Archive for Evangelistic

All in Christ

Father, in Your love,
by Your Spirit,
this is my prayer and
my desire:
that every person I know be in Christ:
trusting Him,
one with Him
joined deeply, completely, forever with Him.

My spouse in Christ,
each of my children in Christ,
each dear member of my family, in all their variety and individuality, in Christ,
each of my neighbors in Christ,
my co-workers in Christ,
every member of my church, of every age, in Christ;
And far beyond them, Lord,
every family,
every nation,
every human being
in Christ.

Holy in Christ,
loving in Christ,
joyful,
at peace, and
free
in Christ.

I begin to imagine it, Father.
Each and every person
completed forever in Jesus Christ,
for Your everlasting glory.
I begin to desire it
because You desire it.
You love them and
long for each one
as only a parent can.

Father, permeate my heart,
my thoughts,
my prayers,
my daily life
with Your unquenchable, universal love.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: All in Christ
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Jesus: Your Ultimate Choice

from the book, ONE WITH OUR FATHER 

John 14:6

Jesus is the way to the Father,
the truth about the Father,
the life of the Father.

He is your creator,
your designer,
your source,
your Savior,
your highest destiny, and
your ultimate goal.
He is all your loving, all-wise Father wants you to be, and
all that your best self longs for you to be.

If you ignore His claims on you,
you consign yourself to
frustration and
meaninglessness.
The future you are choosing is
eternal separation from all that is good.

If you respond to Him in
even the simplest of childlike trust, He will
patiently,
daily,
unfailingly
grow you to Himself and
grow you to your Father.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: See All That Human Can Be
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Miracles?

Some find Jesus’ miracles hard to believe. To them, the Gospel accounts sound like fantasy or myth, or at least superstitious exaggeration.

But look at the incredible natural wonders all around you. Our world overflows with miracles we would never believe if we didn’t see them for ourselves, or if scientists didn’t assure us they were so. Couldn’t the Being who created all this also easily do the miracles of Jesus?

Jesus turned six large jars of water into wine (John 2:1-11). But the Creator does that on the vine every day.

Jesus healed many people sick with various illnesses and conditions. But that’s a small thing to the Creator. He designed each of our bodies to continually heal themselves. Right now your body is healing and restoring itself in thousands of ways without you even being conscious of it.

Jesus calmed a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27). But picture our globe from the Creator’s point of view, with storms stirring and subsiding constantly around the world. To calm one storm is nothing for Him.

Perhaps the hardest miracle for us to accept is raising the dead. Jesus raised a widow’s only son (Luke 7:11-16), a twelve-year-old girl (Luke 8:41-56), and His friend Lazarus after he had been dead four days (John 11:1-45). Finally Jesus himself was raised from the dead.

All myths?

The Creator brought human life into being from the “dust of the earth”, that is, from the natural elements found on this planet. Now that’s a miracle! Could not such a One also resuscitate life whenever He chooses?

Look at a garden on a bitter day in winter. If we knew nothing of seasons, would we ever believe that same garden just a few weeks later, in the full bloom of spring?

Look at what rain can do to a desert that seems utterly barren. It is transformed to a garden of life – life unimagined just hours before.

Tiny seeds, seemingly dry and hardened, will blossom to life when conditions are right. In Japan, a single seed was excavated from an ancient settlement about two thousand years old. The seed was planted, watered, and brought to life. Further, it apparently proved to be a type of magnolia thought to be extinct for a thousand years.

Look around. Is it logical to believe that the One who created all this could not have done what Jesus did? Is it logical to impose human limitations on a Being who can speak a universe out of nothing?

The more we learn of our world, the more we recognize in Jesus the same power, the same astonishing wisdom, the same tender, intimate love.

That is what amazes me most about Jesus’ miracles – not what He did, but how He did it. He didn’t heal as we might expect a “god” to heal. He didn’t heal from a distance. He wasn’t detached or “professional” or condescending. He was moved with compassion. He gave of himself in deep love. He healed face-to-face, not just with absolute power but with a personal touch and a gentle word.

He loves us. The God of all the universe loves us. That is the miracle.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: One by One
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Life

John 20:30-31

All God’s creatures share His life.
It is a beautiful gift from our Creator.

But we people also share His image.
We share His likeness mentally, morally, and spiritually.
We are His offspring.
We live and move and have our being in Him.
We breathe His life in a fuller, deeper sense than other earthly creatures.

But with the freedom and power God gave us, we chose to turn away from Him.
We are still turning away.
We choose life without Him…which is not life at all, but death.

Listen.
God is speaking.
He is calling us to rediscover Him, to reconnect with Him.
He calls us to turn back to Him and begin to trust Him again.
As we do, He grows His life within us.
His own Son, Jesus Christ, joins His Spirit with our spirit.
He is God, but also human—
and what a beautiful human being He is!
He is all we could ever want to be, and more.
As we trust Him, He blossoms in us.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Discover Jesus Christ
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

What Could You Do If Nothing Else Mattered? cont.

For years I had felt that I was simply one of the church’s mechanics. I helped keep the church’s machinery running, but my life and work had little impact on the needy world around me. I knew Christ could give a totally satisfying life to all the people I passed every day, but I had no way to tell them. Finally, one day in the middle of this frustration, God confronted me with the question, “What could you do if nothing else mattered?”

His question started me on a search. I came across 1 John 2:6: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (NIV)

So I started a study of the gospels, looking for answers to these questions: How did Christ walk? And therefore, how should I walk?

I noticed in the gospels that to reach people, Jesus didn’t build a church and invite people to come. He ministered among them. He took whatever opportunities afforded Him to speak to people where they were: in the marketplace, in the streets, over meals, in homes, in chance personal encounters.

I began to think how I might communicate with people. I looked at the major means of communication in our society. We have a large, well-developed Christian media, but secular society generally ignores it. And we have a large, well-developed secular media, but they usually want little to do with the gospel.

So I thought about “underground” ways of communicating. A newsletter? Tracts left in restaurants, doctors’ offices, etc.?

About that time our local church put out a call for people interested in joining a task force—a task force with the job of reaching the community around our church for Christ. To make a long story short, my wife, Gloria, and I became part of Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries, a systematic, non-invasive way of drawing people, not necessarily to our local church, but to Christ Himself.

I became the writer for the ministry. I wrote a series of 12 monthly mailers that went out to each home in our community under the non-threatening name, For Your Consideration. As a sequel to that, I wrote another 12-month series titled Living the Natural Way, dealing with life issues from a Christian perspective.

Those pieces became the starting point for Living the Natural Way, our own publishing ministry. We began with 12 pocketsize books, and that soon expanded to include the publication of my hymns through our website, LNWhymns.com. How the Lord worked out all that is another story.

But the point is this: It’s easy for us to continue to talk just to evangelical believers because we’re comfortable with them. We share a common viewpoint and a common language. We tend to forget about the rest of the world. But God doesn’t forget.

We can let the walls of the church circumscribe our efforts at drawing people to Christ. But that’s not the way Jesus worked, and it’s not the way God continues to work.

We cannot make the same mistake that ancient Israel did, forgetting that our calling and our chosen-ness is not to the privileges of a small, elite group. It’s a calling to be His light to the entire world.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus often answered a question with a question, drawing people into a discovery of faith. That’s what He did with me. I was asking, “What can I do?” He turned the question back on me: “What could you do if nothing else mattered?”

His question led me to realize that my inability to impact my world with the truth about Christ resulted from my own lack of commitment and faith.

My journey of faith continues to lead me in new directions, with many unexpected twists and turns. But He continues to inflame me with the desire to glorify Him, to help everyone realize just how great and good He is.

What Could You Do If Nothing Else Mattered?

I had worked for a denominational publisher for many years. The work was challenging, and the Lord was blessing it.

But in my worst moments, I saw the denomination as a big machine that was more concerned with itself than it was with the massive world outside. And I saw myself as a mechanic that spent my life just servicing the machine, keeping it running. I didn’t feel I was doing all I should do or wanted to do or needed to do in the human world in which I lived.

The more meaningful and satisfying my own relationship with Christ became on a moment-by-moment basis, the more I realized that Christ could bring a perfectly satisfying life to absolutely everyone around me. Age didn’t matter. Intelligence and educational level didn’t matter. Personality didn’t matter. Culture, financial status, none of that mattered. Christ could be personally, completely fulfilling to each and every individual around me.

I would go out in public, to shopping malls, sporting events, and craft shows, and realize that Christ could bring peace and meaning to absolutely everyone there. Yet I had no way to tell them, and I was repeatedly frustrated.

Then one Saturday in February, 1995, my wife, Gloria, and I went shopping on Metcalf, a main thoroughfare in Johnson County, Kansas, one of the wealthier areas in the Kansas City metro. I left her at a home decorating show. It was crammed wall-to-wall, elbow-to-elbow with people shopping for nothing but ways to make their homes more pleasing.

As I drove out, I passed a huge store on the right—nothing but sporting goods; people seeking leisure for the physical body.

On the left was an electronics super-store; nothing but electronic entertainment.

I drove north to a large bookstore, overflowing with people looking for intellectual stimulation.

And the road in-between was crowded with people as well, all looking, all shopping, all willing to spend their living for things to make their lives better. The frustration returned, but on this day, something happened.

I’ve never heard God speak audibly. Usually He speaks to me through impressions on my mind and heart. But on this occasion, as I pulled into a parking lot, it seemed like God was speaking to me in my mind, using these very words: “What could you do if nothing else mattered?”

That question stopped me short. I didn’t know the answer. Still, I felt that because God asked the question, He was getting ready to do something. A seed of anticipation was planted.

More next time.

A Better Life Is Waiting

We all have hopes that drive us, things we look forward to. Some are long-term: a better house, a better job, a better life for us and for our families. Some are short-term and daily: more time off, less demands on our energies, more leisure.

But as time goes by, God keeps reminding me of one key fact. Through good times and bad times, successes and failures, no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, only one thing will make life happier. Only one thing will make it more meaningful, more peaceful, and more satisfying–all I want it to be. That one thing is not a job, a house, money, or more time off. Our only lasting happiness will always be this: enjoying God’s presence right now, in the present moment. In this life and through all eternity, our only true joy will be knowing Him.

Because of this, each of us has a better life awaiting us. It doesn’t matter where you are in your journey–whether you’re seeking God or you’re a new Christian or a mature believer. You have a better life awaiting you through a closer, more constant relationship with Jesus Christ.

I’m learning that such a closer, more constant relationship comes primarily through prayer. It comes through spending more of life turned toward God. Just as with marriage, communication is key to enjoying a closer relationship.

Perhaps nothing generates more fear, guilt, and uneasiness among people than the subject of prayer. We know we should pray more, but we’re not sure how. It seems so fuzzy, scary, and difficult.

But let me assure you: we were made for God. Talking to Him is simple and natural. Your educational level, your culture, your financial status, your personality–none of that matters. We were all made for God. You can talk to Him and have a close, personal, satisfying relationship with Him.

You have no reason to be afraid. God, your Father, only gives good gifts. All He ever asks of us is to trust Him one step at a time. And that first step is to turn to Him now.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Our Father in Heaven
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Being with God

My relationship with God and my entire life have been radically reshaped by the realization that He is a Living Being, and He is constantly, personally, immediately with me.

But if God is omnipresent—if He is always everywhere—what’s so special about His being with me? Isn’t He with all of us, always, inescapably?

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
(Psalm 139:7, NASB)

I am always with Him, but isn’t everyone, including the most hardened unbeliever? Why does He sometimes specify His presence, as if to limit it?

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
(Psalm 145:18, NASB)

Picture yourself in a crowded restaurant, sitting with one you love. Technically you are with everyone in the restaurant. But in a deeper sense, you are only with your friend. It’s not a matter of physical proximity. The person sitting immediately behind you at the next table might be physically closer to you. But you are with your loved one because you enjoy a mutual relationship of love and trust with them. You care deeply about every aspect of their life, their every concern, and they feel the same about you. You are leaning toward each other. Your ears, your eyes, your mind, and your heart are focused on one another, hungrily straining to hear and know and be with the other in the fullest sense possible.

That is the sense in which God is with His people.

I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth…
Those who are far from You will perish…
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good.
(Psalm 73:23-25, 27-28, NASB)

God is as near to you as you will allow Him to be. But it takes two to form a relationship.

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

The Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. (2 Chronicles 15:2, NASB)

He is calling you to a closer personal relationship with Himself. How will you respond?

A Real Person

I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
(Psalm 73:23-25, NIV)

The most moving, eye-opening, transforming point in my life came when I realized this one simple truth: God is a real Being. He is not a mythical figure, an impersonal force, or the creation of our minds. He is a real “person,” a living Being. I can interact with Him. In fact, He delights to interact with me.

What’s more, He loves me–He deeply loves me. He provides for me and works in my life. He patiently teaches me and changes me from the heart. He forgives me when I do wrong.

And He is with me. He is personally, constantly, intimately, actually right here with me, all the time.

For me, the real attraction of the Christian life is not the lifestyle, although I’ve found that it’s the best, wisest, and most natural. What’s compelling about being a Christian is Jesus Christ himself.

I find it so sad: when people hear the term “Christian,” they too often think of stuffy religion or perhaps a certain political persuasion or cultural flavor. They think of living by lots of rules. Or saddest of all, they think of people who sometimes seem self-righteous, narrow-minded, and condemning.

Being a Christian is none of those things. Believe me, it isn’t. Christianity is simply this: knowing Jesus Christ as a real person, face-to-face.

Christianity is the simplicity and warmth of a personal relationship. It is knowing the One who created you. It is knowing the One who loved you from the moment He conceived you, long before you were born. It is knowing the One who suffered and died to remove the evil from within you. It is trusting an intimate Friend who is always loving, always wise, and always with you.

Walking with Him, step-by-step, is making my life more wonderful than I ever dreamed life could be. I can talk to Him anytime throughout the day and know that He hears me and is pleased that I’m talking to Him. When I’m concerned, I can turn to Him, talk with Him, and lean on Him. When I’m happy, I can thank Him. When I’m wrong, I can ask forgiveness, knowing He gives it gladly and completely.

In myself, I’m no more perfect than anyone else. But because He is with me and in me always, He is making me more loving. He is helping me love others at home and wherever I go.

He brings wonderful gifts to my life–genuine love, deep peace, a sense of security, a joy that isn’t dependent on circumstances. But none of His gifts are as wonderful as He is. He is peace. He is beauty. He is life itself.

I have been reunited with the One who made me, and the reunion is marvelous.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Almighty God Is Near!
Recording
Printed Music & Lyrics

Give Them Jesus

In our ministries,
in our creative communication,
we wrestle with words and ideas,
with music and lyrics,
with paint and canvas,
with materials, technologies, and more.

But let’s face it:
what the world needs is not
another artist,
another book,
another song, or
another star.
Its problems are far too deep and too serious.

The world needs Jesus.
When you sing, give them Jesus.
When you write, give them Jesus.
When you speak, give them Jesus.
Every day,
through everything you create,
in every encounter with another human being,
give them Jesus.

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