The Main Thing

Does it get any clearer than when Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost?” That is about as “to the point” as you can get. Jesus left the glory and splendor of it all to come to earth in order to bring salvation to all who would accept what he freely offers.

So, if we are His followers and we are His church, what should be our purpose and passion in life? Should it be any different than that of our Leader? Should not the main thing in our life also be helping “lost” people find forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ? I think so.

One of the most moving times in the life of Jesus is described in Matthew 9:36-37, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

The problem was crowds of people who were wondering around lost. The need was more people involved in the harvest, helping them find the shepherd. And the place to begin was with praying for more workers for the harvest field.

I would invite you to consider two things as we enter a new year of opportunity, when it comes to being the follower of Jesus you are expected and called to be.

1. Begin to pray daily for more workers for the harvest, more people who are passionate about what Jesus is passionate about, seeing lost people saved. And at the same time be willing to pray, “Lord, let it begin with me.”

2. Consider getting more involved in the harvest field as we begin a new fresh year for God. Is there anything that would please God more? Here are a few simple suggestions on how you can ramp up your harvest field involvement.

A. Writes the names of two or three people who are not Christians on a card and begin praying daily for them. Pray for a desire to develop and grow within them for God.

B. Builds bridges to unsaved people by looking for ways to serve them. Be willing to move out of your comfort zone. Their eternity is worth it.

C. Be open to discussing spiritual issues with them in a non-threatening and non-judgmental way when the opportunity arises. And opportunities will arise if you really care about them and are serving them out of authentic love.

D. Invites them to church services and environments where they can meet other Christ followers and hear teaching from the Bible that will meet their needs and begin to open their hearts.

This is serious stuff. How can I impress upon you how serious it is? Eternity hangs in the balances. You are God’s person for unique situations that involve the people God has brought into your life.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Wouldn’t it be awesome if when 2010 comes to an end you can look back and identify one or two people who came to Christ during the year where you were a main player in the process because you were committed to the main thing? God wants to work through you in awesome ways this year.

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It just blows my mind.

When I think of the vastness and the awesomeness of the universe it blows my mind. Astronomers tell us that there are as many as 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy and that there are as many as 350 billion galaxies out there the size of our galaxy. That just blows my mind.

Just this week the United States sent up the new WISE rocket that is designed to see farther out into the expanse of space than we have ever seen before. And guess what they are going to find, more and more galaxies the size of our Milky Way. The vastness of it blows my mind.

And what blows my mind even more is that there is a God that is so awesome and powerful that He spoke it all into existence. In the beginning of Genesis it says, “The LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” (Gen 2:4) In six days He made it all and then rested.

But what blows my mind most of all is that the God who made it all decided to become one of us and be born as a baby in a stable about 2000 years ago. That’s what Christmas is all about. Can we even begin to fathom that? Our mind just isn’t capable to conceive it all, but He did in spite of our ability to understand it all.

Why? Why would the creator of it all be born as a baby in a place called Bethlehem? I don’t know all the reason but I think I do know a couple. One was so that we could know first hand what God is really like. He is no longer just a cosmic force somewhere out there in time and space. He became one of us so we can know Him personally.

He also left all of glory to walk this earth so that he could provide a way for us to be forgiven of all our sins and spend all of eternity with Him in a place called heaven. That just blows my mind. I am still amazed at the wonder of it all. In fact, I am more amazed by the wonder of it all than at any point in my life.

Do you know how that makes me feel? It makes me want to live the rest of my life with a passion to please the one who created it all. It makes me more determined than ever to trust in Him and serve Him out of absolute gratitude for what he has done for me.

It just blows my mind.

Do You Really Love Your Children?

Then pay close attention to the following. It seems too good to be true.

What if I told you there was a well-researched and statistically proven program that on average can:

  • increase the average life expectancy of your children by 8 years
  • significantly reduce your child’s use and risk from Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs
  • dramatically lower their risk of suicide
  • help them rebound from depression 70% faster
  • dramatically reduce their risk for committing a crime
  • improve their attitude at school and increase their school participation
  • reduce their risk for rebelliousness
  • reduce the likelihood that they would binge drink in college
  • improve their odds for a “very happy” life
  • provide them with a life-long moral compass
  • get them to wear their seatbelts more often
  • and statistically improve the odds that they will lead an active church life in their adults years

Is there such a program?

Yes, there is.

And it is supported by research from Duke University, Indiana University, The University of Michigan, The Center for Disease Control, Barna Research Group, and the National Institute for Healthcare Research.

How much would a program like this be worth to you? What if I told you it was free, and only took about an hour or two a week. Take a look at the list again. It’s not a dream.

The program is called “active church participation.”

In study, after study, after study, children who actively and consistently engage in a church on a regular basis are rewarded with SIGNIFICANTLY reduced likelihood of problems and risks, and significantly improved odds of a happier, healthier, longer life. These studies show the same results for adults as well.

And numerous surveys, including a 2009 Survey by the Barna Research Group, continue to show a strong statistical connection between a young person being “active” in the life of a church and being active when they are adults. (Read Barna’s 2009 survey on the long term effects of active participation).

To increase the odds of receiving these results, you can’t wait. According to a Barna Research Group study, adults who attended church regularly as children are nearly three times as likely to be attending a church today as their peers who avoided church during childhood (61% to 22%, respectively). In other words, parents who truly want the best for their children should get their children involved at church now and regularly.

Our secular culture has taken up preaching “parents (as) the anti-drug,” promoting D.A.R.E. programs, school uniforms, afterschool programs, and athletics as solutions to various ills. And yet, a whole host of problems plaguing young people have only become worse over the last 30 years. Perhaps not so coincidentally, church attendance has fallen over that same period. The latest tremor to rock the “what works” lobby has been several studies that indicate D.A.R.E. and its 700 million dollar budget doesn’t work.

Participating in a church stimulates intellectual, social and spiritual development. Church life provides many young people with an extended family. It teaches children and youth to develop their internal life, which is a proven stress-reliever. Church offers supervised peer groups, and interaction with role models. Church life allows children to see their parents demonstrating their values and engaging the world outside of the home. Church life causes them to manage their priorities and challenges them to lead less self-centered lives. Lessons, sermons, Bible passages and programs open up young people to a world of ideas. All of these things (and more) highlight the impact of the “village” in raising a child, …not to mention the life benefits from knowing God.

In a search for “what works,” researchers keep turning up “active participation” in a “faith community” as the one consistent potent factor in raising up children in the way they should go. It’s time for our church to speak up on this matter, beginning with our parents.

Jesus once said, “What parent, knowing that it is bread that really works, would give their child a stone?”

To view the sources of these statistics, visit http://www.sundaysoftware.com/stats.htm