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Turning The World Upside-Down For Jesus

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, this post is more relevant than ever.  This was posted originally on April 8, 2014.

But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world Surrenderupside down have come here too.  —  Acts 17:6

This was a complaint against Paul and those working with him made by the Jews when Paul came to Thessalonica.  The Jews were not happy because Paul was upsetting the status quo and many Jewish followers were instead following Jesus in every city that Paul visited.  The Jewish complaint was, in fact, a complaint against Paul’s overwhelming success in persuading people to follow Jesus.

Paul’s success as an evangelist is undeniable, and “turning the world upside-down” seems a proper description of what Paul accomplished.

So, as I look at the Church today, I don’t see nearly the intensity that I see recounted in the Bible.  In fact, in the Western World at least, I see the Church as being ineffectual for the most part, and I wonder why.  And in wondering, I think I have some idea why we are so ineffective.

So lets look at the average Western believer for a minute.  He, or she, is likely married, working and with children, supporting a mortgage payment, two or more cars, looking to get ahead in their career, and looking for ways to make life a little easier and more comfortable.  More likely than not, these people came to Jesus by praying a simple prayer and were told that if they were sincere in their prayer, then their eternal destiny is safe in Jesus.

Okay, done.  They will go to Church when they get tje chance, maybe even put a few dollars in the offering plate.  But their eternal destiny is secure, so they don’t need to let any religious exercise get in the way of pursuing their next raise or a better car or even a bigger house.

And that, to a large extent describes the Church and the average believer.

But lets look at Paul and see if we can see why he was able to turn the world upside down for Jesus.  I think if you compare Paul’s life to the life of the average believer today, you would say that the reason that Paul was so effective is that Paul lived an upside-down life.  Living upside-down would be taking all of the commonly accepted behaviors, things that we might consider to be our top priorities, and turning upside-down, making a top priority a bottom priority instead.

We might like to live in security, knowing that we have a roof over our head, a car in the garage, and a steady income so we can always count on our next meal.  Paul, on the other hand, might have considered it a good day if he was not both stoned and shipwrecked in the same day.

We are happy that we are saved and know it because we prayed a little prayer one time.    Paul said:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  —  Galatians 2:20

We may find ourselves flirting with sin from time to time, but Paul was dead to sin:

Likewise also reckon yourselves to be truly dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ, Jesus, our Lord.  —  Romans 6:11

Sin had no place in Paul’s life, rather, he presented his body to God:

Neither present your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but present yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  —  Romans 6:13

And finally, Paul took very seriously the words of Jesus:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  —  Luke 9:23

Jesus was not part of Paul’s life, not even the most important part.  Jesus was Paul’s life!  Paul’s life was upside-down from we we consider normal and acceptable, and as a result, Paul, along with the other Apostles and early believers, was able to turn his world upside-down.

Will you join me in praying for an army of upside-down believers to dramatically change the direction of the Church in North America and Europe?

 

 

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July 6, 2015 Posted by | Evangelism, Follow Jesus, God's Word, Great Commission, Same Sex Marriage | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

If I Firmly Believed…

Church Building“If I firmly believed, as millions say they do, that the knowledge and practice of religion in this life influences the eternal destiny of others, then religion would mean everything to me. I would cast away earthly enjoyments as dross, earthly cares as folly, and earthly thoughts and feelings as vanity. Religion would be my first waking thought and my last image before sleep sank me into unconsciousness. I would labor in its cause alone. I would take thought for the morrow of eternity alone. I would esteem one soul gained for heaven worth a life of suffering. Earthly consequences would never stay my hand nor seal my lips. Earth, its joys and its griefs, would occupy no moments of my thoughts. I would strive to look upon eternity alone and on the immortal souls around me, soon to be everlastingly happy or everlastingly miserable. I would go forth to the world and preach in season and out of season, and my text would be, “What shall it profit man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”

–Written by a professing atheist in 1787

If we are in Christ, we should share His burden for the lost and be moved out of our pews in Church and into the streets or wherever the lost are found.

April 26, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Evangelism, Faith, Great Commission | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Turning The World Upside-Down For Jesus

But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world Surrenderupside down have come here too.  —  Acts 17:6

This was a complaint against Paul and those working with him made by the Jews when Paul came to Thessalonica.  The Jews were not happy because Paul was upsetting the status quo and many Jewish followers were instead following Jesus in every city that Paul visited.  The Jewish complaint was, in fact, a complaint against Paul’s overwhelming success in persuading people to follow Jesus.

Paul’s success as an evangelist is undeniable, and “turning the world upside-down” seems a proper description of what Paul accomplished.

So, as I look at the Church today, I don’t see nearly the intensity that I see recounted in the Bible.  In fact, in the Western World at least, I see the Church as being ineffectual for the most part, and I wonder why.  And in wondering, I think I have some idea why we are so ineffective.

So lets look at the average Western believer for a minute.  He, or she, is likely married, working and with children, supporting a mortgage payment, two or more cars, looking to get ahead in their career, and looking for ways to make life a little easier and more comfortable.  More likely than not, these people came to Jesus by praying a simple prayer and were told that if they were sincere in their prayer, then their eternal destiny is safe in Jesus.

Okay, done.  They will go to Church when they get tje chance, maybe even put a few dollars in the offering plate.  But their eternal destiny is secure, so they don’t need to let any religious exercise get in the way of pursuing their next raise or a better car or even a bigger house.

And that, to a large extent describes the Church and the average believer.

But lets look at Paul and see if we can see why he was able to turn the world upside down for Jesus.  I think if you compare Paul’s life to the life of the average believer today, you would say that the reason that Paul was so effective is that Paul lived an upside-down life.  Living upside-down would be taking all of the commonly accepted behaviors, things that we might consider to be our top priorities, and turning upside-down, making a top priority a bottom priority instead.

We might like to live in security, knowing that we have a roof over our head, a car in the garage, and a steady income so we can always count on our next meal.  Paul, on the other hand, might have considered it a good day if he was not both stoned and shipwrecked in the same day.

We are happy that we are saved and know it because we prayed a little prayer one time.    Paul said:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  —  Galatians 2:20

We may find ourselves flirting with sin from time to time, but Paul was dead to sin:

Likewise also reckon yourselves to be truly dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ, Jesus, our Lord.  —  Romans 6:11

Sin had no place in Paul’s life, rather, he presented his body to God:

Neither present your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but present yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  —  Romans 6:13

And finally, Paul took very seriously the words of Jesus:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  —  Luke 9:23

Jesus was not part of Paul’s life, not even the most important part.  Jesus was Paul’s life!  Paul’s life was upside-down from we we consider normal and acceptable, and as a result, Paul, along with the other Apostles and early believers, was able to turn his world upside-down.

Will you join me in praying for an army of upside-down believers to dramatically change the direction of the Church in North America and Europe?

 

 

April 8, 2014 Posted by | America In Crisis, Evangelism, Faith, Revival | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Cup Of Water For A Little One

Jesus speaking, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:42

Water.  In our culture we take it completely for granted.  If we want a drink we just turn the faucet and there is water in abundance.  Clean, fresh, water!WaterForChildrenn

But for many people around the world, clean, fresh water is something people have never heard of.  For many, especially during the summer when rivers have all run dry, a pond that is shared with animals serves all of the water needs for those who live nearby.   Some people drink from ponds that are shared by animals, like the one pictured here.

Would you even consider drinking water from the pond in the picture?  Would you give this water to your children to drink?  Unfortunately, millions of people have no choice.  It is either drink and risk water-borne disease, or don’t drink and die of thirst.

About 3.5 million deaths are caused yearly by water-borne disease.  Among children under 5 years of age, one in five deaths are caused by diarrhea, that is about 1.5 million deaths every year.

If you are like me, you will find these facts disturbing.  You will experience revulsion at the idea of drinking such water yourself, and equally at the idea that millions of people are drinking such water every day of their lives.  

But, there is something that we can do.  Gospel For Asia is helping to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to thirsty areas throughout Asia, in part by building Jesus Wells.  A Jesus Well is a well built by Asian nationals but funded by Gospel For Asia.  And we can all be part of the effort to build these well.

A Jesus Well can be built for $1000.  Imagine, if you decided to take the money you would spend on a meal out and send it to Gospel For Asia instead, and 30 or 40 others did the same, a new Jesus Well could be built, and a whole village of people who are drinking water that pigs swim in could have the same fresh, clean water that you and I take so much for granted.

April 2, 2014 Posted by | 1040 Window, Evangelism, Gospel For Asia | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The 1040 Window

The 1040 Window. Have you ever heard of it? It is a part of the world, actually. This part of the world is home to over 60% of the world’s population. It is also home to over 90% of the people on earth who have never had the opportunity

The 1040 Window
The 1040 Window

to hear the name of Jesus, over 2 billion souls. And of those 2 billion souls, over 40,000 die every day, condemned to an eternity of separation from the God who created them, and who loves them.

But the real tragedy is, of all of the money collected in western churches, less than 1/2 of 1% goes missionary work inside this 1040 window.  It is as if our churches have totally ignored this area of the world.

John 3:16 states that “God so loved the world…”, not the western world, not the American and European continents, but the whole world, and all of the people who live in it.  God makes no distinction.

So, after much prayer, after much reading of my Bible, and after much study of what is happening in the world around us, I must come to the conclusion that I cannot turn a blind eye to this area of the world.  

There is much pain and suffering, much disease, and much evil committed one against another, and much of that evil is committed against women and children.  These things must break God’s heart, and as I draw closer to God, I find that they are breaking my heart as well.

About two years ago, I committed this blog to the Lord’s work, that He would use it to bring glory to Himself.  About a year ago I got my first real eye opening introduction into tragic events that are happening in some of the countries of the 1040 window.  And now, I am planning on using this blog primarily to report on those events and to offer ideas on how we may help, though we may live half a world away.

God has opened a new door for me.  Won’t you join me as I walk through that door and learn what He has in store for me and for as many as will join me?  This is a new adventure!

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

March 19, 2014 Posted by | Evangelism, Salvation | , , , , , | 4 Comments

For God So Loved The World

The following is a Gospel presentation that I made to a forum participant who has a past and background similar to my own using John 3:16 as the basis for the presentation. I decided to copy the presentation as it was originally written.

I can feel your pain, believe me! Though overeating has not been my problem, at least not to the extent that you describe your binges, I am a Gracerecovering alcoholic, smoker, drug user, and sex addict. So I definitely know what it is like to be out of control.

I am firmly convinced that all of these addictions have a spiritual base rather than a physical one

We were created by our God to have fellowship with Him. But we are prevented from that fellowship by sin, which separates us from God, the source of fellowship which we long for.

So, if you are like me you try to replace that fellowship with alcohol, nicotine, inappropriate sexual behavior, and, in your case also, food.

But as I found out, as I became more deeply involved in these behaviors, I was becoming more seriously controlled by sin, I was a slave to it in fact, and that submission to sin drove me even further from God, making my addictions even worse!

Does any of this have a familiar ring to it?

But, there is a way out! In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

In our own efforts we try to do one of two things, either we try to replace God with alcohol, or food, or whatever, or we try to find our own way to God through our own good works. Neither of these can ever work. No matter what we try, we find that there is no adequate replacement for God, and no matter how good our good works, they can never be good enough to satisfy God who is holy and perfect,and perfection is the goal we must attain if we are to achieve fellowship with Him by our own works.

But there is good news! God has made a way for us to be in fellowship with Him and Jesus condensed that way down to a single verse in John 3:16.

John 3:16 says, “God loved”

God so loved the world, that includes the entire human race, including you and me. And because God loved us and saw that we were incapable of making our way to Him, God acted:

John 3:16 says, “God gave”

In an act of love and mercy toward a lost human race, God gave His Son, Jesus, to die in our place on a cross, thus erasing our sin debt. God has done all that He can, the rest is up to us. We must choose a path:

John 3:16 says, that whosoever believes in Him

If any man sees the work that Jesus did on the cross and believes that Jesus is the Savior, the Christ, repents of their sin, that is, turns away from it and commits to following Jesus, then

John 3:16 says

(they) shall not perish, but have everlasting life. As we read elsewhere in the Bible, that everlasting life comes when The Holy Spirit of God comes to us and dwells in our heart.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

When I followed the path that I described to you, at the moment that I turned from sin and gave my life to the Lord, I was instantly and miraculously given dominion over all of my addictions. And it truly was a miracle, because in that moment I knew that I never needed to drink, smoke, take drugs, or act out again, I was FREE! Just as the Bible promised, all things had become new.

And it was all the power of Jesus! Acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, and your only hope for the forgiveness of sin and for eternal life. It is the biggest decision you will ever make, and the one that will bring you true happiness when you realize that rather than being sepearate from God, He is now, literally living in you!

God bless you!

February 27, 2014 Posted by | Evangelism, God's Grace, God's Word | , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Sobering Thought On Evangelism

Have you ever wondered, if Jesus walked the earth today, what would He see when He looked at various people?  Let’s say He was with you at work tomorrow morning.  He would know if each of your co-workers was saved or not.  Of those who are not saved, He would know in each person what seed has already been planted and whether it was about to germinate or whether it was nearly grown and ready for harvest.  He would know exactly, to the second, how much time that person had left on earth and the urgency of sharing the gospel message that he or she might find salvation.

We, unfortunately, do not have all of those advantages.  We know that, according to Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) we are to make disciples of all nations.  We know that when we meet a non-believer and share the gospel that we may be planting a seed, or watering a struggling seedling, or preparing a mature plant for, and maybe even participating in its harvest.  But we also know that it is appointed to man once to die, and after that, the judgment.  But we have no idea whether the person next to us will live to a hundred, or whether they will, God forbid, die in a traffic accident on te way home from work.

The truth of the matter is, if we really believe what the Bible teaches, we must treat our sharing of the gospel with some urgency, because we just don’t know how many chances we or others may have to share.

That’s an awesome responsibility, isn’t it?  But let us not be crushed by it.  In Isaiah 55:10-11 God says that His word will accomplish what He intends.  If we are unable to deliver a particular message on one occasion, someone else will.  What we can know with confidence is that God’s will not be thwarted when it comes to a lost sheep being returned to His fold.

The fact is, God does not need us.  If it were His plan, God could return ever last lost person to His fold without human participation at all.  But God has purposed that we should take part in His harvest.  We are not helping God, but He is granting a wonderful opportunity to take part in the most incredible miracle ever, the reuniting of God’s Spirit with dead and separated souls.

Yes, Jesus made sharing the gospel a responsibility, but is also an incredible privilege which we ought no waste.

June 21, 2012 Posted by | Evangelism, God's Grace, Salvation | , , , | 2 Comments

Christian! BE The Love Of Jesus!

As I read the comments to a few of my past blog posts, but most especially this one, I am reminded that many of us still believe that God has appointed us judges over the world and that our job is to point out the sins of others, whether they are born again believers or not.

Perhaps this belief that we are to point out the sins of others stems from the mistaken belief that God is still holding their sins against them.  But that, happily, is not the case at all!

The Bible teaches that Jesus died on the cross for sins, in fact, He died for the sins of the world.  (Please see 1 John 2:2)  When Jesus said, “It is finished”, that is exactly what He meant.  All sins, yours, mine, and those of the murderer on death row, all of them have been paid for by the Blood of Jesus, and forgiven by God.  Quite simply, they don’t exist any more.

Since Jesus’ death on the cross, God has not been dealing with man on the basis of his sin and need to have it covered by a sacrifice.  Jesus was the last, and perfect sacrifice, making further sacrifice unnecessary, because the sin problem was dealt with once, for all.

God’s dealing with man is now on the basis of faith in His Son and the restoration of His Holy Spirit, who now dwells in the hearts of all believers.   (Please see Romans 8:1-2)

Therefore, it makes no sense to stand in judgment over others, telling them that God holds their sins against them.  He doesn’t!  That ended 2000 years ago on the cross.  And that’s not what Jesus told us to do anyway.  Jesus said:

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  —  John 13:34-35

The apostle Paul had a little something to say about the importance of love as well:

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,  but do not have love, I gain nothing.  —  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

If I have not love, I am nothing!

So, whether we are out and about in the world living our lives, or interacting with others on Twitter or another online community, let us remember what the Lord commanded us, and love those we interact with.  Rather than looking for their sin and (falsely) telling them that God holds their sins against them, let us rather look for that soul that God cared enough about to die for, and always remember that God wishes nothing more than for that lost soul to find its way to faith in Jesus Christ who loves them.

In other words Christian, BE Love To Your Neighbor!

Related Posts:

Judgmentalism

Do you love? I mean REALLY love?

June 5, 2012 Posted by | Evangelism, God's Grace, Godliness | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Join The Twitter Blitz For Jesus

(Note: If you have a Facebook account and this seems interesting to you, please look up Ron Estrada or John Constitution and request an invite to the Twitter Blitz evangelism group)

Would you like to get involved in a new form of twitter evangelism? Then why not try the Twitter Blitz For Jesus? It’s incredibly easy, and there are two ways that you can participate.

The first, and easiest way to participate is to go to the twitter website or to your favorite twitter app and search for #WPFTL. You should find tweets there from different people. The first thing that you can do is, retweet them. It’s really that easy to get involved.

These tweets are directed at the most popular hashtags at the time they were tweeted. So, these hashtags are those that are receiving lots of traffic. If we can have enough people tweeting and retweeting tweets using those hashtags, people will begin to notice, and to read our links. At least some of them will.

So, you’ve done the retweet thing, but now you want more. Well, there is more! First, you will need an online version of your testimony that you can link to in your tweets. If you don’t have that and don’t want to write one, you will need to find some online guides on “How to be saved”.

If you need to write a testimony, using your blog site is one good way if you have one. Or else, you can use one of the long tweet services. Personally, I use TwitLonger.com. Here is my testimony on TwitLonger. See the link at the bottom that looks like this, http://tl.gd/hcqc93? You can copy that link anywhere you want to share your testimony.

Next, you will need to find twitter trending hashtags.  You can usually find these in Twitter or in your favorite Twitter app, or you can just go to #WPFTL and pick one of the most recent ones.

Now it’s time to have a little fun composing tweets.  If you can fit a tweet into the theme of the hashtag that is probably best, but not entirely necessary.  Be creative!  To help get you started, here are a few examples:

The most famous#4famouswords of all time! “#Christ died for sinners” just like you and me. tl.gd/hcqc93 #WPFTL

#best90squotes When I hit bottom and looked up, Jesus was standing there with His hands reaching toward me. ow.ly/aRY4b #WPFTL

#ThereWillBeBlood for everything you’ve done wrong. Christ has already shed it for you. ow.ly/aRxFm #WPFTL

Here are a few quick tips to make our Twitter Blitz for Jesus a huge success:

  • Always use a popular hashtag in your tweet

  • Try to incorporate your tweet into the theme of the hashtag. Be Creative!

  • Always use the #WPFTL in your tweet so other Blitzers can find it and retweet it.

  • Retweet other Blitzers tweets as often as you can

  • Have fun, and God bless!

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Christian, Evangelism | , , | 4 Comments