A student just asked that a few minutes ago in class. I quickly made a list of five things. Does this get it or am I missing something really big?
1. Lack of missional passion (both personally and corporately). Outward bound passion is huge...and pastors need to lead the way out the door.
2. Lack of a serious devotional life. E. Stanley Jones said the greatest lack in the American church is lack of a prayer life.
3. Lack of holy character...Christlikeness. All too often we are made in the image of the world.
4. Lack of persistence. We take a church, do a good job and try to land the next best thing for - always! - more money, more people, better community. What happened to the missionaries who would pack their belongings in the pine boxed casket never to return to the land of their ancestors?
5. Lack of adaptability. We get calcified in our modus operandi. To allow God to transform us all our lives is key to success in ministry.
Missionary Pioneers: A Legacy of Women and Men Advancing the Gospel Together
Great column by Mimi Haddad:
The gospel partnerships of men and women on mission fields today may seem unprecedented to some. Yet history is filled with examples of men and women using their gifts together, advancing the kingdom throughout the world.
In fact, many of today’s evangelical leaders stand as part of a glorious legacy of Christian men and women whose God-given talents advanced the gospel with passion, purpose and power. Even a short survey of mission history offers astonishing examples of men and women who worked together in advancing the gospel. Consider Paula and Jerome who translated the Bible from the original languages into Latin in the fourth century. Or consider Theodora and Justinian—emperor and empress of the Byzantine Empire in the fifth century who brokered peace between Christian factions and developed laws that aided female prostitutes. Or consider Protestant Reformers Martin Luther and his wife Katharine Von Bora. Or consider the missionaries of the nineteenth century such as Catherine and William Booth, Pandita Ramabai and Frances Willard. The gospel partnerships of missionaries throughout history are examples for us to celebrate and model today.
While men and women have advanced the gospel together throughout history, it was during the modern missionary movement of the 1800s when Christians began to develop a cohesive biblical basis for women’s service as gospel partners with men. Let us explore several leaders within the modern missionary movement and the biblical foundations they laid for men and women’s gospel service. Read more.
Sober thinking on church planting Since 1906, and particularly after WWI, new church planting slowed drastically, for a complex variety of reasons. Since 1906 the population has grown roughly 300%, but the number of Protestant churches has grown no more than 35%. This is no more than one new church planted for every 1,000 new residents now. As a result, mainline Protestant churches have had huge declines in membership since the 1960's, and Catholic church attendance has also fallen. If we want to renew our country spiritually, we will have to plant thousands and thousands of new churches annually.
In light of this research, it is clear why America has become decreasingly influenced by a Christian world and life view. It takes new churches to reach new generations, new ethnic groups-and there are far, far fewer churches being planted. Established churches are like "full sponges". The main reason the mainline churches are declining is not bad theology (directly), but the lack of church planting. (The Mormons are not orthodox, but they plant churches like crazy, and thus they are growing.) It should be noted however, that you plant churches because you believe something crucial for others to have…and therefore the culprit is still bad theology in that it produces apathy, and apathy is not exactly great fuel for church planting.
Application to San Francisco By an approximate count, San Francisco has 300 churches of any potentially Christian stripe. With a population of 760,000, this means there is approximately 1 church for every 2500 residents. (The national average is 12 churches per 10,000 people. San Francisco is at approximately 4 churches per 10,000.) If we wanted to see the number of active Christians in San Francisco double, there is only one way-to get that ratio down to 1 to 1200 or less. That would take at least another 300 churches, this with the assumption that the original 300 were healthy! (City Church/San Francisco website)
Word study:homothymadon (with one mind, of one accord) –
Denotes the unity of a group…the thymos may be anger, fear, gratitude or political or, in Judaism, religious.At its bestUnanimity is achieved in the magnifying of the one Lord (Rom. ). It is a response to God’s action for the community and the world (cf. Acts 1:4; ).It is thus a gift of God to the praise of God.(TDNT, 1 Vol)
“They were characterized by:first, unity of plan to assemble; second, unity of place where physical proximity would lend strength and faith to their vigil; third, unity of purpose which gave direction and focus to their praying; fourth, unity of persistence which afforded drive to their praying; and fifth, unity of prayer which integrated their desires with their objective and thus sealed to them by faith the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to endue them with power from on high.”(The Acts of the Apostles, Carter/Earle)
The Greek word itself cannot be said to be a musical term, but the best English word with which to translate it, accord, is decidedly musical. It means, among other things, to agree in pitch and tone. There was no discord.
; ; ; …”Where there is homothumadonamong Christians, there the Holy Spirit is present. What men think in the homothumadon way, the Holy Spirit can think with them and inspire their difficult problem solutions. In our first homothumadon reference, Acts , the Twelve were involved. In the second reference, Acts 2:1, the one hundred and twenty were involved. In the subsequent references, and particularly the last one, the interests of the whole Church are at stake.:(The Acts of the Apostles, Carter/Earle, 26)
Three views of Paul in Athens: John Pollock:Athens had rejected (Paul). He could not know that his speech would go down to posterity. . . as one of the greatest speeches of Athens. He could not know that whole books would be written about it or that in a few hundred years the Parthenon would become a Christian church; and that nineteen centuries on, when Greece after long suppression became once more a sovereign state, the national flag which lies beside the ruins of the Parthenon would be lowered to half-mast each Good Friday and raised on Easter Day in honor of Christ’s resurrection. (John Pollock, Apostle, 155.)
Acts 17:33-34:Although Paul’s message to the university community of his day does not produce massive immediate results, his ministry to the Areopagus is clearly effective.The Areopagus included only those of highest status in this university community, so the conversion of Dionysius is significant.Modern readers who judge Paul’s work in Athens a failure on the basis of 1 Corinthisns 2:1 have missed Luke’s point entirely (the emphasis of Acts is on his success, and the original readers of Acts could not simply turn to 1 Corinthians).(Craig Keener)
Another perspective:“We often quote Paul’s speech at Athens as a model of missionary approach and yet it was one of Paul’s biggest failures. He did not succeed in founding a church there. Mackintosh analyzes his failure thus:‘The Christian propaganda failed or prospered in proportion as the fresh data for religion present in Jesus were studiously concealed or openly proclaimed. Take Paul’s address at Athens:says some fine things, God’s spirituality, a God not afar off – one in whom we live and move, creation instead of chaos. Providence instead of chance, men of one blood instead of proud distinction between Greek and Barbarian. But at no point is publicity given to the distinctive Christian message. In this studied omission of the cross is the secret of his comparative failure at Athens and his subsequent change at Corinth. He writes penitently, “I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” The gospel had lost its saviour when it was merged in Jewish commonplace.’” (The Originality of the Christian Message, Mackintosh) (The Christ of the Indian Road, E. Stanley Jones)
Luke, on “how not to live your life” Acts 17:21:(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
Jesus came over to them and said, "Every right to rule in both the spiritual and physical realms has been given to me. As you travel, then, make students of all races and initiate them into the family of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to live by all that I outlined for you. And you know, I am right in there with you—all the time— until the last inning."
“As [Jesus] sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. And she broke the flask and poured it on his head. But there were some who were indignant… and said ‘why was this fragrant oil wasted?’… and they criticized her sharply.” (Mark 14:3-5)
The world has not changed. Every time you pour something costly and precious on Jesus, the immediate reaction is, “To what purpose is this waste?” What the master gladly accepts as a sacrifice, the world calls a waste. As far as the people were concerned, the costly oil was misused. If she wanted to give it all away, why didn’t she use the proceeds from its sale to bless some poor people? In other words, there could have been a better use of the precious oil than “wasting” it on Jesus.
There is always an alternative use for whatever you want to pour on Jesus. If somebody with a degree in electrical engineering resigned a lucrative job and packed up to go and settle among the Wolof people of Senegal, the world would ask, “Can you imagine such a brilliant fellow with prospects, wasting his life and calling himself a missionary? What kind of waste is this?” If, however, he becomes an Information Technology guru, walking the financial capitals of the world and flying from New York to Singapore, from Tokyo to Brisbane, it would not be considered a waste.
Many Christians are afraid to pursue God’s high purpose for their lives because of the comments and expectations of others whose opinions belong in the trash can and who have no idea what the Lord has ordained for such a life. The truth is, everybody will be wasted somewhere. It is your choice to determine where and on what. But as for whether or not you will be wasted, it is an inescapable reality. Every life is being spent on something.
Some people are wasted on the pursuit of power, popularity and pleasure. Others are wasted on the mad-rush for money and other mundane matters of life. If your life is not wasted on Jesus, it certainly will be wasted on something less. You can only be emptied on something less than the master because there is nothing greater than him. Some people are waiting until they have been wasted by the system. At that time they will limp to the altar at age 70 singing “I surrender all.” When the best of your youthful resources have been spent pursuing your own personal agenda, what else is remaining to surrender? More, here.
Psalm 22:6 (“But I am a worm and not a man” – a verse that gives us a picture of Christ…the Psalm starts with “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again.
The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood.
From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might "bring many sons unto glory" (Heb ")! He died for us, that we might live through him! " Ps 22:6" describes such a worm and gives us this picture of Christ. (cf. "Isa ") (from page 73, "Biblical Basis for Modern Science", 1985, Baker Book House, by Henry Morris)
Creeds are nice…but… “The fact is that the Sermon on the Mount is not in our creeds. As the Apostle’s Creed now stands you can accept every words of it and leave the essential self untouched. Suppose we had written it in our creeds and had repeated each time with conviction: ‘I believe in the Sermon on the Mount and in its way of life, and I intend, Godhelping me, to embody it’! What would have happened? I feel sure that if this had been our main emphasis, the history of Christendom would have been different.” (E. Stanley Jones, The Christ of the Mount)
Barna’s Latest: Some population segments are notorious church avoiders. For instance, 47% of political liberals are unchurched, more than twice the percentage found among political conservatives (19%). African Americans were less likely to be unchurched (25%) than were whites (32%) or Hispanics (34%). Asians, however, doubled the national average: 63% were unchurched! Single adults continued a historic pattern of being more likely than married adults to stay away from religious services (37% versus 29%, respectively).
Residents of the West (42%) and Northeast (39%) remain the most church resistant, while those in the South are the least prone to avoid religious services (26%). Sexual orientation is closely related to church status, too: while about one-third of heterosexuals are unchurched (31%), half of the homosexual public (49%) met the unchurched criteria.
Within the various faith communities residing in the U.S., Christians are the most consistent church goers. A majority of the adults (61%) who are associated with a faith other than Christianity had not attended any type of religious service in the past half-year. In fact, people aligned with a faith other than Christianity are two-and-a-half times as likely as self-designated Christians to be unchurched (61% versus 24%, respectively).
Looking at the distinctions within the Christian population, evangelicals are the most reliable church goers: just 1% is unchurched. Born again Christians who are not evangelical also had a pretty formidable attendance record: only one out of every six (16%) were unchurched. However, adults who call themselves Christian but are not born again were by far the least reliable church goers within the Christian realm (32% were unchurched).
Catholics have traditionally been more consistent in church attendance than Protestants. However, in the mid-nineties that trend reversed course, and Catholics have been more likely than Protestants to earn the unchurched label throughout the past decade. Currently the gap between the two segments of Christians is five percentage points, with a higher percentage among Catholics (25% are unchurched) than Protestants (20% are unchurched). More, here.
On Keeping Redhot for the Outgoing Gospel Until the Day You Die “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18)
Trouble-causers (Ajith Fernando): Of what “crime” were the Christians accused? “These men…have caused trouble all over the world!” (Acts 17:6). Is it true? The original Greek statement from which this is translated can be interpreted several ways. Check out these translations and verses.
“Christians turn the world upside down” (King James Version). It’s true. Jesus changes people. Examples: Luke 19:1-10; Acts 9:1-20; Acts 19:18-20; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
“Christians upset the civilized world” (William Barclay’s translation [Barclay, Acts, 127]). It’s true. Jesus’ values conflict with society’s values. See Matthew 5:3-10; Luke 6:20-36; Luke 16:15; Luke 18:14.
“Christians subvert the whole world” (FF. Bruce’s translation [Bruce, Acts, 323]). It’s true. When the Gospel gets into people they become part of a secret force seeking to undermine and overturn the unjust, immoral principles and practices on which godless culture is founded. See Matthew 13:33; Luke 17:20-21; John 19:36; Romans 12:1-21; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
“Christians cause trouble all over the world” New International Version). It’s true. Christ’s teachings do not please people who don’t want their selfish lifestyles disturbed. Christ’s claims and ideas are often met with discomfort and rage, which leads to trouble. See Luke 12:49-53; John 15:18-16:4.
Faith question: Are you troubling? Subverting? Turning upside down? Upsetting? Causing trouble all over the world? And these…in the name of Jesus and with His love?
Quite an evangelistic hymn (and it has more than four verses!) Wesley wrote this hymn to commemorate the first anniversary of his conversion to Christ. The stanza that begins “O for a thousand tongues to sing” is verse seven of Wesley’s original poem. This work first appeared in 1740.
O for a thousand tongues to sing My great Redeemer’s praise, The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious Master and my God, Assist me to proclaim, To spread through all the earth abroad The honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears, That bids our sorrows cease; ’Tis music in the sinner’s ears, ’Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.
He speaks, and, listening to His voice, New life the dead receive, The mournful, broken hearts rejoice, The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, Your loosened tongues employ; Ye blind, behold your Savior come, And leap, ye lame, for joy.
In Christ your Head, you then shall know, Shall feel your sins forgiven; Anticipate your heaven below, And own that love is heaven.
Glory to God, and praise and love Be ever, ever given, By saints below and saints above, The church in earth and heaven.
On this glad day the glorious Sun Of Righteousness arose; On my benighted soul He shone And filled it with repose.
Sudden expired the legal strife, ’Twas then I ceased to grieve; My second, real, living life I then began to live.
Then with my heart I first believed, Believed with faith divine, Power with the Holy Ghost received To call the Savior mine.
I felt my Lord’s atoning blood Close to my soul applied; Me, me He loved, the Son of God, For me, for me He died!
I found and owned His promise true, Ascertained of my part, My pardon passed in heaven I knew When written on my heart.
Look unto Him, ye nations, own Your God, ye fallen race; Look, and be saved through faith alone, Be justified by grace.
See all your sins on Jesus laid: The Lamb of God was slain, His soul was once an offering made For every soul of man.
Awake from guilty nature’s sleep, And Christ shall give you light, Cast all your sins into the deep, And wash the Æthiop white.
Harlots and publicans and thieves In holy triumph join! Saved is the sinner that believes From crimes as great as mine.
Murderers and all ye hellish crew In holy triumph join! Believe the Savior died for you; For me the Savior died.
With me, your chief, ye then shall know, Shall feel your sins forgiven; Anticipate your heaven below, And own that love is heaven.
America has many trenchant problems. Is there any chance that one of our woes could include pastors who consider merely preaching from a pulpit to be more Christ-like than lovingly traveling the wider community, as Jesus did, compassion in hand and a message of holiness on the tongue?
Three years ago I led an altar call at the prison where I preach. With no actual altar to work with, I asked the men who came forward to put their noses, belt buckles, and knee caps on the concrete and admit to being "dirty, rotten sinners" before the Lord. Michael was there that evening and responded, face flat on the floor. At a later date and out of prison on bond, he said that those words weren't nearly as formative as the word "surrender."
There in that prison cell -- A3 of the Hinds County Detention Center -- he heard a word that made immense sense in that divine moment and surrendered fully to the Lordship of Christ.
He was released on bond, reconciled with his wife, became a member of our church, and began discipling his four kids and paying child support for two others. He provided a holy example to his children and solidified that model by leading them in two devotional periods each day -- times that included praise and intercession and reading two chapters of Scripture.
On the work front, his longtime employer declared Michael the most godly man he knew, since his jailhouse experience, and the best employee he'd had in the last 25 years.
So, three years after he got out on bond, he went back to trial in a system anything but speedy and was found guilty (this pastor thinks him likely innocent, by the way). I had the honor of testifying at his sentencing. Among other things, I said he wasn't just a good man but a great one, and that his life "had been thoroughly redeemed by Jesus Christ." Michael could have received up to 30 years in prison. The judge ruled that he would serve four more (he has already served one).
A local television station, tipped off through the D.A.'s office that the judge might be lenient in this case, ran the story as part of an ongoing "Broken Justice" series. The segment which was aired in this case portrayed Michael, this pastor, and the church as being grossly on the side of injustice. As might be imagined, the phone lines of the station filled with outraged viewers and the next day talk radio in our community was buzzing with the subject.
One on-air comment suggested that the pastor should stick to the pulpit, and stop getting involved in affairs outside the church.
In seminary, I studied under a professor named Dr. Robert Coleman. He wrote the famous "Master Plan of Evangelism" which could alternatively be named "The Master Plan of Getting out of the Synagogue and Getting Into the Highways and Byways of Life With Disciples in Tow to Change the World." I wasn't one of Coleman's better students, but even so, if I am to be accused of many bad things, I trust it will never be said that I minded my own business and that of my congregants by merely keeping to a pulpit. Or, that I just didn't have the time or inclination to get involved at the abortion clinics, the prisons, the strip clubs, and the nursing homes. Or, that I didn't care for or stand up for the less fortunate, the downtrodden, the poor. Or, that I cared little about the unevangelized and refused to stand for the people God has entrusted to me with a good word when they were in trouble.
America has many trenchant problems. It might be proposed that all problems are, in the final analysis, spiritual ones. Is there any chance that one of our woes could include pastors who consider merely preaching from a pulpit to be more Christ-like than lovingly traveling the wider community, as Jesus did, compassion in hand and a message of holiness on the tongue?
The greatest, men like John Wesley, would have had nothing to do with a message of containment or simply taking care of the already well-mannered:
"Let us be employed, not in the highest, but in the meanest, and not in the easiest but the hottest, service -- ease and plenty we leave to those that want them. Let us go on in toil, in weariness, in painfulness, in cold or hunger, so we may but testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24) The rich, the honourable, the great, we are thoroughly willing (if it be the will of our Lord) to leave to you. Only let us alone with the poor, the vulgar, the base, the outcasts of men. Take also to yourselves 'the saints of the world': but suffer us 'to call sinners to repentance"; even the most vile, the most ignorant, the most abandoned, the most fierce and savage of whom we can hear. To these we will go forth in the name of our Lord, desiring nothing, receiving nothing of any man (save the bread we eat while we are under his roof), and let it be seen whether God has sent us." (John Wesley, "A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion")
Illustration of the Navigator's "one verse evangelism" on the right. Might work sometime...
You believe in incarnational ministry?How about to THIS extent?
Evangelistic “wannabes” and seminary professors talk about incarnational ministry – preach it, teach it, read about it, converse on it. “The word became a sermon and was later expanded into a book and the book sold well and inspired other books until the making of books there was no end.And the world died in darkeness and was buried in the theological library.(Clarence Jordan)Occasionally, something pricks our phony worlds of “incarnational” verbiage and we are reminded what it really means…
“During the nineteenth century a group of missionaries in what is now Surinam in South America, wanted to reach the inhabitants of a nearby island with the gospel. Most of these islanders were slaves on the large plantations that covered the island. The plantation owners feared the gospel and its results, and would not even allow the missionaries to talk with the slaves. They would allow only other slaves to talk with slaves.
“So the missionaries sold themselves into slavery in order to take the gospel to the islanders. Working in bondage in the harsh conditions of a tropical climate, they reached many of them with the good news.”Ray Hoo, "Turn Your World Upside Down," Discipleship Journal (July/August 1982)
They will know we are Christians by our love I know, this is more an American story than a Christian one.But it illustrates the power of coming to people’s rescue one by one.
“Time magazine carried an interesting story about former President George Herbert Walker Bush. It described a trip he took back to the South Pacific. During World War II, Bush had been a bomber pilot, and was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire. The article detailed Bush's return to the very spot where he was rescued from his downed aircraft.
“During his return visit, Bush met with a Japanese gentleman who claimed to have witnessed Bush's rescue back in 1944. The man related that as he and others were watching the rescue take place, one of the man's friends remarked, ‘Surely America will win the war if they care so much for the life of one pilot.’”Canadian Edition, Time Magazine (11-23-02); submitted by Darin Latham, St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada
Passtion – Do we have it? Paul said that “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”
One can understand what “cursed and cut off” meant in the life of Paul from his testimony in his second epistle to the Corinthians:"I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?"
And how about this passionate prayer: “My God, grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer all my life whatsoever it may please thee to lay upon me; yes even for a hundred years am I prepared to endure the sharpest pains; only let my people be converted. My God, convert my parish.” Cure d'ArsJean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney (better known as the Cure' d'Ars, or curate of Ars) was the son of a peasant farmer, born in France in 1786. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 4.The foregoing stories and the quote from PreachingToday.com – one great resource for illustrative material and more.
How about this for a Charles Wesley hymn. A class hymn by a classic evangelist/poet.Songs of righteous responsibility are a bit rare these days, aren’t they?
My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord, Into Thy blessed hands receive; And let me live to preach Thy Word And let me to Thy glory live! My every sacred moment spend In publishing the sinner’s Friend!
Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart With boundless charity divine. So shall I all my strength exert And love them with a love like Thine And lead them to Thy open side, The sheep for whom their Shepherd died.
Charles Finney on revivalism and evangelism contrasted They are not the same, to be sure.A few thoughts on how they are different.
1.Revivalism is by periods; evangelism is perennial.
2.Revival is the Lord at work in the Church; evangelism is the Church at work for the Lord.
3.Revival is concerned with the conservation of spiritual realities; evangelism concentrates on the conversion of those who are aliens to spiritual realities;
4.In revivalism the accent is on the prevailing atmosphere, while in evangelism it is on a transforming decision for Christ.
“In a revival, Christians…will feel grieved that others do not love God, when they love him so much. And they will set themselves feelingly to persuade their neighbors to give him their hearts…When the churches are thus awakened…the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow.”(Finney, Revival Lectures)
Being a priest in Old Testament times was not for the faint of heart. Imagine if your job description included activities such as removing "all the fat from the bull of the sin offering... both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the covering of the liver..." (Lev. 4:8-9). It probably felt a lot more like being a butcher than being a preacher!
Pastors today don't have to deal with entrails, but their job is still plenty messy. Their weeks hold much more than just preparations for Sunday's sermon. Every day, they have to deal with the messiness of their church members' lives--whether it's a marriage in crisis, a teenager's rebellion come to a head, a worsening conflict between ministry leaders, or a report of giving being down and expenses being up. Add to that the pressures of his own family life and struggles to keep everything in balance. Sure, there are many joys in serving, but much of being a pastor is day-to-day nitty-gritty, roll-your-sleeves-up, dirty, and thankless work.
HOBART, Ind. (AP) - Kevin Russell found out it's not easy trying to cash a check from God. The 21-year-old man was arrested Monday after he tried to cash a check for $50,000 at the Chase Bank in Hobart that was signed "King Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Servant," Hobart police Detective Jeff White said.
Russell was charged with one count attempted check fraud and one count intimidation, both felonies, and one count resisting law enforcement, a misdemeanor. He could face prison time.
Police were called to the bank after Russell tried to cash the check, which was written on an invalid Bank One check with no imprint, White said. Russell had several other checks with him that were signed the same way but made out in different dollar amounts, including one for $100,000.
Russell struggled with police as they tried to detain him, White said, and then threatened police as they transported him to the Hobart Police Department.
"I've heard about God giving out eternal life, but this is the first time I've heard of him giving out cash," White said.
No court date has been set for Russell. He was being held Wednesday at the Lake County Jail on a $1,000 bond.
Metaphor City! A nice evangelism thought from Glynn Pope, pastor in Byram, MS.: Jesus is the door. We are the doorknobs (that which God uses to open the Door).
A door can look an awful lot like a wall without a doorknob.
A doorknob needs to be able to twist, turn to be effective.
A doorknob can act as a way in, or a lock.
A doorknob has to be pushed before the door opens.
A doorknob can look inviting, or not.
Other possible implications to our evangelistic life?
Some evangelistic proverbs: Actually, all the proverbs are relevant for evangelism, since they lead us to the life of wisdom. And that life is attractive, able to share appropriately, and will know when to do what and how. Even so, some specific proverbs:
"The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment." (10:21)
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise." (11:30)
"The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death." (13:14)
"A truthful witness saves lives, but a false witness is deceitful." (14:25)
"The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death." (14:27)
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." (15:30)
"A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." (18:2)
"He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame." (18:13)
"A gift opens the way for the giver and ushers him into the presence of the great." (18:16)
"What a man desires is unfailing love..." (19:22)
"Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel." (20:15)
"Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters." (25:13)
"Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone." (25:15)
God's lesson for me this week A precious friend and parishoner was sentenced to jail this week for carjacking (see item below on this blog). It has broken my heart. Having wept, we then have to ask - What now?
Evangelism is "good news" not just in presenting the gospel, but in perpetuating it in the life of the believer. So we will go and visit Michael, help take care of his wife and children, continue to disciple the family and embrace them through the next four years of incarceration...and beyond. Most evangelists are perceived as loud, bold, daring, short-term. Evangelism now, in this case, will have to be loving, tender, listening, long-term. You will never get real evangelism with only the former sans the latter.
And my comment to the press that doesn't appear in this story:
"As Michael Thomas' pastor, I respect a jury verdict, but I also stand behind a man that I suspect is innocent, has been thoroughly redeemed by Jesus Christ and has done an extraordinary job discipling his young family."
'Not called!' did you say? 'Not heard the call,' I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of
the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and
hear the damned entreat you to go to their father's house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look
Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to
publish his mercy to the world. (William Booth)