Posts Tagged evangelism

The Face of Faith

Years ago, while on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I noticed something that I have often thought about since.  How is it that we communicate so much non-verbally?  Most have heard that non-verbal communication plays a large part in the way humans communicate, the face being of primary importance. While in a country that speaks a different language, this becomes evident.

My two friends, one after the other, were sharing their testimonies of God’s work in their lives at a church service.  There was a translator that would repeat each phrase in Spanish after my friends each would say a phrase in English.  What struck me was the look on each of their faces as they were sharing.  The glow of the Holy Spirit shone through as they were speaking and waiting for translation.  I remember thinking that the testimony of their faces was so convincing of changed lives from darkness to light and that the words being interpreted were just to give the details.  The look on their faces needed no interpretation!

I have mentioned that to others as we go on mission trips around the world. The look on our faces will communicate volumes to those we meet and interact with.

As we look at scripture related to this, I see a couple of things. First, there is a look on a face that communicates evil.  Regarding the wicked kings of Israel, Isaiah 3:9 says: “The expression of their faces bears witness against them, and they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it.”  Other emotions can come across on your face as well, including fear, anger, irritation, disinterestedness, surprise, and many others.  The second look on a face in the Bible that catches my attention and reminds me of my friends on the mission trip, is the look on Stephen’s face as he was being stoned for his faith.  Acts 6:15 says, they “saw his face like the face of an angel.”  This glowing face reminds us of Moses as he would come down the mountain after being in the presence of God.  Now in the new covenant, having the Spirit of God living in us, as believers, our faces are affected – or at least should be!

There is a transformation that occurs as we behold the glory of the Lord, and we are being changed or sanctified as we live this life in Christ.  1Cor 4:6 says that “God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of glory of God in the face of Christ.”

May the Lord’s face shine through us as we interact with one another and with a lost world – with faces of faith!

 

Dr. Brent Evers is an Elder at FCC. He and his wife, Cari, have three children.

Posted in: Christian Living

Leave a Comment (0) →

Three “No, but…” answers to our “Are we there, yet?” Questions

Now approaching his 97th birthday, my grandfather reminisces a lot. Many years ago, he built a lake house with his own hands. Lately, he’s been reminiscing about all the summertime trips he made with my sister and I. I think only God could keep track of the number of times we made that drive. As a kid, the dreadful length of the trip weighted on me every time. My sister and I alternated our pesky questions on an infinite loop: “Are we there yet?” “How much longer?” “Are we there yet?” …. (I will spare you. You get the picture.)

I recently found myself in the driver’s seat hearing those indicators of anxious impatience from someone else for the first time. My nephew piped up on a ten-hour drive: “This is why I hate driving to Michigan. It takes forever! Why can’t we fly?” As he said this, each word got longer than one before it. He intuitively used every vocal resource he had to indicate how the trip seemed to keep stretching on and on. He’s four.

A few moments of impatience notwithstanding, my nephew handled our trip very well. (So well, in fact, he’s decided I should play chauffeur on the next long family adventure!) But he reminded me how hard waiting on the Lord in our sojourning can be, especially when: 1) We know the Lord could move faster if He wanted to and 2) We don’t know how long or how hard (or how good, for that matter!) the journey will be. If the hardest part about waiting is waiting without answers we know the Lord could give, then the second hardest part about waiting must be receiving a different answer than the one we were hoping for. This was familiar ground for Christ’s disciples just before His ascension in Acts 1:6-9:

6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

I can almost hear my nephew’s tone (even my own!) in the disciples’ voices when they ask Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” What did the disciples want to know? Quite simply, “Are we there now? Are You ready yet? Will you restore the Kingdom now, Lord?” I love Christ’s answer. At first blush, it seems he says something like, “No, and it’s none of your business…” But Jesus didn’t say, “No.” He told them the details of the timing were not for them to know, but then He answered a question they weren’t asking. He told them how He would restore the Kingdom. But first they would have to…. (You guessed it!)… wait on the Holy Spirit. They would be waiting for the Spirit to give them power to bring about the very thing they want to see accomplished, albeit at a much different pace and without a violent overthrow to Caesar’s government. Their view of the restoration was simply incomplete and short-sighted. God’s plan was far more glorious. By God’s design, the restoration would essentially happen one gospel conversation at a time.

Taking this as my first cue, here are three hope-filled “No, but…” answers we can glean from Scripture that speak to our spiritual “Are we there yet?” questions.

  1. No, but we have a commission while we wait (Matthew 28:16-20). I don’t know about you, but often my desire for the Lord to act more quickly is based on selfish desires that seem to multiply anytime I take my eyes off Him. When we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the Great Commission is ever before us, ever occupying our minds and even our hands. This doesn’t mean we never plead with the Lord to quickly answer us in our need. It does mean that we are, by His grace, able to be found faithful when He does grant that long-awaited answer. “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready…” (Luke 12:35-48).
  2. No, but God hears our “Are we there yet,” prayers as a gracious and patient Heavenly Father. Although grumbling and complaining is something we need to repent of, the Lord has flung His door wide open to receive earnest prayer along the lines of “How long, O Lord?” He’s flung it so wide, in fact, that we have prayers in the Psalms we can pray when the wait is too much for us. See Psalm 13 for just one example.
  3. No, but we can worship while we wait. See one example of an eager wait turning to worship here in  Psalm 130:5-7. Even when we face the bleakest of circumstances, the greatness of our God is not diminished (Habakkuk 3:16-19). His nature is not tarnished. His goodness has not run out. What would happen if we fought our temptations to mumble in impatience with worship? Here’s a small sample worship resources available to help get us started worshipping the God of perfect timing in our waiting seasons:

 

I pray the Lord will answer you quickly when you call to Him. But if, in His providence, you find yourself lingering in the middle of a long, hard, wait, I pray He’ll bring to your mind scriptural truths that strengthen and comfort you. May we wait on the Lord “more than watchmen for the morning,” and more than four-year-olds who are ready to go swimming on vacation!

 

  BJ Rathbun works as an analyst. Her liberal arts education has given her an eclectic work background and a multitude of stories. She most enjoys spending time with her family, church family, and friends.

Posted in: Christian Living

Leave a Comment (0) →

Three Guiding Truths for Interactions with Unbelievers

Who knew writing a blog post could be so hard? Every time I researched a topic I hit the same walls. How could I say it any better? Do I actually have enough knowledge to speak to this? Instead of tackling some theological debate or major life issue, I have chosen to share something I’ve been facing in my own life.

Until recently, my employment had only involved interaction with believers, which I am very thankful for. Being immersed into the realm of retail last fall was a new experience. My exposure to the world and unbelievers reached a new level as I entered that environment as a minority, my faith being what set me apart. I’ve had to wrestle through what being a Christian looks like in a new way. For the first time I’ve had to come to terms with the possibility of my belief having a negative effect on my job.

Honestly, for being in a worldly environment, it’s less hostile than many workplaces. But naturally, when your boss doesn’t serve the same Master, it’s not going to be perfect. I’m constantly given opportunities to take the high road. For example, there are times when I have the opportunity to speak truth in a personal conversation with my boss, a decision to be made when a coworker suggests we take the easy way when nobody’s looking, a loneliness in choosing to obey a rule that nobody else does. Doing the right thing in these situations could have a negative result, whether in my relationships with my coworkers or my standing with my boss. The hard part isn’t knowing what the right course of action is, it’s taking the action itself. For these moments, I have created three statements of truth that I repeat to myself (Psalm 15:2).

  1. “I may be the only Bible these people ever read.” According to Christianity Today, one in five North Americans don’t know a believer. Many of the people I pass on any given day don’t even know who Jesus is. When I interact with coworkers and customers, my life may well be the only testimony to Christ they encounter. Am I living up to that? The way we live shows people who we are serving as our Master (Matthew 5:16).
  1. “Will my silence speak truth?” When those around me are speaking untruth about life or morality, are having conversations that are not honorable, or verbally contemplate doing something that defies their Creator, how do I react? Even though I may not participate, I can do more. They won’t know the truth if I sit there passively. Though not every situation requires the same measure of boldness, it’s often needed more than our fear of man tells us it is. Ephesians 5:16 reminds us to be “making the most of every opportunity” in our lives here on earth. What are we here for? To bring God glory, and spreading truth is a vital way of doing that (Ephesians 4:29, Acts22:15).
  1. “Who actually gave me this job?” This last one has been the most impactful for me. It’s easy to fear my boss. She herself has advised us to remember that we owe her our jobs. It’s easy to pour my energy into a task to receive her approval. Though we are commanded to submit to authority and to perform our work to the best of our ability, what is the reason? The answer to this can produce joy and a sense of accomplishment in our work, regardless of who our boss is. Why do we submit? God has placed those people in authority. Even when I don’t think my boss deserves my respect, my responsibility doesn’t change. God has placed me under her authority, so in honoring her I am honoring Him. Romans 13:1-7 says “Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” When my boss gives me a task, I have two options. I can do just enough to suffice, or I can go the extra mile. Of course, the second choice is the right one, but there are two different possible motives behind it. If pleasing and getting praise is the motive, then pride is really the reason. But if doing my work “unto the Lord” and pleasing Him is the motive, that is honorable (Colossians 3:23). The result of the first motive is unreliable. A boss may not give praise or even notice. The result of the second is sure: the Lord always notices. But even if I bring glory to Him in my work, that doesn’t mean my job will always be secure. Even though my boss holds the power to fire me if she feels like it, nothing is outside of God’s control. He gave me this job, and if it is taken away, He can provide another. The only reason I am able to work is because of the ability He gave me. So I respect and obey my boss, but in the end I know God is in control of the situation.

I still fail in these every day, but repeating the truth to myself is great encouragement and motivation. Though I’ve applied these truths toward my workplace, they are applicable to any position, role, or stage of life. No matter what we’re doing or where we are, our identity as a Christian doesn’t change. Whether it’s our interaction with a family member, another mom at the Y, or a fellow classmate – we are Christ’s representatives here on Earth. We may be met with opposition now, but our reward is in the life to come.

Haven Bush, a member of FCC for the past ten years, serves in Awana, children’s Sunday school, and nursery. She is part of the Kevin Bush family and is engaged to Jonathan Minner.

Posted in: Christian Living, Evangelism

Leave a Comment (0) →

Stepping Over the Cross

Photo Copyright Alan Hutchins

Photo Copyright Alan Hutchins

This photo is of a cross that is part of the walkway to the gas chamber at the old Missouri State Penitentiary. The prison was built in 1836 and was called the “Bloodiest 47 Acres in America” because of the violence. It was opened 100 years before Alcatraz and was in use continuously until 2004. The gas chamber this path leads to was used for executions from 1937-1989. All told 40 convicted murderers walked by this cross on the way to their death in the gas chamber. Guilty men and women sentenced to death by a judge. In a real sense, they had to step over the cross on their way to die.

Today many trample the cross and the salvation it represents…yet it remains the only way of salvation and the only hope of eternal life. Jesus died on the cross as an atonement for sin. The innocent dying for the guilty. As we go through life each one of us is on the pathway to one day stand before a Righteous and Holy Judge. Will you face His wrath or receive His mercy? Your response to the Gospel of Christ will determine the outcome.

 

Alan Hutchins is a member and a trustee of Faith Community Church.

Posted in: Evangelism

Leave a Comment (0) →

A Faith Like Breathing

BY JOE BANCKS

Habakuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.”

Recently I was immensely blessed by God to receive an answer to prayer: an open door to share the gospel with a coworker. In the course of explaining how Jesus has utterly saved me from myself, and continues to keep me and convict me and sustain me, my conversation partner smiled and nonchalantly said, “Well, it’s always good to have a faith.”

“Yes, breathing is all well and good. But where do I sign?”

A faith? It’s “good to have” one, as though it’s a really good dishwasher? or a line on your resume, or a club you belong to that meets on weekends? No, I live by faith! “The just shall live by faith!” I tried to help my friend see that this living by faith is ongoing, like breathing, or heartbeats. Our bodies live by the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, distributed around our bodies, and likewise faith is the breathing by which our souls shall live.

Easy conversionism, or in my friend’s case, easy confessionalism, is like taking one breath, at some point in your early teen years, and expecting that to be all the air you need for the rest of your life. Or like expecting one beat of your heart to move all the blood through your body you’ll need for the rest of your life. Or, if I may, living by faith is like eating His flesh and drinking His blood (hey, that’s inspired!). To live by faith in Christ is to draw all your sustenance from Him, to appropriate Jesus unto your soul like you appropriate bread to your stomach, or oxygen to your lungs. To live by faith is to have your soul feed on Him.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Leave a Comment (0) →