Don’t Be Afraid to Cry

“The poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him from all his troubles.”

Psalm 34:6 [CSB]

A cry is not the most common way that prayer is thought to be described. Often we think of eloquence, power, boldness, and many other descriptors in the matters of prayer. We try to think of the right things to say, maybe even rehearsed lines, when ask for the ear of our Creator. The Bible though gives numerous examples of people crying out in prayer.

One example of this is the account of Peter walking on water recorded in Matthew 14:22-33. When Peter realizes that it is Jesus walking on water he asks to join him. Peter steps out of the boat and walks on the water. Incredible! However, Peter gets quickly becomes distracted. He felt the wind, he saw the waves, and he took his eyes off Jesus. Once he did that he began to sink and overcome with fear.

I think a lot of times we get super focused on Jesus, and we walk in our faith with confidence. We are laser focused on Jesus. Often this is after an inner spiritual revival, or when lift is easy. Then we get distracted, sin gets in the way, pain hits us, we takes our eyes off Christ, and we too begin to sink. We get so overwhelmed by what is around us, we forget who has gone before us. And here is the reality, Peter had Jesus physically before him, the Son of God and Creator of all things, as he was performing an impossible task. If he can fail, so will we. There is good news though.

The great part of this story is that while Peter is sinking, he cries out to Jesus for help. In Matthew 14:31 it says that after this cry that Jesus is immediately  there to help Peter. That word is used deliberately. Friends, when you are sinking, hurting, down, and distracted there is something we should do: cry out to Jesus. He will be there immediately for He is always with us.

Crying out carries the idea of a short and painful plea. It’s something you do when you have nowhere else to go. It’s an act of desperation. We feel alone and helpless. The reality is we are not. The Sovereign King bows his ear, he hears our cry, and he is with us immediately.

We can rest confident that God hears our prayers, and our God acts. Therefore, cry out to Him in prayer. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “God gives us prayer as a basket, and then he pours the blessings of his grace into it.”

SDG

Red Black Quote Instagram Post

Should Christians Boycott Disney?

wopoa1

Disney is one of the most powerful, influential, and progressive companies in the world. Most of my childhood favorite films are Disney/Pixar and the company regularly puts out great films with encouraging messages. Along with those films are the five trips I have taken to Disney World, four with my family, and those wonderful memories. Needless to say, Disney has been a big part of my life.

Yesterday I saw a post on my social media feed that implicated that the charter LeFou, in the new live action Beauty in the Beast, will be a homosexual character and it will be Disney’s first “exclusively gay moment.” I would like to note that rumors like this circulated before the release of Finding Dory and unless I completely missed something in the film they were untrue.

So, how should Christians respond to this? My wife and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this film for two years. Should we not go? Should we boycott Disney altogether? Should we just go and see it? I have seen Christians suggest all these things, and some ask what they should do. I have three very quick thoughts when it comes to boycotting Disney.

Realize What All That Entails

Boycotting Disney has some major implications. For example, Disney owns ESPN and ESPN regularly plays Alabama football games. So a call to boycott all things Disney means giving up 5-6 Alabama games a year for me. Also, boycott on all things Disney would mean not watching many other sporting events and TV shows. They also own ABC, the Marvel films, and now Star Wars. Disney is much larger than their movies and theme parks. They are big  company and own a lot. I do not think we should commit a boycott without considering all that it implies.

Could This be a Teaching Moment?

An important thing that Christians have to decide is how they will approach this with their kids. Will they shelter them from this or use it as a teaching moment? If your children are going to public school they are already around this most likely and need their parents speaking into this subject. While we do not want to normalize any sin (and I really want emphasize that point), we can use it as a teaching moment. To explain there are people with same-sex attraction and there are people who act on it. That may be too much for younger children but parents needed to be prepared to have that conversation.

It is a parents duty to protect their children, and to teach them. While this film may not be the best means to do so it could lead to a conversation. A conversation where you as the parent can point your children to the Scriptures. Explain how and why God ordained marriage. Teach what denying ourselves really means. Teach the danger of following fleshly desires.

Additionally, we should not not be surprised when non-christian companies do non-christian things. 1 Corinthians 1:18 makes it clear, that to those who are lost the message of the cross is foolishness. There is much happening in our culture right now that we can use to point our children towards godliness. Be open with your children and prepared to explain.

You Have the Liberty to Decide

Ultimately, I think you have the liberty to decide what you want to do. I do not think Christians should look on those who go to the film (or disney altogether) with shame, and I do not think Christians should see those who do not as legalists. This should not be something that Christians fight with each other over. While we do not want to normalize sin, or even gloss over it, we must be careful to not to let this create division amongst us. Also, we need to speak to this issue with grace and humility as we have lost friends who are listening. Every family has to decide themselves what is best for their kids and where they want to spend their money. Let your conscience be your guide.

What About Those Who Never Hear?

This past Friday I was honored to preach at a local christian school’s chapel. The text was from Philippians 1 highlighting verse twenty-one “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” My aim in the message was to show the studenta how to live a life worth living, and death worth dying. In my charge I exhorted the students to go those who have never heard the gospel. To go to the places with no Bible, to those who have never heard Jesus. My prayer is that this charge would stick with the students.

After my message I was talking with many students when one young man, Matthew, asked a very important question, “What about those who have never heard the gospel? What happens to them?” Matthew asked this with genuine curiosity and sincerity. This is an important question and one we must answer.

Unreached People Groups and Unreached/Unengaged People Groups

So how many people have actually never heard? Recent data estimates that there are 11,500 people groups in the world today. People groups are not “nations” but people of a similar area, culture, and language; they are mostly ethnic groups. Of the 11,500 people groups today 3,700 groups (4 billion people) are considered unreached. What makes a people group unreached is if less than 2% of the people group is evangelical Christian.

What about unreached and unengaged? The International Mission Board estimates that this is around 3,100 people groups comprised of 200 million people. These are people who have never heard the gospel, and have no Bible in their language. They will live their life, whether short or long, and die without ever hearing of Jesus unless someone gets to them.

So what happens to these people? Surely God will give grace since they have not heard, right? What about the innocent man on an island who lives a “good” life but never hears?  I believe the Bible speaks clear on the issue.

John 14:6

Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This makes it clear, no one is saved apart from Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus is a requirement for salvation and is the only means in which salvation can be had. This is troubling news considering that at least 200 million have never even heard his name.

Romans 1

Romans 1 teaches that all men have knowledge of God, but they suppress that knowledge. Some people will argue because they can look at the world and see there is a God, then they can be saved by that knowledge. However, Romans 1 is arguing the opposite. Paul is saying that this revelation is enough to condemn a man, but not save a man. Romans 1:18 makes it clear that all men are guilty. Whether we have heard and rejected Jesus, or have not heard, we are all guilty.

I like how Matt Smethurst said it, “Humans aren’t guilty because they haven’t heard the gospel; they’re guilty because they haven’t honored their Creator. In other words, not because of the absence of something (faith), but because of the presence of something (rebellion).” Thus Romans 1 shows us that all men stand before God guilty and in need of a Savior.

Romans 10

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? . . . So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:13-15, 17)

This passage makes it clear that people are saved by the preaching of God’s Word. Paul is working through the method of salvation. We are saved by faith in Christ. We do that when we believe the gospel. We can believe the gospel only after we hear the gospel. We can only hear the gospel when people are sent with the gospel and share the it.The only way to be saved then is for someone to preach the gospel, and for people to hear, and respond to the gospel in faith through Jesus.

Thus, people who have not heard the gospel preached cannot be saved according to Romans 10.

Conclusion

So, what we can we conclude about the innocent man on the island who lives a “good” life? Well, obviously, the innocent man who never heard the gospel would go to Heaven. However, no man is innocent as we have learned. We are born with sin and separated from God (Psalm 51:5). Since the man then is not innocent, he will spend eternity apart from the Father.

To many of us that does not seem fair. How can he be judged for something he has not heard? However, if people go to Heaven because of their ignorance then what is the worst thing we could ever do? Tell them the gospel! Because we went to them now there is a chance they will go to Hell. This is not the case. Our Lord commands us to go because they are living and dying and never hearing the good news we possess. Therefore, it’s not fair that we know and have this truth and we are not going to them. How selfish of us if we never go, and beyond that it is defiance and disobedience to the command of Jesus.

You don’t even have to get on a plane to accomplish this (though I recommend everyone go on a mission trip). In the United State the great commission has come to us! You can use this website to see what people groups live near you: https://www.peoplegroups.info/FrontMap

The sad truth is 86% of all Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists do not know a Christian. Many who come to the US to study and work never become friends with a Christian, or come to their home. If we truly believe they are living and dying without hearing of Jesus then we must go to them, and we must share with them. Not out of obligation, but because we truly love people of all cultures and want to see them saved. Jesus came to us, He commanded us to go to them.

Because He came, then we must go.

Is 2 Chronicles 7:14 for America?

Today marks the 13th Anniversary of the September 11th attack on the United States. I was in 6th grade world history with Ms. Hart when we got the news, and all we did in Ms. McKee’s math class was watch the news. At the age of 11 I think this was the first time that I realized and processed what evil looked like. It was a tragic day, and a day we should not forget.

Around this time of year you will be seeing 2 Chronicles 7:14 posted a lot. It reads:

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Today, many Christians with good intentions will share this verse about the United States of America. If Americans will turn from their wickedness, and repent then God will hear our land. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting God to heal our land or for our people to repent. However, we do need to ask if we are applying the verses appropriately. Let’s examine.

The best way to read the Bible is context. The Bible is a metanarrative telling the story of God’s redemptive plan for the world, and saving the lost. It can best be told through 4 key components. Creation, fall, rescue, and restoration. The Bible is not about me or you, but about God and it’s purpose is to glorify Him and it reveals what we has allowed us to know about Him. This book is certainly not about the United States of America or any of us. It tells a story, a story all of us need to know, live, and surrender to so that we might know and enjoy God forever.

The context here in 2 Chronicles is that God is speaking to an individual, Solomon. Solomon was the son of David who would build the temple. Solomon was the 3rd king of Israel, God’s chosen people as we see in the Old Testament. “My people” in this verse is speaking specifically about the people of Israel as God refers to them as His throughout the Old Testament. Today Christians are the children of God, but in this context there is no doubt that God is speaking about the Jews.

The phrase “their land” is speaking to an actual piece of land, the promised land, that was set aside for Israel. It is literally their land secured to them by God in covenant He made with the people. We can see that in the Old Testament too can’t we? The book of Judges and the two books of Kings. When evil was present in the leadership and people bad things happened. When the people turned to God he healed them and their land. It was an ever ongoing cycle of the people of God. “Their land” was not the land that we as Americans inhabit so it would not be correct, I believe, to hold onto this verse as a promise to America from God.

I am not an Israelite, nor am I Jewish for I am a Christian. I am indeed a child of God and cling to the promises He has given me. However, as a Christian we belong to the Church. The Church has no land because the Church is all over the world. We may look at the United States as a Christian nation, which I would argue that not to be the case, and misapply this verse to our beloved nation. I love the United States. Being an American has allowed me opportunities I may not have had other places. Still, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not saying that if we the United States do this then God will heal our country. There is no covenant between the United States and God. The covenant now is with those who believe and God; the covenant is with the Church.

Therefore, 2 Chronicles 7:14 cannot be applied to the United States. However, it can be applied to the Church. Not a physical land, but a physical people and God can heal us. He has already justified those who believe and we are experiencing sanctification. Even more so as we turn from wickedness, repent, and experience forgiveness. I will never forget 9/11 and my prayer today is to those who lost loved ones 13 years ago. It was a horrific tragedy brought forth by evil. I also pray for the Church today. That we be an ever present beacon of hope to our lost country, and world. That we make much of Jesus, and we see the Church grow and grow. My prayer is also for a revival in America, and the world. It starts with every believer. What are we doing today?

How Do I Have a Quiet Time?

If you spend anytime around me you know I am advocate for christian men and women spending daily time with the Lord. The question I usually get after a statement like that is this, how do I have a quiet time? This is not the perfect plan or a must-do guide to having a perfect quiet time. I am going to lay out what I do and you can modify how you do it, the key is to just have one.

Set aside at least an hour each day.

This can seem quite daunting at first. Most christians have enough trouble figuring out what to say for a blessing, how am I supposed to spend an hour with the Lord everyday? Maybe start small. 15 minutes at first and let it grow. The more you do it the more natural it will become. Soon you may see it go beyond an hour.

I recommend the mornings because it just really starts my day off right. However, that is feasible for everyone. One man in the church I serve leaves his house at 4:30 AM everyday to head to work. Just be consistent. If you are going to do it at 7AM then do it that time everyday. Also, be consistent where you do it as well. I don’t like say getting in a routine because it’s not just something to check-off, but if you have a set play of when and where you are more likely to do it.

Spend 10 minutes in worship through music.

Whatever music you like spend 10 minutes in worship before you start. Right now I am on Rend Collective kick in my quiet time, but I often listen to a variety of music including guys like Shai Linne. Songs a lot of times express what we want to say when we don’t know what to say. When you sing think about the words you are singing.

Spend 10-15 minutes in intentional prayer for others.

I once had a seminary professor ask me this, “Jared, if God answered all your prayers the past year how many people would be saved due to God answering those prayers?” Wow! Shot to the heart. How true though that our prayers can become so selfish. So I set aside a different things to pray for each day.

Sunday: All the Bible-beliving churches around the world who will proclaim the gospel this day, and for those who will hear it. Also, a UPG or UUPG.

Monday: My seminary (Students, profs, and its mission)

Tuesday: Churches I have previously served and attended. (Their leadership,   congregation, and so on.)

Wednesday: Former kids I had at FUGE Camps over my 3 summers.

Thursday: Friends and people I know who are lost, by name.

Friday: Missionaries I know, and the countries I have been able to travel to on mission trips.

Saturday: SBC agencies (Other seminaries, IMB, NAMB, ERLC)

I also pray for certain things everyday. My wife, family and in-laws, my church and pastor, the students in my ministry, other pastors at our church, best friends and mentors in my life. If you don’t know what to pray go to the Scriptures and let that be your guide.

Spend 30-40 minutes for worship through the Word.

This is a time you will hear God speak. The Bible is the very Word of God and when read we are hearing His words. If I read an Epistle I try to read the whole thing. The Epistles were letters and they are best read in one sitting, because when you get a letter you read the whole thing not parts at a time.

Take notes, write down questions, underline, and study. Saturate yourself with the word of God. If you read a chapter a day then read it two or three times. Get to the meaning of the text. This will be a time you will learn to look forward to and treasure. Some people will try a chronological Bible reading plan to read it in one year. That’s awesome, just don’t get discouraged. When you get in Leviticus you might be ready to hang it up. Remember the Bible is God-breathed and all of it is useful. I recommend a good study Bible to help understand what you are reading. I use the “ESV Study Bible” and I think it is one of the best.

Be prepared. I do not recommend opening up your Bible and wherever you finger lands is what God wants you to read. Read through books start to finish. If you have never done this I recommend three books to starts with. John, Acts, or Proverbs.

Spend 10 minutes of meditation and prayer

This is a time to just focus on God. Listen to God, maybe go back to the Word as you feel led. Then pray. I pray that God will use me as His vessel, He will use me to further His gospel for His glory and not mine, and many other things that I may need pray for. Write down your request in a journal and flip through it every few months and see things that God has delivered on.

The most important thing: Just do it.

The first day may be the hardest but if you stick to it I really believe this will be one the things you look most forward to everyday. Find someone to hold you accountable that you are doing yours, and likewise do the same for them. Where we spend the most of our time is where our heart is. I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me!

Nevertheless

Read Ezekiel 16:1-59. The words described of the people in these verses are very strong. They are words of a dirty, sinful, and adulterous people. They are words that describe you and that describe me. It is a stark reminder for us to remember where we stand before God. He is the faithful groom who has never wavered and continually loved His bride, and we are the the adulterous bride chasing whatever our heart desires. We do not deserve Him.

Luckily the passage does not stop there. Verse 60 starts with the phrase “yet” in the ESV translation, in other translations it says “Nevertheless.” I do like that translation better. Nevertheless of all those things in the first fifty-nine verses that are true God declares He will remember His covenant. What is that covenant? In Exodus 19:6 God tells Moses that they will become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The first fifty-nine verses do not sound like the deeds of priest, or of a holy nation. Nevertheless…..

God is saying this:  Even though you are not a holy people, nevertheless I will make you holy. Though you deserve evil, nevertheless I will give you good. Though you deserve the curse, nevertheless I will give you blessing. I will not destroy you though you deserve death, nevertheless I will give you life. God looked on me and was not content with the me being the first fifty-nine verses. He died the death I deserve killing my sin, and overcoming them in the resurrection. I am depraved and evil, nevertheless by the blood of His Son I am made righteous.

How do we see this reality today? 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we (the Church) are a chosen people, a holy priesthood. Because we are covered with the blood of Jesus and that has made us righteous. We need to remember the nevertheless. For this my friends is Good News.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑