Tag Archives: Evangelism

The Gospel: More Beautiful Than You Think – Intro

I’ve always been taught that the word “gospel” means “good news.” If that’s true, if what we Christians proclaim to the world is such good news, why is it that Christianity has developed such a negative public perception in today’s culture?

I’m sure there are many answers to this question, but I suggest that one contributing factor is that we Christians have done a poor job of communicating this good news.

Maybe that’s because we don’t even quite grasp how good this good news really is. We’ve bought into some popular notions about God and heaven that sound kind of right, but have really only served to dull the beauty of who God is and what He has done.

A survey by U.S. News & World Report in 1997 asked Americans who they thought was most likely to go to heaven.

65% said Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson were “very likely” to go to heaven when they die.

79% believed Mother Teresa would “very likely” make it.

But there was one person who had a higher percentage than even Mother Teresa. Can you guess who? That’s right. It was the person taking the survey.

Over 80% of the people taking the survey felt it was “very likely” that they would go to heaven.

Yes, I know this survey is 20 years old, but do you really think it’s changed much?

There are some very basic assumptions shared by many people, even many who claim to be Christians. These assumptions have become embedded in our minds. They sound right.

I’d like you to watch a short video clip. In August of 2004 a couple of my friends took a video camera down to Fountain Square in Cincinnati at lunch time to see how people would answer three questions…

Now, you should know that Cincinnati has a strong Roman Catholic heritage, and is a fairly conservative city in comparison to most U.S. cities of its size. Also, it’s hard for me to believe, but this video is 13 years old! If we were to make this video today I imagine the results would probably be fairly similar, except I think we would encounter more open hostility to Christians and Christian beliefs, even in conservative Cincinnati.

I suggest that one contributing factor to the hostility our culture has to Christian faith is our own misunderstanding and miscommunication of these very basic points.

In the video, you heard a variety of answers but three general trends can be detected:

God is tolerant.

He is the white-bearded grandfather in heaven.  He understands that nobody is perfect so he accepts people because they try hard and do their best.  Sure there are some folks that he could not accept, like maybe Adolph Hitler but if you are sincere and do your best he will accept you.

The other two go hand in hand with the first – it’s a package deal.  If you believe the first the other two tend to follow close behind…

People are basically good.

This is why God can be tolerant of our shortcomings.  This is why God loves us – because of our goodness.  Our imperfections really aren’t all that important because our basic goodness can outweigh whatever badness there might be.

People can and must earn God’s favor.

Since God is tolerant, and we are basically good, it is possible for us to earn God’s favor. In fact, if we want to go to heaven that’s what we must do.

We want to believe these things. Maybe you do believe them.

But, if you think about it, Christianity doesn’t really make any sense if these things are true. I mean, why would Jesus have to come and sacrifice His life for us if God will accept us because of our “goodness”?  If God is tolerant, why go to such great lengths to cleanse us from our sins?

In fact, I believe these seemingly good and right beliefs have undermined the church’s witness and have contributed to much of our culture’s rejection and animosity toward Christians and Christianity.

They make the “good news,” …well, not so good.

In the next few weeks I want to challenge each of these assumptions. To look at each one and compare it with what we read in scripture. This isn’t about proving people wrong. It’s about showing them how truly, and amazingly beautiful Christianity really is!

Stay tuned…

Lloyd

Weekend Picks ~ 6-9-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

We’re Not in a Civil War, but We Are Drifting Toward DivorceDavid French
http://c5.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/americans-left-right-liberal-conservative-democrats-republicans-blue-red-states-cultural-segregate-flag.jpg?itok=5uhAnuJYIf we seek to preserve our union, we’re left with a choice — try to dominate or learn to tolerate? The effort to dominate is futile, and it will leave us with a permanently embittered population that grows increasingly punitive with each transition of presidential power. There is hope, however, in the quest to tolerate. Our Constitution is built to allow our citizens to govern themselves while protecting individual liberty and providing for the common defense. It’s built to withstand profound differences without asking citizens or states to surrender their strongest convictions. We can either rediscover this federalism, or we may ultimately take a third path — we may choose to separate.


It’s true. Without a high level of self-awareness and and discipline, talent can limit a leader’s success…

The Curse of Talent for Young Ministry LeadersEric Geiger
I have heard several pastors and counselors wonder aloud about the hidden dangers of peaking early in ministry, of becoming super influential at a young age.

It is not only a phenomenon in local church ministry, however. Jennifer and Gianpiero Petriglieri have conducted extensive research on people who have been labeled “talented” in their careers and fields and discovered that those who have been assigned the talented title often quit early or struggle deeply because of the expectations placed on them. The blessing of being called a high-performing individual can easily become a curse.

While it is impossible to sum up all that goes wrong in the heart of a ministry leader who has been called “exceptional” or “an amazing leader,” here are three dangers “talented” ministry leaders face, three dangers we all must guard our hearts against…


Tim and I seem to be thinking along some similar lines. I wrote a piece yesterday called Faith vs. Certainty. It’s not the same, but it seems related…

Faith: the difference between doubt and indecisionTim FallTo choose doubt as a philosophy of life
is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
(Yann Martel, Life of Pi.)

The Bible draws a distinction between doubt and indecision, and the quote above from Life of Pi helped me see why: Doubt can be useful as it brings us closer to God, but if instead we use doubt as a means of avoiding movement at all then it’s not really doubt but indecision…

God is not bothered by our doubts when they bring us to him…


Another look at the recent exchange between Senators Bernie Sanders and Chris Van Hollen, and Russell Vought concerning Vought’s Christian faith and how it “disqualifies” him from public service…

All Roads Lead to ExclusionAaron Earls
path decision choiceIs it intolerant and bigoted to say some religions are wrong?

As was recently demonstrated in a senate confirmation hearing, some people assume the answer to that question is yes…

…In essence, Sanders and Van Hollen are telling billions of religious individuals around the world they are wrong about faith and salvation and the senators are right.

And they are asserting that only those who hold their specific religious beliefs are worthy of holding public office. That’s quite an inflated view about your religious opinions, no?

You are telling 54% of the American population they are wrong about faith and salvation and because of that mistaken religious belief they are ineligible to serve in politics. Who’s intolerant now?

Whether all roads lead to God is a different discussion, but, even if Sanders and Van Hollen don’t want to admit it, all roads do lead to exclusion.

Vought is saying to Muslims, “I disagree with you religiously, but I’ll protect your rights.”

Sanders and Van Hollen are saying to Vought, “I disagree with you religiously, so therefore I don’t believe your rights are worth protecting.”

Which one of those is actually intolerant?


Reaching the Next GenerationAlvin Reid
Reaching the Next GenerationWhen it comes to the next generation, I’m sure of two things:

1) We aren’t too effective today at reaching (or keeping) the next generation.

2) The Gospel still works powerfully in any generation.

How do we share Christ effectively to a generation not impressed by the Church today? Here are five ideas…


The language of snacks…
Calvin & Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 6-1-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

Christians, Repent (Yes, Repent) of Spreading Conspiracy Theories and Fake News—It’s Bearing False Witness
Ed Stetzer
Christians, Repent (Yes, Repent) of Spreading Conspiracy Theories and Fake News—It's Bearing False WitnessI’m speaking to Christians (and not saying they are all in one party). I’m talking to Christians (in this one situation) about how our worldview should make us different. We cannot use moral equivalence to justify our own behavior. Our definition of sin doesn’t come from comparison of others. It comes from God’s standard of holiness. And our justification doesn’t come with comparing ourselves with others, but rather from Christ’s finished work on the cross.

Simply put, this spreading of hate-driven speculation is bearing false witness…

When we bear false witness, we establish a reputation for blindly succumbing to unverifiable or groundless stories.

How can we effectively witness when we have negligently borne false witness? How can we then claim to be the body of truth itself?

…when you share such fake news and conspiracy theories, you are simply bearing false witness. That is a sin and it is time to repent.


I like this little devotional. Using coffee for his example just makes it better…

Giving Detailed Thanks for CoffeeRyan Higginbottom
coffee-mugWe glorify God when we thank him specifically. In particular, we draw attention to his generosity, power, and love when we delight in all the blessings that come from a particular gift. After all, God foreknew and planned every last blessing we experience!

My aim is to model this type of thanksgiving.

I love coffee. This isn’t exactly a controversial opinion on the internet, since roughly 114% of Twitter bios mention it. But I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about coffee recently. (I’m teaching a class on it in the fall.)

This is just a case study; coffee isn’t the point. My aim is thanking God everywhere, at all times, for all things. I’m just getting started; how about you?

God, thank you for coffee. What a good, pleasurable gift you’ve given…


What If Unbelievers Aren’t Miserable?Mike Leake
I’m convinced that one of the reasons we do not have a sense of urgency in sharing the gospel with our neighbors is because we don’t really believe they need it…at least not now. They seem to be getting along just fine without Christ—so why should we turn over the apple cart? And so we go about waiting for the wheels to fall off so we can share Christ…

But what if the gospel isn’t to make happy people happier? Or even to make miserable people moderately happy? What if the gospel isn’t merely a means to meet our unmet needs? What if the good news of the gospel is so much more? What if it’s about being transferred from a kingdom of darkness into a kingdom of light? What if it isn’t about smiles and frowns but instead about life and death? Then I’ve got a gospel to share regardless of your emotional state.

And it’s message is unchanging.


Who knew?

Most of the World’s Bread Clips Are Made by a Single CompanyEric Grundhauser
Everybody knows the bread clip.Bread clips! Consider them for a moment, if you will. They’re those flat pieces of semi-hard plastic formed into a sort of barbed U-shape—you know the ones. They can be found keeping bread bags all over the world closed and safe from spoilage, smartly designed to be used and reused. They’re all around us, constantly providing an amazing service, and yet still, they’re taken for granted. And it turns out they’re almost exclusively all produced by a single, family-owned company.


Future defense attorney…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDYvWml0cy4yMDE3MDYwMV85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

My Picks for Tuesday 3-15-2016

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Why Did They Hate Jesus?Kevin DeYoung
“It is sometimes said that Jesus was killed on account of his inclusion and tolerance, that the Jews hated him for hanging out with sinners and tax collectors. This is the sort of sentiment which has a bit of truth to it, but only a tiny bit. No doubt, Jesus upset many of the Jewish leaders because he extended fellowship and mercy beyond their constricted boundaries…

…But we must put to rest the half-truth (more like a one-eighth truth, really) that Jesus was killed for being too inclusive and too nice. The Jewish leaders may have objected to Jesus’s far-reaching compassion, but they wanted him dead because he thought himself the Christ, the Son of the living God. If Jesus simply loved people too much he might have been ridiculed by some. But without his claims to deity, authority, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, he likely would not have been executed.

So as we approach another Holy Week, let’s certainly talk about the compassion and love of Jesus (how could we not!). But if we don’t talk about his unique identity as the Son of God, we have not explained the reason for his death, and we have not given people reason enough to worship.”


What Donald Trump is Teaching Me About Evangelism
Michael Kelley
Donald_Trump_Signs_The_Pledge_06_(cropped)“We naturally congregate with people who look like us, think like us, earn like us, and even vote like us. Facebook even does it for us. What happens most of the time, then, is that we are always and without exception around Christians. Or to put it another way, if left to ourselves we will always do for ourselves what Facebook does for us right now – curate our lives so that everything that comes into our sphere of vision squares exactly with our belief system.

But Jesus has called us out of that. He’s called us to go into the world – all the world – and meet hostility head on with compassion, judgment head on with love, anger head on with service. But we must know our tendency to flock together well enough to know that we cannot be trusted with this assignment. We must take direct action, knowing that if we do nothing, we will always and forever surround ourselves with people just like us.”


It’s only a minute and a half. Watch it…

 


http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Bizarro-06-27-10-OzPoliticsSHIRTWEB.jpg
Click image for a larger version. Source: Bizarro