Friday, April 21, 2017

Daily struggles of inner city ministry, plus Godly affirmation being better than false pride

    I'll start by saying that we had a small flare-up in our Thursday night activity because of a few different things, including one of our inner city pickups using the n-word, which among other things he had done to provoke and bully kids of all races has led the troublemaker to be removed from the program. Thanks to Bomani Jones of ESPN radio for some of the race stuff as he's mentioned a few similar things over the time I've heard him, as I didn't really understand this either, at least not to a great extent.

     However, this isn't just about race; it's also about an Alpha male attitude that transcends race - while we are all one blood (see a longer video here, too), the fact there are different cultures has been used by some to try to put others down, and this is wrong. It is made worse by the injustice which exists in our culture - although aspects of this injustice only deal with worldly things; as I taught in our Youth Leaders Training Institute (YLTI) class just before this flareup, society makes you think, for instance, that you're not somebody unless you have the best shoes (yes, one kid mentioned shoes as an idol before this). However, this is where self-esteem is a major problem.

     Godly affirmation, on the other hand, says you are special to God no matter who you are, that it doesn't matter if you have the same shoes or whatever as someone else. Godly affirmation says that you are so special that if you were the only person ever, He still would have come to die for your sins and risen fromt he dead. he took the punishment we each deserve for our sins, and all you have to do is call on Him with a single, sincere prayer of repentance, admitting you fall short of His perfection, believing He died to take your punishment for your sins and rose again, and calling on Him to save you and make you new inside. You can do that right now, in fact.

          When there is extreme poverty, it makes the idea of being an Alpha male, of trying to prove you're the boss, more prominent, it seems. This Alpha male idea that they have to be challenging others and winning to be accepted is not Godly, but rather, if they let go and let God affirm them as special in His eyes and humble themselves, then they will be truly successful.

     This is more difficult, as I say, since the poverty that exists in the Northeastpart of Canton - and, indeed, in any poverty-stricken situation - makes that task more daunting, and means that spiritual warfare can erupt which we need much prayer to combat. Because people don't have material wealth they decide, "Oh, I know how I can feel better about myself, by being the top dog over someone else." This is a part of their culture that we need to help them see is not Biblical.

     That poverty has also caused problems among classes and cultures. We have had several very good black teens who have been leaders and able to help get kids out to the van and other things, and can help defuse thigns before they escalate.

Part of this is cultural because of the neighborhood and other things. There are been excellent leaders, for instance, who have taught nonviolence and worked for racial justice without fighting back. Leaving aside the fact that God's justice is better than any man's justice - it's easy for middle class blacks, or those who are very heavily into following the Lord (which many of these families aren't) to look at those like Jackie Robinson or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and think, "Yeah, nonviolence works, standing tall and ignoring the taunts allows you to succeed." (I haveheard some say Robinson was so agressive on the field becasue he took his frustration out on the baseball, but the point is, he showed excellent self-control.) It's harder for others, since people in poorer communities haven't tasted the increase that others have. To them, looking only at their circumstances, it appears like not much has changed since 1917. They think, "What did turning the other cheek really accomplish for us?"

     Because of this, there is a tendency taught by their lives in the inner city to think that it's not worth it to be leaders, to be those who say, "Hey, be orderly and respectful and all that." Oh, they might *want* to lead, but often there are certain youth who don't know how to command respect without demanding it, and there is a clear difference. These young people see so many only looking at circumstances that they're used to just trying to force things.

    This is one reason I've tried in YLTI to teach on the fruit of the Spirit and how to avoid the lusts of the flesh to show how there is a difference which should come when we trust in God. Galatians 5:16-26 is a great passage which helps us to avoid the lusts of the flesh like revellings, seditions, etc. by being peaceful, using faith, longsuffering, etc., and listening to authority. Some of the kids did seem to be listening, but it still requires baby steps when the environment has surrounded them with other ideas. One might well say that the churched kid of whatever race is still our Judea, whereas the unchurched is our Samaria. Both are vitala nd Jesus wants us to reach them all, but the way we approach them is different. The Gospel was the same, after all, to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) as it was to Paul, but the Lord sure had to go about reaching them differently.

     It's important to reach the parents, too, in spots like this, and help them understand that we need them to work with us, at least in part, to help their kids see that it's not about not fighting back, it's about reaching out and showing them that as the skies are higher than the seas, so are God's ways higher than man's ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.(Isa. 55:8-9) Backing down when being called names and provoked with looks and such (I presume that also happens, I know it's possible but don't really get such nonverbal things) isn't being weak. It is saying, "Your taunts don't impact me." It is letting God's strength and power be what leads them. And, this can even be done in worldly ways. You could say that, "By ignoring your taunts I am actually diminishing you because I am saying you don't matter." Each of us does matter to God, of course, but sometimes when you can show that God's ways make sense even in the world, it will help people to see that we have logic on our side and that can cause them to look further into what else we have to say.

     We are, after all, wanting to help these young people to grow to follow the Lord, to not be acting out their frustrations at life - poverty and all that goes with it - but to accept that they don't have to have all the things of this world in order to be satisfied. (Just as the example I used last night about not needing the best Air Jordans to be someone special to God, because those are things that will all pass away.)

     They may come from a different background than we do, but if we have conversations where we listen and see where they are not just spiritually but also in their mentality, we can help them (kids *and* parents) to realize it's not our word but God's Word that is going to help them. To paraphrase Lincoln said of Gettysburg, we should use this as a new birth and let it be somewhere where we can share with the families the freedom that God provides and try to understand why there are these problems so we can help guide everyone to realize the love that God has for them and how they can overcome this.

     This is likely all stuff some inner city ministries have known for years, but because we have had so many different roles in filling in the gaps, one might say, some of this is stuff we are learning on the fly as we work in this particular neighborhood. So, please continue to pray for us, and by all means, e-mail us with your own ideas for helping, knowing that we only have the one night a week and some Saturdays. And, also, go to our website and give so we can send some of these kids to a great church camp. Thanks.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

God did it all - on Good Friday, rthe Resurrection, and how you can help

As we celebrate the weekend of the Resurrection, it's wonderful to focus on the fact that what we needed done, God did it all.

I'll be posting more about our need for camp sponsorships in the coming days and weeks with a followup post, but for now, a little note about what I taught in one of our YLTI classes thsi past Thursday and how it relates to the Resurrection. Because it'll help you, the reader, to see how our Thursday activities are growing and the amount of help still needed.

We couldn't save ourselves, and because of that, we can fully trust in God and not have to rely on our own works. That, in itself, is an important thing. he hs different ways of using us sometimes - we no longer have a radio show but are trying very hard to help a dozen or so young people on our roster to grow spiritually. But, it's really God who is doing it, with our help and yours.

I did a teaching on the dry bones of Ezekiel 37 in ourYLTI (Youth Leaders Training Institute) class the other day. I wanted to talk about how this is a passage that is about Israel but how passages that might not have been about us at first can still have spiritual application. I think the kids understood, especially one 15-year-old, Hunter, who had some very good replies (such as that it was written so the Jewish people would know God would revive their nation) and comments (like about how he was frustrated because he kept sinning; he's been saved about 6 months now and is still learning how to walk in the Lord. Please pray for him and all the poor kids in our ministry to grow in the Lord and to get to the church camp we send them to; also for a few unspoken requests.)

I then shared how this is like when we are born again of the Spirit, and how God makes us alive and is the head of all of us, with us as different members of the body (going to 1 Corinthians) and how we need to work together for Him, etc.. (Something else important for these young people to realize.)

It reminds me of how the very fact of having life breathed into us, and being quickened by the Lord(Eph.2: 1-10), is so wonderful. We can trust Him to work in us to make us more like Him, and to guide us in everything.

And, it's all because 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was willing to give everything up, to take our punishment for our sins, to take all the sins of humanity upon Himself. And then, thankfully, he did not stay dead but rose triumphantly from the grave!

God asked the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 37, "Can these dry bones live?" Just as He told the prophet they could when He, God, Himself put life into them, so too today many struggle witht he problems of life, and ask if tere is something that can make them alive. And, we can tell them with certainty that yes, Jesus Christ can make them new, fill the holes in their heart, and so on when they turn from their sin.

It is something we can't do ourselves, any more than those dry bones could be alive by themselves. But, God has given us eternal life, and while we struggle with the problems of this world - and I face my own spiritual battles just like everyone - each believer can go to God whenever they need and let Him give that grace we need to get through each day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Part of Repentance Revival - trust God to use us to heal the racial divide, show all are equal

I've written much in my personal blog - and a similar post to this will go there, too - about how we must trust God to heal the many divides in America, and that repentance must occur for tthere to be true revival with this happening.

We are all one race, descendants of the same man and woman. However, I will speak here of a racial divide as it relates to the current climate in America (and elsewhere, I don't know how much it exists elsewhere, though). This is one of the numerous divisions which sinful man's ways have created, since imperfect man can't create a perfect world - we must rely on God's perfect plan.

Christian ministries should address such division, especially a Ministry like ours where the key is fostering spiritual growth. That growth should lead to Repentance Revival, as God's people band together.

We are clearly not together when people look down on others because of race or economic situation or anything else. God tells us to be of one mind in the Lord(Phil. 4:2-3) (put aside differences except for doctrines which are essential for salvation and fellowship together equally in His Word). God strongly criticizes those who look down on the poor.(James 4, etc.) We are all one in Christ Jesus.(Gal. 3:28-9) We must never puff ourselves up with pride and claim supremacy over others - pride cometh before a fall, and a haughty spirit before destruction.

Man's best is still inherently wicked compared to God's Perfection. That is because people are selfish; it is a heart problem that can't be fixed completely by laws. As we grow in Christ we should learn to become less selfish and recognize others as our Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Plenty of people try to do this in their own power and give of themselves, but when they do so they are at best helping in ways that are not nearly as good as God's ways, and at worst are doing so only to show how good they are in front of their fellow man, just like the Pharisees did.

This is the problem with quite a few in the Millennial Generation, from what I have read recently, trying to be kind in their own strength and without God's perfection as a guide. For such people, as well as for everyone, it's important to realize none of us is perfect - all have sinned and come short of the glory of God(Rom. 3:23) - but there is a way to be saved from the punishment for our sins.

Trying but failing to always be kind in their own strength is a good definition of people at their best. At their worst? "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) God knows what is in us. Thoughts of superiority are just man's sinful boasting about being better than someone else in ways that God doesn’t look at or that are just inventions of that wicked heart.

The ways people try to solve such inequality can be problematic, too, though. I seem to remember it was Tom Seaver, one of the greatest pitchers ever, who said something along the lines that every Major Leaguer should spend a week in the minor leagues every 2 or 3 years to appreciate what they have in the majors. Whoever's quote that was, it means that people should look at others and be thankful for their status, but not to the point of feeling superior. His idea was not that everyone should be sent to the minors, but merely that it was important to have an appreciation for everything that major league baseball provides - airplane rides in huge stadiums versus bus rides and attendance in the hundreds sometimes, for instance. Actually sending every big league player to the minors for a couple weeks every 2-3 years would be very cumbersome and impossible to apply fairly between teams.

The point is that trying to help others in our own imperfect wisdom, won't work because it doesn't change the heart. Say that idea somehow became a baseball rule. It might give some players appreciation for what they have, but others would refuse, teams would be upset about losing a star at a crucial time, etc..

This doesn't mean that we should stop working, of course. The work of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s was long overdue in allowing blacks and whites to share the same drinking fountains, restaurants, and so on because we are all humans. However, it didn't change everyone's hearts, and getting the "right leaders" in power won't either because in the end, this is a problem for God the Holy Spirit to fix.

We should, as born-again Believers, have a part in it, of course. We should be at the forefront of Godly change, relying on God's principles which he lays out in his word, the Bible. We can also take stands when appropriate as individuals.One great symbol is how a Kent States team reached out during the national anthem recently, going into the stands and each player standing beside a person of a different race. That is just part of the concept of befriending others, listening to them and their concerns. It can be very sad to imagine that racism makes one fear getting shot for no reason. Some news stories have sounded more like they were from 1916 and not 2016. Indeed, as a handicapped person I have some of the same fears black people do about getting mistreated since it would be easy for someone to decide to bully me and not be able to respond. (Of course, visualizing everything as I hear about it doesn't help.)

We can easily reach out and listen and share and come to an understanding of how to work together to still encourage everyone to follow the Lord and trust Him to ultimately make things better. This world is a wicked place, and it won't be perfect for any of us until we get to Heaven. However, we can certainly band together and be part of showing who Jesus really is, and the compassion he always has for the oppressed. We want to be Godly example so they, too, want to know Jesus Christ as Saviour and follow Him with all their hearts.

The best and most important thing we can do, once we know Jesus personally, is pray. And, we should be praying with those of other races so we can all praise God for the good things He has provided along with trusting Him to bring about change in this country that is true change because it is on the inside.

I mentioned talking with each other, but getting together as different races and holding a prayer meeting would really be great. God inhabits the prayers of His people, and He can work in hearts yet once we turn from our sins and trust Him.

So comma let's do that, let's get together as 1 people, One race, and pray for an end to racism, for an end to white supremacy, and for people to turn to God to change them on the inside. Because that attitude of Supremacy is really a selfish one that comes out of a lack of contentment. And, because contentment is one mark of a Godly person, when people become more Godly in he will focus on him more then their racist attitudes will end.

Will some focus on worldly things? Sure, we all do that, it doesn't matter who we are or what our background is. From time to time we all sink into that habit of wanting what is in the world even though it will disappear some day. We are to have property and it is helpful to have money and things like that, but we should not be coveting it or mistreating others to get it. The same Commandments which show personal property is supposed to exist - Thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not covet - also tell us not to want what someone else has in a greedy way.

When we are covetous, we should simply repent of our own covetousness and just agree that being of a certain race or background should not give someone priority, so we can pray against the false pride of some Then, encourage others to also accept others as equals. The problem is that so many people have been taking from the poor and from the minorities in this country in an attitude that is totally against God. There has been lots of oppression and we need to pray that people will realize that there should be no difference at all between us no matter what our backgrounds. All are one in Christ Jesus.

When people see this, then they will realize there's something different about us and want that same Godly spirit. That is getting our hearts right with God, which is necessary for a repentance revival.

There are, of course, other problems which we must all repent of. Sure, some cculture have things in them which are unBiblical, but we should focus on what God's word says and realize we have done the same thing. People talk of the violence and degradation of women in rap music, but there are heavy metal and even lighter music lyrics that also showcase mistreatment and objectifying of women and other satanic things. The horrible vulgarity of some is equally bad among all races. People talk about the way certain people wear their pants, but they refused to talk about their own immodest ways.

The key, then, is that we should all be united to work together to turn from our sins as a nation, to repent and follow the Lord, because it is God's ways that are important and not our own. Where a culture does not violate God's ways we should accept it and where it does we need to first look at our own culture. Jesus says that if a person has a mote in there eye, we can't take it out unless we remove the beam in our own; then we can see to remove the most in the other person's eye.

If we fail to recognize our own need to repent and trust Jesus to save us, of course, it will be all for nothing. What matters is our eternal destiny, the things of this world do not matter in light of Eternity. So, why use selfish, foolish pride to appear better than another culture when in fact that stuff doesn't matter to God. What matters is what we do for Him that is also according to His principles; if we try to do something unGodly and say it's for Him He will not receive it well, it will be burned up as 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 show..

So, we must certainly be accepting them sitting next to us in our pews or our neighborhoods, just like we need to accept anyone new who comes in to hear the Gospel and/or grow in Christ. That Gospel is the most important thing, after all. One day we will all together gather around the throne to celebrate, every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ personally to save you from your sin, you are only a single, sincere prayer of repentance away. You simply must: Admit you're a sinner and come short of God's perfect glory with thoughts, words, and actions; Believe Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died to take your punishment for your sins and rose from the dead; and, Call on Him to save you from your sins, Choosing to repent - turn from your sins - and trust the Lord to make you new inside. For if anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, all things are become new.(2 Cor.5:17) You can go here for a more detailed plan of salvation - here in Spanish - and visit our radio show page for great shows on doctrine, spiritual growth, etc..

Friday, November 11, 2016

Unite as God's people to unite the nation

A lot of people, the day after the 2016 election, discussed why the polls were so wrong in not picking Trump over Clinton. Some compare President-elect Donald Trump's election to Brexit in Britain, the breaking away from the European Union. There have even been protests.

What all these news sources and protesters have in common is that they look at the world's system and forget that only God's system is perfect. As also discussed in this blog, the problems of this country, including the divides between people, can't be fixed by the "right leader" or by laws because they all boil down to a heart problem. To solve it, we as Christians must take the lead, united in sound doctrine and the Word of God. Then, as John F. Kennedy once said, we must ask what we can do for our country.

What we should do is be known by our love, as Jesus commands(John 13:35). That link that "Word of God"  directs to gives a number of areas where uniting is great, and we as a nation need to unite in the right thing - peacefully working together for Godly change, recognizing we are all one in Christ Jesus.(Gal.3:28)

Greater Canton Youthquake's mission is to share the Gospel and get young people saved, discipled, and serving the Lord. Still, by presenting ideas that can help to unify people of all races, we can show that love and demonstrate that love and compassion. It is one reason our "Quest for Truth" radio program - and Youthquake itself - publish this blog, so we can use social media, from time to time, to cover topics in a more timely manner (since we usually tape weeks in advance) and encourage people in their spiritual walk. And, in this case, to encourage an entire nation, if it's possible.

It's possible more ideas will be proposed later. In the secular realm, Bill Whalen blogged very good ideas. Ours, though, have to do with the spiritual realm, and touch upon the more pressing problem, that of the heart, so the divide can be healed. However, they will also help morally and economically, too.

1. Reach out to minorities - and to everyone. It's been said that the reason we distrust each other is that we don't communicate. It's important for people to get to know each other instead of name-calling. it's also important to realize that those who do call people names might be hurting very badly inside and not know how else to react except to lash out. The Bible says "A soft answer turneth away wrath."(Prov. 15:1) Speaking kindly to those with whom you disagree should be a staple of politics and life in general, and showing them you are trying to understand them is vital.

2. Offer solutions instead of just complaining and discuss how they can be done. God calls us to be thankful and not complaining; He is all-sufficient for us. "Be content with such things as ye have, forHe hath said I will never leave thee nor forsale thee."(Heb. 13:5)
     In fact, here is one such idea, to demontrate how easy it can be. Rebuilding inner city infrastructure - and infrastructure everywhere - is a pressing need. It would be great to get together and help those minorities who are complaining to start businesses that will allow them to do that, thereby creating jobs. This will take the work of someone who has the funds, of course, but it will go a long way toward showing that love, and once the ideas are put together they can be presented to the government.

3. Respect others as equals. In the body; the arm isn't more important than the leg, the eye isn't more important than the ear, etc.. Just as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12, we need to see that here.
     Yes, blacks/African-Americans have been mistreated. Whites must accept them as equals just as - if body parts could talk - the eye and ear would work together and not try to see each other as superior. We must repent of the last 400 years of evil, not just the last 40.
     However, since we are all part of the body, we should do this by joining together in in prayer and fellowship and stop backbiting and start communicating.

4. Focus on things above and let the Spirit work. The things of this world won't last; it makes sense, then, to focus on ternal rewards.(Matt. 6:19-21, for instance.) As above, thankfulness is crucial; I(Doug) am living proof that God can use someone with very little and handicapped as well for things that He couldn't use anyone else for. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.(Ps.139:14) So, let Him work His master plan. As the chorus says, "Turn your eyes upon jesus, look full in His wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace."

5. Don't worry about comparing yourself to others; we're all parts of the body. It's common, as people, to want to compare ourselves to others - Peter did that at the end of the Gospel of John, comparing his future with John's. However, Jesus told him what all of us are told - follow Him. He has different plans for each of us, and they involve using the things He gave us for His glory. The richest person in the world really owns nothing; God has eitehr given it to them or allowed them to get it in order to cause them to understand Him more or get them in a position where they are most likely to turn to Him and away fromt he world's wickedness.

6. Pledge to make and keep peace and help others through their pain. Don't let the haters be part of things; there are some radicals who want to destroy, but God wants us to build each other up and help each other. that can mean cindid talk and listening when someone discusses the pain they've felt, and acknowledging that. It can mean dealing with grief. Most importantly, it means forgiving - but forgiving doesn't mean saying something was okay, it just means that you're willing to look past the horrible past some people have faced.

7. Know the Lord Jesus personally, since only He can provide that peace that passes understanding. Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. He was buried and rose agin the third day, according to the Scriptures. It's by grace you are saved through faith - it's a free gift. It's not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.(1 Cor. 15:3-4,Eph.2:8-9)
     The Bible shows consistently that God Himself came to this world to be the sacrifice for our sins in the person of Jesus Christ, who was God in flesh. The Bible shows many instances where He is declared to be God.

     This great love God has for us is needed because we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.(Rom.3:23) We are always turning from His perfection to serve our selfish sin in word, deed, even in thought. God created us to have a relationship with Him, but we can't unless we: Admit we're a sinner and can't get to heaven ourselves; Believe Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died to take the punishment for our sins and rose from the dead; and, Call on Him to save and forgive us from that sin and Choose to turn from it and let Him make us new inside.
     Each of us must make that choice individually. It is a choice to let Jesus save you and forgive you and make you new. Once He does that, he lives in a believe through the Holy Spirit and works to imporve that person and make them more Christlike. the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) of Galatians 5:22-23 are some good ways to show how He does this.
     You can make that decision right now by calling in your heart for Jesus to save you. Here is a more detailed explanation. You can even share it in different languages here.

     While we can't make a perfect world because of the sin nature of it, one day we who have been saved by grace will gather around the throne together in His perfect Heaven. People out of every tribe, tongue, kindred, and nation will gather together and celebrate as one. It will be a place where nobody can imagine the wonders that await us, where there is no pain, no suffering, nothing bad can happen.

     I pray that you are trusted Him today. You can always e-mail us and let us know and we can try to find a good local church for you wherever you are.

     This country, like the world, won't be perfect till Jesus returns to rule and reign, before which will be the 7 worst years of human history. However, we can certainly work together to show Godly love and follow Jesu and Him alone and edify one another while we are hear, showing that Christlike example that we are commanded to in God's Word, truly seeing all people as being created equal. We don't all play the same part or get the same stuff when it comes to worldly things. We do, however, all play a special part in God's perfect plan.

     That can include being part of a great repentance revival we we turn from our sins (including things the church has failed tospeak out against, numerous of which are discussed on some of our radio shows) and call on God to heal our land.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Want to be a Leader? Don't be a Pharisee - they're no fair you see

This is similar to my personal blog post, but has a weird beginning, you might think, given the title. It will make sense eventually.

Our site shows the Gospel right away, with a more detailed description elsewhere. Our radio show page hopefully draws quite a few people. However, one page which needs lots of development is our YLTI page. It is about starting student-led, student-initiated prayer and devotion clubs in public schools - which are allowed as long as other clubs are allowed. However, it is also, like this post, about being a leader in general.

By being a student who is a leader among peers, or leading us to one, you can help us build that page. That’s because what we need are young people who will step out in faith and change their communities for the better, being Christ-like and helping others to be, too. starts soon, and with that, the chance for young people to be part of changing their culture by letting God use them

Not being a Pharisee - the world's system is much like the Pharisees and not as good as God's perfect system - is just part of it. This has tips for anyone who is trying to let God use them to bring revival - or even who is just trying to figure this world out. :-)

School is very stressful, as I noted in this post on my personal blog, where I share that young people can certainly change the world by trusting the Lord to guide and help them do it.Young people can certain start prayer and devotion clubs as long as a school has other types of extra-curricular activitie. They just have to be student-led and student-initiated.

However, we have to avoid being Pharisees. Such a leader needs to be kind(Eph.4:32), let God build the Fruits of the Spirit(Gal.5:22-23) in them, etc..) That means letting God work in your heart to change you on the inside. Jesus taught that the Pharisees weren't perfect because of what was wrong with their hearts. They were too quick to criticize when, for instance, Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. Anyone was allowed to do what was necessary on the Sabbath. They just wanted to appear righteous by not working, and that meant they didn't even want God to work. (I suspect, for instance, that someone like Josephus, a great historian of his time, would have noticed and mentioned it if no babies were ever born on the Sabbath. But, they were.) The Pharisees' system went against God's absolute right and wrong which has existed since the foundation of the world.

It's great to know the Lord so He can help you through the rough times and to help you celebrate in the good and bad times. We all need this whatever our environment. Our love for God should cause us to want to help others out of compassion and kindness and all those good things, too. This is so we can not only help them trust the Lord to save them and make the world better, but also so we can please God. However, we shouldn't please God because we have to; He doesn't force us. We should please Him because we want to, because of what He has done for us.

Pharisees wanted to please people and draw attention to themselves, instead of pleasing God and drawing attention to Him. It can be a daily struggle for some, because it is tempting to be just like the world in how people talk, treat others, etc.. The Bible, on the other hand, says "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind..."(Rom. 12:2) In other words, let God help you (transforming from the inside out) be kinder, more loving, more compassionate, and so on.

. This can be easy for some, too; some people are naturally more able to reach out to those who need a friend, ignore cliques, and so on. Others may need more help. Even as a young person, you can help them learn to be more resilient through your friendship, etc., although it's also important to have adult youth leaders who can help at times like that, too.

So, how does one become a real leader for the Lord in their schools, communities, etc.?

Youth Leader Training Institute - More Than Just Facts, Because God is Personal

It is vital to know and follow sound doctrine and on the Preserved Word of God. However, knowing all the facts about these things isn't enough. A robot can do that, but God doesn't want us to be mindless robots. He wants us to love Him because we choose to, and then to show that love to others.

That love is unconditional. Jesus loves you no matter who you are, and no matter what you have done. He showed Godly compassion because He was God in flesh. He died to take the punishment for our sins and rose from the dead. Thankfully, each of us only needs to call on Him by faith to be saved from our sin.

God did this because God is personal. He wants a relationship with each of us, to give us peace that passes understanding, perfect wisdom, and so much more. He'll help you be more loving and caring and compassionate. He wants to help you through all the problems of life and help you to make this world better, so that others can see Christ's love as well.

That's because there is a penalty for sin. That penalty is separation from God forever in a horrible place that He does not want you to go. He created it only for the devil and his angels(Matt. 25:41), but people choose to go there when they fully reject His love and forgiveness.

We all need changed on the inside. Too many people try to work their way to Heaven, but salvation is by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."(Eph.2:8-9) Once a person is saved they are then saved unto good works that we can do God's will in making this world better, showing that Godly compassion, etc..

That change on the inside happens when you call on Jesus by faith to be saved from your sin and made new inside. You need to invite him into your heart to make you new. Then, He comes to live in you through the Holy Spirit.

How? You are only a single, sincere prayer of repentance away from eternal life, life that begins at the moment you call on Jesus by faith. Here's a more detailed explanation like that on our site.

Once you have done that, you have a personal relationship with God and can go to Him anytime for wisdom, guidance, comfort, etc., at any time. He provides a peace that passes understanding, and wants to bear our burdens. He also wants ut to care about others and help them through things, too.

 This means YLTI understands that we need to train our hearts and minds to be willing to care about others and show that concern through being there for others, praying with them, etc.. it's also important, though, to remember that true compassion means not always doing what the world says(like when the world says to lie or cheat). True compassion sometimes means standing for what's right and understanding consequences, and then explaining to others in love that those consequences are there.

Learning to show compassion

Learning to show and have compassion - not just pretend to - is one of the keys to being the kind of leader who will bring change. it is the key to encouraging repentance revival. We can't just talk about it or go through the motions.

There has always been a tendency to focus on the outside because of human nature. For instance. constant testing, which ignores individual learning styles and special needs is just one way modern Pharisees act. Hence, understandingthe problems of the Pharisees and how to avoid repeating them will help young people understand the modern world. This shows how relevant the Bible is to everyday living and how we need to embrace god's system instead of being caught up in the world's.

Another sign of Pharisees is how people feel attraction based on looks and not on the person inside. That, of course, goes against what the Bible says. There are four different types of love in Greek, and they become much deeper and more important as they consider more of the inside and what one can give and become more lasting. Only looking at the outside is focusing on what one can get, like when one says "I love pizza." We don't want to dedicate our lives to helping pizza, we want to eat it and it tastes good to us. This is why modern-day Pharisees aren't thinking of trying to help people as much as they are glorifying themselves. (And, in many things, teachers are caught in the middle, so please have compassion on them and don't be upset at them for how the system is. They are often struggling with it themselves, when "teacher evaluation" should be based on patience, kindness, understanding, and things like that - things on the inside.)

In other areas, too, you can probably see how too much focus on one's self causes so much trouble when we should be thinking of others. Everyone is special to someone, as this discusses. Often, when we focus on others we end up worrying less about our own problems.

The Pharisees only thought of being in the right clique and others doing everything the way they wanted. When they cared about others, it was only so they could have everyone look at them. This isn't just a school problem - although what clique you were in in school won't matter one bit once you leave - it is a problem with society, too. Man looketh on the outward appearance, but like God looketh upon the heart.(1 Samuel 16:7.)

So, one key to revival is looking on the heart, so one thing a leader among their peers needs to be is someone who focuses on others first. Jesus criticized the Pharisees even though they claimed to be doing God's will - prayer for instance won't work if there's something between that person and God. However, thankfully, reconciliation is just a single, sincere prayer away. Anyway, Jesus reproved them that they should have been focused on doing what God wanted and caring for others for those other peoples' sake. Our society needs changed by people turning to the Lord.

For people to do that, they need to see a caring Christian community. That starts with each of us listening and caring about others and lovingly guiding them to Jesus, showing how He can help them make the change needed by workign that work himself and them trusting Him and taking those steps of faith needed for Him to do it - like getting rid of images or other thigns that may tempt them to sin, for instance.

After all, when God's Word says "be strong in the Lord," that is a continual strengthening from outside that can only be done by God Himself.

It's up to us to be examples of Jesus, letting our lights sine, so people will believe when we tell them how God changes us on the inside and works in us.

Showing Godly compassion, not the false kind

There also needs to be a brokenness for sin, a need to really want to avoid the problems of this world by following the Lord. We can't be perfect in this world, but we can try, as mentioned above, to not fly off the handle, to talk with others and not berate them, etc..

The false compassion that some show is false compassion for the same reason that not warning someone of a hot stove is false compassion. We can pretend that stove is not hot, and there is no problem. However, that does not stop the stove from being hot. It does not prevent us from getting burned if we touch it.

In the same way, there is a false compassion which is part of the world's system.

God's system, as shown here, is far better than the world's system. The world's system doesn't see each persont he way God does, because God sees each individual as important. However, God's system is also different because it says that it's important to say that sin is sin.

We should love sinners but we have to accept that there are things that God says our sin such as lying, cheating, bullying, and so on. Indeed, some of these Pharisees of today are more like the first part when it comes to bullying, too; they talk about it but they don't really stop the bullies.  (Of course, in many ways, they can't, becasue it's a heart problem. And, at other times, being kind to them and teaching them how to be nice is needed because the bully has never known how. We should help others overcome such difficult lives, and that starts by helping them see they are special to God and to others.)

We love sinners by kindly warning them that sin has consequences. After all, people need to be saved from their sin and that means they need to realize they need a savior. And, that Saviour died to save them, and rose again. Trusting Him to save us, calling on Him to forgive us, is all that is needed. We can't get to Heaven by our own works, only by what Jesus did for us.

Indeed, the fact that we can't work our way to Heaven is a wonderful thing that unites us all. God does not want us to boast of how we got there. From the person who did the most throughout their lives to the person who thought he was good enough and then got saved right at the end, to the child who was too young to understand and so never was able to trust in Jesus but who got there because of the cross, and many others, all are equal. All get to Heaven only because of what Jesus did, and then trusting in what Jesus did by calling on him by faith to save them.

We go around telling people that we are sinners too, not just that they are, but we serve a greater Saviour. Our Testimony should include how God has redeemed us and is working in us.

In so doing, we learn things like how Muslims believe sonship is about physical relations when it is not, and that therefore they have a misconception which we can politely help clear up, because of course it is good to help people have more understanding. Sonship is the Arabic IBN, which means a perfect likeness, as this explains in part, because Jesus was God in flesh. He was not born of Joseph and Mary,  He was born of the Holy Spirit.

It is things like this that help to show true compassion. We need to realize that since other people matter, we need to be willing to say that sin has consequences and then turn away from that sin so that other people aren't hurt by those sins. A person who thinks adultery has no consequences, or should have no consequences, is having no concern for any person who they are hurting. And, sometimes we must be the ones to say that sin is wrong and either do things to prevent such sin (such as protecting people from those who would lie about certain things to fulfill their own lusts) or enforce consequences at times.

After all, in God's perfect Heaven there can be no sin, because there is no pain, no suffering, no tears, no heartache, nothing bad can happen. So, He must keep sin out of Heaven.

Thankfully, He has made a way for us to get to Heaven. We warn people of the consequences so they can get there too, but also to make this world a better place.

Actions Must Speak Louder

However, we must act, too, not just talk. Living the correct way doesn't help if we aren't also helping others by being nice, thoughtful, etc.. If we are to have Revival and change this country, we must stop being like the Pharisees. We must realize that the inside is what matters. We must also, however, stand for what is right. As I have noted before, we must repent for not standing against certain evils sooner, and start to take positive stands agaisnt such thigns as domestic violence, which is clearly against God's Word, praying that the Lord will change hearts and stop it.

We must also be known for what we are for, not just what we are against, and that means the love and forgiveness and sound doctrine that the Bible shows. After all, many places, like this, show that the Bibleis truly reliable and trustworthy; we can trust that it is the Word of God. If there are problems it is becasue the wrong Greek is used - stick witht he King James from the Antiochan Greek, as other English ones are from the Alexandrian.

It starts with each of us. We should all endeavor, whether in school or wherever we are, to care about others the way God does. We should love others no matter what and help those who need help. We should be friends to those who seem to lack friends or have trouble making them. We should make sure that things that people call Biblical really are, and that they aren't just being Pharisees.

However, we should also recognize the absolute truth which God established and which should guide all of us. That truth of being honest, kind, gentle, and so many more things. Use the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 and seek God's help to build them up more in you. Focus on those good thoughts of Philippians 4 8. Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32. And many other things.

Of course, we need God's help to do this. We need Him to save us if we are not and then to change us on the inside. That means a continual transformation, continual action from the outside by God who loves us and wants the best for us, to help us get rid of those things that so easily beset us.(Heb. 12:1) We struggle with our sin nature. Even those who behave very well all the time can struggle with pride and such. But by trusting God to work in us, and praying for Him to do so and to work in others, we can see Him move in our lives and in our nation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An app, the Olympics, and the meaning of life

This post, like the blog on the spread of memes - and how spreading the Gospel, with the great love and salvation Jesus gives should be just as easy - touches on a specific Internet fad, as well as a much more ancient tradition: the Olympics.

Even in the 1500 or so years the Olympics weren't around, people could identify with Paul's use of masteries to describe how we should live the Christian life. It might seem silly to compare Pokemon Go to them - after all, fads are often forgotten by many soon after they appear. How many remember pogs, for instance?) Still, it makes an apt analogy for today, just as Paul used a few sports as illustrations. After all, here people are not just picking up on a meme, they are actively looking for something.

Where's Waldo

Games have kept our attention for quite a while. Some of those playing this new app may be familiar with  Where's Waldo books, where kids look for a character named Waldo in a huge crowd. In fact, one could argue that this is a life-sized version of Where's Waldo, where one actually gets out and looks.

Apparently, though I know nothing about it, there are other creatures to find in this game, but we won't get into that. We don't know much about Waldo either, and he could easily have a large family. Seriously, the idea of searching for something is wonderful. It gets people active, and help them realize they can accomplish something.

If we had a where is Jesus app, we would want to look in the Bible. We would also find Godly attributes in the people of God and hang around them because they should edify us and we them - we should bear each other's burdens, love one another, encourage one another, exhort one another, and so on. All this is because we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth,  God lives in each of us through the Holy Spirit .

But, you're saying, there has to be more to this blog post than just that, right?

Yes. That above is plenty, of course. It is important, in this difficult world, to seek what will bring us the peace, comfort, help, and so much more that we lack. And, most of all, we must seek that forgiveness and salvation that we all crave, that unconditional love which God provides.

However, there is even more that our ever-loving God has for us.

"Go" is also vital. Because we are told to go and make disciples of every nation. So, this will also exhort each of us, myself included, to go more often.

Go into all the world

So, people are going around in so many different places to find these creatures. While it's true they don't have to interact with them in reality - and with some of them it's possible they wouldn't want to - they are still going in search of things.

There have been stories of people wandering into dangerous parts of zoos, where are real animals could attack them, and walking into poles and other things. In other words, people just being rather silly.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the silliness, if it is done unto the Lord and something that is pleasing to him. I skip down the street sometimes a little bit when I walk. 1st Corinthians 10:31 does tell us whether you eat or drink or whatsoever you do all for the glory of God.

However, we are the rewards in heaven because of what we do for Him. Even better than looking for Waldo in a book or some creature on an app is searching for people to tell the wonderful good news of the Gospel to. Because, the only things we can take with us are souls of those who are saved.

However, Heaven will be filled with things more wonderful than we can even imagine. 1st Corinthians 2:9. This life is so awful for some people, while for others it may be good on the outside they may be hurting on the inside. Still others may be wondering, with all the problems in the world, is it coming to an end soon or will something else awful happen?

These are people who need to be told of the fabulous stuff that is waiting for us in Heaven. Heaven will not be boring, it will be a fabulous place where, in the words of a 105 year old believer who died in Scotland recently, "Thank the Lord for good friends, I'm going to be here forever and ever!" Those friends that maybe we wish we had, they'll be there. The fun we wish we could have instead of the drudgery of life, it will be there in Heaven. It will be a place of no pain, no suffering.

There is a horrible alternative, though, which God did not create for humans. He only created hell for the devil and those angels who rebelled. Matthew 25 41. However, people go there when they choose on their own to reject Jesus Christ. They need to be told that he is real and that He has saved them from their sins, and then all they need to do is call on Him by faith to save them and forgive them, believing that He died on the cross for them to take the punishment for their sins and rose from the dead.

What an incredible Adventure, to go and tell people that their sins are forgiven, if they will only receive it. They don't have to come to church, they can be led to Christ right there on the street, wherever you are.

This is what we should be doing. This is why there are Ministries like our YouthQuake Ministry, and why we need so many more helpers and so many more funds for our radio. We led  5 kids to Christ at a club meeting recently and could do so much more in inner-city Canton. It is why we have Youth Leader Training Institute, YLTI, so we can include the young people and train them to go into their schools and start prayer and devotion clubs and leave their friends to Christ and help them grow in the Lord.

So, please, give if you feel led, you can see on our website how. We have missionaries and staff who need support so that they don't have to work secular jobs and can concentrate on the ministry. Support our golfathon and other things, so we can have a larger radio show as well. Work in your own Community also, wherever God has placed you.

But most importantly comma remember that we are called to go ourselves. And that is people can go around with an app finding imaginary things, that life-sized version of Where's Waldo - nay, World sized version - then surely we can go out and share the gospel, even doing so via the Internet like this. Just as Paul exhausted believers 2 work like Olympians who try for a corruptible crown, strive for an uncorruptible one by searching hard for those who need Christ and sharing His love with them.

Monday, July 4, 2016

True freedom comes when we trust Jesus to save

This is written on Independence Day in one country. However, that independence can be celebrated everywhere as freedom from all the problems the devil throws our way.

Without God, we are still in our sins. As mentioned numerous places, such as here, Sonship doesn't mean physical relations (the Arabic Walad"), it means that Jesus is the very essence of God, having every attribute, etc. (the rabic "ibn"). "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."(Colossians 2:9) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us"(John 1:1-,14) "I and My father are one."(John 10:30) Many other verses also point to the fact that Jesus Christ is God in flesh, and "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."(1 John 5:12)

That eternal life - life which begins at the moment you trust Jesus Christ to save you, so you can have life more abundantly as the previous post discusses - is only a single, sincere prayer of repentance to Jesus Christ away. As shown right on the front of our ministry site, simply Admit you're a sinner, Believe Jesus Christ died to take the punishment for your sins and rose from the death, and Call on Him to save you and forgive you and make you new inside. You can do that right now.

However, it is not just frreedom from sin.

Some cultures place a lot of emphasis on the collective. There is a sense of shame in not being like everyone else. However, that shame vanishes when we trust Christ.

Imagine being the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. He was the first person in his country, most likely, to receive Christ. Even if he wasn't, there have been others who were in their countries. (After all, someone had to be first.) Those firsts represent the potential for God to use that person to liberate their whole society. Everyone they come in contact with is someone else who can be saved from the punishment deserved for their sins, that being eternal separation from God forever in a place called Hell. Hell was only prepared for the devil and his angels that rebelled(Mat. 25:41). People go there because they haven't trusted in God's free gift of salvation. And yet, how shall they hear without someone to tell them.

That is the wonderful thing about being the first in one's family. If a person is a Muslim, or a Hinfu, or a Buddhist, and nobody else has believed, then they are together burdened by the shame of not knowing Jesus. And yet, they only have to come to trust Him to save them, and then who knows, their faith might lead others to trust in Jesus Christ to save them fromt heir sins.

There is also freedom from fear. Fear of evil spirits, ancestors, and other things haunt many people. However, these spirits are nothing compared to God and His wonderful love. We fight a spiritual battle every day, but we don't have to do it alone. In fact, we have no chance to win alone. We must rely on Jesus Christ to win that battle. But, the wonderful thing is, we know that He will. The Bible tells us so.

So, when we trust Him to free us from that fear - and 1 Timothy 1:7 promises He hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind - we can be certain that we will only have a healthy respect for God the way we have a healthy respect for a hot stove. We're not scared of it, but we also know not to touch it becasue we'll get burned. However, we will not be scared, because God has freed us from the burden of our sin.

Romans 8:1 promises that "There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." The stains of our sins have been washed away. He has removed them as far as the est is from the west, and will remember them no more.The devil may try to remind us of them, but we can be sure that God has promised that Jesus Christ has taken all of them upon Himself.

What amazing freedom! It's so wonderful to be independent of the devil and his wiles, and of the string of death. When we are, we cleave to Jesus Christ not because we have to, but because we want to out of our love for Him.  After all, we can't serve two masters - Jesus says we'll love one and hate the other or vice versa. There is no possibility of ignoring both of them.

So, the question is, are you giving God your most today. Are you celebrating freedom by honoring Him not because you have to, but because you want to? That is the only way to do it, because we can't be saved by works, only by grace along through faith alone in Christ alone.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Let God give you life more abundantly, and make the most of what He gives

In John 10:10, Jesus says He came so those who trust in Him to save them from their sins could have life and life more abundantly.

This post is meant to encourage people to see a  certain aspect of our culture the way God sees it. If He says He'll give more abundant life, then it makes sense to get that, since it'll be more plentiful, fulfilling, etc. than what we could have without Him, right?

Odd start, I know; it sounds like the middle of one of these posts. It's important, though, because like anything Godly, the devil wants to counterfeit it and try to trick people into following the counterfeit. But don't worry, if you see on my personal blog a similar post it's just me doing one geared toward thankfulness, etc..

"Make the most of life" - the right and wrong way

That societal aspect is wanting to get the most out of life. We hear slogans about it all the time. Of course, we want quality out of life, not just quantity. John 10:10 and other verses promise that Jesus will give us both. This is not just eternal life in Heaven. Eternal life begins right here, at the moment you call on Jesus Christ to save you from your sins, as this explains, and make you new inside. As I discussed in this ministry blog post, people have constant contact through the Internet but it doesn't provide the unconditional love and depth of relationship that a personal relationship with Jesus provides.

The idea of living life to its fullest can be used to make sure one gives all for the glory of God and tries not to miss any chance to glorify Him whether eating, drinking, whatever they do.(1 Cor.10:31). In this way, "making the most out of life" means using that life that we have for Him.

This is an especially understandable motto if you're like me and influenced by several relatives in medical/physical therapy professions who see much suffering and, less often, dying (orthopedists thankfully don't see it as often as nurses). It can certainly be used for good then. It is quite logical to merge "you only live once" - used often online with the hashtag YOLO - into that.

However, this is one of those mottos the devil has counterfeited to a great extent, taking something innocent on its face and turning it into evil.

This is where we must be careful of the devil's wiles, because "You only live once" has been usurped by the devil, as explained by Chris Townsend, to get people to think that they, and not God, have ultimate say in every aspect of their lives. Instead of adding 1 Corinthians 10:31 as a reminder to do all you can to spread the Gospel and show His love through your actions, many take the idea of having but one life to mean one may do whatever they want, in blatant disregard for God and His eternal truths, because they are led to believe there are no consequences to sin.

There are consequences, however, to all sin, including especially the fact that Jesus Christ had to die to take the punishment for our sin.

So, how do we make sure we're on the right path, and looking at that life we have as we should?

To "those who will love life," 1 Peter 3:8-11

Part of this show we at "Quest for Truth" did on connecting with the culture, discussed how 1 Peter 3:10 speaks of those who will love life in a positive way - saying they should keep their tongue and lips from speaking evil and guile, thus avoiding lying, gossiping, etc. Indeed, while we didn't have time to exegete it all (one great thing about using this blog), this brings in the previous two verses - on being compassionate, not returning evil for evil, etc - and the next verse, which speaks of doing good and eschewing evil.

So, for us to truly do this, we need to eschew evil.. We need to be the opposite of the coarsening society around us, and "be not conformed to this world" but rather "transformed, by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."(Rom.12:2)

So, clearly it is proper to love that eternal life believers are given, if done according to Godly principles - being transformed by the Spirit into someone who values eternal life, not what the world gives. This is especially apparent when we realize 1 Peter aalso warns that one may have to suffer a lot for their faith. Even if someone's lot is not to be martyred - and there are many who are elsewhere in the world - we will all face adversity. Jesus says "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world"(John 16:33). Even if not everyone will be martyred or even horribly persecuted, the devil will fight us, and our own fleshly nature will be a battle, too.

This is where we see the battle form between looking at life the right way and the wrong way. In persecutions and the storms of life, a follower of Christ - even if not horribly persecuted - will lose opportunities from the world's perspective. However, God will give opportunities which are better from an eternal perspective, which is the important one. His opportunities will be ones that earn Eternal Rewards, or which will lead to things that will earn Eternal Rewards.

For example, a man I know, and his wife, didn't have peace about accepting a promotion he was offered to what he thought would be the job of his dreams, so he didn't take it. As it turned out weeks later, had he taken that promotion, he wouldn't have been home nearly as fast and his wife may have bled to death at the end of a difficult pregnancy, and the baby might not have survived; even if he had been home the transfer they'd have had would have mean they'd have been an hour away from a good hospital, not a few minutes like they were. God then gave him a better job a few years later. What a great testimony to God's Spirit working and helping us, as well as to what those aforementioned relatives would say about making every moment matter, family being most important (next to God of course, who as we see here provides for that), etc..

I could go a variety of different directions on this, of course. You can too, I'm sure. That idea of eschewing evil itself is one that isn't practiced much nowadays, as the world becomes worse.And, it's not just because some people are putting jobs, money, and other things ahead of God - at times it's because some people are choosing to follow a life filled with lusts, selfishness, and other sins.

The evils of the world won't last, though. Neitehr will anything in the world, even the best things; Jesus says Heaven and eath will pass away. Jesus promises us something much better with those Eternal Rewards, because they can't grow old, rust out, etc., and nobody can take from from us. And, where our treasure is, there will our heart be also.(Mat.6:19-21)

So, a good part of the secret to loving life is building treasures in Heaven. That's because the life that matters isn't here on Earth.

The Life That Matters Is the Eternal Life God Can Give

 The man I mentioned, a follower of Christ, is certainly very grateful that God led him to decline the position and thus probably save his wife and child's lives. However, had he decided on his own to decline it - though such a decision wouldn't have made sense from the world's perspective - he could still say that at least he put his family first, right?

Sure, that's why we have to remember that the life that truly matters is the eternal life God promises to those who trust Him to save them from their sins. Because, without that, we have to suffer for our own sins, and God doesn't want us to have to do that. We could love what we have till we die physically, and it could be somthing like family or relationships or helping others. However, it is by grace - a free gift - we are saved through faith, and "that not of ourselves, if is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast."(Eph.2:8-9) In other words, a person who always puts their family first, always cares about others, and all those otehr good thigns is still a sinner in need of a Saviour - if they sinned only 3 times a day that's still over 1,000 a year. Without calling on Jesus and receiving Jesus' free gift of salvation that person would also die spiritually. And, god doesn't want that for anyone; people choose it when they reject Him.

The life Jesus gives that is much more abundant than what we have now. It isn't just the fact God can guide a man to turn down something worldly in order to save his wife and child because He knows the future and we don't. That's just the icing on the cake, the benefit of a personal relationship with God. The main part of that abundant life is that life Jesus Christ gives a person who puts their faith in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins. Only when one does this does one have eternal life. He who hath the Son hath life, and he who hath not the Son hath not life.(1 John 5:12) Just living a Godly life is not enough, one must know Christ personally. Eternal is much more special, much more abundant.

Still, part of that life we can love is in how we are living here on Earth, those things we are doing for the Lord, rather than pleasing ourselves. Instead of the evil motto of "do what thou wilt with no care for the things of God," following Godly principles is the way we love life and make the most of it.

Making the Most of Life by Glorifying God

We use our talents, abilities, and opportunities to glorify Him and to share His love with others. This is something those who do not have eternal life can't do. They can only glorify themselves, and if they give glory to God it is not because He is their savior, it is because they are simply paying lip service or believing in some vague force and not in who God is, a personal God who must punish sin but has done so by taking the punishment for our sin, dying on the cross for each of us and rising from the dead.

So, adding some of these talents and abilities to 1 Corinthians 10:31, one can see that whether you are a public speaker, writer, performer, or anything else,  that should be used to glorify God.

 This is how we can have life more abundantly here, not just in Heaven. It also brings those verses from 1 Peter and the exhortation to build treasures in Heaven into things.(It's neat how the Bible comes together like that - four different books written by different people in different places. The Bible is internally consistent when you look at the context of everything, because God the Holy Spirit inspired the writers to write it, He just used each individual person's personality and style. It's just like a child colors with a crayon, the child is creating but that crayon is using its individual hue.)

So, if, for instance, a performer is singing, acting, or whatever in some secular role, they can still glorify God by being light in the darkness. They can choose never to use lyrics that are vulgar or suggestive, but instead ones that uplift. They can encourage things like those things we should think on in Philippians 4:8.(Focus on a song's words forward, not how some used to talk of stuff backwards or even the type, things which distract from the real issue. Frank Sinatra's "My Way" may be the most often quoted secular song by pastors - in sermons on false pride - and it doesn't even have a guitar.)  They can make sure the focus is on God and what He can do, not on themselves. They can, in other words, eschew evil.

Why is that important? Those who try to have everything for themselves are never satisfied. They can't find fulfillment and so they keep trying to find it in pleasure, sometimes drugs, and usually in things that glorify themselves. However, if they are never satisfied, they are truly getting the most out of life, are they? They know something is missing, but not what.

This is the way the devil feeds them. It's a lie that says that they can please themselves with no consequences and that will be sufficient. They might trick themselves into thinking they will be happy if it's always all about them and what they can get. However, they wind up not being happy and that sin has consequences, all the way to a devil's Hell if one doesn't trust Jesus Christ by faith by calling on Him to forgive them for their sins and make them new inside.

So, to love life, focus on the right kind - make sure you have made that choice to accept Christ's free gift of salvation by calling on Him by faith to save you. Then, live for Him, so you can have Him work in you and give you that fulfillment.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Importance of God's people teaching others resilience

Odd title, I know. What is resilience, why is it needed, and why must the body of Christ work harder to build it in those outside the church?

Don't worry, this won't be twenty pages, despite the resemblance to the first paragraph of a term paper. Parts of this post will be on another blog I do, though, which I mention in case parts seems familiar.

 Why is resilience important?

An object's resilience is its elasticity. In people, it's the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. However, it is important to do this in a constructive way. People should realize God loves them just as He loves everyone, for God is love, and if they know Him personally He will always be there for them. They should also recognize other people matter because God loves them, too.

Building it is what James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 1:6-9, and other passages teach. In functional homes where people follow the Lord, that's pretty easy, though with some easier than others. Everyone has different levels because we're all built differently - not everyone has the resilience to survive a foreign mission field (though we are all called to be missionaries where we are), for instance, and some who can handle one field couldn't handle another.

And yet, people often don't realize how much they can do unless they step out In faith. That's part of why it's vital to follow God's plan for our lives. He knows us better than we do ourselves. If David had never stepped out and killed the lion and bear attacking the sheep, he never would have developed the courage and faith to slay Goliath. And yet, some people wouldn't have been able to even kill a lion or bear. It's not a bad thing if a person can't, they are just different parts of the body of Christ, just as the nose is important but you wouldn't use it to lift things. 

(To type if need be, yes - that is not it's normal use, but the notion is part of resilience. Little kids who try may just seem silly, but God is using such fun to help build resilience, becasue they learn how to improvise, that just because they might lack something doesn't mean God can't use them.)

"Okay," you may say, "people need resilience, and the Bible shows how to have it." But, I didn't write all that just to remind some people of a word they may not have used since high school, did I?

No. There is a severe lack of resilience in some areas, and we must work extra hard to build it in people from there if we are to fulfill God's calling to reach and minister to others.

We must be resource for those who lack it

Not everyone has well-functioning families where everyone is Christlike, where all behave in a Godly way, or at least try to show Christlike traits. To some people you may be the only example of Jesus Christ they will ever see.

Therefore, it's vital to start slowly and help them to realize that God loves them by showing that love, compassion, positive attention, etc. - after all, some people have no clue how to be gentle, for instance, unless someone shares it with them.

Our ministry saw a kid who we hope had been saved - and part of our ministry - for several years who finally start going to church late last year. (Update - he's had more problems, please pray for him and that he has heart knowledge and not just head knowledge of salvation.) He had been saved, and he's had great enthusiasm, but his home life - with people who also lacked resilience - has meant that he needed to be around people who were going to model Christlike behavior, giving him positive attention, encouragement, etc. that he needed. Merely sitting in a church service wasn't going to help him. (The fact we didn't have a ministry van for 2.5 years also hurt.) And, while a Bible study with our founder and his wife is helping one adult in the family, even that is a very slow process because of years of turmoil.

He wasn't as bad off as some people, of course. Some people think that they have no hope. The lack of respect for human life is evident in places like New Orleans, for example. It is not a political problem, because rules can't solve the problem of peoples' attitudes. It is a heart problem. Albert Einstein, speaking in the late 1940s, considered the massive destructive power of the atomic bomb, for instance, and said, "I know not what weapons we will fight World War 3 with, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones."

In other words, mankind would bounce back - resilience - but even the most brutal weapons - designed to wipe out entire civilizations and take the tech level back to the Stone Age - would not teach people to avoid warfare.

So, clearly, there is a need for Godly resilience, the kind that lets people draw closer to God - like in that individual Bible study - instead of always reacting in the flesh.

God offers hope that the world doesn't

I mentioned earlier that God's system is the right way - it respects people more than peoples' systems, since mankind's is imperfect. Many will point to the war quote and say that we have always had people that don't care about life, that increase the destructiveness of things. While that is true, the increasing number of people who feel there is no hope is sad and alarming.

This feeling stems from a focus only on this life. When one doesn't feel that one has any purpose, it becomes easier for them to decide that nothing matters. That is when they will decide to simply react and use their instincts more and more instead of using faith - and, as those verses mentioned earlier show, faith, patience, and so on are things that need to be built over time. It is rare - though it does happen - when a person has an incredible amount of faith and courage right away.

This world tears us down and tries to make us think there is no hope. However, the opposite is true. Resilience doesn't have to mean just reacting. It should be relying more and more on God to help one overcome difficulties.

Build Godly resilience in others

Each person matters; each person is important. God cares about each of us more than we can imagine. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made.(Ps.139:14)
 
Of course, simply being told that is not always good enough. A person needs a reason to keep going. Hopefully, this will help give some ideas as to how to encourage people to do that.

 First, get to know people, earn their trust (which in itself can be very hard at times), and be that kind, caring person they need. Be willing to conduct individual Bible studies with someone, or with a few people. Discovery Bible studies, for instance, help to stimulate conversation and bring the person closer to the Lord, and while it isn't quite the one-on-one mentoring mentioned above, it is good for helping to foster community. Although, it should be noted that it can be harder in the cities because of a lack of community at times; this is one reason why that friendship needs to be built up over time sometimes. People there are often lonelier.

One of our shows interviewing someone in such a situation is #114 here, too. (Edit: Part 2, as show #117, is now up, too.)

of course, that sense of community is needed everywhere, as I discussed here in the need for constant contact people seem to have, a need that can be fulfilled with a relationship with Christ.

That relationship with Jesus Christ is the key, of course. We can't solve all of a person's problems, but God can, even if all He can do is give the person peace and stability so they can be more resilient in the difficult place they are in life. Here is a great page explaining further how we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God. And, that He came in flesh, Jesus Christ is God in flesh and died to take the punishment we each deserved for our sins., and then He rose from the dead. And, all one must do is call on Jesus Christ by faith to save them and forgive them, turning from their sins and letting Him make them new inside. We won't be perfect here on Earth, but He will work in us bit by bit each day. See show #91 on sanctification and others at our website's radio page. Other shows will also help.

As a parachurch ministry, our original purpose was to come alongside churches and help with things like Bible quizzing, evangelistic rallies, and so on, while directing youth toward Gospel preaching churches. Nowadays, that has changed a little, but that is because we are starting over in some respects with the new minivan.

Greater Canton Youthquake can still be great in the body of Christ by helping our inner-city youth to have that resilience that they need. However, to do that we need help. No, don't worry, I'm not asking for donations with this post :-) (Though our site does show how.)  We need people like you to pray and - if you are in the area - perhaps even serve.

Even if you're not in our area, you can still do great things in your area to promote that resilience. In fact, contact us and we will help you learn how to set up a Youthquake club of your own, as long as you abide by our statement of faith.

 Wherever you serve the Lord, though, remember that some people are really hurting. We need to come alongside others and help and guide them so they see the love of God and realize how much He cares. We need to be that caring parent that they never had. We need to have those Bible studies with them. We need to do all those little things with them sometimes so they can do as Ephesians 6:11-18 teaches about the full armor of God.

The Bible tells us that, in the end, we should be able to put it on so that we - having done all - can stand. It's just that some can't stand on their own. Oh, sure, we all need to rely on God to stand, we can't do it ourselves. But, when a person doesn't know how, we need to come alongside them and help them to know how to stand with God.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Uniting in God's Word - and the word "begotten"

You might wonder why "begotten" is called all-important, but first, a question. Are people united to commit crime united in a good work? Of course not.

Speaking of unity, this is also going up on my own personal blog site which I link below, for those wondering why they see this twice. :-)

Examples of when uniting wonderful

Jesus often asks questions to help listeners think about the answers to their own questions. While it is not the focus of this post, the parable of the Good Samaritan is a great example - we often ask, "Who is my neighbor?" Muslims are one answer to that - we need to share with them how to have a personal relationship with a loving, gracious God who gave Himself for them, so He can save them from their sins and make them new inside. This post shares good tips and resources that are vital to "snatch them in pity from sin and the grave" as the hymn - and much more sensible title - goes.

Of course, there is a wonderful way to show how to unite for positive things. The Jews and Samaritans couldn't stand each other in those days. I don't know if it inspired him, but Daryl Davis has made a life out of befriending people who don't like him.  However, we do need to be careful to be united in a Godly work, such as peacemaking.

I've said many times in this blog that God's Word proves we are all one race, the human race - something acknowledged in secular media, too. However, there are times when we can't pretend there are no differences. this is why that word - "begotten" - will come up, because it doesn't just mean "only." it means of the same essence, the same substance.

Clearing up misconceptions

This is a misconception that Muslims have about Christians. Let me start by pointing out a few things from the post I linked.  Some people think Muslims and Christians worship the same god, but we don't, and "Sonship is one big reason. Muslims say Allah had no son because they only think of physical relationships when they think of a son. They don't realize that Sonship In the Biblical sense is the Arabic "ibn" - this means a perfect likeness, having every attribute of the original.

This Arabic word, "ibn," shows that Jesus is a perfect likeness, He is God in flesh(John 1:14, etc.) because in Him(Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.(Col. 2:9) There is also a way or two to explain the Godhead which will help. Here is a site that might help with a few misconceptions. Also, simply explaining "I am a father, a son, and a brother - one man, three attributes is a start. The point is that we can agree that God is one god, and go fromt here to show how He manifests Himself.(As that first one does with talking about how God manifested Himself to Moses, etc..) As this site on answering Islam shows, unique is even a better translation than "only," since monogenes has no direct translation into English, but "only" is surely incorrect. Only begotten is even better, though, than unique, because Begotten means having all the attributes in a way unique doesn't.

So, clearly there are times when we have a truth to stand on - what "Sonship" means - that needs to be explained to eliminate misunderstanding. It wouldn't do to pretend that difference doesn't exist, because bringing it to light improves understanding of what the Bible says.

Philippians 4:2-3 - where Paul tells two ladies, Euodice and Synteche, to be of one mind "in the Lord." However, that phrase, "in the Lord," means to put aside petty differences and follow Christ. Their argument might have been heated - Paul asks others to help them, those who were perhaps able to help to mediate the dispute by helping them talk things out. But, they were not disagreeing about fundamentals of the faith.

In other words, just like explaining Sonship above increases understanding by pointing out what truth is, Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, clearly insists elsewhere that we must be unified in sound Doctrine and not allow false Doctrine to enter our churches. Because, sound doctrine increases understanding.

This post from a ministry blog I do goes into more detail after a while about the sound doctrine we need to hold fast to because the points are connected with God being a personal, loving God who took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross and rose again. It also has more links to our radio shows - which can be found here - though this post in the blog you're reading has different things regarding supporting what we believe and support, not just what we are against. So, both are good to read.

However, I'm going to come at one in particular from an unusual angle, because it will help to end confusion in a number of areas.

So, what's with the word "begotten"?

So, you might be thinking, "Okay, so the point about "begotten" is that it points to Christ's Deity." That's a major part of it, yes. The meaning is so much deeper than something simple like only.

Begotten shows that all attributes of God were passed on. Jesus had "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."Col.2:9 We are adopted as children, as Romans 8, John 1;12, and others show. However, we don't get every single attribute of God, we don't become all-powerful for example. We will never have that kind of attribute. There are a few which we don't have on earth because of our sin nature, but in Heaven we shall become sinless, have perfect love, etc.. However the Lord will never share all His attributes Jesus Christ only has all of them because he is God in flesh.

And yet, in His love God does give us the power to become the sons of God if we believe on His name(John 1:12) - that is, trust Him and call on Him by faith to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Begotten, then, shows the difference between a believer and the Lord, yet also shows the Deity of Christ and allows us to, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath given ucto us," that we, too, can be called the children of God.

This incredible love is something people in other cultures often don't understand or even have access to - people all over the world seek freedom from sin, from guilt, from shame, and from fear. These things leave them in bondage to the world's system, one that tries to work one's way to Heaven.

"Okay," you might say, "the Deity of Christ, God's love for us, and the freedom we have in Him are wonderful to unite behind. They are all present in that word Begotten the way they are not in the word only. But, is that the only problem with versions that don't use begotten?

No, and that's the big problem.
Stick with the Antiochan Greek
 When you use "Begotten" you're using a word translated from Greek. Gotquestions has a good explanation here. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew(Old Testament), Greek(New Testament) and a little bit of Aramaic that is not important for this discussion.

the original Greek manuscripts, from Antioch, were written first, with Greek from Alexandria used a century later. That Greek from Alexandria made changes that confused thigns and caused problems with doctrine. the King James Version is the only one straight from the Antiochan texts. Here is a great post from someone else about it.

To sum up what the above link says, other versions - which take from Alexandrian texts - have many problems like this. We as Christians aren't perfect, as I noted in another post. We are all still growing closer to Christ and needing Him to battle our flesh nature. Salvation is an instant event,(Rom.10:9-10,13; Acts 16:31; etc.) but as this show reveals. (This is why one must beware of modern Bible versions that use the Alexandrian text, modern texts do things like changing 1 Peter 2:2 to make it sound like you grow in your salvation when the King James, from the original Antiochan texts, shows clearly growth is through the Word of God and is only in one's sanctification.
 Another good link that shows what some other big differences are is here. Our Youthquake site even had a book noted which founder/director Sal Varsalone wrote exposing a lot of problems - see "No Counterfeit Bibles" here.

One of those esy to notice is in Luke 2:33 and Luke 2:44, where the King James says "Joseph and Jesus' mother."Mary was, biologically, Jesus' parent, but Joseph was not. to say "Jesus' father and mother" is also an attack on Jesus' Deity. While it's true that Philip says "the son of Joseph," he is merely making a human mistake because of his excitement at finding the Messiah. He wasn't taking time to think that Messiah had to be God in flesh. Those verses in luke, though, are part of something the Holy Spirit is revealing to us as Scripture. Luke was inspired to write - in his very meticulous style - "Joseph and Jesus' mother" becase that's what God wanted people to understand, that Jesus was not related biologically to Joseph, and that He was born of a virgin.

You can hear shows about the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, and other vital doctrines in our shows here.

The Bible is totally reliable, though, when you look at the original texts, as this site shows. And, one of the most important parts of that is that Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died to take the punishment for each of our sins and rise from the dead. He was the perfect sacrifice that was necessary to pay the entire price for our sins. And, each one of us must simply trust Him by faith, calling on Him to save and forgive them from their sins. Here is a more detailed explanation of God's simple plan of salvation.