Friends and Evangelism

Luke 7:31-35 (NASB95)

34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”

The Gospel writer Luke used the word friend more than any the other writers in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, it seemed to be one of his favorite words. Recently, I heard Tim Keller parenthetically say in one of his sermons,

“You will be about as good at evangelism as you are friendship.”

At first I reacted against the statement, thinking to myself – “I know guys that are not very friendly, yet who are very effective at evangelism”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that their soul winning was primarily reserved for the pulpit. In “real life” they were ineffective. Then I thought through the people I had personally influenced for Christ outside of the pulpit, and almost without exception those who had borne the most fruit were friends before they were brothers or sisters. It seems, if you don’t have a lot of friends, you won’t win many souls. If you can make friends, you can win souls.

Filtering System Needed –

Why is the principal of friendship so important in evangelism? In his book – Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell suggestw that in business marketing and promotion makes very little difference in the overall scheme of things. Growth or success really happens through word of mouth, and then it is reinforced by effective advertisement.

You see, for every one hour of television you watch, you get nine minutes of commercials. The average person views 254 advertisements a day through billboards, radio, internet, etc. The more tech savvy you are, the more you get. Some are exposed to over 1000 promotions per day! Beyond that, information doubles every 2-3 years. In our lifetime we could see it double every two weeks. With all this stuff thrown at you, you need a filtering system to determine what is important and what is not. The way we filter what works and what is important is through the word of our friends. It is the recommendation of friends that gives us the information we need to know where to go on our next date night, which car to purchase, whether to go with a satellite or cable.

The word of our friends also helps us filter what is worthless religion from meaningful reality. The fact is, people make decisions about eternity based on the recommendation of their friends. For that reason, we must do our best to be strategic in giving our people opportunities to leverage the friendships they have developed for Christ. Evangelism begins with a friendship with a Christian, and ends with a friendship with Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, be a friend to sinners.

Maximum Life Radio

promoWe are very excited to announce that Maximum Life Radio can now be heard across North Alabama on 106.3 WBTG 11:30AM till Noon each Sunday.

This is a special opportunity for me because this is the station where I first heard the Gospel in a life changing way in 1994. As a college student at the University of North Alabama I, “accidentally” stumbled across In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley while channel surfing as I waited for class to start. After hearing him expand on the Gospel, my curiosity grew.

I later found – Anchored in Truth, Love Worth Finding, Through the Bible, Focus on the Family and Insight for Living. These programs made such an impact on me that I rescheduled my college classes so I would not miss a minute of programing. By the time I graduated, I had gone through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, sat under the wise tutelage of Chuck Swindol, had my heart stirred by the powerful proclamation of Adrian Rogers, gained practical guidance from Focus on the Family.

I am eternally grateful for WBTG and the investment that those programs made in my spiritual journey. I hope that through Maximum Life we are able to make a similar impact for the glory of God throughout their listening area.

If you are not in the listening area for 106.3 WBTG you can access their programming online via TuneIn Radio.

Virtual Purity_tThe biggest surprise for many people who are engaged in the battle for virtual purity is that the battle is not primarily won by software (filters, DNS Servers, and the like). Those are certainly part of the strategy and we will address those fully in the final sermon. However, the primary tactic to win against online temptation is to foster godly affections. The battle isn’t fought in the mind, but in the heart. It’s all about what you hate and what you love.

We began the study of Virtual purity last week by learning how and why we are to Hate Porn. We continue the study this week as we look at Embracing Authenticity. Join us this Sunday at Capshaw – http://www.capshaw.org

 

 

Dads, Ask Better Questions

Recently, I met with a father who is facing a phenomenon that is all too common. His teenage son asked a question that he found difficult to answer. The particular question he faced went something like this:

“Dad, I know smoking pot is illegal, but that seems to be changing in some states. If it were legal for a person of my age – would it still be bad?”

Normally the teen follows this question with a summary quote of a study that compares the effects of marijuana and alcohol on the brain and body. The common conclusion is – marijuana seems safer than alcohol. Typically, the proactive teen can even produce a couple of studies that seem to conclude that marijuana even has some health benefits.

The dad I had lunch with was quick to produce a verse. He mentioned Ephesian 5:18 where Paul warns us, “do not get drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit”. Dad proceed to take the principle of the verse and make application to marijuana, prescription drugs, etc.

Let me quickly say, “way to go dad!” you are showing your child your faith in the authority of scripture in your home – that’s awesome. In addition to this I would recommend you go a step further – ask a better question. Rather than simply asking, “is it bad?”, a better question would be, “why do you think people want to use marijuana?”. There are a number of reasons the honest teen will give for an attraction to the substance. It may be boredom, curiosity or peer pressure, however more often than not I am hearing teens say that they are tempted to smoke pot as a way of dealing with stress. Since that is the primary reason I am given I will show you how I address that response.

Stress in short spurts it can be helpful in that it gives us a dose of adrenaline for use in our natural, “fight of flight” response to a threat. It can energize us to tackle things properly. However prolonged stress is typically a form of what the Bible calls – worry. When a Christian is worried it should send them into a time of analysis. First, we should acknowledge that all worry is sin. Second we ask the following questions:

  • What specifically am I stressed about?
  • Are there practical things I can do to better the situation?
  • Are there things out of my control that I should trust God’s sovereignty about?
  • Am I acting in love toward all the parties involved – friends and enemies?
  • Is there any area that I need to store up or offer forgiveness toward someone?
  • Am I thinking on things that are true (Phillipians 4:8) or am I imagining things that I don’t have evidence of?

When we wrestle through such questions we typically find that we are humbled, driven near to God, and our stress (or worry) is turned into sense of peace and confidence in our Lord. The enemy offers a myriad of substances as an alternative to dealing with stress biblically – marijuana is one. Mood altering substances can become a crutch that keeps us from addressing the real problem.

More broadly – healthy things can also become crutches. Working out, for example, can serve to clear your mind, give you a burst of endorphins and enable you to do the hard work of biblical analysis. If, however, working out becomes an end in itself – it will also become a crutch and a replacement to working through your stresses biblically.

When addressing the question of recreation drug or alcohol use – consider a similar paradigm of questions depending on the teens response. If they are using primarily due to peer pressure, you want them to better understand what God’s word has to say concerning friendships.

When you deal with the issues of life this way it will not eliminate the temptation your kids face entirely but it will reduce a 10 temptation down to perhaps a 4, which is more manageable. In conclusion, remember – ask better questions.

Is Discipleship Dead?

There is an undercurrent of frustration for many men and women of this generation when it comes to discipleship. Many of us don’t feel like we were adequately discipled by the previous generation. This typically stems from the idea of an imaginary discipleship book that has everything we need to know in order to live life perfectly. We face life as if maybe 30% of those pages are completely filled in-  the parts pertaining to salvation, church membership, and moral absolutes. However, there are so many other pages that have blurred type, at best. We yearn for feeling “fully equipped.” For most of us, discipleship hasn’t been life on life, but rather analogous to a bee gathering pollen from a multitude of plants without knowing how to mix all of these substances together in order to produce honey. If only someone could compile a book that addresses every area of life from a biblical perspective, then one godly saint would take us on as a lifelong project with the goal of helping us process and apply this information – then and only then would we feel as though we have been properly discipled. The fact is that by the time all of this could be accomplished, we would most likely be too old to take on life projects of our own! All of the investment would die with us.

One of the reasons it is difficult to find a great discipleship curriculum is simply because it wasn’t mean to be strenuously codified. The moment you turn your discipleship strategy into a book, you de-personalize it. Jesus’s strategy was the epitome of organic. He simply invited men to, “Follow Me.” That simple statement is packed with insinuations. First, Jesus insinuates that he will be going somewhere. He doesn’t signify the ultimate destination to which they are to follow Him. Perhaps the destination is geographical, perhaps metaphysical, perhaps it is a state of maturity – or mostly likely it is all of the above. The command of Jesus to “Follow Me” also insinuates that He is the personal embodiment of all of the information that the disciples will need to know.

As we consider our role in the discipleship process, we must wrestle NOT with the questions, “Who has invited me to follow them?”, or, “Who is following me?”, but rather with the questions, “Who has taught me to follow Jesus?” and “Whom have I taught to follow Jesus?”. Considering both our personal discipleship and our discipleship of others from this perspective, the following statement is true: if we are devoted followers of Christ, we have been sufficiently discipled. We are equipped to begin, today, pointing a multitude of others Christward.

Personally, a great amount of my learning of Christ came from Christian media. In my youth, it was mostly radio programs. After coming to Christ while listening to Christian radio as a first semester college student, I went through the process of dropping all of my college classes between the hours of 8AM and 11AM, because I wanted to soak up all I could from the preachers of the Word. I had practically no human interaction with any of these men of God; however, each of them served to point me toward Christ and encourage me in His pursuit. Since that time, I’ve met dozens of godly men, most of whom were only in my life for a short time. Each, in their own way, showed me that Christ has the answers. Today, as a 39-year-old man, I am far from perfect, but more convinced than ever that my personal hope is wrapped up in the person and work of Jesus Christ. I turn to Christ and His word for direction in every aspect of my life. I teach my family to do the same. I teach everyone I interact with to do the same.

So perhaps discipleship is not as dead as I thought. Perhaps it’s defined poorly by our generation. If you are following Christ, you have been adequately discipled and are ready to begin influencing others as well. Whether you have been a Christ-follower ten minutes or ten years – you can begin today pointing others to follow Christ! This seems to have been the understanding of discipleship in the context of the early church. Christianity went viral because the infectious agent (Jesus) had only to take up residence within one healthy host (a Christian) in order to begin replicating and transmitting itself (via words) to other potential hosts. So by the time the virus had spread across the Roman Empire, the first followers were still in the process of maturity (Phillippians 3:13).

In conclusion, we do have a book – the Bible, which is the mind of Christ. Our goal is not necessarily to have a group of men following us and learning our personal strategies of Christian discipleship (although that is helpful). Our chief goal is to point as many people as possible toward Jesus with every opportunity. Some will be drawn in to our lives more deeply, but this is not the primary objective. The glory of God through Christ is the objective – follow Him.

Devotional and Recipe

[DON’T MISS THE VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST]

Dining is, quite seriously, a religious experience in our home. A friend of mine quotes his father as saying,

“I do not eat, I dine”.

I know exactly what he means! The greats have always viewed meals as special! Henry David Thoreau said,

“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.”

Meals are special. History can be understood as a series of meals from the first bite of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3) to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19) with one major meal, the Last Supper, in between (Matthew 26). Jesus’s strongest critics focused on when he ate (Mark 2), how he ate (Mark 7), what he didn’t drink (Matthew 11), and whom he ate with (Mark 2). According to most biblical historians, practically every service in the early church involved a meal.

So, it is not surprising that the primary discipling of our families is expected to happen around the dinner table.

Deuteronomy 6:6–7 (ESV) And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

We have found that there is no better place to disciple our children than around the dinner table. That is why we make it a priority to have an evening meal together at least 4 nights a week.

The conversation often turns to what God is teaching us, what we are studying in the Scriptures, and how we are trying to influence others for the Gospel. Recently, my wife and I wondered if there was a way to use that evening meal time to keep the Great Commission (Matthew 28), the mission field, and the work of missionaries in front of our children and in our regular conversation. We have created a tool to help to that end – we call it Meals & Mission.

My wife (Julie) is an incredible cook. She specializes in ethnic cooking. Since we are already in the habit of cooking one or two ethnic meals a week, we wondered what it would look like if we were more intentional in the selection of the meals. Seeking to find recipes from around the world that will allow us to circle the globe in the course of a year is our goal. Simultaneously, I will write a short devotional (2-3 paragraphs) that will communicate the climate of the missionary endeavor in that part of the world, introduce a missionary family, and give a few ways we can pray for the spread of the Gospel there.

From there, the idea began to grow. We figured, if we are going to go to the trouble to produce this material, we might as well seek to share it with you – the readers of my blog. So here is what we are attempting to produce at least once a month:

  • A recipe from a particular mission field
  • A short video that will teach you how to cook the meal
  • A devotion that you can print and read to your family

This will be a major undertaking for our already busy schedule. SO WE NEED YOUR HELP. We would like for you to consider sending us a recipe for an ethnic meal complete with a list of ingredients and instructions. Be sure to tell us where in the world the meal originated and, if possible, which people group you wish to focus on. We will do the research needed for the devotional, but if you have thoughts or resources to be considered, include those as well. You can leave your recipes, meal ideas, and devotional thoughts in the comment section below.

2a8a8d5e-69c4-427a-ba22-3bbb9b9935c3Now that you understand the context of what we are trying to accomplish, let’s begin with Episode 1 – Russia.

New Sermon Video – Ananias and Sapphira

This is one of the most enigmatic texts in the New Testament. This is the story of the first time Satan visited a Church and how God killed the couple who brought him.

Small Group Material

logoAt Capshaw we are in a study of the book of Acts. Following the lead of J.D. Greear and Summit Church, NC our entire small group ministry is studying the same material throughout the month of January for what we are calling our, “All In” series. This series is basically the first four sermons in the larger study of the book of Acts.

Since we have received so much freely, we would like to make what we have compiled available to any who could find it helpful.  Feel free to replace our logo with your church’s logo and use it as you see fit. All we ask is that you do not charge for the material.

Feel free to print the material or save it to your reading device.

Mentoring Video – Prayer

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