Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

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VETERAN PEACEMAKERS- Nov 11 (Reblog)

November 11, 2015

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:10

English: Veterans Day poster issued by the U.S...

Today is the day we honor our veterans in the United States. Appropriately, ceremonies with be held in appreciation of the sacrifice that so many have given in the service of our country. These ceremonies will inherently have a melancholy mood at least for me.

As I have written before (Imagine a World without Veterans), veterans are the product of war and threats of war. I recently ran across a quote by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones in which he asked a series of pertinent questions.

Why are there wars in the world?
Why is there this constant international tension?
What is the matter with the world?
Why war and all the unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men?
According to this Beatitude (Matthew 5:10),
there is only one answer to these questions-sin.

Nothing else; just sin.”
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Sin is the reason there are wars and rumors of war. Sin is the reason that we needed the service of our veterans. Sin is the reason we will be creating new veterans long into the future.

Have you ever considered the cost of sin?

Many want to dismiss the costs of sin. They cast sin as a private matter of personal choice. However, consider the quantifiable costs we all pay due to a world enslaved to sin.

The annual budget of the US Department of Defense is $495.6 billion.
The annual budget of the US Department of Veterans Affairs is $163.9 billion.
The United States spends $659.5 billion every year just because of sin.

If there was no sin, we would not need the DOD or VA. We would be freed to spend over a half a trillion dollars every year on other things – science, medicine, technology. How far could a $659.5 billion annual investment progress our society?  I hope that we can agree that the DOD and VA costs are only a fraction of the quantifiable costs that sin imposes upon this world. A more careful accounting will reveal a staggering annual cost that we all pay to counter the effects that proceed from sinful hearts.

It is ‘out of the heart’ that evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, jealousy, envy, malice and all these other things proceed; and while men are like that there will be no peace. What is in, will inevitably come out.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: AUBURN, Wash. (Nov. 5, 2001) Marine C...

The impact of sin upon our society becomes staggering when we consider the unquantifiable costs of sin.

What have families emotionally paid during deployment separations?
What are the costs to relationships impacted by PTSD?

What of the costs beyond wars and rumors of war?

What is the payment for drug addiction?
What are the costs wasted into pornography?
What costs have been incurred from anger, gossip, hate…

English: Unknown military cemetary in Poland P...

What about the ultimate wage of sin?

For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23a)
What is the cost of a person’s soul?

While some may argue that Christianity has caused much of the evil in this world, the reality is that our world needs more biblical peacemakers to truly quell the costs of sin upon mankind.

The first thing, therefore, we must say about the peacemaker is that he has an entirely new view of himself, a new view which really amounts to this. He has seen himself and has come to see that in a sense this miserable, wretched self is not worth bothering about at all. It is so wretched; it has not rights or privileges; it does not deserve anything. If you have seen yourself as poor in spirit, if you have mourned because of the blackness of your heart, if you have truly seen yourself and have hungered and thirsted after righteousness, you will not stand any longer on your rights and privileges, you will not be asking, ‘What about me in this?’ You will have forgotten this self…

 Let me sum it all up like this: the benediction pronounced on such people is that they ‘shall be called the children of God’…It means that the peacemaker is a child of God and that he is like his Father. One of the most glorious definitions of the being and character of God in the Bible is contained in the words, ‘the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.’ (Heb. 13:20)…

 That is the New Testament teaching. You finish with self, and then you begin to follow Jesus Christ. You realize what He did for you in order that you might enjoy that blessed peace of God, and you begin to desire that everybody else should have it. So, forgetting self, humbling self, you follow in His steps’ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.’ That is it.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: A folded American flag held by a Unit...

I am grateful for the service of my country’s veterans. They have been a bulwark against the evils of man. They have spared me and my family from some horrible costs of sin. However, I think we do them a disservice if our gratitude does not go beyond an appreciation for a “peaceful and prosperous” life.

Our world needs veteran peacemakers – biblical peacemakers. We will all continue to pay the horrible costs of sin while the world chases humanistic and idealistic solutions to our fundamental problem – the sinful hearts of men. We need to be thankful for the opportunity our war veterans have given us so that we, as children of God,  can do what we have been called to do; be peacemakers.

We have been called to be peacemakers within our own world. We have the only solution to the dreadful cost of sin. May we faithfully serve our calling and become veteran peacemakers. Let us use this opportunities that our veterans have provided to lead as many to the One who can save them from paying the ultimate wage of sin.

…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23b

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the United States of America and the men and women who have served in the military to defend this country.  May you bless their service.  Lord, thank you for keeping the costs of sin bearable.  Thank you for giving time and opportunity for men and women to come to you.  Lord, help me to be a peacemaker; help me to be like You.  May you be glorified in those that you have called to be your children – peacemakers.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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VETERAN PEACEMAKERS- Nov 11

November 11, 2014

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:10

English: Veterans Day poster issued by the U.S...

Today is the day we honor our veterans in the United States. Appropriately, ceremonies with be held in appreciation of the sacrifice that so many have given in the service of our country. These ceremonies will inherently have a melancholy mood at least for me.

As I have written before (Imagine a World without Veterans), veterans are the product of war and threats of war. I recently ran across a quote by Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones in which he asked a series of pertinent questions.

Why are there wars in the world?
Why is there this constant international tension?
What is the matter with the world?
Why war and all the unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men?
According to this Beatitude (Matthew 5:10),
there is only one answer to these questions-sin.

Nothing else; just sin.”
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Sin is the reason there are wars and rumors of war. Sin is the reason that we needed the service of our veterans. Sin is the reason we will be creating new veterans long into the future.

Have you ever considered the cost of sin?

Many want to dismiss the costs of sin. They cast sin as a private matter of personal choice. However, consider the quantifiable costs we all pay due to a world enslaved to sin.

The annual budget of the US Department of Defense is $495.6 billion.
The annual budget of the US Department of Veterans Affairs is $163.9 billion.
The United States spends $659.5 billion every year just because of sin.

If there was no sin, we would not need the DOD or VA. We would be freed to spend over a half a trillion dollars every year on other things – science, medicine, technology. How far could a $659.5 billion annual investment progress our society?  I hope that we can agree that the DOD and VA costs are only a fraction of the quantifiable costs that sin imposes upon this world. A more careful accounting will reveal a staggering annual cost that we all pay to counter the effects that proceed from sinful hearts.

It is ‘out of the heart’ that evil thoughts, murders, adultery, fornication, jealousy, envy, malice and all these other things proceed; and while men are like that there will be no peace. What is in, will inevitably come out.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: AUBURN, Wash. (Nov. 5, 2001) Marine C...

The impact of sin upon our society becomes staggering when we consider the unquantifiable costs of sin.

What have families emotionally paid during deployment separations?
What are the costs to relationships impacted by PTSD?

What of the costs beyond wars and rumors of war?

What is the payment for drug addiction?
What are the costs wasted into pornography?
What costs have been incurred from anger, gossip, hate…

English: Unknown military cemetary in Poland P...

What about the ultimate wage of sin?

For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23a)
What is the cost of a person’s soul?

While some may argue that Christianity has caused much of the evil in this world, the reality is that our world needs more biblical peacemakers to truly quell the costs of sin upon mankind.

The first thing, therefore, we must say about the peacemaker is that he has an entirely new view of himself, a new view which really amounts to this. He has seen himself and has come to see that in a sense this miserable, wretched self is not worth bothering about at all. It is so wretched; it has not rights or privileges; it does not deserve anything. If you have seen yourself as poor in spirit, if you have mourned because of the blackness of your heart, if you have truly seen yourself and have hungered and thirsted after righteousness, you will not stand any longer on your rights and privileges, you will not be asking, ‘What about me in this?’ You will have forgotten this self…

 Let me sum it all up like this: the benediction pronounced on such people is that they ‘shall be called the children of God’…It means that the peacemaker is a child of God and that he is like his Father. One of the most glorious definitions of the being and character of God in the Bible is contained in the words, ‘the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.’ (Heb. 13:20)…

 That is the New Testament teaching. You finish with self, and then you begin to follow Jesus Christ. You realize what He did for you in order that you might enjoy that blessed peace of God, and you begin to desire that everybody else should have it. So, forgetting self, humbling self, you follow in His steps’ who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.’ That is it.
~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

English: A folded American flag held by a Unit...

I am grateful for the service of my country’s veterans. They have been a bulwark against the evils of man. They have spared me and my family from some horrible costs of sin. However, I think we do them a disservice if our gratitude does not go beyond an appreciation for a “peaceful and prosperous” life.

Our world needs veteran peacemakers – biblical peacemakers. We will all continue to pay the horrible costs of sin while the world chases humanistic and idealistic solutions to our fundamental problem – the sinful hearts of men. We need to be thankful for the opportunity our war veterans have given us so that we, as children of God,  can do what we have been called to do; be peacemakers.

We have been called to be peacemakers within our own world. We have the only solution to the dreadful cost of sin. May we faithfully serve our calling and become veteran peacemakers. Let us use this opportunities that our veterans have provided to lead as many to the One who can save them from paying the ultimate wage of sin.

…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23b

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the United States of America and the men and women who have served in the military to defend this country.  May you bless their service.  Lord, thank you for keeping the costs of sin bearable.  Thank you for giving time and opportunity for men and women to come to you.  Lord, help me to be a peacemaker; help me to be like You.  May you be glorified in those that you have called to be your children – peacemakers.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

 

 

 

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EMBRACING JUDGMENT – Mar. 17

March 17, 2014

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”  Philippians 3:17

National Christian Forensics and Communication...

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have spent the last three days, five if you count travel, with my family in Richland, Washington for the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), Tri-Windy Speech and Debate tournament.  My son competed in two speech categories and Lincoln- Douglas debate.  However, I think that I was more consumed with this tournament than he was.

These tournaments rely upon community members to be judges for the students.  Parents are used to fill in the judging gaps as necessary.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of gaps to fill at this tournament, so I spent a lot of time judging.  I was responsible for determining winners and losers of debates.  I had to place speakers in a ranking order from 1 to 7 or 8.  I had to have opinions.  I had to have preferences.  I had to judge and reveal my conclusions.

After a speech or debate, I was thanked by each competitor for giving my time to come and be a judge for them.  They welcomed being judged.  While I was there for them, I don’t know if these competitors grasp how much they are impacting the judges that sit before them.  Those who judge cannot help but be influenced by those they are judging.

I am two days removed from the competition but I am still lingering over the spoken words from that tournament:

I am still savoring the tears of compassion elicited by words spoken with a quiet, confident, spirit.

I am still smiling in remembrance of the precious lisp of a voice given to a cricket who just wanted to be a butterfly (I Wish I Were a Butterfly).

I am still feeling the empathy that came from a delicate portrayal of mental illness. (The Yellow Wallpaper)

I am still appreciating how two competitors made a caterpillar come to life.  (Alice in Wonderland)

I am still awakened to the reality of a child soldier. (War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story)

I am still relishing the tears of laughter from the creativity of an interpretation of  Dr. Seuss.

I am still encouraged by the student who endured when his memory failed him.  He fought through to the end with courage greater than the comic-book characters he was portraying.

This tournament was ostensibly about the competitors.  However, there is always so much more happening when an individual embraces judgment.  The judged will inevitably influence the judge.  These competitors are learning the skills of the spoken word.  These are skills that will assist them in influencing their world for the rest of their lives.  However, that influence is not just in the future – I was influenced by their words.  These speech and debate tournaments are less about the competitors than they may realize.  These competitors are influencing the judging adults that sit before them now because of their willingness to be judged.

If they were not willing to be judged,
they would never influence these adults.

Georg Gsell. "The Apostle Paul."

We live in a world resistant to judging.  Often, we will try to protect ourselves from judgmental eyes.  However, we will never influence a world without embracing judgment.  When Paul challenged us to imitate him, he was opening himself up to judgment.  We form opinions about Paul’s life because of his challenge; we have to determine if his example is worthy of following.  Paul embraced the judgment of others and profoundly influenced the world.  If Paul had worried about judgment, he would never have interacted with the world.  He would never have spoken publicly.  He would never have written letters.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul had a profound influence over the world, because he was willing to be judged.

The world watches all of us.
We can either scorn their judgmental opinions or
we can embrace the opportunity to influence.

Going out into the world is a declaration of our willingness to subject our lives to the judgment of the world.

Are you willing to allow your words to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your decisions to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your beliefs to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your life to be judged?

It is not about us; it is about influencing those who judge.   The willingness of those who are willing to be judged are an example to me:

Judge the words I speak;
Judge the words I write;
Judge how I conduct business;
Judge how I have chosen to raise my family;
Judge my faith.

I want to live a life that influences my world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, I embrace the judgment of those who watch.  I embrace their judgment because I know that they will be influenced while they evaluate me.  May we all be willing to stand before the judging eyes of our world so that we may be profound influences upon those who are watching and listening.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my fear of other people’s judgment.  Forgive me for relinquishing opportunities to influence this world because I am afraid of a negative reaction.  Help me to welcome the evaluation of my life; use my life to influence the world around me.  Lord, I pray that you will draw others to your Son, Jesus Christ, through the influence that comes from a willingness to be judged.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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INNER CLAVIN – Nov 7

November 7, 2013

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”  1 John 3:2

Cliff Clavin Comes Calling

It’s a little known fact that “the tan”  became popular in what is known as the Bronze Age.

I wonder if you know that the harp is a predecessor of the modern day guitar. Early minstrels were much larger people. In fact, they had hands the size of small dogs.

If you were to go back in history and take every president, you’ll find that the numerical value of each letter in their name was equally divisible into the year in which they were elected. By my calculations, our next president has to be named Yellnick McWawa.

I hear there’s a tribe of men in the Middle East called the Eschonites, they’re entirely celibate, they live without women. Rumour has it, they are the happiest men in the world. Tomorrow, I’m going to send for their brochure.

When the British ruled the Punja, they drank steaming hot pots of tea on the hottest days of the year to balance out their inside and outside temperatures. Conversely, drinking an ice cold drink on a cold day actually results in a more comfortable body temperature.

Florida comes from the language of the Okefenokee Indians and literally means ‘Place where the old people come to sweat.

English: John Ratzenberger at the 2011 Time 10...

These are the words of Clifford C. Clavin Jr.  I sure do miss him.  Cliff Clavin was the annoying mail carrier played by John Ratzenberger in the TV show Cheers, which aired from 1982 to 1993.  Cliffy was the know-it-all in the bar where everyone knows your name.  He had a ready explanation for everything from the common to the obscure.  Unfortunately, his explanations demonstrated a desperate plea for acceptance more than real knowledge.

Cliff Clavin consistently spoke of what he did not know and showed himself to be a fool.

Most groups have some variant form of Clifford C. Clavin.  In general, I don’t think many people strive to be the know-it-all; it just sort of happens.  Most people actually try suppressing their inner Clavin.  Unfortunately, some folks suppress their inner Clavin to the point that they deny what they actually do know.  They dread being the know-it-all so they soften what they know to be true.

Our culture has cast knowledge of the divine as intolerance.

Christians can now expect to be chastised into accepting other faiths as being equally true for their adherents.  Knowledge of God has been classified as an unknowable mystery.  Therefore, a strongly stated, statement of exclusive belief seem ridiculous to many.  An ecumenical spirit across churches and faith has become the “tolerant” form for spiritual interaction.

Those who state a belief about God as fact are perceived as Cliff Clavins – know-it-all fools.

Therefore, many folks suppress their inner Clavin when asked direct questions:

Do you believe that the ONLY way to go to heaven is to believe in Jesus?

What if you’re Jewish or Muslim and you don’t accept Christ at all,
does that mean you’re out?

What about my Grandma, who was a sweet and precious, Buddhist woman?
You are telling me she is going to your hell?

Many of us, in the spirit of tolerance, cringe at what we know and respond with a less offences opening statement of  “I don’t know but…”.

There are many things in the Bible that I don’t understand.  There are many mysteries of God that I have difficulty comprehending.  However, there are some lessons of the scriptures that are perfectly clear.  John wrote the epistle of 1 John so that we would understand.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.  (1 John 5:13)

John was crystal clear regarding what comes after death.  Eternal life only comes through God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Whoever does not have the Son of God does not have eternal life.  There is no mistaking in this teaching.  There is no confusion regarding what these words mean.  We can know what the Bible teaches regarding what is necessary to go to heaven.  No one will go to heaven without Jesus.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  (1 John 3:2)

I know that may not sound tolerant.  I did not write it; I just believe it to be true.  For me to say “I don’t know…”  to a question of the necessity of salvation is to deny what I know to be true.  I would be a fool to exchange truth for public acceptance.

I do know the answer to the question of what is required to receive eternal life.

However, the possession of knowledge does not relegate us to the role of Cliff Claven.  Wisdom should be our guide to releasing our inner Claven.  Wisdom will guide us in how and when to give the defense of our faith. Our knowledge of the truths of God should not be restrained due to the fear of man nor should it be displayed in a desperate plea for acceptance. The truths of God are to be shared in obedience, love and grace, which takes wisdom from the Spirit.

There will be some who have been drawn by Christ and upon hearing the knowledge of the truths of God, will respond with saving faith.
There will be others who will cast the adherents of the scripture as Cliff Clavens as they stumble over the gospel.

Regardless of the outcome, we are called to let our inner Claven shine in a dark world.

 “The wise speak only of what they know”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers

PRAYER: Lord, you know the number of times that I kept silent regarding the divine knowledge of the Bible that your Spirit has shown me.  You know the number of times that I have cringed over the exclusivity of your Son.  Forgive me for playing the fool by choosing acceptance above truth.  Father, I need the wisdom that only comes from You.  Fill me with your wisdom to know when to speak your sweet truth.  Give me the words to says and the spirit to say them in.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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“TOUGH CROWDS” – Sept. 19

September 20, 2013

“Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 2:6b

Imagine if I came to you and described the new calling of my life:

I am a little apprehensive but God has clearly told me what the next year, actually 430 days, of my life will be like. 

I have to camp out in the Church foyer while I build a little LEGOS replica of the City with tiny siege towers and mounds against the walls.  That will pretty cool.  Then, I need to get my Cabela’ iron griddle and put it up on edge, between me and my little City and stare at it.

All day long, I am going to lie on my side and stare at that griddle.  I get to switch it up; 390 days on my left side and then 40 days on my right side.  I wish it was equal so that my arms won’t shrivel up disproportionately.  Did I mention that I have to be tied up while I am lying on my side?  That will not be comfortable since my arms have to be bare.  

Meals will be a little complicated.  Prisoners get to eat better than me.  Bread and water is all I  will get to eat but at least it will be organic and Kosher.  God gave me a special recipe that uses wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and emmer.  I won’t win any culinary awards but it is the only recipe I’ve got.

The key will be how it is cooked.  I have it all figured out.  The Church ladies don’t need to worry about me messing up the kitchen.  I’ve been instructed to cook my bread over a campfire; hopefully the foyer has good ventilation.  I still need to work on getting enough fuel to keep a campfire going for over a year. 

Did I mention that I don’t get to use wood?

Yeah, I have to use dung.  You know, poop.  It might sound a little gross but at least I get to use cow dung.  That is so much better than my first option.  God initially told me to use people dung.  I wasn’t really sure how I was going to gather that and I am sure the health department was going to have a problem with any method that I worked out.

Anyways, I have already started collecting cow-pies.  They are not that bad once they’re dried out.  It is the fresh ones you have to watch out for.  You really don’t want your cow-pies medium-rare.

Also, I am probably going to be pretty dehydrated by the end of all of this.  Do you have access to an I-V? I can only have  about a pint, 0.6 liters to be exact, of drinking water a day.  I know that is not the three litters that my doctor recommends but what am I supposed to do.  A good rationing plan should work.  I will need some of that water to get my dung-cooked bread down.  Well, I have plenty of time to figure that out.

As you can see, I am going to be booked for the next 430 days staring at that griddle, so don’t bother inviting me to anything.  What do you think?  Are you going to come stare at the griddle with me?

I can only imagine the responses that Ezekiel got when it became apparent what he was doing.  I am afraid that I might not have been very kind and maybe rolled my eyes at Ezekiel’s interpretive presentation. I have always found interpretive theater to be a little weird.  I doubt if my appreciation would grow after 430 consecutive days of watching the same sleeveless, bound guy lying on his side, staring at a griddle. I am probably not alone in my lack of appreciation.

English: Angry woman.

English: Angry woman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ezekiel must have gotten sneers, eye-rolls, ridicule, and the deep exhales that power the fluttering lips of disapproval. It seems likely that God reminded Ezekiel not to be afraid of what the crowds where going to say to him and not to become discouraged by their arrogant looks because he was going to need that encouragement.  He was going to face an audience that would not understand the illustration.  He was going to have to face the critical reviews of those who simply rejected the message.

I have never been called to do anything like Ezekiel’s calling but God’s encouragement to Ezekiel is a lesson that most of us can learn from.

Consider the source of criticism.

It was a rebellious house that spoke words to make Ezekiel afraid.  Hard hearts contorted the faces which caused him to dismay.  Ezekiel was being obedient to what he knew God had called him to do.  The opinions of a rebellious house should not matter to him.

The spirit of that rebellious house is still alive and well.

We are all called to some form of obedience in our lives.  We are people of the word of the cross.  We will eventually run into people who do not understand our actions.  There will be people who reject what we believe.  Their disapproval of our faith will be very evident.

Consider the source of criticism.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:18

The criticism of those who are perishing should not matter to us.  They are from a house that is in rebellion to the King of kings.  We live for the One who has called us.  His opinion is the one that matters.  That is what we should remember when the discouragement of disapproving looks and words are sent our way.

PRAYER: Lord, you know that I have often modified my actions, changed my words, closed my mouth due to a fear of the opinion of man.  I have been discouraged by the words of those who hate you.  I have desired to be included when my beliefs have put me on the outside.   Thank you for reminding me of whose opinion really matters.  Father, I pray for those of that rebellious house.  I pray for those who think that I am foolish for what I believe.  Open the eyes of those who are perishing.  Use me to draw them to your Son.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“DIVINE RESUME” – August 2

August 2, 2013

“Thus says the Lord: ”Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.””  Jeremiah 9:23-24

job-interviewEvery job seeker understands the importance of a quality professional resume.  Those seeking employment must sell themselves to the perspective employer and the résumé provides a concise summary of applicable boasts.   Often, the résumé is the format where applicable skill sets can be highlighted.

The résumé states an applicant’s education and training.  It will catalog his career accomplishments.  Awards and commendations will be listed in order to distinguish from other hopefuls.

The boasts of a résumé are the traits that an applicant believes represent the value that they will provide to an employer.

Thankfully, we are not expected to prepare personal resumes for those positions that we are inclined toward in our social worlds.  However, that does not mean we are not selling ourselves to others.  Social circles can be a circus of positioning and posturing for attention and praise.  Just because we don’t hand out resumes does not mean that we are without the ability to distinguish ourselves from others.

“Meet and greets” are an interview for potential association and friendship.  An oral resume typically flows in response to the question of,  “tell me about yourself.”   I tend to pick those personal traits that may be of interest in a particular social setting.  It comes pretty natural to discuss that which distinguishes us.  We all have gifts and experiences that make us interesting.  Every person has a unique story.  We are individuals and we are distinct.

However, what is your go-to story.  When asked to talk about yourself, where do you start?

Are you a Mom?  Are you a Dad?
Do you talk about hunting or fishing?
Is it hobbies like gardening?
Does your career define you?
Are you a writer or a reader?
How about a traveler and vacationer?

I have never known anyone who initiated their oral resume with the trait of knowing and understanding God.  What would your reaction be if you were to say, “Tell me a little something about yourself” and I responded, “Well, probably the most notable thing about me is that I know and understand God”?  It seems like that might come off as a little arrogant.

However, that is what we are instructed to boast about.  We don’t have any problem talking about other things that we know and understand.  When we offer advice, it is because we know or understand something.  Typically, those traits in which we have invested time and energy to understand and know are those things that we appreciate and value.  When we are asked to talk about ourselves, we typically go to those things that we value the most; those things that are important to us.

Our go-to story should be that we know and understand God.  It will never be arrogant to talk about knowing and understanding God when the explanation is in the context of our experience of God’s steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.  True knowledge and understanding of God is not an intellectual achievement that brings glory to man.  True knowledge and understanding of God comes from experiencing His steadfast love, His forgiveness, and a transforming of our life through the power of His Spirit.  Therefore, appropriate boasting in one’s knowledge and understanding of God will inevitably make much of God.

There is nothing more distinguishing for a Child of God is the fact that they know and are known by their Savior.  There is nothing more important about me than the fact that I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  The most valuable aspect of my life is the gift of my faith.  That is the most interesting thing about me; everything else that I could boast about pales in comparison to the grace and mercy that has been shown me.  It is because of that divine grace and mercy that I have any knowledge or understandings of the Most High.  Therefore, my boast does not distinguish me.  It distinguishes Him.

Now, there is a go-to story!

It just makes sense that a follower of Christ’s oral resume should start with, “I know and understand God because He has shown me His steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in my life.”

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for showing yourself to me.  Thank you for teaching me about you.  Thank you for saving me.  Help me to keep my perspective right.  May my boasts be a delight to you I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“ALLOW ME TO COMMUNICATE” – June 2

June 2, 2013

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.”  1 Corinthians 2:1

Some of the contestants in the Scripps Nationa...

Some of the contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a new spelling bee champion just crowned.  The new champion is Arvind Mahankali, a 13 year old from New York City.  He won the competition by spelling “knaidel”, which is a German-derived Yiddish word for a matzo ball.  I am annually amazed at the words that get spelled at the Scripps National Spelling Bee that I did not know even existed.

We all have vast list of words that we can choose from in our communication.  I am surprised by the number of times I listen to a speech and wonder what in the world they are talking about.  The speaker will throw in words that are so unfamiliar that I am lost in his terminology.  The result of his word selection has been for me to not fully understand what he was attempting to communicate

Whose fault is the failure to communicate; the listener or the speaker?

It is the communicator’s job to communicate.  If that person fails to explain their ideas in an understandable manner, then they have not done an adequate job in selecting their words.  The process of word selection is not to impress your listeners with your vocabulary.  We should select our words in order to present our ideas in the most interesting, stimulating, and understandable manner.

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The use of a vocabulary that alienates the listener is rude. 

It may be due to the speaker not even thinking about his audience.  It may be due to a desire to appear intelligent.  We all can get caught up in using words that are very familiar to our profession or expertise but are not universally understood.  I was instructed when I began my engineering career on how to speak in front of our clients.

My job is to communicate engineering principles and recommendations in an understandable manner so that our client can make an informed decision.  It is easy for me to talk over their heads.  I can use words and terminology that are not familiar to them.  I can talk in a way that will make me appear very intelligent.  I can communicate in a manner that frustrates or makes them feel dumb.

However, I will not have done a very good job communicating to my client.  They are not paying me to make a performance of my intelligence.  They are not paying me to make them feel dumb.  They are paying me to help them understand.  Therefore, I will choose my words based on my audience.  I will select words from my vocabulary that will be most effective in helping them understand.

I wonder how much of the rhetorical techniques used within our religious circles have more to do with appearances than actual communication.  I listen to some Christian speakers and wonder at their word selection.  It seems to me that much of the terminology that gets bantered comes from a desire to fit into philosophy departments than with real communication within Church. We should be constantly thinking about our audience as we communicate.  We cannot expect a person with limited or no Church background to understand our strange terminology.  We should care enough about them to select words that are an aid to understanding and not a stumbling block.

Our goal should be to make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified throughout this world.

There are enough stumbling blocks to faith.  May the words we select not be among those stumbling blocks.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that there are so many stumbling blocks in this world.  Forgive me for those times when I have not been gracious enough to select my words carefully.  Forgive me for selecting words that build me up but do not help others understand.  Lord, may your Spirit work past all of my failures to communicate.  Thank you for not relying upon me to pick the perfect word.  Help me to be more conscience of what comes out of my mouth.  Give me a compassion for others that leads me to think about the words that I use.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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