Friday, December 29, 2006
Acts Brand Gospel-Some Assembly Required
The following story is a satirical attempt to spur you into study of how the apostles shared the Gospel, as recorded in the book of Acts.
Love in Christ,
I wanted to give my next-door neighbor just the right Christmas present, so I decided to give him a Gospel. Normally I buy religious presents at a store called Twentieth Century America, but that store is so crowded around Christmas that you can’t even find a parking spot. So I went down to the old Acts of the Apostles store the day before Christmas and picked up a do-it-yourself Gospel Kit (some assembly required). Back home again, I opened the box, got out all the pieces, and spread them on the floor of the garage. There was a book of instructions for how to assemble a Gospel, but I knew how to put one together without any help, as I had seen my preacher put them together many times before.
First, I decided to put on the “God loves you.” But I looked at the pieces, and there wasn’t one there. I shook the box upside down and looked inside it, but there was no “God loves you” anywhere in the Acts Gospel Kit. So, I reached up on the shelf and took down my New Believer Kit, which a pastor had given me for my birthday some years before. After blowing off the dust, tearing off the shrink-wrap, and opening the box, I saw that there were several “God loves you”s in there, so I took one out and stuck it on the front of my neighbor’s Gospel.
Second, I thought a “God has a wonderful plan for your life” would look nice right under the “God loves you.” Again I looked through the pieces, checked in the empty box, but still couldn’t find a “wonderful plan” piece. Well, I knew I had seen one somewhere, so I checked in the New Believer Kit, and, sure enough, there it was. I took it and put it on my neighbor’s Gospel right next to the “God loves you.”
I was beginning to think that this Gospel Kit was defective, but it was Christmas Eve, so I really needed to get it assembled for my neighbor.
The third piece I reached for was the “age of accountability.” By now I was not surprised that my defective Gospel Kit did not have this piece, either. I was surprised, though, that there wasn’t one in my New Believer Kit, either. I began to rummage through the pieces of the Gospel Kit looking for something that would fit in its place. There was an “original sin” part, and an “actual transgressor” piece, but I didn’t like how those looked. Well, I’m pretty handy with tools, so in no time I just fashioned my own “age of accountability” piece and put it on the Gospel.
The fourth piece I reached for was the “Jesus is the Son of God.” Everyone knows that’s an important part of any good Gospel. Even though none of the first three pieces had been in the kit, I was sure this part would be. I looked, then looked again, and then looked a third time in utter disbelief. There was not even a “Son of God” in this defective Gospel Kit! At that point, I thought I must have bought the wrong thing. I don’t often shop at Acts of the Apostles, so maybe I picked the wrong kit off the shelf. Reaching for the box, I carefully read the label.
Acts of the Apostles brand
Contents: one complete Gospel presentation, one set assembly instructions
Some assembly required; no special tools needed
After making a note to self not to shop at Acts of the Apostles any more, I looked with high hopes into my New Believer Kit. You guessed it---there was a nice-looking Son of God piece right in there. I hooked it to my homemade “age of accountability,” and stepped back to admire my work. The Gospel was looking pretty good, in my opinion, despite the faulty kit, and I thought my neighbor would love it.
Things went much smoother after that. There was a “sin” piece in the kit, although I didn’t recognize it at first, because it didn’t look like what I was expecting. I reached for the “Jesus died for you” piece, and although there wasn’t one of those, the “Jesus died on a cross” piece fit okay. Imagine my relief when the “forgiveness” part was there, and looked just like I thought it should! The kit’s “repent” piece was a pretty good substitute for the “admit” piece I was looking for, and there was a “believe” part, even though it wasn’t quite the shape or color I had in mind. When I tried to put the “repent” on before the “believe,” it wouldn’t fit, but switching them around, they fit perfectly. It looked okay like that, so I just left it that way.
I happened to notice that the “be baptized” piece was a perfect fit to go on right after the “repent.” There were some more pieces, though, so I set it aside for later.
My next real snag was when I looked for the “receive the free gift,” the “ask Jesus into your heart,” and the “make Jesus Lord” pieces. Those pieces were not present in either kit. Again, I had to go back to the workbench and make my own. But even when I did, they wouldn’t fit onto the end of the “repent.” I had to get out the super glue to get them to stay.
Once those homemade pieces were in place, I got out the “be baptized” part but it didn’t fit well on the back of the “make Jesus Lord.” It didn’t seem that important to me anyway, so I just left it off.
I was sure I was finished, but there were several pieces still left on the floor of the garage. Along with the “be baptized,” there was a great big “resurrection,” an “exalted to the right hand of God,” a “Lord and Christ,” a “fulfillment of prophecy,” and a “creation and providence.” These pieces seemed unnecessary to me, so I just put them back in the box and put it on the shelf of the garage, along with my “New Believer” kit.
I wrapped the Gospel I had assembled in Santa Claus wrapping paper and gave it to my neighbor. He politely thanked me, and I went home to enjoy Christmas with my family.
A few days later, I checked with my neighbor. I said, “Did you open the present? What did you think of it?” My neighbor answered, “I have never received a Gospel before, and I was curious about it. I turned it on, and it made me feel really good. I decided I would get it out and turn it on whenever I need to feel better. Thank you very much for giving it to me.”
Monday, December 18, 2006
Irony of Modern-Day Christmas
Here's some Christmas irony for you:
This season is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. One way we celebrate is to give gifts to others, ostensibly to remember God's gift to us, the Wise Men's gifts to Jesus, and the generosity of the original Saint Nicholas, 3rd-4th century bishop in Turkey.
But in our modern-day Western celebration of Christmas, the gift-giving has taken on a life of its own. The advertising, shopping, buying (including charging), wrapping, mailing, giving, opening, and returning :) of gifts threaten to overwhelm the rest of the holiday, including what the central meaning originally was meant to be.
The irony comes when we consider what Jesus Himself said about money/stuff/possessions/mammon. To summarize His words in Matthew 6:19-34---Do not worship money or possessions, and do not worry about money or possessions. He said this, but in our modern day, we celebrate His birth by worshiping and worrying over money and possessions more than at any other time of the year!
To make the situation more intensely ironic, some Christians apply even this scripture passage as follows:
"Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow, so I will just borrow all the money I want/need to this Christmas through my credit cards, then trust Him to help me repay it all after the first of the year."
O, my dear Christian brothers and sisters, how it must grieve the Lord to see this holiday, which is ostensibly still about His birth, corrupted to this point.
Won't you, this year, obey Christ's commands regarding this matter?
Do not worship money and possessions. Do not worry about money and possessions.
Merry Christmas to all!
Love in Christ,
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Alive, Well, and Standing on the Solid Rock
I apologize for having disappeared so abruptly from the Baptist Blogging world several weeks ago. I deeply appreciate those of you who have contacted me with an encouraging word, and who have prayed for my family and me.
In early November, I resigned from my place of ministry, and have been faced with the task of moving my large family and our large collection of stuff out of the parsonage where we lived. Blogging went WAY down on my list of priorities.
We have now successfully moved out in good order, and are gypsy-ing around among the homes of friends and relatives. The Lord has blessed me with opportunities to preach, especially at FBC of Leonard, TX, where the pastor and other members have made us feel very welcome. Fellow bloggers Wes Kenney, Ben Cole, C.B. Scott, and Wade Burleson have actively helped me, and I appreciate that very much. I am seeking another place of service, and waiting on the Lord to show me where to go.
Because of the controversy within the church that lead to my resignation, I have decided not to recount what happened just yet, at least until the dust settles.
For now, my wife Susan, my children, and I are enjoying a very blessed Christmas season. God is showing us every day that He is taking care of everything.
Merry Christmas to you all!
Love in Christ,
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