Archive for October, 2008

Evangelism Without the Cross

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2008 by gospel2live

Monday night I attended a large youth rally.  All day, a team had been to area high schools doing school assemblies in order to invite kids to a large community rally that evening.  They must have done good work, because nearly 700 kids showed up for the evening rally.  They had a cool, hip band and cool, hip speakers.  There was pizza and pop waiting for the end of the rally.  Everything was in place as the speaker moved towards calling kids to make a decision. 

The speaker told them, “Jesus isn’t some guy sitting on a chair waiting to throw lightening bolts at you when you screw up.  Give your heart to God, he’ll take the bad and the good.  Come forward and come to faith.”  On the count of three, about 400 kids went forward to “come to faith.”  
As I sat and observed, many of these kids were busy chatting with their friends or texting as the speaker made the invitation.  They went forward chatting and giggling with their friends.  Some rode piggy back on others.  Their were no tears of repentance or even serious looks of determination, rather there was chatting and autograph requests as they got close to the entertainers.  
Other than the chair comment, not one word was said about WHO Jesus is, or what he did.  The entire content of the rally could have easily been done at a public high school without raising any concern from the most liberal teacher or student.  Most notably absent was the Cross.
Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  And I was with you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
I think the young people doing this assembly are sincere followers of Jesus who want to see teens come to faith in Jesus.  However, they have fallen victim to the lie of our day and age that we must make the message of Christ more acceptable to our day and age.  They want to make sure that nothing prevents kids from being saved.  While we want to remove any obstacles that stand in the way of coming to faith, there is one obstacle — a stumbling block actually — that Jesus does not give us the option of removing — the cross.  Again Paul writes, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24)  
Please remember that our duty is to simply proclaim the Gospel message.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Certainly we want to proclaim it to the best of our abilities.  We want to proclaim it in language that will be clearly understood by our listeners and we want to make it as readily accessible as we can.  
However, we can not alter the message.  Ultimately, we cannot convert one single human being through our own abilities or efforts.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the dead hearts of humans and to cause them to spring to life.  And it is the pleasure of God to use a message that seems like complete foolishness to those who are perishing to accomplish this purpose.  In this way, He receives all the glory and honor and praise.
Due to the number of kids who came forward, the counselors were not able to meet with them one on one to help be sure they understood the good news.  Instead, the groups of teens continued chatting and texting as they received their promised gift — a tract and a copy of the Gospels in chronological order.  Many were clearly disappointed in the promised gift — it wasn’t an ipod touch like they hoped, so they passed them on to other friends so that they wouldn’t have to carry them.  But God is sovereign, and hopefully there will be even one teen who the Holy Spirit reaches through these imperfect efforts.  Which gives me hope that maybe my imperfect efforts at proclaiming the message can bear fruit too.
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Friendly Versus Intimate.

Posted in accountability, Christian relationships, holiness on October 22, 2008 by gospel2live

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. James 2:1
The official word is that Chisholm Baptist is a friendly church.  I frequently hear people from the church talking about what a wonderful, friendly place this church is.  There is no doubt that the people I hear this from are sincere and really love this church – as they should!  

However there are other voices that I hear from time to time.  These voices share another message.  These are the voices of people who feel lonely and isolated.  They are voices of people who are never included in the private parties, or invited to dinner.  These are people who are new, or poor, or single, or in some way don’t “fit the mold.”  These voices talk about a Chisholm Baptist Church that seems cliquish and sometimes shallow in our relationships.  

It isn’t that people are necessarily mean or unkind.  It’s just that most of us do not get beyond a smile and light chatter on Sunday morning in the hallway.  Most of us, frankly, like it that way.  Do we really want to know about someone else’s pain or trials?  Do we really want to put up with stories from people who seem “weird” to us?  Are we content to remain blind to any problems that aren’t far away and disconnected from our day to day lives?  

This becomes even more evident as we get closer to issues of sin in people’s lives.  Do we ask each other tough questions to hold one another accountable?  Do we confront people who offend us, or do we hold grudges and talk behind their backs?  Do we ignore sinful patterns of behavior in other people instead of lovingly and humbly encouraging them to repent?  Have we quietly embraced the modern notion of tolerance when we let people continue uninterrupted in their involvement with church activities despite their blatant and unrepentant sinning?  1 John 1:6 says “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  

While Chisholm Baptist may be a friendly church, it is not always an intimate church.  All of us need to examine our hearts, our attitudes, and our actions to see if we are making efforts to love and serve other people in our midst.  We need to reach out to others in the church who are hurting, lonely, struggling with sin, or just a little different than us to be able to serve them in their walk with Christ.  We must love people enough to correct them in patterns of sin in their lives – not because we have reached a level of perfection and can sit in judgment – but because we need them to be there to do the same for us in turn.  If we fail to cultivate deep and intimate relationships with one another that are centered around Jesus, we will end up as hearers of the Word, but not doers of the Word.

Even if you feel that you are rich in intimate relationships here at church, ask yourself these questions.  When was the last time someone loved me enough to confront me on sin in my life?  When was the last time I felt the need to confront someone else and actually did it?  When was the last time I invited someone over for dinner for the first time?  When was the last time I prayed to ask God to guide me to a person who needed me to serve them?  What is the biggest struggle with sin for each of my three closest friends at CBC?  What am I doing to help them overcome that sin in their lives?  When was the last time I confessed my sin to someone else?  All of us MUST fight against our sinful tendency to be selfish and our desire to be served, and seek, by God’s grace, to become servants to others around us.  Only then will Chisholm Baptist be not just a friendly church, but an intimate one as well.