The Gospel Message

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By Tom Chase

As I sit to write this week’s Last Word, I am struggling to put into words what I believe He would have me write. In part, because I believe the message is still being formed in me. God is stirring in me a newer and greater concern for the lost. He is doing it in the following ways:

First, the Men’s Bible study group has just completed its study of the Book of John. He’s a guy that was with Jesus. He witnessed His life, His person, His death, and His resurrection, and he was and is totally convinced that Jesus is the Savior of the World, the Son of God! John writes:

We have seen his glory,
the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

(John 1:14b)

Reading through John, it is hard to miss his intent to communicate the truth about Jesus and to give evidence about the One whom he has heard and seen and touch and examined. All these things he didn’t keep to himself, but shared so others (me and you) might be convinced too. He proclaims his purpose in writing:

But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of God,
and that by believing
you may have life in his name.

(John 20:31)

Wow! I want to be that kind of guy, too, because I have heard and seen and touch (maybe in different ways) and examined (historically and evidentially) and am convinced that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior, and the Savior of the world!

Second, Brian Shape shared with the elders a video clip from Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller, a group that professionally perform illusions and sleight-of-hand magic. Penn is also an atheist and an advocate for atheism. In the video a “Gift of a Bible,” Penn shares a story of a man who gives him a Bible. Penn appears to be genuinely moved by a person, a rational someone, willing to go out of his way to communicate what he really believes for the benefit of another. His point—and I believe he is right—is that if we really believe Jesus is the Savior of the world and that if it is missed and not accepted, one dies and goes to Hell, it becomes paramount to tell others about that reality. Penn’s says, “how much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell someone.”


Penn’s message is incredibly sobering. It makes me stop and think, What is it that has stopped me in the past? Is it because of social awkwardness or how it would make me look or feel? Is it that I don’t want to be pushy? I will not keep sharing if someone does not want to hear, but that presupposes that I have started the conversation!

I should be talking about the most important thing in my life. I should be consistent to proclaim what is real and true, in a respectful and genuine way. Penn says that one nice guy won’t change his belief that there is no God, which makes me wonder, How many would it take? Then I wonder why the church, as a whole, has been so defensive and less communicative. I cannot tell everyone, but I should be telling (talking about my God) to those in my sphere of influence. The guy Penn describes in the video takes this a step farther and includes a performer from a show he (the believer guy) was incidentally involved in. Lord, make me bolder. Lord, make this true in me, that I would start conversations about You! That all that I have heard and seen and touched and examined and am convinced about You in my life would naturally flow out of me! Lord please make it so!

Third, a close-up view inside the foster care system in our state and our community has revealed a system filled with great hurt and dysfunction. Our system is overloaded and overwhelmed. The truth is that our system is overloaded and overwhelmed because our society is broken, reeling in hurt and dysfunction, and in desperate need of a Savior. We know Someone who can change the heart of man—His name is Jesus. We do have the answer! But to give that answer will require boldness, conviction, and willingness to get involved in the messiness of life with others. Have we been called to do that?

Then Jesus came to them [passionate followers of Him] and said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples [passionate followers of Him] of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:18-20)

So, the answer for me is yes! He has called me to do that.

What about you? If while reading this, you, too, have been challenged with a renewed desire to reach those around you, then allow the Lord to develop within you habits to reach those around you!

I know the words of the following song, “Forgiveness” by Michael West reference forgiveness, that is, forgiveness we extend to others.


The Gospel message (sharing Jesus), though, is all about forgiveness, too—restoring one’s relationship with God the Creator. Our call is to love someone enough to share this life-changing reality and forgiveness that could be theirs if heard and accepted. My prayer is something like this:

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness [extended by Jesus]
I finally want to set it free
Show me how to see what your mercy sees
Help me now to give what you gave to me
Forgiveness [extended by Jesus]

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OUR FATHER DELIGHTS IN US!

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By Pastor Martin Schlomer

“Light up the darkness!” (2 Corinthians 4:6, The Message)

Delight, honor, and repair: these three words are reshaping my heart and relationships. These are three words my Father has spoken over me. In my upcoming Last Words, I’m going to look at each of these three words, one at a time.

This week:

My Father delights over me!

This is the heartbeat of the gospel. Our Father delights over us! This is personally transformational. When I am having a horrible day and my choices reflect the darkness of my own ways, He speaks a better word over me than I deserve. When I sin, He offers forgiveness. When I fail, He gives me His Son, and I get the righteousness of Jesus. He lights up my darkness, and He shepherds me through the chaos! Why? Because He’s my Father. This is what good and gracious fathers do. We are connected.

“Light up the darkness!” Speak our Father’s delight over another person today, tomorrow, the day after, next week. When we do, we bring the presence of hope and beauty into lives silently simmering in uncertainty, loneliness, shame, and chaos. Find something our Father delights in and speak it. It’s transformational for them and for us. I’m the beneficiary. As I pass on my Father’s delight, His delight leaves a residue of joy in my life!

Delight, honor, and repair — three words that are reshaping my heart and relationships. In a few weeks, I’ll share about the concept of honor. Until then, “Light up the darkness!”

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A Prayer to You

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By Tom Chase

prayer

Have you ever wondered why some people are so open to hearing the message of the Gospel and others are not? I wish I knew the message that each person needed. I wish I could say all the right things that would make a difference!

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 states,

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

I am reminded then, it’s God who really makes the difference . . . and what a difference He makes!

But in Matthew 28:19–20, we are told:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

So why then has God called me (us) to go and make disciples? Isn’t that His job?

Yes, it is, but He has asked me (us) to be a part . . . to be a disciple! He clearly involves us (me and you) in the process of helping others to be connected with Him!

So then we recognize that God does what God does and we do (or get to do) what we are to do!

He has His part and we have ours!

I was recently listening to Michael Ramsden of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). He was talking about ways of communicating the gospel to people and, as an aside, he said he had a novel approach. It’s called “talking to people.” J Why didn’t I think of that?!

But then he went on to share a story (see this link for the fuller message).

Basically, he relates an interaction between himself and the owner of a hairdresser’s shop. She starts out not even really talking to him but saying, “I wish there was more to life ….” But, as the conversation progresses, Michael begins sharing various points of the Gospel and she stops and writes them all down. She was so open to all that Michael shared. This woman then goes home and shares all that Michael had shared with her. Her husband tells her, “You’re preaching at me.”

What was the difference between the woman and her husband? She was asking questions, but her husband was not.

The phase, “You’re preaching at me!” and the associated attitude resonates with me as I think about people in my sphere of influence with whom I am hoping to share Christ. I really don’t want to just be “preaching” at people.

So, as a result, here are the kinds of things I’ve been beginning to pray:

  • “Lord, help me talk with the people who are asking questions.”
  • Even, “Lord bring people into my path that are asking questions.”
  • And, “Lord, bring questions I can answer with Your help.”
  • “Lord, I don’t want to be just preaching at people.”
  • “But Lord, I do want to share the words of life . . . Your words that You can use to draw people to You.”
  • “Make me sensitive to what you are doing and the questions people are asking. Use me today!”

So now I am waiting to see what God wants to do. I have relationships with people in which I am hoping to share and others that are just in my sphere of influence.

“Help me see what You are doing, God.”

“God, will You do what You do? And please help me do what I should do!”

As I am putting together the closing thoughts of this Last Word, the song by Keith Green, Make My Life a Prayer to You,” is just welling up within me. I stopped and listened. (Maybe you will want to, too.)

I think it expresses what my heart needs and wants to be about. As you listen, maybe you, too, will be both challenged and encouraged.

And may God receive all the honor and the glory!!! Amen.

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Sharing Who We Have Become, Because of God’s Love for Us

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By Jim DeAngelo

I had the opportunity a few days ago to share Jesus, but it was a bit different. An acquaintance talked to me about how they had difficulty with their neighbor and wished a large wooden screen could be erected to block their view of the neighbor whose front yard joined theirs. As I knew that both proclaimed their relationship with Jesus, I asked the person, “How this could be?” They both professed Jesus, and they were joined in that relationship. Jesus states in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (ESV). This person shared how they didn’t know why it was so, and they gave a few examples that demonstrated the other person’s anger with them. They appreciated the discussion and recognized it wasn’t how they were to live, that they needed to address the unforgiveness.

The conversation continued for more than an hour on additional subjects that focused on Scripture and our personal walk and beliefs. The most pronounced of these was on the authenticity of Scripture. They felt that the Bible was written by men and subject to interpretation through culture, the culture during the time the Scriptures were written and the different culture of now. They felt that this filtering was the best approach to understanding God and defining how we are to live our lives.

I admit this was challenging. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (NKJV). If a person believed the Bible was stories written by man instead of God breathed, then the culture defined our walk instead of God. A decision to filter Scripture based on a cultural view results in the ability to justify any position a person wants to take and to indulge in any sin or practice we feel is culturally okay instead of what is presented in God’s Word. This decision removes the safeguards that God has lovingly given us for our own good and protection.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing. And I will receive you and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (NKJV)

Martin preached on this subject July 20, 2014, in his sermon titled, “The Bible: Is the Bible Historically Reliable?” You can hear that onlne here.

This is where I was given the opportunity to lovingly share my position and to encourage the other person to see our relationship with God through the love of Christ and each other. I shared with this person that God gave us His word to direct our lives and that it is authentic, and that I was discussing this to share my love for Jesus and how He had changed my heart and my life to be different from whom I had been and whom the culture would define me as. This is the testimony, that love does define who we are. To share means we share out of our love instead of our rightness.

I know that we will have opportunities to share and discuss the living God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I look forward to sharing whom I have become because of God’s love for me.

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More Than Conquerors

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By Nate Champneys

As I write this, I am sitting in a hospital room watching and waiting for my dear friend Robert to die. You would think that, since every human being has to die at some point, we would get used to death, but for some reason it is never easy. It is not easy for me to sit here. I really didn’t even feel like writing this, but it’s my week to write the Last Word, so I write.

Last night I asked Jesus what He thought I should write about. I hear, “More Than Conquerors.” “More Than Conquerors?” I think. What does that mean? I was reading Romans 8 last night, which is where that phrase comes from, but I still had no idea what I was supposed to write. I couldn’t sleep. Last I looked at the clock, it was 1:30 a.m. I awoke wide awake at 5:30 a.m. After lying there for a half hour I decided to get up and go over to the hospital.

It’s hard seeing Robert this way. A week and a half ago He had an aneurysm, followed by a significant stroke in his frontal lobe. Cognitively, he doesn’t seem to be “home,” but he is still alive. Barely. I find myself praying that God will just end his life now and not make him struggle any longer. The doctors have given him 24 to 48 hours.

But as I sit here watching my dear friend die, I think about Robert and what amazing things God has done in his life. It almost makes it a little easier. In the hospital bed in front of me lies a man who is drastically different because he has been with Jesus. What a crazy story of redemption. I was given the gift of being able to watch Jesus take a worn-down, tattooed, at times grumpy biker in a wheelchair and turn him into something new. On the outside he still looks like a tattooed biker. But even his friends that don’t know Jesus would tell you Robert is different. Robert spent much of his early life in the biker gangs. He has told me of many of the horrible things that he saw and did and for much of our friendship he has been haunted by his past. He’s carried guilt. Shame. Doubt. He sometimes doubted if Jesus could ever really forgive him of his past. Robert also had a problem with his knees that kept him in a wheelchair. He used to feel anger and bitterness at being trapped in the chair.

Change can be so gradual that while it is happening you can’t see it. For a long time I don’t think that even Robert could see the change in himself. But at some point over the last year there was no missing the new man that God was crafting Robert into. What a joy it has been to watch as Jesus chased down Robert and freed him from the burden of his past and anchored him into the reality that “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” (Romans 8:1). The last few months especially Robert has truly understood and held fast to that truth.

As I sit here in the hospital room I decide to read Romans 8 to Robert. Paul lays it out there. We have been chosen. Adopted. We are now beloved children of our heavenly Daddy. Jesus has conquered the power of sin and death. And now nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing. Because of that we are more than conquerors because of Him in us. There’s that phrase, “More than conquerors.” I look at Robert. I think I understand what I am supposed to write now. Robert’s life is a picture of Romans 8 from beginning to end. Because of Jesus in him, Robert is more than a conqueror. Even if Robert dies now, the enemy has no victory here.

Even if you weren’t in a biker gang like Robert, you may still wrestle with guilt from your past. The enemy may use your past as a way of heaping condemnation upon yourself. But this is not from God. The truth is that Jesus does not hold you in condemnation. “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one.” (Romans 8:33-34). He has made us to be conquerors over sin, over our past. But the key word is “He.” Robert did nothing to be a conqueror to the power of sin in his life. Jesus did it all.

So as I sit here in room 612, I am saddened by the fact that my friend is fighting for his life, but at the same time I find joy in God’s goodness, and His faithfulness that I have seen in His pursuit of Robert. Robert’s body is old, broken down, and dying, and yet he is a new creation.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

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The Nations in America

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By Stan Peterson

Recently I’ve been working in the UW district of Seattle on Brooklyn Avenue at an old apartment complex named Campus Apartments. I’m a fire sprinkler fitter installing a new system in the basement. As I work from unit to unit I get a thorough vista of all around the site. From that view last Wednesday I saw a young man walking down the alley with a friend smoking a cigarette, when all of a sudden I got an impression or unction to go to this young man and share the Gospel. I hesitated and uttered a quick prayer, something like, “Do You really want me to go to him?” I dropped my tool bags, ran up the stairs and out into the alleyway, and looked hard into the direction he was traveling, but it was way too late. I asked forgiveness for my slothfulness and asked God if this young man really needs to hear the message that He would bring him back to me.

Friday came and right around my usual break I was working in a different unit, in the front not the back. I happened to be working right at the window, and I caught a movement and looked — it was the same young man! In shock, I hesitated for a second (literally), then dropped my tool bags and ran out the front after this young man. What do I say? I thought. What do I do? I was in my grungy work clothes, and I just ran, blurting out “Excuse me, I am working in this building and I saw you pass the other day in the alley, you were smoking a cigarette and talking to your friend, was that you?” I confirmed that it indeed was the young man I saw the other day. I started in with saying that God has a message and it is urgent for him to hear this. His eyes got real big and his countenance changed and he leaned closer to understand what I was saying.

I found out that this young man is from Saudi Arabia and is here studying at UW. He is a Muslim who had never heard of Jesus Christ before that day! I explained to Him God is Creator, Man is fallen and in great need, and the gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacrificial atonement in layman’s terms, making sure that he understood what I was saying. He asked me if he could get my phone number, and, shocked, I gave it to him. As he pulled out his iPhone it was all in Arabic, and I watched him type my info into his phone. He said that he wanted to hear more and would call me. His name is Anas; please pray for God to continue to move in his life and for salvation for him and his family. (I have not heard from him yet.)

The next morning as I was walking into work I contemplated a frightening thought. Matthew 25.32 says that God will one day separate the people who are saved from the people who are not saved. Will I see the numbers of people I knew but did not share the Gospel with as we are being separated?

Do I mourn for my sin? Do I mourn for the sin of my brothers and sisters in Christ? Do I mourn for the sin of the lost, for the sin of those who if not confronted with grace and truth will be led to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment? These thoughts sobered me and awakened me to all I have seen in the week prior, whom I had passed by without a thought toward their eternal destiny. The students hurrying off to class; the parking police busy writing tickets; the alcoholic who sleeps just outside the alley; a lady who has lost her bird and frantically comes up to me while I am waiting one morning to be let inside of the locked complex; the apartment manager who asks me nicely to be sure to clean up after I am done; not to mention the very people working beside me, such as the two plumbers who are from England, two electricians from Ukraine and Bulgaria, the general contractor, and two carpenters. God has laid the nations before us right here in the United States of America.

May we be a people who intercede for ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and the nations.

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