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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I pray you may be active in sharing your faith...

The book of Philemon is a wonderful letter. I've been reading it lately with one of the students at church and we have both been suprised and encouraged by Paul's letter to Philemon. Amongst other things, Paul prays this for Philemon:

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. (Philemon 6)

This is a remarkable statement - evangelism causes you to grow as a Christian. Is this true in your experience? In what ways do we grow? Here are some possibilities:

- Evangelism sharpens your mind. As we evangelise to our friends and family often we are confronted with questions that we have not thought through and considered. A commitment to these relationships and the desire to see people come to know Christ causes us to seek out answers and become clearer in thought and speech about gospel truths

- Evangelism softens your heart. As we tell people the great news of Jesus the reality of hell for our friends and family is very confronting. This softens our hearts and causes us to long for people to be resuced from an eternity without God to be able to join us in fellowship with Jesus in the new creation.

- Evangelism puts calluses on our faith. As you evangelise your faith becomes more and more robust. To begin with when you speak the gospel to people and they shut you down its a real let down. You can start to question your faith. Why won't people believe? But as we continue to reflect on the scriptures we realise that to some we are the stench of death (2 Cor 2:14-16) and we ought to expect the world to reject us, our faith becomes more resilient - God is teaching us to endure persecution.

- Evangelism helps you to be thankful. As we teach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to people we can see how fortunate we are that God has chosen us. What a humbling thought that is! While we could easily be people who are under the wrath of God, we are justified, sanctified, made right with the almighty creator of the universe through the blood of the Lamb, the servant King, Jesus. Don't forget to be thankful to God for this amazing gift of life.

- Evangelism causes us to depend on God. At the moment I'm reading the gospel of Mark with an unbeliever. He wants to find out about Jesus and comes each week with an eagerness to learn about Christ. Each week we talk though the passage, he can see and understand what it means, but he is not able to put his trust in Jesus yet. Each time I walk away from the coffee shop praying that God will change his heart because in the act of evangelism I realise that it is only God who can change people's hearts.

Anyway... ramblings that i hope you find encouraging... I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Sam and Prue

Saturday, August 05, 2006

6 in the house...

Well... it's Saturday night and we're watching a brainless episode of the Simpsons before settling down to watch the Swans trounce the Dons on TV. But before we do I thought we'd drop a blog about the last 24 hours. We had the privilege of spending 24 hours with the McPhail family - Jason, Paula, Ethan and Ezekiel. So last night 6 of us spent the night in our very small unit. It was pretty tight but very luxurious - after all it is the Newy Hilton.

Unfortunately, it was probably the only day in the year that the weather wasn't perfect in Newcastle but we still had the chance to get out and see the sights... that is in the very small window of time you have between the kids sleeps. It is actually quite amazing how much kids sleep. It's such a good life! Sleep, eat, play and then do it all again!
It's a constant challenge seeing friends give up everything materialistic, and not only the materialistic but remove themselves from relationships and family, in order to go overseas to speak about Jesus. Jason and Paula are a great example of people taking up their cross to follow their Lord and Saviour - filled with joy!
This shouldn't be the abnormal Christian experience but the norm. Jesus' mission was to do the work that his Father set him to do. That is, the work of salvation. As disciples of Jesus, sent by the Son, we ought to be people who are testifying to the work of Jesus, offering forgiveness to people we mix with.

John 20:21-23 - Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."