All posts in Evangelism

Finding Our Family

“Basically, we are on a quest to find our family,” my husband told his Sunday School class.

That phrase stuck with me.

Our job as believers, isn’t to attend church and put on programs or even to have fellowship. Our job, is to share the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Take a look at I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” ESV

That is our message. We aren’t responsible if people believe or do not believe–that’s the Spirit’s part. Our part is to share.

In the past, I sure have complicated the message. I got side-tracked. When I look back at it, I believe it’s spiritual warfare. Scripture says Satan roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. He loves nothing more than for Christians to have committees and spend their time bickering over carpet color and concentrating on who’s going to the Super Bowl or the World Series.

I know, because I’ve been there. Or what about when I complain about my circumstances when they are AMAZING. I mean, I know where I’m headed when I die, my life is hidden in Christ. I have the Holy Spirit, and God’s Word to guide me. I can work. I can worship. I can love. I can serve.

So I’m on this planet to tell others the good news. A message of grace–God’s unmerited favor. He sent His Son to earth to pay the penalty for my sins.

So I proudly lift up the name of Jesus. My Savior. My Lord. My King.

So I’m sharing it with you. Because who knows, maybe we’re family.

And speaking of family. Our Christian brothers and sisters are suffering all over the world because they name the name of Christ. Beheadings, crucifixions, and rapes are all part of the persecution that my family is enduring because they love Jesus more than they love this life.

Remember them. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to give you a burden for them. Send them money. That’s what I call my IIH stock. Investing in heaven.

It pays eternal dividends. And when we get to heaven, we’ll meet the rest of our family.

He’s Not Safe, But He’s Good

“We want a light, frothy, chipper God. But He’s not like that,” my pastor said in his message Sunday.

The passage he covered is found in Matthew 17:1-6:

“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

4 Peter exclaimed, ‘Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’

5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.’ 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.”

A true mountaintop experience. Peter talks about setting up tents for the arrivals probably because he didn’t know what else to say. Then God the Father speaks. And just like ring-around-the-rosey, all fall down.

Except Jesus.

That is because He is God. I cannot attempt to describe His power and Might and Compassion and Holiness because they are infinite.

He’s not to be trifled with.

And He hates sin. That is why He came to earth–to die for our sins.

What is sin?

Most have labeled sin as a mistake, or misjudgment, or eve an addiction.

But the bottom line is, sin is whatever our Creator says it is and He’s pretty clear about what is right and what is wrong in the Bible.

When we die–not if–we will stand before our Creator, Jesus Christ, and we won’t be able to compare ourselves to our neighbor, or the movie theatre shooter, or a drug dealer.

We will be compared to the Holy Son of God. And we will be found wanting.

Unless we believe the cross. Unless we trust the cross. Unless we take up our cross.

When the character Aslan, in the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is described, Lucy asks the Beaver if Aslan is safe.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Jesus is the King. He is Who He is and what we think about Him doesn’t change Him.

But it does determine our eternal destiny.

Where are you going when you die?

 

 

Open Our Eyes

My new church meets in a school cafeteria. Fluorescent lights shine down on tidy round tables. About 60 of us gather to worship the Lord and fellowship together.

It’s bright. I can easily see the widows across the aisle as they worship. Behind me a family from the mountains sings God’s praises.  Often, Our pastor will have us look around at each other so we know who our brothers and sisters are. We’re held accountable to love them. Love exacts a price: service, compassion, exhortation.

The message on Sunday made me think about our little band of believers. How just as we can see each other clearly in our little lunchroom, Jesus sees all of us clearly–more clearly than we can see ourselves.

Part of Pastor Brady’s message on Sunday morning came from Matthew’s gospel, chapter 11:20-24:

“Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And you, Capernaum, will you not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.’”

My mind drifted to another scenario. What if Jesus were in our congregation that day. He might say, “Woe to Mt. Airy! Woe to you, New York! Woe to you, Los Angeles! ”

Funny how people like to quote Jesus when it comes to love and acceptance and compassion. True. The gospels are cholk-full of the tender deeds and words of our Lord. But listen to the first words spoken by Jesus in Mark’s gospel:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The re-occuring word is repent.

Repent basically means an about face. A turning.

In this case, Jesus meant to turn from your sins and turn to Him.

It’s not Jesus plus something or someone else. It’s not your way or my way at all.

He calls the shots. He’s the Creator and Sustainer.

I’ve repented. In fact, It’s a daily occurrence. And I’m forgiven. Thank God.

But what about you, friend?

What if you were sitting in our little lunchroom and Jesus looked at you. He can see clearly–right into your heart. He knows not only your actions, but your thoughts and your motives.

Think about that a while. Makes me shudder.

Jesus said to repent and believe the gospel so here it is:

God is holy. You are a sinner destined for judgment. God provided a way of escape through believing on His Son, Jesus Christ. Believing that He lived a perfect life, died a gruesome death, and rose from the grave to pay the penalty of your sin and my sin.

If you choose not to believe, I have one word for you.

Woe!

 

A Crisis in Question, pt. 2

I remember the instant I knew I was in trouble. At church one evening before our trip, we had a team meeting. After I left, someone made the comment that we’d have to be ready to share our faith at a moments notice.

“I grew up doing that. I won’t have a problem.” My words dripped with arrogance.

It was true. Growing up as an OB (Officer’s Brat) in The Salvation Army, you get used to flexibility. I sang the alto part in my first duet at age 7. I stood kettles for the Army soon after that and each Sunday, we traipsed out to the street corner for what was called the “Open Air Meeting.” To a teenager, it was the “I’ll hide behind my horn in case my friends see me, Meeting.”

We’d march out with our instruments, gather in a circle and begin to play. The instruments were to attract attention. And it usually did. Both good and bad. Several times we listened to a drunk rant and rave. Sometimes, local children would make fun of us.

Then my dad would give a short gospel message, I might be called on to give my testimony or pray or even sing, and then we’d march back to the Army for the night meeting. If someone were interested, we’d invite them back to hear more about Jesus. It was impossible to be shy.

I also grew up giving gifts and time to poor people. I received a degree in Social Work at Asbury College. My whole life was filled up with service and testimony.

So when I heard we would visit people and share the gospel, secretly I thought, I’ll be good at that.

Fast forward to Sunday morning in Honduras. The building was to be dedicated. There would be many people attending and the place was packed. Again, the people worshipped and prayed with passion for a long time. Again, Lorenzo translated the message of the Lord for our pastor. It really was amazing.

After the service, the local ladies cooked for all of us. About 300. Over an open fire. The kids played, the adults ate together and talked. But, I couldn’t stop crying.

Why are we doing this? Why do we think we know anything? Are we really doing any good?

I retreated to my room. I flunked missions.

I tried to read a novel and couldn’t. I was drawn to God’s Word. David’s Psalms encouraged me. I asked the Lord to help me. “I flunked Missions 101, Lord. I know that you have answers. Please help me.”

I cried out to my Papa. And He answered with His Word.

Danielle Kreloff came into the room. We talked and I shared with her how weak I was. “I think the Lord wants me to share my weakness with the rest of the team,” I said.

That night on the porch, people shared one praise after another. I remained silent. There was a pause, like we were going to end. I knew that was my cue. So I shared my doubts and questions and that I’d flunked missions.

Mike Schadt encouraged me with God’s Word and then all of the team gathered round me to pray. Joe Tro led them. The scriptures he used were some of the very ones that the Lord had brought to mind. One of them was the father in Mark 9. He said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”

Another passage the Lord brought to mind was in John 6. Currently, I’m writing a Bible study titled, “Bread of Life.” I’m stuck on day 10 that deals with the end of the bread of life discourse.

Jesus tells the people that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood or they will have no part of Him. Many who followed Jesus left at that point. Jesus turns to the tweleve and says, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”

Of course Peter responds. His response was my response. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

My crisis wasn’t over, but I knew where to look for answers.

More tomorrow.

Tag-Team-Testimonies

So I forgot that the first night in El Salvador, we dropped luggage off and ate dinner at La Esperanza. This is a church meaning planted by SOS missions. After that we travelled to a local village for an open air meeting. We set up plastic chairs on a narrow street lined with simple boxed homes. A man bought a rooster while we conducted our meeting, displayed it and entered his front door about ten feet from our meeting.

This was my first introduction to a worship service in Central America. I was struck by two things: their passion and their prayer. When we prayed, many fell to their knees and prayed aloud while the pastor also prayed. When they sang, everyone sang out,some on tune, some off, and the song lasted much longer than in America.

Joe Trofemuk spoke as a local man translated. Myriads of stars shone on our little meeting as the local man showed off his new rooster. It was a good night.

The next morning, I twisted my ankle, and we boarded a bus bound for Honduras. There was a caravan of two trucks and our bus. All together, we numbered about 30.

At first, it was your typical bus ride. People interacting, looking at the sites, getting to know each other. After a few hours, Rob Ozburn asked someone to share their testimony. Than we played testimony tag team. We told how the Lord reached into our lives and made us alive in Christ. Interspersed were songs like, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Mighty to Save,” and “Amazing Grace.”

One of the trucks broke down in a town. While the leaders figured out that situation, some of the team visited local people and gave out the gospel of John. A few team members witness to a 14-year-old-girl named Sarai. She goes home and brings her 18-year-old-sister, Alexandria. She asks what she should pray to God to be saved. They encourage her with scripture and KR prays out loud in Spanish.

They secure one truck to our other truck with A TREE BRANCH AND A JUMP ROPE. Then we continue along treacherous mountain roads. The testimonies and songs continue. After 30 minutes the trucks are pulled over since the branch-rope thing didn’t work. Eventually, we arrive in Honduras at about 8:30. A delicious dinner is waiting, and then it’s time for “the porch.”

I’ve been sick so sorry for the delay. I’ll cover the crisis soon. It began on Saturday as we visited remote villages. Today’s entry was from Friday.