Archive for the Evangelism Category

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Liberty

Posted in Cultural, Evangelism, Lifestyle, Missional with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by ostrakinos

Massive consumerism dressed up as good will and genuine affection pulled out of the Black Friday haze yesterday. Once-a-year feedings from guilt-ridden citizens who need to get in their last minute good deeds of the year before the accounting is closed showed up as well.  Fake Santas with fake stories about quasi-idols rolled out into the streets, too.  The pagan-rooted folk tales co-mingled with intense commercialism make for a bitter seasonal soup. As believers, it’s a bit too easy to poke fun at the holidays.

So what should we think about it all?  Should we become isolated purists who refuse to emerge from our Keebler tree until everyone practices things according to our regulations? Should we just ignore all the hype and boycott everything?  Should we rebuke anyone who dare put up a Druid-inspired evergreen with all the fancies? Scrooge certainly would approve.

I think a simple solution is found in our liberty under Christ. While we should never go against our conscience in matters of practice (1Timothy 1:5) nor should we attempt to bind others by our own, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “… why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?” (1Cor. 10:29b-30)

It is completely possible to participate in our cultural holiday festivities without being trapped in consumerism. One can put up holiday decorations without bowing to them and we can certainly sing songs about reindeers and elves as part of the ‘being all things to all people’ without automatically worshipping mini-gods and animals.

In fact, as one who did refrain from holiday practices for almost five years, I can say that taking such an extreme view of non-participation actually does more harm for the cause of Christ than it helps. Let me explain.

Because I adamantly refused anything to do with Christmas, I was constantly being looked at as if I were some cultist or Jehovah’s Witness. Why, in their mind, would my protest of ‘CHRIST’mas, somehow make me a better Christian? My boycott had the opposite result. Piety fail.

The same effect was felt regarding my family and friends. Not one single ear was open to my attempted adherence to a more faithful life.  In fact, being so tightly wound up only made me angry and mostly useless. I know that one can adhere to abstaining from holiday participation and not be angry all the time, but I have rarely seen it. No one wanted to talk to me about anything biblical, let alone listen to the gospel. I wasn’t preaching it either.

We should be in the world, just not of the world. Openly embracing the cultural holiday within the limits of moderation will present far more genuine opportunities to win someone to Christ then choosing to stay home or show up with a grimace.

Take advantage of the common grace given to us during this holiday season. Rejoice in the birth of Christ! Show your love to family and friends and enemies alike! Preach the truth in season.


Murder, Faith and Hope

Posted in Evangelism on September 20, 2009 by ostrakinos

new orleans street orangeYet again, our community’s pulse is weak.  The sounds of more drive-by shootings pierce the streets as wickedness continues to spread and seek dominance over stressed and blighted neighborhoods. As a cherished city, New Orleans still aches to rebuild and assert herself as a good place to be; but, increased crime and death rates only lead to cynicism and confusion. What on earth compels someone to put a bullet into the stomach of a three year old child? How can it be that the average life span for African-Americans living in New Orleans is nearly as low as the average life expectancy in North Korea? Our great cities continue to decay as this grand destruction is served up on a corruption wheel that would make even Huey Long blush.  We sit in dismay thinking about our immediacy and the future.

Yet, if we are rooted in the truth of Scripture, we know that God’s Word brings us not only to the past, but to the present and the future.  We are not left without understanding. God has revealed to us that hands have and will continue to shed innocent blood as long as He chooses to not fully restrain evil. (Proverbs 6:17; Rev. 11:7-8)  The tension between God’s sovereign purpose and our finite comprehension is never resolved for us; instead, we are told to trust in His providence just as in Joseph’s time – “…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…” (Gen. 50:20) Though we aren’t sure as to God’s secretive will we are called to trust that He is not unaware (Deut. 29:29).

If we are honest, we will admit that we struggle with this truth; however, God is greater than our myopic opinions. Faith can be blind, but true saving faith is simply well-formed.  We all have faith in something -the ultimate question is “what is the OBJECT of our faith?”  As believers, we put our trust in the Lord our God, maker of heaven and earth, of things seen and unseen. We put our faith not in chariots or mayors or human empires; we put our hope in our beloved Savior who will judge the living and the dead when He returns in the fullness of His glory.

May we be found faithful.

Beautiful Poetry

Posted in Arts, Cultural, Evangelism with tags , , , , , on September 11, 2009 by ostrakinos

Listen fully as she brings beautiful words.

That’s what I’m talkin’ bout.

On Kissing the Chicken or How Lumping Coals Dealt Rightly with Racism

Posted in 'Racism', Cultural, Evangelism on September 1, 2009 by ostrakinos

kiss the chickenEthnic tensions are common in our fallen metropolitan worlds as various people groups find themselves living in close proximity.  No where in America has this ‘racial’ tension been more evident or more infamous than with the Klu Klux Klan’s presence.

Rev. Wade Watts was a civil rights activist from Oklahoma who served as the state president of the NAACP for sixteen years.  Watts was friends with Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King and is the former congressman J.C. Watts’ uncle.

The late Rev. Watts left a legacy that was testified to by a former Klan leader Johnny Lee Clary while being interviewed on a show called, oddly enough “Enough Rope”.  This testimony by Clary is a wonderful example of obedience to God’s Proverbial-Romans command to overcome evil with good.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 8:15-21

the TECHNO-evangel

Posted in Evangelism, Lifestyle, Missional on June 1, 2009 by ostrakinos

appleboyI’ve done quite a lot of traveling over the past few weeks – over 2,500 miles of driving through nine states followed by a week in the Texas sun learning new building and construction techniques.  On the way to San Antonio, we flew through Houston and as always, I had that awkward experience associated with plane flights.

As I made my way through x-rays and security arches and long tile corridors with echoing loudspeakers, I noticed that most individuals carry gadgets and gizmos that preclude social interaction.  Ipods, cell phones, laptops and books occupy the majority of available arms as everyone shuffles off to wherever they are going; yet, they rarely seem interested in conversation. Earbuds say “I’m listening to something else other than you right now.” Faces buried in intense reading broadcast a “Do not disturb” door hanger to all within ten feet and hurried tapping on computer keys tells everyone that you are busy.  It is interesting how the very same technologies that aid us and help create new social venues also facilitate a new type of virtual cocooning.

This techno-inwardness has peculiar implications in evangelism for even though we seem to be more connected it is harder to meet naturally.  Electronic webs seem to be strewn over once interactive spaces and despite being inches away; we don’t talk to each other anymore. The nuances of body language and inflective speech have been overtaken by ‘crackBerries‘ and a new texting code has emerged as standard communique.  This same phenomenon exists inside elevator cubes as well, where small crowds stand together as tall pines and yet most hardly ever mumble a word.

airport windowFinding a way to enter the silence becomes evermore difficult when chitchat seems to be dying a quick wifi-death.  On the plane, I did manage to speak to a man who was reading a book by Hitchens entitled God is not Good. As he bowed his head into the pages, I curiously asked questions about the title and engaged him in an irenic conversation about life, the true nature of God and social justice.  It is possible to naturally penetrate the ever-growing social techno-cubists and the interesting part is that we do so in the same fashion that Christ, Paul and the other early evangelists and believers did – we exercise humble boldness, true compassion, and listen while we speak the truth of the Gospel in love. Communications and societal paths may change, but the Truth never waivers.

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