Category Archives: Evangelism

Covenant Servants

 

“Give yourselves to the Lord as His Servants, and bind yourselves to him as His Covenant-Servants.”

—John Wesley

John Wesley wanted all Methodists to be “Covenant –Servants” of God. He pointed to the scripture in Deuteronomy as his basis: “Today you have obtained the Lord’s agreement: to be your God; and for you to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, his commandments, and his ordinances, and to obey him. Today the Lord has obtained your agreement: to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments.” (Deut 26:17-18)  Wesley urged all people to take these words with profound seriousness. Today’s Methodists have fundamentally lost the Wesleyan concept of becoming a Covenant Servant. Our world is not in the habit of making covenants or doing service. Wesley put forth five ways to put this covenant into practice. Let’s try to recapture his concept.

English: Remember John Wesley, Wroot. Photo by...

SET APART TIME- Specifically, he pointed to the need of covenant people to have regular, secret time with God. Prayer, silence, and secret time with God are the fertilizer of the soul. Without such times we spiritually wither and die.

SERIOUSNESS OF SPIRIT- No relationship develops without a serious intent. The maker of the Covenant must be willing to work long and hard to keep the promises.

CLAIM THE GRACE OF COVENANT PEOPLE- With the covenant comes the grace of God, and that grace is beyond our human comprehension. People must claim and utilize God’s abundant grace on their journeys. Too often, we rely upon our strength at the neglect of the immeasurable strength of God. As covenant people that grace and strength is ours to use.

RESOLVE TO BE FAITHFUL- I can’t put it any better than Wesley himself. “Having engaged your hearts, open your mouth, and subscribe with your hands to the Lord, resolve in his strength never to go back.” The resolution is to never go back to life as it was before our covenant with God. Exercise control over our actions and our words as we strive to live for Him.

DO THE WORK OF THE COVENANT- We are commanded go forth to do the witness and work of the Lord. In our hands and through our words, the good news should manifest itself. Our work is done as if God were by our side watching our every move.

Wesley’s Covenant Prayer begins—“O dreadful God, for the passion of your Son, I beech you to accept your poor Prodigal now prostrating himself at your door: I have fallen from you by my iniquity, and am by nature a son of death, and a thousand fold more a child of hell by my wicked practices; but of your infinite grace you have promised mercy to me in Christ if I will but turn to you with all my heart: therefore upon the call of your gospel, I am now come in, and throwing down my weapons, submit myself to your mercy.” Life could be truly different if we all went to God in that frame of mind.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, John Wesley

The Church’s Fourfold Purpose

English: page of the Acts of the Apostles from...

One of the great challenges of today’s Church is the quest for vitality. Recent years have been marked by an increasingly rapid decline in church attendance and dwindling interest in the organized church as a whole. Many people are seeking new ways of expressing their spirituality, or simply abandoning spirituality all together. The movement of being “spiritual but not religious” borders very closely to agnosticism.

People are looking to the ancient writings of the mystics and monastics for answers to this disturbing situation. In my own journey, I have discovered some very helpful materials in that arena of thought, but there is more. Perhaps we can look to the foundational story of the Church as found in the Book of Acts. This sacred writing chronicles the formation of Christianity as a separate movement. Acts is an eyewitness account of the birth and growth of the early church. This book begins with the coming of the Holy Spirit and ends with the preaching of Paul. Acts 2:42 gives us a foundational model for the Church that is well worth a look today. The scripture proclaims to us: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Let’s unpack that fourfold charge of the church.

Teaching – We are told that the early church devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. Indisputably, they taught the words and actions of Jesus as only an eyewitness could. They spoke of His miracles, retold His parables, and made His teachings come back to life. Today we have a movement within the Church known as “Red Letter Christians.” These Red Letter Christians get their name from the day when Bible publishers printed the words in the Bible that were attributed to Jesus in red. I believe that those words should once again become the heart of our teaching.

Fellowship – This means that all Christians were a part of a community that shared in the common commitment of the good news of Christ. By sharing all things, they took this concept a little further than we can in our world. We may not be able to live in community, but we are called to be a community. A community shares, loves, supports and lifts one another up in all ways possible. If the Church neglects the concept of community, it ultimately fails. Today’s Church must take community seriously.

Breaking of Bread – Scholars and theologians are not completely on the same page on this issue, but the end result is the same. People who eat together, sacramentally or by sharing a meal, feel a great bond to one another. My own view is that the early Church practiced Communion every time they met. In was through that common bread and cup that they gained great strength. As a Church of today we should not neglect the fellowship of the table sacramentally or otherwise.

Prayers – The early Church prayed. They prayed as an act worship and not just for the things they wanted or needed. Prayer was a regular part of their day whether they were assembled together or not. Prayer has to become more than it is in the Church of today. The practice of mental prayer, silence and sacred reading are a “must do” for the Church if we are to see greater vitality.

That is a fourfold formula for the revitalization of the Church. Nothing new is expounded at all: it is a simple call back to the foundational purpose and work of the Church. Victory is not found it the new, but in the birth documents of our Church.

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Filed under Apostles, Church, Evangelism

Kingdom of God

St John Baptist. Stained glass window, Chateau...

  • Jesus’ public life begins with His baptism at the hands John the Baptist.
  • Although sinless, Jesus chooses to identify Himself with the repentant sinners who flocked to baptism.
  • Before embarking upon His ministry, Jesus withdraws to the desert for a 40-day period of fasting.
  • The coming of God’s Kingdom means the destruction of the devil’s dominion over this world.
  • Jesus now goes forth to preach the “good news” of the coming of the Kingdom.
  • Jesus backed up His words with mighty miracles that inspired belief in Him.
  • Jesus gathers people to Himself, and this is the begining of the Kingdom of God.
  • Jesus emphasizes that everyone is called to enter the Kingdom. He reaches out to the poor, the marginalized and sinners.
  • In a very special way, the Kingdom belongs to the poor, lowly, humble of heart, those who know that they need God.
  • Jesus often illustrated His teaching by means of parables,and these stories call us to radical discipleship.

Live Your Faith

Rather than viewing the Gospels strictly as mini-biographies of Jesus, we should instead use our imagination to put ourselves into the stories.

Which people resonate the most with me? What would it be like to watch Jesus preach or perform a miracle?

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Filed under Ascetics, Christian Journey, Commitment, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Kingdom of God

Be a Friend to Someone

English: 4 days of Evangelism Training in Sout...

Being a friend to someone is really very Missional, because because the whole world is crying out for friends. Becoming a friend to someone is a commitment. A friend is someone that we take time to be with, to help, and to encourage. It’s a discipline to be a friend. That may seem like a strange way of looking at friendship. Statistics tell us that the United States is one of the loneliest nations in the world. As we go about our daily walk ,being a friend is by necessity a part of being a person who is doing the mission of God here on earth. We as Missional people have a desire to reach out with love to others who need the loving touch that only a person who knows and feels the love of Jesus Christ can give.

How?

  • Write an unsolicited note, text or email to someone.
  • Take someone to coffee or lunch.
  • Make a phone call to someone who doesn’t receive many.
  • Intentionally develop a new friend.
  • Give your time to someone.

All of these small things can make a tremendous difference to someone who’s lonely. For in helping relieve loneliness in our world, we are truly people who are spreading the grace and love of Jesus Christ to the world. How many times in life have we failed to do what we could do if we just tried? I urge all of to you just try. In trying we can find the glorious blessings that God has stored up for us

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Start a Conversation

Salt on Ice

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

Matthew 5:13
How many people do you meet on an average day ? Do you bother to even say hello ? Most of us go through our days ignoring the persons we encounter on a typical day. Christians are the salt and light of the world. It is our presence in this world that can make all the difference. If we are silent and fail to engage the world in conversation ten we have little impact. I can’t help but regret all the nice things I have left unsaid. all too often we are quick to criticize but oh so slow to compliment.
In our busy and anonymous world people are just blurs that pass us by and we think nothing of them. I wonder how different the world would be if we all just started a few conversations. Just randomly and casually. Here’s the suggestion. Take a day, just one day, and be very intentional about saying more than hello to the people you see that day. Who are those people ?
A possible list: (yours may be different)
  • The cashier at the coffee shop,grocery …
  • The postman
  • The garbage collector
  • The person who is 50 feet away from you at the office.
  • The kid in your class that never utters a word.
  • The members of the church choir.
  • The person who walks (jogs-they may not want to speak but who knows)by your house every day.
  • That person you see every time you are in that restaurant.

That just a list to get you started. There are so many more. If you have a few suggestions just  post a comment. Take time to be the “salt and light” of the world.

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Filed under Christian Journey, Community, Evangelism, Missional Living

Nobody Loves Me

The little boy had a rough day. It began with an argument with his sister and ended with an after school detention. He didn’t mean to yell at his sister, and he surely didn’t intend to lie to the teacher. These things just happen to little  boys. The real problem is simple. Nobody loves me!

 There are quite a few of us who feel this way today. We feel unloved, and we can’t figure out why.” It is not our fault we were  reared in a dysfunctional family. It’s all because of my background. People need to ease-off and things will be all right. If others were real, they would understand. God would understand.” He does, but he has some advice. It can be found in the Book of Proverbs. Let us look at Proverbs:

 16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil, 19 a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family.

Proverbs 6:16-19

The writer of the Proverbs is really giving us some pointers on how to be loved and appreciated. It so simple. Let us take these things that God hates and just reverse them. They will become the love principles.

 LOVE PRINCIPLES

1. Tell the truth at all times.
2. The look on your face should be receptive.
3. Take responsibility for the helpless..
4. Create a heart(internal attitude) that desires good.
5. All business deals should be open and honest..
6. Sleep on all major decisions.
7. Become known as a peace maker.

 I can guarantee that these principles will make you more loved and appreciated by all those around you. Next time you feel unloved, try to begin to live by the love principles. They are simple application of what God has said to us in the Proverbs.

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Filed under contemplative, Dedication, Evangelism, Missional Living, Proverbs

Keeping the Wheels Turning

factory

A pastor once told a story about a visitor to a heavy-duty grease factory. When they arrived they were ushered into a large room, and a tour host introduced them to the company history and the number of employees at work producing the best machine lubricants in the world. They toured the noisy factory with lots of machinery and wheels whirling, mixing, and packaging. This place was full of activity.

As the tour ended, one of the visitors said, “I didn’t see a shipping department.” The guide responded, “Well, we don’t have a shipping department because it takes all the grease we make to lubricate our equipment and keep the wheels turning.”

If you were asked, you would likely say that was a waste of effort. We all know that goods are manufactured to be distributed. The purpose of a factory is to produce goods to be used by people outside of the plant. The church, however, is a grease factory of its own. Year after year we turn inward and forget that the purpose of the church is the transformation of the world. We spend the bulk of our resources keeping the wheels turning. Jesus sent us into the world to make a difference, and we must turn away from ourselves to be effective.

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Filed under Christian Living, Comfort, Dedication, Evangelism, Faithfulness, missional, Outreach

Our Faithful God

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

As Americans we tend to get the idea that we can do anything. It is sort of a vision of invincibility. After all we took the lead in WWII, put the first man on the moon, saw the Soviet Union fall, led the cyber age and have the strongest economy in the world. With all those things on our side what can be against us?

The world seems to be filled with hate for the USA. Our utter disbelief and horror as we have endured one shock after another. The time has come for us to take stock of ourselves, to look deeply into our beings and to find the root of our strength. Long ago the Psalmist said: –

A hostile world! I call to God, I cry to God to help me. From his place he hears my call: my cry brings me right into his presence—a private audience (the Message) Psalm 18:6

We now find ourselves in a situation where all our ready answers are failing to fill the bill. The only answer for us is to renew that great faith that is within us. It is God’s will to bring good to us all. God created everyone with great potential. He created us in his own image. -“to be a little lower than God.” -He will hear our cry in our darkest times and give us a private audience. The time has come to request that audience.

God calls on us individually to come to the realization that He is waiting to hear from us. If we all call upon the God of grace and peace to guide us in these strange times we will wake up to a radically changed world. . A world that is no longer at the daily mercy of terrorist but in the loving arms of the creator of us all. A creator that is capable of bringing love to the heart of hatred that drives the people who rob us of the peace that Jesus came into this world to give us.

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Filed under Conflict, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Love of God, Missional Living

A Missional Moment

This past Saturday I decided to get very adventurous. I got on my bicycle and rode the eight miles from my home to Downtown New

The San Francisco 49ers' Super Bowl XXIX troph...

The San Francisco 49ers’ Super Bowl XXIX trophy on display at the 49ers’ Family Day at Candlestick Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orleans on the Saturday afternoon before the Super Bowl. I expected to see the many media booths and other stages that had been erected before the game, the throngs of people milling about, but I saw something I didn’t expect.  In front of the Prebytere there was what I would call a preaching “shout off” going on. It seems that some very conservative Christians had taken it upon themselves to convert the world, especially those that were having too much fun. At the same time there was a man who didn’t quite see things the way they did that was shouting back at the preacher with every breath.

Being the “think and let think” Methodist that I am, such a situation distresses me. I listened for a while and when the shout off had ceased I engaged the heckler. I simply wanted to tell him that though I didn’t hold the views of the street preacher who had just condemned to hell everyone from the party goers to the Archbishop of New Orleans, that I did not feel that his heckling was effective. He eagerly engaged me in conversation, grabbed my hands, and at about six inches from my face insisted that look him in the eyes. I was told microphone frequencies were changed in the 1930’s making all microphones the tools of Satan. I quickly excused myself and rode back home.

How often have you been caught thinking that things were different than they were? I wanted to support someone who seemed to want a more loving approach to the gospel, instead I was confronted by a rather delusional man. We are all called to be Missional and sometimes we may misread a situation, but we must press on to be the Missio dei of the world.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Evil, missional, Missional Living

Evangelism

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220)

St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day St. Francis of Assisi invited a young monk to join him on a trip into town to preach. The young monk was so honored to get such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted. All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people.

At the end of the day the two headed back home however, not even once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, “I thought we were going into town to preach?” St. Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!”

In today’s world the word evangelism has become a despised and dirty word. I feel that is because we have confused evangelism with marketing. When we market something it is our goal to get the target audience to “buy” our product. For us to achieve that goal, we try to convince the audience that they are dissatisfied with the present product. When Christianity is marketed to the world, it becomes no better than a Wal Mart commercial or an infomercial. No wonder people consider evangelism a bad word.

Francis of Assisi gives us an alternative. He says, “No use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!” That is the real goal of evangelism. We must become the “good news” for all that we touch. They are watching and waiting to see and hear from God. The world yearns for good because there is so much bad.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Francis of Assisi