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.

Is God Speaking to you? pt 2

LAST WEEK’S article began the discussion about the problems with a personal revelation from God today. These articles are a response to those who believe, feel or otherwise think that God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is communicating with them SEPARATE & APART from God’s written word.

In the previous article, we discussed the first 2 problems. FIRST, it’s error and is contrary to God’s word about His own revelation. TWO, is the problem of AUTHENTICITY. How are we (or you) to know that this feeling inside of you is coming from God.

Allow me to clarify something. I do believe that God is communicating with mankind, but that the communication is through His divine, preserved written word, as was shown in the last article.

The next two problems are; REVIEWABILITY & ACCESS.

The THIRD problem with a personal revelation is REVIEW:

If Personal revelation is true, then why are there over 30,000 different “Christian” denominations? How would we become unified except by some standard upon which we all could review? I’m unable to STUDY your statements because of 3 problems;

First, It’s all in your head. Have you noticed that not everyone is hearing these voices? You might say that it’s a problem of “faith”, and you’d be right. But Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. This means that it is YOUR faith that has trouble. For we have faith because of God’s written word. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;” If this “revelation” is in your head, how are we to know what God said? Furthermore, how am I to REVIEW the information? Oh, I know a way; IT COULD BE WRITTEN DOWN. Which is what God did in the first place.

Second, there’s the problem of memory. A person’s recollection of conversations is very poor. A study revealed that you remember approximately 20 percent of what you hear, 30 percent of what you see and 50 percent of what you hear and see together. Here’s a question; How much can you recall when you have at your fingertips the entire revelation of God? Answer: All of it, because you can look through God’s word continually.

Third, human communication is difficult, even under the best of conditions. But with all the communication methods available, the only one that allows for a continual REVIEW of God’s word is when it is written. A WRITTEN WORD IS REVIEWABLE BY EVERYONE.

This is what happened in 2Kings 22-23. The book of the Law was found in the temple. It was read to King Josiah (22:10), then it was read to the people, both small and great (23:2) and they could obey it. Today, we can read God’s word and understand the mystery of Christ. This is what made the Berean’s honorable. They searched the scriptures daily [Acts 17:11].

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” Eph 3:3-4

The FOURTH problem with a personal revelation is ACCESS:

Are you going to come over to my house at 3am to let me study God’s word? What if I’m out of cell range? What about the different languages of the world? These difficulties were solved by God when He directed the inspired writers of His word to WRITE IT DOWN. 1 Corinthians 14 demonstrates the difficulties that come from oral communication. One man said to me, “you can verify what I’m saying by comparing it to the Bible.” If I must go verify it with the written word anyway, why do I need you?

What does the bible say about ACCESS to His word?

I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 1Thess 5:27

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed2Thess 3:14

For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 2Cor 1:13

Well over 100x in the New Testament, both Jesus and His Apostles refer to the written word. We could continue with more scriptures to drive the point home, but these are sufficient. The question of “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHURCHES” now has its answer. We’re not all speaking the same thing, and the best way to become unified is when we all go back to the written Bible of God.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10]

Is God telling me what to do #2

LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE was about a man who said, “you can’t tell me that God’s not talking to me!” though I could show him, through God’s word, that God’s not talking to him separate and apart from the written word, but he just doesn’t want to hear it. He wants to do what he wants to do.

Even before the article was printed, I was hearing this excuse for sin and knew that more needed to be said. So, this article could be titled; “How to stay in sin without repenting.” Allow me to illustrate the main point of this article using instrumental music (I-M) in the worship as the object.

After answering the question about I-M, with a couple I met, using Scriptural proof, they told me, “God is putting it on my heart to play music during the worship.” In effect, even after showing HOW TO DETERMINE SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY [Acts 8; Acts 15] & showing that SILENCE IS PROHIBITIVE [Heb 7:14; 2Sam 7:7; Acts 15:24], their “proof” for remaining in sin was “God put it on my heart.”

I asked them, “I’m really good at making signs, can I bring in a neon transformer, hook it up with some wires and light up a “Jacob’s Ladder” and tell everyone to start worshipping? (The Jacob’s Ladder is a high voltage climbing arc, when an electric spark jumps between two parallel wires. The spark then “climbs” up the ladder.) They had to admit that a Jacob’s Ladder would NOT be authorized, but still couldn’t see how the mechanical instrument was ALSO unauthorized.

In another example, I was listening to a popular financial radio program. A caller said, “I have a wife and a kid, I have $100,000 in student loans as I am pursuing a PHD in music composition. We make under $30k a year and we are paying $2500 per month in a mortgage. How do I get out of debt with these numbers knowing that GOD IS CALLING ME TO THIS CAREER?”

Are you kidding me?! You think that God is calling you to huge debt, to poverty, to financial struggle, to a career that may very well keep you unemployed? I’m not saying you need to be wealthy or to have a prestigious career to serve God, but don’t blame your struggles on God.

You try it.

The next time you want to stay in a sin, when a brother or sister comes to you about it say, “God has put it on my heart to be happy.” Which sin? Any sin.

  • an unscriptural marriage (especially if kids are involved)
  • Leaving the church for a denomination or go nowhere
  • Drinking
  • All Forms of Fornication (Rom 1:26-30; 1Cor 6:9-11)

God DOES want you to be happy, but that happiness must be derived from serving Him according to His written word. What I’ve observed is that people are looking for an excuse to do what they want to do and need to ignore the written word to accomplish it.

God IS CALLING people, by the gospel. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” [2Thess 2:14]. Some will ask, “didn’t Jesus say we will hear His voice?” [John 10:27] Yes, but we hear that voice through His inspired written word [1Tim 3:16-17].

Below are 3 steps to “hear” the voice of Jesus…
  1. Read His written word. Any feeling you have, to do something, must be measured against what God has revealed in His written word. [Ephesians 3:4]. It’s only by this comparison can we determine if this “call” comes from a study of His word or if it’s just in yourself.
  2. Keep His commandments [John 14:15]. It’s when we commit to a study of God’s written word AND doing it that sets us on the correct path of righteousness.
  3. Memorize His word. In many places, God has said, “Write them on the tablet of your heart” [Prov 7:3; De 6:8; 11:18; Prov 3:3; 6:21]. Peter sought to “remind” Christians. “I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth” [2Pe 1:12]. Not only Peter, but Paul, Timothy & Titus went about to stir up the brethren’s memory [1Cor 4:17; 2Tim 1:6, 2:14; Titus 3:1].

Conclusion: God is speaking to us, through His written word. The only way we’re going to know what God’s will is for our lives is by a diligent study of His word. He’s given us the authority to choose the details of our lives, as long as those details don’t interfere with service to Him.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” [1Thess 5:18 ]

Arguments I can (not) answer

THERE ARE THINGS people say to me that are so very easy to answer, yet impossible to answer. Sounds confusing? Allow me to explain…

Recently, a man I was sharing the gospel with told me that God speaks to him directly. I asked, “how do you know that the voice in your head is God and not something else?” He emphatically replied, “you can’t tell me that God isn’t talking to me!”

No, I can’t…tell him. Oh, I could give him a sound, Biblical answer like, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” [2Thess 2:11]. I could show him the example of Jacob believing a lie about his son Joseph being dead, then NOT believing the truth when he was told that Joseph was alive [Gen 37:12-33; 45:26]. I could show you passage after passage directing us to the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD for our communication from Him. I could show you that the written word of God…

  • Must be Read – Eph 3:3;
  • Is Complete – 2Tim 3:16-17
  • Devine – 1Thess 2:13
  • Final – Jude 3; Gal 1:6-9
  • Causes Belief – John 20:31
  • Calls – 2Th 2:14

…but he already told me I can’t tell him, therefore I can’t.

It’s sad really. Folks are so convinced of lies (I blame the false teachers in denominationalism [Mat 24:5,11]) that it’s near about impossible to convince them of the truth. In another instance, I showed a “faith only” fellow 1Peter 3:21 [The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us] and asked him what it meant. He said, “I know what it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean you need to be baptized!” He was already convinced of what it DOESN’T mean, that he couldn’t read the words and learn the truth.

_________________________

It’s easier to convince a person of a lie than it is to convince them that they’ve been lied to.

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Rather than become discouraged, the Scriptures from God teaches us that the real problem is a lack of love for the truth. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” [2Thess 210]. Once the moral compass of truth is gone, then all we have left is our own lusts and desires.

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Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts. Rom 1:24

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When the moral compass of God’s true written word [John 17:17] is ignored, is it any wonder why people are all over the map with their beliefs, worship, methods for salvation and so many other erroneous ideas? Without the truth of God’s written word, it becomes easy to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine.

_________________________

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. Eph 4:14

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Friend, if you’re one of those people who believe that God is “CALLING YOU” or The HOLY SPIRIT is leading you separate and apart from God’s written word, then you’re just being led by your own personal thoughts, lusts and desires. [Mat 22:29]

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Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15

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Let’s look at it one more way…

If God is telling men what to do, separate and apart from God’s word, then why are there over 30,000 different Christian denominations? Is God an author of confusion, does He mind that we’re all saying different things?

_________________________

For God is not the author of confusion.

1Corinthians 14:33 

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1Corinthians 1:10

_________________________

Can you Imagine?

FROM TIME TO TIME I listen to radio evangelists. They are so frustrating, for they often teach some truth about a subject, but at the end they teach absolute error regarding salvation.

You know what I mean. They say things like, “ask Jesus into your heart” or “join the church of your church”. The problem with these statements is that they’re found nowhere in scripture.

Sometimes a person will say, “I feel God is telling me to _____” then they cite some error that supposedly God told them to do.

This happened to the gospel preacher, Robert Turner, he turned to the person and said, “do you mind if I ask Him?” He then grabbed the Bible and turned to the truth and then said, “He’s telling me He doesn’t want you to do that.”

Before we heed what some person might say (including me), we must compare it to what God has said through His divine word.

Can you imagine…

PETER saying: “Baptism is not essential”?

1Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.

JAMES saying: “Man is saved by faith only”?

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

ANANIAS saying: “Brother Saul, ask Jesus into your heart and get rid of your sins calling on the name of the Lord”?

Acts 22:16 arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

PAUL saying: “You cannot so sin as to lose your salvation”?

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

PAUL saying: “It doesn’t matter what you believe in religion just as long as you are honest”?

2Thessalonians 2:11, 12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

PAUL saying: “You don’t have to obey the Gospel to be saved”?

2Thessalonians 1:7-9 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

PAUL saying: “We are sprinkled with him by baptism

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

PETER saying: “There is nothing in a name”?

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

LUKE saying: “those that were saved joined the church of their own choice”?

Acts 2:47 And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

JUDE saying: “I don’t think it is right to argue the scriptures”?

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Adapted from the Gospel Guide, Shanwnee Oklahoma.

How Liberalism wins.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, for the purpose of this article, we shall use the simple definitions of liberal & conservative. Liberal means; “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.”1 Conservative means; “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change.”2

As it relates to religion, a conservative is one who wants to hold fast to the word of God. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Pe 4:11], means that we do not go beyond the text of the scriptures. We’re told to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” [1Thess 5:21], and “not to think beyond what is written” [1Cor 4:6]. [cr. 2Peter 1:19-21; John 12:48; 2Thess 2:15]. This is what the Christians here at Franklin & Juniper church of Christ in Borger Texas want to do, hold fast to the Word of God.

A liberal, therefore, is the one who believes that we have freedom to move from tradition and authority, and have the ability to adjust religious beliefs and practices for the culture. They believe that strict adherance to the word of God is legalistic and unloving.

Many folks will apply labels of “liberal” or “conservative” but those terms mean different things according to where you’re standing at the time. As for me, I start with the undefiled Word of God [John 12:48] and want to CONSERVE that purity in my life and the church. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” [Pr 30:5 (cr. Psalm 119)].

Have you ever wondered why folks with strong conservative values allow error to creep in and pledge support for these errors? How do the “grievous wolves” that Paul spoke about, appear and how do they lead astray so many, even causing division in the church? Paul warned the Ephesian elders; “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” [Ac 20:29-30]. He also warned that Satan himself would appear as an “angel of light” and his ministers would appear as “ministers of righteousness” [2Cor 11:14-15].

I’ve noticed 3 arguments that are most often used in support of error. They are EMOTIONALIZE, DEMONIZE & CRITICIZE. Remember also, that change agents appear as “angels of light” [2Cor 11:14]. Let’s examine how this works, not with hate toward others, rather as a warning to all of us as we strive to do God’s will.

The 3 Arguments in support of error

EMOTIONALIZE: “It’s for the children” is the most oft used emotional argument to promote error. The users of these arguments seldom use scripture and when they do they “wrest the scriptures” [2Pe 3:16]. We saw it when denominations pushed for infant baptism. Truth teaches that babies are safe in the Lord [2Sam 12:23; Mat 19:13-14]. This argument continues to be utilized to go around the clear commands of God. We have to resist the urge to break God’s word when our emotions begin to burn. “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” [Jer 42:6]. Remember, our hearts can be (and often are) deceived [2Thess 2:10-11; 2Cor 11:14; Gal 1:8-9; Gal 6:7].

If there’s no success with this, they move onto…

DEMONIZE; The promoters of error demonize those that oppose them. While hanging onto the emotional argument, they malign the opposition. Paul faced this himself, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” [Ga 4:16] They’ll say we hate children, or are unloving, calling us “anti’s” & “legalists” because we say “I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak‘?” [Num 24:13]

Then they will….

CRITICIZE; the opposition for doing things that they themselves are doing. The Apostles faced this very thing. They were criticized for preaching for gain, or for being arrogant, while the critics themselves were doing the very things they spoke against. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” [3John 1:9-10 (cr 2Cor 11 & 12)].

Many errors begin due to a lack of understanding on how to determine scriptural authority (or permissions). They also come due to a misunderstanding of the true work of the church. The work of the church is found in “the Great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen [Mat 28:19-20]. It’s to TEACH the gospel and TEACH the new disciples to observe WHATSOEVER our Lord has commanded.

Please understand, I’m not against helping children, or being benevolent to strangers. I just want to do it God’s way. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [Col 3:17].

1 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberal

2 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservate

4 Easy ways to improve your Bible reading

LET’S FACE IT, WE ALL could be doing a better job of reading our Bibles. It’s just that we’re very busy. Although true, it’s still no excuse. After all, we are instructed to study… “Study to shew thyself approved unto God…” 2Timothy 2:15

Instead of trying to keep pace with one of the myriad of Bible reading plans, let’s take an approach that emphasises STUDY over just reading which could work better with your own busy lifestyle.

Study for the Bible classes. The congregation here at Franklin St. church of Christ, has determined to study through the whole Bible during our two weekly Bible class hours. This will take us about 5 years to study (not just read) the entire bible. By preparing for each Bible class, you’re reading the Bible!

Study Topically. So many of us keep a bookmark of “biblical references” in our Bibles. We keep them handy so that we can refer to them when a question arises during our personal work. What’s wrong with taking a few moments each day to study through one of the topics on the bookmark? For example, you could dedicate a week (just a few moments a day) to read all of the scriptures pertaining to baptism or the plan of salvation etc. I have personally used this method to improve my readiness when doing personal work.

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

There are other resources you can use to engage in this type of study, topical Bibles which simply list every scripture on a given subject, as well as concordances. Other trusted resources like, “Ready Reference for Growing Christians” or “Nichol’s Pocket Bible Encyclopedia” can be very helpful in your studies. Doing this is called reading your Bible.

Read what you can, when you can. Another strategy you can use is to keep a Bible handy. Download an app on your phone, or keep a pocket Bible in your purse or in your car, so that you always have God’s word with you to read during those many moments of pause. You know those moments of pause, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, or at the orthodontists office etc. Keep a Bible in every room of your house for quick access to His word. A friend of mine keeps her Bible open on the kitchen counter (away from the sink of course) as a constant reminder to take time to read. This too is called reading your Bible.

Make an appointment with yourself and God. Someone once told me, “nothing ever gets done until a deadline is set.” Make an appointment, or set an alarm on your phone, to spend time reading His divine instruction for your life. As an examle, set a goal to read the Gospels in a month. Everyone has time to read the Gospels. Look at these stats….

Matthew:        1 hour, 14 minutes
Mark:              46 minutes
Luke:               1 hour, 18 minutes
John:               1 hour, 3 minutes
The Four Gospels:  4 hours, 21 minutes

Looking at it another way, you could read…

  • Mark in the typical span of 1 or 2 quarters of NFL football.
  • John in the time lost watching commercials in 4 hours of TV.
  • Matthew in the average span of 4 Major League Baseball innings.
  • Luke in the typical length of 1 half of an NBA game.

Please understand, I’m not advocating that you give God the crumbs that are leftover from your day, what I am saying is there are multiple opportunities, during a day, to read the bible if we would just make it a point to take advantage of the time.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

This verse from Ephesians should serve as a warning. Let us use the time remaining to protect ourselves from the evil that vexes our souls daily. What better resource do we have to do that than God’s own Word?

TOO MUCH FUN

Is it possible to have too much fun? Perhaps…

We are ruining our lives. One way we’re doing this is by viewing entertainment as our highest priority. None of us wants to be bored. By using amusement as the remedy it becomes the norm, we learn to crave constant amusement and entertainment. We’re striving to create magical “DISNEY LIKE” moments every day which make them less magical requiring us to search for more and more.

Boredom also leads to spending money in our pursuit to thwart boredom. We go to the mall, movies or amusement parks seeking that ever elusive fix called excitement.

There’s a song called, “Too much fun”, but it only refers to meaningless or harmful things as fun. Yes, we CAN have too much fun when that is the only type we pursue.

The radio host, Dennis Prager, says that fun can be categorized 3 ways; Harmful fun, Meaningless fun, and Meaningful fun. Let’s look at these…

Harmful Fun, this is the entertainment that causes us harm. These can be summed up in Galatians 5 called the works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness…” The list also includes drunkenness, drinking parties and the like. Any fun that is taken from this list may seem pleasurable for a time, but in the end leaves us empty and unhappy. [Heb 11:26; Pr 23:32]. Harmful fun can also be spending too much time with Meaningless fun…

Meaningless fun, this is the entertainment that is not sinful or wrong in and of itself but adds little to no value to your life. Video games, certain fiction novels, TV watching and the like. Meaningless fun can be described best as entertainment that is passive as opposed to active. When we watch TV, whether it be sitcoms or sports, we’re actually just watching other people making a good living at their jobs.

Meaningful fun, this is the entertainment that adds value to your life or the life of another. Reading of good literature or of non-fiction. Better still, the reading of Scripture [Eph 3:3; 2Tim 2:15], yes, studying your bible can be entertaining. Meaningful entertainment choices are those things which require you to be an active participant rather than a passive watcher.

Another area that very few consider fun is work. Our society has demonized work, but there are millions that truly enjoy their work (and not just for the money). I’ve met teachers, doctors and even janitors that like going to work because of the joy it brings to them.

Can service to your fellow man be fun? Certainly so. Many hours have I sat at the feet of one of my elders, listening to the stories of the depression and the War. Joy was to be had by both of us, myself for the valuable insight of a life well lived and for them, to have someone, anyone, showing an interest in their lives.

Is there a remedy to this problem of “TOO MUCH FUN”?

First, we need to examine other methods to combat boredom, rather than just taking the easy path of passive, mindless fun. The 10th chapter of Proverbs say, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. 5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” [See also 10:16; 13:4,11; 18:9]

Service to another can be fun and overcome boredom. In service that is voluntary or money making, either way, we can find joy and be entertained in it. There’s value beyond ourselves in service when you consider God’s word on such things. [Mat 25:35; John 13:17]

Now go out and have some fun.
Pr 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Is God telling YOU what to do?

Is God Telling Me what to do?

Is God Telling Me what to do?

WHY ARE PEOPLE so ignorant about God’s word? I keep asking this question over and over. Can’t they see what I see when I read?

The answer is in the question; In my years as a Christian along with my time as an evangelist I have figured it out…. THEY’RE NOT READING THEIR BIBLES!

However, everywhere I speak to people about God and Jesus the Christ, I find that folks have very strong opinions about what saves and what doesn’t save. From where are they getting this stuff? I think they’re making it up and/or assimilating ideas from pop culture.

Some tell me that, “the Lord spoke to me.” I even found an organization, designed to encourage women, that has a direct quote on their website from God, that this founder heard in her mind.

This can be exciting for some folks, to actually have God speaking to you! How fantastic that would be, if it were true.

Being the open minded man that I am, I offer this flow chart to answer the question……

IS GOD TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO?

how do you know?

walk in truth

You say you walk in truth, but how do you know? 3 John 1:4

HAVE YOU ever noticed that when you ask folks about their church they’ll tell you that it teaches the truth? If that were true, then why are there so many denominations teaching different things regarding salvation, worship, godly living and sin? They will also tell me they read their bibles.

If I were to ask someone if they belong to a gym, or own a piece of exercise equipment, there’s a good chance that the answer will be “yes”. Do I need to tell you my thoughts about their answer when I can clearly see the results? LOL. [this coming from a man that owns an elliptical and frequents fast food]

You may think these two questions are unrelated, in fact they have more in common than you may at first realize. The only difference is that with the second question, the person has to admit their failure in “walking in truth” regarding their health. With the first question, they’re often ignorant of their spiritual health.

The Apostle Paul commanded the Corinthian church to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” [2Co 13:5] But how are we to do this “examination”? Let me suggest 3 things we should be examining regarding our faith.

EXAMINE YOURSELVES

We’ve already read the command to examine ourselves, but how and to what? First, let’s never make the mistake of comparing ourselves with others, this is a big problem. Paul had said in the same letter “..we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” [2Co 10:12] Our Lord told a similar story when he told us about the Pharisee that said, “..God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” [Lu 18:11]

No, other men are not the standard. The standard of comparison should always be Christ and His word. Paul also taught the Church at Corinth to, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” [1Co 11:1 (NKJV)]. So how does one walk in truth? You become a follower of Christ who said…

Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
Mt 22:29 .. Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

EXAMINE YOUR TEACHER

In order to know if you’re walking in truth you must also examine the information you’re receiving. I once had a math teacher that regularly made basic math errors because she wasn’t very good at math. How long do you think my parents kept me in that class? Yet we continually listen to people who are supposed to teach us biblical principles, making grievous errors because they don’t know, or don’t understand what they are teaching. [1Timothy 1:7]

I’ve met “bible teachers” that get upset when I ask questions about the bible, showing them scriptures for my assertions. I’ve met “bible teachers” that actually attempt to tear down the truth of the bible when I show them passages that teach the opposite of their own. A priest of a particular denomination even said, “We’re not encouraged to read the bible.”

The Apostle John himself wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1Jo 4:1 (NKJV)] Paul was himself subjected to this “examination” by the Bereans in Acts 17:11 when they searched the scriptures daily to see if the things he taught were true.

If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for your teacher, preacher or pastor. None of them should ever be afraid of sound doctrine, IF THEY’RE TEACHING IT.

EXAMINE YOUR CHURCH

This third step is just as important as the other two. Scripture teaches that the church is the people, it never refers to the building. [Eph 1:22, 23; 1Co 12:12] Read what our Lord, Jesus said to the churches in Revelation chapter 2 & 3….

Re 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Re 2:14 But I have a few things against thee,
Re 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Re 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee,
Re 3:1 …I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Re 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

A teaching in scripture that is often ignored is the teaching about purifying the church. Paul told the church to “purge out”, referring to the man that was a member of the church at Corinth, but was living in unrepentant sin. [1Co 5:7]

When we assemble together, we must assemble IN HIS NAME. [Mt 18:20] To do something in His name means that in order to worship, we must do it by the Lord’s permission. We must worship “in spirit AND TRUTH” and His “word is truth”. [Joh 4:24; Joh 17:17]

CONCLUSION

It’s wonderful to hear that folks want to walk in truth, but desire is only the beginning, we must act upon that desire and obey God. In every case of conversion in the book of Acts, when folks heard the Gospel and had a desire for the salvation it provides, they all REPENTED AND WERE BAPTIZED.

That is the truth.

spencer

Evangelist at the Franklin St. church of Christ in Borger, Texas.