Are You Sure?

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference

At a recent press conference, President Trump asked a reporter, “Are you sure you are a reporter?”

I don’t know the context of the exchange, but I think that is a legitimate question to ask many who work in the media today. It seems that so many of them want to be the story instead of report the story. Too often we hear what the reporter wishes had happened instead of what actually happened. To ask if they really are reporters is a fair question.

We Christians are called to be witnesses to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are not the story; Jesus is the story. We must not slant the story in any way that reflects our own personal bias. We should simply report the facts.

That brings us to a very important question: Are you sure you are a reporter of the gospel message?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…”–Acts 1:8

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Bosses and Leaders

A boss instills fear; a leader instills confidence. A boss creates resentment; a leader creates enthusiasm. A boss say, “I”; a leader says, “We.” A boss fixes blame; a leader fixes mistakes. A boss knows how; a leader shows how. Bosses make work drudgery; leaders make work interesting. A boss relies on authority; a leader relies on cooperation. A boss drives; a leader leads.

The church needs fewer bosses and more leaders.

Are you up for the challenge?

“…If your gift is…to lead, do it diligently…”—Romans 12:6-8

 

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The Lord’s Harvest

Autumn is the time of year when farmers work long hours to harvest their crops. Months after the ground was prepared and the seed was planted, the grain is finally ready to pick. The ripe soybeans and corn are gathered and taken to market.

This process might remind those of us who follow Christ that the Lord has a harvest too. Just as the farmer diligently works to bring in the crops, we also must be about the business of working in the Lord’s harvest, bringing people to him.

First, we need to see the potential of the Lord’s harvest. In John 4:35, Jesus says to his disciples, “…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” He uses this agricultural metaphor to point out that there are a great number of people who need to be gathered into his kingdom. If we don’t see many people around us who need to come to Jesus, we just aren’t seeing what’s really out there! It’s time we began to see the world as Jesus sees it—filled with many lost souls who are ripe for the harvest.

Second, we ought to be praying about the harvest. That is what Jesus encourages us to do in Matthew 9:37-38—“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” It’s still true that there is a great need for more workers in the Lord’s harvest. Many churches are often short on teachers, youth workers, those who help with benevolent and outreach efforts, etc. We need to pray that God will send people out to work in his harvest. If we try to send them, it’s easy for them to say, “No”. But if God sends them, that’s another matter! Oh, and when we finish praying, we need to be ready for any assignment God might give to us ourselves. Like one old farmer said, “When you pray for a good crop, you’d better have a hoe in your hand when you say ‘Amen’”!

Finally, we need to go in the power the Lord has given us when we go to work in the Lord’s harvest. Serving under our own power is insufficient. God has given us tremendous power to serve in his fields. We only need to make use of that power. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Do you see the potential? Are you praying for God to send people? Are you using the tremendous power that God makes available to you? Let’s all be diligent workers in the Lord’s harvest!

 

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What Love Is

Here is a collection of children’s responses to the question, “What is love?”

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands have arthritis too.”

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.”

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.”

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”

“Love is when my Mommy makes coffee for my Daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is okay.”

“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.”

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.”

“There are two kinds of love. Our love. God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them.”

However we define love, let us always strive to show it in our lives!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”—Galatians 5:22

 

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Without Grumbling

A man decided to join a monastery that had a strict code of silence. Each monk was only allowed to speak once every five years, and then he was only allowed two words.

The monk worked hard for five years, never speaking a single word. At the end of the five years, the leader of the monastery said, “You have been here five years now. You are allowed to say two words.”

“Bed hard,” the monk replied.

He went back to work for another five years, once again never uttering a word. At the end of that time he was told once again that he was allowed to speak two words.

“Food bad,” he responded.

Back to work he went, resuming his silence. At the end of another five years he once again found himself called into the presence of the leader. Once again, he was given two words to speak.

“I quit!” he said.

“I’m not surprised,” the leader answered. “Ever since you got here you have done nothing but complain!”

“Do everything without grumbling…”—Philippians 2:14.

 

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Heartfelt Prayer

“When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.”—John Bunyan.

Have you ever wanted to pray about something, but you didn’t really know what to say to God? I know that I have felt that way many times.

Having few words with which to pray is not necessarily a problem. Jesus warns against “babbling like pagans” (Matthew 6:7). It is possible to pray ineffectively because we use too many words and drone on and on without really putting our heart into the words.

Romans 8:26-27 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

So the next time you struggle to find the right words to use in prayer, don’t despair! Set your mind on God and lift up the praise or request to him. He will know how to receive your prayer and answer it properly.

 

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Puppy Love

I’d like to share a story I heard from Randy Gariss. I am recalling this story from memory, so forgive me if I don’t tell it as well as Randy does.

One day a fellow noticed that there was a straggly looking dog hanging around his property. The dog had no identification, so the man tried to shoo it away, hoping that it would go back home. The dog kept coming back, so the man decided to call the local dog pound to come and take the dog away. The dog catcher happened to be on vacation, so the man was told that it would be the next week before anyone could come for the dog. He said that would be fine.

In the meantime, the man didn’t want the dog to be hungry, so he bought some dog food and fed the grateful critter.

That evening it started to rain, and the soaking wet dog looked so pitiful that the man went out into the pouring rain and opened up a small building in his back yard so the dog could come inside and get dry. The next day the man put a box and an old blanket in the building to give the dog a bed to sleep in.

When the dog pound called the next week to set up an appointment to come and get the dog, the man said, “Don’t bother. I have changed my mind. I am keeping the dog.” He took the dog to the vet for its shots and went to the pet store to purchase all the supplies he needed to give the dog a happy life.

Seven years later, when the dog died, the man cried and cried.

What changed to make the man love that dog? The dog didn’t change. Not one bit. It was the man’s attitude toward the dog that changed. And his attitude changed when he started doing things for the dog. His acts of kindness and the money that he spent on the dog changed the way that he felt toward the creature.

This same principle holds true for our relationships with people. Some people are difficult to love, yet we are commanded to love everyone. Our attitude will change when we start treating people with love. The proper actions will lead to the proper attitude and help us to be more loving toward others. This principle has saved marriages and healed broken friendships.

Try it! You might be surprised to learn how well it works.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”—1 Peter 4:8.

 

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Fire Prevention

October is Fire Prevention Month. People are being urged to be cautious so as not to start any kind of fire that might get out of control and do serious damage to life and property. Fire that is out of control is a dangerous situation, one that we must take seriously.

The Bible warns us of the dangerous fires that we can start with our tongues. James 3:5b-6 says, “…Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Countless lives have been harmed by words that should not have been spoken. Gossip, slander and words spoken out of anger have caused hurt feelings, have destroyed friendships and marriages and have ruined reputations.

The Bible often exhorts us to consider our words carefully, lest we harm the very people to whom we are supposed to show the love of Jesus. It’s never easy, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can prevent many “fires” from doing the kind of damage that the human tongue is capable of doing.

 

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Practical Atheists

John Stonestreet

John Stonestreet is a commentator for BreakPoint, a Christian worldview ministry established by Chuck Colson in 1991. Stonestreet recently wrote, “What if a time-traveler from the early church secretly followed you from Monday until Saturday evening, would they be able to tell you’re a Christian?”

That’s an interesting question, and a challenging one too! It is sad to say, but the lives of many who claim to follow Jesus are hard to distinguish from the lives of those who make no such claim. Countless people live as practical atheists. They live their lives as if they do not really believe that God exists. Oh, you will probably find them in church on Sunday morning. Everyone knows that Christians attend church. But if these church-attending “Christians” never pray, never read the Bible, never go the extra mile to help others and never witness to others about Jesus, how are they any different from an unbeliever?

Stonestreet goes on to say, “Scripture’s metaphors make no sense in a disenchanted culture. As practical atheists, we are deaf to the heavens’ loud proclamation of the glory of God. Stars and rainbows remind us more of human achievement and self-determination than they do of God’s promises. Even breathtaking events like weddings, the birth of a child or even death itself, fail to remind us of God’s eternal attributes.”

In every generation of Christianity, there has been the temptation to give in to the godless attitude of the culture. And in every generation of Christianity, there has been the need to live counter-culturally. We cannot and must not give in to the godless worldview of the times in which we live! We who claim to follow Jesus must determine that we are going to live distinctive lives. We must go against the grain of culture; we must swim against the tide. Not only does your salvation depend on it, those who are looking to you for an example are in desperate need of someone to model genuine Christianity for them. They won’t get that from a “practical atheist”!

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”—Psalm 14:1.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”—Romans 12:2.

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Warning!

As I was driving this morning, I saw a dog up ahead venture out of his owner’s yard and begin to sniff at something dead on the road. I immediately slowed down and blew my horn to warn him to get out of the road. About that time, a dump truck approached the dog from the other direction, and the driver laid on his horn. The startled dog jumped out of the way and ran back to the safety of his owner’s yard.

The Bible has many warnings of the wrath of God that is ready to be poured out on sinners. God has clearly sounded the alarm and has given unbelievers a chance to repent or be destroyed.

The smart ones will heed the warning!

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them.”—Romans 1:18-19

 

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