An Idea About Evangelism Training

I went to a Friday night race in Daytona with my dad a couple weeks ago. We had a great time together experiencing the atmosphere and the sounds, smells, and power of the trucks on the track. As we entered the speedway grounds, there were three men at the entrance gate. One had a bullhorn and was reading a Bible passages about the judgment of God. The two others had signs with similar messages about perishing and hell and stood with their free arms outstretched holding tracts. While I am giving them credit for being well-meaning, there efforts were ignored by the large crowd walking past them. These men were doing evangelism. In our Christian terminology, evangelism is what you are trained for; having gone through a program, and been trained in the right steps in presenting the gospel to others. This type of training takes a variety of forms, but the commonality is that evangelism is seen as a separate discipline for the follower of Christ. Think of the fear response that is so common when people are told we are going to talk about or teach ‘evangelism’. Evangelism is presented as a discipleship elective and in practice comes off feeling forced and unnatural. What if we simply taught people to love others? That the people around them and that come into our churches are more than a statistic or a project. They are people who are struggling with their place in the world. What if we simply taught people to listen to others? Rather than giving enough attention to throw in the appropriate Bible verse, this would take compassion...

Three Bits of Advice for My Daughter About Relationships

My daughter is finishing up her freshman year of high school. For her, the experience was  a virtually new beginning, as she was zoned for a school apart from her cohort of friends. Navigating this year has brought new friendships and observing friends enter into ‘romantic’ relationships. While she has not yet expressed interest in dating, we have had conversations about what love is and how it is expressed in both friendship and boyfriend/girlfriend context. Here are three foundational principles that I have tried to impress upon her, and I thought they would have benefit to all of us who long for friendship and intimacy. 1. Realize you are worth loving. Someone ought to love you not for what you provide or because of your performance. You are worth loving simply because of your humanity. God created you with care and loved you so much that Jesus humbled Himself to did on your behalf. Another person, friend or spouse, should love you for no less. 2. The person you are in relationship with should be willing to admit weakness and grow. Relationship that do more than scratch the surface will reveal your flaws and the imperfections of the other person. How both people respond to this brokenness reveals where their hearts lay. Blaming another or building walls of protection indicates an identity that is focused on self. Love always considers the other’s needs. 3. Never stop being centered in Christ. Do not fall for the cultural lie that a relationship, approval, or sex are needed for wholeness. In Christ – believing the truth about who you are in Him – you are complete. Anxiety, disappointments,...

Keeping Christ in Christmas

I have to confess to you that I have a little pet peeve regarding the “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers, church signs, and car magnets that seem to pop up this time of year. Of course, they are a reaction to our culture’s growing tendency to refer to this as the holiday season. Boldly I say, count me as one follower of Christ who fully supports this cultural trend. First, it IS the season of holidays. There’s Thanksgiving. And Hanukkah. Ramadan. Kwanzaa, the New Year. Probably others of which I’m not aware. It seems the height of Christian arrogance to make everyone use our name for a certain time of the year. It dismisses others’ points of view. Whether or not we agree with their belief system, diminishing their traditions does not put us in their good graces to have an open discussion about Christ. It creates defensiveness; an us-against-them which closes people off. More importantly (in my estimation), do we really want the name Christmas associated with the consumerism and commercialism that runs rampant in our culture and amps up at this time of the year? Short answer: No. No, I don’t. So if Wal-mart wants to call it a “Holiday Sale”, Starbucks wants to put coffee in plain red cups, Best Buy wants to have a giant “Happy Holidays” sign on the front of the store, or the mall wants to promote “Winter Savings”, they can do it with my blessing. I am totally on board with that. In fact, I view it as a favor. One less battle I have to fight with those who argue Christmas is nothing more than...

The Solution for Shame

Shame is the fear of not being loved nor accepted. It occurs when our identity is challenged and the value we receive from that identity is interrupted. There is much research on shame and its affects on our relationships. Consensus seems to be that shame, while it is the most common emotion, is not adaptive or natural. It is destructive. In that the Bible agrees. Shame is a product of the fall. Like earthquakes, death, and the weeds that choke your vegetable garden, it is not natural; shame is not part of God’s original, very good design. It emanates from the broken image within us. Without Christ, the best that can be done is to cover our shame. That is why we develop identities. It is our best effort to repair our own brokenness and develop a source of security, comfort and significance. But, because of the daily challenges to and the subjective nature of identity, this is not an effective solution. Shame breaks through the self-constructed shell. The covering for our shame must be secure  – unchanging. That is the solution offered in Christ. The Truth of Christ does not change; He will not leave nor forsake those in Him and He does not show favoritism. If shame is felt by the follower of Christ, that is indication that the false self has allowed something to be added to Christ. It is the opportunity to examine our hearts and re-center in Christ. That is the battle of the old nature and new promised by the apostle Paul – part of God’s plan to chip away at our heart...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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