If Jesus Came To McDowell County

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 ESV)

If Jesus came to McDowell County I am convinced he would not call a meeting of local pastors. I don’t think he would attend a Wednesday night prayer service or Sunday morning worship. I don’t think he would make house calls to long-time church members.

However…

I think he would go to McDowell County jail, talk with an anxious inmate awaiting trial, confront his sin and invite him to follow Him.

I think he might go to McDowell High School, eat lunch with students and share how he is the sum total of all their longings and desires.

I think he would knock on the door of a single mom, rock her child to sleep and tell her how he can fill her lonely heart.

I think he would intercept the drug dealer (he may pull out the whip on this one!), confront him with his sin and invite him to become a fisher of men.

I think he would head to Mount Mitchell, look down on McDowell County, and weep over the 65% who are lost.

But Jesus isn’t coming to McDowell County. He sent you. He sent me.

5 Symptoms of a Contagious Christian

contagiousIn 2014 fear struck West Africa and the rest of the world with the outbreak of the ebola virus. Officials scrambled to get a handle on this monstrous disease. Thousands died as the virus spread quickly. The ebola virus is spread through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids. The danger lies in the reality someone isn’t contagious until they begin to show symptoms. By then it is often too late. They have already infected another person.

What if Christianity were that contagious. What if the news reports of West Africa and Western North Carolina included stories of how Christianity was spreading rapidly, thousands being converted as they come into direct contact with other believers. What “symptoms” are necessary for Christianity to once again be an outbreak? Here’s my list:

  1. Passion.  So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:39-42 ESV) The apostles rejoiced that they were beaten for preaching the gospel!
  2. Compassion.  And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36 ESV) Jesus was touched to the spleen (the word “compassion” is derived from the word “spleen”) by the harassed people around him.
  3. Mission.   And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:48-49 ESV) Jesus looked at his earthly mom and dad and told them he had to follow his heavenly Father. He was a boy on a mission even at the age of 12.
  4. MessageAnd I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 ESV) John Newton stated this succinctly, “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.”
  5. Method.  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 ESV) There was a method to Paul’s madness. Every effective ministry has an effective method. While the message never changes, the methods must change.

If you were examined by the Center for Disease Control for being a contagious Christian, would you have all the symptoms?

Why Lebron James Works so Hard

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)

lebronjames23Last night the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in an overtime thriller. It is quite an accomplishment to beat the Warriors in their own house, especially without the assistance (or literally assists) of Kyrie Irving. It was an impressive win. James had 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. The Cavs won game 18 of their last 20. What a game!

When we watch games we’re only privy to a sliver of the action–what we don’t see is the daily regimen athletes endure. Paul, writing here of the Greek games in his day, says every athlete exercises self-control in all things. Athletes in the ancient games were required to practice 10 months (and no nothing else but practice) before the games. Today, athletes prepare four years before the Olympics. Sometimes that preparation is for a 10 second sprint in the 100 meter. At other times it is for the best attempt at the triple jump. Four years is condensed into 18 feet!

They do it to obtain a perishable wreath. In Paul’s day the “medal” was a wreath made of leaves. It withered and died. Today it is a gold, silver, or bronze medallion. It will one day melt when the earth is consumed in fire. It is perishable too. Lebron is playing for another championship ring–two are not enough. How serious is he? Recently he shared his daily diet routine:

  • Meal 1 (6.25am): Whole wheat bagel with 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1/2 cup of strawberries, 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • Meal 2 (9.30 am): 1-cup orange juice, 1 banana, 1 scoop protein power with 1 cup of milk (low fat).
  • Meal 3 (12 noon): Lean roast beef with whole-wheat bun. Lettuce, tomato, 2 tablespoons of mustard, low fat cheddar cheese, and a 1-cup milk (low fat).
  • Meal 4 (2.30 pm): 1/2 cup blueberries, 1-cup low fat natural yogurt, 1/2 glass milk, and one granola bar.
  • Meal 5 (5.00 pm): 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup milk, 1 cup orange juice, an 1 cup low fat strawberry yoghurt (with or without 1.2 tablespoon of honey)
  • Meal 6 (8.30 pm): 11/2 cup small broccoli, 1/2 cup rice, 1/3 cup orange juice, 3 oz chicken breasts, sliced water chestnuts (4 ounces) and 1.2 tablespoon virgin oil

Now you’re feeling bad about that doughnut you just finished eating.

Paul says that we compete for an imperishable wreath. Our wreath is not our entry into heaven. It isn’t even hearing God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It is others. Don’t miss this. He says, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” In verse one Paul called the Corinthian believers his workmanship and the seal of his apostleship.

If you’re a parent of teenagers, they are your imperishable wreath. If you’re an employer, your employees are your imperishable wreath. Teachers…students. Coaches…athletes. Doctors…patients.  Neighbors…neighbors. You get the picture.

Do they matter to you as much as a third championship ring to Lebron?