Saturday, July 29, 2006

sharing your faith with friends and family - Michael Green

I really love this book. It is an easy read (might take low on the go all of one afternoon to polish off), and is scriptural. He opens with a case for the need to be evangelistic (I don't think I need to explain this. The gospels and the book of Acts sum that up pretty well.) He also gives lots of practical ways to "build bridges" between you and the people that you want to minister to and share the gospel with. He claims that chasm between Christian and secular culture is wide but that we must gaurd against thinking that unbelievers are irreligious, immoral, or on the other hand, have tons of good arguments against what you believe. In the following chapters he gives more examples of how to identify with our culture in a way that makes our gospel look like what it actually is: something that is RELEVANT and has been relevant since it was written.

The thing I love about this guy, who is in his 70s or something, is that he sees the need relate to our times without sacrificing our timeless message. He is exactly what the emergent guys should be, but aren't. Like our friend Don Miller, Green stresses the importance of creating a favourable climate for a spiritual conversation to take place. He says people will be most open when they are most at ease. I agree.

He has a few steps to a good approach to a spiritual convo.

1. Speak with modesty. We aren't selling something. We MUST be sensitive.

2. Speak with confidence. Paul said, "I know whom I have believed and I am convinced...ect."

3. Speak with enthusiasm. So many people are unthrilled about their faith. Maybe because all they have is religion but WE have discovered Jesus.

4. Be natural. We need to learn to move on and off the subject of Jesus with ease.

5. Watch the language. We Christians love our lingo. Non-Christians don't love our lingo. Learn to give illustrations that are parallel to their interests or area of study.

6. Timing. He says, "the right thing at the wrong time can be a minor disaster." This is when we need to be close to the Lord. If were are walking close to him, we wont miss his quiet, guiding whispers. We will be more on the ball when he gives us an opening or opportunity.

Here is a good quote for you:

One of the things we need to do if we are to help people to Christ is to puncture the apathy about ultimate issues, the cocoon of surface happiness with which our friends tend to protect themselves.

Then next few chapters are about the process of leading someone to make the decision and how to follow them up. In one of the final chapters he touches on the mistakes that we can make in evangelism and shows how to avoid them. It is all great stuff that is backed by his 50 odd years of experience and scriptural mindset.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

at Risk: Bringing Hope to Hurting Teenagers (Ugly Cover; Great Content)

I'm reading this book because it was given to me from my supervisor Nick. The cover is nasty and tacky but it is full of great stuff. To read to first chapter, go here. It tells the (success) story about a boy named Kevin. The thing I love about the book is that it is not full success stories but is actually quite realistic and practical. It would be great for anyone going into ministry because there are always going to be 'hurting teenagers.'

The chapter I loved most is about fathers and mothers in Christ. This is what Paul was for Onesimus. We can have a profound impact on someones life by being a father or mother in Christ to them. I agree with just punishment but when it comes to teens (and when used reasonably with adults) the cure for the type of anger that produces violent crime is acceptance rather than 'more prisons, tougher laws, and stiffer punishments." This acceptance is to be like the type that Christ extends to us: unconditional and never condoning wrong action.

He goes on to speak about the type of behaviour to expect from youth who either have no mother, or no father, or both and the differences of each. He explains the proper role of a father or mother in Christ and also what it is not. All the while he is drawing parallels with Paul and Onesimus from the book of Philemon. In other words, the guy is Biblical (that was for you amac).

He dedicates an entire chapter to identity in Christ. He says, "it must be the crux of how we disciples young believers." He stresses that we must live out our own identity in Christ so that those we minister to can 'hear, see, and touch the life of a committed Christian."

He touches on boundaries and how to manage rebellion. It is all very exellent and convincing because his entire life has been dedicated to this work. Therefore he knows his stuff. The book is full of stories that illustrate his point whether they are encouraging or discouraging. He presents stories of boys who have left his care on bad terms and have gone on to continue a life of sin and rebellion. I love his honesty.

Near the end of the book he speaks about our need to be advocates for the youth that we minister to. I love that because it reminded me of Christ who is my advocate with God the Father.

Friday, July 07, 2006

"Ruined for the Ordinary: The Adventure of Hearing and Obeying God's Voice" (Joy Dawson)

Joy Dawson writes on a topic many of us are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with (me included, why I read it).
For those of us foreign to the idea of hearing God's voice, this is a good read. She gives good reasons why it's for every believer, and conditions that should be met to hear God (humility, faith, confession, a submissive will). She also provides ways between discerning between God's voice, our voice, and the devil's.
My favourite theme that runs through the book, and which she nails on the head near the end, is obedience. It's easy to see she has a white-hot desire to obey God, and find her fulfillment only in Him.

One thing that really caught me about this book was that it's not the sound mind theory, where someone prayerfully weighs biblical values and decides. In more ways than one it really flies in the face of such logical thinking, and exhorts readers to simply listen. As of now, I don't agree with Ms. Dawson completely, but I am putting most of what she said to practice, and it's been pretty helpful in drawing closer to God, and making some good decisions. I say people should really check this topic out.