Archives For November 2013

First Installment: Out of Darkness and Into the Light.

Hello and welcome back!

It’s great that you are here!  We are beginning a brand new post series!  This series will consist of several postings that deal with the life of the Friend of God, Abraham, the patriarch.

The importance of the life of Abraham in both the Old and New Testament is indisputable.  Without knowledge of this patriarch of the Hebrew nation, a great hole will be left in the Christian’s Scriptural understanding.

This is the purpose of this post series.  These mini-lessons will enlighten you about Abraham, the father of the great Hebrew nation of Israel.

Many passages in Scripture would be less likely to be understood without this knowledge.

Around 2,000 years before Christ appeared on the scene, in the city of Ur, Abraham first came into contact with God.

Abraham’s descendants sprang from Shem, lived in this flourishing land of fertile growth.

The beautiful expanse of sky in that region provided the best viewing for the wonders of the heavens.  This may be a possible reason they worshiped the heavenly bodies with a form of religion that wrapped around idols and a form of licentiousness that occurs when a people is out of obedience and community with God.

Through this one man, Abraham, God began the process of reconciliation between Himself and the human race, as he had done after the flood through Moses.

He separated Abraham and some of His relatives and sent the away from the place they called home towards a land they had never seen but that God promised to them if they remained in obedience to Him.

This happening occurred around 400 years after the flood.

The Hamites (descendants of Ham, son of Noah) were already in the land when the Shemites (the people descended from Shem, Abraham’s linage).

They settled where their patriarch, Terah, decided which was in the excellent pasture lands on the outskirts of Ur.

The detrimental effects of a people lowering their standards when confronted by a culture without morality created the slow but steady deterioration of the Shemites, Abraham’s people.  Their children who were brought up in these morally-challenged circumstances lost their moral compass.  The result was the gradual decay of the Shemite religion resulting in following the ways of the Hamites into idolatry.

Abraham grew up in this idolatrous culture of the Hamites and that cultures constant dilution of Abraham’s familial household.  Tradition shows that Abraham resisted the idolatrous lifestyle and the licentious behavior of this culture.

He came through the trials and tribulations of this culture and was chosen to be separated from this culture in order to call Abraham to leave the homeland of his youth and to follow Him to a promised land, to be set apart as God’s holy people.

Abraham was alone in his struggle to refrain from the morality and idol worship around him.  Grow in your determination to resist the modern cultural debased morality in which you find yourself, Christian!  It is a lonely walk but one in which God Himself walks with us, even when we cannot feel Him beside us.

Even in the lonely valley of this 21st century decadence – you reside, attend church, and work for a living.   Stand strong and uncompromising in the temptations of this morally-debased society.

God will see your faithfulness and will bring you out of the pit and you will be a light to those around you that reflect the true nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Like Abraham, God will lead you out of darkness and into the light.

Next Post: God’s Call to Follow

(…to be continued)

**These post on the life of Abraham will be found in the Bible study category**.

Until next time!

Zach

Question:  What do you think of this new post series?

Hello and welcome back!

How is winter treating you where you live?  You know – I have experienced three seasons in just as many days.

How?

By living in New Mexico!  New Mexico is a state where if you don’t like the weather today, hang around until tomorrow.  It is sure to change!

In fact, the only sure thing about the weather in New Mexico is that it will be different tomorrow!

Change can be good though, can’t it?

Think about your life before you found Jesus!  Oh.  You haven’t found Jesus yet?

Ok.

Hang with us while I discuss with those who have already found Him about how good change can be as a Christian.  Those of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior realize that our lives before finding Him were pretty bad, right everyone?

I mean, walking on the pathway of sin was a normal occurrence for most of us back in the day.  One day, we were truckin’ along – doing our thing – when Jesus found us.

Everything changed!  We went from death and entered into life!

Now, ff you are still in your sins, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, and if you really don’t know what it is I am talking about, let me tell you a story.

” For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Time: 1st century A.D.

Location: Outside the city of Jerusalem.

Scene:  A hill called Mount Calvary.

30–36 AD     

A Man named Jesus of Nazareth is being nailed upon a Roman cross, after being charged with crimes He didn’t commit.

Those driving nails into His flesh are cursing Him, are spitting on Him, and are causing pain in His already abused body which has been scourged (whipped and ripped almost to the point of death).

Why was this man, Jesus, being treated in such a manner?

Let’s take a look at what the Bible, God’s holy word, says on the subject:

Isaiah 53: 1:12

Who has believed what we have heard?
And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to?
He grew up before Him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground.
He didn’t have an impressive form
or majesty that we should look at Him,
no appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses,
and He carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded Him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished Him
for the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughter
and like a sheep silent before her shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
He was taken away because of oppression and judgment;
and who considered His fate?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
He was struck because of my people’s rebellion.
They made His grave with the wicked
and with a rich man at His death,
although He had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.

10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely.
When You make Him a restitution offering,
He will see His seed, He will prolong His days,
and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished.
11 He will see it out of His anguish,
and He will be satisfied with His knowledge.
My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion,

and He will receive the mighty as spoil,
because He submitted Himself to death,
and was counted among the rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.

(This description of the Messiah was written through prophesy, according to most scholars, between 701 B.C. and 681 B.C.  This is more than 700 years before Jesus actually appeared on earth).

What we have just read is the prophet Isaiah proclaiming God’s word of the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ and the reason for His crucifixion.  He died in our place to redeem us from the wages of sin – death.

“I’m a good person!  Why am I condemned?  There’s worse people than me!”

Romans 6:23 – 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God’s love for the people groups of the earth was such that He gave His own Son to die upon a Roman cross for sins He did not commit so that we might live.

John 3:16-18 –  For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God [emphasis mine].

Condemned of what? You might be thinking, “I’m a good person!  Why am I condemned”!  There’s worse people than me!

“Just what are all people who are not in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the Messiah – the living Son of God – guilty of?  I know I am better than many people who attend church!”

Disobedience to God, unbelief in God, unbelief in His Son, Jesus Christ – through the breaking of His Divine Law – the 10 Commandments is what creates the guilt before Him.

Are you familiar with the 10 Commandments of God?   Here they are below:

Exodus 20:1-17 – Then God spoke all these words:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
Do not have other gods besides Me.
Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.
Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God, because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9 You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11 For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 Do not murder.
14 Do not commit adultery.
15 Do not steal.
16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

What we come to understand through the words of God in His holy word is the nature of God Himself.  God is Righteous, all holy (meaning set apart) and totally unable to abide sin.  He is perfect goodness.  He is love.  He is truth.

Any sin that is not confessed with the mouth, repented of, and salvation be asked for and obtained, ends in spiritual death and eternal punishment in Hell, the place where unforgiven sinners are destined.

“Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?”

Knowing this nature of God, we must understand that any sin at all, even breaking just one of the 10 Commandments only one time in our entire lives earns the wages of sin, which is death (See Romans 6:23 above).

Have you ever worshiped a false idol?  You have if you have ever put anything in your life above God Himself?  If so, that is what a false idol is today.  Anything you pay more attention to than God.

Have you ever told a lie?  Just one?  The wages of unpaid for sin – is spiritual death (Romans 6:23).  The only way to obtain forgiveness is to accept the precious gift of forgiveness and grace that comes only through Jesus (See Romans 10:9 below):

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus died so that you might live!  Read the Scripture below:  I Cor. 15:2-5:

 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

Jesus says to believe in who sent Him (the Father) and to believe in Him.  He is the way to God and eternal life.  Check out John 10:8-10 below:

All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

The above Scripture tells us that Jesus is the only way back in fellowship with God.  There IS no other way.

None.

Psalm 118:22:

22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.

Acts 4:11-13:

 This Jesus is

the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.[a][b]

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.

That said, can you understand the guilt of all humanity?  That all have sinned and unable to earn their way?  Below is what God says about it in Romans 3:22-24:

22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Christians, send an email link to those who you know have not found Jesus.  Post this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+.  These are the words of the Gospel that lead to eternal life.

To you, the unsaved, I pray that you will read the above again, pray to God for the Holy Spirit to show you the way, find a Bible teaching church, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Need Prayer?  Contact me on Facebook!

Please, pass this along for those who are dying in their sin and need Jesus in their lives!

Until next time!

Blessings,

Zach

QUESTION:  If you are saved, would you give your testimony so others can be encouraged!

November 21st, 2013 Sharron Kay King Interview

 

This interview with Sharron Kay King will touch your life.

If you are a child of God, it will reinforce your conviction as you see the miracle of another life that was being devastated by the world turned around through saving grace!

If you are not saved, look and see how your life can be freed from the sentence of eternal death due to the unforgiven sin in your life.  Please listen to the Holy Spirit as he speaks to your heart through this divine appointment interview below.

________________________________________

Zach:  Sharron, would you bring my readers up to date on your gospel music career and winning female vocalist of the year?

Sharron Kay King:  I thank the Lord that He is able to work through me in touching the hearts and lives. For the past 23 years I’ve been a willing servant with a desire to reach the hurting through the words of my songs & testimony.

I’ve won a few awards through the years as well as being nominated for things as soloist, songwriter, mainstream artist & female soloist.  The one that I cherish most and means more to me than any of the others is receiving, The Award of Excellence in Music Ministry.

Zach:  Yes, I am sure that was extremely exciting for you!  Sharron, if you had to choose just one of the many wonderful songs that you have recorded, what would it be?

Sharron Kay King:  Probably My Best Friend. This song was my first attempt at songwriting after being saved and will always be the one that’s dearest to my heart.

“My family had given up on me and my own mother disowned me.”

Zach:  Wow, it’s one of my favorites too.  Are you planning a big Western United States tour for this summer?

Sharron Kay King:  As a matter of fact, it is in the planning stages now. In 2014, dates are being added to my schedule for June to minister in Texas & Oklahoma. I am also planning on visiting Ruidoso, New Mexico for the first time.

Zach:  Yes!  I will be so glad to get to meet you and hear you sing in person when you are in concert here at 1st Southern here in Ruidoso!

Sharron, could you give the readers a little background on yourself and how you came to saving faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ?

Sharron Kay King:  Zach, my life was nothing short of ending in 1987. I was 25 years old, a single mother of 3, a drug addict as well as an alcoholic.

I had nothing.

My family had given up on me and my own mother disowned me.

Looking up from the bottom I felt there was no hope for me. I was searching for answers to no avail. Deep in my heart I always desired to be a good mother and good person and most of all, a good daughter. I was lost.

After hitting rock bottom, the words of a Sunday school song came back to my memory. My granny taught it to me as a 5 year old girl.  I had been privileged to attend Sunday school with her— I think—about 3 times one summer.

Anyway, the words to Jesus Loves Me began flooding through my mind. The song’s melody would wake me up in the middle of the night and it would haunt me during the day.

I began wondering who this Jesus was! Conviction then set in on my heart and I thank the Lord for conviction!

Long story short, I found myself at an altar on July 25, 1987.  I completely surrendered my will to Jesus Christ that night.  He saved me, forgave me, and allowed me to feel a love that I had never known before.

I was free from every addiction of nearly 14 years. Oh!  The blood of Jesus that still washes white as snow!

Zach:  That is an awesome testimony, Sharron—thank you for sharing that with my readers!

How has God moved in your life since you have confessed Him as your personal Lord and Savior?

Sharron Kay King:  God has moved in my life in more ways than I can imagine. He totally restored my relationship with my mother and gave me a new lease on life. Allowed me to be that good mom that I always dreamed of being.

Not only did He save me that night, He has kept me safe in Him for 26 years.

Zach:  That is so inspiring.  You now share this amazing testimony and sing such inspiring music about our Lord!

Sharron, what is it like on the road—you know—meeting and greeting your fans all over the country?

Does it give you an opportunity to personally witness to people?

Sharron Kay King:   My life on the road! Ministry is a very lonely place, but a rewarding place.

It is a humbling experience to be in a service and begin to sing only to hear people singing my songs and worshiping Jesus along with me.  I remember one day as I was going through a check-out line with my son.

The cashier kept looking at me to the point I began to feel uncomfortable. She then looked up at me and asked, “Are you Sharron Kay King?”

I was shocked.

I answered and said, “Yes, I am.”

She smiled and started telling me what my music has meant to her.  My son looked at me as we walked away and said, “That was pretty cool!”

I walked away from there feeling very good.

Zach:   It’s so interesting hearing about life on the road for a professional singer and performer.  Thank you also for telling us about that encounter in the store!

You touch the lives of so many with your testimony and your Southern gospel music! Do you have any plans to release another album soon?

Sharron Kay King:  I’m praying right now about making my first Hymnal project. I love the songs of old. As a writer, I feel such conviction and compassion in the words from the old church songbooks.

It’s sad we don’t use them much anymore.

Zach:  I can hardly wait until THAT album hits the racks!  Sharron, if you could tell our audience only one thing about your life and career, what would be that one thing that stands out to you the most?

Sharron Kay King:  That I love the Lord, Zach. When I felt called into this ministry, I fought it. I honestly didn’t see what God could use with me.

Once I realized that I didn’t need a college education or a music degree, I realized that I just needed God to work through me.

It’s not about me or anything I am able to do.  It’s all about Him and His ability to take a broken vessel and mold us into a masterpiece.

Zach:  Thank you for a great interview, Sharron.  Would you mind if I place an audio file at the end of you singing, God’s Been Good?

He has certainly been good to you and I just want this interview to encourage people out there who don’t quite know where to start or how to turn to God?

Sharron Kay King:  Absolutely!  I would like to add that it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you have been—Jesus loves you and He won’t give up on you!

Trust Him!

Zach:  Praise God for you, Sharron, and for the wonderful gift of music and vocals that so touch my heart and many millions as well!

Sharron Kay King: Thank you, Pastor Zach, for allowing God to use you in touching my life!

QUESTION:  How has Sharron Kay King’s testimony touched your life?

_____________________________________________

Songs of Sharron Ministry

 2013 ICGMA Horizon Female Vocalist of the Year

Sharron’s home state of Indiana is where she resided most of her life. Since 2008, she has resided in Georgia.

Award winning Singer/Songwriter ~ Full time ministry.

“Sharing the message of Jesus Christ through song, testimony & his word. I love Ladies Retreats ~ please consider giving me a call, I’d love to come worship the King with you!”

GUEST POST:  This post was written by a very good friend of mine, Pastor Alan Stoddard.  Alan is pastor of First Baptist Church of Ruidoso, New Mexico.  He presents a very important concept in this article.  I hope it benefits the reader as it has benefited me and my family.

_________________________________________________________________________________

I have wondered if a pastor could write a post like this one. A post that conveys the inside walls of the average pastor’s heart. Well, here is goes. Here are 7 things your pastor won’t tell you but wishes you knew. He would never want to be rude or callous in the matter. Yet know these things can help you partner with your pastor and spiritual leaders in accomplishing much for your church.

1. He cannot keep up with everyone in the church.

If your pastor serves a church of 100 or more, he cannot keep up with everyone in the best of circumstances. If you help him by making your needs exactly known, that will help. If you need your pastor, you should call and make an appointment so he knows exactly how to meet your need.

Pastors are like everyone else.

They are busy in personal and professional life.

The difference is your pastor is probably responsible for many more people than the average person. Don’t hold him to an unrealistic standard. He is not trying to avoid you. Try not to make him have to run you down. He probably has many of those kinds of situations. Make it easy on him and form him to meet your needs.

He will do it. Free him up to meet your needs while also allowing him time to interact with unbelievers. Get in a small group of your church. Let your needs to met there also.

2. He knows he is not perfect.

Your pastor knows he is not perfect.

At times that can be lost in the interactions within leadership. Some pastors are arrogant and have poor personal relationship skills. That is sad but true. Most pastors I know understand they are not perfect. And yes, at times pastors act like bulldogs and do not take their teeth out of issues when they should.

Yet most pastors are leaders, loving, and desire to feed and shepherd God’s sheep.

Yet your pastor probably gets nit-picked to death for things that are not that important. If you need to get something legit off your chest, take your pastor for coffee.

Love him.

Be gracious.

Let him know you are on his side. Don’t send him cheap emails. You make him have to decide to answer you in writing. Telling your pastor he is not meeting your standard for something is best done in person, not email or text.

The reason why people email or text or gossip the issue is because it is easier for them to perform “drive by” pot shots that way. In volunteer organizations, your pastor knows he has to be godly leveraging authority. He does not want to go to war with you. He wants to fight Satan. He knows he is not perfect. Be careful how you tell him that.

3. He works 7 days a week.

Yes, it it true.

Your pastor works 7 days a week. He does not mean to do it, but he does.

He always has someone reaching out to him in need (see #1). He gets a call at night. His wife counsels someone while on an off day. Someone is sick. Another dies. He prepares sermons because he had to adjust his weekly schedule because of other things that came up in the week.

Your pastor likes his work because he is called to it. He is not going to complain about it. He does want you to know that he works 7 days a week, but he is not going to tell you.

4. He wants you to help him grow your church.

Your pastor cannot do it without you.

He needs your help. He needs you to not only have ideas, but to implement good ideas. If you do not support the ministry of your church, your church will be limited. Your spiritual leaders need your support not gripes.

Your pastor would love for you to responsibly take charge of your own spiritual life. He wants you to take ownership in your church. He needs your help to grow your church.

5. There are always a few he cannot please.

Right now, there are a few people who love to nit-pick, harass, and stress out your pastor.

In every church there are a few people who not only have complaints about some part of the ministry, but they communicate those complaints in ways that are not godly or professional. They have no respect for your pastor. He does not mention these people.

If those few people were on a job, they would be counseled or fired. In a church, they can take potshots without consequence. Know your pastor cannot manage or lead some people. They will not let him. He needs your help in protecting him from negative people.

They are only a few, but they can be loud. Help your pastor manage them. Don’t be one of the few. Most of the time, the issue is they want the pastor to do what they want while they are unwilling to follow that same leadership themselves.

6. He knows he is accountable.

Your pastor may come across as not accountable to anyone. Yet he is accountable to God.

He is accountable to the spiritual leadership.

He is accountable to the church.

If your pastor lives with integrity, is not stealing money, is not sleeping with another woman, is not lazy, visits people, cares, etc., then give him a break. Encourage him. Don’t assume he is not accountable just because it is not the accountability you think he needs.

7. He is thankful for what you do.

Pastors in general are thankful for all you do.

He is appreciative for your generosity.

He loves you.

He sees your extra time you put in for God’s causes. He sees what you do for him and his family. He is thankful for his salary, time off, benefits, etc. He is thankful. Pastors need to actually express that fairly often somehow. Yet know that your pastor, even when he does not say it or express it often enough, he is thankful.

Question: What would you add to this list?

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If you found this article interesting and beneficial, you may also enjoy another article of his that runs in this same vein beneficial as well.  It is called, 7 things people wish their pastor knew, but won’t tell him.

You can follow Alan Stoddard on his site AlanStoddard.com.

Hello and welcome back!

Wow, it is getting cold here in the mountains of Southeast New Mexico!

Yes, I can hear you folks in the colder climes of our great nation saying, “Listen to Pastor Zach!  Moaning and groaning because he has a little frozen frost on the windshield at 4 o’clock in the morning!”

Yep, I can just hear the comments, “He needs to try a real winter sometime!”

I know you are right.  However, from my perspective, after the temperature gets to 40 – it’s COLD-D-D!

Weather.

There is only one thing that is certain about the weather.  It is always changing.  Regardless of where you are in the world, the certainty about where you are is the changes in the weather.

So what does this have to do with all Christianity?

Simply this.  When it comes to the Gospel of Christ – unlike the weather – it does not change!

Ever!

Paul’s preaching of the gospel (the good news) was the same as the other apostles.  In today’s church, the terms used to define theological views are not always clear.

The importance?

“The gospel of Christ is offensive to all unbelievers”

There are three early warning signs that point to a possible false gospel that can be found in 21st century Christianity today.  Do you know them?

1.  The gospel that Peter preached and the gospel that Paul preached were the same.   They each presented it to the listener with their individual personality involvement but it was the identical gospel message that was delivered.

Let’s look at the following Scripture:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16).

It says the gospel, not a gospel, right?  This indicates that there is only one gospel, not one presented by Paul and one presented by another apostle.  They were all in agreement on what the gospel consisted of.

The apostles would never suggest that there are different versions or flavors of the gospel.  There is no other gospel.  They would hold that there can only be one, true gospel and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ as related in the Scriptures of the New Testament.

The reason for the statement above is that different denominations in the church today present a variation (flavors) of the gospel from each other.

2.  Paul’s gospel was the same regardless of the culture he was preaching it to.  He preached the same gospel message to the Jew as he preached to the Gentile.  He never once adapted his preaching of the true gospel to fit in with different cultural beliefs or mores.

Paul never preached the gospel to cater to or to be offensive to any culture.  The gospel of Christ is offensive to all unbelievers – Jew and Gentile alike – regardless of the cultural differences because it condemns them due to sin.

Paul would never understand today’s worries about offending from a cultural perspective and the constant striving to approach each culture from adapting the gospel to fit them.

Paul preached the same message to every culture because they had one, common problem: sin.  He preached the one, true gospel to all because the one, common problem of mankind is sin and the wages of sin is death!

3.  Paul’s gospel message didn’t have components to it that changed based on what century it was preached.  The Roman Empire changed even during the life of Paul.  He never changed his message to fit the differences in culture due to the passage of time.

Quite the contrary.  Paul’s message, which was the same as what Jesus taught, not only fit into each culture it was preached in, but in every time period that it has been preached in since the beginning.

Today’s evangelicals have the conviction that each generation of people need the gospel adapted to fit their needs.  The true gospel needs no adaptation.

Unlike the weather, the gospel never needs changing.  In fact, changing the gospel to fit cultural differences is to pollute the true gospel making it a false gospel.

Preach the gospel of Paul as instructed in the New Testament which is the same gospel taught by Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Next post, this will be expanded upon.

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION:  What is the gospel message to you?

 

This is a guest post from a Twitter friend.  If you like his article post, you will find links to his work at the end of this post.  –Zach

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV).

 

New Wine In Old Wineskins

Old Beau was a good old dog.  In his day he and his master Jake would never come back from hunting without game.  But things had changed, all old Beau wants to do is lie around on the porch.  Jake still takes him out in search of game, but it’s no fun any more.  It’s too much like work trying to get him to do anything.  Jake looks at Beau lying on the porch half-asleep and thinks; this dog just does not hunt anymore.

Maybe sometimes we “do church” like Jake does hunting with Beau.  I am not suggesting that the church is an old dog, just the opposite.   Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”(Matthew 16:18 NKJV).  The church is indestructible. Every new creation in Christ is alive and vibrant and the church (its communal expression) should be also.  What I am submitting to you is that maybe we are trying to put new wine (life and vitality) in old wineskins (out of date and worn out methodology).

Bowling Alone

Our scriptural reference says that there is a season for everything.  Seasons come and seasons go.  Steve Hewitt in his eBook The New Protestant Reformation mentions research by Harvard University professor Robert D. Putman.  Involvement in social organizations like the PTA, the Boy and Girl Scouts, etc. is down across the board from the 1960’s through the 90’s.  Putman is his book,Bowling Alone, documents an interesting trend in relation to this recreational activity.  Over time owners of bowling alleys noticed that people did not want to join bowling leagues like they once did.  They preferred to bowl alone or with a small group of friends or family.  The bowling alleys scaled back their leagues and instituted specialty nights where small groups could bowl together. The result is that just as many people are bowling today compared with the heyday of the leagues and the bowling alleys have survived.

The church is facing a changing social landscape where people are just not joiners.  Hewitt suggest some reasons.  First he mentions what he calls the “Personal Communication Age.”  People today due to technology and social media live with an information overload.  They have moved away from sources Hewitt calls  “information and connectivity” such as newspapers, network TV, etc..  They are looking for a personal source for their information.  The church seeks to inform and connect primarily via large group meetings, which can appear impersonal to many people.

Also, people seem to want to be part of the process.  As Hewitt says, “one way communication doesn’t work the way it used to work.”  People want to comment, question and be part of the conversation.”  They want to obtain information through personal dialogue. Even social media is personal to them as they connect, follow, and like each other.  An example of this is the popularity of the medium with which I am communicating these ideas, the blog.  It is a simple idea that takes “one way” communication and allows people to comment and question and truly become active in the discussion.

Signs Of The Times

The Barna Research Group and many others have discovered some interesting statistics in relation to church attendance.  In 1992 there were about 22% of Americans attending on a regular basis (twice a month).  In 1999 it had dropped to 19% and by 2002 it had plummeted to 18%.  Some predict the figure may be close to 15% currently.  Surveys show that at least 50% of Americans considers themselves as Christians. Yet, less than 18% support or attend regularly the conventional church.  How can this be happening?  Are people ignoring Hebrews 10:25, …not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…?  On the surface the answer may appear to be yes, but one Barna study questions this conclusion.  The study indicates that 25% of those who call themselves Christians are not affiliated with a church, yet study the Bible on a regular basis.  Barna has been watching the house church movement and in a 2006 study he stated;

The new study, based on interviews with more than 5000 randomly selected
adults across the nation, found that 9% of the adults attended a house church
during a typical week.  That is remarkable growth in the last decade, shooting
up from 1% to near double digit involvement.  In total, one of five adults
attends a house church at least once a month.

From the above mentioned research and many others we can make some conclusions.  The preferences of the American people are changing.  People are more likely to join a group that is smaller in size.  They want to get their information on a more personal basis.  They seek to be able to interact with the source of the information and not just receive “one way”communication.  To affect the personal nature of their interactions, small seems to be better. There is a growing group of un-churched people who are interested in spiritual things who don’t or won’t join the conventional church.  According to the statistics of the church’s overall attendance decline, the people are voting with their feet.  Are there many and varied exceptions? Yes, but the trend is pretty clear.  Someone once said, “wisdom is just having a keen sense of the obvious.”

The Priesthood Of All Believers

How has the church addressed these societal adjustments?  In many ways we have found ourselves a day late and a dollar short.  We have been slow to recognize and adapt to the signs of the times.  There are reasons for our resistance to change.  The church has to be conservative as we are called to maintain the unchanging message of the Gospel.  Many have done this and paid for it with their lives.  But our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness.  We include with the Word of God media and ministry structures by which we deliver the message thinking they are divinely inspired. They may be things that may have worked in their “season” but not now.  Do we need to rethink things like church membership, where and how we do church?  We must think outside the box to get people to interface with God’s people.  But once they are with the church we must give them the same message the Apostle Paul preached.  The message must never be modified but the medium must always be evolving.  Unlike the operators of the bowling alleys the church has been slow to embrace change and to adapt and present the Gospel in a cultural context that is viable to our clientele.

I hesitated in writing this blog.  I feared it might come across as being critical of the church that I love.  I was apprehensive that I might just pit the conventional church against the house church movement.  They are numerous vibrant and healthy traditional churches in this land.  Who am I to be critical of what God is doing through these groups of believers?  But for every healthy and growing church there are hundreds, maybe thousands of marginally successful ones.  These churches are pastored by people working their hearts out and wondering; what am I doing wrong?  Maybe they are doing nothing wrong.  Just trying to do church in a way that will not work for them.  Should we all seek vertical church growth as opposed to horizontal?  By vertical I mean where we build bigger and bigger church buildings to accommodate larger and larger audiences.  Or should we be thinking horizontally where you plant cell groups of believers, who when they grow past 12 or 15, subdivide and plant themselves in another neighborhood in your city.  At this point you might say, we already have home groups.  Yes, but do you give your groups the amount of freedom and autonomy which people today are seeking; the latitude to view themselves as churches within a church.  In the business world it is well known that people take care of their own business better than someone else’s. When we empower people and give them ownership they generally respond well.  But, isn’t this risky, you might ask?  Of course it is; but no risk, no gain.  What if by chance a church loses a group?  Then they have spun off a group of believers who are people discipling people where they live.   Not a bad model to affect the priesthood of all believers. Maybe churches, instead of fearing losing people, ought to think about how many (as Hewitt calls them) micro-churches they can spin off.

It is not my purpose to highlight the benefits of small groups or the house church over the conventional church.  They both have strengths and weaknesses.  God is big enough to grow His church in either type of setting.  Maybe we should take a hint from the first century church, And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:42 NKJV).  It may not be “either or”, but “and also”.  The conventional church and the cell group, be it a house church or a group that meets in an office, can sit around and be critical of each other, but what eternal purpose does that serve?  If we love, serve, and recognize our need for each other, we may awaken a sleeping giant.  As Bob Dylan once sung, The Times They Are a-Changin.  If we are open to God’s changing seasons, who knows, we may see old Beau hunting again.

The learn more about “micro” churches.

——————————————————–

Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing
Email:  kenbarnes737@gmail.com
website: https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/

Blogs:  http://kensblog757.blogspot.com

http://gleanings757.blogspot.com

Comments? Opinions?  Please comment below!

 

On a lonely, wind-swept hill, Jesus willingly died in your place.  Not only did he die for you, he died at your own hand.  Yes, we are all guilty of killing Jesus.

Are you completely aware just what it is that Jesus did?  This is the truth of the Gospel of Christ.  This is the good news of the kingdom of God.  Let the truth of God sweep over you and cleanse your soul as you read along.

God Himself, took on human flesh, making Himself a little lower than the angels and suffered the death of a criminal in your place.

Why?

Because He died for you while you were still dead in your sins.  He granted you opportunity to return to the original fellowship with Him that was had in the Garden experience before sin entered into the picture.

Understand this, the first Adam infected humanity with the virus of sin that leads to spiritual and physical death.  The second Adam, Jesus Christ, paid the price of ransom for us and lifted that sin debt off your shoulders and onto His own.

His punishment was undeserved.  We deserved to suffer it but he suffered for us because we could never find favor with the Almighty Father on our own.  The Almighty Father accepted His Son’s death as payment-in-full for our sins.  When we believe on His name (Jesus), we are set free from the debt of sin – which is death.

When those who do not credit what Jesus did on the cross as being all sufficient in our salvation and claim that we have to earn our way, just remember this:

  1. You are now a child of God, justified by Jesus’ blood, and an heir with Him.
  2. You have victory over spiritual death because of His work on the cross.
  3. You are victorious with Christ over sin and death.
  4. You once were dead in sin but you are now alive and filled with the Holy Spirit.
  5. Eternal security is yours through the precious blood of Christ!

When you are confronted with the lies of the devil that threaten your eternal security in Jesus Christ, forgive them for they no not what they are doing.  Do not allow their judgement against your liberty in Jesus to cause you to feel condemned.

John 3:18 (AMP)
18  He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation—he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ’s name.]

 Don’t buy into the false doctrine of losing your salvation if you are truly saved!  Don’t allow them to steal your joy!  Don’t walk in the fear of lost liberty in Jesus to be judged by a mortal man!  Rejoice as did the Apostles!  It is God who justifies, not man!

If you have truly believed in He who died for you, confessed that you are a sinner, and believed in your heart that Jesus is the Lord of all, you can rest in the following passage:

Romans 8:1-3 (AMP)
1  THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.
2  For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.
3  For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice],

 God bless you!

Until next time,

Zach

QUESTION:  Are you truly saved?  Comment about your testimony!  

Hello and welcome back!

If you missed the last post why not scroll down and read it first?  I would like your honest opinion about it.

Ok?

Thanks!

This post, I decided to write about a phenomenon that is sweeping through many churches in America today.  Pastors are talking about it on various blogs, websites – even books.

What is it they are talking about?

We will get into it in a moment, but first, I want to ask you to consider something?  When we boil it right down to what is the most important thing Jesus asked of the church, what as it?  He said many things but there is one thing that stands out among all the rest.

Need a hint?

That one thing is – love.

Yep!  Love is the glue that holds the church together, causes it to grow, and sets the stage for discipleship, service, and perseverance.

This is what I want you to think about as you read the rest of this post.  That work for you?  Great!

Let’s take a look at what Jesus has to say about love below:

Matthew 22:35-40 (NASB)
35  One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
36  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
37  And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
38  “This is the great and foremost commandment.
39  “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
40  “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

This is a very important topic to Jesus, this topic of love, isn’t it?  If it is important to Jesus then it should be important to us.  If Jesus says it is the greatest commandment, we need to take it seriously, don’t we?

Let’s take a trip together.  Let me go to church with you.  As we walk in the sanctuary, let’s both take a look at what takes place.

People are filing in.  Some people are in a small group, talking.  A few children are trying to run in the hall and an adult is shouting, “Stop running!  One of you will fall and get hurt!”

Ok it’s time to start taking notes.

We are going to consider the three mistakes this post is about.

  • A couple walk in holding hands.  They have a look of confusion on their faces.  Looking around, they take the bulletin from the greeter’s hand and walk on when they feel the impatience of the person behind them.They look around and find a couple empty seats.  As they approach and start to sit down, a lady tells them that this is where her family sits and points towards them towards thefront of the sanctuary. They find a couple seats on the periphery and sit down uncomfortably.  No one notices but you and me. When the sermon is over, everyone begins to shake hands.  A couple of people shake hands with the new couple but they don’t introduce themselves or ask the couple their   names.  When they approach the preacher at last to shake hands, he says, “It’s nice to see you again!”  He then smiles and turns to the people behind the new couple, who have never   been    to the church before.

Are you taking notes?

Do you see the lack of genuine love for the new couple who just visited your church?

  • During the announcements, the pastor’s wife makes the announcement that she needs two volunteers to help in the thrift store the coming week.  The two regular volunteers are unable to come and it is too much action for her alone.  She states that volunteers can fill out the form at the back of the sanctuary after church.  You and I watch that sign-up sheet after church.  It lays there, completely ignored.  Makes you wonder if it lays there forgotten or ignored, doesn’t it?

Where’s the love in that?

Love is the most important thing to Jesus.  We are supposed to show this love as Christ shows it to the church.  Isn’t the preacher’s wife worthy of receiving a little of it when she is in a bind?

Let’s move back to the sermon we just listened to.

  • Oh, by the way, your preacher preaches a very good sermon!  He is Biblically sound and has a great presentation.  I really enjoyed it.  Don’t you?  What did you say? You don’t remember what it is about?  Well, I’m not surprised.  You must have sent at least 5 texts during it.  I noticed several people getting up from their seats, leaving the sanctuary.  Some returned, some didn’t.  What’s up with that?  A trip to the bathroom is sometimes necessary, but twice during a one hour service?  Your preacher gave an excellent sermon of stewardship.  Oh, you remember now, huh?  That’s great!  What did he teach about stewardship?  I see.  You don’t quite remember that part but it was a great sermon because you could tell by the sound of his voice?

OK.

I think you get the drift of why I asked you to take me to church with you and allow me to observe the service with you.  Do you think that your pastor noticed all the distractions going around the sanctuary during his sermon?

Maybe you didn’t but I sure did.

I could tell he was not encouraged by it.

He probably thought, “I wonder if I am where God wants me to be or should I pray about moving on to where I can serve God better.”

Could discouraging the pastor by not giving the word of God proper attention by the congregation be construed as a lack of love for the pastor the word of God, or both?

Thoughts?

Thanks for taking me to church with you.  I hope that I was helpful.

Until next time!

Zach

QUESTION: Do any of these mistakes look familiar to you in your church?  Could your church culture use a Holy Spirit face lift in the expressed love department?

Hello and welcome back!

You know, God is great, isn’t He?  I was just thinking at church tonight how fortunate we Christians are.  There are so many things we have to be thankful for.

We have a savior, the living Son of God, who loved us enough to willingly die for us while we were still dead in our sin.  Those in the world do not.

Romans 5:8 (BBE)  8  But God has made clear his love to us, in that, when we were still sinners, Christ gave his life for us.

We have a Father in heaven who sacrificed His only begotten Son to assure the salvation of those who believe on Him and His Son, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16-17 (ASV)  16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.
17  For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.

We have everlasting life in fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – beginning the moment we believe.

Romans 6:11 (AMP)  11  Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Who could ask for more!

But ask we do, do we not?

We ask for things that we do not need.  We ask for things that are just thinly disguised manipulations to obtain selfish cravings.

 Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB)  9  “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  10  ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.  11  ‘Give us this day our daily bread.  12  ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13  ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'”

I could continue but you already know what I am talking about, don’t you?  Sure you do.  The question is why?  Why do we continue to do the things we don’t want to do and don’t do the things we desire to do?

The apostle Paul said as much himself.

Here is a man who followed Christ with perseverance difficult to comprehend from the vantage point of 21st century Western Christianity.  He even wrote about 2/3’s of the New Testament.

He was a man like we are.

Flesh and blood.

Subject to every temptation that we are subject to but just a man – like us – not God.

He struggled with temptation.

Occasionally, he succumbed to it.  He grieved over it but confessed it and went on his way – never looking back but looking ahead – in humble service to his Lord and Master.

 Romans 7:19-20 (ASV)  19  For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise.   20  But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.

Jesus died for such as us.  He came to serve and die for us because we could do nothing at all good enough to satisfy a righteous and holy God.  To do so, we would have to be perfect.

 We aren’t.

 Romans 3:10 (ASV)  10  “as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…”

That’s why God sent His Son.  Because He is.

 Mark 1:11 (NKJV)  11  Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Please listen if you have quit going to church because of wrongs other Christians have done to you.

Please listen if you have been disillusioned by a pastor that has fallen to some temptation and let you down.

It is not a man that we follow but the living, triune God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Man is fallible, God is not.

You say, “I refuse to assemble together with such hypocrites!”  God says, not to fail to assemble yourselves together.  He didn’t say but do it in a sinless body of believers.

 Hebrews 10:25 (AMP)  25  Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.

There is no such thing as a sinless body of believers.

Anyone who says so or believes so – is living under self-delusion.  The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

The Apostle Paul, when speaking to the brothers and sisters in the church in Corinth that he was not pleased with them due to their sinful ways during the Lord’s Supper.

 1 Corinthians 11:22 (ESV)  22  What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

No, there is no perfect church on earth.  There is no perfect body assembled in the worship of Almighty God.

There are only humans saved by grace because they believe upon God’s Son and what he accomplished on the cross, not because they are sinless.

There are only humans who are saved because of the ransom paid by Christ for the purpose of purchasing them from eternal damnation.

In order to justify leaving the local body you serve in because of the fall of one of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you would need to be sinless in order to cast the first stone at them.

Are you out of the fellowship with your church family because you feel there are hypocrites in it?  You feel right.  Some of them are.

That’s why you need to be in the body.  To pray, reach out, and love them, not condemn them when disagreements happen.  We don’t leave just because of problems.

 Romans 14:1 (HCSB)
1  Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues.

Of course, it is frustrating when someone we love and/or look up to fails us.  It is ok to be troubled by it.  It is not ok to walk away and isolate.  In fact, it is a sin.  God says do not forsake the assembling of your selves together.

He said it for a reason.

When we assemble in imperfection but straining ahead – that is when we grow.  That’s when we grow in Christ.  We face problems rather than run away.  We forgive as we were forgiven.

 Philippians 1:27 (NKJV)  27  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

You are a Christian.

You belong to Christ, not fallible man.  Obey Him.

1 Corinthians 6:20 (NASB77)  20  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 7:23 (NASB77)  23   You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Go to church this Sunday.

Until next time,

Zach

 

QUESTION:  If you are a Christian, are you serving in a local church?  Biblically speaking, should we serve in a local church?

[NOTICE: Names changed in the interest of privacy]

Hello and welcome back!

It’s good to have you visit again!  If you haven’t registered for the FREE newsletter yet, I encourage you to do so!  It is going to change and have more features that will benefit you in your Christian walk!

Talking about a walk, I was leisurely walking a couple days ago.  I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular – just enjoying the unusually nice weather and watching my shadow and shoes come together as each foot touched the ground.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you just sensed that something was going to happen but you weren’t sure just what?  You know, that uneasy feeling that you just can’t quite put your finger on?

I had one of those moments.

There’s not much you can do in one of those moments but just continue what you are doing and hope that uncomfortable feeling passes.

Imagination?

Perhaps.

All I know is that within a few minutes my cell phone rang and it was my wife, Rhonda.

“You need to get to the ICU at the Lincoln County Medical Center now!”  She informed me that one of our friends was there and wasn’t expected to live.

You can see why I just can’t quite call those feelings a coincidence but I really can’t say they’re anything else either.

I arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes after her call ended.  Being a pastor, I have scouted out alternate entrances and was at ICU, without navigating the crowed main entrance, within a few seconds.

What awaited me was a semi-familiar sight:  the tubes, the bags of antibiotics, that tell-tale smell of hospital that one never quite gets used to – regardless of how many times you encounter it.

I had just visited another friend and congregation member just down the hall from ICU the day before.  Her boyfriend and I saw one another at the same time outside her room as he exited and I was passing by.

“Everything arite?” he enquired as I briefly stopped and visited with him for a few seconds.

“Visiting another patient,” I replied explaining it wasn’t anyone that he knew personally.  “I’ll stop by a little later and see how Linda is doing.”

“K,” he acknowledged.

Continuing down the hallway to the entrance to ICU, I met the husband of the person I had been called to visit coming out.  “How’s she doing?” I questioned –noticing the haggard look through the three-day stubble on his face.

“Not good,” he replied.  “They said if she doesn’t rally by tomorrow – she won’t make it.”

You’re probably wondering why I am telling you all this.

Good Question.

Here’s my answer.

Have you ever heard of one of the 7 deadly sins called sloth?  Being a preacher, I have preached on the topic several times in my life.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was going to be preaching on it again the next day.

Why?

That comes next.

When we entered ICU and I walked up to the bed. She was just lying lying there – tubes going everywhere.

She was completely unconscious (she had entered a coma the night before) and the beeping and chattering of the various kinds of medical technology keeping her alive (although we didn’t realize that at the time) were the only sounds in the room.

Except for her labored and artificial breathing – being provided (compliments of modern medical intervention).

“At that moment, it hit me – it hit me so hard it hurt.”

She wasn’t just dying physically.  Unless something had changed since the last time I had spoken with her, she wasn’t saved!

“Ralph, do you know if Sarah has excepted Christ since the last time I talked to her about it?  Here comes the hard part.

“No, not to my knowledge, she hasn’t.” he replied.

What made it hard was my knowledge that it had been over a year since I had last spoken to her.  Even though they live in another city and it is hard for us to see one another as we used to, it troubled me.

Sarah died this morning, a Monday.

It happened just 20 minutes after they took her off all life support.

The day before, my sermon was on the sin of Sloth (being a slacker).  The approach centered not on just physical but spiritual sloth.  The sloth in not doing the work necessary to know that you have done all you can to keep another from the jaws of hell.

I know, I know.  You’re thinking that I talked several times over the years, why am I feeling guilty because it was likely she died unsaved.

Being a pastor, I feel that I could have made another effort of two during the past year.

I told the congregation to remember the following two verses as they go about their Christian duties:

  • Ecclesiastes 10:18 (ESV): 18  Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.
  • Romans 12:11 (MontgomeryNT):  11  In your diligence be free from sloth. Be glowing in spirit. Slave for the master.

The first verse is saying that if we enter into the sin of spiritual sloth, everything about our walk with Christ and our duties to Him will suffer.

The second verse informs us not to allow sloth to become our lot.  We Christians are bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.  We are not our own but slaves to the Master, Jesus Christ.

Will I be accountable for Sarah if she entered eternity unsaved?

Am I responsible by omission if she is in hell?

I pray she heard me even though she was unconscious trying to lead her to Christ.  Perhaps she did.  When I asked her if she heard me, she squeezed my fingers.

Reflex? 

A sign that she had heard and responded?

I’ll never know this side of eternity.

I pray this prayer for you, the reader.

Father God, praise your glorious name.  I pray in agreement with my readers that they will never allow spiritual sloth to prevent them from performing the Great Commission command of Jesus when they are presented with divine appointment opportunities.  Grant them a double portion of perseverance and dedication to the labor in God’s fields.  It’s in Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Pray for my friend’s husband.

I humbly ask that you pray for me too.

Until next time,

Zach

Please comment and help the readership in discussing spiritual issues.  Thanks!

QUESTION:  What are your thoughts on spiritual slackness or sloth?