Showing posts from July, 2011

Ultimate "Name-Dropping"

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” —Acts 4:12, NIV.

Frederick Whitfield said it well:

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in my ear,
The sweetest name on earth.

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.

It tells me what my Father hath
In store for every day
And tho’ I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe,
Who in each sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below.

O how I love Jesus!
O how I love Jesus!
O how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

Embrace that Name. Hold it close to your heart. Place it foremost in your mind. Keep it on the tip of your tongue. Whisper it frequently in reverence and love. Shout it when you can. Sing it with joy. Share it at every opportunity. And trust in its Owner with ev…

The Man Who Met Me at the Door With the Shotgun Didn't Accept Christ

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

Have you ever counted the number of times you’ve heard, or read, a message on this verse? We know it by heart, along with its interpretation. We’ve even tried doing it, each of us in our own little spheres of influence.

They tell me I used to be quite the little evangelist in the neighbourhood where I grew up. Frankly, I don’t remember preaching to my chums on the street, or playing “preacher” to my doll pack.

I remember taking courses on personal evangelism. Methods, programs, plans popped off the printing presses with frightening regularity even in my early maturity. Every one was better than the other, guaranteed to bring in the lost by the boatload–or so it was claimed.

I did door-to-door visitation over the summer of my first student ministry assignment. That was another one of the great “must-do’s” …

Black Hole Peace

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” –John 16:33, NIV.

I am surrounded by people who seem to have constant trouble. It makes me almost ashamed to say that my life, though it has had its “black holes,” has been relatively trouble-free.

As the Lord comes to His darkest hour, His “black hole” shaped into the form of a cross, He reminds His disciples that all He has said applies to those dark moments that await them at the cross and beyond. They will need the assurance that a better life is waiting for them (John 14:1-4), that He will return. They need to know that they can ask and He will deliver that which will bring glory to Him through them (John 14:11-14). The Spirit will come to live in them so that He, the Christ, will forever be in their lives (John 14:15-18, NIV). They are not to be afraid but to trust and count on the peace that He will give during all their difficult tim…

God's One Story

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” —John 16:13, NIV.

God doesn’t have more than one “story.” How often have we heard people say “Oh well, we all worship the same God” when confronted with a belief system that runs parallel (or opposite) to the truth of Scripture.

Though there are many roads that could lead a person to faith, all those roads have to pass through the cross. During the last discourse that Jesus gave to His disciples, He taught them about the Spirit of God Who would shortly come to live in them. He prayed for their unity. He reminded them that He was the only way, the only truth, the only life.

We don’t like to offend but neither should we deceive by allowing others to go on their way believing that any road leads to an eternal home. Faith alone is not sufficient to save—if it is faith wrongly placed.

The Holy Spirit is our gu…

By Way of a Cross

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” —John 12:26, NIV.

Doesn’t this verse sound soooooo good? Yes, Lord, I’ll serve you. I’ll follow. I’ll be where you are.

My Scripture reading program for this year only gives me one or two isolated verses each day—a dangerous thing because it’s possible to miss the point of the passage when I look at it apart from its context.

I thought I should look this one up.

Jesus has already entered Jerusalem on his first, and last, donkey ride. Though the occasion was triumphant, the crowds appreciative, and new interest in the gospel sparked, the Lord immediately hauled His disciples down from their “cloud nine.” The interest in Christ’s message came from an unexpected quarter, some Greeks who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They asked to see Jesus. We can assume from the answer Jesus gave to their request that He was challenging them to count the cost of really &…

Completely Satisfied

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’” —John 6:35.

I live within spitting distance of two bakeries. I try to stay away, but I really like bread, especially when it comes in the form of a honey-dipped doughnut.

Bread always satisfies—temporarily.

Water is convenient. Here in Canada it is even more easily accessible than it was in Venezuela where drinkable water depended on the arrival of the water truck. Here, in this country, the tap is never far away.

Water always satisfies—temporarily.

When I look at Jesus’ statement in John 6 I know that spiritual satisfaction is not permanent either. Jesus is the bread and water of life. He always satisfies. But there is a condition tucked away in the Lord’s statement.

Just as I have to keep going back for more doughnuts and keep turning the tap on to get water to meet my physical cravings, so I have to keep going back to Jesus to satisfy my spirit…

No Clotheslines Here

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” —John 5:24, NIV.

My mother used to tie me to the clothesline. No, she didn’t tie me with clothesline, she simply attached my harness to the clothesline. This allowed me the freedom of the backyard and kept me from wandering out to the street. If she could have trusted me to stay in the yard I’m sure we could have done well without the harness or the clothesline; but she couldn’t. I was a wanderer. I know that because the story is told of the first (and last) time mom gave me the freedom of the yard and I ended up in the middle of the street in front of our house. The only thing—humanly speaking—that saved me from certain death was the quick action of my big brother who rushed out and hauled me back to the safety of the sidewalk.

He crossed me over from “death to life” in the physical sense.

I thought about that incident as I rea…

Reinventing Leona—A Review

Well, Reinventing Leona, a first novel by Lynne Gentry and published by Tyndale House, certainly has tension—from the first pages right until the end.

The story centers around Leona Harper, a pastor's wife who becomes his widow in the first few pages of the book when her husband suffers a heart attack in the pulpit. Gentry, a pastor's wife herself, knows the behind-the-scenes realities of life in the manse.

But in that reality lies a barb that pierces the storyline. Reinventing Leona has a cynical tone to it that grates sometimes more than just a little. With a very few notable exceptions, the congregation of Mt. Hope Community Church is not made up of too many nice people. That not-niceness seems to prevail over the occasional splashes of Christianity. For the most part the characters are well-developed. I can "see" these people. But what bothers me is the cynicism about them. I understand that Christians aren't perfect—after spending as many years in ministry…

All or Nothing

In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’” —John 3:3, NIV.

Who’s the liar? Voices today (though this is not a new phenomena) tell us that everyone is going to heaven, that hell is what we make it here on earth. Neither of these statements is true. The book of John alone is full of verses that hammer away at the misguided thought that in the end love will prevail (i.e. John 1:12, 3:16, 17, 5:24).

Love does prevail—for those who confess their sins and throw themselves on God’s mercy for forgiveness and restoration.

Do those who so cavalierly dismiss the statements of Scripture and the clear teaching of Jesus even wonder what else might be a lie? If they can so quickly say that Jesus didn’t mean what He said about salvation, what else didn’t the Lord mean?

Perhaps He also didn’t really mean to say that there is a literal heaven, since there doesn’t seem to be a literal hell.

Perhaps He didn’t mean that He was literally t…