So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Philemon 1:6

FRONT PAGE - here you will find the last 20 postings about recent conversations. Please pray for these people!

Distant



8/14/17                Jesse                   about 30

There are other ways to attempt to avoid God besides atheism.  Jesse, about 30, believes that God exists but is so distant that He is uninvolved with life here on Earth. 

I met Jesse on the sidewalk, asking about his beliefs in the afterlife.  He wasn’t aware of what is widely known as the “clockmaker theory”, but described it almost perfectly.  He basically believes that God put everything in motion here on Earth, but has long since stepped back to watch what happens from a distance.

I asked Jesse why he believes this and he told me he didn’t see how God could be present and allow all the pain and suffering that goes on in the world.  Nonetheless, he says he knows there is a God because there is no other logical way to explain all that exists.

I told him about the “problem of evil”.   This is the idea that a good and all-powerful God can’t exist because, with all the suffering in the world, if God is good but can’t stop evil then he isn’t all-powerful, and if He is all-powerful but doesn’t stop it, then He is not good.

Jesse’s take on all this is to say that God is distant and unaware of the details of evil in life.  But if God is distant, then surely he is also unaware of the relatively small evils in our own lives.  It’s a fancy way of rationalizing our everyday sinful actions and attitudes.  It says “I’m a pretty good person, and as long as I don’t commit any of those larger, cardinal sins, I’m all good with God.”

Do we really want to believe God is distant?  The Bible gives us a great promise in Psalm 145:  “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”  But this promise can be a double-edged sword.  The same God who can hear us when we call on Him, is also aware when we turn from him to sin. 

Life seems good right now to Jesse.  He has all he needs so it seems good to him to hold God at a distance with his chosen beliefs.  But regardless of his personal beliefs, the Bible repeatedly lets us know that the Lord is near.  “The Lord watches over all who love him” it goes on to say in Psalm 145.  But we can’t afford to stop reading there: “…but all the wicked he will destroy.”

How about you?  Do you try to hold God at a distance, rationalizing Him away with self-made beliefs that reassure you that He is only there when you need Him?  Or will you relate to God on His terms, as He chooses to reveal himself in His holy word?  At the end of the day the choice really isn’t yours to make.

Lord



7/23/17             Meghan and Chris       early 20's

While reaching out with the Gospel, I met a young couple with a simple faith that I found refreshing.  I had met Meghan and Chris on the sidewalk, asking about their views on what happens after we die.  Both said they believe that some people go to heaven, while others go to hell, so I asked what it is that determines who goes where.  Instead of the typical assumption that “good people” go to heaven, they both simply said “The people who go to heaven are those who believe in Jesus”.  No doubts, no apologies for being too exclusive, just a simple straightforward belief in Jesus as Savior.

But, like many, their simple faith lacked a few things.  They had little to no biblical knowledge, little understanding of the Gospel beyond “Jesus saves’, little to no church involvement.  And, judging from their demeanor, their bodily adornments, and the circumstance of when and where I met them, they were very much caught up in the ways of the world swirling around them.

The impression I got was that, although they related to Jesus as Savior, they really didn’t know how to relate to Him as their Lord.  Yet He is both, and to relate to one aspect of Jesus without the other is to relate to an imaginary Jesus.

So must Jesus be Lord of our lives as soon as He is Savior?  Didn’t He teach that we will be able to identify who the true believers are by their fruits?  Yes and no, I believe.  If we take His analogy a little further, we know that fruit doesn’t appear and mature overnight. 

Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus made an interesting statement to his disciples.  “If you love me, keep my commands”.  The disciples had the advantage of 3 years of training and close fellowship with Jesus.  They should know this simple, logical truth, yet they needed to be taught and reminded that the only appropriate response to Jesus as Savior is to obey Him as Lord.

Meghan and Chris were at a place I once was in my simple faith.  They understood Jesus as savior, but were never really challenged to obey Him in response.  They had grown up in a formal and very traditional church that had not emphasized the benefits of Bible study, church fellowship, and personally relating to Jesus and to God as our Heavenly Father.

There is so much more to Christianity than eternal security.  The Kingdom of Heaven happens when we are in a right relationship with God our Father through Jesus our Savior.  That right relationship with God can and should begin here, now.  It begins with Jesus as our Savior, and grows as we relate to Him as our Lord.

Reconcilation



7/11/17      Nolan       about 35

“You talk like you are in a real relationship with God” – was the observation a man named Nolan made today in a coffeeshop conversation.  I had to remind myself that what seems so natural to us as Christians is a foreign concept to those who haven’t experienced it. 

Earlier in our conversation I had explained how man’s intimate relationship with God was cut off when Adam and Eve disobeyed, resulting in their feeling naked and exposed, running and hiding from God rather than walking with Him in a harmonious and peaceful relationship.  Our own disobedience does the same thing, driving us further from God and causing us to look for cheap substitutes as a result.

Nolan, in fact, had abandoned his Christian upbringing and was building his own beliefs from a variety of religious traditions.  It was good for me to review with him what he knew of the Gospel, but what really caught his attention and what he seemed to have missed in the first go-round growing up was that he could know and walk with God personally.

“Do you know what it means to settle out of court?”  I asked in explanation to his questions.  “It basically means that you meet informally with the judge before the official trial date to come to some sort of agreement before the full force of the law takes effect.  We all have a court date coming up, Judgment Day, and we need to make our peace with God and seek His mercy before we experience the full weight of His perfect justice.

Because of Jesus, we can “settle out of court” and make peace with God, trusting that His sacrifice on the cross can bring us forgiveness and allow us to walk in peace and intimacy with God once again, restoring what was lost in that garden so many years ago. 

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”  Without Jesus, we are actually God’s enemies!  Have you experienced the peace and relationship that reconciliation with God brings?