Jeff Bartell

A "bottom line" kind of guy

Be a Good Samaritan

hands as globeThe term “Good Samaritan” has taken a colloquial meaning of “be a good neighbor” – help others when you get the chance.  It is a Bible illustration of what is called the “greatest commandment” from the Old Testament:  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”  (Luke 10:27 KJV)

Jesus continues the teaching with a story of a man beaten and robbed and left on the roadside half dead.  A priest and a Levite pass by without helping the needy man.  Then a Samaritan passes by and actually helps the man.  Luke 10:34 gives the details:  And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”  Certainly, if we are to fulfill the commandment of “loving our neighbors as ourselves” we have to do what we can to actually help others who cannot help themselves.  Please notice that the Samaritan does not go out looking for all the hurting people of the world.  He simply helps the one that happened to be in his path.

But the story doesn’t end there.  There is more that this Good Samaritan does.  Luke 10:35 says, And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”  So the Samaritan is a pragmatist!  He knows that he cannot personally fulfill every need that this hurting man has.  But he is also GOOD.  When he comes to the point where he can no longer personally help, he PAYS someone else who can help!  He supports the mission financially.

In the context of what God expects of us, today, as followers of Jesus Christ, I think it is fair to conclude that we should be “Good Samaritans” to our neighbors (the rest of the world).  We do what we can to help the hurting around us, and when we can’t personally help, we can finance others who can personally help.  This is the exact application of our sacrificial giving to support world missions.  As good neighbors to a world that has been beaten and robbed of all their spiritual connection to God, we can help by serving right here at home and giving to those that are far away.

Will you prayerfully consider being a Good Samaritan?  Will you serve those that God puts in your path today?  And will you help finance others who can help in regions beyond you?


A Worthy Read on CPMs

viral-or-bustI just added a new link to a blog that I recommend you read from time to time.  It is called “The Gospel in China” and I am tagging the latest article as I found it very insightful concerning the modern “wave” of “church planting movements.”  I couldn’t agree with this summary more.

Read the article here.



Deleted Scenes

messy deskIn my recent sermon from John 20:1-18, I gave an overview of the events from the crucifixion, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, comparing all the gospel accounts as well as many other relevant references.  What I did not have time to do was to develop other thoughts from the text of John 20.  I would like to share something that I would have liked to share with you from John 20.

John 20:6-7  Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,  And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

This seems to me a strange fact that the Lord included in this story.  It makes me think of the 2 most ridiculous explanations which skeptics of the resurrection often quote.

1.  The SWOON theory – is the idea that Jesus didn’t actually DIE on the cross but just “fainted.”  They just thought he was dead and then laid him in the tomb.  After a few days of laying there (with half of his blood drained, no food or water!) the theory states that Jesus regained his strength, got up, moved the huge boulder that covered the tomb’s entrance, overcame the Roman battalion that guarded the tomb, and snuck away into the night.  This theory defies all logic and is obviously ridiculous.  We are to assume that Jesus “woke up”, unwrapped himself and then FOLDED the napkin that covered his face for the last 3 days and set it aside in a separate place.

2The STOLEN BODY theory – is the idea that the disciples came at night and stole Jesus’ body from the tomb to make it look like he was resurrected.  Remember that these disciples were common working men.  They would have had to overcome the battalion of trained Roman soldiers, whose lives were on the line to keep the tomb sealed.  They then would have moved the boulder away from the entrance and taken Jesus’ body.  Then, we are to believe that after pulling off the heist, the disciples then WILLINGLY pursued the rest of their lives in suffering and martyrdom – all for a LIE!  Oh yeah, and while they would have been doing this, they would have taken a minute to FOLD the napkin and set it in a separate place from the other burial clothes.  As Cris Carter says on Sports Center “C’MON MAN!”

No, the Bible account is the right one, as always.  Jesus DIED, was buried and ROSE again according to the scriptures!  All other feeble attempts to explain away the greatest miracle of human history are just sinful man’s way of soothing his defiled conscience, refusing to face the fact that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.  If you are that skeptic reading this, know that the Lord Jesus Christ still loves you enough to forgive you the moment you turn to him in faith.


Church Planting or Carnal Marketing?

evangelism-fishAfter 14 years of missionary service in Albania and starting 2 churches from scratch (that means ZERO people to start with) which continue as healthy churches today, my heart is thrilled to hear more and more people in the USA talk about planting new churches.  I believe in that.  I want to be a part of helping more and more churches begin.  More and more authors are writing about church planting.  More and more seminars are being held to explain “how to” start a successful church.  That’s awesome!

What I have witnessed personally over the last 7 years in the USA is that many, if not most, of these new churches don’t emphasize the ONE thing that really STARTS a new church:  evangelism of the unsaved.  There are 2 camps.

1)  A slick marketing campaign to canvass an area, usually a high population growth area in the suburbs of a large, growing city.  These areas will grow in population anyway, so it is reasonable that a new church will attract many of the recent transplants.  Typically they advertise as the “newest” and “most authentic” version of Christianity.  They offer  Christianity without all of the “baggage” of tradition.  What they are really doing is marketing to EXISTING church people to come to THEIR show – because it will be “better” than whatever they were previously used to.

2)  A directed effort to constantly remind EXISTING church members that their church is NOT doing something right.  This style of marketing is negative and plays on the emotions and frustrations of (typically) carnal Christians.  Face it, everyone is a little frustrated from time to time.  So this group behaves like Absalom as he seeks to usurp his father David’s kingdom.  (see 2Samuel 15-17)  Absalom worked behind the scenes, whispering in the people’s ear, to convince them that in HIS kingdom, things would be better!  God killed Absalom.

God has called us to the “ministry of reconciliation” (2Cor 5:18-20).  He calls us fishers of men.  That does NOT mean to fish in someone else’s fish tank!  I understand why people do it – they have been hurt at some point in their lives by some Christian and they now focus all their effort to “doing it right.”  So why not REALLY do it right, and actually start NEW churches with people that have never known Jesus before?  Well, one reason is because THAT method is hard work!  It’s easier and more fun to just entice carnal believers away from existing churches.

I pray we have a revival of real church planting, the kind that distinguished the Philadelphian church period (~1500 – ~1900 AD) as the greatest period of church history (see Rev. 3:7-13).  I realize that that is difficult in the Laodicean church period (~1900 – today), which is characterized by overt selfishness (see Rev. 3:14-22), yet I think there is still room for God to use sincere people that will actually trust Him enough to “do it right”!

I’m in.  How ‘bout you?