Browsing Category

Evangelism

Book Highlights, Christian Life, Culture, Evangelism

Book Quotes: Total Truth

September 14, 2015

Periodically I share some highlights from the books I’ve been reading. Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. It’s easily one of the best worldview books that I’ve ever read, and I would highly recommend it to all!

 

 

—-

It’s crucial for us to realize that nonbelievers are constantly filtering what we say through a mental fact/value grid. For example, when we state a position on an issue like abortion or bioethics or homo-sexuality, we intend to assert an objective moral truth important to the health of society—but they think we’re merely expressing our subjective bias. When we say there’s scientific evidence for design in the universe, we intend to stake out a testable truth claim—but they say, “Uh oh, the Religious Right is making a political power grab.” The fact/value grid instantly dissolves away the objective content of anything we say, and we will not be successful in introducing the content of our belief into the public discussion unless we first find ways to get past this gatekeeper.

—-

Developing a Christian worldview means submitting our entire self to God, in an act of devotion and service to Him.

—-

Every philosophy or ideology has to answer the same fundamental questions: 1. CREATION: How did it all begin? Where did we come from? 2. FALL: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering? 3. REDEMPTION: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again? By applying this simple grid, we can identify nonbiblical worldviews, and then analyze where they go wrong.

—-

The Christian message does not begin with “accept Christ as your Savior”; it begins with “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

—-

The Bible treats sin primarily as a matter of turning away from God and serving other gods, and only secondarily in terms of lists of specific immoral behaviors. The first commandment is, after all, the first commandment—the rest follows only after we are straight about whom or what it is that we are worshiping.

—-

Artists are often the barometers of society, and by analyzing the world-views embedded in their works we can learn a great deal about how to address the modern mind more effectively.

—-

The best way to drive out a bad worldview is by offering a good one, and Christians need to move beyond criticizing culture to creating culture.

—-

“Contrary to the expectations of the Enlightenment,” Lewy concludes, “freeing individuals from the shackles of traditional religion does not result in their moral uplift.” To the contrary, the evidence now shows clearly that “no society has yet been successful in teaching morality without religion.”

—-

Most Christian students simply don’t know how to express their faith perspective in language suitable for the public square. Like immigrants who have not yet mastered the grammar of their new country, they are self-conscious. In private, they speak to one another in the mother tongue of their religion, but in class they are uncertain how to express their religious perspective in the accents of the academic world.

—-

If we start with a message of sin, without giving the context of Creation, then we will come across to nonbelievers as merely negative and judgmental…We need to begin our message where the Bible begins—with the dignity and high calling of all human beings because they are created in the image of God.

—-

The postmodern dilemma can be summed up by saying that ethics depends on the reality of something that materialistic science has declared to be unreal.

—-

We should avoid the misleading dichotomy that says evolution is scientific, while design is religious. Darwinism and design theory are not about different subjects—science versus religion. Instead they are competing answers to the same question: How did life arise in the universe? Both theories appeal to scientific data, while at the same time both have broader philosophical and religious implications.

—-

Christianity is the key that fits the lock of the universe.

—-

From 1960 to 1980 there was a striking 43 per-cent reduction in the amount of time men spend in a family environment where young children are present.

—-

Christians must not fall into the trap of assuming that paid employment is the only thing that will give women a sense of dignity. That’s a mistake secular feminists often make. Instead Christians need to challenge the prevailing ideology of success by insisting that individuals are most fulfilled when they enjoy a sense of calling or vocation—whether in paid or unpaid work. We all long for a sense that we are contributing to something larger than ourselves, to a greater good, to God’s purposes in the world.

—-

The only way the church can establish genuine credibility with nonbelievers is by showing them something they cannot explain or duplicate through their own natural, pragmatic methods — something they can explain only by invoking the supernatural.

Christian Life, Discipleship, Evangelism, Ministry Update

Evangelism and the Provoked Spirit

August 31, 2015

Does the spiritual state of your city distress you? Does the fact that so many of the people in your apartment building/neighborhood/school provoke your spirit? If not then it’s little surprise that we aren’t seeing more people come to Christ. If we’re not emotionally engaged in the plight of the lost, it’s unlikely that we’ll be engaged at all.

As the five year anniversary of Threshingfloor has come and gone I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking back to those first couple years. If I’m honest I believe that my passion for seeing people come to know Jesus has being dampened by the menial week-by-week work of “ministry” and keeping something simply running. I use quotation marks around ministry there because it’s so easy to get caught up in the logistics and habits of a program or practice and lose track of God’s true heart.

Acts 17:16 records that when the Apostle Paul was staying in the city of Athens “his spirit was provoked within him” when he saw that the people of the city were giving their lives to idols. So provoked that he headed to the public gathering place and started evangelizing, discussing, and reasoning with whoever would talk with him about the Gospel, Jesus, and the resurrection.

My friends, are our hearts provoked within us when we see the people around us sacrificing their lives to the idols of success, sexual pleasure, comfort, and a thousand others? Does seeing people held captive by addictions, lies, and satanic influences cause a righteous anger to rise within us against the gods of this world who have bound those people? Do our hearts fill with sorrow at the sight of someone disconnected from their loving Creator?

As much as we like to ignore it, we are very often led by our emotions and desires. Our mind is incredibly skilled at creating “logical” reasons why we should have what we want. Without our emotions engaged in something it inevitably becomes a back-burner, easily forgotten object.

When our hearts don’t feel the provocation that Paul felt in Athens evangelism is more of an obligation than a passion. Disciple making becomes a “ministry” rather than a joyful way of living.

Let’s set aside – for a moment – the demands of logic and let God engage our hearts fully.

Will you join me in praying, for the next seven days, that God would align our emotions with his towards the lost? I want my spirit to be provoked within me at the sight of people who need Christ. I want that provocation to be the catalyst to my action of laying down my life in love and boldly declaring Christ’s offer of salvation to any and all who will hear – from neighbor to co-worker to stranger.

Best Of, Christian Life, Evangelism, Spiritual Growth, Theology

Freedom and The Glory

July 6, 2015

 

 

The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
– Romans 8:19-21

 

Subject to frustration

You’ve seen and you’ve tasted the futility and frustration of this world, haven’t you? The pain of the stillborn child, the death of two teen boys in a sudden car crash, the hours of work that barely bring in enough money to make ends meet, the frustrated plans for a beautiful marriage. Our world was subjected to this. It wasn’t meant to be this way. Things are broken and in need of fixing.

Subjected in hope

But, unlike what modernism, post-modernism, evolution, nihilism, and their ilk want us to believe, this subjection wasn’t purposeless. It’s not the result of ten billion molecules aligning for the sake of creating purposelessness. We’re not on the treadmill until we die and then off into the void of death.

Creation (note the intentionality in that word) was subject in hope. There’s a massive difference between purposeless pain and the purposeful agony of pushing your body to accomplish a goal. This frustration and seeming futility was done with an end in mind, a hope that it will have a certain outcome. And what is that hope?

In hope of freedom

The hope is that the futility would lead to freedom. Liberation from captivity, from destruction, and from pain. No more bondage to death and decay. Subjected to captivity for the sake of freedom is a strange path to take, but it’s a pattern than God seems to repeat. Israel in Egypt for four hundred years before walking into freedom. Paul blinded and captive for days before being released to shake the world with the Gospel. Jesus bound, beaten, and killed before rising from death as ruler over all, displaying his glory.

In hope of glory

The end goal of this futility is glory. The pent-up wonder and awe that has been tamped down for millennia by the frustration of a broken world will soon explode over the horizons of creation. Glory will cover the earth like waters cover the sea. Jesus was the first deluge, but he was just the start. Just the firstborn among many sons and daughters.

Of the children of God

This freedom and glory is “of the children of God.” It’s something possessed by God’s children, given as a gift to the heirs of God’s kingdom through Christ.(Romans 8:17) Jesus purchased our adoption, yes, but this glory and freedom is ours to give. Creation’s aching and anxious for it to be revealed. God’s made the downpayment, sealed his children with the Holy Spirit and anointed us to be the ambassadors of the free and glorious kingdom that has and is to come.

The present frustration and pain is tiny in comparison to what’s coming. Creation itself is on edge in anticipation. Join in. Embrace the freedom and glory that God has given for today and lean into the future freedom and glory, so hard that you – like Jesus – become a bridge between the then and the now. Let the world taste the good future of the children of God so that they too join the family. The freedom and the glory is yours, child of God. Share it.

 

 

 

 

Christian Life, Evangelism, Spiritual Growth

The Fallout Revisited: Over-Educating a Passive People

May 25, 2015
The Fallout Revisited is an occasional series, delving back into the five plus years of archived posts here on the blog and digging up some of the highlights and posts that are still relevant. This article was originally posted January 18, 2010

—————————–

It seems to me that there is a problem common in the evangelical church, one that inhibits our ministry to those who are unreached and leaves us sitting in chairs and pews with heads full of good things that do no good at all. Our command and commission is to love God and the world He created by going into it, baptizing, making disciples, and teaching them to obey. Yet often times we get so stuck teaching people to obey the minutiae of the Lord’s commands that we forget that the greatest of them involves going out and doing, not merely avoiding sin or having the right doctrine. In the main, the church over emphasizes educating its people, a thing that has (at least) three detrimental effects on our ministry.

It causes people to value knowledge over love; right doctrine over right action; and education over relation.

Like a man building a house and caring more about what kind of screws are being used to hold the boards together that he does about building the house, many among the church today seem to be more worried about right doctrine and proper answers than they are about the church being a place where people can come to find life. It is most certainly an essential thing to have good, strong screws that will prevent a home’s frame from pulling apart under its own weight, but if the home is never built and no one is sheltered by it from the storms outside, what good is the thing? We need sound doctrine and deep knowledge, as well as people educated in the things of the Lord, but those things are not the thing.The thing is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor like you do yourself, and that through fulfilling the great commission. We do need to be a people who are deeply grounded in the word and in doctrine, sure of the truth and confident in our beliefs. We need to do so in the same way that a good construction worker knows each of his tools, what they are for, when to use them, and how to train others in their use. Yes, educate, but educate for the sake of ministry, love, and action!

It leaves people who do not feel fully educated feeling as if they are not fit to minister.

This is perhaps the most crippling of the three, one that saddens me greatly. There are a vast number of people in the evangelical church that feel as if they are not able to minister or present the gospel due to the fact that they have been taught (usually implicitly, without the leadership even realizing it) that one must be well versed in apologetic techniques, Bible verses, and facts to support Christianity in order to bring others to Christ. Even in my own life I see the bitter fruit of this problem. I spent years in my church’s student leadership training (at the time named CORE) being taught different evangelistic techniques like the “Romans road,” being given pages of evidence that the Bible is a historically accurate book, and taking the assigned time to write out my testimony in three different versions for the varying amounts of time I may at some point have to share it with someone, all the while being told that that you don’t have to be smart or have the entire Bible memorized or have attended church all your life to be prepared to evangelize. Yet which do you suppose spoke louder; The words or the large amount of time spent preparing us to evangelize?

Through all of those four or five years, I cannot think of a single time where I spoke of Christ to a person who I knew to be unsaved, simply because I felt that I wouldn’t do a good enough job since I didn’t know enough. Oh, how far that is from the truth! See how Paul in 1st Corinthians consciously chooses to lay aside his knowledge and skills in rhetoric, choosing instead to “know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message where not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:2-4)

It is not in education or knowledge that the Lord’s power works. Far to the contrary, it is in our weak and trembling faith that he moves. Seek knowledge of the Lord, not for knowledge’s sake, but for the sake of having your mind transformed so that you may better see and know Him, thereby increasing your faith. Spurgeon helped me greatly when I read this in one of his sermons titled “Gospel Missions”;

We send educated men to India in order to confound the learned Brahmins. Nonsense! Let the Brahmins say what they like, have we any business to dispute with them? “Oh, but they are so intellectual and so clever.” What have we to do with that? We are not to seek to be clever in order to meet them. Leave the men of the world to combat their metaphysical errors; we have merely to say, “This is truth: he that believeth it shall be saved, and he that denieth it shall be damned.” We have no right to come down from the high ground of divine authoritative testimony; and until we maintain that ground, and come out as we ought to do, girded with the belt of divinity—preaching not what may be true, but asserting that which God has most certainly revealed—we shall not see success.

Have you faith, young Christian? If you are indeed a Christian, faith is yours, for God is the one who gives faith and he gives it to all he has chosen or else they would not be saved, for it is “by faith you have been saved.” Do you have faith? Then you have all you need to minister and evangelize. How wrong the church is to demand that men have more than what God himself demands! Absolutely, memorize the Bible, study deep into theology and religion, but all for the sake of faith, not as an end in itself!

Over emphasizing education creates a passive people.

This point, in many ways, is simply a drawing out of a point implicit in the other two. When we put our main emphasis on education and proper doctrine, the common person is left feeling as if their job is simply to sit in their chairs and receive what is given to them. There is the rare individual who will rise and study for themselves, but for the most part the people are left to feeling as if when they listen and gain knowledge then they have done their part. Such is the state of much of our national education system; by the time students reach their late middle school or early high school years they have, for the most part, been taught so much and done so little with what they’ve learned that they are convinced that when they have attend class and answer the in-class questions and tests they have successfully done all that is needed. A wretched fact it is that the church seems to have moved in that same direction! The fact that we have cared more about people

We are to be the people who hear and do; to be like Moses, who spent time in his tent with the Lord daily, but never stayed there. Instead, he went out so radiant with the Lord’s glory that the people needed him to cover his face. Or like the Israelites in Exodus 24 after hearing the Word read responded by saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”

So for those of you who are church leaders; for those who love sound doctrine and good teaching, I urge you, love even more Christ and his command. Beware that you do not place “teaching them to obey all that I commanded” above and before loving, going, baptizing, and making disciples. All of those things are equally essential, and it is our part to hold them all up, to the glory and praise of Jesus Christ.

And for those who are not leaders in any official capacity, don’t allow yourselves to become passive or fall prey to the thought that you are not a fit minister for your King. Don’t doubt the one who called you; he who calls will fit each of his people for the ministry to which he sends them, and He has sent you…over two thousand years ago you, as well as every other person whom the Lord foreknew was sent by Christ’s command.

So, for all, go! Love doctrine and truth and studying down into the depths of the gospel, but do so for the sake of faith and spreading the Word. Do not be those cold people, brains filled with gospel truth but hands, feet, and mouths dead and not proclaiming or living it out. Instead, consider Christ, the Apostles, and numerous other men and women who have come before you and imitate them as they spread the Gospel, for who knows how the Lord will use you?

Christian Life, Evangelism, Ministry Update

The Paranoid Farmer

May 18, 2015

The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
– Mark 4:26-29, ESV

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
– 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, ESV

No farmer spends his days sitting in the fields, staring at the dirt, exerting his will in hopes of making his crop grow. The farmer tills the ground in preparation, plants his seeds, waters, fertilizes, and trusts that growth will happen because that’s what happens when seeds are planted in good soil. There may be seasons of drought and dismal harvests occasionally, but the earth has an amazing capacity to produce life from its soil. The farmer’s staring or willing doesn’t make any difference. His tilling, fertilizing, and watering can prepare but they don’t make things grow.

In three weeks the fifteen or so people in our Threshingfloor community will all be giving our Wednesday nights through the summer to plan and host weekly grill outs at Island Park, a park in downtown Fargo. Last summer Luke and Matt, a couple guys from the community, started the grill outs as a way to give international students something to enjoy during their weeks. In a matter of a month or so it went from 20 to about 60 people coming each week to eat, talk, play games, and enjoy the beauty of God’s summer nights. The majority of people there, to my knowledge, weren’t Christians.

We want to continue with what God blessed last year and make a space for people who aren’t believers to encounter the love, service, joy, and peace of God’s people. We’ll be spending the next few weeks preparing to spend our Wednesday nights through the summer as missionaries, demonstrating God’s love and welcoming near his ever-near kingdom by feeding people, praying for them, and who knows what else.

We won’t be paranoid farmers, fretting over our fields. We know our God is the one who causes growth. We’ll scatter seeds and lay down to sleep. I’m confident that when we come to the end of the summer, after we’ve done the work of prayer and believing and loving, God will have caused growth and a salvation harvest will be taking place. It’s going to be awesome.

Culture, Evangelism, Spiritual Growth

As a Flood

December 14, 2013

They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
– Isaiah 11:5-9

Isaiah 11 is a picture of the coming kingdom of Christ, where peace and joy have dominated the wickedness, violence, and wrath that filled the earth before the “shoot from the stump of Jesse” (That’s Jesus!) took up his reign. Isaiah’s prophecy looks forward to Jesus’ second coming and the full advent of his kingdom, but I believe that these verses have an important lesson for us to learn in the time-between-times as we herald the coming King and demonstrate the breaking in of his kingdom in the lives of those who have put their faith in him.

Verse 9 reads, “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, states that the reason peace will rule over the world is because the knowledge of God will fill the earth like a flood. As we grow in and spread the knowledge of the Lord peace follows.

Christian, is there chaos in your life? Grow in the knowledge of the Lord and peace will fill you as the waters cover the sea. Is your family in a constant state of conflict? Do the work of spreading the knowledge of the Lord and peace will follow. Is crime rampant in your city? Evangelize and bring the knowledge of the Lord to the people of your city and peace will come.

Christ’s kingdom has yet to fully arrive in this world, and until it does there will be struggle, but as the knowledge of the Lord grows so will the peace of Christ. My prayer today is that we would be a people who, drop by drop, fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord until Christ returns with the final flood.

Christian Life, Evangelism, Journal

Thoughts after four weeks of work

December 3, 2013

Almost four weeks ago I wrote about my reasons for working full time even though I’m confident God has called me to vocational ministry. I’ve had four weeks at my place of employment now and as I sat over lunch I noted down seven things that I’ve learned since starting. The majority of them are directed at people who, like me, are in or feel called to vocational ministry. The last few are more directly toward people who Christ has placed as vocational missionaries in the workplace. We can all learn from both. I know I’ve had plenty to think about and learn from in my 10 days working 8-5.

Brothers and sisters in Christ are most precious when you’re not always surrounded by them. It’s so easy to get frustrated with Christians, especially people who have spent years in the church and yet have the spiritual maturity of a four-year old. Petty conflicts over worship style, service length, Sunday school curriculum, and event scheduling swallow up the joy of kingdom work. When we’re surrounded by only believers it’s surprisingly easy to take for granted the body of Christ, but when you spend eight hours of your day as the only Christ-follower, a missionary sheep in the midst of wolves, the body becomes an amazingly precious thing. Rather than being more of a drain, our Community Gatherings and my time discipling other believers has become even more enjoyable now that I spend a larger amount of time away from the Christian bubble.

You probably don’t understand most of what you’re people experience day to day if you work at a church. I spent almost two years interning at a church and have spent the last few years working part time odd hours with the majority of my daily schedule given to ministry. For the last three years I haven’t worked at a church, but I have been largely living in the ministry world. I thought I had a better handle on what the “normal” believer’s life was like. Honestly, I was wrong. Hear this as a gentle reminder if you work full-time at a church or a ministry – much of your life is in a totally different world than many of your people’s. Not a wrong world, just a different one. We need to make intentional time to gain an understanding and empathy of our fellow believers experiences so we can empathize with and shepherd them well.

There are people who seriously need Jesus that you will never see at your church. Not because their against church, necessarily. It’s not even on their radar. I have yet to meet someone at work that goes to church more regularly than holidays, and I’ve met two people who have never set foot in a church in their 20-something years of life. These are people with serious needs, some of whom are wide open to the Gospel. I had a conversation about how Jesus changes marriage and relationships over lunch this afternoon with a guy who knows next to nothing about the Gospel. We can’t wait for people to attend our church to hear about Christ, and we can’t expect our people to go out as missionaries if we don’t set the example and regularly share stories of how God is using us as ministers of reconciliation.

It takes training and practice to live as a missionary at work. I’ve had to do some seriously daily indoctrination of myself to keep from getting sucked into the “just get through the day” mindset. Starting my day in the Word and prayer and  listening to the Spirit’s guidance throughout the day is more critical than ever. I have to regularly remind myself that I’ve been sent first as a missionary and employee second. Work becomes something exciting when you go into it with the confidence that God has you there for Gospel purposes. However, that mindset isn’t something that just magically happens. It’s something that we need to train ourselves towards. Paul’s ability to rejoice in any circumstance didn’t come out of nowhere. He practiced. He sang while imprisoned, even if he didn’t feel like it. He trained his soul to rejoice and his mind to be set on mission, no matter what the context.

Breaks are your greatest tool. Leverage them for Gospel purposes, not your own enjoyment. Almost all of my getting to know other workers and conversations I’ve had have been during lunch or another break time. It’s tempting to use those precious few minutes for relaxation, catching up on Facebook, or my particular weakness – reading. We need to be tuned in to the Spirit’s leading enough that we know when he wants us to rest and when we wants us to leverage our break time for Jesus’ glory. Use that time to get to know the people he’s placed you near.

Time is terribly precious. Don’t waste it. When 9 hours of your day are given to an employer, every extra minute is precious. I know a terrible number of men and women whose lives follow the pattern of work, come home, and absorb entertainment until sleeping. God commanded a day of rest, not every evening full of relaxation. I come home from work tired, but Jesus didn’t take a night off because he was tired. Instead he entrusted himself to the Father who gives rest to the ones he loves and pushed onward. My evenings are where some of my most important ministry takes place. I want to leverage every ounce of my time for Christ’s sake.

Don’t hide Christ. Flaunt him. It’s so easy to tuck Christianity away behind a veneer of niceness in the work place. We need to be upfront with people about what we believe. Look for ways to let people know that you’re a Christian, not so that they’ll think more highly of you, but so that you’ll have the conscious knowledge that you are in your workplace as a representative. If people know you’re a disciple of Christ then your actions and words are teaching them what Christ is like. Flaunt Jesus. Make it clear that you are his and then live worthy of the calling that you’ve received.

It’s been about a month of work. I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but I do know that it’s where the Lord has me here and now and I want to be faithful with what he’s entrusted to me. For those of you who have more experience than me in living as disciples and missionaries of Christ in your workplace, do you have any advice for me?

 

Christian Life, Evangelism, Threshingfloor

How to Eat With Sinners

October 3, 2013

In a previous post I wrote about the need for Christians to follow Jesus’ example of befriending and spending time with the “sinners” of our society. For my Threshingfloor friends here in Fargo and for others in similar contexts, I wanted to point out four practical things you can do to begin walking in Jesus’ steps here.

  1. Make space in your life. This may mean stopping your Bible study or quitting your church softball league. It may mean you need to cut back work hours or classes. It will definitely mean you give up some free time, TV time, and maybe even some sleep. If we want to live like Jesus we need to make significant space in our lives for encounters with people. Just like Jesus re-oriented his schedule and context from the heavens to the earth, we are called to sacrifice our own lives for his mission. (Phil. 2:4-10)
  2. Get out into the world. Use the space you make in life to get into the world. Hang out with some friends at a bar and talk to others there. Go to an open mic night. Become a regular at a local establishment and make friends. Join a city sport league. Hang out with co-workers after the work day is done. Spend time in your yard and talk with your neighbors. Go into the sinners’ world and engage in their context. We are called to be missionaries. Missionaries cross cultural boundaries. Don’t demand that the people you’re trying to reach come to the Christian world to hear about Jesus. Bring the Gospel into their world. (John 4:1-43)
  3. Invite others into your world. As you meet people in their context, invite them into yours. Sinners were drawn to Jesus, but Jesus didn’t just leave it at that. He chose to sit and eat with them, inviting them further into his life. As you get to know the guys on your city softball league, invite a few of them over to your house for dinner. Invite a co-worker to join you and a few other believers for a game night or a movie. As disciples of Christ our lives are to be open and welcoming. We should be known as people who invite. (Matthew 22:8-10)
  4. Flaunt your failures. Most people know Christians as either judgmental hypocrites or holier-than-thou righteous freaks. If sinners were drawn to Jesus clearly they saw him as neither of these. Like the Apostle Paul we need to be people who boast in our weaknesses. Make it clear to the people you interact with that you’re a sinner and that the good things in your life are Jesus, not you. Our failures are beautiful mirrors for reflecting the Gospel’s glory. As Louie Giglio said at Passion 2013, our healed wounds are proof of God’s power. Let sinners see your redeemed past. How else will they know they can be redeemed in the same way? (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Go, therefore, eat with sinners. Our king humbled himself to the point that sinners sought him out and he took time to know them, eat with them, and minister to them. Pray for those who don’t know Christ in your life and be the missionary to them that Jesus has created you to be. As you do it amazing things will happen.

 

 

 

Christian Life, Evangelism, Threshingfloor

Eating With Sinners

September 26, 2013

 

 

 

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

(Luke 15:1-2, ESV)

 

Who we hang out with says everything about our priorities, and the type of people who want to hang out with us says everything about our character. Our natural motion is toward relationships with people who are like us. Similarities become the common ground on which our relationships are built.

That’s our natural motion, at least on a human level. But disciples of Christ are called to far more than the natural, human ways of life. Born again through water and Spirit, we have moved from the kingdom of the natural into the Kingdom of the supernatural. Jesus is the one who purchases our entrance into that kingdom and the example of how to live a Kingdom life. As his people we become students of his ways, striving with all the Spirit’s power that moves within us to walk like our master walked. As the Apostle John wrote, “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6, ESV)

If we are in Christ’s Kingdom then we “walk in the same way in which he walked,” right? If so, then when we read in Luke  15 that “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him,” we should search our own lives and ask whether or not this is true of us. Are sinners drawing near to us? Is there room in our lives for them? Would we welcome them, befriend them, eat with them, and love them, or would we avoid their uncleanliness?

As I examine my life I see a wide gap between the types of people Jesus spent time with and the people I spend time with. First and foremost, Jesus had a small core of followers who he was intensely close with. His disciples were constantly in his presence, observing, learning, and practicing what he taught them day-by-day as they lived out the mission together. Jesus also ministered to the masses. He fed the 5000 who came to hear his teaching, healed all who he came in contact with, and generally ministered to everyone who he came in contact with. Lastly, as is noted in Luke 15, Jesus welcomed and ate with the sinful and outcasts of society.

Contrast this with our general, natural network of relationships. For most people in modern day America we swim in a large but shallow pool of acquaintances with none who are truly “in” our lives as disciples. Unlike Jesus, who made his whole of life ministry, our ministry is generally kept to scheduled hours of service and volunteering. The vast majority of us give little thought to the needy masses within our society. And of course, most people in the church today (particularly those raised in church contexts) are neither welcoming nor eating with those who society sees as sinners.

Do people in your religious contexts say of you “he/she welcomes sinners and eats with them”? If not, there’s a problem. Our savior welcomed us while we were still in sin. How much more ought we to be people who drunkards, drug addicts, the sexually immoral, the homeless, the liberal politician, and all who religion declares as wicked be welcomed by us?

If we want to see God work mightily in and through us then we need to be following his Spirit’s leading, and his Spirit will always lead us to follow the Son. When Jesus leaves the religious establishment and enters the bars, slums, and back alleys we should follow him. It’s there in those dark, sin-coated places that the brilliant light of the King will draw men and women to repentance and faith. It is, after all, the kindness of God that leads to repentance.

We who are far from the sinners of the world need to repent of our pride and fear and move outward in faith, trusting that our God will go with us like he went with Jesus. Remember, Jesus holds you secure in his hand. Get out of your safe, Christian, churched bubble. Quit your Bible study. Go out into the world where those who are sick and dying live. Go with the massive power of the Gospel, both in word and deed, to befriend, love, serve, and minister to sinners. If people in your church look at you and gossip under their breath about how you’re spending too much time downtown near the bars, that you’re hanging with people that “decent” people don’t spend time with, that you’re not at the church building as much as you should be, just smile. Know that they said the same thing about Jesus. You’re in good company when religious people look down on you.

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Life, Evangelism, Threshingfloor

What you should do with the rest of your summer

July 26, 2013

 

July is nearly over and, for many people in our communities, that means that schedules will soon fill up and free-time will shrink as school, programming, and sports begin. Here are a few things you should do with your final weeks of summer.

  • Take an impulse trip

Take advantage of the last month or so of summer, grab a few friends, and take a weekend trip to somewhere you haven’t been before. Time on the road with friends creates some amazing memories, and will make your summer much more memorable than if you spent your weekends at home watching TV. Not having much money doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Lifehacker has several excellent tips on how to travel cheaper. Grab a map, pack up, and get rolling.

  • Read the book you’ve been meaning to read

Or, maybe just read any book. Reading is a great way to take your life to the next level, experience things you wouldn’t otherwise experience, learn quickly and easily, challenge your brain, and relax on a sunny afternoon. I can’t recommend highly enough using some of your extra time to read scripture. Several of the guys in my community and I started at 6-month Bible read through a couple weeks ago. I’m loving it.

If you’re looking for more good reading, maybe these will point you in the right direction:

  • Meet some new people

RubiaEspecially here in Fargo, summer is the time when people are out on the streets and interacting with each other. Use the rest of your summer as a chance to get out and meet a few new people. Within Threshingfloor we believe that one of the most powerful way evangelism happens is through relationships, and God’s gospel can’t spread if we aren’t intentionally meeting new people. Go spend some time at a park, join a softball league, or start looking for a fall sports league to get in on. Meet some new people!

  • Serve someone

Another way to meet people and fulfill Christ’s call on his disciple’s lives to be servants of all is to spend some time serving. Find a place where volunteers are needed on a regular basis and get in the rotation, and bring some friends with you. It’s a great way to get to know each other better while doing good and demonstrating the Kingdom of heaven. For those in the FM area, here’s a couple sites that can direct you to places that need volunteers;

The apostle Paul urges the Ephesians to make the most of the time that they have (Ephesians 5:16). Let’s do the same with the rest of our summers.