Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beacon Touchpaper #10: "Opportunity Knocks"

"(pray) ...also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel..." (Eph 6.19, ESV)

Don't you just love an evangelist? Charismatic, engaging, passionate, GIFTED. They seem to have the 'knack', and we can all be tempted to wish we were a little bit more like them at times. A touch more confident in our responses; a bit quicker in clever retorts; a tad more elaborate in how we express the gospel of our King Jesus. Then, after realising we probably never will be, we hunker down and get on with being just another one of the 'regular folks', while we let the evangelists roam around the country and see many people get saved simultaneously and respond en masse at altar calls. Or something like that.

Now, you and I know that's a bit of a caricature on both sides, but I'm sure most of us have probably experienced something similar in our thoughts over the years. In reality, evangelists are just as human as you or I: yes, they have a specific calling, but they aren't supermen either. I know for a fact that one guy some of you may have heard of has been highly praised for his gifting and the supernatural manifestation in his ministry - both in salvation and in healing. But truth be told, beforehand he's been terrified and scared it'll all go down like a lead balloon. Our God's bigger than that - hallelujah! - and thank God for that man's humility too.

The trouble is, there is also a danger that we could rest on our laurels and let these guys do all the 'fancy' work for us. Yes, they have a specific gifting, but we all have a part to play. We are all expected to participate in the sharing of the gospel. What does the apostle Paul tell us in Ephesians 4 about apostles, prophets, EVANGELISTS, pastors and teachers? That they're there to "do the important, heavy duty stuff" for us? Nope: it's "to equip the saints for the work of the ministry."

With our Front Edge weekend coming up, this is an opportunity for us all to scrum down and expect the unexpected. To pray, like Paul himself asks, "...that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel." Let's all pray that prayer like crazy - we can all do this; we can all expect that the God of the universe will give us the right words to say, will help us spot opportunities to invite folks to the service on Sunday 17th, and will let His Holy Spirit work through each one of us 'regular folks'. "On His mission, for His glory", as someone once said...
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Beacon Touchpaper #9: "Easter: How do you eat yours?"

"...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved..." (Rom 10.9, ESV)

Easter in our country has traditionally become the time of year to celebrate:

(1) chocolate, (2) the multiplication abilities of cute rabbits, (3) "How do you eat yours?" Creme Egg adverts, and (4) the colour yellow. Regular polls in the national press have pointed out worrying numbers of children AND parents who struggle to recall exactly why we have a public holiday at this time each year. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised...

But also, perhaps, we should take the opportunity to recall what we believe too. Why do we as God's people celebrate Easter? And how seriously do we apply that?

Believing in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead is more than just accepting a fact. It is far more than "merely" looking at evidence, weighing up the pros and cons, and acknowledging a historical moment. Believing that God raised Him from the dead is having an absolute confidence in God's providence, His power, His love, His mercy, His grace, His justice... It's believing that God is completely for us. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all agreed long before time began to see this rescue plan through to completion, and have been and always will be committed to their choice to adopt you and me. That commitment is sealed in Christ's death and resurrection.

Without the core truth of Jesus's death and resurrection, applied to our everyday lives and our relationship with Jesus Himself, even the Christian Easter can be as hollow as a chocolate egg...

Easter: How do you eat yours?
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