Soul Saving and Spirituality


Is the church’s single-minded emphasis upon rescuing souls hampering the growth of the church?

For many individuals this will seem like a very controversial question and whom would say that obviously the more souls that are saved, the larger the growth of the church. However, I would like to question that assumption and suggest that this mindset hampers an individual’s spiritual growth.

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A Prophet Without Honor


Matthew 13:54-58
“54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

So true isn’t it? How often do we let our ‘picture’ of Jesus get in the way of letting us experience Jesus for who he is. Jesus’ neighbors had a preconceived notion that Jesus was a carpenter’s boy. They let this image get in the way of his ‘new’ identity: the fact that he was (and is) the Christ. They couldn’t mold the deity picture to the carpenter boy picture. If only they had done it backwards it would have worked. If they had seen Christ as a deity first and not as a carpenter first they could have painted the picture together and may have been able to find everlasting life. I wonder how often we cannot accept something because of our lack of perspective and how often we let God be smaller than he really is. I heard someone say that if you do not believe that God could have created the universe (agnostic speaking) then your [idea of] God is too small.

YOLO! – A Christian Perspective


Although not particularly Christian, ‘you only live once’ does have some truth to it.

In a culture where time is money and where we can have what we want in an instant, we often find ourselves thinking about what we can’t have at the moment… and we look to the future wishfully. Most employees work for the weekend, always consoling themselves that they only have (count it off) three…two…one more days until Saturday. Young kids are always wishing they can be adults so they can have the ‘freedom’ to do (catch it) ‘anything’ they want. High-schoolers are always wishing to be done with highschool and get into college. Single people always are longing for a partner. Working adults long for better jobs. The list goes on, and on, even about minute things such as a better set of headphones. Why? Why do people live for the future, always longing for the next big event, or the next day, or the next big thing? The reason is because we compare things. We compare what our circumstances could be and what they really are. This is because we have a natural tendency to be greedy and jealous for what we don’t have. It’s because we want it NOW.

However, longing for the future to the degree that we dislike, and are ungrateful for, the present (and everything in it) is a very unbiblical thing. We are called to live in the moment, no matter how distasteful the job, schoolwork, or consequence.

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (New International Version. Colossians 3:23-24)

Many people wonder what their purpose in life is. They think of the big things they might be destined to do, or rather what God has planned for them to do. We want those things to happen now…but we don’t realize that what we do NOW will help us later so that we can do those big things later. You see, God calls us to do everything to the best of our abilities with an attitude that is pleasing to God. We need to strive for excellence in everything things though they may seem small. In reward for being faithful with small things, God will put us in charge of big things. But with this promise comes a warning: those who are not faithful with a few things will have everything taken away.

21b‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things….29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. (New International Version. Matthew 25:21b, 29)

Further, if we are constantly looking forward, we will never be content in the present, no matter how desirable it is. When that big event comes, we will not be content with it. We will begin to wish for the next one. We will constantly keep looking forward without ever looking around. This is a dangerous mindset.

As Christians, we need to live in the NOW! We need to take advantage of every opportunity, every day. This seems daunting, and it should. But by the grace of God we can seize the day. Carpe Diem. The Latin word for YOLO.

John 10:1-10


John 10:1-10

 

In verse one, Jesus warns his disciples of false theologies, salvations, and leaders. They are the ones who bypass the gate and climb in some other way. These men, women and ideas are thieves and robbers.

Then Jesus goes on (verse 3) to describe how his disciples will know him. “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [of the sheep pen].” But, he goes on to say that the sheep follow him, “because they know his voice”. This is very important, because it reminds us that we need to passionately pursue Christ’s voice. We need to learn to listen and recognize his voice.

In verse five, Jesus says that his sheep “will never follow a stranger”. This is because they will “not recognize a stranger’s voice”. Rather than being confident that you will never follow a stranger, we should focus on following Jesus. For if we can recognize his voice, we will recognize the fallacy in the stranger’s voice. Therefore we should test every teaching and “hold on to what is good, [and] reject every kind of evil” (1 Thes. 5:21-22).

In verse seven, Jesus essentially states that He is the only way to heaven. There can be no multiple ways to get to heaven because everyone must “[enter] through me” and he who does this “will be saved”. This is a very important point and one that we all should strive to focus on, for “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14). Though this path is difficult, Jesus promises us that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10) if we follow him and enter through The Gate.

The Great Commission


Matthew 28:18-20

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I feel like we take this passage for granted many times. Its the Great Commission, a John 3:16, a widely known passage. But I feel like we don’t quite get it (we being Christians in America). So I want to break it down a little:

  • “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” is a bold declaration that Jesus is God! I don’t know about you, but I always skim right past this part. This is loaded! Jesus is LORD over heaven and earth. No human could ever hope to attain that (unless you believe in Mormonism where each of us supposedly will become gods and rule over our own planet). Jesus is basically saying that HE IS GOD! He is the Christ, the ruler of the universe, the Son of God.
  • The next part “Therefore…Holy Spirit” is the best known part. Most Christians would say that this is the Great Commission right here in four words “go and make disciples”. Yet, we take this part for granted every day. I would say that at least 75% (probably more) of Christians don’t even share their faith every week (myself included). And this is supposed to be “what Christians are supposed to do”.*
  • The third part “and teaching…you.” is what I consider part of the Gospel. This is a part that I think is skipped over too much. I believe that the Gospel message needs to be preached to non-believers AND believers. That is the Great Commission. We generally focus on the lost, but we need to just as much if not more focus on the saved so that they may share the good news with the lost. This part is often lost in the message.
  • And finally Jesus gives a promise to us. He knows many of us will be persecuted for following His instructions. This last line is a wonderful promise that He will help us say the right words to the lost and will give us the right words to teach the saved. PRAISE GOD!!

*Keep in mind I’m referring to American Christians, not necessarily global Christians (although if you feel convicted then you probably count too!)

Do as David Did


Everyone says that David is a great role model and that we should strive to know God just as well as David did. But, I think that we often get caught up in trying to do the things David did while he knew God really well. We focus on praising God all the time just as David did. After trying to do that for a sequence of days, we eventually grow tired of it. That (in my opinion) is because we are trying to start where David finished. We need to start where David started: in the fields tending his flock. David had hours of hours of time alone in the fields. What did he use this time doing? Not facebooking or texting, not reading a thriller or listening to the newest hit Christian music… I think he spent this time praying and just being in God’s presence. This is where I think the key is at. We need to focus on spending hours of our time with God. Then the praising and worshiping will come naturally. Then the trusting will become easier. Then we won’t give up after a few days.

Life and Meaning


According to anyone who believes that there is no God, life has no meaning. Let’s go with that (I don’t believe this but hey, you get people at where they’re at).

“So I have no meaning in my life. I just do whatever I want, ’cause who cares? Then one day someone saves me from drowning in my pool. Suddenly meaning is poured into my life. No longer do I live the same. I look at the world differently. I want to give back to the person what they gave to me. So I ask them what I can do to repay them. They tell me that I can show my thankfulness to them by doing the same to others . So from then on I am not living for myself, but for the one who saved me. I help others in effort to please my savior.”

This “story” provides an explanation for why Christians see things differently, and act differently. We don’t see things the same way others do because we have a meaning in our lives that our Savior gave to us. We see others hurts and sorrows as an opportunity to show them the meaning our Savior can give them like he did us.