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Archive for May, 2014

Live after Five – May 16, 2014

After handing out tracts for a while, I sat down for a few minutes to pray and rest. A man passing by made a comment about the loud music and I saw this as an excellent opportunity to tell him that I wasn’t there for the music, but to tell people about Jesus. At first his face twisted in anger and he began to walk off. But I called out after him and asked him to tell me why that made him so angry. And surprisingly, he did. He had been in church for 30 years. When his marriage ended, he felt judged and rejected by the church. So 10 years ago he walked away….from church, from salvation, from Jesus. There was a hardness to his face as he said “I know what the book says and I’m not gonna do it and I’m not gonna be a hypocrite about it.” Throughout our conversation he was polite but there seemed to be a boiling anger just beneath the surface. I asked him if he understood what his decision to walk away from Jesus meant in terms of eternal consequences. He said he knew he was going to hell but he wasn’t worried about that right now. But I know there will be a day when it will matter to him more than anything. He wouldn’t give me his name but God knows who he is. Please pray that he would come to repentance and faith in Christ and that his heart would be healed from the wounds of the past.

 

Third Street Outreach – May 16, 2014

Last night on Third Street I talked to a man named Lee. He introduced himself as a Christian wanna-be. He said that he wanted to be a Christian but just could not do what Jesus required. I asked what things he was talking about and he responded that he couldn’t sell everything he had and give it away to follow Jesus. Somehow in his mind, he was convinced that the only way to be a Christian was to own nothing. I shared verse after verse from the Bible with him , but he refused to accept what was plainly stated in the word of God. When I finished talking to Lee I leaned up against a building and took a few minutes to pray for him. Looking up at the patches of beautiful night sky that I could see between the downtown buildings, my heart filled with great joy as I thanked The Lord for grace. Wonderful grace! What peace it brings to know that it is all of grace. Please pray that Lee would realize that his own works will never be enough and that only the work of Jesus on the cross is sufficient to save.

 

Bus Station – May 17, 2014

Today at the bus station I met Justin. He has traveled all over the country working as a contractor, but when he got to Baton Rouge last week he found out that he couldn’t work without a TWIC card. Now he finds himself without a place to stay and was forced to pawn the few belongings he brought with him in order to pay for a bed in the local homeless shelter. He has been brought for a moment to a place in life he never thought he would be and it has humbled him. Earlier in his life he had made a profession of faith in Christ but admitted that he had strayed away from that. As we talked he seemed to understand that there was nothing random in the seeming randomness of somebody coming up to him to talk about Jesus at this particular point in his life. Please pray that Justin would respond to God’s call to come to a place of full commitment of his life to Christ.

As I was driving home from the bus station, I passed an Islamic mosque and a Buddhist temple. And it was yet another reminder, on this beautiful sunshiny day, of how much darkness, confusion and deception there is in our city. They will live and die in that darkness unless we bring them the light of the gospel. It is their only hope.

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I don’t want to live this life
Within the box of social norms
Conforming to this world’s definition of success
I’m not interested in moderation or balance
But my heart leaps at the thought of charging ahead
Full speed into the purposes of God
Extreme life, unchained and unrestrained
By thoughts of reputation
Concerned only for God’s expectation
No way I’ll burn out
But I yearn to be filled up
with the fire of His presence
My heart has been captured
Set ablaze
As I set my gaze upon this Lord of glory
Nothing else matters
Pressing in until I press through
Stirred up to take hold
Pursuing the One who has pursued me
Reaching upward…to touch heaven

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Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence— Isaiah 64:1

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the LORD your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:12-13

Several years ago I heard a woman tell of a dream she had. In the dream there was a large group of believers who were worshipping God. And they were calling out to Him “Oh Lord, rend the heavens and come down!” And the reply came back from heaven “Rend your heart and not your garments.” And the people would cry “Rend the heavens and come down” and heaven would answer “Rend your heart and not your garments.”

The rending (or tearing) of garments was an expression of grief common in that day. It was an outward expression of the intense emotion of the heart. But just like many things, it frequently became nothing more than a ritual, void of any real anguish of heart.

We are very good at rending our garments. On any given Sunday morning, in the intensity of a moment of worship when we feel very moved by the music, we cry out to Him. We tell Him how much we need His Presence, how desperate we are for Him. And then five minutes later we are discussing what our restaurant options are for lunch. The garment has been rent….but the heart remains intact.

I absolutely love the joy that I have as a follower of Jesus. But at some point we are going to all have to admit that even in the midst of all of our smiles and laughter, we do not experience His presence like we know is possible. Maybe one day soon we will no longer be satisfied with just rending our garments, but we will let our hearts be truly rent before Him, no longer willing to pretend that the superficiality of our walk with God is abundantly satisfying. And maybe then He will rend the heavens and come down.

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“Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Isaiah 36:16-17

The king of Assyria had already conquered the fortified cities of Judah. Now this great army is approaching Jerusalem. The enemy, who began by threatening, now tries another tactic. He attempts to convince the people that what he has to offer them is just as good as what they have now. His promise to them is that if they will just agree to his terms of surrender, they can continue in the lifestyle they currently enjoy in their own land until he comes to take them away to a foreign land where they will still enjoy the same things.

War is difficult. War is costly. War is inconvenient. Surrender without really losing anything doesn’t sound so bad….

Except that this land which is like your land, isn’t your land. Nothing in this land belongs to you. And what the enemy has failed to mention is that there will be no freedom for you there.

The enemy is an expert in counterfeit. Our nation is filled with a counterfeit gospel that sounds good. It speaks of Jesus and faith and spiritual things. But there is no altar, there is no repentance, there is no holiness. This false gospel knows nothing of obedience, a consecrated life, or a life of prayer. And those who surrender themselves to such a message might enjoy some benefit of spiritual things, but they possess nothing. Christ is not their life but merely an accessory. They live in the kingdom of this world which has been altered to resemble the kingdom of God….but it isn’t. We have been warned that this would happen.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

It is so much easier to redefine sin than to wrestle in prayer until a besetting sin is overcome. It is easier to be moral than holy. It is easier to simply enjoy a Sunday sermon than to get in the altar and die to everything of the self life. It’s easier to be religious than to engage in the warfare of this spiritual life.

Because war is difficult. War is costly. War is inconvenient. And thus many surrender to a false gospel that doesn’t cost them anything. But there will never be any freedom there.

Hold fast, people of God, to the true gospel of Jesus Christ! It is a glorious message of life and power! It is the only hope this world will ever have. For the sake of those who do not yet know, and for the honor of the Lord Jesus, we must not compromise the message. Ever!

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Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Philippians 2:17

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. 2 Corinthians 12:15

These verses characterize not only the Apostle Paul’s labors for the Lord, but the essence of his life. Poured out and spent. Doing without, suffering want and personal hardship, enduring rejection and loneliness …. he lived with reckless abandon for the glory of Jesus only. I wonder how many times this man’s heart had been absolutely broken by betrayals, by false accusations, by rejections; and yet still his life was one poured out and spent. Paul could have lived a comfortable life, but the Lord had called him to so much more than that. It cost Paul significantly to follow and serve Jesus, but Oh the reward of it!

Paul called himself a bondservant of Christ. The word here translated bondservant is actually the word slave (doulos).  It is a strong word, carrying the following meanings:

  • It refers to one born into slavery.
  • It refers to one who is in a relation to another which only death can break
  • It refers to one whose will is swallowed up in the will of another.
  • It refers to one who serves another even to the disregarding of his own interests.

Disregarding our own interests? Losing our will in the will of another? This mentality doesn’t just happen to us….it must be cultivated.

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:7-8

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20

It MUST be cultivated. We simply cannot afford to waste these few years we have been given on this earth catering to our own desires to live comfortable lives. There is a world that Jesus died for, and that He yearns for…precious souls that His blood was shed for. Every day we meet them and pass by them in this life. They are at the grocery store, at our jobs, our schools. And they are waiting to hear the words of this life. But an unprepared life will walk through her days absolutely oblivious to the perishing around her.

One day we will stand before the Lord Jesus. The book of Revelation talks about Him wiping away our tears. I believe those will be tears of regret when we see how much Jesus wanted to do through our lives and how little we were prepared and available for His purposes.

No matter who you are, or how insignificant you feel your life is, and how impossible it seems that your life could ever make a real difference for eternity, I encourage you to adopt this prayer as the motto of your life:

Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.

And then watch in amazement as He takes your prepared life and ministers to a world with it.

Today you can purpose to be a vessel set apart and prepared for the Master’s use. Devoted to the Word and prayer…..absolutely surrendered to the Beloved….poured out and spent that Jesus might have His testimony through your life. This, dear brother and sister, is our reasonable service and our great privilege. Whatever the sacrifices we may have to make to have a life prepared to serve the Lord Jesus, on that day we see His face we will only wish we had sacrificed more. It’s gonna be worth it all!!

 

 

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