What is the proper way to live the Christian life in the Western world? Or maybe a better question is how am I, as a follower of Christ, to live out the Christ life today? Yes, I know, according to the Bible, but how does that look?
The reality is that in the next 10 to 30 years I could very well be either dead or incapacitated. What will I do with the time that I have left?
This past week I read again through the gospel of Mark and I am once again captivated by both John the Baptist and Jesus. I find that, by observing their lifestyles, I feel a renewed sense of excitement and humility.
They preached a simple message and lived simple lives. I believe that, now more than ever, we need their examples desperately, both in the world and in the church. Read what Jesus preached: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news.” And it’s recorded in Matthew 3:2 that John preached the same message.
Then when Jesus called His disciples, He did not recite any scientific formula or use difficult terminology that would confuse those He called. Nor did He demand that they meet certain criteria for following Him. The call is simple: “Follow Me.” It is recorded in the gospel of Mark, “and I will make you fishers of men.” What’s amazing is that with those simple words the men immediately began following Him. There does not seem to have been any hesitation on their part and He really gave no explicit instructions.
Yes, it was a simple message, but it made a profound impact that reverberates still today. Maybe I/we need to get back to this simple message and allow God to change hearts and minds.
If you look at the words of John the Baptist and Jesus again, you will see that the main message is two-fold: repent and believe. They really didn’t explain themselves. Their statements were sufficient.
Let’s look at this message in more detail as we rethink church. There’s something amiss in today’s church here in America. The church is so diverse, yet not in a positive way. There are far too many denominations and far too many factions. We are divided.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:10; “Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be not divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.” These are powerful words from the pen of Paul the apostle.
Watchman Nee took this passage to mean that there should be only one church in a province and not connected to any denomination, for he believed that denominations divide us. The church in China, of which he was a part, did not go off the rails after leaving a denomination but, instead, remained Biblically faithful.
Now I am not advocating leaving a denomination. But there are some denominations that think there is only one right denomination (theirs) and only one translation of the Bible.
That divisive way of thinking reminded me of a very special conference held every other year in Louisville, KY called T4G. It was begun by four men from three different denominations: Southern Baptist, Presbyterian Church in America and Sovereign Grace Ministries. They may have differing views on baptism and on the last days but they do not allow that to separate them from one another. They acknowledge that the heart of the gospel is Christ crucified, buried, risen and seen; this is what they believe and stick to as they fellowship one with another.
It’s the gospel that holds all things together in the Church of Jesus Christ! Far too many people/denominations focus on differences when we ought to be focused on the meat of the gospel.
Let’s break down the gospel a bit to see what the critical points are. Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary, who was in need of saving herself; and He was born without sin. He took on the sins of this world for us when He died on the cross, though He was sinless. He was crucified on an old rugged cross, died, was buried and on the third day He rose from the dead and was seen by as many as 500 people at one time. Finally, He’s coming again – no man knows the hour or the day, but He is coming again.
So what sort of people should we be? And what should we to be doing? The scriptures answer those questions with two fascinatingly simple words – repent and believe.
First is repent. This is always a word that needs clarification. A basic definition is to change one’s mind. John MacArthur says of repentance, “Repentance is no more a meritorious work than its counterpart, faith. It is an inward response. Genuine repentance pleads with the Lord to forgive and deliver from the burden of sin and the fear of judgment and hell. It is the attitude of the publican who, fearful of even looking toward heaven, smote his breast and cried, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ (Luke 18:13). Repentance is not merely behavior reform. But because true repentance involves a change of heart and purpose, it inevitably results in a change of behavior.”
The American College Dictionary of 1968 begins to define it this way: “change one’s mind with regard to past action in consequence of dissatisfaction with it or its results.” Since you regret your past actions, this implies that you are going to make a change in your lifestyle.
This is where it all begins. First, you make a change when you come to Christ for the first time in salvation. And when we’ve blown it as believers and sinned against God, we come under conviction in our conscience that we’ve done wrong against God or sinned against God. As a result, we come back to repentance and are brought back into fellowship with Him as we were before we sinned.
The second part is to believe. Believe the gospel. How does one do this? Look at the example of the disciples. Romans 10:9-13 gives us a good idea of the steps of initial belief. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (ESV).
Then this leads us to trust Jesus fully. John Piper has correctly written, “they who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.” How do I know this is true in my life? Oswald Chambers’ devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” for November 10 gives us good insight:
“After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, ‘God has called me for this and for that,’ you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, ‘Lord, this causes me such heartache.’ To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy ‘world within the world,’ and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being ‘frost-bitten.’”
Repentance and believing the gospel are not simply done when one comes to Christ, but they must be a lifestyle. While we live in this human body and upon this sin-filled earth, we need this lifestyle of repenting and believing in the good news of Jesus Christ.
This is a word that came into great prominence in 16th century Germany. The man Martin Luther, nailed 95 statements on a church door in Wittenburg, Germany calling for changes in the church’s stance on Indulgences. An Indulgence was money paid to the church to help any member of your family get out of purgatory faster.
This Reformation went farther than Luther ever expected and continues to the present day. We could cover the history of the reformation but there are already countless articles and books on this subject. Our particular interest in this article, is what does reformation mean and do for a subject or institution.
According to the American College Dictionary of 1968 through Random House Publishers “Reformation” in the third definition: “the great religious movement in the 16th century which had for its object the reform of the Western Catholic Church, and which led to the establishment of the Protestant churches” (p. 1018).
The root word “reform” has multiple definitions, but the two that seem to suit our topic are the following: “to restore to a former and better state; improve by alteration, substitution, abolition, etc…to put an end to (abuses, disorders, etc.)” (p. 1018). There is a second definition of “reform” that applies here as well, “to form again” (p. 1019).
What Luther and the reformers that followed him was to return to the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments as the final rule for faith and practice. The church of the 16th century had fallen into fear mongering, frightening the people into subservience to the church and, by extension, the head of the church.
Luther argued with great vigor (and knowledge of the Bible) that the Pope and the church are to subject themselves to that which had been written and approved in the Holy Writ. Sola Scriptura was the cry of his day or Scripture alone is the final rule of faith and practice. The Bible is not subject to us but we are subject to the Bible.
The five pillars of the Reformation, if you will, are sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, sola Scriptura, soli Deo Gloria. The translation is the following: People are saved through “grace alone” by “faith alone” in “Christ alone” according to “Scripture alone” for “God’s glory alone.”
The five “solas” brought many back to what the Bible originally taught. They did not add anything to or take anything away from the Bible teachings. To “reform” something, you do not completely change it but you bring it back to its original intention. For Christians this means that Jesus is put in first place and we recognize that to follow the Bible we become like Jesus, the perfect man.
There is a contemporary movement to reform another religion, and that is Islam. This is predominantly a western movement, far away from the seed bed of Islam, the Middle East.
One of the leading proponents of this honorable, yet short-sighted movement is Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a brilliant man. He is a former Naval Officer in the U. S. Navy and is currently an American medical doctor here in the U. S.
Please understand dear reader that he deserves the greatest respect in desiring the best for his religion. However, if his reforms were to9 come to pass, then Islam becomes something totally different than it was, and is.
What he describes as a vision for Islam, cannot in any way, shape or form resemble the original Islam and the founder Muhammad. His heart’s desire seems to be peace with God; which we know can only come by receiving Christ as his Savior.
To reform something you bring it back to its original state; you do not and cannot entirely change it because then you have something new, not reformed. Luther brought the church back to its Biblical roots and foundation.
We love Muslims here at GFI and our hearts cry out to them and our passion is that they would see the Christ of the Bible, not the Jesus of the Koran. Jesus is the perfect man and He did what the Scripture records of Him and more. History also provides what is needed to show forth proof that Jesus was a real, historical figure and He did die in our place so that we might experience salvation from the wrath of God and salvation from death and hell.
Christian come back to the Bible for all your instructions on how to live in the here and now in the power of God. When we do this we reflect the perfect man to an imperfect world and then and only then do people have an opportunity to hear the gospel and be saved.
Sometimes things happen that challenge our beliefs, undermine our faith and at times, even lead us astray. There are many paths away from God, all well-worn from frequent travel, but the choices we make to help us get to God sometimes lead us astray as well.
Christians inevitably lean toward forgiveness, always willing to permit a fresh start for those who repent and return, however what if there is no real repentance and the return isn’t for fellowship but for destruction? So it is with Islam.
In such cases, the Christian would be wise to exercise caution, born of discernment.
Sure, we all wish for harmony between religions and peace between nations, but we also wish to win the lottery and live a stress-free life. Clearly we don’t base our daily household decisions assuming lottery millions are just around the corner, so why then do we base our fellowship decisions on an assumption of enduring peace and harmony?
Especially since there has never been a time in human history where such a period existed; certainly not since Mohammed launched his club.
Given this uncomfortable reality, watching the bubble of ecumenism swelling more rapidly with each passing month causes the prudent to question how long the bubble will hold before explosion and collapse; and how many lives it might take when it does.
The Muslim invasion of Europe (disguised as a refugee crisis) has already strained European society to the breaking point. Ordinary citizens are watching their birthright handed to interlopers in the name of “tolerance” and unity.
The already increasingly secular societies of the European Union fail to grasp the significance of importing millions of people who don’t view their religion as a quaint anachronism, but rather as an obligation, a duty upon which their very soul depends.
Even those charged with spreading the Gospel and guarding the truth are bastardizing the foundational tenets of faith in order to accommodate the heretical and brutal beliefs of their new Islamist neighbors.
Neighbors for now, overseers later. The governments of Europe are no longer defending their own people from the predations of the uninvited. They are indeed making insane allowances for the criminal behavior of Muslims while prosecuting the least instance of resistance by native citizens.
The Church is not innocent by any means. Pope Francis has embraced this weak-kneed schoolgirl ecumenism with a zealot’s heart, going so far as to wash, dry and kiss the feet of Muslim “refugees” during the Maundy Thursday ceremonies meant to commemorate Christ’s washing of the Apostle’s feet.
This ceremony has always been reserved for the Catholic faithful, until now, when Francis unilaterally changed the rule to permit anyone of any faith to participate. Acting as a true social justice warrior, the Pope has taken a sacred ceremony of worship and turned it into an annual politically correct photo-op. The world is a bleaker place for it.
So what of it? Is the world really worse off for the Pope connecting with a wider group of human beings?
Well, that would depend on the human beings, wouldn’t it?
Islam doesn’t exist to reach comfortable accommodations with other faiths. Islam doesn’t exist to stand side by side with non-Muslims. Islam exists to subjugate the earth, and all in it, to Allah. Either Islam reigns supreme, or Islam fights.
To do as Pope Francis, is merely illustrating weakness and foolishness to the Muslim mind. There is no admiration of Western culture among Muslims; they dismiss our successes as the benefits accruing to those who serve Satan.
There is no desire to assimilate with Western societies, because that would mean assimilating into a coven of worship with which their Prophet has commanded them to subdue and destroy. No amount of foot washing or ecumenical interfaithery will ever change that. It only facilitates it by opening doors better left shut and leaving foxes in charge of the hen house.
Islam is growing enormously. From 100 Mosques in America in 2001, we now have 2300+ in 2016. An average of one new Mosque every month for 15 years. From the days of Mohammed until today, Islam remains the same; an immensely dangerous, anti-human form of slavery conducted in the name of a false god.
Don’t be deceived.
Many of you will have heard of a popular program on the cable channel Comedy Central, known as “The Daily Show.” While it has gone through a series of host changes, it remains very popular among a surprisingly wide number of demographics and provides a useful glimpse into the pop culture world, and how those steeped in said culture view their relationship to the rest of us.
In other words, it is often quite irreverent and generally entertaining, as long as you don’t take yourself too seriously, or are overly sensitive to a little humor at your expense.
The producer of the Daily Show came to town to do a piece on Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative, interviewing those who support it as well as those who have valid concerns about the project.
Presenter Ronny Chieng, sat down with Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, Dr. Syed Mohuidden and Pastor Eric Elnes – the leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian elements of the Tri-Faith – and asked some rather surprisingly cogent questions. You know, things that only the most intelligent among us would think to ask, like “What were you thinking??”
Pastor Elnes, head of Countryside Community Church, attempted to describe the Tri-Faith project using a bizarre, ill-advised metaphor about a woman who is in love with three men, and because she has so much love, she is able to maintain deeply intimate relationships with all of them at the same time.
Yes, he said that. The representative of the Christian faith on the Tri-Faith campus, on national television, described God’s relationship to the Tri-Faith as a gang-bang. Disgraceful? Clearly. An ugly glimpse into the mind of Eric Elnes? Apparently. Embarrassing and regrettable? Unarguably.
THE TRI-FAITH INITIATIVE: PEACE IN AMERICA’S MIDDLE EAST
MARCH 10, 2016 – PADMA LAKSHMI 03/10/2016
Ronny Chieng investigates the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, NE, which aims to create a peaceful religious space for Christian, Islamic and Jewish worshippers. (5:19)
Pastor Elnes’ prurient foray into polyamorous relationships with the Creator of Heaven and Earth aside, there is more to be concerned about with the Tri-Faith Initiative than the buffoonery of one of its leaders. There is the matter of their denied – then admitted – then hidden – then admitted again – now hidden again association with known front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood in America; the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA).
The Tri-Faith Initiative grew out of ISNA’s interfaith programs which have a multi-pronged purpose. First and foremost, these partnerships between Mosques and Churches or Synagogues are intended to lend a mainstream legitimacy to thoroughly radical Islamic Sharia thoughts and practices.
Secondly, these relationships serve to shield Islamist apologists from scrutiny as their non-Muslim partners run interference for them in the name of “tolerance.” This phenomenon results in the third purpose; weakening the faith of non-Muslims to better prepare them for eventual Muslim dominance, as ordered by Mohammed and Allah.
The inaugural speaker at the outset of the Tri-Faith initiative was none other than the then-President of ISNA, Ingrid Mattson, a woman who has gone on to become perhaps the most prolific producer of Islamist propaganda in the nation, through her academic positions and through interfaith projects.
The Global Faith Institute has exposed these connections time and again, yet the local newspaper and television stations have turned a blind eye, preferring to bask in the reflected light of worldwide attention focused on this one-of-a-kind project in our little city of Omaha. That, and the fact that nearly all of this project is being funded by Warren Buffett’s daughter Susie and Daddy Warren owns the only newspaper in town.
That hasn’t stopped a few national media outlets from taking a gander at this religiously polygamous orgy, (using Pastor Elnes’ description) and discovering that the Muslim leg of the stool is surprisingly hollow. Billing itself as a “non-denominational” Mosque, open to both Sunni and Shiite, the board and membership of this Mosque boast no Shiites whatsoever. In fact, they boast hardly any membership at all.
Local Muslims (outside of the five families that comprise nearly the entirety of membership in the Tri-Faith Mosque) want nothing to do with the project, fearing that it will become a target for lone-wolf attackers who aren’t affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood brand of civilizational jihad. There are already two Sunni Mosques and one Shia Mosque in Omaha, and none of them plan to attend or become involved in the Tri-Faith Initiative.
With virtually no connections to the local Muslim community in Nebraska and Western Iowa, one might be forgiven for wondering why tens of millions of dollars are being pumped into this project to serve a group of families numbering less than fifty people.
The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization that technically no longer exists. Banned in 1949 for their involvement in political assassinations, they have since chosen to operate through front groups, usually modeled on their original structure of a mainstream wing and a secret wing (al Genah el sirry). The mainstream wing puts on the happy face for popular consumption while the secret wing pulls the strings and does the dirty work.
There aren’t any road signs to “Muslim Brotherhood HQ” or membership cards that say “Member in Good Standing in al Genah el sirry,” but these organizations are well known around the world as the foremost purveyors of Islamic subversion and violence.
Al Qaeda, HAMAS, ISIS are all part of al Genah el sirry, just as CAIR, ISNA and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) are integral operations in the mainstream wing that makes the secret wing work.
Congressman Ashford, speaking about the bloody terrorist blasts in Brussels, pointed to Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative as a solution to such violence. As ridiculous as his statement sounds, he unwittingly tapped into the truth…
The only ones who can call a halt to terrorist violence are those who fund them, organize them and give them orders – the mainstream wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Isn’t is handy that we have a significant HQ for that wing going in right here in Omaha. Congressman Ashford won’t have far to drive.
Jesus was asked, “Lord, will those who are saved be few? And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able’” (Luke 13:23-24, ESV).
Narrow doorways are neither convenient nor easy. If you would take a tour of the U.S.S. York in Charleston, SC you would find the doors separating compartments are quite narrow and not very tall. Someone over six foot could very well knock themselves out if they don’t duck and turn slightly to one side.
Two words stand out in this verse, strive and seek. One seems aggressive and the other more passive. If they are aggressive verses passive then we have something to wrestle with and decide as we consider following Jesus. Could this be another cost of discipleship passage?
The word for “Strive” in verse 24, is the same word from which we get our English word “agonize.” Its basic meaning is striving for a goal and the goal is for a few to be saved. Another way to possibly put this term is “forcing your way into it” (Amplified version of NT).
If you read a complementary verse, 1Timothy 4:10, greater clarity is brought to Jesus’ words. “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (ESV). In the context of this verse we see Paul the apostle using an energetic illustration to convey what a good servant of Jesus looks and acts like.
A few verses earlier Paul encourages Timothy to train himself for godliness, to become more like Jesus in an intensely focused way. When one trains his or her self for an athletic event, success comes from single-minded purpose; a fierce desire to be the best they can be.
Paul further encourages Timothy – “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:11-16, emphasis mine).
Paul is telling Timothy to make use of the teaching and wisdom he has gained from Paul, and to serve as an example of God’s grace and power.
Many people compare the Christian life to a marathon and that’s not a bad example, but given the obstacles we face throughout life, an Ironman Triathlon might be a little more accurate comparison.
An Ironman Triathlon is a 2.2-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride followed by a marathon. And these are done back to back to back. You would swim your 2.2 miles and then immediately run and change into your biking outfit on the run and then when you are finished with the 112 mile bike ride you immediately switch to your running shoes and run the marathon. Whew! It makes you sort of tired just writing about this.
The reason these extreme athletes can accomplish this is because of intense focus and much training. For the Christian life it is the same way; there must intense focus and much time training in the Scriptures and how to live them out.
Another major difference in the illustration here, is that the training for the Ironman is individualistic whereas training for the Christian life must be done en masse. We are to live life together, to see growth and maturity and the lessening of the devastating effects of sin in ourselves and each other. We grow together.
This is called the church, and the church (ecclesia) is plural made one. We definitely do not live on an island no matter how bad one would like to live like that at times, but the church is made up of many different individuals created by God for a specific purpose.
But what we do have in common is to “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” Let us begin living or continue living as the church and progress to greater conformity to the Author and Finisher of our faith – the Lord Jesus Christ!
When I was young I loved to watch Figure 8 racing on Wide World of Sports every Saturday. If you have never heard of this type of racing, it is a mixture of NASCAR and Demolition Derby. The cars race on a track that is, of course, in the figure of the number eight.
If the driver of a car gets the timing right they will never be hit and have a great probability to win the race. But if he does not time it right he will be T-boned by another driver where the track intersects at the middle of the eight. However, another driver and many fans may say that perfect timing is when you get to hit someone in another car slowing them down so they are unable to either finish or win the race.
Personally, not getting hit seems the wisest of the two possibilities. Perfect timing in any area of life allows for reduction of stress and more efficient completion of an activity or chore.
In Scripture, God is always on time, still is today, and will be tomorrow. In three different time periods God has been and will be perfect in His timing. That is what we will see from only three passages from the Bible.
The first time period is the birth of Jesus Christ upon the earth. In Galatians 4:4-5 Paul teaches the church of his day and ours that God’s timing is the beauty of perfection. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
What Paul the apostle and author of this letter is telling his readers and us is that at just the right time is history God shows up in the person of Jesus Christ. And He came to deliver mankind out of sin and misery. He did not come too early or too late but at just the right time!
God knew from before the earth was ever created that Jesus would come humbly on the world scene in the stable and be born to a couple of teenagers who were of no worldly account. He did this exactly as He had planned in eternity past and as He proved all of this true throughout the Old Testament. And at just the right time Jesus comes to fulfill all of the promises that God made to Israel from Genesis to Malachi.
The second time period where God shows His perfect timing is the crucifixion of His beloved Son upon a cruel cross. Sin has devastating effects and nothing shows it more grotesquely than that of a Roman crucifixion.
Acts 2:22-24 Peter the apostle describes the perfection of timing according to God’s standards and time-table. “Men of Israel, heart these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know – this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”
Jesus’ death was pre-planned by God to take place a just the right time in history for the good of the world. The Father sent the Son into the world because of His love for the people of the world because He knew that they could not and would not pay the penalty for their own sins. Sin is incurable apart from Jesus and the perfect remedy for the fatal disease of sin is the person of Jesus being born at the perfect time in history and then dying at the perfect time in history.
Finally, the future time is planned perfect in God’s ultimate wisdom and foresight. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:9-10).
The reason, according to these verses, that Jesus has not come back yet is that the time is not quite right. When the perfect time arises God the Father will send the Son to the earth a second time to claim the church. Not everyone that is to become a follower of Jesus or Christian has become one yet. God is so very patient with humankind. He still desires for people to come and believe in His Son and His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and eventual return.
Now it’s in your ball court and the timing is perfect. It is the perfect time for you to believe in Jesus and receive Him as your Savior and King. Do it today for there is no time like the present and its perfect timing.
As we approach another Christmas season, I feel that too often the one left out of the festivities is the One for whom the holiday is named: Christ. There is a reason it is called “Christ”mas and now so many want to do away with His name and fame. This may spoil the schemes of many, but try as you might, one cannot “do away” with Christ.
The holiday may end and the decorations come down, but the reality of the person of Christ as a true historic figure remains. He is not the imagined person that some would like Him to be, but rather a living breathing man who walked this earth. And there is a day when we will all stand before Him to answer what we did with Him.
There is an eternal life of bliss and joy, and it is found only in Jesus Christ. Soon after Jesus had ascended into heaven to be with His Father, Peter the apostle said the following words: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This is a timeless truth and a message the desperately needs to be heard in this world, especially at this time of year.
Peter was echoing Jesus’ earlier statement; “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6). Even Christians at times balk at this truth, but think for a moment, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Jesus merely illustrated that He was the straight line from where they were, to God the Father.
The Christmas message is summed up by Paul the apostle in Galatians 4:4-5; “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” At just the right time in human history, Jesus arrived on the scene so that mankind could be rescued from the wrath of God against evil perpetrated by mankind’s most dreaded enemy – themselves.
God is holy and perfect and good, and when sin entered into the world, He had to judge sin, as it is the polar opposite of all the He is. Humans are carriers of this dreaded disease called sin and if nothing is done to stop it the end result is certain death. But Christ Jesus was born so that we might be delivered from the inevitable and deserved penalty of sin. He came at the right time.
So this Christmas season, be reminded why Jesus came. Let your thoughts rest on the eternal hope of salvation purchased for you with the precious sacrifice of God’s own Son. No one wants to be forgotten at Christmas, no one wants to experience the sting of embarrassment at realizing everyone is opening a gift except you.
Might not Jesus feel that way when we become so entwined in the wrappings and symbols of Christmas that we forget the greatest gift ever given? Hold Him close this Advent season; embrace Him as you would the most beloved member of your family. God desires only one gift from us. To love Him as He loves us. Merry Christmas.
This week’s essay is not a call from this Pastor to repentance but rather an examination of three very famous people from history who called on their people to turn to God. The first is from a man dressed in camel’s hair and a leather belt who ate food quite foreign to this Midwesterner’s palate; locusts and wild honey. Were the locusts eaten raw, roasted, fried or sautéed? Whatever or however, this Pastor doesn’t plan to entertain that delicacy any time soon.
We first encounter John the Baptist in Matthew 3:1-2; “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (ESV). His audience intuitively understood his call and responded with curiosity, and most likely obedience, to his prophetic call.
During John the Baptist’s calling for repentance his cousin comes on the scene and preaches this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17, ESV). His name was Jesus and it was said of Him by John after being asked by many; “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie” (John 1:27-28, ESV).
In our day the word “repent” is viewed negatively, and worse yet, many do not even know what the word means. It is time to excise the cancer of ignorance about repentance and apply the healing balm of understanding.
The basic meaning of “Repent” is to turn or turn around. In the American College Dictionary of 1968 defines it this way: “1. To feel self-reproach, compunction, or contrition for past conduct; change one’s mind with regard to past action in consequence of dissatisfaction with it or its results. 2. To feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent.”
In the English Standard Version Study Bible we read this definition on page 1824; “To repent, or ‘change one’s mind’ in the OT called for a change in a person’s attitude toward God that impacted one’s actions and life choices; it involved the idea of ‘turning,’ that is, from one way of thinking and living to a different way. Common external signs of repentance included prayers of remorse and confession and renouncing sin.”
Feeling remorse leads to turning away from our sin and toward God; as the apostle John wrote “I must decrease and He must increase.” That two of the greatest men who ever lived implored us to do the same thing indicates how important they believe repentance to be in a Christian’s life.
God is holy and entirely without sin, while we on the other hand, are full of sin and distant from God. We must be reconciled to Him; and the first step is to “repent.” We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and thus are in need of a Savior and repentance.
God provided the Savior in Jesus and we are to come to repentance and receive Jesus before we can appear clean before a sinless and perfect God. Jesus provides that perfection; for though He was tempted in every way we are, yet remained without sin, He can stand between us and God and be our mediator or attorney to make His case on our behalf that we are innocent. This is nothing we have done but it is through what Jesus accomplished upon the cross.
Jesus became sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Wow, what a deal, Jesus did what we could never do, get us right before God.
However we must first repent or as Romans 10:9 states, “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.” As the saying goes; there’s no time like the present.
Oh yeah, the third sermon on repentance; after his first sermon in the book of Acts Peter states after the crowd questions him: “Brothers, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38).
In our day and age the plea remains; “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It is right here, right now; recognize the sin you have committed against God and your fellow man and repent and be saved. If you are already a Christian then repent and return to the fellowship of your Father.
God is crazy about you and desires to have that relationship restored through His Son. He loves you and is calling to you in love at this very moment. Respond! Repent! Be restored!
The primary season is about to officially kick off here in the United States, inaugurated by the Republican Party debate this month. Remember, it is still more than a year until the actual Presidential election. One of the topics is sure to be radical Islam, a term that has been tossed around and denied by different sections of the populace.
As one listens to talking heads throw around the term “radical” like parade candy, one can be forgiven for suspecting they do so in order to make the message of mainstream Islam appear more tolerable.
When one talks about being “radical,” negative images come to mind and the issue denigrates into assertions that every religion has its “radicals.”
And they would be right, except for the negative characterization. For one to find what is radical in Christianity, a good place to begin is in the gospel of Matthew, Ch. 5. Here we find what is called the beatitudes; really they can be called the characteristics of Jesus. If one is to follow the example of the most perfect person of their respective religion then you have to look to the best example.
For Islam one would look to the person and nature of Muhammad, just as you would look to Jesus and His nature to fathom the ideal within Christianity.
Jesus spoke to His disciples and the crowds in the Sermon on the Mount; “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, ESV). This is likely not what the crowd was expecting to hear, immediately after seeing the mighty miracles done by Jesus. They may have been expecting a crash course on how He healed all the people and how they too could draw huge crowds around them.
But no, Jesus taught them to completely depend on God for all things in their life. Wait, what? Totally deny yourself, is that what radical following of Jesus is? In short, yes. “When you lose, you win; that’s the way it is with Him,” (Thanks Rez Band for those lyrics!).
Jesus said it of Himself in John 5:19; “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He see the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” And later on in the same chapter Jesus says this; “I can do nothing on My own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30, ESV).
Jesus was completely focused on the Father’s will for Himself. If one would read the Christian Scriptures of the New Testament, they will find that Jesus never did any wrong/sin, and as a worthy and pure sacrifice, would die in our place so that the person who believed in Him would have eternal life.
So radical Christianity is not taking vengeance upon those who you consider your enemy, but following Jesus and focusing upon His perfect life. And when someone slaps you on the right cheek then turn to him the other also (That’s also from Jesus).
In coming to faith in Jesus and believing in His name, we have the peace of God and peace with God. Vengeance is not for us to take because we are flawed human beings. We are to trust God because He is faithful and perfect in all He does.
How should a Christian look upon Islam? Just as Jesus did:
Sometimes in life, the way forward is murky; choices are muddled, lacking sharp edges, or stark lines to help us determine what is road and what is ditch…thankfully, our response to the recent revelations regarding Planned Parenthood and their wanton selling of the scraps of a child that result from an abortion is not like that at all. This one is easy.
The Global Faith Institute exists to serve God, strengthen our faith and stand for right over wrong. The depraved indifference toward unborn children exhibited in those videos is breathtaking. As human beings, we cannot sit idly by as our political system turns a blind eye to atrocity. Furthermore, as a Christian institute dedicated to justice and service, GFI cannot remain silent in the face of such brazen evil. Given who we are and what we now know, the question echoes throughout our state…”What can we do?”
The recently released “behind the scenes” videos of Planned Parenthood officials and staff have caused tremendous consternation among those of us who value the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. A horror, once witnessed, cannot be unseen or easily ignored.
The shock has reverberated throughout our national conscience, stirring millions to question the legitimacy of a legal structure that permits these unconscionable acts, and a political culture that turns a blind eye.
To many, it appears clear from both context and the actual statements seen on the videos that laws regarding the proper disposition of fetal remains are being disregarded on an unthinkable scale.
Worse, it seems that, despite the carefully parsed denials of the Planned Parenthood leadership (and their numerous media allies) the organization has been profiting handsomely from the sale of the post-abortion “products of gestation” we used to have the courage to describe as a baby.
Abortion is not the issue here. As abhorrent a practice as I personally believe it to be, one does not need to be an opponent of abortion to feel a visceral repulsion to the actions and mindset revealed in these videos.
Since the first video came to light, I have personally struggled with a response. I have spoken to friends, colleagues and family about my concerns and found those people to be as perplexed as I regarding appropriate action, now that depravity stares us in the face.
With the release of each video we found ourselves drawn more deeply down the rabbit hole, glimpsing a world where the harvesting of fetal organs and tissue for profit is not only acceptable, but calculated for maximum revenue.
After sleepless nights of research and agonized thoughts, I humbly offer a way forward; a path out of the weeds and into the fields, where our efforts today may yield a harvest of decency for decades to come.
As of this moment, I urge every citizen to call on Governor Pete Ricketts to immediately convene a Special Session of the Unicameral to consider the “Fetal Dignity Protection Act,” (FDPA) (see below).
The existing laws against the sale of fetal organs and tissue are Federal, and the investigation and enforcement functions rely on the prosecutorial discretion of the Obama Justice Department.
I believe many – if not most – Nebraskans would prefer to have that discretion held more closely – in the hands of our own State Attorney General and County attorneys. The FDPA would accomplish this by mirroring the federal prohibitions, absent the necessity of “interstate commerce.”
This legislation doesn’t infringe upon or in any way inhibit a woman’s access to an abortion, as it isn’t applicable until the abortion has already been performed. The FDPA simply requires that an abortion provider account for the disposition of each set of fetal remains, and refrain from selling the dismembered and dissected scraps of an unborn human child.
Honestly, even the corpses of our enemies in war are treated with greater respect and dignity than that granted fetal remains following an abortion.
This legislation has distinguished authorship; a great son of Nebraska, Mr. Patrick J. Borchers, an internationally recognized expert in law and arbitration, who has also served as dean of the Creighton University School of Law.
His legal rationale is sound, and the substance of the bill is easily understood and appropriately focused into a few short paragraphs.
Whether the behavior revealed in these videos is prosecutable federally or not, is immaterial. With enactment of FDPA, we can ensure that, in Nebraska, such activities will indeed be prohibited, and material violations will be punishable under state law.
I would ask three things of you today –
Immediately share this post on your wall and with your friends. Copy and paste the entire thing into an email to everyone in your contact list. Talk about it… often.
Next, contact your State Senator today, by phone and email, and ask them to express to the Governor their support for a Special Session to address this issue.
Finally, call AND email the Governor’s office, also today. Insist he convene a Special Session to preserve the dignity of the innocent, and to hold accountable those who would attempt to profit from their tiny lifeless bodies.
These three steps are the answer to the original question…this is “what we can do” immediately, and to great effect. Don’t let another day pass without standing up for basic human decency.
For links to contact your State Senator and the Governor’s office,; to gather more information and a downloadable copy of the proposed legislation, or to volunteer your support, go to fetaldignity.org.
Fetal Dignity Protection Act
Be it enacted by the people of the state of Nebraska,
Section 1: This law may be referred to and cited as the “Fetal Dignity Protection Act.”
Section 2: It shall be unlawful for any person acting within the State to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration. As used in this Act, “valuable consideration” includes, but is not limited to, reimbursement of expenses incurred in connection with the acquisition, receipt or transfer of the fetal tissue. As used in this Act, “human fetal tissue” means tissue or cells obtained from a dead human embryo or fetus after a spontaneous or induced abortion, or after a stillbirth.
Section 3: Any person who performs abortions within the State must file annual reports as to the treatment of each aborted human fetus. If a corporation or other entity employs, or engages as independent contractors, one or more persons who conduct abortions, the corporation or entity shall file a report on behalf of all persons conducting abortions while in its employ or with whom it contracts. However, the person conducting the abortions shall have an affirmative duty to ensure that the report filed on the person’s behalf is true and accurate. The report shall exclude the name and all identifying information as to the woman from whom the fetus was aborted. The Director of the Department of Health and Human Services shall create a form for reporting the treatment of each fetus and the report shall be filed with the Department of Health and Human Services and available for public inspection. The Director may make such rules and regulations as are necessary and proper to carrying out the purposes of this Act.
Section 4: Willful and material failure to comply with this Act shall be a Class IV felony. The Attorney General may seek in the District Court of the County in which abortions are performed an injunction preventing the further conduction of abortions by any person violating this Act. The District Court shall grant such injunction if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person conducting the abortions has willfully and materially violated this Act. If the person conducting abortions did so while in the employ of, or under contract with, a corporation or entity that corporation or entity shall also be named as a party. The injunction shall prevent the further conduction of abortions by that corporation or other entity.