Category: Praise and Proclaim Ministries

Witness Well

Practicing the fruit of patience in evangelism

Patience is considered a virtue but acts like a leaky bucket.

No matter how hard you try to keep it full, the water is always running out.

My problem is not an empty bucket but trying to find it.

Like wallets, car keys, glasses, and iPhones, patience is a virtue that I keep losing.

I can’t drive my car without keys, and I can’t be a good husband without patience.

I can’t purchase an item without my wallet, and I can’t be a good father without patience.

I can’t seem to do anything without my iPhone, and I struggle to proclaim the gospel without patience.

Losing my iPhone may not be a bad idea. Perhaps a good result from the stay-at-home order is a better perspective on the usage of mobile devices. For instance, you can purchase a cellphone prison on Amazon. Instead of intentionally losing my phone or locking it up in a cage, perhaps giving it a time out is a better option.

A beginning point

Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Fruit is not able grow unless it remains attached to the branch. If it constantly connects and re-connects to the branch, the fruit will wither and die.

Jesus says in the gospel of John, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” A believer who remains in Christ will bear good fruit. (John 15)

God created us to be fruit trees. By connecting to the source [Christ] who provides the nourishment necessary to grow fruit, a fruit tree gives evidence of Christ through the production of fruit. Its effortless. It’s by design.

Believers who remain connected to the Vine through constantly remaining in his Word produce patience.

Impatience is evidence of bitter or over-ripe fruit. It is good fruit gone bad.

Repentance acknowledges bad fruit. In his grace and mercy, God picks the bad fruit and sometimes prunes dead branches that no longer bear fruit.

Forgiveness will re-connect or re-graft us to the Vine.

We are forgiven, therefore…

  • we can forgive ourselves.
  • we can forgive others.
  • we can seek and ask for forgiveness from those we have hurt.

By remaining connected to Christ, the fruit of patience begins to blossom. Like a flowering tree in the spring, it smells nice and looks nice, but it’s only the beginning. The blossoms eventually turn into fruit.

Fruit is not meant to be preserved on the tree or it will die.

Fruit is meant to be shared. It’s supposed to be picked to provide nourishment for others.

Evangelism is often referred to as “sharing” the gospel. It is the connotation that we provide something that we possess and give to others. A healthy fruit tree will have an abundance of fruit and will want to share it with others.

Believers who remain in Christ will have an orchard of patience trees. They will also have orchards of delicious joy trees, gentleness trees, and peace trees. They invite all people to pick the fruit to “taste and see” that the Lord is good because his presence is in the fruit.

Applying the fruit of patience in evangelism

Faith is often a long, painful process for those who have yet to trust in Christ. Receiving faith usually involves peeling off many layers of emotional pain and distrust. This takes an investment of time and patience. It requires hard work that our sinful nature does not want to do.

Evangelism and patience become essential partners.

They both can feel awkward at first. Like dribbling a basketball for the first time, if you don’t practice, there is a good chance the ball will bounce of your foot and into the bushes. And that can get frustrating. You are tempted to give up and call it a useless activity.

If you haven’t practiced evangelism, it’s going to feel awkward. After giving a reason for the hope you have in Christ, it may feel like we have dribbled a basketball off your foot and into the bushes. We may be tempted to give up and call it a useless activity because we feel that were so terrible at it.

And that is why patience is important. It is meant to be practiced as an exercise of faith.

Evangelists regularly practice proclaiming the gospel. Over time, they get better. They develop the habit of evangelism and it becomes a part of their daily life. They have understood how important it is to have the fruit of patience with themselves and with others.

Here are six descriptions of how the fruit of patience can be exercised in evangelism:

I.          The fruit of patience remains in the present.  A lack of patience tends to play the “what-if” games that usually conjures up disastrous outcomes. Patience remembers God’s promises that helps keep us in the present rather than past or future failures.

II.         The fruit of patience gives us grit.  It perseveres. By practicing patience, evangelists learn that outward appearances doesn’t often portray a receptive heart. People may appear as a great prospect, but don’t often pan out. Instead, we are often surprised how God works in hearts that may outwardly appear as stony and hard-packed.

III.        The fruit of patience consistently responds well.  It keeps emotions in check when we see a lack of progress despite our best efforts. Patience allows a calm understanding and insight to set realistic expectations that are based on God’s timing and purpose.

IV.        The fruit of patience learns to tolerate the ebbs and flows of life. It expects obstacles and tolerates the quirks of others and their unpredictable behavior.

V.         The fruit of patience dares to hope. Hope gives us resilience and willingness to hang in there because we trust that God’s Word works despite the perceived lack of results. Patience trusts in the possibility of a glorious outcome and understands that a delay does not necessarily mean denial.

VI.        The fruit of patience desires to be better. To be great at anything you must learn how to be good at something. And that takes time. Evangelism is difficult. If anything is deemed worthwhile, then it usually requires effort to be realized.

I still feel like I lose patience, but I have stopped using this as an excuse not to exercise it. I have come to realize that the fruit of patience is never something that I can generate on my own. It means accepting that I possess fruit of the Spirit because Jesus promises that he lives in me. It is not based on how I feel about the quality of fruit in me.

Faith receives the fruit of patience that is designed to be actively shared with others. It is meant to be practiced. And now is a perfect time to start.

[Need some help? Click here to learn how to provide a gospel witness in thirty seconds or less.]

Establishing a church identity in a COVID-19 world

Life changed after 9/11 and it seems that COVID-19 may leave an even greater footprint on our world.

As the dust continues to swirl on what the future may bring, people are responding in a variety of different ways. Some are struggling, others are taking time to re-evaluate their purpose and priorities. They are making life adjustments regarding:

  • The importance of family.
  • The importance of being in the present with people who matter to them.
  • The realization that serving others is more purposeful than serving themselves.
  • Self-isolation and loneliness are worth combating because connection matters.
  • How we view the future has a far more powerful affect on how we live in the present.

This is a defining moment. Our world is going to change. There are too many variables to quantify an answer of how that may look socially, economically, and politically. Like an incoming force of nature, we can only wait and see and protect ourselves as much as possible.

Christian churches are not immune to this health crisis. They are being forced to close its doors and provide online messages, worship services, Bible studies, and even Sunday school.

If churches are deciding not to enter the digital world, they will be left in the swirling dust and more than likely close sooner than anticipated.

And this is just the beginning.

Before the pandemic arrived, Christian congregations were struggling to create an identity in their community. The secular world had increasingly deemed Christian churches to be irrelevant and out-of-touch. People were choosing to stay home on Sunday mornings rather than come to hear God’s Word. But that has suddenly shifted. People are now willing to be engaged to hear messages of hope that can be found in Christ.

The Covid-19 health crisis is providing churches with an opportunity to re-establish or create an identity. This will require adapting how they interact, engage, and communicate with their community to clarify who they are and why they exist.

How can congregations be proactive right now to take full advantage of providing an identity in a new Covid-19 world?

  1. Clarify your mission.

If you had to look up your church’s mission statement right now, then it probably needs to be changed.

If you are a congregational leader and you don’t know your mission statement, then it probably needs to be re-addressed.

Mission statements are course-setters. They help establish identities. They become the plum line for future decisions and ideas. They help drive and sustain activity.

If evangelism is an integral part of a congregation’s mission statement and carries with it the responsibility of member participation, then now is the time to go and do it. It means taking the next step outside of planning, teaching, and preaching about the importance of evangelism. If there is not a willingness on part of the members to verbally proclaim the gospel, then I humbly suggest not to include personal evangelism in your mission statement.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received when I first started out as a full-time evangelist twenty years ago was given by Rev. Loren Steele – a man the Lord mightily used to spread the gospel.

“Loren, what do I do?”, I asked.

He simply replied, “Just do it.”

And he was right.

  • Master the fundamentals

Every professional regularly practices the basics. They understand that to become great at anything, they must master the fundamentals.

Gathering around the Word and sacraments will always be a fundamental part of a Christian congregation.

Corporate worship has been suspended and faithful members are missing it. Like good health or employment, we tend to take something for granted until it is taken away. This health crisis has given believers a greater appreciation of gathering with others for worship. When the doors of our churches open again, we can master the fundamentals and continue to regularly practice the basics. Only by the power of his Word and love for our Savior, can believers seek to graciously serve him and actively communicate the gospel.

  • Talk with people

The entrance to the digital age has forced many congregations to recognize that they are reaching a new audience. Granted, the pandemic crisis is arousing interest in spiritual matters that is helping spike the views of recorded messages. A digital audience will not be going away and it will become a more pronounced front entrance to your church on Sunday morning.

If your primary vehicle to proclaim Gods Word is having people come to church on Sunday morning, then I would ask you to reconsider your evangelism strategy for a COVID-19 world.

Digital access will be one important way to communicate the gospel, but only ought to serve as a supplement to help equip and inspire members to go out into the community. Talking with people will still be the primary and most effective way to give reasons for the hope we have in Christ.

The pandemic crisis is providing opportunities and awareness for our members to engage and connect. In the midst of self-quarantine and stay at home restrictions, we no longer have to isolate ourselves once the restrictions have been lifted. And the same ought to be with our life as a Christian. We no longer have to isolate or self-quarantine ourselves from providing reasons for the hope we have in Christ.

Proclaiming the gospel doesn’t necessarily mean inviting their presence to hear God’s Word on Sunday mornings. It can start by talking to people, connecting with them, and empathize with people’s pains and fears.

  • Take advantage of technology

The digital age has fully arrived.

Any reluctance and feet dragging that prompted congregations to refrain from expanding its digital presence have been quickly dissolved.

Based on the number of views, it may appear that your church is shattering worship attendance records. That’s terrific, but numbers can be misleading. Another important number is the length of stay. How many people watched the entire message? What is the average length of time per person? These statistics can be a key component to determining how to reach your community.

Engage your unchurched audience who are watching your messages by allowing them an opportunity to click an online guest card. Ask how your congregation can serve them. Ask if your congregation can pray for them. Ask them to subscribe to a weekly on-line newsletter that could provide devotional thoughts, announcements, and a schedule.

Provide short videos online that matches the average length of viewing time.  These videos can be a 5-10 minute synopsis of the sermon message or a series of encouraging words for unchurched people in your community during this pandemic crisis. Members can learn how to link these messages on their social media platforms.

Invest in your on-line presence. Now is not the time to be cheap. Hire professionals to help provide you with a powerful on-line presence and assist you in learning how to best communicate with your growing online presence with non-members. Members are excellent at learning how to operate a digital platform, but they are typically not very good at building a platform. That’s why churches ought to hire professionals with this important task.

The life of your congregation and future gospel activity is depending upon decisions being made today. Time can be invested to build a powerful identity for the unchurched families in your community who are observing, listening, and sometimes reaching out to hear some Good News.

Reaching a new audience

During uncertain times, people are looking for spiritual answers. They are willing to hear reasons for the hope Christian believers have in Christ. And when they feel comfortable with a trusted source, they are willing to ask.

They are even willing to go to your church website and watch a recorded message.

The Corona virus has forced congregations to provide online messages for its members as a temporary replacement for corporate worship. Whether live or on-demand, members are watching and listening by themselves or with family members. Every congregation is reporting an impressive number of viewers. If each view represents two and a half people, then average worship attendance is receiving a major boost.

It is safe to assume that pastors are currently reaching a new audience with every on-line message.

Though we eagerly look forward to the day when we can all gather as God’s people to worship, the Lord may be providing us with unique opportunities during this time to connect with our online visitors.

Here are some suggestions on how to do that.

Get to know the audience
An important first step is to carefully and thoroughly investigate your online audience through Google Analytics. The total number of views is a part of the story. There is a bigger picture that can be drawn by looking closely at the data. Here are just a few questions to consider

What percent of people came from my county or within a fifty-mile radius of my church?
What percent of people watched the entire message online?
What is the average length of time people are watching the message?
When people are clicking to watch the message online, are they visiting other pages on your website?

Data gleaned from your Google Analytics can provide valuable information on how to effectively reach your online audience and your non-member visitors.

Offer a next step
It is good to welcome and acknowledge online visitors within your video message as you would normally do on a Sunday morning. I encourage you to consider providing a next step.

  • Point people to your contact page on your website. Encourage them to send you an email.
  • Let visitors know that you care about them. Ask them how they are doing during this time of uncertainty. Let them know that your church family is willing to pray for them. They can use your contact page to submit prayer requests.
  • Offer a free resource. There may be a book that helps people with anxiety or parenting.
  • Offer to subscribe to an email newsletter that is not the official church newsletter that is designed for members. There are non-members who would be interested to receive an email newsletter. They are interested in receiving regular devotions from the pastor. If you have a K-8 school or an early childhood program, school-age parents would welcome tips right now from your teachers to help with their child’s home learning or deal with parental stresses of having kids at home all the time. Your church can further position itself to be an excellent and trusted resource.
  • Provide an on-line survey (e.g. survey monkey) link next to your video message. This is an opportunity to ask non-members their opinion and let them know that they are valued. Some of the questions could include type of events or programs they would be interested in attending at church.

A new normal
This world-wide pandemic is forcing us to enter a new normal. This is a time for gospel ministries to be proactive by carefully examining our activities to deliver the Word. When it is eventually deemed safe by our governing authorities to gather and worship together, the potential online audience will not be going away. I believe we are discovering and implementing new entry points to reach the lost, de-churched, or people who are looking for a good church home with solid biblical teaching. Instead of encouraging members to invite friends and neighbors to walk through threatening church doors on Sunday morning, this can be an opportunity to teach them to send online invitations to hear God’s Word on your church website by providing specific links.

Let’s continue to grasp this fascinating time the Lord has placed us in to spread the Good News of what he has already done for the world.

A Life in Christ Never Panics

“Never panic!”

I used to work for the athletic marketing and promotions office at Fresno State University. One of my duties was to help coordinate the promotions and in-game marketing for football and basketball. During a game with thousands of people watching, things can go wrong. When bad things happen, one of the cardinal rules for event managers is to never panic. A calm mind makes better decisions. Most of the time, slight adjustments that nobody ever sees can avert major catastrophes that everybody sees.

I have applied this rule countless times throughout twenty years of outreach ministry.

And perhaps it could be applied for us today.

Never panic… especially for those who trust in Christ’s promises.

____

A recent trip to a grocery store is a good way to gauge public anxiety.

Selfish hoarding and overflowing grocery carts exhibit a lack of trust in our government system, our leaders, and each other.

Even though cracks may exist in our society and there is a warring divide in politics, a foundation still exists and there are good leaders to help us pull through this public health crisis.

It’s going to be okay if people don’t panic.

But I think we are all arriving at the same conclusion that life is going to be different now. In the same way lives were adjusted after 9/11, our daily lives will be transformed but probably on a grander scale. In place of intensifying security measures, changing travel habits, and concerns about domestic terrorism, we may have intensified efforts in viral screening, immunization, and changing our public habits.

And this is not including the effect this pandemic will have on our economy.

It is during the darkest times that lights shine the brightest.

A life in Christ never panics.

The object of a Christian faith rests in what Christ has already done and what he promises to do.

The storms of life – even viral hurricanes – cannot wash away a house that is built on the rock of Christ.

A redeemed life in Christ that is fully received by faith rests securely in Christ’s promise that heaven is secure. Their name is in the book of Life.

A redeemed life in Christ that is fully received by faith accepts the reality that God has placed them on this earth for a purpose. This day in history has been ordained for a believer in Christ to fulfill God’s purpose – to declare his glory – to make his Name known.

Therefore, a proper Christian response can mean exercising a dual citizenship in Christ.

A believer in Christ exercises their citizenship in this world that God created, dearly loves, and desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. All people who trust in him have been set apart before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4), to not be of this world, but be salt and light in this world to proclaim of his message of Good News.

With one foot in the world, those who trust in God’s promises, can courageously exhibit grace amid panic. They can visit grocery stories to get what they need but be willing to give away what they possess to help a person in need. They can boldly take advantage of every opportunity the Lord provides to give reasons for the hope, peace, and confidence they have in Christ.

A life in Christ never panics but embraces difficulties in life as a blessing from God. He often uses challenges to deepen our trust in him. Secure in Christ, confident that God’s hand is in all things, challenges dissipate into opportunities to share Truth to a more receptive audience.

With one foot in the world and one foot resting in God’s promises, believers can be casual observers by viewing life in the third person. They insert their own name in lieu of God’s promises by saying to themselves:

[Insert name] is fully assured because Jesus tells me that he has overcome the world.

[Insert name] is fully at peace because Jesus tells me he is the resurrection and the life.

[Insert name] has sure hope because Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.

We can pray,

“O Lord, thank you for your mercy and grace. Fill me up with your presence and the fruits of your Spirit today. That I may live for you and not for myself. When doubt, fear, and concern rises up within me, may you flush them out with your good promises. Since I live, you live in me. Since I live, you direct me to live for you. May I seize upon every opportunity to exhibit peace and hope in my words and actions, but more importantly, verbally provide reasons why my hope is in you. During this time of turmoil and looming change, may I cling to you as the changeless One who has already secured my place in heaven. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

7 Questions I Never Hear When I Go Canvassing

The presidential primary season is in full swing. Campaign volunteers are exercising their zeal to ultimately win the election in November. The volunteers are willing to do all things for all people to convince fellow party members to vote for their candidate – even going to their doors.

Political volunteers embrace questions at the door rather than fear them. Every question is an opportunity to give reasons for the hope they have in their candidate and our country’s future.

Faithful Christians often refrain from proclaiming the gospel because they fear questions from those who don’t believe in Christ. It’s intimidating to be placed in a position where they might not know the answer or give false information.  

Faithful Christians need not fear questions from unbelievers but celebrate them.

Evangelism means proclaiming the gospel to unsaved souls. They are a different audience than those who believe in Jesus.

In my experience of going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel, the toughest questions typically come from those who already belong to a church or an avowed atheist looking for a fight.  

Those who are far from Jesus and need to hear the Good News have a completely different mindset. They will make comments and ask questions that many Christians would never expect. They are a unique audience with a far different knowledge base.

Here is an example of seven questions that I never hear from the unchurched when I go canvassing to proclaim the gospel.

#1        What denomination do you belong to?

#2        What does your church teach about baptism and holy communion?

#3        Are you a liturgical church or do you sing Christian contemporary songs?

#4        How long are the sermons?

#5        What is your pastor like? Could he stop by for a visit so I can meet him?

#6        What version of the Bible do you use?

#7        What does your church teach about the end times?

These questions are more important for Christians who are church shopping, but they will not come from those who are spiritually lost or don’t have a church home.

What type of questions do I hear from those who have not stepped inside a church for many years?

Do you allow gays in your church?
Do you have to be a member to attend your community event at church?
Does God forgive every sin?
Could your church accept someone like me?

Our world has changed so much that faithful Christians may not realize how people view the church or how little they know about what the Bible teaches. Unchurched people are heavily influenced by the media and what the world believes what Christianity ought to teach. We can’t assume they are rejecting the Truth because so many people have never really heard the Truth before. They don’t know that they don’t know. And those with a previous church background have stopped going to church because they longer want to feel judged, tired of trying to meet certain standards to be acceptable or find church no longer relevant in their life.

Christian believers should not be afraid to answer spiritual questions because people today are not bothering to ask them. Therefore, one of the greatest victories in evangelism is creating a safe and trusted environment where intrigued people who don’t have saving faith can ask questions and not feel threatened.

I am humbled and admire the zeal of political campaign volunteers. They are willing to go to the people to win votes for their candidate. Perhaps Christians can learn a lesson from them. With zeal sparked by the love of our Savior and engulfed by the power of his Word, we can go out to the people to bring Good News about our Candidate – Jesus Christ. He has already won!


“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Proclaiming the gospel in Nampa ID

Cross of Christ Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho recently celebrated its twenty-fifty anniversary. The Lord is blessing the gospel ministry and give thanks to him for almost six hundred baptized members.

The WELS Board of Home Missions is providing support to help Cross of Christ begin a second site. With explosive growth in the Treasure Valley, there is now an estimated 700,000 people living in the area. It is expected that the population will exceed one million people in the next twenty years. It is perfect timing to start another WELS congregation in the north side of Nampa. Rev. Kurt Wetzel from Cross of Christ-Boise is spearheading the outreach efforts.

Earlier in the year, a ministry center was leased in an office complex in the targeted area. Several different outreach activities were carried out to introduce Cross of Christ Lutheran Church to the surrounding community and gather a list of people who may be interested to be a part of the new campus site. Bible instruction classes along with Grief Share and Divorce Care meetings were held at the new ministry center.

The first worship service will be held Sunday, November 24th at JaK’s Neighborhood Grill located only a few blocks from the ministry center. Each Sunday morning, the restaurant is allowing a team to set up a worship space and conduct worship services beginning at 9:30 a.m. The space will comfortably hold 50-60 people to help the new campus site get started.

Praise and Proclaim Ministries had the privilege of partnering with Cross of Christ to help enhance their gospel ministry by providing personal evangelism training the weekend of November 15-16.

In working with Cross of Christ, a new postcard was developed that incorporated the theme, “A Place to Belong.”  This theme will be utilized and made available for all future outreach initiatives in 2020.

On Friday evening, the training emphasized general evangelism. The following day, participants attempted to incorporate the evangelism methodology by going door-to-door to proclaim the gospel. In the afternoon, participants received an opportunity to make personal visits with new friends of Cross of Christ. These individuals and families had attended outreach activities held during the summer or attended workshops at the ministry center.

The Lord blessed the gospel activity. Many people we met at the door remembered receiving the postcard in the mail. One young mother who received a follow-up visit was thrilled to hear that worship services were going to start only a few blocks from her apartment complex. She volunteered to help get the word out by hand-delivering our half-page invites.

It was powerful to see members from Cross of Christ to experience an opportunity to verbally proclaim the gospel. Many of the participants were already experienced canvassers.  However, they now felt comfortable and equipped to give reasons for the hope they have in Christ with people they met at the door.  They also discovered that there is power in a face-to-face contact with people from the community. We ask the Lord to bless the new second site in North Nampa. May they continue to aggressively spread the Word in the community and provide Good News about what Christ has already done for us.

Proclaiming the gospel in Glendale AZ

Arizona is pleasant place to visit in November. With temperatures in the lower 80’s, the warm dry air feels comfortable to the bones to those travelling from colder climates. Praise and Proclaim gives thanks to God for travelling to Glendale and partner with Grace Lutheran Church.

With a wonderful mixture of old and new, Grace Lutheran has a long history of gospel ministry. The church and school are located only a few blocks away from the old downtown district of Glendale. With roots dating back to the 1920s, the congregation now has almost 700 baptized members and a K-8 School with seven teachers and a principal. They also offer an early childhood program that enrolls over twenty preschool students. In 2006, a beautiful new sanctuary was completed. This includes a narthex area and a spacious multi-purpose room.

A focal point for the personal evangelism training was to prepare members to engage guests who will be attending the annual Living Nativity that is held in early December on the campus of Grace Lutheran. This event has become a part of the city’s tradition. At the center square of old downtown Glendale, several horse-drawn wagons take visitors on a hayride to watch and listen to the Christmas story. Hot cider is provided along with an assortment of fun activities. Last year, a line of people a block and a half long waited patiently to go on the hayrides. It was estimated that a thousand to fifteen hundred people attended the two-day event.

The evangelism committee at Grace wanted to use the evangelism training to personally engage the guests who will be arriving at the Living Nativity. Along with the help of 90 members who participate in conducting the event, our goal was to help prepare a small team to comfortably interact with people, personally invite them to Christmas Eve services, and provide a few reasons for the hope they have in Christ.

A major component of the Praise and Proclaim training includes opportunities for members to immediately put their training into action. After two and a half hours on Friday evening, members arrived the following Saturday to experience stranger evangelism in the morning (door-to-door witnessing) and friendship evangelism in the afternoon.

Friendship evangelism meant making visits with people who were considered friends of Grace Lutheran Church. They are guests who have visited the church on Sunday morning in the past year. This was an opportunity to learn how to comfortably engage friends and have members participate in future follow-up activities. Members from Grace discovered that their personal visits were well-received and appreciated.

With every outreach initiative, the Lord typically provides a spark of hope and encouragement. This happened in Glendale. As time approached the noon hour break, a two-person team knocked on the door that was answered by a middle-aged woman. After inviting her to come to the Living Nativity, she asked if a person had to be a member of a church in order to attend. She told the team that she is not a church member and hasn’t been to a church in years. After assuring her that she would be most welcome to attend, she handed back the invitation and said, “There is no way Jesus could ever love me.”

The opportunity was granted to share with this woman the depth of Christ’s love and grace that is extended to all people. Upon hearing this message, she asked, “Can I ask you a question?” She revealed to them that after re-marrying her husband a second time, she had caught him committing an act of adultery two weeks ago. Her daughter and only grandchild quickly left their house to live in another state. Alone, devastated, and with tears of hurt and hopelessness rolling down her cheeks she asked, “What do I do? Should I leave him? Ever since I was in Kindergarten, everything bad happens to me. How can Jesus be a part of all that has happened to me? He always seems to turn his back on me.”

When placed in these circumstances, a believer can rest in God’s promises and assurances. He can provide wisdom and words whenever we ask for help. The Lord answered that prayer and helped provide an answer for this hurting woman. The team shared,

“I am so sorry. That must have been devastating. I can only imagine the hurt and betrayal you are feeling right now. Please let me assure you that Jesus does love you. He desires to embrace you and hold you close with his love. He knows your pain and your hurt. He wants to give you peace for the present and hope for the future. I’m glad you are receiving professional help right now (she told them they she had started to see a therapist last week). But I want you to know that there are members at Grace Lutheran who are ready to love and embrace you. They will not judge, but continually pray for you. You don’t have to be alone or feel isolated. But more importantly, Jesus is a Savior who washes away the guilt, sin, and feelings of unworthiness. He fills you with hope and peace through his hands of forgiveness that he has won for you on the cross. In the meantime, let’s take one hour at a time and one day at a time. And in your journey to find healing and hope, I want you to be assured that Christ walks with you.”

The conversation lasted about fifteen minutes at the door. Comforted by the words, she took the invitation back that she had originally returned. Buoyed with the possibility of hope, she agreed to give her contact information and would welcome a text from the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church.

This is an example of what happens when church members step out of their comfort zones and into the world. God provides amazing opportunities to spread his message and his love to others. He uniquely provides opportune moments to engage hurting people who may be struggling mightily on the inside while trying desperately to keep a calm demeanor on the outside. Meeting this woman was a wonderful source of encouragement for members to continue to go out into the community to bring the Word to people.

May the Lord continue to bless the gospel ministry at Grace Lutheran Church and the group of “mighty warriors” who are willing and ready to introduce Christ in the community. And may they take full advantage of the number of people who plan on attending the Living Nativity this year by giving them the reason for the hope they have in Christ.

A Christian response to the possibility of alien life

A Christian response to the possibility of alien life

The U.S. government recently admitted that they have commissioning studies about the existence of UFO’s and alien life. The U.S. military have studied first-hand reports from Navy pilots and seen the videos. They admit that the flying objects are a mystery.

The cable TV channels continually produce shows about the possibility of alien life. There are popular conferences about Area 51, the existence of Bigfoot, and conspiracies involving major historical events

People are fascinated with the unexplainable.

I confess that I enjoy gazing up into the stars at night and wonder at God’s creation. When I use my phone to track satellites and space stations as they pass by in the night sky, I wonder at the advancement of technology. And since our God is a big, mysterious God that goes well beyond our comprehension, I wonder about all that he has created that remains undiscovered.

How would the possibility of alien life affect a Christian worldview? How does the possibility of UFO’s square with a person’s faith in Christ?

With the advent of technology that allows us to gaze at the wonderment of the ever-expanding universe and the billions of stars throughout our galaxy…. is it okay for Christians to ponder the possibility of alien life on another planet?

This question was posed recently in an interesting blog post entitled “Are we Ready for Life on Mars?” by James Emery White.  https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-james-emery-white/are-we-ready-for-life-on-mars.html

Many people dismiss the possibility of UFO’s and alien life as a hoax. They are convinced that most of what is deemed unexplainable always will have some type of explanation. And they could be right.

Miracles are also unexplainable.

Bible skeptics question the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. They dismiss the miraculous accounts of Christ along with the rest of the Old Testament miracles as legends.

Think about it. If you happened to go missing for three days after an afternoon at the beach, then suddenly emerge from the seashore with a wild story. You tell people that you were swallowed by a large fish then coughed up on shore. How would people respond? You could be an internet sensation. Your face could appear on the front page of several tabloids trying to make a buck. But most of us would be skeptical of your story.

The miraculous accounts in the Bible are unexplainable, but that’s not the point. God’s Word was not inspired and preserved so that we can believe that God parted the Red Sea during the time of Moses. The miracles declare that God is God and we are not.

The Bible answers the most fundamental questions that we need to be most concerned about – our relationship with him, our eternal life, our believe in Christ’s completed work on our behalf.

Faith is a miracle that can only be delivered by God’s hand through the power of his Word. This includes accepting certain questions where answers remain silent.

There are mysteries on earth that science has not been able to answer yet — including the possibility of life on other planets

Borrowing from James Emery White’s article, here are three theological truths that can help believers capture the essence of our faith in response to the unknowns in the universe.

  • God is bigger than we think.

When it comes to life on other planets and future scientific discoveries, remembering the size of God will always keep us humble and slow to jump to conclusions. Science is a process and a constant testing and proving of theories. Those who believe in Christ can celebrate every scientific discovery and marvel with awe at what God has designed.

  • All life is from God.

God is the Creator of the heavens and earth. Our human minds are not able to fully grasp what he has created on earth let alone what he has created in the heavens.  We can’t begin to capture the mind of God and what he has designed in the universe. There could be many dimensions and realities throughout the universe that God has created that has yet to be revealed. And perhaps it might be a bit arrogant for us to think that life on earth is the extent of his creativity. We don’t know. But God does. And we can accept that.

If it were important for us to know about the possibility of alien life during our brief stay on earth, then God will reveal it. In the meantime, we can hold on to what we do know that has already been revealed to us. And that’s a miracle in of itself. The incarnate God came to this earth. He lived, died, and rose again.

  • All of creation matters to God.

With all scientific discoveries, it is like peeling away billions of layers of an onion one piece at a time. A Christian can enjoy and not be threatened in its discoveries.

As Scriptures state, we can marvel at the earth and declare, “Look at what God has created!”

We can marvel at the heavens around us and declare, “Look at what God has created!”

And as the scientific community may be preparing to discover some type of life on other planets, we can anticipate the same discovery.

If scientists discover some type of life on another planet, we can rejoice by saying, “Wow. Look at what God created! God loves the earth and the universe!”

I confess that I’m skeptical about UFOs, the existence of Bigfoot, and alien life on other planets. I don’t buy into conspiracy theories. But I’m willing to be surprised by God if they are ever discovered.

While gazing up into the stars at night and an alien spaceship lands in my backyard, I look forward to finding out if they know Jesus Christ or not. What a discovery that will be!

www.praiseandproclaim.com