Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What Is Your Evangelism Style?

God calls every believer in Christ to tell others the good news that Jesus came to save people from their sin.

One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is 1 Peter 3:15: "In your hearts set apart Jesus as Lord. And always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

Notice three quick things about this verse.

1. You must have it settled in your heart that Jesus is Lord. He is not only Lord over all, but for you to be saved He must be Lord of your life. And if He is your Lord, then He is your boss. If He is your Lord, then that means you have been forgiven & set free from your sin - you have been saved - you are born again!

2. If you truly know Jesus as Lord, you will display hope, and people will notice it. They will ask you about this hope. And you will have an opportunity to witness for Christ.

3. The way you witness for Christ must be with gentleness and respect. Too many people witness for Christ with arguments and/or condemnation. That is not gentleness or respect.

In the course of your lifetime, you will probably be a witness for Christ in all of the ways listed below. But some will come more naturally than others, based on how God has wired you. And some will need to be utilized depending on who you are talking to about Christ. These are not in any order, but here are six evangelism styles:

Confrontational - Those who use a confrontational style of evangelism are very bold witnesses for Christ. The apostle Peter was this kind of witness when he preached in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

Intellectual - Those who witness intellectually always study and give an appopriate response using facts, logic, reason, and Scripture. In modern-day times, apologists include Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, and Josh McDowell, among others. In the Bible you see the apostle Paul giving a defense of the faith many times.

Testimonial - When you give your testimony, you are sharing with others how Jesus has changed your life. You are telling how He has forgiven you, changed you, given you peace & joy, guaranteed you a home in heaven, and so much more! The blind man who was healed at the pool of Siloam went and told others that Jesus had given him sight. Later when he realized that it was Jesus who had healed him, he confessed Jesus as Lord!

Conversational - For some people, engaging people in conversations is as natural as breathing. They see opportunities everyone to talk to people about God. This is the way Jesus was when He used everyday events and objects (birds, mountains, fields, flowers, banquets) to talk to people about the kingdom of God.

Invitational - At times the best thing we can do is to invite someone to come with us to see for themselves what Jesus is doing, and what He says. The woman at the well did this when she invited her entire town of Samaria to "come and see" this man she had met, the one who knew everything about her yet showed her love and compassion just the same. Some people will respond wonderfully if you invite them to attend a Christian concert or Bible study or worship service. Keep inviting!

Service - Jesus said that the greatest among His followers would be the one who was the servant of all. Jesus served people by meeting real needs, thereby displaying the love and compassion of God. There are simple, everyday ways you can serve others. At times there are great opportunities to serve people in big ways. Whenever you serve others, give all the glory to God!

As we consider these various evangelism styles, we should be encouraged. We should be encouraged that God can use us to lead people to Jesus. We should be encouraged that the salvation of others is not totally dependent on our persuasive words or techniques. We should be encouraged that God's Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of people, drawing them to Christ. Our job is to be faithful in every situation, sharing Christ in one (or more!) of the ways explained above, and leaving the results to God. And don't forget to pray for the people that God gives you the privilege of witnessing to. Pray is a powerful weapon.

May God bless you as you witness to others about Christ. To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Twenty-Dollar Blessing

How can you be a blessing to others, and possibly open up opportunities for the gospel to go forward? Check out this true story. It happened in Lake Placid, NY in fall 2009 and was passed along to me. The "man" in the story is an athlete who is deeply devoted to Christ. Here is the first-hand account:

A Twenty-Dollar Blessing

October 7, 2009 a man walks into the store.

“Do you have any gift cards?” The man asked pleasantly and yet skeptical. “Yeah, all these right here are our gift cards.” I replied, trying to hide the slight tone of annoyance in my voice as I pointed to all the gift cards right in front of him. Little did I know, I was about to be a part of an awesome blessing.

“If you could put twenty dollars on this and I will also get a Grande Americano, too, please,” the man said pleasantly, while handing me the gift card. “Okay," I replied. "Would you like a card holder for it?” “Naw, I’m good. But if you could just use this card for the next people coming in until it runs out.”

I looked at him puzzled and assumed the people coming in next were relatives. However, when the next couple came in, that was not what occurred.

“Two Grande coffees please,” the older man said. “Okay, you’re all set.” I said back. The man looked at me curiously, then glanced at his wife, confused about the situation he looked back at me shaking his head saying, “What?”

“You’re all set,” I said smiling. “That gentleman over there got your coffees.” They both looked at each other, glanced at the guy who paid for their coffees and said, “We don’t know that guy.”

My mouth kind of dropped because I thought I gave the wrong people the free drinks. I looked back at the man who gave the card and he was shaking his head as if I did it right. After the couple received their coffee, I then asked if he wanted the card back and he repeated, “No, just keep using it until it’s gone.”

I finally realized that he was buying these strangers coffee.

“I know it’s weird but someone did it for me once and now I am just passing on the blessing.” The man said as he picked up his drink and started heading towards to condiment bar.

The first couple that received the blessing went up to the man who was at the condiment bar and said, “Thank you”. His reply was, “You're welcome, have a great day and God bless.” My heart sank because of my previous attitude towards this nice man and he was giving God glory amidst it all. Needless to say some repenting was done for my ‘stinking thinking.’

I had a blast draining the card for each individual. It was a blessing for me to watch the surprise sweep across their faces when I said they were all set and hadn’t even taken any money out of their wallets. A few costumers were suspicious that someone else would do something so nice, for no reason, for nothing in return, and for a complete stranger.

It didn’t stop there either. This simple act of kindness opened a door for me to witness to my co-worker about God. We talked about how hard it is for people to receive something free such as a simple cup of coffee or as big as Jesus Christ who died and suffered for us. We talked about Jesus and His return and how the world is showing many signs that it is going to be soon; and it is better to be prepared than to be left in wonder about where we will go for eternity. We talked about how God isn’t religious but people make Him some sort of traditional religious act, instead of a relationship; which results in people being unable to differentiate truth from imagination.

A simple twenty dollars that the man gave not only blessed a few people with a free cup of coffee but an opportunity to win a soul for Christ.

Only twenty dollars.


True story written by: Ellysia Blinn

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Leaders Think

A few years ago I heard an audio message entitled "How Leaders Think" by John Maxwell, noted speaker/author/pastor whose specialty is leadership. I've thought of that message often.
Recently I shared with the athletes at the Athletes Bible Study in Lake Placid a series of Bible studies with the same title. What follows is a summary of our Bible studies. I hope they help you to think like Christ, to think like a leader, to be a great leader for Christ.

1. Leaders think BIG. When the armies of Israel looked at the giant Goliath they saw a man too huge to defeat. When the young boy David looked through the eyes of faith and confidence in himself and in God, David saw a giant who was too big to miss. David knew what it was to Believe In God. That's thinking BIG.

2. Leaders think about other people. One of my favorite John Maxwell quotes is, "He who thinketh he leadeth and no one followeth - he is just taking a walk." If no one is following you, then you are not leading. And leaders think about those who follow them. Just like the Good Samaritan, leaders take their time, resources and energy to help others, sometimes risking their own safety and security to help others.

3. Leaders have focused thinking. With the Egyptian army behind him, a raging Red Sea in front of him, and a complaining group of followers all around him, Moses focused on what he knew God called him to do: stand in obedience and see the salvation of the Lord. The result? All of the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land, and their enemy perished in the sea. The ability to stay focused in the midst of tremendous distractions is an important quality of a leader.

4. Leaders think creatively. When you notice the diversity and creativity in God's creation, you should be amazed. Whether you're looking through a telescope or a microscope, God's creativity is jaw-dropping. The colors, the shapes, the systems, the list could go on and on. When we studied this lesson, we had fun. And Christian leaders should unleash the creativity within them (that God put there) to find wonderful solutions to complex problems and to bring more beauty to the world.

5. Leaders have realistic thinking. Like Jesus said, if you're going to build a tower you better make sure you count the cost of building. Because if you don't, when you are half finished, people willl come by and ridicule you. And if you're going to war, you better make sure you can defeat the enemy even if you are outnumbered. A Christian leader acts on faith, yes, but he also is connected to reality. Leaders think realistically.

6. Leaders think strategically. Gideon was the runt of the runt litter, leadership wise. He was the smallest of the smallest clan of the people of Israel. Yet when God called him to lead the people to overcome their enemy, the Midianites, Gideon devised a plan (given to him by the Lord) that included torches, clay jars and shofars. The result was that their enemy was shocked, turned on each other, some fled, and the rest lay dead. God's plan for Gideon and the army was strategic. And it was incredibly successful.

7. Leaders think success is possible. They really believe. Their faith inspires others. They look at the mountains and really believe they can be moved. They look at obstacles and believe they can be overcome. They look at Jesus and walk on the water, just like Peter did. Leaders always see the glass as half-full. Because it is.

8. Leaders have reflective thinking. The Psalms are filled with words to reflect on, to memorize, to meditate on. Leaders follow the examples of the Psalmists and reflect on God, on His Word, and on the events of life. Jesus Himself took time early in the morning to get alone with God and pray. Leaders know the discipline of silence, solitude and reflective thinking. This is where some of the most amazing ideas come from - ask any inventor.

9. Leaders question popular thinking. The way is wide that leads to destruction and there are many that find it. The way is narrow that leads to life and there are few that find it. Leaders notice which way the crowd is going, and don't just go along. Christian leaders realize that the way of Christ may be hard, but it is always the right way to go. It's the only way that leads to life.

10. Leaders think with others. Christian leaders know that there is wisdom with a group of counselors, and they surround themselves with godly friends. They know that "iron sharpens iron," and so they seek to strengthen themselves by surrounding themselves with sharp thinkers. They don't presume to have all of the answers. They bounce ideas off of godly people - friends, mentors, pastors, others.

11. Leaders think unselfishly. They know that God put them on the planet to help others. They think about how their life can make a difference in the lives of others. They know what Jesus meant when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Leaders are willing to serve others, to help them succeed, to help everyone do their best. Without neglecting their own responsibilities to be their best, leaders find ways to unselfishly help others.

12. Leaders think bottom line. The bottom line means "success." For a Christian leader, success means having a pure heart, seeking first the kingdom of God, making the one goal of their life to be pursuing the prize God has set before them - eternal life. Therefore they are seeking their entire life to be successful in God's eyes. Everything they do is for the glory of God, to expand God's kingdom, to show their love for Him.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Tender Plant

He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground.—Isaiah 53:2

The coming of Jesus was like a tender plant in the midst of a parched ground. Parched ground offers little hope for survival; it is dry and too hardened to allow most plants to penetrate its crust. Yet Jesus was prophesied as a tender plant that would break through the hostile soil and overcome the dry and lifeless environment in order to bring life.

When Jesus was born, His people were hardened to God's Word. There is no written record of God's having spoken to His people for four hundred years. The religious leaders of Jesus' day had studied and memorized the Scriptures, but the words were lifeless to them. So hostile had they become to the truth that when God's Son came to them, they killed Him. Nevertheless, despite the enmity of the people, Jesus brought life to all who believed in Him.

Jesus is capable of bringing life to any person, society, or culture no matter how hardened or hostile they have become to the gospel. Even the most calloused sinner will discover that Jesus knows how to penetrate the heart and bring life where there was only bitterness. The work of Jesus in a person's life may seem fragile at first, but like the mustard seed, it will eventually grow into something strong.

As you pray for someone you care about, don't be discouraged if this person has not responded to Jesus. Just as a tender plant finds a way to grow in a hard and unreceptive environment, so the love of Jesus has the ability to emerge in a life that seems completely unresponsive.

(From Experiencing God Day by Day: A Devotional and Journal)