A Scout is…Helpful

When asked where religion came into Scouting, Sir Robert Baden-Powell , the founder of the Scouting movement, replied, “It does not come in at all. It is already there.  It is a fundamental factor underlying Scouting…” (Religion and the Boy Scout and Girl Guides Movement–an address, 1926).

This is a continuation in a series of blogs examining the connection between the values of Scouting and the Bible.

A Scout is…Helpful

A Scout cares about other people.  He helps others without expecting payment or reward.  He fulfills his duties to his family by helping at home.

The third point of the Scout Law is, “A Scout is helpful.”  Being helpful is a virtue that is advocated throughout the Bible.  Consider these two examples from the Old Testament:

You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray, and hide yourself from them; you shall certainly bring them back to your brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you until your brother seeks it; then you shall restore it to him. You shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment; with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he has lost and you have found, you shall do likewise; you must not hide yourself.  You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely help him lift them up again. ~ Deuteronomy 22:1-4

If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you.  Leviticus 25:35-36

In his epistle to the Philippians, Paul encouraged his readers to help each other:

I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.  Philippians 4:2-3

Probably the best known example where Jesus encourages being helpful is the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

Luke 10:30-37

30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

A Scout is Helpful
~ Norman Rockwell, 1939

The Samaritan cared for the man, despite the fact that Samaritans usually did not associate with Jews.  He went out of his way to help, despite the major inconvenience to himself.  After administering first aid – like any good Scout would do – the Samaritan man not only took the man to an inn – the closest thing to a hospital that existed at the time – but he also paid for the man’s expenses.

This story exemplifies the way a Scout is to be helpful.  A Scout should genuinely care about those around him – not just his friends and family, but all he comes in contact with.  A Scout should be willing to go out of his way to help others, and should be able to use Scouting skills, such as first aid, Scoutcraft, or leadership skills.  And, a Scout should not expect payment or reward for giving a helping hand.  This doesn’t mean that a Scout can’t do a job for pay, but it does mean that he shouldn’t expect payment for doing a good turn.  The satisfaction of having helped someone in need should be reward enough.

“A Scout is helpful,” like most of the values Scouting teaches, is firmly rooted in the Bible.  I firmly believe that the Biblical foundation of Scouting is one of the primary reasons the organization has continued to flourish into the 21st century.

A Scout is…Loyal

I was a Cub Scout for 3 years, and a Boy Scout for 7 years, earning my Eagle Scout award in 1979.  At the beginning of every Boy Scout meeting, we recited the Boy Scout Oath and Boy Scout Law.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the connection between the values of Scouting and the Bible.  Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, based the Scouting movement on Biblical principles.

This is part of a series of blogs examining the connection between the values of Scouting and the Bible.

A Scout is…Loyal

A Scout is loyal to those to whom loyalty is due.

The second point of the Scout Law is, “A Scout is loyal.”

Loyalty is often equated with loyalty with allegiance and faithfulness.  Webster defines the word “loyal” is thusly:

1: unswerving in allegiance: as

             a : faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government

             b : faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due

             c : faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product

The Bible has many examples of each of these kinds of loyalty.

Faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government

For the Christian, we must be faithful in our allegiance to our lawful sovereign – God.  In Exodus 20:3-5a, God spoke to Moses saying, ““You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”  Here, God commands our faithful allegiance to Him, and to Him alone.

Faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due

In 1 Corinthians 4:17, Paul writes, “For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.”    Who was Timothy, and how was he loyal to Paul?  Paul met Timothy at the time of Paul’s second visit to Lystra in Anatolia.  Timothy became a disciple of Paul, and went with Paul on his journeys through Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, Troas, Philippi, Veria, and Corinth.  Timothy’s loyalty to Paul is evidenced by his remaining with Paul throughout most of Paul’s travels, and by his ministering to Paul while he was imprisoned.  In 1 Timothy 1:2, most likely written shortly before Paul’s death, because of Timothy’s longtime loyalty, Paul refers to Timothy as “a beloved son.”    Throughout the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles, Timothy’s loyalty to Paul is extolled as virtuous.

Faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product

 The Bible contains many references to faithfulness toward such things.  In 2 Chronicles 31:11-12, faithfulness and loyalty to the Temple was commended.  In Nehemiah 13:13, faithfulness to the task of distributing provisions is applauded.  In Proverbs 14:5, loyalty to the truth is encouraged.  In the parable of the talents, the master praises the loyal servant for faithfully investing money.

When the Scout Law declares, “A Scout is loyal,” it builds upon the concepts of faithfulness and loyalty that are celebrated in the Bible.  The ultimate example of loyalty is God’s faithfulness towards His people.  Psalm 117:2 summarizes God’s loyalty and faithfulness:  “For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!”  In one of my favorite passages, God’s loyalty and faithful love toward those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior is concisely stated:  “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

A Christian is to model his or her loyalty after the loyalty and faithfulness of Jesus Christ.  The loyalty that a Scout is to demonstrate should imitate the loyalty and faithfulness that is commended in the Bible.

A Scout is Trustworthy

I have been involved with the Boy Scouts since I joined Cub Scouts in 1969.  At the beginning of every Boy Scout meeting, we recited the Boy Scout Oath and Boy Scout Law.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the connection between the values of Scouting and the Bible.  Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement, once said, “Scouting is nothing less than applied Christianity” – (Scouting & Christianity, 1917).  When asked where religion came into Scouting, Baden-Powell replied, “It does not come in at all. It is already there.  It is a fundamental factor underlying Scouting…” (Religion and the Boy Scout and Girl Guides Movement–an address, 1926).

This is the first in a series of blogs examining the connection between the values of Scouting and the Bible.

A Scout is Trustworthy

A Scout tells the truth.  He is honest, and he keeps his promises.  People can depend on him.

The first point of the Scout Law, “A Scout is trustworthy,” is a value firmly rooted in the Bible.

In the Bible, when men were needed for leadership positions, trustworthiness was a key qualification.  In Exodus 18, Moses was advised by his father-in-law Jethro to “…select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  Have them serve as judges for the people at all times…”  Nehemiah wrote, “All Judah brought the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil into the storerooms. I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and a Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the storerooms and made Hanan son of Zakkur, the son of Mattaniah, their assistant, because they were considered trustworthy. They were made responsible for distributing the supplies to their fellow Levites” (Nehemiah 13:12-13).

In Daniel 6:4, Daniel’s enemies could not find anything to accuse Daniel of, because they “could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”

The book of Proverbs frequently commends trustworthiness:

Proverbs 11:13 –  A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

Proverbs 12:22 – The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

Proverbs 13:17 –  A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy brings healing.

Proverbs 25:13 – Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.

Jesus also commends trustworthiness.  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12).

Along with trustworthiness, honesty is extolled in the Bible:

Leviticus 19:36 –  Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt.

2 Kings 12:15 – They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.

Proverbs 14:5 – An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.

Proverbs 16:11 – Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making.

Proverbs 16:13 –  Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right.

Acts 6:3 – Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Philippians 4:8 –  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Trustworthiness is but one of the many values shared by Christianity and the Boy Scouts.  God expects those who follow Jesus to be trustworthy and honest in their dealings with others.   Likewise, a Scout is expected to be trustworthy.  I believe that the fact that the Boy Scouts of America has continued to stand uncompromisingly on the Biblical principles upon which it was founded is the main reason Scouting has continued to flourish over the last 100 years.  I hope and pray that the organization continues to maintain these principles in the future.

Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Christian Response

Actor and Christian evangelist Kirk Cameron recently drew heavy criticism from the left after he called homosexuality “unnatural” and “ultimately destructive” during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.

The song, “It Should Have Been Obvious,” by The Choir also drew criticism from the right for Christian songwriter and drummer Steve Hindalong for these lyrics:

Yeah, that was me
The self-appointed
Judge of your own orientation
I studied law at the blind man’s school
Of cruel indoctrination

So, what does the Bible actually say about homosexuality?  And, how should Christians respond to homosexuality?

What Dos the Bible Actually Say?

When one reads the Bible in a direct, plain manner, it clearly defines homosexuality as a sin:

Leviticus 18:22 (NKJV) You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV) If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

Deuteronomy 23:17-18 (KJV) There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

1 Kings 14:24 (KJV) And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

Romans 1:26-27 (NKJV) For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

Some homosexual advocates will argue that some of the Greek and Hebrew terms actually mean something else.  This tactic is very similar to advocates of “old-earth” creationism arguing that a “day” in Genesis 1 can mean “long periods of time.”  Redefining a term to mean what you want it to mean, despite the fact that in context, the term clearly means something else, is illogical.  Let me give you an example, in a different context.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This says nothing about owning weapons.  The word “arms” usually means the two upper limbs of the human body from the shoulder to the hand.  Therefore, the Second Amendment forbids dismemberment, and says nothing about gun ownership.

If someone were to seriously argue this point, they would be rightfully called an ignorant fool.  In context, the term “arms” clearly refers to weapons and ammunition.  The vast majority of commentators on the Constitution, since the time the Bill of Rights was written, would agree, and I think most of my readers see how silly such an argument is.  So, why does it make sense to argue that the words translated as “homosexual” or “sodomite” in most English translations actually mean something else, despite the clear context, and the understanding of the vast majority of Hebrew and Greek scholars that say otherwise?  Twisting the words to make them seem to say something different does not change their actual intended meaning.

Whether anyone likes it, or not, the plain meaning of Scripture tells us that homosexuality is a sin.  In fact, any sexual relations outside of marriage is sin; and marriage is clearly defined in Scripture as being between one man and one woman for life.  The fact that the Bible records examples of polygamous marriages, divorce, and homosexuality does not mean the Bible condones these acts. Rather, it means that the Bible is brutally honest about the sin of mankind.

How Should Christians Respond to Homosexuality?

At least in popular thinking, Christians seem to be divided into two camps regarding homosexuality:  We either hold the condemning position of, “Homosexuality and homosexuals are evil,” or the compromised position of, “We should accept homosexuals and homosexuality as normal.”  Neither of these extreme positions is Biblical.

Most Christians and non-Christians alike can quote John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  But, how many can quote the next verse?  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Clearly, committing homosexual acts is sinful; but so are stealing, coveting, drunkenness, gluttony, gossip, and lying, to name but a few things.  The whole point of the Gospel is that, through the blood of Jesus, God wants to forgive our sin, and reconcile us to Him.  As Christians, we are not to condemn someone for sin; but neither are we to condone the sin.  It’s cliché, but we are to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.”  Homosexuality is ultimately no different than any other sin; it separates us from God, and messes up the relationships between people.  It’s not what God created us to be.  Sin of all kinds has messed up everything; Jesus Christ died to restore everything.

What about the idea that a “gay gene” exists that causes people to be homosexuals?  If such a gene actually exists (and the research I’ve read is extremely dubious, at best), would it mean that “since God makes people gay, then homosexuality can’t be a sin?”  Absolutely not!  In Genesis 3, humankind was cursed because of Adam and Eve’s sin.  The Bible makes it very clear that the Curse affected ALL of creation (Romans 8:20-23).  There has been 6,000 years’ worth of mutations that have built up in the human genome since the Curse – more if you’re an “old-earther” – and it’s entirely possible that a “gay gene” could have come about as a result of the effects of the Curse on genetics.  But, this does not mean that God created people to be gay.  Rather, it could mean that genetic homosexual tendencies entered the genome as the consequence of sin.  Genetics does not “force” people to act in a given way.  If a person did carry a “gay gene,” it would still be sinful to act on such tendencies.  Is this “fair?”  Probably not; the consequences of sin are never “fair,” at least from a human perspective.  It’s not “fair” that people have Downs Syndrome, or cancer, or get run over by a drunk driver.  God never intended life to be like this; it’s because of our sin that life is “unfair.”

How should the Christian respond to homosexuals?  The Biblical model is to love the person, but to not accept the sin.  In John chapter 8, a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus.  After her accusers had been shamed into leaving, Jesus was alone with the woman.  In verses 10-11, Jesus asked the woman, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”   She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  Notice that Jesus accepted the woman for who she was – a sinner.  He demonstrated love, compassion, and grace toward her.  But, He also refused to accept the sin as “normal.”  He told her to “go and sin no more.”

Christians should have love, compassion, and grace toward homosexuals.  But, we should never compromise and call sin “normal.”  In the case of a non-Christian, we should remember that our goal is to see a person come to faith in Jesus Christ, not just stop sinning.  First, it’s not possible to stop sinning; and secondly, even if it were possible, it wouldn’t restore the person’s broken relationship with God.  It wouldn’t save them from Hell.  Only through receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can a person be saved.  In the case of a recent convert, it often takes time for the person to respond to the conviction and leading of the Holy Spirit; it takes time to be healed of the consequences of sin.  Our goal would be to gently, lovingly help the person understand the Bible’s teaching, and to understand that the Holy Spirit can change them.  We need to be encouragers, not obstacles to God’s love and grace.  In the case of someone who has been a Christian for some time, but has refused to repent of the sin of homosexuality, the Bible provides guidelines for church discipline.  Treat the brother or sister who engages in homosexuality the same way as you would treat a Christian who refuses to repent of any other sin.  Ultimately, the goal is repentance and restoration, not condemnation.

Socially and politically, Christians need to stand up for righteousness and against sin; but, at the same time, it’s foolish to believe we can legislate morality in an immoral world.  Sin cannot be prevented through legislation; only the power of the blood of Jesus Christ can heal the homosexual person.  Yes, we need to fight for laws that promote Godliness and censure sin; but, this can never take the place of sharing the Gospel, with helping people come to a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who is the only true cure for sin, including homosexuality.

The Door-to-Door Bible Salesmen

A pastor determined that his church was getting into very severe financial troubles.  While checking the church basement, he discovered several cartons of brand new Bibles that had never been opened.

So during his Sunday sermon, he asked for three volunteers from the congregation who would sell the Bibles door-to-door for $10 each to raise the desperately needed funds for the church.

Ralph, Thomas and Eddie all raised their hands to volunteer for the job.

The pastor knew that Ralph and Thomas were professional salesmen and were quite able to sell some Bibles. But he had serious reservations about Eddie, who had always kept to himself because he was embarrassed by his speech impediment. Poor Eddie stuttered badly. But, not wanting to discourage Eddie, the pastor decided to let him try anyway.

He sent the three of them away with cases of Bibles. He asked them to meet with him and report the results of their door-to-door selling efforts the following Sunday.

Anxious to find out how effective they were, the pastor asked Ralph, “Well, Ralph, how did you do selling our Bibles last week?”

Proudly handing the pastor an envelope, Ralph replied, “Using my sales expertise, I was able to sell 20 Bibles, and here’s the $200 I collected in support of the church.”

“Fine job, Ralph!” the pastor said, energetically shaking his hand.
“You are indeed a fine salesman and the Church is indebted to you.”
Turning to Thomas, “And Thomas, how many Bibles did you sell for the
Church last week?”

Thomas, smiling and sticking out his chest, proudly replied, “I am a professional salesman… I sold 28 Bibles for the church, and here’s $280 I collected.”

The pastor responded, “That’s quite impressive, Thomas. You are truly an expert salesman and the church is grateful to you.”

Uneasily, the pastor turned to Eddie and said, “And Eddie, did you manage to sell any Bibles last week?” Eddie handed the pastor a large envelope. The pastor opened it and counted the contents. “What is this? Eddie, there’s $3200 in here! Are you telling me that you sold 320 Bibles for the church, door to door, in just one week?”

Eddie just nodded.

That’s preposterous!” Ralph and Thomas exclaimed. “We’re professional salesmen, yet you claim to have sold 10 times as many Bibles as we could.”

“Yes, this does seem dubious,” the pastor agreed. “I think you’d better explain how you managed to achieve this, Eddie.”

Eddie shrugged. “I-I-I re-re-really do-do-don’t kn-kn-know f-f-f-for sh-sh-sh-sure,” he stammered.

Impatiently, Ralph interrupted. “For crying out loud, Eddie, just tell us what you said to them when they answered the door!”

“A-a-a-all I-I-I s-s-said wa-wa-was,” Eddie replied,
“W-w-w-w-would y-y-y-you l-l-l-l-l-like t-t-to b-b-b-buy th-th-th-this b-b-b-b-Bible f-f-for t-t-ten b-b-b-bucks ——o-o-o-or——– wo-wo-would yo-you j-j-j-just l-like m-m-me t-t-to st-st-stand h-h-here and r-r-r-r-r-read it t-to y-y-you??”

5 Reasons We Need to Rebrand Evangelism – Part 5

In a January 13, 2012 article posted on christianpost.com, guest columnist Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries listed 5 reasons why the practice of evangelism needs to be “rebranded.”

This is the last of a 5-part series where I have examined and evaluated each of the five reasons listed.

5. There is a real need.

We must rebrand evangelism because we are living in a world in desperate need of Jesus and evangelism is the portal through which we share the person of Jesus with others. Whether it be the angst of “cutting” or the desperation of suicidal thoughts or the cul-de-sac of American greed the gospel provides the solution to the deepest needs of the human soul. We must do what it takes to reframe evangelism as good news in a bad world, as light in the midst of darkness, as peace in a world of chaos.

Rebranding the word “evangelism” does not start with a campaign or a commercial. It starts with you and me, lovingly, gently, relationally and relentlessly sharing the good news with those within our reach.

We live in a world full of turmoil.  Wars in the Middle East; genocide in Darfur; Joseph Kony in Uganda; the Tea Party and Occupy movements in the United States; tsunamis, earthquakes, and tornados; crumbling economies, terrorists, and human trafficking worldwide.  The world is crying out for peace, but there is no peace.  The world has proposed numerous solutions to the violence, suffering, and hatred, but none has ever succeeded in bringing true peace.

What the world needs is Jesus.

Not a religion, or a worldview, or a political or economic program.  We desperately need a restored relationship with the Creator of the universe.

God created this world as a perfect paradise, but mankind destroyed it by rebelling against our Creator.  Sin began 6,000 years ago with Adam and Eve; it has continued since then in every single person who has ever lived, except one:  Jesus Christ.  Sin is ultimately the root cause of all pain, suffering, conflict, greed, war, starvation, and death; and Jesus Christ is the only cure for sin.

Evangelism has become a dirty word in today’s culture.  The unsaved see evangelism as coercing people into religious bigotry and intolerance.  Many Christians see it as a disruption to their comfortable lifestyles.  The word “evangelism” must be rebranded to convey the love of God to a dying world through Jesus Christ.  Look at the people you see every day, at school, at work, at the grocery store.  Most of them are bound for an eternity separated from God in Hell.  Separated from all that is good, all that is beautiful, all that is loving.  Evangelism is God reaching out to these lost people with the good news of the Gospel.  Jesus Christ died to take away sin and its consequences.  All a person must do to be saved is to receive the gift of God’s grace through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  However, how can a person receive that which they have not yet heard?  Or respond to a message they have not yet understood?  How can the lost hear and understand the Gospel, unless Christians get out of their recliners, out of their comfort zones, and tell others about Jesus?

Yes, the word “evangelism” needs to be rebranded.  The concept has become warped and has lost its true meaning.  Evangelism and the Gospel must be restored to their true, original meaning – sharing the good news of the love and grace Jesus Christ to a dying world.

I agree completely with Greg Stier – “Rebranding the word ‘evangelism’ does not start with a campaign or a commercial. It starts with you and me, lovingly, gently, relationally and relentlessly sharing the good news with those within our reach.”

5 Reasons We Need to Rebrand Evangelism – Part 4

In a January 13, 2012 article posted on christianpost.com, guest columnist Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries listed 5 reasons why the practice of evangelism needs to be “rebranded.”

This is the fourth of a 5-part series where I will examine and evaluate each of the five reasons listed.

4. This generation is looking for meaning and Biblical evangelism provides it.

The goal of Biblical evangelism is to engage the lost, not enrage them. It is the process of sharing the good news, asking questions, listening deeply and making “a case for Christ” with humility and love. This is what the Apostle Paul was getting at when he wrote to his young protege’ in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”  In a way Paul was seeking to rebrand evangelism even in his day. He reminded Timothy that it wasn’t about winning an argument but wooing a soul to Christ.

Young people today are hungry for purpose and meaning in their lives.  They’ve grown up in a culture that has told them that they are the chance product of evolution, a meaningless natural force devoid of purpose.  According to research by the Pew Research Center, 18% of Americans under the age of 30 describe their faith as “nothing in particular.”  They are looking for meaning in their lives, but not finding it.  Many jump from one “cause” or religion to another, and develop a mismatched set of beliefs acquired from many sources.  The philosophy of relativism has taught them that all beliefs are equally valid; therefore, none are actually true.

This worldview clashes with what the Bible tells us.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John14:6).  The truth of the Gospel message, in part, is that the meaning and purpose for life that was lost at the Fall can only be restored through Jesus Christ.  Young people today value meaningful relationships.  No relationship can be more meaningful than a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Too often, when Christians try to share the Gospel with a lost person, it turns into an argument.  The Christian argues that the Bible is the truth; the lost person argues it is not.  While apologetic arguments are often valuable in answering the questions people have, at other times, they can become a hindrance.  Many times, the lost need to experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ through their relationships with Christians, not hear another argument.  This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp, since I came to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of apologetic arguments.  However, the culture and worldview of young people has radically changed since I was saved in 1979.  There is far more emphasis today on experiences than on logical reasoning.  As a result, the apologetic arguments that worked well in evangelizing the baby boomer generation are less effective in trying to reach Millennials.

Consider how Jesus evangelized.  In John 4:4-26, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  Rather than giving a rational presentation of the Gospel message, Jesus starts by building a relationship with her, despite the cultural taboos against such a relationship.  Only after showing the woman grace and love does he explain grace and love to her.  Many young people today are much like this woman.  They need to see the change a relationship with Jesus Christ can have in the life of the Christian before they are able to hear the Gospel message.

Evangelism based on the fiery preaching of Peter in Acts 2, and the rational arguments of Paul in Acts 17, worked well in previous generations; the relational method used by Jesus is usually more effective today.  Unfortunately, many Christians have been slow to change their methods for evangelism to meet the changing culture.  This does not mean we change the message; only the delivery should change.  Nor does it mean we abandon the old methods completely, but rather, that we adapt them to more effectively reach the lost of the current generation.  It also means that we need to look ahead to the next generation that will arise, and adapt more quickly to methods that will enable us to effectively reach them as well.

The rebranding of evangelism in part means adapting how the timeless truth of the Gospel is communicated in order to win the souls of the lost of this and future generations.

Who Would Jesus Vote For?

There is a deep ideological divide in the United States today.  Since this is a Presidential election year, this divide is becoming more evident every day.  The “hot button” issues include abortion, gay rights, war, unemployment, religious freedom, immigration, health care, taxation, business ethics, terrorism, women’s rights, and education, plus many other issues.  One major party portrays themselves as the champions of the poor, the oppressed, and the middle class.  The other portrays themselves as the champions of free enterprise and morality.  Other smaller parties champion liberty, globalism, limited government, or environmental responsibility.  All politicians and political parties believe their platform, their beliefs, their worldview, is the answer to America’s problems.

Who would Jesus vote for?

My belief is, none of the above.

Despite the belief by many evangelicals that Jesus was a Republican, and the belief by many mainline Christians that Jesus was a Democrat, Jesus was neither; nor was he a Libertarian, a Socialist, a Green Partier, a Tea Partier, or an Occupier.

There is a common flaw with all political parties.  All political parties are based on the faulty presupposition that the political process can solve America’s problems.   All political parties believe that if enough people believe and behave the same way they do, then they will be able to create a culture that eliminates most, if not all, of the evils we face as Americans.

This is a lie from the pit of Hell.

No political party can solve America’s problems, because the root cause of every problem in America is not political; it’s spiritual.  The cause of every problem faced by humanity is sin.  No political party or politician will ever have a solution for sin.  The only solution for sin is Jesus Christ.

According to the Bible, sin began when Adam rebelled against God.  Each of us has inherited a sin nature from our distant grandfather, Adam.  The Apostle Paul tells us, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many” (Romans 5:12, 15).  Only through the blood of Jesus Christ can sin be removed;  the perfect combination of God and Man, who never sinned, took mankind’s sin upon Himself, and paid the penalty for our sin with His own blood.  All we must do to receive this forgiveness is to believe in Him, and receive the gift of forgiveness and grace He offers.

Jesus Christ is the only solution for sin, and since sin is the root cause of every problem and evil in the world, Jesus Christ is the only solution for our problems.  This is why no political candidate or party, no system of government, and nothing human beings can do, can ever solve the issues we face.  Politics is based on the faulty belief that human beings can solve our own problems.  God says we cannot.

Who would Jesus vote for?  I believe, nobody.

Who should Christians vote for?

Although I believe my reasoning is based on Biblical principles, the following is just my personal opinion.  I think it is important that Christians exercise their right to vote.  I also believe that no political party represents the Biblical position.  I believe Christians should vote for whoever will:  A) allow Christians to worship and evangelize most freely, both in public and in private; and B) support a Biblical model for morality.  There are other issues as well, but in my opinion, these are the two biggest issues.  I also believe it is important for Christians to remember that Jesus was not a Republican, nor a Democrat; nor was He affiliated with any human organization.  Vote for the person, not the party.  When possible, vote for a Christian who loves and walks with the Lord; when this is not an option, vote for the person who supports freedom of religion and Biblical morality.

Christian:  Be informed about the candidates and the issues.  Be involved in the political debate and process.  And vote.  But, do not put your faith in any human institution; only put your faith in Jesus Christ.

Kali’s Story (fiction)

Kali was getting frustrated.  Usually, Daisy was a very solid plow animal, but today she seemed nervous and jittery.  Kali scanned the surrounding landscape for any signs of predators.  Large three-horned lizards like Daisy usually ignored all but the largest lizard-kind predators or the ones that traveled in packs, but Kali couldn’t see or hear any signs of them.  In fact, it seemed unusually quiet; he didn’t hear the usual chirping of birds, or the chattering of monkeys.  The skies were blue, with only a few clouds on the horizon, so it didn’t seem to be an impending storm that was causing Daisy to act so strangely.

A lot of things had been rather strange around the village in the shallow valley below Kali’s farm lately.  That crazy old man had finally finished building his enormous boat.  It was almost two hundred paces long, and seven or eight times as tall as he was.  The nutty old geezer who built it was probably six hundred years old, and he’d been building that boat and preaching about God’s judgment for over a hundred years.  In fact, the very field Kali was attempting to plow had been cleared of trees about fifty years earlier in order to provide lumber for the old man.  What a crazy old coot, he thought.  There wasn’t a body of water large enough to float that monstrosity within five days travel from here!

The really weird thing was the animals.  Over the last few weeks, thousands of animals had been seen wandering across the countryside, heading straight for the old man’s boat.  Most were common animals Kali had seen before, like bears, cattle, long-necked behemoths, and elephants.  However, there were also many that he’d never seen, that came up from the swamps by the sea, down out of the hills, or from the forests in the regions beyond.  Kali thought it was odd that all of the animals were young, barely at the breeding age, and were always seen in pairs, one male, and one female.  They walked right to the boat, up the ramp, and through the single door at the top of the ramp.  He also thought it was peculiar that the door was always open; the old man never closed it, even when the mobs were surrounding the structure, threatening to take the boat by force and kill the old man’s entire family.

The old man and his family had been buying up all the grain and other foods they could get their hands on, and loading it on the boat.  The reason Kali was replanting so early in the season was because he’d sold everything he’d grown to the man’s sons.  He’d gotten them to pay a lot more than the usual price, too.  They tried to convince Kali to come aboard the ship, telling him that a great flood was coming, and that God was going to judge the world for their wickedness.  Kali shook his head and laughed out loud.  What a bunch of idiots!  They were over a week’s travel from the sea; how could there possibly be a flood?  And why would God destroy him?  He wasn’t like those really evil men that went around burning fields, stealing, and killing villagers.  Sure, he’d done many bad things during his life, like the old man preached, but no worse than anyone else; and in fact he did a lot less bad things than most.  At least he’d left the old man alone, rather than trying to kill him, like the mob in the village had tried to do again last month.  Kali had really thought they’d finally get him this time, but something – some kind of wind, maybe – had kept them from setting the boat on fire, along with the old man and his family inside.

Kali continued to try to get Daisy to settle down.  Three-horned lizards were usually much steadier than cattle as plow animals, and much stronger, but Daisy was definitely very uneasy about something.  Suddenly, Kali couldn’t control her any longer.  She broke free of the plow, and bolted across the field, faster than Kali had ever seen a three-horn run before, in the direction of the hills.  Before he could take chase, he suddenly felt the ground begin to shake, the wind began to blow, and he heard a low rumbling sound in the distance behind him.

Turning toward the sound, he stared at the horizon, trying to make sense of the scene he now saw.  Dark, thick storm clouds were quickly rising in the distance, moving rapidly in his direction.  Kali had never seen clouds move so fast.  There was what appeared to be a wall of something – he couldn’t make it out – also moving toward him.  As the ground began to shake more violently, and the wind became stronger, Kali struggled to remain on his feet.  What was happening?  As the sky darkened all around him, and the rain began to fall, Kali scrutinized the village and the old man’s boat below him.  Another mob surrounded the boat, but this time, the door of the boat appeared to be closed.  Instead of sounding angry, the mob sounded – terrified?  And what was that wall of – something – that moved ever so much closer?

Kali stumbled to the ground.  The earth continued to shake, and the rain began to fall in sheets harder than Kali had ever seen before.  He could no longer see the village through the rain.  He wanted to run for shelter, but the ground shook so violently, and the wind was blowing so hard, that there was no way he could go anywhere.  The sound became deafening.

Then it happened.

A wall of water, higher than Kali could see, swept over him.  As he bobbed to the surface, Kali gasped for air.  The last thing he saw before losing consciousness was the old man’s enormous boat, just a few yards away, but hopelessly impossible to enter.

5 Reasons We Need to Rebrand Evangelism – Part 3

In a January 13, 2012 article posted on christianpost.com, guest columnist Greg Stier of Dare 2 Share Ministries listed 5 reasons why the practice of evangelism needs to be “rebranded.”

This is the third of a 5-part series where I will examine and evaluate each of the five reasons listed.

3. The gospel is ultimately a love story, not hate speech.

God kneels in the mud to breathe into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life. The first thing Adam sees when he awakens is the smiling, muddy face of his Creator. God then performs surgery on Adam and transforms his rib into his bride. God got muddy and bloody to make Adam and Eve. Then humanity rebelled and broke God’s heart while severing the relationship. But Jesus, the lover of our souls, would not be disuaded. He got dirty again to come to this earth and be born in a food trough for smelly barn animals. He got bloody again, but this time it was his own blood, not Adam’s. Jesus died to restore the shattered relationship. This love story is one of romance (walking in the garden hand in hand in the cool of the day), break ups (getting expelled from the garden), sacrifice, surrender and, of course, the ultimate “and they lived happily ever after.”

The rebranding of evangelism needs to happen because too often Christians have communicated a “gospel” that is really no gospel at all (See Galatians 1:6-9.) It’s been more about what we are against than who is for us (Romans 8:31-38.) It’s been more about rules than the possibility of a restored relationship through faith in Jesus Christ (Titus 3:5.)

Brother Jed Smock

Every spring when I was a student at Ohio State University in the 1980s, as soon as the weather warmed up, Brother Jed Smock (http://www.brojed.org/) would show up on the Oval, and so would the skeptics.  Both were ready to do battle.

Sister Cindy Smock

Brother Jed and his wife Sister Cindy would preach messages against homosexuals, atheists, liberals, pre-marital sex, long hair, interracial dating, immodest clothing, and rock music.  The skeptics would mock and laugh, yelling out obscenities, which would invariably provoke the preachers to cry out, “Abomination!  Sinner!  Repent!”  Often, over a hundred people would surround the preachers.  A handful would actively debate and/or scream at the preachers; most just came for the show.  The spectacle would go on for a week or two, then Brother Jed would move on to another campus.  Today, Brother Jed and Sister Cindy still show up every spring.  To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever been saved as a result of listening to Brother Jed – except for Sister Cindy.

Jed Smock

To many non-Christians, when they think of evangelism, they think of people like Brother Jed and Sister Cindy Smock.  As a result, they view Christianity as a hateful religion full of bigoted idiots.

The words evangelism and Gospel derive from the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, euangelion, meaning “good news” (eu- “good”, -angelion “message”).  What is this good news?  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,

John 3:16 adds, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  This is the essence of the Gospel:  Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected.  Whoever trusts in Jesus will have eternal life.

Jed Smock

Is the message preached by Jed and Cindy Smock the Gospel?  Rather than focusing on the “good news” of trusting that Jesus died for our sins, and receiving forgiveness, these kinds of “evangelists” focus on the “bad news” of sin and condemnation.  Jesus said in John 3:17, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”  Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  The Greek word πραΰτητος can be translated as meekness or gentleness; the word φόβου is usually translated as fear, but can also mean respect.  Preachers like Smock do not preach with meekness and fear, but with pride and arrogance.  They do not preach the love of the Gospel of Christ, but hateful, harmful condemnation.  Paul states in Galatians 1:8, “but even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”  The so-called “gospel” of condemnation preached by Smock is a “different Gospel” than the grace and forgiveness preached by Paul and Jesus.


How can Christians “rebrand” evangelism?  Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about idiots like Jed and Cindy Smock, or Fred Phelps, Terry Jones, and others who preach condemnation and legalism rather than grace and forgiveness.  The best we can do is to distance ourselves as much as possible from the un-Christlike hatemongers, and preach the Gospel “with meekness and fear.”  The Gospel is ultimately God’s love story.  God created us so we could love Him.  We rejected His love (Genesis 3:16).  God sacrificed His only Son in order to provide an opportunity to restore that love relationship.  He patiently extends that love and forgiveness to each of us, knowing that same will return to Him, but others will continue to spurn Him.  Ultimately, all who choose to receive His forgiveness and love will spend eternity in His loving presence; those who reject Him will spend eternity apart from His love.  This is what evangelism is all about – telling others about God’s love story.  This is what Smock and others like him have missed.