Maraca with Bible Verse

Maraca with Bible Verse
1 Timothy 2:5

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Do You Cry For People?

     I was thinking of some of the ways I see people, especially evangelists, interact with people during times of evangelism. One trait I have noticed frequently is one of talking down to, or talking in a way that is condescending. I have seen this done by parents when disciplining their children (and have been guilty of doing so myself, sadly). The thinking goes something like this: 'If I am nice and loving to my child who has just disobeyed, then they will think that their activity is ok. It is like condoning sin.'. I have done that and been there, so I know why parents do that. You want to make sure your child wants to repent and not repeat the evil activity! This is natural and understandable thinking, but it doesn't work. It doesn't work in evangelism either.
   Put yourself in the recipient's place. If you were walking down the street, would you listen to someone yelling at you to repent? Would that cause you to want to get down on your knees and repent? Would you even know what it means to repent? Would you trust the person who is telling you to repent enough to stay and listen to the rest of what he has to say?*
   Two reasons come to my mind when it comes to the motive behind preaching or sharing the Gospel message. The first is humility. If we are humble, we welcome other people into our lives. The other is love. God is love. God made people who rebelled against Him and are in darkness now, and He sent His Son to redeem them. He loves people and pursues them. He wants people to be cleansed from sin, but He also wants people to be free from the snares of sin and the Evil One.
   My concern is that I sense people doing evangelism do not tend to give the proper credit to God for working in the lost person's heart. Much like the parent who wants to get the point across that he or she is angry at the child for disobeying, and showing it by anger, humiliation, and yelling, which we think makes our message more powerful, we are really distancing ourselves from the child or the lost person.
God is the One who works in their hearts. Even if we give a faulty presentation of the Gospel message, God will take the words of truth and will use them to minister to the lost person's heart.
   Finally, one more thing that is effective in evangelism or ministry. We actually do read about Jesus weeping for things. It is easy to overlook those things as insignificant, but, we can learn from them and embrace them too. We can weep for the lost person. The Gospel is not a bed of roses for the lost person. He or she needs to know what God's heart is for their souls. I remember reading something written by one of my favorite pastors, C.J. Mahaney and his trip to Starbucks one morning. He was standing in a long line of people who were ordering coffee. There were the usual complaints from people who live in America today and have to wait for any period of time. As he was waiting in line to order his coffee, he was thinking of the Gospel and how precious it was to him. He was thinking about how unworthy he was to be a recipient of the Gospel and how God had been so merciful to him. He was crying. Someone asked him why he was crying and he explained the reason. That should be our response to the Gospel. Instead though, we act like we own the Gospel and can do with it whatever we want. We really should be grateful for God's mercy to us and want others to experience this as well.
   Do we cry for lost people? Do we really love them like we should?

*Note: I am not saying that we should not be telling people to repent. It's just the way it is done that is the key. Is it done with love and humility, or is it done with our nose in the air?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are They Really Offended Because of the Gospel, Or Are They Offended At Us Because of The Way We Treat Them?

  Sometimes, those we would want to share the Gospel with are afraid of the check-mate factor. What I mean by this is simple. It doesn't apply to everyone we talk to, but some would think of it this way.
  The Gospel is offensive, and there are those who will not humble themselves and receive salvation because they want to do their own salvation. It is a matter of pride. But some people haven't even gotten to the Gospel, and yet are offended. We mistake their being offended for being offended at the Gospel when they really are offended at us! Then we write them off as having a hardened heart.
   But here's the thing about the check-mate factor that we need to consider. Sometimes, people are struggling with sin and really would like to not be struggling with sin. Yes, we all love to sin and we all try to hide from God. Some people are afraid of us, because they simply think that we are going to judge them and pronounce their judgment if they admit their sin to us. Instead of receiving an answer for their sin, they receive a pronouncement of judgment for their sin from us.
   Some of the people we would talk to have had bad experiences with professing Christians. Some professing Christians are not clear on how to articulate the Gospel message, nor are they clear on the subject of grace and forgiveness, let alone the whole issue of sin.
   Let's say a woman had an abortion and now feels guilty. She hears the voice of someone who is telling her about God's judgment to come. What will she hear next? Will the person tell her she is going to hell because she had an abortion? Will that make her open up to the person who is sharing the Gospel?
   "I'm damned if I talk to you and I'm damned if I don't". Some of these people put on masks to defend themselves against the evangelist. But really, if we could get them to open up to us, we could have a good conversation with them and perhaps they would be at the place where they would be ready to repent.
   I have to give credit to one man who does evangelism very well, and people end up feeling comfortable talking to him. This man will spend whatever time he needs to in order to reach people with the Gospel message. I watched a video where he was at a Gay Pride parade, and one of the conversations lasted about an hour and a half! You could actually see the people involved in that conversation begin to open up toward the end of the conversation. This man is Mark Cahill, and he is in no hurry to try to give out as many tracts as possible, or talk to as many people as possible. He is an excellent example of how evangelism should be done. He spends one to one quality time with people and makes them feel respectable. He takes the time needed to listen and show compassion.
   I will close with another one of his examples. He was at the beach and talking to people about the Gospel, when one guy was really angry. Mark took the time to draw him out about why he was angry with the church. While they were talking, the man opened up and said that his sister went to a church in a particular area and after an evening service, she was raped by someone who was part of that church. The man had a hard time working through it. Mark was able to help.
   Many of us would just tell the man to repent. We would tell him he needs to stop sinning and trust in Jesus. We would write him off when we see his anger toward the church. But really, shouldn't we take the time to draw people out and ask them questions that will help them look at their own hearts? Do we think we are in a different category than other people, and that it is ok for us to look down on unsaved people because they are sinning? How would we feel if someone were talking down to us? Shouldn't we try to give them a rope instead, so that they could be rescued from the hold of sin on their lives?
Jesus came to set the prisoner free, not to remind 
the prisoner that he is in prison and keep him there.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Two True Stories- Eternity will Reveal Many More

 You might be a nobody. God uses people who are nobodies. If you have become a new creature in Christ, and know the Lord Jesus Christ personally, then you are qualified to do the work of evangelism.

    I know that there are more than the two stories that I am going to comment on, but these two stories have impacted the world and advanced God's kingdom in an amazing way.
   The first one I want to talk about is the man on George Street in Sydney, Australia. I know there are two different videos on Youtube showing this man's story, but only one of them is correct. The man's name was Frank Jenner (you can do a search on the internet and find the page on his story, written by family members). Frank Jenner lived near George Street and he would go out on a continual basis giving out tracts and asking people if they knew for sure if they were to die tonight, would they go to heaven or hell. I have the book also, from those who wrote the story. Frank Jenner faithfully passed out tracts for many years, but didn't see much fruit from what he did. But the results were amazing. Many, even those who were offended by him, came to Christ. These people lived all over the world, and came to Australia as tourists. A pastor in England heard recurring stories of how people came to Christ because of a man on George Street who gave out tracts and asked them the questions. The pastor made a trip to Australia to find this man on George Street and was able to locate him and went to his house to inform him of those who were reached with the Gospel because of his evangelism. Here is the accurate page on Frank Jenner:
   The second story is about a man who was a country preacher in PA during the 1950's, who made a decision to spend 12am-2am praying, instead of watching television. During this time, he picked up a Life magazine which had an article about 7 boys who murdered a 15 year old handicapped boy in NYC. He was in tears while reading this and God made a way for him to visit NYC to try to find these 7 boys so he could give them the message of hope through the Gospel.
    David Wilkerson did indeed travel to NYC with the hopes of finding these boys, but instead of finding them, he preached on street corners and auditoriums where gangsters lived. Some of the gang leaders and warlords were on their knees repenting. A few of them had radical conversions (and I mean radical) and in turn started ministries of their own. One of the converts was Nicky Cruz, who was a gang leader steeped in darkness and bondage. His intent was to bring harm to David Wilkerson, but God prevented that from happening. All in an evening, he had a complete change of mind and was repenting and calling upon God for mercy by the end of the meeting. He went on to Bible college in CA. to study to be a pastor. Others came to Christ in NYC and now boys and girls who were seemingly destined for destruction, now became instruments of righteousness. Two churches were started in New York City from David Wilkerson's ministry, along with Teen Challenge, which has branches now in many inner cities throughout the U.S. (Read about his story in 'The Cross and the Switchblade').
    The stories of these men are just two examples of ordinary people who were filled with God's love and wanted to share it with others. Both men are deceased but their works will continue on, because the works are eternal, with  results that we will only see in heaven.
    I am a nobody, and I'm ok with that. My name will never go down in History, nor will anyone remember me 4 generations from now. But I can do the work of evangelism and the impact of that will go on for eternity. Those who I reach with the Gospel will, in turn, reach others. Ministries could be started from those conversions. Only God knows the far reaching affects of what will come out of our faithfulness in sharing the Gospel with people.
   The Bible says that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. God saves people. We don't. It is not our job to rescue people from their sins, but it is our responsibility to reach people with the Gospel message. God will work in the hearts of people when they hear His word.
   I don't know if the statistics are the same today, but a couple of years ago, only 2% of the church was involved in evangelism. Not sure of all the reasons for this. It could be from lack of discipleship in the church. It could be from fear of man. It might be from lack of training or experience. The church is to equip the flock to do the work of evangelism. It should be in each of our hearts to want to do evangelism. If evangelism is like pulling teeth, then we need to look at our hearts and see if we really have met the true and living God, for if we have, we should have no problem wanting our neighbors to meet the God who saved and rescued us from hell, destruction, and ourselves.