I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.
I love to tell the story,
’Twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.
- I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams;
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me,
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.
- I love to tell the story, ’tis pleasant to repeat,
What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet;
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
- I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest;
And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.I have always liked this song, and this month it especially reminds me of the Bonhoeffer quote–all of us need to hear the gospel over and over, even those of us who have known it since childhood.
Monthly Archives: March 2017
Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Witnessing
“God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth.”
From ” Life Together”
(“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” John 17:26
This is part of what is called the high priestly prayer of Jesus, and he is speaking to His father. Jesus says that the disciples (and eventually the church and therefore each of us) have been entrusted with His mission, the same mission given to Him by God the Father. That mission is to make God’s love known to men and reconcile them to Him.
The apostle Paul tells the Corinthian Christians:
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” 2 Corinthians 5: 20
What a responsibility! When Jesus ascended into Heaven, He entrusted His mission to us. An ambassador represents the person or country from whom he is sent. So I have to ask myself every day, “How well does my life represent Jesus?”
Here’s how Andrew Murray(a South African writer, teacher and pastor) describes the situation in his book, “Like Christ”:
“Believer! whoever you are, and where ever you dwell, the Lord, who knows you and your surroundings has need of you, and has chosen you to be his representative in the circle in which you move. Fix your heart on this. He has fixed His heart on you and saved you, in order that you should bear and exhibit to those who surround you the very image of His unseen glory. Oh, think of the origin of your Heavenly mission in His everlasting love, as His had its origin in the love of the Father. Your mission is, in very truth, just like His.”
Is your heart fixed on the mission Jesus gave you? What will you do today to make Jesus better known and better loved? Are you ready to be His ambassador?
That is a more loaded question than I’d like to admit. And it leads to other questions. Like why and with what motives would a person be observing anyone else’s behavior? I mean, are they looking to catch you in the act of doing something wrong because you’re not well liked? Or are they looking to catch you in the act of doing something right? Because, well I don’t know why. Of course, this line of questioning comes from an admitted self-proclaimed observer.
As a parent I am all too aware that my children, at least, are watching me most, if not All, of the time. I was probably more aware of it when they were smaller, when they repeat not only what is said, but what is done. No cursing without thinking, no being a little to obnoxious or rude. And heaven forbid you roll your eyes. Cuz, it’s not so cute when they roll their eyes back at you. Cause and effect. And the cause and effect of that . . . is that one watches one’s behavior much closer. It part because now you’re aware, and in part because you want to do and be better. For their sake’s. Of course failure is indeed an option, that will occur on regular basis at various levels.
Then the funniest thing happens, you end up watching them. As a parent we fall in love with our children from the moment they are in idea put in our brains. And as women we get the special privilege of falling in love with every bump, squirm and wiggle that we are fortunate enough to feel while pregnant. Then BAM! Before you know it, they’ve arrived in this world and the watching takes on a whole new level. We watch them yawn, move, sleep, and grow as if they’ve been injected with miracle grow from the start. We watch them learn, laugh, cry and get angry. We see how they play and imagine, most of the time with the box that the expensive toy you just bought them came in.
So, really who’s watching who? Both I’d say, yet, as human beings grow older we realize more, see more, understand more . . . hopefully. And if that is the case, then wouldn’t it stand to reason, that as adults, we can glean a wealth of information from the children God blesses us with? What could we learn from the way they love us when we sometimes don’t deserve it. Or from the way they seem to bounce back from sickness, eager to play again. Or even from the way they imitate behaviors of our own and others that we wish they wouldn’t.
Society might benefit greatly from talking less and looking more. Society would certainly also benefit from pausing on occasion and paying closer attention to their surroundings. To take a break and watch is a fruitful endeavor in it’s own way. Really watching is another word for learning. And in it’s biblical use watching is also about record keeping, we are tasked with paying attention and truthfully re-telling what is seen. There’s real importance in that.
“..the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 12:24
If you’re looking for a primer on evangelism, turn to the book of Acts. If there is one overarching theme of Acts, it is the verse above –the spread of Christianity. Acts is also a book about people, individuals, who through their words and deeds made an impact for Christ. I’m going to list a few of them here.
- Philip: one of the first to preach the gospel outside of Jerusalem (Acts 8:4-40)
- Peter: led by God to Cornelius, one of the first Gentiles to become a Christian(Acts 9:32-10:48)
- Barnabas: went to Antioch as an encourager; traveled on to Troas (Acts 11:25-30)
- Apollos: left Alexandria for Ephesus, preached in Athens and Corinth(Acts 18:24-28)
- Priscilla & Aquila: taught the complete gospel story to Apollos (same reference as above)
- Paul: went on missionary journeys along with Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 13: 1-14); Silas, Timothy and Luke (Acts 15:36-18:22); Erastus (Acts 18:23 and 19:1-21:4)
In all, Acts mentions over one hundred people who contributed to the growth of the church. It’s inspiring and exciting reading!
Prayer for the Growth of the Church
This prayer comes from the book Prayers of the Reformers compiled by Clyde Manschreck. It was written by John Calvin.
“Grant, almighty God, since thou dost try the faith of thy people by many tests that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of thy Holy Spirit. May we constantly march under thy standard, even to the end, and never succumb to any temptation. May we join intelligence with zeal in building up thy church. As each of us is endowed with superior gifts so may he strive for the edification of his brethren with greater boldness, manliness and fervor, while he endeavors to add numbers to the cause. And should the number diminish, yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it, and such fruitfulness arise as shall cause thy name to be glorified throughout the world, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
#1 on Luther’s Bucket List
“There is nothing I want more than to make His gospel known to the world and to convert many people.”
What God Has Done
“The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away saying ‘Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.’…”Luke 8:38-39
This was part of our Bible study on the book of Luke this week. After Jesus healed a demon possessed man, he in effect, sent him back to his home to become a missionary. He didn’t have any extensive instruction or education. All he had to do was tell others what Jesus had done for him. It reminds me of another similar story in the book of John. Jesus heals a man who has been blind since birth. The man is brought to the Pharisees who try to manipulate him into saying that Jesus is a sinner. Exasperated he tells them,
“…One thing I do know; that though I was blind, now I see.” John 9:25
As witnesses, all we need to do is tell about our own life and how Jesus has changed it. We don’t have to be eloquent or persuasive. We don’t have to worry about the outcome; that’s up to God. We just have to state the facts about God’s action in our life; and it can be as simple as this: “I was blind and now I see”.
A Quote by Dorothy Day
I’ve been reading a book by Dorothy Day, The Reckless Way of Love, and I really liked this quote. It’s a little off topic, but then is love ever off topic when it comes to Christianity? In case you don’t know Dorothy Day was the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and started the first of many houses of hospitality for the poor and homeless.
“If we could only learn that the important thing is love, and that we will be judged on love–t0 keep on loving, and showing that love, over and over, whether we feel it or not, seventy times seven, to mothers-in-law, to husbands, to children–and be oblivious to insult, or hurt, or injury–not to see them, not to hear them. It is a hard, hard doctrine.”
Don’t Hide the Light
“No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.” Luke 8:16
We were studying this verse in our Bible Study class today. The lamp, of course, is the word of God as we are told more specifically in Psalm 119:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105
We’re also promised in Isaiah 55:11
“…it (my word) shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
If God has promised that His Word will serve His purposes, why aren’t we shouting it from the rooftops! Instead, too often, we keep it under wraps. We’re afraid people will be offended; afraid it might sound judgmental; concerned about being politically correct. If we’re honest, we’re also afraid we might be asked to explain something we don’t completely understand.
Now I’m not saying we should beat people over the head with the Bible or browbeat them into conversion. I am saying we shouldn’t mind showing where we stand and why. If the Bible guides us in our decisions (I’m hoping it does) we shouldn’t mind letting others know that. If we read our Bible regularly, we shouldn’t care who sees it on our desk at work. We shouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying “have a blessed day” to a cashier in a store. If a question about Christianity arises, we should be willing to speak up and to the best of our ability explain our beliefs. If we are following Jesus, our lives will be a reflection of His love and others will want to know more about what we believe and why. I say all this knowing I am also often guilty of “flying under the radar” by avoiding what may be controversial
As my husband would say, that’s the end of my rant. I’ll try to do better. Maybe you will, too. Let the light shine!