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Are You Willing to be John the Baptist?

No there are not open tryouts coming up for a new John the Baptist.  Not looking for someone to play the role in a drama presentation either.

But are you willing to assume a similar position in relation to Christ?

That role is epitomized by this phrase spoken from John’s own tongue, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)  John said this in a time when the great crowds following him were beginning to leave and follow Jesus.  He could have been jealous, could have been envious. After all, he had sacrificed and given up so much to follow God and preach the message of repentance. Here he was wearing clothes made out of camel hair with a simple belt about his waist. He was eating locusts and wild honey, food he could gather.  He was a talented man, an educated, dedicated, hardworking man. Surely he deserved better.  And now, now that he is gaining some popularity along comes someone else and the crowds begin to follow him.

John’s reaction was not one of envy or anger, not one of jealousy.  He didn’t start trying new things to bring the crowd back.  In this conversation with his disciples they didn’t start discussing church growth strategies to get the crowd back. There was no, “we need to get some better music, you know, a praise band and some lights and stuff.” No mention of starting a child’s ministry with colorful paint on the walls and fun, child-centric activities or “maybe we should start wearing clothes that people relate to and start talking about the issues facing their lives like, ‘handling difficult people at your job’, ‘building strong relationships in a busy schedule’.” They didn’t start talking negatively about this new guy on the block who was ‘stealing’ their crowd.

Instead, John’s response was exactly the attitude of a disciple of Christ. In that one simple sentence, “He must become greater; I must become less”, John expresses precisely what we must believe as followers of Christ.  In order to follow Jesus we must take up our cross daily and deny ourselves. Both in our minds and in how our life is lived out we must literally become less and Jesus become more.  In our thinking we must think less of ourselves and more of Him.  Our lives must reflect the same so that when they live with us they see Jesus greater than they see us.

Some years ago I was at a point in my life where God drove me to my knees in prayer.  I had had enough of ‘me’. The ‘me’ was not the answer.  God led me in prayer at the moment to ask Him to kill the ‘me’, destroy the ‘me’. During that prayer God asked me, “if you would never get any credit for anything you do, even if someone else gets the credit for something you do, would you still do it?” I had always enjoyed when people said, “great message Pastor”, “man that message was just for me” or “I love hearing you preach”.  I always liked being thanked for visiting someone or spending time counselling someone.  It felt great to be told, “you know, I am Christian today because of your witness.” Certainly it seemed reasonable. I had worked hard preaching, visiting, counselling and witnessing.  But God was now saying would you do it without any of that recognition? Would you do it without any praise or thanks? Would you do it if someone else got the praise and recognition? Would you do it anonymously, if no one even remembered your name? Will you let me become greater and you become less in your life?  That was hard for me but I wanted to be like John.  I wanted to be all-in for Christ and let it all be about Him instead of me.

Through that prayer I was able to surrender to God to become anonymous in His kingdom whenever he chooses, to do what I do only for Him and not for me in any way.  The Holy Spirit continues to work in my life to kill that ego and replace it with Christ and Him alone.

Are you willing to be John the Baptist? Are you willing to decrease that He may increase? John realized who he was and who Jesus was. He realized who he was in relation to Jesus.  He realized what he was created for, for the glory of God.  John surrendered to his role and found real fulfillment and joy.  John placed Jesus ahead of even his own life. Are you willing to be John the Baptist?

Right, Wrong, Up, Down – Who Knows?

Christian: So, how do you know what is right and wrong? How do you decide if something is right or if something is wrong?

Atheist: If it hurts others it is wrong.

Christian: Why should I care if what I do hurts someone else?

Atheist: Because it is wrong to hurt someone else.

Christian: You just went in a circle and ended up back where you started.

God is the standard of right and wrong.  Without Him we have no idea of right and wrong.  ’The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.’ Psalm 53:1

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness – Part 3

A blog by Don McGlothin

Forgive, and don’t forget why… If we were to believe the great lie “forgive and forget” then wouldn’t we forget why we forgive? Wouldn’t we forget what we forgave, or when, or who, or even how? Wouldn’t we forget forgiveness? Are we trying to forget its importance, not only when we use it, but how we might receive it…They are the same. “Forgive us our trespasses, AS we forgive those who trespass against us.” Is this a timing issue or a “why we should?” Are we asking to be forgiven at the same time we are forgiving someone, or are we asking to be forgiven in the same fashion in which we forgive. I’ll assume both, and thus the take away should be “forgive fast and fully”. The sooner we forgive the more quickly we can heal. The more fully we forgive the more fully we will be healed.

Above I mentioned some wonderful things… forgiveness, love, joy, and peace. In reality, this is one opportunity and four results. Only one of these things is an opportunity to show God our love for him while simultaneously showing his love to another. It is an opportunity to willfully submit ourselves to him. That is forgiveness. You might say forgiveness is married to love and their offspring are joy and peace. With forgiveness you show God you love him while showing his love to another.

Gray is not as dark as black, I get that, but it is so cloudy and glum and can never be as bright as white. So, “Forgive, and don’t forget why” might serve us better than another lie that defies our God given reasoning like, “Forgive and forget.” The lack of reason is how you know it’s not from him.

To all, I ask forgiveness for the parts I’ve played mainly my anger and things I did or failed to do. If you think you should ask it of me for your part in things you did or failed to do, I already have forgiven you…but I will gladly do it again if you need to hear the words. I wouldn’t mind the opportunity myself.

Witness of the Martyr

“The word for ‘witness’ in the New Testament, martus, is the source of the English word martyr. Those who suffered and died for the cause of Christ were called martyrs because by their sufferings they bore witness to Christ.”  ’Surprised by Suffering, R. C. Sproul

May we be found worthy to witness for our Lord.  The Gospel is clear on Jesus as the suffering savior and we are called to share in His suffering as we are called to share in Him.

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness – Part 2

A blog by Don McGlothin

We know there are bears in the woods, as we know there are evil people in the world. However if we were walking in the woods and happened upon a bear just out of hibernation I doubt we would think to ourselves “Ha, I knew it.” Rather our mind and body would take to a sympathonimetric response, i.e. “fight or flight” mode in the interest of self-preservation. The first instinct would be to flee, and get away from this situation. Now if we were to happen upon a stranger harming our child a different and more powerful response would take place…like “Fight or Flight” in its nature, very intense, but not in the preservation of self, but rather in preservation of the child…Love becomes involved; love for our child.

You might be thinking that to harm one in order to keep them from harming another is not love. You might see it as a contradiction to my view of religion, but then you must re-examine our view on the Body of Christ, we who are, or want to be “in him” and with him “in us”. If we are the body, the arms the legs the muscles that are intended to do his will then how could one, being present, not attempt to stop an evil act with all they have been given? Why in times like this would your body and mind simultaneously have such a strong response if you are meant to do little or nothing?

We are again trying to apply man’s standards to God’s understanding, and I assure you it won’t add up because we cannot fathom his complexity…or even his simplicity.

The subsequent challenge then becomes to learn to let your anger go after it serves its purpose of stopping the evil….then forgive. If you think anger does not help at all then call it wrath and see if God ever used it to stop evil…and if vengeance is his, re-examine what part of his body we are. Whatever you call it, anger or wrath must be cast out after its intended use. We are not God, and have no abilities to completely control it. To keep it in you, however small, it will take up space…then it will grow and eventually it will be all you are. To let the anger go, you then create more room for love, joy and peace.

With love, you will find forgiveness, then on to joy and eventually peace.

Stay tuned for part 3

God’s Place, God’s Time

Was out walking and witnessing with some friends the other night.  We had various opportunities to speak to some people that evening.  We were down by the river at a festival and about ready to head back to the church and call it a night.  As we were walking there were two sets of steps to choose from, one closer and one further away. We chose the closer.

These steps leading up from the festival area, close to the rivers banks, were pretty steep and long.  As I neared the top section of the steps I came up to a woman who was starting to slow down and even struggle somewhat.  To be honest, I was starting to slow down some as well. When we are walking and witnessing we try to listen to the Holy Spirit to lead us when to approach someone. Admittedly, our “spiritual” ears aren’t always in tune so we do the best we can, probably hoping to err on the side of speaking more often than not.  We look for opportunities and many would be surprised at how often people want to talk.

I arrived at the top of the stairs just ahead of the woman.  I felt like I should speak to this woman I had never before seen in my life and I said, “I wasn’t sure either one of us were going to make it up those steps.”  She immediately responded, “well I struggle with severe arthritis.” I replied to her, “I’m sorry, would it be okay if I prayed with you for your arthritis?”  With absolutely no hesitation, she said, “Please do, I would like that.”

We stopped right there just beyond the top of those steps and she reached her hand out to me and we prayed together. After our prayer my friends and I spoke with her and her husband for a long time.  We talked about church and different beliefs, but focused on what we believe about Jesus Christ. She was genuinely interested and genuinely relieved.

God had worked this encounter out in full detail. We had chosen the right set of steps at the right time to be walking next to a woman struggling with severe arthritis. God had pre-ordained this meeting.  When my friends and I had left the church earlier that evening we had not planned such an encounter, but God had.

 

Some Thoughts on Forgiveness – Part 1

A blog by Don McGlothin

Mankind must make up standards to help us fathom the complexity of this world. Twelve inches is a foot sixteen ounces is a pound and so on. There is good and there is evil…one being the opposite of the other. Now to be that extreme in our understanding or application would result only in chaos, so things can’t be just black and white. We need gray…I get that. I wonder though if we have sought to destroy both black and white altogether or if we only see gray until black or white meet our personal need.

Suppose a stranger harmed you child? This person is evil; you are certain, after all, they did something where good was absent…an evil thing. Now suppose a child you truly loved did the same evil thing to your child. By all counts the stranger is an evil person that harmed your child.  On the other hand, the one you loved has also betrayed your trust, and discarded your love for them to better their gratification. The evil stranger may not have done any of these things. Has the evil act changed? No. But the measurement will. Is the child you love an evil person as well?

Healing must take place. Not just for the child, but for you, and the person who committed the evil act. It will be very hard indeed. The child must know what happened, how they were involved, and must know about forgiveness. Healing can only take place when forgiveness is present and practiced.

Stay tuned for Part 2