Rahab told a lie… and then she told the truth

This post is based on a sermon titled “A Shady Lady With a Bright Testimony” (length 52:26) by Dale Ralph Davis.

The New Testament in Hebrews 11  commends Rahab for her faith. We often overlook that as we focus on her lie (and her line of work, and her scarlet cord).

Why on earth did Rahab hide the Israelite spies? Because God had already been at work in her life long before the spies’ arrival.

Joshua 2:9-13

Rahab told the truth about God. She heard a testimony (verses 9-10). She formed a conviction about who Yahweh is (verse 11). She sought a refuge from Him (verses 12-13). This is a pattern for saving faith: you hear, form a conviction and seek refuge from God. You have not only the right beliefs, but also act on them.

As a result, in Jericho there was a safety zone in the midst of judgment. Previous examples of such safety zones are found in Noah’s ark and in Goshen during the plagues. These were pointers to Christ’s cross, our place of refuge in the midst of the judgment to come.

Finally..

If you were to cut out chapter 2 and 6:22-25 out of the book of Joshua, you’d never miss them. The story flows along quite well without those portions. The narrator didn’t have to tell us the story of Rahab; he interrupted his normal programming to tell it to us.

Yes, Rahab the prostitute told a lie and tied a scarlet cord to her window. But she also trusted in a great and merciful God, who is still in the business of saving those who seek refuge in Him.

Addendum: Read A Remarkable Woman for someone else’s opinion 🙂

This blog as viewed on a popular tablet device

WordPress recently released a new feature which I had to tweak my Safari for Windows to check out.

This blog as viewed on a popular tablet device
This blog as viewed on a popular tablet device

One, it’s unrecognisable! Two, why the repeating category list instead of my latest post?  Three, what’s with all the blank spaces? Maybe it’s because I’m not using the real thing? Four, nice fonts!

Update: I think the repeating category list is an image from the post… Silly me!

Another update: Here’s a single post (I used the random post feature)

A single post as viewed on a popular tablet device
A single post as viewed on a popular tablet device

Springing into a clean home

Nelima’s blog is 3 years old today! For a present I’m giving it a makeover, switching from the Bueno theme to the Clean Home theme.

Now, my opinion is that Bueno is an excellent theme: more customisable than most (7 colour schemes!) and aesthetically pleasing. I’m sure the owners of the 151,858 blogs on WordPress.com currently using Bueno—and the oodles of others elsewhere—would agree with me on that. It’s just that my vanity dislikes the idea of being one in so many, a handful of which I’ve visited.

After my experience with the instantly-recognisable Bueno, I was in the market for something more anonymous. Clean Home is just that. I was drawn to its minimalism and the fact that it has nested lists in the sidebar (seriously!).

As always, here are the requisite screenshots:

Before: Bueno

Bueno (theme) and Kaffeesatz (font)
Bueno (theme) and Kaffeesatz (font)

In way of customisation, I’d gone for the brown colour scheme and had added the Kaffeesatz font for headings.

Categories in the Bueno theme
Categories in the Bueno theme

The categories are arranged alphabetically.

After: Clean Home

Clean Home (theme) and Acuta (font)
Clean Home (theme) and Acuta (font)

In order to add a touch of personality, I’ve opted for the Acuta font. I’m still searching for a background image I actually like. (Update: I decided to go for a subtle background colour instead. Lazy me!)

Categories in the Clean Home theme
Categories in the Clean Home theme

Oh, bliss! Hierarchical categories!

Update: Author comments get special styling!

Author comments in Clean Home
Author comments in Clean Home

I hope Clean Home and I will have a long relationship.

Another update: I’ve found something I don’t like about Clean Home. The categories and tags within a post link to the global categories and tags on WordPress.com. According to this forum thread, it is for SEO purposes. I couldn’t care less about SEO. Too bad for me I can’t remove them, either. 😦

*The title of this post plays on the new theme’s name, the season of spring (which started a week ago), spring-cleaning and springing one hour ahead for Daylight Saving (which started 1.5 days ago), but I didn’t expect you to figure all that out 🙂

The life-saving station: A modern-day parable

There was once a dangerous sea-coast where shipwrecks often occurred. There was a crude little life-saving station there. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. And with no thought for themselves, they went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the work of the station. So they gave their time, money and effort to support it. New boats were bought and new crews were trained, and the little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly-equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those who were saved. So they replaced the emergency bunks with beds and they put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now it became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as a sort of club.

Fewer members were interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do that for them. The life-saving motif was still prevalent in the club’s decoration and they had a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.

But one time there was a large ship shipwrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat-loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some had the wrong colour of skin. The beautiful new club was in chaos. The property committee immediately had a shower-house built outside the club where victims of ship-wreck could be cleaned up before they came inside.

At the next meeting there was split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities because they were unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon life-saving as the primary purpose, and pointed out that they were still called the ‘life-saving station’. But they were voted down in the end and were told that if they wanted to save lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked, they could do it on their own.

Well, they did: they set up their own station. And as the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. And history continued to repeat itself.

If you visit the sea-coast today, you’ll find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. There are frequent shipwrecks in those waters, but most of the people drown.

As told by Christopher Ash in a sermon on Genesis 12:3.

Why should we evangelise?

There are both bad and good reason for evangelising.

Some bad motives

1.       In order to gain glory for yourself. Wanting to be known as a soul-winner among your fellow Christians. Or, you like winning arguments. Or, you wish to cover up your own doubts.

2.       Guilt. Take your guilt to the cross and leave it there. Guilt, in addition to being a poor motivator, doesn’t honour the message we have. Be aware of your motives, but don’t wait for them to be perfect before going out to evangelise.

The good motives

There are two of them, found in Matthew 22:36-40: love for God and love for other people.

Love for other people

a.       The reality of heaven and hell-Hebrews 9:27. Everyone will be judged–Matthew 25:31-36

b.      There’s no other way of salvation–John 11:25-26, 14:6, Romans 10:13-17

Love for God

a.       A desire to obey God–John 14:21, 1 John 5:3, Mark 13:10, Matthew28:19, Romans 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:16-17

b.      A desire to imitate Christ–John 3:17, Mark 10:45, Luke 19:10. He came on a mission to seek and save.

c.       A desire for the glory of God. God’s motivation is His glory (Ezekiel 36:22-23). Those who don’t know Him are robbing Him of His glory.

And finally, some encouragement:

1.       Ask Christians in your church to share their testimony. That way you may hear of the faithfulness of praying parents, friends and strangers.

2.       Reflect on the reality of hell, and that those without Christ are going there.

3.       Meditate on the beauty of the gospel, and it will overflow from you.

4.       Consider the sovereignty of God. We can’t make anyone believe.

5.       Consider the cross, and the love shown there.

From a talk given by Mike McKinley at The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Conference held at UCC Dubai, September 2010.

Why don’t we evangelise?

In no particular order:

1.       A misunderstanding of God’s sovereignty. “If God can and will save sinners, He doesn’t need me.” God’s prescribed means is for people to proclaim the gospel- Romans 10:14

2.       We don’t know any non-Christians. There’s a difference between being surrounded by people and knowing them. Establish a relationship in which you can turn the conversation to Jesus in a natural manner. This may take 5 minutes or 5 years.

3.       We don’t understand our role in the process. We may wrongly think that it is for the gifted, for professionals (e.g. pastors), for those who enjoy it. But in the book of Acts in addition to the apostles, ordinary people were involved in sharing the gospel (Acts 8:4). In Romans 15:18-19, Paul says that he’d proclaimed the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum (modern-day Albania). It is hard to believe that he did it single-handedly; apart from his associates, ordinary Christians in those areas also did their part.

4.       We are unable to articulate the gospel. There are four elements to the redemption story: God, man, Christ, response. We need to be prepared beforehand.

5.       Indifference, busyness, lack of love, wrong priorities, sin in our lives, etc. This includes passing up opportunities because it is too much of a bother.

6.       Fear of man. Sharing the gospel will make people think less of you—1 Corinthians 1:18-29, 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. Reading through Acts, quite often something bad happened to people who shared the gospel.

7.       A lack of confidence in the gospel. Getting discouraged when nothing ever happens. You never know what God’s doing behind the scenes; don’t be discouraged by the lack of immediate fruit. God causes growth and He will use us in His time.

Some suggestions for growing in faithfulness:

1.       Repent. God already knows, and He loves you. Rejoice in the gospel.

2.       Begin to pray. Pray for opportunities, for open doors, for courage, for fruit from past conversations.

3.       Stop making excuses. You may be the only Christian some people have in their life.

4.       Take a risk. Obey even when you’re not sure how it’s going to be received.

5.       Look for opportunities. This goes along with prayer in point #2.

6.       Resolve to love others more than you love yourself. And to be concerned for their eternal destiny.

7.       Be afraid of God. Cultivate a fear of God that causes you to obey Him out of love.

8.       Consider Christ. Hebrews 12:3—consider Him when you’re weary. If you’re full of Christ, that will be the overflow of your mouth.

From a talk given by Mike McKinley at The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Conference held at UCC Dubai, September 2010.

What evangelism isn’t

Imposing your beliefs on others

To begin with, they aren’t your personal beliefs, but biblical facts. Second, evangelism is telling the gospel, not making sure that the other person responds to it correctly. Evangelism isn’t an imposition because no human can coerce another into becoming a true Christian.

Personal testimony

In telling how you came to faith in Christ, you may or may not make clear the claims of Christ on other people. Personal testimony is great and needs to be done; evangelism is about God, Jesus, and man’s response.

Social action and political involvement

These emphasise horizontal problems over the vertical one. The Gospel is about reconciliation to God. That said, there’s nothing wrong with social action.

Apologetics

As with personal testimony, apologetics may or may not include evangelism. While apologetics responds to the agenda that others set, evangelism responds to Christ’s agenda. Again, there’s nothing wrong with apologetics.

The results of evangelism

An approach that equates evangelism and its results may lead to believing that we can change people, resulting in manipulation. Looking at the book of Acts, we see that even the apostle Paul was often unsuccessful. The lack of a positive response isn’t indicative of our lack of faithfulness (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). We fail only when we don’t tell the gospel at all.

What is evangelism, then?

Evangelism is telling the good news of what God did through Christ on the cross and living a life that backs it up.

Excerpted from a talk given by Mark Dever at The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Conference held at UCC Dubai, September 2010. This material can also be found in a book he wrote, of which you can read an excerpt.