Category Archives: Evangelism

Are we still in awe of the Gospel?

The following article by Eric Geiger challenged me.

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For years, I have heard church leaders bemoan the reality that the majority of Christians never or rarely share their faith with unbelievers. Though declaring the good new of Jesus to others is the responsibility of every Christ-follower, few people in our churches embrace the holy assignment. Why?

CL_why_your_people_are_not_sharing_their_faith_320620438In his book, Contagious, author and professor, Jonathan Berger, writes about how thinking and social influence spread, or “why things catch on.” In one chapter, he shares insights from a study that sought to discover why some online articles are shared more than other articles.

Several insights were gleaned, but the strongest discovery was that articles that drove a sense of awe into readers were 30 times more likely to make the list of “most shared articles.” Readers are much more likely to share articles that evoke a sense of awe.

Quite simply, we can’t help but spread news that we find amazing.

Though the book is on every marketing professional’s shelf, the chapter was convicting for me as a believer in Jesus Christ.

According to the research, if I am not sharing the gospel, it is because I have lost my sense of awe and appreciation for it.

The reason the majority of the people in our churches don’t share the gospel is not because they haven’t been through a course. Nor is it because they failed to participate in a training seminar.

Not sharing the gospel reveals a loss of awe about the depths to which He plunged to rescue us. Not sharing the faith with others reveals a loss of amazement that He gave us His righteousness for our sin.

If we are still in awe that the holy and eternal God of the universe would pursue us in our sinfulness, humble Himself and suffer in our place, become the curse for our sin, and absorb our punishment to give us His peace, then we can’t help but share this news. If we are convinced that the news about Jesus is truly good news, we can’t help but spread it.

When the religious leaders asked Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, to stop speaking about Jesus, they replied, “We are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Their hearts were filled with awe for Jesus and His work for them; thus, there was no way they could be silent.

When Jeremiah considered not speaking for the Lord, he realized he could not hold the message inside without exploding: “If I say, ‘I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name,” His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Whatever we find amazing, we share. We spread what we are in awe of.

If a church leader is frustrated with a lack of personal evangelism among the people in the congregation, the wisest move is to continually remind the people of God’s amazing grace.

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Are we still in awe of the Gospel?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Evangelism, God, Gospel, influence with the world, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, Wonder

Our God is Awesome

Watch the Bible come to life, set to the soundtrack of the Stellar Award-winning song “Awesome” by Pastor Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago.

The Bible is an epic five-week, 10 hour television mini-series premiering March 3, 2013 on the History Channel from Emmy Award winning husband and wife team, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

For two hours each Sunday night millions of viewers will see the Bible from Genesis to Revelation come to life in a way never before seen. The final episode of the series will air on Easter Sunday and will feature the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Family and friends who might never come to church with you might be willing to gather in your home. This could be a great opportunity to share the story of God’s love and redemption.

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Evangelism, God, influence with the world, Jesus, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Love Like Jesus

At the core of God’s identity is a community; an intimate fellowship. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father; and out of that embrace of love comes the Holy Spirit as the breath of life.

The image of God as a Triune God or the Trinity is not something we can completely wrap our heads around, but it does give us the primary context in which to journey with God and others. And that context is relational!

So when Jesus is questioned about what commandment is most important He responds with love God and love others. (Matthew 22)

Elsewhere, Jesus said:

Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ~ John 13:34

But what does it really look like to love like Jesus?

To love like Jesus is to actively participate in what is best for another person even at great personal sacrifice and even when they don’t deserve it.

We understand the part about actively participate. And we understand personal sacrifice as a part of it. But loving others when they don’t deserve it causes us some struggle.

And yet, that’s how Jesus loves. Listen to how Paul states it in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome.

6-8 Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. ~ Romans 5:6-8 (MSG)

We might be able to think of a few people – likely family members or close friends – that we would love like this but that’s not really the point. To love like Jesus is to love everyone this way.

As we come to “know and rely on the love God has for us” (1 John 4:16) we will be transformed and empowered to love like Jesus.

Is there a better way to influence the world and advance God’s kingdom purpose of inviting others into the dance of the Trinity?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Evangelism, God, God the Father, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Jesus, Kingdom of God, Love of God, Loving God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Trinity

Punching holes in the darkness

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of classic books like Treasure Island, spent his childhood in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 19th century. As a boy, Robert was intrigued by the work of the old lamplighters who went about with a ladder and a torch, setting the street lights ablaze for the night.

One evening, as young Robert stood watching with fascination, his parents asked him, “Robert, what in the world are you looking at out there?” With great excitement he exclaimed, “Look at that man! He’s punching holes in the darkness!”

When we invite Jesus to sit on the throne of our heart we are giving ourselves to further God’s kingdom purposes, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we choose to forgive those who have hurt us, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we sacrifice our comfort and resources to help others in need, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we honor God’s boundaries with our sexuality, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we pray for those who despise us or hate us, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we take time to listen, really listen, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we let go of worry and instead praise God, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

When we offer kinds words in return for harsh words, we are…

       …punching holes in the darkness!

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Compassion, Culture, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Generosity, influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving God, Loving others, Praise

How do you view Jesus?

What follows is part of a conversation David Platt had with a Buddhist leader and a Muslim leader. They were discussing how all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different.

“We may have different views about small issues,” one of them said, “but when it comes down to essential issues, each of our religions is the same.”

I listened for a while, and then they asked me what I thought. I said, “It sounds as though you both picture God (or whatever you call god) at the top of a mountain. It seems as if you believe that we are all at the bottom of the mountain, and I may take one route up the mountain, you may take another, and in the end we will all end up in the same place.”

They smiled as I spoke. Happily they replied, “Exactly! You understand!”

Then I leaned in and said, “Now let me ask you a question. What would you think if I told you that the God at the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are? What would you think if I told you that God doesn’t wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us?”

They thought for a moment and then responded, “That would be great.”

I replied, “Let me introduce you to Jesus.”
~ Excerpted from Radical by David Platt

It is a popular notion today that all religions lead to the same God but there are fundamental differences that cannot be overlooked.

Only in Christianity does God make the first move to come to us with the offer of redemption.

Only in Christianity is forgiveness received as a gift of grace rather than earned by human efforts.

Only in Christianity does the founder come back from the grave.

And then there’s the issue of how we view Jesus.

Many religions see Jesus as a good, moral teacher; perhaps even a prophet but nothing more. Yet Christianity views Jesus as the only Son of God. Jesus even claimed to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Therein lies a fundamental difference between Christianity and all other world religions.

How do you view Jesus?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Evangelism, God, Grace, Jesus

We should all be so controversial!

Controversial conduct by elite athletes is nothing new and likely won’t go away anytime soon.

A few weeks ago, a college basketball game between Cincinnati and Xavier ended in a bench-clearing brawl. The fight got so intense that the referees decided not to play the final nine seconds. The media and fans were appalled and demanded strong measures.

Just a week before this incident the NFL announced that eleven players had failed drug tests. The media and fans were rightly appalled.

A recent Atlantic Monthly article spoke to this issue by listing the “15 Most Divisive Athletes in Recent History.”

I was not surprised by any of those who made the cut for this editorial save for one – Tim Tebow. Even if you’re not a big NFL fan you are likely familiar with this young man and his recent on-field exploits as quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

Others on the list included Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Dennis Rodman, Pete Rose and O.J. Simpson. Let’s see… that’s one man convicted of animal cruelty, another for obstruction of justice, one guy who appeared at a book signing wearing a dress, another for tax evasion who was banned from baseball for betting on games and one who in all likelihood killed his ex-wife.

So what did Tebow do to make this notorious list? It started a few years ago when he made a TV ad in which he states that he was glad that his mother didn’t abort him. But the latest controversy is because he is upfront about his Christian faith.

I know! It’s shocking! Wait until they hear about how he grew up serving the poor overseas! Imagine the scandal that will be!

We should all be so controversial!

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Filed under Accountability, Christianity, Evangelism, influence with the world, Persecution

Death Valley and dry souls

Death Valley is an expansive desert in California known for its extremes. It is one of the hottest, lowest and driest places on the face of the earth! It’s landscape is unusually dry and hard and cracked.

Summer temperatures average well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and it holds the record for the highest recorded temperature in the Western Hemisphere at 134 degrees Fahrenheit.

It boasts the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere with one spot that measures 282 feet below the level of the sea! And it is the driest place in all of North America with an average rainfall of only 1.96 inches a year!

No wonder they call it Death Valley!

But in 2005 a rare torrential downpour left the area with some 8 inches of rain! This unusual deposit of moisture caused the dormant seeds of various desert flowers to germinate, grow and flourish.

Sometimes I get tired of doing good because it seems to not bear any fruit. People can sometimes seem so cold and callous and barren. But I know I’m not the first one to feel this way.

Paul wrote in two different letters to encourage followers of Jesus to not grow weary or lose heart in doing good because there would eventually be a harvest to reap. (Galatians 6:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:13) The prophet Isaiah recorded this promise of God:

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.” ~ Isaiah 44:3-4 (NIV)

We never know when a seed of kindness or forgiveness planted in someones heart will be watered by God’s love and grace to bring forth new life. So how do we keep from getting discouraged? By fixing our eyes on Jesus!

“Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying.” ~ Hebrews 12:3 (NCV)

Jesus knows what it is to deal with dry and crusty hearts. He knows better than we do how barren and desolate a soul can become. But He wants us to…

…keep planting seeds!

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Filed under Determination, Encouragement, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Grace, influence with the world, Jesus, Love of God, Loving others

Chelsey’s Story

This is a powerful testimony of how God uses us to touch and change lives with his love. This is my first time using Vimeo on my blog so if the video doesn’t appear try clicking here.

Who is it that God has brought into your life that needs to experience His love?

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Filed under Brokenness, Choices, Evangelism, Freedom, Grace, Hope, influence with the world, Inspiration, Love of God, Loving others, Mercy, Morphing

Bridges or Roadblocks?

All bridges serve a practical purpose but these bridges stagger the imagination with their creativity and ingenuity.

The tallest bridge in the world is the Millau Viaduct in France.

Seventeen years in the making it is held up by the highest pylons in the world (803 feet high) and has the highest road-bridge deck in Europe (886 feet). But, most importantly, it reaches 1,125 feet at its highest point, making it the tallest bridge in the world (for reference, New York’s Chrysler Building is only 1,046 feet tall).

New Brunswick, Canada is home to the Hartland Covered Bridge – the longest of its kind.

When the Canadian government was being wishy-washy about whether or not to build a bridge across the St. John River, a group of private citizens took matters into their own hands. They formed the Hartland Bridge Company and opened the 1,282-foot-long bridge in 1901.

The most photographed is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, California.

With its trademark “international orange” paint, its picturesque surroundings, and the daily rolling in of the morning fog, it should come as no surprise that the Golden Gate Bridge is said to be the most photographed in the world.

The Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China is the longest in the world.

When it comes to bridges, China doesn’t mess around—the country is home to 11 of the world’s 15 longest. Opened to the public in June 2011, the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge ranks as the world’s longest. It stretches an astonishing 102.4 miles—that’s longer than the distance between New York City and Philadelphia!

As impressive and significant as all these bridges are there is one that is infinitely more valuable – your life!

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth…Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:13-16 (Message)

The way we interact with others on a daily basis is either building bridges for people to know God better or putting up roadblocks.

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Sorry Ben!

I read recently about a guy named Ben. He is a successful businessman, friend of Hollywood stars, estranged family man… and empty.

I know what you’re thinking, “Another poor soul who has never heard about Jesus.” But that would be inaccurate.

You see, Ben grew up going to church. In fact, he not only grew up going to church but spent three years at seminary learning all about the Bible and God and stuff… right up until he lost his faith.

“How could that happen?” we wonder. How can someone with all of that church experience end up walking away from God?

The person relaying Ben’s story didn’t mention any one specific event but apparently it had to do with knowing all about God without actually
having a relationship with God.

The problem is that we’ve made our involvement with the church too academic without emphasizing the practical application of living it out!

Does sitting with a group of people and learning about brain surgery qualify you to operate? No. What if you also read books about it? No. What if you got together with like-minded friends and talked about it? No. No. No. But that’s what we do in the church.

We make following Jesus too academic!

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” ~ James 1:22

I don’t know all the particulars of Ben’s upbringing or his experience with the church, but I suspect that he didn’t see Jesus lived out. I don’t say that flippantly or as a judgment. I say it because I’ve seen it in enough churches to believe it is a wide-spread issue.

When all we do is show up once a week to sit and learn about Jesus but fail to live it out, we are not only fooling ourselves but giving others the impression that God is not real.

Only when we live it out does it become real!

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Filed under Authenticity, Discipleship, Evangelism, influence with the world, involvement with the church