Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘discipleship’

Friends Forever

This blog is tenth in a series on relationship rescue.  If you made a list of the ten most powerful New Testament principles for healthy relationships, what would they be?  Pastor Tim’s list is at number nine.

#9: Thou shalt build up thy friends in the faith, and encourage them to press toward the mark of God’s high calling in Christ.

The best gift you can give a good friend is to introduce him to Jesus Christ.  If your friend is already a believer, the most loving thing you can do for her is to encourage her to seek the Lord more intently and allow him to grow her in faith.  That’s what Paul has in mind in 1 Thessalonians 5:11.  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

We have this quirky idea about relationships.  We tend to think relationships are all about getting something.  Buds share my good times.  Siblings give us honesty.  Parents give us guidance…and money!  Coworkers give us loyalty.  Husbands and wives give us intimacy.  Quite often, we think of ourselves as “The Beloved.”  I’m special and other people are supposed to revolve around me and my needs, right?

This week, try a different paradigm.  Envision yourself as God’s Special Agent.  Your job is to use your relationships to nudge as many people toward faith in Christ as possible.  If you friends and co-workers are believers, encourage them to talk about their faith with you.  If they’re unbelievers, encourage them to talk about their hopes and dreams… and then their fears and questions.  Then share your hopes and dreams with them.  Presumably, you’re dreaming of going to Heaven and taking as many people with you as possible.

Scripture reminds us that just like iron sharpening iron, one man or woman sharpens another.  When my friends spend time with me, I want their spiritual edges to be sharper; not soft and dull.  So I look for ways to motivate them toward the cross.

Some friends have no higher ambition than sharing an evening out, or a movie, or a good laugh.  Paul was all about sharing Christ, building bonds of faith, and growing the Christian community.  I’m with Paul.

Lift up the cross!

The Return of the “M” Word

For a quarter of a century, Americans and other “enlightened” people have avoided words like “moral” and “morality.”  We were lectured that those words were insensitive and restrictive.  We were urged not to try and be the Morality Police.  Suddenly, the world began chasing after “Values” for a while.  First there was “values clarification,” helping kids escape from the limitations of morality.  And later we evolved to “values free”education.  Schools decided it wasn’t their job to teach character or responsibility anyhow!

And now, we have riots in England by mainstream young people who have plenty to eat, lots of leisure time, but no foundations for moral living.  In America, we can watch security video of flash mobs robbing  7-11 or Victoria’s Secret stores!  Now we have liberal  publications like The Economist, wailing in despair.  “It turns out that if sufficient numbers of criminals want to create havoc on the streets, they can,” an editorial concluded after the rioting.  “In the absence of internal moral restraints, external ones can only do so much.”  In other words, a civilized nation can’t hire enough policemen or build enough prisons if most citizens aren’t already controlled by morals from within.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal* last Saturday, a British rabbi  described  the moral decay [his words, not mine] which led to the loss of control in his nation.  He described a generation engulfed by “a tsunami of wishful thinking that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage; children without the responsibility of of parenthood; etc., etc.”  Then he referenced a series of events that “remoralized” America and Great Britain early in the 1800’s.  Then as now, people were moving to the city, respect for authority was receding, the church was declining, unwed pregnancies were climbing, and every village was too familiar with drunkenness and fighting.  One historic event changed all that almost overnight!

The rabbi doesn’t name the historic event, but it was the 2nd Great Awakening!  Christian evangelists crossed the American states and the nation of Britain on horseback, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Worship reached a fever pitch in those English-speaking nations, and the moral fiber of those countries was rebuilt and restored.   The rabbi is calling for another event of those proportions.  May you and I join him in praying for revival in the land, and an awakening among the churches of Jesus Christ.

You will know when the cry for revival is about to reach critical mass.  You’ll know because you and so many others like you will be seeking the Lord, praying in repentance, crying out for fresh wind and fresh fire.  One of the first signs will be a slight uptick in church attendance.  The press won’t report this, but you might notice it in your town, your part of the country.  You’ll notice that Christians are talking about their spiritual lives in public once again.  And soon afterwards, you’ll see the forces of darkness being driven out; powers and principalities of evil being overturned.

Here at Providence, we’re in the midst of 40 days of prayer and fasting leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9-11.  Nineteen radical Muslims shook our nation with four commercial jets and a handful of box cutters.  Now it’s time for the Church to shake the very gates of Hell.  Join us!

And by all means, lift up the cross!

* Wall Street Journal; August 20, 2011; “Reversing the Moral Decay Behind the London Riots” by Lord Sacks.

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