4 Ways in Which I Help the Poor –Answering a Common Question

Before I plunge into today’s topic, I want to give a report that’s both sad and encouraging.

I’ve been blogging since 2008 and my recent post, Rick Warren’s Horrific Tragedy & the Sickening Response of Some Christians was the most viewed article that I’ve ever written, by far and away.

At the present time, that post has had over 4k Facebook shares.

The reason why this is sad is because of what I felt forced to write in that post. I was once again addressing the sickening behavior of “Christians” who eat their own. That would include the act of judging, misrepresenting, and even lying about their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

The encouraging part is that more and more evangelical Christians are fed up with the ugly behavior of their “professing” Christian friends who don’t wince at attacking other followers of Jesus. And they are no longer standing for it. See my post Warning: The World is Watching How We Christians Treat One Another, another article on the topic that has had massive views.[Continue Reading...]

For God So Loved the World vs. Love Not the World

In this conference message (uploaded to the podcast), I address the paradox in the New Testament concerning the world. On the one hand, Christians are to love the world because God loves it. But on the other hand, we are exhorted to love not the world. The message resolves the paradox and explores our relationship to the world. You can listen to it on iTunes, RSS, or stream it on your computer.

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Blessed Are the Undesirable

Unless you’re new to the blog, you are aware that my focus in ministry over the past few years has been exclusively on two things:

* In writing and study, it’s been on historical Jesus studies, deeper life themes, Christology, and apologetics. My book Jesus: A Theography and my Answers to Skeptics series are two fruits of that effort.

* In practical ministry, it’s been a complete focus on developing relationships with non-Christians (some of whom are agnostics and atheists) on the one hand, and walking along side of and aiding the poor and the afflicted on the other. For that reason, I spend very little time on the Internet these days.

I’ve not written on organic church since 2009 and haven’t been involved in it for several years now. Though I still stand by everything I’ve written on the subject.

I’d like to share on the present focus of my ministry.

At this moment, I have in mind the faces of the poor and afflicted whom I’ve worked with in 2012 and will continue to, God willing, this year.

Some of them have very few friends. Some of them are living in poverty. Some of them have mental illnesses that regularly torment them. Some of them have legal problems. Some of them have gone nose-to-nose with suicide. Some of them are incredibly needy.

[Continue Reading...]

Missional Living

missional

The above photo comically represents what used to be a popular method for evangelizing people . . . one that doesn’t work terribly well in our day.

In a previous post entitled The Missio Dei, I sketched out four aspects of God’s grand mission.

In it, I pointed out that some Christians and churches focus on one aspect of the mission to the exclusion of the others. But all four aspects of living missionally are important and each should be taken in season.

One of those four aspects of living missionally is what I call “commission” which is the increase of Christ through bringing others to a saving experience of His grace and life. It includes both evangelism and discipleship that’s relevant for our time.

The following posts treat this aspect of the mission. I hope you’ll find each of them to be of help.

Tomorrow’s post is entitled Rethinking Water Baptism.[Continue Reading...]

What is a Christian?

The following post was written by T. Austin-Sparks. I’m publishing it on the heels of my Answers to Skeptics series because it’s a natural progression. The term “Christian” was first used in Antioch in the first century to describe the early followers of Jesus. Sparks does a great job redeeming the original meaning of the word in a day where the term has become quite murky.

“And Agrippa said unto Paul, With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian” (Acts 26:28).

Let us say at the outset that we are using the word “Christian” strictly according to what is found in the New Testament, and it is assumed that this will be accepted. Our enquiry will take the form firstly of a process of elimination, and we shall observe

What a Christian is Not

(1) To become a Christian is not to become ‘religious’, or to adopt a new ‘religion’.

Among non-Christian peoples, a turning to Christ is often referred to as ‘accepting Christianity’, and in what are called Christian countries conversion is frequently referred to as ‘becoming religious’. Such expressions, with their associated ideas, are altogether inadequate and indeed fundamentally false.

There was no more religious man on the earth, in his time, than Saul of Tarsus. Read what he says of himself in Acts 22 and 26, and Philippians 3. Here was a man who was just aflame with religious zeal and passion. No argument is necessary, with history before us, to prove how wide of the mark religion can be.

And that is true of ‘Christianity’, when it is merely a matter of religion. To be a true Christian is not to accept a creed or statement of doctrine, to observe certain rites and ordinances, attend certain services and functions, and conform more or less diligently to a prescribed manner of life.[Continue Reading...]

Answers to Skeptics Part V: Aren’t All Christians Hypocrites?

This post is part of a series called “Answers to Skeptics.” The series contains some of the thoughts I’ve shared with my non-Christian friends over the years. Each post is written directly to skeptics. If you find them of value, feel free to share them with others. Join over 25,000 other readers and receive free blog updates. You can receive them by RSS or by Email.

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” ~ Romans 14:12

In the Bible, there is a letter called “James.” Many Bible scholars believe that James was Jesus’ half brother.

James talks about two kinds of faith. False faith, which is mental assent. The demons have this kind of faith because they give mental assent to God’s existence.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? (James 2:18-20)

The other kind of faith is true faith, which is a matter of the heart. True faith is a yielding to the reality that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord and Savior of the world.

If a person really believes this, it will change the way they live their lives.

True faith has nothing to do with trying to be good enough to merit God’s favor. It is simply entrusting one’s life to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

For James, true faith will produce good works. The Bible uses the phrase “good works” to refer to deeds which help alleviate the suffering of others[Continue Reading...]

Answers to Skeptics Part IV: Can a Good Person Be Condemned?

This post is part of a series called “Answers to Skeptics.” The series contains some of the thoughts I’ve shared with my non-Christian friends over the years. Each post is written directly to skeptics. If you find them of value, feel free to share them with others. Join over 25,000 other readers and receive free blog updates. You can receive them by RSS or by Email.

“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes . . .” ~ Proverbs 16:2

Most of the non-Christians I talk to believe that God exists. They also believe in eternal life and eternal judgment after death.

But . . . they equally believe that receiving God’s favor and inheriting eternal life is a matter of scoring brownie points with the Creator. And to their minds, they are “good enough” to be awarded with eternal life when they die because they aren’t “bad people.”

From my experience and observation, this is the prevailing view among most Americans.

Yet the truth is that God stopped keeping score a long time ago. He grades on a completely different curve.

Let me paraphrase a story that Jesus once told. The point of the story is that God does not like “good people.” Instead, He favors “bad people.” [Continue Reading...]

Answers to Skeptics Part III: Is the Bible Reliable?

This post is part of a series called “Answers to Skeptics.” The series contains some of the thoughts I’ve shared with my non-Christian friends over the years. Each post is written directly to skeptics. If you find them of value, feel free to share them with others. Join over 25,000 other readers and receive free blog updates. You can receive them by RSS or by Email.

“All scripture is inspired by God . . .” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16

Those who know me are aware that I firmly hold that the Bible is fully reliable, fully inspired, and fully authoritative. This is why my books are packed to the gills with references to Scripture to buttress the points I seek to make.

As would be expected, I’ve received a good deal of push back on my belief in the truthfulness of Scripture from skeptics. But I’ve also received criticism from some fellow Christians, most of whom hold to a “canon within a canon” perspective or who hold to the idea that the Bible is only the Word of God when it’s accompanied by personal “revelation.” I reject both views and for that reason I’ve garnered some unpleasant mail.

That said, most of those whom I’ve had conversations with on the issue of the Bible’s reliability are people who presently reject Jesus. In this post, I’ll list their key objections along with my responses.

Suffice to say that in my experience, the majority of those who insist that the Bible is unreliable and untrustworthy have never investigated the evidence for themselves. They’ve just heard arguments put forth by others and repeated them without examining the subject for themselves.

The most notable are . . . [Continue Reading...]

Answers to Skeptics Part II: Is Jesus the Only Way?

This post is part of a series called “Answers to Skeptics.” The series contains some of the thoughts I’ve shared with my non-Christian friends over the years. Each post is written directly to skeptics. If you find them of value, feel free to share them with others. Join over 25,000 other readers and receive free blog updates. You can receive them by RSS or by Email.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:12

In the first post of this series, I gave four evidences for God’s existence. Many people believe that God exists. They just don’t believe that biblical Christianity is true or that Jesus of Nazareth is the human face of God and the Lord and Savior of humankind.

Certainly, Christianity is by no means the only faith that lays claim to having “the truth.” There is also Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam as well as many other religions that claim to hold “the truth.”

All serve a different deity, all have their own sacred writings, and all teach a different path of salvation.

There is the view that all of these religions are true. But I have always found this idea unconvincing as the different religions cancel one another out logically. (For instance, one religion affirms that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah; another says He isn’t. Both cannot be true.)

Here are a few points to consider about the uniqueness of the Christian faith: [Continue Reading...]

Answers to Skeptics Part I: There is a God

This post is part of a series called “Answers to Skeptics.” The series contains some of the thoughts I’ve shared with my non-Christian friends over the years. Each post is written directly to skeptics. If you find them of value, feel free to share them with others. Join over 25,000 other readers and receive free blog updates. You can receive them by RSS or by Email.

“Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.” ~ Isaiah 45:15

The question of God’s existence has plagued philosophers and theologians for thousands of years. For that reason, I don’t have any canned answers on the question and I’m not about to solve the problem.  But I do have some thoughts that may cause you to rethink your position and help you reach your own conclusions.

I have met many people that have struggled with believing in the reality of God. This is especially true for very intellectual people. They feel that there is zero proof for God’s existence. How can a person put faith in a God who cannot be seen, felt, heard, touched, or smelled with his or her physical senses?

Some people deny God’s existence because they love their lifestyle. They surmise that if there were a God, they would have to be accountable to Him and change their behavior. As a result, they simply reject the notion that God exists so they would not have to feel accountable to anyone for their actions. For them, to believe that there is no God helps to appease their conscience in some way.

Others have experienced deep pain, sorrow and heartbreak in their lives. And many of them cannot understand why a good God would allow such things.

Even for the most devoted Christians, when tragedy strikes, faith is put into the salt-shaker.

No one can prove that God exists. Only evidences can be offered. I learned that early on. [Continue Reading...]