Monday, July 13, 2009
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. - Mark 10:46
I heard a message some time ago preached about blind Bartimaeus. As the pastor was preaching, he ask the question, "How did he (Bartimaeus) get to Jesus? Well my mind being as it is, I began to think. Yes how did he get to Jesus? He was blind, so he could not see him. So how did he make it through the crowd to come to the place were Jesus stood? As I read the scripture again. He cried out again and again to be heard. (verse 49) Jesus hearing him, he stood still and Jesus SAID for him to be called forward. He did not come forward because he was relying on his own ability. He had to rely on Jesus.
The message I got from this was we can not rely on what we see to get to the Lord. For we walk by faith and not by sight. I believe he followed the direction of Jesus' voice. He turned in the direction of the call. His ears were pricked. Are our spiritual ears being pricked? Are we hearing the Lord calling us and are we turning in the direction of the Lord inspite of the obstacles before us. And when we turn toward the Lord, we can receive the blessings of the Lord.
Just as Bartimaeus was in darkness, we can also be in darkness. Darkness or void of light. Bartimaeus was with out the light of the sun, we can be without the Light of the Son. Bartimaeus needed to have Jesus (who is the light) come to disperse his darkness of sight. We need to be filled with the Light of Christ to disperse our darkness of sin.
It was only Christ that Bartimaeus needed, and we need Christ and Christ alone. We should seek God to rid our lives of any darkness that would hinder us from walking with spiritual eye sight. The other thing that stood out for me was this, when Bartimaeus called and called to Jesus, the Bible says he (Jesus) STOOD STILL. Bartimaeus through his seeking, his calling got Jesus' attention. Are we through our praying without ceasing, our fasting, our seeking, getting God's attention? For it is then that we can come closer (be called forward) to God's plan for our lives. So as we start this week, let us remember to continue to call out to the Lord. When others would try to stop you, or tell you as they did with Bartimaeus to cease, don't give up. Continue to put God in front of every single thing you do. And in your seeking the Lord this week, ask Him to remove any darkness that keeps you from seeing with clear spiritual vision. For we (God's people) are lost when we have no vision. For with out the spiritual sight to see, we are just the blind leading the blind. God bless you and keep you,Praying for our ability to discern through God's eyes.
Book Review: Radically Unchurched (part 1)
Reid, Alvin L. Radically Unchurched. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002.
Alvin L. Reid holds a Ph.D and M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reid is a professor of evangelism and the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Alvin Reid has authored seven books, which include Light the Fire, Introduction to Evangelism, and Evangelism for a Changing World. More information about Alvin Reid can be obtained from his website, http://www.alvinreid.com/ (book cover).
Alvin L. Reid the author of the book, Radically Unchurched, wrote this because he felt the church today has failed to penetrate the hardcore, unchurched culture. Reid presents the problem in the first half of this book. The later portion of the book is dedicated to giving practical ways of reaching the unchurched. He tells you what the issues are and then he gives you some ways of solving those problems.
Reid presents a story in the beginning of his book that depicts a young man named Bill that is newly saved but does not look like one of the traditional members of the church. In this story he shares how this young man came and sat down on the floor in the front of the church because there were no seats left. The normal response would have been for him to be asked to get up or leave; yet Reid tells of how an elder within the church came and sat down next to this young man. Reid presents this story to set the tone of his book. He believes that America has lost her sense of compassion for the radically unchurched or the new believers that look like Bill. For this reason, he states we seldom find them in the church. Reid posits that the church is more a hotel for saints instead of a hospital for sinners (p. 20).
Reid explains the radically unchurched as individuals that have no clear personal understanding of the message of the gospel and who have had little or no contact with Bible teaching (p. 21). Sadly Reid presents a statistic that each year between six thousand to eight thousand Southern Baptist churches report they have not baptized any new converts (p. 23). Reid believes this condition calls for the nation to have a day of fasting, praying and public humiliation before the Lord.
One of the problems listed by Reid is that the church is using old terminology of fifty years ago and people are increasingly unfamiliar with religious words, symbols, or rituals (p. 24). Another problem that Reid lists regarding the unchurched is the stereotypes or myths associated with this group. For example, myth #9 states the unchurched are only concerned about their own needs. One suggestion that Reid gives is one should never assume that any person who falls within the unchurched group is uninterested in the gospel (p. 27). This leads to some of the reasons why believers do not reach out to the unchurched.
Reid argues that some churches try to evade the culture. This is not the way to reach the lost. The church cannot evade (runaway from) or pervade (over power) the unchurched. In fact, the only way the church can make an impact is to invade (penetrate) the lost and present an incarnational life (pp. 37-40).
Reid asserts that the gospel is what is needed to penetrate the unchurched culture. The best way to get rid of darkness, he states is to turn on the light (p. 43). It will be the work of the Holy Spirit that will create this work. He posits in this book that sound doctrinal foundations must be laid first and then the church must build from there. Church planting is one way he suggests to present a place for the unchurched to be able to fellowship as new believers. Traditional churches virtually never reach out to this culture and Reid suggests some new methods need to be established (p. 179). He gives tools regarding how to share one’s testimony and the responsibility of building relationships with the unchurched. Reid’s book like many of the other books regarding evangelism focuses on love being a key factor in reaching the unchurched.
(Come back next week for the second installment of this book review)
Teaching model of Jesus
Jesus did not allow cultural differences to stand in his way of teaching the important things about the Word of God. Jesus spoke to the woman at the well when this was something not done in his time. This woman had two things against her. She was a woman and she was a Samaritan. The Jews hated the Samaritan people, yet Jesus took the time to offer her an opportunity to hear the things about God. Jesus also used things that the individual would be familiar with and taught lessons using those items. For the woman at the well it was the water. For Nicodemus it was the snake being raised up. He taught that just as they had to look up to live, that all must look up to Jesus to be saved. Jesus also used stories that the people could relate to. He used the everyday things, to teach the deeper things of God. Jesus cared for the individual. Even though he healed the many, he would take the time to interact with individuals one on one.
As a teacher, we must be willing to interact with our students one-on-one to reach them where they are. Jesus taught by example. He was first an example to his disciples before he sent them out into the world. He told them to pray, and then he showed them how it was done. We as teachers cannot expect our students to simply go with what we are saying if it does not line up with what we are doing. We have to be doers of the word first. Jesus asked questions to those around him to make them think. Jesus taught others by asking them questions that made them think about the answers. He also allowed for them to have questions. When the women at the well and Nicodemus asked questions, Jesus took the time to answer those questions. As teachers, we must be willing to answer the questions that come from our students. We must not get upset because they need to ask them as if this is wrong. We should welcome it because as they ask questions it allows them to think more about the information as well as open up new questions to be discovered.
Jesus left the Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth. The Holy Spirit assists us in our walk. Without the Spirit, we cannot grow to be what we need to be. The Holy Spirit is not a by-product or a last result. He is the one that will empower us to learn and to teach. The Holy Spirit equips us to understand the things of God and to be able to teach them to others. Without the Holy Spirit guiding us in our understanding of the Word, we would not be able to teach. The Holy Spirit is important to the learning process. If the Holy Spirit does not work within our hearts, we will not be able to grasp the things of God. So to be an effective teacher, we must pray and open ourselves to knowledge, wisdom and power that is given by God through the Spirit. Yet we cannot forget that no amount of prayer will cover us not being prepared. We therefore have to be a student first under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit and then a teacher empowered by the Spirit.