In 1990 I finished the 8th grade, started high school and got my learner’s permit. That’s my yearbook photo, just before I turned 15. I had the physical stature of an adult and with a suit and tie looked like a proper grown up, albeit a very young one. I was very solidly grounded in the truth of scripture; I wasn’t searching for God, purpose, meaning or anything else. The King James Bible was the Word of God and any other “version” was written by men in an attempt to change the Bible. Boys were not supposed to wear earrings, only prisoners and sailors wore tattoos, ladies wore long dresses and long hair. Seminary was for men who chose to pastor churches and no real man of God “chose” to become a pastor, you had to be called. It was wrong to want to pastor; you had to be called, not want to do it, and then surrender to God’s will. Unless you were called to be a missionary which I was hoping didn’t happen because that meant leaving the United States and only coming back every few years to show slides. I took two years of Spanish in high school just in case because in my childhood experience missionaries spoke Spanish. Yes, I’m serious about that. That was the world I knew existed and was preparing to enter. Continue reading →
We are sent to share the Gospel. In a statement known as the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus told his followers to go to all nations. They were sent to proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Evangelism is more than having an audience raise their hands, repeat a prayer or sign a card. Making disciples goes beyond baptism. It’s an investment into people’s lives that involves building relationships and working together in ministry. Followers of Jesus are not to just promote him but to lead others into a life of following. To teach others all that Jesus has command we must first learn and understand ourselves. The two processes actually happen simultaneously. We continue on the journey of learning and being conformed to the image of Christ while recruiting others to walk with us. Go to all the world, preach/teach/share the Gospel, make disciples. To this task we are called. Continue reading →
Much of the New Testament was written in Greek and gospel is a word that we borrowed from the original language without translating it. Gospel simply means good news. If you look at crime rates, history, human nature or simply tune into to any news program then you know that we are surrounded by bad news. In the United States we are deeply divided politically, there is gun violence, debate over gun violence, crime in the big cities and various protests across the nation over a variety of issues. Other countries are at war, operate under a military regime or are completely impoverished. People don’t seem to be getting better. Our level of science and technology has increased but after thousands of years of philosophical discussion we as the human race have not dramatically improved. Theft, rape, murder and war are still universally found around the globe much as they were in ancient times. The bad news is obvious to anyone paying attention: there is something wrong with us. Beyond politics, individual beliefs and philosophy, human nature is flawed. There may in fact be some good in every person but the bad in every person has not yet been weeded out. Continue reading →
In Mark 1 (also Matthew 4) Jesus began his public ministry. Before healing the sick or calling disciples, Jesus preached his first sermon:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, ESV)
Jesus preached the gospel. Gospel is one of those words we borrowed from Greek when translating the scriptures. It means good news. You can easily recognize Christians that share the gospel by one simple test: is what they are sharing good news? At the first opportunity, Jesus preached the Gospel. He did not preach a four part message series on having a happy marriage or managing a successful business. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, business, raising children and so forth. But those things are not of the most importance. Where Jesus spent the balance of his time and energy was on spreading the gospel. Continue reading →
I’m going out on a limb here. Maybe it’s getting late and this will just be the Diet Pepsi talking, but I would like to share a thought.
I recently met a blogger named Joe Derbes, author of Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion. I don’t know how much of an influence Michael Spencer was to him, but his blogroll credits Michael with being his new favorite Christian author. I have certainly said before that I blog because of Michael Spencer. I know that one student of Mr. Spencer says the same thing. How many others are there? The Internet was teeming with tributes to Michael in the days following his passing. How many people out there blog, or perhaps blog with a different message or purpose, as a direct result of the original Internet Monk?
I can’t write a new post without considering how Michael would evaluate that installment. I miss the constructive criticism; he made me a better writer. He helped shaped my current view of systematic theology. And tonight I can’t help but think of this: that’s kind of like Jesus. Jesus taught multitudes of people, and 12 in particular were privy to special teachings, prayers and examples. Jesus taught them, told them to follow in his footsteps, and then left them. Two of the disciples wrote Gospels (and perhaps Mark was dictated by Peter). Peter lead the others in starting the Christian church at Jerusalem. Paul did just about the same thing. He planted churches across Asia minor and southern Europe, training leaders and then moving on. His letters to Timothy still guide church leaders today.
That’s the Christian model. A teacher, a pastor, a blogger – in this case – not only does his job but teaches others to do the job as well. Even as Paul was ministering he was training others to be ministers. Even during his earthly ministry Jesus sent the Apostles out to preach and work miracles. When the human life is spent the work continues. The church grows. The gospel goes forth. We need to think now about the future generation of leaders that will be following our lead. Heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
A week or two ago, this blog passed 100,000 page views. It’s because of Michael Spencer that I blog at all. I used to read InternetMonk and occasionally make a comment, and I was fine with that until his pod cast started. When I got my first iPod, I downloaded the first 20 episodes of iMonk Radio, and ate those things like candy until I finished them. I had so many thoughts, ideas and responses running around my head that I went to WordPress and started pushing buttons. March will be two years. Continue reading →