Sometimes when I watch a video of secret churches in Iran or China I feel embarrassed that I am living in comfort and freedom in America, able to worship freely. When I read of the persecution of believers in the Middle East I do cry for the loss of such wonderful believers, knowing I owe them a debt. I want to race out and save exploited children in the sex slavery trade, or run off and be a missionary in the Himalayas or something. But that is not what God has laid out for me to do. He has deliberately and sovereignly placed me here.
We can still be effective witnesses and servants of the Gospel. I believe that an equal debt is owed the mature, steady Christians who week after week, lovingly open their homes to people, who patiently teach the word more accurately, who encourage, who send money on missions and who tithe locally. Who live out their faith in the secular workplaces, who shine among the public when out and about doing our mundane errands.
I use Priscilla and Aquila for this model. They were two tentmaking colleagues of Paul (Acts 18:1-4) who welcomed Paul in their home and also discipled other believers constantly. They are mentioned six times, in Acts 18:2, 18,26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19. It is obvious from Paul’s letters that he cherished these two. Now Paul was the fiery missionary, tramping from Greece to Yugoslavia and across seas and oceans on behalf of the Lord. It was an important and big ministry. Yet he valued the ‘little’ and unflashy ministry of the believers at home, the husband and wife duo of Priscilla (Prisca as a nickname) and Aquila who discipled, welcomed, encouraged, and taught quietly.
You can do this as well. Hospitality, friendship, and person-to-person teaching (Acts 18:26) is wonderful and shares His light just as effectively as Paul’s fiery zeal and public pronouncements to whole cities. Private evangelism is still evangelism, and the two biblical Christians so valued by Paul show us today what a solid couple in the Lord can do for Jesus. Your home is a gift you can use to further His kingdom.
I know how it goes. You decide to gird your loins, face the family at the next gathering, and speak of Jesus. You’ll gently and lovingly point out some of those idols they have around the house (whatever type they may be). You decided that this time you’ll speak of sin and repentance. You maybe decide to do it at the 4th of July picnic, or the summer family reunion, or on vacation with the extended fam, or the Labor Day blast…whatever it is, you decide that THIS is the time to forthrightly speak against their beloved worldview and evangelize them.
But then you chicken out.
And you berate yourself, kick yourself, and generally feel crummy, calling yourself a wimp.
Let’s look at the example of King Asa of Judah. There was still idol worship going on during the first part of his reign. There were male shrine prostitutes, Asherah poles, all sorts of evil being done in God’s sight. Azariah was a prophet in those days, spoken of actually only once, in 2 Chronicles 15 (2 Chron. 15:1). Azariah reassured Asa that God would be with Asa if Asa did right, and against him if Asa did wrong. The Prophet encouraged Asa to seek the Lord, and this gave Asa the impetus to face down the idol worshiping going on.
Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of the LORD which was in front of the porch of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 15:8).
His people and even his own mother worshiped idols! This is a sketchy situation for anyone to face. That Asa was king made no difference. Personal reassurance from a prophet was the catalyst for Asa, and even then, he had to “take courage.”
It’s HARD to face down the world. It’s harder when it’s your own family. But Asa did it because God is greater. God is worthy. He deposed his own mother as Queen. He commanded the People to worship God alone. He led by his own worship example.
Asa still didn’t remove ALL the high places of worship…but his heart was committed to God all his life.
If you haven’t ‘taken courage’ yet or you’re sad that you missed an evangelizing opportunity, all is not lost. I know I say this all the time, but it is a real solution all the time: PRAY.
It is the Spirit who draws all men to Jesus. It is the Spirit who gives us courage. It is the Spirit who brings the verses to mind. It is the Spirit who delights in pointing people to Jesus. Look at all His ministries, just look at them!
So, dear sister, prepare ahead. First, pray at the start of the day for the Spirit to send you opportunities. Pray in advance of a specific opportunity you know will be coming. Pray for the words to say the time to be right (a moment alone with her apart from the hubbub, a calm conversation…), pray for the courage it takes. It’s hardest with family and close friends, I know. I got a chuckle out of King Asa deposing his mother as Queen because she was attached to the Asherah worship. THAT must have made for some awkward Sunday dinners!
Also, prepare with a few verses, or a mildly rehearsed opening. You can watch Todd Friel (short video on evangelizing parents here, start at 3:22) or Ray Comfort (how to evangelize friends and family- video here) or read an an essay here, to see how they do it.
Mainly, remember it is the Holy Spirit’s job to draw men, no matter if you stumble, or just leave a tract, or if they get angry…it is up to the Spirit to take God’s word and translate it to their heart and mind. It’s not all up to you. So take the pressure off yourself and just do your best. God knows.
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” Acts 13:47
Ray Comfort – interview with Doreen Virtue: How to Evangelize Friends and Family “Why is it so uncomfortable to witness to our loved ones? Ray Comfort teaches us how to share the Gospel with our friends and family. It can be intimidating to discuss Jesus with unbelievers; however, we want to do everything we can to make sure that our loved ones have heard the good news of the Gospel. Sharing the Gospel is an act of love and courage, because we care about the eternal destiny of our friends and family.”
We see with our own eyes how serious it’s getting for Christians, not only in the places it’s always been hard, but now in the places where Christianity has been accepted, or at least, tolerated. The United States, Canada, Australia, these places are becoming increasingly hostile to Jesus people.
There are massive legal battles, soft persecution in the form of banks denying business or trade with Christian companies, and now in Canada, a pastor is jailed and might remain so until his trial, months away.
The lessons here are many, but one thing I’d like to encourage us ladies right now:
I love the ladies who change out their home decor to match the season. Lots of women at this moment are swapping out their beach themed front door wreath for a fall leaves or pumpkin decoration, laying tablecloths with harvest colors, and mulling over whether to put together a cornucopia as they stow away their jar of shells and dried starfish. I really love when ladies decorate.
It’s not my thing, though. I am of the mind where when I move in to a place, I look at the empty room. I decide in practical fashion its highest and best use considering the plug locations, windows, light, and size of my furniture. I set it up, and it stays like that forever.
This is the extent of my decor: I set up a table fan in the summer and I take it down when fall comes and put the tissues in its place. See, there are two seasons at my house; hot, and cold & flu season. To be honest though, I cry when I read the Bible, pray, and watch sad movies. I go through a lot of tissues.
I’m excited the fall season is here in Georgia, my adopted home state. It’s been cooler during the day and delightful at night. The AC is off. We are predicted to have a few more days of temps in the upper 90s but those will fade away soon enough. The heat is sputtering out now. The worst is over.
I’m even more excited at my adopted home country and its imminent appearing to my tired-of-this-world eyes. But until then, the Lord’s will be done, and may the seasons change smoothly.
Here are a few items I found interesting this week.
God still performs miracles. Josh Buice explains that adherents to Reformed Doctrines believe this and why it’s often a spurious charge that we don’t.
I don’t have a smartphone. I only bought a flip phone recently for safety because I drive an old car that sometimes breaks down. Like the only person sober at the table watching friends slowly get drunk, I see smartphones as a sad trickster. Here US photographer Eric Pickersgill has created “Removed,” a series of photos of people holding phantom phones that have been removed from their hands to show us how disconnected we really are nowadays. Also of interest, Tony Reinke’s book 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.
Al Mohler explains that Jesus did descend into hell, and explains from scripture, and tells why the statement is included in The Apostle’s Creed. 3-min video. He Descended into Hell.
“Keep the positivity coming my way. I need as much as I can get.”
This lady is someone of whom I am unaware, but a Facebook friend posted this 9-minute video of a woman on Youtube whose channel was about makeup and fashion. She is a British lady who in recent days discovered that she has a terminal brain tumor and only a short time to live. Her video is titled My Final Farewell”. She does not appear to be saved, and it’s a video of her final goodbye to her subscribers.
I can’t hide it anymore. If any of you see me out and about, I won’t be my glamorous self. At the end of the day, the glamour, the makeup, all of that…doesn’t matter anymore.”
Heartbreaking to discover that your life’s passion was only striving after wind. At the end of the day what DOES matter? This woman appears not to know. We know. THE GOSPEL. Salvation from God’s wrath and eternal life in glory with the Glorious One, Jesus Christ. As you go about the day, remember what really matters.
There are different ways to share the Gospel. Witnessing isn’t only one method. Men preach the Gospel from pulpits. We cold-witness to strangers. We befriend people and share the Gospel. We witness at work either directly or by continually living His doctrines and speaking of Him with honor. There isn’t only one way.
But there is a way I respect and admire. I’m grateful for street preachers. They speak truth to a world that does not want to hear it. They are spit upon, mocked, yelled at and arrested. Some street or public preachers are beaten or even killed. Yet the unsaved don’t always go to church. They don’t even always have Christian friends around them.
I lived in New England for most of my life before I got saved. Now I live in the American Bible Belt. Church is a deeply cultural event here. Most people go. However in New England, I spent an almost entire lifetime without any Christian friends. I never owned a Bible. I never even saw a Bible. I had no friends who went to church. I never heard the name Jesus. It was easy to avoid the Light.
Hugh Hefner died this week. Hefner was 91 years old. If you did not already know, Hugh Hefner founded the print publication Playboy magazine in 1953. This magazine is pornography. It depicts women in various states of undress, in lascivious poses, for the purpose of inciting lust. From the success of the magazine, Hefner then founded Playboy Enterprises, bought a mansion, and lived the life that was pervertedly displayed on the pages of his pornography. He famously said,
“The major civilizing force in the world is not religion, it is sex.”
Of course this is incorrect. Sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman is a rebellion of a worst kind of sin because it is against your own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18). Living in Christ is civilizing because we have the Holy Spirit to aid us in subduing the sinful nature we possess. Without the Spirit, we are uncivilized, sinful, rebellious people. Society suffers.
In the 58-second clip below, a street preacher shared the Gospel as Hugh Hefner walked by, a ‘Bunny’ the age of his granddaughter on his arm. Perhaps God sent many messengers to share the Gospel with a sinner like Hefner, or perhaps this was the only time. Only God knows.
Street preachers are in the public arena speaking truth to those who would try to insulate themselves from people who bring Light to the conscience. I’m glad that street preachers do what they do. The world needs Light and Salt, and the street preachers are there to shake things up. God was merciful to Hefner, allowing him to hear the Good News and to be warned to repent and believe. Thank you, street preachers, for being instruments of God’s mercy and love.