Archive for the evangelism Category

A Radical Strategy to Defeat Radical Islam

Posted in evangelism, missions on February 9, 2012 by gospel2live

The M982 Excalibur is a new artillery shell first used in 2007.  It features a GPS guidance system that allows it to land within about 13 feet of its intended target.  Due to the success of this new weapon in its initial use in Iraq, the US military decided to increase production to 150 per month.  The initial cost per shell was $86,000.00, but according to Wikipedia, the cost was expected to go down to just $50,000 per shell once in full production.  Assuming that we are buying 150 of these a month at the lower price of just $50,000 per bullet, we are spending approximately $7.5 million a month for this ONE type of bullet.  That amounts to $90 million per year for just one type of bullet for just one type of gun.  This does not include the cost of the gun, the soldiers to operate it, or all of the support to get it in position to use.  It is just the cost of the bullets.

Let me ask a simple question.  What if missions were the mission?  What if we decided that instead of trying to beat our enemies into submission with $50,ooo bullets, we sent missionaries, doctors, engineers, and other people who are ready to go to risky places to die, if necessary, to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our enemies?  How many missionary families could we send for the simple cost of buying ONE TYPE of bullet?  For the sake of easy numbers, let’s say it costs roughly $100,000 per year to fully fund a missionary to a foreign land.  Some places may cost more, and some less, but this is a reasonable number.  That means we could fully fund 900 full time missionary families for the same amount that we spend buying this ONE TYPE of bullet. Some of them may die in the service, but others would succeed, by the grace of God, in planting new churches, establishing health clinics, feeding the poor and marginalized, and physically demonstrating the love of Jesus to people who are in desperate need of the Gospel.

I am alarmed by the blood-thirstiness I have observed in much of the American Evangelical church.  We rally to support the sanctity of human life regarding abortion (as we SHOULD!), but then turn around and blindly wave our flags as we send our boys off to die trying to “kill them before they kill us!”  If we love Jesus, we should be very careful not to abandon his clear teaching that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:38-48)  Jesus’ great commission (Matthew 28:18-20) tells us to make disciples of all nations as we are going.  Bombing the people we are commanded to reach is not a particularly effective way to promote the Gospel of Peace!  Our sons and daughters DO need to be willing to serve and to die in foreign lands, but not in the military — rather in service of the Gospel that all nations would hear the Good News that Jesus has died to reconcile sinners to the Father!

How do we respond?  First, we need to repent of our hate, pride and racism.  Frankly, much of what I observe in national pride comes off as a subtle form of racism.  Somehow, we have bought the lie that Americans are fundamentally less corrupt and more noble than those in other nations.  We are blind to our own sin and need to humbly repent of our pride and ask God for grace to love our enemies — both at home and abroad.

Second, we need to repent for our lack of faith in God’s sovereignty.  Throughout the Bible God makes it abundantly clear that HE is the security of HIS people.  Psalm 20:7 and Zechariah 4:6 are just two of many examples of God’s word downplaying military might in favor of reliance on the Lord.  The nation who boasts in its military strength is nearly always laid low by inferior forces when God is not honored by the people.  We are ONLY as secure as the Lord makes us, regardless of how many bombs, planes, or warships we happen to control.

Finally, we need to humble ourselves and pray that God would give us peace and raise up workers for the harvest fields.  The war-mongering of the American church has harmed the cause of Christ, both at home and abroad.  Too many people have only experienced Christ followers as arrogant, self-righteous and hateful people.  We need to be unabashedly committed to the truth of the Bible.  But we also must demonstrate humble and sacrificial service to others — even our enemies — if we want to actually embody the Bible.  Just preaching it, or just living it, will always fall short.  We must strive by the grace of God to do both well if we want to change the world for the better.

Update from the land of Church Planting…

Posted in evangelism, missions with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by gospel2live

Faithful readers… both of you!  The past year has been an amazing journey.  We have left the security of a good job with an established church to raise support and begin a new work.  God has provided for our needs in amazing ways.  We have added two new members to our family as our adoption of two brothers through the foster care system was completed in July.  We have rented out our old house and moved to a new house in the community where we are starting the new church.  As I write this, I am, quite honestly, both exhausted and refreshed, exhilerated and terrified, and depressed and enthusiastic about the future!  In other words, welcome to the bi-polar life of a Jesus follower!

As for the church plant, we are gathering on Sundays with a group that averages about 35-40 people.  All but one of the families who are regularly a part of our group are people that we did not even know a year ago.  Many of them had already left churches that had abandoned the Bible before they had heard about Cross Hill.  Many had not been involved in a meaningful way with ANY church as adults.  While my planning included a lot of thinking about training leaders and launching people into ministry, I have had to adjust to meet the needs of people who are super eager to learn, but are starting out with very little knowledge of the Bible.  Honestly, it is amazingly encouraging to see people reading the Bible in a way that a starving man attacks an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Here is the upside.  This Sunday we will see four adults dedicate their lives to follow Jesus in baptism.  We have another group of people that will likely want to be baptized by the end of the year.  We have people reading the Bible and asking awesome questions.  Many of our people are inviting friends, talking about the changes in their life that Jesus has brought, and “doing the work of evangelism” without me having to say much of anything about it!  Week after week, as we meet for a pretty “no-frills” Bible study, I see the Spirit of God at work in peoples’ lives in confronting their sin, reconciling them to God, and in helping them to find healing and wholeness in their lives.  Even after over an hour of teaching, people stay and hang out over coffee — despite many of them coming from traditions where a 50 minute gathering is “pushing it.”  Despite stepping out without even a salary guaranteed, God has stirred people to provide for our needs, often without even being solicited!  Praise God!

Here’s the hard part.  We have seen difficult spiritual opposition in discouragement and depression among some of our family and core team.  Marriages have been strained at times by this spiritual oppression.  Establishing patterns and routines has been extremely difficult with the amount of change that is taking place.  We are rapidly approaching the need to deal with structural and organizational issues that lie WAY outside of my comfort zones!  With the new people come new problems that tax our energy and our emotions as we walk with people through dark valleys to find their healing in the Gospel.  One of my most common thoughts is “Who is sufficient for these things?”

Here’s the bottom line.  Jesus Christ will build HIS church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!  I am NOT sufficient for these things!  Thankfully, God gives us his grace, ill-deserved kindnesses, so that through the power of his Holy Spirit people might be reconciled to God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Hallelujah!

Eschatology and Evangelism

Posted in evangelism with tags , , , , on December 5, 2009 by gospel2live

Is a particular view of eschatology (the study of end times prophecy) essential in order to be urgent about evangelism?

One of the arguments put forward by those who hold to a pretribulation rapture is that their view properly leads to an enthusiasm for evangelism.  The argument is basically that since Jesus could come at any minute to bring believers to heaven prior to a time of tremendous suffering where God’s wrath is poured out on those left behind, we should be motivated to share the Gospel with as many people as possible to help save them from the time of trouble ahead.

While I will leave the merits of particular eschatological views to others to debate, I do not find eschatology to be a compelling force for evangelism.  In fact, the pretribulation view might actually lessen our urgency for evangelism, since many sincere believers think that the rapture of the church will be the very sign that causes their friends and family to realize the claims about Jesus are true and to turn to Him for salvation.

Regardless of your views regarding the end times, there IS a far more compelling motivation for us to be talking about Jesus to the ones we love.  This morning, a 39 year old woman left her home and headed out in a pickup on Hwy 53 — a four lane divided highway that is about as safe as a highway can be.  I don’t even know this woman’s name, but I am reasonably certain that she did not expect to die today.   However, she lost control of the pickup on an icy bridge deck and was pronounced dead at the scene of the one vehicle crash.  For this woman, today was her day to stand before Jesus.

While there are a million ways in which our lives could be cut short, our best motivation to be talking about the Gospel is because it is, in fact, really great news!  While love and concern for people is a legitimate motivation for evangelism, the best one is our love for Jesus.  When we are truly in love, whether it is a new romance or the birth of a child, NOBODY can get us to cease talking about it!  So ultimately, our way to increase the motivation to do the work of evangelism is to cultivate a deeper love for Christ.

Penn Jillette on Evangelism

Posted in evangelism with tags , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2009 by gospel2live

…I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward … how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that …

I found this quote particularly fascinating.  It gives a completely different perspective to that which we would expect to hear from an atheist, but it is a wonderfully logical way of thinking.  So many unbelievers just want the Christian to shut up and leave them alone.  Too many Christians do exactly that.  As a result, we see little, if any, evangelistic efforts in our day.  

But what if we REALLY believed the Gospel?  Isn’t it our Biblical belief that judgment day is coming towards our unbelieving world like a run-away truck?  Do we really believe that those who do not come to Jesus by faith are objects of wrath who will spend eternity in conscious torment in the fires of hell?  Do we really believe that forgiveness and adoption as sons are made possible through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross?  Do we really believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that we now have the blessed hope of eternity in the presence of God?

If we really believe these things, why aren’t we willing to “tackle” unbelievers?  Penn would.  

I understand that not every unbeliever shares Penn’s respect for the evangelist.  However, the power of the evangelist rests not in his eloquence, his methods, or even his persistence.  The power of the evangelist rests in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the message of the Gospel.  We do not need to make ourselves obnoxious, or argue people into the kingdom.  However, we need to be consistently and continually proclaiming the good news that Jesus lived the life we should have lived, died the death we deserved to die – as our substitute to satisfy God’s righteous anger – and rose again to bring us the hope of eternal life.

 How can we remain silent with such great news?