Monthly Archives: July 2012

“This Day’s Awakening” Guest Post by Brian Campbell

Some encouraging observations.

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Some Certainty in Uncertain Times

Fiscal cliff countdown, U.S. economic confidence falls to lowest since January, Congress’ job approval rating at an extremely low level historically, European economy worse than the U.S., Iran intent on having nuclear weapons. These are just a few of the challenges facing us today. If you dwell on them it can certainly lead you to a place of fear and anxiety. I have to admit to spending some time there myself. The good news is that I don’t stay there once I’ve made that trip. What helps me get out of that place? A certainty that I can focus on, one that trumps all uncertainty in this world, a certainty I was reminded of this morning in two separate passages of my daily Bible reading (something a Christ follower likes to do each day).

First, a promise in Jeremiah that love, justice, and righteousness will continue to happen here on Earth. It is happening every day, it just doesn’t get reported in the headlines. Here are the relevant passages with my highlighting:

Jeremiah 9:23  Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Second, a promise of Jesus Christ returning, just not when we expect it. This is challenging for us, because we want to know the day and hour, but no one knows (remember that when you read about someone predicting His return). The time may be uncertain, but the return is not. Again, highlighting is mine.

Matthew 24:36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

This is a topic that is much too large to be covered in a simple blog, especially one written by a person of my limited background. Take the time to read the best source for this material, the Bible. Last week’s post gave some recommendations on reading the Bible, so I won’t repeat it here. One book written by someone with better qualifications than me and that I highly recommend is Timothy Keller’s “The Reason for God”. Some of the chapter headings will give you a sense of what he addresses:

  • There Can’t Be Just One True Religion
  • How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?
  • Christianity Is a Straitjacket
  • How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell?
  • You Can’t Take the Bible Literally

Weighty stuff, but a valid, well-researched and well-written discussion. Check it out (and read the Bible). http://timothykeller.com/books/the_reason_for_god/

 

 

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Interested in Learning More About Following Christ?

If you are interested in learning more about what it means to follow Christ, where do you start? The best place is to start reading the Bible, since it is the story of God’s plan for humanity. Starting to read the Bible from Genesis can be a bit intimidating, although everyone should at some point in their life read the Bible cover to cover, start to finish. Someone exploring the idea of following Christ should start with the book of John. John was one of the original twelve disciples, or followers of Christ, and wrote his message about 90 AD. The focus of John’s writings was interpreting and explaining what happened during Christ’s time on earth in our history.

In the 21st century we are fortunate to have access to many free or low cost English versions of the Bible, as well as many other languages. One of my favorite web sites is YouVersion.com where you can read online and download electronic versions of the Bible. BibleGateway.com is another site that is well done. These and other sites have free audio versions of the Bible if you aren’t a reader. An easy to read English translation is the New Living Translation. The New International Version is one of the most popular, and the Message is a very easy to read paraphrase, but loses some accuracy due to it not being a translation. You can buy Bibles online at ChristianBook.com or Amazon. Don’t be afraid to purchase them locally at your Christian book store either, especially if they provide good customer service.

Beyond reading the Bible on your own, you can attend a church where the Bible is taught as part of the worship service on Sunday morning. How do you know if that is being done? The first evidence is that the person leading the teaching time is using a Bible himself and constantly referring to it in his talk. The second evidence is that the congregation is full of people who are following along in their Bibles, turning to the verses being taught from the pulpit. With the advent of electronic versions of the Bible, this is a little more difficult to observe. Some of us still like to highlight and make notes in our Bibles, so we still carry an actual book to church.

Another thing you could do is find someone you know (and hopefully like) who is following Christ and ask them if you could spend time together reading and studying, asking questions and dialoguing about what you are reading. Starting to build a personal relationship with a Christ follower is an excellent way to enter into a relationship with Christ.

If this all sounds a little too intimidating to start with, consider reading books about the subject to start. One I recently finished is Tim Keller’s “The Reason for God, Belief in an Age of Skepticism”. Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell are also thoughtful writers on this subject.

Contact me directly if you need help finding any of these resources or connecting with someone in your community.

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me. From The Message version of the Bible

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Great blog from Mike Breen, CHURCHES LOO

Great blog from Mike Breen, CHURCHES LOOKING FOR A SILVER BULLET IN A MICROWAVE CULTURE. Discipleship takes time! http://ow.ly/chfXX

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From Tim Keller’s blog: Here’s a short

From Tim Keller’s blog: Here’s a short course (very short) on the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament: http://ow.ly/cheTp

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Leaving a Legacy That Matters

What is your legacy? This is a question fresh in my mind as my father completed his earthly journey on June 29th, succumbing to cancer at the age of 70. His legacy is apparent in the four children, thirteen grandchildren and five great grandchildren who lovingly surrounded him in his final days. In his own quiet and private way he modeled how to be a servant to others and that model has been duplicated in the following generations.

As followers of Christ, beyond family, what other legacy will we leave? Will it be material possessions, a business, a reputation or another generation who not only knows and follows Christ, but also shares the good news of eternal salvation through Christ? What does that look like in our culture today, in our workplace, our marketplace? Despite what certain elements of the media, government and culture may try to promote, we do have the freedom to live out and share our faith in all places at all times. This freedom is even greater if you have been blessed to be the owner of a business.

Buck Jacobs, founder of the C12 Group, an executive level peer group for Christian business owners, wrote a short handbook for us owners on how to leave a proper legacy by integrating our business and faith (“A Light Shines Bright in Babylon”). In this book and also through the C12 Group, practical ways of using your business as a ministry are shared, with the intent of building a great business for a greater purpose. The most obvious is to use the profits from your business to promote God’s kingdom by giving to deserving ministries. There are many great examples in the business world like Stanley Tam and R.G. LeTourneau on how to be an obedient steward of these resources. Read “Kingdom Companies” by Jorg Knoblauch & Jurg Opprecht for their stories and others who are using their businesses to build the kingdom.

What you may not realize is that you are always sharing the gospel, whether you intend to or not. You are doing it through the ways you conduct yourself in your business, in your relationships with your employees, your customers, your vendors, everyone you interact with. You may have an impact on thousands of people through your business relationships! That is quite a mission field isn’t it? Our testimony is especially evident in these relationships when there is conflict. In these situations can these people distinguish you from any other business relationship that they have? Do you use Biblical principles to guide you through the many decisions you make in the course of operating your business? Do you have a commitment to integrity and quality in the products or services you offer the marketplace?

If you are actively following Christ in all you do, then He will be evident in your business relationships as well as your relationships with family and friends. The foundation of these relationships will give you credibility and authority to promote Christ through other means. You can have Bibles, New Testaments, Bible Promises or other Christian books in your lobby, you can put scriptural art work on your walls, you can have times of prayer available for any who want to join you and you can publicly thank the Lord for your organization’s success when you experience it. C12 provides a list of 101 marketplace ministry ideas for its members, so there are a number of practical things you can do to use your business as a vehicle for ministry.

None of these practical things will work though if you are not actively living out your submission to Christ in all that you do. In fact, if you are publicly promoting biblical principles and concepts, but not following them yourself as evident in the way you conduct yourself in business, then you are having the exact opposite effect you are intending. You are being hypocritical and undermining not only your ministry, but also the ministry of all others who are actively sharing the gospel.

So be honest about how well you are representing Christ not only on Sunday, but every day, every hour, every minute, every second of your life. Pray that you be in step with the Holy Spirit, getting guidance and direction for the decisions and interactions you will be involved in each business day. Build a legacy that matters for all of eternity, not just one that will end up a faint memory or dust in the wind.

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Do I Have Anything Important to Say?

People who know me well will not be surprised when I say I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to start a blog. I have a tendency to analyze things awhile before I act if I have the luxury of time. The analysis, or more accurately, discussion in my head that I’ve conducted in the past few weeks has led to the conclusion I that I do have important things to say. Whether anyone agrees with that or not and is interested in those things will be evident over time. What will I write about? I am concerned about the direction our culture, our nation and even our world is headed. I will share those concerns and ideas about how we can make positive changes. The ideas are mostly from other people and sources. My life has changed dramatically over the last few years by business, by relationships through intentional discipleship and by death. I consider myself a life-long learner, a flawed person continually growing and changing by actively following Christ’s teaching, example and guidance. I hope you find some benefit in reading what I share.

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