regardless of the basis for their opposition but  this is especially so against Christians who use the Word of God as the basis for their condemnation.

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What wolves?

Posted by Gary on March 22, 2014

Matthew 7:15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

When one surveys the landscape of American Christianity today primarily through discussion and comments on social media, one is left wondering if anyone believes the warning Jesus gave us in Matthew 7:15. You can sample such a discussion on Dan Gaffney’s Facebook page here.

What Jesus intended us to hear cannot be mistaken. As always, Jesus speaks clearly and frankly. Jesus has warned us that that there are false prophets and that these prophets are wolves (who by the way, eat sheep). So deceptive are these false prophets, they actually appear to be one of the sheep they are determined to devour.

If we took Jesus seriously, we would weigh carefully the teaching and example of every person who claims to be Christ’s messenger using the infallible measuring rod for such examination, the Word of God.

But what we find increasingly is that people, yes, I am afraid many Christians included, have no willingness or intention of examining, weighing and passing judgment on those who seek to influence the destiny of their eternal soul or the souls of  others.

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Stay off Hollywood’s ark…

Posted by Gary on February 13, 2014

James 4:4-5 “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

Oh joy, Hollywood’s much anticipated “Noah” starring Russell Crowe has been released. You can read details about director Darren Aronofsky’s film starring Russell Crowe here.

The Hollywood Reporter article highlights the attempt of Paramount Pictures to “woo” faith-based viewers who can be “noisy” when Biblical films stray from the Biblical account. Yes without shame, we Christians believe it is an evil thing to add to or take away from what God has revealed to us in His Word (Revelation 22:18-19).

I do not understand why Christians long so for Hollywood’s attention in the form of Biblical films. We are aware aren’t we that neither God’s glory or love of the truth motivates Hollywood to portray people from the Bible or Biblical narratives?

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What does Jesus look like?

Posted by Gary on February 7, 2014

Revelation 1:12-18  “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”

I have titled this post, “What does Jesus look like?” as a follow up to my most recent post, “What did Jesus look like?”. The distinction being Jesus’ appearance while on earth in contrast to what He looks like now that He has returned to His glory in heaven.

The Bible says virtually nothing about what Jesus looked like during His time on earth except that there was nothing in His appearance to attract us to Him (Isaiah 53:2). But in the first chapter of the book of Revelation, we find a detailed explanation of what Jesus looks like now and it is my great hope that contemplating this description of Jesus will transform our understanding of Him and transform our lives.

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What did Jesus look like?

Posted by Gary on February 5, 2014

Isaiah 53:2  “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”

In almost everyone, the mention of the name of Jesus brings to mind a handsome man, with long brown hair and beard. You can see Him in your mind’s eye can’t you? There He is, knocking on the door with no handle or laying across that large rock in the garden of Gethsemane praying. We know Jesus when we see Him don’t we?

The truth is, Jesus did not (does not) look anything like the pictures of Him we have admired and hung in our homes thinking that they can bring down some blessing on our house, keep the devil away or at least make Jesus seem nearer to us.

How do I know what Jesus looks like? I don’t. That is the point and neither do you or anyone else for that matter.

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Ignoring God by focusing on Phil Robertson

Posted by Gary on January 22, 2014

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Some time has past since Phil Robertson’s interview with GQ magazine and all the stir that followed it linked to Phil’s comments about homosexuality. In case you have forgotten the comment that caused the outrage here it is:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men, … Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

In response, A&E immediately suspended Phil from the show and many organizations most prominently, GLAAD condemned Phil’s statements. For days on end, Phil Robertson and his comments were the focus of the media. The focus was quite slanted, the southern Bible thumper and his “rant” (did you notice how many times the word “rant” was used?). Did you also notice the frequent application of the label, “homophobic”? I have often wondered why people who condemn Bible believing Christians are not labelled “Christo-phobic”? But that is for another post.

It is almost impossible to imagine any more attention given to Phil Robertson than was given. But to me it was notable that the most important thing of all in the whole matter was avoided and that was God’s warning. Tons of emphasis on the man who made the comment and horror that homosexuality was condemned but no attention at all to the warning from God’s word that we not deceive ourselves.

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Pope Francis, a warning…

Posted by Gary on September 19, 2013

Hebrews 11:6  “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10  “…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed– for our testimony to you was believed.”

Tell the truth or be nice? It is tempting sometimes to just be nice for this is the way the world is going and those who insist on the truth of Scripture are marked men for certain. But by God’s grace we speak…

I cannot say strongly enough to those I love and to those I don’t even know, (yet love) who are under the influence of Roman Catholicism, that you are in danger and that the most recent pope, Francis, is a glaring image and voice of the evil of Catholic doctrine.

In a recent letter to the founder of “La Repubblica” (an Italian newspaper) Francis negates the necessity of the cross of Christ, denies the Christian faith and holds forth a false hope to those who refuse God’s command to believe on His Son. Here is the key excerpt from the pope’s letter:

“So I come to the three questions you put to me in the article of August 7. It seems to me that, in the first two, what is in your heart is to understand the attitude of the Church to those who don’t share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.”

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