Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’

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EMBRACING JUDGMENT – Mar. 17

March 17, 2014

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”  Philippians 3:17

National Christian Forensics and Communication...

National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have spent the last three days, five if you count travel, with my family in Richland, Washington for the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association (NCFCA), Tri-Windy Speech and Debate tournament.  My son competed in two speech categories and Lincoln- Douglas debate.  However, I think that I was more consumed with this tournament than he was.

These tournaments rely upon community members to be judges for the students.  Parents are used to fill in the judging gaps as necessary.  Unfortunately, there were a lot of gaps to fill at this tournament, so I spent a lot of time judging.  I was responsible for determining winners and losers of debates.  I had to place speakers in a ranking order from 1 to 7 or 8.  I had to have opinions.  I had to have preferences.  I had to judge and reveal my conclusions.

After a speech or debate, I was thanked by each competitor for giving my time to come and be a judge for them.  They welcomed being judged.  While I was there for them, I don’t know if these competitors grasp how much they are impacting the judges that sit before them.  Those who judge cannot help but be influenced by those they are judging.

I am two days removed from the competition but I am still lingering over the spoken words from that tournament:

I am still savoring the tears of compassion elicited by words spoken with a quiet, confident, spirit.

I am still smiling in remembrance of the precious lisp of a voice given to a cricket who just wanted to be a butterfly (I Wish I Were a Butterfly).

I am still feeling the empathy that came from a delicate portrayal of mental illness. (The Yellow Wallpaper)

I am still appreciating how two competitors made a caterpillar come to life.  (Alice in Wonderland)

I am still awakened to the reality of a child soldier. (War Child: A Child Soldier’s Story)

I am still relishing the tears of laughter from the creativity of an interpretation of  Dr. Seuss.

I am still encouraged by the student who endured when his memory failed him.  He fought through to the end with courage greater than the comic-book characters he was portraying.

This tournament was ostensibly about the competitors.  However, there is always so much more happening when an individual embraces judgment.  The judged will inevitably influence the judge.  These competitors are learning the skills of the spoken word.  These are skills that will assist them in influencing their world for the rest of their lives.  However, that influence is not just in the future – I was influenced by their words.  These speech and debate tournaments are less about the competitors than they may realize.  These competitors are influencing the judging adults that sit before them now because of their willingness to be judged.

If they were not willing to be judged,
they would never influence these adults.

Georg Gsell. "The Apostle Paul."

We live in a world resistant to judging.  Often, we will try to protect ourselves from judgmental eyes.  However, we will never influence a world without embracing judgment.  When Paul challenged us to imitate him, he was opening himself up to judgment.  We form opinions about Paul’s life because of his challenge; we have to determine if his example is worthy of following.  Paul embraced the judgment of others and profoundly influenced the world.  If Paul had worried about judgment, he would never have interacted with the world.  He would never have spoken publicly.  He would never have written letters.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul had a profound influence over the world, because he was willing to be judged.

The world watches all of us.
We can either scorn their judgmental opinions or
we can embrace the opportunity to influence.

Going out into the world is a declaration of our willingness to subject our lives to the judgment of the world.

Are you willing to allow your words to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your decisions to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your beliefs to be judged?
Are you willing to allow your life to be judged?

It is not about us; it is about influencing those who judge.   The willingness of those who are willing to be judged are an example to me:

Judge the words I speak;
Judge the words I write;
Judge how I conduct business;
Judge how I have chosen to raise my family;
Judge my faith.

I want to live a life that influences my world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, I embrace the judgment of those who watch.  I embrace their judgment because I know that they will be influenced while they evaluate me.  May we all be willing to stand before the judging eyes of our world so that we may be profound influences upon those who are watching and listening.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me of my fear of other people’s judgment.  Forgive me for relinquishing opportunities to influence this world because I am afraid of a negative reaction.  Help me to welcome the evaluation of my life; use my life to influence the world around me.  Lord, I pray that you will draw others to your Son, Jesus Christ, through the influence that comes from a willingness to be judged.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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QUOTE (John Bunyan) – Feb 18

February 18, 2014

John Bunyan

“God’s grace is the most incredible and insurmountable truth ever to be revealed to the human heart, which is why God has given us His Holy Spirit to superintend the process of more fully revealing the majesty of the work done on our behalf by our Savior. He teaches us to first cling to, and then enables us to adore with the faith He so graciously supplies, the mercy of God. This mercy has its cause and effect in the work of Jesus on the cross.”
~ John Bunyan

In honor of John Bunyan, whose book Pilgrim’s Progress was first published in England on this day in 1678.

Resources:
Today in Christian History – February 18
The 100 best novels: No 1 – The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan (1678)
Pilgrim’ Progress – Christian Classics
John Bunyan>Quotes

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QUOTE (Billy Sunday) – Feb 17

February 17, 2014

Billy Sunday, American baseball player and Chr...

“Listen, I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist, I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head, and I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old, fistless, footless, and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to glory and it goes home to perdition.”
~ Billy Sunday

In honor of Billy Sunday, a former professional baseball player turned evangelist, who made his first appearance as an evangelist in Chicago on this day in 1889.

Resources:
Today in Christian History – February 17
Billy Sunday > Quotes
Billy Sunday – Christian History

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QUOTE (John Mott) – Jan 31

January 31, 2014

Mott in 1910

“The men that will change the colleges and seminaries here represented are the men that will spend the most time alone with God…It takes time for the fires to burn. It takes time for God to draw near and for us to know that He is there. It takes time to assimilate His truth. You ask me, How much time? I do not know. I know it means time enough to forget time.”

“It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.”
~ John R. Mott

In honor of John Mott, American Evangelist and Nobel Prize winner, who died on this day in 1955.

Resources:
Quotes/Evangelical/John Mott
Promoter of World Missions, John Mott
John R. Mott > Quotes

 

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“CAN STAND IDIOTS” – Dec 26

December 26, 2013

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matthew 5:46

csi

I saw this message emblazoned across a young man’s shirt.  The t-shirt should be a statement of personal self-loathing but I know it to actually be a statement of arrogance.  Unfortunately, there are many who live by this personal mantra – “the world is full of idiots”.

However, they will never include themselves in that category.  When they are an expert in some area, they are quick to judge the  actions of people who do something foolish in that area of expertise and thereby demonstrate that idiots abound.  “Did you see that idiot trying to ______________.”

The reality is that they are more correct than they realize.  The world is full of idiots.  Actually, everyone is an idiot in more categories than they are not.

Can you explain the purpose of the camshaft in an internal combustion engine?
– No? You’re an idiot in mechanics.

Can you list the three components of a framed wall?
– No? You’re an idiot in construction.

Can you define a measure in music?
– No? You’re an idiot in music.

Can you calculate the future worth of an annuity?
– No? You’re an idiot in finance.

Can you list the primary colors?
– No? You’re an idiot in art.

Can you explain the difference between the cerebrum and  the cerebellum?
– No? You’re an idiot in medicine.

Can you solve this calculus equation?
49578938844528115f954f534f71a19f

– No? You’re an idiot in mathematics.

It takes very little introspection to realize that there are more things that I know less about than those that I know more of.  It takes even less introspection to acknowledge that there are many people who know more about every subject that I have the most knowledge of.

Therefore, I am a genius to a few and an idiot to a lot.

Any brilliance that I may have is dwarfed by the extent of my foolishness.  If I can’t stand idiots, then I can’t stand the majority of who I am.  So, why are we impatient with those who know less about the subjects in which we are most confident?

PRIDE

Those who are quick to point out the foolishness of other people usually do in order to make much of themselves.  They excel at degrading other people’s inadequacies because it makes them feel superior.  A humble view of the world as a whole should interpret “the world is full of idiots” as a statement of unity.  The world is full of idiots and I am chief of the idiots in many areas.

This arrogance of overconfidence has a way of infiltrating our spiritual lives.  We can arrogantly give simple solutions to complex problems that will be as helpful as pointing out how foolish someone may be.  It may make us feel better about ourselves but does nothing to help the other person.

We can judge a struggling brother or sister for their spiritual failures.

If they only read their Bible as much as I do, then they would mature more in their faith.
If they would only step out in faith like I have, then God would bless them.
If they would only trust God like I do, then they could resist temptations.

We should have compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  They may be making very foolish decisions – we need to pray for them, encourage, and support them to make better decisions.  We should not arrogantly point out how idiotic they are.  I may not be struggling in the same area as they do but the reality is that I am struggling in other areas that might not be as visible.

Every follower of Christ is maturing in their faith.  Since our spiritual maturity is a work of the Spirit from the beginning to the end, there is no place in the body of Christ for spiritual arrogance.  The church is full of idiotic people.  That is a statement of unity.  I am chief in many areas among a foolish and imperfect people.

We foolishly fall short of the perfection that we are called to every single day.  Jesus told us that our righteousness has to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees or we will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:20)

Do you retaliate when someone does something mean to you?
Do you love and pray for those who are causing you harm?
Do you go above and beyond your obligations?
Do you get angry and irritated?
Do your eyes linger lustfully?
Do you relish your wealth?
Do you want to be seen and made much of?

You are a moral idiot.
I am a moral idiot.

I am incapable of being perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.  I have made so many bad decisions.  I continue to make idiotic choices.

That is why I am so thankful that God is patient with idiots like me.  I am so thankful that He has provided a perfection that I could not achieve on my own.  I am grateful for Christ giving me His righteousness to cover all of my foolishness.

If God is so patient with an idiot like me, should I not be just as patient and gracious with His other children.  We need to humble ourselves and patiently endure the foolish, in ourselves and other people, because God can stand idiots – He is doing it right now.

Therefore, let us declare as God does,

CSI:
Can Stand Idiots

PRAYER: O Lord, forgive me for being impatient with those whom you are sanctifying.  Forgive me for being critical of those who struggle in areas where you have made me strong.  Father, thank you for being patient with me and all of the foolishness that I continue to return to.  Lord, continue your work in me.  Continue your work in the Church.  May we glorify You as we are transformed from our idiotic ways.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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QUOTE (Dwight L. Moody) – Dec 26

December 26, 2013

English: Dwight Lyman Moody, founder of the No...

“Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all-out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto his glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”
~ D.L. Moody

In honor of D.L. Moody, one of Christendom’s great evangelists, whose funeral was held on this day in 1899.

Resources:
The One Year Christian History – December 26
Echoes from Glory

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“ALLOW ME TO COMMUNICATE” – June 2

June 2, 2013

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.”  1 Corinthians 2:1

Some of the contestants in the Scripps Nationa...

Some of the contestants in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a new spelling bee champion just crowned.  The new champion is Arvind Mahankali, a 13 year old from New York City.  He won the competition by spelling “knaidel”, which is a German-derived Yiddish word for a matzo ball.  I am annually amazed at the words that get spelled at the Scripps National Spelling Bee that I did not know even existed.

We all have vast list of words that we can choose from in our communication.  I am surprised by the number of times I listen to a speech and wonder what in the world they are talking about.  The speaker will throw in words that are so unfamiliar that I am lost in his terminology.  The result of his word selection has been for me to not fully understand what he was attempting to communicate

Whose fault is the failure to communicate; the listener or the speaker?

It is the communicator’s job to communicate.  If that person fails to explain their ideas in an understandable manner, then they have not done an adequate job in selecting their words.  The process of word selection is not to impress your listeners with your vocabulary.  We should select our words in order to present our ideas in the most interesting, stimulating, and understandable manner.

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

The use of a vocabulary that alienates the listener is rude. 

It may be due to the speaker not even thinking about his audience.  It may be due to a desire to appear intelligent.  We all can get caught up in using words that are very familiar to our profession or expertise but are not universally understood.  I was instructed when I began my engineering career on how to speak in front of our clients.

My job is to communicate engineering principles and recommendations in an understandable manner so that our client can make an informed decision.  It is easy for me to talk over their heads.  I can use words and terminology that are not familiar to them.  I can talk in a way that will make me appear very intelligent.  I can communicate in a manner that frustrates or makes them feel dumb.

However, I will not have done a very good job communicating to my client.  They are not paying me to make a performance of my intelligence.  They are not paying me to make them feel dumb.  They are paying me to help them understand.  Therefore, I will choose my words based on my audience.  I will select words from my vocabulary that will be most effective in helping them understand.

I wonder how much of the rhetorical techniques used within our religious circles have more to do with appearances than actual communication.  I listen to some Christian speakers and wonder at their word selection.  It seems to me that much of the terminology that gets bantered comes from a desire to fit into philosophy departments than with real communication within Church. We should be constantly thinking about our audience as we communicate.  We cannot expect a person with limited or no Church background to understand our strange terminology.  We should care enough about them to select words that are an aid to understanding and not a stumbling block.

Our goal should be to make known Jesus Christ and Him crucified throughout this world.

There are enough stumbling blocks to faith.  May the words we select not be among those stumbling blocks.

PRAYER: Lord, I know that there are so many stumbling blocks in this world.  Forgive me for those times when I have not been gracious enough to select my words carefully.  Forgive me for selecting words that build me up but do not help others understand.  Lord, may your Spirit work past all of my failures to communicate.  Thank you for not relying upon me to pick the perfect word.  Help me to be more conscience of what comes out of my mouth.  Give me a compassion for others that leads me to think about the words that I use.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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