“Lordship Salvation” is Redundant

You are going through a cafeteria line…you take a big portion of mac and cheese, accept a burger, but pass on the salad and the mushroom soup. After all, you are there to take what you want.

You can’t do that with Jesus. You can’t take a big portion of “Jesus the Savior” or “Jesus the friend of sinners” or, gag, “Jesus my homeboy.”

You can’t divide a person, even when the person is a Person.

Read this from Acts 16:

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the jail were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was going to kill himself, since he thought the prisoners had escaped.

28 But Paul called out in a loud voice, “Don’t harm yourself, because we’re all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He escorted them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him along with everyone in his house.”

The Holy Spirit had Luke pen “Lord Jesus,” not “Savior Jesus,” not “Jesus.”

We are responsible for what we know.

When I was converted in a Texas jail cell, I had just been introduced to the gospel. I was 26, and had never been in church except for weddings and funerals. I had no idea who Jesus was other than a curse word.

When I trusted Christ I did not know there was a trinity. I didn’t know the difference between a charismaniac and a king-jimmie-only baptist. I did not know about a concept called “Lordship Salvation,” nor of Zane Hodges etc rebuke of that concept.

All I knew is that I was in a hopeless condition, not because of drugs; but because of sin. I obeyed the Spirit’s tugging by surrendering to the fact that I wasn’t the boss, God is, was, and always will be the Boss.

There was no repeat after me prayer; there was no altar call. There was a lost sinner and an incredibly loving God.

In a sense, I was “all in.”

Ephesians 2.8,9 are wonderful, true verses.

So is Ephesians 2.10.

We are created for “good works.”

Grace works. Faith works.

If there ain’t no fruit, it’s because there is no shoot; because there is no root.

When you share the gospel (you are, are you not?); don’t simply describe the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Don’t just offer a chance to “accept Jesus as your Savior and ask Him into your heart.”

Reading the Word can spoil a lot of “evangelism” trainings and “evangelism” methodology (music softly playing, blood and guts story, every head bowed….)

In reading the Gospels you find that Jesus always made it easier to say “no than to say “yes.”

Go and do thou likewise.

I Was Robbed!

Well, not really.

But anyone who has spent a week with me at a teen or family camp may remember that I often speak of “inhaling the Word of God, exhaling prayer.” I suppose I’ve been using that phrase for three decades or more.

Today this showed up in my inbox, under the headline “Do This Breathing Exercise for Healthy Christian Living.” You can read the brief article (and I recommend you do) https://www.crossway.org/articles/do-this-breathing-exercise-for-healthy-christian-living/.

Gasp! It includes this sentence: “I like to think of Scripture and prayer as inhaling and exhaling because that shows the two necessarily go together. “

Usually I just say, “Inhale,” pause a moment, and then say, “Exhale.”

Inhale the Word of God; exhale prayer.

Simple.

In many circles there is much talk of plagiarism. The new president of a major denomination has been accused, as have several other “big name” Christians.

I don’t know the level of their guilt.

But ideas can’t be copyrighted.

After all, there is nothing new under the sun.

Obviously to cut and paste someone elses’ words/writings is stealing.

But I wasn’t robbed.

Though it could be that the author of the piece is a former camper of mine, who may not remember that he first heard the phrase under me. Or maybe the author came up with the idea by himself.

Either way, I’m not going to scream that he stole my idea.

I’ll simply rejoice that other people are learning about spiritual breathing.

Excuse me, it’s time for me to inhale.

First Movie After Prison

“Shortly after being paroled, a friend asked me if I wanted to see “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

“Sure, why not?” I replied.

And we watched it. I loved it. I bought the soundtrack. I watched it again. I played the soundtrack (on my walkman) as I performed the duties of Minister of Sanitation (a.k.a. janitor) at the First Baptist Church of Newhall, California.

Then some folks in the church overheard the music.

And I stepped into the world of legalism…the world of Christians confusing their preferences with their convictions.

And I gracefully ignored them. At the pastor’s behest I did not listen to the music while on the church grounds. Soon they stupidly asked me to be the youth director (this was in 1977!) No internet, no quick way to check my record.

Consciously or unconsciously, the leadership must have felt if they had a youth guy who was an alcoholic, Nam vet, exconvict it would draw teens…I use the word “stupid because all they knew of me is what I told them. I could have been a rapist or child molester for goodness’ sake! One of the conditions of the job was that I not listen to nor recommend the soundtrack to the teens. I didn’t.

ANYway, I continued to listen to the music. And I watched the movie often.

I think I see some of you dear readers shaking your head.

That’s cool. If it is wrong for you to watch or listen to JC Superstar, don’t.

Why did I like the music and movie so much? After all, it was a convenient flick..you bring the bread and the mayo, the movie provided the cheese.

Not a huge budget, not any recognizable stars.

So why?

Because in watching the movie this very young in faith Christian (I was converted in a Texas jail in 1977 enroute to an Oregon State Prison) I realized that the original Jesus Freaks (the disciples) were just ordinary dummies like me.

Before the movie I thought they were superstars themselves.

But they were fishermen who couldn’t catch fish, scumbag taxcollectors; just average Joes doing their life when that life was invaded by Jesus Christ.

Kinda like me.

And for the first time I began to think…hey, maybe God could even use me!

And that was the first baby step that led to vocational youth/prison/church ministry that has now gone on for over forty decades. (what is such a young guy like me doing in such an old body???) Because God can use ANYthing and ANYone. With or without our permission.

Oh, and about the movie?

Billy Graham observed that though the movie was not his cup of tea, he did enjoy watching it, and his only complaint was that the story ended at the cross.

I was privileged to see/hear Doctor Graham three times. I never had a chance to talk with him.

But he was wrong.

It did not end at the cross.

You have to watch the movie to get it…but at the conclusion of the film all the actors are getting back on the bus (I told you you had to watch the movie to get it)…oops, not quite all…Jesus does not get aboard.

And the last scene is of Judas (interestingly played by a black man), the last to get on the bus, pausing for a moment, and looking over his shoulder as if to wonder where Jesus is…

I’m not an artistic man, but I think that is a not so subtle way of pointing to the resurrection.

If you’ve never seen it, watch it Bring your own bread. Crank the speakers. And let me know what you think.

Here’s a sample:


Most Known Bible Verse

No, the most known Bible verse is no longer John 3.16.

Nope…it’s Matthew 7.1, which reads:

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.”

Now many (most?) who cite the verse don’t know the reference; and may well not even know it’s in the Bible.

But if you ever say anything remotely negative about anyone, the chances are 88.6 percent (yes, I made that up) that someone hearing it will scold you by ‘quoting the verse.’

If only these folks would understand the vitalness of context.

Here are a few sound bites, so to speak, from the rest of Matthew 7:

“Don’t give what is holy to DOGS or toss your pearls before PIGS…be on your guard against FALSE PROPHETS who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are RAVAGING WOLVES…”

So how in the world to you recognize someone is a dog, pig, false prophet, or ravaging wolf?

You judge.

So what was Jesus doing in Matthew 7.1?

Getting the crowds attention. Stretching to make a point.

In fact, out of context Matthew 7.1 is a falsehood.

Why?

You WILL be judged, no matter what.

Die without Christ and you have a date with the Great White Throne of God where the issue is punishment.

Die as a Christian and you have a date at the Judgment Seat of Christ, where the issue is rewards.

Those are the only two choices.

Oh, yeah, and by the way…this same Jesus also said:

Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.” John 7.24

So how do you recognize if your judgment is “righteous” or unrighteous.

I don’t know how you do so, but here’s what works for me:

If it hurts me to judge, I think I’m okay.

If I find joy in judging, I know I am violating John 7.24.

I don’t always get it right…but I’m trying…

Because I know that’s what Jesus wants me to do –

Obey Matthew 7.1 in conjunction with John 7.24.

YOU HAVE NO “RIGHTS”!

First, a few transparent statements:

  1. I have yet to get the vaccine; at this point I doubt I will (and I definitely will not until my recently diagnosed DVD (bloodclot) evaporates)
  2. If you get the vaccine, cool with me. If you elect not to get the vaccine, cool with me.
  3. There is no “Christian” answer to the question about vaccines. If you try to tell me that every Christian must get the shot; or every Christian must not get the shot I will lose interest in anything you have to say.
  4. Ditto masks.

That being said, or rather typed, if you are one who is vehemently against the vaccine; that is all good; whether I agree or disagree.

What is not good is if you shout lots of words about “my rights!”

If you are a follower of Christ, you have no rights.

You are a bondservant (slave) of Jesus Christ.

What “rights” does a slave have?

Zero.

America is not now nor has she (is that offensive? get over it…) ever been a “Christian” nation. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are not inspired by God.

Yes, you have a right to your opinion. Yes, you have a right to express your opinion (at least so far).

But I caution you not to say or type, “It’s my right as an American to refuse…”

Because, again, you have no rights.

Period.

End of sentence.

Nothing follows.

The vehement, adamant screamers about either side of the issues remind me of a Petra classic:

Is It Still Amazing (to you)?

Years ago a friend remarked, “The best thing that could happen to most Christians is that every couple years we forgot everything we knew about Jesus and started over.”

I get his point. So does our Lord:

“…you have abandoned the love you had at first…” (Rev 2.4)

For most it’s not overt sin or “deconstruction” that leads to abandonment.

Life gets busy. We stray from the Word. Maybe church becomes less vital. Maybe we get so caught up in the things of the Lord that we forget the Lord?

Jesus also gives the solution:

“Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first...” (Rev 2.5)

Prescription – if grace isn’t quite as amazing to you as it has been:

Remember…Repent…Repeat

And, yes, I’m preaching to myself first…as the old saying rightfully states, sometimes we get so involved in the work of the Lord we forget the Lord of the work.

Do yourself a favor – listen to this:

Get Rid of the Fuzz!

I’ve no idea if Seth Godin is a Christian; but he is one smart guy.

His observation in the short essay that follows is worthy of much thought; and there are many implications (admonitions) for any type of communicator – preacher/teacher/witnesser etc.

Here it is:

Fuzzy type

Digital typography always looks crisp. The words on our screen seem official, because they’re not the victim of sloppy or rushed handwriting.

But sometimes, we might be better off with a little less crispness.

Malka Older points out that polling data and predictions would probably be better understood if the graphs and charts were intentionally fuzzy. The less sure we are of the prediction, the fuzzier it ought to be.

For example:

The weather next Saturday is going to be crisp and clear, with no chance of rain.

becomes

And if it’s something we’re quite unsure about, better to set it like this:

The fact that we have to squint a little bit is far more effective than adding a disclaimer about our margin of error. If you’re not willing to make it fuzzy, it might be better to not say it.