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Danger: Ministry Idolatry

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

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We please God by trying to please God - not by doing everything right.

For example, Mary, a woman full of sin and an outcast of society, felt so unworthy of Jesus and yet so worshipful that she knelt to wash His feet with perfume. She wept bitterly, tears falling onto His feet; so she wiped them with her own hair. Not only did she do all these things, but she also kissed Jesus’ feet. She was scorned by the onlookers for her actions - yet what she did pleased ChristShe went against society’s and culture’s norms, and she did what many considered inappropriate.

But Jesus welcomed her trying to please Him, and He said to His host: “When I came into your house, you gave Me no water for My feet, but she washed My feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing My feet since I came in. You did not put oil on My head, but she poured perfume on My feet. I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.” (Luke 7, John 12.)

Those who are forgiven only a little will love only a little!

If we could do everything right, Jesus didn’t have to die. We wouldn’t need God as our Savior from sin.

It’s easy to please God, but impossible to satisfy Him.

God can only be satisfied with and in Himself. We neither add to nor detract from His satisfaction in Himself.

He doesn’t need us and there’s no way we can ever try to satisfy Him.

But as a father loves his child regardless of how feebly, falteringly, and failingly the child tries to please him, he will be pleased: just because it’s his child. The father is pleased and delights in his child simply because that kid is his child and he loves his child. And the smallest acts of obedience and gratitude from the child to the father are received with great pleasure.

So it is with God and us, His children.

There is no way we can ever hope to satisfy God due to our innumerable failings and shortcomings. Yet we can please Him! So may we please God “simply” by striving to please Him. :)

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Short Term Missions or Christian Vacations?

teemcho:

By growing up in the church and seeing the presupposed “legitimacy” of short term missions trips, I’ve seen a sliver of the larger picture of how ineffective and maligned our perceptions of short term missions has become. Paul Washer makes a case there is probably more missions work today than…

Had to reblog this.

Hard words but so timely, necessary, challenging, and beneficial. I really had to take the time and chew through everything you shared. Good stuff.

I found myself checking my own heart and attitude as I prepare for Ukraine. Thanks for the reminder. From my experience and observation, I think short-term missions encourages the long-term missionaries and the indigenous Christians; helps sow seeds, make disciples, build relationships, etc. Of course, there are some short-termers who go with wrong motives, are unprepared, don’t know the language, don’t even know how to share the Gospel, etc.

Yet one thing that I’ve relearned time and time again is: We don’t know how or when God answers our prayers and we don’t know what “small,” “simple” acts can make an impact in someone’s eternity. We cannot underestimate God. What man means for evil, God can turn it into good. What selfish weak immature lazy self-righteous Christians can do for some good (or their own good even), God can turn and use for His glory.

In the end, though, I agree with what you said. We have “American-Christianized” missions into a “glorious” vacation time of 1 week to take selfies with impoverished kids and spraypaint the captions with Bible verses and appease our guilty consciences for being so gluttonous, selfish, and materialistic. Then we condemn and look down upon those who don’t go on short-term missions and “waste” their summers and lives by making money.

John Piper and David Platt have some really good things to say on this topic.

Source: teemcho
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Francona: Putin's real end game in Ukraine

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Such a beautiful hymn. Why can’t we write and sing more songs like these?

The lyrics killed me today. I cried for the fifth time this year, and for the fifth time this year, it was because of my reflection on God’s unending grace and mercy lavished upon me and all who humble themselves, repent of their sins, accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and walk in this love relationship with God Almighty. I still can’t comprehend it and am still in awe of God and His work. And this invitation from God is open to any and all who are willing - no matter what state one’s in, no matter one’s past, present, future, etc.

That God would send His only Son to die for His wicked enemies - and then adopt them into His family and kingdom as His beloved children! What kind of a father would voluntarily and willingly send his son - especially his only child - to die for his enemies? Surely you would feel hated by your father if he did such a thing - it would seem like he loves your enemies more than you, and that they’re worth more than you are.

Yet that is exactly what God did for us! And not just let His only begotten Son die but also adopt us as His children! Who makes a trade for sin with perfection, shame for dignity, guilt for peace, sorrow for joy? This is an unfair trade! Indeed, He takes my sorrow, and gives me joy; takes my shame, and gives me dignity; takes my guilt, and gives me honor and peace. Who is like our God? Truly forever He is glorified and forever He is to be praised; there is no one like our God. And I can’t wait to see Him face to face.


I stand amazed in the presence
  Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
  A sinner condemned, unclean. How marvelous! How wonderful!
  And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
    Is my Savior’s love for me!

For me it was in the garden,
  He prayed: “Not my will, but Thine.“
He had no tears for His own griefs,
  But sweat-drops of blood for mine.

In pity angels beheld Him,
  And came from the world of light
To strengthen Him in the sorrows
  He bore for my soul that night.

He took my sins and my sorrows,
  He made them His very own;
He bore the burden to Calv’ry,
  And suffered, and died alone.

When with the ransomed in glory
  His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
  To sing of His love for me.

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At Prayer for All Nations, I was reminded of our God being the God of redemption and second chances through Pastor John’s sharing of his testimony. It was amazing to see God use a broken vessel - indeed we all are broken vessels! 2 Corinthians 4-6 are fitting passages and are among my favorite in the Bible.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we look not to what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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- it may not be the way you’d like, but He does answer.

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Though my thoughts are scrambled and this is a very brief overview, discipleship is something I desperately wanted to share with you.

What is discipleship? We talk a lot about it, and we think we engage in it - but do we really?

Now what I am about to say may be controversial: You can be a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, and still not be a disciple of Jesus Christ. What I mean by this is that you can put your faith in Christ and still not follow Him.

disciple is a pupil, student, one who follows someone’s teaching. It follows, then, that a disciple of Christ is:

-learner: learns from Christ.

-student: studies and obeys God’s Word.

-follower: follows Christ.

-willing to die - figuratively: die to self, sinfully: die to sinful natures and desires, to worldly pleasures; AND literally: die for Christ

-loves other disciples (body of Christ) - John 13:34.

-bears fruit - 1) fruit of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control - Galatians 5:22-23 (inward) and 2) makes disciples (outward).

-counts the cost and joyfully and obediently pays the price to be a disciple of Christ - Luke 9:57-62, Luke 14:25-35, Luke 18:18-30.

-boldly shares his or her faith

-prayer warrior

-worships God

-persecuted

The calling of the first disciples: Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:14-20, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 5:1-11, John 1:35-51

Unlike the trends of the times, when disciples competitively applied to study under a rabbi, Jesus Christ broke the norm by personally reaching out to each disciple specifically, telling them to “Follow Me!” He chose each of those unworthy, uneducated, average persons to be His disciple - without applications and interviews. All they had to do was accept. What grace!

Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen; and Matthew was a tax collector. This just goes to show Christ can use absolutely anyone to do His work.

The disciples didn’t ask any questions, but dropped everything immediately. This hints at the cost of following Jesus: give up everything for the sake of Christ.

The disciples catch a ton of fish with Jesus’ command after having not caught a thing the previous night. They leave this lottery prize to follow Jesus; “they choose His presence rather than His presents.”

-Discipleship is life-on-life. Christ spent 3 years with the disciples, not only verbally instructing them but also teaching them through actions. But more than that, Jesus showed them His lifestyle and attitude. This is more than just a Bible study or a once-a-week worship night. This is a lifelong journey literally to the end of death.

In John 16:29-31, Jesus exclaims to His disciples, “You now believe” - it took 3  years for them to see all that Jesus says and does face-to-face, both publicly and personally, and finally confess that He is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Not even Jesus’ disciples were perfect (ex: disciples slept as Jesus prayed at Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples deserted Jesus when the guards came to arrest Him John 6:60-71, Peter denied Jesus 3 times, Judas betrayed Jesus, etc.).

There were other Christians - but not His disciples:

-hundreds of followers (but not the 12 disciples) - crowds;

-sending of 72 (like short-term missions team, in Luke 10)

There are other disciples - those after Christ’s death and resurrection:

-illustrates God still working even after Jesus is physically gone - and with the Holy Spirit: Matthias, Paul, Apollos, etc. - legacy continues: to make disciples, like Christ has taught and commanded.

-Disciples have child-like faith Matthew 18:1-4 - depend on God

We don’t need to apply or “be good enough” to be followers of Christ; He gives the invitation to us freely and without discrimination.

We are called to lay down/give up everything before Christ - this includes academics, relationships, career, goals, etcetera. Yes, we must do our best in these areas, but we must place God at the forefront.

We must share life-on-life with people, with one another: as a community, as a fellowship, as the body of Christ.

We can be slow; it may take us awhile to figure out who Jesus Christ really is (it took the disciples 3 years).

As disciples, we need discipline.

The Great Commission (not the great suggestion) - Matthew 28:18-20: Christ’s command to us.

The thing is, if we’re completely honest, we can say with confidence that we are unworthy to be considered disciples and servants of Christ, let alone His friends, or even children of God. What’s crazy, a profound mystery, is that God loves us so much and uses broken vessels for His glory; He uses the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong so that it is that much clearer that it truly is all God (1 Corinthians 1:20-31). Although we are imperfect human beings, God can use us perfectly - we just have to submit to His will, be available, and obey Him. A key highlight, however, is that we must repent. Walking blamelessly before God does not mean a sinless life, but rather a sinful man or woman running to God to be cleansed from all his or her iniquities by the blood of the Lamb. God is the God of second chances - not to be taken advantage of or abused, but to give hope for grace.

Something to add: Jesus said make disciples, not Christians.

Jesus’ great strategy is discipleship. He wants us to make disciples. With God, that’s the way to bring multiplication and transform nations.

What is crazy is that Jesus even called Judas Iscariot to be His disciple - whom He knew would be a failure, a traitor, a “waste of time.” Was all that Jesus did for Judas - all His love, instruction, mercy, grace, work, etc. - all a waste? Was it all in vain?

This emphasizes the magnitude and sacrifice of Jesus. He spent 3 years investing in and pouring into 12 uneducated men, including one who would betray Him. Yet He relentlessly shared His life, wisdom, love, etc. with His disciples.

That just goes to show us how much we must sacrifice, invest in, pour into, and pray for our disciples. These are not machines or projects; these are people that God has graciously brought into our lives whom we must do our best to serve as a model of Christ, and to instruct what Jesus has taught. We are to live out Christ. Even when the people we disciple may seem like failures or may not even remember what we say, we must patiently, faithfully, and obediently sow seeds just as Jesus did with His disciples.

Be on your guard; do not be a fake disciple like Judas - 1 John 2:19.

-Discipleship comes at great cost - Luke 9:57-62, Luke 14:25-35, Luke 18:18-30.

Moreover, the world hates Jesus’ disciples - John 15:18-27.

Discipleship is an investment and a sacrifice. But by God’s grace, it is more than worth it.

Need: discipler (teacher/mentor), fellow peer disciples, and disciple. Find a discipler and a disciple.

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? It’s “simple” - take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow Jesus.

Breaking it down:

1. Take up your cross daily - each person has his/her own cross to bear. There will be suffering, hardship, trials, temptations, etc. just as Jesus Himself underwent.

2. Deny yourself - your selfish desires, wants, gains, wealth, power, fame, pride, selfishness, etc.; be a humble servant and loving neighbor. Discipleship is commitment: you give up your own will and rights.

3. Follow Jesus - meaning “follow with Jesus”: observe His life, teaching, heart, attitude, lifestyle, etc.; get to know Him, listen to Him, obey Him. Build a relationship.

We are the salt and light of the earth - if salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer useful; and who covers a lamp? Keep being rooted in Christ; the dead branches are cut off and thrown away to be burned. Truly apart from Christ we are nothing.

The world knows we are Christ’s disciples because of the love of God at work in us - we are loyal, committed, and uncompromising to Christ; and from this inreach of God we outreach to the world.

At the heart of the matter, a disciple of Christ loves Christ more than anyone or anything else.

"It’s not about how many followers you have, but who you are following."

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is NOT thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”

-C.S. Lewis

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Shane and Shane

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To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the concert. All I really wanted was something worshipful. And they did not disappoint.

The main songs I knew from them: The Answer, Yearn, Beauty from Ashes, Though You Slay Me, When I Think about the Lord, and the Mono Song haha.

I was blessed in that time of worship. Their lyrics are great, and remind me of David’s psalms, which is what they use sometimes haha.

Their ending of literally clearing the stage (like Ross King’s lyrics that Jimmy Needham is known for) was beautiful and powerful: the sole (AND soul) focus is on Christ alone.

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30 Animals With Their Adorable Mini-Me Counterparts

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says, ‘I broke God’s rules’;
While real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.’”

-Tim Keller
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Me: “You’re right - I’m outta this world”

Ehehehe ;D