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Evangelism

Good News Is For Sharing – Carson Pue

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“I love taking public transit to work because I am surrounded with ‘normal’ people – those who are not followers of Jesus. They are the majority – especially in my city.

One time a women in her young twenties boarded the train dressed in black from head to toe and sat right in front of me facing sideways. She looked as through she might work in one of the large towers in the city center. Her style was like ‘professional Goth’. As she was getting settled I was able to see a tattoo on her left cheek. It was an upside down cross.

’I notice your tattoo. Where did you get it done?’ I asked.

She looked directly into my eyes pondering. Was I being judgmental or condemning? She answered with the name of an artist nine blocks from our church.

’I guess if you are going to get a tattoo on your face, you would want to have the right artist’ I answered. ‘My son gets his done by an artist in Calgary. What’s the meaning of your tattoo?’

Laughing, she responded, ‘It is my way of giving the finger to organized religion.’

’Well, it is a very appropriate tattoo for this week,’ I responded.

’Why is that?’

’Because the Pope announced he is resigning and he actually sits on a chair that has an upside down cross engraved on it’.

’He does? Unreal!’ She was really mystified. ‘Why would the Pope have that on his chair?’

’Out of respect for you, I want you to know I am a minister. I work at First Baptist downtown.’ She was flummoxed, her head now fully cocked to one side.

’I know that organized religion can be incredibly frustrating for people to understand and even experience. But the Pope has your symbol on his chair because it reminds us of Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter was crucified on a cross like Jesus but upside down. He was killed because he refused to renounce his faith in Jesus. He didn’t feel himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus and asked to be hung upside down. That’s why the cross on the Pope’s chair. The church was founded by this man – Peter’.

With a softer bewildered look she began to gather her things together for the stop. My morning friend did not seem anxious to run away. Had our commute allowed, we might have talked more’.

Carson Pue

Rev. Dr. Carson Pue is recognized as a leader of leaders. He is known globally through his mentoring of Christian leaders through Arrow Leadership and as the best selling author of Mentoring Leaders: Wisdom for Developing Calling, Character and Competency. Known as a keynote speaker for his masterful storytelling and innovative leadership style, Carson equips others with remarkable and fascinating untold stories behind what it takes to be a Christian and a leader. Carson now serves as Special Assistant to the President at Trinity Western University, and runs Quadrant Leadership Inc. doing executive coaching and mentoring.

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

You can order the book here.

Good News Is For Sharing – Steve Johnson

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Steve’s Story

I was invited to dinner to meet a friend and his guests at a country club. On my right was a well-known basketball coach, and on my left the owner of the club.

We talked basketball for a little while, but most of our conversation centered around our personal ‘faith stories’. After listening to everyone, the owner said, “Steve, I’m a Catholic, can I be a Christian?”!

I shared my story, which was very similar. I had to learn that my parents’ commitment wasn’t enough. I needed to let God know I was committing my life to him.

He tapped me on the shoulder and took me outside. Under a beautiful starry night he said “I want that”. “Want what?” I asked. “I want that relationship with Jesus. I suppose this is where I pray after you.”

I told him I thought he already knew how to talk to God and asked him to pray aloud. He began the most intimate prayer that I have ever heard offering his life to Jesus. Then I prayed, confirming that I heard his commitment and asked God to bless him.

I encouraged him to tell someone the commitment that he had made. He went to the friend who had invited me and watched then embrace.

For years people around that table had prayed for this man. He just needed someone who had a similar story to explain what he didn’t understand. He’s emailed me since with thanks for telling him my story.

Leighton Ford once told me that I am the world’s leading expert – on my story! I’m glad I have shared it often – and especially that evening.

 

Meet Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson made a commitment of his life to Christ at 16 years old and immediately felt led to share the Gospel with those around him. While attending the University of Wisconsin and Bethel Theological Seminary, along with his wife Lynne, Steve started several churches. Eventually he and his brother Paul helped this church planting movement to grow to over 600 churches. This took place while pastoring Community Church in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Steve also co-founded a second global church planting ministry called Vision360 and currently, with Lynne, started a mentoring program for high capacity leaders called 2xGlobal (www.2xGlobal.com). Steve has a speaking ministry across the country, always with the goal of leading people to Christ and then helping them to reach their God given potential.

 

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

 

 

Witnessing Is Seeing and Telling (Leighton Ford)

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“I can’t talk to anyone about Christ because God just doesn’t seem real to me

This is a genuine obstacle. Sharing Jesus Christ is not basically talking about a moral code, our church, or Christian philosophy. It is introducing people to a person. And we can’t introduce someone we ourselves have never met.

Timothy, Paul’s young protege, was apparently very timid. Paul shared with him the secret of his own confidence: “I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Tim 1:7, 8, 12).

Witnessing is taking a good look at Jesus and telling what we have seen. The better I know him, the less ashamed I am.

The Holy Spirit enables us to know Jesus Christ, to have the same relationship to him the first disciples had. The Holy Spirit has been called “the applied edge of redemption”; he takes what Jesus Christ did for us twenty centuries ago and applies it to the reality of our lives today.

 

Leighton Ford

 

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

Billy Graham – Evangelist or Activist? (Leighton Ford)

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Sixty years ago Billy Graham brought his historic 1957 New York crusade to a close with a pre-Labor Day rally that brought an estimated 200,000 to Time’s Square.

My wife and I were there as part of the team. That summer we heard Billy preach six nights a week in the old Madison Square Garden for sixteen and a half weeks. It was packed out every night except one, a record never broken. Up to 2.3 million attended and some 61,000 registered a new commitment to Christ.

That year and for many to come to come he would become known across the world for the huge crowds that came to hear his simple message: that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son with the gift of eternal life.

Billy was always an evangelist. What is often forgotten is that over the years he would also be known for an influence beyond his crusades. He desegregated his early southern crusades, and became an advocate for Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, based on what the Bible said about God’s care for all and for the poor.

That New York crusade began in May of 1957. It was twenty-five years later in May of 1982 that he made perhaps his most controversial move: accepting an invitation to attend a peace conference in Moscow.

He accepted the invitation against the advice of many, because he believed the threat of global nuclear annihilation had grown so grave that he had to take a stand. As Duke historian Grant Wacker records, he believed that “to work for peace was a moral issue and not just a political issue.” He recommended that the conference call “the nations and leaders of the world to repentance.”

Several years later he was invited back to Moscow and led a mass gathering that attracted thirty thousand. No one claims this brought about détente with the old Soviet Union. But it did open some doors, perhaps more than we will ever know.

Billy the evangelist was a reconciler in the tradition of others, like John R. Mott, the respected student evangelist and YMCA leader, who worked for peace in Russia after World War I, and the Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones, who through his contacts with Japanese diplomats sought to avert war with Japan.

Today the nuclear-rattling threats come from North Korea. Political and military leaders are considering how best to respond without a war that would kill millions.

One of my friends who knows Korea well reminds me that Billy made a courageous visit to the leader of North Korea years ago. He was roundly criticized. Yet that was arguably the moment that convinced Kim Il Sung to allow US Christian agencies to serve there.

My friend asks: does the American church have a prophetic courage to provide that kind of presence now?

There seems to be no evangelist of Billy Graham’s stature to provide that today. But God cannot be barred from North Korea or any part of the world, and he is at work through his people.

There are many followers of Christ in North Korea living faithfully in a hard situation. We can pray for them.  There are Christian agencies (as described in a recent TIME article) who want to continue their humanitarian work, who could potentially provide channels of communication. We should urge the State Department to allow them exceptions to the recent order for all Americans to leave North Korea.

We should certainly take to heart the admonition of Paul to his young friend Timothy, and to fellow believers living under the pressure of a hostile government, that prayers should be made “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”

Naïve this may sound.  But there is no travel ban on the Holy Spirit. And God’s ways and wisdom are greater than we can imagine.

 

Leighton Ford, Labor Day 2017

The Evangelist Must Cling To Christ (C.S. Lewis)

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In an essay on apologetics, C.S. Lewis wrote words which can and should be read and taken to heart by every evangelist. In fact, if we substitute the word “evangelist” for the word “apologist” it is as if he were writing for those who proclaim the Good News.

“…I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of the apologist (evangelist). No doctrine of the faith seems to me so spectral, so unreal as one that I have just successfully defended in a public debate.

For a moment, you see, it has seemed to rest upon oneself: as a result, when you go away from that debate, it seems no stronger than that weak pillar. That is why we apologists (evangelists) take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality – from Christian apologists (evangelists) to Christ Himself

How The Good News Travels (Leighton Ford)

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Dr. James Engel, for years a marketing professor at Ohio State, studied what motivates people to buy products. Later he and his colleagues at Wheaton College Graduate School took a similar long look at the process of evangelism.

Dr. Engel and his colleague H. Wilbert Norton suggest that the Great Commission’s command to make disciples contains three mandates that are related but distinct:

  1. To proclaim the message
  2. To persuade the unbeliever
  3. To cultivate the believer

They make no claim that this is a final and definitive statement. The Holy Spirit works as he will (John 3:8). But this is a helpful tool in describing how the good news travels from A to B.

If your own coming to Christ is recent enough that you can remember the stages clearly, this may be intuitive for you. If you are presently trying to share Christ with certain people think through where they are on that journey!

 

Adapted from Good News Is For Sharing by Leighton Ford, 2017 Revised edition.

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)

 

A Fear Of Witnessing? A New Book from Lon Allison (Leighton Ford)

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Years ago when I first decided I wanted to learn to paint I took a course called  The Fear of Drawing.

I had a wonderful teacher named Nancy who knew most of us beginners were a bit apprehensive. I was. I had never done anything except doodle.

But that course – and Nancy’s encouragement – got me started on a journey as an artist that still continues.

I thought of that when I read my friend Lon Allison’s new book ImPossible. What we may think is impossible God can make possible through our real lives.

His book could  be called “The Fear of Witnessing” – about sharing our faith with others.

I have read books about evangelism as a “lifestyle.” This is about evangelism as a “lifestory.”

It’s how Lon and his wife Marie learned a lifestyle – prayer/care/share-  that has brought so many into the Great Story of God.

Here’s what Lon writes:

“Being a witness of God’s story – a story that provides a solution for every sorrow and sin – is a cool but rather gravitas sort of assignment. I can get overwhelmed by it. But then I try to remember that God doesn’t make mistakes and that He does His best work in us when we admit we can’t do it. That weakness opens the portal to power, as His Spirit takes the leader on the witness project.”

And also

“To witness is to cooperate with God and others to lovingly bring people, one step at a time, closer to Jesus Christ.”

That speaks to me.  I believe it will help many.

Get a copy. It’s readable and interesting. You can order it here.

And it may for turn a fear of witnessing into a lifestory  for you too.

 

Leighton Ford

Lost (Leighton Ford)

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lost arrow

Jesus told his vivid stories of the coin, the sheep, and the son.

The common factor was that they were all lost, and that sin is not so much badness as “awayness”. To be lost is to be away – away from the purse, from the sheepfold, and from the Father’s house.

Jesus was teaching the self-righteous Pharisees who condemned him for associating with “sinners” that, though they went to the synagogue every day, in their hearts they were just as much lost and away from God as were the irreligious publicans.

Yet the last word is not lost, but found. Though man is away from God he can be brought back; though he is dead in sins, he can be made alive; though he is lost he can be found; and though he is perishing he can be saved.

In God’s sight, man in spite of his sin is still of more value than the whole of nature (Matt, 10:31) and to find lost man is worth any pain, any search, and any sacrifice on His part.

What’s Under The Surface? (Leighton Ford)

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sea water

We tend to exaggerate the power of reason in our interpersonal communication. And we underestimate the power of what is reasonable and hidden below the surface.

“Be reasonable”, a spouse says, not sensing that hurt or fear has shoved reason aside. “If only Dad would listen to reason”, a teenager storms to her mother, not knowing that her dad is reacting the way he is because of a forgotten incident in his own teen years.

The inexperienced persuader marshals all his reasons logically and cannot understand why it is not working. The more seasoned communicator understands from experience that if the heart and imagination and feelings are not moved, reason probably will not persuade.

But more lies under the surface of communication than emotions and past experiences. Jesus was always conscious of a dark element which opposed the truth…

His disciples would face the same enemy that he had faced. They would experience the same opposition. But they could also count on the same resource. The Holy Spirit who had been Jesus’ ally could be was also to be his gift to them…

With calm confidence and with the repeated encouragement “Do not be afraid” Jesus sent them into the world as his father had sent him – to bear witness to the truth, to face opposition and rejection and dullness. But they knew they only had to ask to receive the power and wisdom to open closed minds and stubborn hearts to the light of God himself.

Adapted from Transforming Leadership by Leighton Ford (1991, InterVarsity Press)

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