Christianity 201

May 8, 2019

Can’t Stop Talking

One of the first people I truly “met” online was Christian Blogger Rick Apperson who is a Salvation Army officer in British Columbia, Canada and also the author of Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ, published by Westbow. His blog, Just A Thought was somewhat inactive when I last checked in 2017, but this week I discovered he is back writing. I thought this article would be a good fit here. Click the header below to read it on the blog.

I’ve Seen too Much

Peter and John were hauled before the leaders and told in no uncertain terms they could not talk about Jesus Christ. They were threatened and that threat was real, palpable. Yet Peter and John, in the face of pressure were able to say:

“As for us, we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)

Think about that for a moment. These two had every reason to NOT speak abut Jesus. Most people threatened with prison, beatings, death…they would hesitate to continue a course of action that would see that as the end result. Jesus was gone. Taken up into heaven. Peter and John could have very easily pulled back from their public proclamations.

Instead they said they couldn’t stop speaking about what they had seen and heard!

They had a testimony!

Later in Acts we see that James was beheaded and Stephen was stoned to death. Peter was thrown in prison. There were consequences for speaking about this Jesus.

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

I think about the state of our faith today.

It seems many have gotten distracted by the “culture wars” and, at least on social media, people seem angrier and have wrapped themselves in an “us against them” mentality. Christians seem to want to fight politically (at least in the US) to stop “those people” from winning! I have to say that the “sins” of society will not be won politically! We can try to legislate morality but political gains will not change the hearts of man. Government funding may allow Christian organizations to keep doing our social service activities but it won’t save lives from the pit of hell!

We need to get back to the Peter and John way of communicating. We need to stop talking about what we’re against/for and start telling our stories.

We have a testimony!

I have seen too much. People may doubt the existence of God but I have seen the sick miraculously healed. I have personally seen the impossible become possible. I have seen not only healings but miraculous acts of provision where no other explanation is possible. I have seen God move in my own life. To that I can testify!

Let us remember how the Lord has moved in and through our lives and then proclaim HIM boldly!


This song was recorded in 1997. (In case the clothing doesn’t give that away.) Still, this song came to mind after reading Rick’s article. I didn’t realize it was Hillsong.


Read Rick’s other articles here at C201.

August 15, 2017

The Measure of God’s Goodness

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One of my earliest “online friendships” with another Christian blogger was with Rick Apperson who is a Salvation Army officer in British Columbia, Canada and also the author of Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ, published by Westbow. Although he is not actively writing right now, I found this 2016 article and wanted to share it with you. Click the title below to read at source. See if you can sense which paragraph of the article inspired me to give it the title we used here.

Is God Good?

I have often heard the question asked, “Is God Good?”

When I answer in the affirmative, the follow up tends to be, “well then why does He allow suffering?” Or even, “Then how can He send people to Hell?”

It would seem that everyone wants to experience His grace, mercy and love but no one wants to hear His truth!  We want the good and none of the bad. The Bible clearly says the God is love (1 John 4:8), but it also says that He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29).

So if God is good, then how come He punishes those who refuse to repent? I appreciate this quote from Salvation Army officer,  Samuel Brengle (1860-1936): In his book Love Slaves he writes that “Fire will not only bake our food, but it will burn us. Water will not only quench our thirst and refresh us, but if we trifle with it, it will drown us.”

God is good, but He is not to be trifled with. He has given us the freedom to choose eternal life in Heaven or Hell, to follow or reject Him. We can accept His wisdom and submit to His will, and live in true joy and peace, or, we can reject His offer of life in Christ, and pay the eternal consequences. Holding  us accountable for our sins does not negate His goodness.

God is good, loving, compassionate and slow to anger, but He is also holy and righteous. We can’t continue on a path that breaks His laws and not expect to be disciplined anymore than we can continually break man’s laws and not expect punishment. I can choose to obey the law of the land and enjoy the privileges of being a citizen in good standing, or violate those laws and reap the consequences…the choice is mine but being punished in the courts is not the fault of the ones who set the law in place, it is the fault of the lawbreaker.

Is God good? Absolutely.

Is He fair? Undoubtedly.

The question isn’t really is God good but Who will I follow and obey, my own idea of truth or His?

For me, Psalm 84:10 says it best,

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

January 18, 2015

What Grace Looks Like

John 8:3a The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, read verses 2-11 by clicking here.

At the end of several of the chapters of Rick Apperson’s book Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ there is a section called “What I Learned on the Way to the Resurrection.” These are teachable moments gained from some rather unpleasant church experiences. To learn more about Rick and the book, visit his blog, Just a Thought.

Those caught in the act of sin need to hear and see God’s grace in action.

Who knows what was running through the woman’s mind? As she was dragged into the street where Jesus stood, the Pharisees began eagerly sharing the woman’s sin with Jesus and the people around Him. The woman had sinned. She had been caught in the act—the very act!—of adultery.

Killed by the Church Resurrected By Christ - Rick Apperson“Moses said that, according to the law, she should be stoned,” one of the Pharisees said.

“What do you say, Jesus?”

Stooping down, Jesus took His finger and began writing on the ground.

Again, He was questioned. “What do you say? Should this woman be stoned?”

Jesus stood up and, looking around, said to the scribes and Pharisees, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

With that proclamation, Jesus returned to writing on the ground.

The crowd of accusers drifted away until no one was left. Jesus then stood again and asked the woman if there was anyone left to condemn her. When the woman replied, “No,” His response to her echoes as a lesson to us all. “I don’t condemn you either. Go and sin no more.”

I love this passage from John 8. It is one of hope and mercy, grace and truth! Note that Jesus didn’t condone her sin. He told her, in fact, to stop sinning! However, He showed her grace and mercy while also addressing those who would condemn her.

The accusations laid against her weren’t wrong, but the heart motive of her accusers was. Sadly, my motivations weren’t always pure when I confronted someone about their sin. You can also see a poor demonstration of how to treat someone caught in sin when I wrote about my church’s response to the unwed mother.

I think we struggle in the church with how to respond to those whose sin is glaringly obvious. We seem to forget Jesus died for them. His harshest words were for the religious people of the day. Pride and religiosity may be greater barriers to relationship with God than the things we tend to judge in our own minds.

Maybe we’re afraid that by demonstrating grace and mercy we will seem weak on sin. Need that be so? Jesus spoke to the heart, not to the behavior. As demonstrated in the John 8 story, He told her to sin no more, but by His act of mercy, He also demonstrated love!

There is a wonderful passage of Scripture found in Matthew 7:1–5 (NKJV).

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

If we would remember that we ourselves have sinned and been forgiven much, we would find it easier to extend grace to others.

So the next time you feel the need to “help” someone by pointing out their offense, swallow your spiritual pride, check your heart, and show the love of Christ! I say this recognizing that there will be times when we need to speak truth in love, showing a brother or sister their need to repent. Most often though, people know when they are sinning, and our kind words and actions can help them find their way back onto the path of righteousness. As I mentioned before, restoration and redemption should be the end goal. Our desire should be that of seeing a brother or sister restored in their relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

~Killed by the Church, Resurrected by Christ pp 26-28


Read a review of the book at Thinking Out Loud

September 29, 2014

Traveling Home

Eternity

 

Today we are honored to have a guest post from Rick Apperson who blogs at Just a Thought. Rick and his wife are missionaries living in Smithers, British Columbia, Canada where he is the pastor of Main Street Christian Fellowship.

Traveling Home

Occasionally I will hear snippets of words or phrases when my kids are playing or chatting and they just resonate with me.  This past summer, the words spoken by my children had me thinking about eternity!

Not too long ago, my son was learning time and measurement. Holding his hands wide, he asked his sister if that was how long forever was.  My daughter’s response was, “You can’t measure forever!” Truer words were never spoken.

When you think about eternity, it is hard to measure with our finite minds. As a pastor, I speak of heaven and hell…but I do not know if I convey eternity in the way that my daughter did that day.  We live in a world of time and measure.  When we think of spending eternity with God in heaven, I do not think our minds can conceive the true reality of it all.  How do you measure the immeasurable?  How do you quantify the unquantifiable?  Eternity is a mystery we won’t completely understand until we stand before the Father!

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

In fact, the Lord has set eternity in our hearts!

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I think the joy is in the journey.  Which can be a problem for me!  I’m not a patient traveler.  I enjoy the destination but not the journey there.  I don’t know why that is.  I get in the car and I want to get to my destination. As we traveled on vacation this summer, my son kept asking how long it was to various destinations. As we talked about how long it would take to our next stop, he said, “No matter how long it takes, we will be there soon.”

Life on this earth is fraught with problems.  Some days it seems like you take 1 step forward and 3 steps back before getting hit by a bus. Perseverance is not a sexy word.  It sounds hard and–well,–hard!  My son’s words reminded me that life is short. The older I get, the faster time seems to fly. My journey will be coming to an end. I will be there sooner rather than later. I am traveling home!

As I said, the joy is in the journey.  I have become more eternally focused.  Not in a maudlin, depressed sort of way but in an excited-to-sit-at-the-feet-of-Jesus kind of way.  I also want to see those around me take the same journey and travel home to the Father as well.

Traveling home…a road trip I can get excited about.

~ Rick Apperson

August 24, 2013

Weekend Wondering

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“‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12: 30-31)

If you did the full reading yesterday, you know we ended the week with a major article. So today, we want to switch formats and give you a few questions to think about. This is also from Rick Apperson where it appeared on his blog Just a Thought under the title I wonder if Jesus…

…I am feeling a bit…restless. Not in a, dissatisfied with life, type of way. More like an, I need a new challenge, type of thing.

I have been wondering and praying about what might be next. Is this God stirring my pot in order to prepare me for something new or is God just stirring me to be ready for what He is doing right now? I don’t feel like it’s time to change jobs, towns, etc.

I feel like it is a time of new challenges. I do have some exciting stuff happening this summer and most of it is new opportunities. Maybe that is all it is.

All of this has me asking some other questions as well. Ones that have been stirring my thoughts. I don’t have a lot of answers, the ones I have I don’t want to share. Occasionally I just like to brainstorm, reflect and contemplate….

Things like….

  • I wonder if Jesus ever took a “mental health” day?
  • How disappointed is God by our church dis-unity?
  • Why do we want grace for ourselves and yet judge the sins of others so harshly?
  • What part of “loving our enemies” is so hard to get?
  • Why do we rank sin?
  • Should we not focus on the log in our own eyes first?
  • If Jesus loved the world enough to die for it, why are we afraid to love the “neighbor” that He died for?
  • What would happen if we as Christians focus as much on evangelism as we did on protests, legal actions and petitions?

These and other questions rattle through my mind.

Mark 12:30–31 says, “‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

I am coming to the realization that if I am passionate about obeying these two commandments my worldview will be blown wide open. If I love the Lord with all of my being and love my neighbor (the sinner I judge so harshly) as much as I love myself, I can look forward to Spring as time of new beginnings. A new depth in my relationship with God and a new heart for the lost.

Going back to the new challenges, maybe it’s not so new after all. Maybe the challenge is to obey what He has already said we should do!


Bonus item: Today we’re offering a link to a 30-minute video message given by Skye Jethani at a national conference of CRU (formerly Campus Crusade) earlier this summer.

August 21, 2013

One Foot in Front of the Other

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Our guest today is Rick Apperson who, with his wife Sarah are missionaries in British Columbia, Canada. This appeared at his blog Just a Thought recently; to read at source click here.

ESV II King 5:13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Perseverance.

I see that word and it brings up a lot of different thoughts.

Hard work.
Two steps forward, one step back.
Falling down…a lot!
Blood, sweat and tears.
Failure…more than once.
Christianity!

The Bible talks about perseverance and endurance often but there is a story I was reading in 2 Kings 5:1-19 that really resonated with me. Maybe it was because I am in a place where the idea of perseverance has become a reality.  We live in a world filled with pain and hardship.  In this world, we get glimmers of grace and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

perseveranceRecently I have had to persevere through some pretty significant issues.  Like the man in the picture…it feels like a slog up a long path, one foot in front of the other.

It is how I have been living lately.

I won’t lie, I wish our problems had instant solutions.  In this fast-paced, answers now society, we don’t like waiting for anything.  Waiting for answers, healing, guidance, etc does not fit that plan.  Yet that is what God calls us to do.  To wait, to persevere.

So getting back to 2 Kings.  Naaman was a mighty warrior of some renown.  He was also a leper.  Eventually he heard about a prophet who may be able to heal him.  He traveled with many gifts and finally came face to face with Elisha.  He wanted instant answers but was told that he had to dip seven times in the Jordan River.  He got angry, not liking what he heard, and left.

Cooler heads prevailed and encouraged him to listen to Elisha.  He went to the Jordan,  dipped in seven times and came out healed!

I can so relate.

When I come to God, I don’t want delayed answers.  Like Naaman, I have sometimes gotten angry with the answers I did receive. I especially don’t like it when the answer is to persevere.

Yet God’s ways are higher than ours.  He has a plan.

I can obey or kick against it.

I want to obey.

Which means I have to persevere at times.  Times like now.  I don’t know how long it will be before we see the other side of this challenging time, but it doesn’t matter.  God is in control.

In the meantime, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep my eyes on Him!

~Rick Apperson

This is the 7th time (!) we’ve used Rick’s material or provided links to his writing. For more click here. To visit Just a Thought click here.

 

June 19, 2011

Adding to “Male nor female, slave nor free…”

You know the verse.  In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…  The ground is level at the foot of the cross.  But when it comes to serving God, sometimes I wish the verse also said, “…neither young nor old, academic nor uneducated, rich nor poor.”  The call to active service in ministry is open to all who have surrendered their lives to Christ, regardless of their station in life. Rick Apperson captured the heart of that this weekend at his blog, Just a Thought, with this post he titled, Age is Relative

You are never too young, too old, too uneducated, too poor, or too busy to serve the Lord!

I wasn’t much older than 20 when I was asked to be a youth pastor. I was the missions director of my church at 15. When I was 21, I traveled with an itinerant evangelist in his late 70’s. I could not keep up with his energy!

It is a sad, but true fact, that over the years, the church has relegated the young and the aged to the pews and youth groups. I have heard numerous stories of people who were told that they needed to be older in order to serve God. I have also seen the elderly members of a church ignored when it came to ministry opportunities.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)

 How can we do good? By serving others, by loving others and by sharing the truth of Jesus Christ. For that job description, age doesn’t matter.
You may be familiar with this Scripture:
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” (Acts 2:17)

I like the following passage found in Joshua 14. Caleb is telling part of his story to Joshua and the Israelites and he says this:

And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.” (Joshua 14:10-12)

He was 85 years old and still ready to go for God! However, even the youth can be mightily used by God! Remember, Samuel the prophet was called by God as a youth.

The Bible talks of two kings: Joash who assumed the throne at the age of seven; and Josiah who became king at the age of eight. The Bible says that both of them obeyed the Lord. (2 Kings 12:2, 2 Kings 22:2)

Nor do you need to be educated to serve God. True Biblical education happens when you leave the Bible College, the missionary training school, etc… . It happens just like it did for the apostles…when you rub up against the world. Remember that Peter and a few of the others were just plain old, uneducated fishermen. Yet God used these uneducated men to change the world!

I am not knocking education; however, any education or lack thereof, is not an excuse to sit idly by on the sidelines and hope others will share the love of Jesus Christ. Any one at any age can and should do that. The Great Commission is for all of us!

December 27, 2010

The Theology of “Little Deaths”

Earlier this month, in his “Five Questions”  series, Rick Apperson interviewed Rick James, author of A Million Ways to Die (David C. Cook, 2010).   Sometimes in this series, the responses are short, but James provided much material worthy of consideration.

You would do best to read the full answers to each question, but for those who prefer, here’s a bit of the set-up from the first, and fuller answers to the second and third…

1. In a nutshell, can you explain what your new book, “A Million Ways To Die” is about?

The goal of this book is not to inflate the biblical concept of death but to shrink it, make it bite size: to show its relevance to our daily lives and spiritual growth. The Bible focuses on the concept, the practice, and the process – the small “d” of death – far more than on the capitol D of death.

The small “d” of death relates to every Christian. While we may never die in our attempts to witness, our reputation certainly can. As everyone has an ego, the death of pride is a martyrdom to be shared by all, just as everyone can experience the death of a dream, a job, a hope, a relationship. our ego, our reputation, etc. Everyone gets a chance to die.

What I hope to show in the book is that the principle of death is operant in just about everything of spiritual value, and that it’s something we can and should experience every single day in some way, shape or form, even within our unique cultural context…

…The supernatural dynamic of the Christian life (Christ in us) is accessed, experienced and unleashed through our daily deaths. The Christian life is the resurrected life.

2. You mention in your book about “daily deaths”. Can you explain that?

When we hear of self-sacrifice, giving our life away, carrying he cross, dying to self, etc. etc., we tend to think of horrific suffering or persecuted third-world believers. But we miss the fact that in its theology of death, the Scripture’s primary focus is on the far-from-fatal daily deaths of the Christian life: the little deaths, the domesticated house-cat variety. Humbling ourselves for example is a little death. The apostle Paul refers to his trials as a series of little deaths. Repentance is a form of death. Any time we say ‘no’ to our flesh or love sacrificially we are dying to self. Letting someone else have the last word, refusing to do image management or defend our reputation – this is the subject of Scripture, and the fabric of daily life.

Let me give a couple practical examples: I would say abstaining from gossip is a little death. When someone tells you all the glorious dirt and details of someone in, among, or outside of your social click, there is the experience or sensation of life – an infusion of energy. When we recognize that our umbilical cord is tied to the gossip, providing a steady flow of life to our Flesh, well then, we have a choice to make. To choose not to gossip is cutting the umbilical cord. A small but significant death.

Here’s another example: “I looked at porn on my computer last night.” I mean, I didn’t really; I’m just giving an example. In the humility of confessing our sin to one another, there is a death. To make such an admission is tantamount to putting our ego in front of a firing squad.

3. What is so great about dying?

Absolutely nothing…except it’s the only way to experience resurrection life and living.

Jesus’ summation of discipleship is that it’s a path of death not a path to death. The path itself is one of death, but where the path leads is to life, and it’s life that we want, not death.

Death has exactly zero intrinsic value. It’s just that death is the only road that travels to these destinations: resurrection, transformation, and transfiguration. By definition resurrection can only be experienced by something that’s dead, and this is what inflates the value of death.

If the Christian life is a string of little deaths – and it is – it is more importantly a string of little resurrections.

Someday, we will physically die and be resurrected. But it’s important to observe that each day is filled with dress rehearsals: little overtures or echoes of death and resurrection that will ultimately crescendo in our actual death and resurrection.

…Continue reading questions 4 and 5 here.

November 19, 2010

96 Words

We spent much of Thursday driving, and at one point, we were able to pick up a Christian radio station that interrupted its music format for frequent two-minute teaching moments with various authors and preachers.   They all tended to blur together, so forgive me for not remembering which voice was which.

One of these brief moments focused on the Ten Commandments; particularly the fourth one, which talks about resting on the sabbath day.    He noted that other, better remembered commandments are dealt with in four or five words — we’re not sure what translation he used — while that sabbath commandment used 96 words.

From Exodus 20, he contrasted:

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

and

13 “You shall not murder.

with

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Yes, that is a lot of words.   It provides the historic background in which is contained the theological underpinnings of sabbath rest.   It covers all the bases, closing loopholes for getting for getting the kids, the employees, any non-Jews, or even your animals to do whatever job you feel needs doing.   The commandment isn’t just for you, but for anyone who falls under your authority.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a message on rest.   One of our local pastors, having just finished Mark Buchanan’s book, The Rest of God, noted that we tend to rest from our work, whereas the Bible seems to promote working from our rest.   In other words resting, in order to work.

But 96 words?   I think God didn’t want us to think this one was less important than adultery or murder.   I think he really means business about this one.   Or, more correctly, shutting down business.

For more on this, visit Rick Apperson’s columns here and here.

November 4, 2010

A Life of Comfort Or A Life of Obedience?

It’s been awhile since I used something here from blogger Rick Apperson at Just a Thought.   On his blog, this was titled:

If We Do Nothing, Nothing Gets Done

The world seems to be falling apart at times. You turn on the news and hear major stories of crime, abuse and other sordid events. Commercials show starving children and play heartfelt music with the intentions of getting you to give money to the latest charity or disaster relief.

It would be so easy to stick our head in the sand and ignore the trumpet calls of help! Even easier would be to toss some money at the problem to massage our consciences. Our minds tend to rest easier if we can pay someone else to help fix the problem.

If it was only that easy.

Giving money to the latest project may help solve a problem half way around the world and it is something I believe we should do as we can afford it. However, this does not release us from our obligation at home.

People are dying and going to hell.

People are hurting, worried, lonely and bitter.

They need Jesus Christ….they need you! You are the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world. It isn’t that hard to invite a stranger out for coffee or to open your home to someone in need. It isn’t hard…but it is uncomfortable.

Yet, nowhere in the Bible does God call us to a life of comfort. He calls us to love with action. (1 John 3:17-18). He calls us to set aside the “I” and to look out for the interests of others. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)

Lives are changed when we step out of our comfort zones and reach out to those we meet on a daily basis.

I find God is challenging me to step out of my comfort zone more and more each day. I want to allow God to make me a life-changer? What about you?

~Rick Apperson; Smithers, British Columbia, Canada

Thanks, Rick.  (You probably didn’t know you were donating this one, yet.)

I really appreciated the sentiment that at the time of year that everyone is asking us to give money, it doesn’t release us from our obligations at home.   Some time ago, this was referred to as “chequebook evangelism.”  With the Evangelical church’s newly refreshed focus on social concern, it’s equally easy to make pre-authorized payments than it is to actually get your hands dirty.

We’ve been called not to a life of comfort, but a life of obedience to God’s call to be His hands and His feet in a needy world.

August 4, 2010

The Cross: You Were There

I was truly impressed reading this blog post at Rick Apperson’s blog, Just a Thought.   Knowing the “click-count” isn’t always that high, I’ve taken the liberty of reposting it here, but I ask you to read it slowly and carefully…

So, as most churches do, our church celebrates communion or the Lord’s Supper together. We like to do this over an actual meal.

As I was preparing some notes for the service I was reflecting on this Scripture in Luke:

Luke 22: 14-19, “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.””

This last part really got me. Do this in Remembrance of me. Do what? Break bread and drink wine? (Insert juice if wine offends you!) OK I get that. What are we supposed to remember? His death on the cross!

This started me thinking about Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

You can’t remember something you haven’t experienced. I can read about WW2 but I didn’t experience it so I look at it with a detached view. I hear about my wife’s childhood and I love her so I am interested but I have no connection to the events as I did not experience it myself.

The same is true with Jesus. You have either experienced the work He did on the cross for yourself or you haven’t. If you have, it is a real event and you have something to truly remember. As Gal. 2:20 says in a nutshell….you were there!

If you haven’t accepted His gift….then you can read about it, and remember what you read, but it won’t be real to you. Not until you experience it for yourself.

Is Christ real for you?

-Rick Apperson

April 7, 2010

I’m Not The Same Person That I Used To Be

There’s a song we sang at camp a lot of years ago:

Little by little, every day
Little by little in every way
My Jesus is changing me

Since I made a turnabout face
I’ve been growing in His grace
My Jesus is changing me

He’s changing me, my precious Jesus
I’m not the same person that I used to be

Sometimes it’s slow going
But there’s a knowing
That someday, perfect I will be

If you walk up to someone and they say, “Hey, you haven’t changed a bit;” and you’re a Christian and they’re not talking about physical appearance like your hair color or your weight; then something is seriously wrong.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (New Living Translation):
17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Breaking it down by subjects, as on a child’s report card, it might look like this, with two subjects:

2 Peter 3:18 (New Living Translation):
18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I gotta be honest; some days I do well in the knowledge department and not so well in the grace department. But there are days where the reverse is true as well.

Need a more complex report card with more than just two subjects? Here’s the Christianity 201 version:

Colossians 1:9-12 (New Living Translation)
9 … We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.  11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father…

Here’s to change; personal change that you know inwardly and others see outwardly.

Thanks for inspiration for this, Rick Apperson. Click over to Rick’s blog to continue this theme…