VLOG: Christian Apologetics in light of Islam (part 2 of 5)

The Holy Spirit has laid it upon my heart to share of conversations over the past near decade with dear friends from the Islamic faith regarding Christian doctrine. In this five part series, we will explore why Jesus had to die, if there is really only one God, which apostles should we follow, what the Christian church believes regarding other creeds and how does one decide what is right and what is ultimately wrong. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and draw hearts to Himself for He alone is worthy.
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The Tea Bag Gospel: What Are You Serving?

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (NASB)

 

As the weather cools off and longer layers are pulled out of the closet, a time-honored pass-time of sipping a cup of hot tea with a good book or good friend is enjoyed by many. This delight is enjoyed around the world in both solitary and social settings. Such moments are valued, treasured and protected simply because– we pause. We enjoy the aromas and mingling flavors as the steam curls atop our mugs and the work of the day must wait while we savor.

 

While chatting with a dear friend a few days back, something hit me about such moments—this is the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Walk with me on this…

 

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)

 

We as individuals are like the tea bag (or even loose leaf tea, if you prefer). And on our own, we bring nothing of lasting and eternal value to benefit another. All we can offer is what we have (No one needs a tea bag by itself, still in its wrapper or still within its canister. No. no. no! It’s not until the wrapper of self is removed (Galatians 2:20) and placed into the waiting vessel where the hot water of the Holy Spirit will infuse a new work in us (Acts 15:8-9). It’s not a matter of getting our dried spices and herbs into the right order—the fact remains—all that we bring to the table, just like the leaves of a tea bag are, dead and dried. Yet, praise be to God, that no life is beyond the rescue and repair of God (Romans 8:28)! And just as the prophet Ezekiel was given a vision of a valley filled with dry bones come back to life before His eyes as proof that God can make “dry bones live” (Ezekiel 37:1-14), so God breathes life into our dead and dry souls through the ministering work of the Holy Spirit when we believe—with EVERYTHING in us—that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God and indeed did all that He said He did.

 

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NASB)

 

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35 (NASB)

 

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:37-38 (NASB)

 

We do not possess, nor can buy, barter nor even steal this precious water—no, from one naturally dried up tea bag to another—things are pretty crispy and dusty! BUT…and isn’t that a beautiful word when speaking of the hope of God?…BUT!!! When it comes to God, He never runs out of refreshment for our souls! Thus, whether you are from the bread basket in America, the coast of North Africa, the inner cities of China or anywhere else on this vast planet—if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you WILL be saved (Acts 16:31).

 

“And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:8-9 (NASB)

 

The Holy Spirit is who activates the spiritual gifts and talents without our lives—and if we are trying to speak of Jesus Christ strictly in our own abilities, we will miss the greater blessing God has in store. How can this be?

Much like hot water releases the satisfying taste and welcomed aroma that was locked within the tea bag, God infuses our personally experiences, our talents and even our bents to be used for His glory and the good of humanity when we surrender each of our lives to Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13, 1 John 1:9). Thus, it doesn’t matter if one has been to seminary or is still in second grade—all any person, young or old, is required to do is COME to Jesus and be saved.

 

11 For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NASB)

 

How do you come to Jesus this very day?

“You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; you are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” Psalm 51:16-17 (HCSB)

 

Talk to Jesus and tell Him that you are tired of trying to look like you have it all together, when you know full well that there have been heartaches, mistakes and embarrassments along the way that you wish you could take back. It doesn’t matter if we can fool the world with touched up photos or dangerous/scandalous/expensive/exotic lifestyles; God sees the condition of our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). God wants to give you a fresh start—and an eternal purpose for each day—starting as soon as you call out to Jesus as the Lord of your life. Why? Because it is at that point that every screw up and every shame are erased from your story in God’s sight. Dang—just let that soak in for a second! God is offering you a fresh start—a complete new beginning with a life willed with meaning, purpose and peace with God that is available right where you are today—regardless of your past or even your present—He wants to rescue you from eternal death and give you a new future through the finished work of Jesus Christ, His one and only Son.

 

Jesus lived a perfect life, died a criminal’s death and rose victoriously on the third day—conquering death and the grave—to cancel the debt of death each one for all who choose to call upon Him as the one and only way to get right with God; because He is God (Isaiah 6:1-8). The Holy Bible tells us that in that moment of coming clean before God and surrendering the plans of each of our lives to the work of God and accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our specific life, God sends our screw ups and failures one way and us another—as the East is from the West—meaning, never to meet again (Psalm 103:12).Thank Jesus for coming into your soul and securing your eternal destiny through His finished work on the cross. Jesus, it’s in your name that we rejoice in these things today, amen.

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)

 

If you spoke that to God for the first time and meant it in your heart, share it with someone! God wants to use you to forward His message of eternal hope and endless significance for each life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The question is, are you willing to tell others? Just like the hot water and the tea bag, God will use your gifts, talents and experiences to help reach others with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Let us be passionate about bringing cups of tea – our own stories infused with the Good News of Jesus Christ—to all the world, for they deserve to know of the God who loves them and gave up His only Son to die in our place to ransom us from the punishment we each deserve—all for love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 31st: What Do You Shine For?

In light of the upcoming date of Halloween, may we take a minute to step back and observe the date from a Christian perspective, rather than pagan. There is something powerful about celebrating what the Lord has done on various days—and not allowing our Gregorian calendar to tell us what the date should signify. If we know a bit about the day in respect to Christian history, rather than its fame as a day of dressing up as ghosts and asking for candy from strangers. There is much to spur on conversations of faith with those celebrating Halloween, if we just know our history! Let’s take a quick time travel to learn the facts. Ready to travel back in time? Awesome, let’s go!

 

The year is 1517 and the date is October 31st. We are in Wittenburg, Upper Saxony which is within the Holy Roman Empire. During this time in history, the church has been marred with a reputation of bribery schemes and grave injustices, better known as the sale of indulgences. A German Monk by the name of Martin Luther has reached his breaking point and addresses Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg through a list of objections to the current issues widely known and recognized within the church. This letter titled “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” was nailed to the door of the All Saints’ Church. This letter, which would later be better known as the Ninety-Five Theses, would play a crucial role in the Protestant Reformation.

 

Among the objections, Martin Luther states in Thesis 86 “Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?”

Martin Luther also rejected the notion that by dropping money in the church coffers, one was able to buy entrance into heaven. Luther recalled that Jesus Christ is the only way to get to heaven and no amount of money, or lack there of, was going to change one’s personal access to Almighty God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Now, in 2017, it is our turn to take a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10-13). Regardless of what others may tell you or try to sell you—salvation is found through confessing our wrong doings to God above and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 John 1:9). There is no other way by which humanity can be saved, but through the living Son of God, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, Acts 10:43, Acts 13:26 & 1 Timothy 2:1-6).

 

“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.”  1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NASB)

 

As a Christian, may we rejoice that our souls are not stuck in some form of limbo until someone can earn enough money to absolve the debt of our sins and ensure the way to paradise. Praise be to our Victorious and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ that all the filth, shame, perversion and unspeakable deeds committed by all humanity were thrust upon Him as He died upon a cross, between two criminals, to pay each and every one of our debts in full—once and for all (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Hallelujuah! May we rejoice as followers of Jesus Christ, and use this season of plastic witches, sparkling paper bats and candy eye balls to recall our true reference point for October 31st. It is not defined by souls floating around aimlessly and waiting for the indulgences of another to get them through the gates of heaven, but firmly standing upon the Word of God that claims for each and every believer in Jesus Christ that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7-10). Happy Reformation Day, church family, may we also be people who hold fast to the words of the Holy Bible; regardless of how many or how few are standing at our sides.

 

Jesus Christ called us to be His light to this dark world (Matthew 5:13-16). May we honor the Lord through speaking the truths of God’s Word to a world who is utterly confused on what pure love should look like and many are sincerely desperate to experience the real thing. Perhaps this is written for you today. What if someone you personally interact with will see pure and godly love lived out for the first time? What if, by caring for others who do not agree with you politically, economically, socially, or otherwise—what if you were used by God Almighty to help introduce someone to the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time? Sounds too big or too crazy?

May I encourage you this day to realize that our words hold weight, our actions leave impact and the love of Jesus Christ will long outlive us all. Praise God! May we bring all people to Jesus Christ who is in fact, the lover, rescuer and redeemer of every soul who confesses their inadequacies and turns to Him as the Lord of their lives (John 3:16). This is a truly exciting time to be a believer of Jesus Christ, may we not throw away the opportunities given to us each day to make an eternal impact in the lives of those around us for Jesus Christ alone is worthy!

 

1Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

      5Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?6This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 9If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 10The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 11And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

13These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

      16If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 17All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.

      18We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

21Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

1 John 5:1-21 (NASB)

 

 

All historical information regarding Reformation Day was gathered from this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformation_Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Christian Life According To Pumpkin

When autumn comes around each year, there is one item that steals the show- the pumpkin. From seasonal foods, drinks and cinema classics to home décor and photo props, the pumpkin takes center stage! But, have you ever seen the pumpkin as a way to explain the Christian life? As the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to fall, let’s take a look at an amazing reminder of our spiritual journey with Jesus Christ — as illustrated by the growth of the pumpkin!

Much like the orange mascot of fall, each of our spiritual lives started with a small seed. The Lord assures us that the Word of God will accomplish the work He intends for it (Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 55:11 and Matthew 24:35). In the same way, once an individual is willing to accept the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ, they will be saved from eternal punishment and judgment (John 1:1-18).

As a Christian takes the time to dive into the Bible, ask questions, pray and seek godly counsel, a process much like spiritual watering and feeding takes place to revitalize the soul (John 4:14). While Jesus was preaching, He said this:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 (NASB)

The pumpkin seed then turns into a sprout. And in the spiritual sense, once an individual receives Jesus Christ as their own Savior to wipe clean all the known and unknown failures, a new life in Christ has begun! Praise God that the moment any person (young, old, married, divorced, straight, homosexual, athletic, intellectual, etc.) entrusts their eternal hope and security to Jesus Christ—a sprout within our souls arises.

 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NASB)

The sprout then grows a vine now that the plant has well-established roots and is moving across wider terrain! How does this happen in a spiritual sense? Jesus Christ shares that He is the One True Vine (John 15:1). As a believer continues to “feed” on the Word of God, the believer becomes spiritually stronger (Psalm 119:9-16). Now, the vine does not stay in one place. No, no, no! It is on the move! As believers in Jesus Christ, we are instructed to do the same:

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Mark 16:15 (NASB)

The vine then produces the flower. Just as the flower opens to receive a special gift from the bee, as believers, the Holy Spirit comes to each one to provide power to go forth and be witnesses for Jesus Christ into the entire world. After Jesus Christ victoriously rose from the dead on the third day, He ascended into Heaven, and instructed His disciples by saying:

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NASB)

From the flower, the much-anticipated pumpkin will grow—and grow—and grow! Many will purchase pumpkins this month, to carve into jack-o-lanterns that will light up the darkness of the night. In the same way, may we as Christians, share the light of Jesus Christ—that is within our souls—to a dark and unknowing world. While preaching from a hillside as He delivered the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers that they were the “light of the world” and that this light was never to be hidden. Rather, the light was to be displayed for all in the house to see (Matthew 5:14-15).

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NASB)

 Growth is a process. Pumpkins take time to grow into the orange orb we all love and adore. In the same way, our faith in God, our obedience, and our trust in Him through all circumstances are all growing as well. Be encouraged that no matter where you may be on your journey with Jesus Christ, He is ready to encourage you to keep going. So press into His Word and above all, keep growing in your knowledge of Him because you are forever cherished by an infinite God.

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Life Like a Pumpkin