What is True Freedom?

This weekend, many people here in the United States will be celebrating “freedom.” A large number of those people don’t really know what true freedom is.

I encourage those of you who are believers to take some moments of time outside of barbecues, fireworks, and splashing in the lake to pray for those near you who may not know the true meaning of freedom. Take the time to share how they can have a freedom that doesn’t begin with laws or more education or a better job. If you tell just one person the gospel this weekend, you have been a messenger of true freedom.

…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. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom. 10: 9-10, 14 ESV)

Photo caption: ohbeloved.blogspot.com

Photo caption: ohbeloved.blogspot.com

Are you a person who doesn’t know Christ? Or perhaps you call yourself a Christian, but you’re not really sure what that means and it hasn’t changed your life in any way.

I invite you to check out the resources below. Or feel free to email me through my About – Contact Me form if you’ve had honest questions about Christ that have gone unanswered or if you’d like help understanding more about walking with Him.

Resources:
What is freedom in Christ?
What is the gospel message?
Who is Jesus Christ?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23 ESV)

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I pray that you have a safe and blessed weekend.

In All Ways, The Gospel Preached

What motivates you in your walk with Christ? Do you hold on to that motivation no matter what? The central driving goal of Paul’s life was to see Christ preached. Philippians 1:12-18 covers Paul’s joy at the spread of the gospel in spite of and because of his circumstances.

Part 3 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

 12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

It’s so clear from these verses the centrality of the gospel in Paul’s life.

The Gospel Advanced

Normally we might think that if someone was a minister of the gospel as Paul was and had been imprisoned that his ministry had come to a screeching halt. Paul didn’t see it that way, but instead sees how it has turned out for the greater progress of the gospel as the NAS translates verse 12. This means Paul actually compares the progress of the gospel in his current circumstances with how it might have progressed had he remained at liberty — and sees it as better!

Rather than chafing at his imprisonment, his perspective is one of encouragement and rejoicing. In fact, he points out that his circumstances have two surprising results: Continue reading

Just One Opportunity

Do you think to yourself, if I could just start with something small and prove myself faithful?!? I have been praying recently that each day God would give me just one opportunity to share Christ with another person — even in the smallest, tiniest, faintest of ways, but to at least bring Him up or bring scripture into a conversation.

“A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in the little things is a great thing.” — Hudson Taylor

And I prayed that He would give me the words and be there in the conversation so that it would not be in my own strength and power. Just as the Lord encouraged Zerubbabel in the rebuilding of the temple (Zech. 4:6 ESV), so I have been asking the Lord that it all be fueled by Him:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit….”

This Makes Me Nervous…

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Discipleship: 10 Nuts and Bolts

Last week, I shared some thoughts about discipleship and helping us as believers realign our thinking about what it means. This week, I thought I’d offer some nuts and bolts ideas of what it really looks like in “real life” to disciple someone. Note that I believe that online discipleship is just as valid as in-person. The internet is full of real people.

As I also said last week, I believe discipleship begins the moment someone indicates an interest and continues after they have trusted Christ. So these tips should be useful for either a new believer or someone who is searching. Some of you may think these belong more on the side of evangelism than discipleship, and I’m okay with that!

1. Pray. It goes without saying, but sometimes in our enthusiasm we can leave it out. Pray to be available for and dependent upon God, pray for Him to bring people to you (or vice versa), pray to recollect the scriptures and explanations, pray for protection from spiritual attacks. Another good prayer is for the confidence and calm to know that it is the Holy Spirit who works in people, not your clever or perfect words or your persuasion.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. [1 Cor. 2:1-5 ESV]

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Discipleship: Sinking Deep Roots

A few days ago, Trevor at TrevorNashleanas.com asked me what made me so passionate about discipleship. What started as a reply turned into an unplanned blog post. I’m so glad that Trevor asked me because it made me think through it a little bit. I think it turned into a pretty neat team effort, thanks to God.

Using Trevor’s words,“discipleship is the process of learning to live for the glory of God by faith in and obedience to Jesus through relationship with other Christ-followers over time.”

sprout

Photo credit: hirokimurakami.com

The idea here is that no matter where you are in your journey of faith, you are learning. You are not yet what you are to be. Whether you just started believing or you’re 40 years in, you still haven’t got it all. You’re a disciple.

Trevor wrote: “It’s best that we disciple people toward Jesus and let the Holy Spirit be the one who decides when and how he brings people to the Lord throughout that process.”

Key words here: toward Jesus and process. To me, discipleship begins as soon as someone begins to seek God (the “toward Jesus” aspect) — that is, reading books, asking questions, giving it thought. While it’s true they are not yet His disciples, the very fact they are seeking makes it worth the time and effort to be alongside them — to whatever end. It is never a loss to show kindness and the love and truth of Christ to someone. We don’t know how long this journey is from belief to unbelief. So perhaps we are often too impatient to commit ourselves to that process. Continue reading

Your Thoughts: A Better Question

“How are you?”

I’d guess this is one of people’s most common greetings. And I’ve found it one of the most meaningless ones. Not that some people who ask this aren’t sincere in wanting a real answer. But it’s usually said as commonly as “hello” and not really intended to be answered…not really. I mentally kick myself when I use it casually.

The truth is, most of us answer, “I’m good, fine,” or some variant of the two, while beneath the mask, we’re struggling, hurting, in pain, grief, feeling the fatigue of life, etc.

i am fine mask

So recently I have tried to do things a bit differently: “What things are new in your life lately?”

And then really listening. And asking questions to keep the conversation going and letting the person know I actually do want to hear. Even if it means stopping what I am doing for a few minutes (these few minutes aren’t mine anyway, they’re His). Even if I can’t do anything to change what they’re telling me.

Sometimes the best way…the simplest way…to show someone who Christ is can be just to listen. With patience and kindness. With interest.

Tell me…what ideas do you have for better ways to open up conversations with people that lets them know you actually want to connect with them, if only for a few moments? I’d like to hear your experiences.

Your Thoughts: The Right Words

I’m a window cleaner. Not really by choice, but because for the last 3+ years, it’s what I’ve been given for provision.

That said, I am not really “built” to be a window cleaner. My body has responded to the repetition of window cleaning with hearty doses of pain, pretty much all the time. As a result, I actually have more compassion for people who walk around in constant pain.

What’s this have to do with the right words? Continue reading