What is an Apostle?

What is an Apostle?

What is an Apostle?

What is an Apostle?

What is an apostle? This post offers and discusses several definitions. It also addresses the all-important issue of character as it relates to the gift and calling of apostolic service. By reading this you will come away with a greater understanding and appreciation of the God-given apostolic ministry.

How do we find a definition of what is an apostle? The Scriptures are the only way. With the emergence of modern day apostles there’s a lot of confusion in some peoples minds. Some well-meaning Christians don’t recognize any apostles except the twelve originals in the Bible. However, there may be as many as 25 apostles mentioned in the Bible.

What is an Apostle?

In a generic sense, an apostle is a “sent one” or “one sent on a mission.” The Greek word is apostolos. In a generic sense all Christians are “sent out on a mission”. In that sense we are all apostles!

In a technical sense the term refers to the person who functions in the five fold ministry or office of apostle. That’s what we are talking about here.

A common approach is to define apostle as “a pastor to pastors”. Since we all know what a pastor is, this simple definition is helpful. Sneak a peek at our 55 second video interview with Sonny Mizar, a modern day apostle, as he responds to the question, “What is an apostle?”

I’ve both studied the Scriptures and worked with apostles for over fifty years. Here’s my definition:

“An apostle is a Christian leader called and supernaturally gifted by God to open new spiritual or geographical territory for the gospel, lay foundations, equip believers, and serve as catalyst and coordinator for churches and ministries.”

My definition includes the phrase “open new spiritual or geographical territory.” I’m not aware of any other definition like it. I include it because I see it both in the Bible and in modern day apostles. Paul and his crew of Timothy, Silvanus, and other men were first to preach in Macedonia, Achaia (southern Greece), and beyond. Peter opened the gospel to Cornelius and through him to the all Gentiles.

I’m not saying my definition is perfect or complete. If you can improve it, go ahead. Please write out your definition of  “What is an  apostle?” and send it to me. (Maybe I can include it here.) My words are not written in marble; rather, I’m attempting to identify the essential elements of a Biblical and modern day apostle.

Must an Apostle “See the Lord?”

In times past, many have bought into the idea that one must see the Lord in order to be recognized as a genuine apostle. Is this idea valid? I maintain Paul is not an apostle because he saw the Lord, rather he saw the Lord, and he was also an apostle. Click here to find a fuller discussion of the question.

Today I found a website from Australia that teaches the same as I in regard to the question “Must an apostle see the Lord? Although I do not know John Alley, the apostle and founder of Peace Ministries, the ministry seems sound to me at this point in time.

What is an Apostle? According to Dr. C. Peter Wagner

I highly recommend Dr. C. Peter Wagner and his 2002 book Spheres of Authority: Apostles in Today’s Church. The book is well written and easy to understand. He uses plain English and eliminates technical theological jargon. You can order on Amazon.   He is certainly a forward thinker and prolific author regarding apostles. In Spheres of Authority Wagner offers the following definition:

“An apostle is a Christian leader, gifted, taught, commissioned and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.”

Wagner’s definition is thorough although somewhat cumbersome. He emphasizes “spheres of authority” (some “spheres” in the church and some in the marketplace) and is well worth listening to.

What is an Apostle? According to David Cannistraci.

David Cannistraci offers this definition in his 1996 book Apostles and the Emerging Apostolic Movement: “An apostle is one who [is] called and sent by Christ to have the spiritual authority, character, gifts and abilities to successfully reach and establish people in Kingdom truth and order, especially through founding and overseeing local churches.”

To understand “what is an apostle?” we need to differentiate between a person’s gift (or calling) and character. Both Wagner and Cannistraci make the point that in order to sustain an effective apostolic ministry a person must have extraordinary character. I heartily agree. Yet I know men who are genuinely called and gifted as apostles but have not yet developed some important character traits such as humility and patience.

These men are truly gifted by God as apostles but lack His character. These men should not be commissioned or sent out by churches, presbyteries, or peer groups until character flaws are corrected. Again, they have the gifting but not the character. It’s the same for pastors; some have the calling, yet lack certain character qualities. But that doesn’t mean they are not pastors. It only means they are not very good pastors!

Wagner writes on page 37 of Spheres of Authority, “Above all other signs, character is the sine qui non of apostolic ministry.” In the same section, Dr. Wagner asserts, “A person cannot be a true apostle without extraordinary character.”

I know a man in Africa who plants churches, coordinates ministries, opens new territory for the gospel and does all the work of an apostle. But he tends to be a dictator and lords it over co-workers. He needs to be accountable to other men in the five fold ministry to remedy his character flaw, to develop healthy churches, and to sustain a God-pleasing ministry.

What is an apostle? You can learn more by going to www.churchesandapostles.com and grabbing a copy of my book.  Here’s what others are saying about Local Churches Global Apostles: How Churches Related to Apostles in the New Testament Era and Why It Matters Now.

“Anderson connects with leaders everywhere by taking us from his personal hurt in a critical relationship to a focused and thorough search of the N.T. Good things are afoot. Anderson has put an important piece of the puzzle on the table for us. Easy to access.”

“Anderson has served the kingdom well by his remarkably thorough examination of the biblical data regarding churches and apostles.” — Jerry Daley. (Daley is a church planter who many recognize as a modern-day apostle.)

I couldn’t put the book down when I got started so stayed up late last night to finish it.   I . . . thoroughly enjoyed it. Very well researched relationships between the apostolic and the New Testament Churches.  Bernie Wing, pastor

 

Local Churches Global Apostles

Local Churches Global Apostles

 

You can also order at Amazon.com.

 

 

Chicken Evangelism Makes Disciples

Chicken Evangelism Makes Disciples

Chicken Evangelism Makes Disciples

 

Chicken Evangelism Makes disciples

Chicken Evangelism makes disciples. It’s an adventure. It’s fun. It’s personal evangelism that crushes fear by “sharing Christ before you chicken out!”

What is Chicken Evangelism and Why Does It Work?

Chicken Evangelism (Share Christ before You Chicken Out) is based on Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 4:35, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” Christ maintains some folks are ready to receive Him as Savior right now. They just need to be shown how.

Chicken Evangelism—Get a Vision for the Lost

I have taken Christ at His word. He has helped me ask a crucial question of people, often on our first encounter. “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?” The responses have amazed me and many others. Here’s the story of how a college age man received Christ as Savior a few minutes after we met.  Gas station attendant receives Christ.

Chicken Evangelism—Make Disciples

Chicken evangelism (Bring up Christ before you chicken out) is sometimes criticized by those who’ve never tried it for “making decisions, not disciples.” All I can say is, “Pardon me, your slip is showing!” Let’s examine this criticism under the microscope.

While it is true that chicken evangelism does not always lead to discipleship (and the same can be said of any form of evangelism), consider the case of Dave Kerr. The first or second time I met Dave I asked him, “Have you received Christ Jesus into your life?” He answered that he had a different way of looking at things. Yet as time progressed, Dave changed. He became the leader of our  group for men and served faithfully for many years.

Or consider Flynn Collier. When I first approached Flynn with the question, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?” He didn’t  want to talk and said so in no uncertain terms. But God used the question to stir his mind. Two weeks later Flynn showed up at church uninvited. He has rarely missed a Sunday since! He connected with Christ through the apostles creed, “I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord.” Now Flynn hears God’s voice and is an example of obedience to God for all to see. We call him Flynn “Fantastic” Collier.

Then there’s the lady in our church who asked a sales clerk “Do you have Jesus in your heart?” She challenged him to receive Christ on the spot, but he didn’t want to pray on the job. Yet her question left an impact. He was stirred. Immediately after work he went out to his car and prayed a prayer of salvation. As soon as he got home he told his daughter what he had done and encouraged her to do the same. She prayed a prayer of salvation and received Jesus that same night. The following week she went out and enrolled in confirmation classes at the Lutheran Church. This is discipleship at its finest. Don’t tell me chicken evangelism doesn’t make disciples!

Chicken Evangelism  “As You’re Going”

Matthew 28:19 is often written, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,” but is perhaps best translated, “as you are going make disciples.” Or as a footnote for the NASB  translates, “Having gone (into the world).” The thought in Jesus Great Commission is that we have already gone into the world where we live, work, and do our daily activities. The beauty of Chicken Evangelism is no one has to go out of his way to share good news. Rather, as we are going shopping, buying gas, paying bills, we meet people along the way. Some of these are ready to receive Christ. Consider the cell phone sales lady.

Chicken Evangelism—Get Filled with the Holy Spirit

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Although people understand this verse in various ways, we can all agree with Jesus that the fullness of he Holy Spirit is intended to help us share our faith.

Chicken Evangelism—The Bible Way to Pray for the Lost

Here’s a radical idea, and it’s altogether Biblical. Instead of praying for the lost, pray that God will open the mouths of Christians to make the gospel clear.  Paul knew this secret and often asked people to pray for him to enable him to share the gospel (Eph 6:19 and 20). “And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Chicken Evangelism—Ask the God Question Before You Chicken Out!

When some people hear about chicken evangelism, they think I am bold, but I am not. Nor am I an evangelist. I overcome fear by asking the God question early. Here’s the story of a Texas State student who received Christ. I find I have about a five minute window when I meet a new person. If I don’t ask the question within the window, I chicken out! I’m for all forms of evangelism. I support relationship evangelism, friendship evangelism, and every form of outreach. Relationship evangelism may be the best form of all. The problem is I rarely see it happening.

Chicken Evangelism–Make the Gospel Clear

This is a crucial key! 1 Cor 15:1-6  has helped me so much because it makes the gospel clear. “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel: Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus Christ rose from the dead.” We must make the good news glorious and clear. Salvation is a free gift based on Jesus death and resurrection. As soon as I started making the gospel clear, people started getting saved! Without the gospel people don’t get saved.

Chicken Evangelism–Let the Holy Spirit Lead about Follow Up

I have always taught workers to follow up on people. Yet, study the Scriptures with me. Outside of the twelve and Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, how many times did Jesus follow up on those he ministered to? The answer may surprise you. Follow up is something that must be led by the Holy Spirit.

I Invite You  . . .

This post explains what Chicken Evangelism is (bring up Christ before you chicken out!) and adds a few aspects that make it work. Go ahead, try it out–you may be surprised at how many are ready to receive Christ! And if you want to talk about it, contact me.

Receive Christ as Savior–This Tower Worker Just Accepted Salvation

 

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Receive Christ As Savior–This Cell Tower Worker was Ready

Another man has been added to the Kingdom. To God be the glory!

Are you ready to receive Christ as Savior? Here’s more about How to do it.

The cell phone tower worker was sitting in his company owned pickup with the motor running. He was busying himself with his computer as he checked out the status of the AT&T tower. The window was open so he was easily approached.

 

“Do you ever climb these towers?” I began.

“No, and I never want to,” he explained.

 

We talked about the tower for a minute or two until I asked my “Chicken Evangelist” question.

 

“Have you ever—and this is a personal question—asked Jesus Christ into your life?”

 

The man smiled. “Oh, sometimes . . .” he answered. “Sometimes . . . ” He said it as if he were thinking about it for the distant future. (I really wanted him to be able to receive Christ as Savior. I don’t want to see anyone suffer in hell.)

He was a large man yet he began to show a child-like heart. He obviously wasn’t sure about much of anything. I could tell he was open to talk so we exchanged names.

 The Good News–Here’s How a Man Receives Christ As Savior

“I have some really good news for you, Scooter.” I proceeded to share the gospel in as simple but complete way as I could. He listened to it all. When I got to the part about faith, he admitted, “I have trouble with faith. I’m not a faith or feeling person. I go more by facts.”

Everyone Who Receives Christ Needs the Historical, Objective Gospel Facts

“Actually, I’m a believer in Christ today because of the facts. I studied to find out if Jesus Christ really rose from the dead. I investigated to find out if the Bible were true or not. I’m a believer now because of the objective, historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead and the that the Bible is well-attested by historical fact.

 

Scooter was interested but unmoved. I could tell he wanted to settle some things about Christ and God but seemed powerless to move ahead. He tried changing the subject.

 

“I’ve thought about these things–especially the past couple of nights.” He explained that storms had kept him awake. I perceived that God was preparing him to make a decision and I told him so.

 

He delayed. “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know….” We talked about what faith is. I explained faith as taking a risk. We don’t need to know everything before we invite Christ into our heart. If we have to know everything before we accept Him, we’ll never go ahead and receive Him because we’ll never know everything!”

 

This made sense to Scooter and he nodded his agreement.

 

“We could go one of two ways here. You could get more and more objective information or you could take a risk and receive Christ into your life and see what He will do. I sensed this man needed to take a step of faith, that more knowledge or information would only delay him.

 

“Scooter, I think you’re ready to receive Christ into your life like a little child. I’m going to leave you alone and let you talk to God on your own. Ask Christ to forgive your sins and come into your life Are you willing to pray and ask Christ Jesus to come into your life?” He answered both verbally and with a nod of his head, “Yes, I will.”

 

“Good,” I said “and if it’s OK with you I’ll take and walk and come back in a few minutes and see what’s happened.”

 

I took off, retrieved a Campus Crusade for Christ booklet and returned. Upon return he said he had prayed a prayer of invitation to receive Christ Jesus into his life!. I prayed aloud that God would seal the work He had done. I gave Scooter the booklet and told him it had meant a lot to me.

 

We chatted briefly. Then out of the blue he said, “Things are going better for me. I’ve lost seventy-five pounds in the last 3 months!” Of course, I congratulated him on that achievement and asked how he did it. We talked some more. I invited him to church, any Bible believing church, since he lived out of town. We both shared how much we had enjoyed talking together and expressed hope to meet again in the future.

 

NOTES: It never ceases to amaze me how witnessing builds friendships. Invariably after talking with someone who receives Christ (or even talking about Christ with a stranger whether they receive Him or not), people open up and share personal things about themselves. Scooter wanted to let me know he lost 75 pounds! He trusted me with a joy of his life. Many men will share life’s woes with a stranger but men tend to share life’s joys only with a friend.

 

What do you think about the fact that God had been preparing this guy by keeping him awake through storms? “I’ve thought about these things–especially the past couple of nights.”  If we are witnessing with someone, we can be confident God has prepared them to receive.

 

Here’s another take on Chicken Evangelism (sharing Christ before you chicken out). Everyone wants to have good relationships. We think we need to build a relationship with someone before we witness our faith in Christ to them. Some folks pray for years for a friend and then try to add Christ to the relationship. That’s backwards. Share Christ first and then you’ll have a friend.

Evangelism Undresses the Heart

evangelism undresses the heart

Evangelism is the tenderest of things. The evangelistic relationship is so personal, so fragile that many devoted Christians are afraid to try. Evangelism undresses the heart.

Yes, ‘tis true, the gospel presentation involves objective historical facts, e.g., Jesus Christ died for our sins, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Beyond the facts, however, true evangelism uncovers the barest emotions of the heart. Evangelism is one heart speaking with another heart.

Personal evangelism is just that—very personal. The soul-winner takes the wraps off his heart in hope the next person will unveil his own.

When anyone witnesses to another he reveals himself. The Greek word for witness is martyr, e.g., one who suffers or is killed for his faith. The witness opens his life and lays it down in front of another. He is no longer protecting himself, but rather revealing his intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus to another person. He is willing to openly show who he is, what he believes, who he loves, and who he is willing to suffer or die for. He knows that he may be rejected, mocked, or ridiculed, yet he plunges ahead with the most personal element of life—his faith and love toward God.

Inherent in the gospel presentation (“Jesus did for our sins”) is the acknowledgement “I am a sinner, saved by grace.” To witness means we reveal ourselves, maybe more than we wish. To witness means to open up to another person a hidden part of ourselves that may be very private. When we say, “I’ve invited Jesus into my heart,” or “I love God” or “My sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ,” we are confessing very personal things about our lives.

Evangelism is delicate, tender and revealing. It cannot be otherwise. Soul-winning may open up old hurts and tell how we got the scars. In the recipient, it often evokes the same.

My wife, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, will sometimes ask a stranger, “What could I pray for you?” This simple question has prompted ladies to open up or emotionally melt—even burst into tears.  Sometimes evangelism cries and weeps, not restraining the tears.

Of course, not every conversation releases all these emotions. The soul-winner pours out his breaking heart in intercession before he ever meets the one with whom he shares his faith. The heart of a soul-winner cries out to God like Praying John Hyde of India, “Give me souls, or I die!” Then in conversation with a hungry heart, distilled love is poured out in a cascade of truth and emotion on a receiving man or woman, boy or girl.

People need closure. To bring issues to the surface and then leave a person spiritually or emotionally dangling demonstrates immaturity or ineptness on the part of the witness. The Holy Spirit will often prompt a soul-winner to pray gently with a needy person for salvation or healing.

But that’s a topic for another day. For now, let’s humble ourselves. Let’s be willing to take off our protective layers and gently bare our souls in front of some who hurt.

 

Apostles Open New Territory

Apostles Open Doors to New Territory

Apostles Open Doors to New Territory

 How Can Apostles Help Churches?

“An apostle is a Christian leader called and supernaturally gifted by God to open new spiritual and geographical territory for the gospel, lay foundations, equip believers, and serve as catalyst and coordinator for churches and ministries.”

Notice, apostles are those who open new spiritual . . . territory for the gospel.”  Click here to find a fuller explanation of apostle. We are speaking here of modern day apostles as well as those closer to the time of the Apostles Creed.

So how do apostles open up new territory? And what is new territory?

One example is evangelism. Evangelism is not new, of course, but almost non-existent in the lives of most Christians. Five percent or less of all church members share their faith with non-believers. Frankly, evangelism needs to become “new” to the church.

Another prime example  of new territory is the ability for believers to hear God’s voice. Many Christians still doubt that God talks to them or if He does, they don’t hear. Let’s look more closely.

The study of a matter is termed “ology.” When “ology” is coupled with a noun we often find a specific category for study or investigation. For example, the study of the church is ecclesiology, from ekklesia (the Greek word for church). The study of the Holy Spirit is pneumatology, from pneuma (the Greek word for spirit). The study of living things is zoology, from zoe (the Greek word for living things).

The Greek word for “hearing” is akouw. I propose a field of study called “akouology,” the study of hearing and following the voice of God. The Bible says, “My sheep hear My voice” (John 10:27).  God expects every believer to hear Him in some way or another.

What follows is a PROPOSED INTRODUCTION to akouolgy, the study of hearing God and doing what He says.

God speaks primarily through the Bible. Other ways God speaks are through people, prophecy, dreams, visions, trances, circumstances, finances, impressions, nature, angels, etc.

All extra-Biblical speech should be tested by Scripture; no word from God will contradict the Bible.

God talks a lot (John 16:13-17). Some people call Him a “chatterbox.” His speech often focuses on natural, small, seemingly unimportant, or mundane matters.

We can and should all learn to hear God’s voice. This requires practice and experimentation.

Hearing from God may not mean “voice” of even words; rather, feeling, motivation, “whispers”, slight impressions, strange coincidences, etc. may all be a part of God’s voice.

God has chosen to speak in symbols, parables, puzzles, etc. He wants us to seek Him for meaning and interpretation.

God gives dreams (Acts 2:17, Matt 2:12, 19, Numbers 12:6, Job 33:14-18).

Not all dreams are from God (Eccles 5:3, 7).

The initial response to dreams is generally meditation and intercession (Dan 7:2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13).

God’s voice, i.e., dreams and visions, etc. precipitate faith (Roma 10:17) and require a faith response. His rhema words are not automatically fulfilled but depend on our faith and obedience.

Dreams, like prophecy, are only one part of a larger picture (1 Cor 13: 9)

Don’t “marry” your dream or vision. Things often turn our somewhat differently than expected (Compare Acts 16:9 with Acts 16:13).

Don’t “bury” your word from God. Some words are multi-generational in fulfillment (Gen 12:7). Some words require “death of a vision” before completion (Gen 22).

There are many different types of dreams, e.g. healing, self-help, telling the future, warning, confirming, etc.

When a word form God involves a major decision or a group of people, there should be confirmation.

God speaks to unbelievers as well as believers (Dan 4:4-5).

Speaking in tongues and personal prayer requests can precipitate God’s voice (1 Cor. 2:9ff)

To ignore God’s voice involves consequences (Heb 3:7-19).

Conclusion: Apostles Need to Open Up the Study of Akouolgy in Churches Today

What I have written is a proposed introduction to the study of hearing and acting on God’s voice. I’m calling it akouology and suggest this is an area of utmost importance for believers and the church of God in general. If the church on earth is be what God called us to be, we must learn to hear God and do what He says. This is what it means to be the church.

Apostles and prophets need to advance this study– akouology, hearing God and doing what He says–in order to liberate the churches and people they influence.

For an extensive study of how churches related to apostles in the New Testament era, get a copy of my book Local Churches Global Apostles.

 

Symptoms of True Love (Part 5)

Symptoms of true love

Symptoms of true love

 

Symptoms of True Love.

This post is about one of the symptoms of true love toward God, not romantic relationship. It’s about giving up everything to Christ.

There’s a famous cartoon of Garfield the Cat hanging with his two front paws on a clothesline wire. The caption reads, “When all else fails, hang in there!

Symptoms of true love is the final part of a series, “5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned as a Cancer Patient.” You can access the introduction here. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 here.  Find Part 4 here.

This Garfield cartoon fits a man with cancer. We never know the future. All of life and the precious things we’ve worked so hard for could be pulled away from us in an instant or a few weeks. There’s nothing we can do about it. We begin to understand more fully what’s important in life and what isn’t. Money, time, even friends and family are fleeting.

All we can do is hang onto God with our two front paws. When all else dissolves, God is still there.

For me, I have to give up everything and lay back on the chest of Christ. Family hopes fade. Ministry dreams evaporate. But love remains—His love to me and mine toward Him. I have ministry goals: I want to see people saved and healed. I want to see lives changed and His kingdom come. I want to see the church built up and become more influential in the community.

But I have cancer. I have to give it all up. All I want is to love God. I will let Him determine my ministry. I have no other choice. Nor do I want anything else. I am His and He is mine. This attitude is one of he symptoms of true love. And that’s the way it should be from the beginning.

“Not My Will, But Thine Be Done.”

Tony Reinke over at the Desiring God website has a quote from Tim Keller that helps define and identify one of the symptoms of true love. “Suffering is actually at the heart of the Christian story.”

Am I willing to give it all up to Jesus?

Are you willing to suffer for Jesus sake? Am I?

 

Why Teach Kids Memory Verses (Part 4)

What’s so Important about Kids Memory Verses?

Kids memory verses–those I learned as a child–helped me go through the torment of chemotherapy. Here’s what I found.

This is part 4 of a series, “5 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned as a Cancer Patient.” Read the introduction here.

Part 1, “Who are the Majestic Ones?” is found here. Part 2, “What to say to a Sick Man?” is practical and something everyone needs to know. Part 3, “Love Doesn’t Let Anyone Go to Hell” will grip anyone with a heart.

It’s rough to have cancer. It’s rough to go through Chemo-therapy treatments. Chemo changes a human body and mind. Digestion, sleep patterns, energy levels, almost everything changes as those chemicals take up bodily residence. I have spent plenty of sleepless nighttime hours.  What’s a person to do hour after hour of drug induced sleeplessness?

The best idea is to meditate on Scripture. That’s where kids memory verses like Psalm 23 saved the day. (Or should I say, saved the night?) I don’t want to turn on the lights and get totally awake by reading something. Meditation on Psalms or other Bible verses can relax and induce sleep. But how can a person meditate on verses he’s never committed to memory? No way; the Scripture has to be learned in advance of the crisis.

My Great Discovery

The Psalms and other verses I’d learned as a child returned; the verses or chapters I’d memorized as an adult slipped so easily away. I was surprised about this. Normally, we’d think what we learned most recently would be most retained. In fact, the opposite was true. I knew it was easier to memorize as a child, but I was unprepared in my hours of need to recall the verses I’d memorized as an adult. John 3:16, Psalm 46 and other verses came back but only because I’d committed them to memory in my childhood.

What’s the “take home”?

Parents, do yourself and your children a favor by teaching kids memory verses now before their minds get cluttered with the affairs of life. Sunday School teachers and Children’s Church workers, do the same. Teach the children whose parents never come to church verses about God’s love and salvation through Christ. You never know—some of those verses may return in hours of suffering or crises during adult years.

I’m saying it again.  I learned this as a cancer patient. These simple kids memory verses carried me through the nights of chemo-induced torment. You will never regret teaching Bible memory verses, nor will they!

 

Love Doesn’t Let Anyone Go to Hell (Part 3)

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I experienced hell. No place on earth is like it. If we care about anyone, we will do our best to rescue them from the ravages of the devil and his place of torment.

This is part 3 of a series “5 Life-Changing Lessons I learned as a Cancer Patient.” Read the introduction “You’ve Got Cancer!” 

Read part 2 here.    

Part 3 “What to Say to a Sick Man?” is practical and located here.

 

Following my first chemotherapy treatment I was reduced to what seemed like a near vegetable state. I was weak physically, and weaker still in my mind. In a drug induced stupor I was susceptible to demonic attack. As I tried to sleep that first night I felt all hell was turned upside down and poured out on me.  Hideous, evil thoughts I’d never seen or imagined camped in my mind.

I do deliverance ministry. I know how to combat the devil. But this was different. When I called for the blood of Jesus, the devil himself seemed to appear.  I couldn’t get free no matter what I tried. What I experienced was the horrendous hatred of the devil toward me and every human being. No words can adequately describe the devil and his hatred. No words can fully prepare a person for the torments of hell.

The next night I came armed with the prayers of my oldest son and the elders of the church. Through their prayers I was greatly protected.

I see now more clearly than ever the need to rescue people from the devil’s deception and bring them into heaven. If we care at all about friends, relatives, co-workers we will tell them about Jesus. No feeling should stop us from giving the good news about salvation from hell to people we care about. I say again, if we love someone, let’s spare nothing in order to tell them about Jesus and lead them to salvation. (See some posts on this site for simple, empowering ways to lead someone to Christ—it’s serious business, but also a lot of fun!)

Hell is neither picnic nor place to go and be with friends. Learn about Chicken Evangelism—bring up Christ before you chicken out. If we love ‘em, tell ‘em ‘bout Jesus now!

What to say to a sick man?

This is Part 2 of a 5 part series. Read the introduction here.

Read Part 1 “Who are the Majestic Ones?” here.

Here’s something practical, down-to-earth, and just plain helpful. ” What to say to a sick man?” This can be important for evangelism too.

Nearly everyone wants to help, but how? Most of us struggle to find words when we meet someone who is sick or going through a crisis. I admit that up until now my most common response has been to say, “I’m sorry.”  I was doing my best to empathize with the hurting. But since I got cancer I’ve discovered that to say, “I’m sorry” doesn’t help much. It just leaves me in my condition. What I need is hope and lots of it! I found that any attempt at hope, even suggestions for crazy alternative therapies, offers some hope.

Teachings don’t help much either. Sick men don’t need teaching; we need faith.

What should a person say to a sick guy? The best response I found is for someone to come along side, listen and humbly ask, “What can I do to help?” Who knows? Maybe the need is a ride? Or meals for the family? Or help to change a light bulb?

Flynn is a young and single father whose daughter Riley had a dramatic bout with a cancerous brain tumor. Riley survived the surgery with eighty-eight stitches in her head. Flynn mentioned something I had recently taught the church. “I really appreciated what you taught the other day. You said, “Don’t say, ‘I’m sorry’ to people who are hurting. That doesn’t help. What we need is encouragement, not sympathy.”

Think about it. “What can I do to help?” or “How can I help you?” These questions show humility on our part. No need to guess or assume what someone else needs. These questions place the sick man in the driver’s seat. They show respect to the sick. They empower the person who’s hurting and allow him or her to express his own needs. And who knows better than anyone what’s the need of the moment than the sick man himself?

 

Who Are the Majestic Ones? (Part 1 of 5-part Series)

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5 Life-changing Lessons I learned as a Cancer Patient

Click here to read the introduction “You Have Cancer!”

My wife, Kari, and some of our children stood on either side of me as I announced to our church that I had cancer. When we sat down, the entire church immediately gathered around us and started ministering to us in faith and prayer. They didn’t hesitate one bit. One lady, Sherry, who is herself a cancer survivor, announced with unmitigated faith and passion, “Christ is a big “C”; cancer is a little “c”! There I was, a broken man, and the whole church was standing as one in staunch faith and love.

Who are the majestic ones? “As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight” (Psalm 16). The church of the Living Water has stood by me like an immoveable rock throughout the duration of my chemotherapy treatments. If I didn’t know it before (and I did) I know it now—the saints of God, the church, are the majestic ones in all the earth.

My wife and family, each and every son and daughter, are giving me unwavering assistance throughout this trial. They are majestic in my eyes.

My fellow pastors in Muscatine have rallied to my benefit. God has heard prayers from the pulpits of nearly every church in town. Baptist, Methodist, Vineyard, non-denominational, and so on, they have all prayed for me. These are a majestic band of brothers.

“A brother in need is a brother indeed.” The aphorism is true. Crisis reveals our true friends. Nor should anyone be surprised that Christian people are salient in the mercy department. Every believer in Jesus Christ has received His mercy. It’s only natural that we pass it on.

It’s common in some quarters to criticize the church in America. Yet when the chips are down, who is the greatest support group anywhere? Unbelievers need to know there is an assembly of “Good Samaritans” ready and willing to help in time of need. God bless the church!