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Friday, February 8, 2008

A Whale of a Tale!

Perhaps one of the best known stories in all of Scripture is the story of Jonah. If nothing else, we all know the basic elements to the story. God calls Jonah to preach to a city, Jonah has other plans and flees from God, and Jonah ends up in the belly of a whale. Of course, he gets out of the whale's belly after three days (!) and then goes and preaches as God had called him to do.

As I read and think about this story, I wonder if Jonah doesn't reflect the way we often think about God's call for us to spread his Gospel. Though for different reasons than Jonah had, often times our response to God's desire for us to share our faith is one where we flee just like Jonah! We know the right thing to do is to talk about Jesus, but we come up with a lot of reasons why we won't or why we can't. I think for a lot of us, the reasons have to do with the fact that we don't feel very well equipped to share our faith. We don't know how to start the conversation, we don't know how to answer the objections, we don't feel comfortable telling someone they are in need of forgiveness, and so on.

As disciples we know that we are to sit, study, and serve. Over the next few weeks in our worship we are going to examine the life and ministry of Jonah more closely and see how we can learn from this book how to overcome our fears of talking about Jesus (sit) . I am going to be encouraging you all to be daily reading through the very short book of Jonah and praying while you do for God to help you feel more equipped to share your faith (study). Then, it is my prayer that you will be ready to have those Jesus talks with those who may not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ (serve). I realize that in the worship service we cannot cover the scope of all of what we deal with in the world when we discuss our faith. So, I am going to be putting in articles and recommending books in our newsletter to help equip you to talk about Christ. Please take time to look through our new section called "Speaking of Jesus." We live in a world that needs to hear the gospel. This is urgent stuff. Please prayerfully join us as we "set sail" in our study of Jonah and evangelism!

Pastor Bob

Speaking of Jesus: Good News!

We have been brought up to think that there are two topics you don't talk about in public: religion and politics. These topics are divisive and make people uncomfortable. Conversations can escalate pretty quickly when what we believe is put on trial by those we are close to. It is never fun to have these uncomfortable conversations.

And yet we find ourselves in these conversations from time to time. The sudden fascination with spirituality in America has forced the conversations upon us! So how do we respond? Are we going to be prepared to have these conversations when they come up? Are we going to be willing to even maybe start one of these conversations? After all, Christ has called us to tell people the good news about the salvation he has won for us on the cross, but sometimes we just don't feel ready. What if they ask questions I don't know the answer too? What if they corner me or attack my beliefs? How will I respond?

These are all questions we plan on helping you deal with in our new section here in the newsletter called "Speaking of Jesus." It is my hope and prayer that through this series of articles you will begin to feel more equipped to talk about the saving work of Jesus Christ to your friends and family. The goal here is not to teach you how to win arguments, but rather, to help equip you to share good news. After all, that is what Christ has called us to do, deliver news.

Think of evangelism like this: you woke up this morning and made yourself some coffee, walked outside in your robe and slippers and you picked up the paper. The headline read: "Man Rises from the Dead after Three Days" The article reads something like this, "Jesus Christ, a man from Jerusalem who claimed to be God and was crucified 2,000 years ago for his comments, has come back to life! When asked what the meaning of all of this was, he said, 'I came from God to suffer for the sins of the world. If people put their faith in me, they will be forgiven and saved.'" You quickly run inside, "Honey, did you hear? Jesus is risen from the dead! Our sins are forgiven!"

That is all evangelism is. Delivering good news! It is telling people that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day for our salvation. That's it. Period. Now, this will raise questions on the side of the person you inform. They will wonder how reliable the story is, why they need forgiveness in the first place, and why your view on Christ is better than the Mormon's down the street. We will deal with these issues in this section of our newsletter. It is my prayer that God will work through these columns to help you feel more confident in sharing your faith.

Book Recommendation:
Lee Strobel, A Case for Christ. Zondervan Publishing House, 1998.

Pastor Bob

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