Would Jesus Offend You?

So this week I have been sick. Maybe, overall, the sickest I have ever been. Ashley, my lovely wife, has essentially quarantined me. I’ll be lying in bed, alone, in my room, alone, and I’ll hear the spraying sound of Lysol…and the smell of it will seep through the bottom of my door…oh how I hate that smell.

Anyway, I have been on Facebook a ton because…other than sleeping, what else am I going to do when I am sick? All this week I have seen so many people post these Jesus memes or just random pictures of Jesus. They all show Jesus looking something like this:

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Or even the Pretty boy “Hollywood” look:

2So I began putting some thoughts together as to what Jesus could have looked like…which definitely isn’t the white pretty boy so many of us think.

For one, in almost every picture I see of Jesus, his hair is long and straight…as in looks like a professional used a straightener on it. The Bible offers no say as to if Jesus had long hair or not. However, Jews of the day traditionally didn’t have long hair. Plus, can anyone seriously imagine Jesus as a carpenter, having to constantly get his hair out of the way? I can’t. On the note of a carpenter, that probably meant Jesus was at least decently strong. He worked with wood and stones using his hands a lot, in what could be very physical and tedious work.

Here’s a quote from Matt Chandler on what Jesus looked like “Finding a white dude in Galilee in the first century would be like finding big foot riding a unicorn across a rainbow. There’s not going to be one there! It’s not going to happen! So we know that Jesus, is not a white guy. Not blonde, doesn’t have fair hair, that’s not who he is. He is distinctively Jewish, and what we do know from the Bible is that he’s not all that good to look at.”

How many pictures of Jesus do we see that have him Middle Eastern? It’s rare. He is always white. I often wonder why so many of us push this fake looking version of Jesus out there. Even the Jesus Film which is awesome in the fact that it gets millions of copies of dvds in other languages out there, misses what Jesus would look like. I find myself thinking, how confused will other cultures be watching all these white people roaming around in the Middle East?

As Chandler said, we know that Jesus wasn’t very good to look at.

Isaiah 53:2

He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.

In fact, if Jesus was really as Hollywood as people portray him, he never would have slipped away countless times as the Bible tells us he did. He would have stuck out to easily. He looked average and fit in easily with a crowd.

It must not be that important as to what exactly Jesus looked like.  If it was the Bible would have given us a lot more information.  So why did I write this blog about it? I wrote it because many people would be offended if they saw Jesus. To illustrate this point best, I would like to close was a passage from Vince Antonuncci.  He is a Pastor currently in Las Vegas, Nevada. This passage, coming from a pastor, is very honest and impactful.  I read it years ago and still remembered it while writing this. Take the five minutes to read it, it’s worth the time.

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I’ll be honest. When I first came into Christianity, I couldn’t believe how self-consumed and comfort-obsessed Christians were. I wondered if we were reading the same Bible. Had they ignored the verses where Jesus said to carry a cross, to die to self, to choose death? Had they missed the story about washing feet?

But, over time, I have seen the same self-obsession and comfort-addition creep into my own life. Often I’m able to conveniently ignore noticing this, but every once in a while I get smacked in the face with it.

Like a few years ago my friend Mark and his family moved to Laos to do mission work there. And I thought, Could I do that? If I really believed God wanted me to up and move to Laos, would I do it? I thought, Of course I would, but I had my doubts. Then, before this family left, I told them I would come over to see them on a church mission trip. They laughed and said, “We’ll believe that when we see it!” And I realized, Wait a second, I’m wondering if I would move there, but apparently there is something about me that makes people question if I’d even be willing to go there for two weeks! What is that? Do they know about my King of Comfort crown? Have they seen this lazy boy sleeping in his easy chair?

Now that we had missionaries established in Laos, I started praying for Vietnam. We had committed to try and reach a people group that lived in several Asian countries. So I repeatedly prayed that God would give me some way into Communist-ruled Vietnam and at least get my foot in the door there. After praying that for a few years, I received an email one day. It was from a pastor I had met just once. He wrote, “ Hey Vince, I’m going to Vietnam to meet with government officials . They told me I could bring some pastors from other churches who might help their country and you came to mind. Want to go?”

My first thought was, No! As I mentioned earlier, the trip was fifteen days long. My family had a vacation planned for seven of those. I would miss my daughter’s first day of kindergarten.

Then I realized: God had just answered my prayers in nothing less than miraculous fashion. I had a once in a lifetime opportunity starting at me, and saying yes could potentially lead to years of being able to do ministry in a Communist country where Christianity is basically illegal- and I’m going to say no because it would interrupt my plans?

I went.

About a year ago I had another experience like this one. I was asked to help with a new church start in Cleveland. I was to be on the “Management Team” – giving advice and coaching to the guy starting the church. I agreed and then found out I’d have to fly to Cleveland for a day of meetings. This did not make the King of Comfort happy. Airplanes don’t have La-Z-Boy chairs. Cleveland is much colder than where I live. I’d have to be away from my family.

But I went.

After the meetings someone drove me to the airport in Cleveland to catch the return flight. I was early, so I sat down at my gate to read a book. I was in the middle of reading when the most unforgettable sensory experience of my life occurred. I was suddenly hit by a smell… I don’t have words to describe it.

Repulsive.

Disgusting.

Revolting.

Foul.

Nauseating.

None of those words do this smell justice. I’m serious.

I instantly starting gagging. I tried to figure out the source of the smell, but I couldn’t, and slowly it faded away. I went back to reading, but then the smell attacked me again. Holding my breath and trying not to retch, I looked and saw a woman who had just walked up. From her physical appearance and dress It was obvious she was from the Middle East. I gave her a quick once over and realized the problem. She was wearing sandals. She carried a thin plastic grocery bag that contained sneakers. Only sneakers. The smell was coming from her feet, or perhaps her sandals and sneakers. She had decided to stand right next to me, and I couldn’t hold my breath and longer.

In that moment I starting having this rapid fire inner dialogue…

This is the most sickening feeling of my life.

Vince, chill out. She’s a person, she is not her smell.

She may be a person, but she doesn’t smell like one.

Vince, she’s from the Middle East. They eat different foods from you. Those foods have certain  smells. And she has been working all day. So her feet are sweaty it’s not a big deal.

Not a big deal? I am getting up and getting out of here!

Vince don’t you walk away from her!

She won’t know why I’m walking away from her. It won’t insult her.

No, Vince, don’t walk away from her, even if she doesn’t know, even if it doesn’t insult her. This isn’t about her, it’s about you.

Exactly, this is about me. That’s why I’m getting out of here.

Vince, maybe the most important thing isn’t for you to be comfortable. Maybe it’s for you to put another person first. Maybe the best thing would be for you to be uncomfortable.

That’s stupid. Sitting next to her isn’t putting her first anyway. It’s not like I’m going to start to talk to her or start a friendship with her. So it’s no big deal if I’m not around her. I’m leaving.

     Vince, don’t leave. This is your chance to grasp death and experience real life.

No, I’m leaving. Talk about death- it’s going to kill me if I stay here one more second!

But Vince, what if not staying here kills your soul?

Whatever. I’m leaving.

And I did. I got up, very subtly, and I walked away. I walked as far as I could as fast as I could, and then started gulping for air like someone who had been held under water for three minutes. I found a place on the floor to sit down, and I went back to reading my book. Finally the announcement came that my flight was boarding, so I walked over to the line. Seconds later I was assaulted by the stench. I turned around and found that the woman, and her sandals and sneakers, were right behind me. I tried to fake a smile at her, turned back around, and thought, Yeah, that’s funny God. You have a great sense of humor.

As we waited to board, and then finally entered the plane, I tried to take as few breaths as possible, and only through my mouth. Then I realized: she might be sitting near me on the plane! I started frantically praying, God, I know this is wrong. I know. I know. I know. But please, please, please, don’t let her be sitting next to me.

She sat next to me.

I was on aisle, 19C. She was just across the aisle, 19D.

Unbelievable.

And then it hit me…

Jesus was from the Middle East.

Jesus ate whatever it is Middle Eastern people eat.

Jesus walked all day, every day.

Jesus wore sandals.

Jesus rarely would have soap touch his feet.

And I realized… I would be offended by Jesus.

Like most Christians, I like to imagine meeting Jesus, in the flesh, and I picture myself running up to him and hugging him. But what if I ran up…and gagged? What if the smell was… repulsive… disgusting… revolting… foul… nauseating? And why wouldn’t it be? Why would Jesus smell any better than this woman?

It was a slap in the face. I finally understood. I was so addicted to my own comfort, so unwilling to die, that not only was it keeping me from living the Jesus life; it kept me from Jesus.

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A Modern Day Holocaust

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*The following statistics found in this blog, as well as the inspiration for sharing a true story, come from Secret Church 15, “Counter Culture”.

Abortion is a topic that seems everyone has an opinion on. Sadly, Christians often seem to be rather silent on the issue. The fear of offending someone has taken over. This is a difficult topic, but difficult topics can be discussed in a loving way. As a Christian, this is not a topic that we should remain silent on.  David Platt recently stated that abortion is “The Modern Day Holocaust.” Millions upon millions of babies being slaughtered and it is acceptable and encouraged my many in our society. Randy Alcorn did a good job summarizing  our culture’s stance on abortion, “In Illinois a pregnant woman who takes an illegal drug can be prosecuted for ‘delivering a controlled substance to a minor.’ This is an explicit recognition that the unborn is a person with rights of her own.  But that same woman who is prosecuted and jailed for endangering her child is perfectly free to abort her child.  In America today, it is illegal to harm your preborn child, but it is perfectly legal to kill him.”

The statistics in the USA on abortion are staggering. Since 1943 over 45 million babies have been aborted. Roughly 1.4 million babies a year, about 3,000 every single day. Some estimates say that around one third of American women have had an abortion at some point. One third of American women. This is shocking. This is a crisis.

Even more shocking are the worldwide statistics. Over 42 million babies are aborted globally every year. That equals around 115,000 abortions every day. Every second that passes equals 1-2 babies aborted.

There are many ways I could go about talking about abortions. I could talk about how the Bible makes it clear that the womb contains a person formed in the image of God. I could talk about all the science behind a fetus, such as the fact a heart is beating at around six weeks. But instead I would like to share a story with you. A true story.

This story is about a woman. I do not know this woman’s name. I do know that she had a life threatening disease. She became pregnant and was most likely not married. In the context of the culture she lived in, her life was most likely extremely hard. Upon the news of being pregnant she had to be devastated. “How can I care for a baby? How can I provide? How can I care for this child with my life threatening disease?” I’m sure some of these questions went through her mind. Maybe someone close to her suggested a secret abortion.

Regardless the story or circumstances, one thing is clear. She chose life. At around 2:00 a.m. on April 10, 2013 she was taken to a hospital. She was rushed to the maternity ward and gave birth to a boy child. Reports say it was a rather quick and easy delivery.

Around 6:30 a.m. she went to the restroom to clean up and dress. She left.

Police came to investigate and discovered the name and address she gave the hospital were fakes. They had no way to track down this boy’s mother.

Some might read this story and naturally, without much thought, think of this woman as a coward. After all, she did abandon her baby boy. Who could do that? It’s easy to be judgmental of people with little to no thought. I look at this mother as brave. She cared for and loved this baby enough to carry him for nine plus months, and to ultimately choose life over death.

I am grateful for this woman beyond words. The little boy she chose to care for and deliver now runs up to me, throws his arms around my leg, and yells, “Daddyyyyyyy” Some nights I lay next to him and watch him sleep. I can’t help but to think of this wonderful woman who gave him life.

I can’t help but cringe at the reality that there are millions of “Chizas” out there that aren’t so lucky. There are millions and millions of children every year whose life gets snipped, vacuumed or poisoned away in an instant. They deserve us to fight for them. This really is a “modern day holocaust.”

Chiza Riegler

It’s been a long time since I have had time to write a blog. This blog I want to achieve two goals.  First, I want to write briefly about adoption.  Second, I want to show off pictures of Chiza Riegler, who came home on April 20th!  I’ll have a lot of stories to share and write about Chiza in the near future, but for today I’ll be brief and stay on those two topics.

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Paul writes of our spiritual adoption from slaves to children of God in Ephesians 1 and Galatians 4.

Ephesians 1: 3-14

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Galatians 4: 4-7

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

When you look at those two verses you see that we were spiritual orphans in need of a Father who would care for us, and He reached down and He made us His children (before the earth was even created!).   When we realize this it makes sense for us to care for all the orphans around us.  Now when you read verses like James 1:27 it makes complete sense.  It is our duty to care for orphans, because we were orphans.

When you think of how that applies to you, myself included, it’s shocking.  To think how I was walking in filth, thinking back at what my character was like, it’s embarrassing, living a life of sin and selfishness.  And yet, God reached down and loved me because He chose me, and through my relationship with Jesus, I am now His. Everything in our life is based on His mercy.

I heard this similar reference to adoption once from a pastor.  I want to change and alter some things he said to make it directly applicable to Chiza:

Before Chiza was even born, before he was abandoned in Kinshasa, he had a mom and dad who were planning to adopt him.  While he was alone in an orphanage, with no one to hold him, wipe his tears, and love on him, he had a mom and dad working towards bringing him home.  While he was in foster care for almost two years, he had a mom and dad working, praying, and desperately longing to wrap our arms around him, and give him an endless amount of hugs, kisses, and I love yous.  On April 20th, 2015, when the day finally came and we held him in our arms, Chiza had no idea everything we had to do to get him to that point.  This orphaned, abandoned, boy has become our beautiful son not because he pursued us, but because we pursued him, before he was even born.

And that is how care for orphans ties directly into Ephesians.  Adoption begins at the parents’ initiative, not with a child’s invitation. Nothing Chiza did on his own could have made us pursue him for adoption. Nothing we do on our own could save us.  We are powerless.  But with God there is hope. With God all things are possible.

Best way I have heard this explained is this: It’s not about us rescuing Chiza, it’s about the fact that Jesus rescued us.  When I think of that.  It’s beautiful.  We are children of God.  We are no longer orphans, we have a loving father, and we are a part of an everlasting family.  We want to show our love and desire to help orphans because it represents what God did for us.   This is a chance to show it.

With that said, enjoy the pictures of Chiza Riegler!

Chiza Riegler

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A journey spanning over two years.

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The first few minutes he arrived were so surreal.   Waiting years for this moment, it seemed like a dream to have him actually with us.

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He’s got a massive kick.  After kicking he falls over smiling.

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This is our first family of five picture ( I love the way “family of five” sounds!). It was later and we were all in pajamas when we realized it was the first day all five of us were together, so we took a pajama picture.

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Naomi, of course, wanted to kiss Chiza….he didn’t like it then.  Now he gets a cute little smirk and kisses back.

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A dawning reality, getting pictures of all three of our kids all looking at a camera will be nearly impossible.

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Chiza throws himself down a slide without any thought.  He is fearless.

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The first several days were a struggle with food…until he was introduced to Pizza King.

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Inside a tent we created.  Chiza thought it was hilarious.

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I love this look.  He will be in deep thought, then catches you looking at him, and this is the smile he does.  Melts my heart.

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The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook > The Jesus Storybook Bible > Other Children’s Bibles

It’s tough to find a theologically sound children’s Bible that is also appealing and engaging to children. Here are my thoughts on two of them, and why one is ultimately the better of the two. I really think all children should have a real Bible and not just a storybook Bible, but for young children ages 2-8, I think it is appropriate to also have a storybook Bible to use as a tool to teach children about God.

I wouldn’t say I “review” the following two Bibles. My real purpose is to tell you about one I really enjoy, and why I believe it is worthy of your purchase the most.

Jesus Storybook Bible

We’ve have used the Jesus Storybook Bible for well over a year. This is not a Bible translation but a paraphrased overview of the Bible written in a story form for children- hence a ” storybook”.  It has some imperfections and things that have bothered me. The author will sometimes create some of her own conversations in an attempt to “add” to the story. Generally this doesn’t bother me, as an effort to have the story more comprehendible to children, but it does bother me if the theology is compromised simply for the sake of the story.20150305_110148

Right away in the “The Terrible Lie” story of the book I read something that doesn’t sit well with me. In the Garden of Eden, the snake says, “Does God really love you?” This takes away the true meaning of Satan’s temptation. In fact, this is even how the author defines sin; sin is defined as `believing the lie that God doesn’t love you’ which is not a biblical definition. This isn’t an isolated question in this book either. The topic of sin and how it is addressed is one of the biggest and most frequent complaints I have about this book. This theme pops up again and again. In addition to this there are dozens of statements the author makes that gives me an uneasy feeling and many liberties were taken with the narrative stories that were unnecessary and sometimes even contradictory to what the Bible says.

Outside of some theological concerns the Jesus Story Book Bible doesn’t include much of God’s wrath and justice either. I realize this is a children’s book but I believe it is needed to better explain God’s grace and mercy.

I could go on about the problems I have with The Jesus Storybook Bible, but my point is not to trash talk the book. In fact, I overall enjoy the book. Out of the twentyish children’s storybook Bibles for children I have looked at, The Jesus Storybook Bible is perhaps my second favorite. I do, however, feel strong parent explanation and conversation with children is needed to clarify the stories better. It does a good job of pointing everything to Jesus, children really listen to the stories, and I enjoy the presentation and artwork of the book. In fact the illustrations are excellent and some of the best I have seen in a children’s storybook Bible. Although I have complaints about the book most children’s storybook Bibles have MANY more faults. My point of this blog is to praise a children’s Bible that I find superior to the rest, which is the book that follows.

The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook

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The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook by B & H Publishing is my current favorite out of ones I have read to compare it with. This text is based off the Holman Bible translation (one of my favorite translations), but is obviously modified for a younger audience. This Bible storybook is part of the Gospel Project and is a 320 page hardcover book that is filled with vibrant full color illustrations. They are not as eye catching as the Jesus Storybook Bible, however it also includes some pretty cool features for smartphones or tablets.

IMG_3499You can download the” Augmented Reality app” free to your smartphone or tablet. Kids can scan the picture, icon, or QR code on the page. If they scan a photo or icon 3D imagine will pop up and a voice (Jenna Lucado) will tell you a very short version of the story. It’s pretty cool. If they scan the QR code there is a video of the story. Some of these the story is told with bag puppets dressed as Moses and the Israelites, while others are two live characters telling the story. Some are pretty cheesy but they are overall well done and I think young children will really enjoy them.IMG_3500

The tech stuff is pretty cool, but the best part about this Children’s Bible is the way the stories read. These stories tell the full story- not just a brief summary. They are written in a way that children can easily understand and engage. Each story is one page long. They aren’t super dramatic like the Jesus Storybook Bible is. They are simply one page versions of the stories. I do admit the font is small, but they cram a lot of text on each page. Each story ends with a “Christ Connection” part to help children see Jesus and his overall plan of salvation throughout the entire Bible. I think this is much more effective as a discussion with children, instead of the scriptish endings of Jesus Storybook Bible. There is also a “Big Picture” question and answer- kind of what you can take away from each story. There is very little censoring in the stores contained in this storybook. They do not shy away from discussing sin and judgment. They even leave stories like Barak and Deborah in there…yes the one where the girl puts a tent peg through the man’s head (ouch).IMG_3507

The storybook has a great selection of stories. They cram a lot of Bible into this storybook ( I have said that a few times, haven’t I?). Almost every Old Testament book has at least one story, it even includes some stories on the prophets, and it always has conversation questions that relate the story back to Jesus. In the New Testament they have epistles covered and early church history. They even define terms that might be confusing to children. They include definitions of Holy Spirit, Satan, Hell, Heaven, sin, etc…IMG_3497

Give the storybook a try; I think you will love it! Even if you are a huge Jesus Storybook Bible fan, if the above didn’t convince you to try The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook, maybe this will- The Jesus Storybook Bible has 46 stories; The Big Picture Bible has 146. That’s right, 100 more stories.

If you have a Storybook Bible for children that you would recommend, let me know in the comments and I’ll give it a try too, if I haven’t already.

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IMG_3504Jesus Storybook Bible Read Aloud $16.98

Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook $11.98

 

One Year

One year ago on Thursday I lost my father in law and friend. It feels like an eternity since I have had the joy of talking with him. I miss him. I don’t think that feeling will ever fully go away on this earth.

I know Thursday will be filled with tears and pain. But it will also be a joyous day. The music video above “Holy Wedding Day” is so beautiful. Bud breathed his last breath on this earth with this song playing in the background. I am so thankful we have such a loving savior who seeks us out.

I have gone in detail in the past about all the emotions involved with Bud’s death. Right now I just want to ask for prayers as the next few days will bring out many memories (especially for Ashley and her family). In addition, please pray for Aiden and Naomi. I always get the feeling Aiden keeps a lot of emotions about his pap inside. It is a lot for a five year old to handle and understand.

Thanks.

Previous more detailed blogs written about my father in law are attached below:

The Beauty, Grace, Mercy, and Love of God Through the Heartache of Cancer

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Compassion AND

quote - whatever-you-did

On Sundays at church we are spending the entire 2015 going through the book of Mark. This past Sunday we went through Mark 1:29-45. For small groups we usually dive deeper into the passage or topic of the sermon and discuss a lot of it. I decided I wanted to focus specifically on compassion and love so I began reading some more articles, watching some videos, etc… to get something together for group. Unfortunately we had to cancel group tonight, so I decided to put my notes together and create a blog about it.

In Matthew 25 we read about the day that all of us will stand before Jesus. Take a minute to read verses 31-46.

Matthew 25:31-46
The Final Judgment

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Every day we have an opportunity to love Jesus by loving others. Are we taking advantage of this reality? We don’t like this fact. We like life to be more predictable. I heard an excellent paraphrase of these verses from Richard Stearns:

“For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.” Richard Stearns

That’s pretty convicting to us. I know it certainly is for me.

Throughout the day we have several opportunities to love Jesus but we are often more focused on ourselves. We live in the moment of our own self pleasure. But when we love others, the unloved, unnoticed, so called unworthy, that’s when we are showing the love of Christ.

Here is where compassion and love comes in to play. Many of you might describe yourself as compassionate. It is certainly an amazing quality to have. Jesus was extremely compassionate. However I want to pose two questions. First- is it an option to be compassionate? Second- Are you really compassionate or simply desiring to be compassionate? There is a BIG difference between the two.

We have to be careful with confusing our good intentions or desires with loving people. Sometimes we feel compassionate for someone who’s hurting, or we feel loving feelings towards orphans in Africa, BUT that’s different than actually being compassionate. It is so much more than a feeling.

A lot of the times I think because I feel a certain way I am a certain way. I feel devastated when I see a homeless man asking for food, with a look of hopelessness in his eyes. That doesn’t make me compassionate. Compassion is a word that is action. It’s a word that, if you look in scriptures, in the gospels often times it attaches to the word “and”. Jesus had compassion and…He met a specific need. Jesus didn’t just feel compassion for someone, He did something.

So our compassion should have an “and” with it. So don’t confuse feeling compassion with being compassionate. Don’t think you are compassionate when actually you are staying and thinking about it. God has called us to take action, and to show love to the least of these.

As a Church (big C) can you imagine the impact we would have in our community, nationally, internationally, if we all just decided that we are going to love people the way that Jesus loves people?

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When Jesus walked this Earth He was constantly moving from one place to another. He was constantly on the go. So much of the gospels are about Jesus reaching out to people that He met simply from going from one place to another.

As a Christian God hasn’t simply called others to go, He has called you to go. He has called me to go. Now you may not be able to meet people in Haiti, or Indian, or Nepal, but every day we have opportunities as we go- to show the love of Christ. Think of all the places you go every single day. Those are all opportunities to be compassionate and show the love of Jesus.

It could be in a local ministry, or it could be in your own context. When you are going to McDonalds you could be intentional to show the love of Christ to the person who takes your order, or maybe the cashier at a grocery store, it could be at your kids sports game that you are intentional at showing the love of Christ to the person you are sitting next too. The point is this should be a part of who you are. As we are going places we take opportunities to share the love of Christ to people.

It could be a waitress at a restaurant that is hurting deeply, that is deeply depressed and doesn’t know if she wants to even wake up in the morning. And all she wants is for someone to notice her pain. Show her love, compassion, and care. As a believer we have the gospel that can transform her life.

Matthew 28:16-20
The Great Commission
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And 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.”

If you are honest, most of us would say we don’t want to go. I am using the word “go” basically in a way that represents reaching people with Jesus anywhere you go. We want to stay because staying is comfortable, predictable, and safe. Going can be uncomfortable, unpredictable, and risky and we don’t like those things. We want a comfortable, safe, secure life. I heard it described this way before- when Jesus gave us the great commission and told us to go- we don’t call that the great suggestion, or the great recommendation. It is a command for all believers.

A common question people wonder is, “What is God’s will for my life?” If you have ever wondered what His will is, that’s His will. That you go and share His love and in doing so present to them the only thing in life that can offer lasting satisfaction. It is not His will for you to love a safe, ordinary, mundane life; it’s not His will that you show up at your job every day watching the clock tick away the minutes. It’s not His will you give video-games your main attention, or that the highlight of your week is getting a package in the mail. It’s not Gods will that you retire rich and take it easy the rest of your life.

Living a comfortable, predictable, self-centered life is not Gods will.

It is Gods will that we go. And as we go we become his hands and his feet showing his love to people along the way.

Now don’t read this and assume I feel I have it all together. I don’t. I know I am a really flawed man. Yes, you can quote me on that. As much as I know God has changed me over the past two years, I know I still have a long way to go. I can keep growing and learning every day. I know I need to be a more compassionate person of action. I know I have opportunities that get wasted probably every day.

There is a beautiful moment in a prayer Jesus prays in John 17. Jesus prays believers to be made one, to have unity. All of us, working together, need to show the compassion and love of Christ. Jesus wants us unified. We don’t have to be alone, we can help one another, brainstorm, come up with ideas together, work together to get as many people as we can to fall in love with Jesus.

Incomplete Family

c1

Last summer my family took a vacation to Glen Arbor Michigan. We went with my parents and both my sisters’ families. Glen Arbor is a beautiful place. We stay in a house that is a short walk from the beach. There is a nice town with shops. There are walking trails, sand dunes, shops, beaches, etc… all there. Yet I was unable to really enjoy it. In fact, frankly, I was glad when vacation was over.

Summer vacations have become a time when my Dad decides to update family pictures. He pays for a photographer and we spend a morning taking pictures of all our families. It is this especially that gives me a painful feeling. Despite all the joy most people experience during vacation, despite being surrounded by a great deal of natural beauty, despite being surrounded by people I love, I have something missing- and I feel pain.

Every click accompanied by a fake smile is a constant reminder to me that my family is incomplete. There is a vacancy in our family and I am completely powerless to fix it. Every picture taken is a reminder that my son Chiza is still not here. I am unable to hold him, unable to kiss him, unable to comfort him. Unable to tell him his daddy is here and will protect and love him.

With the Christmas season here these feelings increase again- another holiday coming and going without my son. An endless amount of family memories lost in waiting. I think emotional pain is one of the hardest feelings. I would take the physical pain of a dozen broken bones any day over the emotional pain of feeling helpless in the hope of uniting our family together. It is like a knife jammed into my stomach and being twirled around and around with no hope of it being removed.

I want to be clear in this blog. Yes, I feel pain over not having my son. Yes, sometimes I feel great anxiety, stress, and exhaustion over it. Yes, I feel helpless and powerless many times. The reality is I am helpless and powerless. BUT, although I feel these things many days- the truths I know carry me through all of it. The truth that I know a God who is with me at all times. I know a God that not only loves me so deeply, but loves Chiza deeply too. I know a God that is all powerful, all knowing, and always with me. I know a God that despite my ugliness, brokenness, and mess of a life, searched for me and transformed my heart. These are the truths I cling to. These are the truths that provide me comfort in a man driven, sinful world.

Ashley said something last week that stuck with me:

“I just read through the story of when Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and told him Elizabeth would have a son. Then I read through my devotion. It said ‘it’s the audacity to believe that His promises apply to us. The living God has given you a story and a voice to speak of Him may your lips and your lives tell the story for the rest of your days.’

It took me back to the day I was cleaning the shower and I felt God telling me it was time to let go and sell the house…and what is He doing? He brought a buyer…and I have doubted that day since I felt God telling me to let go. Like did God really speak that way to my heart? Why do I doubt?

And then again when I worked at Panera Bread…over and over again I saw signs for Benchmark adoption and foster services. I remember texting you asking if we should do something like that…then years later God laid adoption on my heart again…and here we are with a precious little boy in Congo.

I have doubted the last year that Chiza would ever make it into our arms here in the US…and last week we got his passport…and soon we will get a visa. I doubt and I doubt…but yet He still loves me and He still works through this broken beaten up 28 year old girl who has nothing together and fears she has every disease known to man.

I am just overwhelmed that even in my doubt and my fears He still chooses to love me and show me glimpses of his beauty.”

Our God is sovereign. The truth of this is some of the most assuring and satisfactory truth ever. No matter the pain, heartache, suffering, of life- God is in control. Looking back at so many things in my life, even the ugly, painful experiences, I can see God’s work- and it is a thing of absolute awe and beauty. I wasn’t sure my intent for this blog, I just starting writing…but at the closure of it I am confident of one thing I most want. More than success, more than comfort, even more than desiring for a united family- more than all these things- I long to be in the presence of His Glory. I long to see His face. I know one day I will. It doesn’t get more comforting than that.

Why We Are Selling Our House

house A lot of people think it is very strange that we want to sell our house.  It seems almost as the anti-American dream.  Everyone dreams of owning their own house…and yet we want to sell ours.  I asked my amazing wife a few weeks ago if she would write out a response to this question for my blog.  The result is something far better than I could hope to write.  As I read over her response I can see how God has tied so many things together.  Although they are separate stories in and of themselves-   our salvation story, our adoption story, our desire for missions, wanting to sell our house- they are all related and connected.  It is great we serve a Sovereign God.

Ashley’s response to “Why are you selling your house?”

It started soon after my father’s death- the passion and urgency of serving with others across oceans. I remember my first encounter several months earlier while cooking in the kitchen and listening to Family Life Today. I held a photo in my hand of Chiza and my heart fell to pieces as I thought about Chiza’s mother’s condition, her loss, and the pain she may be going through. At that moment I knew God had started our journey not only to adopt and transform our hearts and family- but to lead us on a path to missions.

Earlier this year we began talking with mission organizations and the opportunities they have for families like us. One would have landed us in Eastern DRC in just a few short weeks. As we prayed for clarity and guidance we knew that wasn’t for us at that moment. But still one thing was certain- our house would- at some point- hold us back from pursuing what God commanded us to do.

What does that mean? Our options would have been to sell our house very quickly with quite possibly a huge loss- or rent it out. I knew that renting out our house was not for us :). I can’t imagine going oceans away and still having he burden of keeping renters and making sure our home was in good working order.

As we seriously considered what this meant, we started getting our house in order this past spring. We had originally wanted to list it in the early summer, but God had different adventures for us. DRC visit and a trip to DC to advocate for the orphans stuck in the DRC.

Once school got back into session things settled back down. I started my day in prayer and my morning study. I knew God was up to something, I could just “feel” it. This started in early August. My notes the next few months in my journal reflect so much of what Jon and I have been wrestling with the last several months.

“Let’s give Him all the scary and the beautiful looming around the corner; and let’s remind one another that our God is trustworthy and faithful and good.” SRT

August 10th-16th- Wrestling with the world

August 17th- Heart is broken for the world

August 25th- We are more than our local community

“The world cannot afford us the joys of Christ. Let it GO! Give your time and your special trinkets away, and look forward to the joys which earth cannot afford!” SRT

After I copied that down- my heart sank. I kept thinking of all those around the world that have never heard of His saving grace- that would never experience the hope and peace we have in Christ.

My husband talks statistics a lot, I wrote these down in my journal so I could look at them as I flipped through the pages:

11,000 distinct people groups in the world. Out of that 6,500 of these groups are unreached. An estimated over two billion people that have NO access to the gospel or Christians.

With statistics like those how can we be okay with just carrying on in our lives filled with pointless junk? We spend our lives accumulating more and more as these people live and die and will be tormented in a forever Hell.

Early one fall morning I decided our house needed a good cleaning. I began in our bathroom. As I walked into it I can remember my Dad tirelessly and joyfully working on gutting and re-tilling our entire bathroom. He would spend house during the week working on it just so we could enjoy it. I remember him joyfully showing and allowing Aiden to be his right hand man . I miss those days. My eyes welled up with tears as that grief struck my heart unexpectedly. I broke down. I prayed that God would heal my brokenness. And the strangest and sweetest thing happened. My eyes dried and I could just feel God’s presence. I knew He knew my pain and my mind was flooded with- “Why am I holding on so tightly to earthly treasures?”- our house. I knew instantly that it was time to list the house and get things in order. I remember sitting down with Jon and telling him what happened- and we prayed for peace about our decision- and we agreed- If God is bringing this on our hearts then we are going to obey!

Our house has been listed for two weeks. We have no clue when it will sell, but we know it is all in God’s timing and we will rejoice in Him every step of the way.

Called Me Higher
All Sons and Daughters
I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

The Forgotten Body

Persecution1“I tremble because of the sufferings of those persecuted in different lands. I tremble thinking about the eternal destiny of their torturers. I tremble for Western Christians who don’t help their persecuted brethren. In the depth of my heart, I would like to keep the beauty of my own vineyard and not be involved in such a huge fight. I would like so much to be somewhere in quietness and rest. But it is not possible… The quietness and rest for which I long would be an escape from reality and dangerous for my soul… The West sleeps and must be awakened to see the plight of the captive nations.” Richard Wurmbrand

Last night I struggled to sleep. I was haunted by stories from videos, blogs, and articles I have been reading about our persecuted brothers and sisters. I was not haunted in a terrified emotional sense of fear; I was haunted in a complete, body crushing, emotional pain. I trembled in sadness and was agonized over the reality that so many people live in every day.

After an emotionally draining prayer with God I checked my email. I frequently get prayer updates for Christians around the world. In this email I learned about three Christians:

Khan: Khan just recently got married without any of his family’s support. His Muslim family learned he was marrying a Christian woman- he was promptly kicked out of the house after refusing to convert back to Islam. In his culture it is customary for a bride and groom to live with the groom’s family. Now he found himself with no money and shelter to love in. This is where the story ends. We don’t know the ending- this is his current state.

Pastor Gwamma: He was recently killed by Boko Haram insurgents in September as he returned from a church program in Shaffa, Borno state. Him as well as 18 others were killed in an attack in which insurgents targeted and burned homes down. He leaves behind his wife and their four children.

Eman Morco Saroufim: She is a 39 year old mother of five children. She was kidnapped from her village in Menia, Egypt back in September by an armed Muslim man. She escaped her captors and has publically stated she will never convert to Islam. Her abductor has threatened to kidnap all her children if she does not return to him.

Something that has been causing me great distress this past year has been how, in America, we largely ignore the majority of the Church. We turn a blind eye to the pain that so many people are going through right this very moment. The pain so many Christian’s go through around the world is deeply distressing, and yet ignored. There are much more costly stories than those from above. Stories of families whose children were slain in front of them, stories of spouses being separated for decades from ones that they love-so many stories.

We ignore them.

After all, in America we have so many problems of our own to conquer. We have to pay our bills. We have to worry about buying McDonald’s to give us a chance to get Boardwalk. We have to stress over the fact that we may not be able to buy pop this grocery stop because money is tight. Mostly meaningless problems.

We ignore them.

We may get emotional hearing some of their stories, but often by the time dinner comes around we have forgotten that emotional response and moved on to Sunday Night Football.

We ignore them.

1 Corinthians 12:24-26

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Surely you know God doesn’t want you to ignore our brothers and sisters. So what should you do? Should you give money? Probably. Should you go there and serve with them? Maybe. Should you be praying? Definitely.

One thing you should not be doing is nothing. Here is what I would like to suggest. Start praying daily for these brothers and sisters overseas. Daily. Pray for them, and pray to God asking discernment, guidance, and wisdom for what He wants you to do.

I would highly suggest signing up for Open Door’s International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 1st, and 2nd. This is a free simulcast and will educate, inspire, and guide you in how to pray for our brothers and sisters. Check it out from the link below:

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Live Interactive Webcast

 

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Hell

the road to hell-001

I would highly recommend the videos in the below link that are far more detailed and informative than anything I could write below. It is loaded with over five hours of information on heaven and hell.

Heaven and Hell Link 

Hell 

When you look through the gospels you see that Jesus talks a lot about what happens when you die.  What I find surprising though is that Jesus talks more about hell than he does heaven.  Heaven is a topic that everyone loves talking about and dreaming about.  People often forget though that hell is just as much a reality as heaven is. Both are true but people usually never want to talk or think about hell.

If death is not the end, and you don’t know what happens next- if you haven’t prepared yourself for life after death- then death is not safe.  You need to, as much as possible, avoid it.  Tragically this is not possible.  I will die and you will die.  But some of us have safety accompanied with death, whiles many others do not.  The Bible prepares us for what will happen after death.

Luke 16: 19- 31

 “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day.  But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate.  He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores.  One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side.  The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side.  ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’

“‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony.  Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’

“‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house—  because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’

 “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

 “But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”

I will be honest, as true as hell is, it can still be hard to talk about.   In my last blog I talked about what happens the moment we breathe our last breath.  I didn’t get into to many details about heaven or hell, but I knew I planned too with my next few blogs.  I have been putting it off though, because it is not that enjoyable to talk about.  I guess I fit into the normal box- everyone enjoys talking about heaven (next blog) but no one enjoys talking about hell.

In America we have become used to developing our belief system based off of subjective feelings.  Most people believe things to be true based off of what they like.  If something doesn’t feel good to believe, then we don’t believe it.  Truth is true regardless of your belief.  It is never to our benefit to believe in something because we like it or don’t like it.

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” C.S. Lewis

Millions of people are on this road- and do not know it.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

  This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength.

Words that stick out to me in these verses are eternal destruction.  Some translations say everlasting.  It will never end.  As a Christian, just thinking about this fact is crushing.

Matthew 13:49-50

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, and throw them into the blazing furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25: 29-30

For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Revelation 20: 13-15

Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works.  Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

All throughout the Bible there are passages describing the suffering that will be found in hell.  One of these sufferings is emotional suffering.  One of the words in scripture to describe hell is Gehenna.  This is a reference to a valley outside of Jerusalem where garbage would be piled and burned.  So hell is a compared to a garbage dump that is burning every moment out of the day.  A picture to us that is completely hopeless.  Jesus describes this emotional suffering in Matthew 12, stating that there will be a weeping and gnashing of teeth.  People will be crying and regretting their short time on this earth.  I read Luke 16 and see this. The rich man is full of deep regret. People in hell will forever regret any opportunity they had to be saved.

There will also be physical suffering in hell. People that go to heaven will one day receive a new physical body, but that is also true of hell.  Luke 16 using the imagery of fire to describe the agony that will be.

In hell there will be relational suffering as well.  In Luke 16 Lazarus is shown to be at Abraham’s side, but the rich man is alone.  I have read some books written my missionaries and often times they describe what experiences were like if they were capture, arrested, and tortured.  They often say that being in complete isolation from the world was extremely torturous, even worse than physical suffering.  Being removed from all communications for years and years was extremely painful. We have already read that hell is everlasting- it will never end.  It will NEVER end.

The absolute worst part of hell is the reality that it is a place where God isn’t.  Here is where it will be utterly incomprehensible to us right now.  An atheist can reject God, but they still get to enjoy some of the benefits- at least temporarily.  They still get to marvel at the beauty of a sunset, they still get to experience swimming in nice, warm, ocean water.  We read James 1:17 that everything good in this life comes from God.

James 1:17

Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.

Richard Dawkins, a strong agnostic, still gets to enjoy some of God’s goodness on this earth.  I read about it this way- For Christians this world is the closest to hell that we will experience, but for non-believers, this world is the closest to heaven that they will experience.

Hell is complete absence of God.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 25 that hell is a space outside of God.  It is basically a place God set aside in order to not be there.

God did not have to create hell to be some horrible place.  He just created a place where He was not there.  This is hell- when God is out of the equation.

Something to keep in mind is how it is presented in the Bible.  When we see people talk about hell often times they talk about it as a threat.  This is not how the Bible talks about it.  The Bible talks about it as a warning.  Parents reading this understand the difference between a threat and a warning.  I can tell Aiden, “Aiden if you do that- this will happen.”  If this happens to you, you are choosing it too, because I am telling you right now what will happen to you.  I am not threatening Aiden, I am warning him. I am warning him out of love.  I love him, so I don’t want to see a consequence happen to him.

One of the articles I was reading about hell this past week was written by a pastor named Joel Goff.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

“Finally hell is necessary because love demands it. Let me explain. God loves us so much and is so eager for us to love him that he allows us the freedom not to love him back. Anyone who has loved someone and who has not had that love reciprocated knows that you can’t force love. You can desire, you can pursue, you can do everything in your power to win the heart, but the one thing you can’t do is force it because then it would not be true love. Quoting Peter Kreeft again: “Those who do not wish to love God must be allowed not to love Him. Those who do not want to be with God must be allowed to be separated from Him”.  And our two texts today remind us that God sends those whose choose hell and reject God. When I stand here and try to look at this rationally and intellectually I ask myself, why would anyone choose hell over heaven? But everyday people choose to live their lives apart from God. C.S. Lewis even suggested that even if given an option they choose to stay in hell and that the door is locked from the inside, testifying to their continued rebellion against God.”

People reject God, so therefore do not have to live in His presence.  They choose to live in sin, and sin is rebellion towards God.

“In the long run, the answer to those who object to the doctrine of Hell is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out sins and at all cost give them a fresh start? He did. To forgive them? But they don’t ask for forgiveness. To leave them alone? That is what hell is. There are only two kinds of people in the end, those who say to God, “thy will be done,” and those to whom God says in the end ‘thy will be done.’ C.S. Lewis

Hell is not some torture chamber that He created to inflict pain on people that he doesn’t like.  Hell is just a place where God is not so that people, who don’t want to spend eternity with him, don’t have to.

A Crushing Reality

* (Several of the statistics below are taken from Platt’s series which is also pulled from IMB research and studies)

When Jesus commanded the church to make disciples of all nations, he was not referring to political nations.  He was more accurately referring to ethnic groups of people.

Estimates say that there are over 11,000 distinct people groups.  Out of that estimates say that about 6,500 of those people groups are unreached-meaning that if you were to talk about Jesus they would more than likely respond, “Who?”  These 6,500 people groups include an estimated over two billion people.

In a world of seven billion people at least two billion of them are unreached. They don’t have access to the gospel. Two billion people that have not heard of Jesus.

What truly hurts me is when people say things like, “ I don’t know why you talk so much about people who have never heard the gospel, there are people I work with that haven’t heard the gospel.” This is not true.  They are not unreached.  YOU work with them. They have access to the gospel.  If you are unreached you don’t have access to the gospel or Christians. Unless something changes, these people will be born, live, and die without ever hearing the truth of the gospel.  If they died today- they will die never hearing the good news. No one told them.

I wrote the top part of this blog all about hell.   The terrifying reality of those that die without knowing the saving power of the Gospel. This is what Paul addresses in the book of Romans.  Paul says you have knowledge of God.  Even if you are unreached you have an inherent sinful nature that rebels against God and turns against the one true God to other gods.  Romans is clear, you stand condemned before God.  The unreached have knowledge of God, rejected God, and as a result they will stand before God guilty. Paul makes it clear- No one does good, we are all sinful.  I am sinful, you are sinful- we all are.  The whole world will be held accountable before God.   No one is innocent. If we were innocent we wouldn’t need the gospel.

Most people believe that for people who never heard the gospel- there will be a way for them to get to heaven. We want there to be a way, some loophole.  If that’s true the WORST thing we can do is go tell them the gospel.  They were going to heaven before, now we are giving them the chance to go to hell. How ludicrous does this sound? We know that is not true.  There is no other way.  If there was then Jesus’s action on the cross wasn’t necessary.  If there is another way it discredits everything Jesus did. If you are unreached you stand condemned before God (same as we once were) – this is the reality.

This quote by David Platt summarized my feelings on this perfectly, and way better than I could ever hope to.

If you are able to I suggest watching it over reading it. Click on “Platt Quote” below. It’s much better hearing this one 🙂

Platt Quote

“Your life changes in this world when you realize, when you remember that you’re not going to be here very long. When you remember that we all, are standing right now on the porch of eternity. And the most healthy among us has only 70, 80, 90 years with trillions and trillions of years ahead of us. We’ve got a vapor, we got a mist, a short life here. None of us in this room are even guaranteed tomorrow- so let’s not waste today. Let’s not invest our life here in temporary trinkets. Let’s invest our lives here in eternal treasure. Let’s not spend our lives here on fleeting pleasures and foolish pursuits. Let’s spend our lives here on what’s going to matter forever. Because our death is coming. And- don’t miss it- others’ death is coming. So it’s not just about us. It’s about people around us, people you work with, people you live next to- who right now are without Christ and on a road that leads to everlasting agony apart from God. And none of them is guaranteed tomorrow either. So share the gospel with them today. Share the gospel with them today. No matter what it might mean for your reputation, no matter how radical that might seem, no matter how awkward that might feel- this is to important. Death is coming to people right around us, and to people around the world. There’s more people today being placed on funeral pillars on Bhadbhade River in Kathmandu Nepal. They died in the last 24 hours and right now their bodies are burning and their souls are burning and nobody ever even told them how they could be saved. Nobody told them how much God loved them. Nobody ever even told them that God sent His son to conquer death on their behalf. They never even heard before they died- and now they are in hell forever. So don’t shrink back into a comfortable, causal, cultural Christianity- that totally forgets about them. That totally turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to people, and to entire groups of people who have never heard the gospel. Don’t sit back in this land where the gospel is so known and just coast it out until you get to heaven. Don’t do it. Spend your life praying and giving, and going, and getting the gospel to others- so that they can go with you to heaven. Their death is coming- no matter what it cost, no matter what it means for your life, your family, or your budget, or your future- get the gospel to them- we don’t have a lot of time. Our death is coming, their death is coming, so hold fast to the gospel with radical faith- spread the gospel with radical urgency.”

Eternity is as stake. I again say let’s not waste our lives.  We must give our lives getting the gospel to the unreached, as Paul says in Romans 1, we are obligated.  Why?  Here is a way I heard it said before- their knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell.  How can we comprehend that and not give everything we have to help them? How can we know there are 2 billion people that have never even heard Jesus’s name, on a path that leads to eternal separation from God, and not give our lives to Christ in any way possible to get them the gospel. Right now two billion people have hell as the only option.  They have enough knowledge but it is only enough to damn them.  We might not have tomorrow; we need to make every minute count.  The gospel has the power to save anyone.  This is worth any sacrifice in our life.