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Archive for February, 2013

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Don’t let the negative stereotypes of evangelism prevent you from this vital work.

I read an article recently which asked the question “Does witnessing really work?”

The author’s conclusion was that it didn’t, and he came to that conclusion after he watched a Christian in a wrinkled suit sharing his faith, in a way the author believed lacked grace. He said, “This used-car salesman technique of spiritual solicitation rarely works.”

Granted, there are many who certainly lack grace—sign-carriers, hate groups, etc.—who give Christianity a bad name. But to abandon the cause of biblical evangelism because of a few bad witnesses is like firefighters giving up the fight and letting people burn in a building because a few bad firefighters aren’t doing their job.

The Apostle Paul rejoiced even when evil men preached the gospel—when they did so “insincerely, hoping to add affliction to my bonds” (see 1 Philippians 1:15-18). This is because the quality is in the seed, and not in the seed’s sower.

However, I don’t rejoice when I see much of modern evangelism.

This is because those who tell people to just ask Jesus into their heart because He will make things better are not preaching the gospel. The “gospel” is the good news that Jesus suffered and died on the cross and rose again on the third day. He did this to save us from the wrath of God’s Law and from a very real Hell.

But such hard biblical truths don’t go down too well in a blasphemous and sin-loving world. So they leave out the essentials of sin, righteousness and judgment. They water down the medicine to make it palatable, but in doing so they remove its curative properties. The modern message has no biblical basis, produces false converts, and defuses evangelism of any real urgency.

There are no words to describe the tragedy of the modern gospel. Not only has such misguided evangelism filled America with bitter “backsliders,” but it has also packed the Church (in pew and in pulpit) with false converts. Many of our pulpiteers have become nothing more than motivational speakers, rather than Sons of Thunder who boldly preach the righteousness of God. Feeble preachers have reproduced after their own kind, created a feeble Church, and this has destroyed our ability to be salt and light.

Instead of being a moral lighthouse for the nation, we have become irrelevant in the eyes of the world. Our nation is rotten to the core with sin, and it has found itself in gross darkness with no light, and I believe it all traces itself back to the unbiblical and insipid “give your heart to Jesus” message (I have expounded this with statistical evidence in a book entitled, God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, which can be freely read and downloaded on freeWonderfulBook.com). Author/evangelist Bill Fay (Share Jesus Without Fear) said, “While reading this book my heart went into atrial fibrillation; it’s that good! After I finished it, I couldn’t sleep. There’s nothing like it. It is truly from God.”

When I became a Christian more than 40 years ago, I was horrified that any human being could end up in Hell.

So I grabbed a soapbox, put it in the heart of our city of 350,000 people and preached the gospel. I did that almost every day for 12 years. If anyone could have been considered a “fanatic” in those days it was me.

Today, I’m much worse.

I still regularly open-air preach, and I still share my faith one-to-one with whoever will listen. I do it because I’m still horrified that anyone could go to Hell.

How could I not be? If I didn’t, I would be like a firefighter who let people burn. Our evangelistic zeal will be in direct proportion to the depth of our love. Charles Spurgeon called those who fail to verbally warn of the reality of Hell “murderers.” He said, “Have you no wish for others to be saved, then you are not saved yourself, be sure of that.”

In the article, the author who watched the man in the wrinkled suit said, “Evangelism takes time. It has to be lived, demonstrated, proven.” I respectfully disagree. “Evangelism” isn’t getting a decision for Jesus after living out some wonderful plan. It’s simply planting the seed of the gospel. We plant, others water, and some reap.

Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about her adultery. What He said only took a few minutes. It didn’t have to be lived in front of her. It didn’t have to be demonstrated or proven.

He also spoke to the woman caught in adultery, the rich young ruler, and many others. Paul spoke using words to the Athens. He used words because it was necessary.

Scripture asks, “How will they hear without a preacher?” The answer is that they won’t hear if we don’t use words.

My heart breaks when I hear professing Christians demeaning evangelism.

Emergency vehicles demand access because human lives are at stake. Evangelism demands the same priority, for the same reason. Reaching out to the lost isn’t given the priority it should have, because the reality of Hell has been forgotten by many, and preachers who talk about everything but the reality of Hell, are likeable betrayers of the gospel.

May God help us to bring the Church back to biblical evangelism and raise up a generation of faithful men and women who will fear God enough to say with the Apostle Paul, “Wherefore knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

Source: http://www.churchleaders.com

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Who Sustains Us?

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“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (Job 38:12)

Today’s big question: Who sustains us every day?

As we consider further the higher ways of God, we should take some time to consider what God told Job about His awesome providence. God guides Job in considering His amazing creative and sustaining power. In doing so, He provided us with a list that is mind-blowing.

Have you ever thought about how big God really is? So often we think of God in respect of His power in creation, but as He describes His amazing power to Job we see His unlimited power displayed in His sustaining providence—even as He sustains a sin-cursed world. The questions God posed to Job point to the power and patience of our awesome Creator.

Take some time to ponder a few of the questions from chapters 38 and 39 of Job:

  • Have you entered the treasury of snow or seen the treasury of hail? (Job 38:9)
  • Has the rain a father or who has begotten the dew? (Job 38:28)
  • Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you set their dominion over the earth? (Job 38:33)
  • Who has put wisdom in the mind? Or who has given understanding to the heart? (Job 38:36)
  • Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions? (Job 38:39)
  • Who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food? (Job 38:41)
  • Do you know the time when the wild mountain goats bear young? Or can you mark when the deer gives birth? (Job 39:1)
  • Have you given the horse strength? (Job 39:19)
  • Does the hawk fly by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? (Job 39:26)
  • Does the eagle mount up at your command and make its nest on high? (Job 39:27)

 

Put yourself in Job’s shoes. He heard all of these following the most tragic of circumstances. God is in charge. He knows my beginning and my end. He created and sustains all things.

Whether I admit it or not, and whether I like it or not, I am in His hands. He is God and I am not. His ways are higher than mine.

Today’s big idea: the Creator sustains all things, and I am in His sovereign hands.

What to pray: give your life to God.

-Article by Steve Ham (www.answersingenesis.org)

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Blessed Assurance?

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“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine!”. These well-known words were penned by Ms. Fanny Crosby in the year 1873. You may not have known it, but Crosby was actually blind and had been that way since she was an infant. Yet, in the midst of the physical darkness she experienced in her lack of sight, it seems that Fanny Crosby had a very clear view of the assurance of her salvation.

 

Assurance, sadly, like many Biblical doctrines, has become a truth that is greatly ignored in our day. However, the Bible has much to say about the assurance that can we can possess through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor John Piper provides us with the following 12 Scriptural truths:

 

1. FULL ASSURANCE IS GOD’S WILL FOR US.

And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.” Hebrews 6:11

 

2. ASSURANCE IS PARTIALLY SUSTAINED BY OBJECTIVE EVIDENCES FOR CHRISTIAN TRUTH.

To [his apostles] He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days.” Acts 1:3

 

3. ASSURANCE CANNOT NEGLECT THE PAINFUL WORK OF SELF-EXAMINATION.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5

 

4. ASSURANCE WILL DIMINISH IN THE PRESENCE OF CONCEALED SIN.

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Psalm 32:3

 

5. ASSURANCE COMES FROM HEARING THE WORD OF CHRIST.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31

 

6. REPEATED FOCUSING ON THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST IS CRUCIAL FOR ASSURANCE.

Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” Hebrews 10:21-22

 

7. WE MUST PRAY FOR EYES TO SEE THE TRUTHS THAT SUSTAIN ASSURANCE.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19

 

8. ASSURANCE IS NOT EASILY MAINTAINED IN PERSONAL ISOLATION.

And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.'” 1 Corinthians 12:21

 

9. ASSURANCE IS NOT DESTROYED BY GOD’S DISPLEASURE AND DISCIPLINE.

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.” Micah 7:8-9

 

10. WE MUST OFTEN WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE RETURN OF ASSURANCE.

I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3

 

11. ASSURANCE IS A FIGHT TO THE DAY WE DIE.

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:12

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

 

12. ASSURANCE IS FINALLY A GIFT OF THE SPIRIT.

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16

The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself… And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 1 John 5:10-11

 

Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/helping-people-have-the-assurance-of-salvation

 

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A Prayer for Our Church

 

Please take the time to consider the following  prayer from  Pastor John Piper. I ask that we take a few moments and personlize it by inserting “Grace Community Church at Bigelow” in place of Bethlehem. May God be glorified in the life of this local fellowship!

O Lord, by the truth of your Word, and the power of your Spirit and the ministry of your body, build men and women at Bethlehem . . .

  • Who don’t love the world more than God,
  • who don’t care if they make much money,
  • who don’t care if they own a house,
  • who don’t care if they have a new car or two cars,
  • who don’t need recent styles,
  • who don’t care if they get famous,
  • who don’t miss steak or fancy fare,
  • who don’t expect that life should be comfortable and easy,
  • who don’t feed their minds on TV each night,
  • who don’t measure truth with their finger in the wind,
  • who don’t get paralyzed by others’ disapproval,
  • who don’t return evil for evil,
  • who don’t hold grudges,
  • who don’t gossip,
  • who don’t twist the truth,
  • who don’t brag or boast,
  • who don’t whine or use body language to get pity,
  • who don’t criticize more than praise,
  • who don’t hang out in cliques,
  • who don’t eat too much or exercise too little;

But

  • who are ablaze for God,
  • who are utterly God-besotted,
  • who are filled with the Holy Spirit,
  • who strive to know the height and depth of Christ’s love,
  • who are crucified to the world and dead to sin,
  • who are purified by the Word and addicted to righteousness,
  • who are mighty in memorizing and using the Scriptures,
  • who keep the Lord’s Day holy and refreshing,
  • who are broken by the consciousness of sin,
  • who are thrilled by the wonder of free grace,
  • who are stunned into humble silence by the riches of God’s glory,
  • who are persevering constantly in prayer,
  • who are ruthless in self-denial,
  • who are fearless in public witness to Christ’s Lordship,
  • who are able to unmask error and blow away doctrinal haze,
  • who are tough in standing for the truth,
  • who are tender in touching hurting people,
  • who are passionate about reaching the peoples who have no church,
  • who are pro-life for the sake of babies and moms and dads and the glory of God,
  • who are keepers of all their promises, including marriage vows,
  • who are content with what they have and trusting the promises of God,
  • who are patient and kind and meek when life is hard.

Pressing for all there is in Christ,

Pastor John

(www.desiringgod.org)

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Pray for the Johns Day

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Changing Lives on Super Bowl Sunday

Quick: What’s the big event that’s happening this Sunday?

Chances are extremely good that the answer that popped into your  head, without even having to think about it, was “the Super Bowl.”  Whether you watch football or not, you probably know that America’s  biggest and best-loved game takes place this weekend. There’s always so  much hype surrounding the Super Bowl, it’s almost impossible not to know  about it.

But here’s something that you might not know: Major sporting  events like the Super Bowl tend to cause an increase in sex  trafficking. It’s tragic, but true. As WANE.com in Indiana reported last  year, “Girls as young as 12 to 14 are being shipped to Super Bowl host  cities and sold as prostitutes to meet the demand for sex at the event.   And it’s getting worse.”

Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children  added, “The operators of these enterprises will use these kids as  commodities, bring them to a community, and will literally sell them to  people who are partying and having a good time and think there’s nothing  wrong with what they’re doing.”

The magnitude of this horrific problem can seem so overwhelming that  it makes us feel helpless. Is there anything that you can do to help  save these kids? Well, yes, you can start with one very simple but very  important action: prayer.

Super Bowl Sunday will mark the second annual Pray for the Johns Day.  The event was created by Christian writer Anna Broadway, who has long  been interested in the subjects of “relational brokenness” and human  trafficking. It occurred to Anna that while many Christians are making  laudable efforts to help trafficking victims, we haven’t paid much  attention to the men who are paying for the sex.

But these men, she reminds us, are spiritually lost and in great need  of prayer. That’s why she created Pray for the Johns Day. Anna says,  “[We’re] praying that they would turn from the sin and the harm and the  wrong that they’re doing, and repent of it. That their lives would  transform and they would become the men God made them to be.”

That kind of transformation can be nothing but a blessing, not just  for the men themselves, but for our entire society. Wherever there are  men who think it’s okay to buy little girls for sex, that it’s all just a  natural part of “partying and having a good time,” that’s the sign of a  very sick culture. These men are mired in evil, and they’re destroying  both their own lives and the lives of innocent victims.

The only thing that can possibly help them is repentance and  restoration through Christ—which is why Anna’s idea is such a great one.  And moving it to Super Bowl Sunday, when sex trafficking is at its  height, was a particularly inspired touch.

So here are her three recommended steps: “(1) Pray for the johns  before, during or after the game on Sunday, Feb. 3. (2) Encourage your  church to pray for the johns during corporate worship that day. (3) Tell  other friends about this event.” So come to BreakPoint.org, please click on this commentary, and we will link you to “Pray for the Johns Day” and a downloadable prayer guide.

I hope you’ll consider taking part in Pray for the Johns Day, and  telling your friends about it. Prayer might seem like a small thing, but  through it, you can help change even the darkest and most depraved  lives. Again, come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary to get all the information.

Article by Eric Metaxas (www.breakpoint.org)

Picture from www.chicagonow.com

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