Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Roman Road

Jesus said: "Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20 The Message

We are called to go out and share the gospel of Jesus. So, how can we do that? When I was growing up, one of the measurements used asked us to record our "contacts" every Sunday in Sunday School. The data collected reflected the number of people I had actually invited to come to church with me. There were many times that number was "0". 

Today, there are many more opportunities that provide avenues to share God's Word, but are we using them? While inviting the unchurched to come to church is still important, each one of us has many more ways to give witness to our beliefs. Social media is one way. There are new "apps" every day that increase our ability to communicate. In the 'old days' a handwritten note would be mailed to keep in touch with a visitor; now an email or text can accomplish the task almost immediately after a visit. How are you using your social media tools to share Jesus with others?

In the June 2012 issue of Christianity Today's magazine, Robert Crosby sheds some light on the expanding world of technology and how this is impacting Christianity's witness. More people are becoming "engaged" in reading the Bible because of smartphones, tablets and laptops. He specifically gives the reader an update on YouVersion, the "fastest growing Bible app for mobile devices." Another segment features the creator of "the Bible page on Facebook." Sometimes posting a Bible verse on Facebook gets "10,000 responses from around the globe" in as little as 10 minutes.
Crosby writes: The ancient Roman roads spanned more than 250,000 miles... enabling both the empire to grow and the gospel to advance rapidly. Today's Roman roads are the Internet, the smartphone, the tablet, and social media, ready and waiting for innumerable journeys of faith and witness. While the ancient roads connected hundreds of towns and cities, the new ones connect millions of homes and individuals.*
Opportunities in this new era are expanding as I type and hold vast possibilities. In a recent discussion of social media the question was asked, "How do you use Social Media to spread the gospel of Jesus?" Most of us have email accounts, and many of have Facebook or some similar social media. We text to keep in touch and share pictures and "moments" but do we utilize these tools to speak the name of Jesus?  Share a Scripture, a song, a quote, a thought, a photograph, a video that says Jesus love you! Start a blog! People are hungry and thirsty for the Word of God. As Oswald Chambers often said, "Be the broken bread and poured out wine." to someone. Take the New Roman Road. Try it today . . . and the day after and the day after! - dho

* Christianity Today, "The Social Network Gospel"; Robert C. Crosby, June 2012, pg. 36-40.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hope Passionately and Confidently

Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD!
O Lord, hear my voice!. . .
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope . . .
Psalm 130:1,5 ESV

Life is full of choices and consequences. Every dilemma, each decision can evoke emotions from delight to disappointment. Actions range from selfish manipulation to self-less motivation, from seeking one's own desires to seeking God's will. Even the every day, ordinary responses to life bring either frustration or fulfillment. In the depths of disappointment and despair, God's promise of His Presence reassures. We cry out to God because He hears us, because He loves us, because He chooses us!

Eugene Peterson writes about this Psalm in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:
"By setting the anguish out in the open and voicing it as a prayer, the psalm gives dignity to our suffering. . . Suffering is set squarely, openly, passionately before God. It is acknowledge and expressed. It is described and lived."
As we reflect on our suffering, consider the words of the psalmist and seek the LORD! When we cry out to the LORD while waiting for Him with hope, we become more authentic in our faith.  Peterson goes on to say, "Hope . . . means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions." Getting lost in our suffering is not living our prayers. Authentic faith passionately lives before God trusting Him for necessary provisions. Authentic faith works through times of suffering, confident that God will provide the meaning and conclusions for His Glory! Live passionately and confidently in God. ~ dho

The LORD replied, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shelter of the Most High

For he will command his angels concerning you
 to guard you in all your ways. 
Psalm 91:11

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wireless Plan

Seems every mobile phone company has a "deal"! It is always a different bundle or package, new texting rates, extended data plans, and on and on! Most of us these days are accompanied by our mobile phone almost everywhere. We check our email, text a quick message, or make a call. Ringtones can be set to identify particular callers. To avoid interruptions, we can 'silence' our phones. Today's smartphones double as computers. So, what wireless plan do you have? Is it the best?

The following was on a church sign:
The best wireless plan?
PRAYER - unlimited
minutes, unlimited messages!

Clever and it catches our attention because it speaks our language! God's wireless plan is best. This plan is not just voice activated, but thought activated, and when the heart and mind can't find words, the Holy Spirit expresses the need for us. Free, unlimited time with the Lord - no restrictions on days or times. His PRAYER line is open 24-7, 52 weeks or 365 days a year [366 days during Leap Year]. "525,600 minutes" a year ~ FREE! Unlike some of the people we call or text who don't really want to talk to us, God always wants to spend time with us. Be still and know that I am God. No ringtone required!

Choose God's wireless plan ~ now and always! This deal is 'forever'!  ~ dho

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

To God our Savior

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.  Jude 24-25 NKJV

Only 25 verses long, Jude's letter to the 1st century Christians continues to echo through millenniums to us, the 21st century Christians. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, the brother of James, the writer of the Epistle of James, writes this letter around 60-64 AD to warn believers of false teachers and to encourage believers to live holy lives. 200 centuries later, these words still warn and encourage us. The writer of Ecclesiastes concludes, "There is nothing new under the sun." The same sinfulness and truthfulness still battle for control today. Warren Wiersbe's commentary in the Transformation Study Bible makes it simple and clear: The truth doesn't change; it applies fresh every day. 

In verses 20-23, Jude gives us a lesson in authentic faith, a living faith. With Christ, our faith becomes holiness, our prayers rise through the Holy Spirit, and mercy is ours in His love. Christ calls us to live lives of compassion and discernment, lives full of His love. Jude, like his brother James, gives a call to authentic faith, a faith of words and deeds, a faith that demonstrates the grace of Christ. How does your faith look? How does your faith live? Do those in your circle of influence find your faith journey to be marked by authentic faith?

The last two verses are a doxology full of praise to God, the only One who is wise, the only One worthy of praise, the only One that is both glory and majesty, authority and power. Only God offers grace that invites us into His presence both now and forever. This evokes both Hallelujah and AMEN to sing together deep inside my soul!!  ~ dho