Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Something amazing has happened to me and I have got to tell you about it

Last Saturday evening I had the great pleasure of being with the international evangelist Tony Anthony, who is the award winning author of the book “Taming The Tiger”. Our church had invited him to share his amazing story of how God impacted his life. People committed their lives to Jesus that evening – the power of his testimony glorified God in a mighty way.

As Tony came to the end of his story he asked a question. It was one of those “Wow” questions. He simply asked the people listening to think of a moment or event in their lives that had made such an impact on them that they just had to speak to people about it every day. As I sat there I felt challenged by it, and I am an evangelist! I often say when I preach or train people in evangelism that it a good thing to be challenged, especially by the word of God. We just have to make the choice to respond or ignore it.

“For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." Acts 4: 20 NIV

“As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.” Acts 4: 20 The Message

We tell people how much money we saved when we went shopping, on a holiday or the saving of our mobile phone that was almost left on the train. But many of us fail to share the news about the one who truly saves.

Having worked in sales and sales training for many years, one of the most important points to learn to be effective in selling any product or service was to state the benefits of it rather than its features. For example, when selling cars a feature would be that there is a range of colours to choose from, whereas a benefit would be that the car does 80 miles to the gallon. I changed my car recently and told anyone who would listen about the money I was saving on fuel costs!

We don’t need to procure the Gospel message, because it doesn’t need selling and it doesn’t need exaggerating, sweetening, altering or watering down. It’s the most life impacting message that anyone can ever hear!

Key Point: There are more benefits than we could ever count in this life and beyond because of what Jesus has done!

If you just consider three benefits that making Jesus Lord of your life has done for you.

·        Eternal life
·        The Holy Spirit dwelling in your heart
·        Heaven

When we consider just those benefits, the realisation of what they mean should compel us to share what Jesus has done for us. It is better than anything I can think of. People need to hear the Gospel and God has a plan to use you and me to tell them. Yes, imperfect me and imperfect you. That is just incredible.

“Go and preach the Gospel to all creation.” Mark 16: 15

We must remember that Jesus wasn’t just talking to the disciples when He gave the commandment to go and preach the Gospel. He was talking to you and me as well.

It is important to understand that when we do in fact “Go” we never actually “Go” alone. We have the Holy Spirit who will always accompany us whenever and wherever we share Jesus.

We must pray for opportunities to share the message with people, asking God for the boldness you need to share it and then expect something to happen. It is essential that people see the love of Jesus in what we say and do most of all.

Some simple suggestions:

  • Read the word of God and let it fill your heart and mind. You simply can’t get enough of it. It will change you, guide you and equip you for the task.
  • Mix with people who are soul winners and people who witness for Christ on a regular basis. It is better caught than taught as my old boss used to say. What they do and say will rub off on you. If you were a footballer and you had the chance to train with Lionel Messi of Barcelona, there is no doubt that you would become a better footballer. Being with him, watching him and playing in game in his team would rub off onto you. The example is the same for any activity.
  • Learn how to witness by getting some evangelism training from a person or organisation that is a winner of souls for Christ. There is plenty of information available on the internet.
Let’s “Go” and witness for Christ!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Are you a typical Christian Stereotype?

Do you find that when you share your faith in Jesus Christ that some people already have an image in their minds of what Christians are really like? Do they have a ‘Christian Stereotype’ fixed in their minds?

It is true that some Christians can come across as:

·        Intolerant of other religions
·        Judgemental of others
·        Anti gay
·        Dogmatic and intolerant of others’ opinions
·        Hypocrites

There are a number of Scriptures that I could use regarding this subject, but here are just two.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” John 3:17-18

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

How do we communicate with people of other religions, gay people, and people who are totally anti religion without coming across as a ‘Christian Stereotype’? It is a challenge –when we share Jesus we need to demonstrate His love first and foremost. It is absolutely essential that we do not come across as judgemental or with a condemnatory attitude.

A very good friend of mine has described me as ‘dogmatic’ on occasion because I hold firmly to my beliefs. We cannot compromise the message of the Gospel in any way, even if we know that it may not be received well. It is vital that we show the love of God in our exchanges with people.

Last night I was asked a challenging question. It was this: “I like to think that my father is in heaven waiting for me; I know that he wasn’t a Christian, but he was a good man. Do you believe that he is heaven?”

I asked a couple of questions and discovered that the man had some knowledge of church as he went to Sunday school as a child. Also he had been ill for a period before he died, so I explained that many people call on the Lord in situations like that, which gave me an opportunity to explain about the parable of the Vineyard owner in Matthew 20: 2-16, who hired labourers at different times of the day, but paid them all the same wages irrespective of how long they had worked.

Key Point: Take people back to scripture because that is what opens the hardest of hearts

We need to take people to scripture where possible because that is what opens their hearts to the truth. It is a living and powerful Word and I have seen it change the hardest of hearts.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

When asked if there are many roads to God, I always explain that it would be nice to believe that but then go through scriptures that clearly show that “many roads” are not the case. Using scriptures like John 14: 6 to explain that the only way to God is through His Son Jesus Christ, and that all other roads lead to the wrong destination.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14

I was asked once if I hated homosexuals because I was a Christian. My reply was that I didn’t hate anyone in anyway at all and said that God is the same way. He loves people more than anyone ever could. In fact He loves them so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for them. What greater demonstration of love could anyone show? The truth of the matter is that God doesn’t hate the sinner; rather He hates the sin itself.

Let’s remind ourselves that we need to live out our lives so that the people who watch us do not see us as hypocrites. Our Christian walk speaks volumes about us, long before we have the chance to start quoting scripture!

Also try not to get into the “you are wrong” type of exchanges. Instead, let people know that you appreciate what they have to say. Then, in love, tell them the truth. The Holy Spirit will be with you.

Tell the truth in love…it’s the only way.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

A Relevant Gospel

Whilst preparing a message to preach next Sunday I paused to consider the relevance of the Gospel in society today and how we as individuals go about making it known. I believe that it is indisputably still relevant!  The Bible has been described as a manual for life, a road map showing the way in which we should go. These are good descriptions.

The word relevant simply means to relate to a matter at hand. While I was preparing my Sunday message I read this scripture by the Apostle Paul, which clearly demonstrated that he knew how to make a subject relevant in his letter to the Corinthians.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27

Paul was talking about the Christian life we lead and the goal of eternity with The Lord. He used the example of the Isthmian games, that were held in the area every two years, as the Corinthians would have seen the relevance immediately. Everyone knew about them and many people had probably been to Corinth to watch them.

The question is then, how do we make the Gospel relevant to the people we witness to? How can we explain it in simple terms so that our listeners immediately understand the context?

This subject has been one of great debate over recent years. Some people believe that you should leave the word alone and let it do its work, while some others want to amend it so that it can be brought up to date. I believe that we, like Paul, must be on the lookout for opportunities where we can share the good news.

When I went through evangelism training, as students we had to be ready to share the good news at any time. In lessons our lecturers would have a bag full of items that they would use like a lucky dip bag.  They would put their hand in, grab an item and throw it to a student, who would catch it and immediately have to relate the item to sharing the good news.

In the same way we should be able to do that with situations that come up from time to time. Over the years I have used news events and the like as a doorway to share the Gospel. Whatever subject was brought up by work colleagues, friends or family, I could use it to share the message, creating an opportunity.

Key Point: Be watchful and ready, because there will be plenty of opportunities for you to present the Gospel in a way that is relevant

Below are a few examples. These are just ideas  which  you can adapt to situations that arise in your own life.

Wars, Famine etc: I would get involved in the discussion with people for a while and then make or point or ask a question to the group like “Did  you know that the Bible talked about things happening like this when Jesus was on the earth?”  I would get asked questions like “Where does it say that then?”

The question opened the door to share the scripture in Matthew 24: 6 You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

Evil and greed in the world: There have been many times over the years where I have got into discussions about subjects like this. It is a great opportunity to sow seeds. I would often say “We shouldn’t be surprised about this happening really” and would then be asked “Why

I would then explain 2 Timothy 3: 2:  “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Doesn’t everyone go to heaven, aren’t there many roads to God?: Occasionally a “Biggy” like this would present itself. Sometimes people would discuss the matter of eternity and going to heaven.

When this happened I would patiently listen, ask questions along the lines of “Oh that’s interesting, why do you believe that?” Invariably in a group of people there would be a range of views given as to why they believed that they would end up in heaven. People would explain their reasoning about receiving eternal life.

Where the opportunity was right I would say something like “Well, although I have heard what you have all said about the subject, it seems you are not CERTAIN that your belief that you will go to heaven will truly work. Rather you are HOPING it will”.  

I would go on to say “I base my beliefs on one thing, the word of God. The Bible clearly states………..”.  I could use a number of scriptures here, such as John 14: 6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Sometimes what I said fell on deaf ears, other times I was able to discuss the gospel, sometimes I was able to share my story of salvation and on other occasions I was able to lead a person to Christ.

We must be ready and willing, being prepared to share the truth in love. God will back you up. He always does and He always will.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Is the Gospel simply black and white?

Is the Gospel black and white? It is a simple enough question to ask, isn’t it? What do you think? Is your answer an immediate yes or no, or are you having to think about the question?

How does your belief in the clarity of the Gospel affect the urgency and way that you share it? Have you ever found it difficult to deal with questions surrounding eternity, heaven and hell?  Is the Gospel a turn or burn message that was preached years ago and heard of so little today?

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matthew 7:13

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matthew 25: 31-46

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you will know I believe that the Bible is very clear in what it says about ‘being in Christ’ compared to not believing and accepting Him as Lord and Saviour.

I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting that you go and start telling people that they are destined for hell. My point is that we should present the Gospel with clarity, and not be afraid to speak plainly when required.

My first pastor for 16 years had a major effect on my life during those years. He taught me very much, challenged me, pushed me and even irritated me sometimes. An outstanding part of his character was that he was always very clear when it came to the Gospel message and from his ministry and my own study I have developed very similar beliefs about doctrine.

On one occasion a person who had been attending our church for a while told my pastor that they wanted to try a different fellowship. He was disappointed to hear this and asked why the person felt that way. I will never forget the person’s reply. They said, “Oh, the stuff that you preach is too black and white for me”.

I remember thinking, “Too black and white! Do you really want the matter of your eternal destiny to be a grey area?” People need to understand that the only way to God is through His Son. There is no other way. It is a fact that cannot be watered down. It is through Jesus and Jesus only!

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14: 6

So then how do we answer the “Am I going to Hell” question and other difficult ones like it?

I suppose you could be direct and answer “Yes”, if you knew that the person you were in conversation with had not received Christ as Saviour. I believe that if you did that on a regular basis, you would have very short conversations with people while witnessing.

Whenever I am asked a question like that I tend to deal with it in a way is not offensive. When asked about Hell and other similar questions I try to answer saying something like, “That is a great question and probably the best way to answer it would be to tell you what the Bible says about it”.

Key Point: Never be tempted to compromise the message so that it becomes more palatable.

I would then go through something like the Roman road scriptures and explain them in simple, easy to understand terms. Sometimes you will need to be sensitive, while at other times you will need to be quite direct. The Holy Spirit will guide you if you seek Him. But never be tempted to compromise the message so that it becomes more palatable for your listener.

I have covered the Roman Road before in previous blogs, but just as a reminder the scriptures are:

Romans 3: 23:For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6: 23: "The wages of sin is death..."

Romans 6: 23:"But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Romans 5: 8: "God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!"

Romans 10: 13: "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved!"

Romans 10: 9-10: "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

Jesus talked more about Hell that He did about Heaven. He is our model and example to follow. He was the ultimate evangelist, so that should answer any questions we have about harder to deal with areas such as this.

I have had debates with people on this subject and have then asked them, “Do you believe that you know a better way of answering difficult questions like this than Jesus did”?

On the other hand I have met people who have a great desire to share Jesus, but all they seem to talk about is hell and damnation. We need to share the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus and what He accomplished for us on the cross. As we witness people must see the love of Jesus in us.

We must also be prepared to give straight answers when asked the difficult questions. People respect honesty, especially when you answer in love.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Witnessing to a backslider


This is an area that is very difficult for many Christians, especially when it concerns loved ones who have lost their desire for the Lord. It can be extremely painful to see people who we really care about going back to their old ways. Sometimes they even seem to rebel against God. By allowing themselves to be dragged down further by the lusts of this world, I have known people who actually appear to be miserable in their situation. It can seem awful for the person and can appear rather like the scripture in Proverbs 26: 11 where “the dog returns to its vomit”.

This is written in the book of James:

“My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins” James 5: 19-20

How then do we witness and win those who have backslidden from Christ? There is no proven formula, however there is a pattern that I have noticed over the years which we can follow that helps.

I am not going to talk about ‘once saved always saved’ or ‘man’s ability to fall from grace’ because I know that there are differing teachings with regards to this. As a very new Christian I once asked a pastor to tell me exactly what ‘being a backslider’ meant. He explained gently that it was how people fall out of love with God. He made a point that I have never forgotten - that there are even people who attend church every week who are backslidden in their hearts. They attend more out of duty or habit than out of love for the Lord. I will discuss this topic in greater depth in the near future.

It is important to remember that when a person has truly experienced Christ, that it can’t be forgotten. Making Jesus Lord is a life-changing experience that never leaves us. I don’t believe that if a person genuinely repented, accepted Christ, read His word, prayed and did their best to follow Him before falling away, that the desire to be back with Him disappears, unless they become an apostate and decide to reject Jesus, entirely denying their faith.  

God does not love the sin and failure, but He still loves the person. That is why He led James to include the exhortations that we have read in his letter, in James 5:19-20.  We have a responsibility to a person who backslides. He made this so clear for us that we should be concerned for our brother or sister in Christ. We are not to abandon them, criticise them, talk about them, accuse them, condemn them or ostracise them, rather we are to go after them and seek to restore them.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galations 6: 1-2

Try not to condemn and judge: I have known believers get so upset with a loved one who falls away from God, that they let the person know how disgusted they are about it. In regards to this we have to remember the “WWJD – What would Jesus do”? asking ourselves the very same question. I believe that He would show love and compassion rather than judge and condemn. We must be careful that we don’t push the person further away.

Don’t hide your faith away: Be bold, be strong and let them see Jesus in you. If you are able to, let them know what God is doing in your own life and those of others that you know. Be full of Jesus and let them see His joy and love in your life. Don’t be afraid to invite them to church or other meetings. One day they may accept your invitation.  

Key Point: God never gives up on a backslider. He loves and desires that they return to Him

Remember that God still loves the backslider: That will never change, because He waits, patiently looking for them, just as the father of the prodigal son did. He is overjoyed when someone comes back to Christ.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” Luke 15: 20

Pray for them to come to a right mind: This is important, as we see this in scripture once again when we look at the prodigal. The Holy Spirit can convict a person’s heart in the depths of their sin, bring the realisation that they need the forgiveness that they need and that it can only come from God.  

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!” Luke 15: 17

Pray that God gives them courage: Sometimes a backslider will realise that they need God back in their life, but not follow through. They start to imagine what people will say and think about them. This is why they need courage to admit that they were wrong, as well as repenting, asking for forgiveness from God, plus those whom they may have hurt.

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father” Luke 15: 18-20

Pursue them: Do this in love and prayerfully, asking God to give you guidance. He can give you a strategy to follow that will open their heart to Him.

Be patient and don’t give up: Sometimes it can take a long time for a person to return. God will never give up on them and neither should we.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Witnessing and keeping Jesus who is the main thing the main thing

You may have come across this statement before. I use it quite often when training people on how to share their testimonies in a real, relevant way. The important point is that our testimonies are about US. The truth is in fact that they are more about Jesus and what He did for us.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7

In the scripture above Paul did what He always did. He kept the main thing, Jesus, the main thing - exactly what we should do when we get the opportunity to share our testimonies of God’s grace upon our lives. It’s all about Jesus!

Recently I convened a meeting where a couple of people shared there testimonies of salvation. The first person had an amazing story of how God had intervened in his life at a time of great desperation. He spoke for twelve minutes in total, eleven of which were all about him, his life, his upbringing, his younger years, his problems all of which were very interesting.

However he spent only one minute on the subject of when he decided to go to a church where he met with the living God who changed his life. 
Our testimonies must point people to Jesus, because without Him at the centre, it is just a story, as true and as interesting as it might be. As a result of that a big opportunity was missed.

In previous blogs I have covered a simple formula to follow which I will go through again. These are rough percentages to follow:

·        35% on your life before you were saved
·        35% on how you got saved
·        30% on what Jesus has done in your life since that time

That means that 65% of your story is around the one that died for you saving you from a lost eternity in a place that was created for Satan and his fallen angels. That is the main thing. Of course your story is intertwined with that, but the focus is on Jesus who saved you from an eternity away from God and not you for no one can save except Him.

The section of your testimony that covers the part on how you came to know Christ is very important and should be described as life changing because receiving Christ as Saviour is an event that will never leave you the same. If it is real it shows!

I have heard testimonies from people who have said they found Christ through going to church a few times and seeing that people were enjoying God, which is great. What they saw in others they wanted to have themselves. Now let me make it clear, there is no problem in that because that situation was real to them.

Part of receiving Christ revolves around repentance, asking for forgiveness of sins committed and making Jesus the Lord of your life. The old saying is so true, “Jesus Christ is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.”

It is important that we understand what Christ did for us at Calvary. How He took our punishment, took our sin upon Himself, how He was mocked, bruised, beaten and yet did not open His mouth to complain. He died the death of a common criminal and was buried in a tomb and rose from the grave after three days defeating death and hell.

This must be referred to in some way in our story. There are many things that can be shared about the pivotal point in your life that made you want to ask Jesus to forgive you. Here are a few examples of what a person could say:

·        I realised that Jesus died for my sin
·        I understood that I was lost without Jesus
·        I realised that I had been living life my own way and needed a saviour
·        I knew I was going to a lost eternity unless I accepted  what Jesus did for me on the cross
·        My eyes were opened, I realised that I needed Jesus in my life because I realised what He did for me on the cross

Key Point: Your testimony must clearly and definitely point a person to Jesus

The final part of your story should be about what Jesus has done since you gave your life to Him. It should cover areas such as:

·        How has your life changed since receiving Him?
·        Examples of answered prayer
·        Significant events that have happened
·        How you grown as a person
·        Why you will never go back to your old life

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. If you know Him as Lord then it means He saved you, His Spirit dwells in your heart and He is with you always. What a miracle!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Can you stop talking for a minute?

When you come into contact with people, do they know that you have been with Jesus? Is there something about you that causes people to wonder why you are different? 

This is a big challenge for us all in many ways. My point here is to ask you if there is more that you can do to be an effective witness for Christ. It is likely that we could be more compassionate, more prayerful and more loving if we follow the example Jesus gave us. In the light of the scriptures below, we could also aim to be more like Peter and John. What do you think?

When we understand the love of Christ and what He did through His atoning sacrifice at Calvary on our behalf, we undergo a life changing experience. This, in addition to spending time with God in prayer and through reading His Word, the Bible, changes us – doesn’t it?

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4: 13

Do people take note that you have been with Jesus?

The experience of having the Holy Spirit literally coming to dwell in our hearts when we accept Jesus is nothing short of a miracle.  The fact that we, in that instant, move from death to life though making Jesus Lord of our lives, changes us forever. To realise that Jesus died on the cross to purchase our forgiveness, save us from a lost eternity and that He remains with us forever, is almost too much to take in. The life changing experience alters our feelings for those that don’t know Him as Lord -  doesn’t it?

“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4: 18-20

Has your experience of what Jesus has done for you make it so that you cannot stop talking about what you have seen or heard?

There are days when people can see something different in me, and days when I feel like I could shout from the mountain tops declaring the wondrous works of the cross. But the truth is there are other days when I don’t feel or act that way and when I don’t witness as I should and pass over opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel.
The scripture where Peter tells the Sanhedrin that he couldn’t help speaking about what they had seen or heard has been on my heart. Shouldn’t it be an example for us to follow? Was it just for the disciples?

Key Point: We need to be honest with ourselves and ask the question “Do people know that I have been with Jesus?”

Imagine for a moment that a law was brought into this country where being a believer in Christ meant that you would be thrown into prison, or even put to death for professing the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to heaven. The second part of this hypothetical situation would be that you are able to meet at church in secrecy every week. So in other words, no one that you know has the knowledge that you attend church at all.

If you live your life the way you do now, remembering the fact that no one knows you attend church, would there be enough evidence against you proving beyond all doubt that you are a Christian, which would lead to your conviction?

Honestly, would people know that you have been with Jesus?

Would your friends, family, neighbours, works colleagues, fellow students and many besides be able to present evidence against you such as the following? :

·        You were seen declaring your faith on a regular basis
·        Seen distributing tracts
·        Giving food to the poor in the name of Jesus
·        Reported for sharing your testimony

Reading the scripture has made me examine what I do, how I live and how I share the most important news of all. I fail and mess up on many occasions and know I could do a better job.

I thank God for His grace and forgiveness. He wants all men to hear the Gospel and desires that all men would be saved. Amazingly He chooses to reach them through you and me. He has given us command to follow that involves us sharing the gospel in word and deed.

If we are nervous, we can pray and He will give us boldness. If we don’t think we know enough, we can read His word and the Holy Spirit will bring scriptures to our remembrance. If we need examples to follow, there are plenty to be found in the Bible. We have everything we need. All we have to do is to be obedient to the commands that Jesus so clearly gave us.

I am not suggesting that we all stand on the street corner proclaiming the Gospel, or be like a good friend of mine, who goes on a karaoke machine to share the love of Jesus in bars and nightclubs. I just write this to ask you a question -

Is there more that you could do?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Do you like change?

There is a joke that I sometimes quote to make a point about how Christians often resist change. It goes like this. Question: How many church members does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Change?

I am all for change and we need to make use of out of the box thinking in order to come up with new ideas on how to reach people with the most important message in the world. We should make use of all new mediums of communication like the internet and other technology. My concern is that in our modern seeker sensitive, politically correct world many Christians are abandoning the proven traditional methods that still work to replace them with ones that are less about one to one witnessing for Christ.

By that I mean that we should be talking directly to people, asking them questions about their deepest beliefs, discovering how these beliefs effect the way that they live their lives, leading on to presenting the truth of the Gospel of salvation. Sometimes it will be gently and on other occasions confrontationally, but it must always be done in love, out of having a heart for the lost.

There are three important scriptures that come to mind that we should never forget when it comes to evangelism and witnessing.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Mark 16: 15

Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full’ Luke 14: 23

"If you love me, you will obey what I command” John 14: 15

These scriptures I believe tell us that we must go. Yes, we can still make use of new ideas and methods to share Jesus. But we must be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water in favour of more modern approaches.

Jesus knew what He was saying when he spoke those words. He knew about the radio, TV and internet revolution that was to come. He knew that through technology we would be able to reach millions. It really in incredible when you consider what we can do today. Jesus even said himself:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” John 14: 12

The point that I am making is that we still need to pray for opportunities to share the Gospel one to one, to speak to people and engage them in conversation, letting the way that we live our lives be a witness for Jesus.

Key Point: Leaflets, notices, internet campaigns are all good, but at some point witnessing will involve conversation and sharing the Gospel if you have a desire to win souls

For me to see the truth I needed someone to actually talk to me about Jesus. They pointed out that there was only one way to heaven which is through the Son. At first when I heard the “Good News” I thought it was rubbish, nonsense and baloney. But over a period of time I was won to Christ through them  building a relationship one on one. The people who shared Jesus with me let their lights shine,  as well as through being salt and by demonstrating the love of Jesus through kindness and compassion as well showing their belief in Christ in both word and deed. Through all of this, and much more my eyes were eventually opened to the truth that Jesus died for me.

I want to challenge you as a Christian to obey the commands of Jesus by being a ready and active witness for Him. It may be difficult at times, but when you consider what He did for us at Calvary there is no comparison.

If you know that you are not witnessing enough personally for Christ, make a plan to do the following:

  • Pray daily for opportunities to witness
  • Ask God so send people to you who are ready for the message
  • Pray specifically for people you are trying to reach personally

  • Get into the word of God
  • Set aside time to read scriptures that relate to witnessing
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of His word to your heart

  • Prepare your testimony so that it lasts from a couple of minutes and another for 5 or ten minutes.
  • Try to keep to this formula, cover 30% before being saved, 40% how you were saved, 30% on what has happened since being saved 
  • Learn answers to common questions that the unsaved have
  • Listen to evangelistic messages 
  • Learn how to lead someone to Christ

  • Spend time with people who are effective witnesses
  • Ask questions and find out what they do
  • Mirror these people and opportunities will come

If being a witness was easy, everyone would be doing it. The truth is that it will mean operating in faith and believing that the Holy Spirit will back you up.

The Good News is that when you do, He will.

Friday, 1 June 2012

How about treasure hunting evangelism?

People have come up with new ways to reach those people who don’t know Christ for many years. Some of these methods are seeker sensitive, which I believe is fine as long as you don’t change the message so that God becomes more acceptable, while others are much more direct in their approach. 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” Hebrews 11: 6

There is one method that is being spoken of quite a lot at the moment. It involves what is known as “Treasure hunting evangelism”. I have met people who are who speak highly of the endeavour as well as those who are very much against it.

I believe that it started at Bill Johnson's church in the USA a few years ago and that it has proved to be very successful. If you have never come across this before, here is a simple explanation of what is actually involved.

It is quite different, but simply put 'Treasure Hunts' are a form of prophetic evangelism. A group of Christians will get together and take time to pray and listen for revelation from the Holy Spirit about individuals that God wants the group to find.

It is in essence a form of personal evangelism which some would say is a game of searching for 'God's Treasures', which are of course people who are away from God. The group typically receives revelation, or "clues", consisting of places, clothing, hairstyle, or situations which will help them to identify the "treasure".

After receiving revelations from the Holy Spirit, the group will go out to ‘hunt’ for the people identified. Often as a result they are able to share the love of God as well as being able to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people that they come into contact with. This can also provide opportunities for the treasure hunters to pray for the sick.

With this type of evangelism and witnessing the idea is to let people know that they really are valuable in Gods eyes and that He has guided the 'Hunter" to search for them as His treasure.

The approach that people use would be something like, “Hello, I’m searching for treasure, and I believe that it’s you”. This very often opens the door for a ‘hunter’ to witness of Gods grace and also it often provides an opportunity to pray for the person they are in conversation with. 

There are many testimonies of people coming to Christ, receiving healing, asking for personal prayer, engaging in deep spiritual conversations and accepting invitations to come to church or Alpha / look and see courses.

This will be a controversial method of evangelism for some. Because, there is no doubt that on occasion some over enthusiastic people have gone off believing that they have heard from the Lord, when in fact what they did hear was just a notion that popped into their head. All I would say is that before carrying out this method of witnessing it would require much prayer. Groups should also be led by a team leader who is experienced in hearing the voice of the Spirit of God. This  leader would then be able to listen to the revelations that the groups have received. They would the be able to offer help and encouragement to team members who are starting out in this form of witness.

Well, that is the reservations that I have over, so let’s look at some of the positives.

It is an excellent conversation opener:  In my experience there is nothing more likely to bring a very quick end to a conversation than asking someone a question like, “Hi there, I am from the local church, tell me, have you heard about Jesus?”

The actual idea of a “treasure hunt” is a way to break the ice with strangers, allowing a conversation to naturally move on to important spiritual matters.

Key Point: This type of witnessing will build up your reliance of the Holy Spirit

It builds a reliance on the Holy Spirit’s guidance: Praying to God to divinely lead you to those people who the Holy Spirit may already have been working on builds trust in God to direct and guide. It also develops faith in Him to give you the right words to say in order to be an effective witness. I have said before, that if you earnestly pray to God for opportunities to share the good news, He will bring the right people to you. This is just another way of doing the same thing.

It requires a believer to put faith into action:  As we have read, scripture says that we cannot please God without faith.  When we do something in faith to share Jesus, the Holy Spirit backs you up. He guides, He leads, He helps, He empowers. He is just amazing!!

That is why prayer is so important. It is a must, that you believe that you have heard from God before going onto someone. God will speak to you in both words to your heart as well as by giving you pictures that will be very clear.

I know that God moves in this way through my own experiences over the years. Once I was praying for God to reveal to me people who needed prayer for healing while on an outreach on a tent mission. Whilst in prayer I was given a clear picture of young lady with a significant back problem that caused her to limp and lean out sideways. Within a couple of minutes she was standing right in front of me. God is good.

Does this method excite you or put you off? Let me know.