Regrets from my summer vacation

Ahhhh! Summer vacation. Warm sand between my toes, the hot sun driving the memory of a cold winter far, far away. Every year, I look forward to those few days we are able to get away and relax as a family.

Last summer, we had an opportunity to stay in a house near the ocean. It was a wonderful time.

But I also have a few regrets.

You see, my husband and I try to be purposefully prepared to share the gospel no matter where we go. And while we needed a break from work and the pressing matters of life, we had no desire to take a break from our role as Christ’s ambassadors.

We usually keep a well-stocked Be Ready Box in our vehicles, with a variety of gospel materials we can easily give away to those we meet. And when we know we’re going to be staying with someone or meeting new people, we usually grab a few extra books specifically geared toward them.

Our regrets began when we borrowed a larger vehicle for our trip to the coast last summer. You see, we forgot to transfer our Be Ready Box over to the borrowed van. We also forgot to pack any extra books to have on hand for hostess gifts and the like.

When we realized that the owner of the house where we stayed was a grandmother who desired to share the Lord with her children and grandchildren, our first response was to hurry to our suitcases to grab out The Lamb for her grandchildren, By This Name for her and her children, as well as a few copies of The Story that Matters. We were so disappointed that we had nothing to leave for her to find after we left…

During our week at the coast, we kept running into another family whose young girl loved to play with our children. Her parents weren’t believers, but as we conversed on a number of occasions that week, we felt we’d built up enough of a rapport that they would have accepted a copy of By This Name. Except we had none to give…

Near the end of our stay, we met a family with whom we had mutual acquaintances. As we talked, they asked questions about our work at GoodSeed. It was clear they were curious and wanted to know more. But we had nothing to give them…

And there were other, less obvious, missed opportunities. We usually leave a book behind when we stay in a hotel. Sometimes we might give one to our waitress or we might have handed one to the gentleman we chatted with during a long parade. We never know how these materials could impact a person’s life, so we try to take every opportunity we have to leave something of Christ behind. This time we were woefully unprepared.

Did we have other options for sharing the good news? Yes, for sure. Giving a book is not the only way to share the gospel, by any means, but in each of our encounters, it seemed to us that having a book on hand would have made us more effective ambassadors. It would have been so simple and natural.

Because we never actually met our hostess (our stay was arranged through a friend), we didn’t ever get to speak to her face-to-face. We were unable to get her mailing address so we could send her materials.

With the couple we met numerous times, the conversation was quickly steered away from any mention of God. While they were friendly, they obviously didn’t wish to talk about such a personal topic with casual acquaintances. A book would have been much less confrontational, easier for them to accept and they would’ve been able to read and consider the material in the quiet of their own home.

We were able to talk some about what we do with GoodSeed with the family we met near the end of our stay, but on a busy beach, with seven children between us to keep track of, it would have been much more effective to simply hand them a book for them to look at when life was a little less hectic.

So, with these regrets lingering from our last trip, I can guarantee you our family plans to pack a little more carefully for our next vacation!

Are you prepared for the individuals the Lord might bring your way this summer? Sometimes, our days away on vacation give us unique opportunities to share the good news with others. We just have to make sure we’re ready.

So, here’s to a warm summer of good memories, and no regrets!

What is Truth? Part Three

In this “What is Truth?” series, we have seen how vital it is to know sufficient information about the identity and history of Yahweh in order for a person (or ourselves!) to have confidence in God and his Word.

Many presentations of the gospel focus mainly on Jesus’ work on the cross. But then comes the question, “Who is Jesus?” It is not sufficient to say, “He is God,” because then you must explain what God is like. In this series, we’ve seen that it is vital to explain God’s identity and history if we expect people to trust him.

The same principle extends to trusting Jesus for our personal salvation. We need to know the identity and history of Jesus before we will trust him. We sort of intuitively know this but we often skip to the story of the cross without really nailing down the identity of Jesus. The identity of Jesus is that he is the Creator God. We simply cannot assume a person knows or believes that to be the case.

It is no coincidence that the identity of Jesus is the one area that cults and other religions most commonly assault.

It is no coincidence that the identity of Jesus is the one area that cults and other religions most commonly assault. They make Jesus out to be a lesser god, a prophet or maybe a good man, but not the Creator God of the Bible. It is also no coincidence that the Apostle John began his gospel with the clear statement that Jesus was the Creator God. He then reinforces that identity with eight miracles that confirm his deity. Only once that is nailed down can we really explain the historical reality of Christ.

The history of Jesus Christ centres around the events of the cross and tomb, but here, too, we benefit immensely from having a little background. Many ask, “Why did Jesus need to die on the cross? Why didn’t he just pronounce forgiveness on our sins? Did he have to die the way he did?” Those kinds of questions, gone unanswered, have been often cited as reasons why people leave the faith. They simply didn’t understand the identity and history of Christ and so begin to question their own faith. Clearly it is vital that we have a firm grip on the identity and history of Christ.

Those kinds of questions, gone unanswered, have been often cited as reasons why people have left the faith.

Dr. Andy Woods, author and teacher, says the whole reason for the necessity of the cross and tomb can be found in Genesis 3, where God gives his first promise of a Messiah to the newly fallen Adam and Eve. Dr. Woods quotes W.H. Griffith Thomas when he says, “[Genesis 3] is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.” (1)

“[Genesis 3] is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.”

W.H. Griffith Thomas

There in Genesis 3, we read of the sad history of mankind. We learn of the choice to trust Satan instead of God, the first human sin. We also learn about the shared identity of all humanity – our sin nature – and the consequence of that sin – eternal death. In Genesis 3, we also learn the early history of the Promised Messiah when God says to Satan, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring [the Messiah]. He [the Messiah] will strike your head [a fatal blow], and you will strike his heel [a temporary wound].” (2) This then becomes the first of many prophecies pointing to a coming Saviour.

“If you don’t understand what happened in Genesis 3, you have no idea what the rest of the Bible is really talking about.”

Dr. Andy Woods

Dr. Woods goes on to say, “If you don’t understand what happened in Genesis 3, you have no idea what the rest of the Bible is really talking about. You have no idea why Jesus had to come into this world to die on a cross if you don’t understand Genesis chapter 3.” (1)

Let’s be sure we take sufficient time and care in our gospel presentations to ensure our listeners grasp the identity and history of their Saviour. Doing so can make all the difference in the faith walk of a believer.

  1. “Revelation 072-Identification Through Omission,” last modified February 23, 2020, accessed June 22, 2020, https://slbc.org/sermon/revelation-072-identification-through-absence/#transcriptlink.
  1. Genesis 3:15.

What is Truth? Part Two

Teaching

In Part One of this series, we saw that it is virtually impossible to understand the Bible if you don’t have a correct understanding of God’s nature, or his identity.

But it’s not enough to simply know the identity of a person in order to trust him. I could tell you that my friend Jason is a software programmer. You would then know the identity of Jason, but you would not know if he was a good man or a bad man. Is Jason reliable? Does he make promises and keep them? What’s his track record? You would want to know these things before you trusted Jason.

People need a little background and history to make sense of the gospel. If we tell them to trust God, but they don’t know what God is like, then they likely won’t trust him.

In the same way, we also need to know some of God’s history before we trust him. People need a little background and history to make sense of the gospel. If we tell them to trust God, but they don’t know what God is like, then they likely won’t trust him.

Building a case for the reliability and trustworthiness of God is critical if people are going to take the monumental step of staking their eternity on him. We must take the time to build their confidence in both God’s identity and his history.

This the Bible does throughout the pages of Scripture, putting God’s reliability to the test again and again through the giving of hundreds of prophecies. Is God reliable? Can I depend upon him making good on his promise of what will happen in the future?

In fact, we see a pattern emerge throughout Scripture. God often gave multiple promises to people at once, some of which would be fulfilled quickly, others at a later date. As the individual witnessed the short-term promises being fulfilled one after another, he or she could be increasingly confident that the promises made regarding a later future event would also come to pass at the right time.

As the individual witnessed the short-term promises being fulfilled one after another, he or she could be increasingly confident that the promises made regarding a later future event would also come to pass at the right time.

We find examples of this in the lives of Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, on through the prophets and into the New Testament with Mary, Joseph, Zechariah and the disciples.

When Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was told that he would have a child who would be the forerunner of the Messiah, he asked, “How can I be sure of this?” God gave him four specific short-term promises. (1. His barren wife would have a child; 2. The child would be a boy; 3. Zechariah would be struck mute; 4. Zechariah would be able to speak again once his child was born.) If these came true, Zechariah could be sure that the prophecies regarding his son’s future job description and the soon arrival of the Messiah would also be true. (1)

God took thousands of years to reveal his identity and history to mankind. Not only do we need the history of God to establish his trustworthiness, but we need that history to lay the foundations for the gospel, to make sense of his death and resurrection. (We’ll take a deeper look at that in a future article.) Let’s be sure we take sufficient time and care in our gospel presentations to ensure our listeners also grasp enough of God’s character and trustworthy nature to be confident in Whom they are placing their faith.

  1. Luke 1:13-20.

What is Truth? Part One

A surprising answer to an ancient question

(Part One of Two)

Never in history has there been a greater flow of information and never before have so many questioned what is actually the “truth.” We find ourselves swamped with experts, many of whom contradict each other. As debates rage over the pros and cons of various approaches in this pandemic, many more wonder which “expert” is actually telling us “the truth.” I mean, after all, who really knows? People are left mired in doubt and justifiably full of suspicion to any truth claims.

Then the Bible believer shows up claiming to have The Truth. In its defence, we often start with the absolute reliability of the Bible. This can be very appropriate, as any truth claim is only as good as its source. In fact, it is very good to know how to defend the uniqueness of the Bible. We even wrote a booklet about that subject!

In communicating our beliefs to others, especially the skeptical, it seems reasonable to look to Scripture and see how it approaches evangelism.

“…it seems reasonable to look to Scripture and see how it approaches evangelism.”

Looking at the Bible evangelistically, Scripture does not begin with arguments addressing the reliability of Scripture. You don’t find passages on archaeology or manuscript evidence. No time is dedicated to the intricate detail and carefulness with which scribes copied and recopied the autographs. Much could have been written on these topics, but nothing is said.

The Apostle Paul, when dealing with the scholars in Athens, did not start his evangelistic message with a defence of Scripture. Nor did the Apostle John begin his evangelistic gospel with an argument for the reliability of God’s Word. And the book of Genesis simply starts with, “In the beginning God”–the ultimate Source of truth. (1) Over and over again we find that Scripture takes us directly to two spheres of information necessary to trust God: his Identity and his History. In this first of a two-part article, we will look at that first sphere of information, the issue of identity.

“Knowing the basics of God’s identity is key to grasping the Gospel.”

The issue of identity looks at who God is and what he is like. Knowing the basics of God’s identity is key to grasping the Gospel.

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The answer to that question is the ultimate statement on truth. One might respond, “Jesus is God,” and think that communicates sufficiently. But think again. Who or what is God? If a person’s idea of God is something like, “Let the force be with you,” or is mingled with other gods including oneself, then it becomes very important to take a few steps back and allow the Bible to fill in one’s understanding. But is that how evangelism is commonly done? Not usually. 

Most of our gospel presentations are based on 40-year old methods. Back then, assumptions were safely made that people knew who the God of the Bible was. We could say, “God loves you,” and people immediately thought of the God of the Bible. They clearly understood the basics of his identity. But that is not the case today. Today we still say “God loves you,” and we still assume people know what God is like, but more often than not, they don’t. I need not quote statistics to show what we all know from our own experience: that people today have a very garbled perspective of God’s identity. It is a problem in every aspect of our culture and society. 

In such situations we need to imitate what Scripture itself does: take the time to build a picture in people’s minds regarding the identity of God. We must recognize that a big chunk of Scripture is dedicated to defining the character of God. And how does it do that? Not with a dry list of attributes, but through stories that reveal God’s nature. 

“…we need to imitate what Scripture itself does: take the time to build a picture in people’s minds regarding the identity of God.”

That is where the Bible starts, declaring the power and knowledge of God through creation. That is where the Apostle John begins his book, declaring the God who is the creator. It is where Paul began with his esteemed crowd in Athens. As ambassadors of the gospel, we need to make sure people know a little bit about the identity of the God of the Bible before we leap to the events of the cross and tomb. Otherwise we may find that our “convert” is not trusting the biblical God, but rather an impersonal force or a very corrupt concept of Jesus. (2)

“What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.”

Ravi Zacharias

Sharing the gospel in the context of the biblical story line, from creation to the cross, declares a personal, supernatural God at work in history. It clearly defines who God is and what he is like—his identity. More often than not, in today’s world, that is where we must start.
With the passing of our brother in the Lord, Ravi Zacharias, we are reminded of the importance of knowing not only what we believe, but why we believe it. Ravi spoke again and again to the importance of bringing reason to what we believe: “What I believe in my heart must make sense in my mind.” (3)

It is only when we have the nature of the biblical God clear in our minds that we can make sense of the world around us and understand what Scripture has to say to mankind. We will look at that in our next post.

(1) In the Bible, the truth of what is written is assumed and taught as such. Only prophecy seems to be used as an apology for the reliability of Scripture (Isaiah 42:8-9).

(2) For example, Islam, Hinduism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism) all speak of Jesus, but the Jesus they present is not the Jesus of the Bible.

(3)”Bridging the Heart and Mind”. Interview with Danielle DuRant, rzim.org. July 28, 2011

New Chinese Translation of “What are Christmas and Easter all About?”

GoodSeed International has linked with Ambassadors for Christ to make this online booklet available over the Easter Season. For the next two weeks, you can download this booklet at no charge and share it with your friends and family.

Download PDF of Chinese edition

圣诞节与复活节的真正意义
这本书到底说了什么?
这本书的目的是讲述了圣经里面最重要的故
事。它告诉我们圣诞节与复活节的真正意义。
然而这本书并没有因着节日故事的结束而停
下来,它告诉我们更多关于人生、死亡以及
死亡以后的生命。它帮助我们了解,圣经是
怎样的一本书!

More information about the English edition of “What are Christmas and Easter all About?”

Redeeming the time

The coronavirus crisis has cancelled sports. What will we watch?
It has cancelled meetings. Where will we go?
It has limited travel. What should we do to keep our minds busy?

Perhaps it’s a good time to strengthen ourselves in God’s Word…

Churches and families can be proactive and launch their people on a survey of the Bible. For years, I began Bible courses by asking students to fill in an 80-question survey of the Bible. These were not complicated questions; they were questions every believer should ace. The results of the survey were troubling. Often the Old Testament portion was almost blank. One middle-aged lady who had been a believer for many years, wrote across the blank Old Testament portion in large letters, “This is why I am here.” A pastor looking at the survey results from his own church remarked, “I didn’t realize my own elders knew so little.”

 

Now might be a good time to launch your congregation on an in-home study. Here is what we have to offer:

  • Salvation:
    • Deep dive with By This Name, a 374-page book covering 1,570 fully quoted verses, plus 66 video clips, giving a creation-to-Christ survey of the Bible.
    • As an alternative, No Ordinary Story covers the same material in less detail. (Eleven booklets, each 48 pages. Chapters can be read in 5 minutes or less. There are also 64 video clips to compliment the teaching in the books. There are no workbooks available for this series yet.)
    • For the non-reader, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus VideoBook. Eleven hours of watching, broken into chapters and sections. We also have this material available in book format, as well accompanying workbooks.
  • Sanctification:
    • Firm up your own, your family’s, or your congregation’s understanding of what it means to walk with the Lord by faith. The Captive and the King’s Will takes you on a journey with the Apostle Peter as he learns and teaches the ABCs of the Christian life. This book will take you a lot deeper than you can imagine.

**For Those Experiencing Financial Hardship: Coupons for many free e-books are available for those who cannot afford them otherwise. Also, the videobook mentioned above can be watched without cost on our website.

80 Basic Bible Knowledge Questions

For years, John Cross began Bible courses by asking students to fill in an 80-question survey of the Bible. These were not complicated questions; they were questions every believer should ace. The results of the survey were troubling. Often the Old Testament portion was almost blank. One middle-aged lady who had been a believer for many years, wrote across the blank Old Testament portion in large letters, “This is why I am here.” A pastor looking at the survey results from his own church remarked, “I didn’t realize my own elders knew so little.”

This quiz does not test a person’s general Bible knowledge. Rather, it reveals one’s understanding of biblical foundations specifically related to the message of the Gospel. This includes the reliability of Scripture, the identity of Jesus and the purpose for the cross and the tomb. Many key stories, concepts and trivia are not addressed, as they are not central to understanding the Gospel.

View the 80 Questions: 80 Questions Quiz

View the answer key: 80 Questions Quiz – Answers

Sharing hope in uncertain times

In these uncertain times, as we watch people at all levels of society struggle to cope with the fallout from COVID-19, those of us at GoodSeed want to do all we can to help you present hope and answers to those around you. Many people who were resistant or indifferent to the Gospel before are suddenly much more receptive at this time. Let’s be ready to provide the answers to those who are seeking.

First of all, please do take advantage of the many e-books we have on our website, available in many languages as well. These are great to send electronically to friends near and far. We don’t want financial considerations to limit your ability to reach out to those who need it, so please utilize the code GOODSEEDFREE if you need to.

Also, the VideoBook for The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus is available for free viewing on our website. While great for personal study, this course would also be ideal for online Bible studies or Sunday school classes. Churches may wish to utilize this course for taking their congregations through an overview of the Gospel.

In all other ways, here at GoodSeed we are continuing to do our jobs, doing what we can to help make the gospel known around the world. We are available by phone and email to answer your questions and we are on hand to fulfill orders to the best of our ability.

If there’s anything we can do to assist you as you seek to reach out to others, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

When all is said and done, may we be known for the love we have shown and the hope that we have offered as believers during this incredible time.

Ideas for using “The Lamb”

The Lamb can be used in so many ways

Every once in a while we get an order that piques our curiousity as to how our evangelism and discipleship resources are being used. When a woman ordered 16 copies of our Children’s book, The Lamb, we noticed she had ordered another case just a few months previously. When we asked her why she was ordering so many Lamb books, we received this:

“I have never had my hands on a more thorough gospel message.  It’s beautifully written and illustrated. I’ve used it in Sunday school and used it with my own kids to share with them the story of the gospel message and what God has done for us. God spoke to me about these books recently. He impressed upon me that each of our church members should have one. I ordered one case earlier on and realized we didn’t have enough to give each family so I’ve ordered another case to be here in time for Easter [so] each family will get one book. They may choose to keep it or give it away to someone who needs the gospel message. Thank you for providing this wonderful book.

We have heard from many people who give copies of The Lamb at every baby shower or to new parents in their church, and many more stories of grandparents giving the books to their grandkids.
We love hearing back from people about how they use these books! Share your story with us at [email protected].

Pregnancy Care Centre Resource

We also had a large order of several cases of The Lamb from a pregnancy care centre in Alberta. We asked them about what they plan to do with 100+ books, and they give one to each of their clients in a layette, a gift basket of supplies to help these expectant new parents. We think this is a wonderful outreach idea!

We have also heard from those who purchase a case of books at a discount to donate to their local centres as part of their personal ministry to their community.

Does your community have a faith-based pregnancy care centre that could make use of these books as part of their ministry?

Practical steps to share your faith

In the last week, I have read two articles, one having to do with the dropout rate of young folk from attending church and the other on the fact that most church growth is by transfer rather than by conversion. These are not new trends.

Are we assuming our children will just “somehow” absorb the gospel message? Do we lack the know-how to lead them to Christ and ground them in the gospel? Do we even share the gospel with anyone?

Evangelism doesn’t seem to be a big priority in many churches. If you can find a Christian bookstore (many have closed), check out the evangelism shelf. It is quite small and stocked with material written for audiences 40 years ago. By contrast, check out the self-help section. It shows the priorities we have as a church.

GoodSeed has developed an easy-to-use evangelism curriculum that starts with simple steps and moves progressively to t he more complex. Designed for Sunday Schools or Small Groups, “TERM for small groups” will challenge your spiritual life with proven methodology right from the Word. Consider the first two modules:
Module A: Lord, how can I grow in faith when I am stuck? Seven 50-minute sessions that build confidence in the gospel to change lives, including your own.
Module B: Lord, how do I share my faith when I don’t know where to start? Five 50-minute sessions using a crawl-walk-run approach to sharing your faith.

If you wish to go deeper there are three more modules. Every lesson comes with full instructions: an intro, the video component, a time for discussion, a thing to do and a take-away to remember. Lessons include both a Facilitator’s Guide and Student Worksheets.  Learn more at goodseed.com/term_for_small_groups_bible_study.html

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