The Good News in Shoe Leather


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Tomorrow we celebrate Jesus’ coming into the world as a babe in a cattle stall, the most humble of beginnings. He became a great man, a powerful man who healed the sick, fed the hungry, give sight to the blind and many other wonderful things.

During his life on earth of about 33 1/2 years he was always poor by the word’s standards. No fancy clothing, no chariot on standby to take him to speaking engagements. He worked with his hands and laid low for 30 years. When he began his ministry it wasn’t kind to him. He was homeless, he found rejection almost everywhere he went, and it finally got him murdered.

When his ministry got underway he didn’t call one priest, not one rabbi, no religious leaders were chosen. He called commercial fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor and historian, just average guys. Things aren’t all that different today.

There are about 3 dozen preachers who get lots of attention in the United States and are so called “Christian leaders”, and perhaps they are. But, it seems to me that Jesus still leans heavily on average people to get his work done. Its men with rough hands who pull on work boots and jeans every morning, women who busily feed the family their breakfast and send hubby and the kids off to work and school and then work all day doing laundry, cleaning toilets, running family errands, and trying to make the family budget work. High school football coaches, postal workers, a greeter at Walmart, nurses, fishing guides, truck drivers and thousands of other men and women with other jobs who live out the Christ-life in their assigned places are the ones Jesus has chosen to do his mission. They do it without fan fare, do not seek and get no recognition, they just live day by day for Jesus and as they have opportunity say a good word for him.

The man in the pulpit is very important but in my view  the men and women in the pew who are just as important. It was a carpenter who told me about Jesus. It was a Presbyterian Sunday school teacher who led my mom to Christ. And it was farmer/insurance salesman who preached part time who played a big part in my father coming to Christ. I have been blessed to work as an insurance salesman, a house painter, a body shop manager, a Realtor, and many other jobs. In each of those jobs God put someone in my path who seemed eager to hear the good news so I told them. I know some of them eventually came to Christ, most of them I never saw again. That’s God’s business, ours is to put the good news in shoe leather.

Remember this, there are no insignificant foot soldiers in Christ’s army. Each of us is important to him. He chose us to represent him to a dark world by shining the light of truth in word and deed. As we love God and love our neighbor we impact a watching world.

You are special to God! If you will become the best you that will be enough. He uses common people to accomplish uncommon things!

Royce

 

 

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Just Say No to the Status Quo!


First, an admission. I am a skeptic. I am one who questions the “Status Quo” in every arena of life. For example, when I receive a forwarded email that makes some claim that doesn’t ring true in my mind, I at once try to find out if my intuition is correct. (It usually is.)

Just because “this is how we have always done it..” does not equate to being right or best. I question public policy, and even contemporary Christianity. I think it is very healthy to read the label before you ingest some substance into your body. And, I think it is profitable to follow the same logic about what you allow into your mind. So, I have questions…

Does it bother anyone but me that not one of the people we read about in the book of Acts would qualify to be a minister in almost all of our churches?

This week I read a want ad from a church seeking a youth minister. One of the first requirements was “a minimum of 5 years experience”. Peter wouldn’t qualify, he only had about 3 years experience in ministry when he preached the powerful sermon where 3,000 were saved. Paul would’t qualify, he had no ministry experience when he began his ministry to the Gentiles.

Most all churches now require a degree from some Bible related school. Paul had about 3 years alone with God. He was schooled in Judaism but wouldn’t qualify on educational grounds. Even Jesus himself wouldn’t pass muster.

Maybe it would be beneficial if we would spend some time thinking about how and why we got so far off track. Could it be that culture has crept into our churches so that we are operating more like business than like a living organism that is solely dependent upon God to exist and function in the world?

Could it be that the reason numbers are shrinking in most evangelical groups is that Jesus is no longer the central message?

Read the book of Acts sometime and you will see a noticeable difference in the message of those early preachers and what comes out of most pulpits today. I am certain that multiplied thousands of regular church goers have never once heard their preacher give a clear presentation of the gospel.

Several months ago I read about a dozen sermons by a fellow whose self description was “Gospel preacher”. Amazingly, not once did this guy explain the gospel. He made reference to the word “gospel” several times but oddly failed to preach the gospel. How can you logically give an invitation to people to become Christians if they haven’t a clue about the gospel?

We would do well to get back to preaching Christ and the good news about what He accomplished for sinners.

Can “Ministry” become an idol?

Think long and hard before you answer. Only each individual can answer from him or her self. I answered the question and was not pleased with the answer… Granted, my feeble ministry pales in comparison to many who will read this post. But, what we do have in common is an ego that keeps fighting for the front of the line. The praise of men too often takes the place the glory of God should occupy in our “ministry”.

Do I first seek God’s approval for what I do? Do you? Or, do I want to hear words of praise from others? Our honesty, or lack of it, about such matters is a measure of who we really are.

Oh that all of our teaching and preaching and ministry models and community activism and charity give Christ glory and honor! If when at the end of the day Jesus is the center of attention, and not us, we will have succeeded.

Manage your ministry well, don’t allow it to manage you.

Dare to be different

Tens of thousands of ministers and other Christians are running about clamoring for attention, rushing to this conference and that one, looking for something new and exciting. We believers are fascinated by new books sometimes at the sacrifice of the Old Book.

Surrender to Jesus is not glamorous. Holiness will not get you invitations to a lot of parties. And, being Christ centered at all costs will not pay off by the world’s standards.

He must increase and I must decrease. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Only in my brokenness is His wholeness on display to a watching world.

Agape’

Royce


Remedy for the post Christian blahs


“When I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3.4)

Why are many referring to the United States as “post Christian”? Why are few Christian groups experiencing growth with respect to new believers? Why are young people staying away from their parents churches in droves?

Could it be that we have not believed and practiced these two passages of Scripture? I believe so. In view of this glaring truth we should ask ourselves some tough questions about our churches, our ministries, and ourselves.

Some churches have a mission statement. Wouldn’t 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 be a good one? …Would it be true?

The good news about Jesus is of “first importance”. Everything, every person, every plan, every program, every ministry, is less important than the good news about Jesus. …Is it this way at your church? Your ministry? Your life?

A few observations about Paul’s declaration.

  • He preached what he had received, the good news about Jesus.
  • His only plan was to share that message with everyone possible.
  • His only resource was God’s power and provision.

If we are to follow Paul’s example we must

Make a decision to focus on the gospel only.

“For I decided to know nothing among you but Christ and him crucified.”

Rely only on God’s power and not our own.

“…and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”

Make seeing men and women trust Christ alone our primary goal.

“that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”

There is no alternative plan for reaching the lost. Methodology, the shape and scope of ministries, and church models must be build around these basic gospel centered principles or they will not make ungodly people fit for heaven.

Royce

 

Helping the Hurting…


This letter from Don Yelton, Director of WFR Relief lays out an urgent need for funds to help those in far away places who desperately need our help.

Dear Friends: Cyclone Ketsana has killed nearly 700 people and left tens of thousands homeless or living tempo-rarily on their rooftops in the Philippine Islands, where there are some 600 churches of Christ.
At almost the same time a huge Tsunami caused by a massive earthquake hit America Samoa, where there are two churches of Christ. So far, 200 deaths have been reported but none among church members. Help is urgently needed in both countries.

We have been in contact with local gospel preachers who have radio programs sponsored by our sister ministry, World Radio. In the city of Manila alone there are at least 20 congregations where many Christians and their neighbors are suffering. Two long time missionaries in the PhiIippines, Bob Buchannan and Ken Wilkey, are using their own working funds to get emergency aid to some of the most devastated Christians in their communities. Funds are urgently needed to provide food, water, and medical supplies, as well as temporary shelter when possible. Christians there are praying that God will rescue them. It is our hope to be part of the answer to their prayers.

At this writing, two major earthquakes have just struck Indonesia, and hundreds are dead. We are contacting missionaries to determine the needs and will put any information we find on our web site. We will work with them to help as God enables us to do so.

The recent flooding in Georgia has caused much damage and we have received requests for help from churches there. As much as we would like to help, our emergency reserve funds have been expended.

There is also a serious ongoing drought in Kenya, East Africa where funds to purchase food for hungry Christians are critically needed.

Our last letter to you to appeal for funds was over a year ago. We have, however, continued to receive many requests for help. We have been able to answer a few of these. But now our funds have been depleted, along with our emergency reserve fund. Right now we are faced with several urgent needs at the same time, and we are asking for your help.

 Your contribution may be designated for a specific need/area, or to the general fund of “2009 Storms and Disasters.” To send a contribution TODAY, and for current disaster reports, please go to our web site at http://wfrchurch.org/relief.

Checks may be sent to: White’s Ferry Rd. Church of Christ Relief Ministry 3201 N. 7th St., West Monroe, LA 71291, (ph. 318.396.6000)

 For over 30 years we have been blessed and amazed by your generous response to help your broth-ers and sisters around the world when their lives have been forever changed by a disaster. Please pray for them and for this ministry as we, with your help, provide them with the most basic needs of food, water, shelter and medical care. By doing this, we are able to give them the most precious gifts of all – the assurance that they are loved by God through His people and that there is indeed HOPE for the future. May God bless you. 

Don Don Yelton, Director WFR Relief Ministry                                                               
Email: donyelton@wfrchurch.org

“If you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light rises in the darkness and your night shines like the noonday.”
(Isaiah 58:10)

This letter is being mailed to about 10,000 churches of Christ and to many individual contributors. Please pray and consider supporting this worthy act of love.

for Jesus,
Royce