Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul

"Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" John 4:29 ESV

When was the last time you gave God thanks for your salvation? If you are like me, you take it for granted at times. Do you remember the excitement of soul that you felt on that day of salvation? You wanted to run out and tell everyone you saw.

That is what happened to the Samaritan woman that Jesus encountered by Jacob's well in John 4. After a soul searching conversation with the Master, she left her water pot by the way and ran back to town to tell everyone about this mysterious man.

It is out of a overwhelming sense of gratitude that we tell others about Jesus Christ. We realize just what His death on the cross purchased on our behalf - deliverance from eternal hell and a relationship with almighty God.

There is an old hymn that simply says, "Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul, Thank you, Lord, for making me whole; Thank you, Lord, for giving to me thy great salvation so rich and free." To hear the song and see the words, click here.

This weeks post is short and simple. Express your gratitude to God for saving your soul by telling someone else about His love and mercy. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What's the Game Plan Coach?

Currently, I am in Phoenix, Arizona for an Urban Centers Strategy Meeting on Behalf of NAMB. The purpose of the meeting is to develop a strategy for reaching the Greater Phoenix area through evangelism and church planting. We will also be discussing the return of Crossover to the Phoenix area in 2011.

As I thought about this meeting, I wondered about how many existing churches actually have a strategy for reaching their field of influence with the gospel.

Sadly, I feel that the answer is "few if any."

Jesus had a strategy for reaching the world with the gospel. He selected twelve men and mentored them extensively for three years before his death, burial and resurrection. He then turned them loose and empowered them with the Holy Spirit to accomplish the mission. Turns out, it was very effective strategy as evidenced by the existence of the Church today.

Here are a few things to consider when contemplating a local church strategy for reaching people with the good news.

Context - Where has God placed your church? Are you located in a inner city environment, a rural area or in an area of affluence? The answer to this question will change the way you reach out to the community.

Culture - What is unique about the people that you are ministering to? Are there cultural obstacles that must be addressed in order to reach the people you are attempting to reach?

Commission - Does your congregation understand the importance of reaching people with the gospel? Have they been taught and trained in evangelism methodology? What needs to be added or improved?

Conversation - In what ways has your church attempted to engage the people of the community previously? What has worked? What has not worked?

Concern - How can you become missional in your approach to reaching the community? In other words, do you expect people to come to you, or are you going to them.

Cost - What changes will have to be made in order to reach the community with the gospel? Are people in your congregation willing to sacrifice what is needed to accomplish the work?

These are only a few of the considerations that must be taken into account before developing an evangelism strategy for reaching the community. Your strategy must be specific enough to meet the needs of the community, yet simple enough to be embraced by your congregation.

If your church would like help in developing an effective evangelism strategy, I would be glad to talk to you. Please contact me at to set up an appointment.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Changed Life: The Evidence of Conversion

"And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." Luke 19:8 ESV

Zacchaeus was a man who experienced a genuine life change after he met Jesus. This man, who previously made his living from cheating people and misusing his authority, stood before our Lord and pledged to follow a new path. In my opinion, this renewed attitude and desire to make things right with his fellow man is clear evidence of conversion.

I believe that those who have truly encountered the risen Christ are going to show evidence of that encounter through their changed life. Paul tells us that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

This change is the direct result of the work of the Holy Spirit who purges our sins and regenerates our hardened hearts.

In the last article, I mentioned a man who gave his heart to Christ during a Harvest Sunday that I conducted at a church in Eastern North Carolina. Yesterday, I saw his pastor. He told me how much different this man was since his conversion experience.

Richard, the man who was saved, used to coach one of the athletic teams in the community. Apparently, he treated his team harshly. There were times when he got into some serious "discussions" with some of the parents of the children.

His pastor told me that Richard had been tracking down all of the young people that he had coached in order to apologize for the way he had treated them! I find it ironic that Richard was saved after I preached a message on Zacchaeus who vowed to reconcile with the people he had wronged.

Another example of someone who experienced a life change is Julia Champion.

When I met Julia, she was a homeless drug-addict living on the streets of Raleigh. In this YouTube testimony, you can hear about the difference that Jesus has made in her life. This video was taken one month after her conversion to Christ at Moore Square in Raleigh. I was preaching on Psalm 130 that day.

I have seen Julia another time since then and she is still walking with Jesus.

Sometimes, people ask me if all of the people who make decisions for Christ through my evangelism ministry are genuine. I wish I knew that for sure. That is not my job. My job is to share the gospel, invite people to give their lives to Christ, and trust God for the results.

One thing is clear; A changed life speaks for itself. The one sharing the gospel does not affect the change; the Holy Spirit does. Let us trust Him to do His job of changing lives..

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Meet Your Best Ally: The Holy Spirit

Recently, I spoke at a church for a Harvest Sunday event where a 41 year-old man surrendered his heart to Christ. He didn't respond during the public invitation at the end of the service, but came to the pastor and I to talk privately.

He told us that he had felt the Lord "tug" at his heart before, but never like this time. It was clear that he was under conviction of his sin and his need for Christ.

Whenever we witness to someone, we have an ally in the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity is actively pointing people to Christ through our words. Jesus said of the Spirit, "He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." John 16:14 ESV

One of the main jobs of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of sin. Jesus said, "...he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:" John 16:8 ESV

I believe that the majority of people that you talk to are inwardly aware of their sinful nature. They may try to hide their sins, suppress their guilt, or excuse their actions as imperfection, but deep down inside, they know that they have done wrong. The Holy Spirit quickens their conscience when they are reminded of their sins and reawakens that sense of guilt.

I talked to a man this weekend who was under deep conviction. He was walking down the sidewalk by Moore Square when he noticed me sharing the Bible with someone else. He stopped, came back, and asked for prayer.

He admitted to me that he was addicted to cocaine (for 9 years) and was tired of being in bondage. As we talked, he told me that even going to church and trying to do the right thing made him feel even more condemned. The only question is... was his conscience quickened enough to lead him to repent and trust Christ. That is yet to be seen.

Whenever you share the gospel with someone....
  • Pray - for the Spirit to convict the person you are witnessing to.
  • Use Scripture - The Spirit will use the Word of God to bring conviction. (Particularly the law - See Romans 7:7)
  • Listen - Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your words as you witness.
  • Trust - Let the Holy Spirit do His job. Don't get discouraged if you don't see evidence of conviction. You can't see what is happening in the person's heart.
Always remember you are not trying to persuade people to come to Christ with your well constructed arguments or your polished evangelism script. You are cooperating with God to draw people to Christ.