I didn’t grow up in a Christian family or in church and I still managed to ask Jesus in my heart three times by the age of 15. As a kid, it was kind of like fire insurance, something to tag on in case Hell was real. As a teenager, it was because I was invited to church and the preacher told me I had a God shaped hole in my heart only He could fill, and that resonated with me. Tears running down my face I raised my hand to accept Jesus. Christian kids from school smiled and got teary and gave me hugs. I went home with a One Minute Daily Devotional and felt pretty certain that now I was headed for Heaven.
Soon after, I went to the local Christian book store. I found a Teen Study Bible and bought the only poster available that didn’t look like it was for pansies. It was black with scrawled writing and a bloody cross, and I thought it looked pretty hardcore. Not only that but it had some pretty profound words- words that truly did speak to me and testify to my soul as being true: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25).” Continue reading
I’m going to share three stories with you from my pre-conversion high school days.
I was at a local punk rock show, throwing my fists aimlessly and thrashing in a blur of spiked bracelets and colored mohawks. It was circulating that someone I didn’t know wanted to fight me because they heard I had a black belt in karate. I found that to be enormously entertaining, so at the break I wandered outside to find this person. When someone pointed me her direction I approached her asking “So I hear you want to fight me?” I didn’t know that she was drunk. Within seconds her and her two friends were on me, dragging me around the parking lot by my hair and kicking me. There was nothing I could do, and I was laughing.
I felt the need to preface this to avoid misunderstanding. I want you to know that I understand salvation is a free gift, by grace, completely apart from works. No one needs to clean up their life before coming to Christ, and no one can offer Him anything to gain His favor. Continue reading
Imagine for one moment that everyone who knows you was going to judge whether or not you are a Christian. But instead of basing this on your profession of faith, church attendance, or theology, they are going to base their analysis on your deeds.
Not on how kind you are, and not by the sins you refrain from either. They are going to judge you based on outward actions of faith, motivated by love and mercy.
How would you do?
Isaiah 2:19 “And people shall enter the caves of the rocks And the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, And from the splendor of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth.”
We often hear the fear of God taught as “reverential awe,” and for Christians I think I understand why. The redeemed no longer fear judgement because we abide in God and His perfect love has cast out all fear of punishment (1John 4:16-18). But the same cannot be said of all those who are without Christ, for all who have not called on His name have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36). To tell an unbeliever that the definition of fearing God is to stand in awe is a weakened and partial truth.
Evangelism doesn’t always make me feel happy- but it usually does. There have been times when the seemingly impenetrable condition of someone’s heart has left me deeply grieved. The most vulgar individual I ever met was a Pastor’s daughter. I turned around after witnessing to her and immediately burst into tears, feeling shocked, mortified, and spiritually drained. But most often, my experiences haven’t been too difficult. Continue reading
We have discussed that God is not hesitant, nor will He regret the need to punish. John 3:36 says that “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” One will go to eternal life, and one will bare an eternal wrath. There is no end to the punishment in Hell. Sins done on earth cannot be made right again. The day of repentance has passed; the hope of gaining salvation by works has proven futile. God’s anger cannot be removed from sinners; their condemnation is sealed and set in stone. In the dark world they condemned themselves by loving evil and refusing light. The pain of Hell will be in knowing one’s own worthlessness and foolishness, while hating a God whom they can never escape from. God’s anger will forever burn against them, and all they will experience is infuriation, loathing, and misery. Continue reading
Repentance is not only a part of our conversion to Christianity, but a daily part of our Christian lives. I mentioned that I would come back to the idea that we are not only to repent of obvious sins but also of self-centered living, which we are all guilty of and naturally accustomed to. Can I say that I am writing this to myself as much as to any new Christian or others? Jesus Christ’s call to a radical, self sacrificial, willing to die for Him kind-of- living is practically unheard of in our culture. A Christian who does the bare basics is applauded. The believer who lives a moral lifestyle, attends a bible study, and isn’t embarrassed to confess they attend church on Sundays is considered a good example of the faith. I’m not trying to demean anyone. I understand that everyone is in a growing process, and for some this may be the point in their Christian walk they are meant to be at. But how many of us are actually growing in radical self sacrifice for the sake of reaching lost souls with the gospel of God? I am truly speaking to myself. So many of us are stagnant, complacent, and lacking in passion. It ought not to be this way!
I am so happy today to have listened to preaching about the compassionate heart of Jesus Christ for lost people. My Pastor spoke about what has been for a long time now my favourite text in scripture. I find in them some of the most beautiful, joyful, sorrowful, and heart wrenching words I have ever heard.
Matthew 9:36-38 “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. The he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’”
When Jesus saw the crowds, it is not as if he just looked out and observed that there were crowds of people. He is the Son of God, and he knows all flesh, even our thoughts. When he saw them, it is to say that he perceived their spiritual state- that they were dead, that they were blind, and that they were lost! He saw that they were walking around aimlessly; ready to follow whoever would make a claim to know something about God, something about truth. He knew all about the religious leaders who claimed to know the way to God, but were truly nothing more than hypocrites, and extortionist who saw ‘godliness’ as a means of financial and personal gain. He saw how they “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger (Matthew 23:4)” and how they “shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces (Matthew 23:13). Oh how deeply the Lord was grieved at seeing their terrible state! Continue reading