Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Witnessing to family. Does it make you come out in a cold sweat?

Today I am going to talk about a subject that fills many people with fear. For some the very thought of doing this can bring them into a cold sweat, they become nervous, doubtful and as a result never share their faith with the people that they are obviously closest to. Their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and other relations need to hear the message just as much as anyone else. But very often the fear of damaging a relationship puts people off doing what they desperately want to do - to see their loved ones come to Christ.

They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved -you and your household." Acts 16: 31

“This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.
 1 Timothy 3-6

Key Point: Don’t feel guilty if this is an area you have struggled with in the past

The first thing to say with regards to this is don’t feel guilty about it if this is an area that you find difficult. It is common for many believers, so don’t give yourself a hard time about it. One of the first people I led to Christ was my mother. I had been saved for around eight months and had shared Jesus at almost every opportunity I got from the day I received Jesus as Lord. I had opposition from her initially but the Holy Spirit opened her heart to the truth. It was a great day indeed.

However, my two elder sisters are a completely different story. I put them off completely with my somewhat confrontational style, telling them that they were sinners and that they needed to repent. That was eighteen years ago when I first came to Christ. Since then I have had just a few opportunities to share Jesus. Each time has been quite awkward and difficult. Although I have noticed each time that they are a little more receptive. I want them to know the truth because I love them. I am sure that you find the same with your family members that don’t know Christ.

Remember that our close relatives know our short comings all too well. They know when we are grumpy, miserable and irritating. They may have seen us start weight loss programmes, exercising or similar things only to see us fail. When I was young I used to wind up my sisters by playing practical jokes on them, arguing and generally being a pain. Now suddenly I was telling them to: 

“Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near” Matthew 4: 17

The obvious change in me was difficult for them to take in.

As a motivational speaker and sales trainer one of the things that I would say to my audience was “You can’t buy years of experience”. It’s true; we only get that by learning through our successes and failures. 

So here are some suggestions that will make a difference when it comes to sharing Jesus with those who are closest to you.

1)    Prayer: It is vital that you continually lift your family up in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to open their hearts, to open their blind eyes, to break down barriers. I’m am sure that you do that anyway, but I would go further and suggest that you be very specific in your prayers. I have said before, that God can open the hardest of hearts. Pray for opportunities.

2)    Lifestyle witnessing: Your family will be watching you closely. Demonstrate the love of Jesus through a serving heart, by doing things that you wouldn’t have normally done in the past. They will need to see you living out what you truly believe. If you get asked why you are doing it, gently share what Jesus has done in your life. For example, if you gossiped before you came to Christ, it must stop immediately, or you will be seen as a hypocrite.

3)    Witness to them while you are on your own without distractions: It is difficult to share the Gospel when someone is watching their favourite TV Soap or sports programme. Equally it can be difficult if there are other family members there at the same time. Pride can come in here and the person may object because they feel embarrassed. Pray and wait for the opportune time because God will provide it.

4)    Share the Gospel on a testimonial basis: Rather than make the mistake that I did by being confrontational and pointing out what I saw as errors in my sisters’ lives, the best thing to do is explain what happened to you, how you found Jesus. Tell them how God convicted you of your sins, your life, lying, stealing, adultery. (Whatever your sin was). Share how Jesus died for you and by accepting His forgiveness how your life has changed. If your listener has been receptive you can ask a question like “I realised that I was a liar and a cheat. Have you ever done anything that you know was wrong”? Their answer can open the door for you.
5)        Ask a Christian friend to witness in the same way: Sharing our testimony is an incredibly powerful way of witnessing. The barriers that may have been built up between you and your sibling or parents can be broken down through your friend sharing their story. It is amazing how it can happen.

6)        Don’t pressure them: That is exactly what I did. I pushed the Gospel down my sisters throats and as a result the job is now much harder. I have heard Christian say to their parents “Don’t you want to see your grandchildren in heaven”? That is not the Gospel in any way at all. People must recognise that they need a Saviour and that they must accept Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Asking questions that get to the truth (Three Level Questioning)

As you witness to people about Christ you will sometimes get into heated discussions. Some people will make there position clear because they have made a firm decision not to believe in God. While many will make an argument that under questioning often will not stand up. This will often open the door for you to present the truth of the Gospel.

Today I am going to talk about a technique used in counselling, business and communication called “Three Level Questioning”. This is a huge subject, and I am only covering it very briefly. At all times you must rely on and listen to the Holy Spirit. He will direct and guide you as well as bringing all important scriptures to your memory. After all Jesus said that would happen. “But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14:26

Before I came to know Jesus, I was pretty much anti God, and didn’t want anything to do with Christians. Looking back, I found them weak, and imagined them to be a little nerdy, or the train spotter type. I would often argue that there was no God, and that I didn’t believe in Jesus. I made that decision myself and didn’t really base it on much evidence that I had discovered at all. It was just a belief system that I had developed over the years, based on a couple of TV programmes that I watched and mainly because my friends, family and work colleagues had a similar opinion.

If anyone was to have asked me why I believed that and had taken the time to actually drill down to see how strong my beliefs actually were, they would have very quickly discovered that I wasn’t really sure about what I believed at all.

Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" Matthew 21: 24-25

If you read the Gospels you will soon discover that Jesus asked a huge mount of questions when he encountered people. By doing this He was able to quickly see people hearts. So with that in mind I thought it would be helpful to go through a technique that I often use that works. I will sometimes do this to find out what an unbeliever truly believes.

It is essential that you are not confrontational as you do this. We might win the battle but lose the person who was defeated. The first thing an unbeliever must see in us is the love of Christ. At the end of the day God is love.

People form their own perspective and views on life, which are built through, experiences, learning, films, TV and much more. Asking a few simple questions will usually get you to a point where both you and the person you are in conversation with will discover just how firm the foundations of their beliefs are.

I am using open questions in this example. Closed questions invite responses that are often quite short such as “No”, “I don’t think so” etc. The idea here is to get a person talking to you.


You are in conversation and start to share Christ. After a few moments your listener says “I don’t believe in God at all. I think that we just die and that’s it. There is no heaven”.

Question Level One: “That’s interesting, tell me why that got your attention”? Depending on the statement the person originally gave you, your question could include words like “Who, When, How, Where, How often”. (This is often known as data collection)

My answer before accepting Christ would have been “Er…well I saw a programme saying that aliens visited the earth thousands of years ago”. Plus I saw the film “Chariots of the Gods.

Question Level Two: “Great, so you are saying that watching a film and a TV programme gave you enough information to decide that there is no God or heaven. Let me ask what did you see that gave you feelings that there was no God” Other questions could include “What you feel about of think about, What does that mean to you, What are the implications of that, What interests you about that”? (The meaning, interest, feeling, attraction and interest level)

The truth is that I would have started to struggle here to define what I truly believed.

Question Level Three: “Why did you decide to believe that”? Other questions you could use are “Why is that important, Why does that concern you”? (The attitudes and values level) The “Why question is important. My children will often ask for something, like sweets, or because they want to do something. Sometimes the answer will be no. In almost all cases they ask me “Why”?

This is where most people will either be certain of their beliefs or unsure of them. You will in most cases know where you stand. The person who is firm in the beliefs will be a greater challenge, whereas the latter will be easier for you to share the good news with. In most cases asking questions build rapport and makes it easier to share your own experiences as well.

In either case the Holy Spirit can move a person’s heart. Jesus saves the most opinionated and hard nosed people. I have seen it so many times over the years. Give it a try sometime.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

When people meet you, do they meet Jesus?

My wife Desiree was recently preparing a message to preach at our local church and asked me to listen to the outline of what she was going to say. What she shared challenged me as she looked at me and asked, “Moray, when people meet you, do they meet Jesus”? The question stayed on my mind and my answer to it to be totally honest is “Well, the truth is, not all of the time”.

Considering this, I am unable to leave it there.  I feel prompted to ask you the very same question.

When people meet you, do they meet Jesus?

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”  Matthew 5: 13-16

When I was a young manager in a wholesale business, my boss was known for his very changeable moods. From one day to the next you never knew where you were with him. I learned quite quickly that if he came to say good morning to me when he arrived at work, it would be a good day. However, if he went straight to his office, it meant the exact opposite. He would be miserable, grumpy and even angry for the whole day. On such days experience taught me it was wiser to keep my head down and avoid him like the plague. 

If one day he had told me that he was a Bible-believing Christian and perhaps explained to me how Jesus Christ had changed him for good, I would have been somewhat confused. Jesus is loving, not moody, grumpy or miserable. Where would the evidence be that Jesus had changed him?

As Christians we have to let our lights shine before men and be salt and light to them. We have to be like Jesus and people must see the effect of Him in our lives. Is that easy to do? My answer to that is yes it’s very easy……… when things are going well, when we are on top of the mountain and not in the valley, when we are not under stress or are just having one of those days. The truth is that in these times it is sometimes difficult to be loving, encouraging and positive.

I often say that living the Christian life is against the grain; at times it can be tough. Jesus said that we should forgive those that hurt us, pray for our enemies, share our possessions, give money anonymously. Oh, and turn the other cheek. It is only God’s grace upon your life and the Holy Spirit dwelling in your heart that enables you to do things like this.

Key point: Tough times in our lives become great opportunities for us to let the light of Jesus shine in our lives

In these times there is a great opportunity for you to let the light of Jesus shine. It has been said many times before that very often we are the only Bible that non believers will read. People that we know personally will watch and remember how we handle life’s challenges and difficulties. It is also good to be mindful that they will in all probability point out when you get things wrong. That is proof that your every move is being observed.

Are you the light of the world? Or is it just sometimes?

It is vital that we let our lives shine with Jesus. We have all met Christians who never seem to be totally happy and can even be miserable most of the time. When they go to church they look as if they are going for a root canal at the dentists’ surgery, and what’s more they come out of church looking like they have just had one! God’s “Chosen Frozen” as I have heard them described in the past.

When we have difficulties or tough days we must ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be like the One who died for us. We must be Jesus to our work colleagues, our families, the beggar on the street, yes ‘anyone’ that we come into contact with. Let your light shine through your personality, your lifestyle and your good deeds. This will give you a good witness and testimony. Very importantly people will be more willing to listen to you when you have the opportunity to share the Gospel because the way you live your life backs it up.

My wife and I had some very difficult situations to deal with which affected our family greatly. Some of her work colleagues knew all about it. On a number of occasions her co-workers have asked how she was able to remain positive with a smile on her face.  This has opened the door for Desiree to share her faith and as a result a number of them have come to church and accepted Chist as saviour. God is good. Believe me, people do watch us.

Are you salt? Or is it just when life is OK?

Salt is a flavour enhancer, it adds taste, making food more enjoyable to eat. Just watch a TV chef to see what they add when they cook. As believers in Christ we must be salt to those around us. The Holy Spirit will always help us with that. We must be ‘prayed up’ and ask the Lord to aid us in this area. He will if we ask Him.

Being salty means being positive, encouraging and simply a good person to be around. In other words where there is stress, being calm, where there is sadness or sorrow, being love. Let Jesus shine and be salt and light to the world around you.

When people meet you, who do they really meet?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Shared Jesus and nothing happened?

Have you ever witnessed for Christ and had the thought that what you are saying seems to have no effect on your listener? In your conversation you explain with passion and great conviction about how Jesus died for our sins on the cross of Calvary. You continue to talk about His resurrection from the dead, about how He is in Heaven interceding for us. “You need Jesus” you say, or something like it. After what may have been your best ever Gospel presentation, nothing seems to have happened at all.
I have separated the scripture below into four groups. I will explain why as you read through this:
Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown” 
GROUP ONE: “As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them” Mark 4:15
GROUP TWO: “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away”  Mark 4:16-18
GROUP THREE:Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful”  Mark 4:19
GROUP FOUR: “Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” Mark 4: 15-20
The first three groups are very important. We must never shy away from sharing the good news with anyone. We must share the gospel out of our gratitude, love and obedience to Christ, and importantly when we* do, we must expect the Gospel to do its work.   
We know that people will reject the message on occasion, while others will receive it well, and cool off fairly quickly, still some others will accept the Gospel but let other things in their lives get in the way. These are facts of life. After all Jesus said these words.
It is worth sharing the Good News though, because Jesus said that some will accept it.  Brilliant! We must never give up on those who don’t receive the message well. I say that because once a seed has been planted in someone’s heart, amazing things happen.
My message today is about the sowing of the seed. I am not a gifted gardener, but I have planted seed before and I have reaped a harvest. As eleven year olds at school we were given seeds to plant in our allotments. We would water the seed on a daily basis, but initially nothing seemed to be happening. The day that I saw the first shoots of my carrots and radishes poking through the soil, I was thrilled. A few weeks later I proudly took my harvest home to show my mother.
We have to remember that when we sow the seed of the Gospel in someone’s heart we must be prepared to be patient, although on occasion you will reap a harvest almost immediately with some. That will often be because someone else has shared Jesus with them in the past, and they have been constantly watering that seed with prayer.

Key Point: Sometimes you will have to be patient when you sow the seed of the Gospel

When we sow, some of the seed will not germinate; others will start well and then not pull through, while some will germinate in the form of souls won for Christ. Sometimes you will reap them and experience the wonderful joy as you lead them to Christ, while others may accept Jesus days, weeks, months, or even years later.
I attended a men’s weekend in Scotland some years ago. A number of us shared our testimonies with the group. One man, who was a Rumanian told us how as a teenager, on one day out of the blue, his mother and father returned home with joy on their faces, explaining with great excitement how they had attended a meeting where their lives had changed as a result of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord.

He had eleven brothers and sisters all of which gradually over a couple of years accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. His parents always talked about the Lord and encouraged him to repent and believe the Gospel. He rejected it totally, leaving home and going his own way. His mother continued to pray for him every day without fail for the next thirty years, until the day he called on Jesus to come into his heart.
He was a giant of a man who was completely unashamed as he shared his story weeping with tears running down his cheeks. God is so good. We will reap a harvest if we believe and do not faint. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9
Over the years I have spoken to people who have heard the message and later accepted Christ. At the time of hearing it, they were either not interested in the things of God while some were vehemently against it.

The seed will germinate in many hearts. People have told me how after hearing about Jesus, that some years later they suddenly had a desire to read the Bible, or they have dreams about the Lord. Others start to ask themselves is Jesus real, is there life after death? Many have a desire to go to church or just start asking questions. The Holy Spirit can move on the hardest of hearts. I know that for a fact, because he moved on mine.
Over twenty years ago someone witnessed to me and sowed the seed of the Gospel in my heart, which was totally hardened and against God. It was then watered in prayer and 18 months later I received Christ. I thank God for those men’s obedience.

Let’s get sowing the seed, because we never know what happens to it. It can come up quickly, or it can take a little time. Water the seed in prayer and wait.
As my wise old Grandfather used to say, “Patience is a virtue”.



Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Christian ... do you believe the bible is true?

The question is very simple and direct. I will ask it again with some more detail. If you are a born again believer in Christ, do you believe that the Bible is true? You may be saying to yourself, “That’s a strange question to ask”, or perhaps you are saying “Well of course I believe that the Bible is true”.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man”  Matthew 24: 36-37

If you believe what the scriptures say, that is great. I made a decision to believe the word of God many years ago, from the index at the beginning to the maps at the back.

I am not going to get into discussions about eschatology, the tribulation or a post, mid or pre-tribulation rapture, or debates on what should or should not be fulfilled or anything like that. It is a contentious subject for some, while others become fearful if it is discussed, while some people even avoid talking about it. The subject is one that is not preached very often today for many reasons, the main one being a seeker sensitive approach. Simply I make the statement that Jesus is coming soon…..very soon, yes it could even be today, even while you are reading this. Scripture tells me that if you are not ready when He returns, it will be too late.

If you say you believe the scriptures, I suggest it raises a few very important questions that you should be asking yourself.

·         Do you believe that the return of Christ is really imminent?
·         If you do, how does it affect the way you live your life?
·         How does your belief in this affect your Christian witnessing?

In a recent blog called “Are you grateful for the cross” I stated that real gratitude to Jesus for His atoning death at Calvary should compel us to witness for Him. The realisation of the truth of what Christ has saved us from becomes outworked through a willingness to share the Gospel with those that don’t know Him.

Your belief in the scripture mentioned above will undoubtedly determine your attitude towards sharing your faith with others. If you genuinely believed that the world was going to end tomorrow, or that a catastrophic event like an earthquake or tsunami was coming to your area, would you keep it to yourself, or would you tell everyone that you knew about the impending danger?

In that situation you would surely do the latter. The truth is that Jesus is coming soon. We need a sense of urgency to share the Gospel, because we don’t know the day or the hour.

For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. Hebrew 3: 7

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” Revelation 22: 12

I am not suggesting that you buy a megaphone, get a sandwich board and stand on the corner of the high street bellowing out “The end of the world is nigh”. Rather, I am asking you what you truly believe. We are living in a time where some churches ……. dare I say it ….. are either sugar coating or diluting the Gospel so that it becomes more palatable. 

Key Point: Be honest with yourself about what you truly believe

This isn’t preached very often because to speak of it means having to face up to some hard truths. I am not suggesting that you preach it either, but instead be honest with yourself and examine how your belief in the scripture you have read determines the urgency you have in your heart to be a witness for Christ.

The scriptures are not all easy to accept. In fact many of them are very direct and challenging. Jesus knew what He was saying when He spoke these words:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law  a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” Matthew 10: 34-36

I included that scripture in a message I preached a few years ago. At the end of the meeting one of the church elders spoke to me and told me that he hadn’t heard the scripture preached on for ages. On another occasion I shared about Christ’s return. Some people told me that they had never heard a message on the subject, while one elderly couple said that they were gripped by the message and scriptures they heard. As a result they couldn’t sleep that night. Those people were God fearing, Bible-believing Christians.

What we believe determines our attitudes. Ask yourself about your beliefs with regards to this important topic.

My first pastor of sixteen years once told me to study this area, to discover what I really believed and importantly, to find out why I believed it.

Why don’t you find out for yourself?