Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’

Why Are You Waiting?

In Chrisian Life, Gospel Living on January 9, 2017 at 12:14 pm

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My Dad was 17 when he first felt the call of God to preach.  He delayed that call.  He went to the Air Force.  He married, had a son, and served in the church.  At 40 God awakened him to the reality that he was supposed to be doing something else.  23 years he had been doing good but not best.  23 years of ministry that God could have worked mighty deeds in and through but can never be regained.

The children of Israel listened to the surrounding voices instead of God’s.  They lost 20 years of ministry that the temple could have offered not only to them but the surrounding nations and traders that passed through daily.  Though they worshiped at the altar, it fell short of the total expression.

Friend, to which voice are you listening?

It’s like the story told of an Indian being baptized into Christ. It didn’t take long though for this Indian to fall away. The preacher went to see this Indian and he asked why he had not been faithful in his living. The Indian replied, “It’s like I have two dogs in me and they are constantly fighting each other. One dog is good and one dog is bad and the bad always wins.”

The preacher asked, “Why do you think the bad dog always wins?”

Thinking for while, He answered “I guess I feed him more”

We must feed the voice of God for us to experience victory.

In the last moments before Jesus went back to Heaven, he told the listeners they would be equipped to bear witness to the whole world about the good news.  As they stood staring into the sky, the angels asked, “What are you waiting for?”

God is messaging you.  What are you going to do?

 

How Do I Talk About Jesus?

In Chrisian Life, Evangelism on June 11, 2015 at 9:13 am

Is it too simple?  Have we missed it in its simplicity? The Great Commission is clear.  We are to go and make disciples.  The method by which we do that is fuzzy.  Over the past 2 decades there have been a plethora of models for sharing the Gospel.  Yet, the statistics of my denomination have not adjusted much toward more involvement.  In this information crazed age, we are more educated on how to do it than we are actually engaging in evangelism.

For those who know but have not yet engaged, here are a few pointers to guide you.  EVERY person either goes to Heaven or Hell after death.  There are no exceptions.  EVERY person you know, or come into contact with, is heading toward one or the other.  The only way you going to discover which way is to talk to them.

Yes.  We have to say something.  Our lives are not going to draw people to Jesus without saying something.  Who among us lives so perfectly that people want to know Jesus by watching us.  It is more likely that by watching us people will be willing to listen to us talk about Jesus, as long as our lives are reflecting the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

How can we turn a conversation toward Jesus?

Pray. Ask the Spirit to move ahead of you in the lives of people around you.  Ask that you have discernment to know when to press and when to release.

Pay Attention.  People are more likely to be interested in spiritual matters around life events.  Moments such as births, deaths, birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, and even sorrows can open up the doors for a conversation.

Listen Carefully.  There are several ways we listen, and most of the time it i not with our heart.  We listen for what interests us more than actually hearing what is being said.  We listen in order to react rather then respond.  If we listen to people with our heart and engage in the conversation is shows love,
Jesus love.  Care about them more than your own need to jump in and solve the problem.  Listen and hear and feel.

Ask Good Questions.  One helpful book is Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism.  In this book he gives ways of asking questions in difficult moments and conversations.  I encourage you to read this book.

Be Patient.  Moving people toward a faith decision does not happen immediately.  Sure, there are those moments when it is easy.  However, more often than not it takes time in skeptical and spiritually innocuous world for people to see the need and respond.

With these thoughts in mind, go and make disciples of all the world!

What Number Will We Wear?

In SBC on July 24, 2014 at 7:02 am

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Everyone is talking about Lebron and what number he will wear as he returns to the Cavs.  Will he wear 23, which he wore last at Cleveland?  Will he wear 6, the number he chose as he went to Miami?  It seems there is even an online poll for the public to help him decide which number to choose.

What number will Southern Baptists choose?

In 1950, one person was baptized for every 19 members of SBC churches. In 1978, the baptismal ratio increased to 36 to 1, and by 2003 the number had climbed to 43 to 1. A lower ratio is desired. (1)  Each year about this time every SBC church puts together the annual reports and statistics for their church.

What number will the SBC pick this year?

Will we continue the decline?  Will they try to say we are at least better than if the CBF had remained after the conservative resurgence?  It would be more honorable to just own what the number is without concessions.  Each church makes a difference.  Well, actually, each member makes a difference.  Here are the 4 ways I see that the SBC can have a better number.

1.  Stop being like ACORN.  Actually remove all those who have died or moved away.  This would lower our membership records and create a better number.

2.  Start re-baptizing.  Bring in a good enough evangelist and they will talk all the people out of salvation so they can “really” get saved and then baptized again.  This would give a better number.

3.   Pay the pastor more.  This should really get his juices flowing and that should help win more to Jesus.

4.  You the reader…go share Jesus.

Which number should we pick this year?  Which number will you pick this year?

Overcomer

In Life and Culture on December 2, 2013 at 11:55 am


So many people I know are struggling!

  • Weight/Body Image
  • Marriage
  • Finances
  • Addictions
  • Obsessions
  • Grief
  • Loss

It is very likely that you, or someone close to you, is struggling with one or more of these  issues.  In my life I have struggled with grief, loss, and sometimes weight control.  In my circle of friends, I have struggled with someone in all of these areas.  It is amazing that such a short list can encompass so many.  How do we become an overcomer?

When we  have lived our lives dependent on someone or something for our identity, image, or self-worth we will struggle.  When we are asked to give it up we can become upset.  The triteness of “just quit” cuts deeply.  In the life of Jesus we find a moment, an interaction, that will help  us define and decide to move forward.  Overcoming addiction, dependency, emotional baggage, and more is possible.

1.  Is your life right now what you want it to be?  Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to be made well.  It seems like a ridiculous question.  Yet, if I am not in a position to admit my need for help I will not find it.  Many of us might answer this question with “NO!”, but fail to act on that understanding.  We continue to wallow in the pain.  We continue to satisfy the obsession/addiction with unhealthy options.  This man had been on a mat for 38 years.  His life was not what he wanted, but he did not have a solution until Jesus offered one.  He wanted to be made well, but did not have the ability to do so himself.  Until we come to a point of acceptance in our inability, we cannot find the joy of Jesus’ ability.

2.  Have the courage to look beyond your past.  Jesus told the man to stand and walk.  You tried diets.  You have tried therapy.  You might have even done rehab.  What I am suggesting is not spiritual rhetoric.  The point is that Jesus healed the man the moment he spoke.  This guy had to look past the 38  years and have believe.  The man could have chosen to remain on the mat, logically concluding that nothing happened.  He could have added up all the years and not believed in the word of Jesus.  Overcoming your current obstacle begins with admitting the problem, but cannot move forward until we believe in what Jesus can, and has already, done!

3.  Embrace what you  have.  This man got up and walked away.  Look at this again.  He got up and walked away!  The same guy who had been lying there for 38 years now got up and walked away.  he had not worked for 38 years.  He had not, probably, seen his family for 38 years.  He was stepping back into society physically as an adult, but socially as a child.  When we break through the obstacles before, and within, us there will moments of rediscovery.  You will not have all the confidence.  You will not have it all together.  Embrace what you do have: a deepening love and relationship with Jesus.

4.  Not everyone will understand.  People will find a problem.  Friends will still have painful memories that you are trying to get beyond.  Family might be distant.  You might hear things like, “You can’t possibly think you can stay clean and sober.”, or “You will never have a normal family life again.”  Two boys were walking to school when they noticed they were about to be late, which was severely unacceptable.  One boy suggests they stop and pray that they would not be late.  The other one suggests running as fast as possible and pray along the way.  Prayer and work go together.  Faith and action go together.  Nobody else has lived your life.  Nobody else knows the decision to trust in Jesus that you have made like you do.

Overcoming the obstacles we face in life is never easy.  Those obstacles are filled with pain, pride, grief, and tragedy.  However, Jesus offered this man a new life.  He offers you one as well.  These steps to overcoming are a great beginning point.  For further understanding feel free to comment or contact me.

Credo Christia

In Life and Culture on November 5, 2013 at 11:29 am

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The Soldier’s Creed was updated in 2003 to read as follows:

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

 

When considering the journey we have with Jesus as a follower of Him, there are notable and significant similarities between the Soldier’s Creed and our life in Christ.  Consider this adjustment for Christianity:

I am a follower of Christ.

I am a soldier for Christ and a member of a local church.
I serve God and others and live the Biblical Ethic.

I place God in the center of my life.
I will not accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will not leave others behind.

I am a disciple, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my Christian gifts, ministries, and administrations.
I maintain my Bible reading, spiritual armor, and personal habits.
I am an expert and professional in what God has called me to do.
I am ready to go on mission, to share God’s love, and to tear down the walls of Satan.
I am a guardian of the Gospel and the Godly way of life.

I am a follower of Jesus.

Tears of Joy

In Chrisian Life on October 16, 2013 at 10:10 am

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4Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev! 5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! 6He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126:4-6

Our gospel work for God can be brutal at times. This verse reassures. Why might we weep?

1. We weep because of rejection. People might reject the gospel and the resulting reality is eternal death if their mind is not changed.

2. We weep because of relentless opposition. The work itself can take its toll on your body, your family, your marriage, and your job. Yet, when you turned your life over to God, the King, He is now in charge. We weep because the opposition is strong and we are placed in a defiant moment of culture and history.

3. We weep because of replacement. Jesus told the churches that their lamp could be removed or replaced. Many have speculated whether this meant the pastor or the church body. It could be either one or both depending on the severity of the issue. We weep because that process is not easy. We weep because friends and roots have been made.

We are reassured here that though we sow and toil in tears we will harvest in joy. Don’t stop because it is hard. Press on until the job is done.

Cash or Credit?

In Chrisian Life on September 30, 2013 at 6:28 am

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Will that be cash or credit?

How many times have you been asked that question?  At its core, you are being asked whether you can afford what you are buying now or not.  Are you paying cash and settling the bill today?  Are you putting it on credit, in the hope of being able to pay the bill later?  Don’t get me wrong, I use plastic too.  However, there are many other decisions in life that are important enough that we should “pay cash” for them.  Listen to what Jesus said,

Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not  sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?    And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.      — Luke 14:31-32

What king goes to war without first having counted the cost?  Why engage the enemy if you do not know you could win?  Sports teams have a schedule and do not have choices.  But kings?  They could negotiate.  They could opt out.  They could fight and become the laughing-stock of the continent.

Jesus expressed this parable to help us realize that when we choose to do something…anything…we should take careful steps.  Let’s walk through 3 careful steps together

Ability.  Before you engage the enemy or take on that project, get a sense of your ability to finish.  I have been awful over the years to get psyched to start a home project, go buy all the materials, and then not get to it for months.  Then the lumber has bowed and warped to the point I have to buy new when i finally get to the actual doing of the project.  Maybe you want to accomplish a project but just do not have the physical ability to do so.  Overestimating your ability causes frustration and fatigue and likely ends in failure.  Be accurate.  Evaluate your ability to finish something before you start.

Call.  Before a king goes to war he must have a sense that God is calling him to do so.  Whether it is a new job, getting married, college, or having a baby, we must have a sense of God’s call on our lives.  Just because I want to do something does not make it mine to do.  Even though I have the ability, do I have a call?  David wanted to build the temple.  He had the ability.  He would have seen it through.  But God said it was not for him to do.  Humbling ourselves before God and accepting what His plan is for our lives is a critical part of maturity.

Finance.  Before a king goes to war he needs to be able to finance that war.  I believe that if God calls you to something He will finance it also.  However, this is not just about having enough money.  When God enables you and calls you to a person, project, or purpose He will likely challenge you in your  finances.  We all spend money on things we do not need.  The issue is not guilt.  The question is whether or not God is leading you to rearrange your expenses in order to make room for the next spiritual adventure.

Education, marriage, parenting, house-hunting, or building that addition on the back of your house all need to be taken seriously.  Just because the clock is ticking or you get an itch to do something  does not mean to jump in without thinking it through.  How many times, myself included, have you said in the middle or afterward, “I didn’t think that would happen.”?  These 3 careful steps will help to insure that you are on God’s path and not your own.

Trivial Pursuit

In Chrisian Life, Commitment, Decisions, Uncategorized on July 16, 2013 at 11:39 pm

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Pursuit.

Over the years, I have pursued many things. Haven’t you?

  • As a child I pursued longer skids on my bike and how long I could hold my breath.
  • As I got a little older I pursued Jenny down the street.
  • As a youth, I sought friends in whatever way it took. I pursued girls relentlessly. I worked to earn money to spend on those pursuits.
  • In college, I pursued grades and girls and money for the latter.

Later I pursued God and it helped me put everything into perspective! I had placed faith in Jesus at 8 but had not developed that relationship. For that reason, I had many trivial pursuits. Bike skids left scars on my knees. Girls brought drama. Seeking friends at all costs really costs you more than you can pay. Grades were good but did not satisfy and money came and went. However, God made all the difference.

On this pursuit of God I ran across a verse I had not noticed before.

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19 ESV)

In the midst of our many and various issues and differences God wants us to pursue peace. Jesus would preach that the peacemaker was blessed. Either way, we are to be active in the pursuit of peace. Do not be mistaken. Pursing peace is not about tolerance of immoral and unbiblical behaviors as our culture presents. Paul is writing to the church. Those who are followers of Jesus are to pursue peace among ourselves. The ramifications of chaos in the church body is irrelevance in the community.

We are to also pursue the development of each other. We are to help one another deepen our relationship with God and increase our love for humanity. Sound familiar? Jesus said those two things were the two greatest commandments. It is no wonder Paul writes that we are to help one another do that better.

Don’t waste your life pursuing what cannot satisfy. Pursue God.

The Day The Music Died

In Church, Evangelism, SBC on October 25, 2012 at 7:21 am

In 6th grade band I was trying out for 1st chair.  For the non-bandy types this means the number 1 position in the instrument area.  The music was provided in time for a week of practice.  I practiced it until I had it cold.  I was new in this school and had much to prove both for myself and my social position.  If I could win 1st chair from the one who had it I would score major points in many areas important to a 6th grade boy!  The day finally came for tryouts. In the middle of band, while everyone was present, we had to play the piece for the teacher.  As each took a turn, I couldn’t help but notice that theirs sounded strange.  About that time, it was my turn.  I straightened up in the chair and played it just the way I had practiced.

I got last chair.

You see, the picture at the top represents what is called the key signature.  It tells a player how to  play certain notes.  In this picture you see that there are 3 sharps (#).  I played the music as if it had 2 sharps.  There is no real reason for this other than God knew I needed humility at this point in my life!

If we use the wrong standard of measurement, or the wrong key signature, you will not win what you desire.  I believe that our denomination, state conventions, and churches are using the wrong standard of measurement when it comes to gauging success.  Every year we pass out awards for those who have baptized the most overall and per capita.  I believe we have been negligent when it comes the commands of Christ in this regard. Let’s look at 2 verses.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few.”

I was taught and have preached this verse of Jesus with passion for evangelism.  However, I think we fell short.  When you harvest, the reproduction(evangelism and conversion) has already taken place.  The harvest is of the fruit which contains seeds for more reproduction.  In other words, the harvest is of disciples.  This fruit is what every farmer is after.  Disciples are what Jesus wanted.  However, we have grown happy just to have leaves push through the soil and reveal a field of green.  This is at the heart of awarding for baptisms and not disciples.  We award churches for cultivating the soil, planting seeds, and seeing green leaves.  No farmer in their right mind thinks that is the harvest.  The harvest is later.  The goal of Jesus is not converts but disciples.

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

If we continue to play in the wrong key like I did on that day, then we will never sit 1st chair.  Baptism numbers are not as telling as evangelism ratios.  How many people does it take in your church to win someone to Jesus?  The current SBC statistic is here.  What is it in your church?  You see the harvest is the fruit of the growth and ability to reproduce.  The harvest is the a field of stubby green.  The farmer does not get a check(award) because of sprouts(converts).  The farmer gets a check(award) with the harvest(disciples).  Evangelism ratios are not the only way to measure discipleship.  However, it is better than what we are doing.

What other standards could we use to measure discipleship?

The EPIC Plan

In Direction, Evangelism, Jesus, Leadership, Missional, Missions on October 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

We all want days like this, right?  How do we achieve them?  As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have been given an EPIC plan from the King!  Let me briefly share it with you.

Let’s begin with 2 words of encouragement because I know what you’re saying.  It is the same thing I used to say.  You don’t believe you can.  You don’t think you’re qualified.  Some of you believe success is for someone else.  I disagree.  I believe that God desires to so much more in you, to you, and through you then you could ever think or imagine.  I believe God has your best interest in mind, all the time.

Encouragement #1 – Power
Jesus said that all power in Heaven and Earth had been given to Him.  All of the resources of God are at His disposal.  Jesus is telling you that these resources are available to you to carry out the plan.

Encouragement #2 – Presence
Jesus says that He will be with you always.  He will walk you through the process.  He will hold your hand.  He will cheer and cry with you.  He will, forever, be with you.

When you look at these verses  in Matthew 28 you see how He has created bookends around the plan of power and presence.

18Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  19Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What is this plan?  It is EPIC!!

Engage the world around you.  When Jesus said “Go”, He meant what He said.  We are to go into the world.  Our world today is not as receptive to the street corner screamers and Bible bashing believers of days gone by.  Actually, I am not sure how productive they ever were but they were popular at one time.  Today’s culture is spiritually savvy.  They have been inoculated with just enough Jesus to be dangerous.  Through evangelism efforts, VBS, event ministries, and more people have become aware of the Gospel.  We must engage them in a relationship.  Striking a balance between the time needed to develop this relationship and the urgency of knowing Jesus could return at any time is a difficult one to accomplish.  However we must attempt to speak into the lives of people through a relationship.

Proclaim the message of Christ.  A relationship is the beginning of an opportunity to share the gospel with them.  Over time, there will be a certain amount of trust that will allow you to turn a conversation in the necessary direction.  We are to go into the world.  Some critics would have you believe that we are only responsible for those in our immediate areas.  According to the earlier verse and this one we are to go everywhere!

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

We are to engage and proclaim locally, nationally, and internationally as God allows and provides.

Instruct the commands.  The third part of this plan is to teach new believers the ways of Jesus.  Conversion is not the endgame.  Making disciples is the endgame.  David Platt and Francis Chan have pulled together a great resource for accomplishing this task at Multiply Movement.  Making converts is exhausting because you never get any help!  If you make disciples then you are building in a growing number of people exponentially.

Continue until completion.  Until Jesus returns or every human being as accepted the call of discipleship, there is no stopping point.  We continue to engage, proclaim, and instruct.

Be EPIC!  You know you want to!!

 

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