Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Witnessing”

Living Peaceful and Quiet Lives

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.       1 Thes. 4:11-12   NIV 1984

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.         1 Tim. 2:1-4  NIV 1984

Paul urges us to aim to live peaceful, quiet lives that shine as beacons of godliness and holiness to an unbelieving world around us.  For this to happen, we must be prayerfully interceding for kings (political leaders) and those in authority that the Lord might grant us favor in their eyes.  For, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases (Proverbs 21:1).

It is interesting to note that in Thessalonica and Ephesus Paul had caused riots and civil upheaval.  It was for the sake of the gospel that he was in these cities and we also note that in both cases it was not Paul who instigated the disturbances.  It was the enemies of the gospel who stirred up the crowds, drawing the responses from the civil leaders.  See Acts 17:1-9 and Acts 19:23ff.

Paul did not want this type of upheaval to be perceived as ‘normal’ for those following Christ in the respective cities.  Rather, the goal, as he reminded them, was to live peaceful and quiet lives; living such counter-cultural lives that they would win the respect of those who did not yet know Christ.

Our turbulent times call for us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).   And in the midst of this turmoil, we are to be praying for our political and civil authorities – asking that the Lord would cause them to show us kindness and favor.  The result will be the advancement of the Kingdom and the gospel in the lives of many.

Are you praying for those in authority over you?

The 4 Alls of the Gospel

It was an early morning flight and being a frequent flyer, I had boarded first and was trying to read my Bible while the rest of the plane filled with passengers.  Sitting in the aisle I was secretly hoping that the center and window seat to my right would not be taken, allowing me to spread out some on the short flight from Colorado Springs to Denver. But, the last person to board threw his backpack into the window seat and proceeded to climb over me into the window seat.

Before the plane pushed back from the gate he leaned over and asked, “Hey, what are you reading?”  “I’m reading the book of Isaiah in the Bible,” I replied.  “Oh, that’s one of my favorite books,” he said.  A short conversation ensued where we exchanged some background information and then I asked, “So, how long have you been a believer?”  A quizzical look came over his face when he answered, “I think since I was born.”

I found out that he was headed for a funeral of his 14-month old son who had recently died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and he had been reading a Bible to see if he could discover what happens to a person after they die.  I asked for permission to share with him a short summary of the central theme of the Bible, a summary I called the “4 All’s.”

As we leveled out after takeoff, he retrieved a Bible from his backpack and we turned to Romans.  I explained that there are four things that are common to all people – the 4 All’s.  We then proceeded to look at the verses in his Bible:  Romans 3:23 – All have sinned; Romans 5:12 – All will die; Romans 5:18 – Jesus died for all; and Romans 10:9,13 – All must receive Christ.  I checked for his understanding after each verse.  He nodded approvingly as we read each verse.

After reviewing these verses I asked him, “If you were to die tonight are you certain of seeing your son again in heaven?  He replied that he was not certain at all.  I then asked, “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t want to accept Christ right now as your personal Savior?”  “Why no,” he replied, “but how do I do that?”  I then shared a short prayer with him and somewhere over Colorado at 12,000 feet, Rick trusted Christ as his Savior.

When landing we went over a few short passages on assurance of salvation from 1 John and after de-planing he hugged me and said, “Thanks so much for telling me about Christ!  Please pray for me.  I hope I can tell someone else about Him at this funeral.”

 

 

 

Sharing Your Story #4

OVERCOMING PROBLEMS IN PERSONAL TESTIMONY PREPARATION

  1.  Many people are too cautious when writing the first draft of their story because they are fearful of not doing it correctly.  Your testimony does not need to be perfect on the first.  Write a lot; it is always easier to delete information than to try to add more.
  1.  Some people think too introspectively when writing their testimony.  Remembering life experiences before we trusted Christ, especially bitter or painful memories, can cause depression and the actual writing of the testimony is postponed.  Thank God for His grace and healing and ask Him for His help and strength in finishing this project.
  1.  Often we are so eager to share on spiritual matters that we neglect to share some background concerning other areas of our life.  In the beginning of our testimony, we want to build a bridge of commonality so that our listener can identify with us.
  1.  Some believers are not certain about when they accepted Christ.  Perhaps they grew up in a Christian home and prayed to accept Christ as a child.  Later however, as an adult, they made another decision for Christ, either a re-dedication or perhaps this was really their conversion.  If this is your experience, ask your small group leader or another person who is mature in Christ for some help in outlining your testimony.
  1.  The longer this project is put off, the more difficult it will seem.  You will need several hours to finish this completely.  Postponing it will not make it easier.  The sooner we begin, the sooner we can enjoy the results.

May the Lord use the power of your story to impact many!

Sharing Your Story #3

Here’s some practical tips for preparing your salvation story.

ORDER OF PREPARATION FOR YOUR TESTIMONY

  1.  Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom and insight before you begin to write.
  1.  Compile notes on three separate sheets of paper labeled, “Before,” “How” and “After”
  1.  Write the first draft of your testimony based on the three sheets.  Remember the guidelines given for preparing your testimony.  Ideally it will take about 5 minutes to read your testimony draft when finished.
  1.  Edit and improve.  Ask for suggestions from your group leader or fellow group members.
  1.  Finalize your testimony so that you can read it at conversational speed in approximately 3 minutes.
  1. Write an outline of your final testimony on a note card or small piece of paper.  Practice sharing your testimony from this outline.
  1.  Continue to practice your testimony until you can share in under 4 minutes without looking at your outline notes. Remember that this time frame is based upon Paul’s testimony of similar length in Acts 24 and Acts 26.

Your personal salvation story is a powerful way to influence others.  Prepare well and then trust God to give you natural opportunities to share it.

Sharing Your Story #2

The following are guidelines to remember when compiling your salvation story to share with others.

  1.  Make the testimony sound like natural conversation.  We are preparing this testimony to be shared in a private conversation.  Avoid words or phrases that sound literary that you would not normally use in everyday conversation.  Use informal, every day vocabulary.
  1.  Use the words “I” and “me,” not “you.”  This will make your testimony sound personal and not preachy.  People enjoy listening to first person stories.
  1.  Avoid theological words which may not be generally known or which may illicit an emotional reaction and detract from your main objective.  Use words that are easily understood by most people.
  1.  Try and make your testimony as general as possible so that many people can identify with it.  It is usually best to avoid naming churches, denominations or groups.
  1.  Add humor or human interest points in order to attract your listener’s attention.  If you smile and project a relaxed manner, it will put your listener at ease.
  1.  Share one or two specific word stories to involve your listener in your story.  Don’t say, “I was raised in a large city,”  rather, share a short experience that illustrates life in a big city.
  1.  In the “Before” section be sure to include both positive and negative things about your life before you accepted Christ.  Don’t be hesitant to share non-spiritual matters as well, as this will add interest.
  1.  In the “How” section be sure to make the bible the final authority.  A poor example would be, “Mary said that I needed forgiveness.”  A better example would be, “Mary shared with me that the bible says we all need forgiveness.”
  1.  Remember to share the four points of the gospel in the “How” section.
  1.  In the “After” section, close with two or three benefits that you have experienced since you accepted Christ.
  • Consider that the last benefit could be something like this, “But the greatest benefit of all is that I now know that I have eternal life.”  Your listener will often comment on the last thing mentioned in our testimony.  If our last statement is about eternal life, it may open an opportunity to further explain the gospel.
  1.  Simplify and reduce unnecessary details.  Though the details may have meaning for you, your listener will be distracted and bored if you share too many details.  A poor example would be, “On June 3, 1985 I was going to the third meeting of the week at the First Community Church with Ken, Bill and Jack.”  A better example would be, “Several years ago I went to a church meeting with some close friends.”

Sharing Your Story #1

Our personal salvation story is designed to be shared with a non-believer.  Our testimony will have its most impact if shared naturally during a personal conversation or in a small group.  It can be used as a “door opener” in order to turn the attention of your listener towards spiritual matters and create an opportunity to share the gospel in a more complete way.  Successful evangelism begins with a well-prepared testimony.

When sharing our testimony we want to explain what Christ has done in our lives, not preach at our listener.  Everyone who has trusted Christ as their personal Savior has a testimony about how God has touched their life.  Certainly this testimony is different for each person; we are not seeking to have our listener imitate our personal experience, rather we want them to personally trust Christ as their Savior.

Your testimony may be dramatic, especially if you trusted Christ as an adult, or it may not be so spectacular, if you trusted Christ as a child.  But, spectacular or not, God can use your testimony to touch the hearts of others.  A disciple of Jesus must be able to tell others how they came to know Christ.

OUTLINE FOR A SALVATION TESTIMONY

PART 1           Before I Trusted Christ

A brief background sketch of what your life was like before you trusted Christ (i.e. family, old way of life).  During this section you may want to share one or two specific instances that would illustrate what your life was like without Christ.  If you share some sinful experience, do not give a lot of details as this can disturb your listener’s concentration and detract from your main point.

PART 2           How I Trusted Christ

Specifically share how you came to know Christ as your personal Savior (i.e.  when, where).  Create a word picture that will attract your listener’s attention.

In this section you must remember to distinctly share the four parts of the gospel  as follows:

  • all people have sinned;
  • all people will be punished with death because of their sin;
  • because God loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sin – accepting our punishment;
  • we must each personally acknowledge that we are sinners and place our trust in Jesus as our Savior.

PART 3           After I Trusted Christ

Explain briefly what changes you have seen in your life since you accepted Christ as your Savior (i.e. deep peace because our sins are forgiven, the reality of the new life, assurance of salvation based on the promises of God).

Your objective is to be able share this three-part testimony in approximately four minutes.  If we examine the testimony of Paul as shared in Acts 24 and Acts 26 we find that it was about this length of time.  We can also see that Paul’s testimony easily divides into the three parts listed above, which we use as our model testimony.

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

One of the blessings of the years our family spent in Indonesia was that we lived as a Christian minority.  The blessing in this became evident at the time of major Christian holidays, like Christmas.  There were no cultural distractions to have to explain or avoid.  Rather, Christmas was what we made it.  We could introduce our own traditions and values without having the distractions from the society around us.

Today we live in America once again and are confronted with all of the Christmas traditions that go with the holiday season.  Perhaps like me, you’ve wondered where all of these traditions came from.  Here’s some background to help with giving some new (old?) meaning to these seasonal traditions.

December 25 – The Day of Jesus’ Birth

In ancient times birthdays were celebrated only by kings and royalty.  It was not customary to record the specific date of an individual’s birth.  Being unsure of the exact date of Jesus’ birth, many dates began to be observed as Christianity spread from country to country.

Bishop Hippolytus calculated the birth of Jesus to be December 25 in 235 AD.  Emperor Constantine ordered the celebration of Christmas in 320 AD.  Since 400 AD Christendom has accepted this date as the traditional date of Jesus’ birth.

Christmas was first celebrated in America in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia.  In 1836 Alabama became the first state to establish Christmas as a legal holiday.  Colorado recognized Christmas as a state holiday in 1861.

St. Nicholas or Santa Claus

Nicholas was born and raised in Turkey in 280 AD.  When Nicholas reached age 19 he entered the priesthood.  He became known as the ‘patron saint of children’ because of his habit of leaving unidentified gifts at the homes of needy families.  This mysterious donor is called “Father Christmas” in England.

Introduced as “Sinterklass”  to America by the Dutch as the patron saint of their colonies or as the English and French said, “Saneta Claas.”  In 1809 Washington Irving portrayed a jolly fellow who rode in a sleigh pulled by reindeer; a far cry from the original St. Nicholas.  The giving spirit of St. Nicholas should inspire us all.

Candy Canes

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy to celebrate the birth of Jesus, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane.  He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus.

He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy.  He chose white to symbolize the purity and Virgin Birth of Jesus.  He made it in the “J” shape for the name of Jesus.  The shape is also that of a shepherd’s staff, to remind us that the Bible calls Jesus the Good Shepherd.  The red stripe is to remind us of the blood Christ shed for us when he died on a cross.

Christmas Carols

Until the Middle Ages there was no congregational singing in Christian churches.  Trained choirs sang chants and monotonous songs.  After the Christmas services, the church members would often gather in the streets to sing songs about the birth of Jesus, called ‘carola.’  Martin Luther introduced congregational singing to the churches.

“Silent Night” is the most popular Christmas carol.  Written on Christmas eve in Obendorf, Austria in 1818 by a priest as he walked in the snow house-to-house inviting his members to the service that evening.  Returning to his church, the priest asked the organist to write the melody to the lyrics he had composed on his walk.  Sung for the first time at the service that evening, it was sung to guitar as the church organ was broken!

Christmas Trees

This tradition was borrowed from the non-Christian people of northern Europe and given a new meaning.  These people would bring evergreens into their homes during the winter months to remind them of the hope of the coming spring.

Christians adapted this custom and added that the evergreen symbolizes the everlasting life offered through belief in Jesus as our Savior.  Trees were set up on Christmas and decorated with lights (candles) to symbolize that Jesus was born on a beautiful, starry night in Bethlehem.  Tradition says that Martin Luther was the first to add lights to the decorated tree.

Creche or Manger Scene

Until the 13th century, those that celebrated Christmas generally overlooked the lowly conditions of Jesus’ birth.  In 1219, St. Francis of Assisi visited Bethlehem where he was struck by the simplicity of Christ’s birthplace.  He was dismayed by the contrast of Jesus’ humble beginnings and the lavish church celebrations of his birth.

St. Francis created a rustic stable scene for midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1223.  He used live animals and people portrayed Mary and Joseph, shepherds and the angels.

Stockings

Long before Christmas trees were a part of the common Christmas traditions, stockings were hung in anticipation of the arrival of St. Nicholas.  English immigrants brought this custom with them to America.

The original Christmas stockings that were hung were those worn for everyday apparel.  They were hung with the hopes of being filled with treats from the visit of St. Nick.

What traditions are a part of your Christmas celebrations?  What values are you communicating as you celebrate?  Perhaps you can lead your family or your friends in remembering the true reason for the season as you reflect upon some of these established traditions.     MERRY CHRISTMAS!

A New Creation!

2 Corinthians 5:1-21

Joy and Amy were scared as they knocked on the door.  They had never shared the gospel before and now was their opportunity.  Perhaps Holly wouldn’t be home, they hoped secretly.  But, Holly greeted them warmly at the door and they entered her room.

As the two women began to explain the details of the Good News, Holly began to cry.  Never having experienced anything like this, they looked at one another wondering if they had somehow offended Holly.  In a voice choked with emotion, Holly asked, “Is this the gospel?”  They swallowed hard and responded affirmatively.

“Oh, this is wonderful,” Holly exclaimed!  This morning I was going to leave my apartment to visit my family.  But, I had a feeling that I should wait here in my room for something important to happen.  So, I’ve been waiting all day.  And now here you are!

“In high school,” Holly continued, “I noticed some others who were very happy and they seemed to talk a lot about the ‘gospel.’  But they never told me what it was.  So, for the past three years, I have been praying for God to show me what the ‘gospel’ means.  And now, today, God has brought you to me so that I can know what this is!  This is great!”

Joy and Amy had the privilege of introducing Holly to the Savior that afternoon.  God had obviously prepared her heart to respond to the message.  There are many around each of us whom God has prepared, but we must deliver the message.  We must be a verbal witness, as well as witnessing with our lives.

Who has God placed in your life for you to introduce to him?  Many are sincerely seeking answers and waiting for an explanation!  Why not pray and ask God for an opportunity to share with them today?  You’ll see God opening doors of opportunity for you too!

Additional References:  John 3:3,5; Acts 16:31

Doesn’t God Grade on the Curve?

Acts 16:1-40

I was in my third year at college, sitting in a dorm lobby when I noticed another student.  I hadn’t seen him since seventh grade and did not even know he attended Florida State.  We began to catch up when his date arrived.  As we parted, he handed me a small booklet, saying, “I’m sorry I haven’t got time to explain this to you.  Please read it; the message in here changed my life!”

I accepted the booklet and stuffed it into my pocket as my date arrived.  Before the movie started that evening, I retrieved the booklet and began to read.  For the first time I understood that I personally had done things that were displeasing to God and that I would be punished because of my wrongs.  Until that night I thought that God would grade my life on the curve and that I would be in the upper percentiles.  That night I understood that life is pass-fail and that I had failed.

As I read on I understood that God loved me so much that he accepted my punishment instead—he died for me–and that I needed to believe in Christ as my personal Savior.  There in the theater I prayed, asking God to forgive me and accepting Christ as my Savior–and I was saved from my eternal punishment.  Like the Philippian jailer, I too had come to become a member of God’s family.

I have not seen the student who gave me the booklet since that evening.  He entered my life for a brief time and was kind enough to share Christ with me–one simply waiting for a clear explanation.  Who is it in your life that God has prepared for you to share Christ with?  Why not share with them today?

Additional References:  John 1:12; Romans 5:22; Romans 10:11-15

Post Navigation