Sunday, June 9, 2013

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 20

Subtitle: How can I be sure God will bring the unfaithful to faith and forgive the unforgiven?

“The Lord will answer you in times of trouble. The name of the God of Jacob will protect you. He will send you help from His holy place and support you from Zion.” …
“Now I know that the Lord will give victory to His anointed king. He will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty deeds of his power hand. Some rely on chariots and others on horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God. They will sink to their knees and fall, but we will rise and stand firm. Give victory to the king, O LORD. Answer us when we call.” Psalm 20:1-2, 6-9 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

God has, through David’s pen; given us the assurance of victory in the LORD’s anointed king. We know from the New Testament that Jesus is this anointed one who has come to defeat Satan. The prophesies of Isaiah and David were fulfilled in Jesus when he came into the world and began His ministry of reconciliation, cumulating in the defeat of Satan, by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

“The Spirit of the LORD is with me. He has anointed me to tell the Good News to the poor. He has sent me to announce forgiveness to the prisoners of sin and the restoring of sight to the blind, to forgive those who have been shattered by sin, to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18/Isaiah 61:1 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

The victory belongs to Jesus the King who wins for us the victory over death!

This Psalm begins with a promise “The LORD will answer you” and ends with a prayer “answer us when we call”. At times we have our doubts... and David had his. In the midst of his struggle David simultaneously asks God for help and promises those around him that God will indeed help him and those who are depending on him. 

There is a lesson to be learned here. We can ask for God to give us strength and to rescue us from our fears and doubts knowing full-well that God can and will deliver us.

Jesus Christ is our deliverer. He has come. We have nothing to fear. We can BOLDly proclaim what we know to be true. In Christ our king the victory has been won.

In Christ we will receive our hearts desire. Our plans will be accomplished. God will bless the work we do for Him. We will rejoice in the victory of Christ. We will raise up the banner of our faith and boldly proclaim the name of the Lord. Our prayers for others will be heard. God will grant our requests.

Don’t hold back. Proclaim Christ with confidence. Jesus is Lord!

The victory is His! He is the Lord’s anointed King. Praise Christ the King! Amen.

Friday, June 7, 2013

2nd BOLD Christian Outreach Promise from Psalm 16

My Advisor is the LORD

Psalm 16:5-8 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,
5 The LORD is my inheritance and my cup[of salvation]. You [The LORD] are the one who determines my destiny. 
6 Your boundary lines mark out pleasant places for me. Indeed, my inheritance is something beautiful. 
7 I will praise the LORD, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night. 
8 I always keep the LORD in front of me. When [HE] is by my side, I cannot be moved

When sharing our faith with others we can be confident that the LORD will give us the words to speak. We can have the assurance of salvation. We can reflect that faith in our actions toward others. And we can proclaim the assurance of salvation in our conversations as we are introducing others to Christ. It is a confidence that we can share in word and in deed because we have it in us.

One day several months ago I was engaged in a difficult mediation between two mothers who were standing up for their children. Every instinct of each parent was defensive and protective. Voices raised, tempers flared, and I honestly didn't know what would happen next. But the LORD was by our side. He was right there in the midst of this conflict, holding these women in place. The LORD gave words of wisdom and courage to my colleague as she helped the women sort through their anger and pain. Eventually they cooled down and started the process of listening to each other's concerns. The fear, resentment, and anger that the women had expressed were replaced with admissions of helplessness and a desire to understand the other person's position.

God was drawing one of the women into a place where she could be witnessed to by our staff and potentially brought into HIS kingdom. The other woman, (a staff member), was being tested and stretched in her ability to live out her faith in the midst of facing personal accusations and attacks. The conflict cut deep into some areas of her life that she needs to work on in the future. GOD allowed the conflict to cut through the dribble into an area where neither woman wanted to go, but the result became the beginning of the process of healing and relationship building. I continue to pray it will lead to more opportunities for Christ's love to be shown and saving faith to be received.

“I will praise the LORD, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night.”

Meeting people where they are at is not an easy task. It is sometimes messy and painful. But God walks through it with us. He has promised to be by our side while we share our faith with others. He advises us and gives us the right words at the right time. With God by our side we can be BOLD in sharing our faith with others (even when it hurts and makes us sick inside with fear of rejection) because HE is always with us. HE is our inheritance. If we live for HIM it is all gain, if we die because of HIM, we will be with HIM forever. We have nothing to lose. This truly is a BOLD outreach promise.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Reflection on the Parable of the Sower - Matthew 13

The Optimistic  Farmer

Having had the opportunity to grow up on a dairy farm and to work with farmers almost all of my life, I would have to say that most farmers are indeed optimistic about the future.  Every year in the spring they plant the seeds for their crops with the high expectation that they will have a good crop to harvest in the fall.  They will repeat this practice each year, even if they have experienced a crop failure in the prior year.  It is a way of life; they till the soil, spread the fertilizer, plant the seeds, cultivate the crops, control the weeds, irrigate the fields, and do whatever they need to do to ensure that they will have an abundant harvest in the fall.  Then, when the crops are mature, they harvest the crops.  Sometimes the harvest is abundant and sometimes it is not. 

The farmer may have done everything possible to ensure a good crop but cannot control the outcome, because he or she must rely on God to provide the optimum growth.  Still regardless of the outcome, after the crops are in, the farmer will make plans for the next year, with the optimistic hope that his yields will be better than ever before.

I was thinking about the parable of the sower found in Matthew 13.  This is a story Jesus told to his disciples about a farmer who was sowing seeds.  Sowing is a form of planting seeds that involves throwing them in a semi-circular pattern.  This form of planting seeds was somewhat crude and tedious but it was the standard practice of that time.  The farmer in the story wanted to make sure that he hadn't missed any opportunities for his seeds to grow, so he threw them everywhere.  If there was even a chance that the seeds would grow in some soil, regardless of where or what condition that soil was in, he threw his seeds in that direction. 

In the story we are told, “as he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.” Matthew 13:4 (NIV).  I asked myself, “Why would the farmer throw the seeds on a path knowing that the birds were waiting there to eat them up?”  When I was farming, we were careful to place each seed in its proper row; not to many, not to close, not to deep, with just the right amount of dirt covering them up.  However, to just throw the seeds out where birds could eat them or in the rocks where you couldn't get at the crop with the proper machinery for harvesting, well, that would have been considered a waste of “good seed”.

Two thoughts occurred to me. The first is that the farmer used a path that went through the middle of the field to get the seeds into the fertile soil, in the process some of the seeds would by chance land on the path.  Second, some seeds could have potentially found find a place to take root in small cracks in the path and have grown to produce a crop.  It seems that this farmer was willing, for the potential of the future harvest, to scatter his seeds in every possible place they might grow.  Truly, this man was an optimist! 

As Jesus explained the meaning of the story, we discover that these weren't cheap seeds but ones that the farmer had paid a huge price to acquire.  The farmer in this story is God.  The seed is the saving Word of Christ, purchased with His life and death on the cross.  This seed will ultimately produce a harvest of eternal life for those people in whose hearts it takes root and grows to maturity.  The soil represents people in the world who will react in different ways to God’s Word.  We know that some people are prepared to hear God’s Word.  It grows in them and produces an abundant crop.  But, some people resist the Gospel.  They are hard like a path and God’s Word just sits there on the surface until Satan comes and snatches it away.

Is it a waste then to proclaim Christ to those who are unbelieving?  NO, even the hardest paths have cracks!  Look at what happens to a driveway or even a road if it is not being used regularly, it doesn't take many years before weeds and dandelions start to grow in the cracks.  If this can happen in pavement, just think what could happen in the heart of an unbeliever when the power of the Word starts to take root in their lives.  Let’s be optimistic and continue to BOLDly proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 19

Sub title: The heavens declare the glory of God…without words...yet...

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made.
One day tells a story to the next. One night shares knowledge with the next without talking, without words, without their voices being heard. [Yet,] their sound has gone out into the entire world, their message to the ends of the earth. ” Psalm 19:1-4 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

In the beginning God had a personal relationship with His creation. After mankind turned his back on God that relationship was lost. Not because God rejected mankind, but because mankind chose to reject God! Ever since that time in our history, God has been trying to reveal Himself to those created in His image. He uses His very own creation to show His glory, to reveal Himself to a world that is blind to His existence.  Fools who think they know it all, make claims that God does not exist. Yet, it is hard to imagine our world coming together by a series of random unguided events. The amazing beauty of the world speaks of a creator who put everything together with great detail. The balance of the design and the interconnected relationships of every living thing speak of a God who values relationship.

So here is my outreach take-away … If the creation of God declares His glory without words to the ends of the earth …. How difficult could it be to declare God’s message of salvation by repeating the words God has given to us from the Bible, His written word?  It is very humbling to think that God’s creation; rocks, trees, water, sky, plants, and animals are doing a better job of proclaiming the glory of God than I am. I am supposed to be the intelligent one. I have the advantage of having God’s written word, God’s Holy Spirit living in me, and the assurance of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, I often fail to be a strong witness for the God I believe in. I miss opportunities to share my faith, to encourage others in their faith, or to just speak about the forgiveness of sins and the free gift of eternal life found in the cross of Jesus Christ.

So, why should I be afraid to share the joy of salvation with those who are without hope? Is it my lack of faith? I am certain that Jesus Christ forgives my sin. In Him I will be blameless and set free from my guilt and shame. In Christ I will have the strength to BOLDly declare all that God has done for me. So I pray...Lord, give me words to speak that are acceptable to You, word that will bring glory and honor to your holy name.

And here is the promise…
Ps. 19:7 The teachings of the Lord are perfect, they renew the soul.
The testimony of the Lord is dependable. It makes gullible people wise.

God has written His message on the hearts of men to know right from wrong, to desire a redeemer, to worship a God who will deliver them. Nature reveals the knowledge of God without speaking, without words, without being heard, yet…their message has gone out to the ends of the earth. When we study His creation closely we can only stand in awe of its beauty and intricate design. The present is preserved and revealed to others in the future. The past is recorded for us in the present.

When we share God’s message with others …it makes the heart rejoice…it makes eyes shine…it is God’s Word that brings people to see the truth … God’s word renews and restores the souls of men…God’s Word bring faith.

Paul said in Romans 1 “I am not ashamed of the Good News. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes …God’s Word makes gullible people wise unto salvation.”

It turns the gullible into people who are wise; those who will believe anything and follow false theories and false gods are turned into those who know the truth and follow the one true God, Jesus Christ.

The BOLD Christian outreach promise for today is to proclaim God’s Word of salvation with confidence knowing that the power is in God’s Word and it has the power to save. God’s Word can and will change the minds of unbelievers into followers of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Good Questions! Reflections on questions the Master asks.

"What are you looking for?"

Buchanan, Mark. (2006). The Rest of God. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

"Prayer, before it's talking, ought to be listening. Before it's petition, it should be audition. Before it calls for eloquence, it requires attention. God speaks. We listen. Prayer's best posture is ears cupped, head tilted toward that Voice. And what does the Voice speak? More often than not, a question." p.190.
"So a key attitude of prayer is listening, and what we listen for most are God's questions. ... For this Sabbath Liturgy, find any one of the questions God or Jesus asks... Ponder it until you hear God asking you the question personally. And then ponder it until you can give an answer." p.191-192. 

Jesus communicated with His followers as a teacher, speaking in parables, and relating the Kingdom of God to examples from their everyday experiences. Jesus also taught by asking good questions. His questions drew people into His stories or challenged their cultural world views and caused them re-examine the foundations and convictions of their faith. 

My goal is to examine the questions that Jesus asks in the Gospels and personally reflect on their meaning for my life, as well as, the insights they may give toward outreach within my community. It is my hope that these Biblical questions will provide a foundation for specific questions that will help our congregations identify outreach opportunities within their communities. Furthermore, it is my desire that these questions will guide us into a deeper understanding of our mission and calling to proclaim Christ to the world, beginning in our own backyard or with our next door neighbors.

The Gospel of John
John 1:29-34 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,
John saw Jesus coming toward him the next day and said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
30 He is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘A man who comes after me was before me because he existed before I did.'
31 I didn't know who he was. However, I came to baptize with water to show him to the people of Israel.”
32 John said, “I saw the Spirit come down as a dove from heaven and stay on him.
33 I didn't know who he was. But God, who sent me to baptize with water, had told me, ‘When you see the Spirit come down and stay on someone, you'll know that person is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'
34 I have seen this and have declared that this is the Son of God.”

John was listening to the voice of God. John saw the Spirit come down on Jesus. John was watching for the sign of the Holy Spirit that would come down and reveal the Son of God. After Jesus was baptized by John, the Spirit descended on Him and John recognized that this was the One, that Jesus indeed was the Son of God.

Our time of prayer begins with a reflection on the Word of God. We read and respond to the questions that God asks of us. John had listened to God's instruction and waited for Jesus to be revealed to him, so he could in turn reveal Jesus to his followers. John was a sign post pointing out the direction to the Son of God. His followers were looking for a savoir and John pointed them to The Savior, Jesus Christ.

When these disciples started to follow Jesus, they were asked: "What are you looking for?" They answered "Teacher, where are you staying?" Jesus replied, "Come, and you will see."

John 1:35-42 (GW)

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples.
36 John saw Jesus walk by. John said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God.”
37 When the two disciples heard John say this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus turned around and saw them following him. He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 Jesus told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went to see where he was staying and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about ten o'clock in the morning.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two disciples who heard John and followed Jesus.
41 Andrew at once found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).
42 Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at Simon and said, “You are Simon, son of John. Your name will be Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

What am I looking for?   Peace, rest, financial security, love, material comforts, acceptance, or work that fulfills my passion.
What am I looking for in Christ? 
Do I really know why I am following Christ?
Am I like the disciples, seeking a good leader or teacher, for the sake of their name, much like those who follow political candidates for the sake of the excitement of being involved in something greater than ourselves just for the sake of covering up our own inadequacies or insecurities.

To follow Christ is to leave everything behind and trust in Him. The disciples didn't know what they were getting in to. Jesus didn't tell them everything right away. Jesus simply answered "Come, and you will see." To follow Jesus is to start on the journey. Come along, lets see where Jesus leads us. Trust in Him. He is trustworthy. He is the Son of God.
I'm not sure I know what I'm looking for, but I am sure that it will be revealed to me as I am going, as I am walking down the road with Jesus. So my journey begins again, trusting that God will show me what He wants me to see, and redirecting my thoughts to explore those things that I should be looking for.

We may ask others "What are you looking for?"
How can we help you find it?

May we walk with you for a while?
May we engage in spiritual conversations with you?
May we be so bold as to point you to the Son of God as He has been revealed to us in God's Word?
May we explore the life of Christ together with you?

May we invite others to follow Christ's invitation, "Come, and you will see."?.

BOLD Christian Outreach Ministry is dedicated to helping others find ways to share their faith with those whom God has already placed in their lives. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 18

Sub title: The Lord rescues … He is my Savior.

I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my Savior,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the strength of my salvation,
my stronghold.
The LORD should be praised.
I called on Him, and I was saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:1-2
(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

This is a Psalm of praise for the LORD who answers prayer! This is a record of promises kept, a reflection of gratitude, a personal journal (blog) of David the king of Israel. In this Psalm, David shares with us a personal testimony of the many ways the LORD responded to his requests for help.

In our reflection on outreach promises and on the challenge of outreach ministry in general, this Psalm provides us with hope and encouragement, because we can be certain that the LORD will redeem those who call on His name.

Just look at the list of actions that the Lord takes to rescue David from the grip of evil, death, and destruction.    
v6  He heard my voice…and my cry for help…
v9  He spread apart the heavens and came down…
v10  He rode … and he soared
v11  He made the darkness his hiding place…
v13  The LORD thundered in the heavens. The Most High made his voice …
v14  He shot his arrows and scattered them. He flashed streaks of lighting and threw them into confusion.…
v16  He reached down from high above and took hold of me. He pulled me out of the raging water.
v17  He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, because they were too strong for me.
v18  …the LORD came to my defense.

These are action words. Our God is a God of action! David knew it and David reflected on it. David gave thanks to God for being a God of action; for being active in his life.

When I try to take on too much or try to do the work of ministry on my own --- I FAIL. Big time!!
When I try to share my faith on my own --- I am crushed!
When I try to be something I’m not --- I am torn apart!

But when I am real, when I am honest, when I am humble, when I am acting in submission to God; He speaks through me.

v27  You save humble people
v28  O LORD, you light my lamp. My God turns my darkness into light.

When my message is about Jesus Christ, when I trust God to put the words into my mouth; God uses those words to bring salvation to those who hear them.

God has saved me! He has turned my darkness into light.
I will never forget how dark the darkness can be. Jesus rescued me from the darkness of my sin and has turned on the light in my life. I know that the promises of God are true because they have become true in my life.        

v30-32  God’s way is perfect! The promise of the LORD has proven to be true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. Who is God but the LORD? Who is a rock except our God? God arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

If you are looking for GOD, you will find him in the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the rock of Salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Salvation is NOT found in any other. Jesus will take your sin away and replace it with His righteousness. He will turn your darkness into light.

If you are looking for encouragement to BOLDly share your faith, read this Psalm and follow David’s example. Take note of all of the ways God has responded to your requests for help. Thank and praise Jesus for the actions He has taken to rescue you from the traps of Satan and the darkness of sin in your life. Ask Jesus to give you the strength and words to share your testimony with others.

Remember, in your Christian outreach ministry, the LORD will work faith in those who call on Him.

(All scripture references used in this blog are taken from God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

Saturday, May 4, 2013

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 17

Sub Title: The eye of God

"I have called on you because you answer me. Turn your ear toward me. Hear what I have to say. Reveal your miraculous deeds of mercy, O Savior of those who find refuge by your side from those who attack them. Guard me as if I were the pupil in your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Hide me from wicked people who violently attack me, from my enemies who surround me.

"I will see your face when I am declared innocent. When I wake up, I will be satisfied with seeing you."
Psalm 17:6-9, 15 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

In this psalm David goes before the LORD with a heavy heart, men are hunting him down and treating him like a criminal. He is on the run, hiding out, a fugitive with a possible bounty on his head. He has few allies that he can trust. Everywhere he turns, every encounter he makes is a risk to his safety. David finds himself surrounded by greedy people, who, for the sake of financial gain, would turn him over to his enemies (quite possibly King Saul).

Have you been there? ...caught between a rock and a hard place? ...with no-one to trust and no foreseeable way out? Or maybe you know of someone who is there; they are filled with desperation, discouragement, depression, emotionally empty, or financially ruined.

If so, then this psalm is for you and for them. There are two promises of salvation in this psalm. David prays, "I have called on you because you answer me." David's faith in God has a track record. When he was a boy herding sheep, the LORD protected him and his sheep. When David fought Goliath, the LORD gave him the victory over the giant. David is not without hope. He knows that the LORD can and will deliver him. In the LORD, his Savior, David will find rest.

The second promise relates to eternal life. David knows that his salvation is in the hands of the LORD and that he will be declared innocent by the mercy of the LORD; for those who place themselves at the LORD's mercy shall receive it. So David concludes his psalm with these words of comfort, "When I wake up, I will be satisfied with seeing you."

Paul said something similar when he stated, "Whether I live or die it is all gain." We cannot lose in Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior. With Paul and David we can boldly say, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." We have this promise, in the mercy of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, that those who call on His name shall receive forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life.    

P.S. Just a footnote to add… “Guard me as if I were the pupil in your eye.” Our eyes are important to us. We take measures to protect them. Skiers and swimmers wear water proof goggles. Carpenters and construction workers wear specialized protective glasses. A welder wears a helmet with a heavy dark glass window to protect his or her eyes from the burning bright light of the electrical welding arc. I’m sure you can think of many other examples, but the point is that, eye protection is very important for the safety of our eyes and the future of our sight. Sometimes we take our sight for granted, but to lose it could totally change the way we live out the rest of our days on the earth.

David calls on God to protect him as if he were the pupil of God’s very own eye. The request is bold. The request indicates trust and relationship, closeness, a sense of belonging to God, of being a part of His body. And that theme is picked up in the New Testament by Paul when he spoke of us being the living body of Christ, the eyes and ears, the mouth and nose, the hands and feet, all those parts that serve Christ here on earth. Jesus Christ lives in us as we live in Him. He provides for us and protects us as if we were His very own. His death and resurrection provides us with the ultimate protection against sin, death, and the devil. He values us as He would His very own eyes. That thought fills me with a great sense of peace.

As you tell others about Jesus Christ, we can be confident that He will listen to their pleas for mercy. He will forgive them and call them His own. He will treat them as He has treated us. He will value them as a member of His own body. And He will be waiting for them in heaven when they leave this world behind.

We can count on God's mercy and salvation. That is what David did! When everything else is stripped away – every material possession, everything that might give us security, meaning, or identity (all those false idols in our life), nothing is left but God's promise to be merciful and grant us salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God rescues the broken hearted. The humble He does not despise. Those who call out to Him for mercy are saved! We can BOLDly count on this outreach promise as we share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.