Saturday, July 14, 2012


Last week I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a man called, Kirby.  He was interested in talking about the things of God and told me that in 1980 he went to church and was 'on fire' for Jesus, but then his eyes looked away as he told me that he eventually fell away. 

I asked him why he came to Jesus; what was his motive for becoming a christian and he explained that he thought that his life would be so much better and without the kind of problems he was facing at that time if he became a christian.  He soon found out that his life's circumstances weren't any better and so when trouble hit, Kirby left the church.

It was sad to hear that story again where a person's motives for becoming a christian are self-centered instead of Christ-centered or Gospel-centered.  Perhaps Kirby thought, 'what can Christ do for me?'...'how will Jesus fix my life?', when the question should be, 'What can I do for Christ?'.  What kind of a Gospel message did he hear before he 'became a christian'?  All too often the Gospel message is reduced to an offer of a better life if you will just say a prayer to ask Jesus into your heart...with NO mention of our sin, our spiritual depravity, and our desperate need to repent before a Holy God. Jesus' message was repentance, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 and "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:3 and 5.  How often do we hear the word repentance when we hear the call to salvation in church? 

If all a person hears is that if you come to Jesus, he will give you a better life, like Kirby, they will be sorely disappointed because life is hard and walking with Jesus doesn't mean your problems disappear.  The problems for the early believers and apostles didn't get better in Christ - if anything they got worse - most were martyred for their faith or terribly persecuted to the end of their lives, but they persevered and had a peace and a joy that passed all understanding because they had died to self and fixed their eyes on a future hope in Christ.  No, trusting in Jesus means that the living God will be with you throughout your life, whatever the circumstances.  He will come and live IN you to strengthen, comfort you and guide you as you walk through all the trials and tribulations of life, even as he promised, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'. Hebrews 13:5  What a wonderful promise and I know this to be true in my life.  As Paris Reidhead says in his sermon, Ten Shekels & a Shirt, "Isn’t man happy?  Did God intend to make man happy?  Yes.  But as a bi-product and not prime product." 

The Gospel is not about us - it's about God and His great love for us while we were yet sinners.  Did Kirby hear that God is Holy, Holy, Holy and that one day he would stand in His awesome presence and have to give an account for his life?  Did he hear that we can't bribe the judge of the universe with our good works because God, who is good, won't take a bribe and that in God's sight, none of us actually have any good works!  As Scripture says,

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.   All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good; not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.  The poison of vipers is on their lips.  Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.  There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Romans 3:10-18

Did he come to a place where he understood that what he really deserved was God's wrath and justice, but that Jesus Christ bore his sin on the cross, paying his debt in full so that on that Great Day, Kirby could leave that heavenly courtroom free from acusation and covered by the righteousness of Christ?

Perhaps if he understood what he had been saved from and caught a glimpse of the richness of God's kindness and mercy toward him, he would have mourned over his sin and died to self, surrenderring his life as a thank offering to the glory of the One who died for him.

Kirby shared that as a cat has nine lives, he felt that he had been given twelve lives.  I noted a large ugly scar on his forearm and wondered about the circumstances of that injury.  I told him that his life was in God's hands and that God, by His common grace had kept him alive and wanted him to come to the knowledge of salvation while he yet lived.  He nodded thoughtfully.  He said that all this made sense to him and that he understood he had to get right with God.  I prayed with him - for his dad and for God to reveal these truths to him.  I left him with some reading material and went on my way.   Please remember Kirby in your prayers and may God open his eyes and bring him to that wonderful place of repentance and faith.

"Oh man, you're going to lay your head on the pillow tonight with a heartbeat between you and eternity..."  A.W. Tozer

Christian, get up, get out and share your faith. There are thousands of Kirby's out there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God's Surrounding Beauty

Tonight Bob asked me if I’d like to go for a drive to a park.  I tried to guess a few of the parks that he may have chosen, but he refused to tell me.  As we drove, I thought he would turn toward the beach, which technically isn’t a park, but perhaps Bob’s idea of a park is wherever you stop the car!
Anyway, we drove along and came to a very familiar dirt road.  We turned in and wound down to a small parking lot next to an empty baseball diamond.  We got out and together walked over a small bridge to a sparsely treed, overgrown and obviously abandoned patch of grass to our right.  An orange fence surrounded this area with a sign that read, ‘Area Closed – Hazardous Trees – Do Not Enter’.  Apart from this one unkempt area of the park, the rest of the park was beautifully well groomed and cared for.

As I stood looking at this restricted area memories came flooding back of a day eight years ago where family and friends gathered together to celebrate the marriage of our daughter, Tara and her young beau, Preston.  It made me cry as I remembered the day, the people, and the hope of a young and eager love in this bride and groom.  But now this very place where they said their vows was an eerie reminder of the night our world would come crashing down with a single phone call late one September night when Preston was suddenly taken home to be with the Lord.

Through my tears, I looked around at the beauty of the rest of the park surrounding this abandoned area and saw that it was truly a picture of God’s immeasurable faithfulness to us through it all:  the healing, the joy of the birth of Micah Preston Newby, the blessing of seeing both of our daughters trusting the Lord for their futures whatever they may be, seeing our youngest marry her true love, Brad, and just this past week, witnessing how God has provided in a husband for Tara and a Daddy for Jacob and Micah in Kevin.  In that moment my heart was overwhelmed with the reality of God’s kindness and goodness in the midst of our loss.

I’m glad Bob took me to that park tonight because it reminded me that no matter how difficult or even tragic life is; no matter how alone or abandoned we may feel, God is faithful and as we journey with Him, He will continually surround us with His presence, His blessings and  His provision in so many wonderful ways.  Pray for those who are hurting or who have suffered loss, even if they look okay on the outside...and remember that no matter what you may be going through, take time to see the blessings of our Lord for they  are many and He is faithful!

"Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies."  Psalm 36:5

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Learning to share the Gospel

In Sunday School we have been learning how to share our faith with strangers, friends and family.  We use the Living Waters Way of the Master method - which is the method Jesus and the apostles used as well, where He gave Law to the proud and grace to the humble. 

Many people we talk to will answer that they are a 'good' person and feel that they merit heaven because of their goodness, but when we take them through just a few of the Commandments, they see that they have fallen far short of God's standard of moral perfection.  We all have - and that's why we ALL need a Savior.  Without the mercy and kindness shown by God through Jesus Christ, we would all perish and our punishment would be justified because our sins are against God, our Creator, more than they are against our fellow man.  Think about it, if God is absolutely GOOD, which He is, then He must be absolutely JUST(or He would no longer be good) and He wouldn't be God if He could be bribed by our good works, would He?  Why would Jesus Christ have to have gone to the cross if we could save ourselves by our own good works?

So when a person has come to the knowledge that they are guilty before a Holy God and their conscience bears witness to that fact, we share the good news of the Gospel with them - where God the Son stepped into time and became one of us and lovingly took our punishment.  He bore the wrath of God in our stead so that we could be justified - in right standing with God!   God could legally dismiss our case on Judgement Day because the debt we owed for our sin was paid in full by Jesus Christ at the cross.  God calls all men everywhere to repentance and faith so that your sins, no matter how great, can be forgiven.  What a wonderful message!!! 
I think that a lot of Christians struggle with how to Biblically share their faith.  Over the years, I have come up with a three step way to share their faith using symbols and letters:  What Did He Do?  What Will He Do?  What Do You Do?  Here is Breyden who has learned this method.  He is ready to share His faith when the opportunity arises.  I hope this helps you as well.  If anyone is interested in learning it, please let me know!


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