Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Jehovah's Witness "Bible" in my nightstand

Last year I was teaching through a series on cults in our church on Wednesday nights. Through the series we looked at Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses. When I started to prepare for the lessons on Jehovah's Witnesses I started to round up my books and remembered that I had let someone borrow them. I had two really good resources, "So what's the difference?" by Fritz Ridenour and "The Kingdom of the Cults" by Dr. Walter Martin. (Both I would recommend for a deeper understanding of the differences between Christianity and other belief systems.) So I contacted the lady I had lent the books to and she had some bad news for me. She had borrowed them so she could discuss with her boyfriend, who was a Jehovah's Witness, about some of the beliefs Jehovah's Witnesses held that were different from what she knew to be true. She told me after she discussed some stuff with him that he threw the books in the trash after she left the house. I thought it was ironic that my best material about Jehovah's Witnesses were thrown in the trash by a Jehovah's Witness but nevertheless I was without some good resources. The lady offered to pay for the books and I refused but she did offer something that I immediately took her up on. She offered me a copy of the Jehovah's Witnesses "Bible" called the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. Once I had it I highlighted a few places in it, made some notes, and stuck it in my nightstand beside my bed. 

Now to some it may seem odd that I'd jump at the chance to have one of these books, much less that I would put it in my nightstand. Well my reasoning is rather simple. If I am to reach a Jehovah's Witness with the true gospel of Christ then I cannot do it by starting off with my Bible. Regardless of the translation I cannot reach them first with a Bible because they are taught not to read or use materials other than their own scriptures or Watchtower articles. The key to leading a Jehovah's Witness to Christ is in showing them the error of their doctrine from their own scriptures (Who Jesus is, the Trinity, and salvation by grace not works are just a few of the areas of difference between JWs and Christians). That is why I highlighted and made notes in the copy given to me. But why stick it in my nightstand. Well for me it was a place I knew it would not get misplaced and I could easily find it when it was needed. 2 Timothy 4:2 says "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction" (NIV). Not if, but when a Jehovah's Witness shows up at my door, I need to be prepared to share the gospel with them. By keeping that book in a place I know it will be in, then I can follow Paul's instructions to Timothy.

We should always be prepared to share the gospel, regardless of the situation. If you know how you will share the gospel then you have half the battle won. If you don't know how you would share the gospel if the opportunity presented itself to you, then you need to figure out how you feel most comfortable doing so. Because if you aren't prepared, you won't share it. It's that simple. So be prepared, in season and out of season, to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

*There is more to effectively sharing the gospel with a Jehovah's Witness. If you need some help in this regard, then email me at pastornick@northcatawbabaptist.com and I can get some resources into your hands to help you out.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

A Fresh Start

Quite possibly my favorite time of the year is the spring planting season. To me there is nothing like walking barefoot through a newly tilled garden. There is something about the drone of the tiller and the feeling of the dirt between your toes that is euphoric. In years past I've had a garden that required a lot of work and attention. When it came to planting time there was something therapeutic about working in the garden. Tilling, laying off rows, planting, weeding, watering, weeding, fertilizing, weeding and eventually harvesting all made for hard work but a great time of reflection. I could reflect on a fresh start as I watched those small plants start to peek out of the soil. There was so much potential for those plants all they needed was the right combination of circumstances for their fresh start to be a full blown success.

From time to time a fresh start is needed in life. One aspect where a fresh start is most beneficial is in our spiritual life. To follow our gardening example, if we aren't careful we'll find ourselves covered in weeds that choke the spiritual life out of us. What we need to do is take time to till or turn over the dirt in our spiritual garden. We need to take time to turn things over to God that would keep us from focusing on Him. We need to allow Him to weed our spiritual garden of those things that do not benefit us. It won't be easy on us and it will be hard work but in the end it will be well worth it. For our fresh start to have maximum impact on our spiritual garden we need to be watered from above. We need to seek God's direction and ask for His blessings to be poured out on us as we follow Him. We will find our selves dry, parched, and wilting without God's direction in our lives. One final thing we need for a fresh start is a little fertilize. Organic or man-made, fertilize has one objective. To make things grow! If we want to see our spiritual garden grow to it's full potential we need to throw the fertilize to it. We need to be in God's Word allowing Him to develop us from the inside out. We also need to spend time in prayer so He can prepare our hearts and minds for the growth He plans to bring. Finally, we need to fertilize our spiritual garden with a healthy dose of worship. If we follow God's gardening plan we can experience a fresh start spiritually that will be like looking over a newly planted garden.

The best way to see this fresh start take hold in your life is to be part of a church. Be sure, if you aren't already a part of a church, to find a church where you and your family can worship God together, be fed spiritually together, and serve God together. If you're in our area and looking for a church where you can do all of that visit us at North Catawba Baptist Church. You can find directions at www.northcatawbabaptist.com

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Time to get off our butts.

"It's time to get off our butts and do what the church is supposed to be doing." I very vividly remember this statement being made in a sermon by a man I consider to be the closest thing I have to a little brother. But not just any sermon, his first sermon to beat it all. I remember sitting in the audience that day thinking, "I've never heard anyone say the word 'butt' from the pulpit before." Then I started thinking about what some of the older folks in the church were thinking about what he'd said. But (no pun intended) he had a very valid point that fit in with his message. We, the modern-day church, the collection of born again believers, must "get off our butts" and be about our Father's business.

Having grown up in church, having helped pastor one church, and now leading a church as the Senior Pastor, I've noticed some things about folks in the church. There are plenty that want to be involved. Those that want to see the church thrive and succeed. Those that want to see the church reaching unbelievers for Christ. But there are some categories of folks that need to get a copy of my little brother's sermon and pay close attention. Here are a few of those types of folks.

The Meddler
These are the folks that seem to be busy around the church and involved in all sorts of things but the only agenda they hope to accomplish is their own. They try to control areas of the church or ministries in the church just to satisfy their own desire for power. They will even go so far as to stir the pot with gossip and slander. In the end, the areas they meddle in don't help accomplish any Kingdom goal and most likely hurt the work of the church.

The Consultant
These are the folks who don't lift a finger to help with any ministry or activity but feel free to criticize those doing the work. They know how to do it better but won't help. They can tell you why your way won't work but they aren't willing to assist you. They may even show up only on Sunday mornings but tell you how all the other services and ministries need to be done differently. In the end, they just grate nerves and cause those doing the work to be frustrated and discouraged.

The Pewsitter
These are the folks that seem to only want to keep a place on a pew warm during a morning worship service. They show no initiative in wanting to help the church accomplish it's vision. They do not volunteer. If asked to help they hem and haw and don't give a straight answer. In the end, the most activity you will get from them in helping the church is them passing the offering plate down the row.

Hear me out before you send me emails about me being judgmental and condemning people. I didn't invent the personality types or encourage them not to participate in the church. I'm just sharing personality types I've witnessed in the church. That being said, if you're a Meddler, Consultant, Pewsitter or some other problem personality, I have some pastoral advice for you from a dear friend of mine. It's time for you to get off your butt and do what the church is supposed to be doing. Not serving your own agenda. Not criticizing the work others are doing. Not sitting watching everyone else do the work. God has called His children into this unique fellowship called the church. We are to do life together, serve together, rejoice together, grieve together, and reach unbelievers together. If you are doing anything else other than pulling alongside your fellow church members then you are hampering the work God is trying to do in your church. Don't be a problem for the church be a problem solver.

For those that aren't Meddlers, Consultants, Pewsitters, or any other problematic personality, I say keep working your butts off. Lead the way so others see what needs to be done. Encourage others to get involved with you. Keep working for the Kingdom as you help your church accomplish it's vision.

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