Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Step Back and See What is Important

This post is as much for myself as it is for anyone reading it.

Last week's missions conference at Marion Avenue Baptist Church showed me what was important. I saw people from all walks of life, whether they be a successful Fortune 500 businessman or an alcoholic who was a bad husband until he was presented the Gospel and chose to turn his life over to Christ, living for the work of Jesus here on earth. One thing that was true was the calling to help save souls across the world and here at home. Our assistant pastor told me that as a young man, he saw missionaries as heroes. I didn't know what he meant until I met this group of people at our missions conference. God has truly chosen them to help save others.

I didn't get it when a friend of mine told me she wanted to return to Mexico to help minister to other young ladies for a month and a half later this year, until I talked to these missionaries. It isn't about wanting to go to exotic places or experience other cultures, although that is part of the experience. It is about wanting to see as many people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus as is possible in our limited time here on earth. It is about being the salt and light Jesus called us to be.

I think this is where many so-called Christians miss the boat. The Great Commission was go and tell the world about Jesus. That world includes your neighbors, friends, relatives and people you meet in the course of normal life. It doesn't take someone special or gifted to do it either. It takes each one of us who call Jesus our Lord to just do our job.

Matthew 28:18-20King James Version (KJV)

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mark 16:15-20King James Version (KJV)

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Romans 10King James Version (KJV)

10 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Two things are pounding themselves into my consciousness right now. The still small voice of God is louder than I've ever heard. I need to be more aware and willing to share my faith with those around me who I know aren't Christians and I need to be willing to surrender myself to serving the Lord in full time missions, if I'm called to do so.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Importance of Friendship

It has been nearly a month since I last posted a blog. Life happened. As you may know, most of my posts revolve around politics. This one will deviate from politics. I want to talk about friendship. My church brought in a guest speaker a few Sundays ago and he taught a lesson on friendship. These are my thoughts on this very subject.

I had never placed a high priority on friends. I thought I could do everything on my own and if I couldn't, it didn't need to get done. I'm not talking about Facebook friends or Twitter followers either. I'm talking about real life friends. That changed almost a year ago.

I now know why I didn't place value on friends. God was working. He knew I didn't have the right type of people around to warrant my investment of time, effort and honestly, love. I knew I loved my family, but after that, if you pressed me, I could only name one or two friends I truly loved, in the way Jesus commanded us to. Now, that number is a multitude greater.

Now, before you condemn this as not being a Christian way of thinking, my goal when I meet new people is to be their friend in Christ. It is our job as Christians to tell others about Jesus. The friends I am talking about are the ones we choose to spend time with, fellowship outside of church with and frankly(inside joke), tell our fears and triumphs to. Proverbs 27:17 comes to mind.

I have heard it said that a true friend is someone you can be your most godly self around. I find that to be so true. If someone mocks me or derides me for following Jesus when I'm around them, I'll give them a Gospel tract and be nice, but I'm not going to choose to spend my down time around that person. On the other hand, if a person encourages me in my faith and I can encourage that person too, I'm going to do what I can to cultivate a friendship.

The reason I write all of this is I have trouble counting the number of friends I've made over the past year. Who knew working in the politics could actually be good for someone? It has been for me(minus the current presidential election, that is). Most of it is due to finding a church home. I include my pastor in that long list of friends.

Something hit me yesterday while I was texting a few friends in the morning while doing my morning research. When you notice something a friend has been working on and they've seen an improvement or success in whatever they were doing, say something. Encourage them. Don't wait for them to bring up the subject. The reaction of someone having their improvement noticed is well worth the observational effort. On the same line, if you notice a friend in need, stop what you are doing and help them out. Go the extra mile.

Sometimes, a friend can also be a mentor. If you find that friend, don't let them slip away. If you find a friend who is especially good or skilled in an area you could improve on, ask to spend time with them. Learn from them. Ask questions. Conversely, if you have a friend who may benefit from your abilities or knowledge, share and help them learn. You don't have to wait for them to ask. Your gift of time is worth more than any amount of money or other earthly gift you may give.

Human beings aren't meant to be solitary creatures. God created us to commune in fellowship with each other. Will there be differences, of course, but when you find that person or group of people who are on the narrow path put forth by Jesus, don't let them go. Godly friends are worth their weight in gold.

Lastly, the most important thing you can do for your friends is pray for them. This is something I've come to appreciate about my friends. I'm not afraid to ask them to pray for me and they come to me to pray for them. Knowing that you have someone praying for you to an almighty God causes a peace that is not quantifiable. The great friend we all have told us about true friendship in John 15:13-15

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