Kids these days

Sixteen-year-old Ethan would be the last one to “leave the nest.” Mark and Joy Thompson wondered how they could make his final years at home a meaningful time. So, they proposed three options to Ethan. “Would you like to study a certain Bible topic once a week as a family, watch a series on something about the Bible as a family, or would you like to use that night to do a Bible study with some of your non-Christian friends?”

After a short silence, Ethan responded, “The last one. Do a study with my friends.”

“Wow. OK. Cool,” Joy thought.

Ethan was tasked with speaking to his friends to gauge interest. A while later, when one of his friends asked about God, Ethan proposed the idea of doing a Bible study. His friend expressed interest, so Ethan quickly asked a few other guys. By evening, each one had indicated a desire to study the Bible.

The next day, Joy sent a note to all the parents letting them know what the boys wanted to do. She heard back quickly from them all, each one positive about the idea. So much optimism from both the young people and their parents took Joy by surprise, reminding her that God had been working in the situation long before the idea of a study was proposed.

“So much optimism from both the young people and their parents took Joy by surprise.”

Mark and Joy purchased The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus to guide their study. Each teen was sent home with their own copy so the parents could take a look at it and give their approval. Once again, the Thompsons received positive feedback, so they made plans to meet as a group.

At the last minute, a couple boys decided they wanted their girlfriends included in the study, so the study began with 8 teens, 6 guys and 2 girls.

Mark teaching the group the story of the Bible from creation to the cross.

The group would arrive at the Thompson home after school. “Can I tell you the noise and energy and hunger of six teenage boys and two teenage girls in a small dining area? Crazy, but so fun,” Joy describes.

Early on, the group said they wanted to have “tests” about what they were learning to ensure they understood. Joy joked about giving them stickers for the right answer. “Yes!” came the answer. So, with great laughter and fun, Joy came up with a chart that included stickers and prizes. Each session had a review game.

Putting stickers on a chart as a reward for correct answers

It reminded Joy of teaching VBS. “Noisy, team playing, being crazy answering questions from the last teaching, putting stickers on the poster… they loved it,” Joy said.

The group started out meeting once a week, but soon, once a week wasn’t enough. One fellow joked that he’d like to live at their house–go to school, play his sports, but then come back and do the study every night.

“What is happening?” Joy thought to herself at times. It astounded her how eager these students were to study God’s Word. Sure, they enjoyed hanging out together and eating homemade dinners. But she also recognized that more was going on behind the scene. Many were praying fervently for these young people. Others were giving the Thompsons money to help pay for the considerable amount of food they were going through; another took it upon herself to prepare a dessert for every meal. Clearly, the Lord was doing a work in many lives.

Starting in Genesis, Mark began sharing the story of the Bible. Each teen got a Bible and early on, Joy made a point of teaching them to use it. Since the stickers and chart had gone over so well, she decided to add sword drills to their evening. “It sounds nothing like what you would expect kids with driver’s permits to like, but what a joy to watch them now find passages in their Bibles, something that was completely foreign to them before,” Joy shares.

“They began to view the Bible as a place to turn to for answers.”

Early on, it became clear that while the students knew a few stories from the Bible, they had very little idea of what God was doing in those stories. As God the Creator unfolded in their minds, they were amazed at his power. Micah began to incorporate a phrase into his conversations: “Well, if God can make trees, then… [fill in the blank with all the thousands of other things he can do].”

Barrett frequently remarked about how much sense the Bible made. The group began to view the Bible as a place to turn to for answers.

When they discussed the story of God calling Moses to rescue the Hebrews from Egypt, Mark asked: “Would it be dumb for Moses to trust God?”

“It would be dumb not to trust God,” Micah replied.

When the sacrificial system was explained, one comment was, “I’d have to give a sacrifice every five minutes!”

Bit by bit, the Thompsons progressed through the Bible, receiving constant feedback: on the sinlessness of Jesus (“Dang! He’s a trooper!”); on the deity of Christ (“Wait. I thought Jesus was a separate thing. So Jesus is basically God walking the earth?”); and on the Trinity. (“We need to discuss this for like, hours until we figure it out.”)

“Does that mean I believe?”

The weeks of study provided many profound moments. One night the question was asked: “Do you think we are believing? I was thinking about this the other day. If God talked to me through this lamp (like Yahweh talked to Moses through the burning bush), I would do it. I would trust. Does that mean I believe?”

The statement came only halfway through the study, but even by then, it was clear that all the members of the group were believing what was being taught. By the end of the study, Mark and Joy could confidently say:  “All seven kids have believed that only through Jesus’ sacrificial payment of death on the cross and his resurrection they are forever safe in Jesus’ arms. Praise the Lord for rescuing them!”

Since finishing the creation-to-Christ material outlined in The Stranger, the Thompsons have been teaching the group what it means to walk with God.

Barrett stated: “I want to be confident in my thoughts and confident in my decisions to do right.” Joy realized that, without knowing it, Barrett wanted to understand what it meant to live in the fact that Jesus has paid his debt.

Another recent conversation reveals the willing and tender hearts that have grown amongst the group:

Mark: “So because the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of what’s to come…”
Barrett and Ellie:  “…our goal is to please Him.”

Barrett: “We don’t have the right to sin.”
Sarah: “It’s being selfish [to sin].”

Barrett: “All this…makes me feel I want to do this [tell others about Jesus] when I grow up. I just keep thinking about it. I just need to put it into work.”

Mark and Joy hope that by sharing their story, others will be emboldened to step out in faith to share the gospel with others around them. May we all look expectantly to the Lord to do great things through us and in the lives of those around us.

Art is the means; the gospel is the end

Don Dolton gathers with his 10 art students.

GoodSeed has partnered with many talented artists over the years to produce beautiful illustrations for our books. One of the earliest partnerships was with a man named Don Dolton, an artist from Eastern Canada.

Around the time when he was planning his retirement, Don heard a line that never left him: “Everything we do ought to be a means, and the end ought to be the Gospel.”

With those words ringing in his ears, Don sought the advice of his pastor who mentioned a Christian school in Mexico that could use an art teacher. In a short time, Don found himself in Puerto Escondido, Mexico .

As Don settled in, a fellow teacher suggested Don teach art lessons at her home on the weekends. The teacher would invite the neighbourhood children and Don would teach them how to draw.

The idea gained purchase in Don’s mind, so he set about to find art supply sets for each one, as the children would have nothing of their own. Don’s friend invited children from the neighbourhood to join “El Clase de Arte.” The students proudly received the art kits, becoming very conscientious in caring for their supplies.

Don considered the approach he should use to developing artistic skills amongst the children while also sharing the gospel. He decided that if he taught used the outline from The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, he could have the kids draw pictures that illustrated the stories.

Don explains:

“It seemed obvious to use the chronological teaching approach to presenting the gospel because it would systematically lead these dear children towards a fuller understanding of who God is, why He came to us and what He’s done for us.

“They chart their artistic progress through the drawings they make from the sequential lessons from creation to the resurrection of Christ. They need to pay attention to the lesson so that they can illustrate it.

“While they draw and paint, I ask each one to explain their artwork to me. This helps me understand their thinking. These children are illustrating the gospel themselves and when they show anyone else their artwork, they will be presenting the gospel again as they explain what they’ve drawn. Artistically it encourages creative thinking, as well as maps the progress of their artwork, which will encourage them to continue to develop the skills they’ve acquired along the way.”

Don’s excitement for this outreach is palpable. With ten students who faithfully attend, he has found a way to communicate his two passions in life. If “everything we do ought to be a means, and the end ought to be the Gospel,” Don has found art to be the perfect means for him to share the end–the gospel.


Sharing the gospel is easy

An easy way I’ve found to share the gospel with others is to include a booklet or book along with a gift for a special occasion.

At Easter, I gave each girl in my youth small group a gift bag of goodies, including a copy of The Story that Matters. As an incentive to actually read it, I told them I’d give them a small gift card if they read it and could come the following week and answer several questions from the book.

One Christmas, we included with our usual gift of goodies to the neighbours a copy of By This Name.

At Halloween, we’ve given out paper bags with chips, candy and a copy of The Story that Matters.

Know a new mother? A gift of some cute clothes, diapers and a copy of The Lamb can be very meaningful.

When giving the books to people as part of a gift, we always try to make sure we’re generous with our other gifts. We want to present the gospel amidst generosity and we never want the person to walk away feeling like they were somehow shortchanged — “All they gave me was this book.”

What happens with those books? Well, often we never find out. But there have been times when we’ve been blessed to get feedback. One young girl received a copy during a children’s program at church. She had read the book What are Christmas and Easter All About? several times on her own during the week and was so proud of her accomplishment. Her attendance at the children’s program was her one exposure to the Bible’s message. I was thrilled to know that she now understood the basics of the gospel message.

Of course, if you share enough books around, you might have a book thrown back into your yard, apparently not appreciated, as once happened to us. But other than that once, the responses have been positive and appreciative.

Whatever the case, we are thankful we have materials we can so easily use to share the gospel with a variety of people in many different ways.

How to Host Online Bible Studies

From lighting and angles to teaching tips,
here are some practical ideas for how to navigate.

The Good, the Bad and What to Avoid

Online isn’t so bad. While we miss in-person fellowship, there are upsides to doing it online. With our online studies, my husband and I have been able to meet despite adverse weather or illness and even over the Christmas season when studies are usually on hiatus. (What else was there to do!?) When we started meeting in the fall, we were the only group from our church meeting online. Now we’re the only group meeting period due to COVID restrictions.

Technical concerns: While a nuisance, technical issues need not deter you. Generally, people are understanding with these things. Often, it’s best to forge ahead even if things aren’t ideal. If not, restart the device and hope for the best.

Reading the room: It can be hard to gauge your online audience. Often faces are obscured or far away; perhaps all you can see is a ceiling fan. It’s hard to tell if people are getting jokes, let alone if they’re under conviction or confused. This makes leading a study challenging and tiring! But there are things you can do to counter these obstacles.

  • DO: Give yourself lots of time (30 min) the first night to get everyone set up. In subsequent studies, ensure you’re on 10-15 minutes early to address technical issues and welcome people as they join.
  • DON’T: Don’t assume everyone knows how to use your chosen app. Some people will need coaching to get set up the first time.
  • DO: Send out reminders for your study. Many people have little routine these days, needing regular reminders.
  • DO: Get links and other information to your group at least 6-24 hours before your study, giving lots of time for potential issues to surface.
  • DO: As the leader, ensure you have a good set-up. Make sure your face is lit up nicely and the angle of your camera is pleasing. (No one wants to be looking up your nose for the duration of the study!)
  • DO: Conduct the study as if you were all in the same room. If you’ve never done a study using GoodSeed tools, watch this short video.
  • DO: Use the videos interwoven with the text. These can easily be shared via the screen share option. Videos are a huge help, helping to engage your audience. It’s also helpful to use the companion workbooks for review. Watch this for tips.
  • DON’T: Don’t forget to have your group highlight key points. Ask them to help you by reading the verses in the text. This also helps them to stay focused on the material.
  • DO: If someone misses a meeting, make sure they know what you covered so they can read the material themselves and get caught up.
  • DON’T: When your meeting is over, don’t rush to leave the app. Some people may hang around at the end to ask questions or talk privately. These can be sweet times of fellowship that you won’t want to miss.

Ideal for Online Studies:

Bible Overview Study

No Ordinary Story explains the Bible from creation to the cross. Each booklet can be read in less than 50 minutes, a perfect Bible study length. Included are links to short video clips, which add interest to the material. If you wish to go more in-depth, choose from The Stranger (Christianized worldview), By This Name (Eastern worldview) or All the Prophets (Islamic worldview).

The Next Step for Believers

For those who have been taught through one of the books listed above, The Captive and the King’s Will is the follow-up book to help the believer understand sanctification. Looking at the life of the Apostle Peter, this book covers how the Holy Spirit and God’s Word guide us, baptism, finding a church, our position in Christ, the security of the believer, persecution and trials and many other essential topics for believers.

Training for Believers

Learn how to:

  • Share with the biblically illiterate, confused or hardened
  • Overcome fear and lack of understanding
  • Make the most of spur-of-the-moment and long-term opportunities
  • Engage and share without being preachy
  • Help people understand the life-changing central message of the Bible
  • Make being an ambassador for Christ part of a lifelong lifestyle

TERM for small groups is comprised of 50-minute sessions that build confidence in the gospel to change lives, including your own.

Hands On

Whether as an in-home study with your family or an online study with a group, the Tabernacle is a fascinating study for young and old alike. Learn the significance of the structure and its furniture as you assemble the scale model.

Doing what it takes

Seize opportunities wherever they lay

While most of us were happy to bid farewell to 2020, things haven’t suddenly turned a corner with the beginning of a new year. Many are waiting till things return to normal to take up certain activities, whether it’s a hobby, exercise or to reach out to others.

But let’s not wait for circumstances to improve before we step out in faith. Let’s look for opportunities where they lay and not allow less-than-ideal events to waylay us. This will likely require flexibility and creativity.

Have you been wanting to do a Bible study with a friend? Don’t wait until COVID clears up in order to get together. Make arrangements to get started right away. Many have had effective studies via phone, over Zoom or Skype, outdoors with social distancing and any number of other avenues. GoodSeed materials are very well-suited to this type of study. See more below.

The Lord delights in shining his grace into the lives of others through his children, especially as we walk through times of difficulty. Don’t wait for things to get better. Often, your most effective outreach happens when things are most decidedly not ideal. Let’s take advantage of this time and not wait for a “better” day in the future.

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.