Sunday, June 14, 2009

Newnan, Georgia and Allen Bell

Last Thursday Lisa and I along with John 3 and Anna drove from Wilmore, KY to South Shore, KY to see the Youth Choir from Newnan United Methodist Church perform. They were on their way home from upper Ohio and I must confess that they did a fabulous job!

Among the chaperones that were with the Youth Choir was Allen Bell. Allen and his wife Kristen were members of St Luke when I served there and were also supporters of the Youth ministry. Allen chaperoned many trips with me to Philadelphia, Detroit, and other places and I am certain that his presence with the Youth from Newnan was appreciated.

It was great to see Allen and we were blessed by the singing of their Youth Choir.



Monday, May 11, 2009

Persuaded to Believe

The sad realization is that for many people, being an eyewitness to the resurrection would not have made a difference for them. Sometimes there are things that we value more than the truth. How about the soldiers who guarded the tomb? They witnessed the resurrection—at least they knew that the disciples did not come and steal the body of Jesus. Yet, despite being present at the resurrection, they were persuaded to unbelief with money. And then there are the High Priest and the religious officials. They heard not only the testimony of the disciples, but they heard the testimony of their own soldiers. And because of their desire for power, control, and authority, they squandered the testimony of the soldiers and lied on their behalf. Being an eyewitness does not always mean that you are persuaded to believe.

An overview reading of Israel’s history will attest to this. Exodus and Numbers shares the details of how after 430 years of slavery, God miraculously delivered them from the clutches of the Pharaoh by the ten plagues. God led them across the Red Sea and devoured their pursuers in the water. God was visible by the cloud of smoke during the day and the pillar of fire at night. God’s glory was seen at Mt. Sinai and His power was seen when Korah and his family rebelled and the earth opened up and swallowed them (Numbers 16). They had signs. They had tangible examples. Yet, they still had trouble believing. They disobeyed; they grumbled; they complained; they rejected God; they even planned to return to the bondage and slavery in Egypt. Yes, being an eyewitness does not always mean that you are persuaded to believe.

More on this later. Blessings-


Friday, May 8, 2009

The Kneeling Christian

I came across a great book that is offered online for no cost. I read it one afternoon and was blessed. The title is The Kneeling Christian and it is written by an unknown Christian. You can read it online or download it as a PDF by clicking on the title.



Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Favorite Evangelism Passage!

Philip’s Story in Acts 8 is my favorite evangelism story in the Bible. The Spirit of the Lord told Philip to go a particular place. He did not know what was to happen, but in obedience Philip obeyed and went to this desert place. Philip once again heard the Spirit tell him to go to an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading from the book of Isaiah. Philip ran to him and saw what he was reading and asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. With this simple introductory question, Philip started an evangelical process that ultimately changed the eunuch’s life.

This passage says that Philip recounted the history of the Scriptures showing the good news about Jesus. When I read this passage, I cannot help but ask what exactly Philip chose to share with the Ethiopian eunuch. Luke does not share the details, but we can only imagine the stories that Philip shared with the eunuch. When they came to water, the eunuch asked what was preventing him from being baptized now. This question makes me think that Philip almost certainly ended his story of the good news about Jesus with Jesus’ Great Commission. The evangelism of the eunuch almost certainly ended with Jesus’ great command to go and teach and baptize.

There needs to be a plan for personal evangelism in the Christian’s personal lives. They need to be encouraged to out into all of their worlds taking the good news of Jesus with them wherever they find themselves. Just like Philip, we need to be encouraged to listen to the Spirit of God’s leading and to take the Gospel message to our sphere of influence.

In order to accomplish this task, there needs to be a re-defining of what it means to evangelize. For so long, Christians have understood this task as being the sole job of the ministers and staff members of the church. However, the job of evangelism as we understand it from Scripture is clearly set forth as a task of all people in all places.

Evangelism starts with a personal relationship with God. It is only from this standpoint that one is able to be like Philip who was able to hear the voice of God telling him to go to another town and to approach the Ethiopian eunuch. Evangelism only becomes difficult and burdensome when the evangelist relies on his or her own strength and not upon the strength of the Lord. With an open and receptive heart, the evangelist will be led by God; and by being led by Him, he or she will be able to trust that it is not their own strength and power that they need to rely upon. It is the strength and power of God who sends them.

As the evangelist becomes more aware of God’s power and direction, he or she then needs to be aware of the subtly of opportunities. Philip did not know why he was sent to the desert. He just went and when he came upon the eunuch, he recognized the voice of God telling him to go to him. Philip did not open up his fancy flannel board or have a tract of the four spiritual laws. No, he noticed what the eunuch was doing and asked him a question. He asked him if he understood what he was reading in Isaiah. This opened the door and provided Philip with the opportunity to take the eunuch through the Scriptures sharing with him the good news of Jesus.

While in the desert, he heard the voice of the Spirit telling him to go to the eunuch. There was no question from Philip. He did not delay and he did not take a detour. Luke tells us that he ran to the eunuch. Opportunities that we have as evangelists are many times time sensitive opportunities. We may be on subways or on airplanes and the time that we have to respond to God’s prompting in our lives is time sensitive. One of the resources that I would recommend during this part of the curriculum would be Bill Hybel’s book entitled Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith. In Philip’s case, maybe the title should be “Just run across the room.”

When God calls us to do something or to speak to someone, He will not abandon us. It is very interesting to me that Luke shares with us a certain piece of information in this text. He tells his readers that Philip was called to go south and the place to which he went was a desert place. Why did Luke tell us that this place was a desert? After Philip shared the good news of Jesus, the eunuch saw water and wanted to be baptized. There was water in the desert? I like to think that Luke included this small piece of information to remind his readers that God is not only in control of each evangelical situation, but he is also committed to provide for each evangelist.

We are a part of a larger evangelical plan. When we are rejected, we need to realize that we are not called to be successful, but rather we are called to be obedient. Nowhere in our passage does God guarantee success for Philip. Philip does even question God about whether or not he will be successful. God calls and Philip obeys. The key here is to be reminded that we have nothing to do with the success or failure of evangelism. Pre-Christians become Christians only through the grace and power of God. As Robert Tuttle writes in his book entitled Can We Talk, we may just be one of the twenty-five needed witnesses in a pre-Christian’s life to persuade them to make a change.



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Over and over and over and over.....

I am somewhere between Numbers and Deuteronomy in my read through of the Bible. Over and over and over and over again the Israelites see the Hand and Glory of God and they still disobey. After 430 years of slavery and bondage in Egypt, they witnessed the plagues and saw the waters of the Red Sea close upon the Egyptians after they had safely crossed to the other side. They saw the presence and guidance of God by cloud during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. Even before they crossed the Red Sea when the Egyptians were coming for them, the cloud of smoke moved positions. Previously, the cloud and pillar of fire was between the Israelites and the Red Sea. When the Egyptians were coming for them, the presence of God represented by this cloud and pillar moved to a buffer position between them and the coming Egyptians. Amazing! He was positioning Himself to protect His people! God's presence and glory were witnessed by the people of Israel everyday!

BUT, history tells us that they decided to disobey, challenge, and grumble against God and Moses who was His servant. What were they thinking! God was seen everyday and He displayed His glory to them in very real and tangible ways yet they chose to disobey. They even considered a mutiny against Moses. They considered giving up the Promised Land and going back to bondage and slavery in Egypt!

Philip Yancey's book entitled Disappointment with God touches on this bit of Israelite history. Philip links this history to the New Testament where the people asked Jesus for a "sign." I know that I have asked God for a sign. I have caught myself saying that if God would only do something miraculous -- like parting a sea or supplying manna from heaven -- then the world would believe. Know this...A miraculous sign from God does not guarantee belief! Just look at the lives of the Israelites! They had a very real and tangible expression of God and they still chose to disobey God. They grumbled against Him and even wanted to go back to Egypt where they lived in bondage.

You see, signs and miraculous wonders of God do not necessarily constitute belief.

Jesus said to [Thomas], “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

What do you think?



The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001). Jn 20:29.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Prophets and then there was Moses

I am currently reading through the Bible and I find myself this week in Numbers. Although there are a lot of laws and regulations in this book, there are also glimpses into Israel's history and their relationship with God.

It has been the desire of God that Israel be His people. From the covenant with Abraham through Isaac and Jacob to the release from Egypt and the years at Sinai, God had chosen Israel to be His people who were in affect a holy people that were chosen by God to be His people (Ex. 19:4-6). But despite this desire that God had to be Israel's God, the people of Israel found themselves grumbling and complaining over and over again. Most of the complaints were centered on them not trusting God. The ultimate display of not trusting God was the spies' report. Their lack of trust in God cost them 40 more years in the wilderness and their generation was not able to go into the Promised Land.

On one occasion we even find Aaron and Miriam grumbling against Moses. These two siblings of Moses seemed to have been jealous of the relationship that Moses had with God. In Numbers 12 we find the explicit difference between Moses and the prophets. What God tells Aaron and Miriam is that Moses has a special relationship with God. The Lord makes Himself known to them through visions and dreams (v.6). However, God speaks to Moses in a different way. God speaks to him "mouth to mouth" (v.8). There are no riddles and everything is clear for Moses.

Many books have been written (and I have read some of them) about hearing the voice of God. This post is not another tidbit of advice about how you can hear the voice of God. What I want to stress here is the willingness that God has to speak to us. He is interested in our daily affairs and he wants to be involved in our daily decisions.

Although we may not have the privilege that Moses had, we know that God is interested in what we do and what we have to say. Let's take a moment to invite Him to be a part of our day today.



Wednesday, March 4, 2009

AW Tozer on Worship

"We’re here to be worshippers first and workers only second. We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him. God never meant it to be so. God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshipper, and after that he can learn to be a worker. The work done by a worshipper will have eternity in it."

A. W. Tozer, Gems from Tozer (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 1979). 15.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Skiing in New York

This week I am skiing in New York at Holiday Valley. The conditions and weather are great. I am here with 2 of my brothers for our annual ski trip.

Blessings -

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Walk - Part 2

The word walk is expounded in Genesis 6 when the author is describing the life of Noah. Verse 9 uses the same word in the same syntax (other than the fact that for Noah it is in the perfect and for Enoch it was in the imperfect) to describe the relationship that Noah had with God. When the two uses are juxtaposed to each other, we understand the relationship that Enoch had with with God. If Noah and Enoch were both said to have walked with God, then we know the following about Enoch since more is said regarding Noah:
  1. Enoch was a "righteous" man
  2. Enoch was "blameless" among the people of his time
  3. Enoch found "favor" in the eyes of the LORD.
I still need to stay right here for a little bit. This adds a little more light to the life of Noah's grandfather.



Saturday, January 3, 2009


I am reading in Genesis 5 the long list of genealogy from Adam to Noah and to be honest I am ready to skip over it. I choose to plug along and come to verses 22 and 24 and I stop. It says that Enoch walked with God. These questions prompted me to further study:
  1. What does it mean when it says that Enoch walked with God?
  2. Did he physically walk with God?
  3. Why did this author include this?
  4. What was so special about walking with God that caused Him to take him away?
  5. Why is there not more said about Enoch? You'd think that if walking with God was so important then wouldn't there be more said of this?
What I know is that the verb is hitpael, imperfect and a preliminary definition with this in mind and in this context is to walk constantly with God. I am going to park here for a little bit. I'd love your thoughts, too.