Our vacation has ended. Kyle and Kimberly are married. Carmela and I officially have an empty nest. Time moves on. It was just a few years ago that we started our family and it seemed that life promised many years of family enjoyment and raising children. Now we are at the stage of watching our children raise their children – seeing them grow and mature in the Lord. Where did all the time go?
As some of you know, we do not get to see our children and grandchildren but once or twice a year. Yes, it is difficult to miss the many special moments in their lives. But I know that God has called Carmela and I to a greater calling – the service of the King. While family brings us great fun and enjoyment, it is not the primary focus of our lives. The glory of God and a call to His purposes is much greater. Jesus put it this way with some tough words when it comes to being His disciple, Luke 14:26 (NLT), “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”
Recently I finished reading the book Stay Salt by Rebecca Manley Pippert. In my reading, there were many thought-provoking statements that I wanted to share with you. Why? Because I feel most of us “lack”. You may ask, “Pastor, what do you mean?” We “lack” intentional engagement with others about the hope of the gospel. Often, we do not see ourselves as ambassadors of the King. We can be so caught up in the things of the world – family (ouch!), sports (they can often take priority over ministry), possessions (as though we need all the latest gadgets), our homes (as though this is our final home), politics (as though man has all the answers), etc. that we fail to keep the ‘main thing, the main thing.’
May these excerpts from Rebecca Manley Pippert’s book, Stay Salt, stir our hearts and minds to draw us back to the mission. First, let’s start with Romans 10:14 (NLT), “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
“We need to be praying and asking God through his Spirit to give us courage, wisdom, and a deeper love for him and for others.”
“When we look at how believers engaged in evangelism in the Bible, we see it comprising three things. Evangelism is the act of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in word (proclamation) and deed (actions) and invitation (calling people to trust Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior). Those three actions—speaking the good news, living the good news, and inviting others to follow Jesus—are essential to biblical evangelism.”
“It is God and only God who brings people to faith in his Son—wonderfully, he usually does that life-changing work through his people.”
“Where do we begin in being a witness for Jesus? First, look at the people God has brought into your life: neighbors, colleagues at work, people at the gym, parents of your kids’ friends, and so on. Then think about how to simply build real friendships with them.”
When people believe you genuinely care about them, they are more apt to open up and engage in conversation. The process may be long, but if we care, we will take the time needed.
Manley Pippert offers these suggestions as a guide to move a conversation with someone toward the gospel. This issue is a problem for many:
- Pray – Prayer is our primary work. Always seek the Lord.
- Find common ground – Look for areas you have in common to talk about.
- Ask good questions – Challenge their thinking without being overly aggressive. Ask “why” questions.
- Gently challenge someone’s worldview with further questions – Listen respectfully and take their responses seriously. Be slow to point out where they are wrong.
- Agree where you can, then steer the conversation with God’s truth.
- Point to the deeper problem with man – sin. Express the idea using the terminology they have already used.
I trust these excerpts give you some ‘food for thought.’ Are you actively on mission? Yes, how we live matters greatly. But living daily ‘on mission’ to engage with others about Jesus should be on our radar as well.
Why? He matters more!
Walking with you,