Making Gospel Bridges (by Pastor Clay Hamrick)

One question always comes up when I hear people talk about sharing their faith, ‘How do I share’? They know what the gospel is, but have difficulty verbalizing it when in live conversation. Fear and nervousness creeps in and their confidence is shaken. Often what I hear after that is, I don’t know enough. I’m not competent to share my faith.

What they haven’t learned is how to make Gospel Bridges and use simple tools to share. I heard a story from a man that used to work as a chaplain at a large hospital in Asia. He would visit many patients hoping to share the gospel with them. He was rejected many times. If he spoke to 20 people, only 2 or 3 would hear him out. At lunch he and his wife would have noodles together across the street from the hospital. The waiter would always ask if he would like an egg with that. He would tell him no.

One day he and his wife were ordering lunch and the waiter asked him if he would like one egg or two? He told the waiter one. His wife asked, why did you order an egg? You see, the waiter didn’t ask a yes or no question. He asked one or two. Aha, the gentleman said, I found my bridge to share the gospel. He realized that he kept asking permission to share. Most patients received prayer but would answer no when asked if he could share the gospel.

He created a bridge by transitioning from prayer to telling his own story and then sharing the gospel. Many more people were receptive to this bridge. We have to create bridges too. In the USA we have a giant store called Wal-Mart. Every time I’m in line to check out, people tell me some complaint about their life, work or family. They didn’t ask if I wanted to hear it. They just told me.

People like to hear your story. Most people want to hear what your life was like before you met Jesus. Most of us are not perfect. That is only the beginning of our story, but it is a bridge to the gospel. Another bridge I use is prayer. I start off by asking people, if God would do a miracle in your life today what would that be? And then I ask if I can pray for that miracle, for them, for their family, and for their community.

After praying, I’ll ask if they are near or far from God? If they say near, then I share my story followed by this question …. do you have a story like that? It helps determine whether they really have a relationship with God. If they respond that they are far then I tell them how I was far and show them (gospel tool) how they can come near.

Making gospel bridges and learning simple tools goes a long way in building competence. Regular practice using the bridges and tools builds confidence in sharing your faith. Fear and nervousness is replaced with joy as others come to faith and receive the good news.

 

— Pastor Clay Hamrick
Mosaic International Church
Jacksonville FL

Advertisements
Making Gospel Bridges (by Pastor Clay Hamrick)

Disciple-Fu (by Pastor Clay Hamrick)

For several years as a teenager and as a young adult I studied traditional Kung-Fu. Like the funny panda in the martial arts cartoon movie, I love Kung-Fu! It started on Sunday afternoon when we got home from church. About four o’clock, black belt theater came on. From that point on I was hooked. No one in our city taught Kung-Fu. There was karate and other forms, but no Kung-Fu. It had to be Kung-Fu. Then one day, a new school opened. Could it be? Yes! Boom! I could be living the dream!

In two years I became a black belt in shaolin Kung-Fu. You could come as often as you desired, and I did. We trained hard every day. Over time, I picked up the pedagogy of the Sifu (teacher). He modeled it. I imitated him. He corrected. Then he would show me what each technique meant. Later he would match us up for live boxing. Each practice made us sharper. Each practice moved us from jerky reaction to calm response, even in the heat of battle.

It has been thirty years since that time. I still remember the techniques and training. I still love Kung-Fu! You might be asking, what does this have to do with discipleship? It has reinforced the idea of apprenticeship pedagogy into how I disciple others. In the last few months, I’ve begun to practice with some old buddies. We are also starting discipleship. I’m calling it Disciple-Fu. We train to be followers of Christ and fishers of men, then we train in Kung-Fu.

This training pedagogy was taught by Jesus through a pattern of Model, Assist, Watch and Launch (lead). Jesus used the common life of people to develop them into the people he intended them to be. They learned together. Practiced together. Jesus corrected and explained to them why things didn’t work and the meaning behind the teachings. He made sure that they had the confidence and competence to do the work. It takes practice. It takes seeing it done successfully and in failure.

Training in this manner, we learn to pass on quickly what we have learned. In turn we become better because we are still learning and growing. While I still love kung-fu, I love being a disciple of Jesus more. It is great to see God work in people’s lives and they embrace the disciple making lifestyle.

Go Train – Make Disciples.

 

— Pastor Clay Hamrick
Mosaic International Church,
Jacksonville FL

Disciple-Fu (by Pastor Clay Hamrick)

On Your Marks, Get Set…. (By Manik Corea)

“So (Mary Magdalene) ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple….So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were both running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” (John 20:2-4).

An epidemic of running breaks out in the immediate aftermath of the resurrection. Mary Magdalene tells Peter and John and they both race away to the tomb. John wins, but Peter stoops first to cross the line. Going in after Peter into the inner sanctum of the empty cave-tomb, John sees and believes (verse 8).

Matthew, in his resurrection account (Matthew 28:1-10) tells us that when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to morn at the tomb, the only ‘dead’ bodies they found were those of the guards, made comatose by the sight of a glorious angel. Fueled by a mixture of fear and great joy and at the command of said angel, they likewise run to tell the disciples.

How fast can you run? That probably depends on what you’re running from or for!

But what if God speaks to you?

‘He is not here, for He has risen, as he said.’ (Matthew 28: 6).

What if, like those first witnesses, you were given this startling, unexpected, mind-boggling news.

What if, like Philip, you were sent as a messenger to a leader of an unreached people group (Acts 8:29-30)?

Would you drop all and run like they did?

Or hesitate? Rationalize your situation? Think of a way to send someone else instead?

Would you drag your feet back to your normal routines, distracted and busy as you can be with the usual business of your day?

The good news of the resurrection ought to likewise set us running to rouse each other and hurry to proclaim to a lost and cruel world this greatest news.

Why should we let the wonder and death-shattering reality of His resurrection stay the treasured secret of a few, cloistered in the confines of our inner lives and gatherings?

Why not with haste, broadcast far and wide? Why indeed not?

This year, let us run to tell those far and wide the startling life-changing news of an empty tomb and a risen Savior.

Go!

 

Read our free e-booklet ‘Holy Transformation – 7 short reflections for Easter’ by Revd Canon Dr Jon Shuler, NAMS Servant General. Click on this link.

On Your Marks, Get Set…. (By Manik Corea)

The Way of the Cross (by Manik Corea)

We are in the midst of Holy Week, that yearly reminder of the greatest lengths God went to rescue us from sin and death. Two startling events bookend these most pivotal moments in human history: Jesus made a triumphant but hardly regal entrance into Jerusalem on someone else’s donkey one weekend; He rises from the dead the next from someone else’s tomb, following a tortuous execution reserved for criminals of the worse sort.

This week of weeks constitutes the ‘real stuff’ of our Gospel, the veritable news and life-saving kyregma transmitted to us, individuals in a many-linked chain of hope, by faithful people through the ages. Their message we likewise believed on in faith and are now responsible to live by and pass on (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).

It is a history of epic proportions that stops all heaven in her wake. This great saga of God’s making is worth pondering about often, worth singing about daily, worth sharing about regularly and with urgent intent, to people we meet, near and wide who don’t yet know it (or may not yet care).

It is of first importance for you and me. It is good news with eternal ramifications for all, believers or not.

Yet, if we have ears to listen, we would be awe-struck again and again at the wonder of it all. Jesus, whose very word created everything, divested himself of heaven’s glory to become one of us.

He wandered all over Israel hounded and homeless (Luke 9:58). He was misunderstood and rejected by those closest to him – his own family and home-town (Mark 3:21; 6:4). He and his disciples depended on the generosity of others (Luke 8:3). This was not the life that Heaven’s King deserved.

He was, as the old prophesy had said he would be, ‘despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…’ (Isaiah 53:3).

J.C. Ryle, the great Bishop of Liverpool and theologian wrote: ‘When (Jesus) crossed the sea of Galilee, it was in a borrowed boat. When He rode into the holy city, it was on a borrowed beast. When He was buried, it was in a borrowed tomb…Who that reads the Gospels carefully can fail to observe that he who could feed thousands with a few loaves, was himself sometimes hungry; and he who could heal the sick and infirm, was himself sometimes weary; that he who could cast out devils with a word, was himself tempted; and he who could raise the dead, could himself submit to die?”[1]

Yes, far more mind boggling that his humanity is this: God in Jesus submitted himself on our behalf, to a first-hand experience of unimaginable pain and a shameful death on a Roman cross. He left heaven for earth and went to hell to keep us from it. And He has the scars to show for it.

This Holy Week, let us be challenged anew to walk the way of the cross, to choose to live and die as Jesus did, for a purpose and a glory far greater than this world could ever supply.

Let us sing again, amidst the sacredness, silence and hope of a bloody cross and empty tomb, His song of love in sublime concert with His glorious purpose.

One which will ultimately overcome the syncopated rhythms and discordant melodies of our off-beat world, and call it to order, drowning it with an anthem far lovelier that earth could compose, transporting us to a kingdom far greater than history’s pretenders could build, at the feet of a King far nobler than earth’s famed academies could ever produce.

Let us fall down and worship our crucified, risen King.

 


[1] https://gracegems.org/Ryle/mark11.htm

The Way of the Cross (by Manik Corea)

50 Years And Counting (by Jon Shuler)

It was a Sunday. The third week of Lent that year. I was sitting not too far from the pulpit, to the right of Cynthia my wife, in the little Church of the Advent in Cynthiana, Kentucky. It was the 17th of March. Then I heard a “voice” inside my self. It spoke to me with an authority that was absolute. “You are meant to be a priest.”

Had I been a member of any other tradition, I might have heard the appropriate title: pastor, preacher, minister. But what I heard I heard. I knew instantly that my calling was to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as a leader in his church.

It seems almost impossible to me to be reflecting on that day fifty years later, but I am. I have just finished a wonderful prayer retreat with seven other men, and God has graciously used the time to encourage and teach me (as he did us all) of his love and grace. And I am as eager to follow where he leads now as I was on that day so many years ago, perhaps more eager. The Lord Jesus has taught me that “in quiet and rest is my strength,” but it is not so I may be permanently still, resting in his grace, but to be renewed for service. To go where he needs me, to be available when he needs me, to do what he asks me.

When my late departed mother heard of my calling so many years ago, she spontaneously uttered a Prayer Book phrase she had prayed since she was a child: “his service is perfect freedom.” A lifetime has taught me that truth. To know God’s will and to begin to walk in it is the most wonderful freedom. It is not always easy, but it is most wonderfully free.

Yet how does this freedom to serve work out in the eighth decade of ones life? How are we to continue to be of use when the world begins to need us less and less, and our bodies begin their inevitable decay?

Long ago I heard an old missionary pastor say: “As long as God has work for me to do, I cannot die.” How I have cherished that saying. If I am alive, there is work for me to do that the Lord requires of me. Not someone else, me. It may be only to live a life of hidden prayer for one person, it may be to write and teach for another, to love and care for an incapacitated spouse, or to simply cooperate with the Lord in the disciple-making journey with a few friends for yet another. But there is always an assignment. A unique and personal one.

Are you seeking to hear the Lord’s voice for the rest of your days? Do you know what he has asked of you, in your uniqueness? Not “then”, but “now”?

Only the Lord Jesus knows our days, but know them he does. We are his workmanship, created for his glory.

How beautiful to hear him still saying: “Follow me.”

— Revd. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

50 Years And Counting (by Jon Shuler)

WHY NOT? (by Jon Shuler)

There were 40 people in the classroom for the fifth and final session. There had been 40 in the room for the first one. It had never happened in my years as a leader before, the numbers never declined, and I took it as a good sign. But I was wrong.

 I was trying, again, to impart to a group of adult church goers that the number one responsibility of a Christian, who has grown up, is to be a disciple-maker. I had taught only the words of Jesus. Nothing else. No other books than the Holy Scriptures. No videos. No other program than the clear words of Jesus.

Three months later I returned to the parish, and found that 5 of the 40 had actually done “something” with the teaching. One was reading daily only from one of the four gospels – for the first time. A chapter a day. He was trying to learn to “abide in my word,” as Jesus said a true disciple would. Another was meditating on a small portion of the gospel each day. Two others had begun to disciple another person since the class. One had reoriented the emphasis of his weekly bible study group to being more focused on discipling than study. Five out of forty beginning to make a change. Five out of forty. Only 12 &1/2 %.

For those five my heart was glad.

The amazing thing was, all 40 said: “It was a great class.” Many of them said: “I really learned something.”

But what I found was 35 Christians who are – apparently – used to learning things, but doing nothing with the learning. Changing nothing. Hearing Jesus words, but NOT taking them as from the Lord to be obeyed. And I ask myself: “Why not?”

Since 1988 I have been trying to learn how to be a disciple-making disciple, and a disciple-making leader. I have grown much through these 30 years. I am grateful to God for all that he has shown me. But I find very few other ordained leaders who are engaged in the same quest. And I ask myself: Why not?”

I wonder if you who are reading this have ever asked this question? How is it that the church of Jesus Christ could be filled with people and leaders who have steadfastly ignored the Final Command, yet continue to think of themselves as good Christian people?

Today some you who are reading could make a decision to change how you use your time in obedience to the Lord, and do so. You could resolve to find someone to help you become a disciple-making disciple. But if you read this and do not, I ask you: “Why not?”

— Revd. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

WHY NOT? (by Jon Shuler)