Thursday, June 13, 2013

For my OFWB brothers and sisters (and anyone else interested)

One of the most memorable moments in our nation’s space program occurred in April of 1970 with the launch of Apollo 13. What makes Apollo 13 famous is not the launch, the American people had found those commonplace by that time, nor the astronauts on board. The reason Apollo 13 is remembered is because of what happened during the mission. Two days into the flight, a catastrophic failure in the oxygen system occurred, scrubbing the mission and placing the astronauts in grave danger. Even those of us not alive during this time are aware of the story of Apollo 13 because of the 1995 movie based upon the mission. What is seared into our minds is a quote from the movie – “Houston, we have a problem.” Though misquoted by the wrong character, that line has found its way into American conversation. “Houston, we have a problem” has become the catchphrase for those wishing to identify a problem or need.
In that spirit, I humbly offer this as a critique of the church – “Houston, we have a problem.” I wish to sound the alarm, as it were, concerning a desperate need of the church. My brothers and sisters, we have a discipleship problem. What I mean is that we are not fulfilling the task given to us by our Lord. As Original Free Will Baptists we speak often and loudly about fulfilling the Great Commission, but I am afraid we have misunderstood what Jesus is asking for us as individuals and as churches to do. All of my life I have heard the call for us to be “soul winners” for Jesus, and that is a worthy and correct call. I have noticed something though; with all of the emphasis on “soul winning” we have forgotten just what Jesus commissioned us to do.
Notice what that commission is according to Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (ESV, emphasis added). While we have focused on “soul winning” our Lord has commissioned us to make disciples. We focus on baptism numbers and attendance numbers, but we have forgotten to actually disciple those who have placed their faith and trust in the Savior of the world.
Take an assessment of your church; what is being intentional done to make sure new believers become spiritually mature believers? What tools, methods, and ministries are incorporated in your church to see people become conformed to the image of the Son? In what ways does your church seek to help people love God and love others well? Does your church or yourself even consider intentionally discipling people? What are you doing to help other believers grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior? If we are honest with ourselves, we will probably have to admit that we are failing to carry out the Savior’s command. I contend that most Original Free Will Baptists churches do not intentionally disciple believers.
         The church’s desperate need is for us to fulfill the mission given to us by our Savior. If that mission is to make disciples, the question must be asked – What is a disciple? More specifically, what did Jesus mean by disciple? It appears from studying Matthew 28:18-20 that, when Jesus speaks of making disciples, his concern is for men and women to accept his teachings, conform their lives to him, and follow him as his kingdom is inaugurated. Discipleship is more than learning about Jesus’ teachings. For Jesus, becoming one of his disciples means that the believer will live out what has been taught. With all authority given to him, Jesus sends out current disciples to go to the nations to bring in more people to the kingdom of God.
         As disciples, believers are more than learners, they are unconditionally surrendered to the king and, subsequently, obey the command to go and teach others to live the same way. Part of that command is to baptize them into the community built in relationship with the Triune God and with fellow believers. This baptism serves as an initiation ritual into the kingdom community, but more is to follow. The believers are to also learn so that they may go out and bring others into the kingdom.
         In Matthew’s Gospel, a disciple is a learner and a follower of Jesus. The life of a disciple is different because of an attachment to Jesus. This attachment is based upon the Master who has given his life as a ransom, which leads to followers committed to more than life-changing teachings. Jesus’ disciples are to go and make other like-minded followers.
         It appears that a disciple in the New Testament is considered as one who has been called by Jesus to come and learn from him. That learning is more than intellectual knowledge; rather, it is life transforming. This seems to fit with the Gospels’ portrayal of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus’ disciples find their attachment in the person and work of Jesus, not solely his teachings. Without using the term “disciple”, the rest of the New Testament canon appears to affirm that a Christian will be a follower of Jesus whose life is transformed by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. By being transformed, Jesus’ disciples are called to carry on his work.
         Now that “disciple” has been defined, another question is raised. Does this describe the people who constitute your community of faith? Connected to this question is the idea that our churches ought to consist of believers at different spiritual levels of maturity, but each believer is growing and maturing in his or her faith. Again, is this reflected in the group with whom you are connected? If so, PRAISE GOD! If not, then I humbly propose that we begin to think about fulfilling Christ’s command to make disciples.
         The church desperately needs to take this issue seriously for it is a serious command given to us by our Lord. Here is the crux of the matter though, if we are serious about being disciples, if we understand who Christ is and what he has done, then I believe we would not need convincing that we should be making disciples. We would see it as a joy and privilege to go and help others meet Christ and grow in their relationship with him. Pastors and church leaders would not have to cajole and convict church members to make disciples, they would have to actually rein them in!
         Pastor, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, small group leader, and any other person involved with leading and teaching, what are you doing to champion the cause of making disciples? Are you talking about it, leading studies on it, modeling it? What are our churches doing to encourage each member to make disciples? What is great is that there are more resources now than ever before to help individuals and churches make disciples in an effort to fulfill Christ’s command. More is being written on the subject than ever before, more information is available than ever before. Take advantage of what is available and tailor it to your particular needs and context.
         I am in no way an expert on the subject but I have focused my research for my doctoral project in this area. My passion is to see our churches filled with believers growing in their faith. I would welcome the opportunity to come and share with your church more about the need to make disciples and how to begin doing just that. I believe that the church has a desperate need in the area of discipleship and I want to do my part as a pastor and as a member of this denomination to see to it that our churches are equipped to address that need.

         I mentioned at the beginning the Apollo 13 mission and the problem it faced. While those astronauts did not land on the moon, they did make it home. Their problem kept them from completing the mission, but they did return safely because of the help they received from the NASA engineers. Keep this in mind; our God, who commissioned and sent us, has also empowered us to fulfill that commission. On our own and in our own strength we will never make it, but by his power and his grace we can complete the mission and bring honor to our King. I pray that we all will grasp the desperate need our churches face, and we will seek to fulfill Christ’s command to make disciples from among the nations.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Faith and Politics

So looking over the blog I notice that it has been a LONG time since my last post. I will not bore you with the usually excuses as to why I have not written anything. It is interesting (at least to me) that the issue that has caused me to start this post is not much different from the last post six months ago. The issue is the role of faith in politics. I will not rehash the previous post, for you can simply read it if you so desire. I will point out the differences of the posts in that the previous post was about my thoughts on my primary identifier, Christian or American. This post is a reflection upon recent events during this political season; namely, the role of faith in politics.

In recent weeks, we have seen the role of the candidates' faith become an increasingly focused upon subject. Just within the last few days, the Reverend Franklin Graham has come under fire for comments he made concerning President Obama and some of the Republican Party candidates. The purpose of this post is not to cast judgement on Rev. Graham, the President, or the Republican candidates. I simply want to point out the firestorm surrounding those comments.

Whether or not you agree with Rev. Graham, the matter of one's faith is a hotly discussed topic. Browsing the "twitterverse" after Rev. Graham's comments, I was completed dismayed at the comments posted on that social media. The amount of hate projected towards him specifically and Christians in general is truly disheartening. I actually read someone's comment about the need to bring back the colosseum games, including lions.

Also in recent days, an old speech of Senator Rick Santorum has come to light, in which he speaks of Satan's direct attack upon America. This has been roundly discussed and criticized among the media and others who do not support such an outspoken candidate. He has been accused of wanting to establish a theocracy if elected. He has attempted to downplay the speech and stay on point with his platform as the only true conservative candidate.

These two issues are the examples I choose to make my point. That point being that faith has come to be seen as a tool of division within politics. I have recently finished reading a book with the same title as this post written by former Senator John Danforth, in which he makes the same point. This was done in preparation of a presentation for my Doctor of Ministry seminar this semester. I will not summarize the book in this post, but do recommend it to you if you are interested in this subject.

As I write this, I cannot say that I have figured everything out, or that I have a convincing answer for this difficult topic. What I can say, and I believe with all my heart, is that regardless of your political or religious affiliation, let us attempt to humbly listen to each other and work together for the common good. Instead of demonizing everyone that disagrees with you, seek to affirm what you have in common, ask questions about the differences, and admit that we do not have all the answers. While we may have different opinions based on different world views, we are all God's creation and therefore each of us matters to Him.

Even in writing that statement, I know that not all will agree with me on that; and that is okay. What my Savior asks of me, is to seek His kingdom first, love God foremost, and to love others as I love myself. Those who profess Christ and have put their faith and trust in Him are called to be peacemakers. The responsibility is on us to be at peace with everyone if at all possible.

While my faith provides the moral guidelines for my life, and yes, will dictate my stance on certain social issues; it also dictates my stance on the shortcomings of BOTH political parties, and therefore I am not bound to any one political party. Faith does have a place in politics, but let us be extremely careful not to pigeon-hole political parties and candidates as Christian or non-Christian. My faith calls me to stand against injustice in ALL forms and to speak the truth in love to all people.

A Time magazine article published on Friday, May 31, 1963, states: "[Barth] recalls that 40 years ago he advised young theologians 'to take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.'" Barth here is Karl Barth, and regardless of your thoughts on his theology, he does make an excellent point. The Bible is to be our highest authority, and everything else must be measured against it, including our politics. In this post-modern age of reason and experience, let us be reminded that our reason can be fallible and our experiences can be misleading.

My hope from the discussion of faith and politics is that we think more clearly and behave more responsibly on this matter. I hope that during this election year, people from all points of life can come together, talk reasonably and honestly, and then work together to keep the ideals of our Founding Fathers alive and well. Can this happen; will this happen? Only time will tell...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Christian American or American Christian

If you watch television news, read a newspaper, a news magazine, or basically just do not have your head in the sand, you are aware of the financial crisis the USA now faces. You probably have heard also that many other nations are in crisis as well. In this country, as is usually the case, the politicians have come out pointing the blame at the "other" party. Everyone pontificates about how "their" party could solve all the issues if the "other" party would not be so stubborned and bull-headed.

These discussions usually turn to all the other problems facing our nation and how the right political party (read "their" party) could fix all these things if they had complete control in Washington. This rhetoric usually reaches a crescendo right around election time as you see each candidate trying to rally the base of their party and woo swing votes.

This is also usually the time when you start hearing about the Religious Right or Evangelical Voters. In addition, we hear why each candidate is the right candidate because of where they stand on the "hot-button" issues. You will hear rhetoric such as "A Christian can't vote Democrat!" in hopes to guilt people into voting for Republican candidates. You might also hear statements such as "separation of church and state" in an effort to keep religion out of politics.

This raises a question that I feel with which many people struggle. Am I to be a Christian American or an American Christian? Now you might ask what is the difference and is it not just a matter of semantics, and you could be correct. Personally, I believe that there is a difference, and it is a big one. Basically, I am asking which term defines me the most.

We live in a time in which Christianity in America has become a social religion (at least in the South, which is my context). To be a good American means I love God, country, and mama. It means I work hard, raise a family, pay my taxes, and am a well behaved citizen. Is this the way the Christian faith is described in Christian Scripture?

Do not misunderstand me; I thank God I was born in the United States and that I have the freedoms provided to me. But with this privilege comes a great responsibility. I should not use this privilege as a rite of passage that allows me to look down on others in pride. Nor should I wear it as a badge of honor that exempts me from helping those around me here at home and globally.

I believe the Christian Scriptures call us first to be citizens of God's kingdom and then citizens of a sovereign nation. So while we should be concerned about the status of our nation and about providing a future for our descendants barring Christ's return; we should be more concerned with fulfilling Christ's command to make disciples among all the nations. That should be our chief business; it should not be getting a politician we disagree with out of office.

Our political landscape is not a black and white issue; it is much messier than that. As a friend of mine said to me last week, why can't Christians be concerned with saving unborn babies AND taking care of abandoned or under-provided children? Why can't Christians be concerned with cutting unnecessary spending AND providing services for those Have-Nots in our country?

Christians are called to love mercy, act justly, and walking humbly before God. Christians are called to be salt and light to a dark world. Christians are called to be in this world, but not of this world. Last time I checked, this does not fit neatly into any political party within this great nation of ours. It is time to stop the bickering and fighting, it is time to stop pointing fingers, and it is time to start praying if you have not already.

It was Billy Graham I believe that was quoted one time in regards to being asked if he had ever considered running for President. His reply was no, why should he take a step down. His point was that he had a higher calling, which I believe extends to all Christians.

I am tired of all the fighting and name-calling, I am tired of being a political chip to be used in someone's campaign, and I am tired of Christians becoming distracted from our true calling. This world is NOT my home, I'm just passing through. And on my way through, I'm going to tell as many people as I can about my Jesus.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Radical Christianity

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it." (Mark 8:34-35, English Standard Version)

With these words, Jesus sets Himself against everything we as American Christians hold near and dear. In a time where bigger is better and numbers mean everything, Jesus is calling us to something radically different. A careful reading of the Christian Bible reveals that whenever the crowds grew too large around Jesus, He would make a radical statement that would cause people to leave. Whether it was the above quote, or Jesus speaking about His followers having to eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus always did the opposite of what church growth experts tell us is important to being successful in today's culture.

Might I suggest rather than listening to the so-called experts, that Christians actually listen to their Master. I am currently reading through David Platt's book Radical again in preparation for the week of church camp I co-direct. I have to say it is perhaps one of the most challenging books I have ever read. Not because of the academic level of writing (trust me, I've had to read many more difficult books for Master and Doctoral work), but because of the subject matter.

Platt argues that American Christians are not living up to the standards set forth by Jesus. He challenges his readers to consider how we have adjusted the gospel message to fit our preferences. He then shows what Jesus actually meant about being His disciple, and encourages you to believe and to obey.

Now this post is not so much a book review (I do encourage you to go and read the book), as it is a reflection on the impact it has had on me. As I stated, this book has been one of the most challenging books for me because of its subject matter. Pause for a moment and consider the opening quote. When was the last time we truly denied ourselves anything? As Americans, the majority of us have plenty of food, clothing, shelter, love, etc. As a nation, we are the richest of the world; most of the world's population lives on less than $2/day. We have tremendous freedoms not known by many; which we daily take for granted. I could continue, but I believe you understand my point. We are a blessed people and therefore are far removed from the words of Jesus.

Not only do we not deny ourselves of our wants, but we do not understand what Jesus means when He tells us to take up our cross. Understand DOES NOT mean to bear a particular burden! Remember what the cross was in Jesus' day; a form of public execution. To put it into our context, it would be like Jesus telling us to take up our electrocution chair, our gas chamber, our lethal injection, our noose. We have made the cross pretty; we have formed it out of brass and put it on the Lord's Table, we have put it atop steeples, we make beautiful jewelry and wear the cross around our neck. We have removed the blood, the splinters, the roughness, the shame and we have loss the shock of Jesus' words.

Read the gospel accounts closely and you will see that Jesus was actually the most radical person that humanity has known. He removed social barriers, He disrupted the standing religious establishment, He confounded the political structure. American Christians have removed all of this and made Him the image of meekness and peace found in our flannel graphs. Please do not misunderstand me, Jesus is the Prince of Peace, He does not break a bruised reed (to paraphrase the Old Testament). But what we must remember is that Jesus comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.

I have to agree with Platt that American Christians have taken the rough edges off of Jesus and have made Him into our liking. A word of warning though, to make Jesus anything other than who He truly is, is to make an idol in our own image; and that will bring grave consequences. Jesus calls us to radical abandonment of ourselves and this world. He bids us to come and die to self, to this world, to the desires of this world. The question we have to answer is this, "Is Jesus Worth it?".

I would love to say that I have left everything for Jesus, that I have denied myself and have taken up my cross, and have not looked back. I would love to say that, but to say it now would be a lie. There still is a struggle, in fact a daily struggle to live as Jesus would have me to live. I can say this with all sincerity...JESUS IS WORTH IT! The American dream offers safety, security, and success; all of which can be taken away, all of which will fade away. Jesus offers us something much better, for it will not fade, it cannot be taken away. He offers His safety, security, and satisfaction through His sovereignty, love, and presence.

Is Jesus worth giving up the American dream? Is He worth denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following? Only you can answer that for yourself. I have had enough of nominal Christianity, I am ready to see a multitude of radical Christians go all out for Jesus. I am ready to see the American Church be more than a social club that meets weekly because it is expected to. I am ready to see this world turned upside down again because Christians actually believe and obey what Jesus said for us to do. Because in reality, radical Christianity is really just biblical Christianity.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A response to the death of Bin Laden

I went to bed Sunday night not aware of the news of Usama Bin Laden's death. It wasn't until Monday morning with the kids off to school that I finally turned the T.V. on to watch the morning news programs. It was then that I learned what the whole world seemed to be discussing. I watched in amazement and I was utterly speechless. I listened for details...the who, what, when, where, and the how. I watched as the programs cut from location to location showing the celebrations taking place across our country. And then I went to work.

I tried to listen to talk radio to get more details, picking up bits and pieces, but by mid-morning I was too busy to listen anymore. Late afternoon found me checking facebook and twitter just to see what people were saying. I found social media divided by response just as I found the traditional media divided. I have to admit, it has taken this long for my thoughts to come together, to be able to process all of the information. But what I keep returning to is this question: "How should a Christian respond to the news?"

Speaking personally, I am glad as an American that justice has been served, but as a Christian I am saddened by the fact that most likely Bin Laden left this world a unrepentant sinner. As I thought about my feelings, I thought back to that Sunday following 9.11.01. I stood in the pulpit facing my congregation; many who had raised a flag earlier that week in support of our nation. I stated to the congregation that as an American I was furious that this could happen. (Later on Toby Keith's song "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" came out, summing up many Americans thoughts.) But, I told the congregation, as Christians we need to pray that Bin Laden (and other Muslims) have the opportunity to respond positively to the gospel message.

I have to admit that I probably didn't get a lot of "AMENS" from that response, but it was what I felt was the biblical response to the situation. All these years later, my thoughts remain the same. Without citing particular Scripture for my "proof-texting", let me say clearly that I believe the Bible teaches that God has ordained governments to carry out the punishment of criminals. If a law is broken, then justice is to be served. Clearly, Bin Laden was a mass-murderer who needed to be stopped. I am thankful that our military had the opportunity and that we had leaders who were willing to make the difficult decision to carry out the operation.

At the same time, my first allegiance is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who tells us to pray for our enemies, who tells us to take the gospel to all nations, and who tells us that He does not rejoice in the death of the wicked. No, God's desire is all of those who are created in His image (including terrorists) would respond in faith to His offer of salvation. Though, through human eyes, Bin Laden's sins might be more heinous than mine, I am just as much in need of a Savior as Bin Laden was.

That said, I don't believe Christians should be dancing in the streets over his death, nor should we be celebrating over his death. Let us as Christians find satisfaction that justice has been served, pray that his death opens the door for the gospel to be unhindered in being shared, and weep for those that leave this world apart from Christ.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Biblical Christian Response to Culture

I have a confession to make...the topic of this post has been difficult to get from my brain onto my computer. You have no idea how many times I have started only to stop after a few sentences. It's not because I am afraid of what others might think, nor is it because I don't know what to say. The reason I have had difficultly in writing on the topic is that I have so MUCH to say. For some time now I have wanted to address the topic of a biblical Christian response to culture, mainly for the reason that there are so many diverse opinions floating around. What has finally driven me to put thoughts "on paper" is the recent news of the planned rally of a "Christian" organization to burn copies of the Q'ran.

To be honest, I have not read all the details of the planned rally, but quite simply the idea of burning books makes me shudder as I recall the days of Nazi Germany and its infamous book burning parties. First of all, while Americans have the freedom to do so, it is beyond imaginable that Americans would be willing to do such a thing as burn books. Second of all, CHRISTIANS should be the last ones to practice such horrible acts. If you are a Christian, how would you feel if a religious group chose to burn our sacred Scriptures? With that act perpetuated upon our Scriptures how many of us would in turn retaliate on that religious group with violence? While most Christians would not succumb to violence, I dare say that Christians living in a Muslim context will suffer for the actions of their American brothers and sisters.

So with these thoughts in mind, what is a biblical Christian response to culture? In the Christian Scriptures, the Bible, Jesus reminds us that the greatest commandment is to Love God with every fiber of our being. He continues by stating that the second commandment is like the first, to Love Your Neighbor as yourself. He concludes by stating that every other law in scripture, every other writing in scripture hangs upon these commandments. As Christians we are to be IN the world but not OF the world. How I have come to interpret these statements has impacted and shaped me greatly. As a Christ-follower, I am to love people like Jesus loves them while showing them who He is through the way I live my life.

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation; for salvation is a gift of God, it is not something I have earned. As a student of Scripture, I also know that the lost world around me does not have a chance outside of Christ and God has given me and all of my Christian brothers and sisters the task of taking the gospel to the nations. That means I have to love people like Jesus loves them and live in such a way that it reflects Christ's work in me. It means that while I behave differently from the world, I in no way withdraw from society and culture so that my light cannot shine in a dark world.

Christians, more than anyone else, are called upon to be different while explaining why there is a difference. That means speaking the Truth in love, that means returning kindness when faced with persecution, that means praying for and blessing our enemies. That means, even if the cost is our life, we show the love of Christ and talk about His grace to those whose religion calls for our deaths. The Sunday after 9/11/2001 as I stood in the pulpit to deliver my sermon, I asked the people to consider one thing. As Americans we all were angered by the previous Tuesday's tragedy, we all wanted Bin Laden's death. But I wanted the people to consider one thing, as Christians, God calls for us not to desire his death, but his salvation.

My point here is simple-Christians are called to live a life of love, impacting the world as salt and light. We cannot accomplish this by either promoting violence on other religions or by retreating from a culture that has become so diverse that Christians no longer have the loudest voice. Be reminded of the Apostle Paul, who when confronted with the Athens' culture did not scream and threaten, nor throw his hands up and retreat. What Paul did was politely acknowledge their culture and then proceeded to speak the Truth in love. My prayer is that Christians follow his example and do all we can to bring a lost world back into a right relationship with its Creator.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Different Christianity

Perhaps you have seen on a church sign somewhere these words, “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) is credited for that quote which many have misunderstood. The quote tends to be interpreted that one’s witness is carried out in deed and if one must then use words to share the gospel. The understanding is that the gospel is best proclaimed through one’s actions therefore speaking about the cross is unnecessary. Let me assure you that concept is far from the intention of the original author. The intended meaning of “Preaching the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words” is that our actions AND words should always point to Christ. It is not an “either/or” approach to the gospel but a “both/and” approach that will reach the nations, starting right outside our doors. As the church we are to boldly proclaim the gospel by ministering to people’s physical and spiritual needs. When we are committed to that goal, then will we see people come to Christ.

I must give credit to Daniel Akin, PhD, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for the following information that comes from sermon he delivered in chapel in December '09. Today there are at least 16,348 ethnic groups that comprise the 6.7 billion people on the planet (Joshua Project: 11-28-09). Today there are at least 6,647 ethnic groups who are unreached. Some missiologists would say there is, at present, 1.6 billion with no access to the gospel at all. That means there are 3.4 billion who have not heard the name of Jesus or have very limited access to the gospel. Add to that the reality that there are 255 million lost people in North America, 3 out of every 4 persons (On Mission, Special Issue, 2009, p.8). Did you know that more than one in four American Protestants give nothing to the work of the church and that the median annual giving for a Christian is 2.6% of their annual income? Did you know that only 27 percent of Christians give away 10% or more of their income? What could happen if committed Christians gave 10% of income to the work of the Lord?

Let me share with you what would happen: 150,000 new indigenous missionaries and pastors in nations most closed to foreign religious workers; triple the resources being spent by all Christians on Bible translating, printing, and distribution to provide Bibles in the native languages of 2,737 remaining people groups currently without Bible translations; eradicate polio worldwide; 1million new clear water, well-drilling projects per year in the poorest nations (25% of the world’s population drinks unsafe water); prevent and treat malaria worldwide; provide food, clothing, & shelter to all 6.5 million current refugees in all Africa, Asia, & Middle East; sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide, providing them food, education, and healthcare.

Oswald J. Smith said, “We talk of the Second Coming when half the world has never heard of the first.” It is time we commit ourselves to the task of bringing hope to a world that desperately needs some good news. It must start outside our doors and we must carry it to the nations. We must be concerned about their life here on this planet and in the afterlife. We must have the same compassion for the nations that our Savior displayed in the gospels. Only when we begin to weep for the nations will we really see a change take place.

Penn Jillette of the entertainment duo "Penn and Teller" can be found on 'Youtube' sharing about how someone gave him a Bible. He stated,
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward… how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that. And I’ve always thought that.”

When will Christians wake up and begin to look beyond the church doors? When will Christians decide to engage a post-Christian culture with the Truth of Christ? When will we begin to show a different Christianity that is concerned about the whole person? I pray that it is soon.