Storytelling

Who doesn’t like a good story?  I don’t know of many people who do not like to hear one tell a good gripping story.  I have had the privilege of sitting at the feet of some good storytelling people.  Some were relatives that just brighten up the times together with a good story.  Some were friends who would tell about past adventures.

A good story is priceless.

For some people, storytelling is indeed priceless.  For some people in our world, storytelling might be the only way that they get to encounter the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last night, my wife did a great job of sharing with our church family about mission work done in the Ivory Coast through some of our IMB missionaries.  One of the major ways that the Gospel is shared in the Ivory Coast is through storytelling the Bible.  This is done primarily because the literacy rate is sadly very low.  A great video that tells a little about the work in the Ivory Coast can be seen here.

This got me to thinking…

If we had to share the truths of the Bible with another person in the form of storying, could we?

In our country, it is not uncommon for there to be a copy of the Bible in the home, workplace, hotel rooms, library, or other places we find ourselves frequently.  You can even find the Bible at Walmart!  Even though we have an abundance of Bibles at our fingertips, I am concerned that we don’t know what the story of the Bible really is.

I would encourage you to take that number one best-seller that may be on a shelf close by and take time to learn the story of the Bible.  Don’t just read and listen to the many stories, but take time to see the overall story that goes throughout Scripture.  Then let’s take the time to share that story with others around us.

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Deal Hunting

20130720-080209.jpg Looking for deals seems to be a hot thing these days. I hear about those who will search for coupons and the best deals in order to save a few dollars. I can remember my grandmother and her “deal hunting.” She would go to three different stores in her town depending on who had what on sale that week. It might be picking milk up at one and eggs at another while peanut butter is on sale at a completely different store.

The Bible is clear on its teaching about stewardship. There is truly nothing that we own in and of ourselves. We are stewards of the things that we have – money, talents, time, children, jobs, etc. We are to care for them and use them in the best way that will accomplish their God-given purposes.

As I was looking at my devotion this morning, I came across the deal hunter’s verse. But I do not think it would fit all situations for those coupon-cutters.

“Act wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time.” Colossians 4:5 HCSB

The verb that is translated “making the most” (ἐξαγοραζόμενοι) literally means “to purchase or buy up.” It’s like that deal hunter finding the deal of the year. What do the deal hunters do when they find “the big deal”? They stock up. They jump on it. They “make the most of it.”

God is giving us some big opportunities or deals to be jumped on with those who do not know Jesus. These bargains are all around us and meant to be taken. We are to see the opportunities to show Jesus to those around us as they present themselves. They are everywhere.

My prayer is that God might open my eyes today to see the deals that are to be capitalized on – those times to show Jesus to the world – all around me. But not just see them, but to make the most of them.

False Witness

I am taking a Biblical Ethics class at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary this semester.  We are in the middle of a discussion on the 10 Commandments.  I was a part of a group that dealt with what is commonly known as the 9th Commandment: “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5:20 HCSB).

This has commonly been brought across as the commandment that says: “Don’t lie.”  While the thought is definitely there, the original context was dealing with how one speaks about another person especially in the context of legal matters.  The issue of telling the truth can be found at the heart of this commandment.  For Christians, truth-telling is important because we are those that are followers of the Truth.

In preparing for class discussion on this commandment, I read Doing Right: Practicing Ethical Principles by David Gill.  When Gill addressed this commandment, he grouped some modern-day areas together that seem to break this commandment. These areas are advertising, politics and evangelism. While advertising and politics are easy to see where people “stretch the truth” if not outright lie about things, the area of evangelism took me by surprise.

How do we as Christians do evangelism?  Do we “stretch the truth”?  Do we share the whole story?  Are we as willing to tell people about the cost of coming to Christ (Luke 14:25-27) or just the “good parts” (forgiveness of sin, heaven, etc)?

Something to think about… What’s your thoughts?

Radio Interview

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Recently, I was contacted by Moody Radio South and asked to do an interview. They are going to run a series on “the ripple effect” that people can have in our world today. I was honored by the opportunity to share thoughts and answer questions on this topic.

The interview is going to air on Wednesday, August 22 around 7am. You can click on the link below to see if there is a broadcast in your area or just listen online.

Moody Radio South

The Sin of Isolationism

I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.

1 Corinthians 5:9 HCSB

As the apostle Paul is writing to this church in Corinth about some things that are going on, some churches today are taking it to heart.  Paul had written the Corinthian church previously about some of the relationships that they had.  Paul had warned them not to associate with people who were living in blatant unrepentant sin.

Before becoming a pastor, I had the privilege of serving in student ministry for many years.  During my time in student ministry and working with teenagers and their families, the issue of isolating students from “the world” came up many times.  Parents wanted to see their children not tainted by “the world”.  There was even times when this verse was used to justify it.

I never wanted to see anyone get caught up in the traps of “this world”.  I know that a person’s environment can be a strong factor in how they will act themselves.  If a person has come to Christ and is trying to change their habits, then sometimes the best thing that they can do is put some separation between them and their former environments and friends.

A problem that I see is that when Christians isolate themselves from “the world”, they lose their opportunity to accomplish the Great Commission.  Can you see a Christian come to saving faith in Christ?  They are already there!  The Gospel was given to Christians to go and share with “the world” who does not know Christ.

If you continue to read on as to what Paul was writing to the Corinthian church, you see that he was talking about not having association with those who call themselves followers of Jesus and then live in blatant unrepentant sin (1 Corinthians 5:11). Now, this is a different ballgame altogether.  For those within the church, those who name the Name of Christ and live in a way that you would never know it, then there needs to be a couple of things going on.

First, there needs to be some confrontation.  How many of our parents told us when we went out, “Remember who you belong to and the name you carry?”  We are in no place to judge a person’s eternal destiny, but we can call what we see.  I heard one preacher say it like this: “God didn’t make me a judge of your soul, but He did call me to be a fruit inspector!”  Christians should love one another enough to get in their face when they are clearly out of line.  I believe that many of the problems that we see in churches today would not be there if more brothers and sisters in Christ would hold their spiritual siblings to the commitment they made when they decided to become a Christian.

Second, there needs to be some room for the Holy Spirit to work.  When we do not confront our brother or sister in Christ on the blatant sin in their lives, we send the message that we approve of it.  God has called us to reflect Him and be holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16).  When sin is present in the life of a Christian and they are not willing to repent of it, then (after confronting in love) we should allow room for God to do a discipline work in their lives (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20).

We cannot put a barrier between the Gospel – the message of hope placed in the hearts of Christians – and “the world” – those who do not know Christ.  Should we expect an non-Christian to act any other way than a non-Christian?  If we do not intentionally go to them with the Gospel, how will they hear?  May it not be said of Christians that we are just living in our “holy huddle”.  May we intentionally build relationships with non-Christians and share with them the amazing love that Jesus has given to us.