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Monday, September 30, 2013

Jesus Is Polarizing

Have you ever noticed how the more popular a person becomes, the more divided the world is on the love/hate scale towards that person?  LeBron James.  Justin Bieber.  Barack Obama.  The world loves these people.  The world hates these people.  Just mentioning these names likely made some of your hearts swell and others’ blood boil.

Jesus Christ trumps all of them.  No one in the history of the world has, does, and will continue to cause more polarizing emotions than Jesus.  Why?  Because He was, is, and will continue to be so loved.  As I wrote last week, even non-believers call Him the most influential person to have ever lived.  Millions of songs have been written about Him.  For Him.  Billions have praised Him.  Worshipped Him.  People followed Him everywhere He went.  No human being in the history of time has been written about more.  Buildings have been resurrected in His name.  Billions of dollars are given blindly (some would say) every year in His name.

That’s going to rub some people the wrong way.
·        Somehow, even His birth sparked hatred.  King Herod wanted Christ dead when he heard that the King of the Jews had been born (Matthew 2:3-16).
·        As an adult, Jesus wasn’t accepted in His own hometown (Luke 4:24).
·        There were times when He would arrive in a town and would not be able to perform many—if any—miracles due to the population’s lack of faith (Mark 6:5-6).
·        Religious leaders were getting so jealous of Christ’s popularity that they basically stalked Him, trying to catch Him doing something wrong (Mark 3:2).
·        The “chief priests and teachers of the law” spent their time plotting ways to kill Him (Mark 14:1).

A perfect example of the polarizing effect of Jesus is shown in back-to-back verses.  Christ had just brought Lazarus back from death in the beginning of John 11.  Verse 45 shows that many were amazed by His actions and believed.  Others, in verse 46, ran and tattled on Him to the Pharisees.  Fearing what this meant—what kind of repercussions it could bring—they began to plan Christ’s death.

See…what He said scared them.  He claimed to be the Son of God.  He claimed to be God.  He claimed that the only way to Heaven was through Him.  He claimed that He could forgive sin.  Those kinds of statements tend to annoy some people…especially rulers, government officials, and—yes—religious leaders.

Ultimately, they murdered Jesus because of His claims (John 19:7).

The thing is, it didn’t stop there.  Not only did they want Christ dead, they wanted all proof of His miracles dead too (John 12:9-11).  They had to rid the world of all evidence of what He had done.  These rulers, government officials, and—yes—religious leaders were so intimidated by Jesus Christ that they began putting anyone who believed in Him to death.

How can someone garner so much hate that the leaders of the world decide to brutally beat, torture, and execute Him the way they did?  At the same time, how can someone garner so much love that once He was gone, Christ’s followers continued to spread His word—willing to be murdered in order to do so?  Does a happy middle ground even exist?

Apparently not, as those powerfully polarizing emotions still exist today.
·        Christianity has become the most persecuted religion in the world.  Over 200 million Christians (which is roughly 10 percent of the global population) are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.  What’s more is that Christianity is facing elimination in its own backyard.  Between half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have departed or been killed over the past century.  In 1990, there were over 1.2 million Christians in Iraq, but today there are fewer than 200,000 Iraqi Christians (Clark).
·        Fifteen European countries currently have laws that effectively restrict the freedom of religious practice and speech of Christians (White).
·        Across the globe, one Christian is being killed out of religious discrimination every five minutes (White).
·        On Sunday, September 22, nearly 80 people (including 7 children) were killed and over 100 wounded (including 37 children) when a suicide bomber in Pakistan walked into a church (NY Times).
·        Despite all of this, the love for Jesus continues in a powerful way.  Christianity remains the world’s most followed religion, with over two billion believers (roughly one-third of the earth’s total population).  It is the most popular faith in six of the seven continents, and in both of the world’s two biggest economies, the US and Europe (Brown).

While we in America do not have to fear death for our faith, we face a different form of persecution.  Here, we are shamed.  We are mocked.  We are insulted.  We are labeled.  We may not be physically executed for believing in Jesus, but we are socially murdered.

Christ told us that we would be hated because of Him (John 15:18-21).  He warned us that our love for Him would cause division in our relationships.  With the world.  With friends.  Even with family.  God’s way usually contradicts the world’s (Matthew 5:3-5).  Living the life of a Christian often means that you speak and act in a way that’s strange by societal standards.

Want to make it awkward in almost every room you’re in?  Start talking about Jesus.  The room will fall oddly quiet.  People will not look you in the eye.  They’ll fidget.  Some might even leave.  Mere mention of His name brings that kind of response from many.

Arguably, the worst of these is the fact that Jesus is polarizing within His own church.  We constantly disagree—sometimes to the point of verbal quarreling—about such trivial things as drinking, length of hair, music styles, clothing styles, speaking in tongues, where we sit in church, female leadership, swearing, who we should vote for…the list is endless.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”  In short—we don’t have to agree on every tiny thing so long as we remember the big picture: Christ is Lord of all.

Bottom line: Jesus is the most polarizing figure in the history of time.  He splits everyone into two camps: The ones who believe and follow and love, and the ones who try to explain Him away.  You are for Him or you are against Him.  You love Him or your back is turned to Him.  You are hot or you are cold.  There is no gray area.  There is no middle ground.  There is no lukewarm.

Many of Christ’s earliest followers left Him (John 6:66).  They thought that as the Messiah, He would conquer the world.  They thought the riches He was promising would mean literal money in their hands.  Some of His lessons were harsh and not easy to hear.  Basically—they jumped on the bandwagon when they thought following Him would make them wealthy and powerful—then bowed out when He said things that they didn’t like.  Jesus then turned to the other twelve and asked if they were leaving too (verse 67).  He wasn’t trying to make everyone mad, He was just giving the truth.  What’s awesome is that Peter gave the best answer.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (verse 68).

You are following Christ or you are not.  If you’re not…who are you following?  The world?  Yourself?  Jesus is the way.  The truth.  The light.  If you want eternal life, Jesus provides the only path.  Many will make fun of you.  Being a Christian isn’t the “cool” thing to do.  It’s not a popular choice.  That has to be okay.  As Francis Chan says, “Can you find one place in the Bible where the majority was right?  When in history has the majority been right?  When has the right thing ever been popular?”

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jesus Is Real

A 2012 survey of New Yorkers showed that 37 percent of adults believed that Santa Claus was real.  Over one-third of Americans believe in UFOs.  Within thirty years of the Apollo moon landing, 6 percent of Americans did not believe that it happened.  Belief is a funny thing.  As children, we believe pretty much everything we’re told.  Maturity seems to rob us of that.  We begin to question things.  Unless someone can present stone-hard facts, we reserve the right to doubt everything.  Many still refuse to believe even when they are given factual evidence.

Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  That He is God.  They are frequently mocked for holding this belief.  Stories about who Jesus was and what His followers claimed that He did have been debated for two thousand years.  There are two million web sites dedicated to the virgin birth of Jesus.  Eight million dedicated to the miracles of Jesus.  Nine million sites on Jesus’ resurrection.  Twenty-eight million on the second coming of Christ.  Google “Is Jesus the Son of God,” and you are hit with 86 million results.

All of these are wonderful debate topics—many of which I will attempt to tackle this year—but absolutely none of them are relevant without answering this question: Was Jesus even real?  Did He literally walk this earth, or is He merely a story?  A myth.  A legend.  This is an absolutely crucial question because the entirety of the Christian faith is based on His life.  If Jesus was not a literal man on this planet, then our faith is built on a lie.  The Bible becomes a work of fiction.  In the age of knowledge, the age of information, the age of constant-questioning, our proof must be concrete.

Was Alexander the Great a real person?  We accept that he lived because historians tell us that he did.  They tell us that he became king of Macedonia in 336 B.C.  That he was a battle-tested genius who died in his early thirties after conquering numerous countries.  But were you aware that the history of Alexander is drawn from five ancient sources written three hundred or more years after he died?  That not one eyewitness account of Alexander exists?  However, historians believe that he existed, largely because the accounts of his life are confirmed by archaeology and his impact on history.  The same can be said of Jesus.

In 1961, archaeologists discovered a block of limestone inscribed with the name of “Pontius Pilate prefect of Judea.”  In 1990, archaeologists discovered an ossuary (bone box) with the inscription of Caiaphas.  Both were major figures in the trial leading to the crucifixion of Jesus, and these two finds have been verified as authentic “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  On December 21, 2009, archaeologists announced the discovery of first-century clay shards in Nazareth, confirming that this tiny hamlet existed during the time of Christ.  While these finds don’t prove that Jesus was there, they do support what the Bible tells us about this time.  Historians note that this evidence helps confirm rather than denies Christ’s existence.

When trying to disprove the life of Jesus, however, doubters immediately throw out the Bible.  They say that it’s nothing more than a book of stories written by the disciples—a group of men who created “Jesus” as a symbol of their faith.  By that logic, we then must assume that Socrates is a figment of the imagination as he exists only in the writings of his students.  There is not a single document still in existence that contains his original works.

The Bible is a historical document.  Period.  Most historians date the books of the New Testament to have been written between A.D. 49-95…meaning they were written when eyewitnesses were alive, much too early for a myth or legend to develop.  Over 24,000 complete or partial manuscript copies of the New Testament books exist, putting it far above all other ancient documents.  Considering that at that time, 95 percent of the population was illiterate, it’s amazing that we have any written history at all.

The book of Luke is a book of history.  Luke found the story of Jesus fascinating…so he began researching and writing an account of Christ’s life.  What he found became the longest book of all the gospels.  He admitted that his accounts were not as an eyewitness, but that he interviewed numerous eyewitnesses.  He read written accounts from other eyewitnesses.  Luke was a man of science.  A doctor.  He lived and wrote on facts.  What’s more, his research was funded by a Roman governor.  The Romans didn’t exactly like Christians, so his findings could have landed him in very hot water—yet he stood by them.  Noted archaeologist Sir William Ramset: “Luke is a historian of the first rank…This author should be placed along with the very greatest historians…Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect of its trustworthiness.”

Furthermore, the works of Plato were written from 427-347 B.C., yet the earliest manuscript copies of them were not written until A.D. 900.  That’s 1,200 years after Plato’s death.  Plus, there are only two copies of these manuscripts in existence.  Julius Caesar’s earliest manuscript copies were also written around A.D. 900, about 1,000 years after his death, and only ten copies of Gallic Wars still exist.  Yet no one questions whether or not Plato or Caesar existed.  The Iliad is guessed to have been written around 900 B.C., with the earliest copy written around 400 B.C.—meaning the only proof of it being accurate is from 500 years after the author’s death.  There are 643 copies of the ancient manuscripts of The Iliad, and when they are compared against each other by experts, they have a 95.3% consistency and accuracy score, making it one of the most reliable and proven ancient documents…until you compare it to the New Testament, with manuscripts dating less than 100 years after the death of Christ.  There are over 5,600 ancient copies (dwarfing any other figure of ancient history) that carry a 99% consistency and accuracy score when compared to each other.

Even Cambridge historian Michael Grant, who’s an atheist, argues that the New Testament should be considered as evidence in the same way as other ancient history.  “We can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.”

This needs to be noted.  Historians—not Christians—claim that the New Testament is an accurate and viable historical source.  That is a very important statement to remember as the New Testament will be used frequently as evidence in the rest of my topics this year.  Despite this evidence, I want the doubters to be satisfied, so I will not use any scripture to prove the existence of Jesus.  In fact, I will use very little Christian evidence at all.  What follows are not stories.  They are not legends.  They are historical facts, written by historians, not religious leaders.  Jesus is mentioned in these records.  As are His relatives.  As are His friends.  As are His followers.

·        Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century (and not a Christian), is well-known to historians and scholars.  From A.D. 90-95, Josephus put together a massive historical collection, entitled Antiquities of the Jews.  In it, he mentioned Jesus twice.  The most famous one reads, “Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, - a teacher of such men as received the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
·        Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman senator, one of ancient Rome’s greatest historians, and no lover of Christians.  In his 16-volume history of the Roman emperors (called Annals), he wrote that “Christus (Christ), from whom the name (Christians) had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty (crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius at the hand of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition…broke out not only in Judaea…but even in Rome.”  A most mischievous superstition is probably a reference to Christians’ belief that Jesus rose from the dead after His crucifixion.  The biggest argument doubters have towards Christ’s existence is that those who wrote about Jesus wrote based on hearsay.  In his writings, Tacitus distinguishes between confirmed and hearsay accounts almost 70 times.  If he felt this account of Jesus was only a rumor or folklore, he would have issued his usual disclaimer that this account was unverified.
·        Justin Martyr, an educated pagan philosopher, converted to Christianity around A.D. 130 while trying to find information on the life of Christ.  In a letter presumably sent to the Roman official who ultimately killed him for his beliefs, Martyr referred to tax registers that document Jesus’ birth.

In total, nine non-Christian writers mention Jesus as a real person within 150 years of His death.  These writers provide us with the following: Jesus was from Nazareth.  His enemies acknowledged that He performed unusual feats.  He was crucified in Judea.  His disciples believed that He died and rose from the dead three days later.  His disciples multiplied rapidly and worshiped Him as God…all of which falls in line with what the Bible tells us.  Israeli scholar Shlomo Pines writes, “Even the most bitter opponents of Christianity never expressed any doubt as to Jesus having really lived.”

World historian Will Durant agrees, noting that no Jew or Gentile from the first century ever denied the existence of Jesus.

Don’t miss that statement.  There are thousands of ancient documents commenting on the life of Jesus Christ.  No ancient document exists that questions whether or not Jesus walked this earth.

If there were questions of Christ’s life, why didn’t the Jews say something then?  Why didn’t the Romans?  If there was any doubt as to Jesus being a real man, why—when Christians were being executed for their beliefs—why did no one attempt to disprove His existence then?  Wouldn’t they have the most to gain by denying His life?

What’s more, early Christians wrote letters, sermons, and commentaries about Jesus detailing His life, death, and resurrection, many appearing as early as five years after His crucifixion.  Over 36,000 complete or partial such writings have been discovered.  If Jesus is a myth, how did so many come to write about Him within years of His life?

Simply put: No other ancient historical person—religious or secular—is backed up by as much documentation as is Jesus Christ.

We argue everything in today’s world.  Over 710 million sites are devoted to discussing the question “Is Jesus God,” yet only a miniscule 88,000 to “Did Jesus exist.”  It is just not a topic that educated minds spend time on because the proof of His existence is too overwhelming.

If someone still is not satisfied, then it is up to them to dig for the proof.  The Christian community is full of people who spent years of their life trying to disprove Christ…only to find Him (C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, etc).  What does that say?  If you have questions, if you have doubts, if you want proof?  Search for it.  Dig for it.  God wants you to seek the Truth.

The proof is concrete.  Jesus Christ is no story.  No myth.  No legend.  Few dispute that He actually existed.  They might call Him a moral man or a teacher and philosopher, but they accept Him as real.  H.G. Wells writes, “I’m a historian.  I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that…Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history.”  Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette: “As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that, measured by his affect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on the planet.”

How often does a moral person become the most dominant figure in all of history?  How often does a teacher and philosopher become the most influential life to have ever lived?  How does a mere man—not a political man, not a military man—just a man receive this kind of following?  Have the best-selling book of all time, based on his life, translated into thousands of different languages?  Have hundreds of thousands of buildings resurrected with the intent of teaching his lessons.  Have billions claiming to follow him, most of whom would be willing to die for their faith in him?

Never.  These things have never happened to a man.  That’s because Jesus was no mere man.  He lived—history has proven that—but He was no ordinary man.  Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.  He claimed to be the Son of God.  He claimed to be God.  And He was.  And He is.  He was and is all of those things and more.  Jesus is real.  Jesus is polarizing.  Jesus is compassionate.  Jesus is cool.  Jesus is tempted.  Jesus is the healer.  Jesus is the light.  Jesus is God.  Jesus is our friend/parent/lawyer/protector/warrior.  Jesus is rejected but victorious.  Jesus is grace.  Jesus is love.  Jesus is the resurrection.  Jesus is life.  Jesus is peace.  Jesus is coming.  Jesus is alive.

Jesus IS.


Sources:
I obviously did a lot of research for this, but most of the research was duplicated in multiple places.  Instead of citing every statement or every fact or every quote within the post, here is a list of the places where I spent the most time collecting information.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Taking Back the Faith

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. – Romans 1:16

I collect cologne.  The top two shelves in our medicine cabinet are entirely devoted to bottles and samples of liquid designed to make me smell good.  I keep a Word document to help me keep track of the bottles I own, the samples I’m currently trying, and the fragrances I haven’t liked.  I will jot down notes on what scents I pick up…what type of person I could see wearing that cologne…what type of setting it should be worn in…what type of weather…and anything else that comes to mind.  This is my hobby, and I love it.  It’s not a “normal” hobby by societal standards—and I’m frequently ridiculed by family and friends for it—but I don’t care.  It makes me happy.

It’s easy to stand up for the things we love in the face of mockery.  Whether it’s a hobby, our favorite sports team, or our favorite band…we will speak up when others attack the things we care about.

Except our faith.

In a 2010 Barna study, it was found that 63 percent of Christian teenagers in 1997 said that they had expressed their faith to someone of a different faith, but only 45 percent said the same in 2009, noting that “Christian teenagers are taking cues from a culture that has made it unpopular to make bold assertions about faith or be too aggressively evangelistic…fewer young Christians apparently believe it is worthwhile to talk about their faith in Jesus with others.”

It is politically correct to be tolerant of everything…except Christianity.  You can be any person you want to be…live virtually any lifestyle you want…and people will publically accept you—except Christianity.  Christians are expected to keep their opinions to themselves and follow their beliefs privately.  To live a public Christian life is to infringe on others, and that’s simply not acceptable.

Today the shaming is not to say that you are wrong, but to say that you are arrogant if you think others are wrong.  Not that you have bad thinking, but that you have a bad attitude.  The greatest weapon of shaming today in the world of religious claims is the accusation that you are intolerant and therefore mean-spirited and egotisticalJohn Piper.

We avoid the awkward conversations.  When we’re talking with someone who isn’t a Christian, we tend to stay quiet about our faith.  “Well, I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.”  “I don’t want to seem pushy.”  “I don’t want to be a ‘Bible-thumper.’”  We shut up when they say our God-talk makes them uncomfortable, yet sit there quietly while they insult our Lord and/or make blasphemous jokes.

Did you know that NBC once told Veggie Tales to remove the Bible verses that popped up at the end of each episode so as not to offend viewers?  NBC.  The same network that has no issues with sex, language, drugs, and violence on its primetime lineup.

In order for Christian bands to get their music to the most people, they have to remove words like “God” and “Jesus” from their lyrics.  That way, a love song to Jesus can easily be viewed by a non-Christian to be just another love song to a girl/guy.  If you actually use Christ’s name, however, your song will never play on a secular station.

For the sake of being politically correct, we now say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

When did we allow this to happen?  When did we allow “Christian” to become a bad word?  When did it become taboo or embarrassing to be a Christian?  Are we so worried about some awkward moments between us and others that we’re willing to sacrifice their souls…and, in truth, our own?

Simply put: We hide the things we’re ashamed of, and we hide God—something He obviously has zero tolerance for.

‘Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’ – Luke 9:26

It’s time to take back our faith.  Our beliefs.  Unconditionally.  Unapologetically.  I am a Christian.  I love Jesus.  He is my personal savior.  If that offends you…tough.

I don’t mean that we need to be the guy that stands on the street and screams scripture, but it’s time we start standing up for God in the face of those determined to insult Him.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  It’s kind of like standing up for a friend who is being bashed behind his back.  That kind of loyalty is highly rewarded.  The people who are insulting your friend won’t be very happy that you spoke up, but that’s their problem, isn’t it?  As Perry Noble writes, “If you are going to follow Jesus, you are going to upset some people.”

Let me be clear: There’s a difference between being a proud Christian and being boastful.  Arrogant.  Acting high-and-mighty.  That you have all the answers and everyone else is wrong and going to hell.  That person is the one giving Christianity a bad name.  That person is the reason so many flee from faith.  Being proud of God is not a sin; however, it’s worship (Romans 15:17).  Piper says, “When Paul looked out on the huge world of unbelief in his day, he felt a debt to all.  He didn’t look with utter disdain on the pagans of his day.”  Paul felt a debt to the unbelievers.  He had the love of Christ in him.  They did not.  Why should he be so greedy as to hog it all?  He wanted everyone to feel what he felt.  That was the debt he believed he owed to the world.  It is a debt we all carry.  It is a debt we must repay.  And through Jesus, we can do that humbly and joyfully (Philippians 2).  Furthermore, it is something we are instructed to do, albeit in a variety of ways.  Matthew 9:37-38 tells us to go out and harvest men.  Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to make disciples of all nations.  John 15:8 tells us to bear much fruit.  The message is clear: Share Christ with the world.

How?

We don’t have to overwhelm them with religious conversation; we need to simply reveal to them the heart of God.  We do that when we engage them in real relationships that don’t turn them into objects.  We do that when we simply love them in Jesus’ nameChuck Sackett.

Share your weaknesses, pains, and struggles.  Let the world see your imperfections.  Acknowledge them, your desire for improvement, and God’s love and patience with you—and His strength and desire to help you.  Pray for knowledge.  Pray for strength and courage.  Pray for opportunities (which means that you have to be ready when those opportunities arise.  Even Paul asked for prayer to be bold enough to speak on Christ’s behalf (Ephesians 6:20).  LEARN.  Read your Bible.  Go to church.  Attend small groups/youth groups.  Use this “information age” to your advantage.  Find information, facts, Christian blogs, Christian forums, sermons from pastors all over the country and world.  The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you’ll be sharing.  The more comfortable you are, the stronger your message is.

But you must have a message.  How often do we say, “I’m a lead-by-example Christian”?  I know that I’ve said it a thousand times or more.  While it’s better than nothing, if people don’t know that you’re a Christian, how do they know what example you’re setting?  What does a Christian life “look” like anyway?  Being a good person?  There are millions of good people who don’t believe in God.  In fact, there are millions of good people who are very vocal in their DIS-belief in God.  Why do you continue to let them monopolize the mic?  Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  If you’re not speaking, no one can hear you.

I’m not telling you to go out and convert the world.  I’m saying to stand up for Christ when others are bashing Him.  Stand up for your faith when others insult it.  Let it be known what you believe.  You want people to ask you questions?  How can they if they don’t know you’re a Christian?  If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God (Matthew 5:13).  Mark Driscoll puts it another way when he says, “There’s something worse than dying, and that’s a wasted life.”

There are millions of Christians in this world.  There are millions of non-believers in this world.  Then there are millions who simply aren’t sure.  The non-believers are definitely not keeping quiet.  If we keep our mouths shut, what will happen to those in the middle?  The confused?  The unsure?  They will be lost.  WE will have lost them.  The Enemy is using awkwardness and societal political correctness to keep you from speaking.  From confessing.  From publically declaring Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  Look around you.  The Enemy is winning.  It’s time to fight back.  Faith comes by hearing…it’s time to let them hear.  And to do that, we need to speak up.

One day, each and every one of us will find ourselves face-to-face with Jesus, and in that moment, nothing else will matter except for this: Did you live your life, did you love your world, did you serve the purposes of God in such a way as to render these words from Him—“Well done!” (Matthew 25:14-30)?  That is the meaning of lifeDan Lian.

God has given you this love.  His love.  What are you doing with it?  Are you spreading it to others?  Are you helping His love grow?  Or are you burying it?  Selfishly hoarding it and giving back only yourself?  Are you a good and faithful servant, or a wicked and lazy one?


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. – 1 Peter 1:3-6