Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Evangelism" is Scary!

Sometimes "evangelism" can be a scary idea. Truth told, we seldom feel "ready" to share the gospel. I've learned that we BEST point people to Jesus when we live our lives for the glory of Christ, and take opportunities along the way to tell people why we have hope and joy in serving God and people. Here's something I wrote to my church family earlier today:
Do you realize that God has purposely placed you where you are, whether at work or at school or in your neighborhood, in the midst of all kinds of people who need to know the love of Jesus? Every day we all come into contact with dozens of people who don't know Christ, and who will likely never walk through our church's doors on their own. What are some simple ways we can point people to Jesus? 
* We can invite them to a church service. If it's helpful, perhaps we can offer to meet them for breakfast and then bring them to church with us. 
* We can serve them in some way. Perhaps we can take them some cookies or help with their kids or offer to care for their lawn when they go out of town.

* We can engage them in regular conversation. Even if the conversation yesterday didn't open an opportunity for the gospel, maybe today's conversation will. If today's conversation doesn't lead to the gospel, let's build the relationship today so we will have the opportunity for another conversation with them in the near future.

* We can discern their needs and offer help if appropriate. Are they caring for a sick parent? Do they struggle with a rebellious child? Are they unemployed or underemployed? Maybe there are ways we can reach out to them in Christ's love and help meet a need.

Sometimes we think of "evangelism" as a huge, daunting task for which we never feel qualified. Often I find it's better to think of simply serving in the love of Christ, and looking for ways to share the "why" behind our love and care for people.

Ephesians 5:15-16: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 
Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Let's prayerfully look for ways we can point people to Jesus today.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nurturing our Marriages

If I plant a flower bed and then do nothing to maintain it, in only a short time it will start to look really bad. Weeds will take over, flowers will wilt, and before long that flower bed will be full of stuff that's either ugly or dead.

Our marriages are much the same. If we want our marriages to be alive and strong, we want to invest in them. Here are six ways we can nurture our marriage relationships:

1. Nurture with CHRIST. As husband and wife draw closer to Christ, we also draw closer to each other. When Christ is at the center of our relationship, we have His help to face any challenge that comes.

2. Nurture with COMMUNICATION. Good communication is essential in any healthy relationship, but even more in marriage. We want to take time to talk together, dream together, work out problems together, and share our innermost thoughts with each other. We want to take time to listen to each other and understand each other.

3. Nurture with CARING and COMPASSION. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love is kind. When we are kind to one another, that strengthens our marriage. The opposite is also true: when we are unkind to one another, that harms our marriage. Let's seek to be kind to one another even at those moments when it may be difficult.

4. Nurture with CONTENTMENT. When we spend our time thanking God for what we have rather than complaining about what we do not have - this is contentment. When we are content with our spouse, we won't want to look to other people to provide the things that only our spouse should provide. When we are content with what we have, we (individually or together as a couple) won't waste our energy looking elsewhere for something we THINK might make us more happy. We want to be content in the here and now.

5. Nurture with CONFESSION. Confession, and its close partner forgiveness, are foundational to a healthy marriage. I want to be quick to confess when I have wronged my wife. And I want to be quick to forgive her when she confesses something to me. If I am quick to apologize, then my wife is free to forgive, and we can move past those unkind words I said or that thoughtless thing I did.

6. Nurture with COOPERATION. It takes time to feel like we are truly "one" in a biblical sense - intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Marriage is always a "work in progress," but it's a wonderful thing when husband and wife are working together, under the headship of Christ, to become all that God wants us to be.

May these words encourage you as you nurture your own marriage and make it grow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Justice and Mercy

I recently read about a court case from the state of Virginia from the summer of 2000. A deaf couple faced eviction because they were unable to pay back rent to their landlord.

The judge heard the complaint from the landlord. There was no doubt about whether the money was owed - it certainly was. At the same time, there was no doubt that the couple was truly unable to pay the money they owed.

The judge considered the case carefully, excused himself from the courtroom, and returned a short time later with $250, the amount of the couple's past-due rent. Handing it to the landlord, the judge said, "Consider it paid." (See article here)

The Lord of the Universe has made a similar declaration to all who would accept it. Through Jesus Christ, He has offered to pay our debt so we can have relationship with Him.

There's no doubt that we owe a debt we cannot pay (Romans 3:23). Our sin carries a cost that can only be paid by death (Romans 6:23).

But the good news is this: Christ's death on the cross can pay the penalty that we owe. The Righteous Judge makes an offer: "Consider it paid." Salvation is a FREE gift that is offered to anyone who will accept it. It's not offered based on OUR goodness, but on the goodness of the One who makes the offer - the goodness of God. We are merely grateful recipients of tremendous mercy.

If you have not told God that you accept His payment for your sins, would you do that today?