It’s hard to believe that this is the last FRUIT OF D’VINE for 2011. As they say: “Time flies when you’re having fun!” Honestly, this is the most “fun” I’ve ever had in 44 years of ministry. What I mean is that I’ve never been more fulfilled in my relationship with the Lord Jesus (though I think I’ve only scratched the surface), more thankful for the brethren with whom I am privileged to work, more excited about the Truth of the Word, or more fired up about sharing it with a dying world.
November 2–6 was our annual TLTF Trustee meeting, and a report about that by Paul Knopf follows this letter. What I want to say here is that I wish you knew the incredible amount of work that Paul, Franco Bottley, and Robert Witt have done in the 22 months this ministry has existed. The greatest quality of each man is his honest heart before God and the Lord, but the more I work with them, the more I believe that, collectively, they know something about everything. As for me, I know them.
Using his corporate business experience, Paul has put in several thousand hours handling a myriad of necessary legal, insurance, trademarking, copywriting, technical, marketing, advertising, budgeting, general administration, and management tasks without any remuneration. We would never be where we are without him. We pay Franco much less than what he earned as a graphic artist in the world, and for that he puts in over 60 hours per week. Robert has a consuming secular job at the University of Texas, but he, too, has made invaluable contributions, working countless hours with no compensation.
As TLTF completes its second calendar year, we marvel at the grace and mercy of God and the Lord in how they have helped us accomplish what we have thus far. In the January FRUIT OF D’VINE, I’ll do my best to build vision for you regarding the opportunity that you and I have to change the lives of people who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Although many people, including some now-extinct Mayans, have made dire predictions for 2012, we believe we are laying a foundation to share the Word with the world like most people have never heard it before.
But now it is December, and we all know what that means: CHRIST-mas! Most of our readers know that Jesus was born in September, not December, and they are aware of the many pagan trappings cluttering this supposed observance of Christ’s birth. But due in part to the spelling of the holiday, this is the month of the year during which people around the world think and talk about Jesus Christ more than any other, and we thus have the opportunity to share with them the real Good News about this one-of-a-kind human being who literally gave his precious life for them.
2 Corinthians 4:3 and 4 makes it clear that the Devil’s primary goal is to obscure or distort Jesus Christ, the only perfect image of the invisible God. He does that by way of numerous lies about Jesus that he has sold to the world’s non-Christian religions. His goal is the same in regard to Christians, and the primary way he distorts Jesus is by making him a “God-man.” This notion makes it virtually impossible for a believer to identify with his Lord, relate to His humanity, or have any hope of truly becoming like him.
Despite the well-meaning intentions of many Christians to elevate Jesus by making him God, this pagan-oriented caricature actually diminishes the magnitude of his indescribable heroism on our behalf. Surely it would not be hard for God to do what Jesus did, but for a human being, tempted in all ways like we are, who felt the pain of the nails just as we would—WOW! He did it by trusting the Word of His Father, and he says we can do likewise.
Please consider that a human being with free will, feelings, emotions, pain, likes and dislikes, made the agonizing decision to die for you, knowing that you might not even be thankful for his sacrifice. Suppose someone pushed you from in front of a speeding truck and thus died saving your life? Would you not gratefully do what you could for those he loved?
Christianity is about relationship. It is about Jesus Christ identifying with you so you can now identify with him. What motivated Jesus? He was focused on God’s interests in mankind.In Philippians 2:20 and 21, speaking of Timothy, Paul sadly laments: “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.”
Christianity is about subjugating our self-centered sin nature in order to serve others the bread of life. To do so, you must know that the Lord Jesus “has your back,” and that he is your sufficiency in all things. In other words, he must be real to you in order for you to identify with his interests in sinful people and engage in self-sacrifice as he did. As you take stock of your life at the end of another year, ask yourself, and the Lord, how you can know him better, love him more, and serve him more effectually in 2012.
Christmas is often a time of family memories. Do you remember your childhood? Jesus remembers his. He remembers his teenage years, his young manhood, and each of the events comprising his relatively brief earthly ministry as recorded in the Gospels. He remembers bearing the brunt of Satan’s hatred, and he is eager to help us shine the light of God like he did, despite whatever circumstances we face.
You have the spirit of the risen Christ in you, and you have a great treasure of knowledge of God’s Word, so unwrap the gift you are as his emissary to your world. In this coming year, do something with lasting significance. Sow seeds of permanence. That’s what Jesus did, and you can do likewise. How? Faithfulness, that is, be full of faith, trusting the Word of God like Jesus did, one thought at a time.