Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Give me one good reason. That phrase has often served as my mantra over the years. As an unswerving pragmatist, I've always been compelled to seek a WHY for every WHAT. I don't mind doing the most menial tasks if there is a good reason why.

I've never lost this pragmatic perspective in my involvement with the church, the body of Christ. Perhaps, to the annoyance of others, I've often sounded like a little child, forever asking, "why?'. Mindless rituals and traditions have little appeal to someone like me who needs a good reason for everything. So, it comes as a breath of fresh air when I can read purposeful statements such as this:

"I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)

In one short verse, Paul answers a couple of my pressing 'why's'. "Why did you write this letter, Paul?" "For you to know how to live as a member of the church, the body of Christ." "Why is there a church anyway?" "To support and exemplify truth."

With the great purpose statement of verse 15 in mind, the rest of 1 Timothy 3 makes far more sense. Most of the chapter is about qualifications of elders and deacons - church leaders - and those qualifications are mostly about character. Ultimately, these are essential qualifications for all believers - people of character who support truth in word and deed.

If I understand Paul's words here, then, our purpose is that of being a people of truth. Truth is to be total life integration, in how we live and what we say. We become "the pillar and support of the truth" as people of integrity and character.

I have a long way to go in my journey toward this high ideal, but at least I have a compelling 'why'. Overcoming character flaws is a worthy pursuit if the goal is to be a "pillar and support of the truth."

May we each press on in pursuit of this worthy goal.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let's make a pact to change the world. That sounds like a tall order, doesn't it? But here's the scoop on how we'll do it: we will made this the number one, top-of-the-list prayer request, and act accordingly as we are led. And here is what we'll pray:

"Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you" (2 Thessalonians 3:1).

In a nutshell, the prayer request is that the word of the Lord will spread (run) rapidly and be glorified (honored). That's it; short and sweet. You and I will make a prayer pact to daily pray that the word of the Lord will run rapidly and be embraced and honored by many people. And then we'll be available to be used as the Lord sees fits to answer this prayer.

Several months ago the Lord placed a burden on my heart for this 2 Thessalonians 3:1 prayer request. I don't recall the circumstances, but I just know that He impressed it upon me enough that I wrote it down on my daily prayer list. And so I've been praying, and I find it to be consistent with other prayer priorities, such as "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10)

It's been exciting to see doors of opportunity opened as I've prayed this prayer. There have been more spiritual conversations with people; increased opportunities to write and share. And I've noticed more receptivity by people within my sphere of influence. The word of the Lord is running and being honored!

Now, this "word of the Lord" isn't just a generic phrase for the Bible in general. It's the "word of the kingdom" in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:19). It's the "gospel of God" (Mark 1:14-15; also, Luke 9:2,6). So, when we pray for "the word of the Lord" to run rapidly and be honored, it's important that we be specific in what that "word" is. We're praying for a very specific message to go forth and be embraced.

So, let's make a prayer pact to change the world according to the pattern of 2 Thessalonians 3:1. I would be especially blessed to hear from you concerning your involvement with this important request; just a short email to say, "praying 2 Thessalonians 3:1."

Expecting great things through united prayer,


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nothing is quite so near and dear to us as the sound of our name, especially when spoken lovingly by those nearest to us. Much as we love the sound of our name, I wonder how much it really reveals about our true self. Unlike ancient times, parents today generally select names for their children based on what's popular rather than what's descriptive. Although I've never discussed it with my parents, I doubt that they selected my name because it means "crown".

It recently occurred to me that every single member of the human race has a name that has been given to them. Our Creator and Father, however, has a name that He personally selected to identify Himself. Of all names, this one is most important because of Who it belongs to, and the meaning it conveys.

"And now this commandment is for you, O priests. 'If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to give honor to My name,' says the LORD of hosts, 'then I will send the curse upon you and I will curse your blessings; and indeed, I have cursed them already, because you are not taking it to heart.'" (Malachi 2:1-2)

Our Father places a premium on honoring His name. He clearly stated such in the Ten Commandments: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." (Exodus 20:7). That name, of which LORD is substituted, is pronounced, "Yahweh". Know that it refers to the One who uniquely is the self-existing One; the I AM. Speak it lovingly and reverently, with all the honor and respect due it. But above all, know that it is the name of the One who is your Father, through His Son - your Savior, Jesus the Christ.

How we give honor to His name is the solemn privilege and responsibility of all who know His name. Never speak it flippantly, but never deny that it is the true descriptive name of your Father. Do not dishonor it as the people of Israel did, to whom Malachi wrote. As those who bore His name, they largely dishonored the name through their conduct and behavior. Honoring His name is a matter of both speech and character.

I freely confess that I'm not certain as to how I specifically honor the name of my Father. But this much I do know: His name is not "God" or "LORD", but Yahweh. I sparingly speak and write this holy name out of respect, but I readily acknowledge that it is His true name. And I seek to honor The Name through my lifestyle, as one called by His name.

I delight to hear my name lovingly spoken. May we bring delight to our Father by calling Him by His name, and by honoring His name through how we live.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I know a lot more than I know what to do with, and I suspect you do too. That's the dilemma of the Christian life: acquiring knowledge is much easier than putting it in to practice. But, both are essential.

"Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude." (Colossians 2:6-7)

The apostle Paul admonishes his audience to take action; to walk in Christ as they have received Him. But, that admonition is based upon an important premise: they have been firmly rooted in Him, are currently being built up in Him, and established in their faith. Those who are well-grounded and growing are implored to walk; to move forward in living their faith. But, walking one's faith doesn't preclude further learning and grounding. It's not like a graduation commencement exercise, in which one leaves the training school behind and goes forward on their own. In the Christian life, we graduate AND take the training school with us - always. To "walk in Him", and be "built up in Him" are ongoing, present-tense actions.

From the vantage point of my life experience, I've seen two extremes: (1) poorly grounded believers who place a premium on living at the expense of learning, and; (2) cerebral, intellectual believers with a major disconnect between what they know and how they live. Obviously both extremes are dangerous and unproductive. The ideal balance is between being a lifelong learner and a lifelong " walker".

Two phases repeated in Colossians 2:6-7 really strike me: "in Him". Our walking and our grounding must be "in Him." Growth and lifestyle must be intricately linked to relationship with Christ.

So, let's cut to the chase: how personal are things between you and Jesus? Can you truly say that you are walking IN Him, and being built up IN Him? If He and I had a conversation about you right now, what would He say? Would He speak about intimate conversations that you both have had, or would name recognition be a challenge for Him? And, let's reverse it: if the two of you had a conversation about me, what would He say? Challenging questions!

Knowing, growing, and walking are all Christian imperatives, but they must absolutely be focused "in Him." Bible knowledge can become an end in itself, and a humanitarian lifestyle can lack biblical underpinnings.

May we be people with a zeal for lifelong living and learning "in Him."


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why is truth so tough? Maybe it all started with the first sin: our original ancestors were so terrorized by truth that they immediately embarked on a plan of cover up - literally. It seems like cover up and concealment has been the mode of operation ever since.

It's one thing to avoid the truth personally; it's quite another to withhold the benefit of truth from others. Bottom line: we all deserve the truth.

"'These are the things which you should do: speak the truth to one another; judge with truth and judgment for peace in your gates. " (Zechariah 8:16)

Truth is the standard for speech and decisions. Truth - as in honesty - is essential, but truth primarily in focus here is the absolute kind; God's unchanging truth. We are strongly urged - "These are the things you should do" - to make truth an integral part of our speech and decisions.

There is truth that God is apparently trying to impress upon me lately, because I seem to hear the same message from several sources. It seems like wherever I turn I'm hearing a word mentioned that I thought I understood: repent. This word, "repent", is one of those negative truth words that believers, preachers,and teachers seem to shy away from these days . In this age of political correctness, it's the wrong word to banter around because it reflects negatively on others; it suggests that something is wrong, and in need of change. But, the call the repent is a consistent and unchangeable theme in all of the Bible; no one is exempt. And it goes much deeper than we might realize; it's not just regret over sin (although that's certainly an important part of it), it's a call to completely reorient our way of thinking and living.

This truth about repentance is an inconvenient truth, but a truth we must speak to others out of compassion for them. Inconvenient or not, who am I to deprive someone I know of the opportunity to reorient their life around the life-changing truth of the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15)? They are entitled to the privilege of hearing and deciding.

Things God says I "should do" really get my attention. His "should do" list is more imperative than option. So, if I should "speak the truth to one another", then it needs to be the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That doesn't exempt the uncomfortable truth about repentance, that has always been an integral part of the truth of God.

May our motto today be, "caring enough to share all God's truth with all people we love".


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The older I get, the more I wonder where the time has gone. I have adult children who should still be toddlers, and I should still be the age they now are. Decades have passed as swiftly as a year used to pass. Someone slow it all down; it's moving way too fast!

Contrary to my perception, time passes no more quickly now than it ever did. From my vantage point in time, I more clearly see what I could not see during the years of youth: time is a precious, limited commodity that must be wisely invested.

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

While life seems like a fast foot race, it is better compared to a hike along a treacherous mountain trail, where every step needs to be carefully calculated to avoid a perilous misstep. The unwise person runs ahead carelessly; the wise person carefully measures every step. And, while we're using the walking illustration, life is no walk in the park. The "days are evil", so we must make full use of time while we have freedom to do that which is ultimately good.

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15). "The time is fulfilled" - an opportunity exists in the appropriateness of time. A season in time has arrived in which a new realm is available to those willing to see and accept it. Make the most of this time, because evil days can easily rob us of opportunity; even rob us of life.

How near is the minute hand on the clock to midnight? Are the final grains of sand now falling through the hourglass of our lives, or of this present age? Is the time remaining a few fleeting breaths, rather than the years and decades we might imagine are left? Sobering thoughts and questions, to be sure, but things wise people consider. This moment is THE moment, pregnant with possibilities. They may miscarry in the next moment, so now is the time. Seize the moment. Act on intention. Respond to the prompting. Redeem the time.

What prompting by God's Spirit is on your heart and mind as you read this? Don't ignore or postpone your response; act now, while you can. Pick up the phone. Send the email. Make the visit. Settle the dispute. Offer encouragement. Challenge a decision. If the Spirit is prompting, don't ignore it to your own peril. You and I have this moment, and possibly only this moment. Make the most of the time; invest it for the King and the kingdom of God.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Call it the law of language. We're not talking about proper use of nouns, verbs, and pronouns; it's much bigger than that. Extending beyond structure and form, it centers on purpose, and is best summarized in these words:

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." (Ephesians 4:29)

Gramatically, we can string together the right words and phrases, but spiritually we have done so only when they serve the purpose of upbuilding and edification. In other words, if they don't bless the hearer, the proper structure means very little.

I've strung together words and phrases that didn't even come close to meeting this spiritual criteria. But, as the old saying goes, like arrows spent, they cannot be retrieived. Like an undetected malicious letter bomb, once it is sent, the course of destruction has been determined.

Conversely, it has been tremendously gratifying and uplifting when words written or spoken have been a timely encouragement. These are times of being in step with Holy Spirit, and being obedient to the directive of Ephesians 4:29.

Timely and edifying speech is a discipline that requires effort, like anything worthwhile. But few goals are more noble, or more urgently needed in this negative age. We serve as "ambassadors of grace" through Spirit-directed use of our words.

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul welcomed those who came to them, and spoke of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Luke 9:11; Acts 28:30). Is there anything we have to share that is more edifying and timely than the good news of the kingdom? Reminding others of the hope, joy, peace, and blessings of the age to come surely ranks at the top of the list of appropriate, edifying words!

So, with that I have sought to edify and encourage you with these words today. My prayer in writing each time I sit down to keyboard is that they bless and encourage all who read them. Perhaps that goal has been achieved this day.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Monday, November 15, 2010

How long before there is justice and equality? Will it come about through the next government election? (don't hold your breath) Will social activism bring it to pass?

"Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In all the earth." (Zephaniah 3:19)

There is a time coming when all wrongs will be made right, and "that time" is a day of God's choosing. We hope for justice; even pray for it, but it ultimately comes in God's perfect time. And that time has already begun.

Acts three records the exciting miracle of the healing of a lame man by Peter and John, apostles of Jesus. This mighty miracle calls to mind these words from Zephaniah: "I will save the lame". For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, this miracle indicates that God has already begun "that day" in which He will deal with all oppressors. The day has not fully arrived, but it has begun.

Injustice and inequality, to some degree, is the lot of every human being; these are characteristic of this present age. The wealthy rob the poor. The powerful enact legislation to their advantage. The lender determines unfair terms for the desperate borrower. It's all enough to drive the most optimistic person to pessimism. But, the people of God see the rays of light of the New Day driving away the shadows and darkness of this day. The unjust gains of the wicked are far more fleeting than most people realize.

As those who live today with one foot in the coming kingdom, we seek to live according to its standards. Empowered by Holy Spirit, we "do justice and love mercy" (Micah 6:8). We are compelled by the "constitution" of our true government to practice it in a world that lives according to a radically different one. And, as we practice justice and mercy, we remind ourselves of the ultimate vindication to come.

How do we combat injustice and inequality? We battle it with the opposite. But, we don't take up causes for causes' sake; there would be no end. We "do justice" where we see it today as a witness of the true justice to come on that day.

People who live and practice the justice of the coming age are a compelling witness to the downtrodden in this age. May our Father grant us wisdom in how to best exemplify these precious qualities as we live and work today.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No question is more perplexing: why do bad things happen to good people? Perhaps no issue has kept more people from faith than this one. The reasoning goes that, if there is a God, He most certainly could prevent calamity.

The prophet Habakkuk raised these very questions and issues: "Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?" (Habakkuk 1:13). This gutsy prophet dared ask the hard questions on the hearts and minds of so many people. In particular, he saw the rise of a wicked and ruthless political dynasty that was destined to aggress against the people of God, and dared wonder how there could be justice in a more wicked people punishing the disobedient people of God.

Pat answers are hardly sufficient for such hard questions; only the very words of God will suffice. And it is God Himself who speaks to Habakkuk, and answers these hard questions with these words: "the righteous will live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4) So, it all boils down to faith, that quality without which it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). In the face of these troubling questions, simple faith is the only answer that makes any sense. Try to figure out life's injustices by your own reasoning, and it's a recipe for insanity. The best conclusion to be reached will be that of the hardened cynic: life is hard, and then you die.

Amidst Habakkuk's challenging questions is a question that provides insight into a true answer: "Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die." (Habakkuk 1:12). If Yahweh God is everlasting, and He is my God and my Holy One, then will I indeed perish forever? Hardly. To truly know the Holy and everlasting One is to experience the grace of the life of the age to come through His Son, our Savior Jesus. Amidst the perplexing issues of injustice and unjust suffering is this constant: the Self-Existing One, without beginning or end. If there is One who transcends the incongruity of this age, then there is hope for justice and equality in an age to come.

I've served as a pastor long enough to be thoroughly immersed in the pain and unjust suffering that is characteristic of life in this age. The temptation to cynicism and unbelief is very real and strong, but today faith holds on to the Eternal One. And, by His grace, it will hold on tomorrow. And the next day. And every day until faith becomes sight. And, through faith, it already IS sight. Through eyes of faith, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap, and the mute speaks (Isaiah 35:5-6). I know One who displayed that reality through His miracles, and gave me a glimpse of the reality to come that overshadows the unjust reality of this day.

I can see it now when I look up, instead of around. I see a new world coming from above, and faith lets me live now with one foot in that bright new world. I pray that you live now in the reality to come as well.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Imagine starting up a new business with a drug dealer for a partner. Or maybe a pimp. Ludicrous, you say? Absolutely. What decent, honest Christian in their right mind would consider, even for a moment, forming a business alliance with someone so vile?

"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14)

There's nothing wrong with hanging out with the wrong crowd if evangelism is our priority. We literally are in good company if we do so, because that's the company Jesus often kept. But, being "bound" to unbelievers in contractual ways (marriage, business partnerships, etc.) is another matter. The contrast is as stark as righteousness versus lawlessness, light versus darkness. There is no commonality for partnership.

"Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. 'Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,' says the Lord. 'AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.'" (2 Corinthians 6:16-17)

It's a serious matter for God's temple to enter into an unholy alliance with the world's shrines. And that's where things get uncomfortably personal. Is it possible that we've already formed such partnerships?

The world is a type of Babylon, and its tentacle reach extends further than we likely realize. At its core it is decidedly anti-christian and anti-God. Its values permeate the entertainment and information industry, as well as the business and economic sector. Revelation eighteen describes the future destruction of the Babylonian system, and its multi-faceted business and spiritual realm is all-encompassing. Remaining free of partnership with this system is a formidable challenge. Thus we have the urgent call of God, whose temple we are: "'COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,' says the Lord. 'AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.'"

Separation has always been the challenge for believers in every age; the only difference for us is that our Babylon is uniquely high-tech. The beckoning glow of the screen, monitor, or display seems innocent enough, but the invitation to alliance is as unholy as it always has been.

The challenge before us is to evaluate all our contracts, and critique our partnerships. Difficult as it might be, if we've signed on the line with Babylon, we must break contract. But we do have the inner presence of the owner of the temple to assist with these difficult decisions.

May we have the courage and determination to truly live in the world as temples of the True and Living God.


© 2010, Steve Taylor

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Extreme Home Makeover is a popular television show about a deserving family getting a new home. In most cases, the home the needy family lives in is in horrific condition - foundation crumbling, roof caving in, major plumbing and/or electrical problems. The dilapidated home is leveled and replaced with a stunning new structure, especially suited to their needs.

Similarly, I've got a home in need of an extreme makeover. I won't go into all the details as to what is wrong, but time is taking a toll. In fact, if something isn't done, it will eventually suffer a similar fate as the old homes on the popular television program.

"For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life." (2 Corinthians 5:1-4)

The house is really a tent, and its descriptive of our declining mortal bodies. Anyone over forty can especially relate to the groaning that goes on in this old house in its process of decay. But thankfully there's more in focus here - "if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Believers have a building from God, and we're not talking about any old house. This house is one built by a divine carpenter, and safely kept in a heavenly storeroom. And all the houses are there, ready to be distributed to all the occupants at the same time. All the closing papers will be simultaneously signed, faster than you can blink an eye. But that closing hasn't happened yet; it's scheduled for a day called resurrection day, and no one understood the priority and details of that resurrection day better than the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15).

According to Paul, there is a fate worse than living in a decaying old home - homelessness. Actually, Paul has switched illustrations here from housing to clothing, and indicates that nakedness is worse than being clothed in our mortal bodies. He's not referring to a disembodied existence (an impossibility), but rather the ultimate nakedness - not having an immortal resurrection body. To be naked, then, is to be lost and doomed to destruction.

So, what's the point to all this talk about housing and clothing? Simply the fact that what we now have is temporary, and it's inevitably going to decay and wear out. Exercise and anti-aging cosmetics and treatments might temporarily slow it a bit, but ultimately an extreme makeover is needed. And one is coming; possibly in the not-too-distant future. Meanwhile, though, creaks and groans characterize life in this old house.

If declining physical condition is the only reality, we have plenty to be miserable about as we age. But, praise God, the true reality is an existence we can scarcely imagine now. Through faith's eye (2 Corinthians 5:7), we see tomorrow's reality today, and begin to live in it.

May you abundantly experience inner renewal today amidst the reality of mortal existence.

© 2010, Steve Taylor

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

They are The Big Three, and we're not talking auto makers. They are front and center, top of the list expectations for every person - no exceptions. They apply to every situation, every time, and in every place. They are three absolutes you can go to the bank on. They are God's ultimate to-do list for you and me.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

The Big Three expectations are listed in the form of a question; much like the expected responses on a popular television game show. The reason for the question is to call to mind what God has already revealed. "Don't you remember what I told you I expected? Haven't we been down this road before? Is it really all that hard to remember these three essentials?" Perhaps the problem is not remembering, but doing.

Do justice. Don't just wish for it, or hope for it; be an active participant in it. So, does that mean we storm the judicial system, and take captive the courtroom? If so, we're likely destined for entanglement with it, but not in a positive or productive way. No, instead we act out the justice of the age to come in this age. We aid the weak, poor, and oppressed. Ultimately, we bring the justice of the gospel message (Acts 8:12) to all who desperately need it.

Love kindness and mercy. Have a passionate affair with undeserved and unexpected favor for and to all people. Commit random acts of kindness daily. Generously forgive those who maliciously or carelessly wrong you.

Walk humbly with your God. You don't deserve a place at His side, but savor the privilege that the sacrifice of His Son affords you. Stroll through life with your hand in His, and never cease to be amazed that He is there, and involved. When the temptation of pride begins to well up inside, remember your humble origins - dust and dirt, animated by His life-giving breath. The abilities and capabilities that might be a source of pride are His too; all on loan.

Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God. That's it, short and sweet. And yet there is a lifetime of discovery and application in these simple words. Life is the laboratory where these principles are put into practice.

Do ... love ... walk; notice how His requirements are concise action steps. These are not concepts left to be philosophically pondered in the classroom; they are to be walked out in the real situations of life - work, school, family, neighborhood, and church.

We've heard it before, and likely we'll hear it again. God HAS TOLD us (past tense) what is good. So why bring it up again? Maybe because He is waiting for action on our part. It's like the preacher who preached the same sermon Sunday after Sunday; he claimed he'd move on to something else once everyone acted upon what he had been saying.

May our world see a kingdom of justice, kindness, and humility through its citizens who live according to these standards.

© 2010, Steve Taylor

Monday, November 01, 2010

If you speak it, they will listen. Not everyone, of course, but there are plenty who will not only listen, but who will wholeheartedly respond.

"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!'" (Romans 10:14-15)

Call this the age of willingness. Our Father and Creator, and His Son, the Lord Jesus, are extremely willing to extend grace, mercy, forgiveness and hope - "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'" (Romans 10:12-13). And there are plenty of people who are willing to respond to the offer of the Willing Ones. The challenge, then, is to match the willing ones with the Willing Ones (does that make sense?). But, none can call on One they don't believe in. And they can't believe in the One they've haven't heard about. And they can't hear unless someone tells. And no one can tell unless they've been sent to tell. Which is where we come in: we're the ones called to do the telling.

Now, the need for called messengers is vitally important, but equally important is the message to be shared. An unclear or inaccurate message cannot be fully effective. So, it's important to communicate that the Willing Ones are not really a singular three-in one essence (I'm not sure anyone truly understands how that is possible, but nearly every church insists that believing so is essential to the salvation plan; a confusing tragedy!). And the gracious offer is not pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die, but endless life on a renewed earth governed by perfect leadership (after all, how else will the meek inherit the earth? Matthew 5:5).

If we're called to proclaim, we're also called to prepare. Carefully learn the content of the gracious offer, and then speak it to all who will listen. There's a good possibility that a willing one is ready today to hear about the Willing Ones through the message you are entrusted to share.

Blessings on all whom you share with today!


© 2010, Steve Taylor