Let the Gospel Shine

Jessica Carney —  November 14, 2012

From the title of this post, it probably brings up a mental picture of a burst of light through the clouds, or maybe over the mountains.  In the message of the gospel, often described as light overcoming the darkness, we can picture the glory of God overcoming sin and death in a beautiful picture.  But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, look at the picture below:

It is not anything to look at.  It is a not pretty color, it is not a collector’s piece in fact it is an ordinary, broken, and inexpensive clay pot.  Paul speaks of our lives as jars of clay in 2 Corinthians 4:5 – 12.  In this passage, Paul speaks about proclaiming the gospel, which has shone in our hearts by beholding the light of God in the face of Jesus.  In other words, he is saying God has shone the light in our hearts exposing how wicked and dark they are, but Jesus is the light and the way to know God.

The beauty of God comes in Jesus, and he puts his light in jars of clay.  Jars of Clay back then was not a band, but inexpensive, everyday, common, nothing to look at, but used to carry liquid from one place to another.  If it broke, it was worthless; you threw it out, and would get a new one.  The above picture is us before God:  broken, nothing to look at, common, people.  But God, who is rich in mercy, doesn’t see us this way.  He sent the light of the gospel, his son Jesus, to restore the broken, to make what was common uncommon and holy.

Paul goes on to talk about being persecuted but not forsaken, being struck down, but not destroyed.  Paul’s jar of clay had taken some abuse, it was cracked on the outside, but in his weakness through the cracks in his life the gospel was able to shine brightly.  God uses our broken lives so through our cracks the gospel can shine.  If we had no cracks, no weaknesses, we would not need God, but we know deep down we are cracked with our weaknesses breaking through to the surface.  In Jesus, we can allow him to shine through our cracks instead of seeking to cover them.  We can embrace our weaknesses because when we are weak God is seen to be strong.  We need to embrace our cracks, our weaknesses, and stop trying to cover them. For those in Christ, he already died for these things.  So now, we can use trials, suffering, and weaknesses as opportunities to let the gospel shine in our lives.   So, are you simply trying to cover your own cracks, or will you let the gospel shine through your cracked jar of clay?

 

-Clay Adkisson, 501 Pastor

Clay is the 501 Young Adults pastor here at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock.

Jesus Desires Disciples

Jessica Carney —  October 4, 2012

Jesus could draw a crowd, but he was not interested in just attracting a crowd.  He was interested in making disciples not simply converts.  The American Church could learn a lesson from Jesus.  In John 6, Jesus feeds the five thousand then walks across the water at night to get to the other side because the disciples had gone ahead of him.  The next day the crowd is looking for Jesus.  When they find him, they ask him how he got there knowing the disciples had gone ahead of him.  Here is Jesus response, 26Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”  

They see he is not going to answer their question, but has answered a deeper question and longing.  The people ask how to be doing the works of God, and Jesus responds believe in the one he sent. Then the people ask for him a sign…he just feed 5,000 people yesterday…these very people.  They want another meal.  They want their physical needs taken care of, but are missing the point that Jesus wants to address.  Jesus is speaking to their deeper need of the spiritual nature.  Jesus has come to give them much more than a meal, but a way to be feed always.  They ask him for this bread.  Jesus response is,35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”  

The people grumbled against him.  He is not going to give them what they want, but he wants to give them what they need.  The Church today need to take note of what Jesus is doing.  He is not catering to the crowd, but trying to point them to himself, the true bread from heaven, and the one they really need to feed them.  Churches today cater to people who have no idea what they need.  They think they need this or that, and if we don’t give it to them they threaten to leave.  Here is what Jesus told the crowd, 47Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  I am the one you need Jesus says.  I am the bread from heaven, and in me you will be full satisfied.  If you want this bread, you are going to have to eat this bread.  Jesus is saying I am going to give up my body for you on a Roman cross, my body, and my blood sacrifice will give you life.  It is what you need.

“53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, youhave no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”  Jesus wants to feed them a meal that will last forever, a meal that gives life now and in the life to come.  This is a hard saying. Jesus is not catering to the crowd, but he is trying to lovingly point them to what they really need: Life found in him that lesser things could never bring.  Here is the crowds response,  66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Many in the crowd who had been following Jesus getting their immediate needs meet don’t like it when Jesus doesn’t do what they want him to.  They don’t like it when he challenges why they are following him, and they don’t see he is trying to give them true life.  However, his true disciples stay.  They believe even when it is hard, and even when they don’t fully understand what Jesus is doing that he is the one who has the words of life…that he is the Holy One of God.

Don’t be afraid to learn this lesson from Jesus.  Don’t just attract a crowd, but make disciples by God’s grace in Christ.  Give them what they don’t know they need: Jesus.  Even when it is hard, it is good for them, and what God has called us to do.  Give them the true bread, the true drink that will satisfy their souls forever that will give them life now and forever. If the crowds leave, don’t worry about it, see who is left and build on them.  Jesus desires true disciples not just a crowd of people.  If we seek to honor God and seek him above man, he will bless our ministries.  It just might be a different blessing than we even imagined.

-Clay Adkisson, 501 Pastor

Clay is the 501 Young Adults pastor here at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock.

Our Meeting Place

Will Crawford —  May 8, 2012

When I was six, my parents went through an ugly divorce. Through a series of events, my older sister and I went to live with my father. For the next number of years nearly every weekend we would travel over an hour away and meet my mother so that we could spend the weekend together. Several things are etched in my mind from that time. On an impressionable 6 year old, that probably isn’t surprising. I can remember some of those events like it was yesterday. One of the things I can still see is the meeting place where we were exchanged between our parents. It was a simple rest stop on the outskirts of a small town called Walton New York.  I am sure there were other places we could have met but this place had a quiet serenity about it that did not seem to equal the turmoil of our lives. It was located along the Delaware river bank where large trees hugged the soil. I remember some picnic tables there as well. The kind of place people might pull off the road and have some lunch.  It was our meeting place and for as many years as we made that exchange that is where we met.

This morning I read a statement that brought those memories back to mind. It was a simple statement made by D.A Carson and Timothy Keller which seemed simple enough and yet so incredibly profound. “(Jesus is) the great meeting place between God and sinful human beings.” Because of our sinfulness we have no way to enter into relationship with a holy and sinless God. In fact in that state the Bible calls us ’enemies’ of God.   But here is the good news! “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10.   Jesus then is our great meeting place. In him we have the peace and assurance of forgiven sin because he took upon himself the wrath of God for our sin. We can now come with great confidence to God because of Jesus (Heb. 4:16). God now meets with us, not seeing our sin and wrong doing but rather seeing the perfection and sinlessness of Jesus who traded his life for ours.

Jesus is and always will be our meeting place with God. No matter how long this journey is or where God in this journey takes us, this truth will always remain the same. All contact we have with God, all the relationship that we have and enjoy, meets in one place and through one person, Jesus the Christ! Truly he is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to God the Father but through (him)”( John 14:6).  Let the Treasure of Jesus become even more precious to you today!

All over the news this morning was the story about a speech on bullying given by Dan Savage founder of the ‘It Gets Better Project’. The audience, for this speech, was the very people Savage says he is trying to reach, high school students. During the speech Savage went on a rant about the offensiveness of the Bible and how it is used for bigotry towards the gay community. He suggested, in his expletive laced rant, that the Bible should be ignored and pushed aside so to speak. Let me remind you all of this was spoken before a crowd of high school students some of who profess to be Christians and embrace the Bible as the inspired and inerrant Word of God. Several of these same students got up and walked out of the auditorium where Savage was giving his speech. Continue Reading…

A couple a weeks ago Newsweek advertised, on their front cover, an article titled ‘Forget the Church, Follow Jesus’.  I guess at its core it doesn’t sound like a bad idea. We really are called to follow Jesus and not the Church as an institution.  However, the Church does have an important role to play in our lives as followers of Christ and that truth should not be minimized. Continue Reading…

Just Enough Jesus?

Will Crawford —  March 21, 2012

I read this statement today off a Southern Church’s website…

“If you grew up in the US – especially the south – Jesus and the church may well have been the white noise you learned to tune out. A lot of us have been inoculated against Jesus. We take our shots for measles and mumps and a vaccine against Jesus while we’re at it. We hear just enough to think we understand Him from televangelists and earnest (but sometimes misguided small town) Sunday school teachers. We are given diluted versions of the Son of Man; getting just enough to make it nearly impossible for us to fully experience Him.”

How do you respond to that? Do you think it’s true in general? Maybe a more penetrating question is this.’Is it true of you?’

Do you have just enough of Jesus to inoculate you from allowing Him to do the radical life change in you He desires?

With the internet and social media at the finger tips of nearly every one of us there is really no longer any excuse for any one not to be involved in Christ’s global kingdom! Whether we are doing something as simple as inviting someone to watch church with us online, (Yes, every week there is an service online at 11:00am that you can invite people to watch by simply updating your Facebook status on our page), or are involving yourself in using the internet to connect with missionaries, or to pray for those who have a need, the opportunity to be involved has never been more available.

So why aren’t more of us doing this? I think it is often because we just don’t know or maybe haven’t cared enough to understand how this incredible resource can be harnessed to further the causes and kingdom of Jesus.  I am afraid, far too often for many Christians, it is because they are so out of date and still want to argue points and ask questions that no one else even cares about any more. I still hear people asking whether there can be real community formed on the internet or if it is even right that people should be trying to create ‘church’ with this medium. Folks, whether you like it or not, it is happening with or without you.  You can step into it and use it for good or you can continue to argue needless points and keep your head in the sand. This medium of communication isn’t going away! Those of us who are involved with it and are trying to create something God honoring from it have long since passed these questions by. Many of these questions have been answered. Yes, real community and even ‘Church’ can happen online and the ways you can get involved and be a part of it are endless.

Right now as I type this, an Iranian Pastor named Yousef Nadarkhani sits in an Iranian jail after being convicted for being a Christian. His crime is that he will not renounce Christianity and therefore has turned his back on Islam.  The sentence was handed down last week; he is to be executed! So what could you do about this event unfolding thousands of miles away? You could pray. The internet has given us minute by minute updates on this situation. You can find the information right in front of you. So be informed and pray. There are countless stories talking about this pastor’s faith and his wife and children who are calling out to God for his safe release. There are videos and news stories. Why not post these to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and let other people know what is going on.  (http://video.foxnews.com/v/1476884757001/fierce-struggle-underway-to-save-life-of-iranian-christian/?playlist_id=86857)

You don’t have to be a Christian to believe that religious freedom is something worthy of being upheld anywhere in the world. This is a humanitarian case. Share it with others and encourage them to share it with others. Tweet and re-tweet;  Post and re-post. Send an email to the head of Iran’s judiciary (I have).

( http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=88&ea.campaign.id=13092&forwarded=true)

Maybe, if enough of us do, the Iranian government will change it’s position on this. If this past year has shown us anything, it is the power of social media to bring about change.

It’s time for us to harness the power of this resource and make a difference for good. Don’t just sit there anymore!

We often don’t think too much about Joseph’s role in the Christmas story but he had a huge part to play. Joseph, was most likely, a young man possibly in his late teens which would have been the expected time for a young man to marry.  Joseph was already pledged to be married to Mary.  For Jewish people at this time, a pledge was a serious commitment and normally took place up to a year before the actual wedding ceremony.  Scholars tell us that this period before marriage was known as a betrothal.  The Betrothal or pledge was a “formal prenuptial agreement before witnesses” and a legally binding contract.  At this moment gifts such as the dowry and bride price were exchanged.  The only way for this pledge to be broken after this point was through divorce.  And the couple, while still require to abstain from sexual intercourse, could be known as husband and wife. Continue Reading…

Life Unscripted

Will Crawford —  December 8, 2011

Have you ever considered Christmas from the perspective of those who lived it that first Christmas? It is relatively easy for us to look back and understand what was going on. We have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. I think because of this, we miss the anguish and uncertainty that Joseph and Mary were walking into. Besides, it isn’t that hard to handle uncertainly in other people’s lives; only our own, right? What if the message of that first Christmas, and those who played a part in that great script, became personal to us? What if, instead of us being asked to be observers in God’s Story, we were asked to be participants? Would we want to be a part of His story then? Continue Reading…

Continual Thankfulness

Will Crawford —  November 16, 2011

What one of us hasn’t sat around the Thanksgiving table packed with all the trimming and then had the matriarch or patriarch of the family say something like, “Okay, before we eat I want to go around the table and have everyone share one thing they are thankful for.”  The answers often end up being much the same, good health, family, our homes, friends, the country we live in or something like that.  These are great things for us to be thankful for. Indeed each one of these things is a gift from the hand of God. But allow me for a minute to challenge our thinking a bit. What would we say if the year that had just passed was one full of tragedy?  What would we say if a loved one had passed away, our own health had been severely challenged, we had lost our job, money was more than tight and we had to question where each meal was coming from. What if this year there was no ability to have a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimming at all? Frankly, most of us can’t even imagine and we may never have to imagine such a scenario in our lives but what if… Continue Reading…