Friday, June 30, 2017

Encounter With the Ark

For the past few years, my wife and I have wanted to visit the Creation Museum. With the opening of the Ark Encounter about a year ago, this desire only grew. So, as part of our vacation this past month, we finally decided to make the trip.

Both the museum and the Ark were enjoyable and informative. Having studied the work of creationists for years, most of the presentation was not new to me. However, I still enjoyed the layout and the opportunity to review it. It was especially good for our older kids who have not had the same level of exposure, and provided ample opportunity for my wife and I to discuss God’s Word and work with all of our children.

The Ark was enjoyable primarily because it helped me to better envision the size of the original, described for us in the Bible. I'm not able to envision something like this based on dimensions. It also doesn't help me to do so when materials from Answers in Genesis describe it by volume (it can hold a certain number of train cars or semi trailers). But walking into it, and back and forth across each floor, helped me to grasp its immensity in a very real way.

The thing that impressed me the most was the stated purpose of these facilities. Even though it may seem that the sole focus is on creation, Noah, and the flood, this is far from the case. The focus is the gospel. Answers in Genesis wants people to understand these truths that we might be directed to Jesus and his saving work on the cross.

If you are able to visit these sites, I would encourage you to do so. It is well worth the time and money (the cost, by the way, is pretty reasonable). If you have yet to look into the work of Christian scientists, you will learn a great deal and come away better informed about how science supports Scripture. You will also be able to better envision this boat on which God saved Noah, his family, and the animals. And all of this will serve to both strengthen and encourage your faith.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Two Outreach Mistakes

“…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
(1Pe 3:15 ESV)

As a church, and as believers, we understand our mission.  We’re called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).  But, as we look at the above passage, we can identify two mistakes that we often make when it comes to this task.

The first mistake is simply that we fail to share our faith.  When we have opportunities to share the gospel or to teach a younger believer, we often fail to make use of that opportunity.  Even when the chance to reach out falls into our lap, our tendency is to drop the ball.

We often do so out of fear.  We assume that others will react negatively to what we have to share.  And, for this reason, we keep our mouth shut.

Peter encourages us to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us. In other words, when people ask us about our faith, when they ask us why be believe the way we do, when they ask us why we live as we do, we should be prepared to share with them.

The word “defense” doesn’t imply that we’re to be defensive.  It carries the sense of apologetics.  It means that we’re to provide a positive testimony to the truth of the gospel.

So, again, we’re to make use of the opportunities that present themselves.  We’re to be prepared to share with others as they see that we’re different and ask about it.  We must not let these occasions pass us by.

The second mistake that we make when it comes to carrying out this call is that we come off as rude.  Perhaps we are defensive or simply come off too strong.  But the second principle for us is this: Don’t be a jerk.

Peter tells us make our defense or our testimony with gentleness and respect.  And this is something we rarely see today.  I often cringe, especially on social media, when believers are attempting to share their faith.

We often come across as argumentative.  We come across as mean-spirited.  We come across as insulting to those who believe differently than we do.  And this only reinforces what much of society believes about us already, that we’re hateful and intolerant.  The ones we’re trying to reach, then, shut down and no longer listen to us.

We’re often afraid that, if we’re too gentle or respectful, people will think we’re affirming their beliefs.  While it’s true that we don’t want to encourage people to remain in their current belief system, we must realize that beating them up won’t make our faith seem all that appealing.  We must simply present it as lovingly as possible and allow God’s Word and Spirit to work in their heart.

As the people of God, let us strive to carry out this calling he’s entrusted to us.  But let’s also evaluate our methods and search our heart.  Let’s ensure that, as we faithfully share the gospel, we don’t allow ourselves to get in the way.