Archive for: June, 2012

An Appropriate Amount of Light

Jun 25 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

by Michael Goldsmith

For several weeks I’ve wrestled with one phrase from the words of Jesus found in Matthew 5:16 (NASB): “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” What does it mean to “let your light shine before men in such a way”? As I’ve prayed this through, I have come to the conclusion that in every encounter we have with other people, there is an appropriate amount of light that should shine from our lives as Christians into theirs.

If you put light on a continuum, there is a point where light is too dim and ineffective. On the other end is blinding, glaring, overpowering light. Somewhere in the middle of the scale is an appropriate amount of light. For example, if I entered your darkened bedroom where you were sleeping and shone in your face 10,000 watts of light, it would be too much. It would be offensive. In the same situation, a dimly lit candle of low wattage would be equally ineffective. I contend that an appropriate amount of light exists that is sufficient to wake you up without overpowering and offending.

Jesus encourages us as Christians to wrestle with this issue of shining appropriate amounts of light into others’ lives in such a way that our testimony is validated and our faith in God is appealing. Non-Christians have many blinding encounters with overzealous, 10,000-watt Christians and low-impact encounters with dimly lit, ineffective, 5-watt Christians. The result in both cases is a failure to draw others to Jesus Christ.

I would like to suggest a few guidelines for determining how much light is required in any situation for being an effective representative of Jesus Christ.

 First, it begins not with you but with the other person. Jesus’ words are, “Let your light shine before men . . .” I suggest the emphasis is on the other person. A question to ask is, “What amount of light would be too dim or too glaring?” Jesus always began His relational encounters with the other person’s preparedness and adjusted himself to meet that person at his or her point of readiness.

Second, it depends on what the Holy Spirit is leading you to say. God’s Spirit, who knows the hearts of all individuals, is able to lead a discerning, yielded person into an effective conversation with another. However, I strongly urge you to check and recheck yourself before blurting into a tirade of being “Spirit led.” Many zealots, claiming to be Spirit led, have caused many to be offended with the gospel. Genuinely cultivated sensitivity to the Holy Spirit will lead to effective relational opportunities.

Third, the quality of your life speaks louder than the volume of your words. Your life precedes your words and either validates or invalidates them. People want to know that you live what you say, and they want to know that you care. These are essential qualities intertwined with Christian effectiveness.

Fourth, the quality of our life is determined by our personal relationship with God. In late February 2002, scientists declared the moon was positioned to “shine” 10 percent brighter and appear 9 percent larger. This was based on the moon’s position to both the sun and the earth. As believers, if we position ourselves appropriately in our relationship to God and to others, we will increase the brightness and effectiveness of our lives.

When you read the New Testament, you discover Jesus’ appeal to those who were relationally disconnected from Him. They were drawn to Him because He knew how much light each could stand. As believers, there is an appropriate amount of light to shine from our life into others that will appeal to them. As a result, they will see the quality of our Christian life and it will appeal to them.

I hope you will struggle with the issue of how much light should shine from your life into the lives of others.

 Michael Goldsmith has pastored congregations in North Little Rock, Conway, Pine Bluff and Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.   He now serves with Global University as Director of Advancement for a project in a sensitive country.  You can reach him at mgoldsmith@globaluniversity.edu

 

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Stuck in the Sand

Jun 20 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

By Sarah Careins

Living in Africa has taught me to overcome every fear and obstacle in the power of Jesus Christ. This past week I was able to travel to the country of Botswana to minister to the youth and partner with other missionaries. We arrived a day before the ministry began to enjoy a drive through the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

My Speed the Light vehicle was once again put to the test as the ground was entirely sand. In one particular spot, my vehicle got very stuck. Unfortunately, I do not have a 4X4, but only a diff-lock. (If you don’t know what that is, you can google it). Thankfully, we were able to find some assistance to help push me out. I then tried to avoid driving in the very sandy places.

Finally, I decided to face my fears as we needed to take the same road again. As we approached the area, I gave my vehicle the gas and made my way through the sand safely. Throughout the rest of the day, I actually found it exciting to drive through the sandy areas. I enjoyed the challenge.

The other missionaries agreed with me that I have found a new love for “off-roading.” Throughout our lives, there may be moments when we seem to get “stuck in the sand.” Thankfully, Jesus will always provide a way to get us out –if we will only ask him for assistance. Our past failures should not stop us from facing our fears and going where God has called us to go. We may be surprised to find that God’s path is actually a grand adventure that we have been longing to experience.

Sarah Careins is an appointed Assemblies of God missionary to South Africa and an alumna from Global University’s Berean School of the Bible. Learn her story at Globaluniversity.edu.

 

 

 

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My Father’s Fortune!

Jun 10 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

by Dr.Mary Logan

My dad died twenty-five years ago.

He left us very early on February 2. Quickly. Quietly. But with a relentless faith in the Lord and Savior he had met 47 years earlier.

As I viewed his body that Monday afternoon in the funeral home, a hundred childhood memories flooded my mind. He had bequeathed many legacies to his children, but there were four legacies especially meaningful to me.

First of all, my salvation can be directly attributed to my dad. It was in one of his tent crusades in the early 1950s in Point,Texas, that I received Christ as my Savior.

I vividly remember his sermon. He preached from the parable about Lazarus going to heaven and the rich man going to hell. I could almost feel the flames touching me as my dad described them from Luke 16:23:

 “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments . . . ”

I decided at the age of six that I definitely did not want to go to that place; I preferred heaven. So I gave my heart to God. What a life-changing decision!

Second, I attribute much of my knowledge of the Bible to my dad. Through his nightly Bible studies, conducted after the evening meal, we heard many Bible stories and other illustrations that proved to be even more valuable during the coming years. I can still recall Dad’s opening words at each study:

“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalm 119:18)

 The third important legacy my father left me was the ability to trust in God for healing. He and Mom truly believed that “with his [Jesus’] stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

My first healing memory was of God’s healing me of double pneumonia when I was six. Then I remember God’s healing Tom, a younger brother, of partial paralysis when he was fourteen. Dad taught that we could come to God with all our sicknesses.

Yet Dad and the rest of our family learned we could not dictate how and when God would heal. You see, that strong, healthy, six-foot man became totally blind when he was 60 and remained blind for the last 13½ years of his life. We did not understand why his sight was not restored while he was in this earthly body, but we never doubted God’s healing power. We are convinced Dad is truly “seeing” as he walks those streets of gold in heaven now.

Fourth, I appreciate my Dad’s teaching me to be faithful in church attendance. When we were growing up, there was never a question about attending church as long as the church doors were open. Dad firmly believed in Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”

 As a result, all five of my brothers and sisters and their spouses are saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and faithful in church attendance. We passed these truths on to the next generation—our children. Now our children are passing the truths on to their children—our grandchildren.

An additional legacy was left on the cassette tape Dad recorded the night before he died. During his blindness, he used cassette tapes quite frequently to record songs, sermons, and illustrations. That night the sermon he preached from the privacy of his bedroom spoke often of death and of the necessity of being ready to meet one’s Maker. His final song to us was one I had heard many times as a child:

What would you give (in exchange)?

What would you give (in exchange)?

What would you give in exchange for your soul?

Oh, if today God should call you away,

What would you give in exchange for your soul?

 The inheritance my dad left was of faultless priority. His soul and ours were most valuable possessions. And a portion of this sermon and song were played at his funeral that cool February afternoon.

A retired, ordained Assemblies of God minister, he had pioneered and pastored many churches inTexas and Tennessee during his 40 years of ministry. And at his funeral he was able to “minister” once again to friends, relatives, and fellow ministers. Truly, Dad, you can say as Paul did:

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Dad quoted many times, “We have only one life, and it will soon be past. It’s only what’s done for Christ that will last.”

 Truly, Dad’s legacies are eternal.

 Mary Logan, Ed.D., is a Course Development Specialist and Professor of Business and Education at Global University. For more information about Global University, visit http://think.globaluniversity.edu

 

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Hispanics Are the New Frontier in Ministry

Jun 04 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

by Roberto Ponce

Today, most people in the United States know the Hispanic population growth has exploded in America. In recent years, we have seen arguably the largest demographical shift in our recent history!

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, we now have nearly 50 million Hispanics in America, making the U.S. one of the largest Spanish-speaking countries in the world. One in six Americans is of Hispanic origin. To put the U.S. Hispanic growth in perspective, there are more Hispanics in the United States than there are Canadians in Canada. Interesting, isn’t it?

Hispanic pulpits

As Hispanics continue shaping many aspects of our main stream American culture, such as music, food, and entertainment, imagine what they could do in terms of ministry. Hispanics represent a new frontier in ministry. Adding more Hispanic believers and churches to the Kingdom represents a tremendous potential to impact America for God’s glory. Therefore we must continue filling Hispanic pulpits across our nation.

A cultural experience

Some of us who grew up attending Hispanic churches know worship can be a cultural experience. Hispanics are highly relational individuals as a whole. We know Hispanics are also more likely to receive advice from family members and friends than from institutions. From a cultural standpoint then, it makes sense that Latinos may be more open to receiving a gospel message from a fellow Hispanic pastor, spiritual leader, or friend.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not conveying that Anglo churches cannot reach or should not reach out to Hispanics. We are the church, and we are called to reach out to everyone! That is our Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). I am merely stating that we as humans tend to relate and fellowship with people who share the same interests, values, and preferences. It makes sense that Hispanics may want to attend Hispanic or bicultural churches.

Resources to the ministry

Hispanics reached a purchasing power of $1 trillion in 2010, and it is expected to grow to $1.5 trillion in 2015, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth from the University of Georgia. The U.S. Hispanic purchasing power is larger than many Latin American economies, including Mexico’s GDP. Why do I mention this? Because I think it’s important to know that Hispanics, as a community, have the resources for God’s kingdom. They could be a huge blessing to the church.

Divine power

As we try to reach out to Hispanics, it is essential for churches to have a church-wide initiative that includes an understanding of Hispanic values and cultural nuances. Hispanic culture goes beyond language, but I’ll leave that for another post. Whether it is through Hispanic outreach ministries or Hispanic church plantings, churches need to take a serious look at our U.S. Hispanic communities. If more Hispanic churches are to be planted, then more pastors need to be equipped for ministry. Education remains a gap among the Hispanic community and other populations.

Whatever the case in your local community, we cannot reach a new generation of Hispanics without the help and power of the Holy Spirit; we must depend on it. After all, we are trying to reach a new frontier in ministry.

Roberto Ponce is Director of Communications at Global University. For more information about Global University go to http://think.globaluniversity.edu

 

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