Maraca with Bible Verse

Maraca with Bible Verse
1 Timothy 2:5

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Two Struggles With Evangelism Approaches

   Over the years, I have seen the word 'evangelism' defined many different ways. I have seen open air workers, people on missions trips, people inviting others to a church outreach, or one on one evangelism. According the the Proclaim Course book, there is a chapter dedicated to helping a person learn what their evangelism style is. I really like this book and if there is ever a way that you can take this course, take it! Here is the url with some resources on it: Proclaim Course
   While I understand that people have different personalities and giftings, and God uses all of our talents and strengths to serve Him with, I see some misunderstandings with the whole concept of evangelism. I see groups of people who believe that they should just get right to the point of sharing the Gospel with people. In some ways, this sounds admirable, but if we look closer to this, is this really a good Biblical method that we should employ? Here is an example of what I am talking about; I read on the internet somewhere, about a group of people going to a Third World country to share the Gospel with people there. They boasted that they were not there to bring water bottles to the people, nor were they there to build houses. They believed that their only job was to preach the Gospel, then return home. I wonder what the people thought of them while they were presenting the Gospel? I have also heard some people say something like, 'The best way to show a person love, is to preach the Gospel to them'. Well yes, the Gospel is their most important need, but could we show a person respect and honor by talking with him or her and asking questions? How about showing hospitality to someone or helping them with an immediate need that they might have? What if a person doesn't have a place to stay, or if he is out in the cold, and we share the Gospel with him, yet we don't even offer a blanket to him on a cold night? Does this seem ethical? There are a lot of people, even in our own cities, that don't have much to eat. Wouldn't it go a long way for us to give them a loaf of bread or something to eat while we explain the Gospel to them? James talks about us seeing people who are in need, yet neglecting them, and asks us the question, 'What good is it?'. So we have to ask ourselves if we are really showing love to people when we only preach the Gospel to them, while they could be very hungry or cold. Will they really think that we love them? Wouldn't it be helpful to show them a tangible way of our love and care for them? (Note: I am not saying that we should try to take care of every homeless or hungry person around. The devil will also trick us into feeling guilty for not helping everyone in need).
   The other struggle I have is the other extreme of this. I believe that, many times, this one starts off with good intentions, but falters in the end. There is a saying that is attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, but no one really knows who said this quote. It goes something like this; "Preach the Gospel. And when necessary, use words". At first, it sounds like a contradictory statement. How can you preach the Gospel without using words? But what I think a lot of people base their understanding of this phrase upon, is the Bible verse that talks about women who have unbelieving husbands, winning their husbands to the Lord without saying a word. "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 Peter 3:1,2 ESV.  While I think it is very effective to live out the word of God, it seems to me that these husbands have heard the word already, and haven't responded to the Gospel yet, and the wives are instructed to live out the word of God before them. This is wisdom. The husbands might respond to the Gospel later on. If the unbelieving husband has already heard the word of God, God is already at work in his heart. As the unbelieving husband sees the grace of God in the life of his wife, he can make the connections better. 
   I think people intend to share the Gospel with others, but feel an obligation to serve them first. This really in itself is a great idea. But rarely will a Christian ever get to share the Gospel with someone after meeting a new person and befriending or serving. But we say that the unbelievers will watch our lives and could be saved. It really can happen, but most of the time, it doesn't. I know from my own experience that this method is very hard to do. We rarely get to the place where we speak the word of life to them.
    I have always wanted to reach my neighbors with the Gospel, so I would bake things for them and try to visit them when I can. But it seems like the more intimate I get with each one, the harder it is to share the Gospel message with them. It seems like a major task to make friends with someone, then to present the Gospel to them. I have yet to sit down and talk with my neighbors about the Gospel. Only one time has the conversation opened up for me to do that, and that was because the other person asked me about what kind of a church I go to. I didn't know right off the bat what to say, so I explained the Gospel and said that that was what our church believed in. But I still do want to serve my neighbors and perhaps one day, I will get the chance to speak to them about the Gospel. 
   So, one struggle is that we just, upfront, preach the Gospel, without anything extra attached, kind of like a robotic method, and the other is the struggle of believing that people will see how I live my life and they will get the Gospel message from that. The Bible talks a lot about serving people. It can really lend itself to preaching the Gospel, although it doesn't replace the work of actual evangelism. So, let's love people and serve them, and let's make sure they hear the Gospel message using words from our lips as well.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Lesson From A Television Show

This is probably the silliest blog I will ever write. First of all, I rarely watch TV. The only shows I watch are Jeopardy and The Way of the Master. Sometimes, I will watch parts of Wheel of Fortune too. After Wheel of Fortune is over, I either change the channel or turn the TV off unless someone is watching it.
  However, tonight I forgot to change the channel. I was busy working on a variety of things, and something on the TV caught my attention. There were two women talking and one was angry with the other one. The angry lady told the other lady that she was a horrible Christian. She was irate, and I had to figure out what this was all about.
  As I watched this program, it had to do with two families, who were about as opposite as any two could be. One family was professing Christians, who felt like God was leading them to go back to a lifestyle that would teach ethics and Godly principles to their children. Their work ethic was commendable. They went from the city to a farm, and made everything from scratch. I appreciate what they were doing, but I think they went a little bit too far. I don't think they even had electricity! The children were homeschooled and were taught to work hard. They appeared to be a very close knit family. There were six children in this family, and they all ate dinner together, which surprised the other family.
   The other family was very different. They had one child. They did not have meals together, and the mom was busy with things that she was doing, and was not into managing her home. Their little boy was mainly raised by a man named 'Princess' who was gay. The dad did not lead the home and did not spend much time with his son. Princess lived with the family and was like a family member. The son was disrespectful to adults and basically got his way in whatever he wanted, and had very little, if any, parental supervision.
  Please bear with me as I tell this story from my perspective. There is a point that I want to make at the end that can help us in the area of evangelism. The Christian family came close to missing this opportunity and I will explain why later.
   The mom who lived on the farm stayed with the family with the one disrespectful son. This mom appeared very intelligent, and did a good job in explaining to this family what they were doing wrong. This mom was not impressed with 'the good life' as she had a facial done at a spa. She confronted the dad about his lack of leadership, and wanted Princess to leave. Princess pleaded with her and she consented to allow him to stay. She was very firm, but was open to changing her mind about things if she could have been wrong about something. She taught the little boy how to be respectful. She really was a help to this family, but I think she came on a little strong. The family seemed open to her critiques, but she didn't seem very approachable to them.
   The mom who lived in the city went crazy when she got to the farm. She thought that the children were too sheltered and lived too primitively. She dressed rather risque, and the man who lived in that home (the farm) openly rebuked her because of her immodest dress. I'm glad he stood up to her in that. She bought all the kids video games, and a big screen TV for the family. She wanted to make sure that these kids did not miss out on anything. She took them out shopping for clothing as well. She also tried to take the man out to a bar, but he refused. One of the funniest things she did was to bring in a microwave. The family did not use a microwave oven, because microwaves kill anything living inside of food. But the city mom brought it in anyway, against the man's wishes. She definitely had not learned the role of being a submissive wife to her husband! And now in this man's house, she was going to call all the shots. The man had to hold his tongue when it came to issues like the microwave and TV coming into the house! It was a very good lesson in self control, I'm sure.
   When the families were reunited with each other, something had actually happened in the heart of the woman who lived in the city. When she first came to the house on the farm, she was irate. She couldn't understand why in the world anyone would live like this. She had every intention of changing it, at least for the time she was there. She made an interesting comment when she first got there. It had to do with the fact that everyone was affectionate and they all ate their meal together. At this point, she thought this was stupid. She said that her family was not affectionate and they didn't eat their meals together. But after the time was over, she was really touched by how this family on the farm lived out their lives. When the two couples were together talking about what they learned while the women were at each other's houses, the lady from the city learned that she needed to spend more time with her son. She shared many things that she learned from being in the house on the farm.
   But the problem I have with this is, the lady on the farm, who made mention that she reads the Bible faithfully, was not really kind to the other woman. She asked her bluntly why she dressed the way she did. Her attitude didn't come off right, although I think her heart was probably in the right place. The city lady got irate and told the other woman, 'You are a horrible Christian'. I personally believe that the city woman was affected by the things she saw in the farm house. She told of all the things she learned while she was there, but the Christian woman just affirmed her disdain for her the city life and luxuries, and reaffirmed her love of the way she does things at her home. She rebuked the father of the boy who was a brat, because the father lacked taking leadership and didn't discipline his son. The son actually ended up apologizing to the lady on the farm, and this city family really seemed to be humbled.
   After the show was over, the was a little recap and update. It said that the lady on the farm was sorry about being harsh with the lady from the city. I hope that they could become friends and that the lady on the farm could minister the Gospel to her. She probably never had much of a family life and is really living in darkness. This was the closest she had been to seeing what life was like, when it is being lived out in the light (although the farm family didn't have electricity!). The best the she will ever have on earth is money, clothing, entertainment, and status. What a great opportunity for people to see the Gospel at work!
   The point is, our lives are going to be different than the lives of people who live in the dark. They are not going to understand why we do things the way we do, nor will they understand the power of God at work in our hearts. But that isn't a reason to give up on people! You really don't know who is watching you to see if what you have is real. But if you snap at them and do not accept them, they will never feel comfortable around you.
   In the video "I Got off At George Street", a man named Frank Jenner gave tracts out every day to people. He went to a busy part of town and gave tracts to people and asked them if they were to die, would they go to heaven? He never heard of anyone responding to his tracts. But here's what actually happened; People received the tracts and were disturbed by his comments and questions. They would take the tract home (many lived in places other than Sydney), and think about what he told them. Then, they would find a Christian friend, or church they were familiar with, and ask questions. They knew their Christian friends and felt comfortable asking them questions about the tract or the Gospel. Many came to Christ that way. They didn't go to Frank Jenner or even write to the tract company. They went to a friend, someone they trusted. Can we be a friend to lost people, and can they feel comfortable with us, and would they feel free to ask us questions about the Gospel? Or, would they be apprehensive about asking us questions because they are not sure we will accept them? Do they perceive us as kind and loving, or do we appear to them stiff?
  One more thing comes to my mind. I heard of a Christian woman who lived in a neighborhood, and she got to know her neighbors well. She took the initiative to befriend each one. She learned when their birthdays were and had birthday parties for the. She must have taken a lot of time getting to know her neighbors. After a period of time, some of them came to Christ! Some of them started going to church with her. This woman truly loved her neighbors! Can we be like this?
  For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 ESV

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tracts at Work

I thought this was interesting and wanted to share it with you all. It is a note written by a woman, I believe her name is Brianna, who bought a 6-pack of beer recently and found a Gospel tract inside. While I am not fond of the idea of putting tracts inside of items at a store, it appears that God used this one to minister to this woman. Here is what she wrote to the company the publishes this particular tract:

  "I just wanted to let yall know i found your tract in my case of beer.. It shocked me but this was just what i needed. I dont have a relationship with God but i want one. Im having trouble giving up my sinful habit of drinking.. it controls every aspect in my life. It could not of been more perfect for me to of found this where i did. If thats not a sign idk what is. Its hard going throuh things by yourself but i appreciate you for taking the time to leave this. It does more good than you know and gives so much hope."

   I have heard Christians say, occasionally, that no one gets saved by reading a tract. I wonder where they get this information from. If the tract is interesting and informative, and God is working in the recipient's heart, why wouldn't someone come to Christ by reading a tract? I will say that a person does have to have enough background information in order to understand the Gospel first. That is why we do evangelism. One person preaches the Gospel. Another one preaches the Gospel. Another gives out a tract. If everyone does their part, people will hear the Gospel, by different means, and if God is at work in the person's heart, he or she will come to Christ. We sow the seed. God does the saving. Everyone does his or her part in the kingdom of God, when it comes to evangelism, and many will come to Christ as a result.

   And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  Matthew 9:35-38 ESV