Salvation for Everyone

There is less than a 10% chance that a person will ever accept Jesus Christ and be saved after they become an adult.  As people get older their outlook becomes more entrenched in the worldly, away from God, without Christ.  It is very important to reach people before they become a teenager, to reach them with the Biblical worldview so that they have the seed planted which can grow into belief and acceptance and salvation.  Churches and ministries have realized this and concentrated on young people and they should.  But what of those who have become adults that have not accepted Christ?  What of the younger generations of adults?  What about my generation, the Baby Boomers?  What about yours?  Have we admitted defeat when there is victory to be won?  Have we concentrated on the obvious to the exclusion of the difficult?  The Gospel message and the salvation of Jesus Christ is for everyone, not just the most likely ones.

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A Thirsty Generation #4

thirsty_325Let’s approach this from the veiw point of a 23 year old young lady who is not frustrated with the church, but with some churches.  A young lady who has had these conversations with young adults her age.  Let’s value her opinion and see where that takes us.

She began with things that are unappealing to people.

First: Too many programs and too much focus on meaningless activities. I must admit, though it is easier to come up with and use programs to accomplish things in the church, many of them have little or no meaning and the church tends to keep using them over and over.

It seems the answer to this is build relationships in natural ways and around Bible study.  God’s word has answers to everything in life.  God’s word causes growth and maturity and builds an excitement about Christ.

Organizing something along those lines is not starting another program.  Just sit and talk in your living room, the fellowship hall, a park, even McDonalds.  Talk about issues.  Find what God’s word says.  Let friendship grow among you.  And it can include every age of people.

Second: Churches that are too materialistic. She told me of a church whose facilities are only 10 years old.  They decided to decorate in such a way as to appeal to certain age-groups.  She is displeased that the money was not spent in evangelism or missions, a much better investment of the money.

Perfect facilities are nice, but not necessary.  We need to do a little upkeep on our building.  We need to care for the facility.  How far do we need to go with it?  We’ll take care of it but we will concentrate more on people’s lives.

Third: Churches that are too inward focused and have little or no outward focus. That’s a sore spot for me too.  And the sad part is that I can be drawn into that mode as well.

I’ve been a part of churches who were so inward focused that no missionary work was supported, no fellowship with other churches ever took place, everything was about their comfort, from the furniture and decor, to the way services were performed.

When we are so inward focused, we implode.  No one wants to be part of us.  None of those churches I mentioned above ever grew while in that mode.

They need to lose their selfishness.  I heard of a time when a church elder was against missions support.  The minister asked the guy to be in charge of the missions committee.  In the process of learning more about missions, the needs, and the Biblical support for missions, he became a strong and willing supporter of missions.  He changed from focusing inwardly to looking out.  Who says God cannot perform miracles?

Next time I will address the things this young woman shared with me.

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A Thirsty Generation #3

thirsty-squirrel1I think it is a reoccurring issue for the church.  How do we reach each new generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  When I was about 12, I went with my Dad and others on calling night at church.  It was Tuesday nights.  Brother Kenny our preacher, a large number of the elders, a couple deacons a couple of other men, were at the church a few minutes before we were to leave.  They would get into groups of two or three and Brother Kenny would hand each group two or three cards with the names of people that we would visit that night.  We would pray together than we got in our cars and spread out all over the city of Kokomo, Indiana.

That was about 1968 or 69 when I started going with the men to call on visitors hoping to share the Gospel.  I was in High School from the 1971 to 1975 (which btw is the best years for any music there has ever been).  Our youth group was having a rally with CIY (www.ciycom).  We had two high schools in town and 5 or 6 others in the county.  We had a student phone book for my high school.  We called each person in the book, almost 2000 students at Haworth High School as well as the 1700 students at Kokomo High School, and as many as we were able to get numbers for from the other county schools.

We at least invited each student that year (’74 or ’75, not sure) to the CIY rally and asked if we could come visit with them about Jesus.  We had about 2 dozen invite us to come to their homes and visit with them.  Hardly anyone else came to the rally.  We were disappointed about that.

Being able to visit with 20 or so kids out of the 3 or 4000 we called may not have been a bad statistic in the early 70’s, but was it really effective?  That’s my generation we’re talking about.  A portion of the Baby Boomers.

I know people whose ability to evangelize is about like someone who has the ability to lead a dead horse to water.  I admire them and thank God for those who are led to Christ through their witness.  God hasn’t worked through me like that, ever.  I have baptized a lot of people, from kids that grew up in church and accepted Christ when they were young like I did.  I was 9 1/2 when I became a baptized disciple of Jesus Christ.  To, an 80-something year old woman who had simply never been invited to accept Jesus and be baptized and be saved.  She didn’t know what she needed to do.  I have participated in planting the seed, in cultivating the soil no matter who planted the seed, in watering the seed, and seen and participated in their baptism for salvation.

In the next installment I want to offer my observations (unfortunately, I have not had the privilege of working with too many 18-30 year old people with the opportunity of leading them to Christ) about what I am learning about reaching you and your generation.

Before we conclude this blogging today, let me offer three things that should be obvious and are essential in reaching every generation.

1. Be a Christian of integrity.  Be 100% faithful to God.  To put it bluntly from a negative perspective.  Do not be a hypocrite.  People will see right through you , they will see something different from that which we claim to be, what God has called us to be, and we are supposed to be.  Hypocrites run the unchurched and even some Christians away from Church.

2. Preach the Gospel.  Share Jesus.  Preach Jesus.  Show Jesus.  Be Jesus to them.

3. Invite them.  You may need or want to invite them to church if that is how they will learn about Jesus and see faithful believers living for Jesus and loving people the way we should.  But they need to be invited to accept Jesus.

Be faithful.  Preach Jesus.  Invite them. Those are the critical essentials that must always be.  Next time, let’s see where this goes.

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A Thirsty Generation #2

Drink From the Well

Drink From the Well

Jesus met a woman as he travelled through Samaria.  He stopped at a well. He was thirsty and a woman from the town nearby came to draw water from the well and Jesus asked for water but told her something very interesting.

(Read the text John 4:3-26; http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%204:3-26&version=HCSB0

Look as some of the things that took place here.

  • Tired and thirsty from travelling, while the disciples went into town for food, he asked the woman for a drink (vs. 6)
  • She was amazed since he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan and Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans and men wouldn’t speak to women in public (vs. 7-9)
  • Jesus indicated he possessed living water (vs. 10)
  • She asked where he could get the water (vs. 11-12)
  • Jesus told her that the water he had gives eternal life (vs. 13-14)
  • She was thirsty and asked for this water (vs. 15)
  • Jesus told her about her life (vs. 16-18)
  • Then there is the question of true worship that Jesus answers (vs. 19-24)
  • Jesus shows her that he is the water of life (vs. 25-26)

Every generation of people, whether they lived 2000 years ago, in the middle ages, during the enlightenment, at the time of America’s civil war, or the turn of the 20th century until now, every generation has a longing for something that will quench the thirst in their soul.  They may come from different perspectives and sometimes within the same time period, but there is one source of water that quenches this spiritual thirst; Jesus.

The latest generation is looking for answers in places that some of us older folks would have never ever considered. They have deeper doubts about God and Jesus.  They have learned not to trust the church which adds to their doubts about God and Jesus.  They believe that we are biased against race and women and intolerant, unloving and judgmental.  They believe that if we have any answers it’s not worth listening to the church because either the church is so liberal that they don’t stand for anything (and some are) or that we are so hard and harsh about our belief’s that they don’t want to be a part of something else where hate and inconsistancies seem to rule.

But Jesus is the well to draw from (John 4).  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6; Romans 6:9-11).  Jesus is the only way to God (Acts 4:12).

We have a generation that has the largest amount of athiest and agnostics of any generation.  My daughter who is a part of this particular generation says that she does not understand how they can be athiest at all.  How do we reach such a thirsty generation?

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