Jun 8 2012

Who are you listening to?

Carrie and I watched the miles of Ontario countryside parade by the car windows as we plodded back home after a couple days of mini-vacation.  Conversation turned to the latest chapter in the book Carrie is reading on the Sabbath, entitled “The Rest of God.”  In the truth of the chapter, we noticed what seems to be a foundational piece of a proper understanding of evangelism that we all need to understand.

Here’s a nuanced definition of evangelism to help explain the point:

Evangelism is taking advantage of an opportunity to action and/or speak the truth of God when given the chance.

This means that we are taking action to relay something about the truth of God and also that there is someone(s) receiving our action.  Furthermore, this means that the truth itself, the message, is “of God.”  So from this definition, here’s the teaching point that Carrie and I reflected on.

Evangelism opportunities are like divine appointments where a person has some degree of readiness to hear or receive spiritual truth, whether that degree be big or small.  When this opportunity arises, we become the messenger, NOT the message.  Thus, it is vitally important that we have been listening for the message that we are meant to relay.  I wonder if part of the reason so many Christians dread evangelism opportunities is that they just haven’t been listening in order to receive the message they’re meant to give.  It is almost like trying to play the “telephone game” that many children love where you pass along a message down a long line of messengers, except when it’s your turn, you don’t actually listen to the person passing the message to you.  You are left unequipped and uninspired to pass the message along the chain.

A sobering thought is that we are created to be “listeners.”  We seem to absorb almost everything, even when we’re not realizing it.  That’s why there are signs, flyers, billboards, t-shirt messages, etc. filling the world around us.  And that’s not to mention what we input ourselves: books, music, television, movies, etc.  So the question becomes, “Who are you listening to?” If you aren’t making time to listen to Jesus, then you are choosing to NOT receive what you’re meant to pass along.  You’re short changing God’s plan for your life and the work that He’s doing in others’.  Don’t miss out on listening to the Lord and the beautiful, inspiring things He shares.  It will bless you and provide the message that you’ll be able to share with confidence.

Here’s an example of listening to the Lord.  It comes through the personification of wisdom in Proverbs 8:

1 Does not wisdom call?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 On the heights beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;
3 beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O men, I call,
and my cry is to the children of man.
5 O simple ones, learn prudence;
O fools, learn sense.
6 Hear, for I will speak noble things,
and from my lips will come what is right,
7 for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are righteous;
there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
9 They are all straight to him who understands,
and right to those who find knowledge.
10 Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.


Jun 3 2011

Girls

As the Lord continues to thrust me along this journey of life, faith, and fatherhood, it never ceases to amaze me the extend to which the pathways are laced with sweet opportunities for reflection and encouragement.  This week, as the Byers family of four packed into the technician’s room at a local ultrasound clinic, we met Byers #5 . . . a girl.

Truth be told and for whatever reason, we totally thought that it was going to be a boy.  Somehow, I’ve always thought boys are just easier.  In some ways it just seemed to make sense to have some more tough-little-testosterone to counter Caleb’s fire (and speed.)  We’d even pretty much decided on a boy’s name without many leads on a girl’s.  So, moral of this part of the story is that when we got the word: GIRL, Carrie and I looked each other with a sort of sheepish grin and giggled as if to say, “Okay, well hello little lady, here goes somethin’.”

Since pre-teen girls seem to make about as much sense to me as black holes (although super-nova might be a better comparison for energy output), looking ahead to those years with two young girls makes me quiver in my boots.  And yet, in praying through some of my thoughts and feelings, I’ve found a significant peace in turning the unknowns over to the Lord.  From there, I think the Holy Spirit whispered, “Now that I’ve got all the unknowns, let’s work together on the things you CAN do.”  Then the FIGHTclub rules came to mind:

1.  Know Yourself (busy, nervous about leading a family of five)
2.  Trust Your Saviour (Sovereign, Strong, Loving, All-Sufficient)
3.  Fight Your Sin (my family needs my grace based godliness)
4.  Carry Your Sword (my grounding point, my source of Truth)
5.  Stand with Your Brothers (other guys need me and I need other guys to help me in this fight)
6.  Do Hard Things (raising children, especially girls may be hard, but it is a very worthy calling … and a privilege)
7.  Be a Hero

This last one is what I deeply desire to be for my family . . . for my girls.  They’ll need a man who will be a tender warrior, fighting for them in a world that sets itself up against that which is true and pure and sacred.  They’ll need a dad who lives to show them the Hero that they have in Jesus, who gave His all to pay for our freedom, who conquered death to redeem us to Himself, and who stands in Heaven, waiting to receive us as His holy bride.

Lord, given all the baby girls that you’ve blessed Celebration! Church with, help us be good stewards of them.  Help us all, particularly the men, be the kind of heroes they will need to connect with all that You are for them.  Heavenly Father, strengthen us all to be like the Proverbs 31 woman who is “clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come,” because You are our Rock, our Strength . . . our Hero.