I identify with this writer’s struggle and his solution -
When I get motivated for evangelism, I rarely get much energy out of the reality that people are going to hell when they die.I think this is the case because I am tired of preaching the gospel as good news for your death. The gospel IS good news for your death. But people don’t think about their death as much as they think about their life. (Isn’t that true of you? It is certainly true of me).And the gospel is great news for your life. Isn’t that what the whole gospel-centered movement is really about? The gospel makes a difference for your life right now, both at conversion and then everyday afterwards.And that is incredibly motivating.Here’s why: When we become a Christian we are transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13). So in just a little way, the kingdom of God is present wherever we are, because we are a part of that kingdom. But, of course, the opposite is also true. The kingdom of darkness was present wherever we were before our conversion. We were unwittingly doing our part of bringing the kingdom of darkness on earth as it will be in hell.It is the “already and not yet” of hell.But when the gospel is believed all of that changes. And believing the gospel is stopping the advance of hell right now, not just making sure people don’t go to hell when they die. Satan is bringing hell to earth and Jesus is bringing heaven to earth. Satan has his people and Jesus has His.And what’s incredible is Jesus wins even in our defeats. That is what it means to be more than a conquerer (Romans 8:37). Even our suffering serves us and the present advance of the gospel. As Paul later said, “My imprisonment has resulted in the whole praetorium guard hearing the gospel and the emboldening of other gospel preachers(Philippians 1:13, paraphrase).”So maybe this helps strengthen your motivation for evangelism — don’t just preach the gospel so that people won’t go to hell when they die. Preach the gospel so hell will not have one more inch of ground today.
Challenging post from Doug Wilson. I think he might take some of it a little too far, but he makes some great points to think about for your sons…
Boys should be taught that they are to protect their sisters “from the dragon,” and the very first thing this means is that they must refrain from turning into the dragon themselves. When the protector turns into the very thing that protection is needed from, the result for the girl involved is nightmarish. The things you assumed as fixed and given turn on you; one thing morphs into another. When a brother is being annoying (say, for a wild hypothetical), his sister is dealing with two things, not one. The first thing is the annoyance itself — what she would be dealing with if her sister or a friend at school were being annoying.
But when her brother does it, a second thing comes into the picture, and that is the sense of a double-cross, or a betrayal. He ought be standing between the threat and his sister, but instead he has abandoned his post. It is this that feeds the temptation to resentment — first of her brother, then her father (who does not intervene), and then of men generally.
I thought this was a helpful post from Mike McKinley -
Our church is not big (speaking in terms of attendance and membership). I’d say that it’s small for a medium-sized church. But it’s growing, and attendance is certainly up from the 10 people who were here when I became the pastor. And what I’ve experienced is that as the church grows, more and more people find that it’s difficult to build relationships and get to know people in the congregation.
Now, in a weird way, I think this might be the particular bane of the medium-sized church. In a small church, it’s usually pretty easy to get to know most of the people. In a large church, people come in the door already knowing that they’re not going to get to know everyone. But in the medium-sized church, you’ve got some of the expectations of a small church alongside some of the challenges of size.
But as I’ve been thinking about this problem in our church, here’s what I’ve noticed: people who show up a lot usually aren’t lonely and disconnected. So for example: our church has a Sunday morning gathering, a Sunday evening gathering, small groups through the week, a fellowship meal once a month, a one-to-one Bible reading program, monthly men’s and women’s meetings, and a bunch of different community outreach and mercy ministries that are run by church members. Those are a lot of opportunities to connect with other people in the church. And in my observation, people who avail themselves of those opportunities almost always feel connected to others in the congregation. People who don’t show up for things, however, usually don’t feel as connected.
So it may sound a little old school (as in Hebrews 10:24-25), but there’s something to be said for the guy who wins the perfect attendance award. If you’re feeling like your church doesn’t have enough community, make sure that you’re plugging in to the opportunities that are offered. And don’t wait for someone to approach you, give them a call and invite them over for lunch after the Sunday gathering.
From J.C. Ryle, commenting on John 15 -
“Abide in Me, cling to Me, stick fast to Me, live the life of close and intimate communion with Me, get nearer and nearer to Me, roll every burden on Me, cast your whole weight on Me, never let go your hold on Me for a moment.”
Here’s the list I gave today, borrowed from Mark Altrogge…
We can provoke our children to anger:
- By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
- By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
- By anger and harshness
- By a lack of affection
- By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
- By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
- By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
- By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
- By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
- By always lecturing them and never listening to them
- By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
- By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
- By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
- By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
- By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?)
- By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).
Challies writes a helpful post that challenges some of the personality assumptions of our culture – namely by pointing out, they are not biblical…
We are taught today that there is a kind of binary distinction between people—some are introverts and some are extroverts. If you’ve ever taken a personality test or aptitude test, you have probably been diagnosed as one or the other. Or more likely, you’ve been told that you are somewhere along a single continuum that extends from the greatest introvert to the greatest extrovert. It is a line and all of us fall along it somewhere…
…But here is my concern: introvert is not a biblical word and, as far as I can see, not even a biblical concept. This doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily unbiblical or anti-biblical; just that it’s not a term the Bible uses to describe me, to describe the way I am, to describe my identity…
…When I define my personality, when I say that I am introverted, I am actually describing and combining two things: character on the one hand and strengths and weaknesses on the other. When I say that I am introverted, I am revealing my character and revealing both strength and weakness, or perhaps either strength or weakness.My challenge, and it is a challenge I face all the time, is to keep introversion from enabling or excusing sin…
…What I demand of myself is to ensure that I do not allow my personality, my introversion, to have a negative impact on my life and ministry. I want to emphasize and enjoy the ways that introversion is healthy for me and effective in ministry, and I want to work hard to deny what seems to good and natural when it will have a negative impact.
Great outline here from 9Marks -
- Join a church.
- Arrive early at church gatherings and stay late.
- Practice hospitality with members of your church.
- Ask God for strategic friendships.
- If possible, include a line-item in your family or pastoral budget for weekly time with fellow Christians. Discuss this matter with your spouse. If possible, provide such a budget line for your spouse as well.
- Schedule regular breakfasts, lunches, or some other culturally-acceptable social engagement with teachable individuals (of the same sex). Depending on the person, you may decide to meet once, indefinitely, or for a set number of times (say, five). If you and the individual share a pastime, look for ways to share that pastime together.
- Ask them about themselves. Ask them about their parents, spouse, children, testimony, job, walk with Christ, and so on. In asking questions, however, do so in a manner that’s appropriate for your cultural context (don’t scare them!).
- Share about yourself.
- Look for ways to have spiritual conversations. Maybe decide to read the Bible or some other Christian literature together.
- Consider their physical or material needs. Would they benefit from your help?
- Pray with them.
- Depending on your home situation, invite the person to drop by your house or spend time with your family. Let them watch you live life.
- Look for ways to pray for the person throughout the week by yourself and/or with your spouse.
Helpful article here. An excerpt -
Some years ago a pastor, Ray Ewers, instructed me in the finer art of how to walk into church. To most people, this might appear to be a rather basic accomplishment requiring little or no tutelage. Perhaps a family with five toddlers would appreciate some advice, but most of us would never give it a thought. Ray’s instruction was very brief: “Pray about where you sit”.
Don’t lose hope -
The disciples couldn’t hinder the children from coming to him even though they tried.
When God calls our children to come to him, even if we haven’t gotten it all right, even if we’ve trained little Pharisees or have a house full of prodigals, nothing is impossible for him. He can break through all our flawed methods and redeem all our frail errors.
The world tells us that their success depends upon our success. The world knows nothing of God’s ability to use our failures as means to bless. “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
So, even though we desire to be the ones who place our children in the lap of God’s mercy and even though we stumble so badly trying to do so, Jesus is strong enough to pick each of us up and carry us all the way.
Parents, too, are weak but Jesus is strong. No one, not even you, can thwart his purpose to bless those who are his (Eph. 1:11).
[Self-serving blog post] I would encourage my congregation with these suggestions…
Either at a conference or on the internet, you have heard exceptional preaching, but each Sunday you’re back in your simple little home church that hardly anybody beyond your town knows about, with its “nobody” of a pastor who will probably never preach to thousands.
What if your gospel-preaching pastor is not as good as one of the great orators of our day? Is it time to sell the house, pack up the family, and change churches? No, I don’t think so. But what should you do?
Helpful guidelines here -
Knowing we are not God and cannot see the heart, I believe there are still evidences we can see and know to help us discern a child or teenager’s conversion in a similar way we try to do the same with adults. In the spirit of Jonathan Edward’s 5 signs of true conversion, here are 5 evidences that I try to use as a template as both a parent and pastor in wrestling with this issue.
1) A growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel.
2) A heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture.
3) An increased kindness and selflessness towards siblings.
4) A greater awareness and distaste for sin.
5) A noticeable desire to obey parents.