Please Pray for God to Send Someone to Witness to My Best Friend!

I told her that I would not pray for that. Instead, I told her that I would pray for her, that the Holy Spirit would lead her to share her faith with her friend.

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About a year ago, a lady asked me to pray for God to send a person to witness to her best friend. I told her that I would not pray for that. Instead, I told her that I would pray for her, that the Holy Spirit would lead her to share her faith with her friend. The lady looked at me in astonishment! You see, she had never been challenged by anyone to share her own faith with another person.

The Bible teaches us that we are all called into priesthood. Look at 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Jesus commanded His disciples to take the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the world. Jesus was not just speaking to His disciples, but to all Christians throughout time. Look at Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

As a Christian, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, which gives you the power to be Christ’s witness. You have all the tools to share your faith. If you say that you are not confident to tell people the right things, let me just say that it is YOUR responsibility to learn how to do this. As a Follower of Jesus Christ, it is not an option, but a commandment that we spread the Good News of Jesus Christ not only to our friends but throughout the entire world.

The tools you have at your disposal is the Holy Spirit, who is the “Teacher, Jesus Christ” and you have the Word of God which is the Holy Bible. I challenge every Believer to get into God’s Word, study, and learn the essential Scriptures to share Jesus without fear and with confidence.

Here are the Scriptures I would like for you to learn and memorize:

Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Once you have shared these Scriptures with a person, then ask them if they would like to ask Jesus into their heart? If they say they would, then you pray with them. You could pray a prayer like this: “Dear Father, I have sinned against you. I want forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give you my life to do with as you wish. I want Jesus to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask in Jesus name, Amen.”

If you pray this with a person that you are sharing the gospel with, if they also pray this prayer and really mean it in their heart, they will be saved. If they choose not to pray, but would like to think about it, don’t argue with them or feel pressure for “you to succeed.” It’s NOT about YOU! It’s about JESUS, the SAVIOR of the World. All you can do now is to pray for that person and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to that person’s heart. You have done your part by sharing the most important gift that you could ever share with anyone.

Remember, the person you want God to send to witness to your best friend might just be YOU! God has already called YOU to share your faith. You don’t need to ask your pastor, deacon, or elder to do your job anymore. You have the ability to do it.

I will pray that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you to share your faith without fear and without reservation. Be bold in your faith. Remember, someone once shared the Gospel of Christ with you!  What are you waiting for? Get off the pew and go forth and take the Gospel out the church doors and into the marketplace and community.

Copyright © April 7, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Are You Being Fed Biblical Truth by Your Pastor?

So many times, we hear about people stating they do not want to go to church because the pastor makes them feel guilty or that when he preaches, they feel like that he is talking about them.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 Preach the Word

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

When Paul wrote this passage in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, he was writing to Timothy, to give him personal encouragement relating to the works of a minister of the gospel. Paul knew that this may be his last letter to Timothy considering his execution was soon. He wanted to give Timothy guidance for the post-apostolic age.

There is no other way to preach the Word of God except in truth. Paul’s intention was that Timothy not fall short by preaching what congregants wanted to hear but preaching sound teaching of Jesus Christ. Notice in verses 3 and 4, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” We are seeing this in today’s American Church, pastors are watering down the Word of God, teaching prosperity gospel and heresy. Paul specifically stated that we are to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” as written in verse 2.

So many times, we hear about people stating they do not want to go to church because the pastor makes them feel guilty or that when he preaches, they feel like that he is talking about them. Were you aware that the reason you may feel that way is because the Holy Spirit may be convicting you of your way of life, your sin, your attitudes, your sinful self? For people to only want to hear what makes them feel good is a sign that they have not fully embraced God’s teaching. It appears they are asserting what they want to hear as opposed to hearing from God the true version of the gospel.

What nerve congregants have, to dictate to their pastor in how to teach them? I have been in a church previously where a few people wanted “their church” run a certain way. They were not open to the advancement of the gospel. They only wanted to do it “their way.” They wanted their ears tickled with a gospel that only suited their way. If the pastor tried something different in what he preached, they ran him away. They basically wanted a “puppet” to preach what they wanted to hear, pleasant to the ear, not much condemnation, a “feel good” pastor. These types of pastors, “puppet men and women,” who are not teaching and preaching “true” Biblical Truth, will potentially be leading their congregants astray and possibly to hell.

A pastor is to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” They are to teach and preach the Bible. The opponents to this are guided by the “slanderer, the evil one, the prince of this world, Satan himself.” Yes, we live in a society where congregants have itching or tickling ears. Look at verse 3 again, “but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” Are you in a church where the pastor preaches a watered-down version to tickle the ears of his or her members?

The same goes when we as the Church should be taking the gospel into our communities. Are we sharing a watered-down version of the gospel to the lost? The Bible teaches that we are to love our neighbor, but do we truly love them if we keep our mouths closed and not share the gift that Jesus has given to us because we do not want to offend anyone? Has the Politically Correct movement affected our pastors and ourselves so much that we are afraid to speak the gospel with boldness for fear of being called hate mongers?

The point here is that we as well as our pastors should be teaching true and sound Biblical truth to people whom we come in contact with. Tickling their itching ears to hear what suits them because they are living in sin is not what Jesus Christ called us to do. If someone is living in sin, then we as Followers of Christ, as well as our Pastors must be teaching truth to those who are lost, and disciple those after they convert to Christ. That is what we are called to do as Followers of Jesus Christ and as Ministers of the Gospel. I pray that you will be bold in your faith and teach and preach God’s Truth with boldness and with love.

Copyright March 27, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Millennials: Why Are They Leaving the Church?

Most recently, while reading through comments made by people I follow of Twitter, I read the following comment from a 26-year-old female. “From now on, I’m not replying to criticism. The churches obviously don’t preach the truth anymore, there’s way too many patting on the back and tickling ears going on. That’s why I don’t go. I just read my Bible and pray for understanding.”

My reply to her Tweet was, “Please be open to find a church. The Word states do not forsake the assembly. There are Bible believing churches. Send me a PM and I will help you find a church in your area. Blessings! See Hebrews 10:25.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Many others responded similar responses.

Her response back to everyone, “I’m sorry to have to say this, but if anyone has one more know it all thing to say, I’d rather that you didn’t reply to me at all. I don’t want to hear it. I’m fed up with your attitudes, none of you know me in person. I hate sounding mean, but do what you tell me and judge yourself.”

I did respond back to her, apologizing if I had over stepped in my comment. I said that I would pray for her and that I would ask the Holy Spirit to go and minister to her.

After reading this, it has made me wonder why many Millennials feel this same way? As a transformed man of God, I love people and genuinely care for their souls and their well-being.

The Bible is very clear that we as Followers of Christ are not to forsake the assembly. Let us review some Scriptures that deal with attending church and meeting on a regular basis so that we might encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25, “24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Ephesians 4:11-13    And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.”

Acts 9:31-32, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

Matthew 28:19-20, “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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Attending church is vital for one’s growth as well as encouraging one another. It is essential to our walk with Christ. The Gospel is for all to hear and we as Followers of Christ are all called to priesthood, to take the Gospel and share it with others. See 1 Peter 2:5, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

The Church needs people who will come and contribute, not only their tithes, but more of themselves for the cause of Christ. If you want to see change in the church that you yourself criticize, then you need to become engaged so that you can help bring to light what you find offensive or what you deem to be a fraud. Please do not judge all assemblies and congregations by only one or two pastors who may be teaching heresy. Yes, the “Truth” should be taught and preached. Anything else is heresy. If it does not match up to Scripture, anything else is heresy. Yes, I said heresy several times. Hopefully, it will be driven home!

As I was writing this piece, the young lady responded back and wrote, “It’s not your fault, there was some others that offended me, it wasn’t you. God bless you brother.”

What I do know is that young people are leaving the Church. What they are embracing is not Christianity. We as Christian leaders must do a better job in reaching these people for Christ. We must be teaching and discipling young people with the truth of the Gospel, not some watered-down version to tickle the ears of congregants. If we truly want to see Millennials come back to the Church, we better start taking seriously what Christ has called us all to do, not just sit in the pews as the status quo, thinking that is the Pastor’s job! No, you are wrong in that thinking! It is EVERY CHRIST FOLLOWERS JOB! It’s time to get off the pew and get to work! Don’t be known as a sleeping church, but as a Body of Christ that is on fire for God.

John 4:35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” The fields are ripe for harvest. Stop preaching sermons that tickle and fancy others with a political correct message, but preach and teach TRUTH, the Gospel of Christ, God’s TRUTH!

You can follow this author at @JosephTLee on Twitter or on Facebook @JosephTLee777.

Copyright © March 12, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times; a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Backscratchers or Heart Surgeons: The Difference between Sermons and Messages

I once got as a Christmas present the best backscratcher ever!  It is made of aluminum, it has a rubber handle, and best of all it is retractable!  Consequently, it takes up very little space in my desk, which is a big draw back with a lot of other backscratchers.  Most backscratchers are long and awkward, so people inevitably put them in out of the way places where they are usually forgotten and lost.  Consequently, many backs go unscratched, which is a problem since people love to have their backs scratched.  A lot of today’s pastors are in the business of back scratching.  Pastors are called to be heart surgeons, but regrettably, a lot of us have turned into backscratchers.  There are several reasons why pastors become backscratchers.  One of the main reasons is that some congregations won’t tolerate a pastor who is passionate and has conviction, so over time some pastors learn that they better start scratching backs or lose their “jobs.”  When this realization occurs some pastors simply keep their cushy jobs, while the good ones leave and find real ministries.  Some pastors are backscratchers because they like being liked, so it comes naturally to them.  Others are backscratchers because they think it’s their job to mesmerize and entertain their congregations.  These pastors are essentially showmen.  They aren’t really backscratchers per se, but rather they are ear ticklers.  Nevertheless, the impact of their sermons is functionally the same, hearts are not renewed and spiritual arteries remain clogged.

Many backscratchers appear to be very successful because their churches are often filled with a lot of “listeners.”  So the question is this: how can you tell the difference between a backscratcher and a pastor who knows God, understands His word, and applies it to our modern lives?  A good test is to look at their impact on the hearts of those who hear them.  In other words, are people convicted and are lives changed?  We can see this kind of impact from the messages of great preachers in the Bible.  Look at Jesus, he once preached a message that caused so much consternation that the audience in the synagogue grabbed him and led him to a cliff in order to demonstrate the effects of gravity (Luke 4.28-29).  Luke actually documented that Jesus’ audience was “filled with rage” by the things that Jesus had said to them.  In full disclosure I must confess that I’ve never preached a message that had that kind of impact, so I’m preaching to myself here as well.  I guess you can say that Jesus wasn’t much of a backscratcher.

Then there is Stephen, in his very last message he gave an exceptional survey of the entire Old Testament that ended with him proclaiming the truth that his very audience had crucified the very Messiah that they confessed to be anticipating.  And what did they do?  They promptly carried him out of that same meeting and stoned him.  I guess you could conclude that he didn’t tickle many ears that day.  The passage actually describes their dispositions as being “cut to the quick” (Acts 7.54).   A lot of people, however, don’t really know what that means; in today’s vernacular it would be like saying that they were “shot through the heart.”

And then there is Paul. He once gave a message where the audience was quiet and listened intently, they were hanging on his every word you could say—that is until he spoke of God’s mandate to share the gospel with Gentiles, it was at that point that a riot broke out (Acts 22.22-25).  The text states that after Paul told them about the great commission that those in attendance literally threw their coats down and started throwing dirt in the air.  Now I’ve preached people into comas, but I’ve never started a riot.  But not Paul, what he said pricked their hearts so much that they began acting like a bunch of crazed chimpanzees.  The Roman soldiers present were so stunned that they immediately began preparing Paul for a scourging.  I’m not convinced that they even fully understood why they were about to scourge Paul, they only knew that something bad had just happened and something had to be done about it.  So in typical Roman fashion someone had to be beaten since everyone knows that scourging a single person is a lot easier than beating an entire mob.  Again, I’ve never been threatened with a whipping for anything I have said in a pulpit.  Someone may have wanted to punch me, but I never knew about it, so who knows.  The point is that Paul wasn’t in the ministry so that he could scratch backs and tickle ears; he was gunning for hearts.

I bring up these 3 events not because they are good examples of well-groomed “sermons,” but because they are excellent examples of impactful “messages.”  And there is a difference between the two.  The difference is that same as the difference between Cicero and Demosthenes.  There is a famous quote concerning these two great ancient speakers, which loosely goes like this: “When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke.’  But when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march!’”  And that is the point, isn’t it?  Are we supposed to be about sermons or messages?  A sermon is what a pastor prepares and then speaks to a listening audience.  A message is when spiritual shepherds have the guts to proclaim the truth about what Lord desires to do in the hearts of those who are actually “hearing” the word of God.  And if people hear God speaking to their hearts through your message, then people will be brought to a point of decision.  Sometimes they will weep, or repent, or worship, or be strengthened, and then they will serve; and if not, then they will begin picking up stones.  Either way, they will not have had their backs scratched or their ears tickled.  And isn’t that what the church needs?  The church doesn’t need more backscratchers, it needs more heart surgeons.

Monte Shanks, Copyright © April 10, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Christ in Discipleship

Jesus gave several commandments. The one that has stood out the most to this student, to help advance the Gospel, was to take the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Disciples are to preach the Gospel to everyone, (Matthew 28:19-20), thus teaching the new followers of Jesus Christ to make disciples who make disciples. Without Jesus, then there would be no discipleship. Without Christ, there would only be God and people would still be lost without hope.

According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jesus is the reason for the call to follow Him. Bonhoeffer wrote, “…there is only one good reason for the proximity of call and deed: Jesus Christ himself.  It is he who calls.”[1] It is Jesus who calls people to follow Him. Bonhoeffer wrote about Jesus calling Levi, the tax collector, to follow Him. Bonhoeffer writes, “This encounter gives witness to Jesus’ unconditional, immediate, and inexplicable authority. Nothing precedes it, and nothing follows except obedience of the called. Because Jesus is the Christ, he has the authority to call and to demand obedience to his word. Jesus calls to discipleship, not as a teacher and a role model, but as the Christ, Son of God.”[2]  Jesus is the center of discipleship. He is the sole reason that followers are called to become disciples, who then teach others to become disciples. Bonhoeffer continues to write, “Discipleship without Jesus Christ is choosing one’s own path. It could be an ideal path or a martyr’s path, but it is without the promise. Jesus will reject it.”[3]

Followers are called to discipleship. Robert Coleman wrote, “Conversion is the first step in the discipleship process. … Conversion is the beginning of a journey, whereas discipleship is ongoing. In true conversion, a person must commit to following Jesus. The person becomes a lifelong learner, a disciple. Being a disciple is a learning process that never ends.”[4] Putman, et al states that the definition of a disciple is found in Matthew 4:19.[5] There are three attributes in which Putman et al emphases. They are “Follow Me, And I Will Make You, Fishers of Men.”[6] This Scripture is about Jesus calling Peter and Andrew, who were fisherman by trade, to leave their nets and to follow Him. Jesus promises them that he will make the “Fishers of Men,” meaning that he will teach them how to harvest for men and women’s souls. Putman et al describes that the authority of Christ comes when He said to the brothers, “Follow me.” In their obedience to Jesus, they dropped everything and literally followed him. Putman et al wrote, “Though the notion of obeying Jesus is connected to our hearts at some level, this first attribute of a disciple is primarily a mental acceptance of Jesus, understanding that he is now the one in charge of our lives.”[7] There must be a mental acknowledgement, but also a heart change to become a follower of Jesus Christ. This is a requirement that one must believe and then repent from their sins, meaning to change and move away from sin.

Jesus said in the second part of the verse, “and I will make you….” It is this transformation of the heart in which one then becomes a disciple of Christ. It is at this point that the person should be hungry for what Jesus wants to teach him or her. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that this will occur, through transformation. Putman et al quotes Romans 8:29, “…we are being conformed into the image of Christ.”[8] This is done through the Holy Spirit. Putman et al wrote, “But discipleship, at heart, involves transformation at the deepest levels of our understanding, affection, and will by the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God and in relationship with the people of God.”[9]

The third part of the verse, “fishers of men” means that the disciple will be sent on mission overseas as well as in their own towns and cities. This part is the missionary work. Dave Earley quotes Charles Spurgeon as saying, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”[10] A true disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who has had a heart transformation and is willing to allow the Holy Spirit to lead him to where ever God opens the doors. This means that the work of God is at hand and that every Christian convert in the Church are called to be a disciple, who will teach others to become disciples. This is what all true Christians are called to be.

This leads into the final discussion, the three stages of discipleship according to Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey. The three stages of discipleship are Believer, Disciple, and Disciple Maker. Earley and Dempsey expounds on each of these and lists Stage One as a Declaration. It is the conversion of the Believer, which leads him or her to repentance and faith in Jesus.[11] Earley states that there are five steps for Stage One which are that one must make a declaration of faith, that he must repent from his sins and have faith, that he must become a committed believer, he must lay aside all his doubts, and by coming to Jesus, he is saved.[12]

Stage Two is Development. It is the immersion, abandonment, and apprenticeship into ministry.[13] To be a disciple of Christ, one must immerse themselves into a deep relationship with Jesus. This is done by studying of the Word of God as well as through daily prayer. One will also become involved in community and will become engaged with others through Christ. Earley writes, “….it is universally relevant that all disciples of Jesus must immerse themselves into a relationship with Him. He needs to become their premier relationship. As God is to be loved with all their ‘passion and prayer and intelligence.’”[14] Disciples must learn and be teachable. Once they learn what Christ wants to teach them, then they are ready to be sent.

The Third Stage is Deployment, intentional global commissioning. The disciple must be willing to go where Jesus leads him to go. Robert Garrett states, “The greatest missionary in history was Jesus Christ.”[15] Disciples are sent; therefore, disciples must go. David Platt wrote, “Wherever you and I live, we are commanded to go and make disciples there. In light of Jesus’ example, our primary impact on the nations will occur in the disciple-making we do right around us.”[16] But even if the disciple does not go abroad, they are called to take the Gospel to the world within their own towns and cities. Christians can no longer sit on the sidelines and assume that missionary work is not what they were called to do. On the contrary, all Christians are called to be disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples.

The most effective way to accomplish the Great Commission is to multiply. Earley and Wheeler wrote, “When we lead people to Christ, we must stay with them to help them get established in their faith. Then they can be carriers of the good news, and the message of the gospel will multiply through their consistent witness.”[17]

 

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 4 (Minneapolis: First Fortress Press, 2003), 57.

[2] Ibid., 57

[3] Ibid., 59

[4] Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013) 44-45.

[5] Putman, DiscipleShift, 45.

[6] Putman, DiscipleShift, 46.

[7] Putman, DiscipleShift, 47.

[8] Putman, DiscipleShift, 48.

[9] Putman, DiscipleShift, 49

[10] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is…: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2013) 77.

[11] Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 62.

[12] Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 61.

[13] Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 68.

[14] Earley and Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, 69.

[15]Robert Garrett, “The Gospels and Acts: Jesus the Missionary and His Missionary Followers,” in Missiology (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1998), 63.

[16] David Platt, Radical (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 198.

[17] Dave Earley and David Wheeler, Evangelism Is…:How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010), 134.

Bibliography

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 4. Minneapolis, MN: First Fortress Press, 2003.

Earley, Dave, and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is…: How to Share Jesus with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010.

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2013.

Garrett, Robert. The Gospels and Acts: Jesus the Missionary and His Missionary Followers, in Missiology. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1998.

Platt, David. Radical. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010.

Putman, Jim, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E Coleman. Disciple Shift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013.

This material is protected and may not be republished. Paper submitted to Dr. Morris Baker, Liberty University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of DSMN500-D03, Discipleship Ministries, April 8, 2018 by Joseph T. Lee.

Joseph T. Lee Copyright © April 8, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved. 

Breaking News: Jesus of Nazareth Has Risen from the Dead! The Tomb Is Empty!

April 1, 30 AD: At about 4:30 this morning, Mary Magdalene reports that she went to the Jesus’ tomb and found it open. She peered inside and saw that Jesus was nowhere in sight. His body was gone and his burial cloth was neatly folded up. According to John, “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  So, Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.  Both were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  Then the disciples went back to their homes.”

John also stated, “But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.”

In another eyewitness account, Luke states, “ That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,  and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.  While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.  And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.  Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.  But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.  Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,  and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”  And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Luke continues, “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So, he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”  Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

Jesus appeared to his disciples. According to Luke, “ As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. “And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

It is reported that Jesus ascended to Heaven. Look at what our eyewitness Luke says, “And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.  While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.”

Present Day: Surely, Jesus was truly the Son of God! He did rise again and that is why we celebrate Easter every year. Easter is not about the Easter Bunny, eggs, or candy. It is about the very Son of God, who died an agonizing death for the redemption of our sins. It is about the fulfillment of Scripture. In which God would give mankind another chance by sending His Own Son, into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it.

The Gospels are very clear. There is only one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ. Look at what the Scripture says about how to be saved:

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3 – “Jesus said, I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11 – “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 – “And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

It is our hope that if you have been searching for the “Truth” that you would recognize that Jesus is the “Truth.” If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for you and your guilt and sins and you also believe that He rose again in three days to show that He truly is the Son of God, then pray this prayer.

“Heavenly Father, I have sinned against You. I want your forgiveness for all my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give You my life to do with as You wish. I want Jesus Christ to come into my life and into my heart and live in me. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

I pray that many who read this story will come to Christ Jesus and that you will know the saving Grace and Forgiveness only found through Jesus Christ. It is a life style change that will forever change your heart and your life. Once you come to Christ, Jesus will send His Holy Spirit to dwell with you and help to teach you, through the Word of God. Get affiliated with a true Bible believing church and become a disciple of Christ. Get engaged in the Word and develop a relationship with God. I know that God’s Not Dead because I speak with Him daily through prayer and through His Word. Having a true relationship with Jesus Christ is a way of life that I hunger for.

I hope that you find Jesus Christ today! Happy Easter! He Has Risen! He Has Risen Indeed!

Sources: The Gospel of Luke and John, The Book of Romans, 2 Corinthians, and Revelation.

Copyright © April 1, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Didn’t I Ask the Question?

Most recently, I learned that a good client passed away suddenly. He appeared to be healthy and in better shape than I am in. And yet he died suddenly. Many people will ask why did God allow him to die as opposed to someone who has chronic health problems? The answer to that is unknown until we get to heaven ourselves. But this is not the question at stake. The question at stake is “Why didn’t I ask the question?”

Many are probably wondering right now, what is the question that I am talking about? I will get to that in a few sentences. Before I do that, let me just say that we take for granted that we have time. Time is on our side and that we can do whatever we want. As a non-Christian who may be thinking, “I want to enjoy life and not make a God commitment until I sow my oats!” Or the family member whom you have spoken with and he laughs in your face and tells you, “I have time!” Time? Do we really have time? Is time really on our side? My friend, although in great shape, had a brain aneurism and died. He was one year younger than me and yet he died.

When I found out about my friend, as I was speaking with his wife, I could barely talk for fear that I would start weeping as I was so sorrowful of her loss. Not only was I sorrowful, but I had never asked the question. There were five questions that I should have asked, but never asked. Was it because I feared rejection? Was it because I did not want to offend anyone? Was it because that I did not know how to communicate my question to him? Was it because we did not have time to discuss such a subject matter? Was it because I disobeyed God by not asking these simple questions? Was it because…..? And the list of why’s go on!

I could have asked five simple questions in conversational form. But as a believer in Jesus Christ; as a person who “proclaims” that he loves God with all his heart, soul, and mind; as a person who believes what Christ said that we are to “love our neighbor as our self;” I did nothing! I say that I love my neighbor, but my actions do not prove that to be true because if I truly did love my neighbor, I would have asked those simple five questions. But I didn’t and now I have to live with what I did not do! I will have to answer to God when I die and go to stand in judgement. I can hear Him asking me this question, “Why didn’t you ask the question?” I will stand guilty of being silent and unloving. Guilty of not loving my neighbor as myself!

What is the question I should have asked? If I am to love my neighbor as myself, I should have cared more about his spiritual life as opposed to his business life. I should have loved him as my own brother as opposed to keeping silent about spiritual things. I should have asked him, “Do you have any kind of spiritual belief? To you, who is Jesus? Do you believe there is a heaven and a hell? If you died right now, where would you go? If heaven, why? If what you believe were not true, would you want to know it?” The last question is if they do not have a belief in Jesus Christ. Now here is the rub. Not asking these questions or questions like them will never allow you the opportunity to show your love as well as the love of Christ to your neighbor. Who is this neighbor I am speaking about? It is anyone you know and do not know. It could be a friend, relative, next door neighbor, customer, or an unknown person. The direct question I should have asked was, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” But those five forms of questions ease one into conversation about faith.

Fortunately for me as well as for him, he did know Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He was a believer and he was a Christian. How do I know this? Because his wife told me that they have joined a bible believing church and that they were involved and that they both believed. Praise God for my friend’s salvation and that he is with Jesus right now. But that does not excuse my silence! We are all called to share our faith and yet we sit on the sidelines and do nothing! We go to church, sing and praise God, read Scripture, listen to a powerful and motivating sermon, have the benediction, go out to eat after church, then go home to rest. Then we go to work on Monday through Friday, without ever opening our mouths to tell someone about Christ. I say we because I am part of that group. I failed miserably at what I so much talk about and yet I never asked him the question. Lucky for me that when he died, he was a believer in Jesus Christ! But that did not negate my responsibility to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Many will say, “Don’t be that hard on yourself!” I will tell you that if God is bringing this to my mind as a teaching tool, then whoever is reading this blog should also be aware that God will hold us all accountable for not obeying Jesus Christ’s commandment that we are to take the Gospel throughout the world, even if we never leave the comforts of our own town. We are to open our mouths and tell someone about the saving grace of Jesus and His salvation. Don’t use the excuse of not being comfortable about speaking to someone. Jesus Christ was not comfortable at all when they arrested him, beat him, flogged him to where his skin was so mangled and his blood flowed down. They tried him and placed a crown of thorns on his head. They mocked him as they made him carry a heavy cross to the place where they then crucified him. Before he was crucified, he had to willfully crawl onto that rugged cross. His hands and feet were nailed to that wooden rugged cross. They used nails like railroad spikes. It was a gruesome and cruel way to die. And yet our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ did that for us, so that our sins would be forgiven. He died a most horrible death and yet we cannot even experience a little of uncomfortable talk to a friend or a client! Fortunately for us, Jesus died for our sins and transgressions. He was in the tomb for 3 days. On that third day, he arose and lives forever with God the Father.

My point is that I should have said something. I should have at least asked my friend if he had ever made a personal commitment to Christ? I never recall that I even asked him anything about his spiritual life. And I grieve that I never did. To love my neighbor as myself should mean that I also tell them about the greatest gift that has ever affected me and my life. My love for God and my love for Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation.

Look at the following Scripture:

Matthew 22:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

From now on, I will try to follow Jesus Christ’s commandments better and will love my neighbor by asking a simple five questions that can lead into a wonderful conversation about God’s saving grace. What about you? Do you want to see a friend or loved one die and you never asked them about their spiritual belief? Consider not making the same mistakes that I have made by not being obedient to God. Our faith calls all of us to action in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we say that we love someone, then if we really do, ask those simple questions.

Can you hear it?

Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice. Is God speaking to you? I have heard that voice. I have heard His voice and I want to seek Him in all I do. As a Christian, we are ALL called to share our faith and share the Gospel of Christ to all who will hear. That still small voice will speak to you, open doors for you, if you are willing to TRUST in Christ.

I am currently 60 years old and am about to graduate in May with a Masters in Christian Ministry. I heard that still small voice years ago prompting me to go back to college and earn my degree. Graduating will open many more doors for me in business as well as in marketplace ministry. I hear that small voice saying to “trust me.” God has placed a burden on my heart to minister to people who normally would not attend a conventional church, but would be open to friendship and the sharing of my faith.

I hear that still small voice telling me to get the training I need so that I can help others in the corporate world find faith in Christ through corporate or marketplace chaplaincy. God can use anyone willing to open his or her heart to Him and stepping out on faith to follow His leading. You don’t need to go overseas for ministry. Ministry opportunities are right in your own town or neighborhood!

For years, I have done what I wanted to do. I have ignored the calling. I have lived a Christian life, but was selfish in my own desires. But God has not left me alone. I still hear that still small voice and have finally yielded to it. God continues to place people in my path for ministry. I really do not have to go far to find them. I believe that God wants each of us to just be open to His calling and He will lead others to us in order that we may share our faith with all who will hear and is open to His Word.

Someone recently asked why I could not just skip Graduate School and do this? My answer is that I want to learn The Bible better and how to share my faith in a more accepting manner. I think that in order to do what I hear God calling me to do within the business world, I needed more training. I have a heart for ministry and for people. I go to sleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. It is constantly on my mind. The question is this: “What have I really done for the cause of Christ?” As a Christian, I feel like I have wasted a good portion of my life in what I wanted as opposed to what God has been calling me to do.

At this time, nothing will change, as I am still an independent businessman, sharing my faith with others when the opportunity arises. I am still involved in my work, helping people to secure their financial futures with offering them the protection they need in the event of a disaster. I plan to continue working and running my business as my business is what opens doors of ministry. But the difference now is that I have heard that still small voice very clear and I have yielded to it.

“Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice!”  Yes, I can hear it! I hear it! My question to every Christian believer is “Can you hear it? Can you hear it? That still small voice!” If you hear it, then what are you going to do about it?

Joseph T. Lee, Copyright © February 22, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

It Should Have Been Me

Today, as I think about what Jesus did for you and me, I had an image in my mind. It was of the pounding of spikes, like those nailed into railroad ties. As I closed my eyes, I could see Jesus crawling onto the rugged cross after being illegally arrested, tried in the middle of the night, and early in the morning, sentenced to die a horrific death. They beat him, scourged him with a whip with metal shards imbedded in the ends of the cat of nine tails whip. They beat him almost to death. Then they fixed a thorny crown of thorns on his head and marched him through the streets to the hill carrying that heavy rugged cross. Then that is when he crawled onto that cross and they nailed each hand into the cross beam. I can hear the pounding of the metal in my mind and his anguished screams. They then placed his feet on top of each other on a type of foot platform and nailed his feet together. That is when the Roman Centurions lifted the cross up and jammed it upright into its mount. Jesus hung on that cross for hours. It was a long day and he suffered from thirst as well as most likely congestive heart failure.

As he was dying, he spoke seven times. The first, he cried out to God. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Then a thief who was also being crucified asked Jesus to remember him. And Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). “Jesus said to his mother: “Woman, this is your son.” Then he said to the disciple: “This is your mother” (John 19:26-27). Then Jesus cries out again, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34)

Then Jesus, while suffering and in anguish spoke, “I thirst” (John 19:28). They placed a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished;” and he bowed his head and gave over His spirit (John 19:29-30). Then Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

As the Roman Centurion looked upon Him, a great earthquake occurred and the Temple Veil was torn into. The Centurion said, “Surely, this truly was the son of God!” Then I realized that the Centurion was me in my dream and I awoke thinking that I am unworthy to even carry Jesus’s sandals because I am guilty. He took my blame and my sin and yet I had been forgiven by His mercy and grace. I stand looking up at that cross weeping for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He took my place on that cross. It should have been me.

Copyright © February 12, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Is Time Running Out?

Just last Fall, I had the pleasure at singing at my Mother-in-law’s funeral. Now I know what most of you are thinking? How can I say that I had the pleasure singing at her funeral? Although her physical body was in the bronze casket, her spirit was already with her Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. I was honored having been asked to sing by both my Brother-in-law and my Wife.

Her funeral was beautiful. Her life of Christ was celebrated and it was disclosed that she touched many lives. The service started with the pastor giving the prayer and then I got up to sing Mom’s favorite song, “How Great Thou Art.” While leading in congregational singing, I looked out at each face and saw many grief-stricken faces. Then I wondered, if these people really understood where Mom was?  I wondered, would the Holy Spirit open a Divine Appointment for me to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to many of her friends and family who may not really know Jesus as their personal Savior? I came prepared to present the Gospel of Christ to whoever will have opened their hearts to hear.

Mom had a special relationship with God. You see, she was a Believer and she loved everything about God. She wanted more than anything to see her entire family come to Christ. She prayed for them that they would become Christians. But she did not have any control over individual decisions about coming to God. As a matter of fact, a man, woman, boy, or girl cannot get into heaven on the coat tails of their Mom or Dad, Grandma or Granddad. One cannot be saved by osmosis. What this means is that many people believe that because they are in association with family, wife, husband, brother, sister, boyfriend, or girlfriend; that they are Christians. This is farthest from the truth.

So how does one become a Christian? Here are some Bible Scriptures that will help someone to understand what it is to become saved. And let me explain also, when one prays to ask Christ into their lives, unless they really believe it and open their heart for a heart transformation, then God will judge them for their insincerity. Therefore, here are the verses that I want to share with you about Salvation through Jesus Christ.

If you have a Bible, turn to these Scriptures and read these out loud for full understanding:

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3, “Jesus replied, I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10:9-11, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe with your heart, that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart, one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth, one confesses, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15, “And He died for all so that those who lived should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20, “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in.”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him, will have eternal Life.

John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world, that He might condemn the world, but the world might be saved through Him.”

This is my invitation to you. If you have been running from God all of your life and thinking that you have more time or that you can make a commitment to God later, you may not have any time left. Once you die, there are no more opportunities for forgiveness. That is it! You will have sealed your fate eternally by not accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. When I looked on every grief stricken, ashen face, I saw your anguish and you did not know what your tomorrow was going to bring! So why not come to Christ? Why not make the commitment before it is too late?

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior right now, then get down on your knees right where you are and bow your head and ask God to forgive you of all your sins. You could pray a prayer like this:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I have sinned against you. I want forgiveness for all of my sins. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and rose again. Father, I give you my life to do with as you wish. I want Jesus Christ to come into my life and into my heart. This I ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

If you have done that, then I want you to get involved in a Bible believing church who will start to mentor and disciple you to help with your new conversion to Christ Jesus. I hope and pray that you have prayed that prayer and have asked Jesus Christ into your heart. May God Bless you and keep you.

This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without express written permission.

Copyright © January 27, 2018, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.