Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 2, scene 2
Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs watered the seed of the early church." The persecution of the early church, instead of stopping the growth of the church, fanned the flame of evangelism and growth.
Last week, I took my phone to Apple to have the battery replaced. For about five hours, I was without my phone. It was nice, and freeing, but there was a part of me wondering all that I might be missing out on, the text conversations that I was unable to contribute to, the emails and notifications that were left unread and forgotten. While I felt freed, I also felt anxious. However, what was most alarming to me was what the Apple Representative asked me as I handed her my phone:
"Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” – Revelation 14:13
About 1,200 people gathered at the Orange County Church of Christ building in Irvine, California on February 11, 2017 to show their love and respect for Kevin Mains, evangelist, husband, father, grandpa, son, brother and friend. Another 6,000 watched the memorial service live online and another 6,000 have watched since.
Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred,
and you together are that temple. —1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. —1 Corinthians 6:19
I readily admit that it is hard to stay in shape. As I've aged and had more frequent illnesses, I find I have to plan, and work to maintain optimum weight, decent muscle mass, acceptable blood pressure and any cholesterol level deemed healthy by my primary care physician.
The majority of western society's health challenges are brought on by excess of too much food, too much drink and way too much of a sedentary lifestyle. These are the scourges of first world economies. We can not do anything because of health challenges that are beyond our control and should never feel guilty, or think we are cursed by God because of it (John 9:3). In fact all of the admonitions below are centered on health challenges we have some control over.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” —Isaiah 6:5-8
Isaiah 6 opens with an awesome vision of the Lord Almighty seated on his throne with the train of his robe filling the temple and surrounded by angelic beings praising him, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” Like Isaiah, when we get a clear vision of who God really is, our soul’s are exposed. We know we are unworthy, unreliable, and sinful apart from God’s grace.
There is a meaningful progession of acts in this passage that we can emulate to become vessels that God can use to carry his message to a lost and needy world. This commission is mirrored in the gospels when Jesus gave the great commission to his apostles, who then passed it on to us. Here are steps we can take to regain the joy of being messengers of God’s grace.
First, Happy New Year, everyone. May 2017 be a Year of Blessing—may you receive them, and be them.
It’s now been two months since my brain cancer surgery. I’m done with radiation, though its effects on my hair, scalp, and energy linger. I now have one month “off” in order to allow my brain tissues to settle down and resume pre-swelling size and function. By late January, I will then have a baseline MRI, which will be used against future scans. Beginning in February, I will go back on chemotherapy for six months—five days on, 23 off, rinse and repeat until August.
Of all the questions I am asked, this is one of the most frequent. A relative, a friend or someone at work who has identified themselves as being "gay" has invited you to their wedding or "commitment ceremony," and you feel unsure as how to respond. Would it be wrong to attend considering the Biblical sexual ethic that you try to live by and teach others? Would accepting the invitation be misconstrued as approval of a relationship that you believe is sinful? This predicament is only magnified when it is a loved family member who has offered the invitation. How should you proceed?
The last three months has been quite the experience for me writing this series. A lot can happen in only three months. I´ve formed new friendships, visited new countries, learned about faith and grace in rich, new ways, and also learned about myself in deeper, meaningful ways.
Today, we conclude the "Lifestyle Evangelism" series with a topic that is pertinent to discuss.
"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." -- 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Today a new president is chosen for the United States. I wrote an article in response to social media several months ago titled Christians, Politics, and Social Media. It's obvious by the feel and tone of posts I see that people have many polarized feelings and opinions about the election: who should or shouldn't be president, who is or isn't qualified to be in office, and perhaps if we should even have a president in the first place. Many of the feelings and fears people have come from real concerns that are okay to have.
Editor's note: God sent Scott and Lynne Green to plant our church in Hong Kong in 1987 and to send our first underground churches into mainland China before leading the Seattle Church of Christ for 17 years and the Berlin Church of Christ or the last two years. Disciples around the world prayed for Lynne as she battled cancer and is now a nine-year survivor. Disciples now are praying for God’s help and healing for Scott.
Only about one American in 15,000 can write this in 2016: I have a brain tumor. Since we found out a month ago in Berlin, Lynne and I have been the recipients of an astonishing level of kindness, encouragement, abundant prayers and heart-moving generosity. In fact, last week, Lynne had asked me what three words defined my last month, and I replied, “patience, pain, and generosity,” including her own. Lynne has been my best friend, my help, my security, and often my caretaker, and in this, reflects the love of God. I am really lucky.