The job of the evangelist is not done until the evangelized becomes the evangelist.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:16-17 KJVR

Evangelism is nothing more than one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brothers building Brothers - Daniel 1:8

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.  Daniel 1:8
 
Just how scared were Daniel and his three friends?  I don’t think I even have a clue as to what it was like for these young men to be ripped away from their homes and their families and everything that meant anything to them.   This must have been a truly frightening experience.  In Habakkuk we find a description of the kidnappers.  God says, “I am raising up the Chaldeans a bitter and hasty nation . . . they are terrible and dreadful . . . they come for violence.” Habakkuk 1:6-9
 
I believe that the action described in Daniel 1:8 explains for us the reason that Daniel and his friends were able to respond as they did to this difficult trial.  The verse says that, “Daniel purposed in his heart.”  The importance of being prepared for life’s challenges cannot be over stated.  I am convinced that the reason we so often fail when trials come is that we have never thought through the temptation possibilities.
 
Some might say that is a rather negative way to live.  After all, thinking of all the bad things that could happen and preparing your response sounds like a real downer.  Of course that is not what I am suggesting.  However there is a heart decision that we need to be making moment by moment; a decision not to defile ourselves with the king’s delicacies.  And delicacies they are.  Sin is so sweet for a season; and of course that is what makes it so difficult for us to be consistent in avoiding temptation.
 
Daniel had some time to make his decision.  It is a long march from Judea to Babylon.  You and I have time also, but the problem is we do not take advantage of it.  We tend to fill it up with mind numbing activities that do us no good when the time comes to resist the Devil.  As we march through our day we need to spend much time in scripture and at least a little time contemplating the approach of temptation and purposing in our heart not to defile ourselves.
 
Purposing today,
Your brother Jack

Friday, September 9, 2011

Centuries from now, could there be signs of your small group?

Centuries from now, could there be signs of your small group?

A startling story, now a mixture of fable and fact, is told of Oxford University's New College Hall. When the Hall's stunning vaulted ceiling--of 18" oak beams twenty feet in length--was found with a devastating infestation of powder-post beetles, the university's forester was summoned. Were beams of this size--of this quality--accessible? How much did they cost?

And that's when the fascinating answer surfaced. When New College first received its charter in 1379, an entire oak grove had been planted for replacement of the hall. They had planned six centuries ahead. The grove continually reseeded itself with acorns, so as beams were milled to replace those infested, the process had already begun again.

Sustainability like this--in much smaller terms--has become an environmental buzzword as we discuss topics like "carbon footprints" and "reduce, reuse, recycle." But small groups, too, can glean much from the sustainability of these pioneers from Oxford. Small groups can far outlive themselves by creating more disciples through ministry, whether as individuals or together. Feasibly, there could be repercussions of your group hundreds of years from now. But what does that look like? And where should you start?

Turn your eyes upward and outward. Small groups are critical for discipleship of their members. The Bible is clear that God cares more about the condition of our hearts than what's outward. But God is also clear that action follows faith. What vision does God have for your group? Could it reproduce itself in vital ministry--and thrive even more? Acts 13:2 mentions that while the believers at Antioch "were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'" As a group, spend time praying for clarity, vision, and love that compels you to reach outward in your community.

Discover passions and gifts. God has brought your group--and the stories of each member--together. You may seek out online spiritual gift inventories (your church may have one already). Spend time discussing personality, passion, aptitudes, and experiences. Talk about how God may be weaving those into one big arrow pointing to his purposes. As time allows, meet with members one-on-one to help them explore and pursue a vision for their part in the Body of Christ.

Take action every week. Each week pick someone outside of your group who needs to be encouraged. Pray for them, and pass around a note card for everyone to write an encouraging message to them. As individuals, pick non-Christians to pray for weekly, and look for opportunities to begin God-directed conversations--possibly about topics you've discussed in small group.

Invest down. Consider how you can invest in the lives of one another's children. What are the needs your kids have--or opportunities you'd like them to have? Discuss how you can provide some investment in the needs and opportunities of kids in your community group or church. Consider inviting kids from the neighborhood to be involved as well.

Take turns. Each week, assign a different couple in your group to come with a person in mind who is in need (not a faceless organization) and what you can do to help meet that need. If materials or funds are required, consider taking up an offering of sacrificial giving. Come back and report on what action was taken.

Start small. Dream big. As you stretch your wings, there are plenty of ways for people to completely exhaust their energies and resources. Rather than burning out, seek God-given, God-sized vision that results in your group wisely, generously pouring itself out in love rather than overextending itself. Help your group remember that ministry doesn't make us more acceptable in God's sight. It's an outpouring of what we've been given freely.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Brothers building Brothers

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.  Hebrews 1:1

I love the consistency of the word of God.  In the book of James the bibles says that “faith without works is dead”, and for those like me who believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone there is always going to be that tension that must exist in the area of faith and works.  Hebrews 1:1 has helped me take a giant leap toward resolving the “apparent “conflict.

The question that came to my mind this time as I read this passage was: “How can faith be evidence?”  Faith itself is really not visible, is it?  What a revelation! Yes it is.  I have spent a rather significant amount of time during my ministry career explaining how salvation is by faith alone, and yet it must be accompanied by the requisite works to be valid faith; when all time it seems I missed the biblical definition of faith all together.

Some will call me a heretic, but I’ll risk it, when I say faith and work are one in the same according to the biblical definition.  Faith is substance and faith is evidence.  By faith Able offered his sacrifice and by it the evidence was conclusive that “he was righteous” (vs.4).  By faith Enoch walked with God and God took him (Gen 5:24) leaving behind the evidence that “he pleased God” (vs.5).  By faith Noah prepared an Ark providing evidence that he had inherited righteousness (vs.7).  By faith Abraham obeyed and we know the evidence of righteousness he left behind.

In each case faith was a substantive thing an evidence of righteousness; faith and works are one in the same.  Uh oh; do I feel a conviction coming on?  Why would I ever have a difficulty with the relationship of faith and works?  Could it be that the problem lies in the fact that I am trying to excuse my inactivity?  Could I be trying to excuse the fact that many times my faith is barely visible?  Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.  According to Hebrews my faith should be the evidence!

Stepping on my own toes again,
Your brother Jack

Monday, May 9, 2011

Brothers building Brothers

And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  1Corinthians 6:11

In my reading this morning I was once again struck by the completeness of Christ’s work on my behalf.  How is it that I can claim any credit for any part of my salvation?  The first phrase of the verse refers me back to a description of what I was without Christ and it isn’t pretty.  However time after time when I give the Gospel the individual insists that; “I’m not that bad I’m just like everyone else”.  Why is it that as long as we’re talking large numbers of people it makes sin OK?  If I remember correctly God destroyed the entire population of the earth minus eight because of sin and his holiness and justice hasn’t changed since Noah’s time.

I want so much to be able to convince people that just because everyone else is doing it, the consequences are not mitigated.  And many times I am tempted to do the convicting myself.  But just like the washing, the sanctifying and the justifying in the verse above, the convicting is of God also.  I can be direct, clear and unambiguous but without the Spirit’s work the person will nod their head in agreement and walk into an eternity without Christ.

But O what joy when you see the light come on and the person realizes for the first time that they are hopelessly lost and in an act of desperate self preservation they reach out to Jesus.  Then God washes them and sanctifies them and justifies them and the process begins all over again.

Share the Gospel today!
Your brother Jack

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Brothers building Brothers

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . .  Acts 4:8a
Is it our custom to speak for our Lord, only when we are filled with the Holy Spirit?  Sadly, too often my motives are less than holy and my power is less than spiritual.  As believers we are tasked with spreading the Gospel and because we are indwelt by the Spirit of God we are fully equipped to communicate for God.  However when I am faced with the opportunity to speak for my Lord there are a host of competing motives and sinful human desires seeking to be satisfied by my “godly” actions.
Peter and John were arrested for doing a good deed and had every human right to react indignantly toward their captors, but they instead were filled with the Spirit and thus spoke.  That did not happen automatically.  There was a preparation of heart that began days before on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, (John 21) and continued in the upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:12-14).  The preparation basically included confession of sin and corporate prayer and fellowship.
We are once again faced with a new week not knowing what the Lord has in store for us.  What we do know is that we are still on mission and through confession of sin fellowship with the believers and a constant attitude of prayer we can, like Peter, be filled with the Spirit and say to them . . .
Praying for you mission,
Your brother Jack