God's Mission: To Bless All the Nations of the Earth THROUGH US

There is a strong movement in American Christianity that is self-serving. Many claim to know Christ and maintain serving self as their primary agenda. It is enlightening to observe the way that God establishes a covenant relationship with Abraham. God's covenant with Abraham is fulfilled in us through the New Covenant, and therefore sets the pattern for our covenant relationship with him.

We discover in Genesis 18:16-19 (again) that the purpose of God's covenant with Abraham, and with us through Christ, is to bless all the nations of the earth. Being in covenant with God means we understand and accept this purpose as part of our relationship with God, 

I hope you will receive clarity and passion for God's mission through us by listening to this sermon on Genesis 18:16-19. 

How to Be the Kind of Person Everyone Wants to Be Around

When I was in college, we used to have “laugh-fests.” It all started at a large gathering when my roommate Jarrod and I decided to do an experiment. We began to laugh together. We were not really laughing at anything, except each other laughing. It was contagious. People started to gather around and laughed at us laughing.

People love to laugh. They like to hear people laughing and be around happiness. This is just one quality of the kind person that everyone wants to be around.

I already posted my first installment discussing the article from Business Insider,  “How to Make People Like You Immediately.” Let’s continue to take a look at these seventeen strategies for developing "better relationships faster." Let’s evaluate them based on biblical principles, and see if we can learn more about influencing others for Christ. Here is the second piece of advice from the article.

“2. Spend more time around them.”

This just seems obvious. If we want to build better relationships with others, then we will spend more time with them. This is easier said than done for Christians who spend almost all their time with their Christian friends. This is one of the greatest hindrances to the church’s influence in the world: staying in our closed Christian culture. Jesus addressed this very issue:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16 ESV)

If we want to influence others (salt and light), then we are going to be where there is need of flavor and illumination. We cannot hide under our Christian culture basket. How are you intentionally developing friendships with people who need Christ?

“3. Compliment other people.”

Here is the basic idea: "People will associate the adjectives you use to describe other people with your personality."

I think there is a deeper truth here. The ways we compliment others say something about us. It tells others what qualities we value. If others value the same positive qualities, then a shared value system is developed, which is important for strong relationships.

Paul often spoke positively about others, in a way that he hoped would establish a shared value system and stronger relationships. When he wrote to the Philippians, he complimented Epaphroditus, the messenger the Philippians had sent to him. Paul described Epaphroditus as “my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier,” who “nearly died for the work of Christ” (Phil 2:25, 30).

“4. Be in a great mood.”

Just as people love to laugh, they love to be around smiles and happiness. People like to be around positive, fun people.

Fortunately for Christians, we have a reason to have joy and hope! Jesus said,

“These things I have spoken to you
that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.”
(John 15:11 ESV)

Peter expected others to notice the hope shining through the lives of believers, so he encouraged them to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

How is your joy and hope affecting the people around you?

The Miracle Key to Influencing Others for Christ

I have often been asked over the years how to talk to people who don’t know Christ. How do I shift the conversation to spiritual things? Some people seem so hard to talk to!

For some reason, we have made this task much more difficult than it really is. We are so focused on trying to influence people for Christ that we forget to be normal, caring people. We have also become overwhelmed and confused with various evangelism strategies we have heard about over the years. In fact, people feel so intimidated and insecure about talking with others about Christ that they avoid it altogether! 

I have been reading Making Friends for Christ: A Practical Approach to Relational Evangelism by Wayne McDill (my Dad!). Dad suggests that the key to reaching people for Christ is (prepare yourself for a shock) . . . be a real friend.

I was particularly struck by the simplicity of Chapter 4: A Listening Ear. Here are a few highlights:

“If we are to take our responsibility for evangelism seriously we must upgrade these casual acquaintances to a level of real friendship. How do we break the ice? Where do we begin? . . . How do we awaken an awareness of Christ? How do we get inside their thinking with the gospel?”

“I want to give you a miracle key that unlocks another’s life to your influence for Christ. I guarantee it to work if you use it prayerfully and sincerely. . . . The key is simple: your sincere interest in your neighbor’s personal concerns. . . . Everyone needs someone who cares enough to listen to him.”

“Sincere listening says eloquently, ‘I care about you.’ It’s a matter of deliberately switching ‘channels’ to guide the conversation into the area of the other person’s interests. It means forfeiting the right to talk about yourself. It means cultivating listening skills—looking your friend in the eye, paying attention to what he says, asking pertinent questions, nodding, smiling, commenting briefly.”

“Two rather amazing things happen. For one thing, the Christian learns a lot about his friend—his attitudes, priorities, strengths, hurts, and fears. All this helps him know how to pray for him and relate to him. But a second things also happens: the listening Christian becomes very special to the unbeliever. He has found a friend!”

“As the relationship develops, the friends who has sensed your genuine interest will feel much freer to be himself. Only then will he share very personal needs and problems. He will also be more likely to listen to you.”

While listening:

  • “Make mental notes about what you hear. You must think about what you are hearing. . . . You will soon have a file on her in your own mind and in your prayer journal.”
  • “Strive for full empathy. Only in this way can [you] begin to make connections between the deepest need of the neighbor and the answer of the gospel.”

I recommend this book to you as a life changing resource for fulfilling Jesus’ call to make disciples. But don’t wait to read it before practicing these simple listening tips. What a natural, authentic way to love others!

The Secret to Powerful Prayer [Podcast #2]

Sometimes prayer seems mysterious. When will God answer our prayers? What do we make of his promises to answer prayer (John 14:13-14; 15:7-11)? How can we learn to pray his will? If it is his will, why do we have to pray it?

Episode 2 of the Truth to Freedom Podcast is a recording of my teaching at Highland Christian Fellowship on Eph 6:19-20; Col 4:3-4. In these verses, Paul gives his prayer request to the Ephesians, a prayer for communicating the gospel. Not only do we learn what to pray, but we have the opportunity to dig into these challenging questions about prayer.

1. If we ask him, God will provide opportunities to communicate the gospel (Col 4:3).

2. If we ask him, God will help us to communicate the gospel with boldness (Eph 6:19-20).

3. If we ask him, God will help us to know what to say when we communicate the gospel (Eph 6:19; Col 4:4).

Pursuing a Life of Purpose

Last Sunday I completed a teaching series on "Pursuing a Life of Purpose." Although all the principles presented are biblical, many of the ideas were inspired from Stephen Covey's book, First Things First. You can listen to or download these messages in the audio player in the right sidebar. I have embedded the presentation (made on prezi.com) below if you want to see the main points and scripture references as you listen.

Equip All God's People

"The goal of the church is never for one person to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ. The goal is always for all of God's people to be equipped and empowered to lead as many people as possible to Christ." - David Platt

Patient Preaching

There is a story of an extraordinary man who lived in the 6th century named Bishop Aidan. Bede tells about him his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731). Bede records that when another bishop had returned from an unsuccessful attempt to preach to the English people, Bishop Aidan responded,

"Brother, it seems to me that you were too severe on your ignorant hearers. You should have followed the practice of the Apostles, and begun by giving them the milk of simpler teaching, and gradually nourished them with the word of God until they were capable of greater perfection and able to follow the loftier precepts of Christ."

As a Bible teacher and a public speaking teacher, I value these words of wisdom. I rejoice when I see God's truth being presented with a heart of love, compassion, and patience.