Things to do at HOME during COVID-19 Isolation.

COVID-19 & The things we can do.

In prayerful response to the COVID-19 concern, the church at Franklin & Juniper will cancel all services for the next 2 weeks.
We will continue to evaluate & update as the situation changes.

This decision is similar to how we cancel services during times of severe weather as well as how some make the personal choice to remain home when they are sick.

For some, if their condition prevents them from doing secular activities, it will prevent them from assembling with the saints.

This is not just a local situation, nor a national. It is an international situation.

Just because we’re practicing SOCIAL DISTANCING if we must go out for groceries (or take out) it doesn’t mean we’re no longer interacting with people in other ways. We may be in ISOLATION, but this is no time to be IDLE. There are several things we can do during the time we self-quarantine at HOME.

The first thing we can do is HEAL. This virus has a 14-day incubation period. Many may be asymptomatic, meaning they have the virus but have no symptoms. Let’s take time to HEAL our bodies.

We can HEED the warnings about limiting physical contact. We can HELP the helpless. There may be some who have compromised immune systems or other risk factors. Perhaps as some gather necessities, you could look out for their needs.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” [Phil 2:4]

We can OPEN OUR BIBLES. Far too many have lived hectic & harried lives. While you may still be able to work from home, almost every non-essential activity has been canceled. What a great time to start that Bible Reading Program you resolved to do this year.  It only takes about 20 hours to read the New Testament. Everyone could read the entire NT during this time. (30 min in the morning & evening.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Chris)” [ Eph 3:4]

Another great thing we can do is we can now have MEALS with the family. This is a lost tradition in modern times. What a great way to return to this wonderful custom where we can connect & talk with our family. Resist the urge to graze all day long, eating our meals in front of electronics.

Married couples can find ways to improve their MARRIAGES. This goes beyond the physical and looks to the Spiritual.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” [Eph 5:25]

Let’s remember the lonely and we can connect to the lonely through MESSAGING & calls. There are some among us who were lonely before this and are now more so.

Lastly, just because the building is closed there is no reason to shut down EVANGELISM. Crisis causes many to turn to God. We see this repeatedly in Scripture. Keep you EYES & EARS open to how your friends & family talk about the present distress. As Christians we are have the comfort of God’s word that removes all fear.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” [2Tim 1:7-8]

We must maintain our hope & excitement for the Lord. When unbelievers see our enthusiasm, they may want to know why. Be ready to answer. [1Peter 3:15]

Be aware of a real phenomenon called cabin fever as well as the tendency for tempers to flare during confinement. Remember to ESTEEM others better than self. [Phil 2:3]

Trust in God, although our OUTWARD man is perishing, our INWARD man can be renewed daily. [2Cor 4:16]

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

–Spencer

4 Consequences if you don’t believe hell is REAL

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Hell is a serious subject, that is if you believe it’s a REAL place. If, however, you’re one of those who don’t believe hell is REAL, then everything in this article will be ignored.

I HOPE YOU DON’T IGNORE THIS TOPIC. If you do, there are serious consequences to YOU if you don’t believe that hell is a real place.

It matters what one believes as our beliefs drive our actions and attitudes.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” [Prov 23:7a]

WHAT ARE THE FOUR CONSEQUENCES if you don’t believe that hell is REAL?

First, you will have little to no REGARD for the gravity of sin. You have a lowered view about sin and you underestimate the purity of God.

Sin is a direct disregard for God and His sovereignty. There is no sin in God, not one drop.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent:” [Num 23:19a; cr Titus 1:2]

From the very beginning this lesson is taught. In the garden, when Adam & Eve took of the fruit of the KOGAE tree, they had to be separated from God.

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” [Isaiah 59:2]

Sin is that bad.

The next thing that begins to change in you is that you will lessen your EVANGELISM.

The magician Penn Jillette, an atheist, said it this way;

How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

When we fail to realize the reality of HELL, we fail to take it seriously and fail to warn others about it.

The third consequence is we begin to believe that the lost are simply ANNIHILATED from existence. While this may be palatable to our senses, this too is a mistake.

If we believe in annihilation of the lost, we belittle the justice of God. He has said,

Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Romans 12:19]

Where is the justice for the rape, murder and every manner of wickedness that man has done to other men?

We have no problem with the idea of Hell for the Hitlers, the rapists and the pedophiles, but we have a problem when it comes to those who sin against God. (I refer you back to the first point.)

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” [Jude 7; cf Heb 2:1-3]

Which brings us to the final point. We start to rationalize by saying, “a LOVING God would never send anyone to hell.”

This last point encompasses the previous three. Many denominational preachers have said that they won’t speak about sin or hell as it’s too negative. One said, “”No, I really don’t, because it’s a different approach.” This is a direct contradiction of how Paul preached;

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27; cr v20]

We ought not project what we want onto our Creator; “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” [Is 58:8]

HELL IS REAL. As these scriptures describe.

Lake of fire (Rev. 20:10)

Furnace of fire (Matt. 13:42)

Flaming fire (2Thess. 1:7-9)

Baptism of fire (Matt. 3:11-12)

Unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43)

Brimstone (Rev. 21:8)

Wailing & Gnashing (Matt. 8:12; 13:50)

Prepared for Devil (Matt. 25:41)

Outer darkness (Matt. 25:30)

Torment (Rev. 14:10-11)

Friends, Hell is real and we don’t want anyone, even our worst enemy to go there.

—Spencer

3 Reasons Why to Share the Gospel

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“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[Mark 16:15]

Last week we looked at 3 WAYS to share the gospel.

They are:

PRIVATELY

PERSONALLY

PUBLICLY

This week we look at 3 reasons WHY we need to evangelize to the lost. These are reasons beyond the fact that it’s commanded by God. That is enough to settle the matter. That being said, we take time to examine the importance of evangelism.

3 Reasons why

The first reason is the fact that people are in a LOST condition, being separated from God. Paul asked the Romans,

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Romans 10:14]

We need to SEEK the FAITHLESS. People don’t like it when we state that someone is or may be lost, but this is a bible word given us by Christ Himself.

for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10]

Remember, someone told you about the gospel. I bet you can remember who it was and what you felt when your eyes were opened to the truth.

The second reason we need to preach is that some who had obeyed the gospel have LET GO of the faith and are fallen from Grace. [Gal 5:4]. The reasons for backsliding are varied, but all could be described as NEGLECT of their salvation.

“…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” [Hebrews 2:1-3]

In these instances, we must go out to STAND up the LAX. The Hebrew writer encourages this very activity.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Heb 10:24-25]

The third reason is to STRENGTHEN the LOYAL. This world is tough and unfair. The faithful need encouragement to keep on sharing the gospel despite the fact that the gospel will fall on deaf ears in the majority of cases [cr. Mat 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24].

Those of us who actively share the gospel are constantly beat down by the LOST world. This mostly by denominational BELIEVERS. You would be amazed and surprised to hear what those, who claim they love Jesus, are willing to say and do.It should be no surprise, the bible says, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” [1 John 3:13; cr. Jno. 15:18]

It’s for this reason we need to STRENGTHEN the LOYAL. Paul, while in bondage in a Roman prison, wrote about how the faithful were encouraged by the preaching of the gospel.

And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” [Philippians 1:14]

Our Lord said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” [Luke 10:2]

Now that’s a good prayer.

—Spencer

3 Ways to Share the Gospel

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“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[Mark 16:15]

There should be no doubt in any Christians mind about the necessity of sharing the Gospel, nor the command.

The question is HOW?

Brent Hunter wrote a very good resource answering in detail some of the HOW to reach the Lost. This article looks to answer how with the 3 basic styles.

They are:

PRIVATELY

PERSONALLY

PUBLICLY

 

Let’s look at the 3 Styles of Evangelism.

PRIVATELY: The first style could be classified as the COLD style. It is evangelism by STEALTH. The primary way this is done is through the leaving behind of TRACTS in public places. Most often left behind with your TIP at a restaurant (hopefully sizeable so the server will actually read it).

You may desire this method because you’ve yet to gain the ability to defend the faith. Maybe you are trying to avoid saying the wrong thing. Perhaps you lacked OPPORTUNITY to have a warmer conversation, so you leave behind some material the person could review later.

The Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 may be an example of a cold contact. He was reading spiritual information about the Christ. Had someone pointed him to that passage?

The next style is what I call the PERSONAL style. This method is WARM in that there’s familiarity between you and the other person. It is evangelism that is more SYMPATHETIC as you know more about the person and their life.

They’re familiar with you as well, and your quality of life demonstrates Christ living in you. [1Pet 3:2; Php 2:15; 1Pet 2:12] You can share the gospel by turning the normal casual conversations into discussions about life, godliness and Christ.

The difficulty with this style is the chance that your Family, Friends or Fellow workers who hold onto their false belief system and might harbor ill will toward you. Do it anyway. You love them, right?

The story of Philip with the Eunuch turns WARM as Philip asks him if he knows what he is reading. The Eunuch then invites Philip to sit with him to discuss the scriptures. Philip then preaches Jesus. [Acts 8:35]

The THIRD style is the PUBLIC method. It’s called public because the evangelism occurs in the public square or the marketplace. Perhaps posting on SOCIAL media platforms, reading your bible at Coffee Shops or conversations with Strangers.

This method could also be called HOT, as it draws out folks who hold error so dear. This method is effective in reaching a lot of people. The difficulty is in remaining calm as others try to mock you or draw you into a debate.

MANY WILL REJECT IT. We noted this in the last bulletin. They may RESIST it, try to ESCAPE from it, many will SCOFF at it, others will only PARTIALLY obey. A few will OBEY fully the gospel, but then some of those will NEGLECT it. Don’t be like those who DELAY in obeying the gospel when it’s too late.Paul took this approach on Mars Hill in Acts 17. At the end of his presentation of the Gospel it says, “some mocked.” I don’t know why they mocked; some just do that. Do what Paul did, and have another presentation. You see, it also says, “we will hear you again on this matter.” Then some men joined him and believed.

Next week we’ll see, “3 reasons Why must we share the gospel.”

—Spencer

I don’t know

One of the biggest obstacles to personal evangelism is this question, “What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer?” The feeling of terror, the strong impulse to say something so as not to appear stupid. What do you do?

Before we proceed, we need to be reminded that none of us are expert at every question that may arise, but take heart, God is, and He has given us everything we need for faith, doctrine, and instruction for how we ought to act. [cf. John 20:30-31; 2Tim 3:16-17]. The following are some suggestions on how to handle a question for which you don’t know the answer.

FIRST; Never let what you don’t know stop you from telling what is certain. If we did that, there’d be no personal evangelism whatsoever. Our efforts will become more productive as we mature, but we’ll never mature if we don’t put what we know into practice.

One way to look at a hard question is as an opportunity to learn and to grow. You may not be able to answer it this time, but you’ll be ready the next. [Heb 5:12].

SECOND: When asked a question for which you don’t know, resist the temptation to make one up. That’s much more dangerous for it may pass along error. Silence is a much better answer than giving a bad one. Look at Job’s friends, they were in a much better position when they said nothing at all. If you are asked and you don’t know just say, “I don’t know.” What’s better, not giving any answer or giving a bad one and needing to go back to the person for correction? Here are 3 things you can say instead of making up a wrong answer:

  • Compliment them: Say, “That’s a great question, I don’t know.” This will make the person feel like you’re really listening and respect them. Admitting that you’re human demonstrates humility, a most valuable attitude as we go about teaching others.
  • Ask for more information: By asking them to clarify the question you may discover that you do know the answer, or it will give you clarity as some people ask a question seeking direction for a different underlying issue.
  • Ask if you & they could look up the answer together: By doing this, you show them how much you value the truth and that you’re willing to learn. This also affords you an opportunity for another study. Here’s a tip from my experience, SET A DATE & TIME for when you will come back together to discuss the answer. Otherwise, you may never have the chance again.
Here’s how this might sound;

“That’s a great question, you may be the first person to ever ask me that question. I have no idea what the answer might be, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. I don’t know the answer, but I know who does, God and He’s written so many answers to our questions in the bible [2Pet 1:1-4]. Why don’t we write this question down and study it? Then we can meet again, same time next week over coffee, to see what we can learn?”

Following are some helpful ideas about this situation;

Not knowing the answer is not a problem, it’s awareness and an opportunity. None of us knows everything and people dig deep to try to stump us. See it as an opportunity for more personal study and a way to set up a regular home bible study with this person. Here are 2 more considerations:

  • This may be a topic you’ve never considered and now see why others are struggling with coming to the knowledge of the truth.
  • Hard questions sometimes show us how folks are thinking about things that other underlying issues, ie Authority, how God communicates, defining words biblically etc.

The ramifications of faking an answer can be devastating. You may be wrong and teach a lie. Your friend may see through it and not trust you for any spiritual advice. Lastly, they may see it as an attempt at hiding something which never helps at developing trust.

May all our connections lead to more finding & obeying the truth, just like God wants [2Pet 3:9].

Spencer

5 Times People Think about God

There’s a song in our hymnal called, “You never mentioned Him to me.” It’s a very sobering song that asks you to think about the judgment day when you and everyone you know are present before the Lord [Mat 25:32]. Imagine on that day that you catch a glimpse of a loved one who is hearing, “depart from me…” [Mat 7:21-23] and they look over at you mouthing the words, “why didn’t you warn me?” I don’t know if we’ll be looking at one another or if when we all bow [Rom 14:11] our eyes will be averted. All I know is that there’s great pain to hear of a loved one who passes from this life outside of Christ.

It seems these days that very few folks are thinking about God. This makes it very difficult to mention Him to them. I have noticed, however, that there are a few moments in a person’s life that they are more open to hearing things about Christ. Moments of change in their life. While anytime is a good time to mention Jesus, I’ve discovered 5 times when folks may be more open to hearing of the Love of Christ.

DEATH: Long ago I met an aged lady who began her journey to Christ upon the death of her firstborn child. She sought the counsel of her denomination for answers, but none were found. She pressed on, seeking the truth, until she met a gospel preacher who showed her in scripture the safe condition of her child. In that search she learned about Bible authority verses the false words of men.

“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” [Ecc 7:2].

MARRIAGE ISSUES: Whether it’s getting married or trying to stay married, couples will be open to godly strategies for their marriage. Many times, it will be the wife that will seek God’s advice first. Peter offers her this advice: “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” [1Pet 3:1-6] He continues with advice for the husband, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…” [v7a]

ILLNESS or INJURY: God expended a lot of ink about the sick. We’re to visit the sick [Mat 25:36; Jas 5:14]. When it’s a particularly nasty illness, some treat it as a near death experience and begin to ponder their eternity. We can be their for them with a meal or a comforting voice.

CHILDREN: Kids can be a challenge in these times. (I suppose every generation of parents said something similar) As Christians, we can be an example to our friends & neighbors as we raise our children and especially when we’re practicing godly discipline. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:” [Heb 12:9] You would be amazed by the positive responses from folks as they watch you train your wild child.

MAJOR CHANGES: This last category of life events involve non-health related but dramatic changes in a person’s life. It could be moving, a new job, or some other occasion that draws folks together. This is a great time to be the neighbor that Jesus described when asked the question, “who is my neighbor?” [Luke 10:29-37]. One of the most powerfully connecting things one family can do for another is to help them move or to help in picking up the pieces after a storm.

This only touches the tip of the iceberg of the ways you can be ready to preach Christ. One final way is in how you manage your own rough patch. This is the context of 1Pet 3:15;

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The way in which we react to the struggles in our lives has a very powerful impact on others. Our hope on display is what draws our friends & neighbors to ask why. A perfect time to tell them about Christ.

We must prepare ourselves to have mercy, compassion & grace for these moments.

WHY MEMORIZE BIBLE VERSES? Part 1

 

Years ago, a young Christian was facing a choice. He could either take the lengthy final examination for his theology class or quote Hebrews. Not quote a few verses of Hebrews, no sir, he needed to quote the ENTIRE BOOK of HEBREWS. [13 chapters & 303 verses].

He chose the latter and quoted the entire book from memory. An astounding mental feat to be sure, but is memorization even necessary? We have smart phones apps and google that can return to us any inquiry of the bible we want. That is, if you know what you’re looking for.

Therein lies the rub, to get any benefit out of God’s word, you need to know what’s in it. Here are 8 reasons why we should commit to a bible memorization plan.

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN. An integral part of our defense against sin is the Armor of God [Eph 6:10-20]. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the active piece that serves for both defense & offense. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” [Psalm 119:11]

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED. God gave His children the avenue of prayer to give us help in our time of need [Heb 4:16], but how would you know that without study? Additionally, when a sudden problem arises, we most frequently utter some form of profanity. Wouldn’t it be better to immediately draw into our conscious mind a piece of God’s word to counter the negatives we all face in everyday life? Memorizing Bible passages can give us an inventory of alternative utterances to the worldly expressions. Oh, and stop pretending that a euphemism is a cleaner alternative to the real cuss word, we know what you’re saying. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Phil 4:8]

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID. As you begin to read & study your Bible you may find it difficult to understand. However, a person that commits to memorization will find that the Bible will become clearer as you connect the stories, especially the connections between the Old & New Testaments. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Romans 15:4].

Since the Word of God shall also be present at the judgement, a thorough understanding of it would be helpful. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

4: FEAR of EVANGELISM. Let’s admit it, we’ve all experienced fear whenever an opportunity arose to share the Gospel. Bible memorization can alleviate that fear. Inherent in the verse; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15] is the idea of memorization. We know what is right, but could we prove it to them? Memorization is a great way to build your confidence in directing another through the scriptures as you show them the plan of God’s Salvation.

One fellow said to me, “I have John 3:16 and that’s all I need.” The extent of his bible memory plan was one verse! Others have committed to memorize “Jesus Wept” but have no idea where to find it. [John 11:35] Another person half quoted 1Peter 3:21 in an attempt to disqualify baptism. Because he didn’t know what it really said nor where it was located, he had a false belief that will leave him lost. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

Next week we’ll look at 4 more good reasons to commit to a Bible Memorization Plan.

Click Here for a good place to start memorizing Bible Verses.

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

What is the key to effective evangelism?

IS THERE A ONE WORD ANSWER to getting more bible studies? The key to evangelism is not probing, listening, preaching, talking, assessing, pain, and especially not manipulating. The key that opens the heart is HARMONIZING.

But you’d never know that from most or our actions. Evangelism is about understanding the other person and their needs. Their fears. Their desires. And their sense of need for the Gospel. People have different motives to respond, and it’s the evangelist’s job to uncover them – and harmonize with them.

REALITY: No two opportunities are alike.

We must adapt to uncover the motives and objectives, understand the opportunities and barriers, meet the needs and desires, and harmonize with the person and the personality. This is the point Paul was making in 1Corinthians 9…

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]

Ever since becoming a Christian, I’ve searched for magic verses, those one or two passages that answer every error. I’ve collected tracts with hopes that these one sheet papers could somehow win souls without much difficulty or controversy. And I’ve tried different methods & systems designed to lead people to obey the Gospel. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” tract, verse or method. It’s not that these can’t work, rather that they don’t always work. What I’ve found is that I focused too much on getting through the material rather than focusing on and HARMONIZING with the individual. One instance, a person had asked a specific question, though I knew the answer was much deeper, they couldn’t hear it. I never heard from them again.

No one tract, verse or method will work all the time — BUT specific elements of any may apply. I’m NOT saying don’t learn the tract, verse or method — all Bible knowledge is valuable. What I am saying is be yourself, not the method.

REALITY: People don’t always respond the way you expect or hope.

Here are some more clues:

  • The more we believe in Christ, the Scriptures, and yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have. [Romans 8:35-39 …height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]
  • The more care we show toward others, the more people will come to know, respect us, and listen to us. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]
  • The more we follow up and follow through, the more growth God will provide. [1Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.]
  • The more we study, the more we will know how to react to any situation. [2Timothy 2:15-16 Study to show thyself approved unto God]
  • The more we harmonize with the person’s situation, and offer answers they can apply — answers they perceive as truth, the MORE CONVERSIONS. [Acts 18:28 ‘Apollos’…showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.]

Always Keep this in mind. We are all EVANGELISTS, and people are expecting us to ask for a change. Don’t disappoint them. Just remember that God gives the increase and it’s our duty to serve Him. When people see that in us, they will be more likely to respond.

As mature Christians, our job is to identify with the person and take what we’ve learned in the Scriptures to lead them to the truth about Christ, which is the only true motivation that leads to conversion. Without a conversion to Christ, there is no conversion.

Harmony is understanding, not manipulating. It’s sensing the tone of the situation, and comfort level of the person — And gives them enough trust to hear.

Even though I haven’t found the perfect “system of evangelism,” I am still searching for “the best way” to teach. And what I have discovered along the way are elements, mostly personal (non-manipulative), that when mastered will create an atmosphere where people will listen to the Word.

Here are four elements to master in acrostic form, when mastered, are the surest (and shortest) formula to long term success. A.M.E.N. These have nothing to do with systems, manipulation, or pressure. These words, elements, and characteristics create harmony.

  • ATTITUDE – a positive & joyful countenance. [1Peter 3:15]
  • MEANING – Having a firm understanding of what you are saying and what you are affirming. [1Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 5:12] “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Peter 4:11].
  • EMPATHY – Love is kind…does not envy…does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [1Corinthians 13:4-6]
  • NECESSARY – Realize that without evangelism, neither you, I nor anyone else can be saved and that it’s necessary for our own salvation as we seek to obey Christ. [Matt 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-17]

Every evangelist I have ever met wants to have more meaningful studies — and the best way to do that is to never manipulate. Manipulation makes people defensive, reluctant, and distrustful. Mastering these elements will make people attracted to you, like you, trust you, believe you, have confidence in you — and then — study with you.