Every Christian has a story to tell. Some conversion testimonies are more dramatic and spectacular than others. Some claim to have seen a vision of Jesus, or that He healed them of a terminal disease. My simple story is that 45 years ago, someone shared the gospel with me and I believed. There was no thunder and lightning, but my heart was changed forever.
Was Jesus a nice guy? Consider this: He made some shockingly exclusive claims about Himself, and nice guys just don’t do that. When Peter told Him, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus blessed him (Matthew 16:16-17). To a Samaritan woman, Jesus plainly declared, “I AM the Messiah!” (John 4:26). And He announced to His followers, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
There are two ways most people tend to read the Bible. One is to read it mostly as an indictment of the human race. In other words, we’re sinful rebels who are bent on finding life apart from God.
I know you’ve tried your best, but your best isn’t good enough.” If someone said those discouraging words to you, your thoughts might be something like, Whoa! Come on, I’ve been doing my best. Surely, that’s worth something!
During a recent fishing trip, my brother-in-law and I were reminded that you have to fish in the right location. We claimed a spot near a wooden fishing pier that stretched out into the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, it was not a good choice. The bait fish, which attracted the schools of the desired Spanish mackerel, were on the other side of the pier. Anglers less than 50 yards away were easily catching their limit while we struggled to get even a nibble.
Heavy-metal music, motorcycles, and muscle cars. All of these things were present at the annual Cross ’n’ Dagger church service held at the Life Bridge Church. The congregation created this special service for people who might not attend a “regular” Sunday morning meeting. Senior Pastor Bill Campbell said, “[People] can come in their leathers, if they’re bikers . . . . However they’re dressed, they’re welcomed.”
Downsize Fitness is a health club with a unique niche. It caters only to people who want to lose at least 50 pounds. Tara Lawton, a member of Downsize Fitness, quit her health club because she sensed she didn’t fit in. She said that people always seemed to be silently judging her. Then she found Downsize Fitness and loves it. Downsize is attractive to people like Lawton because it welcomes overweight people and then encourages them as they shed pounds and get healthy. Just as Downsize reaches out to the physically unfit, 2 millennia ago Jesus reached out to the spiritually unfit and used them to spread the good news about the kingdom of God.
It’s likely we’ve read Jesus’ Beatitudes as a list of virtues— attitudes and actions that He wants us to pursue. So, we think, He wants us to be humble (Matthew 5:5), merciful (Matthew 5:7), pure in heart (Matthew 5:8), and peaceful (Matthew 5:9).
According to Martin Luther, Jesus was standing with sinners even from His birth. Luther wrote, “Christ is the kind of person who is not ashamed of sinners—in fact, He even puts them in His family tree!” This was never truer than when Matthew wrote down his account of Jesus the Messiah. He included two people in Jesus’ family tree—Judah and Tamar—who were truly unlikely candidates.
Everyone has had the dreaded experience of losing something. Cell phones, keys, wallets, and money are all prime examples. The existence of Lost & Found departments in shopping malls tells me that people losing things is a common experience. Things are lost. Things are found. We’re mighty glad and relieved when lost things are returned to us!
Why would you…
After months of vowing not to, I finally signed up on Facebook and Twitter. My fears that these social media tools would rob me of precious writing time as I waded through endless updates have largely proven true! But the pros have outweighed the cons— particularly in keeping in touch with listeners to my radio program, Open House.