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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Commissioned Involves Giving Account

Jesus came and said to them, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

The Great Commission is the command of the resurrected Jesus to his disciples [the Church] to spread the Good News of salvation to all nations. It is not an option or a suggestion.

For the Christian, the Great Commission is an obligation. It is a responsibility for which we are held accountable until the Lord's return.

From His authority as the Almighty, Jesus Christ commands that we make disciples of all nations.  How can we claim to be obedient if we do not use our talents, resources and church programs to make disciples?

How can we say we are making disciples if our converts do not think of themselves as disciples?

Have we succeeded in the Great Commission if those we disciple do not recognize what it means to live as disciples?

Remember that to be “commissioned” involves giving an account. It is a work which the Lord promised to prosper and He is with us always, even to the end of the age.

Related reading: Discipling With AuthorityThe Great Commission and Things Unwritten; The Great Commission: Amplified Translation

Sunday, November 25, 2018

This Thanksgiving

“…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:19b-21

Dear Lord, I thank You:

For rest and comfort of each night,

For morning sun at dawn’s first light;

For water at my tap to drink;

For family love and friendship’s link;

For food upon the table spread;

The fragrances of fresh-baked bread;

For clothes, for shelter overhead,

For every kind word fitly said;

For seasons’ changing, one on one,

For sorrow’s grief, laughter and fun;

The sum of every day’s felt needs,

For work; and harmony that feeds

Our purposes for living life;

For bearing well both joy and strife;

For life abundant, salvation free,

A gift from Christ who died for me;

For all the fabric of my days

I lift my voice in thanks and praise. Amen.

(Poem first written November 9, 2013 by Ethelene Dyer Jones)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Are You His Disciple Indeed?

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

The word “Christian” is used only 3 times in the NT, but "disciple" is used 372 times. What are the marks of a disciple of Jesus Christ? Surely, one mark is to believe on HIM.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, . . . then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31).
Jesus said that true believers will watch for His return:
“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40). 
In 1 John 2:28, the Apostle exhorts all: “. . .when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
“. . . in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2 Tim 3:1) “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” (2 Tim 3:5).

Many forms of religion and many denominations are lukewarm in following the things that produce salvation and godliness. 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).

A true disciple aligns only with the true proclamation of the Faith. Ask "How many of their converts fall away after making professions of faith?" Consider this: when asked about their faith, how many will say: “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ?”

Many pastors are unaware that there are 6 levels of being a disciple in the New Testament. The disciple is one who has matured from acceptance of the Faith to a reproductive life; from becoming a disciple to making disciples. Unless the pastors focus on this progress their people will not know where to start the walk of a disciple.

Another mark is to believe is HIS word.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31).

Many who claim to be a disciple lack the necessary discipline and the commitment. The commitment involves adoption of the disciple’s self concept, practicing the New Testament methodology for making disciples, and a life style of consecration to Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

Other marks of the true disciple include:

Belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, as He presents Himself. This conviction must grow to be strong enough to become free from sin’s domination! (John 8:31–36).

Remaining faithful even when other disciples stop following Christ. (John 6:66–69). 

Adopting a disciple’s self concept. This involves confessing oneself to be a disciple of Christ (John 9:27, 28; Matt 10:32, 42; Acts 9:26). When a person receives a God given self concept, he will be as consistent as long as he keeps asking: "What must I do to be as God wants me?"
Eagerness to learn and practice what his disciple-making mentor teaches (Matt 13:11, 12, 23; 28:19, 20).

Dedication to reproduce the Lord’s message, and commitment to be an agent of Christ in character and in daily life.

Maintains an abiding relationship with the Lord Jesus by faith (John 15:1–16) and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13, 14).

Takes up the disciple’s cross to exchange his natural life for the soul life Jesus gives. (Luke 9:23–25).

Looks to function in a Local Church that functions as a fellowship of disciples (Acts 11:26; 13:1–3).

Most of you will say to yourselves: “These characteristics are biblical and good, but what are the precepts and steps in applying them?” This is what discipling courses should teach. Sacrifice the time to learn from a mature disciple of Jesus Christ. A Bible-practicing church will explain how to become a mature disciple, as the Lord Jesus commanded:
“Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Three Essentials of the Christian Faith

Martin Luther considered John 3:16 "the heart of the Bible – the Gospel in miniature." Yet there are other doctrines that must also be considered essential to the Gospel. Let's look at three of them.

God as Trinity

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

As Jesus came up from the Jordan waters the Spirit descended upon Him and the Father's voice was heard claiming Jesus as the divine Son. The Trinity was made manifest at Jesus' baptism by John.

Jesus as the unique Savior

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17

The Lord is . . . not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

"He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” 2 Cor 5:15

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself..." 2 Corinthians 5:19

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

Jesus as the Son of God

“. . . the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God." 1 John 4:15

John explains that his purpose in writing is "that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God." (John 20:31) 

Likewise, Martha professes that Jesus is Messiah, the Son of God (John 11:27), and John the Baptist bears witness that Jesus is the Son of God (John 1:34).

Related reading: Jesus Christ's Triumphal Resurrection

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Human Intelligence and Divine Judgement

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

From birth, each person begins to learn how to function as an individual and in relationship to others. Without sufficient mental and moral principles, self and social relationships prove to be limited or even destructive. Babies are not taught how to learn, they simply learn. It seems to be an innate capacity. Some may face greater challenges to learning, some learn patterns from their families that are not wholesome. Through experience the wise find it necessary to jettison patterns of behavior that are not helpful. Some learn to distinguish between what is helpful and leads to a better way of life and some do not.

Being created in the image of the Creator suggests that humans have a greater ability to learn than other creatures. From controlling fire to splitting the atom, the history of mankind reveals this exceptional quality. Our nature is such that we can accomplish great things in the service of our fellow man, but that when we substitute a false self-image we can also produce great suffering.  Consider the determined efforts of evil men to exterminate millions of their fellow human beings.

As Creator, God has the supremely greater intelligence and the authority to show us the way to fulfilling life. He provides each with sufficient intelligence and discernment to regulate our lives so that we thrive. But He also gives us freedom and with that freedom comes a great responsibility of choice.

There comes a point when we are accountable for our own actions and choices. In some circles it is believed that human reach the age of accountability at about 13 years of age. In Judaism, for example, boys go through the bar mitzvah at age 13. For Jewish girls the bat mitzvah takes place at age 12. From that time, they are responsible for their choices as adults. Thereafter, God is not only Creator and Teacher, but also the Judge.

Christians believe that God is a just judge and that He can be trusted to bring us through times of trouble, even troubles that we bring upon ourselves. We read in James 4:12 -"There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy..." When we humbly turn to Him in repentance, God looks upon us with mercy. That is the beginning of a new life of learning and growth. 

The learner who lives according to divine judgement will be renewed. That person is like a tree with roots deep in the earth. The storms of life cannot topple that tree. That person is like a tree by the water. It will not perish in times of drought.

The mature Christian who takes responsibility to live according to divine judgement has the assurance that he will "give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead." (1 Peter 4:5) And his conscience is clear. 

The intelligence of humans is a gift from our Creator and the gift is to be used responsibly. We are to be ever mindful of the accounting that we must give to God, our Judge.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Beware a Different Gospel

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

I wrote this after a visit from a Seventh Day Adventist teacher who kept mixing the Sabbath observance into the Gospel message. The tone began quite legalistic, and I was reminded of the Apostle Paul's strong words to the Galatians.
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:6, 7 NASU

What is the true, pure Gospel of Jesus Christ? It is a "received" tradition concerning the long-awaited Messiah who saves.
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, . . .” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NASU

How does “another gospel” come to be preached? It is the work of self-appointed preachers who have their personal agendas and reject the received tradition to which Paul testifies. They work by infiltration.
“. . the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.” Galatians 2:4, 5

This false gospel was to “compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:14); that is, to put the followers of Jesus back under the burden of Jewish legalism which required that Gentiles be circumcised according to the Law of Moses.

How does the Apostle Paul describe this different gospel?
“Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” Galatians 5:2

Paul admonished the followers of Jesus to put their faith in Him alone. He urges them not be negligent or disorderly in gathering together. He does not require them to observe the Sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night, though the earliest followers did, as it was their custom as Jews.

Gentile Christians met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). The Evangelists Mark and John acknowledge the first day of the week as “the Lord’s Day."
Mark 16:9-10 “When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.” 
John 20:1 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
John 20:19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

Paul considered observing the Sabbath Day as optional for Jesus' followers. He wrote:
“. . One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 13:14

Further, Paul insisted that believers were not to be judged on this issue:
“. . . no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day — things which are a mere shadow . .” Colossians 2:16, 17

Attempts to add merit to the infinite worth of Christ’s propitiation is futile. Observing the Jewish Sabbath cannot bring forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Requiring others to do so places barriers in the paths of sincere seekers. It delivers believers from Christian liberty back into bondage.
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

Ultimately, such legalism denigrates the perfected work of Jesus, the Son of God, who came into the world to save sinners.
"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." Romans 8:2

Related reading: Our Common Confession

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Nature’s Witness For God

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

In law court, decisions are made from the preponderance of evidence. The force of these observations is cumulative and leads to informed judgments. This is no less the case with Nature's witness to God's existence and divine nature (Romans 1:20).

As a Chemistry major at the University of Houston, I heard the professor stop her explanation of the atomic structure as expressed in the Periodic Chart, and say: “The integrate and progressive structure of the elements is a reason I believe in God!”

The law of cause and effect is universal and humans live according to this law.  Philosophers have longed considered the question of how, what, or who set this in motion, as there must have been an origin cause. They ask why is there something rather than nothing, or something other than what is. This is the Cosmological Argument for the existence of the Creator God.

Astronomy tells us that the universe comes from an initial origin. Its size is of infinite proportions. Distances are approximately measured in light years. The distance between galaxies are in the hundreds of light years. This has been called the "creation event" or the “big bang.” It explains the multi-dimensional expansion of the Universe, but it doesn't explain how matter came to exist in the first place. For this, we can logically argue a Cause of infinite power and intelligence.

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their starry host.” (Isaiah 45:12)

The order in Creation reveals a pattern or design, suggesting the existence of a Designer. All created things have a design by which things function and express meaning. An art shop has paints, brushes, and canvases, but a designer is needed to create a beautiful painting. This is the Teleological Argument for the existence of God as a Creator. Everything in Nature has a purpose and the purpose is dictated by the original design. An acorn's design is such that it can become a great oak.

In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul applies this to the Church. Each member has his function relative to the whole body. Design gives an organized purpose.

As any inventor has authority over his creation, so the Creator designs the purpose and pattern for human beings. He is displeased when we fail to live according to His original design.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18-20)
Human beings have great mental power, and a moral nature that is expressed in the conscience. When we fail to develop mentally and morally, our social relationships prove to be limited and injurious. In many circles it is believed that human beings develop this capacity at about 13 years of age. In the Old Testament boys go through their initiation into maturity and thereafter are regarded as having the responsibility of men. Jesus as a young man deliberated with the elders in an authoritative manner that amazed them. Each human has the responsibility to be moral and each has some sense that there is more than the natural world. We have an awareness of the supernatural.

Having been given the freedom of choice, we are wise to rely on the Creator's intelligence and moral guidance. There we find true satisfaction. St. Augustine expressed it this way: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Blaise Pascal expressed it in these words: "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.” This the Anthropological Argument for the existence of God.

Unhampered humans have the ability to think abstractly. We can conceive of a Creator who is greater than ourselves and has attributes that must define God. The Ontological Argument attempts to show that God's existence can be deduced from the very definition of God. That is to say, we are able to think of God as an uncreated, eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient Being. These are not attributes we can experience empirically. This approach is the same as when we think of heat apart from light or fire.

Related reading: Further Thoughts on Creation;  The Science-Faith Question; Creation of the Universe: Examining the Evidence; Science and Miracles

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

In Memory of Marionette Lundwall

Marionette Shuford had a twin sister, Antoinette. The girls were born to William Van Shuford and Martha Helena Young Shuford December 23, 1927, in Winston Salem, Forsyth County, NC. They were premature babies, and Antoinette died at birth. Marionette had an older sister, Juanita Marie, and an older brother, William Russell, who died a few weeks after birth.

Marionette married Edward F. Lundwall, Jr., an Army chaplain. They had 3 children.

Marionette died July 13, 2007 at age 79 in Rossville, Walker County, Georgia after a long battle with cancer. She is buried in Chattanooga National Cemetery in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee.

This blog has been the venue for much of the written work of Edward F. Lundwall Jr.  It is in thanksgiving for his service to God and his country that this biographical piece has been posted.

Related Reading: Bug Inspired Faith; Jesus and the Fire Witch

Friday, April 13, 2018

Upon this Rock

“When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.” ― G.K. Chesterton, Heretics

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Good Friday Reflection

Looking at the Cross

“How do we measure the size of a fire? By the number of firefighters and fire engines sent to fight against it. How do we measure the seriousness of a medical condition? By the amount of risk the doctors take in prescribing dangerous antibiotics or surgical procedures. How do we measure the gravity of sin and the incomparable vastness of God’s love for us? By looking at the magnitude of what God has done for us in Jesus, who became a like a common criminal for our sake and in our place.

When you really come to know the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus, then you will also come to know the depth of your own participation in sin. And at the very same moment (this is the glory of Good Friday) you will come to know the true reality, the true joy and gladness, of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Flemming, Rutledge. “The Common Criminal” from Bread and Wine; Reading for Lent and Easter. New York: Plough Publishing, 2003.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Remembering the Vietnam War (Part 1)

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

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Army Chaplain, Retired

Few people understand the Vietnam war. Most veterans lament the suffering and say with many others: “Why? It was useless!” They find fault with both the leadership and the way the war was fought. Over a million people either died or suffered physically and emotionally.

To understand the Vietnam war the wider picture must be considered. It was as much a conflict with China and Russia as with the Viet Con. The Vietnamese enemy received substantial supplies from China and Russia. Very few weapons were made in Vietnam.

One of the driving emotional forces that made the Vietnamese fight was their resistance to occupying foreigners. Before the French, the Chinese. The Chinese occupation is seen in the remnant Chinese population living in the Cholon area near Saigon. The Vietnamese resisted the Chinese attempts to take the northern portions of Vietnam.

Communism was a tool of those who wanted to dominate and rule. In a sense, the conflict in Vietnam shows that self government won the day in Vietnam. Communism can't be sustained unless it controls the whole world and most nations and peoples seek to have control of their own lives and futures. So the war in Vietnam was a conflict of ideologies, a clash of national self interests, the global ambitions of Communism, and the ideal of democracy.

The Vietnamese have their own language, religion, and national identity. They sought to preserve it during the occupations. Today the economic culture of free enterprise dominates in Vietnam as “market centered” economy.

Even during the war the French rubber company still operated freely. I remember a visit from their company representatives. The came to ask us not to harm their rubber trees with artillery fire.

Related reading: Mercy in the MidstMilitary Service in Vietnam; The Lieutenant’s Godly Prayer

Sunday, January 21, 2018

What is Righteousness?

God is eternal love and perfect righteousness. Righteousness is one of the chief attributes of God and of His Son, Jesus Messiah. Those baptized and walking in faith display the attribute also. For the righteous ones of God in Christ are humble, compassionate, faithful, truthful, and confident of God's love for them.

Here are some Bible verses that help us to reflect on the nature of righteousness.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy to "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:11)

Paul urged Timothy to forsake the things of this world and to pursue the things of the eternal kingdom. This message is found in Matthew 6:33: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

This is expressed also in 2 Corinthians 5:16-19: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

Psalm 34:15 speaks of God's attentiveness to the righteous. "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry..."

"For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psalm 1:6)

Psalm 112:6-8 says, "Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."

The security of the righteous reflects the fixed and unchanging nature of God and His promises. James speaks of this as the "wisdom from above."

"But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap the fruit of righteousness." (James 3: 17, 18)

We are blessed when we seek the wisdom from above. God promises to give wisdom to those who seek it. Likewise, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun." (Psalm 37:5, 6)