In a Fog About What You Believe?

There is an old saying that if there is a mist in the pulpit there is a fog in the pew. The meaning is simply that if the preacher is not 100% sure what he is trying to say and how to say it then the people will have no clue what he just said and why he said it.

Ronnie Ding tells the story: after a church service, the pastor shook hands with members of his congregation, and one of them commented on his sermon, saying “Pastor, you are smarter than Albert Einstein.”
The pastor was surprised and flattered by that statment, but he didn’t know how to respond. In fact, the more he thought about the comment, the more mystified he was by it. He couldn’t sleep properly for a week!
The following Sunday, he finally asked the member what he meant by it.
“You see,” the man responded, “Albert Einstein wrote something so difficult that only ten persons could understand him at that time. But when you preached, no one could understand you.”

Speaking of Albert Einstein – he once said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough.”

Ah! Here is the problem with most of us who want to go out witnessing telling others about Jesus. It is also the issue when we look at those who do go out and tell others about the Lord. We simply do not know the Gospel nor the culture (target audience) well enough to speak in such as way as to connect and be understood.

We need to study the Gospel inside and out. It is our only message. We need to know ten to fifteen different ways to explain it depending on the person we are with and the situation we find ourselves in. We need we read books on reaching others and sharing the faith. We need to really know what it is we are attempting to communicate – looking at it from all angles and deeply understanding these profound truths so that we can present them in a simple to understand way without using a lot of Church words. This takes time and a serious investment of money and effort.

We need to practice explaining the Gospel out loud so we hear ourselves do it and actually hear what we are saying and how it is sounding. We need to practice fishing. We need to connect with another believer and share the gospel with one another receiving input as to how we are coming across. We simply need to become comfortable speaking the Gospel out loud. It may make sense when you are “preaching” to yourself in your head but do not assume that this means it will make sense when you are sharing it out loud with someone else. It seldom translates.

And, it would not hurt to do some reading in the area of apologetics. Yes, more money, time and effort. In today’s culture (world) people are asking questions – good questions – and we, as believers and followers of Jesus, must be able to correctly and properly answer their questions (this is the field of study known as apologetics). And, do so without being defensive or offensive.

I personally am continually reading books on soul winning and evangelism. I look at and often purchase many of the newest books on the market. Going on the internet many of the bookstores now have a system of allowing you to read reviews, see the table of contents, and sometimes even read a chapter before purchasing the book. I also read widely on the culture in which we find ourselves. When going overseas I find history books on the country I am going to visit as well as other available literature about the culture (a lot is on-line) so that I am familiar with the background and cultural context of the nation or region I am going to be ministering in. With the constantly changing landscape of culture here in North America I am constantly browsing through magazines and books (biographies, best sellers and self-help areas of the local Chapters store -over a Starbucks coffee) to keep in touch with my own nation and the people I am trying to reach for the Lord.

This is the work of the Church and of every true believer and follower of the Lord. This is the mandate the Lord left us – for each believer to reach non-believers with the Gospel. No cost is too great to do it. Jesus said, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men. In the natural, people spend money on boats and fishing equipment so they can catch fish. It is no different when fishing for men. It will cost each and every believer a great deal to do as the Lord commands.

As one who drives a lot of foggy roads in the spring and fall … I believe it is worth the effort to be able to communicate clearly so that everyone can see and understand.

Three Simple Questions to Ask

If you are building a relationship with someone you don’t know and want to move that relationship into high gear quickly … moving away from talk about the weather and sports … If you want to get to know someone quickly then ask them three questions – answers to these questions will give you great insights into people’s hearts…

Question #1: What do you dream about?

People are often willing to share what they dream about. They dream of retiring (they are only 33) which means a safe assumption is they are bored with their job… good jump in to move the conversation forward. They dream of getting away from the cold and permanently moving somewhere warm which would lead me to ask what their family thought of this idea (good depth producer here). You get the idea – people’s dreams (hopes) about what they want in life can reveal a great deal about them if we listen with our hearts and heads and ask appropriate questions. We can certainly find a place to share Jesus with them if we will do this.

Question #2: What do you sing about?

You are asking them what they are happy about in their lives. What are they celebrating? It may be the season’s tickets they just bought to the home games for the local football team. It may be the swimming pool they just had built in their back yard. A new home they are purchasing / building. So, if that is what they are rejoicing (are happy) about – join them in their song. This might just give you an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

Question #3: What do you cry about?

What currently in your life is causing you pain – emotional, mental or physical pain. Be prepared – if you ask this question be prepared to hear some fairly deep pain and emotion about that pain. Everyone “crys” about something on a daily basis. Life is not without its pain, challenges, setbacks, and relational disasters. Enter into where they are hurting by being a good listener and you will certainly have an opportunity to be like Jesus for them and maybe even share Him with them.

Three simply questions – word them differently if you are more comfortable with different wording – that help open the doors to a person’s heart and mind rather quickly. Good questions to remember. Ask them with genuine care and listen in love. God will open the doors each time for you to share Jesus with them because God wills that all people be saved.

Knowing and Understanding

If we are to win the lost and fulfill the call upon every believer’s life to “go into all (their) world…” we need to know and understand.

Chales F. Kettering is quoted as saying, “There is a great deal of difference between knowing and understanding. You can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”

The first thing we need to know and understand is the good news that we have to share. Many who calls themselves believers or Christians are not for they really do not know the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. They are church attenders and religious people. Good citizens and nice people but they do not truly “know” the gospel personally so we would not want them evangelizing.

Many believers “know” enough to actually be saved but do not “know” how to share what they “know” with others. They do not really “understand” the gospel at any depth. They could not speak it out in a way that would make sense to another person, a non-believer. They really have not given much thought to sharing it or how they would go about expressing what they “know” to be truth. So, they too do not truly “understand” it well enough to share it in a way that others around them would “understand” and then “know” it is the truth.

There are some believers who have spent the time and made the effort to both “know” and “understand” and have patiently practiced sharing the gospel with others until they are now decent at presenting the good news that Jesus saves. But still they are not seeing people come to know the Lord in spite of all their hard work.

This is because there is a second level of “know” and “understand.” Again the quote…

Chales F. Kettering is quoted as saying, “There is a great deal of difference between knowing and understanding. You can know a lot about something and not really understand it.”

Along with “knowing” and “understanding” the gospel it is very important to “know” and “understand” the person you are trying to share it with. This relates to knowing and understanding the age group you are working with, their interests, what they believe in general, how they view life, and what their worldview is. Are they old enough to hve a ‘Christian consciousness’ or are they totally void of any reference (heart or head) to the Bible, Jesus, and the Church?

It is important that we “know” those with whom we hope to share the Gospel. However, this takes more than reading books and studying about the qualities and beliefs of a certain group or age bracket. We must also listen to them so that we truly “understand” them; how they view life and what their unique personal concerns are at the time you are wanting to share with them. “Know” – yes. “Understand” – absolutely essential. And hard work. Listening so you can “understand” always is. But it is also rewarding.

If you want to be a believer who is following Jesus and thus becoming a “fisher of men” as He promised, then you need to “know” and “understand” both the message and your method of sharing the message. The latter is dependant upon the person or group you are planning to speak with. So, you also need to “know” and “understand” them as well.

Welcome to an effective ministry of evangelism.

Spiritually Dead Churches

Here are some clues to determine whether your local church is spiritually dead and thus needs to experience either a burial or a resurrection…

They have lost their sense of mission to those who have not heard about Jesus Christ and thus, as individuals making up this local expression of the church, do not weep for the lost or hunger to fulfill the Great Commission. Seeking and saving the lost simply is not on the daily radar. Read more

A Ressurrected Church…

As I preach here and overseas in Eastern Europe I often say that we should stop praying for revival. To revive means to breathe life into that which is dead. If the Church is dead – do what you do with dead things – bury it. And, in this case, then pray for a resurrection. We don’t need a revival – we need an honest-to-goodness resurrection from spiritual death. Jesus said, “If a grain of wheat is planted and dies…”

To resurrect a spiritually dead church so that it becomes the church of my dreams three things need to happen according to Bill Easum… Read more

F.O.R.M. Will Start an Evangelistic Opportunity

I am an introvert. Those who see me minister don’t believe this about me but it is true. I have simply, over the years, learned how to be extroverted when ministering and wherever necessary. But, my basic personality is an extreme introvert. I prize quiet time alone where I can read and write, journal and pray and thus recharge my personal internal batteries. Lie on my bed in the presence of God and hear His voice.

However, in spite of that, when I am out and about doing daily life – filling the car with gas, grocery shopping, banking, walking the dog – I work hard at coming out of my introvertedness (is there even such a word?) and being open and friendly with people I come into contact with. I do more than look for openings – I make them. I start conversations with almost every person I am able to – clerks, others at the same checkout counter or cash till, the bank teller, people walking dogs … I find ways to start a conversation and keep that conversation interesting and moving forward. Often I have opportunity to speak about Jesus with these people. Maybe it does not happen the first time but if you use the same gas station, the same bank, the same grocery store, the same path to walk your dog you find yourself running in to the same people over and over again. So, you can build on what you have learned or said the times before.

As an introvert I have learned some simple “tricks” to get things started. One of them that comes naturally is found in the acrostic of the word “form”… I simply remember the word “form” and ask questions centered around this word… (This idea was picked up from a book by Ron Puryear)

F – Family – everyone has one and most people are thrilled to have someone ask about their family.
O – Occupation – even retired people do something in their life – and as a job (volunteer or paid) takes up a substantial part of every person’s life this is a good place to go in the conversation.
R – Recreation – almost everyone does something for exercise and to unwind. In my neighborhood there are many homes with large boats parked in front or out back … be observant and ask about what they do in their free time.
M – Message – Everyone has something on their heart to share. A cause they believe deeply in, a group they belong to, even something they believe is a “life cause” that they have dedicated time to (the environment, hockey moms, the local SPCA, Save the Whales…).

As an introvert I often simply remember “form” and move forward initiating a conversation with one or more of these four topics. These allow me to get them talking about their favorite subject – themselves. And, it allows me to find or make openings to talk about my favourite subject – Jesus!

Preach the Gospel – Not Plant a Church

I have had a prophetic sense for some months now – in fact, almost a year – that we are entering a season of extensive and extreme evangelism. That the focus of the Church will be, and in some cases already is, focusing outwards towards the lost and no longer just inward upon the membership. This will be true not just for key churches that are known for being on the cutting edge – but all churches that have any God-life left in them no matter how small a flicker it may have become. Read more

Present Jesus Among the People

I have this prophetic sense – now almost several years old – that we are in for a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit in the realm of evangelism that will infiltrate cultures around the world with the life-changing message of the Gospel of salvation.

I have this prophetic sense – that as we “Gospel plant” (see the last posting on “Prophetic Sense”) we will do things different than we have in the past when we have been “Church planting.” Read more

An Apostolic Team Is Needed to Gospel Plant

If we are hoping to Gospel plant and not Church plant we will need to take serious the role of apostles and prophets in this new move of the Holy Spirit. My prophetic sense is that the Church worldwide is about to seek out and receive a tremendous revelation of the role and ministry of apostles and prophets in bringing the Gospel to the world. For too long we have been winning souls and planting churches under the leadership of “Church planters” or pastors and teachers. At best, we plant churches facilitated by the ministry of an evangelist. So, we have been working with three of the five ministries set out for us in the New Testament (Ephesians 4:11 and the book of Acts). And, this has hindered the effectiveness of our work for the Kingdom. Read more

Pastor Claudia

Pastor Claudia sent her small testimony about how much she was blessed at the Ralph Howe Ministries seminar on the Gifts of God.

I (our interpreter) am quoting her:
Before I came to Kirovograd my spiritual condition was almost critical and I had a heavy pressure of pastorship especially the fact that I didn’t see obvious success and because of that I started to doubt whether I’m on the right place doing the right thing.

I’m thankful to God for Ralph’s ministry through which lots of things became more clear. Especially I’m thankful to God for the prophetic word that I received into my life. After returning home I began praying using the words from prophecy and also pray in tongues. I literally see and feel how streams of pure water run down from mountain tops and water the soil of my heart. I sense a new flow of energy within me and my confidence
grows now and most of anything in the world is – I want to be in His will! Nothing specific has happened yet but I believe that changes are coming.Please forward Ralph my sincerest gratitude and my wishes of abundant blessings over his life.

Bless you,