Well this is the first ever blog entry to the blog which I had set out to start a few months back but never got around to. So in that regard I pray and hope this is more delightful than painful and certainly more edifying and useful than discouraging or useless (there is nothing I hate more than wasting my time reading useless articles or even books for that matter). So I guess it’s vital that I state both my aim and inexperience entering this endeavor of creating a blog/blogging/whatever you actually call this.
Its 4:20 P.M. and the 20th of December and I am sweating. Upon stating that I see no further explanation to give you a good guess of where I live…yes, Texas. The land of schizophrenic weather and what I would guess to be the most frustrating place to partake in the most honorable profession of meteorologist. This of course has nothing to do with this blog, but it remains a bit mind boggling to me considering that at this exact time last year a snow storm was about to hit leaving us with several inches of snow. So I guess to make this of some use perhaps it could encourage you to show grace and mercy to your local weatherman. After all (Job 36:27-29) says “For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain, which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly. Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion?” Nope, not even perhaps the most skilled of weathermen.
I got the privilege of getting to spend a few days hanging out with my little brother Paden who is 14. I am usually working and he is usually going to school, being a teenager and playing sports, which he is a beast at, might I add. But somehow by God’s divine providence I have found myself in the midst of a 3-week vacation just in time for Christmas and of course coalescing with his Christmas break from school. I picked him up from his basketball practice a few hours ago at the gym and he greeted me with this statement, “Yo, I totally J’d four 3’s today.” Of course I have no idea what that means nor did I humble myself to the position of losing cool points, or at least the few that I hope I may still hold in his eyes, to ask him what the heck it meant. But it brings to mind a challenge that I have already faced in my calling and in some very recent experiences that I would trust many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have encountered as well.
This issue is the task of trying to communicate the gospel in a way that is both appealing and understandable. Sadly enough I have found this to be a great challenge at times. Surely some people altogether reject the confrontational truths of the gospel, namely that of their sinful state and helplessness in being redeemed apart from the work of Christ. But that is not exactly the issue which I aim to confront. Rather it is the issue of clarity. An issue which surprisingly and painfully I have found to be very true in my own attempts of sharing the gospel. I have become very guilty of using terms or words which have in a religious manner become just as confusing as my little brothers “Yo, I totally J’d four 3’s today.”
Of course the Holy Spirit is never too quick to both illuminate scripture to my benefit and convict me of such issues.
In (1 Corinthians 1:17) Paul is exhorting the church of Corinth for some very foolish division that has arose, and hitting the nail that is this issue which I am appealing to, directly on the head. Paul writes, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” I think it’s first important for me to emphasize the truth that the power of the cross lies not within anyone’s ability to eloquently proclaim it, but in Christ’s partaking of it. This hit me hard on my first trip out of the country where I was given the awesome opportunity to preach the gospel to numerous folks through a translator as well as preach over the radio. (I make note of this not to brag of my accomplishments or “good deeds”, but to magnify the truth that a life pursuing God’s will is anything but boring. If you don’t believe me, go read the bible. I mean literally pick it up and read it, don’t just listen to someone preach it or talk about it.) This proved to be much more difficult to me than I ever expected. Due to the language difference I had to simplify my content, and simplify, and simplify, to the point of realizing that I was placing more trust in my wisdom and rhetorical skills, which are a joke, than in simply proclaiming the truth of Scripture. I guess I had become guilty of aiming to make much more of my abilities than the cross, which is a dangerous and obviously meaningless pursuit that I am more than thankful the Lord in His grace has opened my eyes to.
I guess more than a simple confession of my own faults my aim in writing this is to encourage those who have a desire to see lives transformed by the gospel. I know evangelism is sometimes just difficult. But certainly in our hopes we cannot remain content with not partaking in this beautiful story of redmeption God has joined us to Himself in because of opposition and frustration. For the gospel is all that I have. Or as Mark Driscoll puts it, I am a band with one song. I consider it my job security in pursuing the calling God has placed on my life. Which incidentally leaves me a bit discouraged at the number of pastors I hear that end up sounding more like Dr. Phil or a salesman than the apostle Paul. I will say this, the gospel doesn’t need a sales pitch. To claim that the gospel is a means to anything other than God Himself is to proclaim a false gospel. Or as my boy Lecrae puts it, “God is the gospel, not a new Bentley. Was empty, He gave me life and that’s plenty.”
So I guess my encouragement is really not of my own words but the words of the apostle Paul as he continued to write to the church of Corinth in (1 Corinthians 2:1-5) “1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” True faith rests not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God through a demonstration of the Spirit. This has become to me a most freeing truth, considering the fact that I had placed my utmost dependence upon my speech rather than a moving of the Holy Spirit. It has given me a confidence far greater than I could ever have in myself and revealed to me the importance and beauty of the Spirits work in salvation.
So as you seek to spread the good news, be encouraged to know that the Holy Spirit is our hope. This powerful and beautiful member of the Godhead who Jesus claimed to be of greater advantage to us than His very own presence. (John 16:7–9) “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me”