I could have used a solid hit from the “evangelism linebacker” today. I had a great opportunity, but I did not take it because I was blinded my selfishness and pride.

Tonight in our small group we had a great talk about evangelism, and I am stoked for the next opportunity the Lord gives.  Here are some highlights from our discussion:

Unless otherwise noted the Biblical text for the following points comes from Colossians 4:2-6.

1.  Pray for opportunity

2.  Go!  It may be right next door or moving a conversation to the next level or it might mean moving halfway around the world. (Matthew 28:18)

3.  Be ready to share about Jesus

4.  Be gracious in your conversation

4b.  This means to listen to what the other person has to say.

5.  Redeem the time – because I don’t know how long I will be here or anyone else for that matter – we need to proactively seek opportunity to speak for and about Jesus.

Colossians 4:2-6, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (NIV).

Part 4 of Contentious Wife Equals Terrible Life

A pro-active man, makes sure that his wife has proper spiritual food on a very consistent basis.  You see this guy isn’t just cowering and ducking around and trying to avoid what hits the fan.  No, he confidently stands on the strong foundation of the Word of God and his eyes are fixed on His Savior Jesus.  The key thing that he knows is that if he is to have any hope of doing right by his wife, then Jesus has to have priority over her.  Is that true in your life?  Can you honestly say, “Jesus has priority over ____” (insert wife’s name here).  If you are not willing to go there – well then you go into the category of no one can do much for you until you repent and turn to Jesus.  (Please don’t try being proactive without having Jesus as your priority – because you will mess it up and give the rest of us a bad name.)

Okay, now that we have the key element known and solid, here is a list of the proactive things these guys are going to do:

1.  He loves his wife as Christ loves the church.
Basically this means that he is sacrificial and works hard to take care of his wife.  It does not mean that he just says yes to whatever – though Jesus is sacrificial for His church (to death) does not mean that he just says, “yeah sure whatever you want” in His relationship with her.  No Jesus’ goal for His church is for us to be pure and whole.  We should have this same desire for our wives – that they would in every way reflect the character of Jesus Himself.  In short, a godly wife is a lot like Jesus…loving, tender, compassionate, truthful, bold and sacrificial.  Let me tell you that it’s great to be married to a woman who’s life doesn’t revolve around herself or just the things in her immediate world!

2.  He is watching and observing to see that his wife is eating good spiritual food on a consistent basis.
He refuses to sit back and watch her starve herself.   Along these lines he does the following:

  • asks what she is reading in the Bible and praying about

He knows that his wife needs to eat daily of the Word of God and to spend time with her God and Savior.  He knows that if her fellowship with God is on point then the time they share together will be more fruitful and less contentious.  When my wife is regularly reading her Bible and praying then we are having some good times.  If either of us are slack, then we are headed for trouble.

  • is faithful to take her and be with her at the primary meetings of the church (Heb. 10:24-25)

Men, please listen to this one.  Your wives are generally more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and Word of God than we men are.  So there are opportunities each week for your wife to be challenged and encouraged in her walk with the Lord.  Especially if you are working to get rid of your pansiness then you can at least stand up and make the right sort of priorities so she doesn’t miss the meetings….of course this means you will need to be there too.  If one of you has to travel frequently on business then you need to arrange things to make sure you are both still getting good inputs.
I can guarantee that if you are both faithful in regular attendance (as in 6 out of 8 meetings of the church a month Sunday/mid-week…75% (this level of attendance would get you fired from your job in a hurry) at a Bible teaching and practicing church and are at all open to the work of the Lord in your hearts, then you will grow in your walk with Jesus.  If you think that you can step away from Christian fellowship and teaching for weeks or months at a time and continue to grow then you are absolutely kidding yourself.  You will stagnate and then digress…it is just a fact jack…and no you are not the super spiritual exception that doesn’t have to follow the clear principle of you get out what you put in.  (Note: there are dozens of other reasons you should be meeting for worship, Bible study and prayer – but I’ll keep this post to IT WILL HELP YOUR MARRIAGE!)

  • encourages her to have friendships with godly women.

Now when I say this I don’t just mean friendship with women who are “christians” and “go to church”.  How do you know your wife is spending time and being influenced by the right women?  The proof is in the results.  After spending time with “x” woman(en) is your wife more prone to gossip or pray, spend or give, watch some junk show on TV or read her Bible?  I’m not saying that all of the women in your wife’s life have to be off the charts godly women – hopefully your wife has women who don’t know Jesus in her life that she is witnessing to.  What I am saying is to encourage your wife to examine the type of influences in her life from other women and to make sure she is getting a heavy dose of the healthy influence.  Even as adults our choice of friendships have a great affect on us.  So gentleman, you also need to examine this in your own life.  How about make a list of the 5 friends you hang out with the most and then make an honest evaluation of their influence on your walk with the Lord.  You might find that exercise to reveal that you need some new friends or you need to reorder the time so that you don’t sabotage your own life.

Bottom Line: If our homes, churches, and communities are to have any hope of being all that they can be for God’s glory, it will be because men who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus are standing up and answering the high call of our God and Savior.  It will be because we refuse to be lukewarm, pathetic boys and grow up by the Holy Spirit to be passionate men for our King Jesus!

Are you prepared for war?

Our on recent trip to Mexico,  Tuesday was not such a great day, though God is His grace still moved in people’s hearts and accomplished good work.  On Wednesday morning, we looked at Ephesians 6:10-20.   The passage speaks of putting on the whole armor of God in order to be prepared to fight and stand against the attacks of the enemy.  I believe that most of us Christians regularly forget that we are in a spiritual war and that war involves battles that happen almost every day.  These battles are “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  It is important that every day we put on our armor and prepare for battle.  I asked each person to close their eyes and envision themselves putting the armor on.  Perhaps even now it would be beneficial for you to do this exercise and to see yourself putting on the armor of God.

What is included in the armor?

Belt – truth
Breastplate – righteousness
Sandals – gospel of peace
Shield – faith
Helmet – assurance of your salvation
Sword of the Spirit – the word of God
Prayer

If you are a follower of Jesus, have you put your armor on today or are you open to the enemies attacks?  You will notice that in verse 10, “the brethren” are addressed and told to put the armor on.  Collectively there is a strength when an entire local church puts its armor on.  Conversely it is difficult for the believers who have put their armor on to see the ones who have not done so being struck down by the enemy.  Just like in a physical battle it tears down morale to see your friends taken out on stretchers to the infirmary or worse.  And of course it is terrible for the individual who does get hit by a fiery dart.

We are instructed to pray and to do so with perseverance.  As I read the passage I am struck by the call to, “be strong…put on the armor of God…stand…quench…pray…speak boldly.”  Let’s put on our armor today so that we can have victory in Jesus!  So what was the result of putting on the armor of God in Mexico?  Wednesday and the rest of the week had much more victory and much less defeat.  Are you prepared for spiritual war or will you be easily struck down when the battle rages?

Already on this site I have written about the responsibility we have to pray for our President and leaders.  If you missed that post see it here.

And as previously written about we should rightfully give thanks for the progress our country has made in the area of race made evident today (though we still have a long way to go).  If you missed that post see it here.

Today let us not forget to pray for all who are seen as great and small on the earth and remember that one day all will give account to God Almighty.  Here are some specific things to pray for for our new President Obama:

  • Wisdom – as he has so many important decisions to make.  Pray that he would accept godly counsel and reject the counsel of the ungodly.
  • Justice – that he would seek to do justly
  • Clarity – to know good and evil and to pick the good
  • Safety – for him and his family
  • Marriage – for the health of his marriage in the face of intense stress
  • Family – for his families wellbeing as they live under a microscope

Let us pray!

Romans 1:8-15

“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
13
Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me,
I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.

II.  Paul’s heart for the believers in Rome (1:8-15)

A.  Paul’s thankfulness for the testimony of the believers in Rome (1:8)

Paul commends the believers in Rome for their strong faith by which they live.  Their faith is known throughout the Roman empire and likely to regions beyond it.  The Roman Empire at this time stretched from Spain and North Africa in the west to Turkey, Israel, and Egypt in the east.  The lesson here is that both believers and unbelievers take note of people who “live by faith (vs 17).”

B.  Paul’s prayer life for the believers in Rome (1:9-10)

Paul had a very robust prayer life.  We see his heartfelt love for people and God’s work in their lives.  He was keenly aware that the battle for souls is spiritual in nature and must be fought on that plane by prayer, “for we do not wrestle with flesh and blood…” Let us passionately pursue this labor of love.

Paul had longed to go to Rome to encourage the believers and share the Gospel, but even here Paul is careful to say, “in the will of God.”  If there is one lesson to learn in this section, may we please learn this one; our responsibility is FIRST to seek out the will of God and then do it. I strongly believe that the normal procedure for a Christian is to come up with a plan without consulting the word of God, without prayer, without the Spirit of God bearing witness with his spirit, and without the counsel of those in authority over him.  The Christian makes his plan and then tries to slide it across God’s desk hoping God will not pay it much attention and put His stamp of approval on it.  The Christian informs his friends first and then the authorities in the local church (if he is part of one or talks to them at all).  As he informs his friends he grows in confidence and has mostly convinced himself that his plan is indeed the will of God.  The result plays out in multiple ways:

1.  he settles for something good but not God’s best,
2. God in grace puts him in the best place though he went about it the wrong way, 3. he goes down the wrong path for a while, realizes it is wrong, and humbles himself before God seeking to get back on track.
4.  he makes a decision that has long term negative affects (the more out of God’s will and the more sin involved here normally determines how bad things go).

If we seek God’s will and go about things in the correct order, we can have much more confidence we are living our lives according to the will of God.

C.  Paul’s desire for mutual encouragement (1:11-12)

I believe we can say with a good amount of confidence that the spiritual gift that Paul desires to impart to them is the teaching of the whole counsel of God.  This gift is consistent with Paul’s ministry and his desire for believers to stand on a strong foundation – the Word of God.
The fellowship of people who love God and are striving to live for him is a sweet thing for all who participate in it.  To be like minded and joined together for a common purpose is a blessing indeed. The fellowship of lukewarm people who have half their heart in the world is not much to write about.  May we be among those those fortunate and passionate followers of Jesus who have sweet fellowship with one another.

D.  Paul’s desire to preach the Gospel in Rome (1:13-15)

Paul assures the believers in Rome that it was not a lack of love or desire that has kept him from visiting them, for he has desired but been hindered. When Paul says that he is a debtor to “Greeks and barbarians and wise and unwise”, he is stating a fact.  Paul had in a very unique way experienced the mercy of God and was given the answer for humans’ sin problem.  Paul now has an obligation to share this message with the people of the world – whether they are civilized or uncivilized, whether they are educated or uneducated.  Those of us who believe in Jesus have the same obligation to freely share what we have received – the gospel of Christ. In part 3 we will study more about the gospel of Christ.  Until then, may you be blessed.  Please feel free to leave a comment or question.

Regardless of whether Obama or McCain wins tonight or whether you will be happy or shed tears after the election results, please keep a few things in mind if you are a follower of Jesus.

God’s people must let nothing keep us from the priorities that God has set before us – to proclaim the Good News about Jesus.  I am encouraged that so many followers of Jesus I know really love God and love people and strive to live what they believe.  Let us endeavor more to share the love of God!  Let us endeavor more to be generous with all that God has made us stewards over!  Let us endeavor more to help the most oppressed!  Let us endeavor more to be salt and light and hope in our very dark world!

1.  We have a responsibility to pray for our leaders (I Timothy 2:1-2).

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

The Scripture does not tell us to pray for them only if we like them.  Praying for our leaders to have wisdom, discernment, justice, peace, love, and truth is commanded for us to do.  

2.  Jesus is still the only true and eternal hope!  (Luke 4:18-19, John 14:6).

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
      because he has anointed me 
      to preach good news to the poor. 
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
      and recovery of sight for the blind, 
   to release the oppressed, 
    
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Words of Jesus)

 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

3.  We must endeavor to love, live, and share the Good News about Jesus, the payment for our sins (I Timothy 2:3-7).

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.”

4.  We have a responsibility to stand up for the oppressed.  (Isaiah 1:17)

“Learn to do right! 
Seek justice, 
encourage the oppressed. 
Defend the cause of the fatherless, 
plead the case of the widow.”

5.  Regardless of who our leaders are, God is still God, and our privilege is to look forward to the day when Jesus Christ will reign (Revelation 11:15).

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.'”

I am so looking forward to the day when there will be no more tears and no more pain.  In that day, we will no longer have to wonder whether our leaders know what they are doing, or if they have good or bad intentions, or if they are wise enough for the job.  Our King Jesus will reign and all will be as it should be – finally!  What a sweet and blessed hope we have in Jesus!


Claire and I laughed and laughed when we saw this giant ladder on this little Mazda Miata as we were driving on the interstate.  When the engineers at Mazda were designing the Miata, I highly doubt they were thinking, “It can be a utility vehicle to carry around large ladders.” 

Yet many people in life find themselves in a similar predicament.  What they were created for and their current life do not match up at all.  Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  You see God has created each one of us and has given us unique places in time and history and unique gifts to use.  When we are living life according to our own rules and desires we step outside of God’s plan and go out on our own.  How foolish to think we could know better than God what is best for the future.  

So how can we make sure that we do not go through life like a Miata carrying a ladder?

1.  Make sure you truly know God through faith in His Son Jesus.  Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” 

2.  Read the Bible consistently with an open heart and mind.  II Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

3.  Pray daily seeking to grow closer to God. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” 

4.  Repent of things in your life that you know don’t please God.  Ephesians 4:22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

5.  Be involved in a local church where you have godly fellowship and accountability. Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

6.  Seek Godly counsel.  Proverbs 15:22, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

7.  Act on what you know is right.  James 1:22-25, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

If you know Jesus and are consistently doing 2-7, I believe you will get on and stay true to the plan God has for you.  Remember in that great exchange we get to give Jesus the unwieldy burdens that we have picked up along the way and only carry what He gives us.  “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

We must come to the realization that unless we are living according to God’s plan, then we cannot fully love Him and love our neighbors as He created us to do.  If your life does not line up with what God created you for, will you give up your plan and take on His?