Monday, April 11, 2016

April Night: Steak on a Plate While You Wait

The right theology is crucial when it comes to sharing the Gospel.

Last week I, along with several others from our church, were able to go to downtown Oklahoma City and serve the homeless and those less fortunate. I know, because of the ones that I serve with who are much more seasoned than I am, we always show up prepared. We provide to them food, clothing, toiletries, water, punch, coffee, hot chocolate, blankets, and many other things that one might need as part of daily living.

The ones that we team up with from another local church are an outstanding group of people. They are Gods blessed few that go week in, and week out at all costs. They don't miss a week to serve. And they are always prepared.

Preparation is key.

But was I prepared?

Upon arriving, I got my soapbox out, got it all set up, and prayed up asking God to give me the words to say and that I may speak boldly, straight, strong, and true.

Once I got done with my open-air, I was able to walk around and distribute Gospel Tracts to all those standing around and in lines to get items. As I was walking up to each individual, one man stopped me and told me "The Christian way is about doing what the Bible says so that when you are resurrected you will go up to Heaven and be there forever."

"Oh, really?" I responded.

"Yeah. It's as simple as that" he said.

"Okay good. Let's see if you've done that. How many lies do you think you've told in your entire life?" I asked.

"I know I've lied" he replied "but we've all done that".

"You're right. So therefore you've not done what the Bible says so therefore you have a problem. That's exactly what I just preached about. You can't match up to Gods standard and thus, can't even back up your own belief about "doin what the Bible says"."

As moments went on, I was able to walk him through two or three more of the Ten Commandments and he realized at that point that he couldn't even do what the statement he said, he could do.

I think his statement is terribly wrong. Here's why I think that and this is what I explained to him.

The Christian way is not about doing anything so that something might happen. The Christian way is about doing something because something HAS happened--- because Christ has died and risen and promised resurrection in God's grace. The Christian life is a life lived in grateful response, and not in an attempt to earn or prove anything, because there is nothing for us to earn or prove. Remember, we are nothing in Gods sight because of our sin debt that we owe. So it's not about "Doing" at all. The Christian walk is not about works and what we do.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

So it's about nothing we can do. It's about what has been done for us and in spite of us.

I think this point cannot be overstated, because the call of the Christian life is one of the selflessness of Jesus, and one cannot live selflessly as Christ did if one is trying to earn something for themselves. The only way one can truly empty themselves and live for God and others is in grateful response to what God has already given.

 This is Joy. Joy has been serving for this ministry for over ten years and is faithful to the call of serving others. She's a wonderful lady and we thank God for her constant attitude of "Joy" and dedication to serving others.

We have workers that sit in the van all night that give out clothes, blankets,  and toiletries that we have to offer.

Out of the back of that van is where we set up the line to serve food items and drinks. The items sometimes differ depending on the weather/temperature. It makes the difference between fruit punch or hot chocolate.

The area in which we serve is in a large parking lot behind an old Nazarene church. For so long we served on the front side of the church but have recently been moved to the back. A new pastor has since taken over this church and felt it necessary to move us because of the particular crowds that we draw.

80% of the groups we serve are on very low income and most are homeless.

The whole purpose, I believe, for the Christian life is to evangelize the lost and serve the needy. Nothing more. Nothing less. If as a Christian, you're not doing these things, then might I encourage you to take to heart the words of Jesus when He said:

"If anyone be first he must be last of all and a servant to all." ~Mark 9:35b

Who is the greatest? Well, if you're born again then it is certainly not you. And its only pride that keeps you from evangelizing the lost...and serving the needy.

Check yourself. Serve others.

Serve God with all you have and in every aspect in life, and you will not be disappointed. 

Live life in the background,


Friday, April 8, 2016

"Then Comes Marriage"

       I always count it a privilege to be able to serve in any capacity that I can within my local church. We're called to do so and when we get called upon, we should be grateful.

So each Sunday morning, I do my best to be most prepared for when my time comes to teach my junior high school guys. I think it's important due to the overbearing statistic of kids being done with religion at the age of eighteen and not looking back. So I firmly believe that now is the time to teach and to teach well when it comes to them being 13, 14, and 15. 

Recently, like the last three Sunday's, my audience has changed from not just my jr high guys but my high school guys too. 

For the last three Sundays, we've been making our way through the series of The Adventures of Roman and Jorge. Its put by Last Words Ministry.

It's a cheesy little comedy bit spread out of four episodes that takes you through modern day struggles that we see in the church and in typical evangelical Christianity.

"Lifelong friends become bungling partners in an adventure toward deeper Christianity that you won't soon forget. After the gangly, socially-awkward Roman decides to actually put into practice some teaching he heard on evangelism, comedy ensues as his street-wise, church-going, co-worker, Jorge, tried to get him to settle down and stop taking the Bible so literally."

The whole series is great because it focuses on the things that we think and do not say. Such things like evangelism, and what Biblical evangelism is, modern day Christian lingo and phrases like "Ask Jesus into your heart" and "Pray the Sinners prayer" among other sayings. It's been a great little series. We have yet to complete it as we will finish the 4th episode this coming Sunday.

Yesterday, we watched episode 3 entitled "Then Comes Marriage". This one hits home to me because it's something that I've gone through in recent years. It's about finding a balance in ministry. It's about making sure your house is in order and not falling apart as you go out and serve others, and evangelize the lost. A healthy home is a God honoring home. I brought up the verse from 1 Timothy 5:8 that reads:
   "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

I brought this up because it's something I was a victim of in recent years. Those days are since over but the point that I really wanted to drive home to my guys in my class was if your life is in turmoil, if its falling apart, if you have relationships in jeopardy, then you should NOT be out evangelizing the lost. Why? Because if any of the above are happening, then you are WORSE than the one you're out evangelizing! Think about that for a moment.....because if you reject reality, and just sweep things under rugs, eventually, the rug will trip you up. And that's what happened to me. Back in the days of 2009-2011 I was going through multiple problems on the home front with my then wife and kids. I wanted go deep into details but as my then wife would agree, I pushed aside so many things and took charge of just evangelism. My only focus back then was being a "Superman of Salvation". A "Look what I'm doing for Jesus" looking for the praise and accolades of man. Meanwhile, my then wife was at home with our kids suffering from the damage that I had caused and trying to put out fires that I had started in every room of my house.

Oh how horribly wrong I was.

To be continued...