As You Go…

A look at “The Great Commission”

11-14-13

Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We are very familiar with what we know as “The Great Commission.” But as I look at this passage I see a command. Jesus has told us, the church, to make disciples. We are to evangelize the world. We are to be on mission. I remember discussing this with a preacher friend and he noted that the word “Go” in verse 19 should be translated, “As you go.” We aren’t to make any special trips to evangelize. Evangelism and discipling should be a way of life for the Christian. Telling others about Jesus is not an option. Being an ambassador for Christ is not a special calling (granted some are more gifted than others, but we are all commanded to share His love).

I remember sitting through seminars and workshops on how to share the gospel.  I remember going out into the community in pairs to share Jesus door to door. I also remember the thrill of leading someone to Jesus as Savior. That joy was followed by the disappointment of hearing my partner practically requiring this new convert to come to our church and make their decision public.

I reckon some will say I’m not a good Southern Baptist here. Let me make one thing very clear and I’m apologizing to No person for the following statement. I am a Christian first and foremost. The ONLY reason I am a Southern Baptist is that the church where I am a member and I choose to worship is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. I will expound on this in another posting.

What I felt was important for this new convert was that they should make their decision public as soon as they could. But I didn’t see any reason to come to the church I was attending. If that person felt comfortable elsewhere and that church was a New testament Church, then that is where they should go.

While Jesus tells us to preach, baptize and make disciples, I don’t think he meant for the same person to be doing all these tasks for the same converts. I also realize that some of us are better equipped to preach or proclaim the gospel to others while others are better equipped to teach believers what it is to be a Christian. Under God’s leadership (remember, it is His Church) and individual may only be asked to perform one task for one person while he is performing another task for a different person. Let me remind myself that I must keep my focus on the LORD Jesus Christ and to always seek first the kingdom of God.

One reason I write these e-mails is that I am commanded to teach God’s people. It may be good to tell about our heroes of the faith: Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Spurgeon, Edwards and others, but I must first tell about the architect and builder of my faith, Jesus of Nazareth. My boss is not the Deacon Chairman, My Sunday School teacher, the Pastor, or even the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. My boss, my LORD, is a Jewish carpenter. And He has commanded me to preach and teach. I intend to do that. And may I never get so caught up in how to do my job, that I forget to do my job.

In His Service and Through His Love…

Steve (Hoss)

 

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Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

Without the shedding of blood…

11-13-13

Keep me near the Cross

How is salvation possible? True, we strive to keep God’s law. We follow the teachings of Jesus. Is that what saves us? Some people would say so. I mean if you are a good person and you do what God says in the Law and go to church and tithe and take part in visitation and such, Is that what its all about?

I admit, a Christian should show all those attributes and then some but I ask one question… What about the cross? If following Jesus’ teachings is enough, why did He have to go to the cross? We have to remember something. All have sinned. All fall short of God’s Glory. We need forgiveness for our sins and that requires a blood sacrifice. Scripture tells us that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

Salvation is not by things we do physically, not by our good works, but by our humility and acceptance of what Jesus did through his sacrifice, his death, the cross. One must accept the work of the cross to receive salvation. No amount of good deeds is going to do that for us.

Every Major world religion has people doing good works. But only Christianity has the Cross. Good works is not enough. That can be a tough pill to swallow. We all know nonbelievers who put Christians to shame with their good works, but they will not be in Heaven. I hate to be so blunt, but we must speak the truth. It hurts and it tends to alienate folks. It ain’t politically correct. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, Jesus was not politically correct and as His follower, I don’t need to be either.

Our faith is all about the Cross and what happened at Calvary. Our salvation was purchased there. It isn’t simply obedience, but it is faith and acceptance of what the LORD did on that hill. One constant prayer should be, “Jesus, keep me near the cross.” When we focus on the Cross, we focus on the LORD. We realize that since He died for us, we need to live for Him.

In His Service

Steve (Hoss)

The Church

From November…

11-12-13

The Church

Matthew 16: 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” … Jesus replied, 18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Notice something here; Jesus said He would build HIS church, not the church. It is not my church, or your church. The church belongs to the LORD Jesus Christ. Actually, His church is much more than the local congregation where we attend bible study and worship.

The Church, The Bride of Christ, is made up of EVERY person who has confessed and repented of his/her sins. Denomination is irrelevant. Whether one is Catholic or Protestant, has no bearing. There is only one common denominator… Has that person received Jesus of Nazareth as LORD and Savior?

The Church is much more than the meetinghouse we attend together. WE are the Church, not the building. And since we are the Church, we need each other. We need to be with one another as often as we can. We need to support and encourage one another. That simple fact that we need one another is plenty of reason for us to strive to be at the church building every time the opportunity presents itself.

But, our individual ministry does not stop with the people who attend worship with us. Jesus has a plan for the whole Church, and we are a small part of that body.

Just as a small part of your body has an effect on the body as a whole, what we do as individuals affects both the local church and the Universal Church. That is not always a good thing. What we must remember is that nonbelievers watch what we do and how we behave. When we begin to think we run things within the church, we are making a huge mistake. Jesus is the head of the Church, even on the local level. Not the Pastor, not the Deacon chairman, not the Sunday School director, not the treasurer, not the worship leader… Jesus is the head. It is HIS Church.

We must never think we have the solution or we know what is best for the Church. Our LORD knows that and when we follow His leadership, there is no need to look toward a human leader, and we will know what direction to go, because He guides our paths. If you feel people are not following you, take a moment to think, and remind yourself of who the leader is.

My church doesn’t stand a chance, but the Gates of hell will NEVER prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. And FYI, those saints include saints for all time.

 

In His Love

Steve (Hoss)

 

Immersed in the Word

I’m subbing at the Christian school today. I’m in the Spanish classroom. This should be interesting, My Spanish vocabulary is limited to taco, burrito and about 5 other words. Wednesday is Chapel day. One of the teachers (I’ll call her “Eve,” although that’s not her name) spoke and she did a great job with the program. I really enjoyed it. It is really neat when Christians of different denominations can come together, put doctrinal differences aside and just talk about the LORD and His teachings.

I won’t go through all Eve had to say, but she did remind me of my responsibility and purpose. “A Voice Crying in the Wilderness” … That was the purpose of John the Immerser. He knew his purpose in life. He knew the plan God had for him. Eve spoke of the “Advance team.” That was what John did for Jesus. His message pointed people to Jesus. He even proclaimed Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

Her message reminded me of a sermon I preached on “Playing Second Fiddle.” The Baptizer was definitely second fiddle to the Messiah. He knew it too. He played his role and then stepped aside to let the LORD have center stage.  Folks, that was not easy to do. John had a great following. Some believed he was the one he was pointing to. But John set the record straight when he said, “He must increase and I must decrease.”

Eve’s homeroom was leading the service and “Heart of Worship” was one of the songs we sang to prepare us for Eve’s words.  You see, John knew about the Heart of Worship, Jesus. We need to be more like John. We may not run around in camel hair coats and feed on honey covered grasshoppers, but we can still proclaim and point others to Jesus. That is our purpose. That is one reason we are here.

Wait a minute! Isn’t that the preacher’s job? Well yes, but it’s also our job, each and every one of us. I matters not that one has been to ceme… seminary. Any of God’s children can proclaim the Gospel. Consider Peter and Paul. Peter was an uneducated fisherman, impulsive, loyal, but frightened. He boldly preached one sermon and 3000 people accepted Jesus as LORD and Savior. Paul was highly educated, a tentmaker and a Roman Citizen. Paul loved the LORD with a great passion, but he was unaware of the Truth. He was the greatest persecutor of Christians of his day. He became the Jew who carried the Gospel to the Gentiles. In both cases the difference in their lives was Jesus. It was Jesus who equipped them to perform the task God had for them.

Look at our heroes. Abraham was an old man with a wife past child bearing age; Joseph was sold into slavery and cast into prison; Moses may have had the best education man could offer (but then man’s best pales in comparison to God’s worst), but he was a murderer and had a speech impediment; Rahab was a prostitute; Hannah was barren; David was the runt of his family; Daniel was a captive teenager; Mary was a peasant girl; James and John has tempers; Matthew was considered a traitor; Simon was a member of a faction advocating a violent overthrow of the Government… But God used these people. Why? Because they were willing…

Here is a truth that needs to soak in. God isn’t really interested in your ABILITY as much as He is in your AVAILABILITY. What skills you lack, He will provide. Just recognize what God would have you do and then do it. He will take care of the rest.

But then, that’s the hard part, isn’t it? Trusting God to take care of the rest. What He did for these, our heroes, He will do for you.

Red Skelton ended each episode his TV show by stating his belief that God has put each of us here for a purpose. I do share that belief, and one thing I’ve noticed is that as my life has progressed, my purpose has changed. Yes, there have been times where I wondered what I was to be doing (Like now) but God has always showed me, and I strived to do what He wanted. As we seek God and draw closer, we will find our individual purposes for our lives. As He increases in our lives, we will decrease. It is all about Jesus. The better we realize that, the closer we get.

 

Because He Lives!

Steve (Hoss)

Lessons from James

10-06-13

Today’s Sunday school lesson came from James 5:1-11. It was an Interesting lesson and I came away with some new angles at some concepts.

Before we look at these concepts, let’s remind ourselves of whom James was talking to and whom is he talking to today. For starters, The Bible, in a general sense, is written to all humanity. But we must realize that the general message, besides a history of God’s people (both the nation of Israel and the early church), is to accept Jesus of Nazareth as LORD and Saviour. That is really all the nonbeliever is really able to comprehend. The nonbeliever’s eyes and ears are not open to the specific truths God wants to reveal to us as His people, as His children. Now in the specific sense, this book we as Christians hold sacred is a blueprint for life. It IS the TRUTH, the whole TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH. In that sense, God is speaking to His people.

Now for starters, to the rich who we’re “successful” because of their misuse of those less fortunate, the LORD’S brother was saying, “God will get you for that!” These rich we’re Christian rich. Why would a nonbeliever care? He won’t believe these words anyway! But to a Christian, especially one who has not fully grasped the concept of love thy neighbour as thyself and who one’s neighbour is, these first 5 verses hit home.

Then James, in verse 7, shifts gears a bit. “Don’t worry about retaliation, revenge, etc., that’s Gods job, so let God be God. You have your own chores to tend to.” When our mind is on payback, we aren’t able to focus on serving God, and that is our job. We have no business trading evil for evil. It is our place to turn the other cheek. I am reminded of God’s admonition to the Hebrews in Deuteronomy, “Vengeance is mine.” Sayeth the LORD, “I will repay.” James is telling us to be patient, keep on sharing the Love of Jesus, Leave any retaliation for evil to God.

Now you may ask, “Well what am I supposed to do?”

In Verse 7 James starts to tell us.

First, Patience is a virtue… God will take care of everything, but it is on His timetable.

Second, strengthen one’s spirit. Now that, like patience is easier said than done. But it is done by spending more time with God, more Bible study, and more knee work. Yep, I’m lacking there myself. I can study His word and sometimes I feel I know it well enough to head for the cemeter… , er seminary and teach a few classes. My problem is that I don’t spend time actually talking and listening to God. Simply reading our Bible is not listening. We … I need a stronger attitude of prayer and working to be as David was… a man after God’s own heart.

Finally, James tells us to squelch the complaining and gossip. Say What? You mean I can’t even let my frustrations out to a friend? Nope… Take it to your best Friend, Jesus. Leave it there. You won’t be sorry. I know I’m not when I do.

Keep praying and seeking…

In Christ

Steve (Hoss)

 

Got Faith? Pray!

Nov 5, 2013

Got Faith? Pray!

Have you ever doubted your faith? How do you know your faith is the real thing? It’s a simple check on yourself… Look at your prayer life. If we have the faith we claim to have, we will spend time with the Savior. He is the source of power in our lives. He is our mediator between us and The Father.

If we truly believe then He will be the first person we speak to when we wake up and the last person we speak with before going to sleep. We will chat with Him several times throughout the day. Remember, “Enoch walked with God, and was not, For God took him.”(Gen 5:24)

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be so close to God that He just took us home with him one day? No one else was that close and we know of our heroes, our Hall of Faith. God referred to Abraham as His friend. David was a man after God’s own heart. Moses Spoke directly with God, as did Elijah.

How is this possible? We know they were men of faith. And we also know they spent time in prayer. Even God’s son, Jesus, who was God incarnate, spent time alone with the father. We need that time. And time spent in prayer is time spent learning about the Father and drawing closer to him. And on top of that, we show our faith. You don’t ask something of a person if you don’t expect to receive. You ask, expecting an answer in accordance to what you are requesting. But we must ask within His will and submit to His will.

“Well, why do I need to ask within His will? Seems that He has already decided, so why ask?”

Let me put it this way… If you don’t ask, then you are not showing your faith, so if you have not the faith, why try to prove something you don’t want to believe anyway?

I know, that sounds like double talk. But it isn’t. The closer we get to God, the more we realize what He wants for us. The more we will request from him and God being the generous Father will supply our needs and our desires within His will. If we are in His will, we will have no bad desires. Just talk to Him. He is in that empty chair next to you.

We all need to get closer to God and show our faith. To do that, we need to pray. When we pray we show we believe God will supply our needs. I’m guilty of not praying enough. I need to boost my prayer life. I know these letters I’m writing are helping me grow. Many times, as I write, I find myself talking to me. I pledge to you that I will spend more time with my Savior and God and work on that closer walk, and look forward to that day when He says, “Come home with me.”

In fact, nothing tells the story about your faith like your prayer life. Nothing.

And to top it off, as you pray, doubt will flee.

You have my prayers

Steve (Hoss)

 

In God I Trust

11-03-13

In God I Trust

Dan would have been 59 today. April will mark the eighth anniversary of his passing. It seems like yesterday. A year earlier he was complaining to me about low back pain on his right side. In July of 2005 we found he had a cancer that had affected his kidney and he lost the right kidney. Something told me this was not over and the diagnosis confirmed it. The cancer had moved into the bone marrow, Stage 4. I was simply a matter of time. Why would God do this to our family? Dan was the baby and here he is the first to enter eternity.

I know death of a loved one is a difficult subject for some to discuss, but I also know that bringing pain into the open among Christian friend is a great healer. There is one scripture I claim above all others when what I believe are bad things. In the 28th verse of Chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, The Apostle wrote, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

“What good can come out of that?”

The best answer I can give is, “I don’t know, but God knows and that’s what matters.”

As I looked back at my little brother’s life I realized that during those final 9 months, he had changed. He was studying scripture and asking questions. He had never done that before. He was seeking God and he found Him. I had the honor of participating in his funeral. It blessed me to say that I knew where he is. He is with our LORD. The night before He was sent from his hospital room to ICU, He looked at me and said, “I think I’m dying.”

As I choked back the emotion welling up, I asked Dan if he was ready to meet God. He assured me he was. That was all I needed. I’ll never forget what the other minister at his funeral said at graveside. He told us that only two people know if a person is ready to meet God, God and that person. Dan knew, and I’ve come to realize that his illness and death have led at lest two people toward a closer walk with Him.

There are times we may never know why God lets things happen, He simply says, “Trust Me.” When we do we will find abundant blessings. I keep trusting Him. And when a loved one is called home, I know one thing.

We’ll meet again, I surely know where, I just don’t know when. But I know we’ll meet on a sunny day.

Sunny because the light of Jesus permeates all the darkness.

 

I love you because He loved me.

Steve (Hoss)

 

 

Whosoever

November 2, 2013

 

Romans 10: 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

That’s a powerful scripture. It says a lot. That second word in verse 13, “whosoever”, is all-inclusive. There is no person living or dead who could not or cannot be saved. But there is a condition. They must call upon the name of the LORD and that is more than just saying, “LORD, save me.” A person must believe and repent of sin. Many people believe, but not all repent.

But think about this. Salvation through Jesus, the Christ, God’s anointed, the Messiah, is the ONLY way one can be saved. That is a message we must repeat over and over. He IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIGHT. NONE go to the Father except through Him. Now since Jesus is the way to salvation and eternal life, that way must be open to all, should they choose. I hold that right very sacred … the right to choose, the right to decide for myself, the right to be wrong. WHAT?

Wait a minit! Just hold on there! You mean a person has a God-given right to be wrong in His eyes?

Yep. But with that right, we must accept the responsibility that goes along with it. Yes there are rewards for making the correct decision, but there are consequences should one decide incorrectly. That’s the problem… everyone wants to go to heaven, but not everyone is willing to follow the teachings of the Christ. Once we manage to get that concept grounded into our psyches, we will act on what Paul told the Romans.

And then once we truly realize that Jesus came and died for ALL, we may get off our blessed assurances and do something about it. In this world of political correctness, we fear standing up and speaking out because we fear we may offend someone. Well, I can promise you one thing… Those who disagree with Christianity have no problem offending us. And yes, those people are part of God’s creation and believe it or not, God loves them, Jesus died for them.

The world needs to hear our message, but it needs to hear it in love. Whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD. That includes all races, all social beliefs, all religious beliefs, so what are we holding back for? We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. We need to be shining and seasoning all those around us. Share Jesus. You don’t really need to talk. Just let your actions speak, besides what we do, how we act, speaks much louder than any words.

And we must believe that “Whosoever” means even that militant from another worldview. Pray for your loved ones, pray for your leaders, pray for one another. Hey! (I think I’ve listened to Si Robertson a bit too much) Even pray for that person who disagrees with what you say. Pray for that person on the other side of the church you never talk to or even want to talk to. You would be amazed at what God will do for you when you truly seek His face and ask Him to help you love others, even the unlovable.

But remember, every person, living or dead, has a right to come to Jesus. This club of Christians is not exclusive. Anyone may join. The dues cost a lot, your life, but I think you will find Heaven and eternity with Jesus more than worth the cost.

In His Love

Steve (Hoss)

Don’t be fooled!

I am amazed at truth found in Hollywood.

10-20-13

During my daily routine, like many people, I have to take my medications. Sometimes, I wonder why I even bother to take them. I still have aches and pains. On those days, I need to remind myself why I even bother to take them, if I still hurt. What good are they doing? Then I remind myself of weeks like this week. As I prepare for knee surgery this week, my doctors have told me to quit taking my arthritis meds. Anti-inflammatory medications have a side effect … they act as a blood thinner. A surgical patient doesn’t need any blood thinners before surgery.  So here I am with no aspirin or medications that help treat inflammation of my joints. And with temperature dropping and rain in the forecast, Well… Hit Hurts! And I am reminded why I take those pills in the first place.  Oh I have substitutes. Pain medications are not quite the same though. Painkillers don’t really eliminate the pain as much as they make it easier to bear, but they have a down side. I don’t call them happy pills for nothing. A person starts taking too many painkillers and next thing he knows is he starts answering the voices and following the strange little animals. I’ll be glad when this second knee replacement is done so I can get back to Aspirin and Celebrex.

Now why do I tell you about Pain meds? Well the real med treats the problem. The substitute masks the problem. I still hurt but I don’t care.

That’s like it is with our spiritual lives. There are times we don’t realize God is there, but when we drift away from Him, we really do miss Him. Then the substitute comes around, Ole Ugly. Yep, he fills us up with pleasure and we don’t seem to miss our salvation. We know we aren’t with God, but we are having such a “good time” that we don’t care. Then at times since it feels so good, we tell ourselves that God is letting us have a little fun.

Just remember… God is not mocked, whatever we sow, we will reap.  We may not see the results of our wild oats in this life, but we will wish we had seen them in this life for sure as I write, God will make sure we reap, unless we receive forgiveness and then we may still have to pay the piper. David did. A man after God’s own heart committed adultery and murder. When confronted, he pled for forgiveness and received forgiveness, but he was punished for his crime during his lifetime.

One of my favorite movies is “The Usual Suspects.” Kevin Spacey plays a small time hood named Verbal Kint. He is taken in and is talking to a US Customs agent. The conversation leads to an international criminal named Keyser Sose. During this exchange we hear my favorite quote from this film… “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”

Do you understand how much truth is in that statement? People are now telling us that hell does not exist. Well if there is no hell then we all go to heaven or nowhere. If there is no hell, then no devil.

We are actually falling for that lie. Let me remind you, there is a place called Heaven AND a place called Hell. Both are very real and every person who has ever walked or ever will walk this rock we live on is going to spend eternity in one place or the other. I don’t care what any other religious person may tell you; There is only one way to get into heaven, which is through Jesus of Nazareth. He IS the Christ, the Son of God Almighty. All other ways of life led to hell. Make NO mistake. That is what my Bible says and THAT book is THE BOOK!

 

IHS

Steve (Hoss)

 

Political Correctness

I’m updating my files. Here is another early posting

10-18-13

Let me repeat something I said in my last posting … “I firmly believe that for the person of faith, no proof is necessary and for the person of reason, no proof is sufficient.”

When I say this to a non-believer, he usually responds, “That’s a cop-out!”

I rest my case! Since a non-believer does not want to believe, but cannot really disprove anything I’m saying, he will work to discredit my argument by saying I have no argument.

I usually bring up the Laws of Thermodynamics (You cant win, You can’t break even, You cannot get out of the game)

The second Law of Thermodynamics, The Law of Entropy, provides the best explanation of the workings of the universe (All Creation): Any energy system has a tendency to move to states of low energy and high entropy (disorder). In other words, when left to themselves, things go from Bad to worse. Or we can better state the following: If anything can go wrong, it will. Yep, Murphy’s Law is what I use to discredit Darwinism and “Prove” Intelligent Design.

When I state The Law of Entropy, and ask for the energy source that provides for these changes in our world, I am told, “Why the sun gives us all that energy.”

So I remind folks that energy from the sun is uncontrolled and from what I’ve read about nuclear reactions something needs to control the reaction rate of the solar fusion. I note that we know of no natural way of controlling the reaction rate, but still solar fusion is a controlled reaction. I ask, “What controls the reaction rate?”

Silence.

Well something must control that rate of reaction. I call that Something, God, Yahweh.

But there are those who get angry because they are confronted with TRUTH and cannot defend their belief. I get called names and told I’m ignorant and superstitious.

Now we do have those in the middle … the seekers. These people don’t know what to believe, but they do want to know the truth. It tends to get difficult to share the truth with these while we are working to discredit ourselves. We tolerate too much. While I will not force my beliefs on anyone (Contrary what they may say), I do have an obligation to point out the wrongs and tell the truth.

When I state my belief and I tell you that I feel your belief is wrong, I am doing as God has commanded me. Folks get uncomfortable when confronted with God’s truth. They get confrontational or they cower and flee. In any case I am forcing my beliefs on them. Yes I am Politically Incorrect. But then I remember something… Jesus was not Politically Correct. If He was not, then I don’t need to be.

When we disagree with what someone believes, we are simply reaffirming our own belief. In the words of the great statesman, Patrick Henry of Virginia … “If that be treason, make the best of it.”

Love through Jesus

Steve (Hoss)