Drawing Others to Christ Means Drawing Yourself to God

Personal evangelism, or the act of sharing Jesus and the Gospel has always been a source of joy in my life, and a pool from which challenges provide training for the ministry.

Last October 12, Friday, my friend and I went to the city plaza to do some personal evangelism. Both of us reminisced our individual experiences of doing evangelism years before – and felt that we should have done this ministry regularly as a lifestyle. We believe it should be a lifestyle for every Christian.

It was hard at first. We were hesitant and nervous to approach strangers, in fact, for the first hour we had not approach anyone. We felt really awkward as we tried to approach highschool students but failed, and noticed that these students somehow felt that we had something for them – and yet we were not courageous enough.

Good thing is that God led us to first two people whom we can share Christ – one of them formerly attends a Christian Church, yet salvation was still unclear to her. That was our first couple, and the first time I ever tried to use the so-called ‘Shotgun Evangelism’, by frankly asking, ‘If you die now, are you sure you’re going to heaven?’

God allowed us also to share the Gospel to a policeman, and from him we understand that many people are hesitant or afraid to believe in Christ because of personal vices and some other sins – either they are not ready to forsake them or afraid they will fail in forsaking them. So we led him to a prayer not to accept Christ, but to let God take a hold of his life little by little. And, we reminded him that not all of his life he could have a chance to believe in Christ – tomorrow maybe too late, our life is not in our hands.

College students. Most are Catholics, and one belongs to Iglesia ni Cristo. My friend shared the Gospel for too long, around 30 minutes, thus losing their interest. One student believed in reincarnation, so we had to do some clear explanation.

We tried to share also to a foreigner, but he cut our conversation.

The greatest test of character for us was when a female prostitute challenged us to share the Bible to them. It was a test of integrity and respect on our part. Yes we shared the Gospel, and we exchanged mutual respect, they respected us and the Gospel, and we respected them as beings who are sinful yet not beyond the mercy and forgiveness of our Loving God.

That night was very fulfilling for us. We have realised some things, learnings that led us to the conclusion that if we dare to bring others to Christ, we ourselves shall draw near to God first.

  1. Evangelism requires the heart of the Heavenly Father. Unless we have the kind of heart that cares for the lost, evangelism would only be a burden, a Pharisaic Religiosity, a dead act of legalism. A task that follows the act of God in saving sinners should certainly include a heart that cares and values pitiful souls.
  2. Evangelism requires wisdom. The heart matters, but not at the expense of having wisdom – that is, adequate wisdom of the Word in areas of salvation and some general knowledge of the world. Evangelism brings us to different sorts of people, coming from different backgrounds, beliefs, and orientation. Surely along the way some would ask hard questions regarding the Bible and our faith – though we must avoid any debate, nonetheless we should be able to answer the important ones that could bring them to Christ. And also some general knowledge, for how could we relate and face questions regarding science, politics, psychology, myths, and the like, if all that we know is Scripture? By knowing other things as well, then we will have the capacity to use the Bible as to how it relates to and answers these other knowledge.
  3. Evangelism requires proper etiquette. It requires that we act not as professionals, but individuals that could be respected, and, of course, that we respect others also.
  4. Evangelism requires boldness and courage. It is never easy to approach strangers, much more to ask for their valuable time listening to a ‘common’ message.
  5. Again, evangelism requires wisdom, now in a different sense. There are places where evangelism could be a good ground for the devil to trap us into temptations, we should know how to avoid them and stand firm on our conviction as Christians who live out the message we share..
  6. And, above all, fruitful and true evangelism depends on the Power and Grace of God. This truth should bring the Christian to his knees in prayer and humble dependence.

Please pray with us, we really like to do this evangelism weekly.

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FASTING: Things are Changing (Matthew 9:14-17, Mark 2:18-22, Luke 5:33-39)

Fasting is a lost key for providing power in today’s church. Very few knows it the biblical way, and much less do practice it. We need to fast regularly for power and more intimacy with God.

Flemingsburg Baptist Church Youth Group

Looking in Matthew starting in verse 14

Why Do we Fast?

What is fasting?  Fasting is probably the most feared spiritual discipline.  We are afraid that it will make us suffer dreadfully and give us a generally negative experience.  For some Christians, fasting for spiritual purposes is as unthinkable as shaving their heads or walking barefoot across a fire pit.

However, fasting is a Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.  Fasting is more than just the ultimate crash diet for the body; it is abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.

Now that we have answered what is fasting, now let us answer, why should we fast?  The main reason is because Jesus both practiced and taught fasting.

In Matthew 4:1-2 we see that, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and…

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What Makes a Preacher Good

by: Ben Mandrell, Pursuing a doctorate at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

http://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/what-makes-a-preacher-good-11635719.html

You probably have noticed that preachers come in all shapes and sizes. There are big, gregarious, sweaty-foreheaded preachers. There are short, slim, soft-spoken preachers. There are creative preachers who always have a slick gadget or a clever object of illustration. There are King James preachers who love the Thees and the Thous of Thy Holy Word.

So, what makes for a faithful preacher? Because God has not called preachers to be successful but faithful, how can we be sure we are staying true to the call? Here are a few biblical criteria to keep us on track:

The preacher should give people a bigger picture of God.
“For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5).

Ultimately, people need to be told repeatedly  that the God of Scripture is bigger than all of man’s problems. While preachers are wise to speak regarding complex issues of the culture, the need for people on Sunday morning is actually quite simple: Their minds need to be reprogrammed to the idea that God is in control, that He loves them tremendously and that nothing is impossible for Him. How quickly we forget these truths! With the constant barrage of media messages, the average person struggles to maintain a biblical perspective about life. Our world drifts off kilter fast, but the preacher can have a powerful role in bringing the listener back to the center as he or she proclaims the unchanging gospel.

The preacher should train people to turn to the Bible when problems arise.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The type of question I must answer as a pastor every Monday morning is: Are people being pointed back to the Word when work dries up, a child is diagnosed with a terminal disease or when in-laws sabotage a vacation? The Bible is able to meet all of their needs; a pastor is not. As the preacher brings forth the Word week after week, people should be increasingly convinced “all Scripture is God-breathed” and that His Word is able to equip them for every good work.

The preacher should show people how to read, study and handle the Bible for themselves.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

The Bible is a very difficult book to read. Let’s face it—we find it easier to read a New York Times bestseller than Leviticus or Amos. A keen understanding of Scripture requires a certain level of skill and a special illumination of the Spirit. In corporate worship, the preacher should challenge people to cry out to God for the wisdom that flows from Isaiah, Deuteronomy and Revelation. In addition, the preacher should demonstrate how God has penetrated his own heart with the truths he presents. His interpretation not only has been defended in the sermon, but it has been digested. The congregation sees this Word after it has been made flesh, and this heightens their interest, as well as his credibility. He handles the Word with precision.

The preacher should teach all parts of the Bible and show how unique and wonderful each section truly is.
“For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” (Acts 20:20, 27).

Personally, I could camp out in James for a decade. I love that book. It is short, fast-paced and practical for everyday life. However, Malachi was inspired by God, too, and was placed in the Bible because it contains essential truth for spiritual growth. The preacher should deliver a well-rounded meal throughout the calendar and proclaim all parts of the Bible, not just his “bread and butter.” The best preachers make themselves servants of the Word and handle it all with reverence.

The preacher should challenge people to own the truth by responding to the message.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22-27).

What good is knowledge if it does not lead to life change? Every person who went to school can recall a particular lecture on math or science that left students wondering, “What good will that ever do me?” Unlike that moment, congregants should leave on Sunday knowing the message demanded a real and practical response from them. That reaction will vary from person to person. It might include an inward decision to trust God with this week’s electric bill; it may be an act of humility demonstrated through a heartfelt apology; or it may be an act of generosity as one writes a check to the homeless ministry. There must be some reaction when the Word is preached. Faithful preachers do not hesitate to bring the challenge.

The preacher should prove that the Bible is ancient yet it speaks to us today.
“Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day…They are not just idle words for you—they are your life” (Deut. 32:46-47).

Flip through the Bible for five minutes, and you will find this book contains all kinds of bizarre history, visions and facts. There are golden cows, weird temple furnishings and visions of wheels in the sky. The preacher must do more than just prove to have studied all week long. He must show how through his or her study of history the present and future can be impacted by how others benefit from this study. Harry Emerson Fosdick declared, “Only the preacher proceeds still upon the idea that folk come to church desperately anxious to discover what happened to the Jebusites.” That is so true! Pastors must work hard at the task of application and contextualization. What does this passage have to do with his or her life on Monday? Effective preachers answer that question carefully and thoughtfully.

The bottom line is this: Just because a person appears on television or has his or her face pasted on a billboard does not mean he or she is an effective, faithful preacher of the Word. Pastor, be true to your call; and be sure you are fulfilling your God-given role as a proclaimer of that Word.

Preaching is Spiritual Warfare

Preaching is divine warfare, and the Word is the sword thrust into hearts by prayers.

I have always believed that preaching is never easy, it is spiritual warfare.

The moment that a preacher prays humbly for the right sermon to write, the devils are opposing him. While preparing the sermon, hundreds more attack him, and circumstances start to play hard against him. The more the preacher tries hard to live out his message, his own weaknesses insult him, and the devil condemn him, ‘Who are you, unholy one to speak of the Holy Things of God?’ And of course, at the very moment of the actual preaching of the sermon, all heaven and hell are watching, and the destiny of souls hang on the balance.

That is how weighty true preaching is, and the above statements are not exaggerations.  Preaching is a divine task. More accurately, preaching is divine warfare.

That is why Paul in his exhortation to the Ephesians reminds them that the Christian life is a battle, and to be successful they have to take actions both defensively and offensively. And interesting to note is that the powerful penetration of the Word by the means of preaching is achieved by prayers – collective prayers:

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the
Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the
Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance
and supplication for all saints;

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I

may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery
of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:17-20)

And preaching is warfare, and is always won with prayer. We can do so much in preaching by our talent and oratory skills, but eternal results could never be earned by these alone – preaching only has the power to transform lives by the power of the Holy Spirit – given by Grace in partnership with our prayers. That is how the Spiritual Warfare of Preaching is done.

 

Let the Life be Pruned for Service

‘A holy minister is an awesome weapon in the hand of God.’

Pruning isn’t easy – and always painful!

I really like that old saying by the late Robert McCheyne. He only lived a short life of 29 years, but the fruits of his service were beyond his age, thanks to his life that is wholly (and holy) devoted to God.

I am afraid that I observe the Church today emphasizing skills over character, the mind and the hands over the heart, the talk over the walk for the qualification for service. Of course, skills and the mind are not just important in the ministry, they are essential. But if we understand the Bible right, it would be accurate to say that God requires first holiness and godliness as essential criterion for service, over the importance of skills and abilities.

(2 Tim 2:20-21) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

These words from Paul pertain primarily to the ministry of a pastor, as a personal exhortation given to Timothy. But the principle is very applicable to every area of the ministry, whatever it may be: If God would use a Christian for service powerfully, then He would be looking first at the quality of the Christian Life. It is Christlikeness first that matters, secondary only is the outward competency.

The church today is weak in emphasizing this truth. Let me give some observations:

  1. Holiness is rarely preached today. But much is given to blessings. Obedience is preached, but only often in relation to blessings. Obedience as an outcome of a holy life is very seldom preached.
  2. We scout for possible workers/leaders in terms only of abilities. We are easily attracted to good singing voice, good communicators, brilliant ideas, and so on – not in themselves bad, but become very futile if we neglect the much more important side of holiness.
  3. We are hesitant to discipline and/or replace erring leaders/workers. I am not for the trashing of erring people – everyone isn’t perfect. But the problem is that as we are so eager to put talented individuals to service, so are we so weak in disciplining our leaders/workers whose lives are not worthy to be followed. We have adapted the spirit that we are afraid to lose the machinery (and the tithes) of our church, to the point of compromising and sacrificing the integrity and testimony of the church.

Much could still be said in this issue. This is often overlooked but requires immediate consideration and action. To some extent, if the church will not put emphasis on the holiness of her leaders and workers, then inevitably she is welcoming sin to lurk in the corners of the church, destroying her little by little.

Survey the pastoral epistles (Titus, 1 & 2 Timothy), the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, and we will easily see that God puts character first in the lives of his servants, before anything else.

“If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.”

I was delivering a sermon on our Preaching Class.

‘If you can do anything else, do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.’

Those were the words of strong conviction by the great preacher Charles Spurgeon, affirmed by another great preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Preaching and Preachers, page 105.

By the word ministry, these men pertain to Pastoral Ministry, with emphasis on the divine task of preaching. To explain their conviction, they only mean that if a man is called to preach (and to pastor), it should only be what he is doing, it is only his satisfaction and way of life. No secular work, no business. Just to pastor and preach.

Hard statement, and personally it hit my heart. I truly love the task of preaching: from preparing sermons, trying to live out the message and the act of delivering it to the church. Seeing that other pastors and fellow believers affirm me personally that I have the gift of preaching puts more confidence in my heart that I am called to preach.

However, that confidence is challenged as I read the above statement of Mr. Spurgeon. Right now I am facing an important decision that I have to make very soon: taking up secular college studies. Do I have to study again, this time in secular, with the purpose of teaching in secular schools someday? Then what about Spurgeon’s belief that Preaching is a calling so big that it demands your entire life? And if God is leading me to study in secular, then does that mean I am never called to preach?

Not just mind-hammering, but heart-tearing questions. Preaching is the passion of my life. And if Spurgeon’s conviction is biblical and true, then entering the secular career of teaching is in a sense ‘giving-up’ the call to preach and to pastor. Well of course I do not see Spurgeon as infallible, nor his words equal to the authority of the Bible. But he was a great man of God who dedicated all his life to the divine task of preaching. Very few can surpass the blessedness of his preaching ministry.

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And if Spurgeon were right, then how about the sincere pastors out there who have secular work? Are they sinning and belittling the call to preach?

Overpowering the Heart

Waiting upon the Lord for restored strength.

The state of the heart is so powerful that it dictates virtually all the person’s thinking and actions.

Feeling down and empty for the last few days made me very passive in all my thinking, reasoning, and actions. It was like carrying a huge mass of  garbage using small exhausted power.

So how could I overpower the heart, to make it strong again? Determination provided little help. Prayer is the common solution,  however, is efficient only if the person ‘could still pray’. Again, I was saved by my prayer partners who have prayed for my revival.

It is like a new day has dawned on me: Life begins again.