I was just looking over my blog and noticed this post which I started in 2015 but for some reason never expanded or published. Even though ISIS is not in the news anymore, Christians continue to be persecuted for their faith around the world today. Check out Voice of the Martyrs for more information.
With ISIS in the news almost every day with a new atrocity against those who don’t agree with their outlook on the world, I thought it would be interesting to think through some principles of how we who follow Jesus should relate to those who disagree with us.
What does it mean practically (not politically) for the follower of Jesus to hold to absolute truth – true truth – and live in peace with the rest of the world? Here are a few thoughts:
A. Followers of Jesus are not the ones to bring the wrath of God to those who don’t follow Jesus.
B. Followers of Jesus are called to announce the good news of Jesus
C. Followers of Jesus will suffer injustice in the name of Jesus
D. Followers of Jesus are called to love their enemies
E. Followers of Jesus are to be people of hope, even when circumstances are dire
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake, we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
~ Romans 8:35
Each week at New City Church, we have a time during the service when the primary age children come to the front to hear a short talk. Usually, this talk is done by myself or whoever is preaching on that particular Sunday. Over the years, I’ve developed a few basic principles for them:
1. We are teaching gospel truths to both kids AND adults. The reality is that sometimes (hopefully rarely!!) our adults may get more out of our “Kids Time” talk than they do out of our sermons.
2. Each week, we are also teaching adults how to communicate the gospel to children.
3. We need to be careful not teach moralism. In other words, we don’t want to teach the false gospel that God loves good little boys and girls.
4. We want to make Jesus is the hero of the story.
5. We can’t worry if don’t get it “just right” one week. We’re in this for the long haul. Our prayer is that the Spirit will work in the hearts of boys and girls as well as men and women week after week as they encounter the truths of the gospel.
What some help in this? Check our Jack Klumpenhower’s book “Show Them Jesus”. A few years back, we had Jack and his family around New City for a few months – I’d highly recommend this resource.
My recent note to the good people at New City Church:
As the winter months drag on, I often find myself feeling down in the dumps. The reality is that we are all complex beings whose makeup is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
When the days are dark, wet and cold, I know that the physical pressures on my body impact my emotional, mental and even spiritual well being. But I also know that I am not a slave to my physical body. You and I can step into the physical challenges we have and make choices which impact our emotional and spiritual state.
Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 discipline our bodies so we can be used by the Lord. “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control.”
For me this means taking a few extra steps in the winter:
- Going for a walk in the park especially on days when the sun is out
- Doing press-ups and other exercises in my sitting room
- Increasing my reading since I’m not outside as much
- Since I’m drinking more tea, making sure some of it is herbal tea without sugar
For some of us, “down in the dumps” becomes a serious issue needing medical attention. My grandfather, who was a Bible teacher, struggled with depression for much of his adult life. (Here’s a message he gave on depression) Please don’t seek to walk through the dark days alone.
God has placed us together as a family at New City for the expressed purpose of supporting each other. Please let me or someone else at New City know your struggles, so we can encourage and pray for you in your battles.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
Grace and peace,
Recently, a young man, who is in leadership training, asked me, “I want to read more, but I’m not sure which books to read. Can you make some recommendations for me this year?”
I challenged him to read two books per month from the following list which I developed with another IPC pastor: