We are living in a unique time. Something new to the earth and the history.
My grandmother's life began in 1898 and she and her six brothers and six daughters rode in two covered wagons to see grandparents. And Grandmother saw the landing on the moon with real joy. Mother saw the polio vaccine steady the planet and parents watching over children. I saw the internet in the early nineties unfold a story about Cardinal songbirds and the time to load up was 30 minutes. I said call me when the water warms up. And my children explained video games and computers to me that we use effortlessly now.
Will my great-grandchildren be married into the family? Will they share core values of mine, knowing Jesus Loves them and sustains them? Will they know who Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are?
My grandmother's era was vastly different even as our culture changed since 9/11.
The Donny Doberman says a lot about today's college indebted for 30 years generation. They don't count on company retirement. They are unsure of our government systems. They don't know if they will marry. And children? Hopefully after a marriage.
Suddenly the Headlines tell us we are in the Roman Empire in the first century A.D.
How are we similar?
Caesar Augustus wanted a census of the Empire. The first of it's kind. Results of this census have recently been located. Bam. Truth. Augustus wanted Knowledge of who we are and what did people do and age and marry and think. With the census he began to re-shape marriage and make inheriting much more difficult - which in turn endangered the family unit - all civilizations - people - need to rely upon.
How we are like Jesus' time ?
The disease of cutting was not in the Psychology books when we went to college. And there are a lot of cutter's out there. Even parent's of cutter's worry and stress about this.
We have 28 Sexually Transmitted Diseases STD and Zika mosquitoes make this the first STI illness.
The headlines read like the Roman Senate.
The Roman weather was so weird, people contemplated if it was the end of the world with earthquakes and weather that was just off.
Christianity has been changing since the end, or the duration, of World War II. Where the liturgy was just read and at the end of the war people said well, we survived and that ol' liturgy didn't help much. Leaving the congregations to be older people today.
The Hour of Power and the Crystal Cathedral fell- why - it's hard to be shiny and happy about all that 'it's all good" attitude. People have dramatic things in life. Like Alcoholism. 30% of Americans have an alcohol disorder. Huffington Post says Online Porn Statistics Porn Sites Get More Visitors Than Netflix, Amazon And Twitter Combined. The Editor got so upset with the story - the story was removed.
The Pew Report says we face a 2% loss of Church regular attendees - every year. Now, really, let's not get too fussed - 85% of Americans identify themselves as Christians who pray and go to Church. But we see changes.
50% of new births do not have marriage committed parents. We hear lots of screaming about the divorce rate and find men with a college degree face long, long term marriages of 2/3's .... SUCCESS RATES.
Churches report that people at age 50 60 return to Church.
The number of churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention grew by 294 to 46,793, a 0.63 percent increase over 2014. This is the 17th year in a row the number of SBC churches has grown. We are seeing a trend in smaller Churches.
Bringing us... To Evangelism Today !!!
The challenges facing Youth Ministry for decades - are the Evangelism challenges of today. Meet the needs of a culture that, if honest, has problems. We have solutions to find and because the adults are less talkie about what they really think and need in their worship times. What faces them ... REALLY.
We knew a woman who had business with us and was lovely. She had a mutual friend. All was just dandy. And unknown the the upper middle class community - her son was in his late thirties - mentally ill, prison released, drug using and as she tried to help him - he shot her and killed her. Her family life was undisclosed to those fairly close to her. I found out a year later - the story on the news - was this gracious lady.
Why didn't she tell. We live in a world where the gentiles over you are much more admirable. We envy the sharp tongue and the sharp elbow. We envy the violent the Bible warns us not to.
In fact, when One Mission of the 30 local Churches get together to worship - The Pastors refrain is "All is Not Right Behind the Trees."
We get into Bible Studies and we do just like this post, complain the good old days are gone. We judge ex-Presidents on their souls - like we are informed. We expect us all to pony up to one opinion.
And... the result is evangelism of the newbies - has them exiting as soon as they can find people who want to know them as they are.
We aren't told that they are worried to death the spouse is an alcoholic porn watcher.
We aren't told the child is flunked out of 4 universities and likes cocaine with a pot chaser.
We aren't usually told the child has a prison record.
We can't share if there is a new car - the tithe machine might happen.
We can't say too much about cancer. It's depressing.
We don't share the child is mentally ill.
My kids are living with their significant other. And now, we say that and don't say, "Let's pray they get married."
We can't say the child is in-debt for college and will never own a home.
We can't say that the medical bills are eating us alive and bankruptcy is the largest case for medical bills.
Will we help someone at Church get a job? What if they bring in a host of tell the others who I really am stories.
Now my Bible Study has met together for about 16 years.
And if I have a problem with my Bible Study partner, I find a time to meet them face to face and explain the rest of the story.
I don't treat this group like they need all of my life handed on a plate.
I'm dealing with a mother who is ill and a husband with a terminal diagnosis of 3 damages brain lobes - with stories of my ability that could go on and on - he is 6/4" and is sometimes angry and a lot of cussing and cussing and I know in Bible Study to keep this succinct. Edward is my beloved one who houses the soul of Edward. Even when all day there is not a kind word. And yet, if you ask for support and don't talk too much - Edward is loving. And now on loan to me. Edward worked harder for my mom to go home than anyone expects of a spouse.
We have learned not to engage into a culture of "I Am Over You." That is sheer death in bringing the culture
into Christ sharing times.
What the HECK IS EVANGELISM???
It is when you say, "I'm going to pray for you." And if they are delighted, you say "Let's pray Now." And generally you are going to get - "Please!"
What the Heck is EVANGELISM?
SO GLAD YOU ASKED, It's when your Grandmother says when the Uncle is a r a t - that she "is Never Going To Stop Praying for MY SON !!!" And unlike Eli and Samuel - My Grandmother got results when the R A T was in his 70s and Jesus told his heart "I Love You." And a heck of a lot of the trauma there - was solved.
My favorite Bible Study on the Planet is Bill Hybels' "Just Walk Across the Room." We give back our gratitude to God - who gives us Eternity. And we explain "I love Jesus because of ..."
For me this the ability to read three Chapters of the Bible and come away saying this for the rest of my life:
1. My eyes have seen Salvation. And no one is going to personally debunk my real dreams of seeing Heaven like Isaiah - but God had stepped out of the room - I am not Isaiah. Where I was asked to "sell chairs" and now realize these are Heaven's seats.
2. My eyes have seen the down fall of the wicked. Yes. I am in my 50s and see bad habits have shown me real and spiritual death. Living Parables.
3. My eyes have seen God goes before me. My Bible and my Church Going have taught me - I depend on God for my strength and my joy and my delight and my security and HE WILL. People - even the ones we love - come and go - but God beckons us to live in Love forever.
What is Salvation?
A Work of God the Father. Learning to single out one person you love. Salvation comes from love. When the heart is open. Surely pray for many. But we live in this Generation.
What is Evangelism?
We live in a world where God said this about this generation...
"I will put my covenant in their hearts to know I am God." Jesus says that the Light of God shines in all of mankind. If you talk down to someone who has opinions about God - you are shutting down the fact that the Body of Christ has many talents and functions and ideas.
Evangelism is LISTENING. And this is gentle. We find a thought of scripture and we share not a herd of cattle but one pearl. Because the Truth is - God Saves. We do one thing - WE PRAY.
If we are reciting Sunday School lessons of our youth. This is not going to work. Jesus never did this. Jesus said " Zacchaeus come down from that tree, I am coming to your house!"
And do you know that Acts 1 tells us the lot went to Mathias. The newly minted 12th disciple and some of the very early Church believes this was the changed life and changed heart of one who is LOVED BY JESUS and actually is like Simon/Peter and is - Zacchaeus/Mattias. Now did Zacchaeus/Mattias rock the planet and change the world for the lot falling on this loved heart? NO. Why? Because JESUS alone is God.
We have to quit yapping out the cereal box stories of "gotta believe this" and listen to what a soul sings who is created by God for God. What that Person's unique soul tells their Unique Father God Creator.
John the Disciple wandered around, like you and me, saying "What?"
And in the decades passing, he realized he did really well to support Jesus to the very end. Because John knew something we need to Sing Daily in our Hearts.
GOD IS LOVE.
And when we love GOD. We are seen as righteous in the Eyes of God.
And that ... is where we want to be. Eternally today the gates of Heaven are open to us in Prayer.
The very seat of Father God is available to us in Jesus.
All sparrows are known to You. Every single one. Because in Your unlimited Creation and Ideas and Solutions and LOVE. You love all of Creation.
And just like the Doberman in the video - each Child of God relates and reacts to You in exactly the way a Vast God reacts to us.
You are the God of Love.
Unfurl and surround, uphold and uplift each loved one we have. Each prayer request we know. The desire of the Nation of extreme worriers now. Bless the voting to Bless Your Name and Your Heaven.
We need You, We expect You, We will see You. Thank You for Your Work. Amen Amen Amen
♔ Lord Jesus Saves! †