Whatever Happened to Witnessing?

Whatever Happened to Witnessing?

Whatever Happened to Witnessing? Acts 8:26-49 Whatever happened to witnessing?   Something must have happened to it, at least among Baptists. If we use statistics to gauge whether we are witnessing, something has happened. Last June, “Christianity Today” reported that our denomination had its lowest number of baptisms since 1946; its lowest membership since 1990; and lowest worship attendance since 1996.  https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/june/southern-baptist-convention-churches-baptisms-sbc-acp.html There are lots of reasons for these low numbers, but one reason must have something to do with our lack of witnessing. Some might say that there is a lot of witnessing taking place. The problem is that some evangelical witness is just bad.   Some evangelicals turn people away from Jesus and not toward Jesus. When people who profess to be Christian do not reflect Jesus, people notice that disconnect.  If people cannot see Jesus in Christians, they see no reason to be in church, or in the scriptures, or to become disciples of Jesus. Another way to look at these low numbers is that Christians are always going to be in the minority.  Jesus said that the road we walk is a narrow road and the gate we enter is a small gate, and few will choose it.  Even when we live a righteous life and reflect the life of Jesus and invite people to follow him, few will.  The commitment is too high. However, we are commanded to “Go and make disciples.” We are supposed to multiply our faith by sharing Jesus with others.  That’s not possible unless we become a witness. So, whatever happened to witnessing? Could it be that we disqualify ourselves by making a simple exercise...
Whatever Happened to Honesty

Whatever Happened to Honesty

Whatever Happened to Honesty? Micah 7:1–7 What would life be like if you could not trust anyone?  If there were no trust, society as we know it would crumble.  Because there is so little trust, our nation is crumbling. Trust is the skeleton which holds up every institution that gives our lives meaning. Micah was a prophet that lived in the eighth century before Christ.  He gives us just a little insight into what it was like to live in a world so dishonest that you could not trust the ruler, the judge, your neighbor, or members of your own family. When people are this dishonest, it becomes a dog-eat-dog world.  Fear rules the day.  There is a stark realization that what one needs for survival is missing: trust and honesty. Until it’s missing, we sometimes don’t realize how important trust and honesty are as stack poles for relationships and for a country to function or any meaningful institution. Micah said it was like going out to gather summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard, only to discover there was no cluster of grapes to eat and no early figs that he craved. Have you ever thought about honesty like this? It’s as vital to our survival as fruit at the harvest. Many people think just the opposite.  Many people think about how much more they can have if they are dishonest. If I don’t report all my earnings to the IRS, I can have more. If I cheat God and hold back my tithe, I can have more. If I get more change than I’m owed from a...
Holding Work in Perspective

Holding Work in Perspective

Holding Work In Proper Perspective  Genesis 2:4-18 Elizabeth Mills published a hymn in 1837 that’s in the Old Broadman Hymnal that many  of you over fifty will know:  “We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes.”   However, the hymn is not really about work.  It really about a day when we can quit all this work and go to heaven.   O land of rest, for thee I sigh/
When will the moment come/
When I shall lay my armor by/
And dwell in peace at home? The refrain then says:   We’ll work till Jesus comes/
We’ll work till Jesus comes/
We’ll work till Jesus comes/
And we’ll be gathered home. http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Well_Work_till_Jesus_Comes/ With each new verse, there is another longing for heaven, a longing for rest.   There is a verse about the wilderness, which is this world where we live.  She can’t wait to reach her heavenly home, but until then… We’ll work till Jesus comes/
We’ll work till Jesus comes/
We’ll work till Jesus comes/
And we’ll be gathered home. Most of us seem to have a love/hate relationship with work. We bemoan Mondays because we have to go to work and we love Fridays because we get off of work.   Yet if we didn’t have a job, we’d be poor as dirt and depressed. It would be a major crisis for all of us.   I have known people that have worked and worked looking forward to the day that they didn’t have to work, only to discover that they were miserable once they were not working and they soon found themselves another job. I have known people that were addicted to work, and I have known people that worked hard to keep...
How Can You Hold Your Work in Proper Perspective?

How Can You Hold Your Work in Proper Perspective?

Most of us seem to have a love/hate relationship with work. We bemoan Mondays because we have to go to work, and we love Fridays because we get off of work. Yet, if we didn’t have a job, we’d be poor as dirt and depressed. It would be a major crisis for all of us. I have known people who have looked forward to the day they didn’t have to work only to discover they were miserable once they were not working and they soon found themselves another job. I have known people who were addicted to work, and I have known people who worked hard to keep from working. Work can be virtuous, but it can also lead to a life of dysfunction. What makes the difference? It’s important to keep work in proper perspective. One way to do that is by understanding what place God wants to play in our work. In Genesis 2:15, we discover work was ordained by God as a good thing. We can and should embrace work because God did and does. It’s safe to assume Adam and Eve sweated and were tired at the end of a day in the Garden of Eden and felt good about it. The garden was not going to just take care of itself. Part of the purpose God created humans for was to take care of creation. We were created to work, and work is part of what gave the first humans purpose and joy. If work was a part of Eden before the fall, we should expect work to be a meaningful part of our...
Whatever Happened to Authenticity?

Whatever Happened to Authenticity?

John 1:43-51 When our daughter-in-law graduated from Veterinarian College at the University of Tennessee, we rented a room from an Air B and B home in Knoxville. The home where we stayed was beautifully decorated inside and out. Our host, Steve, was British. Steve is an entrepreneur, having sold his milk distribution business in London recently for ten million dollars. As a side gig, he chauffeurs brides and grooms in his 1928 Bentley.  He’s done this for over 500 weddings. His Bentley is nice, but it is not in pristine condition, causing one man to quip that his car was a good twenty-footer. “What’s a twenty-footer?” asked Steve in his British accent. The man said, “It looks good from twenty feet away,” the man said condescendingly. “Well, so do you, mate,” Steve said, giving the man back some of his own medicine. Steve has never met a stranger, not in Britain or in the States and he’s a trusting soul. As he waited for his wife to return home, he cooked us supper and told us a story of the time he was restoring one of his old cars. When it came time to paint it, a man stopped by and asked if he needed his car painted. Steve thought the timing was perfect. They worked out a deal, and he paid him $500 as a down payment.  When the man picked up his car, he asked for more money. After several weeks, Steve called to inquire about his work, but all he got was excuses. In the end, Steve discovered that the man was a crook and he didn’t...