Friday, July 31, 2009

Confessing Christ, false profession, and the numbers game

On one of the blogs I read the subject came up about a local emergent church that places great emphasis on the number of confessions in Christ. This church uses the numbers game as proof that God approves of their church and evidence they are following Jesus. While we praise God for these confessions, some concerns were raised about possible false professions due to the liberal nature of this church. This church uses some very questionable antics by the pastor and staff which prompted me to be concerned about people buying into the church's relevant "culture" vs. responding to God's call to repentance. It's not wise for any church to be overly concerned with numbers. It's even more dangerous to use confession numbers as a poll to see if God is working in a church or not. This type of action can lead to problems like pride and arrogance. This error can grow into believing that if church "A" has more confessions than church "B" then God must be blessing "A" more than "B". In other words, church "A" is excellent and pleasing to God. Church "B" is smaller; therefore church "B" must be doing something wrong in the eyes of God.

I do not advocate confronting people who profess Jesus Christ just because we have some disagreements with their church. As ambassadors for Jesus, it's our job to fortify their faith by simply sharing Jesus in truth and love. What do I mean? Did I not just type that we should not confront or heckle them? Yes, I did. What I mean is we are to share with them our faith, God's grace, and how we love Jesus because He first loved us. We share our repentance from sin, we define repentance in our walk as Christians, and how Jesus saved us by Grace. We should clearly define salvation in a manner that is both sound in the Scriptures and uplifting to Jesus by allowing the Holy Spirit to do His job in His time.

In the Bible we see this disturbing and frightening account by Jesus:

Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB)
7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'
23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness .'

This is where the numbers game breaks down and has problems. If a church bases salvation on simply saying "Jesus," repeating a prayer, and doing the works of the church then this frightening event described by Jesus Christ becomes very real. These people did wonderful works in Jesus' name only to have Jesus say that He never knew them! In our human mind we are thinking, "This just does not seem right! How could they know about Jesus but not be saved? They did great things in the name of Jesus! They worshiped Jesus and did miracles in His name! These people knew Jesus, but Jesus did not know them? Why?" The answer is they never repented and accepted Jesus. It's very clear in this passage that not everyone who says, "Jesus" is saved.

When we base serving/worshiping Jesus upon the numbers game, we are only hurting the church in the long run. The result of some confessions may be simply buying into a church culture, a youth program, a children's program, peer pressure, entertainment, relevance, excellent music & worship, following a parent's example, volunteering in the church, etc... anything other than the drawing of the Holy Spirit to repentance and salvation. It's in this type of environment where the church culture might be drawing people to repeat the name Jesus vs. the Holy Spirit drawing people to Him. Can people truly be saved in this type of environment I described? Absolutely yes.

So what should we do? How can we know if everyone who professes Jesus is saved? The short answer is we will never know. We should continue to preach the Gospel and clearly define salvation as the Lord's. We should make a great effort to define sin as sin, and explain the word "repent." We should explain repentance from sin and how we once walked in sin. We explain that God laid a foundation for our new life. This foundation is in Him and not in the love of the world. We should always preach the whole council of God regardless the number of lost people coming to our church.

If I had a church of 15 people and if 10 of those people confessed Jesus Christ as Lord, I praise God and take their word for it! If my church never grew another soul beyond all 15 of my people professing Jesus, I would continue to preach the Gospel, salvation, repentance, and knowing that you are saved by grace. I would not consider this doubting their confessions, but rather fortifying their faith and walk with Jesus. I consider it helping them when they are in need, haunted by their past, tempted by their flesh, tempted by the world, and encouraging repentance when they sin. It's a building block of assurance and teaching them about the Holy Spirit who lives within us. It's not an attack or down play on their confession.

I have an 11 year old son who confessed Jesus. I praise God for his confessing Jesus Christ as his Lord . I take my own advice and try to encourage him in his faith by explaining repentance and salvation to him. I do not want to make him doubt his confession. I want to strengthen him in Grace. I want him to read his Bible, pray, and strive to follow Jesus. I want him to be confident in his faith and know how and why he is saved. I do not want to only focus on telling him about salvation because I want him to mature as a Christian, having confidence in Christ. I know he will experience hardships and may even doubt his salvation, but I want to plant the Word in his heart so that when doubts come the Grace of God takes control, giving him peace. This is not hindering him but leading him in walking with Jesus by example.

I'm not asking for an inquisition or any other type of legalistic manner of watching people's actions to determine salvation. For those of you who want to do that, may I suggest you read about Lot in Genesis 19:6-8 in the OT, and then look in 2 Peter 2:6-8. God said Lot was "righteous," meaning he was a saved man! When we see our brother/sisters in sin we should not question their confession. We should do the following:

1. Pray for them in private.
2. Encourage them in public.
3. Rebuke them in love and compassion.
4. Refrain from gossipping about them to others.
5. Lead them by example.
6. Always point them back to God's grace by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Churches that do not preach repentance from sin after salvation are doing new Christians a disservice because the lack of teaching leads to carnality. Carnal Christians are weak Christians who are held captive by the lust of the world. This is where I believe many (not all) false professions are born and why we see in Matthew 7 Jesus saying,"I never knew you." A child of God has convictions about sin because the Holy Spirit lives within him. I fear the old saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" may hold true because we try to do God's job instead of simply doing what God told us to do. We try to add "culture" to God's Word when God's Word is enough.

I'm not just picking on this emergent church. I know this problem is in every type of church. Regardless of the type of church there maybe some false professions. I fully understand that legalism is just as deadly a venom as what I have discussed in this blog about the numbers game. Following strict man-made rules such as dress codes, men not wearing earrings, only using the KJV, repeating creeds, not drinking wine, not working on Sunday, etc... can and do lead to false professions as well. In the future I will discuss legalism and how it's harmful to the church. I'm just writing about how I personally deal with these issues and expressing my concerns with the numbers game as a means to measure God's approval.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sour milk?

1 Peter 2:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)

1 Peter 2

As Newborn Babes
1Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,

2like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

3if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Have you ever stumbled to your fridge early in the morning desiring a nice, cool, refreshing glass of milk? I'm sure that you have. How many of you have taken that big early morning "gulp" only to have your stomach turn? Your whole day is stained because sour milk just ruined your breakfast! I've drunk sour milk quite a few times since my sense of smell is very weak. In order for me to smell sour milk it is just rank beyond rank with chunks floating! Since I have been married, if I'm in doubt about the freshness of my milk, I ask my wife to check it for me. If it passes her test then I simply drink it.

Many times growing in the Grace of God is referred to as milk. New Christians are new creatures in Christ, therefore, as infants, we are taught the basics of Grace. In order to grow up as healthy Christians, we move from milk to meat much like we did when we were infants. Our mother nursed us in love and gave us meat as she watched us grow. The same holds true with the Holy Spirit as we grow in Grace.

One of the basic teachings from the Scriptures is seen in:

Titus 2:12-13 (New International Version)

12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

The Bible teaches us to say "No" to the things contrary to what God said is good. Notice the wording "present age" and how this did not only refer to the 1st century. We are to live and strive to do what God requires us to do. Living for God means to turn from our sins (repent) and not to be a partaker in the world's sinful systems. This is not legalism as defined by some Christians, but simply obeying the Scriptures as commanded by God. Living for Jesus goes beyond just saying His name, going to church, and worshiping Him once a week. Everyday prayer, study, and striving to follow Jesus are the pure milk of the Word.

The Word of God is pure milk. The word of the world is sour milk. For example: if we mix good milk with 1/2 sour milk, we still have sour milk. God told us to long for pure milk so that we can learn to grow in respect to salvation. When we grow in the Word, we see that salvation belongs to the Lord, and we learn to respect that which He gave us by Grace because we know we are not worthy. What this means is that we are not to use the Grace of God to justify sin because salvation is the Lord's. We should no longer work to try to save our sour milk by adding good milk to the mix. If we continue mixing the sour milk with the good milk, we will not notice the tainted taste. Eventually the sour mixture becomes more of the mixture and we will soon forget the taste of good milk. In other words the sour milk seems like good milk!

What we put in our mind and our heart will manifest itself in our lives. We can only process so much information before we overload our mind. If we fill our minds with the things of God then it helps us grow as Christians. Pondering and taking in the things of the world only stunts our growth. We all struggle in this area, but that is no excuse to wrap ourselves in the world's system.

Colossians 3:8 (New International Version)

8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

The verses I listed are some basic things we should do as Christians. Putting aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, slander, anger, rage, and filthy language moves us toward self-controlled godly lives in our walk through this world. If we cannot get past these basic teachings as children of God then how can we ever hope to understand the meat of the Word? Sour milk will make you feel sick, but rotten meat can kill you. We must desire the pure milk of the Word and resist the worldly temptations, our carnal desires, and principles of the world. In other words, when the things of the world become more relevant to us than the Bible we have a problem. We cannot grow in Christ if we are anchored in the world.

The world has no problem with cussing, lust, etc... and the world will tell you that since it is no longer offensive to them then it's o.k. for Christians to cuss because we are all human. Many times Christians who live in this type of rebellion will fire back, "But there are no perfect are a Pharisee!" in order to justify their open sin and rebellion. I agree there are no perfect people, but we do have a perfect God. When Jesus died for our sins and the Holy Spirit moved over the prophets, God knew that we are not perfect but He still gave us commandments to follow about godly living. The book of 1 John deals with us non-perfect people when we sin:

1 John 2:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)

1 John 2

Christ Is Our Advocate
1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an a]">Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;

2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Sometimes the sour milk comes from false prophets/false teachers that will teach us that we do not need to obey these commandments. As a newborn Christian, we might be taken captive by these types of teachers. If we study the Bible and pray, we see how God exposes these types of teachers through His Word.

1 John 4:1-3 (New International Version)

1 John 4

Test the Spirits
1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

Let's test the milk and see if it's pure or sour. I could use my nose defect as an excuse to blindly drink sour milk, just like I could use my past to justify living in sin, but I choose to seek help when I'm in question about the freshness of my milk. We should seek the council of God in His Word when we question if what we are saying and doing is godly. I've said many times, "The question is not WWJD but what did Jesus say in His Word?" By referring back to the Word of God we will be able to discern sin and avoid pitfalls that hinder our walk with Christ.

In order for us to grow in Christ, we must drink the pure milk of the Word so we can see the deeper meanings of the meat of the Word. We cannot see God's plan for our lives if we are still unable to digest the milk of the Word.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The work of the Church and helping the poor

I just found out a friend lost her job, which is not uncommon considering the current direction of our government and economy.

From pondering this, I began to think about the purpose of the work of the church outside of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My thoughts drifting to how we, as a church, worry too much about things that do not matter in the light of eternity. It's a shameful testimony for any church to spend money on things the 1st century church would have never dreamed of having while ignoring the homeless, poor, and people hurting in our community. These 1st century followers of Christ were called Christian by people observing their sacrifice, good works, and helping the poor. I want to go over some of my thoughts and I sincerely hope that it shames some people into dropping all the "fluff" from the church and truly look at what Jesus wanted us to do.

Luke 3:10-14 (NASB)
3:10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, "Then what shall we do?"
11 And he would answer and say to them, "The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise."
12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than what you have been ordered to."
14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, "And what about us, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages."

I am by no means a Pharisee or legalist, I just want to start off by making this statement. I was not raised in church and what I see is disturbing. I see churches spending millions on childrens' buildings, spending millions on new buildings, spending tens of thousands of dollars every Sunday on excellent music and fancy light shows, worrying about the new stain glass windows, debating the new carpet, spending money to print nice service guides, preaching on wearing Sunday's best, taking up funds for a new gym, pastors making hundreds of thousands of dollars, etc...,but what about the outreach to help the poor? I'm not talking about token outreach programs like filling food banks a few times a year, etc... I'm talking about taking a serious step to show the community the love of Jesus in deed. I know what some may be thinking about me, but that's alright because you may be the person who needs to hear what I am saying. It's shameful that we sat in nice air conditioned buildings every week, spending the donations to the church to make us comfortable, and getting all bent out of shape if the AC breaks Sunday morning when it's going to be 102 in SC, BUT we never stop to think about the family about to be evicted and hungry. We never think about the mother on the street pondering sinful acts to feed her child. So many times, we set up our religion, as a token of care by saying ,"but we have list to show these people where they can get help, we work with charity groups, etc..." I SAY SHAME ON YOU! SHAME! Instead of depending on private groups outside of the church to provide this help, why do we not pick up the pace? Are we really following Jesus when He said that if we have two coats to give our brother one? Did Jesus say anything about this person in need being a member of our church? Did Jesus say to petition the government for help? Did Jesus say to depend on other charities for help? No, Jesus told US to GIVE!

I know not all churches are guilty of what I have written. I personally have received and witnessed many blessings from Christians and their churches to those in need even when they never knew the people in need personally. This is the work of the church, and being on the other side of need has taught me the truth behind Jesus's words and actions. So please, if you are one of these people who strive to help the poor this blog was not for you. This blog is for the churches that worry about excellence, expensive services and turning a blind-eye to the greater things they could be doing with their wealth instead of blowing it on junk that does not breath a single breath of life. What about spending that money on people instead of the light show?

Back to my friend, it really pained me to see her suffer and knowing there is very little I can do for her. It pains me even more to know the church she attends could easily help her and many others "IF" they would stop worrying about the needy twin whores of excellence and relevance instead of following Jesus' example to truly do the work of the church and help the poor. These twins bring shame upon the name of the Lord because they lead the church to a place where Jesus never wanted it to go.

May God have mercy on America where we neglect his people all because we are too worried about the service, the AC, the music, the light show, the carpet, our dress standards, our nice big expensive buildings, our gyms, our printed hymn books, our in church coffee shops, etc... while the poor suffer! May God convict us all. In America, we do not know what it means to suffer as a church and I pray that God wakes us all up before He says,"enough is enough" and we all feel how displeased God is with us for our selfish actions.

James 2:14-21 (NASB)
2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?

Friday, July 24, 2009

He Is by Aaron and Jeoffery

This is another song that I love to listen to when I'm pondering the Grace of God. I have been pondering and thanking Jesus all day for saving me.

He Is on YouTube

It's days like this when I simply can not thank Him enough for His salvation and His blessings!

Just in case you are wondering I do love traditional gospel songs like "How Great Thou Art" and "The Old Rugged Cross".

Romans 15:9 (New International Version)

9so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written:
"Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing hymns to your name."

He Is is a wonderful song about who Jesus is in the Bible:


In Genesis, He's the breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's our High Priest
Numbers, The fire by night
Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice
In Joshua, He is salvation's choice
Judges, law giver
In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer
First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He's sovereign

Ezra, true and faithful scribe
Nehemiah, He's the rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He's Mordecai's courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song

In Proverbs, wisdom's cry
Ecclesiastes, the time and season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Isaiah, He's Prince of Peace
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
In Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, He's the call from sin
In Daniel, the stranger in the fire

In Hosea, He is forever faithful
In Joel, He's the Spirits power
In Amos, the arms that carry us
In Obadiah, He's the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He's the great missionary

In Micah, the promise of peace
In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He's pleading for revival
In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our fountain

In Malachi, He is the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God, Man, Messiah
In the book of Acts, He is fire from heaven
In Romans, He's the grace of God
In Corinthians, the power of love
In Galatians, He is freedom from the curse of sin

Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servants heart
In Colossians, He's the Godhead Trinity
Thessalonians, our coming King
In Timothy, Titus, Philemon He's our mediator and our faithful Pastor

In Hebrews, the everlasting covenant
In James, the one who heals the sick.
In First and Second Peter, he is our Shepherd
In John and in Jude, He is the lover coming for His bride
In the Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords

He is, He is, HE IS!

The prince of peace
The Son of man
The Lamb of God
The great I AM

He's the alpha and omega
Our God and our Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
and when time is no more
He is, HE IS!

My Jesus by Todd Agnew

Up until a few days ago I had no idea who Todd Agnew was until I heard one of his songs on the radio.

I really like the message of this song about Jesus. This YouTube video did a very good job with putting some pictures with this song. I feel this song addresses some issues our church today should face. Instead of worrying about excellence, nice seats, carpet, coffee, high tech shows, etc... we should ponder what our Lord Jesus did while He was walking the Earth. I think many times we all forget about helping the poor.

My Jesus by Todd Agnew YouTube video
Album: Reflection Of Something
Year: 2005

Lyrics to My Jesus :
Which Jesus do you follow,
Which Jesus do you serve
If Ephesians says to imitate Christ,
Why do you look so much like the world

Cause My Jesus bled and died
He spent His time with thieves and liars,
He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant
So which one do you want to be

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
or do we pray to blessed with with the wealth of this land
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness
Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sands

My Jesus bled and died for my sins
He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars,
He loved the poor and accosted the rich,
So which one do you want to be

Who is this that You follow,
This picture of the American dream,
If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side,
Or fall down and worship at His holy feet
Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion,
Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins,
But the Word says He was battered and scarred
Or did you miss that part,
Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

My Jesus bled and died He spent His time with thieves and the least of
He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable,
So which one do you want to be,
My Jesus would never be accepted in my church
The blood and dirt on His feet might stain the carpet,
But He reaches for the hurting and despises the proud
I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd
And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus
I want to be like my Jesus
I want to be like my Jesus
I want to be like my Jesus

Not a posterchild for American prosperity,
but like my Jesus
You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity
I want to be like my Jesus
but I'm not sure what that means to be like
You Jesus
Cause You said to live like You,
love like You but then
You died for me
Can I be like You Jesus?
I wanna be like you Jesus
I wanna be Like my Jesus

(Thanks to Matthew for these lyrics)
[ My Jesus Lyrics on ]

In the hedge and on the highway

Luke 14:23 (NASB)
14:23 "And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.

Years ago I when I was agnostic, I did not understand who Jesus was outside of what I had read, perceived, and been told. I never considered the Christian faith my choice religion because of various reasons. I had built up a hedge around myself using my knowledge of religions and personal thoughts about God. I may have appeared, in my actions, to a Christian observing me as a good person; because I strove to be a moral man, one in the middle of the highway of life. Deep inside I just wanted to be left alone. I was happy with my views on God and religion in general. I never really wanted anything but peace, while deep inside I was afraid like a small child lost in the dark. So as a wall of protection, I built up my hedge.

Why did I bring up my past? Because it still weights on my heart and mind when I read about the Grace of God in the Bible(Luke 19:10, 1 Timothy 1:15). It weights on me not as an anchor to my past and the world, but a reminder of the Grace of God and His salvation(2 Samuel 22:36). My heart sings with joy and love for Jesus when I remember my past, because He delivered me from my sin(Hebrews 8:12). He delivered me from death into life, He redeemed me even though I did not deserve redemption. I see this as encouragement to spread the Gospel(1 Tim. 2:3-4) trying to compel people to come to Jesus Christ.

What is see in Luke 14:23 is a commandment to go to all people, regardless of their state, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the south, where I live, the roads are generally clear and we can see which way traffic is going. We have signs and signals to help guide us as we travel. In the hedge it's another matter all together down here, we have critters!. In the hedge we cannot easily see where we are going or what we are going into. We may run into spiders, thorns, holes, snakes, and in some parts of SC gators! It takes more caution to venture into the hedge than to venture in the open highway. Both the highway and the hedge can be equally dangerous and frustration to maneuver in, but that does not mean one is of greater importance than the other. To go into the hedge requires a little more patience because the things in the hedge are hiding for a reason. What I see in Luke 14:23 is a picture of humanity. All of us are lost without Jesus(Romans 5:12, 1 John 1:8 and Romans 3:11) and in this passage the master: Jesus tells the slave: those of us saved by His calling, to go out and compel these people to come to where they hear about Jesus. The Bible says in:

Romans 10:17 (NASB) 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

We are to go out and pray that God draws these people in the highway and hedges to Him. We are to go out and witness our testimony in our deeds and words. We are to pray that God saves those whom we compel to come to God's house. What I see is a difference in preparation based on location when we go out. I see that we are to be mindful to our audience and environment when spreading to Gospel. I'm not saying to compromise our faith based on the environment, I'm saying that we need to be mindful of what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do and say. The commandment is the same from Jesus no matter if we are going to the highway or hedge. That commandment is to go out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ) for our sins, and for repentance from sin (Mark 1:15, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:1-5, Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30).

When I think about my past as a critter in the hedge, I thank God for reaching down and saving me. I look at myself as not a perfect man, but rather a new creature saved by the Grace of my Lord Jesus Christ(Galatians 6:14). It is my heart's desire, and my prayer, to be used by God to help reach those who are like I was many years ago. To help take the Gospel to those who are hurt, afraid, cold, lonely, and hiding in the hedge because of fear and doubt. I'm not saying that I only want to spread the Gospel to one group of people, nor am I saying that one group is worse than the other(Mark 16:15). Sin is sin, and it is sin that separates us from God no matter what that sin may be(Romans 3:21-26). With God there are no white lies, small sins, and great sins. Sin is sin, and sin is death.(Romans 6:23). All I'm trying to illustrate is people are different and they may see things different that we do. The common denominator that will pull all of us to the same level is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ the foot of the cross is level(Romans 10:12 and. Matthew 5:45) and God is no respecter of man(Acts 10:34). We are to give them the Gospel(Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, John 3:16, Romans 10:8-13) and allow God to do His job(Ephesians 1:3-14, Ephesians 2:8-9). As a man in the hedge, my heart is to reach the hedge, but as taught by God I will try to reach all people for Jesus. We all have areas that God has called us into, and mine happens to be in the hedge and the highway(1 John 5:11-12).

Luke 14:16-24 (NASB)
14:16 But He said to him, "A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many;
17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.'
18 "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.'
19 "Another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.'
20 "Another one said, 'I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.'
21 "And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.'
22 "And the slave said, 'Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.'
23 "And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.
24 'For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.' "

This powerful teaching from Jesus tells us:

1. Go out to all people

2. Do not be discouraged

3. Keep spreading the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

4. Allow God to draw people to Himself. We cannot save anyone.

5. Just do what God tells us to do and He will handle the rest.

6. Be obedient to Jesus.

We must prepare our walk with Christ so that we can fully follow His will for our lives.

Ephesians 6:10-17 (NASB)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

I know this is a lot to take in, but we must strive to walk in Jesus and follow Him.

Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB)
2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

In the highway and hedges, there are so many people that need to hear about Jesus. It is my prayer that we always pray, prepare, and set out to reach all people for Jesus. It's my prayer that we would use our gifts given to us by God in order to glorify the name of Jesus Christ. My calling may not be your calling, but we are all in one body in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us all work in order to preach, teach, and witness in truth and love.

Philippians 2:3-11 (NASB)
2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.