Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Theme: Evangelization

Volume 2 No. 116 December 27, 2012

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Malankara World Special on Evangelism
Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)
Table of Contents
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Editor's Note: Evangelization - The Forgotten Commandment

Most people's idea of evangelization involves going to foreign countries and converting people to Christianity. This, not only is very risky and dangerous, but also require a full time commitment that most people are not willing to do. Plus we feel inadequate to do it. We do not know theology. We do not know the finer details of our liturgy. How can I go and tell others something I do not understand myself?, they ask. ...

Bible Readings for This Sunday (Dec 30)

First Sunday after Yeldo (Christmas)

Sermons for This Sunday (Dec 30)

Sermons for the First Sunday after Yeldo (Christmas)

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_1st-sunday-after-christmas.htm

Featured: We Are Called to Win the World for Christ

 If we're not sharing our love of Jesus Christ with others, it's diminishing in our own hearts. If we don't live that love and share it, we lose it. And we can't be happy without it. That's what St. Paul meant when he wrote, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel." Baptism indelibly marks us as missionaries. It's that simple. ...

Pope Benedict XVI: 'Being Tepid is the Greatest Danger for Christians'

Pope Benedict said that the "Church exists to evangelize" by sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ, strengthening the faith of those who already have been baptized and reaching out to those who "have drifted away from the Church". ...

Clergy and the New Evangelization: First Preach by the Way You Live

Our task is to share that gift with others, to preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching" (2 Tm, 4:2). As Paul told Timothy, we must "do the work of the evangelist." We are evangelizers first. That is our paramount purpose. ...

Your Past, Present, and Future

The apostle Paul was called by God to bring the gospel to his generation. He had perhaps the most unexpected conversion in human history, as he previously had set himself to effectively destroy the Christian faith. But when Paul, known then as Saul of Tarsus, met the living Jesus, that all changed. ...

Discipleship Versus Evangelism

Jesus said that we are to make disciples, followers of Christ. When we ask people to accept Jesus as their Savior, we need to teach them that this is a total commitment of one's life to the Lord. It means becoming a disciple of Jesus. ...

Telling Others the Gospel, Even When It's Difficult

Telling others (about) the gospel isn't easy. I know -- as a young man, I was convinced I didn't have the gift of evangelism. It was obvious. No matter how hard I tried, no one was coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing I did seemed to make a difference. I was inspired by the things I read and heard about Billy Graham's ministry, but I knew I didn't have his gifts. ...

The Church Without Evangelism Is The Salt Without Flavor

Believers are inclined to think that the church is overturned as fundraising cultural centers instead of mission centers. People are losing sight of the eternal truth and look to the temporal benefits and achievements. ..

Inspired by the Incredible Early Church

It is an overwhelming thing to be caught up in the spirit of those early centuries when Christianity spread far and wide by countless, nameless saints in totally pagan cultures. By A.D. 300 there was no part of the Roman Empire which had not been to some extent penetrated by the Gospel. What human factors did God ordain to bring about this amazing spread of the Christian Movement? ...

Witness - A Real Story

The most positive witnesses of my experience never come from those who are most learned or who make the best argument. They come, always, from those who live humbly with Jesus, who know Jesus so well that they can speak for Him when I am unable to hear for myself. It is out from behind their eyes that He peers, it is between their arms that He embraces, it is from their lips that He sings His love song to me. ..

How To Get Your Voice Heard in The Public Square

I've been thinking recently about some do's and don'ts for Christians who want to make their voices heard in the public square. Here's my preliminary list of ideas. ...

Recipe: Avocado Salad

Family Special: Dealing with Difficult Relationships During Holiday Season

When it comes to relationships, Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year.... It's supposed to be a time with family, a time of being together, a time of giving, and a time of sharing. Maybe it's your daughter, your son, your grandchildren, and they refuse to come. And, once again the wound is open and made even worse. ...

Humor: Definitions....

About Malankara World

Editor's Note: Evangelization - The Forgotten Commandment

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Malankara World

If you ask a typical Christian, what are the commandments given by Jesus, they may initially struggle a bit and then answer the famous two:

1. Love God

2. Love Your Neighbor

Now if you persist, a rare few may add a third commandment:

3. Love (serve) one another (fellow Christians) as I have loved you. (John 13:34)

Practically no one in our church would remember another commandment Jesus gave just before he ascended into heaven:

4. Go and make disciples of all nations...

Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28:19)

This is the Mission and Evangelization Exhortation of Jesus Christ. It is also one commandment our church practically ignores. We leave this for others like Catholic Church, Protestant Churches, and Evangelical Churches to do. If you persist on asking why, you may hear that it is illegal to convert in India. Does the evangelism require conversion always?

Most people's idea of evangelization involves going to foreign countries and converting people to Christianity. This, not only is very risky and dangerous, but also require a full time commitment that most people are not willing to do. Plus we feel inadequate to do it. We do not know theology. We do not know the finer details of our liturgy. How can I go and tell others something I do not understand myself?, they ask.

Yes, part of evangelization involve mission work in other countries; but majority of the work involves working in your backyard a few hours a week. There are lot of 'name-sake' Christians who can be tapped. If you see someone losing interest in attending church services, he or she is a good candidate to reinforce their belief in church. As the articles in this issue shows, one of the most effective way to reach others is by example. Living the Gospel. Having the light of Jesus shine on your face. Tell them about how you have benefitted from Christianity - the 'contagious' joy and eternal promise. Pray with them. Visit them when they are in hospital. Provide them a shoulder to lean on when they feel the need for it. You can involve someone else in the process if they have some questions you cannot answer.

Catholic Church does a great job in evangelizing. Pope John Paul II and now Benedict XVI, consistently called all Christians to join in what he calls a "new evangelization and mission to the nations." A call that he states, "no believer or institution of the Church is exempt from proclaiming Christ to all people." The Catholic Church uses all available tools to do this job: blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, websites, mobile apps, social media, television (EWTN), campus ministries, missionaries, educational institutions, hospital, nursing homes, services for aged and poor, etc. to spread the faith. It is quite impressive. One of the thing that impressed me quite a lot in following the life of Mother Teresa is that, she never flet ashamed of witnessing Jesus Christ to others. She is not pushing to convert; just witnessing them about Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit will do the rest.

Father Frank Barrone of Chicago last year produced a documentary series titled "Catholicism" that was aired on Public TV in Unites States. He has visited all the major countries (including India) to produce this impressive documentary. This was very successful in reaching the believers as well as secular people. He is currently working on a documentary on Evangelization.

Fr. Barrone is a great communicator. You cannot miss his bubbling enthusiasm and commitment to Christianity. In a recent video, Fr. Barrone talked about 'Effective Evangelization.' He said one of the best way to reach people is to have them experience the contagious joy of being a friend of Jesus.

Take a look at the following video on You Tube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KfpdpvZPwrg

I find his approach extremely refreshing and inspiring.

Recently Fr. Barrone was asked by 'Our Sunday Visitor' the qualities of a new evangelist. His answers are quite illuminating:

There are seven.

1. You must have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

To evangelize is not just to share ideas - any theologian or historian could do that. It's to share a relationship, and you can't share what you don't have. Therefore, you've got to be in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. You've got to be a person of ardor.

I cited that line from Aristotle where he said, "Finally, people only really listen to an excited speaker."

I've always thought that was dead right. If you're not excited about your message, you won't communicate it effectively. So you've got to have ardor.

3. You've got to know the story of Israel.

Here I'm working with people like N.T. Wright and others who say that at the heart of evangelization is the good news that the story of Israel has come to its fulfillment - that the promises of God, as Paul said, have all met their "Yes!" in Jesus. When you abstract Jesus from Israel, you get the bland, spiritual teacher, the contemporary guru-Christ.

Back in the second century, there was a heretic named Marcion, a crypto-Gnostic who said, "Get rid of the Old Testament and its witness to an unworthy, fallen deity. Just keep Luke, and some parts of Paul." And the Church said, "Absolutely not!" to that proposal.

I tell my seminarians, "You need to say ĎNo!' to that as well." Marcion's Christ is evangelically uncompelling; you must propose the full story of Israel to be an effective evangelist.

4. You've got to know the culture.

Here is Karl Barth's famous image of the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. When Pope John Paul II called for "new expressions," he was looking for new ways to express the faith to a secular society that has grown rather cold to the Gospel, and that has lost a sense of the transcendent.

This requires you to look for "seeds of the word." Within the secular culture, there will always be signs, seeds and indications of the Gospel. So find these seeds, latch onto them, and engage the culture.

5. You've got to love the Great Tradition.

We Catholics don't subscribe to sola Scriptura. We don't operate by Scripture alone. Scripture is the heart of theology, yes indeed, but as Blessed John Henry Newman said, it "unfolds across space and time." It's like a great river that continually broadens and deepens. We know Christ better because we know him through Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, Chesterton, and through Michelangelo and Dante. To know the great Catholic theological and artistic tradition is key to being a new evangelist.

6. You've got to have a missionary heart.

I told my Mundelein students, "It should bother everyone in this room that 75 percent of our own Catholic people are not going to Mass."

Vatican II said the Eucharist was the "source and summit of the Christian life." It wanted more people at Mass, not less. Yet now, 75 percent of our own people don't even go to Mass regularly? That's a tragedy.

These are souls who are in serious trouble. And I don't mean that simply in the ultimate sense of heaven and hell. I mean even now. There are many people who are lost, and it's because they've lost contact with God. As St. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in God." There are all kinds of people in the secular world who are suffering, because the secular ideology is shutting down the longing of their hearts. So I told the students, "You must have a missionary heart; you must be passionate for souls."

7. You've got to know and use the new media.

This explosion in technology is really unprecedented, at least since the time of Gutenberg. I tell my seminary students: "Know it; use it; it's in your blood. Your generation grew up with this. You grew up with computers, so use them and don't be afraid of technology."

Fr. Barrone had this advice to people on evangelizing through the new media:

First of all, don't be afraid. There's a lot of fear surrounding this technology. People think, "I don't know it well enough; it can be abused; I might get negative feedback." And that's all true. But anything can be misused - computers, telephones, automobiles - but we wouldn't hesitate to use those things. It's the same with new media. So, don't be afraid.

Also, when you use them, make sure you're grounded in the old technology of books. You must have something worth saying when you speak. I don't think it's a good idea for someone to simply jump into new media for the sake of jumping in. Are you grounded in the theological tradition, in a life of prayer, in the spirituality of the Church? Are you disciplined by the Church's teaching? If not, then I'd say be careful. But if you are, then don't be afraid of new technology and don't neglect the old.

We hope that this issue of Malankara World Journal will help to clear up some of your hesitation regarding evangelization. I want to thank Sunitha Flowerhill, a member of the MW Editorial committee and Board, for suggesting this topic to be included in the Journal. Sunitha will follow-up with an edition highlighting ecumenism.

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Dec 30)

Sermons for This Sunday (Dec 30)
This Week's Features

Featured: We Are Called to Win the World for Christ

by Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap

Every real love story is a great love story; and every great love story creates new life. Real love is always fruitful. It's never barren. The love of husbands and wives bears fruit most obviously in the lives of their children, but also in many forms of Christian service, and in the witness their love provides to other people.

Religious, priests and people called to the single vocation are just as fruitful, but in a different way. They nourish the Church with their lives. They create a witness of radical service, and a legacy of spiritual children and apostolic works.

My point is this: The community of faith is no different from the individuals within it. The Church is the bride of Christ - and that love needs to bear fruit. The new life which the Church brings to the world is salvation in Jesus Christ, through preaching and teaching the Gospel, and offering the sacraments. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit . . . "

Jesus was talking to us - all of us, including each of us here tonight. If we're not sharing our love of Jesus Christ with others, it's diminishing in our own hearts. If we don't live that love and share it, we lose it. And we can't be happy without it. That's what St. Paul meant when he wrote, "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel." Baptism indelibly marks us as missionaries. It's that simple.

Who could doubt that the world needs the Gospel? And here, I'm talking about northern Colorado in a particular way. As a Church, we find ourselves in the middle of a young, secular, highly educated, unchurched and economically very successful social terrain. This is mission territory. This is the new Areopagus. This is the kind of environment John Paul II had in mind in 1985, when he spoke to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Listen to his words: "You must help the Church respond to [the] fundamental questions for the cultures of today: How is the message of the Church accessible to the new cultures, to contemporary forms of understanding and sensitivity? How can the Church make herself understood by the modern spirit, so proud of its achievements, and at the same time so uneasy for the future of the human family?"

And hear this passage from his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope: "Against the spirit of the world, the Church takes up anew each day a struggle that is none other than the struggle for the world's soul . . . As the Year 2000 approaches, the world feels an urgent need for the Gospel . . . "

It's appropriate that we're talking tonight in the library of an institute [Our Lady of the New Advent Theological Institute] founded on the goals of the "new evangelization" - the idea that a new missionary spirit needs to be born in each of our hearts, and if it is, that God will use it to win the soul of the world to Christ.

Over the next few years, you'll be hearing a lot about the new seminary here. And that's right and proper, because there's no Gospel witness without the Church; there's no Church without the Eucharist; and there's no Eucharist without the priest. We need more priests - good men who are well formed; men who love Jesus Christ and His people. That's the first and most urgent step in renewing our Church.

But if it stops there - no matter how many good seminarians we attract - we fail. Because ultimately, if there's no Church without the Eucharist, and no Eucharist without the priest . . . there are no priests without families on fire with Christ. Families who help their sons hear God's call; who affirm and support and encourage the priests who already serve them; who live their lives in a way that proves to our priests that their sacrifices make a difference.

What I hope God allows us to help Him build here, is not just an old way of seminary formation with a new vocabulary and an updated marketing strategy - but something true to what the "new evangelization" really is, a communion and mission of the whole Church, ordained, religious and lay, each respecting the other, each serving the other, all serving the Lord by bringing the Good News to the world, and the world to the Good News.

That's the equality of the faithful: each unique; each complementing and completing the other; altogether in service; and on fire with God. I hope in 20 years we can look back on the Our Lady of the New Advent Theological Institute and say, this is where God began something new. And if we can, then like Simeon, we can go home to Him in gratitude and peace.

Editor's note:

The archbishop's article is excerpted from his Jubilee Lecture Series September 1, 1999 talk at the John Paul II Center in Denver, Colorado. Used with permission

Pope Benedict XVI:
'Being Tepid is the Greatest Danger for Christians'

by Cindy Wooden

Pope Benedict XVI has said that to evangelize means to help people understand that God himself has responded to their questions, and that his response - the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ - is available to them as well.

"Our role in the new evangelization is to cooperate with God," the Pope told more than 260 cardinals, bishops and priests who are members of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. "We can only let people know what God has done."

In a 21-minute, off-the-cuff reflection during morning prayer at the synod's opening session today, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of prayer in the Church's push for a new evangelization, the meaning of evangelization, and sharing the Gospel through both proclamation and charity.

The Pope examined the use of the word "evangelion", the Greek term that is the root of the English word "evangelization", and which is itself translated as "Gospel".

In the Book of Isaiah, he noted, the Hebrew equivalent of the word describes "the voice that announces a victory, that announces goodness, joy and happiness", transmitting the message that "God has not forgotten his people", and that he intervenes with power in history to save them.

In the New Testament, the Pope said, "evangelion" is the good news of the incarnation of Christ, the coming of God's son into the world to save humanity.

For the people of Israel suffering under Roman rule, it was truly good news that God spoke to his people and came to live among them, the Pope said. News of Jesus' birth was the answer to those who questioned whether there really was a God; whether he knew his people and the circumstances of their lives; and whether he had any power to change their situation.

People today have the same questions, the Pope said: "Is God a reality or not? Why is he silent?"

When Christians evangelize, they must remember that their "faith has content", and that what they believe and seek to share with others is outlined in the Creed, he said. They must use their intelligence to reflect on the tenets of their faith and use their mouths to proclaim it.

Because faith isn't an abstract notion, Christians also must live their faith and share it with the world through acts of charity and love, the Pope said.

"Being tepid is the greatest danger for Christians," he said. "We pray that faith becomes like a fire in us and that it will set alight others."

The synod formally opened on yesterday with a Mass in St Peter's Square.

During his homily, Pope Benedict said that the "Church exists to evangelize" by sharing the Gospel with people who have never heard of Christ, strengthening the faith of those who already have been baptized and reaching out to those who "have drifted away from the Church".

"At various times in history," he said, "divine providence has given birth to a renewed dynamism in the church's evangelizing activity", as happened, for example, with the evangelization of the Americas beginning late in the 15th century.

"Even in our own times, the Holy Spirit has nurtured in the Church a new effort to announce the good news," the Pope said.

Clergy and the New Evangelization:
First Preach by the Way You Live

by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap

The memories of World Youth Day 1993 remain very vivid for the Church of Denver. And so before I begin, I need to tell you that I bring with me to Rome great affection from my people back home - not only for the Holy Father, but for all of you who joined in that extraordinary gathering of young people four years ago.

We need to remember the World Youth Day celebrations, because they are a powerful sign of hope. Throughout this synod we are discussing serious matters. If we truly seek conversion, community and solidarity, we need to be completely frank with one another as brothers. But in doing so, we should also take heart from the fact that young people will continue to have a deep hunger for God. With good teaching and good pastors, they will continue to hear the voice of Jesus Christ, and they will respond.

The nature of being a "good pastor" is what I want to focus on today. We preach best, and teach best, by our personal example. Anything which enables us to do that - as bishops - is good. Anything which prevents us from doing that, is not. Each one of us wants to minister to God's people more fruitfully in the new millennium. But I believe this requires us to change - as individuals and as bishops.

We need, first of all, to become simple again. By that I mean, Gospel simple. Jesus loved simplicity because it allowed Him to immerse Himself in the essential things of His Father's business. I believe we are in danger of losing that Christ-like focus as bishops. Our hemisphere has become a culture of noise, confusion and complication. We are a distracted people, both North and South, and we are now also a distracted Church. We have plans and committees and projects and staffs. All these things are important in their proper place. But at the end of the day, are we apostles . . . or are we executives? And what do our people really need: managers . . . or pastors?

My concern is that the structures of today's diocesan life too frequently prevent the very thing they were meant to help: a bishop's direct contact with his people. Obviously, good stewardship requires skilled management of our resources. But it is too easy today for a bishop to abdicate his missionary zeal to others, and become a captive of his own administrative machinery. This runs exactly counter to the example of Jesus and the first apostles.

We bishops need to be much more radical in our own Christian vocation. By "radical," I mean oriented toward the root. Charles Borromeo once said to his priests, "Be sure you first preach by the way you live." The synod's instrumentum laboris is, in some ways, too gentle toward all of us. Many of the problems we face as shepherds are not programmatic or resource-driven. They are problems of faith. Too often, those of us in the Church - and even we bishops - simply do not believe deeply and zealously enough.

Today, throughout our hemisphere, many of our people have found consumer capitalism to be much more appealing than the Gospel. Capitalism is a machine that works. It gets results. This is important, because as our economies and cultures interlock, consumerism and the practical atheism it breeds are now common problems throughout our hemisphere.

Yet the hunger for God persists in every human heart, even when it's buried under consumer goods. And too often, we are not feeding that hunger as effectively as the fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians. I understand the frustration of my Latin American brothers very well when they talk about the invasion of aggressive religious sects into their countries. I face many of the same pastoral problems in northern Colorado. Hundreds of my own people leave the Catholic faith every year to join these fundamentalist groups.

The Church throughout our hemisphere needs to recover her original spiritual fire, which these groups now so successfully copy. We need to lead people back to the fullness of Jesus Christ, which can only be found in sacramental community and especially in the Eucharist. But how can we accomplish that? If we really want conversion, community and solidarity for the Church, we need to seek those things first within and among ourselves as brothers.

I have a great devotion to Charles Borromeo because he is very much a saint for our time. Like St. Toribio of Lima, he was a force for authentic reform in an era of tremendous change. We need to be the same. You will recall that the printing press changed the nature of our discourse about God 500 years ago and became the engine of the Protestant Reformation. That was the terrain of Charles Borromeo's life.

In exactly the same way, the new information revolution will fundamentally affect our language of faith and truth. These new media tools are the building blocks of a new global mentality and culture. They are a new way of knowing and expressing things, which we misunderstand at our peril. They are also creating new issues of justice - the information "haves" and "have nots" - which the Church urgently needs to speak to.

This is the terrain of our lives as bishops. Today, we have an opportunity to serve as witnesses of Jesus Christ in the midst of this "new reformation." That is the test of this millennial moment for all of us here. That is the fabric of the New Evangelization.

Jesus Christ alone is the way to eternal life. Let us never be ashamed of His name, or apologize for the message we preach and teach, because it is true for all persons in all times. We should shout that out, not leave it to others in sects which are not blessed with the full truth we find in our Catholic faith.

Generations ago, my own family among the Native people of North America, the Prairie Band Potawatomi Indians, heard the Word of God from priests just like you and me. They understood the freedom of Jesus Christ, and they joyfully embraced the message of salvation those priests proclaimed. For my family, for me, and for hundreds of millions of other souls - across time and throughout our hemisphere; from every tribe and origin - the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been a gift beyond price.

Brothers, as bishops, our task is to share that gift with others, to preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching" (2 Tm, 4:2). As Paul told Timothy, we must "do the work of the evangelist." We are evangelizers first. That is our paramount purpose.

Editor's Note:

From a speech at the Synod of Bishops for America on Nov. 16-Dec. 12 2002 in Rome.
Used with permission ©2002 Archdiocese of Denver

Your Past, Present, and Future

by Greg Laurie

The apostle Paul was called by God to bring the gospel to his generation. He had perhaps the most unexpected conversion in human history, as he previously had set himself to effectively destroy the Christian faith. But when Paul, known then as Saul of Tarsus, met the living Jesus, that all changed.

Among other things, this is what Jesus said to him:

"Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about other times I will appear to you. And I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles" (Acts 26:16-17 NLT).

Christ's commission of Paul took the form of three words . . .

Paul's Past. Verse 16 says, "I have appeared to you." In other words, Paul had seen with his own eyes the risen Christ.

Paul's Present. Verse 17 says, "I will protect you." Nothing would stop Paul from completing his life and ministry. He would not be silenced until his God-appointed work was done. That did not mean it would be easy, for Jesus also told him he would "suffer." But he would finish his work or, as Paul said earlier, "finish his race with joy."

Paul's Future. Jesus tells Paul in verse 17, "Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles." Jesus was personally commissioning Paul to do this.

In the same way, we too have our past, present, and future.

1. Our Past: Jesus has "appeared" to us.

No, not in the same way as He did for Paul, but He has made Himself known to us. There is even a special blessing for the person who has not "seen Him" in John 20:29: "Then Jesus told him, 'You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway.'"

2. Our Present: Jesus will rescue us.

We will finish the life God has given us to live and the task He wants us to complete. In Isaiah 54, we read that "No weapon that is formed against you will prosper" (NKJV). Psalm 91 has even more promises of protection for the believer.

3. Our Future: Jesus is calling us.

We all have a calling to fulfill, a task to complete, a race to run. We all have been called to live godly lives that glorify Him. We have all been called to "preach the gospel." We have been commissioned by Jesus Himself to "Go therefore into all the world . . ."

Copyright ©2011 by Harvest Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

Discipleship Versus Evangelism

By Andrew Wommack

Most Christians believe that the primary purpose of salvation is to avoid hell. That may have been what you were taught, but it's not what the Bible teaches. In fact, that kind of thinking serves to inoculate people from the truth of the Gospel concerning salvation.

If we simply ceased to exist at death and if there was no hell, I still believe that Jesus would have come to earth and died for us. Why? Because salvation is about having a relationship with God. God's main reason for sending Jesus was to restore fellowship. It just so happens that as we restore our relationship with God through salvation, one of the perks-one of the great benefits-is that we miss hell and gain heaven.

Nowhere in the Scripture did Jesus tell us to go and make converts. Let's look at what is commonly referred to as the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:18-20. It says this:

And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Jesus told them to teach others to observe all the things that He had commanded. The Greek word for "teach" in this passage is literally the word that is translated "disciple." The New International Version translated this as "Go and make disciples." The emphasis here is that the Lord commanded us to make disciples, not converts. Somewhere along the way, the church has changed the emphasis of this message from making disciples to getting people born again, leaving discipleship for the "mature."

Did you know that Jesus never preached on being "born again"? In the third chapter of John, He talked to Nicodemus about the spiritual birth compared to the natural birth, but He never taught or preached to the people about being "born again." You may be asking yourself, "How can Andrew say that? That's the centerpiece of every evangelistic effort." You're right-it is-but I believe that the Bible teaches that the church has placed the emphasis in the wrong place. By making that the focus, the church is actually lowering the standards, leaving people with the misconception that all they need to do is just be born again and discipleship is optional. That is not what Jesus commanded.

Statistics say that 33 percent of all "born-again Christians" still support things like abortion and New Age thinking. That certainly does not reflect the attitude of a person who's truly been born again. Billy Graham was quoted as saying that only 15 percent of all the people who professed to be Christian are truly born again. Here is something else that may surprise you: Kathryn Kuhlman said that only 15 percent of those who were healed at her services kept their healing when they left the service. These numbers should tell you something about how success is measured in ministry.

I am not saying that being born again and living eternally with Jesus is not important-it's essential! I'm saying that we have changed the message from the way Jesus taught it. We have reduced the definition of "born again" to the point that in our society today, it has actually become socially popular to say we're born again and gain acceptance in certain circles.

Jesus said that we are to make disciples, followers of Christ. When we ask people to accept Jesus as their Savior, we need to teach them that this is a total commitment of one's life to the Lord. It means becoming a disciple of Jesus.

Jesus' attitude toward evangelism is much different than that of most Christians. Jesus is more concerned with the quality of ministry than the quantity.

John 2:23-25 says,

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

It says that Jesus did not commit Himself unto them although they believed on Him. The words "believed" and "commit" here are actually from the same Greek word. So, you could say that they believed on Him, but He did not believe in them. He knew they were not disciples. He wouldn't commit Himself to them, because He didn't want man testifying out of his own ability.

When we hear that someone has been born again, we are ready to put them to work, especially if they are public figures with recognizable names. It's like we are trying to sell a product by associating it with someone famous. That totally violates what Paul said in 1 Timothy 3 concerning placing a novice in a position of authority. These are the kinds of shortcuts believers resort to when they limit the true definition of being born again to a simple confession of Jesus as Lord.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "I would have been a Christian if I hadn't met one." Before leading the revolution in India, he was exiled in Africa. There, he was seeking the Lord, reading the New Testament. He had become convinced that Christianity was the true religion and that Jesus was the Christ.

He decided to attend a Presbyterian church service for the purpose of confessing Jesus as his Lord. But, because of the color of his skin, they wouldn't let him in. Those people who were so determined to evangelize did not have enough of the nature of God on the inside to look past his color. He then led 750 million people into a pagan religion.

On a trip to India some years ago, I learned there were 12,000 Methodists in the city of Ahmedabad, the result of a great revival in the 1890s. When I asked the head of the church in that city how many were truly born again, he responded by saying it was only two or three families. The rest were still worshiping other gods. All they had done was add Jesus to their list of gods to make sure they didn't miss one. They were obviously not disciples. To those in India, Jesus was just another of the thousands of gods. That is not God's idea of evangelism.

John 8:30-32 says,

As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

People often say that if you know the truth, the truth will set you free. That is not correct. More correctly, these verses say that when you continue in the Word, then you will know the truth, and the truth you know sets you free. In these verses, Jesus was speaking to those who already believed on Him. Jesus knew that only those who became disciples would truly become free. There is more to believing than just mouthing words.

What we ought to be preaching is that God calls us into discipleship, and it begins with making a commitment to the Lord. If we understood that and acted on it, we would have much greater success evangelizing the world.

Consider this-if you evangelized 1,000 people per year for fifteen years, you would end up with 15,000 new believers, assuming they were all genuine conversions. If you led 1 person to the Lord every six months and spent the next six months disciplining that person so they could reproduce themselves, what do you think would happen? In one year, there would only be 2 disciples. However, after sixteen-and-a-half years, if each continued to reproduce themselves every six months, there would be no one left on earth to evangelize. Jesus' method of discipleship would produce nearly 7 billion disciples in less than seventeen years. discipleship evangelism works!

I really believe that the church has missed it in the area of evangelism, making converts and not disciples. By now, you may be thinking, 'Andrew is right, but I have no idea how to disciple anyone. That's best left to those who are more knowledgeable in the Word of God.' Well, I have good news: If you can read, you can change a life!

© 1997-2012 Andrew Wommack Ministries

Telling Others the Gospel, Even When It's Difficult

by Luis Palau

Telling others (about) the gospel isn't easy. I know -- as a young man, I was convinced I didn't have the gift of evangelism. It was obvious. No matter how hard I tried, no one was coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing I did seemed to make a difference. I was inspired by the things I read and heard about Billy Graham's ministry, but I knew I didn't have his gifts.

I remember giving God a deadline: If I don't see any converts by the end of the year, I'm quitting. Oh, I would still be an active Christian, but I planned to resign myself to simply teaching other believers.

The end of the year came and went. No converts. My mind was made up: Now I was sure I didn't have the gift of evangelism.

On Saturday about four days into the New Year, the small church I attended in Argentina held a home Bible study. I didn't feel like going, but went anyway out of loyalty to the elders.

The fellow who was supposed to give the Bible study never showed up. So the man of the house said, Luis, you are going to have to say something. I was completely unprepared. I had been reading a book by Billy Graham, however, based on the beatitudes. So I read Matthew 5:1-12 and simply repeated whatever I remembered from Dr. Graham's book.

As I was commenting on the beatitude, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God, a lady suddenly stood up. She began to cry: My heart is not pure. How can I see God? Somebody tell me how I can get a pure heart.

I don't remember the woman's name, but I will never forget her words: Somebody tell me how I can get a pure heart. Together we read in the Bible, The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin (1 John 1:7). Before the evening was over, that woman found peace with God and went home with a pure heart overflowing with joy. How delightful it was to lead her to Jesus Christ!

When you win someone to Christ, it's the greatest joy. Your graduation is exciting, your wedding day is exciting, your first baby is exciting. But the most thrilling thing you can ever do is to win someone to Christ.

Yet today, in an effort to be sophisticated and contemporary, many Christians have stopped trying to persuade others to follow Christ. There's an underlying feeling in our society that nice people just don't go around persuading other people to do things. We don't want to offend people, appear strange, or lose our newfound status. So we do nothing.

I, too, have been guilty of this. When I lived in Mexico City, my next-door neighbor was a young television personality. We would chat from time to time, and he even mentioned that he listened to our radio program occasionally. But I didn't share the Gospel with him. After all, I thought, he seems completely immune to the problems of life.

Eventually, though, my neighbor changed. The joy seemed to have left his face. He and his wife started driving separate cars to work. I could tell their marriage was souring, and I felt the need to talk with him, but I didn't want to meddle in his life. I went about my business and headed off for an evangelistic crusade in Peru. After all, that was the polite thing to do.

When I returned home, I learned my neighbor had killed himself. I was heartbroken. I knew I should have gone to him and persuaded him to repent and follow Christ. But because of false courtesy, because I followed a social norm I didn't do it.

It's very convenient to make excuses for not persuading others to follow Christ. We may say we don't want to be overbearing or offensive. We may think we can't possibly witness to someone because he or she will become angry.

Not Closed At All

But over the years I have learned that some of the people I thought would be most closed to the Gospel often are the most receptive. Although they may outwardly fear it, in their hearts they welcome the message of the Gospel.

I saw this attitude clearly during a visit to the Soviet Union. Christians there were persecuted for decades. Now, evangelism is permitted. I've traveled all over the world, and I've never seen a place as hungry and desperate to hear the Gospel. But many Soviet Christians are just beginning to realize the fields are white already to harvest.

Just before my evangelistic team's Soviet campaign was over, a Baptist pastor brought an acquaintance to one of our meetings in Moscow. The friend, head of an academic department at the university and a leading scientist, listened as I preached the Gospel. Then, to the pastor's surprise, this scientist prayed out loud to receive Jesus Christ as his Savior. And then, with tears, he came forward to confess Christ publicly.

The Russian pastor was astonished at his friend's response to the Gospel. He was equally surprised by the phone call he received at 7:15 the next morning. I would like to express my gratitude to you, the scientist said. You invited me to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn't sleep the whole night. I just prayed. I asked God whether He would accept me, whether He would pardon me.

So the pastor asked, Well, do you think God pardoned you? And his friend replied, Yes, I'm absolutely sure that God accepts me as His prodigal son. Later the pastor told me, I never thought a scientist would accept the Lord Jesus as Savior. But now I've seen it with my own eyes. What a great experience!

Having a part in leading a friend or acquaintance to faith in Jesus Christ is exciting. But actually praying with someone who wants to make that decision is even more thrilling.

Yet I've seen Christians lead someone to the point of decision and then panic. A Christian woman was witnessing to a Hungarian businesswoman sitting in front of me on a flight from Budapest to London. At the same time our team's European director and I were discussing the evangelistic rally we had in Budapest the day before.

While we were talking, the Christian woman stood up, turned around and said, Excuse me. Are you talking about the rally yesterday with Luis Palau? I said yes. Do you know where brother Palau is? I said that was me. Then she said, I've been talking to this Hungarian lady, and I think she's ready to be converted. But I don't know how to do it.

I told her, I've been listening to what you've been saying and you've done a terrific job. But she felt afraid of doing something wrong when it came time to pray with someone who was ready to receive Christ.

I agreed to talk with the Hungarian businesswoman for a minute. Did you understand what this lady said to you?

Yes.

Are you ready to trust Christ and follow Him?

Yes.

At that, I asked the Christian woman to lead her in a prayer. I could have done it myself. It would have been great. But I just sat back and watched as the Christian woman in front of me at first hesitated, then turned to this Hungarian woman, put her arm around her, and for the first time led someone to Christ.

A Challenge

I challenge you to pray: Dear God, I want that experience. I want to know what it is to win someone to Jesus Christ.

Why be ashamed of the Gospel? It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It changes lives here and now, and for eternity!

The Dutch evangelist Corrie ten Boom had a God-given desire to win others to Christ. One of her poems says,

When I enter that beautiful city /
And the saints all around me appear, /
I hope that someone will tell me: /
It was you who invited me here.

Whatever our place in the Body of Christ, let's actively and prayerfully invite others into God's kingdom. After all, God doesn't have a plan A, a plan B and a plan C for evangelizing the world. He has only one plan and that's you and me.

The Church Without Evangelism Is The Salt Without Flavor

by Paul Varkey, St. Peters Syriac Orthodox Church, Philadelphia

There is a tendency among churches, especially established churches, to get institutionalized. This process leads to commercialization. To maintain this status quo, people politicize spiritual institutions with vested interest. Believers are inclined to think that the church is overturned as fundraising cultural centers instead of mission centers. People are losing sight of the eternal truth and look to the temporal benefits and achievements.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him." (John 14:6).

During this Christmas, let us rejoice by seeing the truth and witnessing the truth as to who is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. This is the time to renew our commitment to the command of our Lord,

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15).

The church is the body of all believers. The origin and existence of the church is through evangelism, which is the proclamation of the gospel. The Holy Qurbona is a dramatic presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The concept of Holy Qurbona is materialized through the practical ministry of witnessing. The church fathers had this vision. They carried the gospel everywhere they could.

One of the best examples of this is H.H. Patriarch Mor Ignatius Elias III who came to Kerala obeying the great commission of our Lord Jesus and preaching the gospel to local people. "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct"( Hebrews 13:7). Their life and mission is for us to remember and to continue everywhere we go.

Most of the apostles were fishermen. They understood this command and carried out this mandate. They preached the gospel until their deaths. This is the reason Christianity became a worldwide religion. St. Thomas came to Kerala, India in the year A.D. 52. As per tradition, he preached gospel and several high caste Brahman families believed in Jesus Christ and established churches. Evangelism is the collective effort of all believers.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you: and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This verse is fundamental in understanding the mission of the church. The great commission is given by Jesus Christ to his disciples and all believers. Since then, the gospel message was thoroughly communicated in a very organized form throughout the known world at that time starting from Jerusalem. The ultimate goal is to reach out this message of blessing throughout the entire world.

The gospel cannot be bound by any region or people. The plan of Jesus Christ was very efficiently carried out by the apostles and believers. That is the way the gospel reached to south west coast of India by St. Thomas. The worldwide evangelism is based on the direction given by Jesus Christ. The gospel has a starting place. That starting place is each believer and each local church. In this regard, I would like to commend South Korean churches taking initiative and leadership in sending missionaries all over Asia and to the whole world. Christians in Kerala should learn the prayer life and mission commitment of Korean believers, especially their early morning church prayer services even in the severe winter season. God has been abundantly blessing those believers and churches.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" Rom 1:16.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:18).

The vital role of the verbal communication of the gospel and the teaching of the word of God is unequivocally emphasized everywhere in the Bible. Since the time of Christianity, all believers wholeheartedly took this great commission faithfully and seriously. Each believer had the conviction that they should share the gospel to their neighbors. The message was proclaimed by ordinary believers wherever they went. Their witness and testimony spread and many people were brought to eternal kingdom of our King of kings.

In conclusion I would like to challenge all believers and church leaders to rise to the occasion and remain faithful in carrying out the great commission of spreading the good news of salvation. This is the time to reevaluate our mission strategies to break linguistic, religious and national boundaries in sharing the gospel and planting churches.

Churches need to be more involved in charitable works. Charity work is not simply fundraising but touching lives through human interaction and services. I would like to invite all preachers, bible teachers and ministers to come together and to draw a plan for implementing the mission of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

Inspired by the Incredible Early Church

by John Piper

I've been reading Stephen Neil's 'A History of Christian Missions.' It is an overwhelming thing to be caught up in the spirit of those early centuries when Christianity spread far and wide by countless, nameless saints in totally pagan cultures. By A.D. 300 there was no part of the Roman Empire which had not been to some extent penetrated by the Gospel. What human factors did God ordain to bring about this amazing spread of the Christian Movement? Stephen Neil suggests six.

1. First and foremost was the burning conviction which possessed a great number of the early Christians.

The church historian Eusebius of Caesarea (A.D. 260-340) described the way the gospel spread:

At that time [about the beginning of the second century] many Christians felt their souls inspired by the holy word with a passionate desire for perfection. Their first action, in obedience to the instructions of the Savior, was to sell their goods and to distribute them to the poor. Then, leaving their home, they set out to fulfill the work of an evangelist, making it their ambition to preach the word of the faith to those who as yet had heard nothing of it, and to commit to them the books of the divine Gospels. They were content simply to lay the foundations of the faith among these foreign peoples: they then appointed other pastors, and committed to them the responsibility for building up those whom they had merely brought to the faith. Then they passed on to other countries and nations with the grace and help of God (Ecclesiastical History, III, 37, 2-3).

2. The solid historical message which Christians brought was indeed good news, and a welcome alternative to the mystery religions of the day.

3. The new Christian communities commended themselves by the purity of their lives.

4. The Christian communities were marked by mutual loyalty and an overcoming of antagonisms between alienated classes.

5. The Christians were known for an elaborate development of charitable service, especially to those within the fellowship. Emperor Julian, writing in the early forth century regretted the progress of Christianity because it pulled people away from the Roman gods. He said,

Atheism [i.e. Christian faith] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.

6. The persecution of Christians and their readiness to suffer made a dramatic impact on unbelievers. Neil observes, "Under the Roman Empire Christians had no legal right to exist ... Every Christian knew that sooner or later he might have to testify to his faith at the cost of his life."

Here we are at the end of the second millennium. May God raise up hundreds of thousands of super-ordinary Christians and Christian communities with this kind of passion.

©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org Used by Permission.

Witness - A Real Story

by Melissa Mrozek

George Macdonald writes, "God is so beautiful, and so patient, and so loving, and so generous that He is the heart and soul and rock of every love and every kindness and every gladness in the world. All the beauty in the world and in the hearts of men, all the painting, all the poetry all the music, all the architecture comes out of His heart first. He is so loveable that no heart can know how loveable He is - can know only in part."

The parts my heart knows:

Ray, who gently but persistently encouraged me to accompany him to Adoration. He prayed for me outside the chapel as I gazed upon the body of Jesus. Directly above the Eucharist hung a crucifix. I came before Jesus in fear and trembling, full of the knowledge of my own sin. "Not this time, Lord. I do not believe you can forgive me. How can you forgive me again?" As I wept, the Lord said to me, "Donít you know this is why I am on the cross? I knew you would sin in this way. Because I love you so much, I made a provision for this very moment and act. Nothing can separate you from my love."

My best friend, Anna, who I have known for over ten years, who has seen all of my ugliness and is still my best friend. Who, during a fragile, pivotal point in my life, invited. Did not urge or lecture, but simply invited me to community, invited me to prayer, invited me into the Heart of the Father. Who never took back the invitation when I resisted. And whose invitation was eventually the doorway through which I came home.

A priest on a Catholic retreat in the mountains. Prayer on the opening night. Where are you, God? Will I find you here? Am I still precious to you? As my heart cried out silently, Father Keith put two hands on my shoulders. The surety in his voice unshakeable, he says, "Oh, yes. He loves you."

My parents, their love so unconditional, unwavering and uncompromising. Ever forgiving, yet never content to see me stay in the same place or to accept my sin. Their love shapes me, as Christís also longs to do.

Witnesses to Jesus are all around me, in every moment of gladness, every kindness bestowed upon me, every person with beauty in their heart, those that love me and continue to love me in my weakness. These are the witnesses that point to Christ.

The most positive witnesses of my experience never come from those who are most learned or who make the best argument. They come, always, from those who live humbly with Jesus, who know Jesus so well that they can speak for Him when I am unable to hear for myself. It is out from behind their eyes that He peers, it is between their arms that He embraces, it is from their lips that He sings His love song to me.

About The Author:

Melissa Mrozek is a recent graduate of St. Mary's University in Maryland.

How To Get Your Voice Heard in The Public Square

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

I've been thinking recently about some do's and don'ts for Christians who want to make their voices heard in the public square. Here's my preliminary list of ideas:

1. Start with a local focus.

It's always more effective for a resident of Asheville to speak out on Asheville issues than for someone from Savannah to offer an opinion. But if you live in Asheville and pay taxes in Asheville, you have every right to speak out on those local issues that concern you.

2. Pick your spots.

You don't have to join every controversy that comes down the pike. In fact, you will probably be labeled as a reactionary crank if you complain every time you open your mouth. You will find yourself far more effective if you limit the number of causes you get involved in.

3. If you are too angry, don't do anything.

Many Christians have actually hurt their own cause by speaking without thinking. If you feel extremely upset about something that happened at your child's school, talk to a friend and then count to ten before you call the principal. Nothing is gained by losing your temper to those in authority.

4. Be graciously persistent.

Very few things will change the first time you speak out. Often people will ignore your comments because they hope it will make you go away. Remember the widow and the unjust judge in Luke 18. She was rewarded because she kept coming back. Justice will often not be done until we have stated our case five or six times.

5. Don't demonize your enemies.

Don't treat people unkindly simply because they disagree with you on a moral issue. Yelling, screaming, intimidating, and attributing bad motives to others generally won't convince them of the error of their ways.

6. Be bold in God.

As an American citizen, you have a right to speak out; as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, you have an obligation to openly represent God's truth in this society. Think of yourself as a duly appointed ambassador from above. You are sent to your neighborhood, your street, your school, and your place of work to represent Jesus Christ in everything you say and do. When you speak up for the unborn, you speak on behalf of the Creator of the universe. So be bold! You have the credentials of heaven behind you.

7. Don't forget the main thing.

People need Jesus more than anything else. The battles we win in the political arena may not matter very much 10,000 years from now. But the one thing that will matter forever is the eternal destiny of the people we meet every day. Don't forget that above everything else, people need the Lord. He's the solution to the real problems of the world.

8. Pray, pray, pray.

Nothing of eternal consequence happens without prayer. Pray for those with whom you strongly disagree. Pray to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in all things. If we are to maintain the spirit of tenacious winsome courage I wrote about, we must pray before we speak out, while we speak out, and after we speak out.

© Keep Believing Ministries

Recipe: Avocado Salad
My Grandmother soaked sliced red onions in white vinegar and and let them marinate in the icebox then used them as a side dish. She brought the recipe with her from Switzerland. (She and my grandfather both walked separately across the country with an wagon train and settled in California - real pioneers) My grandfather loved them - so of course I did too.

I have used it as an inspiration to experiment with added favorites. I have a bottle of vinegar in the refrigerator now I had soaked some sliced red onions in white vinegar and some sweet Modena Balsamic. After the onions are eaten it makes a nice salad dressing with some extra virgin olive oil.

I also make my own flavored vinegars. Place some tea bags in white vinegar and you can create a $5.00 bottle of fancy vinegar out of $ 0.50 worth of white vinegar.

Delicious Avocado Salad

Slices of perfectly ripen avocado
Thin slices of shallots (not too many)
Sprinkle on some capers
Drizzle with Red Onion Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil

Serve on a chilled plate

Recipe from Internet by grayeagle

Family Special: Dealing with Difficult Relationships During Holiday Season

by Kay Arthur, Precepts for Life

When it comes to relationships, Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year.... It's supposed to be a time with family, a time of being together, a time of giving, and a time of sharing. Maybe it's your daughter, your son, your grandchildren, and they refuse to come. And, once again the wound is open and made even worse.

When we think of Christmas, we think of family and friends. We think of getting together and having meals and festivities. The commercials on television all make Christmas look so wonderful, so magical. And yet Christmas can be a time when difficult relationships are just magnified. It's like a dark cloud comes into your life. It's like a blackness overcomes you and depression sets in.

Why? Because suddenly you see yourself as somebody who's all alone. You see yourself as somebody who's unloved. You remember all your broken relationships. You remember all the harsh words. You've put the invitation out for family to get together, and you wonder if they're going to even come. And if they come, what's it going to be like? Are they going to be kind to one another? Will they argue? They may come, but come grumbling about it.

It can be a time of year of great loneliness, great pain, and great stress. So what are you going to do differently this year? Begin by remembering that Christmas is all about receiving and giving the gift of love.

Think of Christmas and make it synonymous with the giving and receiving of love. Then what you need to focus on is how you will give the gift of love, not just to those that are lovely and loveable, but to those who aren't so lovely. There may be those you love who are full of anger, jealousy, and often are the ones who start the arguments. And you think, "Oh no! Not another time this year." What can you do?

In Ephesians chapter 4, it says "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love" (Ephesians 4:1-2).

If at all possible, make the decision that this Christmas you are not going to react toward others according to what they do to you, but a responder to God. A responder to His command for you to love others even as Christ loved you (John 15:12).

If this is what Christmas is all about, then you and I need to "walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us..." (Ephesians 5:2). He's giving us the example. This verse is talking about walking in a Calvary kind of love. A love that says "not my will, but Yours." It's a love that is sacrificial. It's a love that is willing to go to the cross.

This is what God wants for us. This is what He wants for you right now. Beloved, He wants us to love with the love that He has for us. "If I speak with the tongues of men...angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1). No matter what great act you have done, no matter how much you have given to the church, no matter how much time you have served as a deacon or as an elder, a teacher, an usher, if you don't have love, it's nothing. It's absolutely nothing. Why? Because Christmas, the birthday of the Son of God who was born to die for you and me, is all about love. It's about walking in this kind of love all year long.

In 1 Corinthians 13 we have a description of what love looks like. You may want to print out these verses from your computer or write them out. Read over these verses, study them, and then put them on your refrigerator. Memorize this passage of scripture, and begin walking in all that it commands you to do. This truly can help transform how you live.

The Excellence of Love

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-13, NASB)

Take these principles, these precepts for life, that God has put down in His Word and ask God to help you walk daily in the real meaning of love during this Christmas season. Keep walking in them until it becomes a habit. Take no one for granted. Love them in new ways that might just surprise them. May the love of Christmas become a gift that lasts all year long!

About The Author:

Kay Arthur is Host of Precepts for Life and Co-CEO of Precept Ministries International

Source: One Voice Devotional

Humor: Definitions....
CIGARETTE:

A pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one end and a fool at the other!

MARRIAGE:

It's an agreement wherein a man loses his bachelor degree and a woman gains her master

LECTURE:

An art of transmitting Information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of students without passing through the minds of either

CONFERENCE:

The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present

COMPROMISE:

The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes he got the biggest piece

TEARS:

The hydraulic force by which masculine will power is defeated by feminine water-power!

CONFERENCE ROOM:

A place where everybody talks, nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on

ECSTASY:

A feeling when you feel you are going to feel a feeling you have never felt before

CLASSIC:

A book which people praise, but never read

SMILE:

A curve that can set a lot of things straight!

OFFICE:

A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life

YAWN:

The only time when some married men ever get to open their mouth

EXPERIENCE:

The name men give to their Mistakes

DIPLOMAT:

A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip

MISER:

A person who lives poor so that he can die RICH!

BOSS:

Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early

POLITICIAN:

One who shakes your hand before elections and your Confidence Later

DOCTOR:

A person who kills your ills by pills, and kills you by his billS.
 

Courtesy - Kamal Singh
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