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Archive for the ‘evangelism’ Category

There’s much value in asking a mature believer to accompany you when it comes to talking with people about Jesus.

Barnabas was a wonderful, caring, godly man who wanted to see people get saved in a city called Antioch. And he was having some success for the gospel, according to Acts 11.

That was good. But it could be so much better, he and other church leaders realized, and that’s why Barnabas made the trip to another city to recruit the Apostle Paul to help him reach more souls for Christ in Antioch.

“When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

“Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)” (Acts 11:22-26)

As you pray for wisdom in how best to build bridges of godly influence — and ultimately share the message of salvation — please remember the example of Barnabas. Consider asking a mature believer to join you in the faith-sharing effort with an unsaved person.

Perhaps that mature believer might have something in common with the unsaved person such as a hobby or birthplace or type of job.

It’s always good to connect believers with unbelievers on a friendship basis. It’s even better when that connection has the potential for connecting a soul with Christ.

If we’re not having the measure of evangelistic influence that is needed — and few of us are — only good can come from teaming up with another believer who also loves the Lord and wants to see people turn from darkness to light (Acts 26:17-18).

As always, I love you
Martin

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The Lord convicted my heart this morning.

He did so through this passage from Isaiah:

Does a farmer always plow and never sow?
 Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting?” (Isaiah 28:24)

Countless Christian congregations — and the believers who comprise them — have learned over the years to plow and plow and plow in the fields of unsaved people at work or school or in the neighborhood.

We’ve learned to cultivate the soil by removing stumbling blocks from our lives and pulling weeds and watering our lives with the Living Water of scripture.

We’ve learned well the art of “being” Christian. We’ve learned well how to have clean-cut congregations that are organized and have big, beautiful barns.

But have we “done” Christianity’s primary task? Have we made disciples?

Such won’t happen if we plow and cultivate, plow and cultivate but we never sow and never plant.

I recognize that I need to do more of this.

A farmer sitting on his porch in the evening and looking at his neatly plowed, weedless field would not be content with knowing that no seeds have been placed into the soil.

That would be crazy.

The seeds aren’t going to march on their own from the grain sack into the field and into the ground in the proper way.

Somebody has to plant the seed.

You and I are that somebody.

The reality is that you and I already know that we are that somebody and have known that for a long time.

Our challenge is to start planting more seeds rather than sitting on the porch and admiring our neatly plowed, weedless fields and beautiful barns.

That’s why we need to press into the Lord more than ever with prayer for wisdom.

Wisdom with how to approach hard soil, rocky soil, weed-corrupted soil and also the fertile soil.

God will give us wisdom for planting if we’ll seek it.

He’ll give us eyes to see opportunities that we didn’t see before — if we’ll pray that He does.

He’ll give us boldness to seize opportunities that we didn’t seize before — if we’ll pray that He does.

“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher,
 and He gives the farmer great wisdom.” (Isaiah 28:29)

I want to be a more faithful farmer. And so I need more of God’s great wisdom.

Please join me in praying today to become a better farmer so that Lord can have a bigger harvest.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Perhaps the greatest way to communicate faith to an unsaved person is to do all we can to comfort that person when things go sour in his or her life.

For it is at such times that the non-Christian can see the value of heart-comforting faith that has sustained us and that can do the same for them.

Even the non-believer understands that divorce hurts, that losing a family member to accidental death hurts, that losing a long-held job hurts.

When the non-believer sees that our hearts might be hurting yet we are also finding healing through the comfort of our faith — and we continue trying to provide blessings to others — it gets them thinking.

We’ve all faced some really tough times in life.

If we’ve held tightly to God’s hand during such times in ways that others noticed, we can testify authentically about the strength and direction we’ve found.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

That testimony of a comforted heart can provide a huge boost to our evangelistic influence.

Let’s sincerely want to help others to stop hurting emotionally.

Let’s comfort them.

Let’s show them how faith in God helps us to stop hurting emotionally.

Let’s show them how God comforts us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Every Gospel-minded believer looks for opportunities to build bridges of influence with non-Christians.

Bridges are essential if seeds of the Good News are to be carried over and planted into the lives of those apart from Christ.

The Apostle Paul excelled at exhibiting his passion for Christ in ways that connected him with lost people.

“I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.” I Corinthians 9:22

It doesn’t take very long in reading of Paul’s ministry life to see how fervent he was for evangelism. In jail or in the marketplace or in a synagogue, Paul’s fervor for an infectious faith was the same.

One thing you don’t see in his life, though, is spiritual compromise in order to build bridges with an unsaved person.

Paul didn’t need to go to “happy hour” or other world-centric activities in order to build a connection with hurting hearts. He looked for other opportunities within in their lives.

He understood that embracing spiritual compromise as an evangelistic approach is like asking a dieting person if he or she would meet you at the ice cream shop to talk about weight-loss strategies.

Let’s be careful that the common ground that we’re called to seek with others is common ground that Jesus would stand on.

Let’s pray more fervently that the Holy Spirit lead us in our connection efforts with those needing Christ. Such efforts clearly don’t have to be “churchy,” but they do have to be Christ-friendly, whether in the stands of a kids’ baseball game or at the wine-available wedding reception or at the workplace Christmas party.

Let’s remember Paul’s warning in I Corinthians 10:12 against thinking that we can handle any temptation circumstances within which we place ourselves —

“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”

Let’s stand where we know Jesus will stand with us. It’s better for us, better for those we’re trying to convert and certainly better for the Kingdom.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I really miss bring able to run whenever I want.

It’s not for the lack of wanting to exercise but instead because of damaged cartilage in my knees.

For a guy who ran competitively through high school and college, this is a disappointing status. But I have many other blessings so I’m more than grateful to God for the memories of what used to be running-wise.

I was reminded of my past and my present yearning during my Bible reading this morning.

II Chronicles 30 contains an interesting reference to the use of runners to spread the call for revival in the nation of Israel, even though Hezekiah officially reigned in Judah, the southern kingdom during the centuries of a divided Israel.

King Hezekiah had been inspired by the Lord to resume the passover celebration and he wanted to quickly get the word out to all the Hebrews, regardless of past hard feelings between the southern and northern kingdoms.

Check out the message Hezekiah sent through men not on fleet horses but men relying only on their pumping legs….

“At the king’s command, runners were sent throughout Israel and Judah. They carried letters that said:

‘O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he will return to the few of us who have survived the conquest of the Assyrian kings. Do not be like your ancestors and relatives who abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and became an object of derision, as you yourselves can see. Do not be stubborn, as they were, but submit yourselves to the Lord. Come to his Temple, which He has set apart as holy forever. Worship the Lord your God so that His fierce anger will turn away from you.

‘For if you return to the Lord , your relatives and your children will be treated mercifully by their captors, and they will be able to return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful. If you return to Him, He will not continue to turn His face from you.’” (vv. 6-9)

Wow. Men selected to run from town to town to town with messages from the King who had been inspired by the Lord.

This wasn’t a time for walking. Time was of the essence to lead the people into national repentance and worship and restoration.

Some people did respond, fortunately, but most didn’t.

“The runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them.”

This reaction wasn’t the runners’ fault.

The runners did what they were called to do.

Listen, you and I aren’t called to carry the message of the gospel via running legs. But we are to view the call to connecting with God as a top priority.

Sure, many will make fun of our faith, but that reflects on them, not on us.

The big crowd of people who eventually gathered in Jerusalem for the passover wouldn’t have been there if the runners had quit at the first towns that laughed at them.

They kept running. They didn’t even lose some of their motivation and simply start walking from town to town.

The runners played a huge role in the national revival that followed.

Just like we read in Hebrews 12:1, let’s keep running the race of faith and testimony.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”

You probably won’t physically run to help a discouraged, disgruntled or discombobulated person today with words of scripture and actions of Christlike love. But I do encourage you to proceed with haste because we’re called to build bridges with people who need spiritual restoration.

Yes, some co-workers or relatives might laugh at our beliefs and self-sacrificing practices. But others might listen and join us. Just as with the restored passover celebration in Hezekiah’s day, it will be an awesome experience when some to whom we “ran” join us in worship and personal consecration.

As always, I love you
Martin

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As a former business editor for a group of newspapers, I enjoy reading articles regarding workplace relationships and management styles.

I read an article this morning that can have a direct benefit for Christians who practice the lessons described by the author.

Published orginally in Inc. magazine, the article describes seven characteristics of likeable bosses who foster greater productivity among employees.

As I read this list, I was reminded that these same seven characteristics can help Christians to be more likeable in the workplace or schools or neighborhood or at home.

And the more likeable we are, the more “listen-able” we are to the non-Christians around us.

In view of our mission to share faith with others according to the timing and leading of the Holy Spirit, boosting our ability to influence others is a very important thing.

So let’s appy these faith-adapted principles at every opportunity.

1. Be Friendly

Sounds obvious, but simply taking a moment to greet your unsaved friends by name and make small talk with them goes a long way toward increasing your likeability. Be as approachable and accessible as possible. Take time to compliment others and ask them how their day is going. Be patient; remember that it’s important to set aside time for your people, no matter how busy you are. In fact, that busyness — yours and theirs — makes a friendly word even more important.

2. Be Available

Some pretty amazing ideas for life success come from non-Christians, but if the Christians aren’t approachable by non-Christians, most of these ideas will never surface. Non-Christians are more likely to come to share their ideas and potential solutions when their Christians make it clear that they value their others’ opinions and want to hear them. While not every idea is going to be a winner, it’s very much in your interest to hear people out. Showing non-Christians that their opinions and ideas are important to your life is a wonderful way to keep your relationships energized and happy–and boost your likeability along the way.

3. Be Flexible

Life happens, so try to be flexible whenever you can. Decide what rules you will make exceptions for and avoid putting too much stress on the little things. Be understanding when things go wrong, and accept that people make mistakes. Offer second chances whenever possible. Make sure that the work of living and serving gets done, but be flexible when it comes to personal matters, weather, or traffic.

4. Be Positive

Just as negative energy can rub off on others, so can positive energy. While negative emotions on your part tend to create negative outcomes in both your unsaved friends and your organization, positive emotions help your friends open up to a universe of new options and alternatives. Be optimistic and genuine with the people living around you and they will be more likely to react in the same way, making your relationships healthy and constructive.

5. Be Dependable

You need to believe that your non-Christian friends will do the right things at the right time, and they need to be able to depend on you to support them in good times and bad. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, no matter how small. Your unsaved friends must be able to trust you because their future is in your hands. Being an unreliable Christian will result in unhappy and distant relationships with unsaved people who would rather be friends with someone else.

6. Be Grateful

Everyone wants to know how they are doing, so give feedback. Praise is just important as criticism, and you should regularly complement your non-Christian friends for a job well done. As human beings, we subconsciously seek praise in all aspects of our lives, including the job. Show your appreciation in a variety of ways. Keep it fresh and genuine.

7. Be Compassionate

Try to see yourself through your non-Christian friend’s eyes–are you someone you would like? Put yourself in your others’ shoes and have compassion for their trials and tribulations as well as their accomplishments and victories. Having (and showing) true compassion for your non-Christian friends might take effort on your part, but the results will be well worth it. Your people will respect you as a Christian, and they will find you more likeable–increasing their loyalty and effectiveness as a result.

Let’s do our best to apply these principles. There are many people who need close relationships that these measures can help to produce.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I read of an interesting math equation this morning.

5 + 2 = 12,000

Huh?

If you look at Matthew 14:13-21, you’ll see what I mean.

I’m talking about Jesus’ taking five loaves and two fish and then His supernaturally multiplying them to feed 5,000 men and perhaps 7,000 women and children.

The number actually could have easily been more than 12,000 when you think about family groupings that might have been on that Galilean hillside.

So how did Jesus do it? Did He have a constantly regrowing loaf of bread that instantly replaced any piece torn off? Did the salt-dried fishes keep regrowing heads and tails. hour after hour?

I have no idea.

Do I have to have a physical, scientific explanation of how such a regeneration could occur or I’m not going to believe it did?

No.

I don’t have a physical, scientific explanation for how Jesus could be buried after crucifixion and yet rise again and walk around for 40 days, sometimes even through walls.

Does that keep me from believing Jesus rose from the grave?

Of course not.

So back to the math equation….

I am glad that Matthew 14 told me about Jesus math.

I need to pray for more displays of Jesus math.

Displays such as the possibility of seven fervent Christians each inviting people to loving fellowship groups and to church services and, several years later, the seven becomes 70 that later becomes 700 and on and on.

When Jesus gets involved and His power flows freely, the progress is not linear but instead exponential.

That’s what happened in Matthew 14.

That’s what can happen in our lives. And our congregations.

The world might not understand how such a thing could happen.

We might not even understand how the Lord magnifies our efforts when we pray.

We can simply celebrate the fact that they do.

Let’s pray that we become faithful disciples whom God uses to multiply His Kingdom, one helped person at a time.

As always, I love you
Martin

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