Prayer and the Holy Spirit in Evangelism

Gospel LifeAs I’ve mentioned previously, I have the great privilege of being a regular blogger at The Gospel Life blog. The most recent series of blog posts there is entitled “Leading with the Gospel,” and looks at what several writers view as essential aspects of leading a local church with an evangelistic edge. I wrote a post that appeared yesterday entitled “Prayer and the Holy Spirit,” which I’m including an excerpt from below:

When the first followers of Jesus heard His instructions that we know as the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:7-8), their immediate response was to wait in two distinct ways. Their waiting reminds us of two vital aspects of the vibrant ministry evangelism within our lives personally and for the local church.

The Importance of Waiting in Prayer
Returning from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples gather together in the upper room. It is a different upper room gathering than Jesus’ instruction before His death. Instead, it is the upper room prayer gathering where “they all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14a). Before they went out to proclaim good news, and before they went to make disciples, and before they ever left Jerusalem in the concentric circles of widening missions, the disciples simply waited before God in prayer.

As Christians, we are called to be active in our faith, including having an active proclamation of the good news in Jesus Christ. But for us today the principle is still the same: prayer precedes power in evangelism. Whether as individuals or as churches, the fuel for evangelism comes as we wait upon God in prayer.

[Read the rest of the blog post here.]

You might also enjoy reading the rest of this series of posts on “Leading with the Gospel” by authors including Lon Allison, Chris Castaldo, Paco Amador, Sam Kim, and more.

Apologetics as Evangelism

Gospel LifeIt’s a pleasure to write for The Gospel Life blog. Today, I wrote a post, “Apologetic Evangelism,” as part of their eight-part series, “What’s Your Evangelism Style.” Here’s an excerpt.

Between the ages of 2 and 5, there is a persistent question that children ask teachers, parents, grandparents, and other adult figures. It is a little one-word question that can be asked again and again: “Why?”

Now, what’s amazing about this question is that it shows how deeply curious children are about the world in which we live. The ‘why’ question is one of the primary ways children attempt to put things in the world together for understanding. A recent study showed that when adults answer a child’s ‘why’ question with a non-explanatory answer, children are more likely to ask the ‘why’ question again. For example, if a child asks, “Why do birds leave Wisconsin in winter and return in the spring?” and an adult says, “Because that’s just what happens,” then the child is much more likely to once again ask, “Why?”

The ‘why’ question is persistent for children, but also lingers around for adults. Nearly everyone has our own ‘why’ questions bouncing around in our minds about deep things of life. Some of the questions are personal, like the person this morning who posed this question to me, “Why is God punishing me through this ongoing physical pain?” Some of our questions are more general, like the college student who asked me last year, “Is it really possible for Jesus to be the only way?”

The questions people ask—in fact, the questions we share with many around us—are powerful opportunities to witness to who Jesus is. When someone shares his or her deep questions about life and God with us, he or she is opening a doorway into the deep places of his or her spiritual journey with us.

[Read the rest of the blog post here.]

Broken to Heal: a Good Friday message

Here is the complete text from my Good Friday message given yesterday at Eastbrook Church. You can view the message here.Chosen Words Series Gfx_Web Ad

The Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest companions, begins his telling of Jesus’ life with profound words. John describes Jesus as the ‘Word of God’ – that perfect wisdom and revelation of God – who “was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1, 2). He says Jesus was “the true light” shining “in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome” that light (1:5, 9). John even goes so far as to say that Jesus surpasses Moses in His authority as a teacher because Jesus is “the One and Only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father” (1:17, 18). These rich words show us how highly John thought about Jesus and exactly who we are dealing with when we come to the Gospels: Jesus’ timelessness, Jesus’ authority, Jesus’ wisdom, and Jesus’ divinity.

If we had never encountered the story of Jesus, it may strike us as odd when we read the following words from John nestled amidst those earlier descriptions:

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory.” (1:14)

The lofty One comes into our midst in human flesh, John says, and that is a revelation of His glory. Certainly, it could be a slight surprise to hear this. The glorious Word – unstained and pure – steps into rough and tumble human experience – right where we live.

Yet that slight surprise is nothing compared to what we encounter later in John’s story: that Jesus would suffer the brutality of violent execution by human hands. This is exactly what we have heard from another early Jesus follower, Matthew, in his record of Jesus’ life read throughout the service today. It is a litany of broken human experience: Jesus’ isolated and suffering alone in prayer while His disciples fall asleep; Jesus’ betrayed by one of His own followers named Judas; Jesus arrested by Temple guards without clear accusation; Jesus facing authorities who bend justice to match their own aims, even as they stand as representatives of God; Jesus’ utter rejection by a close friend, Simon Peter; Jesus’ life exchanged for the freedom of a known murderer, Barabbas, at the request of the crowds; Jesus humiliatingly mocked as a broken king by the Roman soldiers, complete with a robe, a staff, and a crown of thorns; the voices of cynics shouting insults as Jesus is heaved up on a cross to slowly die of asphyxiation or heart failure.Read More »

Genesis: The Beginnings of Everything Including Evangelism

Erickson-pin1I am privileged to be a featured blogger this week as part of the EvangelVision project. My post this week looks for the roots of evangelism is Genesis 1. Here’s an excerpt of the post:

Does evangelism begin with knowledge of the right method? Does helping people understand they are sinners in need of a Savior launch them onto the road to Christ? Or does evangelism really get going when we use fewer words and more action to witness to the good news in Jesus Christ? This is the question:Where does evangelism really start?

While all of these potential answers are valid, the starting point for evangelism, humanly speaking, is found somewhere else. Return with me to the very beginnings of creation in Genesis. There, we read God’s introductory declaration about human life:

“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27-28)

The starting point for evangelism erupts from the beginnings of human history as God creates us in His image

[Read the rest of the post here.]

Some Things Are Just Better Together

 

EvangelVision-Ad-600x600-2014It’s a privilege to be featured on the EvangelVision blog today. What follows is an excerpt, but you can read the full post here:

There are certain pairs of things that just seem to go together. You know some of them: peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, cookies and milk. I’m sure you could name some of your own. In fact, many of these actually seem better together than simply on their own.

Jesus talks about something like this in His earthly ministry. When Jesus was asked what the Greatest Commandment of the Law was, He responded:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matt. 22:37-40)

This is the Greatest Commandment. It is an important summary teaching from Jesus, guiding who we are and the way we live with God and others. In this we are called to demonstrate love for God and others as followers of Jesus.

Later, at the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus speaks another important summary teaching to His disciples. Before returning to the glory of the Father, Jesus says:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20)

We often call this statement the Great Commission. It summarizes the outward actions of the Church in relation to others. Specifically, we are to proclaim the love of God in Jesus Christ to all peoples that they might also become followers of Jesus.