Are You Almost or Altogether Persuaded?

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds” Acts 26:27-29.

  • To almost be clean is to be dirty.
  • To almost believe is to doubt.
  • To almost tell the truth is to lie.
  • To almost win is to lose.
  • To almost be right is to be wrong.
  • To almost be straight is to be crooked.
  • To almost be saved is to be lost.

The Tragedy of Ignoring the Alarm

Howard Hendricks in Color Outside the Lines gives an excellent illustration of what can happen to those who refuse to heed advice. A boat made its way toward its destination. On board were 1,358 people enjoying an afternoon outing. Thirty minutes after leaving the shore, a fire broke out. People started shouting, fearing their lives would be lost. Although the ship was close to shore, the captain steadily kept his course. No one knows why he did not return to land for help. Some say he did not understand the severity of what was taking place. Others say he thought the crew could take care of the situation. He refused to pay attention to the fire alarms, the screaming people, or the smoke and flames. The tragedy resulted in the loss of over a thousand lives. Investigations revealed the crew was unskillful and inspectors had been bribed. Fire buckets had been filled with garbage, and life vests had rotted.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (Hebrews 2:3).

  • God sees sin.
  • God sees the sinner.
  • God judges sin and sinners.
  • He provides only one way of escape (salvation).

The Bible is very clear that there are only two kinds of people (both in life and in death). (See Romans 3:9-31; 6.) They are

  • Saved
  • Lost

“Instead of worrying about how limited it sounds to have only one way, we should be saying, “Thank you, God, for providing a sure way to get to you!”
(Acts Commentary)

photo credit: flattop341 via photo pin cc

I Wanted it so Badly

I wanted it so badly. I daydreamed about it. I plotted. I pleaded. I hoped. I envied. I needed it; desperately. Other preachers had one. Why shouldn’t I? I rationalized. My study habits would increase. I would be better prepared. I would simply be better. Better everything. That is; if! That is if I had an iPad. An iPod; my miniature iPad was simply not enough. I waited. I watched. I wondered. Days passed. Months flew. Years accrued. No iPad. Did I mention I wanted it so badly? I had a missionary friend with i-everything. He got an iPhone, an iPad, and even a Mac in a matter of days. Scoundrel! People just gave these precious items to him. I know I should have rejoiced with him. I tried. But, I wanted it so badly!

How much are you willing to pay for something you want really bad? How badly do you want it? I’ve often thought, here in North America, you can afford just about anything you want. That is, if you want it badly enough.

A seventeen year-old boy in China wanted an iPhone and iPad 2 really bad. He was recruited through an online chat room to sell one of his kidneys. It was a small organ and a small sacrifice to get what he truly wanted. He received around $3,500.00 while the buyers received $35,000.00 for the deal. The boy received a mere ten percent. The surgeon, organ brokers, and hospital contractor have all been arrested. Today, the boy is suffering from kidney failure. Unbelievable. This boy was willing to give a kidney, put his life in danger, in order to get a couple of technological trinkets. Silly? Certainly. But you have to understand. He wanted it so badly!

I well remember life on the AIM program. We had a grand total of $12.79 come in the first month after being married. I’d do it all over again. The sacrifice was worth it as men and women were trained, were sent out, churches were started, and literally thousands were baptized in Jesus name and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The absence of the spirit of sacrifice will only cause the dismantling of the global missions cause. Calvary demanded sacrifice. It always has. It always will. The early church was built upon it. The forming of the United Pentecostal Church International solidified it. This has not and cannot change. From the beginning it has always been about taking the whole gospel to the whole world. So, that brings it down to the real question: how much are you willing to pay to ransom a soul?

I’m going to repeat that a mere second, a line, and the beginning of a paragraph later: how much are you willing to pay to ransom a soul? I know “ransom” has such a malicious connotation in this world plagued with terrorism on every continent. But, it is a Bible word, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This is something that is good and acceptable to “God our Saviour.” He wants “all men to be saved.” He wanted it so bad that He “gave himself a ransom for all.” Paul testified this was the reason he was in the ministry. The bottom-line of why I’m a preacher is to give myself “a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:3-7).

I suppose there are other words that maybe would soften the word picture conjured in our minds when we think of “ransom.” But, that doesn’t change the reality or the gravity of the matter. “Ransom” means “payment” and comes from the Latin word “redemption” which means “buying back.” God has placed us in the “ransom” business. Together, with God, we deliver, rescue, liberate, get back, recover, regain, retrieve, release, and salvage. We march right into the enemy’s camp and we forcefully take back what rightfully belongs to God.

There are other things that rightfully belong to God and require careful stewardship and management. Our blessings are the resources we have to advance God’s kingdom; at home and around the world. The early church possessed things instead of being possessed by things.

It all comes back to the same question. With over seven billion people in our world, and being privileged to be a recipient of this life-changing and life-saving apostolic message, how much are you willing to pay to ransom a lost soul? Winning a lost soul; I want it so badly!

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Tiny, Timeless Thoughts on the Titanic

I spent the weekend of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic in a global missions conference in California. I couldn’t help but notice the glaring similarities between the Titanic and our lost world.

Having never encountered a storm at sea the Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history. Stories concerning this passenger liner have been told time after time throughout the past one hundred years yet it remains fascinating.  Although the builders never officially acclaimed this massive triumph over other forces of nature to be unsinkable, it was certainly widely speculated to be so.

After the iceberg disappeared the ship remained afloat for over two hours. At first it was believed the boat was only slightly damaged rather than doomed. The parties on the ship continued as if nothing was going on; no imminent danger was in sight. Isn’t that like our world? They are having a big party never noticing that Jesus is coming soon.

One thing that amazes me is the lifeboats on board. They would have serviced barely one-third of the passengers and crew. It was understood that a ship having all the safety features of the Titanic would sink so slowly that there would be lots of time to spare. Each AIMer and missionary is a lifeboat destined to rescue lost humanity. I fear, at times, that we simply don’t have enough lifeboats on hand. However, God continues to bless and use all that make themselves available. If the Titanic had enough lifeboats all could have been saved since it took 2.5 hours to sink. Thank God you have stepped forth to be involved in global missions providing a lifeboat in your area of the world.

Only two lifeboats rescued others after being launched. I trust the church will never have the same testimony. We’ve been rescued—to rescue others. We cannot be at ease on the lifeboat. There is much work to be done.

The first lifeboats leaving the ship were far from full.  J. B. Thayer, a survivor said, “Partly filled lifeboat about 100 yards away never came back….How could any human being fail to heed those cries.” I wonder at that myself. With over seven billion people in our world we need to salvage as many as possible as quickly as possible.

People from all walks of life boarded the Titanic in April 1912. There were millionaires, celebrities, middle income earners, and even poor people. A few hours after the disaster, there were only two categories: lost and saved. In the end, it all comes down to that: lost or found. Those are a few tiny, timeless thoughts on the Titanic.

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