Posts Tagged ‘Jim Parker’

EvangelismWe want you to be involved in sharing the Gospel but the unfortunate truth is that most believers will not.  The reasons are usually related to fear or ignorance.  We launch new programs and campaigns and offer training in our church and we still have the same results; those people who are predisposed to sharing the gospel do  and all others have just add another area of their spiritual life where they feel failure.

I want you to be a success in your journey with Jesus. I want you to be able to think about the Gospel, about missions, about soul winning without feeling like a guilt-ridden failure.  I want to show you how believers can freely and enthusiastically be involved in evangelism.

Two Observations about Evangelism

  1. When Jesus and the Apostles talked to people about the Gospel they were often in a large group but sometimes in smaller groups and one on one.  In each of these groups, they were invited to speak about the Gospel.  The group expected to hear it, the group came for that purpose, or the group asked a leading question.
  1. In our culture, the people reject any effort to impose the Gospel on them.  They will resist an unsolicited presentation. However, if they initiate the conversation about Jesus, they will freely talk and listen.

You are at this moment freed from ever having to interrupt a person’s day with an unsolicited Gospel presentation.

 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, – Colossians 4:3

How can we all be involved in evangelism in the local church?

Pray

As the text tells us, pray that God opens a door for the message.  In 1 Timothy 2 we told to pray for everyone because God’s wants to save them all, in Luke 10:2 we are told to pray that God will send workers into the field.  The Bible is clear that God wants us to pray and to pray for people to hear the Gospel.  The movement of a non-believer to believer is a supernatural event that requires a supernatural force. We ask God to do the work in preparing the non-believer and the believer.

If you don’t do anything but pray you are heavily involved in evangelism.

Pause

Then we wait. John 6:44 tells us that no one comes to the Father except the Spirit draw him.  So we must wait for this drawing to take place.  We must wait on the Spirit to prepare us and to prepare others.

This is evangelism you can do every day for as long as you want.  You haven’t spoke to a soul yet you are still involved in the ministry.

While you are in Pause, you could still Pray.

Proclaim

Now, this is where we could have a break down but we won’t. See, we are waiting for the invitation.  When you are “prayed up” and watching for God’s movement, you’ll also be ready.  Someone will say something to you that indicates they are ready to hear from the Lord.  You are not going to miss it, they will ask you a question and all you have to do is answer the question.  I don’t know what they’ll ask, but if you have  a good handle on your own salvation story and a good handle on Jesus’ story you’ll be able to answer those questions.

I  was working  in a “serving” type ministry one day when a person who had been watching stopped me and asked “Why do you do this?”  This is a clear invitation to speak.  I simply answered the question.  “I like people.  I became a follower of Jesus Christ and He lead me to this job to help people.”  They person continued, “what does following Jesus have to do with this?”  I said,  “When I heard the Good News that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried and rose again on the third day and is alive today and that I can be forgiven and changed, I became his follower and have been in this process of becoming like Him.  He has put into me this desire to love people as He does and to serve them as He does.  I wouldn’t  be able to do this without Jesus Christ.”

It was that easy.  I just answering a question.  The fellow was not offended  and didn’t yell or argue or do anything negative.  He said, “Interesting” and wandered away.

You might not get an opportunity everyday, but you’ll get them. You’ll be able to enthusiastically talk about your faith because someone asked you a simple question.  You’ll be involved in the ministry of evangelism every day and we’ll be fulfilling the Great Commission of “as you go make di
sciples… “

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A Firm Handshake

Posted: February 25, 2014 in People
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“Hi, I’m Jim Parker,” he would say while extending his hand.
Strong and firm. He’d look directly in your eye, a twinkle in his, and a smile. It was very friendly and inviting.

It was one of the big characteristics of my father that I picked up. He was friendly with everyone, met everyone and treated them all with respect.

That firm handshake was the sign of maturity to me. It is what men did. They greeted one another with that same look, that same squeeze, that same eye contact, that same smile. It set them apart. It marked out the difference between the men and the boys.

My dad taught me how to shake hands, he told me the importance of it, he let me practice. Each night, before going to bed, my father required that we kiss our mother good night and them we shook his hand. A firm, manly handshake and then off we’d go. We did this each night until I moved out.

So I stood beside the bed of this same man, his frail body withering away, his breathing difficult, his words slurred and weak. He didn’t seem to be fully aware, fully conscious, fully engaged in the event. He was in and out, sometimes making sense, often not. But then, for one brief moment, he looked at me, reached out his hand like he always did, let that friendly smile cross his lips, that little twinkle, and “Hi, I’m Jim Parker.” Solid.

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Step One: Focus your Fancy

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your  life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. – Colossians 3:1-4

Paul tells us to set our hearts and our minds on things above.

He means for us to focus our eyes, mind and our whole self on Heavenly, Spiritual and Godly things.

Focus your thoughts on the things of God not the things of the earth. He tells us this because our thoughts lead to our feelings and our behavior.  If I focus on worldly activities and desires I will behave in a worldly and sinful way.

So, how to I set my mind on heavenly/godly things?

I read the Bible, I memorize Scripture, I meditate on the Word, I pray, I obey God.

The natural result of your thinking is that your behavior changes to match.

Step Two: Finish the Flesh

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5 

Put to death means to mortify or to kill.  The famous phrase in the video game “Mortal Combat” is “Finish Him.”  When it comes to you flesh, you can’t control it, you can’t reform it, you have to “Finish” it.  You must put to death whatever belongs to that earthly nature.

He gives a list of this earthly nature.  The list is all sexually related and deals with everything of sexual immorality, plus the immoral thoughts, ideas and fantasies that come with it.  Paul continues adding to this the evil desires to sin and the deep dark evil sexualized passions that well up inside us.  He includes greed in the list because this form of sexual related sins always demands more and more until the sexual perversion becomes an idol, it is worshiped.

We live in a culture that has made an idol of sex.  It is pushed in every aspect of our life.  Constantly.  We are just as depraved and perverted as the first century Greeks and Romans mentioned by Paul.

These are all part of our sinful nature, they are sins of the flesh and we are not told to get our flesh under control or to reform our flesh, we are told to kill it, to mortify it, to finish it…

How do I do that?  By Focusing my Fancy on things about and not on earthly things.  I’m not looking at porn, or at ladies body parts, or at sexually suggestive television, or listening to provocative sexual songs, or reading sexual stuff…I’m mortifying the flesh…I’m killing those sinful sexual desires. (I highly recommend getting married and having a healthy sex life, though)

6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 

Step Three: Fire Your Fury

8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Colossians 3:8-10

The fleshly sexual sins are part of our worldly and earthly nature and must be put to death.  But this next list are part of our emotions dealing with anger and are not so easily “finished off.”  We are told to get rid of these items, like getting rid of a horrible employee.  You are fired.

We are so angry.  We see this anger in the way we snap at people, the cussing, the passive aggressive facebook updates, the eye rolling, the arguments where we drag in events to happened a while back, the mean behaviors we do toward others, the lies, the slander.  We are angry people.

Bruce Banner (in the Avengers) revealed his secret as the Hulk.  He is always angry.  Most of us are the Hulk in waiting.  We are always angry and it doesn’t take much for us to turn green and smash everything.

Our anger is caused by hurt.  People hurt us and we get angry.  When we do not deal with the anger it turns to resentment which is that built-in never leaving anger.  We are hurt people and we hurt other people in our hurt.

Paul gives us the way to put off that anger in verse 12 to 14.  We must forgive.

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

You can’t get even enough to take away the anger and pain of the hurt.  There is not enough vengeance, there is not enough telling off, there is not enough withholding love that will heal our hurt.  The ONLY healing is to forgive.

Fire Your Fury by Forgiving your Foe

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Here is the key, Jesus forgave you for all the sin and hurt you causes him with your rebellion and your selfishness, your worldly thoughts and earthly behavior, your violation of his Law and His nature.  He forgave you for sin thousands of times greater than the hurt caused you by others.  If Jesus can die on the cross to forgive your sin, if he can forgive you, you can forgive others. You can forgive to the extent you understand this forgiveness.  That’s the secret…forgive.

Focus your mind on the things of God, kill the fleshly desires for sexual immorality, put aside the anger through forgiveness.  Get on it.

Everyone take a drink

I was raised in a church environment that frowns on drinking alcohol. My earliest training as a follower of Christ was that Christians should not drink liquor and there were plenty of Bible verses supporting the conviction. I quickly was convinced that drinking was a bad idea for me and that my spiritual growth would be hindered by alcohol consumption. It has always concerned me when I meet believers who drink. It seems that these “boozing believers” also had spiritual issues in other areas of their lives so I assumed it was the liquor messing them up.

As you can imagine I’m really concerned with the trend among younger (20’s) believers who drink alcoholic beverages and especially when the younger pastors seem to even encourage the drinking. It seems this new group of believers have totally cast off the rules of prohibition and run headlong into alcohol use. So, I’m doing a lot of research into the topic. I don’t think my 20’s drinking friends are doing any research, they seem to just be content that I can’t produce a Bible reference that supports prohibition of alcohol. They smugly chug their Guinness while enjoying their liberty and biblical superiority. Jerks.

Let me give a warning. The lack of a prohibition against drinking alcohol is NOT permission to drink like the people in our culture drink. If we are to drink, we want to drink like Jesus not like the world. If drinking is good (as they claim) then surely the world has perverted it.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 5:18 The early believers lived in a world of idol worship. One such idol was Bacchus or Dionysis, the god of wine and the worship involved lots of drinking and drunkenness. There were drinking songs and games and lots of revelry, as well as the standard debauchery that goes with drunkenness and idol worship. God is always telling us not to be like them. 1 Thessolonians 4:2-5   For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 

The problem with our drinking is that we drink like people who don’t know Jesus with the purpose of drinking alcohol. Our focus becomes the drinking. This is not God’s plan. Through extensive research I’ve found that the Bible does NOT forbid drinking alcohol, but God doesn’t give free-reign to drink alcohol either.

The Bible’s attitude about drinking can be found in the first three instances of drinking in the Bible. The first is Noah getting drunk after the flood, the second is Melchizedek blessing Abraham, the third is Lot’s daughters getting him drunk after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Melchizedek, you have this most awesome and deep spiritual event, a man who is a type of Christ, or possibly a pre-incarnate Christ, coming out with wine to bless Abraham, the father of the Jews. This is sandwiched in between probably the two most heinous and horrible examples of drunkenness you can imagine; Noah’s drunkeness led to nakedness and possibly a homosexual encounter while Lot’s drunkeness led to incest with his own daughters. While alcohol use can be very good, alcohol use can be very bad.

Let’s look briefly at what they were drinking. We can’t assume that what we call wine is what they called wine back in the day. The most used word in the Hebrew for wine “yayin” could have been fermented fruit juice or unfermented. The context usually let you know. We can’t say that all the good references were unfermented and the bad were fermented. There is plenty of contextual cues to know that people were naturally drinking alcoholic wine. Only the men drank alcoholic wine. The women and children were forbidden. They made their wine the old fashion way; picked grapes and squeezed them into a vat. Fermentation started about six hours after squeezing. The fermentation starts because there is sugar in the grape and there is naturally occurring yeast on the grape and in the air. Wine was sealed in skins and stored in a cool area. After three days they had wine at 8% alcohol content. If they left it for a while it could get up to 12%. By comparison, our table wine is 12.5% and some wines are as low as 8%. Many are fortified with some getting up to 22% alcohol content.

They didn’t drink the wine straight. They mixed it. The standard mix was 2:1 up to 5:1. We find many sources and various mixes and recipes. Rabbinic literature said that the wine used during the Passover meal was to be 3:1. Let’s use that as the standard for everything. (Jesus drank it). 8% wine mixed to three to one with water will make a concoction with 2% alcohol content. So a fellow might come home from work and have dinner and celebrate his day of hard work and his success in the field. He has a choice of water, milk and wine. He’ll have wine (about 5 ounces) and it will contain about 2% alcohol. If he wants to get drunk, he’ll need to drink it less mixed or drink a lot (and empty his bladder a lot). He’ll have to work at it. He’ll need to “tarry long at the wine.”

There was nothing wrong with his drinking a little wine. In fact, we have these three verses that speak to the blessings of drinking. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. Psalm 104:14-15 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Ecclesiastes 9:7 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. Deuteronomy 14:26

It seems that drinking alcohol was OK and a “merry heart” seemed to be the result of the drinking. (Sounds like that warm euphoria that you get).

But there are rules about drinking.

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Cor 10:13

  • Do not get drunk – Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 23:29-35
  • Don’t be mastered by alcohol – 1 Corinthians 6:12, 2 Peter 2:19 It is addictive.
  • Don’t cause a brother to stumble – 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 People want to fit in, you don’t know what effect it will have on your friend, even if they claim it is fine. You don’t know why they are drinking, what idolatry they are dealing with, etc.
  • Don’t drink while performing your duties as a priest – Leviticus 10:9 (1 Peter 2:9 says we are a kingdom of priests. Let me give you the idea that we should be sober and not drinking when we come to worship or bible study or some ministry activity. Like the priest in the OT, we need to be in our right minds completely when we serve God.
  • Don’t drink during a Nazarite vow. (2 Cor 6:17 tells us to not be like the world. I highly recommend a period of time, often, where you separate yourself completely from this dirty world; the music, the television, them movies, the language, the drinking, etc.)
  • Don’t “love” it – Proverbs 21:17
  • Don’t make it such a big thing in your life – getting an identity from it , spending a lot of money, doing it often)
  • Don’t desire alcohol, love it, hang around it, seek it, chase it, etc – Proverbs 23:29-30, Is 5:11, 22, This has everything to do with our motivations. In this culture, which is fallen and evil, the focus is the drinking. That is the trap into which we fall. We make the focus on the drinking and the party and the buzz.
  • Don’t hang around drunkards and gluttons (in bars, at drinking parties, etc?) – Prov 23:20
  • Don’t drink while you are the king or responsible for people – Prov 31:4-6 Don’t hang around it as a pastor or deacon (the things which go with hanging around it) 1 Tim 3:3,8 (My guess is the over-drinking, the drinking games, the revelry and debauchery) Same for older women – Titus 2:3
  • Don’t cause someone to drink or get drunk – Habbabukuk 2:15

I think these prohibitions will rule out most of what we think goes with drinking; the bars, the dance clubs, the drinking games (beer pong), the drinking songs (Red Solo Cup), the debauchery (flirting, body shots, revelry, etc). Even our parties where our guests are excited about the fact that we’ll be drinking is wrong. It is easy to violate the rule of “loving” it and seeking, hanging around, and chasing it. The rule against causing someone to stumble could easily be a way the teetotaler control you (don’t drink I’ll stumble).

But let me give you this. You do not know why your friend is drinking, you do not know what they are thinking or what the effect of this one drink will have on them. You don’t know if they are drinking in order to fit in, or if they are ready to become a drunk, or if they are of the they type to get addicted, you don’t know and when you drink with them, you could easily be the one to cause them to fall into all sorts of drunkenness and debauchery. Let me give you one more piece of information.

Since we drink like the world we also think like the world and we think that the official level of drunkenness is the driving limit of .08 BAC. Let me give the biblical level of drunk.

In Proverbs 11 and 23 we find the symptoms of drunkenness; Red eyes, reduced inhibitions, “room spinning,” numbness, bad behavior – lusting after other women, saying inappropriate comments, clumsy, staggering, pass out.

Wikipedia gives us these similar symptoms; slurred speech, euphoria, impaired balance, loss of muscle coordination (ataxia), flushed face, vomiting, reddened eyes, reduced inhibition, and erratic behavior. In severe cases, it can cause coma or death.

What is the BAC that produces these symptoms? .055 is the highest BAC you can reach before the positives turn to negative .04 is where the general positives fall off…mild euphoria, warm feeling, social lubricant, etc. We could say that official biblical drunkenness occurs somewhere between .03 and .04 (somewhere after .04 lightheaded and dizziness occurs – staggering and spinning). The point is different for each us since our bodies react differently. We do find that the symptoms for the lower BAC being mild euphoria, relaxation, a warm feeling, may be the “merry heart” of Psalm 104. Ladies process alcohol differently than men and get drunk faster and stay drunk longer. (Hence ladies were not allowed to drink back in the day)

If you check the many BAC calculators on the web you can find out how much you drink to stay in this zone. Essentially, one ounce of alcohol consumed in one hour will raise the BAC of a 100lb man to .032 (right close to the edge of drunkenness.) If you chug it in 10 minutes, then head for another, you’ll be over the line in no time. If you are a 180lb man and you drink one 5 oz glass of average 12% table wine in 10 minutes you’ll be at .022 BAC. It takes time for this to work out of your system. If you have another in the next 10 minutes, so that you’ve had two in about 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll be at .047 BAC which is biblically drunk. It does not take that much to cross the line. Females get a high BAC for the same amount of liquor. (They get drunk faster and stay drunk longer).

How did the early believers avoid drunkenness. They were drinking a glass of wine with a 2% alcohol content. The average man weighed 110lbs and could drink 32 ounces an hour (their cups were 5ounces – this is a lot) and would be at .031 BAC. If he wanted to get drunk, he’d have to tarry long at the wine.

So, what is my heart and the bottom line. I wish you wouldn’t drink alcohol.

  • First, it is not a cultural necessity like it was for them. We have 129 flavors of drink at BK or Firehouse Subs. McD has 10 different coffee style drinks.
  • Second, alcohol is addictive and you never know when you could get hooked.
  • Third, the world over does their drinking and when we join them we lose a chance to be different and not among them. We lose a change to show how God is different. We also run the risk of falling into worldly behavior and debauchery.
  • Finally, we don’t know what drinking will do to our friends. We don’t know how they will be effected and we can’t be sure we won’t cause them to stumble.