Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

December 3rd, 2015

Know Your Culture

“So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.’” Acts 17:22-23 (ESV)

We are called to be evangelists, as followers of Christ, proclaiming the “good news” wherever an opportunity arises. The nature of this work changes in different environments and cultures as the perceived needs that the gospel speaks to are different. For instance, the way you would present the gospel in the middle of an impoverished, third-world country may be different from the way you would present the gospel to a professor on the campus of Oxford. I am not saying here that the message changes from place to place, by no means! The cross of Christ and His subsequent resurrection always should form the center of our message, but how that message of hope impacts us as individuals certainly varies within cultures. We are speaking here of relevance.

Paul took this principle of relevance to heart in his missionary journeys, as evidenced in his encounter with the people of Athens in Acts 17. Paul studied the culture of Athens. He knew the “Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21 ESV). He also knew that the Greeks prided themselves on their ability to discuss at length matters of philosophy and religion. So, as he begins sharing the gospel on the Areopagus, Paul recognizes his need to speak into the particular culture of Athens while also presenting a distinct message about Christ. He does so by appealing to their inherent search for truth and their admittance that there may be an “unknown god” of which they had not been fully informed.

How well do you know your culture? Do you know how the gospel speaks into the generation coming after you? Do you know what areas of need your neighbors have for the gospel? Do you know fully how the gospel speaks into your life? Do the work of an evangelist today and see the beauty of the gospel as it comes alive in different environments to bring glory to the one, true God!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Acts, Culture, Evangelism.
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October 11th, 2015

Prepare the Way

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,”” Mark 1:1-3 (ESV)

We are the beginning of the gospel for many of the people around us today. We are called to “prepare the way” as John the Baptist did for the message of Jesus to come into their lives and call them to a place of repentance. We are messengers, proclaiming the most important message ever to be proclaimed: “The Christ has come to take away the sins of the world.”

This proclamation is a verbal proclamation, yes, but it is also a lived declaration. We are to make the path of Christ “straight,” removing obstacles to the impact of this transformative message. In becoming like John the Baptist, then, in our prophetic role, we must be sure that we have not trivialized our message for temporary pleasures. John found his entire identity in speaking forth the gospel. He did not value material things, but rather only valued ministry. Let us be sure that our lives communicate as effectively the unique satisfying power of Jesus.

Are you preparing the way of Christ? Are you making the path of the gospel straight? Consider for a moment some things in your life that may hinder the spread of the gospel. Repent of those things even as you call others to repentance in light of the glorious reality of the good news of Jesus!

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, October 11th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Mark, Preparation.
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September 9th, 2015

Grieving for the Lost

“‘As for you, son of man, groan; with breaking heart and bitter grief, groan before their eyes. And when they say to you, ‘Why do you groan?’ you shall say, ‘Because of the news that it is coming. Every heart will melt, and all hands will be feeble; every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming, and it will be fulfilled,’ declares the Lord GOD.” Ezekiel 21:6-7 (ESV)

Wrath was coming for the people of God and Ezekiel was the man given the unenviable task of proclaiming that impending reality. What a terrible message to have to proclaim! Can you imagine the people Ezekiel offended, frightened, or worried? Can you consider the weight Ezekiel must have felt bearing this heavy burden for his people? Of course Ezekiel grieved. Of course he was overwhelmed. Anyone who has this kind of message to proclaim and doesn’t feel grief doesn’t truly understand the message. The important lesson to learn from Ezekiel here, though, is that just because a message grieves you or is unpopular doesn’t mean that you don’t proclaim it! You have to proclaim it in spite of the possible offense for the sake of those who need to hear this life-altering truth.

Are you grieved for the future of those around you who do not know Christ? You see, we too have been given a message of impending wrath. The wrath of God is coming to account for the sinfulness of man, and without the wrath-bearing work of Jesus Christ to remove this wrath, those around you will have a very dark future. We must remember this reality and we should be broken over it, motivating us to spread the gospel or “good news” of Jesus. Yes, we were children of wrath, but God, abundant in mercy, made us alive in Christ Jesus and adopted us as His children! Wrath is coming, but we have hope in Christ. Now, we must proclaim, as Ezekiel did, the need for repentance and salvation alone in Jesus.

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Wednesday, September 9th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Ezekiel, Grief.
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August 23rd, 2015

The Price of Truth

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah. For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, ‘Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it;”” Jeremiah 32:1-3 (ESV)

Occasionally, speaking truth can have consequences attached to it. In this case, the Lord had spoken through His prophet a word about the future of Judah and, thus, its king. Needless to say, the king was not happy about what Jeremiah had spoken over his kingdom and imprisoned him as a result. Jeremiah’s obedience to speak the truth cost him his freedom and put his life in danger.

We are charged today to speak forth the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and while certainly the gospel is good news, it is also offensive. Inherent in our message is that people are bad, sinful, lost, and in need of a savior. We must point out the flaws of men in order to show them their need for a savior. Sometimes people respond negatively to this, and while they may not have the power to imprison you or threaten your life, they can be hurtful in their rejection. The question you must ask yourself, though, is whether or not this temporary rejection is worth their eternal good. Certainly for Jeremiah he thought the message of impending judgment was worth the risk because he loved his people.

Are you willing to risk your freedom in order to proclaim God’s truth? Are you willing to love someone enough to let them reject you in order to tell them about their great need and Christ’s glorious provision? What are you willing to sacrifice to spread the good news?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Mobilization Pastor (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

 

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Jeremiah, Truth.
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June 26th, 2015

The Enduring Hope of Christ

“Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.” Ecclesiastes 4:1 ESV

In the middle of The Preacher of Ecclesiastes’ musings about the emptiness of this world, he directs his attention briefly to the reality of those who are oppressed and without any comfort.  He wonders why the Lord allowed them to ever be born at all, suggesting that non-existence would have been better than this existence.  Certainly, many of us in our time on this earth have seen oppression like that described here and likely thought the same thing.  All the hunger, disease, abuse, and abandonment in the world can be overwhelming and lead to questions like: Why would God allow such a thing as this?  Has He forgotten these people?

You and I know, however, that God has not forgotten these people.  In fact, setting free those who are oppressed is one of the expressed reasons the Son of God stepped out of heaven and into our seemingly hopeless world:

  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV)

Because of the work of Christ, we no longer have to look upon the sad reality of this world as hopeless.  Because of the gospel, the good news of Jesus, these people who are oppressed, poor, captive, and sick (both spiritually and physically) have a future of hope! Our responsibility is to tell them about the work of Christ, so that they can be saved spiritually and, then, continue the work of Christ by taking care of them in their hour of need.  Who do you know that needs to hear this message of hope today?

Grace and peace,

Jared Richard
Pastor of Mobilization & Young Adults (Online Devotional Guest Author)
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/jaredrichard

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, June 26th, 2015 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Evil, Hope.
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September 8th, 2014

Tag! You’re It!

“And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach.” Mark 3:14 (ESV)

Can you imagine the honor of being chosen by Jesus to serve as one of His twelve apostles? You would have a starting position on the varsity team that Jesus coached. You would have access to His life behind the scenes in the locker room and on the practice field. You would want to spend all your time in His shadow and under His personal touch ministry. To be like Him, you would want to watch His every move and to capture every word He articulated. It would be so refreshing to be that connected to the Son of God.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have that kind of connection with the Son of God. At the moment of your conversion experience, you were adopted into God’s family and placed on the winning team. You have the privilege of drawing near to the Lord and learning how to enjoy His presence.

God did not save you so that you could stay in the huddle. God rescued you from eternal damnation and placed you into His forever family and filled you with His Holy Spirit so that you could continue the ministry of Jesus on the earth. You have been chosen by God to be sent out to portray His love and to proclaim the saving news of Jesus. You have been armed with the cure to the cancer of sin. Every single person who places their faith in Jesus alone for salvation will be saved and adopted into the family of God. You are chosen by God to build that relational bridge to those who are lost. Tag! You’re it!

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Monday, September 8th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Discipleship, Evangelism, Obedience.
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September 4th, 2014

Mountain of Motivation

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Matthew 17:1-2 (ESV)

If only life was a perpetual mountaintop experience. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be on a constant spiritual high and never come down? Peter, James, and John had a once in a lifetime experience with Jesus on the top of a mountain. Jesus was transfigured before them. Peter wanted to build three shelters in order to stay on the mountaintop and live in the radiance of Jesus’ glory.

Jesus used the experience to teach Peter, James, and John the necessity to come down the mountain to meet the needs of people in the valley. In other words, God surprises us with mountaintop experiences to reveal His glory so that we can go into the world to reveal God’s glory to others.

Consider the terrain of your spiritual journey. Can you recall the mountaintop experiences you have had with God? Did God reveal His glory to you in those moments so that you would stay in the moment? No! God gave you those special glimpses into His nature and character so that you could go into the valley of life to connect with people in desperate need of God’s salvation.

God moments can be difficult to transfer to others. Often, the God moments are for you to be encouraged and strengthened personally. The experience should motivate you to go into the world to declare the message of reconciliation to a world alienated from God.

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, September 4th, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Obedience, On Mission.
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May 3rd, 2014

Refining Your Focus

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 (ESV)

When I read this passage it reminds me of my experience of training for a 5k race. You may think that I meant that I was training for a marathon, but I was training for my first ever 5-kilometer race. I grew up racing motocross, bmx, and Jet Skis. But it wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I embraced the challenge of running this type of race. I discovered that the intensity level in the training phase has proportionate benefits to the racing phase. Training matters!

The Christian life is very similar to that of a race. Jesus calls us to run with purpose, focus, and intensity. We are to run in such a way as to get the prize. The focus of the Christian life is not comfort, but change. As we diligently run the race set before us, Jesus transforms us into His image. Knowing that we are going to receive a crown that will last forever, we are to run this race with passion and determination. Our lives are to be marked by discipline and self-control.

Paul lived his life with a passion to complete the task the Lord had given him. He diligently gave his life to testifying of the gospel of God’s grace. God gave Paul grace for the race.

There’s more to this life than preparing for and running in a 5k. God has an assignment tailor made for you to fulfill. God will comfort you as you comfort others and as He changes you. Allow God to empower you for the race. Be committed to finish strong!

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Saturday, May 3rd, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Evangelism, Missions, Paul.
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May 2nd, 2014

Courageous Partnership

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.‘” Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

I live in awe of the reality that God would choose someone like to me to be adopted into His family, to be included in His redemption story, and to be empowered for His redemptive mission. If you have turned your life over to Jesus Christ and allowed Him to become the Lord of your life, you to have been adopted, included, and empowered by God and for God. Your life has true meaning and your life matters to God and directly impacts the population of heaven.

You have been given authority by Jesus to make disciples of all people groups. Don’t get distracted by materialism and the pursuit of prestige. Don’t allow your passion for God and His redemptive activity to be dissolved by the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Laser focus your life on that which moves the heart of God. Give your life to influencing people for Christ. As you go, make disciples. You may be the only Jesus others see.

Reveal God’s love to every person you come into contact with. Be an irresistible influence for Christ on this broken planet called earth. Reveal the grace you have been given by God to others. Reveal the mercy you have received through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. Reveal the hope of Jesus to others. Give your life to fulfilling the Great Commission.

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Friday, May 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Church, Evangelism, Great Commission.
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May 1st, 2014

On Mission with a Message

“‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’” John 3:16 (ESV)

According to current statistics, there are approximately 7,105 living languages. There are more than 9,700 ethnic identities or people groups. With over 7.2 billion people on the planet, the world’s population is massive. What kind of hope is available to such a mass number of diverse people?

The hope of the world is found in John 3:16. If you had to condense the entire Bible into a single verse, it would be John 3:16. God’s love for all people groups is captured by this one verse. The wonderful news is that God took the initiative to provide us with the gift of eternal life through His one and only Son, Jesus. God chose to robe Himself in flesh and become like us so that we could become like Him.

Whoever believes receives God’s gracious salvation gift. There is no greater love. There is no greater gift. Bundle all the gifts from every Christmas you have experienced and you will not come close to the ultimate love gift God has provided in Jesus.

Now that you have received God’s gift of eternal life, be willing to make His gift known to others. “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4 ESV). You can present the saving news of Jesus to any lost person anywhere and radically change their forever! You can share the ultimate gift with a world in need of our Savior.

Drawing Near,

Stephen Trammell
Lead Pastor
Follow me on twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephentrammell

Author Stephen Trammell
Posted Thursday, May 1st, 2014 at 1:00 am
Category Church, Evangelism, Missions.
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