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Good News Is For Sharing (Part 2)

By | Reflections and Readings | No Comments

Why are we so often reluctant sharers? Why, even when we sometimes feel a strong sense of “oughtness” about witnessing do we fail to do it?

I think there are several reasons:

  • Fear of how people will react
  • Not knowing how to communicate or what to say
  • The belief that witnessing is “just not my gift”
  • The lack of motivation
  • A distorted view of what evangelism and witnessing involve

Some identify faith sharing with a certain technique, program, or verbal pattern. Others associate it with high-pressure salesmanship. They find it difficult to get psyched up to something that seems unnatural.

I am so glad it doesn’t have to be this way. Faith sharing at its best comes from the overflow of a life shared with Jesus Christ and others on a day by day basis. I like the way Paul puts it:

“God…through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also” (2 Cor 5:18)

Sharing good news is a life-style patterned after God. It is a life of making friends for God, as God has made us his friends through his Son.

Leighton Ford

Adapted from Good News Is For Sharing (Revised edition, 2017, Leighton Ford Ministries)

For Craig, On Your Anniversary (Leighton Ford)

By | Poetry | No Comments

For Craig on your anniversary

You are a husband of many years,

a father your children trust,

a son-in-law we treasure,

a doctor saluted for your excellence.

 

Last night I saw you as a small boy,

suddenly spotting the space station

hurtling through the clear sky,

and following  it with such rapt delight

until it was out of sight.

Almost I thought you might leap

into the sky and catch it,

and perhaps you almost did.

 

Leighton Young Fella

May 24, 2017

Odd Places and Peculiar People – John Wesley White

By | Odd Places, Videos | One Comment

“I have seldom met a man who had a deeper burden for evangelism” said Billy Graham of John Wesley White, for many years an Associate Evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The holder of a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford and the author of more than twenty books, John Wesley White also held the distinction of making a key introduction in Leighton’s life! Watch and listen as Leighton tells the story.

Odd Places and Peculiar People – John Wesley White from Leighton Ford Ministries on Vimeo.

Photo cred: BGEA

Am I Wasting My Time? (Steve Hayner)

By | Reflections/Essays | No Comments

Steve Hayner was a devoted servant of the Lord, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and of Columbia Theological Seminary. I knew him as friend and fellow board member of World Vision.

Joy in the Journey, by Steve and his wife Sharol, published posthumously, is a classic, their mutual musings in the course of his illness and death.

He always signed his letters, “Joyfully.”

I will always remember his smile.

Leighton

 Recently I’ve been plagued by questions about how I am using my time.  Knowing that my time on this earth is limited is a strong motivation to use the days I have left to the fullest.  Some days, of course, I have little choice because I don’t feel well enough to do much.  There are natural, health-related limitations. But on the days that I feel relatively good, I do have options.  I look back some days and wonder whether I have been as faithful as I could be in how I have used my time.  Have I accomplished enough?  Should I have written more email messages or made more phone calls? Should I have been willing to see more people or worked on more projects that are on my list of possibilities?

I wonder some days how God regards my time.  I’m sure that just being busy isn’t the right criterion.  Yesterday I was taking a little rest and found myself wondering whether resting was the right thing to be doing when I actually felt good enough to do more.

As I said before, discerning and pursuing God’s “call” for any particular day seems to be an important goal.  But discernment isn’t easy.  Sometimes giving myself to little things, or simply to periods of thoughtful reflection may be more important than my activists spirit will approve.

Internally I find that I am developing questions to help me in my discernment.  They include, for example: 1) Is this activity something where my joy intersects with my perception of what brings joy to God? 2) Am I living into this activity with gratitude for the opportunity given to me? 3) Am I able to receive the time before me as a gift, or does it actually feel like a waste or a burden? 4) Does this activity play into old patterns of procrastination on the one hand or overwork on the other? 5) How does this activity express love – for God, for each other, and for God’s work in the world?

Woven into this whole process of discernment for me must be a clear perception of grace, otherwise all of this fuss does little more than encourage me to worry.  If there is no joy in my life, then I am not listening to God’s voice but only to my own perfectionism.  I truly believe that “joy is the business of heaven.”  C. S. Lewis made this important point in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (1964).  Lewis pointed out that it is far too easy for us to assume that only the very serious things of life are approved by God.  But in God’s economy, where so much is upside down, even things that look frivolous, unimportant, wasteful, or playful can be important when they are attached to the joy found in the heart of God’s character.

So the real question about my day is not “how productive was it?” but rather “how much joy did my activity bring, and how much love and gratitude did it express?”

Steve Hayner

A Commencement Address (Steve Johnson)

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Steve Johnson has been pastor, mentor, church planter, and member of LFM’s Point Group. Recently he had the opportunity to speak at his son’s college graduation. This is what he said…

I was asked by the President of Bethel University to speak at their commencement. I told him no because my son was going to be one of the graduates. He asked me to talk to my son and ask him if he would mind. I did and he thought it would be awesome.

This is a simple outline of what I shared.

I acknowledged how everyone looked the same and yet they took different classes, have different majors but even though today they looked the same with cap and gown, their parents, family and friends could pick them out of the hundreds graduating this year. Each are unique and the parents and loved ones are proud. I told them that I was just like the other parents and I have a special graduate today, my son David.

I looked at my son and told said those in attendance that the message I was about to share I would share with him privately if I didn’t have this opportunity. I invited those in attendance to listen in on a father/ son talk.

My points were very simple … I used physical posture to share my father/ son advice

1) Reach High – You have achieved a lot by graduating and following your dreams … I believe in you.
2) Reach Wide – Be inclusive. Build deep and meaningful relationships with all people.
3) Reach Low – Don’t walk by people in lowly positions and not notice them. Leave a legacy of being a man who lifted people up. Making a difference in this world begins with you helping one person.
4) Reach Deep – You have been raised in a family of faith and you have made a commitment of your life to Christ, but that is just the beginning of the wonderful journey ahead. God wants to use you to represent Him in this world

Mothers’ Day – In Baltimore And Beyond

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Toya Graham is “the Baltimore mom” who during the recent protests saw her teen-age son on the street with a rock in his hand. She ran after him, grabbed him by the hood, shook him as fiercely as a mother bear cuffing her cub. Later she said, “I just lost it.”

If she is not “mother of the year” she certainly has been mother of the news cycle. Her maternal slaps went viral across the country, bringing both cheers and jeers for her “mom attack.” I certainly would not have wanted to be that son! And I have always regretted the one time I slapped one of my sons in anger.

At Harris Teeter last week I asked Mary, who was checking me out, what she made of Toya. “If it had been my mother,” she said, “I would have gotten more. Toya probably wanted to save her son from jail.”

Certainly the protective instinct of mothers matters. Colin Powell tells about growing up in the Bronx. “It was the ‘auntie network’ that kept us out of trouble. We knew our mommas were watching us from their windows.”
All of us who have known our moms know they were not perfect. But they also had less than perfect mothers. As Charlie Brown said in Peanuts, “Lucy, parents had parents.”

I had two mothers. The first I knew was my adoptive mother Olive, who with my dad ran a jewelry store. When I was fifty I met my other mother, Dorothy, the unmarried daughter of a stern Presbyterian minister and his wife, who gave birth to me at seventeen.

Both were troubled through their lives by fears and suspicions. Yet I owe them both much. Dorothy gave me life. Olive taught me faith.

The mothers portrayed in the Bible were a mixed lot (as the fathers most certainly were). Some were called “blessed” by their children. Others caused huge family problems by their cunning and grasping.

Yet the Bible also celebrates motherhood. Here’s language the prophet Isaiah used for God: “As a mother comforts her child so I will comfort you.” Jesus pictured his relation to the people of Jerusalem as a mother bird. “How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”

Today many of us will have good reasons to be thankful for mothers, those past, those present. I certainly have for my Jeanie. She was both mother and father to our three children across the many times when I was away in ministry.

But this year, in addition to the cards, flowers, and words of love in our own families, how about reaching out to mothers around the world? Nearly 150,000 Syrian mothers are the sole caregivers for their refugee families, facing daily conflict and often without food to put on the table for their children. Then there are the mothers in earthquake devastated Nepal.

A gift for them through our churches, and agencies like World Vision and Samaritans Purse, will bring help to their children and hope to their souls. The mothers of Nigeria, whose daughters have been stolen away can also be blessed by our prayers.

Perhaps this story out of Baltimore can help us to recognize our mothers this year with less sentiment, more honest realism, but no less love and appreciation. And with that a determination to join with them to bring justice and healing to our own homes and neighborhoods.

Leighton Ford

Good News Is For Sharing (Part 1)

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We’re delighted to announce that Leighton’s classic on personal evangelism Good News For Sharing will soon be available in revised form! The next two posts will feature the Preface, which will whet your appetite for the newly revised edition.

We were in the little Caribbean island of Grand Cayman for an evangelistic outreach. Just before an evening program, my wife discovered that her diamond engagement ring was missing. She bravely kept it to herself until the meeting was over, then told me she feared she had dropped it on the beach.

Friends helped us search the motel and sift through the sand where she had been sitting earlier. There was no ring.

We went back to our room, crushed not just by the monetary loss but because so many loving memories were tied to that ring.

Then, under some papers on the bed, I found it! Gloom turned to joy! We hugged each other, said a prayer of thanks, and although it was near midnight, I raced down the hall and knocked on our friends’ door to tell them the good news!

Good news is like that – it begs to be shared. We Christians have both the responsibility and the privilege of passing on the good news that, through faith in Jesus Christ, eternal abundant life is offered to all people.

But why are we so often reluctant sharers? Why even when we sometimes feel a strong sense of ‘oughtness’ about witnessing do we fail to do it?…..

The answers are in Part 2, later this week!

Leighton Ford

Excerpt from Good News Is For Sharing (Revised Edition, 2017, Leighton Ford Ministries)

 

The Beauty and Agony of Waiting

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“Our love is always limited, inadequate, and wounded. Emotionally and spiritually we are like Grand Canyons with a floor beneath our reach. We search and search to find the ‘perfect’ friend or lover or mate who can meet all our needs. But only when we give up on our messianic expectations can we be set truly free to love, in a reflection of God’s highest and widest, longest and deepest love for us.

The psalmist learned this secret as, surrendering his demands, he could begin to say, ‘I wait for the LORD. My soul waits and in his word I hope’.

Carlo Carletto, who had spent many years in the desert alone with God, was asked what he had heard from God. His simple reply: ‘God is telling us: learn to wait – wait – wait for your God, wait for love'”

Leighton Ford

From The Attentive Life (2008, InterVarsity Press)

A Special Learning Opportunity for Pastors (Leighton Ford)

By | Leadership | No Comments

I wanted to let you all know about this unusual and creative link between an outstanding seminary and equally outstanding consulting group. It is a highly recommended learning experience for pastors focused on helping them to lead change within their congregations…and within themselves!

If you are a pastor I think you will be interested, and if you have a pastor you might want to consider forwarding it to them. Please see the link below to access an attractive PDF.

(Full disclosure – I have been on the board of GCTS and my son Kevin is one of the principals at TAG Consulting).

Re3vitalize Brochure

Leighton Ford