Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Better Way

“Much evangelism today can be characterized as guerilla strikes, where we venture in for a quick moment of sharing before returning home to our safe environment. When Jesus sent out His disciples, they were to trust in God’s care and become directly engaged with those to whom they were ministering. That is why they had to look for a home to stay in. They did not use guerilla tactics of dogging the enemy and being in and out of sight, but used an infiltration strategy, where their presence would be obvious. Evangelism requires engagement. It often requires serving people as well as preaching to them. Telling unbelievers that God cares should be reinforced by evidences of such caring” (Darrell L. Bock, The NIV Application Commentary: Luke, pp. 253-254).

As part of my training in school, I participated in quite a bit of “cold call” evangelism, where I would knock on the door of total strangers and ask for an opportunity to share the gospel with them. I can truthfully say that I dreaded nearly every minute of it. Why? Because the process always seemed so unnnatural. I would think of how suspicious I would be of a total stranger showing up at my door and professing to care for me. I often felt that there had to be a better way.

As I study the life of Jesus, I am more and more impressed with the fact that nearly every opportunity for teaching arose out of His interaction in the lives of those around Him. When Jesus would go to city or a region, He would reach out to those around Him through acts of service. Often He would heal those who were sick; at times He would feed those who were hungry. And those acts of kindness and compassion would nearly always give Jesus an opportunity to share the good news of God.

Is there a place for “cold call” evangelism? Yes. Have people been reached with gospel that way? Yes. But there is a better way – the way of Jesus.

God loves you!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Am I A "Have" Or A "Have Not?"

Please consider the following global financial statistics from the website of the Financial Times. Although the material is somewhat dated (three years ago), my guess is that the gap separating the “haves” and the “have nots” has probably widened instead of narrowed.

“Personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two percent of adults own more than fifty percent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only one percent of wealth...Adults with more than $2,200 of assets were in the top half of the global wealth league table, while those with more than $61,000 were in the top 10 percent...To belong to the top 1 percent of the world’s wealthiest adults you would need more than $500,000, something that 37 million adults have achieved...Almost 90 percent of the world’s wealth is held in North American, Europe and high-income Asian and Pacific countries, such as Japan and Australia. While North America has 6 percent of the world’s adult population it accounts for 34 percent of household wealth” (“Richest 2% Hold Half The World’s Assets”;; 12-5-2006).

Let’s put these figures in terms that we can wrap our minds around. If the entire world population was represented by a group of 100 people, only 2 of those people would own or control over half of the world’s assets. I would suggest that by any standard of equity, fairness or compassion you choose to use -- something is amiss. Am I advocating taking from the “haves” and giving to the “have nots” as a way of redistributing wealth? No. Do I realize that some are “have nots” because they refuse to be productive? Yes. But even when we add in those factors, the gap is still startling.

As I grapple with my own place in the allocation of God’s blessings, I need to recall that, according to Jesus, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:32). I must remember that it is still possible to gain the whole world and lose my own soul (Mark 8:36).

God loves you!

What Will Man Do To Me?

November 22nd probably started out like any other day in the lives of Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards. All four were police officers in Lakewood, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. They had gathered at a local coffee shop early Sunday morning just prior to the beginning of their work shifts for the day. One can easily imagine them swapping stories from their previous shift or laughing over a new joke. As they sipped their coffee, maybe the tone was more serious as they discussed a personal problem that was weighing heavily on the one of the group. Regardless of what was running through their minds and conversation, my guess is that they each expected the day ahead of them to be pretty much like any other day.

But all of that changed in an instant. A gunman entered the shop with what appears to be the single purpose of killing the four officers and began firing his weapon. By the time all the shooting was done, all four officers were dead. Two were killed as they sat in their chairs. One was killed as he or she stood to return fire. The last officer managed to engage the shooter in a struggle and fire their own gun, but still died of wounds received.

We just never know what a day will bring, do we? Our lives can change in an instant. We could be victims of a violent crime. We could be involved in a terrible accident. We could be diagnosed with a fatal disease. Any number of events could prove to us that our lives are just a vapor (James 4:14).

What, then, are we to do? Are we to live in constant fear of something terrible happening to us? Of course not. But we can face an unknown future with the calm assurance that, whatever happens, God will never abandon us. With confidence we can affirm: “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man to do me?” (Hebrews. 13:6).

God loves you!