Some of the most passionate people on the face of the planet are those who believe they are invested in an important cause. You, like I, have probably encountered those who are zealous about taking care of the planet. Their message against pollution and warnings about callously disregarding the land, sea and sky are noble. We should be good stewards of what God created.
Others are zealous for same-sex rights, prolife or prochoice. Still others crusade against guns or for the right to bear arms, against drunk drivers or for the right to smoke weed, against corruption in the government or for laws ensuring all children are vaccinated.
Mark 8:31-33—Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He was openly talking about this. So Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”
Peter watched Jesus perform unfathomable miracles. He listened to life-changing teaching. Inspired, he walked on water and touched the Son of God. So is it surprising that he scolded Jesus for predicting a morbid, unmessiahlikeending? He was simply registering logical sentiment—the very kind Satan loves to feed us.
I want to share with you a moment burned into my mind as a poignant testimony to generosity. My daughter, Sarah and I, experienced this moment in the city of Cerro de Pasco, Peru, in 2002. In the course of ministering to a small church in this town located at the top of the Andean mountains, we met street children who were collecting trash or anything of value they could find on the streets, in order to garner a handful of coins.
Although home to one of the deepest silver mines in the world, Cerro de Pasco’s 70,000 inhabitants are mostly poor. One would think that any money a child could scrape would be zealously guarded and used for food or clothing. But these joyful children tithed from what they had in order to give to missionaries. It was a demonstration of the poorest giving to the poor to honor and expand God’s work. Someday I hope to learn how God blessed them!
Acts 2:36,37—“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” When they heard this, they came under deep conviction and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
Pound for pound Manny Pacquiao may be the best boxer ever. Born December 17, 1978, Manny is not just a Filipino fighter; he is also a politician, musician and actor. Given his popularity, he may be his country’s president someday. Manny is the first boxer to become an eight-division world champion. He won six world titles and is the first man to win the lineal championship in four different weight classes—an astounding accomplishment. The Boxing Writers Association of America named Manny the “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2000s.
If ever there was a need for prayer, it will be for a man named Obama. He inherits a nation at war with a stressed out economy. He will pilot a land divided in opinion in the midst of a world looking for a messiah. He will render senior leadership in a most complicated government with junior experience and little room for failure. He will face a press that is woeful in gathering all the facts and enemies that would love to see this nation destroyed. He will need wisdom from above in a culture that increasingly follows an ethical theory and practice “that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.”*
Nigeria is a nation of over 146 million people—the largest populated country in Africa. It comprises more than 250 ethnic groups of which the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, and Tiv 2.5%.* In mass Nigeria is over twice the size of California. The nation is located on the Gulf of Guinea and shares borders with the countries of Benin, Cameroun, Chad and Niger. Our team ministered in the city of Jos which literally means Jesus Our Savior! Jos is part of the Plateau State (Nigeria has 36 states) which sits in the middle of the country.
On the plane from Atlanta to Portland, I sat next to a salesman and a lawyer. We had a great time sharing stories, food and funny video clips during our five hour flight. Matt shared with us that he was headed to Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho to compete in the Ironman competition. On Sunday, his goal is to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in 12 hours! We pumped him with questions and he shared his training regimen, thrills and spills in past competitions. And then he told us the secret to his perseverance.
What in life truly matters? Imagine if God placed you in a huge glass pot in the middle of a giant plaza where hundreds of thousands of people walk by you. He turns a dial that sets in motion transforming heat from coils underneath the container on which you stand. All that you have and represent on earth, as a Christian, is about to be melted down into the pure essentials which define and determine your worth. What crystalline object will the world see? All you have lived for and what characterizes you is about to emerge in some distinctive shape.
You’ve no doubt heard someone say “All roads lead to God.” While the statement may be sincere and reflect a desire to be nonjudgmental, it reveals a great lack of judgment. To understand this one needs only to visit India where the prevailing religion is Hinduism and the overwhelming sensation is one of hopelessness. A country gifted with incredibly smart people remains mired in poverty, disease, and a resigned acceptance of chaos as normative.
Ephesians 1:22,23--And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
I used to walk by the ringer and think, “Oh I hope he doesn’t look at me.” I avoided eye contact because I didn’t want to give. Coming out of the store I walked fast in a hurry, so as not to be accosted. If only guilt rang more quietly than those obnoxious bells.
Galatians 4:17, 5:6-- They are enthusiastic about you, but not for any good. Instead, they want to isolate you so you will be enthusiastic about them . . . For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.
Romans 10:2--I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
There are those who walk by faith and there are those who walk by reason. There are those who think they trust in God and those who trust they think.
If the New Testament teaches that we are to walk by faith than our challenge is to trust God in the pursuit of living according to His Word and the leading of His Holy Spirit. The lifestyle of holiness that Jesus modeled and called us to emulate usually places us directly in conflict with the world—the same world that crucified Him. The logical conclusion is the more godly we become the more we can expect to suffer. Our challenge is to agree with the Apostle Paul—“For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Matthew 19:13,14--Then children were brought to Him so He might put His hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. Then Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.”
Is there anything mankind cannot accomplish? Pick up a newspaper and you are likely to find an advertisement for a seminar hosted by a professional motivator who will take your life to new dimensions with his or her “can’t lose” methods. Christianity is not immune from this phenomenon. The hot message today revolves around “You can do it—and we’ll show you how!” There is a subtle danger to this approach . . . The how or what takes priority over the who!