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).

GoodSeed Australasia

After months of planning, packing and COVID delays, we’re thrilled to see GoodSeed Australasia opening in Queensland. This week we launched our Australasian online store and it is now live. Check it out at https://au.goodseed.com.

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.

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.

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.