We all could use some Good News this Christmas!

Christmas is an ideal time to share the Gospel with others. It tends to be a season of greater openness, of gift-giving, of sharing the things close to our hearts. Christmas gives us a unique once-a-year opportunity to touch the lives of those who might otherwise not be open to receiving such a gift.

Here are some ideas to consider:


1. What are Christmas and Easter all About? is a cost-effective, full-colour illustrated booklet, giving a simple  explanation of the Gospel.
2. The Story that Matters is a cost-effective booklet, illustrated with expressive line art, giving a simple explanation of the Gospel.

These booklets are ideal for mass giveaways. Costing less than a Christmas card, consider giving the Gospel message instead. Hand them out at the close of your Christmas Eve service, include them in gift baskets given away for the season, or tuck one into your gift to your neighbour or co-worker.

3. No Ordinary Story is a boxed set of small booklets, which together explain the Gospel in bite-sized pieces. Illustrated and easy to read, these books are ideal for those who are not big readers, have limited time or who may be indifferent to the Bible’s message. For ages 12+.
4. The Lamb is for the young ones in your life, giving them a simple, yet crystal clear explanation of the gospel message in this beautifully illustrated hard cover book. Countless children have come to know their Saviour through the reading of this book. For ages 5-12.

Do you have a burden for specific individuals in your life? Perhaps you have children or grandchildren who need to firmly understand the Bible’s message. Or a neighbour, co-worker or friend with whom you’ve built up a relationship and would accept a gift of this nature. Christmas is a natural time to give such gifts and have them readily accepted.

Whatever happens this Christmas, let’s be people who are full of the Good News of Christ and ready to share “a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Preparing for Christmas

christmas-wreath-1Within a few short weeks, pine and holly will be adorning front steps, carols will be coming across the radio and plans for yearly family gatherings will be in full swing. Christmas is right around the corner.

Christmas is a great opportunity to share the good news of who Jesus is and what he accomplished on the cross. The story of the baby in the manger can be an open door to share the full story of his actual identity and purpose. Why not prepare yourself to share the gospel this Christmas with your family, friends and neighbours?

Continue reading “Preparing for Christmas”

When believers get in the way of the Gospel

Most of us sincerely desire to reach others for Christ. But what if, instead of giving others a helping hand in learning about Jesus, we unintentionally become an obstacle they must overcome.

Credible: offering reasonable grounds for being believed. (1)
Credibility: the quality or power of inspiring belief. (2)

The issue of credibility is a big one these days. It involves who we trust and why we trust them. When we are proven trustworthy in one area of life, the result often is that people trust us in other areas of life. We are credible.

Sadly, the Christian community is losing credibility these days due to how some believers choose to express their opinions (whether about politics, COVID or a myriad of other issues) so vehemently in the public arena. In my small circle, I have seen a great deal of name-calling, shaming–even salvation and godliness–questioned between believers simply over a difference of opinion on a minor issue.

In the words of the Apostle James: “…things should not be this way” (James 3:10).

Not only is tone a big issue, but the level of discernment is also concerning. For some, the criteria used to determine credibility is often based upon shared ideology. Does a person have a liberal or conservative worldview? What are that person’s political convictions? What do they believe about Covid? How about the …[fill in the blank]… theory? Based upon agreement in one area, opinions may be formed for a wide range of issues. Then when those opinions are expressed without discernment or humility, it leads to a lack of credibility. When we espouse ideas as if they’re the gospel truth, yet they cannot be clearly and gently defended from Scripture, we lose credibility before the world, and our witness is significantly compromised.

Putting one’s faith in the gospel is the most consequential step a person can take. An individual’s eternal destiny is at stake. The message of the Bible is hard for many to believe. People are skeptical. The starting point for many unbelievers is a belief that Christians are gullible, non-critical thinkers who are no different than the rest of world. In that light, it’s essential that we work hard to be credible in all areas of life, keeping in mind that an unbelieving world is watching… and watching closely.

Now, I’m not saying we should compromise on areas of Scripture that clearly teach difficult truths in order to be more relevant to the world. Not at all! The Bible does contain truths that are truly hard for many to swallow and we are right to stand by God’s Word. But let’s be oh-so-careful in how we communicate. And let’s be wise about which of our own opinions and soapbox issues is worth adding to the list of things “difficult to swallow.”

We need not throw up additional barriers for unbelievers to navigate before they believe the gospel.

The Apostle Paul gave us wise guidance that is so pertinent to the times in which we are living. These are mainly found in Romans 14, though surrounding chapters are also helpful in this area. I highly recommend sitting down and reading Romans 12-15 through in one sitting.

In Romans 14, Paul starts by instructing believers not to argue about “disputed matters” (v 1)*. According to Got Questions, “Disputable matters can be summed up as non-essential issues in the Christian life, or “gray areas” in which the Bible does not spell out clear guidelines.”(3) Later in the chapter, Paul says that if these disagreements jeopardize relationships, then “whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God” (v 22a). That’s tough to swallow in an age where it’s considered right and normal to argue publicly and aggressively about even the most minor issues.

Why would Paul tell us to keep our opinions on disputable matters to ourselves? Well, Paul says that when we are quick to judge others on things that are not clearly stated in God’s Word, we can in effect “tear down God’s work” (v 20). Paul fears that when our passions are ignited over debatable opinions, we may, sadly, “destroy … someone for whom Christ died” (v 15). This is serious business, not to be lightly dismissed.

People’s eternity is at stake.

“Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves,” Paul says in verse 22. We choose our battles wisely when we’re guided by our passion for leading others to Christ and living by His Word. “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (v 8). Our lives need to be more about Christ and less about politics, health, or many other less essential views, no matter which side of an issue you stand on.

Last week, we wrote about keeping the Main Thing the main thing. That’s what we must come back to. And by doing so, we can save our credibility and be the kind of people who unbelievers might just turn to for insight into the really big stuff of life—like receiving eternal life after death.


*All quoted Scripture is from the Christian Standard Bible.

Keeping the Main Thing… the main thing

What would your epitaph be?

I recently walked through a cemetery in a small town that has experienced more than its share of tragedy. I was struck by how the lives of those snuffed out by disaster were summed up by their loved ones after the fact. Many tombstones expressed the relationships and love of those left behind. (“Loving wife and mother.”) Some epitaphs referenced a hope in Christ. But the one that most impacted me was a headstone that expressed its occupant’s love of a certain hockey team. That, I thought, was a true tragedy. A man whose whole life was best summed up by his sporting preferences – so much so that his grieving family thought it important to include on his headstone.

It got me thinking… What words would our loved ones inscribe on our headstones? What are the things we speak most passionately about? What are we known for? Not, what do we think we’re known for, but what is our actual reputation?

These days, with so many strong opinions being heatedly exchanged about the pandemic, social issues, politics–just to name a few–we can easily give the impression that those issues are our passion, instead of concerns of a more eternal nature.

It is during difficult times like these, however, when the glory of the gospel can shine forth all the brighter. The hope we have because we understand the big picture story of our world; of knowing that our future is safe with Christ; of the assurance we can have in our eternal destiny–these are things our world so desperately longs for and is the truth that grounds us during hard days… at least it should. But as believers, we have a tendency to get easily distracted. We forget to keep the Main Thing (the gospel) the main thing.

John Stonestreet on his Breakpoint broadcast recently described the common responses Christians might have to current events: “There are two likely reactions. One is despair that the world is irreparably broken and…there’s nothing that can be done …The other reaction…is to play a sort of cultural “whack-a-mole” [where] every little story that pops up gets completely blown out of proportion and we want to smack it on the head as if we immediately know all the details.” He goes on to say that it’s the gospel that keeps us grounded and keeps us from the extremes of despair and from hopping on every bandwagon that rolls our way.

Perhaps those two reactions are exactly what Satan, our enemy, wants for us. Distracted, alarmed, chasing after things that seem important today, only to be forgotten tomorrow when a new concern erupts. He wants us completely consumed with the things of this life that have no good eternal outcome. He wants the world to see that the Christian faith has no benefit in this life when the going gets rough. Satan would love it if, in fact, the world sees believers behaving badly during hard times. And if we’re honest, many of us have cooperated with Satan’s agenda for us.

So what can be done? How do we keep the Main Thing the main thing?

Focus: Wherever we focus our thoughts, there our emotions and actions will follow.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1-2

In a time where we can become so easily distracted and scattered, focusing our minds on Christ and his work on the cross and the work he wants to do in us is absolutely essential. (Follow the links to find materials that can strengthen your focus.)

Knowledge: What we think about needs to be based upon truth. These days, it can be hard to know what is true. Therefore, it’s important to focus on what is indisputably true and leave the questionable things to the Lord. We don’t want to waste our time following the rabbit trails of what-ifs.

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable ​— ​if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy ​— ​dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

Action: Lastly, the old adage that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” could apply here. Simply, if we are not actively doing what we can to share the Truth of the gospel, then we will default to actively sharing information that is far less worthy and uplifting. GoodSeed exists to help believers put feet to their faith.

Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:9

Focusing on the Lord and on his work brings peace to our hearts.

Let’s be people who are known for the Gospel. Let’s not be defined by our political leanings, our COVID opinions or our pop-culture slogans. Let’s be characterized by a love for God’s Word and a zeal to share his message of hope.

Homeschool with purpose

Homeschooling this year? Make use of this time to strengthen your child’s biblical foundations.

Four ideas for homeschool families:

1. The Lamb (Ages 5-8)
Take your children on a journey through The Lamb, introducing them to a beautiful, yet simple and clear explanation of the gospel. Reading one chapter a day, this will take around 10 days. Don’t rush and make sure you ask the questions at the end of each chapter. See here for craft ideas. (2-3 hrs total reading)

2. No Ordinary Story  (Ages 9+)
No Ordinary Story is a series of small booklets, illustrated and easy-to-read. The books also give access to video clips to enrich the learning experience. This book will give your student the foundations needed to grow in one’s walk with Christ. (8-10 hrs)

3. The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, using the Worldview Rethink Course (Ages 12+)
This course guides you through The Stranger, giving an in-depth overview of the gospel from Genesis to the cross. Using visual aids, video clips and workbooks, this course will give your teenager a solid foundation upon which to build his or her faith. (12-15hrs)

4. Tabernacle Model Kit (All ages)
This model kit is truly a hands-on learning experience for all ages. Paint the various parts as a family if you wish. Then assemble the pieces as you learn about the Tabernacle and how it points us to Christ. Use the 10 lessons available from GoodSeed or follow more in-depth materials to guide you.

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