Archive for Theology

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.

The Flu, the Hospital, and the Hard Days of Parenting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2009 by gospel2live

This morning, our youngest was released from the hospital after spending a day being re-hydrated.  Last week was spent being sick and caring for the sick around our house.  We had to take turns in both departments — at least between mom, dad, and the older kids.  Our 1 and nearly 3 year old have been hit especially hard by this flu, as they have had fevers, aches, and all sorts of tummy troubles. 

Late Saturday evening, I took Harper in because he had stopped eating and drinking and had not had a wet diaper all day.  After triage, they sent me out to finish registering while they prepared the room in the ER.  On cue, Harper vomited all over me, soaking my coat and the shirt underneath.  Then, while wearing the shirt dry, I held him down while the nurses tried to get an IV line into his tiny little dehydrated veins.  It took them two tries.

Life back home wasn’t a whole lot easier — in fact, I probably had the easier assignment.  Kim didn’t have nurses to help change soiled bedding and diapers.  Her favorite chair starred as a stunt double for my shirt and took the vomit duty.

When we agreed to adopt again, we knew there would be days (and weeks!) like this.  It’s one of the things that made us think twice about starting all over again with little ones.  However, even though we just came home today, there are already evidences of God’s grace visible through the difficulties.

First, what can I say about Jim?  My dear friend picked up clothes and supplies from Kim at home, brought them to the hospital, returned to my house bearing the carseat for Hudson, and snuck back into our hospital room with a treat and some cash for supper!  I know how he hates the thought of picking up illness from us “carriers,” which only helps me to appreciate the kindness of God in enabling Jim to show us such mercy.

Kim put together clothes for me, and threw in my absolute, most comfortable, long sleeve, camo hunting T-shirt.  (Then again, maybe she was secretly hoping it would get puked on!)  She came out in wet, windy and nearly freezing weather to hang with us in the hospital for awhile Sunday afternoon, and allowed me a chance to get some fresh air and a bite to eat.

The church in Side Lake was extremely gracious to me.  Even as I called early Sunday morning to let them know I couldn’t get out there to preach, their first concern was to pray for me, assure me of their love, and encourage me.  I count it a great privilege to be able to bring them the Word of God on a (nearly!) weekly basis.

God gave opportunities for great conversations with nurses and other staff at the hospital.  Even as we were preparing to leave, two nursing students who were doing an assignment by trying to practice getting vital signs off Harper began to kill time by asking questions about parenting, marriage and faith.  As a result, I had the chance to explain that ALL of us are under God’s wrath, unless we turn to Jesus as our substitute.  Therefore, it is important for us as pastors to let people know that we are NOT good enough for heaven, but saved only because God loved us enough to save us.

Truthfully, I would not choose to have my child get sick, just to get an opportunity to share the Gospel.  However, since God had placed us in that position, I had to decide how I was going to respond.  Getting upset, complaining about my lot, being impatient, or any number of other responses would come quite naturally to me.  However, by God’s grace, I hope that the nurses, doctors, interns, janitors, and others got a glimpse of a peace that passes understanding.  Hopefully, they saw a horizontal love towards my adopted child that in some small way images the vertical love my Heavenly Father has shown me.

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?

Books For Africa

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by gospel2live

On Thursday, Luke Tamu (a pastor friend of mine from Kenya) and I were able to visit Books for Africa (BFA) in Saint Paul. They are a non-profit company that collects donated books from schools and Universities and ship them to Africa. Luke and I are trying to arrange for a sea container shipment of 22,000 books to Kenya for a library project.

Luke’s church runs an orphange for 200 children, and school for the orphanage and an additional 300 children, and a theological college for training pastors. Currently, they do not have a library for the orphanage or the theological college. We are hoping to raise the money that is needed to ship the container so that the books will be in Africa by later this summer.

Here is what needs to happen:

1) BFA needs $9,500 to ship to Kenya. They donate the books for free, we only have to raise the shipping costs. Conservative estimates for IRS purposes values a container of books at $167,000. Street value on such a shipment is probably closed to half a million dollars. So if anyone would like to ship a half million dollars to an evangelical theology college for native Kenyans who cannot afford other schools, we ONLY need $9,500. I hope to set up an account directly with BFA on Monday, so you can give directly and get receipts for tax purposes directly from them.

2) We also have an appointment with Desiring God’s international outreach people on Monday afternoon. Please pray that God would grant us favor and that they would consider a donation of theological books for the library project. BFA has mostly secular books (English, Math Science, etc) which would be useful, but we can also send our own books with the shipment if people are willing to donate. I am also hoping that we might be able to get contacts with publishers such as Crossway to also donate books and Bibles to the project. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could send a couple hundred ESV study Bibles to Kenyan pastors who have NO OTHER LIBRARY??? Please pray for this venture!!!

3) We might also be able to send books to the Theological College that might be donated by individuals or churches. So if there are commentary sets, theological books, or Bibles that are in good condition, send me a message and we will see whether thay may be helpful as well.

4)Finally, if you are able to be in or around St. Paul, MN, you can actually volunteer at BFA to help them sort and package books in their warehouse to be sent to Africa. This could be a really neat project for a church or homeschool group who would like to donate their time to this project. I will post more information as it becomes available on how you can give to this project.

Please pray as we seek to have a greater partnership with Pastor Luke and Emmanuel Community Center Churches. I will probably be posting more about this ministry in the future. Please pray with us as we consider a short term project to work with Pastor Luke this summer.

 

UPDATE — February 10, 2011:

This project was completed in the summer of 2010.  However, recent information from teams that have visited Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers have revealed that this ministry is NOT one that we will continue to partner with.  We pray that the books will end up in hands that are blessed by having them; however, it is apparent that they will not be used by Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers as we were originally told.  Feel free to contact me via email if you are considering partnering with Luke Tamu and Emmanuel Community Centers, for more information before joining in any of their “ministries.”