Baptism at Singles Retreat - 147 Baptized!!!

*******************Baptism at Singles Retreat 147 Baptized!!! ***********************

* Sharing times in the Word and looking for growth. Let's Commune Together!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In Truth

Scripture Read: Colossians 1:1-8  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,  [2] to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.   [3] We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,  [4] since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;  [5] because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel,  [6] which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;  [7] just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,  [8] and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. 

Application: The grace of God in truth. This is an interesting term. Can the grace of God come from anything but truth? Yes – that is why it is well stated that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Presenting the grace of God without the balance of the truth can lead many to destruction. The idea that Jesus died for all is telling God’s grace, but if you don’t also point out the need for personal action to attain this grace you do not tell the truth and the damage is very great. The grace of God in truth shares the generous things God has done, but also points out the hard realities of salvation. One way only, no works, no health, wealth and prosperity, personal decision, and many will reject. This is grace with truth. Help me Lord to always tell the whole grace and nothing but the whole grace.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"But Jun Smoked!"

Reflection: I was thinking about my dear friend and brother in the Lord the other night. So I felt led to share this as my first reflection on my new blog. I shared this over 14 years ago with friends that helped us come to the Philippines.

A Death in The Family:

“But Jun smoked!”  Yes he did. Jun Pacudan (Jun#2) smoked! He was born again and still smoked. He would walk out of the home where he had just led a Bible Study and light up a cigarette. Two months before he would light up while he was still inside the house. Before he was a believer he would light up during the studies I was teaching. Jun had been a believer for just over 5 months - but he still smoked. Jun read most of the entire Bible in those 5 months - but he smoked. Jun went out and made contacts that led to the beginning of 4 new Bible Studies - which he asked if he could lead - but Jun smoked. Every Tuesday I would meet with Jun to go over the lesson which he had designed and desired to have me check out - but Jun smoked. Each lesson developed by this babe in Christ was in Tagalog and English (for my sake) with attached study notes that Jun had done using the Bible, concordance and one doctrine book I had bought for him, each guide was at least 7 pages long - but Jun smoked. Only twice in all the review did I have to help Jun understand a mistake in his lessons (both minor issues)  while on such topics as Salvation, Virgin Birth, The Trinity, Sinnlessness of Christ, Death - Resurrection - Ascension of Christ, Atonement and others not only was he completely scriptural but his applications were very insightful - but Jun smoked. The week of Dec. 3 Jun made contacts and we discussed two new Bible Studies to start after Christmas - but Jun smoked. On Thursday Dec. 7  as we drove away from the lower Cupang Bible Study, Jun shared with great joy and excitement how he had led a 58 year old friend to Christ that morning - “Now I am a spiritual father also” he said - but Jun smoked. On Dec. 9 we celebrated Jun Pacudan’s birthday. He was 62. At 3 am on Dec. 10 Jun Pacudan went to sleep and woke up in the arms of Jesus. I attended all three nights of the wake and then the funeral. I talked with at least 100 people. In every single case they spoke of how much Jun had changed in the past months and how he had sat down with them and told them about Jesus and then challenged them to join in a Bible Study - but Jun smoked.

So what is your point Nate! Okay - enough.

I am not trying to irritate you just for fun. I want you to mentally scratch where that irritation is. I am hoping that I can speak to you from my heart about a concern I see in the body of Christ. Everything Jun had become, all the Lord had accomplished in his life would be lost in many of our eyes because “Committed Christians don’t smoke!”. We are so quick to judge, so sure of what is considered real holiness by God, so theologically precise about the doctrine of  sanctification and it’s visible signs. Am I saying that smoking is all right? That is not the point. But for the record - not only do I think smoking is wrong, but having been a smoker, I think it is stupid. So do most honest people who do it. Knowing something is bad for you is a far cry from learning how to receive the strength to quit.

But there is something far more important here. I am tired of the Christian life being described by what we don’t do! That is what many testimonies consist of. A long list of what we don’t do and shared in an almost spiritually arrogant tone. Jun’s life has really confirmed what my heart has been burdened with for years. Jesus came to give us a life, not a list. Yes, we see ourselves moving away from sins that entangle us, but do we see ourselves moving toward anything? Jun was on fire. He was moving at a very fast pace toward God. His mind was overwhelmed with what was most important to God and he grasped that while still struggling with minor sins in his life. Wait a minute - your saying that sin is minor? Yes! When compared to other sin it can be. Complacency, unwilliness to make time to be used by God, lack of burden and concern for the lost, all of these are much more damaging to the Body than the sins (bad though they are) that entangle our flesh. Let’s reverse my point in the paragraphs above to show you what I mean - No I do not study the Bible with intensity to know what I believe - I let the Pastor or teacher do that for me - But I don’t smoke. No I have never tried to start a Bible Study - But I don’t smoke.  No I have not tried to lead anyone to Christ - But I don’t smoke. I do not know if many people would say that I have made an impact in their thoughts about Christ  - But I don’t smoke.

Let’s remember folks that the Pharisees had a list and looked real good but they killed the Prince of life. We cannot afford the Christian life to sound like a doctor’s prescription. “A don’t list and 3 services a week and you will be fine”! Those around us, who are separated from God and facing an eternity of separation, those that are missing life in Christ cannot afford us to live like that.

Jun Pacudan was far from perfect, and I will wonder why the Lord took my brother home at this time for a long time. Yet I am happy for Jun and I know I can trust the Lord. He knows what he is doing even if I do not. But I would gladly have a church full of smokers with the priority list of Jun Pacudan than a church full of people who focus on their “don’t list”.  Someday all of you that know Christ will get to meet Jun. You are partly responsible for his death being a homegoing for him and a parting for me instead of a tragedy for everyone. Because of you I was able to come and share the love and life of Christ with Jun. I will miss Jun more than I can say. I desire to have his short visit with me on this side of eternity motivate me to run as he ran. If we in the Church in America would be more consumed with God’s priority list and less content with our don’t list the impact we could make in the world would match that of the first Church! Love in Christ - Nate