Archive for the 'Victor’s Articles' Category

This is a great section from Max Lucado’s book “Outlive Your Life“.  The book speaks about seeing the things of the Book of Acts in the church today. I thought this section from Chapter 1 (pages 5-7) was very thought provoking, and I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Acts announces, “God is afoot!”
Is he still? we wonder.  Would God do with us what he did with his first followers?
Heaven knows we hope so.  These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations.  Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade.  And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases.  More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities.  As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles.  Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.
Yet in the midst of the wreckage, here we stand, the modern-day version of the Jerusalem church.  You, me., and our one-of-a-kind lifetimes and once-in-history opportunity.
Ours is the wealthiest generation of Christians ever.  We are bright, educated, and experienced.  We can travel around the world in twenty-four hours or send a message in a millisecond. We have the most sophisticated research and medicines at the tips of our fingers.  We have ample resources.  A mere 2 percent of the world’s grain harvest would be enough, if shared to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world.  There is enough food on the planet to offer ever person twenty five hundred calories of sustenance a day.  We have enough food to feed the hungry.
And we have enough bedrooms to house the orphans.  Here’s the math.  There are 145 million orphans worldwide.  Nearly 236 million people live in the United States call themselves Christians.  From a purely statistical standpoint, American Christians by themselves have the wherewithal to house every orphan in the world.
Of course, many people are not in a position to do so.  They are elderly, infirm, unemployed, or simply feel no call to adopt.  Yet what if a small percentage of them did?  Hmmm, let’s say 6 percent.  If so, we could provide loving homes for more than 14.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.  Among the noble causes of the church, how does that one sound?  “Americans Stand Up For AIDS Orphans.”  Wouldn’t that headline be a welcome one?
I don’t mean to oversimplify these terrible complicated questions.  We can’t just snap our fingers and expect the grain to flow across borders or governments to permit foreign adoptions.  Polices stalemate the best of efforts.  International relations are strained.  Corrupt officials snag the system, I get that.
But this much is clear: the storehouse is stocked.  The problem is not in the supply; the problem is in the distribution.  God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering.
A few years back, three questions rocked my world.  They came from different people in the span of a month.  Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?  Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?  Question 3:  When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?
I didn’t mind the first two questions.  They were hypothetical.  I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism.  But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine.  But the third question has kept me awake at night.  I do live today; so do you.  We are given a choice…an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time.  What if we did?  What if we rocked the world with hope?  Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life?  What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church?  This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing  force.  We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith.  How did they do it?  What can we learn from their priorities and passion?
Let’s ponder their stories…Let’s examine (them) through the lens of this prayer: Do it again, Jesus.  Do it again.  After all, “We are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2.10 NLT).  We are created by a great God to do great works.  He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in (the age to come), but here (and now).
Here’s a salute to a long life:  goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath.  May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.
Section from Max Lucado’s book “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made To Make A Difference” pg 5-7

(Article by Denny Burk and orginally found at his blog.)

The head of Venezuela’s presidential guard was with Hugo Chávez during his final moments. His report on Chávez’s last words paints a picture of a man desperately clinging to life. According to this report, Chávez said:

I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.

As a rule, I’m no fan of socialist dictators—particularly those of Chávez’s ilk. But this strikes me as one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. I grieve to think about what the horror of his final moments must have been like. Death is no respecter of persons—not even of billionaire Presidents who command a cult-like following among their countrymen. Not even of you. As the old hymn has it, “Time like an ever-flowing stream bears all its sons away.” None of us will escape this great equalizer.

Attention Living Faith & Living Hope!  Many of the people in our church know the Bible fairly well and are able to place themselves in the narrative when we share something…but this is not the case for our region.  According to the most recent Barna Survey for the “Bible-mindedness” of cities in America – Providence is ranked last and Albany is second to last.

Here is a link to the report.  This study speaks to the number of people who:

report reading the Bible in a typical week and who strongly assert the Bible is accurate in the principles it teaches are considered to be Bible-minded. This definition captures action and attitude—those who both engage and esteem the Christian scriptures. The rankings thus reflect an overall openness or resistance to the Bible in the country’s largest markets.

So new folks that come into our church may not know what we mean when we say certain terms, reference certain things, etc.  I don’t think we need to change our Bible focus to accommodate people who don’t have this, but we need to be mindful of the world around us.  We certainly need to make sure do not talk down the spirit-inspired and God-preserved Scripture.  It should be our go-to guide for teaching people about our great God and helping them know and observe all that Jesus commanded.  And we want to ensure that people hear the gospel and receive the spirit so this sacred text may come alive to them.

The fields are white.

Inauguration Day

I thought this was humorous…

until I thought about how many people are like this when it comes to their faith, doctrine and truth?

Read the Bible. Ask questions. Dig deeper. Don’t believe it just because the preacher says it with conviction. Seek truth.

The church’s mission is to go, with the gospel, and make disciples of all the nations – teaching them to observe the things that Jesus commanded.  In doing this we make new disciples of  Jesus who will in turn make disciples themselves.

But sometimes it seems that churches are focused on anything other than the primary thing Jesus called us to do.  So what should you do about that?  David Platt, (who recently began a discipleship-making focused group with Francis Chan known as Multiply) has some great advice:

What do you think about what he’s saying?  Do you have any other suggestions?

Today is election day in the United States.  I am not writing this post to get into the debate of whether or not Christians should vote, as I know there are many opinions on that.  I’m writing this instead to hopefully stir our minds up to consider how we will be late tonight, or tomorrow when the final tallies are made.

This current political season has been one of the most divisive and polarizing in this nation’s history.  I have seen Christians vocal in support of their candidate.  And I have seen Christians vocal in supporting their candidate, who just happens to be the other guy.  So now I ask, O followers of the Messiah:

The New Testament speaks often about being on guard against false teachers and their teachings.  From Jesus’ initial warning from the sermon on the mount to the closing epistles of John, it’s an important thing to be mindful of – especially as we draw closer to the end of the age.

During a recent study of 1 & 2 Peter, I noticed one key to recognizing false teachers and teaching.  It may not apply to every situation, but as I thought more and more about it, it’s a good rule to assess what you’re hearing by.  Within the context of denouncing false teachers, Peter writes:

In our modern, American context we may assume that idols are not as prevalent as they were in the ancient world.  It is true that we don’t see temples on each street devoted to a mythological deity or communal idol, but idolatry is rampant in our world nonetheless.  Those things competing with our affections for the God and Father of Jesus Christ challenge the great command to “love the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30, et al).”

John Piper has some brief but powerful words to us to consider in this world of constant stimulation and amazement at what’s “new.”

Most of these things are aimed directly at our minds and thoughts.  As followers of Jesus, we must be mindful of what we are exposed to and allow into our lives.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)

I have a lot of friends on Facebook and a number of people I follow on Twitter.  I enjoy seeing pictures of babies or beautiful scenes from your vacation.  I appreciate getting a 140 character or less word of encouragement or even conviction.  I follow a wide spectrum of people – from close friends to favorite athletes.

In recent years, social media has become an amazing source and resource.  News from revolutions or protests spreads through twitter long before the news camera’s show up.  Pictures of weather confirm the weather man wrong.  On site information is available instantly. Personally, friends and family even have been able to follow the news of my wife giving birth with pictures of our growing family beautifully filtered on Instagram (not that my kids need any help being cute!).

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