April 18, 2014 Leave a comment
You were not redeemed with corruptible and perishable things, silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.
April 6, 2014 Leave a comment
The idea of discipleship can be rather confusing. Sometimes we think it means listening to more messages, being plugged into a particular kind of church, reading certain books, listening to certain music or being part of a Bible study group.
In the Bible, Jesus called His disciples to be with Him. They followed Him for three and a half years learning and gleaning from His character. There was no textbook, classroom or type of methodology. Jesus Himself was the classroom, the subject and the textbook. Everything they needed to learn could be found in being with Him.
Because of technology, we have become more disconnected from each other than ever before. There aren’t as many natural opportunities to disciple and be discipled. For example, you can sit at home and not go to church and, therefore, not see anyone. You can connect with the best podcast, best Bible teaching and the best worship from around the world—all while you sit at home, completely disconnected from people. Yet you can deceive yourself into thinking you are being discipled because you are listening to better messages and worship than what you would get locally.
Every book on discipleship and character development is meant to be lived out in the context of community, with others being discipled by those older in the faith. Community that works together in unity and focuses on Christ is the place where discipleship works.
- Daniel Punnose, vice president of Gospel for Asia
April 5, 2014 Leave a comment
When I first saw a few clips from The Visual Bible’s Matthew, I didn’t like it. It showed Jesus laughing, celebrating after healing the sick and throwing children up in the air and catching them. He always seemed to be enthusiastic and happy when He was teaching or dealing with people.
You see, I come from a culture in which spirituality is measured by how solemn, dignified and holy your appearance is. This means that as a servant of God, you must wear white clothes, keep a serious face even if you are happy and carefully guard your behavior. You wouldn’t want to spoil your image by laughing out loud or running around playing with the kids.
All this actually comes from eastern mysticism, in which the way to holiness and spirituality is asceticism—the renouncing of all worldly pleasures, comforts and emotions. It is a counterfeit spirituality produced by Satan.
After viewing this film, I read through the four Gospels again just to see what Jesus was really like. For the first time, I gained an awareness of someone who was genuinely happy. There was a spirit of celebration, a positive note that I saw in His life. People felt drawn to Him, and in His presence, those with deadly diseases and even the worst sinners were filled with new hope.
As believers, we have something outstanding that the world yearns for. Think about it—why do people like to listen to music, watch comedy shows, tell jokes, read cartoons or storybooks and play games? There is something in human nature that longs to smile and be happy. Yet all the happiness the world can offer is short-lived.
Our joy originates from heaven and is therefore able to fill our hearts even in the midst of suffering and difficulties. Paul and Silas, severely beaten and in chains, were celebrating in prison. Why? Their joy was anchored not in their own strength but in the promises of God: that all things would work out for their best, that Jesus had gone to the Father to prepare a place for them and that He would return to take them there.
What about us? Do people encounter that overflowing joy, found in Jesus and the early Christians, in our lives as well? There is no more powerful advertisement for the reality of the Gospel than a believer filled with the love of Christ and the joy of heaven.
From Destined to Soar, by K.P. Yohannan.
April 4, 2014 Leave a comment
Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on Earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, smile into His eyes — ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself.
- Jim Elliot (1926 – 1952).