Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

The Christian “Bubble”

August 30, 2013

Hey everyone,

I thought I’d kick-off my return to T4E with a post that means a lot to me personally. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with it though, so hopefully someone finds this helpful.

Many of us have heard the term “the Christian bubble.” Sometimes it’s used more specifically to refer to our churches, Christian schools, primarily Christian neighborhoods, etc. Basically, it means a sphere of friends or a place of interaction that is pretty isolated from the secular world.

I am a student at a small-ish Christian college called Cedarville University that is 20 minutes away from the nearest civilization. I definitely live in what we here like to call the “Cedarville bubble.” I don’t interact with unbelievers on anything close to a regular basis. Sure, it’s great to be surrounded by fellow believers with whom I can worship daily. But how am I supposed to be a light for Christ in this place full of other lights?

This is a question that many have struggled with–especially those whose normal interaction is limited to (Christian) school/church friends. I too have struggled to find out what God would have me do during my time in the Cedarville bubble.

Just a note: I don’t intend any of the following thoughts to make anyone feel guilty. I’m simply saying what I’ve learned from my (admittedly limited) experience and what I feel God is laying on my heart.

The Great Commission never goes away, despite our circumstances. This might seem obvious, but if you think about it, many of us tend to use our bubbles as an excuse not to evangelize. I’ve been guilty of this time and time again. I’ve thought many time, “Well, I really don’t interact with non-Christians on a daily basis. I’m sure God will bring some into my life eventually. For now I’ll just prepare myself for that.” This, however, is entirely the wrong attitude to have. God wants us to be always fulfilling the Great Commission! We don’t get a break because of our life situation! So we need to find out the best way to live out God’s command from within the bubble–or find a way to get out of the bubble altogether.

I don’t want to leave you on that note, so I do have a few ideas on how we can make this work. First of all, we all know at least one person who does not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. It might be someone whom you recognize as being only a nominal Christian. Jesus tells us that we will know people by their fruit, so, while we cannot judge a person’s heart, it is often quite apparent when someone is only pretending to be a Christian. However, it is more than likely that you also know at least one person who doesn’t even claim the name of Jesus. Think about it for a bit. I’m sure someone will come to mind. Even if you don’t spend much time with them, they need Jesus too, and you do have a connection to that person.

Secondly, you are not trapped in whatever bubble you inhabit. For example, while I live at Cedarville, I can leave campus. I have a car. I have friends with cars. There are a bunch of different ministries with vans. You all may not have quite that level of opportunity available to you, but I’m sure you have at least one. Don’t wait for God to bring unbelievers to you. Sometimes He does, and it’s awesome, but most of the time we have our own responsibility in the matter. Be intentional about finding opportunities to get to know non-Christians! Talk to people in your neighborhood. Find a ministry you can join. Trust me, there is a way in pretty much any bubble to find a way to get out.

Lastly, though it may have sounded like I was deriding “preparation” as an excuse for inaction before, that’s now what I intended. The fact is, we always need to be preparing. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves so that we become changed by it. We need to be praying for God’s strength. We need to be fellowshipping with other Christians who can pour into our lives and build us up. Opportunities sometimes take time to find. Prepare yourself to

I hope this is an encouragement to someone. Just remember, God always provides a way to accomplish his work!

To God be the glory forever and ever!
.:Matt:.

Make your own gospel tract

May 19, 2010

Gospel tracts are terrific. I really mean that, they’re terrific. They can be used when you don’t have enough time to start a conversation. They can be used to start a conversation. I’ve heard several stories of people that read a gospel tract which prompted them to trust in Jesus. I even heard of a friend of a friend who was hitchhiking, saw a dirty tract laying beside the road, read it, and believed in the saving power of Jesus.

There’s always a struggle for me to find a gospel tract that I really like. It either has good looks with a watered down gospel, or it’s got a bold gospel message with horrible looks. Some work really well, like the million dollar bill tract, but for older people, they don’t really cut it. With super tiny print and a silly design of fake moneys, they don’t work for seniors. But if you do get ones that older people would accept, you feel really funny about handing some teenager a glossy print picture of a rose with the words “You are special”.

Thats when another idea came to me: make my own personalized tract! People had talked about it and we had made one long ago as a family. So over the past year I’ve made four or so tracts all differing in subject and introductions but all having the essential points of the gospel that I knew it needed.

And here’s the cool thing, people seem to take them a lot easier. When you can smile, walk up to someone, and say, “Here, this is for you. I wrote it.” They seem to be a lot more able to accept the tract. I recently took a trip to California to see my grandpa and I took about fifty of the tracts along (the one in the picture above). I ended up only giving away about half as I walked through the airport, plane, and in town, but it was enjoyable. Pretty much the only people that didn’t accept the tract were people that didn’t even look at it; they just immediately rejected contact from a stranger.

So, it’d be a good idea for you to make your own gospel tract. A really good idea. What I did was find a computer program that easily makes quarter-fold cards. The first tracts I made had simple designs, you know, just large text on the front, and words on the inside and back. But I like graphics and pictures, so the more recent ones have more of that type stuff; the one in the picture can even be unfolded for more on the inside. After I make several revisions and had a few people read it, I printed several, folded them, and gave them away. Also, pray before writing, that’s really important. Oh, and use verses.

I think you get the basic idea. Go for it!

P.S. Don’t let tracts take the place of actually witnessing. That’s invaluable.

(Levi) Ask if you want to know more.

The importance of Scripture memory

May 26, 2009

Memorizing Scripture is an essential part of the Christian life.  It is even more essential to evangelism.  The Bible itself even says that it is a powerful tool for evangelism.  Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”  The purpose of God’s Word is to draw people to Jesus.  If we use it, it will accomplish that purpose.  But honestly, who carries their Bible with them wherever they go?  I’m sure that it wouldn’t be a bad idea, but sometimes that could be impractical.  Therefore, in order for us to use the Bible in evangelism, and in order to be ready at all times, we need to memorize God’s Word.

Besides being ready to use Scripture in your evangelism, Scripture can also help us fight temptation.  The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  Besides the obvious reason of sin essentially being spitting in the face of God, we need to not sin so we can be a good witness to those around us.  If you do things that you know are wrong and don’t hold yourself to higher standards, it could seriously hurt your ability to witness to those around you, and it could also distort people’s view of Christianity.  Therefore, we must hide God’s Word in our hearts.

In Christ,

Matt

Side Note:  I have recently discovered a great event called the National Bible Bee.  It is a Scripture knowledge and memory competition.  You can get more information about it here, though the deadline for this year is past: http://www.biblebee.org.  Also, there is a tool for Scripture memorization at http://www.memorizehisword.com.  These are great tools and motivators for Scripture memory!

Here’s another testimony

April 23, 2009

As a Christian, I feel compelled to tell others of the work God has done in my life. I also feel that it is my responsibility to help others who come from a situation similar to mine. You often hear that God works through bad to work for good. This is true, but it has been written off as a simple cliché to be glossed over and discarded.

This idea is not however one to be glossed over. It is the rallying cry for so many people. God has used the worst parts of my life to bring about the best parts. Through my pain, God has called me to a new level of closeness to him. He has comforted me and taught me things that up to a year ago I would not have seen as possible.

When I was an infant, my father abandoned my mother and me. I have seen him twice since then: once in Publix grocery store; the other time was at the local movie theater. I always wondered what it would be like if he had stayed, why he didn’t want me, and whether or not I would be accepted among my friends, because I had no father. My mother has loved me and done everything in her power to make me happy since the day I was born, but I always had these nagging thoughts in my head.

I never hated my father for abandoning me; Far from it. I longed for someone to teach me; someone to love me and accept me as their own. For years, I blamed myself for this. I called myself weak, and said if I had a son as repulsing as me that I would have left too. I blamed myself for my mother’s unhappiness, and the lines that were etched into her skin from the stress that is constantly on a single-mother. When I was five, she was married to a man named David. Though he was named as the man after God’s own heart, he was no such man. He was a weak man, vindictive and cruel. He suffered from bipolar disorder, but he was still responsible for his actions. He pretended to love me for two years, and even adopted me. A year later, my mom had a daughter and he no longer wanted or needed me to carry on the family name. For years, he verbally and physically abused me. He would backhand me to the floor, and kick me repeatedly. His reasons were things like the fact that I had forgot to make my bed, or I was going to make them late. He would hurt me, showing no mercy, and several times I feared for my life. As I grew, the beatings escalated, and three times my mom kicked him out of our house. For a time all was well.

Everything was good, except for me. The next year he returned and moved back in saying that he was better and he was on a new medicine. A week went by before he threw me to the floor and tried to throw me down the stairs. My mom had had enough. She had him arrested and filed for a divorce. During the divorce, we realized that he was addicted to prostitutes and had been with 100+ women during the marriage. My mom was devastated she cried for 3 days straight, and I hated this man even more. He had pushed this family beyond breaking point and I just wanted him to die.

I was suicidal for about two months and was checked into a children’s hospital. It helped me a lot with the fact that this was not my fault; But I still hated. It grew inside of me and ate me from the inside out. My life grew worse, at school I was bullied and actually had to change schools because of this. From there my life improved and I found the Lord. I loved him but I didn’t know him. I went on a family building retreat last October with my mother. This retreat was the single most important part of my life. I learned forgiveness, and it changed my life. I knew what he did, but I no longer hated him. I had truly forgiven him for those long years. This was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I no longer hurt. I no longer was constantly tired, or hurt. Forgiveness is the most important thing that has happened to me besides being saved. Because of this, I felt it was my responsibility as a Christian to share my testimony with you. If you have been abused in your life, or have general hurts, I want to be here to support you with empathy not sympathy. I want to help you get through this because I know how it is to go for years without any help. I pray for you even though I don’t know you, and will pray for you even more when I learn of you particular situation.

May the Lord bless you and keep you forever and ever. Amen.

They just keep coming…

April 17, 2009

Got another testimony for you all!

I was raised in a Christian home, and at the age of five I was watching a Donut Man video. The Donut Man was saying that our hearts are like a donut, there’s an empty space that we can’t fill. But Jesus comes in and fills up that empty place (the Donut Man used a donut hole for this part) and takes away our sins. So I went and found my dad, and he and I prayed on the stairs of our deck. And that’s how I initially trusted in Jesus Christ.

Some time went by, and I continued going to church, having a Christian upbringing, etc. But my faith still wasn’t really my own. I wasn’t letting Christ run my life. When I was twelve I went to church camp. The speaker was talking about surrendering all that we have to Christ, and letting him be the center of our lives. I prayed for God to change me, and let him run my life.

Since then I have really grown in my faith, and God has taken me through lots of difficulties. I am constantly shown that I can’t do anything good on my own, can’t get through anything on my own, but I can with God. I love Jesus and am so glad he saved me.

One more testimony

April 16, 2009

I’ve got another testimony to share with you!

My life was normal until 2nd grade. I accepted Christ at the age of three, and was raised by Godly parents in a Christian environment. But when 2nd grade came around, the doctor discovered I have growth hormone deficiency by a 6-hour blood test and an MRI. Without an addition of hormones to my body, I would be around 4′ tall full grown. The only way to make my life regular was to take shots. Since then, I give myself a shot in the stomach every day. It’s not painful, but it is highly expensive and a big hassle. Just last summer (0Cool I was given a second long test (around 4 hours) to determine if I still needed to take shots. Duringthe test, I was shot with insulin to simulate a 24-hour period. Unfortunately, my blood sugar dropped very close to death and I was somewhat sick. A few weeks later we discovered that I would have to continue taking shots, to avoid obesity and to keep my body functioning. This was a hard time for me, as I struggled with what the purpose of it was. God kept bringing me back to Romans 8:28, and it didn’t take me long to get my life back focused on Him. But I still have to face the consequences, and will for the rest of my life. Obesity as I grow older could become a factor, and the outrageous price of the medicine could become a major problem in the future, plus I have a weak immune system and get sick easily. But God was with me through all of it, and taught me that He would bring beauty from my pain.

While this was a very hard time in my life, I have been blessed in so many ways. God has given me a great family, an easy way of life, and a plethora of Christian friends. Around four years ago, my mom started a small group for me and three friends. Now there are eight of us, and they are a great way to stay accountable in Christ.

Probably the greatest thing that God did for me during this time was show me what to do with my life. When I was young, all I wanted to be was a missionary. I’d try to convert my (Christian) grandmother, and practice telling Jesus’ story to her. When I was six, I handed out the Easter story as I had written it. But as I grew older, I was still very firmly a Christian but my interests swayed from misssions. But just several months ago (2008), God spoke to me and told me that missions was where I could be used, specifically in the Middle East, and possibly as a Wycliffe Bible translator. I’m not sure what God has in store for me, but if I keep on His narrow way and focus on Him, whatever it is will be the best thing for me.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Hannnah

Start of Evangelism series

April 15, 2009

Hey all! I’ve been given the privilege of starting off the evangelism series.

So, I’ve decided to start off with what I like to call love evangelism. This is a really big subject, but I feel like God has been laying this on my heart more and more.  I have been evangelizing to my friends for a while now, but it’s only recently that I’ve started thinking about using this style of evangelism.

I think you have to start with understanding that every person you meet is just that, a person. And what’s more, if they’re hurting they don’t want you to throw a bible at them. They want you to understand them.  And if you think about it, that’s what Jesus did. He didn’t go around telling people to repent and turn to Him, he loved them and made friends.

I believe that if you live for you life for Christ, and spend more time loving people than you do preaching at them, they will notice a difference, and want to know why you are different.  I’m not saying that you should never bring up the gospel, I’m simply saying that it might be better to start a relationship first.

This brings me to another point, when you do get into a “religious” discussion, you have to be careful not to bash the person or their beliefs. Nobody wants to be yelled at, and nobody really wants to be told they’re wrong. I had the best results when I took this approach. Instead of attacking my friend and his religion, I listened to what he believed and then showed him what I believe. This particular person believes in the Bible so, I showed him what he said, and what the Bible said. While I didn’t actually bring him to Christ, I believe God helped me to plant seeds.

I hope this has caused you to think about your approach to evangelism.

In Christ,

History Maker

One more testimony

April 14, 2009

I really never get tired of these :-).  Enjoy!

I was born into a “Christian” family. i went to church as a kid, I sang all the songs, memorized all the verses, but I was a C.I.N.O.(Christian in name only). I was like this all the way through my elementary years. By the time i was in sixth grade i finally got sick of never feeling genuine and feeling empty. I started feeling like the reason I felt this way was because I wasn’t good enough. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I felt like I was worse than normal, and for some reason when Jesus died he wasn’t dying for me. I had this internal pain that would not come out no matter how much I screamed or cried. My pillows would be soaked from crying my self to sleep every night. I turned to cutting, and I had thoughts of suicide on my mind all the time. I cut nearly every day and made three suicide attempts within three years. Fortunately, they all failed. I felt so alone and empty and worthless. No body knew because I was so good at hiding it. Finally, I cracked, I told my best friend about all that had happened and was happening. He sat there and cried and told me that he cared and that if i were to die he wouldn’t know what to do. That was my flicker of hope. he helped me through everything, and i eventually started telling more people. They all told me how important I was to them. Then finally one day one of my friends prayed for me and her words rang in my ears. That was when it hit me, Jesus died on the cross for me, He was thinking about me and my life when he died, He wanted me and he was looking for me. That night I rededicated my life to Christ. I still struggle with depression, but now I don’t have to fight it myself, God is there and he is my strength. I know I’ll have my struggles but without sorrow there can be no joy.

Another testimony

April 5, 2009

I’ve gotten another testimony that someone has given me permission to share.  Enjoy :-).

My testimony is somewhat the normal… but it still is life-changing.

My family and I had just moved to Tulsa,OK, from Lancaster County, PA, in hopes of getting involved in full time ministry. I was two months to turning 6 so I was at the age where I could get scared by the dumbest things ever. I had watched the Veggie-Tales version of David and Goliath: Dave and the Giant Pickle. That night, the giant pickled haunted me in my dreams. He was chasing me around, fisting his boxing gloves madly. I woke up, terrified to go back to sleep. I called Mom in and, as we talked, I shared with her my desire to accept Jesus into my heart. Hand in hand, we walked down the Romans Road and she explained the seriousness of sin, the reason the Jesus had to die, God’s mercy and grace tempered with rightous justice, eternity and the Christian lif. She prayed with and that night, June 5, 2000, my name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

I went on through life, reading my Bible, praying… playing the whole Christian charades. It wasn’t until I was around 11 that I learned that the Christian life includes whole-hearted responsibility. Also, I dealt a lot with guilt… how could God possibly love me after I mouthed my sister off? After I disrespected my parents? I talked to my dad about my struggle and he explained that God’s love and mercy is boundless. He is infinite in grace and forgiveness. Then he explained about baptism and the purpose for that. I didn’t understand everything about it, but I soaked it up still the same. I got baptized last year in April and it is still one of the most beautiful days of my life.

To this day, I have challenges facing me every moment of every day. I still struggle with guilt and the radical love of God that overcomes that. Do you ever stand in awe and wonder at the fact that God would rather die than to live without you? I do. It still amazes me that God would send His only Son down to live on a downtrodden earth full of sinful people… the very people that would call for His death. It wasn’t fair (for Him or for us) that Jesus had to come down from His heavenly home and pay our debt. He didn’t want to.

He didn’t have to.

He prayed three times, “Father, please don’t make me go through this!” But He chose to surrender to the will of God and die upon the cross, so that we could live under righteousness.

That’s the radical love of God.

Incentives to Soul-winning

November 27, 2008

A good question to ask is, “why should we evangelize?”. There are several reasons, a few of which we will examine here. They all come right from the Bible. So, why should we share our faith with others? Here are three reasons, which have to with our love to God, our love for others, and our (let’s face it) love for ourselves.

  1. Because God says to. (Loving God)

This one is pretty obvious. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel unto every creature…”     (Mark 16:15) But the fact that God tells us to share our faith should encourage us to do it! Here is one reason why: Where God commands, He empowers. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) This is all a part of keeping that one great commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God…”.

2.  Because Hell is a real place. (Loving our neighbors)

“And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:23) We need to tell other people about Jesus because Hell is a real place. Do you want to go to Hell? I think not. At least I know that I do not want to go to a place called Hell. Do you want to go to a real place called Heaven? You will if you are saved by Christ and understand what Heaven really means: what Heaven really is. And it is not just a place where we sit on clouds and play harps forever. I really think that Heaven will be the most fun place in the universe. So, I know that I want to go there.

If we want these things for ourselves, we ought to want them for others. The Lord says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39) This means that the good we desire for ourselves we should desire for others, too.

3. Because there are great rewards. (Toward self)

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6). The precious seed, says the Lord “is the word of God”      (Luke 8:11). God “renderest to every man according to his work” (Psalm 62:12). This means that because God is just (and there are many verses that say so!), he will give all of us what we deserve. He will not give us according to the results, but according to the effort. What do we get for this effort? Jesus said, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where theives do not break through nor steal”. These treasures are eternal.

So, as you can see there are quite a few reasons for us Christians to be out there witnessing. My challenge for us all this week is to gain a burden for the lost. Ask God to help you go and weep for the lost, seeking their souls for Christ. That is one step on the Greatest Adventure.

God bless!

~ Anthony H.