It all points to Jesus

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image-1A chronological and systematic approach to presenting the Bible’s message is not only invaluable for leading unbelievers to understand the gospel. It is also a powerful means of establishing believers in their faith and preparing them to share the gospel with others. We recently heard of a pastor who recognizes this. As a result he has used By This Name to disciple his congregation.

Pastor Craig* started by using By This Name as the springboard for a 14-week sermon series. He wrote to us: “I had the congregation read a chapter of By this Name each week as well as scriptures related to the topic of the chapter. I preached on scriptures related to the chapters. Each home group discussed what they were learning from the book and the scriptures they were reading.”

This sermon series was an Old Testament survey—with the specific goal of revealing Jesus Christ in clarity and simplicity. Pastor Craig titled the series “It All Points to Jesus” to emphasize that the Old Testament is not just a conglomeration of random stories, but the critical basis to understanding the identity and work of Jesus.

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The best weekend of my entire life!

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church-378654_1280It’s an idyllic village nestled in an out-of-the-way corner along the north Atlantic coast. On this early spring evening, a group of about 15 people, ranging from teenagers to middle-aged, have just completed a weekend retreat. They are eagerly anticipating an upcoming missions trip to Central America. The weekend has proven to be pivotal in their preparation as they have spent two and a half days together, getting to know each other and being established in the message of the gospel.

“I wanted to join the mission team to increase my faith in God. This weekend has done that for me.” This comes from Vicky, one of the teenaged participants who is typically very reticent about expressing herself in public.

Samuel, a man in his 50s, is even more enthusiastic: “This weekend was literally the best weekend of my entire life.”

What made this weekend so special? For one thing, it was a great group of people. It was also a well-planned event. But the backbone of the weekend—and the highlight for everyone—was what they studied together: the gospel itself, from creation right through to the Cross.

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I have relationships with churches, not God

2015_04_Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-church-sky-sun-light-leeroyRose* looked up as the weekly ladies’ Bible study leader approached her. “Something’s come up. Can you fill in for me?” Rose agreed and took the opportunity to share the gospel briefly as part of her talk. Afterwards, Amy, a native lady, approached her.

“Every church I’ve been to has talked about having a relationship with God. But it’s not a relationship with God I’ve had; it has been a relationship with a church.” Amy went on to express her realization that she didn’t understand the gospel, although she’d attended numerous churches for years and had been baptized in most of them. It wasn’t until she heard Rose’s simple explanation of the gospel that it hit her—what she’d been searching for in all those churches could only be found in the Lord. She’d had it all backwards.

Shortly after, Amy moved in with Marcia who was a friend of Rose. Amy was tireless in her search for truth. She asked so many questions that Marcia became quite exhausted. Finally, the woman offered Amy a copy of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, hoping it’d address her curiosity. Amy lost no time in reading the book. “Now I’m beginning to understand,” she told Marcia. But Amy’s questions didn’t abate. She still needed answers to some nagging questions she had.

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That’s my favourite book!

waitingSometimes it’s in the midst of the mundane that the Lord brings about opportunities and encouragement. Here’s one such story that we recently received.

James* is a missionary in West Africa. He has been using L’Homme sur le chemin d’Emmaüs, the French edition of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, in his ministry with those he disciples.

When the date arrived for his annual vehicle inspection, James did what every other vehicle owner in the African nation does: prepare for a long, hot wait in line for bureaucracy to do its thing. Knowing he’d likely be waiting for more than a few hours, James brought along his copy of L’Homme sur le chemin d’Emmaüs to study and prepare for a coming lesson.

He got his vehicle into the queue and went to the waiting area. James pulled out his book and began to review it, but before long, a stranger walked up to him. “That’s my favourite book!” he exclaimed. James was startled. He wasn’t aware that the book was available in West Africa. The man hurriedly explained, “My colleague and I are going through that book together at work. He told me a young American gave him the book and has been going through it with him.”

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By This Name: A perfect beginner’s guide to Christian faith

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BTN 3GoodSeed resources tie together familiar accounts from the Old and New Testament in way that makes profound sense and causes the Bible’s message to pop into sharp focus. We have heard from believers about how their faith has grown through a Bible study using our curriculum. At our TERM Seminars, participants are shown how using the historical narrative of the Bible helps provide clarity and understanding. Participants are glad to learn that our tools are not only good for evangelism but beneficial in helping believers grow in their spiritual lives. Here is a recent testimony from a TERM alumnus about this aspect:

By This Name is truly awesome! I have begun a study using your book with my son-in-law and my daughter, neither of whom have a clear understanding of what’s in the Bible. Both are relatively new believers and their six-year-old daughter recently made a decision for Christ! By This Name is so rich in the structure of biblical principles and truths, that it is the perfect beginner’s guide to Christian faith. My adult “kids” are enthusiastic and I am grateful for a study about the Bible [that will] precede studies of specific books of the Bible. I know of no other study of this type in existence and I am grateful to have found it. Thank you.

Learn more about TERM and check out the fall schedule.

The hidden danger of syncretism

Colour mixing

Time for a pop quiz. Look at the following statement and ask yourself if it is biblical:

Love means being tolerant, accepting and non-judgmental.

Would it surprise you to learn that… it’s not!

You may be inclined to think there is an element of biblical truth in that statement and therefore the whole statement is valid. But that’s not the case. It’s actually a mixing of non-biblical ideas with biblical truth. This is called syncretism.

Syncretism happens when someone mixes what they think the Bible says with their inherent culture-influenced worldview. Combining these two very different views leads to them adopting a third, mixed belief system that is unlike the first two. As believers, we need to recognize that syncretism is a very real problem. Not only does it trip up our spiritual lives, but when we try to share the gospel with others, we can also unwittingly contribute to syncretism in our listeners by how we explain the good news.

Because it is so pervasive, it’s important to examine syncretism’s causes and how we can battle it in our own lives and when we share the gospel. To help you do this, we have produced a 32-page ebook entitled, “The Hidden Danger of Syncretism.” We trust you will benefit from reading it.

Download The Hidden Danger of Syncretism

We rearranged our lives to make sharing the gospel possible

organizerGoodSeed staff Jeremy* hung up the phone and stared at the hastily scribbled notes in his small notebook. Joy gripped his heart as he considered all that the Lord had been doing through the faithful witness of one couple, Ron and Laura. Jeremy had conducted a training session some years ago that the two of them had attended. It had made such an impact that they went home and began rearranging their lives so they could be more active in sharing the gospel.

Laura had told Jeremy over the phone, “Ron used to work construction on job sites long distances from home, which made it difficult for him to be involved in these studies. But God has helped us rearrange our lives so that he now has a job only two minutes away.”

Was this drastic change worth it? Laura said, “This is the easiest thing we have done with our lives… but not the quickest.” Sharing a clear gospel with others takes time, but the results are worth it. Both Ron and Laura felt that the tools provided by GoodSeed gave their outreach a greater impact.

Laura said, “When you learn to share the gospel this way [with these tools] it simplifies your life… you know what to do!”

Jeremy marvelled at what the couple had done. He smiled as he reviewed the stories they had shared with him.

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Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling… What is it? How does it help me?

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Infographic: Dynamic Reading-Leading-Modelling

(Download this article in a handy PDF format for printout and sharing.)

When Cheryl began a study with three women, she dismissed the notion of just sitting down and reading By This Name together. To her it seemed so basic and uninteresting. Surely a lecture format with some good discussion thrown in would be a more compelling method for teaching the same material.

Cheryl was not alone in her thinking. GoodSeed staff are often asked:

“Why do you just read the book together? Isn’t that boring? A turn-off to well-educated students? What about breaking things up with times of discussion? Why not just give it to them to read on their own?”

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A long journey of the soul

journeyA person’s journey to the Saviour can sometimes seem a long road, especially when we’re so desirous of a quick decision and so aware of the urgency attached to the gospel.

Rose* watched Gracia travel one such journey, spread over the course of many years. Gracia is an immigrant, born in a country dominated by a religion whose main emphasis is salvation through works. Rose and Gracia met at work and over time, formed a friendship.

Rose has used GoodSeed materials for many years, so whenever GoodSeed published a new book, she made it a habit to offer it to her co-workers. Thus Rose gave Gracia both The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, as well as a copy of The Lamb. When Gracia’s daughter took a great liking to The Lamb, Gracia raved about the book and bought additional copies for other family members. But even with all this exposure to the gospel, she held firmly to her own belief system and would not seriously consider another way of thinking.

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She never gave up on me

chained handsRick’s* drinking and drug use had taken everything from him. It had taken his wife. It had taken his home. It had taken his job. But there was one thing it had never succeeded in robbing from him—Alyssa, his daughter. Somehow that girl never gave up on him. Rick can only shake his head in both thankfulness and bewilderment at her persistent love over the decades.

Rick doesn’t remember much from his childhood and the memories he does have aren’t happy ones. He struggled through school. He failed at sports. As one of the smallest kids, he was bullied and picked on. At home, his older sister got whatever she wanted, while Rick was the one never quite good enough. He felt inadequate and rejected. In an attempt to boost his self-esteem, he started drinking and smoking marijuana in his early teens. By the time he was 15, he had quit school and moved out of home.

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