Thursday, 11/14/19 – Discipleship – Evangelism

You, the Evangelist…

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

Two paths lay before every soul and Jesus described them clearly:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14).
“…Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.’” (John 10:7-9).

In the classic novel by John Bunyon, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian stands before this gate, seeking entrance…

…At last there came a grave person to the gate, named Goodwill, who asked who was there, and whence he came, and what he would have.
Christian: Here is a poor burdened sinner. I come from the city of Destruction, but am going to Mount Zion, that I may be delivered from the wrath to come; I would therefore, sir, since I am informed that by this gate is the way thither, know if you are willing to let me in.
Goodwill: I am willing with all my heart, said he; and with that he opened the gate.
…So when he was got in, the man of the Gate asked him who directed him thither.
Christian: Evangelist bid me come hither and knock, as I did: and he said, that you, sir, would tell me what I must do.
Goodwill: An open door is set before thee, and no man can shut it.
Christian: Now I begin to reap the benefits of my hazards.

Evangelist bid me come hither,” replies Christian. The term “Evangel” originates from two Greek words: eu (well) and angelein (announce). Essentially it means ‘bringing good news.’ An “Evangelist” is a person who does this, the one who brings the good news. Without this herald, none can be saved.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” writes Paul (Rom. 10:13). But how can anyone know this if there is no one to tell them? He continues…

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’” (Rom. 10:14-15).

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

We are Christ’s ambassadors,” Paul writes elsewhere. “God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” (2 Cor. 5:20 – NLT). “By the Holy Spirit we take God into Creation,” challenged Pat Emerick, one of our recent Revival Conference speakers. And Jesus’ commission to every believer is very clear: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

Every believer is called by God to do this — and every believer can! If you know how to gossip, you know how to evangel. It’s simply a matter of content!

Another conference presenter, Manuel Brayley, showed us a tiny seed, and then a fully grown apple. He reminded us that we are all landscape-changing ‘Johnny Appleseeds.’ We sow the seeds of the gospel and our efforts are not wasted — God, through Isaiah, has guaranteed it:

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:10-11).

two men talking on focus photography

Be an evangel in the setting and situation in which God has placed you. You are His agent there. Your story is precisely the one needed among those very people around you. You are not in your place by accident, but by appointment. Rely on His Spirit. Walk through all doors He opens to you. Be obedient moment by moment; open your mouth when He tells you and trust that He indeed will fill it with the life-giving words that are needed.

Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (Ps. 126:6).

Nothing of your testimony is ever wasted!

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 11/7/19 – Discipleship – Fellowship

Beware the past…

20191106_065207At age 61 just two years before his death from kidney failure C.S. Lewis wrote In a letter to a friend, “We must beware of the past, mustn’t we? …This is one of the dangers of being, like you and me, old. There’s so much past, now, isn’t there? And so little else. But we must try very hard not to keep on endlessly chewing the cud.”

Waxing nostalgic, consolidating one’s lifetime, is a typical phase of human experience in later years. For those whose hope is in this life only the temptation is great to live in one’s past, retelling the old stories again and again, in efforts to glean self-worth and life-purpose from them.

man carrying backpack while walking on a paved pathway

But Lewis is correct, for the Christian this indulgence holds a danger. “There’s so much past, now,” writes Lewis, “And so little else.” But he knows better. Little left of this life, certainly. But the believer is only now about to be born. Eternity which all his life has ached in his heart* is now about to be actualized.

There’s no stopping this. For the lost this fact should strike terror, “a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire” (Heb. 10:27), but the believer should be “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Pet. 1:8). Looking ahead to this should occupy his thoughts and desires more and more. Do not let nostalgia turn your thoughts backward.

“We carry our mortality about with us,” wrote Augustine, “You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.”

three men standing near window

We need to encourage one another as we draw to the end of this age, en masse or each in our time. Scripture urges us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:23-25)

Fellowship. None of us was meant to walk this pilgrimage alone. Together we all follow one Lord and we all form one body. We are all one in Christ (see Rom. 12:5; Gal. 3:28). You need your local family of God and they need you. Encourage… be encouraged. Don’t look back… Grow in God!

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:62).

Join us as we gather and grow together in God by seeking His Face and sitting under His Word… confessing and ministering to God and to one another.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

* God has “set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

20191103_152246This week at Lincoln Baptist Church you have a wonderful opportunity to seek the Lord. Join us for the Sermonindex Revival Conference — in person, or online. Go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website for details

Thursday, 10/31/19 – Discipleship – A Parable on Prayer

A Parable on Prayer

I have a friend. I’ll call him Tom.

photograph of men having conversation seating on chair

Tom and I often get together for coffee. I like Tom, and I think he likes me. It’s just that… well, when we meet together I feel like I must converse with him in a few ‘quirky’ ways. Sometimes this make me feel like I don’t even want to keep some of our coffee dates!

For example, when I talk with Tom I feel I must use special “Tom” words. I’ve heard other people talk to Tom using these words so I guess I just feel Tom expects it. I’m not even sure what some of these words mean!

adult child daylight enjoyment

I’ve seen other people talk to Tom while in a specific yoga-like position. In fact, most times they talk with Tom they get into this position. The position feels odd to me but I guess Tom must like it. Myself, I find it kind of uncomfortable. But maybe Tom listens better when I do it.

photo of men talking with each other

I’ve often wondered if I shouldn’t get someone else to talk directly to Tom for me. I could get comfortable and use regular words to tell this person what I want to say to Tom, and they could talk to Tom for me… doing it all the “right” ways — like an interpreter.

Then I think that Tom likes me to raise topics with Him is a certain order, or at least be sure I include these four essential areas every conversation: 1. I must tell Tom some things I appreciate about Him. 2. I must apologize to Tom for anything I might have done that offended him and ask him to forgive me. Tom is always quick to forgive, so I don’t mind doing this… but I’m afraid one day Tom might not want to forgive me, or that I might forget something and Tom would be angry! 3. I must thank Tom for any special things he’s done for me and for being my friend. 4. If I do all these right then it’s OK for me to ask Tom for his help if I’m struggling with something.

photo of men pointing to each other

I also feel I must use certain phrases throughout our conversation… phrases I think Tom likes to hear because I hear other people using them whenever they talk with Tom. Things like “as I know you’d agree,” or, “like you’ve written me before,” or making sure to address him with his full family name, “Thomas James Smith.” And when it’s time for us to part I make certain I always say, “I agree with all you have said,” just so there’s no doubt.

There are other “rules” like these that I think I must follow… other “quirky” things I am always trying to remember and get right. Sometimes all this makes me think I really don’t know how to talk to Tom at all. I find it all very stressful!

two man walking in between of buildings toward with concrete building

Last time we got together I decided to lay this all out before Tom. He listened patiently as I rattled off my “quirky rules” list. When I was all done Tom laughed.. and said, “You know I’ve been wondering why you’ve talked to me like that. I’ve been longing for the day you would just be yourself with me and chat with me like you do with any good friend. After all, that’s what we are… friends, right?

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 10/24/19 – Discipleship – The Bible

Selecting a Bible Translation

photo of child reading holy bible

If you are a new believer in Christ you may not have a Bible of your own. Or, perhaps you have an old 1611 King James Bible but find it difficult to understand. If so, then ‘Job #1′ for you is this:

Prayerfully select a Bible translation you understand.

silhouette of man

I don’t just mean a Bible in a language you understand, although that too would certainly be necessary, but I mean a Bible translation that connects with your world, your vernacular and generation.

Consider for example the differences in these renditions of Hebrews 1:3

King James Version (KJV) – 1611

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:”

New Living Translation (NLT) – 1996

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

Both bring the same message, but the second, though a bit longer, uses words that many find easier to understand. There is only one Word of God, but there are many ways to convey it.

person throwing fish net while standing on boat

Consider this: When Jesus called the fishermen brothers Peter and Andrew, He said, “Come…and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matt. 4:19). Jesus did not call Matthew in this way. Matthew was a tax collector. What did Matthew know about fishing? But all twelve were called to the same calling – to testify to Christ’s ministry and become evangels of the gospel.

In one of his letters to the Corinthian believers Paul alludes to the need for clear communication,

“Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor. 14:9)

Paul knew the value in framing the gospel to relate to his audience. Elsewhere he writes, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22).

books in black wooden book shelf

Here in Canada we are blessed with an enormous abundance of freely available Bible translations, study aids and devotional materials. Take your time… try several out; perhaps ask a mature believer or bookstore salesperson to help you.

belief bible book business

Once you’ve made your selection and are ready to read, develop right away the habit of praying before you begin. Invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to what the Lord wants to say to you today. When you do this, you will never read the Bible alone.

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” (Psalm 119:18).

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 10/17/19 – Discipleship – Priorities

Stones of Help

For twenty long years the ark of God had remained at Keriath Jearim. It had been deposited there for safe-keeping after the boils-stricken Philistines returned it to Israel in an effort to break their plague. But now the straying Israelites had grown fearful of it. They had grown fearful because they had distanced themselves from God.

adult alone anxious black and white

Yet now they were returning to Him. They “mourned and sought after the Lord” (1 Sam. 7:2). They trashed their false idols and prayed once again that Jehovah would deliver them from the oppression of the Philistines. It all culminated in a showdown at Mizpah. What happened next is best left told by scripture itself:

While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.” (1 Sam. 7:10-11).

Clearly, something unusual occurred. Something undoubtedly divine which threw the well-armed, battle-toughened Philistines into what sounds like a mass panic attack! They ran, the Israelites charged, and the Lord gave them victory!

20191014_063707
Inukshuk “we were here”

Such a happening demanded a memorial. So Samuel took what was handy… what was local… “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (v.12). Ebenezer means “Stone of help” and like the Inuit inukshuk these stones conveyed meaning.

Ebenezers are important in one’s life. Like height marks on a doorframe, old photos, wedding rings or a flag on the moon these all mark milestones. They remind us of commitments made, faithfulness shown, past accomplishments, or even defeats which warn us when passing by there again. Scars or medals. Both tell their stories.

notebook

Ebenezers remind us of what is essentially important. Thus, they help us set and keep our priorities… God’s priorities.

What priorities do you need to establish / re-establish, or memorialize. Perhaps today is a good day for rededication – a rededication you can commit to and seal by God’s help with some Ebenezer to help keep you on track.

Do not clutter your faith, but confirm it. Mark it with a moment… an altar call, a cross.

Tomorrow marks a special landmark or two for me. Join me then and I’ll share it with you.

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 10/10/19 – Discipleship – Freedom!

Free for all…

“Jesus said, ‘… you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’ Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (John 8:31-36).

woman in maroon shirt with black chain on her body

One reason more people do not flock to Jesus for salvation and freedom is they, like these folk, do not realize they are enslaved. “We… have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

But being under the dictates of a physical taskmaster is only one way a person might be enslaved. We can be enslaved by circumstances, living conditions, illness, memories and regrets, compulsions or obsessions, spiritual bondage, fears, a vengeful heart, guilt or other matters of conscience.

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Without Christ we are all “slaves to sin,” filled with worry, purposelessness and a fear of death.

Without Christ we are also slaves to the only nature within us, the carnal nature. Ultimately it produces actions (or “works”) such as these: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” (Gal. 5:19, 20).

But Christ gives us a new “nature.” He gives us His very own!

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

The child of God has a choice! A new nature works within him “to will and to act” (Phil. 3:13) as God desires — in ways we were created to be, and do — ways which give us the greatest joy and fulfillment. Scripture calls these ways “fruit,” and like fruit they grow and develop effortlessly, are beautiful to see, and provide nourishment to others. You’ll find a starter list in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23).

The duty of the new or seasoned believer is to choose the new nature over the old nature at every crossroad of decision. We are called to swim against the current of this fallen world, our own depraved urges of the flesh, and the schemes, wiles and temptations of the devil – that old and desperate liar with a gripe against God.

The Christian’s freedom is in having this choice, and the enabling of God’s Spirit. Then the more he chooses rightly the more he will be transformed, desiring the good more than the evil.

Paul exhorts us to be strong in this,

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… / You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh… / …walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:1, 13, 16-18)

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (John 8:36).

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Thursday, 10/3/19 – Discipleship – Assurance

Another OCD…

semi open white wooden door

One behaviour associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the urge to continually check oneself. Did I really lock the door? … close the window? … turn off the tap? Sufferers are ‘compelled’ to return again and again to the door… the window… the faucet… to check, double-check and triple-check their actions.

This need for constant reassurance can be exhausting for the person with OCD, but even more troublesome is the believer who struggles with another sort of OCD — lets call it Obsessive Christian Doubting – one who seeks constant reassurance that he or she is indeed loved and saved by Christ.

What every believer young or old must firmly establish in their heart and thinking is that though their emotions will vary from day-to-day, one’s salvation is based on something far more stable and enduring: the eternal Word of God!

white and black anchor with chain at daytime

In Hebrews we read, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Heb. 6:19) – and as any seaman will tell you, though a ship bob’s up and down sometimes even violently, an anchor does not move!

David rejoiced, “Your Word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Ps. 119:89).

Isaiah conveyed God’s Promise, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isa. 55:11).

Paul reminded young Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:16).

photo of person flipping book page

Peter affirmed, “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:20-21)

  • It is by the Word of God that we know our lost state: Rom. 3:23, Isa. 59:2…
  • And the consequence of it: Rom. 6:23, Rev. 21:8…
  • And it is by the Word of God that we know of Christ our Saviour: John 1:1-18, 1 John 1:1-10…
  • His Love and Gift: John 3:16, 1 John 4:10…
  • And how we are to receive Him: John 3:17-18, Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, 16:31, Rom. 10:9…

When I made a public profession of faith in Christ some fifty years ago a counselor told me this simple triplet: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!”

Christ is our sacrifice once for all. We need not continually check and recheck if He still loves us… if we are still in the family of God. Like a baby learning to walk, when we fall we do not need to be born all over again! We need only admit we have fallen, get up, and press on.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32).

Press on…

20190522_065320Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ? Or, perhaps you would you like to know how to begin this journey and take the very first of the First Steps by turning from your current path and committing your path to Christ? — Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.