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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

That’s What Faith Can Do

Enjoy this wonderful song of worship and hope.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Christian, Faith, God's Grace | , , | Leave a comment

The Essence Of Christianity In Just Four Words

Here is the essence of Christianity in just four words:FollowMe

Jesus commands:  “Follow Me”

And we respond:  “Yes Lord”

These words are a paraphrase of Evangelist David Tran in our morning Church service on March 15, 2015.

There are two things that impressed me, first about our Lord’s command, and second, about our expected response.

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March 15, 2015 Posted by | Faith, Revival | , , | Leave a comment

A New Journey – Trusting His Word

I met with an old friend and co-worker today to discuss the possibilities of doing contract work, which is new to me.  Up until now I have only worked full-time.  He was able to share many insights and to get me thinking about thing I have not considered before.  I am sure his comments will be valuable as my job search gets underway in earnest.

 

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August 27, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Faith, God's Grace, God's Word | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A New Journey – First Steps

first-stepMy last day of work was Thursday, August 14.

From the time I landed this job, almost exactly four years earlier, I knew that God’s hand was in it.  My wife and I, along with our Church, had been praying for this job for over a year, and when it was offered, the circumstances were such that it was obviously a gift from God.  As it was a gift from my Lord, I remembered to thank Him for it often.

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August 19, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Faith, God's Grace, Godliness | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A New Journey

ANewJourney

(See journal index at the end of this introductory post)

A little over five years ago I was laid off during the peak of the recession.  I was out of work for sixteen months, finally landing a job in August 2010.

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August 19, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Faith, Godliness | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Testimony

Hi, I want to share about a few events from my past that you may find useful.

As a teenager, I began experimenting with life, with doing things my way rather than how my parents taught me.  At fifteen, I began smoking cigarettes, and then experimenting with alcohol at sixteen. By the time I was eighteen I was using marijuana, and a year later, I was using heavier drugs, mostly LSD and cocaine, but I had experimented with others as well. I was also becoming sexually active and had developed an addiction to pornography.

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May 26, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Discipleship, Faith | , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Let Jesus Be Our Example

Follow JesusI want to share a few brief passages from the New Testament that show how Jesus ought to be the example that we live by.  First Philippians 2:5-8 shows us that as Jesus was radically obedient to the Father, so ought we also be:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

In 1 John 3:16-18 we see that Jesus showed us love by laying down His life for us, and that we ought also to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in need.

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

We also se that it is not enough to give verbal assent to this truth, we need to put it into action.

In 2 Corinthians 8:9-15 we see another example.  In this one we see that Jesus made Himself poor that we might become rich.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

And Paul then applies Jesus’ example to the Corinthian Church, a congregation that was experiencing a time of great abundance, and encouraging them to share their abundance with the poorer Church at Macedonia.

I would like to close with a reiteration of John’s admonition to act in deed and in truth by sharing a passage from James.  In chapter 2 verses 14-17, James shows again how our faith must be more than just verbal assent, it must play out in action as well.  

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

And James gives another example of a brother or sister in need, and how we, as followers of Jesus, must not simply say that we will pray for that brother or sister, but must also do a concrete action to help alleviate the situation.

It may seem obvious, but following Jesus is more than knowing what Jesus said, it is doing what Jesus does.

May peace go with you.

 

 

April 27, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Discipleship, Faith | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good Friday Reflections

Today is Good Friday, the day when Christianity traditionally remembers the passion and sacrifice of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

I have been pondering some of the circumstances that occurred around this time. First, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, a Jewish council decided to ignore this most notable miracle and plotted to kill Jesus instead.

I thought, how tragic it is that the council could be so caught up in their own self-interest that they would decide on this course of action rather than seeing events for what they were.

And then, there was a string of events that occurred while Jesus was on the cross: The earth was darkened for three hours, and when He died there was a great earthquake. And most notable of all, the Temple veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, was torn in two.

One might think that someone might take this as a sign maybe that something unusual, even unique, had just taken place.

But no, these events were ignored, and blind self-interest was the order of the day.

And I wonder, am I guilty of blind self-interest? And if I am, how would I know?

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139: 23-24

April 18, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Faith, Good Friday | , , , , | Leave a comment

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