Category Evangelism

Short enounters with greater impact

This coming Sunday, April the 3d, I will speak on the topic of witnessing at ICF Delft church

Someone said that the conversations Jesus had in the gospels were average less than a minute. But they had a huge impact! How can we have short encounters with greater impact?

We will look at three things that can help us increase our impact with short encounters we have with people in our daily lives from 1 Peter 3:15-16, Acts 1:8, and Matthew 11:28-30.

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What is the Christian faith all about?

Book Recommendation: Basic Christianity by the late John Stott

In this classic book John Stott explains the basic message of the Christian faith.

  • who did Jesus claimed to be?
  • what did he try to accomplish?
  • what should be ‘our’ response?

You can see the vlog here

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Student Leaders and Their Potential Impact on Campus

StudentLife, the organization I am working with, believes that students can be positive influencers on their campuses. They can make a difference and impact others with the good news. What follows is some points related to the importance of student leaders for campus work and why students should consider becoming one. 

First, a student leader gives hands and feet to the Great Commission. 

You may have heard that Christians should go and make disciples of all nations, Mark 16:15 comes to mind. A student leader can partly help students give hands and feet to this commission. 

Christians sometimes know what they are supposed to do but don’t know exactly how to do it. Someone who came to StudentLife in Delft a few weeks ago said exactly this, “I know I have to share the good news with others but I don’t know how to do this.” 

Student leaders facilitate the moments to go and have conversations. They also arrange training on how to lead conversations and have follow-up meetings. 

Second, a student leader learns about spiritual leadership hands-on. 

There are different reasons why someone would not become a student leader: limited time, fear of the unknown (“what am I getting into now?”) failures, weaknesses, feelings of inadequacy (“I am not good enough, or not ready”) some doubts about faith, lack of courage, and the list can go on. What would you add to this list? Here some thoughts about the above reasons. 

Time is always a challenge. But how much time does it take to be a student leader? In StudentLife not more than 2 hours per week! Yes, you have to learn about time management and also stick with these two hours. We always can do more. But we have to learn to set limits and boundaries in our lives. 

It also has to do with priorities and values. What are the things that you are doing at the moment that you could either postpone or avoid doing for the next three months, or stop doing because they don’t help you become a better person? 

Furthermore, we all can feel a sense of inadequacy: we’re not ready, we’re not good enough, or we’re not able enough. The apostle Paul felt like this many times, such as in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6. Read and reflect on these verses. And Paul was not the only one to feel like this! Jeremiah as a young man felt overwhelmed with the idea of becoming a prophet for God, read and reflect on Jeremiah 1:4-10. Write your thoughts down and pray about your feelings of inadequacy. 

Third, you will learn what it means to depend on God and trust him to do his work

God is asking us to share the good news. He also expects us to be good leaders in our lives and our service for Him. But He also gives us the strength, wisdom, love, mercy, and power to do it. 

To join a StudentLife team and go for conversations with the purpose to help others think about the big questions of life is pleasing to God. To go a step further and become a student leader and lead a movement in your campus is also pleasing to God, good for others, and good for you. You will learn what it means to press on and not give up easily because God will sustain you. He will teach you the value of prayer in your life. A student leader once said, “Going for conversations is a training school/ground to share the good news and make disciples.” A training ground! And you can facilitate, you can make it happen with God’s enablement. 

Finally, some points about what a student leader does

  • A student leader organizes once a week, or biweekly, to go out for conversations on the campus. 
  • He arranges some training for the students. StudentLife staff or student leaders are available to give the training. 
  • He gives the signal in the WhatsApp group when they go for conversations and leads the time they meet for this purpose. 
  • He always has StudentLife staff in reach to help out. He is never alone! 

Would you prayerfully consider becoming a student leader? Feel free to contact me or one of my Studentlife colleagues. 

KV brochure A4 March 2019

 

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An unlikely witness for Jesus

A doable but challenging task

Christianity, like all other worldviews, claims to be true. It presents a way of living that makes sense, or as someone said “a life worth living.” Christianity is not unique in this sense because all worldviews try to present “a life worth living.” Moreover, Christians cannot but speak and tell others about their faith. They know that it works, at least for them.

Furthermore, Jesus gave the mandate to go and tell everyone about the good news. This includes their friends, fellow students, and wherever God has placed them. But how can I reach my friends and the world around me? It seems a daunting task.

In this post, we will have a look at how a woman became a successful communicator.

A successful woman communicator

In the gospel of John chapter 4, we read about a woman. Yes, she was an outcast and therefore a lonely person. But she also was well-informed about the latest interpretations of her society on matters of truth and meaning in life. This woman was dissatisfied with the life she was living. She knew that there is more to life than this. Moreover, she was thirsty for love and justice. Plus, she was continuously thinking and hoping about a new and better way forward, a new and better society where love for God and our neighbour would be a reality, not just a dream. Finally, she had enough time to think, she was after all forced to be a loner. Let’s have a look at how she finally became a successful and bold witness for Jesus.

Wonder inspired by an encounter with a stranger

Little did she know that something really big was waiting for her that day. She was about to have the most amazing encounter. This encounter was with Jesus, who in the gospel of John is described as God in the flesh. Meeting with the Messiah was not a small thing. It filled her heart with a real sense of wonder! She left her jar and ran to the city and boldly and unashamedly proclaimed what she had experienced. We should never lose that wonder! Have you lost the wonder?

Witness inspired by truth

We also see that she was inspired by truth! Jesus knew the reality of her brokenness and situation. He knows your reality as well. Jesus is not only interested in nice conversations about reality and truth. He comes uncomfortably close to us and reveals our true condition. Someone said that “Jesus disturbs the comfortable and comforts the disturbed.” But his main reason to disturb you is to comfort you.

Moreover, the woman was amazed that Jesus was knowledgeable and spoke truth related to the world around them. He had a good grasp of the actual history of the place and its different religious and political interpretations. But more than this, he was able to give the true meaning, to explain the true essence of what faith in God really means. Truth was coming to this woman from different directions. The truth about herself, about her peoples’ history, and about real worship. Truth that corresponded to reality like nothing else she knew before. It was an encounter with truth in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the truth! A truth that is supported by the Old Testament prophesies.

Worship that satisfies the deepest desires of the human heart

Jesus then explained what true worship means. It is a person-to-person encounter with the living God. It is worship in spirit and in truth. They would no longer worship in a particular place. A time was coming when worship would be done in many different places. Not only in one or two particular places. But in the whole world. Later in our passage, the men who came to faith testified that Jesus is “the saviour of the world,” not only a tribal deity limited in one or two places. But the saviour of the whole world!

Nothing but true worship can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. This reminds us of C.S.Lewis’ argument from desire. For the woman at the well, the deepest longings of her heart were satisfied. She was able to drink living water because of her encounter with Jesus. We were made to be worshipers. This should be our first priority. This will keep you going in good and not so good times. It will also make you a good witness of Jesus Christ. You cannot give what you don’t have.

Fulfilment by doing God’s will

Finally, Jesus replied to the disciples by saying that “my food is to do the will of him who sent me.” Living in the will of God satisfies! It is like being in our element, just like a fish is in the water of its own element. When Jesus said these words he was also partly referring to the conversation he had with this woman. He was evangelizing, witnessing about the truth. Bringing people to Jesus satisfies! It is a clear mandate, go and make disciples of all nations! The harvest is ready. People are hungry for reality! It is a hunger that only Jesus can satisfy. By going we experience a sense of satisfaction.

This woman became one of the most successful witnesses for Jesus Christ. What are the one or two things that appeal most to you from her story? Take a few moments to reflect on the following questions.

Reflections

  • Are you satisfied with the life you are living?
  • Are you a true worshipper?
  • Are you living in the will of God?
  • Are you witnessing for Jesus?
  • Have you lost the wonder?
  • Have you had an encounter with Jesus and his claims?
  • What is God saying to you through this story?

Feel free to leave a reply, I will be happy to hear from you.

Notes

  • The Gospel of John, chapter 4:1-42.
  • Proofreading Dan Truitt.

Christian faith: It really makes sense

It really makes sense!

The author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” C.S.Lewis, once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” His point is clear: the Christian faith illuminates the landscape of reality and helps us see it as it is. As the sun rises we can see the landscape; we can see things as they really are.

The Christian faith is a worldview that adequately explains reality as it is, both the universe “outside” of us and our experience “inside” of us. In other words, it is a coherent whole that makes sense of reality as we observe it and experience it as human beings. I would say that the Christian faith has the capacity to explain things as they really are much better than other worldviews. But how can we show that this is really the case? This brings us to the question of methodology.

A reliable method and a toolbox

Let us start with “hypotheses testing.” This is a good way to form and test a theory or a worldview. In our case, we want to test the Christian worldview and find out if it makes sense. More than this, if it makes better sense than other worldviews. Moreover, we want to use some reliable criteria that can test a worldview. Our toolbox contains the following tools: hypotheses testing, criteria to test a worldview, principles of logic, understanding of truth and knowledge, and the scientific method. For now, that’s enough.

Two ways that show that the Christian faith makes sense

We can show that the Christian faith makes sense in two different ways. One complements the other.

  1. By showing there are good arguments and evidence for the Christian faith. (We will mention some of these.)
  2. By showing that the Christian faith makes more sense than alternative views. We will use a case study and compare two worldviews, Atheism and Christianity. This is the Two Story Idea. Ultimate purpose and fulfilment.

Pointers and evidence for the Christian faith

These arguments are better understood as pointers for the existence of God. We don’t use them in a rigorous mathematical way. Rather, we use them as reasonable and good explanations of reality.

There are many such pointers for God’s existence. I’ll mention two of them that are also supported by recent scientific discoveries.

A universe fine-tuned for life

The fine-tuning of the universe is one of these pointers. The astonishing thing is that the universe is fine-tuned with an amazing amount of precision to make life possible on planet earth. There are three options to explain this discovery: chance, necessity, or design.

The following clip from “Reasonable Faith” presents the fine-tuning argument in just about 6 minutes and it is worthwhile to watch. You can watch here. This argument, as presented in this clip, is a strong pointer towards the existence of God. What it does not do is prove in a rigorous mathematical way that a theistic God exists. But it does give the best explanation possible, an explanation that resonates with what we read in the Bible. David, one of the authors of the Bible said three thousand years ago “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

A universe that had a beginning

The Kalam cosmological argument is another pointer to the existence of a theistic God. The simple form of this argument goes like this. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause. The cause of the universe is God. The strength of this argument is that it is supported by both philosophical reasoning and the scientific discovery of the big-bang theory. This theory makes the point that there was a beginning of the universe. This short four-minute clip is a good presentation of this argument. You can watch it here.

Again, this is a strong pointer towards a theistic God. It is an explanation that makes sense, and that is the point here. It is reasonable and points to what another biblical author mentioned three and a half thousand years ago, that the universe had a beginning. The first line of the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Reliable historical documents

Furthermore, there is good historical evidence that the Christian faith is true. There are reliable historical sources, such as the writings of the New Testament. It is generally accepted that these writings are some of the most reliable ancient documents that exist. The gospels, the four books that speak about Jesus’ life and teaching, are indisputably accepted as authentic historical documents. It is supported by the science of textual criticism, a science that investigates the authenticity of ancient documents.

Christianity compared to other worldviews

Finally, let us open our toolbox again and compare two worldviews. Let us take the question of “is a fulfilling life possible without ultimate purpose?” Read here a short post I wrote about theism and atheism in relation to the question of purpose and fulfilment in life.

Conclusion

Christianity makes sense! That was our main point in the beginning. It better explains the universe and the human experience. In this blog, I present a way, a method, to investigate the belief of the Christian faith. I did not come up with this approach but have embraced it because it is helpful. It is an example that can be used to further search and hopefully come to a meaningful conclusion. What is your worldview? And, does it make sense? Is it helping you to live a “life worth living” in good and not so good times? Does it explain things as they really are? Leave your thoughts and I will be happy to reply.

 

Notes

  • Mere Apologetics, Alister McGrath. The “two ways” I mentioned above are from McGrath’s book. His chapter on “Reasonableness of the Christian faith” is worthwhile to read the book.
  • Reasonable faith, Win Corduan
  • Christian Apologetics, Douglas Groothuis
  • Reasonable Faith Animated Videos
  • Psalm 19:1, Genesis 1:1.
  • Proofreading, Dan Truitt

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