Category Archives: Evangelism

The Beautiful Feet of Billy Graham

Graham preaches in Tallahassee, Florida (1961)

Today, our nation grieves the loss of Baptist evangelist Billy Graham, who went home to be with the Lord Wednesday morning at the age of 99.

Dr. Graham was a towering figure during the second half of the 20th century, even playing an advisory role to many of our Presidents. As President George H.W. Bush said, “Billy Graham was America’s pastor. His faith in Christ and his totally honest evangelical spirit inspired people across the country and around the world.”

Dr. Graham had a direct impact on my life as well. He was the instrument God used to lead my dad to Christ back in the early ‘70s. Were it not for Graham’s ministry, perhaps my dad would have never heard the gospel and I wouldn’t know Jesus today.

In 2004, my wife and I had the privilege of attending Billy Graham’s last crusade on the west coast — at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was like a step back in time to the old tent revival days, complete with George Beverly Shea singing “I’d Rather Have Jesus” at age 95. What a voice!

As we waited for the evening’s festivities to begin, I marveled at the massive crowd and variety of cultures assembled in the name of Jesus. I was reminded several times of the scene in Revelation 5 where we are told “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,” indeed, “every created thing” (Rev. 5:11, 13) will gather together to worship our blessed Lord.

Natalie and I were particularly impressed how Dr. Graham’s sermon was saturated with scripture throughout. I will forever be indebted to this man, and praise God he has now entered his heavenly reward. Here is an article by Steve Lawson with much more on the man and his ministry.

Dr. Graham finished his race, and over the next few days, we will hear stories of his legacy. Now it is our turn to carry the powerful torch of the gospel to a whole new generation, “that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD” (Psalm 102:18).

Another great evangelist, the Apostle Paul, said it best of Billy Graham: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15)

Who Will Represent You in the Heavenly Court?

“The defendant doesn’t stand a chance,” I thought. He sat nervously in the courtroom, on trial for drug possession and distribution. I was there for jury duty – that civic practice no one likes, but everyone is thankful for.

I’d never met the defendant. I didn’t know any details of the case. We were still early in the jury selection process, and if chosen, I’d do everything in my power to view him “innocent until proven guilty,” ignoring first impressions and letting facts speak for themselves.

Still, I had my doubts. You see, the defendant had declined a court-appointed attorney. Instead, he opted to represent himself. His suit was two sizes too large. His questions to potential jurors were awkward and choppy. I felt almost embarrassed for him. Meanwhile, the prosecutor was confident and sharply dressed – a District Attorney well versed in legalese and courtroom etiquette.

Sitting in court that day, I was reminded of another trial coming. The Bible says, “God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). This time, heaven will be the courtroom. God will sit on the bench as Judge and jury. We will be the defendants. God promises to weigh not only our visible behavior and religious expressions, but every secret thought and deed.

Let’s be honest. We don’t stand a chance defending ourselves against an all-knowing, all-seeing, perfectly righteous God. We will each stand guilty before him. There will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no excuses or alibis to withstand his scrutiny.

Thankfully, there is a skilled defense attorney standing by who can take our punishment and make us innocent. 1 John 2:1-2 tells us, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

That word “advocate” speaks of a defense attorney. Jesus is willing to speak on your behalf, and intercede to God for you! Have you ever admitted you are guilty and need a defense attorney? Or are you seriously planning to represent yourself on judgment day? (Which would be a dismal failure.) Jesus alone “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

As it turned out, I wasn’t selected for jury that day, and I never heard the results of the drug dealing case. I pray that whatever the outcome, justice was done. But I’m also thankful to have an advocate named Jesus Christ who will represent me in the heavenly courtroom. He’s the best lawyer in the business and has never lost a case. If you haven’t yet sought him out, I encourage you to do so today. You never know when the trial will begin.

(This article first appeared in today’s edition of our local newspaper, the Hi Desert Star.)

Photo credit: Hope Media Stock Photography

Loaves, Fish, and Jesus’ Free Gift

Of all the miracles Jesus performed, my personal favorite is the feeding of the five thousand. Do you remember that story? After a long day of teaching in Galilee, Jesus noticed the people were getting hungry. Rather than send them into a seaside village to scrounge for food, he accepted a little boy’s sack lunch of five barley loaves and two small fish. He thanked God for the food, then began to break the bread and the fish, handing it out to the disciples, who distributed it among the crowd.

People were invited to eat “as much as they wanted” (John 6:11), and when it was all over, there was more food than when Jesus began. It was the first meal in history where the leftovers amounted to more than the original meal itself! “So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten” (John 6:13).

The response was electric. “When the people saw this miracle and tasted the food, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’” (John 6:14). Some even tried to forcibly make him king right there. Jesus had no choice but to withdraw from the mob. His time had not yet come to publicly announce his kingship.

I’m not sure why this miracle is my favorite. Maybe it’s because it is the largest scale miracle recorded in the Gospels. More eye witnesses saw this event than probably any other in Jesus’ earthly ministry. Maybe it’s because I like to eat, and I think it’s cool that Jesus cared about the hunger of his listeners. Maybe it’s because of the underlying spiritual lesson that Jesus is the Bread of Life, and if you want to have your spiritual hunger satisfied, you must trust in him alone.

There’s one more reason I like this miracle so much, and it goes back to a childhood memory. When I was in second grade, the teacher at my little Christian school conducted an experiment to show us how big the number 5,000 is. She sent home a letter instructing us to collect as many aluminum soda can tabs as possible (“pop” can tabs for all of us in Michigan). By next Monday, kids were already pulling Ziploc-bags out of their backbacks that contained soda can tabs. We huddled close, counted them up, then listened to them clink into an empty metal desk at the front of the room. Week by week, the desk began to fill more and more, until it reached the brim, and the desk lid would barely close. Still more tabs were brought and placed on top of the desk, until finally, we reached our goal of 5,000 soda tabs. The class went wild. We had done it! And that staggering number of aluminum can tabs represented the same number of people Jesus fed with a little basket of five loaves and two fish.

The feeding of the five thousand is just one of the many amazing miracles or “signs” Jesus performed, proving he is the Son of God. These were not cheap magic tricks or legendary fables. They were real-life events that defied the laws of nature and became indisputable proofs that Jesus was sent from God. The people who ate that meal were right to acknowledge, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” What about you? What will you do with Jesus? Are you willing to check out his claims for yourself — or maybe even accept his free gift of eternal life?

(This article first appeared in the Minister’s Message of our local newspaper, The Hi Desert Star)

Do You Ask Good Questions in Your Evangelism?

Last Sunday, we concluded a sermon series on evangelism. I do pray this will be a turning point in our church becoming more evangelistic, and seeing more people saved. May this not be the end, but rather the beginning of a new culture of evangelism in our lives and in the church.

When preaching on “The Conversation of an Evangelist” a few weeks ago, I shared several ways to have more fruitful, gospel-centered conversations, as Philip did with the Ethiopian eunuch.

During that message, I shared several tips for asking good questions, and promised I would send it out to everyone. As you can see, one of the keys to evangelism is becoming a better listener. Here’s the list for any blog readers interested…

NINE TIPS FOR ASKING GOOD QUESTIONS

By Will Metzger, Tell the Truth

  1. Take every possible chance to ask a searching question, then keep quiet.
  2. One thoughtful question is worth a dozen interrogative ones. The prod-and-pry approach makes people clam up.
  3. Questions that come close to people’s true interests get the best answers, provided we are interested.
  4. Be prepared to wait. Sometimes a long silence can be more rewarding than another question.
  5. In every case, the quality of an answer depends on the quality of attention given by the questioner.
  6. Questions must spring from honest inquiry, not from attempts at flattery or efforts to manipulate people’s thinking.
  7. Questions that deal with people’s feelings are more provocative than those that deal with facts. Listen for and encourage all expressions of feeling.
  8. What is our motive in asking questions? Are we just leading people on in order to argue or to trap them, or do we really care for them?
  9. Ask questions to help people tell their story, not just about what interests you or things you want clarified.

“Only a listening, loving heart can remove the mask we all wear”

Question: What kind questions help you with gospel conversations?

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

When Heaven Celebrates

Jesus tells three stories of lost items – the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son, better known as the prodigal son.

Each of these parables capture the perilous condition of the unbeliever as “lost,” but also the inexpressible joy in heaven when a person repents.

Luke 15:10 says “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” This suggests that angels and saints in heaven rejoice when a person is saved. But more importantly, it teaches that God himself celebrates every time an unbeliever turns from sin and trusts in Jesus.

What a thought! God loves to save people! Are we equally enthusiastic?

Our church is starting a summer series on evangelism that will teach us how to overcome fear and share our faith, with the goal that God would be glorified and more people in our community would be saved. I invite you to follow along online.

The first sermon, “When Heaven Celebrates,” is now available for free download from our church podcast.