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Jesus Freak
Late-term abortionists, and other people Jesus died for
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Disgust and sadness don't begin to describe what I felt yesterday when I pulled up Yahoo News and saw the headline that longtime abortionist George Tiller had been gunned down. Fringe lunatics such as David Trosch and others have been calling the murder of abortionists "justifiable homicide" for the better part of two decades, and thankfully there have been many more voices setting the record straight, that people such as David Trosch, Paul Hill, John Salvi and others like them may be anti-abortion, but they are not PRO-LIFE. Any implied association between those people and those of us who believe the sanctity of human life extends from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death doesn't deserve a response. And I won't get into a discussion about capital punishment except to say that Paul Hill got what he deserved.

But the bigger issue is that despite ongoing rhetoric by fringe anti-abortion activists and the unfortunate attitudes of too many people who claim to follow Christ but think some people don't deserve salvation, what too many of us conveniently forget is that NOBODY deserves salvation--it is given to us through Jesus Christ, by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 1:9). Jesus died to offer salvation to the murderers among us, including George Tiller, whether or not Tiller repented of his sins and turned to Christ--Jesus still made the offer to Tiller and to everyone else like him. It's not up to us who should be offered salvation, because we don't deserve it. And if you don't like the fact that God sent His Son to hang out with sinners, well, that's just too bad, isn't it?

Matthew 9:9-13
Matthew 21:28-32
Mark 2:13-17
Luke 5:27-32
Luke 18:9-14

What did the Lord say in Ezekiel 18:21-23? Quote: "But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
Do we dare take away their opportunities for salvation when we don't deserve salvation ourselves?

My prayers and sympathies go out to the Tiller family. I hope that they will find the grace, peace and salvation that only Christ can give.
"Angels and Demons" and Dan Brown, oh my!!
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Yesterday I was talking with my cousin, and in the course of conversation she asked me what I thought of the controversy surrounding Dan Brown's latest book-turned-movie, "Angels and Demons." I told her that my opinion hadn't changed since "The Da Vinci Code"--it's spiritual insanity for Christians to assert that Brown's books--every one of which I've seen clearly state "A Novel" on the cover (not exactly screaming "THIS IS THE TRUTH!")--confuse people into thinking that what Brown is writing is historically or theologically credible. Hello?? If I'm wanting to know what the Bible says, why would I think I could find out what it says in anything other than, um, the Bible?

As I stated three years ago in my missives about "Da Vinci," the problem isn't Dan Brown--the problem is Biblical ignorance among people who claim to believe the Bible but who have no idea what it really says:

http://board.christianrock.net/board/weblog_entry.php?e=9069
http://board.christianrock.net/board/weblog_entry.php?e=9691
http://www.jesusfreak.com/davinci.asp

Are we confusing ourselves on purpose because we don't want to be confronted with the truth of the Bible, not wanting to know the truth so we can't be held accountable for it (or so we tell ourselves)? If so, are we already admitting to ourselves that the Bible really is the truth? And if that's the case, tell me again, what's the big deal about Dan Brown?




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A "National Day of Prayer"? Why not lives of prayer?
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Here's the latest update I just posted on the front page of JesusFreak.com:

This year's National Day of Prayer here in the U.S. was almost two weeks ago (May 7). I realize that this day has been officially observed since 1952, before most Americans today were born, and times of prayer have been among our country's strongest sentiments since before our nation was officially born, and while the Day of Prayer is not specific to any one religion but to all people of faith in this country, I can't help but wonder if Christians in this country (and around the world) miss the real issue amid the "official" commemorations of such a day. I don't know and won't pretend to know the thinking of people of other faiths regarding a National Day of Prayer, but as a follower of Jesus Christ, living in a country that's saturated with outward observance of Christian holidays, cultural references to Christ (not all of them positive), Christian-themed entertainment, clothing, bumper stickers, right down to the tiniest outward details of life, I can't help but wonder: If everyone in this country who claims to follow Christ were really living as if He did, would we need reminders about who we represent? Or would our lives, or rather Christ in our lives, be so totally transforming our country that our very lives would be all the reminders that anyone needs?

Why do we need to observe a National Day of Prayer if, as Christ's followers, we live lives of prayer, not just a one-day observance that we then put back on the shelf until next Sunday or next year? If we're living as Jesus lived, and if He is changing the lives of people around us as He's first changing us, why would we need a "Day of Prayer"? It would be redundant--and I would love to see that sort of redunancy that would make a "Day of Prayer" unnecessary. I would love to see such a blazing spiritual fire in and among Christ's followers in this country that our lives would be all the reminder anyone needs about who Christ is and how He can change our lives, our families and our country. So I have to ask, then...is the fact that we feel like we need an "official" observance of a Day of Prayer showing us that our lives aren't what they should be, that we aren't living like Christ, that our country isn't turning toward Him because those who claim to follow Him are living more like the rest of the country than like Christ?


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Are Christians shaping society? Or is it shaping us?
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Companies usually don't make and sell stuff that people don't want, because if people don't buy certain products, why bother making and selling them? I don't hold anything against Hershey Corp. for selling chocolate crosses for Easter, because hey, business is business, right? Jesus died on the cross so we could escape the fires of hell...and people are obviously willing to spend $1.97 at Wal-Mart to buy a cross-shaped confection that will melt inside a warm car? (Full disclosure: I wasted $1.97 at Wal-Mart. I've earned my right to rant.)

The old adage "Ignore it and it will go away" is a marketer's worst nightmare, but I don't think it's marketing savvy that's selling chocolate crosses. In fact, I can't help but wonder if the real issue is that the faith of too many Christians has been reduced to little more than a caricature--we do the church thing on Sundays, we do Christian stuff during the week, we talk good Christian lingo...but our faith is little more than the clothes we wear, merely superficial and changing every day. We've turned Jesus into this cutesy, dainty caricature who makes us feel good about ourselves, doesn't want to make us squirm, doesn't want our feelings to get hurt, blah blah blah...and we forget that in the Gospels, Jesus stormed through the Temple courts, forcefully driving out the merchants who were turning God's House into a first-century Wal-Mart.

Maybe the merchants in the Temple courts were only selling because people were buying, but if the dominant messages about Jesus have really nothing to do with the Biblical Jesus, why aren't Bible-believing Christians stepping in to tell the rest of society that chocolate crosses, chocolate eggs, Easter egg hunts...don't get me started about the Easter Bunny...none of these things has anything to do with the real message about what happened on that miraculous Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago. If the irrestible message of Christ were really being preached in and through our lives, would there be any demand at all for "Jesus Junk"? I'd really like to find out.


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The real reason behind Easter: http://www.jesusfreak.com/resurrection.asp
Out of the darkness, into the light--Jesus set me free
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I was just reading a paper and came across a reference to 1 Thessalonians 5:5... Quote: You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. ...and the song "Out Of The Darkness" by Bloodgood immediately popped into my mind. I hope this song can be your testimony as well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmrxm0g-khY
http://www.bloodgoodband.com/discography/l...kness.html


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Do we love Jesus enough to die for Him?
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I just posted this update on the front page of JesusFreak.com:

I receive periodic newsletters from The Voice of the Martyrs (www.persecution.com), and for some time I've found myself wondering what would happen if the persecution, torture, even murder of Christians in other countries became a reality in the United States. It's so easy for us to sit in our padded pews among friends and family each week, listening to the Word preached, then leaving and going about our lives with little worry about our well-being. Christians in the U.S. and many other developed countries don't even begin to imagine what would happen or what they would do if suddenly they were denied jobs, beaten and forced to flee for their lives because they follow Jesus. We're deceiving ourselves if we think it can't happen here. I think it's just a matter of time before what's happening to Christians around the world--and what happened to early believers in the New Testament--happens here.

If you were faced with the choice to deny Christ and live and continue to enjoy all the benefits of society, or to refuse to deny Him and lose everything this world offers but gaining a reward that this world can't take away, would you stand for Christ no matter what? Or would you take the easy way out and never know the joy and ultimate victory that Christ gives us no matter what happens in this life?

I'm hoping to launch a new site, DieForJesus.com, by this summer. Bookmark the site and keep checking back for updates. I hope the site will challenge you and encourage you.
What if Christ was all you had left?
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UPDATED FEB. 19, 2009--This page has been getting a tremendous amount of traffic, so I'd like to encourage you to check out the main page on my ministry site as well, JesusFreak.com. I hope it will be a tremendous encouragement to you.



Here's my December newsletter that I just sent out on JesusFreak.com:



Hello dear friends in Christ,

This is the first newsletter I've been able to send out in about three months, but with Christmas just a few days away, and especially with the challenging economic situation developing around the world, I hope that a couple things will jump out at us from Scripture as we think about the significance of the event we call Christmas--the birth of our only Lord and Savior.

It's not a passage of Scripture we would typically think of with regard to Christmas, but I'd like us to look at Paul's words in Philippians 4:10-13:
Quote: "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
We have heard this passage often, especially verse 13: We can do all things through Christ. But how does this tie in to our celebration of His birth? Let's first of all strip away what's NOT found in the Gospels' account of Jesus' birth: the commercialism, the materialism, the focus on so many things BESIDES Jesus. How many of us lose sight of the fact that Christmas is about Christ and not about all the stuff that we've put between us and Him, not just at Christmas but year-round? How many of us have so many spiritual distractions in our lives--especially around Christmas--that we forget about Christ?

We've all been in crowded, noisy rooms where we're trying to hear what someone some distance away is trying to tell to us, and in such instances we only have a couple options if we're going to hear what the other person is saying: We either go to where the other person is, or we go somewhere quiet with that person so we can hear what they're saying. It's easier and more obvious, of course, for us to move closer to the other person, but we have to want badly enough to hear what they're saying. But if suddenly all of the distractions and noises are gone, what good excuse do we have not to listen to the other person? There are a lot of things starting to fall away right now around the world that have been noise between us and God, and now He is making it a lot easier for a lot of us to hear Him, if we're willing to listen. The noise is fading, the distractions are disappearing and there's increasingly less worldly stuff separating a lot of us from Him. The question is, are we going to listen to Him and trust Him no matter what, no matter how bad things look around us, no matter what the economy looks like, no matter what earthly sustenance we have or don't have, no matter what has to be taken away so we can hear Him, regardless of what the world says we should be doing or thinking or feeling?

What if we wake up tomorrow and we've lost everything? I'm not just talking about no presents under the Christmas tree--I'm talking about if ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING that this world says we need were to be gone tomorrow, would we still trust, love and worship God? We talk about Christmas being all about Jesus, but what if He was all we had? What if we lost every material thing in this world--our jobs, our homes, our finances, our friends and our families? If we are truly focusing on God and what He wants for our lives and we keep our focus on Him and by focusing on Him we learn to trust Him no matter what, will we trust that He will give us the strength to trust Him no matter what happens, no matter what earthly things we might not have anymore? I'm not saying that God is letting things happen just so we can be tested--sometimes things just happen because we live in a fallen and sinful world. But if we had nothing and nobody left in our lives besides Jesus, would we still trust Him and still love Him no matter what happened? This might be a question that many of us will be encountering at some point in the near future. Are we trusting the stuff of this world? Or are we trusting God to provide for us in the midst of what the world is calling a meltdown? Are we in the middle of chaos wondering why we can't find peace and contentment? Or are we finding peace and contentment through Christ despite what's happening around us?

I'd like to hear what God is doing in your life even in the midst of major challenges right now. What is He doing in and through your life to not only show you that He is in control and is providing your needs, but also to help you trust Him more? I'll post your replies on JesusFreakBlog.com as I receive them. I hope your testimonies will be an encouragement to many others as well.

I hope to have another message around Feb. 1 about the difference between God's love and God's justice, and what His love demands of us. I hope you have a wonderful CHRISTmas and happy new year! Talk to you soon.


Love in Jesus,
Chad
What's keeping you in your comfort zone?
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I was just listening to ReignRadio.com when "No Second Chances" by Whitecross came on, talking about Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. It got me to thinking, even in the midst of tough times right now when we should feel the need to lean on God more and more, how many of us are resisting, still intent on staying in our comfort zones despite the ton of ministry opportunities around us? Are we seeking to serve and to let God use us right now? Or are we waiting for things to get worse...while things get worse because we aren't serving?
Quote: The rich man lived in luxury
He was always wantin' more
And Lazarus the beggar
Laid at his gate covered with sores
It wasn't long, yeah, the beggar died
The angels carried him to Abraham's side
When the rich man died, he felt the torment of hell
He looked up, his voice rang like a bell

Give me one more chance to do things right
Just one more chance, I'll follow the light
But there's no second chances, the host of heaven cried,
No second chances, you listen to lies.

The rich man, oh, he couldn't go back
To warn his brothers of his fate
Now we've been given a charge
It's up to us, now don't hesitate
Are you living in the comfort zone
Storing up treasures that soon will be gone
Or telling your brother that Jesus died
So on that last day you won't hear him cry

Give me one more chance to do things right
Just one more chance, I'll follow the light
But there's no second chances, the host of heaven cried,
No second chances, you listen to lies.




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Drastic changes could be coming...are you ready to serve?
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I don't normally post messages that some might consider scare tactics, but anyone with a basic knowledge of economics who's been watching the sellout, er, bailout package--news stories the past few days report that the dollar cost of the big-bank bailouts and the mortgage meltdowns could top $7 TRILLION--you read that right. Our national debt is soaring 70 percent in the space of just a few weeks:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/131...tdown.html

Now is the time for all of us to take a hard look not just at our finances but our priorities. And Christians in this country should be on the frontlines, ready to serve when things hit the fan. And if we don't step out and do what Jesus told us to do when the biggest ministry opportunity of our lives confronts us, what does that say about our faith? Food for thought:

http://www.survivalblog.com/charity.html
http://mark12ministries.wordpress.com/2008...paredness/
http://www.inteldaily.com/news/173/ARTICLE/8827/2008-11-24.html

I'm much less concerned about what might (or might not) happen than I am about whether those of us who claim to be Christ's followers will serve others no matter what happens, because He told us to. What if things don't get too bad? Well, aren't we out there serving anyway? If we aren't, what are we waiting for?

A bigger disaster, perhaps?

Is there a bigger disaster than to have people who claim to follow Jesus sitting by and doing nothing while the rest of the world wonders why we're doing nothing?
Is unbelievers' blasphemy worse than empty, dead "faith"?
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I just stumbled across a link someone had sent me a long time ago that I really hadn't missed, but it segues well with a book I just bought, "Christless Christianity" by Michael Horton, a hard-hitting indictment of the shallow, empty, redemptionless and Redeemerless state of what we call Christianity in America.

The site I just happened upon, having seen it a couple years ago and having been more than happy to forget it in the meantime, offers visitors the opportunity to "flush a holy book" (and in the name of "fairness," most major religions are targeted, not just Christianity). But as I've started reading Horton's book, and in light of other events the past couple years, I got to wondering, does it matter what others want to do to Christ and His Word if we regard them so little ourselves? Does it matter what attitudes or intentions "outsiders" have regarding Christ and Christianity if by our (lack of) commitment we smear Christ's name more than non-Christians could?

It's kind of like getting upset when someone scribbles all over a bright, brand-new bumper sticker on a rusty, broken-down pile of junk shaped like a car. So many of us who call ourselves Christ's followers (whether or not we are actually following Him) worry way too much about how our faith looks on the outside and feels on the inside, and we get so upset when someone insults the image of our faith that we don't realize that our faith in faith--like this junked car--won't get us very far. We get so worried about people saying or doing blasphemous things against our faith that we fail to see that we've reduced our faith to something like a bumper sticker we put on an otherwise-decrepit car. Never mind that nobody cares about bumper stickers, which is probably why so many people think our faith and our Savior are no big deal--because we don't live like they are. We trust more in the fact that we are Christians than we actually trust in and know Christ. How many of us can give a play-by-play account of who said what and who was wearing what last Sunday but we can't begin to name the first thing about what Christ's followers (that's us, isn't it??) believe and why they believe it?

We don't know the Gospel we claim to believe and get offended when people insult this Gospel we don't really know--Paul speaks in 2 Timothy 3:5 of "having a form of godliness but denying its power"--so how is it that we care so much about insults people hurl at the Gospel we don't care enough about to really know in the first place? But don't just take my word for it:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&amp...tnG=Search

Rather than be offended by what others are saying, shouldn't we be fixing the real problems from the inside-out? Jesus' words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23 apply to far too many of us today who claim His name...but it doesn't have to stay that way. What are we going to do about it? Quote: 1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'

8"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

15"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

16"Woe to you, blind guides! You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.' 17You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.' 19You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20Therefore, he who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21And he who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22And he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and by the one who sits on it.

23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

33"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

37"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"



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