Friday, May 30, 2008


Romans 8:1-2Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

No condemnation……really……no condemnation….I seem to need to remind myself of this from time to time. Not that we are free to sin, but that we are free to live in the Spirit.

I think the freedom that Paul is experiencing is freedom from the feel of dread….of not being good enough, of having your sins revealed, of beating yourself up over sin, of placing all of your eggs in the basket of Mosaic law, and always falling short.

Its weird to me that some believers would rather live in bondage and legalism than freedom…when it is so clearly offered.

Doesn’t it make sense then that legalists slip into the patterns of relying on the very adherence to the law that is suppose to bring freedom, yet they begin to rely on their actions to merit salvation. In that….there is no freedom.

Wouldn’t it be great for all believers to live in freedom. Maybe the artificial restraints believers place on themselves are the reason Paul goes to great lengths to make the distinction between the two laws…the law of the Spirit and the law of sin and death.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

spiritual condition vs. rule follower

Reading Romans 7, and then Matthew Henry’s commentary, I found that Paul, when he was a Pharisee, was ignorant of the spirituality of the law. In other words, the law was something to just live by, a code of conduct, set of rules. If you were a good Jew, you broke no laws. In my opinion this is where so many churchgoers live. Unaware that the laws, the codes, the restraints (whether perceived or real) are there to make our spirits aware of our inward condition, depravity.

The laws that Paul lived by DID point to that inward condition. That is why it is just as much a sin to covet as it was to steal, or to lust as it was to commit adultery.

Outwardly so many of us can look like Johnny Churchgoer, breaking none of the perceived and sometimes extra-biblical laws of the church. And yet on the inside be depraved. “Yeah I don’t drink, dance, swear, or smoke…..but inside…I constantly lust, covet, am jealous, I gossip, I’m devisive and I still teach Sunday School and am a deacon.”

I say, have a beer and a Cuban (pre-embargo), let a few words fly and clean up the inside. Which is worse….what is outside or what is inside? I can almost guarantee you that the struggles Paul talked about weren’t the outward sins…. I would bet that the things he did that he didn’t want to do…..were inward things that no one really knew about. I bet, as a Pharisee, he was pretty good at living outwardly…according to the rules. Jesus admonished the Pharisees constantly about being whitewashed tombs….the outsides ‘looked’ good and inside were rotting corpses. Clean up the dark closets few know about and live within Grace.

God thank for your law. Thank you for Paul’s example of spiritual struggles. I can so relate to his struggles between the sinful nature and the mind. Please protect my heart and my mind. I am already so depraved…..yet I want to be more like you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Romans 6:16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

The are two forms of slavery...involuntary and voluntary. Both however, require absolute servitude. A voluntary slave was no less a slave than an involuntary. Paul is talking about a voluntary slave....who was previously an involuntary slave to sin. Regardless the master had absolute rights over his slave....entirely. So we can choose, to an extent, do we live in bondage of the world (default slavery) or do we chose to give ourselves to a new master? The new master offers life and freedom, the old master offers what appears to be life and freedom...but in the end....leads to death. Even on the earth the World's (Satan's) freedom that is offered has negative consequences ....the freedom that God offers has none.

One verse evangelism;
I don’t know that I can read Romans 6 without referencing 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A former pastor of mine told me ….if you had one verse to encapsulate the entire gospel, if you could memorize one verse, to have in your head this would be it.

Wages are something we earn, we deserve. If you work all week…. You are going to get your wage. And the wage of sin (for all have sinned Romans 3:23) is death. Since all have sinned, we deserve death.
Pretty depressing….but the second part is God’s plan of redemption. Gifts on the other hand are nothing we deserve….they are free without cost to the receiver, and they are without strings. But in order to own the gift…you must receive it. You must actively take it….reach out and take it from the giver. God offers the gift of eternal life with Him in heaven, if we receive the gift Christ freely gives us.

Pretty simple. Why then don’t some people receive the gift of life when presented with it? What could be a better alternative? I can think of only one example in the Bible when Christ offered the gift and it was rejected……but it was indeed rejected.

As slaves of obedience, we must do our part to live life abundantly… in (The Spirit) joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control and patience and present the GOOD NEWS as we do so. We aren’t called to win souls….we are called to tell what Christ has done for us.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Just if I'd

Romans 5
What a packed chapter. I am reminded of Halim Suh’s sermon he did at Austin Stone when we were gathering as a CORE team and attending there last year.

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

In his sermon he said, either you fall under the headship of Adam (sinful state) or the headship of Christ (justified state) . We are all born under the headship of Adam… and it’s the sin of Adam that is over all men. This is why we are born with a sinful nature. Christ came to die for “the sinful nature” of individuals who will receive him….not a particular sin.

16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

I praise God that His economy included redeeming sinners like me. Sin is a personal offense to God…yet he loves us unconditionally through it. Jesus came so that we could become justified… (Just if I’d never sinned) Corny stuff you learn teaching youth for so long…..sorry.

Woe to the Bride!

Romans 4:14-15 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

This scripture is pretty clear, apart from faith…there is no joint heirship with God. It wasn’t Abrahams adherence to the law that justified him…it was his faith in God.

I have just finished a book that has really challenged everything I am, as a believer….”They Like Jesus but not the Church” by Dan Kimball. The book basically sets forth the Chasms between non-believers and Christ. There was once believed to be a single chasm and that was sin….Kimball supposes that there is one more chasm and that is the church.

Isn’t it sad that the very “bride of Christ” is so distasteful to non-believers that….she isn’t even attractive to them. I believe after reading this book that we (the church) have become so caught up in the laws (legalism) that we forget about the faith part (loving and welcoming others).

I know every church and family is different…and at the risk of painting with an extremely broad brush….I see families that have close themselves off from non-believers in the church. They are judgmental and harsh toward the very people Christ came to save….and we acts as though….these non-believers must not be “the elect”. Woe to us Pharisees….us hypocrites!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Romans 3:27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

What do I have to be arrogant about? Paul makes it very clear that there is none righteous…not even one. Apart from faith, observing the law or adhering to codes, attendance in church, or abstaining from any behavior doesn’t cut it. So….if there is nothing that I can do…..then what I do have brag about….besides the Cross of Jesus?

God, please keep me grounded….aware of my own shortcomings, and always in constant fellowship with you. I want to be found faithful in the things that you give you pleasure, in the things that honor you and bring you glory. I am sorry when I elevate the very abilities you have given me….to the point where they hinder my witness.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Legalism and Spiritual Arrogance

Romans 2 speaks to spiritual arrogance. There are those who believe they have it all figured out….I am the opposite of them. My opinion, spiritual arrogance and legalism go hand in hand. (maybe I still have some legalism….but I’m working on it)

Legalism is rampant in the church today. Whether you are talking about drinking, perfect Sunday school/ church attendance, bible study, rated R movies, cigars or clothing. Heck some churches and even pastors look down on other churches for not being “deep enough”, not “running as many people in worship, or style. Calvinists look down on Armenians…. Liberals look down on Conservatives Seminary Graduates look down on those without seminary degrees.

The closer look you get sometimes the uglier the picture is….I just want to be found faithful in the task I have have been given to do.

Benton made varsity golf team for Hays High School yesterday…and after he did, he said “ I bet none of my other friends make varsity sports their freshman year” while true…..I reminded him to remain humble. I know, this is a very very cool moment for Benton, he hasn’t had a whole lot of victories in his short time in Buda, so this one was especially sweet. Maybe that is the inclination of someone who doesn’t have many victories, to boast in the ones that they do have……I don’t drink, I don’t cuss….I don’t run with those that do. I have my Calvinist views…and you are wrong, because God isn’t a liar.
I am a bit leery of guys who have it all figured out….I don’t know, maybe they are just very off putting.

Obviously Paul redirects the Jews here in Romans… remember that the law they judge by will be used to judge them….that even their thoughts are known….and what you conceal, inside you is just as condemnable than the outward actions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Distinction

Acts 28:31Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is not surprising that Paul spoke boldly and without hindrance. I think about the opportunities that he had, the numbers of people who had heard he was coming….to the curiosity seekers, to fellow Jews. He used his arrest to his advantage and taught all day long in his own home.

My prayer for me as a Christ Follower is be found the same as Paul. Making no distinction in who hears the message and welcoming all, using whatever platform I have, never using an excuse, and glorifying God in all circumstances. Wouldn’t it be great for that to be our legacy…that we boldly, without hindrance… taught the message of Jesus to everyone.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Amazement Business Time

Acts 27:21-22"Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

How would this have made you feel?…..Paul was neither in charge of the ship or these men. Yet he did take the opportunity to encourage them, after he said…..”I told you so”.

Paul’s calmness and strength in the storm coupled with his boldness shows his resolve. He wasn’t frightened, because he had faith that God would deliver him as He said He would.

Last night, Brandon talked about God in the amazement business….and Paul wouldn’t sell God short. I’m sure looking as the situation..I bet Paul thought to himself, this isn’t going to be a day in the park, but I bet its going to be amazing.

One of the phenomenon that occurs in countries where we send missionaries are events that can only be described as miracles. God reveals himself to those who are searching in various ways….and to some who aren’t searching (much like Paul). Missionaries come to the US with amazing stories of miracle after miracle and God revealing himself amid chaos. The first question Americans have is …..why not here? I believe, like Brandon said, God is still in the amazement and the miracle business….even in the US, but we aren’t “available” to see where and how God is moving. We have so many distractions, so many things fighting for our time, that we miss some of Gods miracles on display.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prayer for David Kennedy

Please be praying for a friend I knew prior to launching ANC here in Austin.

David was a carpet rep for me while I was in Corpus..and he lives in Austin and has been attending our church, when he is able. Prior to us moving here, he called me and asked for prayers concerning his cancer. He has good weeks and bad weeks and was apparently getting some good reports and looking forward to getting off the chemotherapy....anyway, I got this email from his wife this morning;

Tray, I wanted to forward this to you to let you know
what is going on with David and ask you to put him on
the prayer list.
thanks, Lori

Thank you all for your prayers. David was
misdiagnosed by the family practice doctor. It is not
pneumonia it is a pulmonary embolism ( blood clot in
his lung). This means we are extremely fortunate
(thanks be to God) that he is alive. For all
practical reasoning, this will, as the doctor put it
"drop you like a fly". They started him immediately
on blood thinners and he will have to take shots every
day for 6 months and go in on every Mon., Wed., and
Fri. to have his blood checked. Thanks be to God it
was caught and thank you all for your prayers. Please
continue to send prayers as I see our road to recovery
is not as near as I had thought.
thank you, Lori

This precious couple (Lori and David) has a young son Davis and they are all in need of fervent prayer. Please join me in praying for them.

James 5:13-16 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Empowered Ambassadors

Acts 26:28Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"

29Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."

I love Paul’s response. This is the essence of selflessness. Paul recognizes that God story in Jesus is due a response, that the Gospel elicits some sort of decision. Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God say that “one cannot experience (or enter the presence of) God and remain unchanged.”

I pray for us…..that we recognize that power, and that we allow ourselves access to it, God’s power through his Holy Spirit. WE are not simply witnesses, we are empowered ambassadors. Much like Paul, who was told directly by God, we carry the same charge. As Christ said is Matt 28, Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Jesus said to make disciples, to become followers, to die daily, to live as I have lived and love as I have loved….not just those who you think deserve…but those especially who you think DON’T deserve grace. And not just your neighbors, but people far away.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In His Steps

Acts 25:18When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.

22Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I would like to hear this man myself." He replied, "Tomorrow you will hear him."

Here is a model for us. For as smart as Paul was..the laws that he knew….the Gospel remains quite simple. I know a man named Jesus….who lived, who died, and who lives again. This is the story Agrippa wants to hear.

Paul’s live was changed, saved yet ruined, once he met Jesus. All he had lived for, all he had acquired, the reputation he had built for himself, the course he had laid out for his life…..turned on a dime the moment he met Jesus. Paul models Matt 10:39 here…”Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

He sits in prison, accused by the very same people who he appeased, answering to the same Jews that cheered his former ruthlessness.

The challenge is here. Do we tell the story or not? I read a book called, interestingly enough, “In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?” first published in 1896 that chronicles the paths of several people who take the challenge of a local pastor to live like Jesus. From the newspaper man (who no longer ran liquor store ads) to the housewife to the business man. These people took up the challenge to live life, as best they could, answering the question on EVERY decision they made, What Would Jesus Do? Then do that very thing. I would suppose that if each of us did this very thing, that it would change our lives, the course of our lives, our jobs and our families, much like Paul’s.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ready for Rome

I wonder how much the boldness of Paul was bolstered by his encounter with God….or how much it was bolstered by his realization that this Sanhedrin could nor would ever do anything to him. Sure they may lock him up…but the real power was in Rome. As awe-inspiring as my thoughts of this “Supreme Court” have been…I realized today, that as a ‘religious body” they weren’t going to impose death, and were really only concerned with legalistic adherence to Jewish law, yet they themselves were divided against one another.

Funny part about it….is that even they themselves knew that the only way for anything to happen, was to work outside the system.

Acts 23:20-21"The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul before the Sanhedrin tomorrow on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about him. Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request."

Paul, a Pharisee..and a citizen of Rome…was virtually bulletproof in this court. I’m quite sure God used this experience to tune Paul’s skills, and do a dressed rehearsal for Rome. The Lord tells Paul in verse 11,” "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome."

Then God orchestrates, without Paul’s revelation to anyone about testifying there…..for Paul to be shipped off to Rome, the next night.

God, where you have called us, you always make a way. Allow us to hear from you…and be bold and courageous for you. Let us be attentive and responsive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Blood of Martyr

Acts 22:19-20" 'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'

Grace itself isn’t cheap….the blood of Jesus was shed for my sins, and the sins of every believer. Jesus blood was shed for liars, thieves, adulterers, and yes even murderers. Like Jen said last night, Jesus makes no distinction between sins or sinners, He loves us all and ultimately died for all.

Here is a strange picture I was seeing as I read this passage this morning. I imagined Stephen and Paul….in heaven next to each other…. singing a song similar to the one we sang last night….”Holy is the Lord….Holy is the Lord….Who was and is and is to come” weeping…both forgiven…both glorifying God.

Father…thank you for an awesome time in your presence last night….thanks for the awesome gift you’ve given us. Forgive us when we do nothing with it. Forgive us when we quench your Holy Spirit and act contrary to the way you’d have us act. Give us boldness, courage and wisdom to live missionally. Give us non-Christian friends and encounters, break our hearts with what breaks yours, make us aware and uncomfortable and use us…for your Glory.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Strange thought

I am reading, "They Like Jesus, but Not the Church" by Dan Kimball, and I had a strange revelation. What was said in the book was " Jesus didn't come to build small communities of people who complain about the outside world...but rather to send them out in the Power of the Holy live missional lives".
I've also heard the Rev. Billy Graham say something to the effect of 80% of those in church....might not be saved. (It may have even been in Baptist Churches) But those coupled with what I know about the Christian Bubble, and home schoolers...etc. lead me to believe that churches aren't even a haven for Christians....maybe they are just a haven for scared people. (without the Holy Spirit)
If they were Christians, saved by grace....they'd be filled with the Holy Spirit...and that would manifest itself in living like the disciples and apostles of old.... missional in their living. Maybe somewhere along the way, churches just became a safe place to raise a family. Maybe churches are an extension of a nice neighborhood, good schools, the right crowd.....mercy.
Remember the days of Revivals....where a church would catch fire....tons would get saved and the Holy Spirit would fill the people, the church and the community? What happened to those? I know they sound 'old school' and maybe something has taken their place....but I want Revival to sweep through our churches, our communities, and our country.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Led by the Spirit

Acts 20:22"And now, compelled by the Spirit…..

whatever Paul would have said…whatever Paul would have done, would be good.

Lots of things compel us men…, fame, our wives, our kids, status, desires….not all bad things either. But where I want to be found, what I desire to be, is constantly compelled by the Spirit.
How do we get to that point? How can we not get overrun by our own agendas? How can pride not rear its ugly head and make us do and say things that are contrary to the Spirit and divisive to God’s church.
I think Paul, more than I, realized his dependence on God for everything. He called himself chief of sinners, recognizing his dependence on God’s grace to save him. He traveled, compelled by the Spirit….sensitive to what HE (the Spirit) was saying. Recognizing that prison was in his future, but not shrinking back from what he was CALLED by God (HIS REVELATION) to do, which is the same thing we are all called to do.
Spread the Gospel.

Think about that, a lot of us shrink back from sharing our faith, because it is uncomfortable, people may look at us weird, people will label us, our pride. Paul was led by God….but also informed by God that prison was in his future….but he never waivered…because he was led by the Spirit.

God's revelation is not only his message, but His method. AND... not only his method once and for all....otherwise Paul would not have to be constantly compelled by the Spirit. He would have gotten one word....and lived the rest of his life. Constantly being compelled by God's Holy Spirit, allows us to adapt our methods as things change. What worked as our method 10 years ago is way different than what works today. The Message remains the same....and it has an will though history....but we change, Paul changed his method, depending on who he was talking to, and the circumstances he found himself in.

I wonder if sometimes...if the course I take, if its of me or of God. Is there a way to gauge the bi-products (fruits) around me to tell? I wonder if i would be bold enough to change course, compelled by the Spirit, even it meant admitting I was wrong. As sinful, fallen, prideful men....sometimes its way easier to stay the course knowing we are wrong, suffer the consequences than it is to just admit, we are wrong. Why is that?
God, allow your Spirit to lead me, compel me, go before me. I want to be found faithful of the task you have given every believer. God, give us at ANC clear vision, clear purpose and guide us in what we do and how we do it. God be with my friends at Yorktown….as they are in a transitionary time. Give them your revelation (for now), your vision (for now) , your purpose (for now) and allow them to be unified as ONE. Give us all boldness and wisdom.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Acts 19:4-6 Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Two separate events….Water and Holy Spirit Baptisms. Were the disciples saved prior to their Baptism in the Holy Spirit?

They had not yet heard that there was a Holy Spirit and that they should receive it. But once they did, they wanted to be baptized and filled.

I find it awesome that we have so many Catholics and other faith backgrounds at ANC. One of the questions we will answer is, “Do you think I should be re-baptized?” after I come to saving knowledge of the Lord…..and undoubtedly the answer is yes. The answer is, and has always been in the churches that I attended, that baptism should occur on the correct side of salvation. But I believe this texts backs that up.

Here we see incomplete believers….who have heard the good news to a point, but don’t know the power of Jesus nor have they accepted the abiding presence of Jesus in the Holy Spirit.

God, I want more of you…I want to you continually be filling me with your Holy Spirit. I do not want to settle for an occasional douse of the Spirit, but an outpouring of the overflowing presence of Him.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rest of the Story....

Acts 18:24-26Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.

I take heart, in that, a learned guy like Apollos could learn from a couple of church planters like Pricilla and Aquila. One thing they did, that they didn’t correct him in public. They had him over and explained that he (Apollos) had it right as far ‘he knew’ but that….like the great theologian, Paul Harvey would say….there was the REST of the story….

Monday, May 05, 2008

Title Fight

Athens seemed to be the center for philosophy and thinkers of the day. And here comes Paul, an educated Jew and Phairsee, newly anointed and consecrated by God. It just seems and has the smell of a heavyweight title fight.
It is with this that he stood before the Areopagus which is the overseers of everything 'religious' and they wanted to hear what Paul had to say...and with conviction he said,
Acts 17:24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands."

And as Paul of the members of this uppity council joined as a follower of Paul.

I pray that we arent intimidated by those who claim to be wise, free thinking, New Age, secularists...but that we boldly proclaim what we know as the Gospel. Even in Paul's case...some sneered....but one followed. Glory to God for that one!

Friday, May 02, 2008

"What must I do....?"

Acts 16:17This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." 18She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her.

At first, I realized that the demons, even the one possessing this girl, recognized God…and that is a good thing. So why was Paul disturbed by her proclamation? It would seem that people all around especially Jews would be entrigued and come out to (a) hear what the commotion was about (b) want to hear from the one she was referring to.

If Paul was isolated with only Jews it would be one thing…but apparently many pagans lived in the area, and worshiped many gods. The possessed girl was referring to the Most High God…which could have been confused with Zeus…at the time, in that place. So Paul and the disciples had to take the time to correct, instruct and rebuke the girl. So it became a real nusance, hindering their effectiveness and wasting their time.

Which leads me to another question…why didn’t Paul call out the demon early on?

I have really enjoyed the new position, as a pastor at Austin New Church. One of the cool things, as a believer, that it does for you…is give you a platform. But I have been very deliberate as to when I use that platform. I would like people to get to know me…and me get to know the REAL them…before they know what I do. For those that I don’t know….it does seem to change the way they respond and act and talk around me….so how can I get to know that person.

I know that isn’t exactly what Paul was trying to accomplish…but I’m sure he had his own delivery methods of the Gospel….and like I quoted yesterday, Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”So I know Paul was very deliberate and concise in his delivery of the Gospel depending on his audience.

God, give us insight and wisdom. Let the joy that you give us…overflow from us and make us an attractive alternative to the world’s junk. Let us be a refuge for people who are hurting, and let them come in response to your goodness. Lord, I want your bride at ANC…to constantly be hearing….”What must I do to be saved?”

Thursday, May 01, 2008

You want me to WHAT!?!?!

Acts 15:10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

I believe that we are saved through grace….alone.

A problem in the early church is the first Christians (who were Jewish converts) still didn’t fully grasp the concept of the grace they were living and saved under. They had for thousands of years been required to live under the law…so it was only natural to believe there were certain aspects of that law that they Gentiles must abide under as well.

I believe we need to be very careful (deliberate) in the way we present ourselves, today. Yes, we need to be ‘set apart’ for God ….people need to see a difference between us and them…..but the culture I’ve grown up in, was more of a what we couldn’t/didn’t do…..verses what we did do. The differences I want to be noted for is love, compassion, mercy (which I lack), charity, and joy. I think we need to focus on what are doing to further the Kingdom, more so than on the things that set us apart…..when we focus on what we shouldn’t do….all we find is that we are further away from the very people Christ hung out with ….. and came save.

I realize a lot of things are cultural, but one of the ‘stumbling blocks’ we, as Christians, have put up for non-Christians is that we draw a definite line, on disputable matters (not talking about illegal things or immoral things) . That is sometimes more a turn off for non-believers than the lure of ‘saving grace’.

I wonder how many Gentiles… during the early stages of the Way….heard about the requirement of circumcision and said…”you know what….I’ll pass.”, never to return to church.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:21-23 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.