Archives For Witnessing

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The restoration of our true humanity began at the cross and resurrection and will be completed at the second coming of Christ. The first step of the journey of restoration is to give your self in complete dependence to God who is the shaper of the clay. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.”

The resurrection of Christ gives to us the gift of being valuable signpost pointing to the one true way. By surrendering to Christ working through us, we are helping to restore the world and point others to the only hope humanity has. We are called to be a part of building for God’s kingdom.

We are being shaped by Christ, and His Spirit has filled us to  shape the world around us. We are called to dependency on Him in order to show the world His glories power working through weakness. Our very lives announce redemption is possible through Christ alone.

Salvation is at work in us. We are rescued, and we are being rescued in order to open the eyes of the blind.  We are vessels God finds joy in working through. Yes, He works in us and even for us, but the work through us is of greater value to a lost and dying world.

As Christ followers, we are pictures to the world of God’s kingdom that is now and not fully yet. In the words of N.T. Wright, “Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”

As you walk through you day, remind yourself again and again that God is walking through you for the sake of others. It will change the way you evaluate your day. I promise.

candle-from-barefootprimatives-blogspot

I’m not a big fan of cursing the darkness. As a Christ follower,  we should be primarily concerned with being salt and light. While it’s true, the Bible calls us to reprove the works of darkness, reproving darkness and cursing the darkness are two different approaches entirely.

Cursing the darkness is throwing condemnation at those who are outside of Christ, while reproving darkness is shining our light as to awaken the sinner from their sleep. The first is done in the same spirit Jesus rebuke James and John for when they wanted to call fire down on those who rejected Christ. (See Luke 9:54)

The latter is done in the Spirit of love that understands that those outside of Christ are under condemnation already, and we have no need to throw more their way. (See John 3:18) If we are to win the world to Christ, we must do so in the greatest power know to man, which is the love of God.

Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart. Jesus died to prove love real. We are called to do more than talk about grace; we are called to demonstrate grace to everyone. Yes, Even the ungrateful and evil. (See Luke 6:35)

In Ephesians 5,  we are called to take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. We are told to expose them. We expose them by  letting our light shine, and be visible, not by trying to curse the darkness and win a religious argument. When we love like Christ, His light shines and awakens the sleeper from darkness to light.

Many Christ followers need to return to trusting in the love of God to win the lost. We need to  stop trying to win them by persuasive arguments of men, arguments of condemnation.

Allow me to say it again, Hate never reached or rescued anyone, but love has proved time and time again to rescue the most hardened heart.

bookcoverkindled2c

There will be times that God causes you to notice people, and at other times He will simply lead someone right to you directly. I have had both of these happen in my life, almost on a daily basis.

Once, I was in a local store in California shopping with my family. My son Noah had to use the restroom. After we finished, we were on our way back to meet my wife and daughter, when I noticed a woman visibly upset. God touched my spirit and caused me to stop. I asked her, “What’s troubling you?” “Nothing,” she replied. I then said, “Are you sure?”

She responded by letting me know I would not want to hear it. I assured her, I would not have stopped if I didn’t want to hear it. She smiled and began to pour her heart out. She spoke to me for about five minutes about all that was going wrong for her. Her troubles were pressing in on her, and she felt alone and helpless. She was frustrated, angry and bitter about life.

I listened to every word she said, and I never broke eye contact. My son watching was just an added bonus because I knew he would ask me later why we stopped for a total stranger, and I would have the opportunity to pour into him compassion ministry. When the lady was finished speaking, I said, “You know, I bet the rest of your day is going to be just fine.”

She laughed and said, “I think you’re right. Thanks for taking the time to listen.” “You’re welcome,” I said and my son and I departed. I know it sounded effortless and not much like a miracle, but for her it meant everything. It was the miracle she needed for the day.

Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 48-49).  . Kindle Edition.

never-stop-loving1

God has no rival when it comes to His lavish kindness to the ungrateful and wicked. In our own power,  we are not capable of loving the way He loves. He is love. He is Kindness. We are but mere reflections that only get it right when we allow Him to love through us those that position themselves as unlovable, unreachable, ungrateful and wicked.

We can’t love our enemies without submitting to the Spirit of God that lives on the inside of us. Yes,  you will be hurt loving like God but remaining gracefully vulnerable after being burnt time and time again is a bi-product of God’s love through you.

We are called to observable and working love for our enemies. The love that Jesus wants to operate through our lives is not abstract. It’s not a concept hidden in the treasure chest of your mind as just another hopeful idea. His love demonstrates itself by radical counter-culture actions.

The supreme absolution of all is to convert an enemy into a friend of God through the God pattern of kingdom love. When you love like God you’re not losing your mind; you’re imitating His heart and causing God’s kingdom to break into the world.

Matthew 5: 43-45
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

earth

Authentic worship shapes the Christ follower into God’s image. Whereas; counterfeit worship run the extreme risk of shaping God into our preferred image.  We are called to live authentic lives of worship that is free from the smell of the counterfeit worship of religious array.  For His glory; for our good, and the hope of others, we must live authentic lives of worship before the world.

It’s easy to have a form of godliness; but a form of godliness will never awaken the world from its zombie like apathy.  Authentic lives of worship shows  the image of God in a world that desperately wants their own way instead of wanting and embracing what they truly need.  As Christ followers, we are called to awaken the dead by living and giving them the true life of Christ.

We awaken the dead when we turn the other cheek. We awaken the dead when we move beyond being regularly offended at everything the world does and simply reflex God regardless. We awaken the dead when we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, give water to the thirsty, love the unlovable, visit the sick, take in the stranger, and go to them which are in prison.

We are called to help people see God. However, in order for us to help people see God we must not live lives that show  the idolatry of shaping God into our own images. There must be a daily death of self and a daily obeying of entering the harvest field of the walking dead.

Humanity that has long suffered in darkness calls to us to be awakened. Light has come into the world by Jesus Christ and His light is the only light that defeats darkness and awakens the sinner.  We must show them Jesus and not our religious routes. Jesus is the only way. We must show them Him. In John 14:9 Jesus proclaimed the amazing by saying, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

Let’s show them the Father! Let’s awaken the world from their sleep! Let’s show them the redeemer and lover of their souls. It’s our call; it’s our duty; it’s our grand privilege, and it can’t be done with religion.

The awakening can only happen when we start showing the world the true Jesus that is beyond the religious version that idolatry tries to shape. There is an echo from the future calling to us, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Let’s answer that call!

Let’s go awaken the dead!

Whisper

“Anything that God has ever done, He can do now. Anything that God has done anywhere else, He can do here. Anything that God has done for anyone else, He can do for you.” A. W. Tozer

“Anything that God has ever done, He can do now.”

That’s correct. You serve a ‘now’ God.  God can move in your life at this present time or moment. Take a breath and then Whisper to your soul, “God is closer than the air I just breathed.” I challenge you today to be mindful of Gods presence in your life. He doesn’t just drop in for a visit. God lives inside of you if you are a Christ follower. You are submerged in the unconditional perfect love of the God of the ‘now.’ The future can’t be experienced, and the past is consumed in the annuals of time.  You only have this moment and God has you in this moment. Whisper to your soul, The ‘now’ God is completely loving me right now!

“Anything that God has done anywhere else, He can do here.”

The scriptures declare that God is the great “I Am.” You don’t have to  look back at a past event God has performed for His glory and wonder if He can do a great miracle where you are in the present. If God can do a miracle anywhere, He can do it where you are.  He is not the “I was” or the “I might be.”  He is the “I Am.” Whisper to your soul, “God is here.”

“Anything that God has done for anyone else, He can do for you.”

You are His child. He loves and cares for you. Be awake to what he wants to do for you in order to bring Him glory. Be awake to the fact that it’s not about you in the first place. Life is about bringing God glory. You have been chosen to bring Him glory, and therefore, He will do for you in order to make much of Him. You are a branch attached to Jesus, the source of life. He is the vine, and we are just branches that produce fruit for His glory. Whisper to your soul, “He will do for me and through me what best brings Him glory.”

May this day be the great day you have hoped for! Whisper to your soul, “Let it be.”

Leave-The-Past

What is it about the past that holds so many people captive?

When I was growing up I worked in my father’s sheet metal shop, and there were all types of machinery, and tables for working with all things metal. One table had weighted magnets that would swing out over the table and hold a piece of metal down to the table once they were turned on. The metal would then be unmovable as you worked on it.

From time to time,  I would jump up on the table and try and pull a magnet to the point of breaking it free from the table. It was a strength game my bothers, and I use to play to see who was the strongest.  I was never able to break the magnets free, and neither were any of my brothers. It always remained locked in place. The only way to break it free was to cut the power off to the magnet.

Some of you today need to do the same thing and cut the power off to the past that has you in its grips. You have tried to pull your way free from the past. You have struggled really hard to be stronger than your past, but nothing seems to set you free. The only thing that will free you is to cut off the power of the past. You do that by believing God is at work in your life in the present.

We all have a past.  A past filled with memories so powerful and hurtful that to recall them brings nothing but a pain to your soul and a knot to your stomach. When we hang on to our painful past memories, we either become withdrawn and unsociable; or explosive, cranky, critical, judgmental, reactive and mean towards others.

Jan Glidewell once said, “You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms to full to embrace the present.”  I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. His story is one of my favorites. I’ll try and summaries and keep it brief as I give you some background and insight into his life and choices concerning his painful past.

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, overcame a painful past.
  • He was raised in what we would call a “dysfunctional family.”
  • Sibling rivalry filled Jacob’s household.
  • Joseph’s brothers caught him, threw him into a pit, and discussed killing him.
  • One brother intervened and convinced them instead to sell Joseph as a slave In Egypt, where he became the property of Potiphar.
  • Potiphar’s wife had eyes for Joseph and made continual sexual advances.
  • He refused, she falsely charged him with attempted rape and he was imprisoned.
  • While imprisoned, Joseph made friends with a baker and a cupbearer.
  • Both promised to pull their political strings and secure Joseph’s release.
  • In time, the baker was hanged, and the cupbearer was freed, but forgot Joseph.
  • For two more years, Joseph’s remained in prison.
  • One day Pharaoh had a dream that no one, but Joseph could interpret.
  • Egypt would experience 7 years of plenty/7 years of famine.
  • As a reward Pharaoh put Joseph over all of the agricultural activity in Egypt.
  • The years of plenty came, and Joseph stored up. Seven years later the famine hit.
  • This famine was so severe that even people outside of Egypt came to get food.
  • One day, Joseph’s own brothers arrived.
  • Joseph recognized them, but his brothers didn’t recognize him.
  • Joseph sold them grain and tricked them into coming back before revealing himself.

Genesis 45:1-3

1 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.

They were terrified. They did not know anything about Potiphar’s wife and the undeserved prison sentence. Neither did they know about the abandonment by the cupbearer. But they remembered the pit and their bartering and selling their own brother. They had every reason to be terrified

Genesis 45:4

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.

Perhaps they expected a call for the royal guards, and the punishment they deserved for the cruelty they had shown their own brother. But no retaliation comes. These brothers did not know that Joseph had made peace with his painful past. His own words indicate he had let go of any vindictive feelings he held against them. He had cut off the power to the past.

Genesis 45:5

5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.

How was Joseph able to put all his painful past behind him? What was Joseph’s secret? He practiced true forgiveness. Joseph could have struck back and felt the exhilaration that comes from getting even. Instead, Joseph chose to forgive. Until you forgive, the pain of your past will continue to be felt in your present.

I chagllege you today to cut of the power to the magnet that is hold you in the past. Forgiveness is how the power switch is cut off. It is hard to forgive but possible.

words

I want you to think of the power of your words today. I not only want you to think about them, but I want you to take an inventory of them today. I ask you to pay close attention throughout the day to the words you use toward others and even yourself.

When I was young I worked in my fathers business. He owed a heating and air condition business and also did metal fabrication. We had a supply room, and from time to time he would make me do inventory of all our products. I would spend days counting big items all the way down to small items. For 8 hours a day for several days I would count.

It was a tedious job, but it was a necessary job also. Once I had the inventory completed, I had an accurate count and assessment of everything we owned.  I could now order or add to what was lacking, and I could now even throw away anything that wasn’t needed or was broken. Inventory clears things up and makes it easier to see exactly where you are. It clears the path forward.

There are times in life you need to take an inventory of things. Today I want you to start taking an inventory of your words. Have you ever stopped to think about the power of the words you use? The words you say to yourself, others, enemies, friends, co-workers, your family, spouse and your children?

Your words affect your life. Your words affect the lives of others. Most importantly, your words reveal what is in your heart. Words show what you have in your inventory. Many miscalculate the power of their words. They say to themselves, “It’s not all that important, they are just words.” That’s not true through. Words are powerful. Words can build or tear down. They can destroy or create. Words set the tone of every conversation.

With words, you can make someone’s day or shatter someone’s day. You can inspire someone or discourage someone. You can build someone up or tear someone down. Your words can move some to do their best work, or to work against you. Words are either life affirming or destructive. For all these reasons,  we should take an inventory or our words often, and choose our words carefully.

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so allow me to give you a picture. This picture is found in the book of Luke.

Luke 6:43-45 (NKJV)

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Emphases added)

The picture stand on its own. Words come from the heart. They are either good or bad. Inventory is tied to our hearts. We are challenged to clear up our words, thereby clearing up our hearts. When our hearts are clear of destructive words, we can then speak into the lives of others words of life and creation.

You see, frequently, though not always, what people criticize in others is what they are afraid of in their own lives.  Jesus also pointed out that a persons words would eventually tell what kind of person he or she is. Therefore, it’s imperative that we take an inventory of junk words still floating around in our hearts. It’s important to do so. It’s life changing to do so. In fact, God himself will one day take inventory of our heart.

Matthew 12:36-37 (NKJV)

36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

We as Christ followers have a great task at hand, which is taking an inventory of our words for the sake of His glory. I challenge you today to look closely at your conversations and at the carelessness we often use in our speech. You might just be surprised at the junk that is still in your heart.

My prayer: Let the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

voice

Is it possible for your life to be a prophetic voice to the world? Can your life and mine as Christ followers be lived in such a way that our everyday life can describe and predict what will happen in the future? I believe the answer is an indisputable, “yes.”

The moment you trust Jesus as Lord, a work of God begins in your whole life. God’s goal is to finish what He has started in your life. You have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, and you have the power of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of you.

To put it in very simple terms, you are being shaped by God’s will and purpose. Every act of obedience He calls you to obey is shaping you more and more into His image. You are being shaped in the now from the viewpoint of His revealed end of Revelation 21:1-5.

As Christ followers, we are to embrace God’s end story reality and set our life in the full direction of that goal. We exercise faithfully our living faith in the now, how it will one day fully be when heaven and earth come together once and for all.

There are many examples that do well to illustrate this profound and exciting truth. I will share just one. Let’s say you wanted your body to look a certain way. You would first envision a preferred future for your body to look like, and then you would begin working daily toward that preferred shape by exercising and adjusting your eating habits to attain your goal.

This same is true with your kingdom life and this world. When we come to understand and live the virtues of the future kingdom we are announcing with a prophetic voice that Jesus is the one true Lord. When we live God’s future now, we show in advance His future will one day be a present reality for eternity.

In God’s future,  there is no more crying, pain or death. You can be assured there are no more injustices. All things will be made new, and all the old will have passed away.  I love Matthew 25 where Jesus says, for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

When we give someone that is hungry something to eat, we are saying to him or her, “One day you will never hunger again.” When we give to someone who is thirsty a cool drink of water, we are saying to him or her, “One day you will never thirsty again.” The same is true with the rest of God’s kingdom works. In each act of kindness done in the name of Jesus, we are a prophetic voice shaping the world for His glory.

Is it possible for your life to be a prophetic voice to the world? I believe the answer is an indisputable, “yes.”

YouAreTheTemple

You are a meeting place of heaven and earth if the Spirit of God lives inside of you. You are God’s temple. Everywhere you go your create a sacred space of His presence. Each of us stands individually, and yet at the same time, we don’t stand alone but rather we stand corporately as the body of Christ, the dwelling place of God Himself.

In this broken world, we stand as witnesses of His glory . In this broken world, we stand as a testimony in advance that the world is indeed being healed and will one day fully be so. Brian Zahnd once wrote, “Christianity as the ongoing expression of the Jesus story lived out in the lives of individuals and in the heart of society is a beauty that can redeem the world.”

Because we worship Him with all of our lives we take on something of the character of Christ who we worship and when the world sees that beauty, they want to belong to it. It is our call, and our duty to help the world to see and recognize its true creator that lives inside of His followers by obeying Him to love our enemies and standing up for justice.

From Genesis forward, God has dedicated Himself to working through His creation of humanity. We are His image-bearing human beings that are called to shine as light in the darkness. We have failed Him often, but yet He loves us and seeks to bring Himself glory through our lives. He plans to set all things right in the end and still yet He uses our lives to push everything toward that day of final redemption. We truly are a meeting place of heaven and earth for an unbelieving world to witness because Christ is living in us.

We serve the rescuer of the world and to Him alone belongs all the glory. We exist to worship God and to labor for His kingdom that will never be shaken. With knowledge of this magnitude, we can live with an abundant song of joy and victory in our hearts right now. As one writer has so eloquently put it, “It is about practicing, in the present, the tunes we shall sing in God’s new world.”

God is at work in you today. Walk meek and rejoice that He desire to use you to bring Him glory in the world.