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Spare Change January 2019

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I was honored to preach on December 30th about one of my passions: evangelism.  This has been a journey for me, to arrive at the place where I am passionate about sharing my faith.      Historically, I have been terrified in one-on-one witnessing situations.  It wasn’t because I lacked training.  I have been trained in no less than six evangelism strategies.  None of this helped me to conquer my fear of sharing my faith, which led me to believe that the reason Christians don’t share is not a lack of knowledge.  We might use that as an excuse but, in reality, we have more resources available to learn than ever before.

The problem for me was that witnessing always felt like a sales pitch.  I felt like a vacuum salesman going door to door.   It didn’t feel genuine to me.  It also didn’t produce many genuine results.  What changed for me was when I realized that witnessing was not a pitch but a conversation that should flow out of a relationship. That is not to say God might not providentially bring someone to us, like Phillip with the Ethiopian Eunuch; however, I believe the majority of witnessing opportunities will come with people we know.

I believe that God has placed us in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, in our families, on a kid’s ball team, and any other place you go for a reason.  Our job is to build relationships with people, so we can share.  We should look at ourselves as missionaries that are always on the mission field.  That parent next to you at ball practice is someone you need to get to know.  That neighbor across the street is a relational opportunity.  These are the types of people we should be reaching out to.

Another breakthrough for me was to realize that we are not making converts— Jesus wants disciples.  This is a common misconception that is fueled by those witnessing programs.  Conversion is not the goal, it is the beginning.  We should be seeking to help people begin a faith journey and as they surrender to Christ we should continue to help them grow in their faith.  When we view witnessing as a part of the discipleship process then it feels much more genuine.

These realizations helped me to get past my fear; however, there will always be an element of anxiety in sharing our faith, that is just the way it is.  At some point we have to get over that fear by swallowing hard and doing it.  We must have a greater allegiance to our Lord and Savior than we do to fear.  We have to treat the great commission as a command not a suggestion.  One verse that has helped me immensely is 1 Timothy 1:7, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  The Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need.  God is right there in the midst of our conversations, helping and guiding us.

I would also encourage Christians to be familiar with scripture; develop a daily reading plan.  Look for verses that will help you share your faith.  Some have suggested that believers know the Roman’s Road, which is simply a few verses from the book of Romans that outline the gospel.  You can search these verses easily on the web.  You can also read good resource like Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations by Jimmy Scroggins, Steve Wright, and Bennett Leslee.  This book helps us to learn the 3 Circles, which is a witnessing strategy based on relationships and conversation.  This book also has very helpful ways to turn conversations toward spiritual subjects.  It is overall a great resource for any Christian that wants to share his or her faith.

The point is we are commanded to go into the all the earth and share our faith.  We need to start where God has placed us right now.  If you need to learn more, then do it, there is no reason to wait.  If you are scared, pray that God would help you overcome that fear.  Finally, ask God to show you someone in your life that would be open to the gospel message.  Start small, as I challenged the church in my message, look for one person to win to Christ in 2019, that is a very doable goal.  You can do it!

 

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Student Ministry January 2019

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Dear Church Family,
           The Christmas season has come to an end yet again, and it’s back to life as it used to be. A truly sad reality for some and a very welcome prospect for others. But there are some definite things that should never change for a Christian after Christmas time: Love, Joy, and Peace. These are words that we have seen posted everywhere during the Christmas season. And there is nothing wrong with that! It’s kind of nice to see people aspiring to Christian values. But the problem is, people in the world can only hold those values for a short season. And even during that season, those values are actually quite lacking. I’m not sure how many people actually feel the love, joy, and peace when fighting the crowds at the mall or driving up and down Green River Road! Why is it that having love, joy, and peace is so hard to keep up?

The answer is that love, joy, and peace come from the Lord. They belong to Him, and it is only in Him that we can find them. Unbelievers can aspire to these values as much as they want. But eventually they will burn out and default back to themselves. Even Christians seem to have this same experience. But if believers and unbelievers alike cannot attain love, joy, and peace for   longer than a couple weeks in December (if that), then what’s the difference? And that’s my point. There is a difference. Believers truly can have love, joy, and peace throughout the year, in all circumstances. I did not say they would be healthy and wealthy, but that they could have Christlike attitudes through all of life’s situations. The key is that we must ask God to give us these values instead of thinking we can muster them on our own.

Where is this coming from and why am I writing about this? Well, it’s coming from Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” And I’m writing about it because I have found that having Christian values, even as a Christian at Christmas time, can be very difficult. The Lord has shown me that love, joy, and peace (and all the rest), are not just values that I need to try to live out, but they are realities in my heart that will only be displayed when I walk by the Spirit and not in my flesh. That simply means that I must ask God to give me His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control every single day. If I am not asking the Holy Spirit to guide my heart daily, then something else will. And it will make me unloving, dissatisfied, and in an uproar within.

I see those sad realities around me all the time in the life of students. They are dissatisfied with life, constantly fighting  internal turmoil, and only full of love for themselves. It is also a reality for unbelieving adults. But it really doesn’t have to be our reality. Every Christian can have love, joy, and peace, because we all have the Holy Spirit living in us! And we can have, and do have, these things for all of our lives. Maybe you feel the same tension of being a believer but struggling to experience them in your life. Maybe you know a student who desperately needs to be encouraged to pray and ask God to give them these things. My hope and challenge for us all is to be a people who walk by the Spirit and rely on Him to give us love, joy, and peace all year long! If you are following Christ, then this is your reality. Now, ask the Lord to help you experience it more this year than ever before!

Sincerely,

Brian Van Doren

 

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

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