Saturday, October 18, 2008

Trick or Treat

It is that time again. Ending of the month of October with the nationwide experience of Halloween. We could go down that road of its history. That would be the tradional thing to do, but that would be boring. Let us focus on what Halloween has become.

I remember a time long ago as a young boy in the neighborhood on Halloween night. I was dressed as a pirate my friends as an astronaut and the other a cowboy. It dates back a while. We would walk for blocks and blocks. Each one flooded with children in costumes. Laughter and giggles filled the streets. Joy and excitement a dentist could love a time of innocents now long gone.

Today the commercialization of the holidays is the main theme. Retailers now pushing products endorsed by the Hollywood movie industry. Halloween products ordered from suppliers over six months ago to be shipped in time for the holiday. Many of the items on the shelf have returned from storage inventories from the previous year. Perhaps they will sell this year? Video stores, TV, and movie houses around the country release their latest stories of horror to entice our pagan roots.

As Christians we try to point out the evil involved in this season. Our critics are quick to point out the carnage found in our Holy Bible. How David cut the head off of Goliath in 1 Samuel Chapter 17. Again they point out the story of the execution of John the Baptist in Mark Chapter 6:24-28 the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The history of the church has its bloody tale too. Crusades that used force to convert entire populations that continues to rebel against the truth to this day.

How we have missed the point that the instrument of death, the cross, was turned into a symbol of life through Christ Jesus.

With many youngsters coming to your front door this Halloween. Do we see an opportunity to witness to them? Along with candy could we also include a gospel track? Perhaps even an invitation to visit us at church? What about an announcement about an upcoming youth activity at your local church?

What if we went as far as to set-up a living manger scene rather than a haunted house display? Reminding everyone of the gift available at all times and not just on Christmas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Witness Reaction Program, Step Three: Worship

In step-one we learned to get in tune with God and stay in tune with Him through prayer. In step-two we learned to know God through His word. Studying His word is essential for our Christian growth. The first three steps of the Witness Reaction Program are the foundation work for our Christian faith. If you do not have it or do not live it then how can it show in you? How can God’s light shine through you?

The next step is worship. Have you ever been in church service with the choir singing and tears come running down your face? For that brief moment everything is fine even though you might be at you’re lowest. It is at that moment we come before God with a repentant heart. It is at that moment that we give up all we are to God. I will let you in on a little secret. We do not come to church to worship. We bring our worship to church.

Worship is associated with song or music. If you are like me then you know how to make a joyful noise. Those around me hear the noise and God and I hear the joy. Yes, call me a Jesus freak. I am one of those who move back and forth when the music plays. I enjoy hearing the choir sing. Come Monday morning has the joy left you?

Each day and each moment is a time to worship God. When that choir song keeps ringing in your ear let it move you. Perhaps you only remember the chorus line. Sing it over and over. Today there are many Christian radio stations as well as Internet radio Christian videos on and on CD. A good song can change your mood from negative to positive.

Reading the Book of Psalms has helped ease my heart in times of trouble. The more of them you read the more your heart will cry out to God.

Our youth band is a joy to listen too. Sure I know I am getting older since I often think the music is too loud. So I sit in the back. The point is that you need to search out different opportunities in worship. Go to a Christian concert with friends from church. Ask fellow Christians what groups or songs they listen too. Your Minister of Music at your local church is a great resource. Ask him.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Witness Reaction Program Step Two: God’s Word

In step one we learned to communicate with God. Get in touch with Him at a moment’s notice. Now we are in tune with God. Let us move forward in getting to know Him through His word. This is step two of the Witness Reaction Program.

If my wife wrote to me 66 love letters and I did not read them or chose to just read some that interest me. What would you think my wife would believe of me? Yes, she would still love me but would she know my heart is in the right place? So it is with the word of God.
The Bible is a gift. Pastor Rick Warren author of the book The Purpose Driven Life says, “I have been a follower of Christ Jesus for over 40 years. Each time I read the Bible. God reveals to me something new each time.”

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Eph 6:17 (KJV)

When I was around 8 years old I went to visit my Uncle’s family in southern California. They insisted I attend church with them. I was excited about it. You see I had never been to church. I was not raised in the church. With my two cousins we went to Sunday School. Each of us was handed a Bible. Then asked to turn to chapter and verse. I had never seen a Bible before. I had no idea where to turn to. So I sat there quiet. The rest of the kids caught on very quickly that I was new to all this. Then proceeded to laugh at me. The Sunday School teacher as I recall did nothing but ignore me. At that moment the Bible represented nothing but pain and humiliation to me. I still hear the laughter in my head each time I walk into Sunday School. By age 18 if you had asked me what the 10 commandments were I would have said it was that movie they play around Easter. By my early 20’s my attitude was that I had no time for God and He had no time for me. I was mean to Christians. If one tried to show me the ABC’s of salvation with their Bible. I would lash out at them nearly to the point that I would take their Bible and want to beat them with it.

Now I carry with me my pocket Bible nearly all the time. You will often find me carrying a Bible wherever I go. My testimony is another entire story. Someday I will post it.

Jesus changed my life. It is through God’s Word we learn about Him about His son. Through the Holy Spirit we learn our purpose in serving Him.

Again D.C. I read my daily devotion and attend Sunday School. I do not have time for much more. I say, make the time. You will cherish it in time. When I was first saved one of the elders of my church took it upon him to guide me through a series of bible lessons through the Navpress. He himself was part of the Navigators. Through these series of lessons a foundation of truth was built. There are the key words: Foundation of Truth.

Even at Sunday School your teacher has very limited time to present, encourage and teach how to apply the scriptures to every-day life. Many churches offer discipleship-training classes. There with others you learn from a very focused study on particular books of the Bible and scriptures. At our church many members are involved with Bible study groups that have members from several other churches meeting at individual’s homes during the week.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
2 Tim 3:16 (NLT)

The above verse spells it out for us all. The second step in the Witness Reaction Program is God’s Word.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Witness Reaction Program Step One: Prayer

It all starts with God. How do we communicate with God? We do so through prayer. Why is prayer so important? The answer is because there is the devil. The devil and his minions attack those who can do the most damage to him.

Why should we pray? Jesus did.

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Heb 5:7 (NLT)

After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Matt 14:23 (NLT)

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Mark 1:35 (NLT)

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”
Matt 26:36 (NLT)

One day Jesus left the crowds to pray alone. Luke 9:18 (NLT)

Start your day with prayer. Finish your day with prayer. If we are to get in touch with our Heavenly Father we need to talk with Him as often as possible. In the morning take the time to pray and hand over to God the burdens you have. Give up to God those problems with your spouse, children, friends, co-workers, neighbors, physical problems, financial problems and anything else. These things are holding you back and interfering with your personal relationship with Christ. Sure you will still have to deal with them but as a co-pilot. God is now in control. Let Him drive and do not try to give Him directions. He knows what is best for you.

It sounds simple. It is and many of us end up skipping it until faced with a dire situation. We need to pray in good and bad times. We run into the devil when we are going the opposite direction of him. We never see the evil one when we are running along side of him.

D.C is not my daily devotional good enough? Let me ask you. Is just sitting down at the table with your family good enough or should you take the time to talk to them? Is leaving your spouse a note good enough?

I cannot emphasize it enough. You need to drop off all that extra baggage holding you down. Jesus is there for you.

Then Jesus said, Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28 (NLT)

So D.C. how often should I ask Jesus for help? Pray as often as it takes. Ask other brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for you and at times with you. One book I recommend is “Power Prayers to Start Your Day” by Donna K. Maltese.

A personal relationship with Christ is just that. It is personal. Do not be surprised when your prayer time becomes a conversation. A conversation takes two and He is there with you. God does not talk to me directly but I have received full sentences as answers. I am not crazy. I am sure if you talk with your brother and sisters in Christ they too will tell you so.

The first step in the Witness Reaction Program is prayer. Your communication with God is vital if you are to have that personal one-on-one relationship we all as Christians want. Prayer is absolutely required for staying tuned-in with God.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8 (ESV)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Witness Reaction Program

wit·ness: 1.a. One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced: a witness to the accident. b. One who furnishes evidence. 2. Something that serves as evidence; a sign. 3. Law. a. One who is called on to testify before a court. b. One who is called on to be present at a transaction in order to attest to what takes place. c. One who signs one's name to a document for the purpose of attesting to its authenticity. 4. An attestation to a fact, a statement, or an event; testimony.

When we are attacked or mistreated we naturally want to lash out or strike back. We honestly want to share that pain with others. Especially with the one we are upset with or want to retaliate against. A dark subject for a Christian based Blog.

If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin.
Lev 5:1 (NLT)

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Matt 28:19 (NLT)

As Christians we are all called to witness, to testify and share the Good News. It sounds simple and it is. It is ourselves who make it so complicated. Not everyone is open to talking about or receiving Christ. Or are they?

For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.
John 6:44 (NLT)

Over 11 months ago I was online at viewing a video clip about witnessing. After I reviewed the comments listed. One was very negative, in my opinion. Within the text of the comment was a website. Sure enough I visited it. It was a website owned and published by the owner of the negative comment. She is a writer, producer and movie critic of cult horror films. To cut to the chase I thought of all people this one should have the closest idea of what Hell must be like. This was her trade. This was her life. An email from a Christian like me was like gas to a fire.

Trying to witness online is hard to say the least. In this case I did a very poor job. I was ill-equipped for the job. As in Luke, chapter 18:18-30, this woman would have to give up all she has ever known. Turn away from the evil one she has been serving.

I ask the question. Before I was saved was I so determined to deny God?

My personal goal is to become not just better at witnessing but make it a habit. Make it something as natural as reaching out for a handshake. So my goal is when I am faced with a situation my reaction will be to first ask myself, “How can this be a witnessing opportunity.” Then pray for God to show me the way and serve Him.

If I am going to react then make it a witness reaction for Christ.

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