Friday, January 28, 2005

EVANGELISM - As the Father sent Him, so He sends you!

ALMOST PERSUADED! [Various; other topics - Outreach, Persistence, Soul-winning]

Every trip we make to one of our national parks someone in our family tries to feed a squirrel or chipmunk. In every instance the animal doesn’t trust us or any one else. Even though we leave a peanut for the animal again and again, it won’t trust us … again and again! The ingrate is never quite persuaded.

Inside, people are like these animals: wild, small, nervous, paranoid, filled with fears. But the writer of the song, “Almost Persuaded,” didn’t write it because he believed people were hopelessly lost. Rather, he wrote it because he knew it might be the next spiritual peanut which would persuade another sinner to receive what Jesus has offered … freedom from all their fears and life everlasting.

BEING SOMEBODY! [Proverbs 11:30; other topics - Soul-winning]

Lily Tomlin is supposed to have said, “I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.”

We all need goals, and the more specific the goal the easier it is to accomplish; and the easier it is to know when you’ve achieved it. To many people set vague goals and end up being what they do not want to be.

Christians are supposed to be Christ-like … to demonstrate the characteristics of our Lord. More specifically, we are to desire his communicable attributes (loving, goodness, kindness; gentleness, patience, truthfulness, justice, wisdom, etc.) … those characteristics which make Him who He is.

Unfortunately, soul-winning is like Bible reading: Barna reports 75% of Americans believe it’s important to read the Bible daily, yet only 13% actually read it daily.

FROM SAVING EYES TO SAVING SOULS! [Matthew 28:19, 20; other topics - Fruit Bearing, Sowing and Reaping, Witness]

Bob Reccord, president & CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, relates a story of an ophthalmologist Howard Hendricks thought was the greatest witness for Jesus Christ in Dallas, Texas.

It seems the good Dr. came under conviction when some students asked if he had ever led anyone to the Lord. Even though he had been active in his evangelical church for twelve years, he had not led anyone to the throne of grace personally. At the students encouragement he joined a training program and learned to share his faith; he became a fervent witness for the Good News.

Years later, when Hendricks visited a remote part of India, he used the story of this ophthalmologist turned evangelist to illustrate a point. He did not however use the Dr.’s name.

Later, an Indian doctor approached Hendricks and said, “You were talking about _______ ” (giving the doctor’s name). “How did you know?” Hendricks asked. “I went to medical school in Dallas, I went to see him about my eyes. He led me to Christ and discipled me.” The native doctor replied.

Today this Indian doctor is the only licensed neurosurgeon in his part of India. He has tremendous influence for Jesus as a result of an American eye doctor who overcame his indifference concerning witnessing.

When you truly comprehend the love of the One who gave His life while you were yet a sinner, you are compelled to tell someone about Him. Lovers introduce their loved ones to others.

[Adapted from: “Beware of rabbit-hole Christianity,” On Mission; Vol. 2, No. 3, July-August 1999, 7]

HARVESTING CHURCHES! [Mat. 28:19-20; other topics - Soul-winning]

Jesus said, “Follow after Me, and I’ll cause you to be fishers of men.” [Mark 1:17; my translation] Jesus intends for us to be fishers of men; He intends for us to be actively fishing; He intends us to bring in the catch!

In an article in NEXT magazine, Geo. Hunter III catalogues what he found as common denominators in harvesting churches: [Current Thoughts & Trends; January 97, p.17; #11753]

1.) Harvesting churches are rooted in God’s Word - through sound preaching, teaching, and small group studies!
2.) They target the lost and unchurched; and care about them!
3.) They are pro-active and expectant in prayer!
4.) They are committed to the Great Commission!
5.) They share a rich vision of what individuals can become in Christ (i.e., fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ)!
6.) They learn the language and culture of the unchurched!
7.) They minister to the “life concerns” of the lost and the unchurched (e.g., health, parenting, relationships, etc.)!
8.) Their message is relevant across generational lines!
9.) They emphasize lay ministry according to giftedness!
10.) They recognize “shepherds do not make new sheep; sheep make new sheep”!
11.) They’re not content with their ranks swelling with nominal Christians!

Harvesting churches recognize it’s “always” harvest time for those who follow Jesus; they are willing to get in the field and pick the fruit. Key for these churches is the realization, by their people, that understanding of one’s faith grows as one regularly explains it to others!

HELP ME, I'VE FALLEN! [Matthew 25:40; other topics - Witnessing]

You’re walking down the street at night following a late business meeting; in fact it’s after midnight. You’re on your way to a public parking lot and pass several rather dingy bars. Near a dimly lit intersection, just a few feet out in the street, between two parked cars, you see the figure of a man crumpled up on the pavement. It’s a bum, a drunk; a man too blighted to know he’s fallen, too sloshed to get up even if he did.

There’s no traffic on the street but you hear the sound of vehicles on those nearby. It’ll only be a matter of time before a delivery truck or a cab speeds down the road. They won’t see the guy until they hit him. The man isn’t asking you to get involved; there’s no, “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” In fact, at the moment the boozer could care less. But, if the poor soul knew what was about to happen to him, don’t you think he would plead for help? What should you do?

Most, if not all, true-believers would go to his aid; they would take the time to lend assistance.

Mankind is lost and dead in his trespasses; he’s too sin-filled to know what has happened to him, too carnal to care. There he is, lying in the path of destruction, in need of assistance.

Lost people aren’t going to ask you to get involved; in truth, based on experience, I’d say most of them want you to leave them alone. But, if those poor souls were to know what was about to happen to them, don’t you think they would cry out to be pulled out of the way of God’s coming judgment? At least to be shown how they could be saved from it?

Witnessing is not like breathing, it’s like eating. The former is done absent-mindedly, out of necessity; the later is a deliberate act, requiring a certain amount of preparation and a conscious desire to act.

MULTIPLICATION GARDENS! [Luke 8:8; other topics - Church Growth, Fruit Bearing]

In a friend’s garden is what my friend calls “multiplying” onions. I love onions more than my wife wishes, but these I especially love.

Where most onions have just the bulb in the ground, these have them on the stem ends as well; each onion has three or four onion bulbs on each mature stem. It is a very peculiar plant.

Then again, so are the children of God; each is to be planted in the good soil; each is to bear fruit … a hundred times. We are to be multiplying Christians.

NO "PLAN B"! [Psalm 68:20; other topics – Lost, Salvation, Sovereignty or Will (of God)]

Mall managers all over the world are concerned about teens using their centers as hangouts. In some malls, hundreds of teens are present at the same time for no other reason than that "There’s nothing to do." How do you keep them from congregating in annoying packs?

The Warrawong Westfield mall in Wollongong (yes, there is really a place by this name south of Sydney, Australia ) arrived at this original solution: they play Bing Crosby music, loudly, over the mall’s public address system. And it works (or at least we’re told it works).

Being good business people they have a Plan B in the event Plan A doesn’t work: lighting that amplifies facial blemishes will be installed.

Fortunately, God doesn’t need or want a Plan B. His Plan A has always been certain of success; it has always been to seek and to save that which was lost [Luke 19:10]. When all has been said and done, there will be no one in Hell who can wag his finger at Heaven and proclaim, "There’s been a mistake; I don’t belong here!"

NOTHING CAN RESTRAIN! [Matthew 28:18-20; Soul-winning; Witnessing]

A Haitian mute preaches the gospel in his small village. "There is something quite amazing about this young man," a church planter in the village told Christian Aid Mission. "Even though he cannot hear or speak, he is sharing the gospel with the people around him."

The young man uses pantomime in acting out the story of Jesus Christ. By refusing to let his handicap stand in the way, he is provoking others to be more evangelistic.
What can we say? We know what God will say to this young man, right after his tongue is restored, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

TELL THE WATCHMEN – IT AIN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER! [Ezekiel 3:16-21; other topics - Overcoming, Perseverance, Watchmen]

It’s a strange feeling, being a Christian: when is our work finished? A painter knows a house is finished when all the areas needing painting are painted. An author knows his book is done when it goes to publication. A coach knows the game is finished when the final whistle blows. A driver knows the race is over when the checkered flag is waved. A general knows the battle is over when the enemy surrenders. An audience knows the concerto has reached its end when the orchestra stops playing and the conductor turns to take a bow. A heart surgeon knows his treatment is over when his patient sends him a photo of himself surfing the Pipeline in Hawaii.

Until then they keep painting, writing, exhorting, driving, fighting, enjoying, and treating.

Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” Well, when is it over? Not until the Lord says it’s over. Until then, we just keep on watching and warning.

Those of us who serve as watchmen often feel no one hears our warning cry. We see the sheep in the pew but know most of them are not hearing the warnings. They come to hear a “good talk” or be entertained or be inspired or be seen … but there is nothing in what we say that is “talk,” and we certainly don’t entertain … and only the Lord inspires and we are seen, just as we are! [Hebrews 4:12, 13]

Until it’s over we must keep on keeping on … there are enemies in the camp, there are enemies outside the camp, still we must keep on warning.

TO SEEK AND SAVE! [2 Corinthians 3:3; Other topics - Good News, Salvation, Witness]

An Internet company named Napster has been in the news a lot this year. They offer a program which allows its clients to obtain free music on the Internet. Like many webbed-based businesses their success has been phenomenal. Most record companies and rock bands don’t share their enthusiasm, however. Many organizations are taking to the courts for legal and financial protection.

Why is that? It’s because Napster enables you to locate your favorite songs on other computers, download, catalog, and share them with friends. The format (MP3) allows users to store near-CD-quality re-cordings, copyrighted or not.

The issue of copyright is confusing is not clear on the Internet. Artists should have control over their work; after all, it's the way they make their living. The related issues are far from resolved.

In the same sense, salvation is also available for download, at any time – the connection is always open – without copyright restrictions. God offers eternal life through Jesus Christ free to anyone who believes. You can't buy sal-vation anyway; God’s only Son paid the price.

Jesus is seeking lost human "hard drives" for saving. God has opted to use Christians to share the Good News, sort of like browsers (the interface software between a computer and the Internet).

If you have a personal relationship with God through Christ, chances are someone downloaded the Good News to you for free. Why not do the same for someone else today? You won't get into any legal trouble, His message was designed to be shared!

Source/Attribution: Love for Jesus Org., Hesperia, CA, 24 February 2001

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