Rock Your World with the Gospel

Ray Comfort, the founder of Living Waters Publications and The Way of the Master (both of these ministries are all about equipping and encouraging Christians to share their faith) wrote earlier this week about the earthquake that rocked  his native New Zealand (click here for stunning photos of this catastrophe). In his post he referred to a surfer friend from his pre-conversion teenage years. This friend got his girlfriend pregnant when they were both just 16. They gave the girl up for adoption. When this girl turned 16, she sought out her biological parents. Her motivation to do so was due to her own pregnancy. Ray's surfer friend became a grandfather at age 32!

In 1992, Ray returned to his hometown for a visit. He purposely looked up his friend in order to share the gospel with him. However, it did not work out well as too many people kept coming into his friend's shop, making a conversation difficult. This past Sunday, Ray thought of his friend and decided to contact him. He looked up his friend's shop online, found an email address and sent him off an email. He was amazed to get a reply. Here is the rest of the story in Ray's own words:

"He said that my god (he used a small "g") really scared him with the big earthquake they had six months ago (he used profanity to say how much it scared him). I then wrote back and said that I failed to tell him something when I last saw him, and added that Jesus said if you lust after a woman, you commit adultery with her. I said that Hell was real, and that God made a way for us to be forgiven and have everlasting life.

He responded 'That is scary, you mean I have committed adultery about 140 times already today? Hell won’t be so bad – at least all my mates will be there and all the naughty girls. Just don’t tell me it will be onshore all day every day. That will really make me gnash my teeth. Heaven sounds really boring -- all the goody two shoes kids drinking tea and singing hymns all day. Is there surf there?'

I emailed back that there would be no friendship or any pleasure in Hell and talked about his misunderstanding of Heaven, hoping he would get back to me.

The following day, the earthquake struck. His shop was very close to the epicenter. I don't know what happened to him"

What friend do YOU need to reach out to today with the gospel?

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Thursday A La Carte

Again ... from cyberworld - here are some other sites that I believe are of some worth. Enjoy!

1. What is technology doing to us? On April 1st, Tim Challies is coming out with a new book titled, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Here is a video commercial from Zondervan promoting the book. I for one plan to read it!

2. Speaking of technology ... check out this comic dealing with the use of a common metaphor.

3. If you have 6 minutes ... here is a testimony that is really worth watching!

4. Here is a Christian blogger's take on a recent Ted Haggard interview (Ted was the mega-church pastor and President of the National Association of Evangelicals who got caught involved in homosexuality and drug abuse in November 2006). Be sure to read the comments that are below the video.

5. One of the couples killed by Somali pirates this week wanted to make a difference in the world. Here is a Fox News video that talks about what they were doing to make that difference.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Moving on to Solid Food

This past Friday I heard the familiar tone from my iPhone that told me I had just received a text. When I checked, sure enough - my youngest daughter had just texted me. She included this photo of Jack. He was enjoying (I guess) his first experience eating solid food. When I talked with my daughter later, I asked how Jack did. She told me for much of the time, she would insert the food into his mouth and he would proceed to blow raspberries with his lips. This, of course, sent the cereal my daughter was feeding him flying all over the place. But all-in-all, she said it went OK for the first time.

As followers of Jesus, we need to feed our souls. And the food God gives us to do so is His Word. Now from my observation of many Christians today (and although my observations are limited, I do believe they are broad enough to make some legitimate conclusions), far too many Christians are still feeding themselves the milk of the Word when they should have moved on to its meat (Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 3:2). For their daily Bible reading, they may read a verse or two .... or read a devotional like The Daily Bread. Now these are good starts toward the feeding our souls ... but we can ill afford to stop with such practices. We need to go deeper into God's Word .... studying it (2 Timothy 2:15), meditating upon it (Psalm 1:1-3), memorizing it (Psalm 119:11) ... and by all means - putting it into practice (Matthew 7:24-27). 

To make the step from merely drinking milk to eating solid foods takes time and effort (hopefully my grandson is slowly putting how it all works together!). It is because of this required time and effort (at least in part) that I believe so many fail to move on to the solid food in the spiritual journey. Indeed, it may not be the easy thing to do ... but is is the right thing to do. And only as we move on to the solid food of the Scripture - will God be able to grow us in our faith!

SOOO .... Are you still on a diet of milk? Or are you beginning to feed your soul solid food?

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Grammy, a Nookie and a Blankie

Recently our almost 2 granddaughter, Ella was taking her afternoon nap at our house. She woke up crying. I pulled her out of her crib and began to console her. But no matter what I did ... she was not to be consoled! When I carried her to the living room, she saw her Grammy and reached for her. As she continued to cry, my wife asked me to retrieve her little nook (pacifier) and blankie from her crib. As soon as I handed them over to Ella - she calmed down.  It took her Grammy, her nookie and her blankie to finally bring her the comfort and security she was craving.

As you well know, life can be harsh. Stuff happens that brings pain and heartache. In those moments we long to be comforted. For Ella ... she found her comfort in her Grammy, nookie and blankie. How about YOU? What brings you comfort?  I am afraid far too many of us seek comfort in wrong places and wrong things. As a result the comfort we might find is short lived. So where can we find comfort that lasts?  The Heidelberg Catechism has the answer (for more info on the Heidelberg Catechism go to my DEEPER '11 blog). The very first question (of 129) asks, "What is your only source of comfort in life and and death." Here is the Heidelberg's answer:

"That I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and in death - to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and make me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him." 

Now that's comfort that lasts ... forever and ever .... AMEN!

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Thursday A La Carte

Here are some more sites for you to check out ...

1. If you are anything like me, there are times you find yourself in a quandry as to whether or not you should correct someone. Check out Justin Taylor's blog (The Gospel Coalition) for some helpful guidance on this issue!

2. How does the gospel conquer the sin of pornography? Here is a video (4:55) featuring prolific authors John Piper, Tim Keller and D.A. Carson discussing this powerful topic.

3. What is the most amazing verse in the Bible? C.S. Storms, founder of Enjoying God Ministries, gives his answer to this question. It's a good read!

4. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan talks about how to pray better in public, and in private too. Another good read!

5. The Gospel ... here is a good video reminder (2:56) from Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in the Seattle are concerning the true meaning of the gospel. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Lucky? Or Blessed?

According to Australian authorities, Andrew Wilson, 25, is a "lucky" man. Wilson was cruising off the coast of Australia in his small fishing boat when a rogue wave rose up and knocked him off the deck of his boat and into the sea. His boat, engine running, continue on its way. Wilson found himself all alone, wearing no life vest, doing his best to stay above water. Being determined that he was not going to allow the sea to take his life, he struck out to swim the five miles to shore. Approximately six hours later, exhausted and bloodied by the coastal rocks he had to cross in order to get to land, he crawled on to shore. Remarkably he was seen and rushed to a hospital, where he was treated and released. Considering the distance he had to swim ... and the fact that those waters were infested with sharks . it is truly amazing that Wilson survived!  But was it due to "luck?"

Given my worldview, I would prefer to say that Wilson was "blessed." I  happen to believe that our God is at work behind the scenes of world events - both on the macro and the micro level (see Isaiah 14:24, Ephesians 1:11 and Romans 8:28 for example). He is sovereign ... in control. He is a God of providence (meaning He has a plan ... and He is working that plan). It was God's providential hand that ultimately was at work to bring Wilson to safety.

R.C. Sproul, in his book, The Invisible Hand: Do All Things Really Work for Good? writes the following about the providence of God:

"It is the concept of watching over us that goes to the heart of divine providence. It is God's fatherly care of his creatures that the word encompasses. This means God is involved in human affairs. He is not like Aristotle's god, the Unmoved Mover, who remains aloof and totally uninvolved with human history. Will Durant once compared Aristotle's god with the monarch of England, whom he described as a 'do-nothing king who reigns but doesn't rule.' The biblical God is not unmoved. He is a moved and moving Mover who rules as well as reigns"  

Take heart today in knowing that God's invisible hand is upon you and your life, working out HIS plan for YOU!  

Thanks for stopping by . . . 


A Golden Nugget

I like to read. I always have. From my days of Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuess to this present day of reading digital books on my Kindle and iPad, books and I have always been on very friendly terms. Whenever I read, I am always looking for what I call "a golden nugget." I found one while reading an excellent devotional book by John Piper titled, Taste and See. In this particular reading, Piper was writing about ten lessons he had learned from his father. Here is lesson #6: "A Christian is a great doer, not a great don'ter."  Piper went on to comment on this lesson: "We were fundamentalists - without the attitude. We had our lists of things. But that wasn't the main thing. God was the main thing. And God was worth everything."

I wish every follower of Jesus Christ would have the opportunity to read those words. Far too many of us live out our faith with an emphasis on the "don'ts" and give little thought to the "do's." All of us need to be reminded that as we live this life - God must be the main thing. And, in the words of Piper, He is indeed "worth everything!" (see Psalm 73:25).

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Thursday A La Carte

It's time for some more offerings, "a la carte."  Enjoy!

1. In Psalm 8:3-4, King David worships God as he considers the creative work of God in the heavens. This site (click here) left me astonished at the vast size of our universe (and how small we are in comparison!).

2. For those of you with an iPhone or iPad ... check out the following Bible Memory app from Desiring God Ministries (I downloaded it this week and plan on using it). It's called, Fighter Verses. 

3. Here's an interesting article on the current state of the evangelical church that was published last week in the Wall Street Journal. The writer even mentions catechisms!

4. Al  Mohler posted some thought provoking thoughts on his blog yesterday under the title, What the Bible Really Says about Sex . . . Really?    In this sex saturated age in which we live (and one when at times it is difficult to see any difference between the sexuality of the church and that of our world) - we all would benefit from reading Mohler's blog.

5. Finally, on a lighter note: In case you missed it ... or in case you want to see it again, here is one of the cuter ads from Sunday's Super Bowl. I guess it impacted me because my son when he was a youngster was really into Star Wars.

Thanks for stopping by . . .


A Prayer for Your Wednesday (and everyday for that matter!)

I have been quite busy since getting back from my vacation last week and therefore have been slow to get back to posting on my blog. Today I hope to do some writing for the rest of the week. Until then, here is a prayer from John Piper's devotional book, Life as a Vapor. I invite you to make his prayer your prayer today:

O Lord, this is our heart's desire: Make us meek, and make us mighty. Give us confidence in the finished work of Christ, and give us humility because we are so far from perfection. Open our eyes to the wonder of what You have already done. And forbid that we would claim more now than is true. We are weak, we are sinful, and we need Your help. Thank You for our permanent acceptance in Christ. Thank You for laying hold on us. Now complete the work You have begun. In Jesus' name, we pray, Amen. 

Thanks for stopping by . . .


It's Hard to Believe Sometimes . . .

As I look at the digital thermometer that sits on my home office desk, it is currently reading 11.5 degrees. That's downright cold! It's hard for me to believe that less than 48 hours ago, my wife and I were eating breakfast OUTSIDE, enjoying the Bahamian sun at our hotel in Nassau (and the word "enjoying" might be understating it a bit!).

As I reflected on this ... it hit me that there are a number of realities in my life that I find hard to believe. Here's a few:

1. It's hard for me to believe that in just over a month I will be turning 55. My kids are all grown up ... married and having kids of their own (which means I am now married to a grandmother!). The old adage that "time flies when you are having fun" doesn't quite get it right. Better said, "Time flies." So ... we had best make the most of our time as we seek to live our lives for Christ (see Ephesians 5:15; James 4:14).

2. It's hard for me to believe that I have the privilege of being a pastor. To equip the people of God to do the work of God by teaching them the Word of God (my personal mission statement as a pastor - see Ephesians 4:11-12) is a real joy for me. This does not mean that serving as a pastor does not have it's challenges and heartaches - but all in all the blessings far outweigh any pain). And it's hard for me to believe that God has, in His providence, led me and kept me at Grace Church for the past 21+ years. Thanks Grace Family for loving me and my family!

3. It's hard for me to believe that I still struggle with sin as much as I do. I was reminded of this during our time in Nassau. At one point, we were waiting for a ferry to return us from Nassau Town to Paradise Island where we were staying (and spent most of our time). When we had arrived at the dock to catch the ferry, we were told it would leave in about 30 minutes. So my wife decided to check out the shops adjacent to the dock. I had been through enough shops, so I waited at the dock. When it became apparent that the ferry was preparing to leave and my wife had still not returned, I grew angry ... angry enough to mutter some things under my breath that certainly did not speak positively of my personal holiness. I caught myself and quickly confessed my sinful attitude - the whole time being reminded that I have a LONG WAY to go in my personal pursuit of holiness (see 1 Timothy 6:11)! (By the way, my wife returned in plenty of time to make the ferry!)

Thanks for stopping by . . .


Friday Coffee with PJ

Friday morning means COFFEE! (frankly, every morning means coffee for me)! So why not pour yourself a cup of your favorite brew and join m...