Showing posts from April, 2009

Show and Tell Witness

This morning I read a blog by Patricia Hickman, an author, explaining how to effectively communicate your faith in fiction writing. One phrase struck me as key; show and tell witness. I think one of the hurdles that many believers find difficult to leap over is knowing that their lives don't mesh with their spoken story. In my personal experience, the most gratifying witnessing experiences have come from someone acknowledging that they see something different and attractive in my life. This provides a perfect opening for sharing my faith story and, more times than not, result in the person taking the step of faith to trust Jesus.
In looking at the ministry of Jesus, many of his encounters which led to sharing the Good News sprang from people recognizing a difference in Him that drew them to seek to know why. The woman at the well, the rich young ruler and Nicodemus are all examples of how His life prompted questions about what others could do to experience such a life.
A daily …

Not Everyone is Welcome

Yesterday I preached from Matthew 7:21-23. That is a passage that always grabs my attention when I read it. The bottom line of the passage is that Jesus says that not everyone is welcome in His kingdom of heaven. Many church-goers will find themselves excluded. Why? Primarily because they skipped first base in their pursuit of a home in heaven. Rather than starting with a relationship with God through Jesus, they went straight to church membership and "good works" which they decided on themselves.
The scriptures are very clear that the starting point (first base) is recognizing that one is separated from God because of sin; confessing and repenting of that sin (turning from self & sin to the Savior) and receiving Jesus as Lord of their life. I told a group of leaders just yesterday that I found it maddening that it was harder to join the Kiwanis Club than most Baptist Churches. When I preached in Russia several years ago, those who responded to the altar call were…

The Pursuit of "Fun"

I've just returned from four days of visiting four Disney parks in Orlando, FL. Most of our days, with four of our grand children, our daughter and husband, ran about 10-12 hours in the park. In addition to walking many miles, I had some "down" time to engage in my favorite sport, people watching. What I saw amazed me. The majority of the people I encountered were in a hurry as they almost jogged from one venue to the next. Intricate planning was involved with many of them. I overheard detailed discussions of what, when and where as groups or families were moving around the park. Often I saw little kids, way past their point of enjoyment, being dragged by parents who were hurrying them to the next event or ride. As the day progressed and the temperatures rose, so did the decibels of the voices. By mid to late afternoon, more and more young ones were asleep either in their rented strollers or in a parent's arms.
One almost got the feeling watching this frenzy …

Being Intentional as a Church

Over the Easter weekend and in the week following I have observed an interesting phenomenon among churches. Many of the newer church plants (w/in last 10 years) were extremely intentional about getting un-churched people into their Easter services while the older, more established churches seemed to rely on a "they know where we are" approach. The end result was that most of the "intentional" churches recorded large numbers of guests and, more importantly, recorded many professions of faith.
I love my church. I love the pastor, the staff and the people. However, on Easter we only had a slight attendance "bump" and no decisions for Christ. We really didn't plan for any increase in attendance, we did very little in the way of promotion, there was little different about the service except for a couple of extra musical numbers. The pastor preached a solid evangelistic message to a group of people who largely thought of themselves as already being bel…

The Day After Easter

On that first post-Easter, the disciples' heads were spinning. They were trying to wrap their minds around what they had seen, heard and experienced over the past 36 hours. They had perceived that the vision they had embraced for the future was dead, but no...He was alive!!! Now what? The message from their risen Lord was, "Wait".
Today we no longer have to wait. We have the benefit of their experiences. The Holy Spirit has already come, and is alive in every believer, and available to empower us as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission. I was thrilled this weekend as I read "tweets" from pastors around our nation of hundreds of people making professions of faith in Christ. But now, the real work begins. Our mandate is to "make disciples, teaching them to observe (obey) all that I (Jesus) have commanded you." To quote an old southern preacher,Vance Havner, "Salvation is the end, but it is the FRONT end." Each of those new believe…

Dear Jesus

I just wanted to write and say "thank You". I often thank You for stuff You've done for me, for answers to prayer, etc. but I don't remember lately thanking You for what You endured on my behalf during that first passion week.
Thank You for the intense prayer session You had in the garden.
Thank You for putting up with a sham trial that You and everyone else knew was rigged from the start.
Thank You for enduring the ridicule, slapping, punching, pulling out of Your beard, and spit in the face from the soldiers.
Thank You for maintaining your dignity and refusing to react to the questions and accusations of those who were "trying" You.
Thank You for enduring the scourging that would have killed lesser men.
Thank You for dying a heinous death on the cross, not for anything You had done, but for my sins.
Thank You for experiencing the desolation when Your Father turned His back on You, so that He would never turn His back on me.
Thank You most of all that You triumph…