You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2008.

…Maybe we should have more courses on evangelism, pray for the lost more than we do, learn some new postmodern techniques or create another film that will point to Jesus.  It could be that we aren’t effectively using mass communications or planning enough.  Perhaps we aren’t good enough, committed enough, don’t know enough or can’t debate well enough.

I don’t think so.  In varying degrees, we’ve already done all that.

What we have done is take something quite simple and made it complicated, hard and almost impossible to do.

What’s the Gospel?  People are screwed up.  If they go to Jesus, he will fix them, forgive them, love them and never let them go.

What’s evangelism?  Somehow letting people know the Gospel.

That’s it?  Yeah, that’s it.  In its understanding and execution, it really doesn’t take a brain surgeon!

-Steve Brown

 

I think it’s a first degree offense to God to act as if our dedication and hard work is the reason anyone one comes to Christ.   My belief about this horrendous misconception has only deepened instead of lessened the last several years as I have spent a considerable amount of time scrutinizing my hunch and investigating the gospel message to see just how wrong I must be.  I’m not saying I’m right, I just think anyone would be hard pressed in proving me wrong.

I’ve read and heard at least a thousand testimonies over the years and one that never ceases to make me squirm is the infamous account that starts out “I’ve gotten every last one of my family members saved and all sorts of other people including everyone I’ve ever sat next to on an airplane…”.  

Listen, we might get the opportunity to plainly present the gospel message—but we are to take no credit whatsoever for an accomplishment so beyond and above us (which by the way, is an accomplishment consumed and consimated in the person and work of Christ himself).

32 ”And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”   (Jesus, John’s Gospel c12 v32, ESV)

I can’t give you an account that lists in detail how many people I have shared Jesus with, its better I leave the numbers to God.  Just as soul winning isn’t complicated, its not about another notch in our evangelism tool box. 

Our role always comes down to simply lifting Jesus up.

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Jesus teaches us how to live in the present time. He identifies our present time as the end-time, the time that offers us countless opportunities to testify for Jesus and his Kingdom. The many disasters in our world, and all the tragedies that happen to people each day, can easily lead us to despair and convince us that we are the sad victims of circumstances. But Jesus looks at these events in a radically different way. He calls them opportunities to witness!

-Henri Nouwen

 

As with many kids, my childhood was largely about sports.    

One thing I learned by being involved with various sports was the importance of preparedness.  Batting practice.  Fielding practice.  Shooting practice.  Passing drills.  Running laps.  Stretching exercises.  Why?  So that we could be ready for the game.

Jesus spent time training his disciples.  In other words, he didn’t send them out into battle without a sword.  He knew that his disciples would face demonic influence in every shape and size as well as Godless thinking in every form—and that they would need to be prepared to deal with such obstacles if they were to be effective in their witness.

I don’t know about you, but I do know about me, and I have been terribly unprepared at times to share Jesus with others.  It doesn’t take training to spout off a bible verse or to tell others they should go to church.  Telling others to shape up doesn’t require spending time with Jesus—having him fine tune you requires more than a vague familiarity with him.  The only effective witness for Christ is the one who points others to Christ, and we don’t have the courage in and of ourselves to do that I have found.  We need to spend time in the shop sharpening our tools, and the shop for Jesus-followers is time in prayer and time in God’s Word. 

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…   (1 Peter 3:15, ESV) 

Always being prepared.

You can’t expect to be effective whatsoever if you haven’t taken the time to get ready.

         

What is the chief end of man?… Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. 

-The Westminster Shorter Chatechism 

 

 
Say we were members of one branch or another of the U.S. Armed Forces.  For instance, you might serve with The Air Force and patrol the sky and I might serve with The Navy and protect our shoreline.  Each branch of our military has a clearly defined mission to carry out last I heard.
 

Many varied opinions would surface if one were to ask—What in the world has God left his followers in the world for when heaven beckons and awaits?  Some of us would find our tongues tied if we were asked to give a serious and credible answer to the question. 

As Jesus-followers, we have an agency sanctioned mission.
 
We aren’t here to save up a pile of dough and assemble a slick financial portfolio that would win the approval of the money experts on Fox News (1 Timothy 6:17-18). 
 
We aren’t here to compile a long list of bad things we don’t participate in (Galatians 3:10-11).   
 
We aren’t here to merely elect the next president of the United States (Psalm 46:10). 
 
We aren’t even here to look religiously active (Matthew 6:1-8). 
  
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Corinthians 5:18-21, ESV)
 
We are here to be ambassadors for Christ.

Someone has said that the world is run by people who just show up.  I think that’s exactly what Christians are called to do—just show up and be.  With all our sin, our doubts, our fears, our failures, our neediness, our laughter, our freedom, our forgiveness—we need to show up.  Evangelism is what happens when we are there and are real.  It creates all kinds of questions for which Christ is the answer.

All we have to do is take off our masks, show up and not duck.

…We are so obsessed with ‘doing it right,’ never bringing shame on the name of Christ, about learning a Gospel presentation and learning to do apologetics, that we are always preparing and never doing—or better yet, being.

-Steve Brown 

     

I think we get way too caught up with how we will be perceived by others when it comes to our witness rather than forgetting about and getting beyond ourselves enough to be sensitive to those all around us who don’t know Jesus.  Look, we aren’t little saviors.  We weren’t the ones born in a manger.  We can’t save a flee, let alone ourselves.  Our task is to point people to Jesus—not ourselves.     

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.    -Colossians 4:2-4, The Message Bible

Here’s Paul in jail and he’s not talking about the doors of the jail opening up for him but he’s concerned about sharing Jesus.

Are we?

Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

-D.T. Niles

 

I suppose an organized campaign for evangelism is fine and dandy, so long as it isn’t just another way to prop ourselves up and feel better about our religious selves.  In my reading of the New Testament accounts (the life and ministry of Jesus in particular)—I find that reaching out to the lost, broken, and spiritually poor (as well as the physically poor of course) wasn’t an afterthought for Jesus. 

Evangelism shouldn’t be something tacked on to the life of a genuine bona fide follower of Christ, it should be ingrained in our way of living.  I’ve been on missions trips thousands of miles away from home in which our focus was to not only provide some type of relief or medical care, but ultimately to share the remedy people need most for their sick and starving souls.  That being the case, I have also shared Jesus many times over at a backyard barbecue.

Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy.  Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”    Matthew 10:5-8, The Message Bible

Instead of planning how we are going to go about reaching the lost or debating our best and varied methodologies, I think that the transmission of the love of Christ and the plan of salvation should more or less be a way of life for a Christian.  We should be talking about Jesus when we are sitting down at a baseball game or in our stop by the corner store on our way home from work.

Evangelism really equates to sharing Jesus—its one who has been found telling another who is lost, where to find life.

a blog about radical discipleship, the gospel of grace, a theology of the cross, Christian spirituality, the mission of the church in this world and whatever else on the same wave length that may be running around the brain of a hopeful Protestant.

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