PREVIEW The Unchurched Next Door: Understanding Faith Stages as Keys to Sharing Your Faith

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” - For Jesus!

A Program for Personal Evangelism
based on the Faith-Sharing Concept

 
 

Part One of Six: The Incredible Seeking God[1]

 

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Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery

 

The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.

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The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?


Faith-sharing Evangelism Library

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Faith-Sharing:
How to Win Friends and Influence People for Jesus
: Six Messages teach others how to witness. Based on Faith-sharing, by Eddie Fox and George Morris

Messages in this series:
1: The Incredible Seeking God
2: Gambler for Love
3: Share; Do; Name!
4: Getting on the Same Frequency
5: Up On the Handlebar!
6: $50K in 90 Days or Less!

Beyond Faith-sharing:
Digests of lectures and texts that demonstrate
quick ways to improve and increase your ministry's outreach.

Lessons in this Series:
1:   The Outward-focused Church
2:   Discerning the Needs of People
3:   The Incarnational Ministry
4:   Engaging Secular People
5:   Living Debt-free Biblically
6:   Youth Ministry Leadership
7:   Growing a New Church 1:
      The Price Tag, the Target
8:   Growing a New Church 2:
      The Pastor, People, Program
9:   Spiritual and Motivational Gifts
10: Envisioning, Friendliness and Authority
11: Making the Case
12: How Do We Get Them to Come?

 

 

KEY WORDS:

Win souls soles soul-winning, how to get saved, born again anew from above salvation,

How to evangelism, evangelization, evangelisation evangelize program,

Do one-on-one ministry, personal witness witnessing witnesses,

How to make making winning win disciples souls, soul-winning, be a soul-winner, sole-winner,

How to get people saved, born again justified justification sanctified sanctification.
 

 

 

 

Introduction to the Series

(or as bulletin insert)

   Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) was a famous lecturer on the topics of public speaking and self-esteem.  His highly successful book, How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), helped improve the lives of thousands, some of whom have been transformed from failure to financial and relational success in their quest to “win friends and influence people.”

   In this series of messages we'll learn some tried and true principles as to how we might also win friends and influence people - but for Jesus.  Wouldn't you like to be able to do that?  Winning friends for Jesus brings great rewards, now and later.  And, unlike the Carnegie Course, this course will cost you nothing but your attention.

 

Introduction to This Message

   In our travels to raise funds for the children of Haiti, we often fielded questions about why we use education and feeding programs as a means of evangelism.  One frequent question has been: “Why should these children be Christians anyway?  They already have their religion, don’t they?"  Other related questions include, "Do we really want to manipulate with our faith?” and “Won’t they come to church if they want, just like going to the grocery store?”

   Some may think that these are “pretty dumb questions.”  But in actuality, aren't we taught that faith is a private affair?  Yes, we are, and we believe it.  The friction is our desire to fulfill the Great Commission and, at the same time, to stay out of the private affairs of others.  Therefore it’s essential that we be able to answer questions such as these when they come up.  Such questions are ready-made opportunities for making friends and influencing people for Jesus.  If we know the answers, then we can be confident in telling the good news when asked.

 

Prayer[2]

   Dear Father, we realize you do not call us first to be successful in the marketplace; you call us to be faithful disciples of Jesus.  You do not call us first to achievement in work, but to responsible living.  You do not call us first to make a great fortune, but to labor for your reign.  Yes, you've promised us that if we will seek your things first, success in other areas will follow.  Guide us into a greater understanding of your priorities. Amen.


Luke 15 (AV):11. And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Jeremiah 31:31. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

This Week!  

   I went to a department store to try on a suit coat.  While checking the length of the sleeves, I told the salesman, “I’m a church pianist, so sleeve length is important.”  It was then that the salesman said,

“Friend, Genesis 3:15 says, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.’  If all you had was the first three chapters of the bible, could you tell me who the seed of the serpent is?” 

It was a cultish kind of question meant to draw a person into a theological trap, but the salesman didn’t know who he was dealing with.  For the next fifteen minutes, while trying to buy this jacket, the salesman wrangled with me about the seed of the serpent.  Why?  Because that Scripture’s the basis of the pet doctrine of his church, and he was taught that using that question was a good way to “witness” to strangers.  There are certainly times to confront people about their faith, but not a perfect stranger.  It would have been a real turn off, except to the few people who knew the answer to that question.

   A few years ago a great big man who quickly introduced himself as a doctor of ministry approached me.  Then he got in my face and bellowed, “Friend, if you died tonight, do you think you’d go to heaven or hell?”  Of course, my answer was, “Friend, it’s none of your business what I think.”  However, when I was a young Christian, I thought that the only way to witness to my faith was to confront.  That’s what they taught at my church and that’s certainly what the TV preachers boasted about.  But I am not confrontational; most are not!  While some brag about “winning a soul a day every day,” I never won any souls at all.  What a horrible Christian witness I was.  I hadn’t won any souls at all!

   Years later, I learned that confrontation is about the least effective way to share your faith; and, for non-confrontational people like me, nearly impossible.  So this series of messages is for people who have been touched by the heavenly Father and want to share their faith, but will never do so as long as doing so is confrontational.  But we can learn how to win friends an influence people for Jesus in a very non-confrontational way that’s not only very effective, but Scriptural too.  For the very origin of faith-sharing is to be found in the very nature of our unique and incredible seeking god.

 

Ours is a Seeking God

   Winning friends and influencing people for Jesus is the Father's idea in the first place.  Ours is an incredible seeking god, constantly searching the earth for the person who will be responsive to his grace.  Father's seeking nature is the central theme of the entire Bible - Father is creator and sustainer; Father is reaching out to care for you; Father is intimately involved in your affairs.  He’s not afraid to by nosey about your personal life.

   Even in the face of rejection, Father pursues us for friendship.  But friendship is only the beginning!  He can also be our nurturer.

            - He will nurture us like a godly mother;

            - He will protect us like a powerful father;

            - He will give us gifts like any good friend would.

Father is a seeker!  Having a friendly relationship with you is his idea.  Nobody is to be excluded; those who are exclude themselves.

   From the beginning, the Father sought out Adam and Eve: "Where are you?"  And before Moses gave the commandments, Father reminded the children of Israel, "Remember, I sought you and brought you out of Egypt."  Later, He spoke of a new, intimately ideal type of relationship, promising to write his law not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts, the covenant of his love and contract of his ownership.

   The Creator’s nature as a seeker of friends is ultimately expressed in his Son, who came to seek and to save.  St. Luke describes Father’s initiative on our behalf as GOOD NEWS.  (“Gospel” means “good news.”)  This good news was first revealed to the lowest then extended to all, regardless of nationality, gender or wealth.  Yes, it was our Holy Father's great initiative to send Jesus his Son to us.

    And it was Jesus who described his Father's initiative in Luke 15:  A lone lamb is lost; like a good shepherd, Father leaves ninety-nine to seek one.  A valueless penny is lost; Father, like a miserly housewife, sweeps until that penny is found.  A wayward son wastes his inheritance on worthless pleasure; Father, like a worrying Father, still runs out to meet him when he returns home penniless.          

   And it was Jesus who reminded us that his primary purpose for coming was to seek the lost.[3]  And we can share in the mission of our God and his Son - because the lost have value that must be redeemed; but first they must be found.

 

People Need the LORD - Physiologically!

   And no, people are not like "worms," as some of our hymns teach us.  People have great value to Father, who pronounced his creation "very good."  He never rejected us; it is we who reject his offer of relationship.  But we need that relationship!  Why? 

   Years ago, the “dollar store” was the local yard sale.  My daughter Gina had a dollar to spend.  She saw a jigsaw puzzle.  The picture was of a beautiful meadow scene with a little cottage on a hill.  The puzzle looked new, so she bought it and paid for it with her own precious dollar.  The puzzle was too difficult for her alone, so we set up a card table, poured out the pieces, and worked it together.  After about a week, we finally beheld a reproduction of the beautiful landscape pictured on the box.  There was only one thing wrong.  There was one missing piece in the very middle of the puzzle, and the cottage door was on that piece.  We looked everywhere for it; all around the house, in the car, out in the yard – but we never found it.  The puzzle was never finished.  And though the picture we recreated was worth the effort, Gina said, “Dad, it’s not complete without a door.”

    Like this unfinished puzzle, there is a "missing piece" to us that presses us for replacement!   We can’t make that piece ourselves – it must come from the manufacturer.  If you had a birth defect like a missing heart valve, you wouldn't dream of doing the surgery yourself to replace it.  That would be impossible!  Yet the human condition in inherently flawed – there is an empty space inside that would ever keep us from completion and perfection.  Our natural lack has allowed sin to enter each one of us!  And it’s sin that keeps us from embracing the love of a caring Father in Heaven, who so wants to ‘mash in’ the missing piece and make us whole.

  Because of this defect, we don't naturally seek Father as we should, but turn instead to more familiar things, gods and people – realities distorted by sin that can’t properly fill the void, for such come out of a world that has no desire or capacity to heal us.  Without Father's initiative in seeking us out, we are certainly LOST to Him and doomed to incompleteness.  Yet this condition is rectifiable; though he seeks us out to heal, he desires that we also seek him instead of cheap imitations and substitutes.  By virtue of our birth, we have free will to choose between the real and the tainted.  Father will do everything he can but violate our will to help us make the right choice. 

   If we will respond to his entreaties for friendship, he promises to perform heart surgery to replace the missing piece with what King David rightly called "a right spirit."[4]  Only the Creator may stitch in the "right spirit" to make us whole, give us life and complete us for good.  Jesus called this “being born from above” (or “born again”).  St. Paul called this “circumcision of the heart.”   Friends, we all need heart surgery if we are to live!  Yet it really requires no stitching at all for it’s a miracle surgery!  We all die; but if we become born of the spirit, his promise to us is that we will never die, and while we live, we will live in the assurance of our immortality.  All people need to be completed through a supernatural act of superhuman grace.  Nothing that takes His place in your innermost being can save you in the end; only He can save, and he’s seeking to save you now.

 

Father's Nature in Seeking and Redeeming

   Father acted uniquely and ultimately in the person of Jesus Christ, offering reconciliation and new life to anyone who’ll respond to his advances in faith and be willing to be changed.  Some people feel a desperate need for change; some feel lost.  Jesus came for you, lost lamb, lost coin, wayward son.  “Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost.”  If you're lost, if you’re out of tune with your Creator or don’t know him, if you feel an empty void inside. or if you’ve filled your emptiness with the mundane or vulgar, then you need a Savior to restore you, complete you, heal you and reconcile you with your heavenly Father who loves you and seeks you!  Jesus the Nazarene is that Savior.  But most of you know this, don’t you?  And you know him.  If you do, you also know what I’m saying is true.  Don’t you consider such Good News as worthy of sharing?  Of course you do!  It's what we believe about the Good News and what we've experienced as a result of heeding it that really makes a difference in our ability and desire to win friends for Jesus. 

  The Source was the first of James Michener’s historic novels I read.  Michener describes what life was like in Israel before the revelation of Father.  He tells of a young mother standing in the doorway of her house, watching as her husband takes their first-born child to the stone altar on the hill to be offered as a sacrifice to the family god.  The death of the child by the hand of the father was thought to assure prosperity.  But the mother's heart is breaking.  All during her pregnancy, she knew this terrible thing was to happen and tried to prepare for it, but now nothing can alleviate her pain and sorrow.

   Another day, she is again standing in the doorway.  This time she watches as her husband leaves to visit a temple prostitute.  This too is an act of worship to gain blessing from the family god.  And again, tears stream down her cheeks, and she points to her husband and cries out, "If we had a different god, you would be a different man."[5]

   Our understanding of Father’s nature and our own, our experience of his saving power, and our practice of true and heart-felt worship make a great deal of difference in how we live -- and how we present him to others.  What kind of god is your god?  What do you imagine?

            - A merciless, long-bearded judge, who spends eternity looking for victims?  A god who punishes you and takes away the things and people you love?  A god who will gleefully send you to burn in hell forever?

            - Or is your god an impotent old great, great, great grandfather, retired to his couch on a cloud, snoring while it’s pouring, letting the universe run as though he were a senile, sleeping clockmaker?

            - Or is your got the insipid, generic blesser-on-demand of social clubs, lodges, school functions and social gatherings, a god who never requires any change or commitment from you?  Is he the god of many names and is there many ways to him, including Freemasonry, secret societies and other such religious deceptions?

            - Is your god some kind of heavenly Santa Claus, who winks an eye at Easter egg hunts, May poll dances, Christmas trees, paganism and sin in the home and church?   Who doesn’t really respect or believe his own words found in the Bible, and looks away when you disobey or hate or curse him or act shamelessly?

            - Or is your god the kind of seeker who loves, looks, finds, rejoices, and sent his only Son to win your friendship?  Is he the god who is intimately involved in all world affairs and in your affairs?  The god who acts in righteousness to save you and judges the world in equity?

   Which of these gods is yours?  Which of these gods has revealed himself to you?  Which of these gods do you publicly profess to others by your word and deed?  And which god do you project to others through your attitude?  Friends, we are all natural evangelists and faith-sharers whether we choose to be or not.  Your life is an open book.  But what kind of god do others see in our book?

 

Invitation

   Whichever god you seek, the real “mighty one” who can help you is even now seeking you for one thing or the other.  To everyone he seeks out, he has a life’s mission to render.

  (1) If you've never experienced Father's love and power through Jesus, he is seeking you who are lost so that you may be found.  You and the Almighty One will have an opportunity to find one another in a moment.

  (2) If you've been reconciled to him already, but never made a friend of him or for him, now you may learn how to do so.  If you don't know how to effectively witness to your faith, or if you’re afraid to (and you want to), now's the time to learn.  Knowledge conquers fear and perfect love casts it out.  In the next few weeks, if you’re diligent to listen, you’ll see how you can be an effective witness to your faith.  Churches pay seminar leaders big bucks for what you may here gain for free, if you’ll only pay heed.

   For the Spirit of Father is knocking on your door; seeking you out, desiring to save you, teach you and, in most cases here, make of you a more efficient witness to the truth of his love.  For it’s his desire that all might be saved from the ultimate destruction that both saint and sinner alike know is on its way someday.

 

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. (Rev 3:20).

 

Don't settle for cheap imitations!  Don’t be satisfied with idolatrous substitutes.  The real thing is looking for you.  Open the door and let him enter into your situation, your problem, your fear, your life, today.  Don’t wait any longer – you may not have another chance.  Nor may you have another chance to say ‘yes’ to learning to share your faith with others; to fulfill your duty in love to your significant others  -- to "Win Friends and Influence People" -- for Jesus!

   Now you ought to be able to answer that question posed at the beginning of this message: "Why should we tell anyone about our relationship with Jesus?"  That answer is, "because Father seeks people and they seek Father -- and the only thing standing between the two – is you.”

PRAYER IN HOPE OF SALVATION -- Loving Father Father, here I am calling on you now. You've loved me despite myself. You have sacrificed your Son for me. You've sought after me. And now, that which was lost is found.  Please forgive me for running away; for my unloving acts against others, and myself; for hurting your feelings. You're knocking, and I'm opening my heart's door to you. Come in and make me complete. Empower me with your love. Help me to live a life worthy of you, by overcoming my own weakness through your strength, by winning out against the powers that would separate me from you; by loving, caring for, and seeking out others.  Thank you for seeking to save me from eternal death.  Now help me be an observant witness of your life, your teachings, and your love.  For Jesus’ sake and my own.  Amen. 


[1] Composed July 17, 1994, and based on Fox & Morris Faith Sharing.  Updated October 27, 1997, April 23, 2003 & August 21, 2007.

[2] Adapted from UMBOW 539.

[3] Luke 19:10.

[4] Psalm 51.

[5] The story is recounted from Faith Sharing, pp. 7-8.

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