Christianity

ConversationsThe following are some ideas by pastor Jeff Vanderstelt on having gospel conversations with people. I think these are great, a very good starting point.

1.Love Jesus: Our conversation about him will only be genuine if we really love him. Besides, we all talk about the ones we love the most. The reason many of us don’t talk about him is because our affections are not that strong for him.

 

2.Remind Yourself of the Gospel: If you’re affections for Jesus aren’t strong, remember what he did for you…everyday…throughout the day.

3.Experience Ongoing Gospel Transformation: Continue to submit yourself to the truth of the Gospel and walk out ongoing repentance. If you’re not experiencing the Power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) yourself, you will not believe that the Gospel is powerful enough to save and change others. It is out of the overflow of your heart that your mouth speaks.

4.Pray for Open Doors to Share the Gospel: If you do, you will have opportunities to share the Gospel. Jesus said if you ask according to his will, he will give us what we ask for. I’ve found that I get opportunities to share the Gospel whenever I ask God to open doors to share.

5.Live a life that demands a Gospel explanation (1 Peter 2:11-12): Live the kind of life among unbelievers that can not be explained other than by the Gospel – live a life that demands a Gospel Explanation.

6.Live as Gospel Metaphors: Take time to identify all that is true of Jesus in the Gospel (Advocate, Suffering Servant, Mediator, etc…) and then ask how you might be able to live as these descriptions with your neighbors so that you can display Christ then declare why (i.e. Be an Advocate for others…Serve even when it hurts…Mediate for Reconciliation between neighbors…etc…)

7.Be Prepared to Share (1 Peter 3:15): Do you know the Gospel Story? Can you share the Redemptive plan of God from Genesis to Revelation? Practice articulating it with other believers so you are ready to give an answer when people ask.

8.Ask your friends who are observing your life Questions and LISTEN: Don’t just fill the space with words. Ask questions…then ask more questions…then more…seeking to discovering their deep longings, needs, disappointments, idolatry…looking for Gospel Need, common ground to start on, open doors to walk through…Get to know their Story.

9.Listen to the Holy Spirit: Ask God’s Spirit to show you the deep needs of their hearts AND ask the Holy Spirit to give you the question and words.

10.Pay attention to others Personal Worldview and the Culture’s Worldview: Everyone has a Creation – Fall – Redemption – Restoration Storyline…they just don’t all see Jesus as the Hero of the Story and us as themselves as the Hopeless Culprit. Listen for where their storyline is out of line with the Gospel and what part is in line with it. Then start with the common ground and move to what is out of line with the Gospel from that place. For instance with Environmentalists it generally is: Creation (Mother Earth) – Fall (Humanity) – Redemption (Humanity) – Restoration (Humanity and Mother Earth). The Biblical/Gospel Storyline is: Creation (God) – Fall (Humanity) – Redemption (Jesus Christ) – Restoration (Jesus in and through us And Ultimately Completed by Jesus). So, start with the Fall as the common ground and move from there (you may need to listen to the training to understand this one more fully).

Francis ChanTwo pastor and churches that have quickly become my favorites of late, love the teaching of these pastors and they way they do church. These guys are leaps and bound a head of every pastor and church in America, they get it, what it is and what it is about. The get the gospel, what it is and what it is about.

The number one position goes to Francis Chan and the church he pastors Cornerstone Community Church

The number two position goes to Jimmy Seibert and the church he pastors Antioch Community Church

And a close third place goes to Matt Chandler

And then there is my sure foundation pastors, that will always be there on my list. Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, he was my mentor, gave me my bible foundation. And Greg Laurie of Harvest church.

I would move to LA just to part of Francis Chan church in a heart beat if that where possible, he is quite possible the only pastor in the US doing biblical church. For example his church forsaked the building of a new 20 million dollar building and opted to give the money to the poor. They now give 50% of their income to the poor and missions. And he plans to get that up to 90% in the near future. I have heard many pastor over the years gilt people in to given to them by saying you can tell a man’s faith, commitment to God by his giving, where he spend his money. I now put that back on churches, show me how much they give to the poor and missions and I will tell you where their heart is. How much they love God. The national average is that churches give less than 3% of income to the poor and missions combined that is unexceptable. I will not support a church that gives less than 50% to the poor, and is also working to give 90% away.

Just listen to he message here on what church is.

oprahs big giveHow is it that Oprah is fulfilling Acts 2:34-43, James 2:16-15, Mat 25:31-46 and the church is not, why is she is known as the radical giver, the one who rescues the orphans and needy and not the local church. Why is she known for giving away millions and church as only a taker, the one who only wants your money.

Why instead of building super mega Christian entertainment centers and calling it a church, isn’t the church going out into the neighborhoods looking for needs and filling them. Finding the person who needs a wheelchair and buying it for them. Paying for the operation to save the life of a child, clothing the naked children, feeding the starving children, fixing leaky roofs. Giving away new cars to struggling families. Filling up the pantries of the widows. Building orphanages, schools and hospitals.

Fighting AIDS, malaria, and digging wells? Why isn’t the body the largest adopters of orphans? Why is Madonna and Angelina Jolie are seen as the rescuers of orphans, the adoption queens and not the church? We where commanded to take care of the orphans.

It should not be that people go to Oprah as the one hope for the needy, that the people are hoping that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition answers their prayers and comes to their rescue instead of God through the church. The church and God should be the first source of help on peoples minds not Oprah. Churches in the US spend less than 3% of their income on the poor, the needy and missions combined, Oprah gives away about 43% of her salary to the needy.

Oprah and the likes of her should not be fulfilling and getting the glory of Acts 2, James 2 and Mat 25, the church is to be doing that. The world should be crying over what God is doing through His church not watching Oprah and see her fulfilling Act 2 and crying over her and giving her the glory that should be God’s and His church.

The church needs to get back to the business, mission of being the church we see in Acts, doing what Jesus said in Matthew 25.

There is two churches doing it right, one is Cornerstone Community Church pastored by Francis Chan, read his story here.

spiritual gifts

“Going to church no more make someone a Christian than going to McDonald’s make one a hamburger”. Something well said by Keith Green in the 80’s. But it is also very true that going to church, attending church, does not make you part of the church. We are called to be the church not attend a Christian country club where a show is put on for us. Biblical church requires the participation of each and every member to happen, each is giving a gift for the edification of the body. Each is given a spiritual gift that makes up the body of Christ. If someone is not exercising their gift each time the church gathers, that gathering of the Church is incomplete.

We are to be an active part of every gathering of the church, no one is to be an observer, each is there to an to contribute to the functioning of the body.

We are to ” strive to excel in building up the church.” 1Co 14:12, every Sunday, every time the church body gathers each of us has a part to do to make it happen. From God perspective it’s pointless for anyone to be there that is not contributing to the function of the church, He has given each a gift, part, place in the body to make church happen. And He says that no part is “indispensable” (1 Cor 12:22). As a pastor I can tell you I would rather have a gathering of 10 people whom each is exercising their spiritual gifts for the good of the body every time we gather, that a stadium filled with 10,000 observers.

Read 1 & 2 Cor, learn of the gifts and the part each of us is to play in the church, and if you do not know your gifts, seek them out, and go to the assembling together of the church with the expressed intent of exercising them. Let me give you some help here no matter what someone tells you changing diapers, passing out programs or directing traffic in the parking lot are not spiritual gifts. They can be service to the institution of the church, but not what God has in mind for you or limits you to. Do not let anyone sell you short in believing that is your “calling”, service to the body.

People have really never seen the real church in action tell they go to one where every single person is exercising their Spiritual gifts for the good of the body. Where there are no observers only functioning parts of the body. It is a glories sight to behold, it is the fullness of Christ manifested.

overflowNear the top of your bathroom sink as well in your tub just below you drain plug lever there is what is call the overflow hole. It’s purpose is simple if the sink or tub start to overflow with water, the water go’s in the hole and down the drain instead of out on to the floor.

In scripture we are told to not only be filled with the Holy Spirit, but that we need to seek to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit, it’s not a one time filling. In fact we can obtain deferent levels of fullness of the Holy Spirit depending on the person and whether or not they are pursuing to be filled with and just how much they want of the Spirit in them. The scriptures make that very clear.

Well God gave us a overflow hole, a hole that just like the one in your sink and tub, allows excess to flow into it, or in this case out of and it you mouth. Jesus said in Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” And so it is, when you are so filled with the Holy Spirit, I mean really perusing the filling of the Spirit you overflow with the Spirit and it, He comes out of your mouth. Your words are Spirit induced, Spirit influenced, you find your talk is really the Spirit talking.

What ever you are filling up on, is what will come out of you overflow hole, if you spend you time studding and learning the word of God, the word comes out. Filling yourself up with praise for God, praise comes out. Filled up with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, things of the Spirit will be flowing out of you.

Some examples of what You will speak according the scriptures:

* The Word with all boldness.
* Utterance of wisdom
* Utterance of knowledge
* Prophecy’s
* Praises to God
* Faith and Hope
* Encouragement
* Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord

So what are you filling up on, what are you overflowing with, your conversations will tell others. Is it the Holy Spirit you are overflowing with, Gods word? Seek to be filled tell you are overflowing with the Holy Spirit. You must seek daily, even hourly to be filled and never be satisfied with the level you are at.

This is my goal, my daily prayer, that I be filled with overflowing of the Holy Spirit.

There was an article in this weeks Inc newspaper here in Kansas City, it was titled “Sex Sermons at Church? Yes “. The article was on two church here that recently had sermons on sex and it gave the high lights of them.

Both pastors endorsed premarital sex, said that it is old school Christian beliefs that used fear tactics to keep people believing that sex before marriage was wrong. “That one can not separate their sex lives from their spiritually. God crated sex for man to enjoy within a committed relationship and that is up to each to define committed relationship as they see fit for themselves”.

This is what happens when “churches” stop teaching the Word of God, believing and obedience to the Word of God always comes to an end. When church abandon the fundamentals of the faith for culture relevant life styles and beliefs.

I will leave you with the words of Jesus as to church that abandon the Word of God in exchange for a culture relevant life style, and the pastors who lead them.

Rev 2:20-23 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

148342084 d7ad611ec8What kind of workers is Jesus looking, we read in Mat 9:39 He says “Pay the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest”. In the verses prior to that verse we read that Jesus calls Matthew to “follow Him”, and He and the disciples eat a meal with sinners. Then Jesus goes about raising a girl from the dead, healing a woman who has been sick for 12 years, gives sight to a blind man and cast a demon out of a man. And after having modelled this to His disciples, He turns to them and says, pray for more help in the harvest, more workers to do what I just did, showed you to do. That’s the context for verse 39. This is what He is telling them to ask for help to do, the 38 verses prior and the next 42 verses of chapter 10 tell us to what the workers all to be called to do, what the field is and how to harvest it.

Then in chapter 10:1-9 He gives them the exact same authority to do what He had just be doing, to continue what He had just done. “And proclaim as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.” This is the kind of workers Jesus is looking for, and the type of work He has called His followers to.

1. Heal every disease and every affliction.

2. Cast out demons

3. Raise the dead

4. Make clean the unclean

5. And proclaim the Kingdom of God is at hand (doing all of the above is the Kingdom at hand, being manifested on earth.

Notice only one has to do with talking and the rest have to do with demonstrating the power of God, manifesting the Kingdom on Earth. He is saying not only go out and share the word of the Kingdom but also do the work of the Kingdom. Something to think about.

A random thought.

We are not called to invite people to go to an event crated to entertain people we call church. We are called to proclaim the Gospel, tell everyone about Jesus, preach the kingdom of God, to heal the sick and we are called to make disciples. So why is everyone obsessed with simply inviting people to an event they call church when we are not told to ever do that, Jesus did not come suffer and die for people to join a event called we call church. So then why is it the people are not proclaiming the gospel and making disciples?

Why are pastors so obsessed with proclaiming their church, lifting up the church when Jesus said “Lift Me up and I will draw men unto myself .” Why is their marketing all about the church and what has to offer in the way of an entertaining experience and not about Jesus and the Gospel. Why do they train their people to promote the church and not teach them how to proclaim the gospel to the lost, go to the lost with the gospel and teach them how to make disciples of the nations and not be salesmen for church attendance?

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I heard a presentation today that broke my heart, the speaker compared the Church to products like Crest and toilet paper. And that it needs to be marketed just like them, a commodity that needs to be packaged and marketed just like Crest.

Jesus and church are not commodity to be marketed like toothpaste. Church is an event of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the followers of Christ. Something that happens when those whom Jesus indwells, whom are filled with the Holy Spirit come together in community.

Is this what we come to, that church conference are put on just like an infomercial for some get rich business scheme. Like a Madison Ave. company meeting discussing their marketing tactics to improve and move their product. Like so fly-by-night pyramid scheme, with the CEO telling his managers they must get their sales teams fired up, get them motivated and produce sales or they are fired.

This is a said time in church history. I know the men speaking and they are good men, love God, they just have lost sight of Jesus and what the church is, how it is done. Lord may they get back on track.

Read my related posting here.

obama-hope I was thinking yesterday as I watched the inauguration and heard interviews with people who where there. About how much this whole campaign for this election, and the whole Obama craze, fever shows just how much the church in America, and ultimately Christians have failed, dropped the ball. That in the country with the most Christians and churches. That the people of the country have to look to a man and the government for hope. Not look to Christ, not even to the church, because the church and Christians of this country have failed to lift up and present the true and only hope for them, Jesus, in a way that they can see that He is the only hope. Not only proclaim the gospel of real hope, but to have and show that hope in their own lives. They have not seen or heard anything in or from the church or seen anyting in the words and lives of Christians that would cause them to come to or seek out Jesus as the answer, believe He is The hope, the One to go to, the one who holds the future in His hands.

And with so many Christians and churches proclaiming Obama as the great hope for America and their lives, why would the unsaved look to Jesus when so many Christians and Church where looking to Obama as the great hope of the land. If Christians themselves put no trust, dependency in Jesus for their lives and future, why would others. If Christians and churches would have put the same passion and drive into proclaiming the gospel, Jesus, the country would have taken notice. If they would have put the same passion and fight into proclaiming Jesus as they did to change the abortion law, as they did for Pailn and McCain (as if they where the change we needed), maybe real change would be coming to America. The Hope Americans went to the poles voting for, the change they are hoping for on inaugural day, the answer for it is the best keep secret of the Church in America “Jesus”. Jesus is what they are looking for, need, but the church and Christians have not shown that He is, or shared that He is during the whole election campaign. The church failed on election day. It received a vote of no confidence by the people, because the church put the gospel under a basket, hid from even themselves.

We could not have ask for a more opportune time to proclaim Jesus, the only hope in the time of much needed hope, and the church let it pass us by. If we would have presented Christ in all his glory, did as good of a job proclaiming Christ as Obama did proclaiming himself, real change would be coming to America. The right man might have won the Presidency, but the people chose the wrong savior, put their hope in the wrong one.

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 2Ti 2:4