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.

Lend A Hand

helping handsAt the church that I serve as Pastor, we are looking at the book of Acts on Wednesday nights.  This has been a good journey so far.  We were looking at chapter 3 recently.  This is the account of where a man who was lame from birth was miraculously healed.

We see Peter and John heading to the temple for a time of prayer.  They came across a sight that was all to common: someone begging for necessities.  There was no government welfare programs.  People in this man’s condition during this time were at the mercy of those going to “worship.”

In verse 6, Peter tells the man that they do not have what this man wants (money), but they do have what this man needs (wholeness in Jesus).  They tell the man to get up and walk.  I can only imagine the look that the apostles received from this man.  They were asking him to do something that he had never done before.

What happened next stood out to me most clearly.  The apostles didn’t just tell this man a good message.  They stopped what they were doing, bent their schedule, and actually helped the man to his feet.

How many times are we tempted to just pass on a good word or message and then move on our merry little way?  We may see someone in need and say, “God bless you!” or “May the Lord be with you” or “here’s $5 to get some food,” and then we’re off.

I think that doing something is better than nothing.  We could easily just walk right by and think, “it’s not my problem.”  I would hope that God’s people would not do that.  But what greater impact could be made if we took a moment and actually helped those who are down up?

I remember last year being at a statewide meeting for our denomination.  It was in downtown of the state capital.  When the evening session – which was a great time of worship – dismissed, many filed out to their vehicles to go to their respective places for the night.  I noticed a man who seemed homeless asking for money from those going to their vehicles.  Every single person just pushed him away.  I was shocked that so many people that had just had the opportunity to worship the Lord were so quick to turn away from this man.

I went to him and asked his name.  I asked him what he needed, and he said some money for food.  He was indeed homeless.  I was tired.  I was supposed to be getting to my in-laws’ house for the night.  I was supposed to be calling in and checking on my wife and kids back home.  But here before me was a need that I could meet.  Would it call for me to adjust my schedule?  Yes.  Am I able to help every single homeless person in that area?  Probably not – don’t have that kind of funding.  I could do for this one what I wished that I could do for everyone (statement credit has to go to Andy Stanley).  I told him to get into my vehicle and took him to the local Taco Bell.

On the ride, I heard a little more of his story.  He was not very receptive to Gospel talk.  I just shared that I was a Christian and would like to help him because Jesus has helped me.  I bought him a $5 combo meal.  We parted ways.

Did he trust Jesus and enter the next worship service jumping and praising God with me?  Nope.  I do not know what happened of him.  I do know that as I drove to my in-laws’ house that I felt one of the greatest moments of peace that I had in a while.  I had been the hands and feet of Christ to this man for a moment.

Words are good.  We need to share the words of hope that are found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Actions reaffirm those words.  May the Church be the hands and feet of Christ in this world because nothing else will be.

Do We Really Believe Jesus Is The Only Way?

As a Christian, I believe that salvation from our sins comes only through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Golgotha. I know that many share this view with me. I know also that there are those who believe that there are alternative routes to heaven.

Some will say that being a good, moral person is the route to take. Many in this boat also believe that the branch of “religion” used isn’t important as long as you’re sincere and this “religion” leads you to being a good, moral person. What is the determining factor of being a “good, moral person?” One’s view of morality might be drastically different than another’s. In this argument, the line of admission (remember those “you must be this tall to ride signs”?) is blurry.

Others will say that as long as your “good” outweighs your “bad,” then you’ll go to heaven. I have a couple of questions about this:

  1. How do you determine what is “good” or “bad”?  This would call for a source that more than likely has a road attached to it.
  2. Is it a one-for-one ratio (one good thing cancels out one bad thing) or are their different levels of good and bad?

The issue that I have with this is that we will be honest with ourselves, we hope that the good outweighing the bad is not the case.  We hope this because we have all done much more “bad” than “good” in our lives.  Think about how many times that you have lied… cheated… taken what was not yours… thought ill of others…

The truth is, and thanks be unto God for this, that the grace of God through His Son, Jesus, is the only thing that can make us right before a holy God and get us into heaven.  With this in mind, here’s the question that is in my mind:

If faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven, then why are those who have received this gift not sharing it with others?

I like something that Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, shared in his sermon to the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this week.  He asked something along the lines of “If Jesus were to come back today and ask the Church why millions of people have not heard the Gospel, what would the Church say?”

This is a great question.  If we truly believe that faith in Christ is the only way to heaven and a right relationship with God, then why in the world are we keeping it to ourselves?  Why is it not being shared with those who have not heard?  The early disciples stood on this fact and let it drive them that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 HCSB).

A Divided Heart

I know that the title of this post may seem a little out of place, but it is the description of what I’m feeling right now. This weekend I have the opportunity to visit one of the places I have loved for most of my life: Birmingham, Alabama.

There has been a sweet spot in my heart for Birmingham from the time I was a little boy. It was at Legion Field that I got to see my first Alabama football game. It was there where two of my three sons were born. God blessed me with the opportunity to serve in ministry there for a little over three years not long ago. It was in Birmingham that the Lord drew my heart to the pastorate from student ministry.

A big part of me is excited to see the big city and some great friends again.

Then there’s the other part…

The reason for this trip. Even with it I am torn. I have been asked to do the funeral of a former youth. I am honored that this family would call on me to speak words of encouragement and share the Gospel. That part I’m excited about.

The part I’m not excited about is having to say “good-bye” to a former student. When a young person dies, it tugs deeply at my heart. The thought of potential that is gone. The experiences that they will not have like getting married, having children, etc.

As you can see, I am torn. Even though I’m torn, I have accepted this call to share the Gospel and minister to this family. I ask for your prayers as I share but also for the family as they say good-bye to their son.