Thursday, June 30, 2016

In My Language, Please

A group from our church just returned from Belize this last week. They ministered in an area very near the Mexican border, thus the people's language was mostly Spanish. However, most of them had quite a bit of English and communication could be accomplished.

But the language wasn't the only difference. The very lifestyle of the people was quite a bit different from what we are used to here.

I remember going to Africa on a mission trip. You had to take into consideration the culture of the people there. One of the missionaries told a story to illustrate. He said that a man came to preach from the U.S. He was being interpreted into the native language. In his introduction, the preacher expressed to the people that he was tickled pink to be with them. The interpreter, being native to Africa, had no idea what the man was talking about. He interpreted it as this man has been happy to come here but has developed some sort of rash since arriving.

We laugh about that often, but it does illustrate a very important point. When we build a relationship with someone to share about Jesus, we must take into account that person's culture. This can be true even with your next door neighbor. We can't just plow through, telling them how wrong their ways are. We need to do as Jesus and Paul did.

Jesus taught in parables. Why? He used objects and situations that the people he was speaking to were familiar with.

Paul did the same.

"Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, 'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.'" Acts 17:22-23a

Paul doesn't barge in and begin to tell these people they are wrong. He starts out with relating to them, showing them he had paid attention to their ways and culture. Then he moves on to tell them that he wants to introduce them to this unknown God.

This is so important for me to remember. In my excitement, I can't rush ahead and spout out to unbelievers that they are wrong. No, I need to build a relationship and get to know them so I can witness to them on their level.

Not everyone had the opportunity to grow up in a Christian home like I did. I've always known who Jesus was and been taken to church and shown the priority of doing so. But the first time I had a child ask me; "Who is Jesus?" I was floored. This was right here in our own country.

There's a need for Christians to tell about Jesus, but we might need to do a little homework so we present Christ in their "language." It's worth the extra effort to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Have you been required to get on someone else's level to tell them about Jesus?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

What Voices Can You Trust?

As often happens, a section in my daily Bible reading stuck out. I was reading in 1 Kings 22, The king of Israel calls for the prophet of God. But he didn't really want to because he said that he didn't like that the prophet always spoke evil against him. But he should have trusted that voice because it was the one which spoke truth.

How do we know the voices we can trust? There are many screaming for our attention.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The king of Israel in the story above did this very thing. He gathered around him his own prophets to speak what he wanted to hear. The only problem with that is that it wasn't the truth. What they said didn't come to fruition.

Now I don't have to tell you that we are in a time like what is described in the verses from 2 Timothy above. There are even so-called ministers who will only speak that which is palpable for their congregations. What a disservice they are doing, leading people in the wrong way.

How do we know the voices we can trust? Let me offer a few points which I use to discern godly voices from those who spout untruth.

1. Make sure the voice matches what is said in the Word of God.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3:16
God will not go against what He says in the Bible. He never changes and nor does His Word. If a voice is speaking contrary to God's Word, that voice can't be trusted.

2. Make sure the voice doesn't contradict the Spirit.
"but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." 1 Corinthians 2:10
We have God's Spirit living within us if we are Christians, helping us to discern the truth and godly wisdom.

3. Make sure to ask for the wisdom to discern trustworthy voices.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
We must pray and ask God to give us wisdom to distinguish truth and those who speak it.

Precious brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not be naive, trusting voices just because they are louder or seem to be popular. Test the voices you pay attention to. We must strive to only listen to godly voices and also to speak only those things that align with God and His Word.

How do you tests the voices you hear?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Is it really trust if we give it parameters?

Precious Readers, it has been a while since I've posted a song for my blog post. But when the message from a song won't let me alone, I have to share it.

The Oceans song by Hillsong has been playing over and over again in my mind and I've hummed the tune for days.

Specifically, the line: Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. This has been the prevailing part to make me think.

If we give parameters to God or stipulations on what we're willing to do or how far we are willing to go, is it truly trusting? I don't think so. For us to truly claim we are trusting in God, we have to trust without borders. Why is this so difficult? Because sometimes the waves are high.

Oh, that I could follow the message of this song and truly hold out a trust in God without borders, knowing His embrace is trustworthy.

Click on the link called Oceans below. See if your trust is without borders. I'm trying.