Sharing the Good News

capitol 2

I spent some time with several friends last Sunday witnessing in down town Austin to people outside of the capitol.  With many visitors in town it provided a lot of opportunities to share the gospel.  I talked to some people who had already professed faith in Christ having previously repented of their sins and placing their trust in Him as their Savior.  Others I talked to had not done so.  Some did not believe God existed, others believed that there was some other way to heaven.  And while every single conversation was cordial, encouraging and engaging, my heart always grieves for those who do not know Christ as their personal Savior.

Many people have trouble with the gospel message because they don’t believe they need a Savior.  They believe that they’re a good person and because of that reason they think they deserve to go to heaven.  After all, they help old ladies cross the street, they take cookies to the orphanage, they do plenty of other good things and they genuinely feel like they are good.  And I have to agree that from an earthly perspective that is not a bad line of reasoning.  But I have to say that from a theological perspective that reasoning is flawed.  Jesus said in Mark 10:18 “No one is good except God alone.”  And Paul reminds us in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We have all have done things that should be considered bad.

Do we do good things?  Sure, we do some good things.  Some of us even do some great things but even those great things never erase our sin.  Trying to atone for our sins through good works does not work!  We can never cover our sin and we can never completely remove it.  No matter how small or insignificant we may feel our sin is, ANY SIN separates us from a holy and righteous God.  And one day when we die or (when the Lord returns) we will be judged for the sin in our lives.

When God judges us according to His perfect moral law, we will be found guilty because of our sin no matter how small or insignificant it seems to us.  When that happens, our sin which has broken our fellowship with God and caused us to be separated from Him, will then cause us to be separated from Him for all eternity.  The Bible describes an eternity separated away from God’s grace and goodness as an eternity spent in hell.  It is not God’s desire that any person should go there.  Jesus declared in Matthew 25:41 that hell was designed for the devil and his angels.  Because God doesn’t want people to go there He sent His Son Jesus Christ to come and live the perfect, sinless life and then give that life as Atonement for sin.  By doing so, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins through His death, burial and Resurrection.

If we repent of our sins and ask Christ to be our Savior, our relationship to God the Father is restored!  We are no longer separated from God.  We are no longer judged for the sins we have committed because Christ paid that penalty for us.  And then when God looks at us He sees the righteousness of Christ.  The penalty for our sin is paid in full.  I know I said that once before but I just had to say it again!  The penalty has been paid in full!  As Paul said in Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  When we ask Him, He forgives us!  That’s the gospel and that’s good news!  Oh, I love to tell people the good news!  I hope you do too!  Do you know Christ as your Savior?  If you don’t, why not confess your need for forgiveness and call upon Him today?  If you do know Him that is awesome!  That is great news…have you told somebody else the good news?

Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in are you a good person, Christianity, faith, God, influencing others, inspirational, Matthew 25:41, ministry work, Romans 3:23, Romans 8:1, who is good, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tell What You Know

We had some family and friends over at the house the other day and my wife Marta shared a story that involved one of her sisters.  In the story she referred to her sister by name.  At the end of the story our oldest granddaughter Avery who is five asked, “Nana, who were you talking about?”   Marta explained that she was talking about one of her sisters.  She went on to say that she has three sisters, Vicky, Jill and Ingrid.  She then said to Avery, “Your daddy has two sisters. Do you know their names?”

“Julie and Katie!” came Avery’s quick and enthusiastic reply.  Marta continued, “And your daddy has a brother.  Do you know his name?”

“Uncle Adam!” Avery exclaimed.

By this time all the excitement and commotion had drawn Avery’s younger sister Haley who is three to the table. She didn’t want to be left out.  “Ask me. I know. Ask me!” Haley shouted.

Her Nana happily obliged, “Your daddy has a brother. What’s his name?”

“Uncle Adam!” Haley responded as she smiled.  Haley went through the same list that Avery did and even added Uncle Eric, Aunt Amanda and a couple of our dogs.  Haley couldn’t wait to share what she knew.

Hey Christian, how about you?  Do you love to share what you know?  Are you ready, willing and able to answer questions in an enthusiastic way that engages and involves others rather than one that alienates and angers them?  I hope you’re ready because that’s our charge.  The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15 “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

We should live a good and godly life that honors Christ.  How we live and love, how we react and respond in every situation should demonstrate the confidence, trust and hope that we have placed in our Lord.  How we live should raise some questions about what we believe.  And we should want to answer those questions.  We should not shy away or be fearful about telling others how God has blessed us or sharing with them good and merciful the Lord is.  We should be ready to tell what we know and why we know it.  And we should tell what we know with gentleness and reverence.  We should do it with love.  And why wouldn’t we?  We are telling about the greatest love the world has ever known!  For God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!  Yes, we should want to answer questions.  We should want to tell the story!  We should have that same attitude that Haley displayed.  “Ask me!  I know!  Ask me!”

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The Possibilities during Persecution

Going through a tough time?  Are you in the midst of a trial now and it seems like a setback on your walk of faith?  Paul writing from the midst of situation that most of us would consider a setback shares these words in Philippians 1:12-13,

Phil 1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians while he was imprisoned in Rome as he waited for his court appearance before Caesar.  He had been arrested as a direct result of sharing the gospel and following God’s call in his life.  Paul’s mission and resolve to share the gospel was not deterred by this situation.  Paul refused to let his circumstances impact his faith; rather he let his faith impact his circumstances.  During times of persecution Paul continued to trust in the Lord.  He continued to share the good news that Jesus lives, Jesus loves and saves to the uttermost!  Even prison became a platform for proclaiming the gospel!  The difficult times Paul encountered served to advance the Kingdom.

Going through a tough time?  Are you in the midst of a difficult situation?  Will it be a time in which you step back or will it be a time in which you step up?  Difficult times can serve as opportunities to strengthen our faith and give us great occasions to show and share our faith.  Maybe your present situation is not a setback at all; maybe it is a chance for your faith to serve as a witness and an encouragement to those around you.  Don’t give up.  Maybe you have been placed in a position where you can show that your belief in God is not based upon always receiving blessing after blessing.  Maybe your current situation is one that will allow you to demonstrate that God is always worthy of praise and honor even in less than favorable circumstances.  Don’t let your circumstances impact your faith; let your faith impact your circumstances.  Until next time stay strong in the Lord.

Posted in Christianity, Don't stop, faith, God, Persecution, Philippians 1:12, religion, spiritual growth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 Oscars – What a Good Work!

2015 Oscars

I took this photo of my youngest granddaughter Haley a few months back while we were hanging out in a furniture store.  This shot of her holding a candlestick as she looked in a mirror reminded me of someone giving an acceptance speech at the Oscars.

While I think she is a star, I am not sure that is in her future.  I do know this, she is sweet and smart, she loves her family and doesn’t even mind sharing her candy.  And I know that the Lord has plans for her.  As I saw her looking in the mirror holding that candlestick which reminded me of an Oscar, I thought of Philippians 1:6 which says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  I know the Lord will keep His hand on Haley and her sister Avery.  They are being raised in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and I am confident that He will do a good work in them and through them.

Posted in 2015 Oscar winners, Christianity, faith, God, grandchildren, Oscars, Philippians 1:6, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Prayer Okay?

I was looking through some old posts and ran across a poem that I had written as a prayer for a family.  I added another stanza to it as I figured that a well-rounded prayer ought to include a request for the person doing the praying too.  That got me thinking that there are no doubt many of our prayers that don’t cover all our bases, share all our needs or even come close to capturing the fears, doubts, desires or dreams of our hearts.  How could they?  I am so grateful that we don’t have to worry about our prayers having all the right words or agonize over whether or not we may have left out something by mistake.  The Bible says in Romans 8:26  “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

I am so grateful that we can trust God to meet all of our needs.  I don’t have to worry about lifting up the perfect prayer because I have the Perfect Prayer helping me.  The Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf.  He lifts up my requests to God the Father, even those I may forget or have difficulty expressing.

Lord bless my family,
Be with them today;
Walk close beside them,
Lead them on their way.
Hold their hand in every valley,
Help them climb each hill;
Guide them and protect them,
Help them do Your will.

And while You’re watching over them,
Please keep Your Hand on me,
Help me be the person
That You have called me to be.
Don’t let me ever forget
That my strength comes from above,
May I ever praise You,
For Your mercy, grace and love.

Posted in Christianity, God, Holy Spirit, inspirational, religion, Romans 8:28 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Friends – Should I Confront a Brother?

Good friends are like good sisters…they know when to hold you up and they know when to hold you back.

            Holding Haley Up 1  Holding Haley Back

I love my granddaughters.  The girls may be two years apart in age but they are close as can be in everything else.  They really watch out for each other and care about how the other one is doing.  Yes, they have their little squabbles from time to time like any siblings do, but for the most part they are inseparable and always have each other’s back.  If one is feeling down, the other tries to cheer her up.  Yes, they watch out for one another.  If one leaves the room the other will not let Pawpaw take goodies off the other’s plate.  Not only do they hold Pawpaw accountable but they hold one another accountable too.  If one starts to get out of line a little bit, the other will point out that the behavior in question is not how we are supposed to act in this family.  They do their best to keep the other one from going too far.  They hold each other up and they hold each other back.

I think that is what Paul was trying to convey in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”  My granddaughters are already getting pretty good at applying some of the basic principles in that verse.  I think that sometimes in the Church it is easy for us to fall short in this area.  We don’t mind holding somebody up when they are feeling down.  It can be fairly easy for us to show compassion and comfort the fainthearted.  But sometimes we are reluctant to hold people back and keep them from going too far.  We shrink back from warning those who are unruly.

Perhaps this is because we are worried about having our own failings and flaws pointed out to us.  No one likes to be called judgmental or accused of having a “holier than thou” attitude.  That’s why we must discover whatever obstacle there is that prevents us from obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:14.  Then we can work on removing that obstacle.  If there truly is a log in our eye, then yes, we must remove it so that we can speak without fear of condemnation to our brothers or sisters (see Luke 6:41-42 and Matthew 18:15 ).  But please understand, log or not, condemnation is always likely to come when you speak to someone who is out of line.  If you try to hold someone back from continuing with a behavior that is outside of God’s will you will likely face resistance and condemnation.  You may be called judgmental.  Speak anyway.  Speak with the patience and love that only Christ can give.  You are called to do it.  You are not only to hold your brothers and sisters up, but you are to hold them back.   Remember, anything God asks you to do, He will help you to do.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Christianity, confronting a brother about sin, faith, God, good friends, grandchildren, Minding your own business, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessed with my Job

Our management team has been working on a special project at the office this week. We have been given a lot of closed claim files to review for certain variables in a short amount of time. We discussed the task as a group and came up with the best way to get it done given the time frame we were provided. Everybody pitched in and provided good ideas. As a result we were able to complete a huge task in a matter of days. The teamwork reminded of what the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 10

Ecc 4:9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

The Lord has blessed me in many ways. The career that He has provided me with is just one of those ways. Next week I will celebrate my 25th anniversary with Farmers Insurance. I am glad that I work with a good group of people that are always willing to help one another and who share ideas readily to make things go more smoothly. Not only does it make a difference when special projects roll around but it makes a difference even in the every day routine work load too. I know that if I am down or having a bad day, I can count on my team and coworkers to pick me up and help me. I even work with several who will pray for me and pray with me. Yes, the Lord has blessed me and I am grateful for my job and those I work with and the company I work for.

I hope that you had a good week too. I pray that those around you were encouraging and helpful. If not, well, I pray that next week will be better. Hang in there and stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, Ecclesiastes 4:9, faith, God, good coworkers, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment