He is Working on Your Image

Though we Christians might struggle to see and appreciate it, God is at work in us today-by every trial and every blessing-to transform us into a glorious image of Himself. Take heart in your trouble. When we don’t see it, He is still working for our good.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. -1 Corinthians 3:18

Spirit-empowered Preaching

As a Christian and pastor, I really enjoyed this book. This book is unique in its focus on the Holy Spirit’s work in preaching. It is not merely a chapter on the Holy Spirit, but on every page and in every point the Holy Spirit is discussed with biblical care and honor. I am better off for having read this book.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0805443886/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_V4BXxbKN71JT9

Wolves Beware

Wolves beware. The Church and her shepherds are watching you.

Romans 16:17-20 – Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The Church has many eyes and needs all of them. In a fallen world like ours – a world infected with corrupting sin and scheming sinners – Christians face many troubles. Jesus was clear, “In this world you will have trouble.” And is it any wonder? Our three ancient foes – sin, death, and Satan – are hell bent to punish and destroy the Church, if they may. A tireless trio of division and conflict.

By cunning deception they recruit the weak-willed and vulnerable to do their bidding in a war against Christ and His Bride. The pawns in their sinister plot are neither angels nor demons, but flesh and blood creatures; people who have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Paul calls them dissenters and hinderers, who purposefully divide the church. Well-trained by the enemy trio, they mingle among the churches, often undetected by the naive. Flattery and smooth talk are the weapons in their assault. Their lips drip with honey, and their bite is full of poison. Ruled not by the Lord in His glory but by their own appetites, they will not stop from undermining the truth and dividing the people. Slaves to the desires which rule them.

Paul’s remedy to those who caused division among the Church of Rome was of simplicity and peace. Look here and look up.

Look here: “Keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hinderances.” Like shepherd sheep, watch out for the flock to which you belong. Be on guard. Be suspecting. Be watchful. For the Devil – with his captive minions – prowl like lions, hungry for the herd. Don’t be taken by their craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).

Look up: The Bridegroom is jealous for His Bride; and with a burning envy. The God of peace is a God of war. He will not allow His Beloved to be put to shame. The Devil and His recruits will not endure. He will crush them.

Flock, keep an eye on the wolves who wish to divide you for a time.
Church, gaze intently at your Husband who keeps you in His care forevermore.

The Necessity of SPEAKING the Gospel

“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” This quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, a Roman Catholic preacher who lived in 13th and 14th centuries. Although there is no reliable record of Francis saying this-that is, before the 1990s-many Christians have been quick to adopt the quote as a motto for evangelism. Whatever the quote’s origin, it’s confused at best, and entirely untrue at worst.

To say Christians should preach the gospel and use words when they necessary is to confuse the very nature of the gospel. First, we should know what is the gospel. Simply put, the gospel is the verbal message or announcement about the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The gospel is good news; good news of Jesus’ grace toward sinners, seen in His perfect life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. But catch the point again: The gospel is a message, and messages are meant to be spoken. In fact, they must be spoken. considering the way God talks about the gospel in Scripture, we must conclude that the gospel does not go out except by the verbal proclamation of its good news. The gospel can be spoken. The gospel can be written. In whatever way the gospel is communicated, it will always come out in words. This means that if we are not speaking to people about Jesus and His incredible grace, we are not sharing the gospel. There are many good deeds for us to do-and we should do them-but unless we are speaking the words of life, we are not sharing the gospel. Our good deeds may open doors for us to speak up, but we speak up we must!

Second, the gospel is a message about what Jesus has done. It is not a message about what we have done, or what we must do. It is about Jesus. Every now and then, we hear someone say something like, “I’m not comfortable talking to people about Jesus. I prefer to live out the gospel in front of others.” While it is true that the gospel intimately transforms the way Christians live, this statement is a kind of oxymoron. Live out the gospel is a contradiction. The gospel is not something we can live; it is not a series of commands like the law; it is an announcement to be heralded to all who need to hear.
Have you been trying to live out the gospel, or have you been speaking out the gospel? If you have been aiming to share the gospel with your life, it’s time to link your life with words of life. It’s time to speak up. I know what a challenge this change can be; it’s a change I had to make myself.

Five Stages of a Gospel Conversation
For many people, the most difficult part of sharing the gospel with someone is starting a conversation. If you are a Christian, you probably know enough about the gospel to lead someone to Christ. Therefore, the problem is not that the gospel is hard to explain, but the problem of starting a conversation that gives most Christians trouble. Basically, an evangelistic conversation is made up of 5 stages.

Stage 1: Positive Contact
When attempting to share the gospel with someone, you should try to begin with a “positive contact.” I’m sure you have heard the popular business line, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is not only true when interviewing for a job, but is also true of evangelism. A positive first contact may be the difference between someone listening to your gospel and turning a deaf ear. Therefore, a positive first contact is as easy as committing a simple act of friendliness. How is your day going? Has the store been busy today? Do you have any weekend plans? These are simple examples of how you might make a positive contact.

Stage 2: Common Ground
After making a positive contact, the second stage in an evangelistic conversation is finding what you have in common with the other person. You may not realize it, but all people have things in common with each other. We all have a hometown, a daily routine, and family or friends. It is on common ground that people relate to one another. This can be done simply by asking the other person a question or two about himself. These questions should be simple and down-to-earth. Showing genuine interest in the life of another person is a great way to reveal the love of Christ. Our objective should be to take the first reasonable opportunity to share Christ with others.

Stage 3: The Shift
In every witnessing encounter, there comes a time when friendliness becomes evangelism. This happens when you shift from the natural to the spiritual. The “natural” consists of common ground conversation topics we discussed earlier. In order for a conversation to be evangelistic, you must learn to shift from the natural to the spiritual. Without the shift, you are nothing more than a friendly person. If you have done some preliminary work to make a good first impression and establish common ground, the shift from the natural to the spiritual can be fairly easy. There are many ways to shift a conversation from small talk to spiritual talk, like discussing troubling current events like war and racial tensions; or simply asking spiritual questions like “Do you go to church around here?” We just need to keep our eyes open for opportunities.

Stage 4: A Gospel Presentation
The fourth stage in an evangelistic conversation is a clear gospel presentation. This stage is the most important of all. Romans 1:16 explains that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of salvation for those who believe. Remember, if your conversation does not reach this stage you have done nothing truly evangelistic. Since this stage is so important, you should find ways to grow in your ability to share the message of faith in Christ. Read books, watch videos, and talk with other Christians to sharpen your ability to communicate clearly.

Stage 5: Questions and Answers
The 5th and final stage of an evangelistic conversation concerns questions and answers. As you clearly share the gospel with others they will usually respond with questions about the Bible, the world, and salvation. This takes time as well; to learn to answer key questions posed by your hearers. You can learn about this as you study the Bible and are purposefully involved in church.

Well, now you know all you need to know in order to begin and end an evangelistic conversation. All that is left is for you to begin putting these principles into practice with God’s gracious help. It’s time to speak up. You must!

*FBC OWB

10 Summer Blogs (for Pillar Blog)

In this next segment of our summer blog series at Pillar Network, we turn attention to ten blogs to read this summer. As you can imagine, narrowing our focus to just ten blogs is an impossible challenge. We could write this segment a hundred times and there would still be more to say.

Continue reading “10 Summer Blogs (for Pillar Blog)”