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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Discipleship Isn't Easy

To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means to be His follower. We follow Him in His dying and rising to new life. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that baptism into Christ is an initial step. 

We follow Him in his servanthood. Deep study of the servanthood of Jesus Christ reveals the heart of God. There is no sentimentality, no enabling of misguided behaviors, and no self-service.

To be a disciples of Jesus Christ means to be His student. We are to study the divine pattern that He embodies through the study of holy Scripture. Many find it helpful to study the lives of effective Christian disciples.  
The Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles urge us to be imitators of Jesus Christ and this requires obedience exemplified by moral behavior, service to others, and the love of God at work in us.

The Lord's Prayer is really the Disciple's Prayer and it should be part of our daily devotions.

Related reading: Praying Hebrews 5

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ancient Images of the Nativity and Mary and Jesus

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

*   *   *

This image of a Mary and the Christ Child was found on the walls of the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome. It dates to the 3rd century.

This lovely nativity scene dates to the 4th century.
It was found on the island of Naxos in the South Aegean.

Below is another nativity scene found at a 4th century sarcophagus in Milan.

This is an image of the Magi bearing gifts, found at 4th-century sarcophagus in Rome.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Point of Demarcation

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Holy Baptism is active being “into identification with” and is a point of demarcation for the new disciple. The effect upon an baptized person is a grounding for future spiritual development (Matt 28:19, 20).

Paul uses baptism in reasoning with the Romans concerning abuse of grace by continuing a sinful lifestyle (Rom 5:20– 6: 5). The Apostle reminds them of the nature of their faith as expressed in their baptism.  Their baptism was a confession of faith that marks a dead to the old man and the life of the new man. Through Christ’s work they are to regard themselves as dead to the lifestyle and principle of sin and alive to God and God's service (Rom 6:6–16). Their lives are changed by thus being oriented and identified.

Baptism embodies the attitude of the committed disciple’s life (Matt 10:38, 39; Rom 6:3–5). As discipleship has definiteness about it, so has the act of baptism. Baptism, as a simple and definite act, is a fitting point of departure to begin life as a disciple. For the attitude of loss of the old identity and the dedication towards a new one is acted out visibly (Luke 9:23–25). The new life is committed to service, stewardship, making disciples, thankfulness, kindness, generosity, and worship.

Further, in the baptismal formula of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19), the candidate is “identified” with all that the Triune God stands for, that is, His Name  (Gen 11: 4; Isa 9: 6, 7; Matt 1:21). Baptism then is identification with the name of the Trinity. Our trinitarian faith is not negotiable. It becomes a part of our new being as a disciple.

Christ commands us to be baptized into identification or union with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Trinity was made manifest at Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan.

Related reading: On Holy Baptism and Discipleship; Thanksgiving Prayers

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Central Command and Christ's Authority

Matthew 28:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The central command of the Lord Jesus to the Church involves discipleship. He said “...therefore, (you are commanded) disciple all the nations, . . .”

The verb “disciple” or “make disciples of” is the verbal action around which the rest of the Great Commission revolves. The rest are either participles or a part of subordinate clauses, reflecting actions in respect to this command. Because of this, the verb necessarily receives our full attention. The Lord Jesus commands that his disciples make disciples. We are to reproduce ourselves, or more exactly, He is to reproduce His own through our Spirit-inspired obedience. This is the labor of each and every Christian and it is done with all His divine authority in Heaven and on Earth.

This verb "disciple" is in the imperative. The imperative mood is why I have used the clause “(you are commanded)” in parenthesis. Attitude often determines how people respond to instructions. Many will not take instructions seriously unless the degree of emphasis and authority is felt strongly. Some may treat this command as an “ought to, when I get around to it” but the command to disciple comes with His complete authority over all things in Heaven and on Earth.

This is one of the four instances in which the imperative mood is used in the post resurrection instructions that our Lord gave for the ongoing conduct of the Church. The obedient, mature Christian does not have an option to neglect the command if he wants to respect Christ's authority The immature believer likewise is to develop a lifestyle of discipleship according to the standards of New Testament discipleship (John 8:31–36).

The Greek aorist tense lends to the imperative mood the idea that the process of making disciples is “to be undertaken at once.” This adds urgency. With the present tense, the idea of urgency is missing. However, by using the aorist with the imperative along with Christ’s assertion of all authority, there is much greater force than in the naval command: “Now hear this, I, the President, your Commander-in-Chief, COMMAND YOU FULL SPEED AHEAD!” Obedience to His command also brings about a very certain end, for Christ has the victory in all things, so we need not fear going forward in His authority.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Forgiveness Precedes Regeneration

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Regeneration defined

Regeneration or being born again is a process of becoming the sons of God in character. This starts with the gift of forgiveness that gives a conditional reconciliation with God. This must be maintained by avoiding sin, confession for forgiveness when sin recurs, and continuing exposure to the ministry of the Word. As progressive understanding transforms the carnal soul to possess the new soul Christ promises (Luke 9:23-25) as one’s disciple’s cross functions regeneration is experienced (2 Peter :19).

The Epistle of First John speaks of the evidence in a believer’s life of spiritual rebirth:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; 1 John 5:13 that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Characteristics of Regeneration
1. Believes the Gospel enough to ask for forgiveness
(1 John 1:1-9; 5:5-12).
2. Keeps clean by confessing and forsaking sin
(1 John 1:0; 2:1, 2)
3. Keeps Christ’s Commandments
(1 John 2:3-8; 3:19-26; 5:2, 3, 14-21).
4. Loves fellow Christians
(1 John 2:9-11; 3:10-18; 4:7-21).
5. Lives an overcoming life
(1 John 2:12-14; 3:3-10).
6. Does not love the world culture
(1 John 2:15-17; 5:4, 5).
7. Is aware of and rejects false teachers
(1 John 2:18-26; 4:1-6).
8. The expectation of Christ’s return refines and transforms (1 John 2:27-3:3).

Regeneration enables us to overcome by the Lord through a faith union with Him to death to sin (Rom 6:11) and a faith perspective of being resurrected with Him (Rom 6:13).

As the Apostle Paul testified: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20).

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

“But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33).

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23; compare 2 Peter 1:4).

Regeneration is real only when it changes the way we think and feel! (Compare 2 Cor 10:4, 5).

A thoughtful review of the process of regeneration is sufficient to recognize that forgiveness does precede being born again (regeneration).  Consider the following Scripture passages:

The Old Testament

In Ezek 33:13: “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”

However, concerning Solomon, God promised:
“He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (2 Sam 7:13-15).

The difference: in Ezekiel conditional righteousness is possessed, but must be maintained! But Solomon was given the status as God’s son.

The New Testament

In the New Testament, receiving Christ by faith accords only “power (or right) to become the sons of God, . .”
(John 1:12).

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt 7:21).

To be successful one must make himself Christ’s possession:
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 10:32, 33).

“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:26-28).

“... the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” (2 Tim 2:19).

Initial Forgiveness Can Be Lost

Instances where initial forgiveness and cleansing was experienced, but lost by not letting God’s Word and the Holy Spirit change their natures by regeneration.

This is taught i Jesus' parable of the Sower (Matt 13:18-23). The rocky soil believer (received Christ’s Word) initially, but later fell away. The fact that he initially rejoiced shows that he had faith to think he possessed at least forgiveness. Assurance of reality is only seen by the fruit the Word was allowed to produce in a believer’s life.

Difficulties work both ways, in the shallow believer, difficulties can create enough trauma to give up one’s faith, but one who holds onto the Word fruit is produced: “. . . it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Heb 12:11).

And: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (Greek: complete) and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4).
This is what happens when the Lord’s challenge to new believers becomes a way of life (John 8:31-35 compare Lk 9:23-25).

In 2 Peter 2:22, Peter describes false prophets and deceiving teachers, who from the context had initial faith of cleansing from sin, i.e., forgiveness, but have forsaken the hope they had as the Apostle says: “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

The point is that their nature had not been changed even though they had the condition of initial forgiveness. That is, they returned to their sin because They have not been over come, yielded to the Lord: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16).

Or: Faith reckoned themselves to be in union with Christ in His death to sin and resurrected to be God’s servants. (Rom 6:11, 13).

The solution is to exchange one’s soul life by living the Disciple’s Cross (Luke 9:23-25) again as the Apostle did: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20).

A person can loose their initial forgiveness according to Hebrews 6:4-6: “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the (“a” there is no “the” in the Greek) Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (NASU).

If there is NO WAY that people who have initial forgiveness can fall away, because they have not yet been born again, the warning against falling away is meaningless: “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Heb 3:14).

Speaking to the Corinthian Church members, the Apostle Paul asks whether they are “in" the faith: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor 13:5).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

STEM Education for Christian Schools

Alice C. Linsley

Here is a blog with loads of good information for students to learn about famous Christians who have made major contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

This serves as a resource for homeschooling Christian student and for Christian schools. Well-informed Christians are better able to defend the Faith and to disciple others.

Related reading: Christian Schools and STEM Education; King's Ridge Christian School Hosts STEM Event; Valley Christian School Committed to STEM Education

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Distinctive Disciple’s Desire

We are thankful for Ed's service to God and Country.

Edward F. Lundwall. Jr.

Praying Hebrews 6:1-3:

“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:1-3)

Oh, Lord, how I thank you for your exhortation for believers can go on to maturity in their faith and the practice of that faith. You, not only urge us, but you provide for us through your instruction book, the Holy Bible, the ways our minds can be filled with your thoughts and our souls can be transformed by your Holy Spirit. Your purpose is clear: You desire us to know You through the Person and saving work of Christ Jesus, and in doing so become more like Him reflecting your glory.

I praise You that the basic of your gospel revelation MUST occupy my thoughts as a seeking and overcoming sinner, because this elementary phase bring me to truly committed conversion faith. However, I know that this is not your ultimate end. Much more lays ahead to bring me to maturity in my relationship with you. That is only the nursing, toddler stage of my life of faith; I need to learn to walk, talk, learn, and grow as your adopted child. Thank you, Lord that through every circumstance Your Spirit tries to apply this revelation to change my soul into Christ’s likeness (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). I know it is wrong and self-depriving for the believer to stay in a spiritually baby state. Beyond the nursery wall, there is the great outdoors of Your palace, workshops, treasure houses and Your Kingdom Empire. This Kingdom is where spiritual battles are to be won, liberating Satan’s captives, bringing many children into Your Glorious Kingdom. Even though one can hardly describe the blessedness of first knowing Christ. how wondrous is being translated from the power of darkness into Your Son’s Kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13), changing our approach to You from: “God have mercy!” or “God, I’m going my own way!” to “Father, what would You have me to do?” As glorious as this beginning of new life in Christ is, You God have many wonderful things for me to experience that are beyond imagination and have granted me the rest of eternity to know and experience them (Ephesians 2:7).
Lord God, I am so blessed at age 86 by your loving desire to change my thinking and living so that I might more fully understand the greatness of what you have done for me in Christ. I am truly grateful for having experience through my many years the complete adequacy of Christ, and glimpsing the panorama of your loving heart for both me and others. The joy and satisfaction of walking in Christ as my Savior by faith instills in me a sense of walking in Heaven’s palaces here on earth. I thank You for the ability of resting in Christ that gives me a peace that indeed passes all understanding.

I praise You that this rest in Christ’s sufficiency liberates me from self-righteous works, but transforms good works into acts of love and gratitude towards Your person through Your Son. Lord, help me to heed Your exhortation to go on to maturity that I may appreciate Your treasures and fruitful life from You (John 15:1-8). Continue to help me do what I do in Your Name to glorify You, Jesus, and Your Word to men as well as all the principalities in the Heavens (Ephesian 3:10), and grant that I might impart this orientation to other disciples. even through this blog, as You give me in the power of Your Spirit and Word (Hebrews 13:20, 21). Give me the discernment not to teach beyond what my hearers will receive through Your work in them and after I have challenged them, let me rest in you as you change their hearts…step by step, gathering your growing, maturing children into your loving embrace.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Facing Challenges

Facing Challenges

“I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears…Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” -Psalm 34: 4, 19 (ESV).

Consider some thoughts in acrostic-form on Facing Challenges. We all have challenges day by day. How we face and work through them defines who we are and how we face life.

Following God does not preclude problems.
Around us all the time are mountains high
Calling us to exercise our best intentions,
Inviting us to trust Him and fully rely
Night and day upon His strength and wisdom,
Going on by faith and not by sight.

Calling on Him in all circumstances
Has all the characteristics of seeking light
Amidst the darkness that surrounds our way.
Looking for His help always available,
Leaving our burdens at His feet we press on,
Engaging in prayer and gaining strength anew.
Nothing should distract us from the goals
God leads us to see and strive toward gladly,
Ever mindful to give Him glory in our souls,
Secure whatever comes of weal or woes.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for challenges and problems. They strengthen us and help us rely on Your power to overcome. May we seek You daily and know the blessings of deliverance from fears and cowering. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

-Ethelene Dyer Jones 08.17.2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

Worth Considering: Direction and Purpose

Genesis 28:10-17

Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; , and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!" And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

Beersheba was the southern boundary of Abraham's territory
and the territory that Isaac received as his birthright.

By Ethelene Dyer Jones

Before we truly appreciate and understand better God’s Word in this verse, we need to study it in context (and certainly, each scripture should be studied in context). Jacob (with subterfuge) had received the birthright blessing from his father Isaac. Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, was tricked by Jacob, and the guilty brother feared Esau’s retaliation. He was on his way to Haran.

Jacob stopped at a place to spend the night. In a vision (or dream), he saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, and saw angels descending and ascending on the ladder. God identified himself to Jacob as the Lord of Abraham and Isaac—and of Jacob, too. The promise made to Abraham—of making his descendants a great nation—was repeated to Jacob. In response, Jacob sat the stone he had used as a pillow, made an altar and called it Bethel—that is “Beth-El”—the house of God.

God was in that place and Jacob knew it not until he had the vision. He could not run away from God. Then Jacob made his own commitment to God at Bethel, promising to follow God, give Him a tithe of all he earned, and then asking God to protect, feed, and give him peace. There in the wilderness on his way to Haran, Jacob met God and realized He was everywhere—he could not escape from God’s care and mercy—and calling.

The message God gave to Jacob on that long ago journey is as much to each believer today as it was to Jacob: “I am with you,” God says.

I will protect you.
I will bring you back to this land.
I will not leave you until I do what I have promised you.

These are strong promises from God for direction and purpose for our lives.

Will I, like Jacob, at the altar of my heart bow down and worship God?

In the light of God’s promise and revelation, will I pledge to follow God?

Prayer of commitment:

Here am I, Lord. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your Master Plan for people. Thank You for giving me direction and purpose in life. Amen.

Related reading: Jacob Leaves Beersheba; Jacob's Journeys

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Praying Hebrews 5: The Disciple’s Constant Companion

3rd-century fresco of Jesus Christ 
from the Catacomb of Callixtus, Rome

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5;7-10)

Lord God,

As I meditate upon what is written here under the direction of your Holy Spirit, I begin to perceive its gravity and grace. You described the Lord Jesus as having been given the High Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek with his priesthood is presented in the Old Testament as everlasting and of eternal tenure, because You inspired to record neither a beginning of His life nor beginning of his office. Therefore, I offer overflowing praise to You for what was only symbolized, is now infinitely fulfilled in the Person and work of Your Son Jesus Christ, having no beginning as God the living Word and a ministry eternally established before the foundation of the World, all because He is One with You, the essential expression of the fullness of your divinity.

However, being “God wrapped in Flesh,” He still learned as a human disciple (Isaiah 50:4 NASB). His relationship to and with you as He obediently listened and obeyed your instructions as a man is marvelous. Three times He asked that another way to redeem the world might be arranged, so that He as a human need not suffer the flogging, humiliation, abandonment, and torture of crucifixion, but each time He yielded to your plan saying, “Not my will, but your will be done.” I thank You that even though You rejected His personal request, You, Lord, still heard his heart’s desire for the sake of man’s redemption and the defeat of Satan, that mankind be provided the way to eternal relationship with its Maker. Through this, I know that You receive us, even though our petitions may be contrary to Your will, so long as we accept your authority and your will. Like the Lord Jesus, I can be content knowing that You are “a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Thank You that Jesus was and still is Emmanuel, God with us. This promises full confirmation that the salvation He offers in Himself can be eternal, for He is omnipotent and eternally God. Oh, Lord God, help me to learn and follow after His example (Hebrews 12:2, 3). Let me so walk and perceive You through the witness of your Holy Spirit through your Word in my life that always hear Your still small voice, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21). Let me feel your constant companionship as your hand holding mine!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Praying Hebrews 5: The Disciple’s Pattern

So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,"YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU"; just as He says also in another passage, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” (Hebrews 5:5-6).

Lord God,

I praise You for the multiple ways in which You have revealed Yourself through Christ. The mystery of your divinity being personified in Jesus is beyond human comprehension. The limited finiteness of my mind cannot grasp the idea of your divine infinity expressed in human flesh! Yet, from eternity past You have declared that He is the expression of your person as the Word of God (John 1:1-2), so who else could you have chosen as our Great High Priest? Whatever You do is perfect for the purpose You choose for it. You wanted to redeem mankind so that we could be in full harmony with You permanently. In this, Jesus is the pattern, but as High Priest He is the perfect and almighty administrator of our salvation.

Thank you, Lord God, for this confirming basis for the adequacy of Christ’s words, “whoever who believes in Him, shall have eternal life” (John 3:16). Thank, Lord, for the pattern of life Christ gives me to imitate. What an example of trust and humility! He did not seek fame and power for himself, but sought only to fulfill your will giving You the credit and honor. Forgive me, Lord, when I frequently fail in this. Thank you for the feelings of joy when I do. When I do conform to the example of Christ (Romans 12:1-2), I fall under the leadership of our eternal High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek, and the prophetic witness of the Old Testament about the coming of Messiah (Luke 1:26-38).

Oh, the blessing to me and all who would be persuaded by Your testimonies concerning the Lord Jesus as the believer’s High Priest.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Praying Hebrews 6:12-15

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

“. .so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, " I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU." And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise.” Heb. 6:12-15

Lord, there is great peace in believing You according to your self revelation.I enjoy gazing upon Your marvelous creation. In the starry heavens of heavens so vast that even the orbiting Hubble telescope cannot see its limits. Yet, your Word tells me that the heavens of heavens cannot contain You.

I contemplate the marvelous organization of the smallest things You have created. I wonder why it is so difficult for men made in Your image let You fill their hearts and minds To those who reject the answer is sin. But to those as weak and frail as Abraham and I, You swear by Yourself to fulfill your precious promises.

Oh, how much You want all to be persuaded, believe, and respond in faith. Isn't that why you wrote about your eternal power and divine nature in the order of creation (Roman 1;20)? You want us to be assured our Your Presence. to be confident that You are true, faithful and able.

Lord, I believe, but help me in regard too my unbelief. Help me to let your voice echo though the halls of Heaven, the expanse of the stars, and the eons of eternity. As You swore by yourself to fulfill your promises in Christ, may I share in those promises. So shall my life forever be changed into Christ’s likeness, and all my being be a symphony of praise, joy, and peace.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Some Thoughts on Spiritual Warfare

Remember that in this life "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

The spiritual warfare between God and Satan is real. We are inclined to wonder how God is still in control when we hear of the atrocities of the ISIS or consider Hitler's murder of six million Jews. Yet we read about Muslims across the globe coming to faith in Jesus Christ. We hear of miraculous healing, deliverance, and guidance. These build up our faith and encourage us.

The Bible offers pictures of spiritual warfare. Even as Satan contemplated his rebellion, the angels rejoiced as God laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-7). Soon after the Creator finished his work Satan was revealed as a fallen being, as the enemy of God.

Isaiah was privileged to see the heavenly throne room where cherubim and seraphim abide in the presence of the LORD (Isaiah 6:2, 6). They are unshaken.

The prophetic descriptions of the end time struggles include armies of angels who defend the Righteous and usher in the Kingdom of our God.

When we grow discouraged or weary of the battle, we are to remember that the enemy is doomed and we are seated with a victorious King on high. Let us appreciate how God in Christ contradicts Satan’s desires and works, defeating the enemy not only in the cross, but also in the empty tomb. The climax of the Gospel extends not just to earth, but also to the heavenly Tabernacle where Christ makes continuing intercession for us.

Therefore, let us live and pray as ones seated with Christ! Let us take hold of the promise of Christ: "To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:21)

May the Lord bless you in your spiritual battles.

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Washed From Head to Toe

Dirt Daubing
By Hope Ellen Rapson

Earth’s children play in dirt,
Claiming “a pound won’t hurt!”
They make and serve mud pies
Under sultry summer skies.
After all, they’re made of clay;
They only dabble in what may
Be the bent that does direct
What everyone should expect.
Filthy from head to toe…
Washing? Well, some might go.
Yet in their next new morn
They will certainly return
To play in the clay and dirt,
Laughing, “A pound won’t hurt!”

So God’s Son came trapped in dirt,
Teaching every ounce does hurt!
Instead of molding mere mud pies,
With spit-filled daubs, he opened eyes.
He showed that spirit-filled clay
Need not dabble in what may
Twist, distort, or harden to direct---
Just what muddied souls expect.
So some, still filthy head to toe,
Through God’s cleansing showers go
And in the bright blue morn,
They find themselves reborn,
Never wanting to play in dirt,
Knowing just a bit will hurt!

Other poems by Hope Ellen Rapson

Hypostasis ( A poem for Christmas)
The Seed Pod (A poem for Holy Week)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Praying Through Hebrews: Besetting Weakness

Hebrews 5:1-4:
“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices or sins, as for the people, so also for himself. And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.”

Lord, you repeatedly pictured human weakness throughout the Old Testament. The failures of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David and even the first High Priest Aaron remind me how in every way, I need You to enable me, to empower me even when I think I am strong. Indeed, I more readily trust You when I see the besetting weaknesses that plague me. Priests or pastors is fallible too, yet they seek to help me worship and teach me what I do not understand about You and what You desire for me. Aaron succumbed to the pressure of the people and made an image to satisfy them while Moses was on the mountain face-to-face with the living God.

Witnesses to the Living God

The Hebrews wandered forty years the wilderness fluctuating between faith and doubt, obedience and rebellion with Moses interceding on their behalf, yet even Moses was beset by weakness, and so, was only allowed to see the promised land from a mountain top. We see through these people that all mankind needs a Mediator, and we are more prepared to trust your provision in Jesus Christ, our Savior.

I thank and praise You that Christ’s intercessory, saving work was ordained from before the foundation of the earth. You were gracious and patient in atoning and covering sin, until He died as the great sacrifice for all. Even as now Your mercies are extended even to those whose faith is incomplete, because beginning faith is still faith.

LORD, help me, with all my besetting weakness, to be an instrument in bring others to full and final faith in Your Son and His sacrifice, so that You and only You will be honored! Bless the Lord, oh, my soul!

Related: Praying Through Hebrews: The Disciple's Perfect Priest; Praying Hebrews 6

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Discipling with Authority

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

"Go" requires movement. We are in His service to come or go at His direction. This is a command concerning obedience, not a call to foreign missions. Obedience is the key to discipling with authority.

Sermons urging believers to leave their present place of service for a distant mission field use this text. Yet today America needs missionaries! The discipling begins where we live and continues to where the Holy Spirit leads, as with the Apostle Paul.

The Holy Spirit directed Paul in his missionary calling to go into Macedonia. Peter was led to preach to Cornelius. It is central to discipleship and evangelism that we be in tune with the leadings of the Holy Spirit. He leads us in His own sovereign way and according to His timing, not ours.

In my experience, “Upon being lead...” is the way all missionary calls have materialized. The individual may feel a compulsion to “go” as a missionary, but the candidate cannot go unless "being lead" by the Spirit. This is the Shepherd Principal found in John 10:3–5, 26, 27 and Acts 16:6–10.

The Christian life is Christ’s life in which we are privileged to participate. Therefore, “upon being lead...” reflects our participation with Him, under His Lordship.

Related reading:  Making Disciples: What Christian Students Should Know; See What God Can Do!; The Great Commission

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Praying Through Hebrews: The Disciple’s Perfect Priest

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

Dear Holy God,

Ever since humanity became separated from You because of sin, we people have sought to bridge the gap between us. We have looked to priests, pastors, spiritual leaders of all kinds to stand in the chasm between us to help us understand you, know you, and make intercession for us. However, even Aaron, the first priest of Israel, and his sons, were only fallible sinners unable to hold us tightly in a faith relationship with you, and throughout the years even to the present, others spiritual leaders have become greedy for power and wealth, and prideful of their own opinions; as apostates they only widen the chasm between our sinfulness and your holiness. Yet You, Most Merciful Lord, have provided the Lord Jesus, Your Holy Incarnate Son, as our great high priest. His sacrifice for our sin; his victory over death; and his presence at the right hand of your very throne makes Him an infallible bridge over that chasm! He is forever truly Emmanuel---God with us!

I praise You, Most Holy Father, for this great and gracious mystery: That Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses. Because He lived as one of us, He can intercede passionately for us. Since He experience Satan’s urging to enjoy, do. and be beyond Your will for Him as a human, Jesus knows my tearing weakness. Thank You that He not only understands when I fail, but also pleads for my forgiveness, and provides ways for me to escape those same temptations when they become too much for me (I Corinthians 10:13).

Oh, help me through Your Spirit to continually visualize Him and His power and His unfailing access to You. Grant me the empowering grace in dealing with others that Jesus had in this world. Only then will my profession and practice be ever strong, faithful and honoring to You. Indeed, I trust in Who my High Priest is, and rest upon where He stands ever advocating for me.

“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me: bless His Holy Name.” Psalm 103:1

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Praying through Hebrews: The Design of Discipleship

Hebrews 4:12-13

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

Holy Father-God, when reading the Holy Bible, I am forced to face the real condition of my identity, my thinking, my emotions focus, and my lifestyle. It reveals whether I am resting in Holy Spirit’s ability to empower me to be more like Jesus Christ in all that I am, say or do, or if I am relying on my own self-centered, flesh oriented reasoning to determine what I should do and how I should do it. It is the Great Surgeon’s piercing knife that dissects the anatomy of who I am, how I think and feel, and how I live; your Word is a camera that projects my lifestyle on a screen for those around me to see, and always to the audience of the One who created me to view. Because You discern all, Lord, I must let your written Word judge, instruct, and adjust my ways; it must be the script, your design, by which I live now and through eternity.

I thank and praise you for “expressing Yourself” in a way that I can understand. First, by becoming one of us in your Son Jesus Christ who lived out your plan of salvation so that I could come to know you and make you known. Secondly. I thank and praise you for your written Word inspired by your Holy Spirit to give us all what we need for the practical living out of our faith relationship with you. Please enable me to intentionally allow your Word to become my the standard and guide, so that I might bring glory and honor to your name!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Living Word Transforms Lives

This is the story of one man's transformation after he picked up a Bible and began to read.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Discipleship: Profession or a Transformation?

By Edward F. Lundwall and Hope Ellen Rapson

Christ’s parable of the farmer sowing seed in four types of dirt found in Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23 illustrates the four types of receptivity in persons who in some way are exposed to the Gospel (Good News) of salvation through grace by faith in Christ. The first illustration of the seed being thrown on hard packed ground indicates a person who initially rejoices over the experience of asking Christ to save them, but when life gets tough, and the first emotions of his experience fad, this person quits; he does not become a disciple, a growing learner. He does not continue or endure when troubles come into his life (represented by the birds) because he does not allow the Word of God give him strength and character and guidance to face them. They give up and are often heard to say, “I tried religion, but it did not work for me.”

The second illustration of the seed thrown in soil that also grows weeds and thorns, shows a person who is so focused on the activities and things of this word, that they do not abide in relationship with Christ (John 15:1-16) and so do not develop the Christ-like character or the actions that reveal it. This distracted disciple, the case of a majority of Christians who can be described as simply having their ears pleasantly tickled by God’s Word, but choose to do things their own way or the way of nonbelievers. They profess a faith, but do not live by it. When challenged, they are often heard to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

The third illustration of the seed sown in fertile productive soil reveals the person who intentionally obeys and allows the Word of God to produces much fruit in character and service. They spend time alone and with others to search out God’s Will and seek to wholeheartedly to love and honor Him, and others. They profess a faith that is backed up by faithful character and actions. They are willing to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2) through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are often heard to say, “I want to know God and make Him known.” 

The last illustration of seed sown on “stony ground,” demonstrates the person who initially rejoices in the good idea of forgiveness offered through Christ, but does not own it. He does not make an intentional decision to make it the foundation of his life’s journey. He does not “take it,” and thereby, “leaves it.” He does as he sees fit in his own eyes living independent of God, and is often heard to sing, “I’ll did it my way!”

The Good News of salvation through Christ as explained by Jesus Himself in John 3, requires “being born again.” True spiritual rebirth brings a permanent radical change even “…does (practices) the will of My Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 7:21). The Lord Jesus requires a true disciple to “…deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23-25). This is not just a one-time profession or Sunday-statement of what one thinks, it is a basic transformation from one thing to another, from an independent unforgiven sinner, to a newly born forgiven dependent child of God. It is not mental assent; it is radical change of character and life-style that is strongly rooted in the good and fertile soil of a person one who is completely committed.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as the Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new sovereign nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.

George Washington's Prayer for the New Nation

Almighty GOD; we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States of America at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of The Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech thee, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Friday, July 1, 2016

Psalm 48: The Disciple’s Stronghold

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Key Verses:

God in her palaces, has made Himself known as a stronghold. Psalm 48:3

We have thought on Your lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple...  Psalm 48:9

For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death. Psalm 48:14

Our Father-God, the city of Jerusalem has been and still is the historic and geographic heart of our faith, but although You have done, are doing, and will do mighty things in that place, in itself, it is not holy. It is You who is Holy. You are our Fortified City, our Stronghold, because unlike the physical city, its politics, and its culture, your lovingkindness and sovereign wisdom is not subject to change or error. I can come to You and know that You love me; You know the answers to all my questions; I can trust You; and I can know that You will direct my life’s journey until You take me to be with you throughout eternity. All my thanks and praise are yours.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Divine Authority in the Church

 Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,  baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matthew 28)

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Both "authority" and "power" are used fairly evenly in the Bible as rendering of the Greek word exousia. The two concepts are related, and often both appear to make the meaning clearer. Clearly, authority without power to enforce the rights of authority is useless. Power without the authority or right to use it is destructive and immoral.

All power and authority in Heaven and on Earth rightfully belongs to God as the Creator and Almighty Judge of all creation. Heaven as the dwelling place and throne of God is the only suitable place for the exercise of the divine authority. Jesus is seated there at the Father's right hand, making intercession for us.

While on Earth, the Lord Jesus exercised complete divine authority and power. He is the God-Man who conquered death and ushered in eternal life, having eliminated the penalty and corruption of sins (Rom 7:23–8:29). His power and authority has not yet been fully accomplished on the Earth. 1 Corinthians 15:23–28 makes this clear:

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

The Great Commission is given to the Church with the same power and authority that Jesus has with the Father, one God, eternally existent. Divine authority and power are given to the Church to bring men into willing subjection through discipleship. The Great Commission provides direction for spoiling Satan’s dominion. Satan's power has already been broken by Christ’s work (1 Cor 15:1–4).

Jesus’ battle plan is to work in partnership with Him to capture a people for His kingdom (Titus 2:11–14). It’s method of operation is “the weapons of our warfare... casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor 10:4, 5).

The arena of battle is the mind, heart, and soul. The believing disciple who receives Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is given the honor of serving God with divine authority.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Forgiven, but Still Lost

“The Savior is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in the face of all this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life?” St. Athanasius (AD 298 – 373), from his treatise "On the Incarnation"

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

As important as favorable words from human judges are, the words "forgiven" and "lost" have infinitely more meaning when spoken by the Judge of all Mankind (John 5:23-30; Rev 20:11-15). He will say "forgiven" to some; "Your debt is paid" or "The stain of your iniquity has been washed white as snow." He will declare, "You are lost" to others; "You did not take hold of such great salvation as was offered to you."

Many think of the word "lost" as the condition of the natural, unconverted soul. However, in regard to human experience "lost" speaks of facing God's final judgment. "Lost" speaks of being under condemnation for sin; losing hope of Heaven and fear of eternity separation from God, our Life and source of all joy. That is to be condemned to the eternal prison of hell. Not a popular message these days.

The term "lost" in the spiritual sense has even greater significance. When we would lift our eyes to the infinite God, we understand how the individual can be "forgiven, but still lost. The Creator created all things for the Creator's purposes. God used substantial things to perform the Divine will because that is what matter was created for in the beginning. He used stone. Stone jars at Cana. Stone door rolled away in Bethany. An empty stone tomb.

He used servants to fill the stone jars. Servants to roll away the stone. Servants to hear the angelic declaration: "He is risen. Go tell his disciples..."

When humanity fell into disobedience, we not only lost our privileges as being in the image of God, but God also lost our service; our spiritual duty to Him. Until one is reconciled to God, man's service for God is lost.

When Christians remain immature in character and spiritual development, they are lost to God in His design. Maturity manifests itself when people consistently rely solely upon the Lord as revealed in His Word. Only then can they know God's counsel. Without living according to God's counsel, even the forgiven are lost in fulfilling God's purposes. Their usefulness is lost.

St. Athanasius of Alexandria, expressed this in these words: "The Word called us into being, but we turn away from the Creator and demonstrating little regard for the grace we have received, we defile our being by the invention of other gods and we have lost apprehension of God as it is experienced in innocence."

The human race was wasting; God's image was being effaced, the Maker's work was spiraling into ruin and death reigned supreme. Mortal flesh, the nature of which is dust turning to dust, was unable to escape the curse of sin and death. But the Creator has a plan! It is called reconciliation.

In God's program of reconciliation, service occupies a central place (2 Cor 5:15, 19). In Christ's work he not only provided forgiveness, but callings and spiritual gifts to enable us for service. These gifts are to build up (edify) the Church (Eph 4:7, 8, 12; Romans 12:4-8). However, the gifts must be used, the individual must grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ or, as with the Corinthian Church, selfish exercise of gifts will divide the Church (1 Cor 1:7, 10, 11; 3:1-5).

Further, immature Christians may even become Satan's tools to cause confusion and misdirection in the Church (2 Cor 2:11; Eph 6:11-18; Eph 4:14; 1 Cor 14:20). He seduces them to draw upon the world system which is filled with deceit and false appearances (1 John 2:14–17).  Therefore, many who are forgiven are lost to God's design for them. They do not experience the joys of fruitful service in world evangelism (Mark 16:15); in victorious spiritual warfare (2 Cor 10:4–5); in the building up of the Church (Eph 4:11–12); in defending the faith/Christian apologetics (Titus 1:9–11; Jude 1:3); and in giving heavenly testimony (Eph 3:9–11).

Being lost to fulfilling God's calling results in eternal loss at Christ's Judgment Seat. (1 Cor 3:12-15) How much better would it be to hear the Savior declare: "Well done, good and faithful servant; . . . Enter into the joy of your lord.'" Matthew 25:21

It is a serious matter to be lost in usefulness to God, even though forgiven. Why not become a committed disciple instead?

Related reading: God's Forgiveness Must Bring Forth FruitSee What God Can Do; Discipleship and Church Mission Statements; Forgiveness and Restoration

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Power of Eternal Life

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

To find the power of eternal life, we must start here: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Seeking God is not a preference for religion but rather a desire for the power of eternal life beginning here and now.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the Apostle Paul warned: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous... traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof."

Therefore, we need to ask: "Do I have a form of religion only, or the reality of eternal life?"

Likewise, Paul tells the Corinthians: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" (2 Corinthians 13:5).

How can we examine ourselves and test whether we are in the faith or not; whether or not we have eternal life?

Life is an experience. How do we identify what species an animal is? Each is identified by appearance and behavior: cats meow, dogs bark, babies cry, artists paint, lawyers argue, preachers preach. Christ's disciples remain in His Word so they will know the truth and will find spiritual freedom and new life (John 8:31, 32).

Christians are known by their appearance, characterized by modesty and cleanliness. For years Christian women in India were sought as brides because they were known for these qualities.

Christians are known by their behavior. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:27, 28).

Those who have a mere form of religion "walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart." (Ephesians 4:17, 18).

Those who love Jesus, who know and practice His Word, are born of God, the Eternal One. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4).

Which do you have: a form of religion or the power of eternal life? To those who take up the disciple's cross and follow him, exchanging the old life for the new one (Luke 9:23-25), he gives every assurance (John 6:37).

The power of eternal life is Christ living in one's life by faith: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20).

"And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him (Jesus) which died for them, and rose again." (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Related reading: The Grammar of Salvation; The Disciple's Self-Concept: On Holy Baptism and Discipleship

Monday, May 23, 2016

Discipling One By One

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Discipling for the Church is to be a worldwide activity that focuses on the individual. This is in obedience to our Lord's command: to go and make disciples of all the peoples. I have used the word "peoples" instead of "nations" for two reasons.

From antiquity through the 16th century rulers and kings determined the religion of their subjects.   The word “nations" (KJV, NKJB, NASB, NIV) is therefore somewhat misleading. Nation is a modern concept, that is, the word has connotation that does not apply to the Great Commandment.

The stress should be placed instead on “all the peoples”as the focus of disciple making, and these disciples are called out ones. They are chosen out of people groups. This harmonizes with the Greek meaning of Church: ekklēsía (from 1537 /ek, "out from and to" and 2564 /kaléō, "to call"), people "called out from" the world and to God and into His eternal kingdom.

While God works with nations, such as Israel and with churches as groups, in the final analysis spiritual responsibility rests with each individual. Further, His commission extends to every human being. Discipleship is a personal affair because the one making disciples reproduces himself. Such reproduction is more than bringing the individual to pray the Sinner's Prayer or even to spiritual rebirth. The disciple maker cooperates with the Triune God in the rebuilding of personalities into His image and usefulness (Rom 8:28, 29; 12:1, 2; 2 Cor 5:15, 17). The Apostle Paul explains this impartation of one’s own spiritual life this way:
 “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.. . . 11. just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8, 11 NASB)

I have been a missionary and ministered God’s Word half way around the world. My concern is that mass methods without personal discipleship rarely lead to multiplication. Discipleship involves compassionate multiplication through one–to–one reproduction, through small groups where there is commitment to the individuals present, and through the ministry of the local church. Discipleship of this more personal nature also often parallels the efforts of the Christian nationals who tend not to use mass methods.

Related reading: The Process of Salvation; The Grammar of Discipleship; The Importance of Follow-up in Discipleship

Thursday, May 5, 2016

See what God can do!

The Savior is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in the face of all this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life?St. Athanasius (AD 298 – 373), from his treatise "On the Incarnation"

This is a partial view of the 5800 people who gathered in Frankfort to pray for our nation and for the Commonwealth of Kentucky on May 4. There was no more room on the Capitol steps so people crowded onto the grass on both sides. At least 129 people accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, making a first time profession of faith.

The following towns and cities were represented: 

Bandana, Bardstown, Bedford, Berea, Bowling Green, Burkesville, Campbellsville, Cold Springs, Corbin, Crab Orchard, Crestwood, Cynthiana, Danville, Eddyville, Elizabethtown, Florence, Fordsville, Fort Knox, Frankfort, Georgetown, Greensburg, Guthrie, Hopkinsville, Hustonville, Hyden, Independence, Inez, Irving, Kettle Island, Kuttuwa, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg, Lexington, Louisville, May Lick, Maysville, Middleboro, Midway, Morehead, Mt. Sterling, New Castle, Nicholasville, Owensboro, Paducah, Perryville, Pineville, Prestonburg, Princeton, Richmond, Rush, Sadieville, Salyersville, Shelbyville, Simpsonville, Stamping Ground, Stony Fork, Taylorsville, Union, Vanceburg, Verona, Versailles, Waddy, Walton, Wilmore, Winchester, and more!

Christians from many traditions attended, including:

Anglican, Assembly of God, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Lutheran, Nazarene, Non-Denominational, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Protestant Chapel of Fort Knox, Roman Catholic, and United Methodist.

There were many young people in the crowd and among the volunteers. It was a joy to watch the Lord gather people to pray as one flock under one Shepherd!

Steve Rhoads

Over 120 volunteers gathered in the sanctuary of St. Peter's Anglican Church to listen to a message from Steve Rhoads, Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He reminded us that the Gospel has power to save, and he spoke on Hebrews 4:14-16:
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Meanwhile downstairs in the Fellowship Hall, the good folks of St. Peter's were providing hospitality to the volunteers, welcoming them with smiles and offering them fruit, pastries, juice, water and fresh coffee. This was greatly appreciated by the volunteers and Billy Graham staff, some of whom had been up since 3:00 am.

Many thanks go to those who worked hard to make this event a success: Mark Lingle, Michelle Cooper, Kristina Smith, Linda Knapp, Bill Mitchell, Joy Jeffries, Bob and Sue Smith, Fr. Mark and Jackie Royster, David and Sandy Bell, Phillip and Cathy Kring, Marty and Teresa Denny, Marcus and Judy Penrod, Don Blevins, Tiffany Flowers, Nonnie Campbell, Sue Phelps, Paul Graham (Nolan), Tom and Cindy Jobe, Frank and Theresa Dorton, Bayley Thompson, Tom Krutcher and Ellie Shera.

Many thanks also to our 3 shuttle drivers: Pastor Rick Stafford of Antioch Christian Church, Mt. Sterling, Marty Pinkston from Capital City Christian, Frankfort, and Fred Sewell from Faith Victory, Frankfort.

Many necessary tasks were accomplished with only about 36 days lead time because of the commitment of these people and the prayers of so many others.

Thanks also to our mother church, St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Versailles, for the support of that body and for sharing the expense of the two Port-o-Potties needed for all the volunteers. These were used by many rally attendees who otherwise would have had to stand in a long line on State Street.

The wonderful people who volunteered to work at the May 4 rally in Frankfort

Testimonies of Volunteers

After I handed out a flag and said, “Thank you for coming.  Have a blessed day”, several said, “Thank you for serving.  Thank you for doing what you’re doing”, etc.  This is not a reflection on me, but on all of the volunteers that God notices, appreciates and even thanks us from the mouths of those we served.

I’m hoping this is an encouragement to every volunteer who has stepped forward to carry out their mission for the Lord as Franklin Graham carries out his commission from the Lord.

Thanks to all of you on staff and to the other volunteers everywhere.

Cathy Sheets, Frankfort

I really felt so much love there and met so many nice people. It was such a blessing to be in a place where we all shared the same love and spirit. That of our concern for this country that we love and for the souls of all those who make up this great nation; the Spirit in each of us that yearns to see this country turn back to God who is our only hope.

Judy Sams, Bardstown

It was an honor to be a volunteer at the Kentucky Decision America Prayer Rally. I was part of the Prayer group that walked around praying. About 11:15, I felt lead to stand on Capitol Avenue greeting folks. I asked the Lord for the privilege of praying with just one person. He provided that person, an elderly woman named Linda who attends a Christian - Disciples of Christ Church. Her husband dropped her off with two chairs and told her he would walk back to her after he found parking. She and I sat and talked for about 15 mins. She shared with me that she had fallen 20 times in the past couple of months and was having back and knee problems. I asked if I could pray for her and she agreed. After praying for healing, Linda said she felt heat going through her body. I continue to pray for Linda. Praise God for His love and healing touch!

Brittany Price, Lawrenceburg

As the crowd started to gather, there were smiles and fellowship from everyone. It made my heart smile to see everyone was there for our God!  A little elderly lady asked if she could have a few more flags to share with her church, which I obliged. Her smile… well it made the day brighter, all because she got flags from the rally to share with her church.

 A man caught my attention. He was really struggling. God had led him to those steps.  He had tears in his eyes when the crowd started singing Amazing Grace. God, led me over to him. He pushed me away. Later, he came back to me. He grabbed my hand and said, “Thank you for what you did.”  I didn't feel I did anything.  I just offered him a hug and comfort. Sometimes it really is the little things…

Sheila Brooks, Richmond

The Father and I were talking about job assignments and if I had the opportunity to be a part of a prayer team, that's where I needed to be. Whelp, there was a prayer team! And our directions were to disperse yourselves and follow the Spirit's leading; we trust Him to show you where to be; follow Him and do what He says; stick to focusing on praying over everything since we have a team specifically for individual prayer, but obviously, if He leads, don't miss the opportunity! Score! My kind of directions!

Cut to the beginning of the rally: I'm up by the stage next to the speakers and I heard the Lord say to record it. So I quickly pulled out my phone and hit record.

Cut to the end of the rally: I finish with my volunteer duties. Everyone is basically gone. But I hear Him say to stay put. So I just stood in one spot for a while until I felt Him release me to head back up to the venue. I walked around the site for a bit, and eventually, I was the last one, just standing there praying until His Spirit released me. Then an elderly gentleman came walking by, without an umbrella in the rain, so I quickly ran over and offered to walk him where he needed to go. That's when he told me that through a miscommunication, his group had forgotten him this morning and so by the time he'd finally gotten to the rally (over a 3 hour drive!), it was over. Immediately, the Spirit reminded me of the recording! So I asked him if he would like to go inside the Capitol and listen to it. He was ecstatic! So we got inside and who did we have the blessing of running into but the Governor! After our conversation with him, we sat on a little marble bench and listened to the recording which turned out fantastic despite being so near the speakers! We prayed "with everyone" so he could join in! Then we did a little tour of the Capitol with its prayer room (second floor) before parting ways. What a blessing!! God is soooo good! And His ways are so wonderful! What a blessing to get to bless that man's day! Thank you Daddy for being such a good Daddy.  He surely loves to bless His children.

Adrienne Wheat
College Student