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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Did God Really Say Leave The Church?

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor: Did God Really Say Leave The Church?

Two years ago, my wife, Angel and I put our pride, reputation and comfortable lives on the line to start The Body Church in Atlanta, GA. In this blog series we highlight the top twelve lessons we learned and are still learning along the journey. For the full list of all twelve points, click the following link, "Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned". Today, we are highlighting the second point, "Some people need to hear from The Lord to join your church but don't need to hear from The Lord to leave."

Setting: Local grocery store.

Circumstance: Awkward run-in between local pastor and a member who's been M.I.A. (Missing In Action) for some time.

Pastor: "Hey, how have you been? Is everything alright? We haven't seen you at church in a while?"

M.I.A. Member: "Hey pastor. I didn't expect to run into you out here. Umm... well.. I heard The Lord saying that it's time for me to leave your church."

Pastor: "Did He also tell you not to let us know you were leaving?"

.......silence.........

Exodus 20:7(NLT) - “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

This story can have two alternate endings. One is what we will call the "Acts 5" ending which comes out of Acts 5:1-11 and goes something like this.

Alternate Ending #1

Pastor: "Why do you think it's okay to lie to The Holy Spirit? Why would you misuse God's name and say He told you to leave when you know He did not?"

.....Thud!... Member hits the ground... THE END!

Alternate Ending #2

M.I.A. Member: "Pastor, to be honest I just chose to leave. I was offended by some things that took place and didn't want to be there anymore. My family's needs also weren't being met."

Pastor: "Oh really? Well I appreciate your honesty. If you want to talk about it now, I'm all ears. If not, just let me know and we can make an appointment."

M.I.A. Member: "OK! Thanks."

..To be continued....

People in church know that if they say that The Lord said something there's no way to dispute them. Even as a pastor, the last thing any of us ever want to do is contradict God's instructions. However, isn't it a coincidence that God's instructions to leave a church many times coincide with our desire to do so also? How is it that when we really want to leave it's easier for many of us to hear God's Voice saying leave instead of His Voice saying stay. At those times of agreement, it's interesting how His Voice tends to sound allot like our own as He says exactly what we want to hear.

1 Corinthians 12:12-18(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.

Do you understand the analogy of The Church as The Body of Christ? Today, we're going to focus on 1 Corinthians 12:18 which states that God has put each part just where He wants it. What does that mean? If you're a part of The Body of Christ, God has a place for you and if He puts you there that is where He wants you to be.

If you choose on your own to leave your place in The Body of Christ and go somewhere else, it would be the same as a part of your body leaving where it is and reattaching somewhere else. In other words, not only is it a problem for you when you are out of place. It's a problem for the entire body. Hence, if you know God has put you somewhere it would behoove you to stay right there until He puts you somewhere else.

Ephesians 4:15-16(NKJV) - but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

How do you know God put you in a church?

1) You fit. - The same way each part of your body fits into the space where it is attached, so it is with The Body of Christ. There is a specific space in The Body of Christ for each person. If you don't fit where you are, perhaps God didn't place you there. You will know when you're in the right place because you will feel like you fit.

2) You function. - Another reason why each body part fits in a certain location is because that is where it functions at its best. If your hand grew anywhere else in your body it wouldn't be in the best place for it to function. In the same way, when you find the place you fit in The Body of Christ you will be able to function at your absolute best.

So if you're sitting in a church for years and can't use the gifts and talents God has given you there, stop wasting your life and find the place where you're supposed to use them. There's a church up the street fasting and praying for The Lord to send you there. In the same way, don't say God told you to leave a place where you function in your gifts and go somewhere where you cannot.

3) You feed. - People in a church don't only feed off The Word of God they get from the pastor, they feed off each other. Every joint supplies something to The Body and when every part does its share, we all grow. That's what church is about. When you're in the right place, you will feed off The Word, The Anointing and The Love from those around you.

What's the best sign that you're receiving good spiritual food? Spiritual growth. Regardless of your level of spiritual maturity, if you're in the right church you'll keep growing. You should be a better Christian this year than you were last year. In the right church, you will always be challenged to be better. As a result, don't get offended and leave the right church for you because you've been challenged. Remember, that's a good thing.

It's true that God sometimes tells you to leave a place and go somewhere else. That's not at issue here. What is at issue is when He does not and you claim that He does. That's never good. It was your decision. Don't bring The Lord into that. Now let's see one way this can be done right.

Acts 16:6-10(NKJV) - Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Sometimes God directs you the way He did Paul and Silas. He tells you not to go to certain places and calls you to somewhere else. In Paul's case, God responded to the prayer of someone in Macedonia and took Paul away from where he was and sent him there. Perhaps, there are people in a church praying for you to come help them. Listen to the Voice of God, get up from where you are and go help those people. Don't go where you want to go but go where God sends you because if He sends you somewhere, you have an assignment to carry out there. God knows how to direct people so there's no need to make stuff up and attach His name to it just wait for His direction.

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Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor - Top Twelve Lessons Learned

Confessions of a Young Atlanta Pastor

James 3:1(NKJV) - My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

Aaahh church life. There's nothing like it. I turned 36 on Sunday, December 5th and can't help but reminisce on 36 years and 9 months of life in the church. That's right. I didn't just grow up in church. I was in there before I was even born. So over the years I've seen all kinds of interesting things within the hallowed halls of the church building.

However, none of those experiences could have prepared me for the experience I've received in the last two years since starting The Body Church in Atlanta with my wife, Angel. Thankfully, The Lord has been with us throughout the entire process and now you can too. In this new blog series we will share the valuable lessons we have been learning throughout this journey starting with the top twelve.

Top Twelve Lessons Learned From Starting A Church

1) Some people are with you until you correct or offend them.

2) Some people need to hear from The Lord to join your church but don't need to hear from The Lord to leave.

3) If you're starting from the ground up and your only example of church is a mega-church you will get your feelings hurt.

4) You know more about being a pastor when you're not an actual pastor.

5) When people act "over the top" eager about your church when they first show up, don't assume they'll stay long or even show up again.

6) There's a strong correlation between the consistency of people's giving and their commitment to your ministry.

7) If you don't take personal responsibility for the success of your ministry, do not expect anyone else to do so.

8) Some people will think your ministry is awesome, just for someone else.

9) If you're not sure that The Lord called you to be a pastor, quit now because you'll eventually do it anyway.

10) The easiest part of being a pastor is preaching. If that's all you want to do, preach on the street. It's less stressful.

11) Be careful who you trust. You will be shocked at who might be smiling in your face and talking behind your back.

12) Many people choose a church for what they can get from the church instead of what they can give.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just the beginning. We are going to address each of these top twelve in detail in the coming weeks and you are going to love it. Why? Because you know it's the truth and it's about time that someone said it. Let's start with Lesson 1 today.

1) Some people are with you until you correct or offend them.

John 6:60-69(NLT) - Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. ”

When Jesus taught parables, worked miracles, kissed babies, showed mercy to sinners and challenged the religious elite, He was popular. People were excited to be His followers and they believed He was The Messiah. They loved to eat the bread and fish that He multiplied. They lined up to receive their healing. They sat at His feet and loved every Word He said. He was everything they dreamed of. That was, until He offended them. Then all but the twelve disciples left Him because they could not accept what He had to say.

How do we know they left Jesus because they were offended? That's what Jesus said. "Does this offend you?" He asked. As a young pastor, I learned this lesson early and often. Some people are with you until you say something that offends them and instead of seeking to understand what you said or why you said it, they just leave. What's unfortunate is that the disciples who left Jesus let offense rob them of words that were Spirit and Life. That was their loss.

When Jesus noticed that those other disciples were becoming offended He shared some words of wisdom that should inform all of us.

a) If those simple words offended them, they could expect to be offended even more in the future.

b) Those were not merely human words, those were the life giving, spirit-filled Words of God and some still would not believe.

c) The deserters were free to go because the only people who were meant to be with Jesus were the ones assigned to Him by The Father.

What does that mean for us?

a) If people are offended by something we say today, don't think this will be the only time those people would be offended. You will be like a dog chasing his tail if you try to avoid offending them in the future.

b) Even when you give people The Word of God that doesn't mean they will believe it.

c) When people leave as a result of offense let them go. The only people meant to be with you are the people God assigns to you anyway.

Now pay close attention to the response Jesus received from The Twelve Disciples when He asked if they too would desert Him. Peter stood up and said three things;

a) To whom shall we go.

b) You have the Words of Life.

c) We know that You are The One God sent.

What does that mean to us?

a) People who belong to your church know that they are supposed to be there and can't go anywhere else. They understand that God sent them there and they can't just walk away when they are offended by The Word of God that you deliver. On the other hand, those people who believe they have options should go now because they are not called by God to be with you and will probably eventually leave anyway.

b) People who are supposed to be with you know the value of what you're saying. They can tell it's The Word of God and accept it as it is. They understand that you won't say anything that God didn't put on your heart. People who don't belong to your church think your messages are your opinion and everyone's entitled to their own.

c) People who belong to your church know that you are sent by God. They can recognize the anointing on your life and won't miss out on what God has for them through that anointing. People who can easily walk away have no idea who you are so they should go.

What's the bottom line?

i) Always preach like God Himself is speaking. Leave personal opinions for politicians.

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

ii) Expect some people to get offended when you preach because some Christians want to pick and choose what they hear at church.

II Timothy 4:1-5(NKJV) - I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

iii) People who are really called by God to be with you will receive The Word of God from you like God Himself came into The Church and said it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13(NLT) - Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.

That's all for today. See you next time for Point 2.

2) Some people need to hear from The Lord to join your church but don't need to hear from The Lord to leave.

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How Do We Evangelize? - Be Relevant: Connect With People Where They Are

How Do We Evangelize? - Be Relevant: Connect With People Where They Are

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 20 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 19, "How Do We Evangelize? - Sola Scriptura: Stick to the Word of God".

The fifth practical key to evangelism is “Be relevant: Connect with people where they are.”

One of the fastest ways to lose people’s attention in a conversation is to begin talking about something that is irrelevant to their interests or the topic at hand. Imagine a group that's entrenched in a deep discussion when someone interjects with a notion that is completely off topic. Now imagine the awkward pause and puzzled looks as a result of the interjection.

After this brief loss of connectivity, the conversation continues without the slightest acknowledgement of the random words that were previously presented. Realizing the irrelevance of the comment, the originator is unable to connect and slowly fades into the background in silence. They’ve just been irrelevant!☺ We have all observed similar situations or have even been the one responsible.

When you are irrelevant you are ignored. As human beings it is in our nature to connect and be relevant. Why do you think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Skype, etc. are so popular? Humans need to relate to other humans! So why not connect over something that brings us life like The Gospel? However, for this to be possible in the process of evangelism, we must connect with people where they are.

In today’s society, there are people who need to hear the Good News in every setting. There are lost people in parks, palaces, slums, mansions, alleys, boardwalks, shelters, corporations, and even churches. In any environment you can find lost souls and Jesus longs for every one of them to know His love.

Luke 19:10 (NASB) – “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

John 7:37 (KJV) – “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”

So how can you be relevant and connect with people right where they are?

First, take a minute and survey the environment that you are in. Where has God placed you to influence people for Christ? What is your occupation? Where do you frequently shop in your community? Who are your neighbors? What streets do you pass while doing errands? What public transport do you take to the office? What school do you attend? What outreach or missions opportunities are offered at your church?

Second, think about the people you encounter daily within these environments. Are the people you encounter different from you? What ways can you be relevant to people within your environment. How can you relate to the people around you? How might you demonstrate love and humility in your interactions? What might be some common areas of interest you could discuss? What topics might you discuss with them to build a basis for cordial conversation? What needs or concerns do they share? What suggestions, advice, or resources can you offer to meet their immediate needs if they show interest?

Paul modeled this process by displaying love and humility when sharing his faith with the lost. He also demonstrated relevance by creating common ground between himself and those he was seeking to witness to in order to win them to Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:19 – 23 (NLT) – “Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.”

Jesus also modeled this process for us when He lovingly and humbly spent time with the tax collectors and sinners. He demonstrated relevance by going to the places where the lost were and showing His interest in them.

Matthew 9:10 (NASB) – “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.”

Luke 5:29-31(NLT) – “Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?” Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”

Jesus demonstrated His ultimate love ad humility by leaving heaven and coming to earth as a human being to die for our sins. He was relevant by becoming a human being for our sake, sheding His blood for our sins, and rising again.

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) – “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges, He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

Daily, we must die to self, uphold the truth, and use wisdom to become relevant to those around us in order to evangelize. Jesus has made a way for everyone to come. Let’s follow His example to reach the lost!

Luke 4: 21-24 (NLT) – “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. ’After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

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How Do We Evangelize? - Sola Scriptura: Stick to the Word of God

word

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 19 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 18, "How Do We Evangelize? - Be Concise: Know the Gospel And Keep it Simple.".

The fourth practical key to effective evangelism is “Sola Scriptura: Stick to the Word of God”. The phrase Sola Scriptura is Latin and holds the meaning that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. In essence for the Christian, the Bible is complete in itself, true and authoritative in its positions concerning all matters pertaining to life.

Therefore, when it comes to evangelism, the scripture is supreme for presenting the truth. Hence, supplemental doctrines or external philosophies are unnecessary. We must stick to the Word of God when we are ministering to others about Christ. In doing so, we will be successful in conveying the truth and winning the loss for Christ.

Joshua 1:8 (NASB) – “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV) – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Matthew 5:18 (NLT) – “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.”

Luke 16:17 (NASB) - "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”

We live in a time where there are many new doctrines, beliefs, myths, religious fads, sayings, and philosophical teachings half-truths and blatant deception. These new ideologies are popular and prevalent within and without some religious circles. Why do we feel if a celebrity or public figure says anything that sounds “remotely” religious, wise or spiritual that they are a Christian authority? Though you may feel it is tedious, you should constantly check their teachings against the scripture for validation before quoting them.

I Corinthians 2:2-10 (NASB) – “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him. ”For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”

Some of these new teachings may sound so close to the truth that even the seasoned Christians can and will be deceived and embrace them as truth. Do not be quick to quote popular teachers, celebrities, or religious gurus to establish a case for accepting Christ. Before adopting any teaching as truth, we must first go to the Word of God to authenticate it. If you do not, you may later find that their teaching were false, you have been deceived and helped to perpetrate a lie. This is not a good look. To save yourself embarrassment, search the scriptures so that you will know the truth for yourself.

2 Timothy 4:3 (NLT) – “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”

Matthew 7:15 (KJV) – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

Matthew 24:24 (NKJV) – “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

Acts 17:11 (NLT) - “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.”

We do not need to use new ideologies, popular quotes, fancy riddles or deep philosophies to convince anyone to come to Christ. The truth about man’s sin and the redeeming power of the shed blood of Christ will prick the heart of man. Stick to the scripture alone and let the Holy Spirit do the work. When you are evangelizing, the Word of God is all you need!

Luke 24:32 (NASB) – “They said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"

Acts 2:36-38 (NKJV) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? ”Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

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How Do We Evangelize? - Be Concise: Know the Gospel And Keep it Simple

Be concise: Know the Gospel & Keep it Simple

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 18 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 17, "How Do We Evangelize? - Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Three).".

The third practical key to evangelizing is “Be concise: Know the Gospel & keep it simple”. As mentioned earlier in this series, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 13 years of age. Perhaps if I had not been able to understand the truth that was being presented to me, I may not have made a decision to accept Christ.

John 3:16-17(NASB) – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

The truth of the Gospel is to be kept simple. Nothing should be added to it nor taken away from it. The Gospel is powerful in itself and will cut to the heart of its hearer. When we lift up the name of Jesus, He will draw mankind to Himself. The Gospel does not need our help in the form of human efforts, gimmicks, or manipulative words to persuade people to The Cross. As Christians, our role is to present the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

1 Corinthians 2:4 (NLT) – “And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 1:16 (NASB) – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

John 12:32 (NTL) – “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself."

As the saying goes, "less is more". Though we present The Gospel in a simple fashion, it still has the power to affect people's lives. Jesus came from heaven to earth through virgin birth. He lived a sinless life and was crucified on The Cross to pay the price for the sins of all mankind. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. Then, He ascended to the right hand of God the Father and He is coming back again.

Let’s look at how Peter shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ and three thousand souls were saved that day.

Acts 2: 22 -41 (ESV) – “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says ,“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

You may be saying, yeah, but I am not the Apostle Peter. That is true! However, you are filled with the same Holy Spirit and you are armed with the very same Gospel!

So, how do I evangelize? What should I say when leading someone to Christ? I am so glad you asked! 🙂 Let’s look at some scriptures to formulate a practical way for you to lead someone to Christ. Here are seven words that may help you remember how to share The Gospel: Everyone; Jesus; Gift; Grace; Faith; Saves; Pray.

1.) Everyone. All of us have sinned and are in need of salvation.

Romans 3:23 (NASB) – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

2.) Jesus. Jesus died to save us all.

Romans 5:8 (NASB) – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

3.) Gift. Salvation is a free gift. We all deserve death as payment for our sin.

Romans 6:23 (NASB) – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

4.) Grace. We are saved by grace and grace alone. Not by our good works or deeds.

Romans 11:6 (NASB) – “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”

5.) Faith. Salvation comes through faith. We must believe.

Romans 4:5 (NLT) – “But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.”
6.) Saves. God saves anyone who calls on Him.

Romans 10:13 (KJV) – “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

7.) Pray. Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Romans 10:9-10 (NASB) – “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

The Prayer of Salvation:

“Heavenly Father, I come to You right now admitting that I am a sinner. Today, I choose to turn away from sin, and I ask that You cleanse and forgive me for all of my sin. I believe that Your Son, Jesus died on The Cross to take away my sins and He rose from the dead so that I could be forgiven and made righteous through faith in Him. Jesus, I invite you to come into my heart and be the Savior and Lord of my life. Jesus, I choose to follow you for the rest of my life. Fill me with the power of the Holy Spirit and guide me day by day. I declare right now that I am a child of God and I belong to Him. I am free from sin and full of the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am saved in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Today, go out and share The Gospel with someone today! Remember, keep it simple and let the Holy Spirit do the work. Next in this series we will review a fourth practical key to evangelizing; “Sola scriptura: Stick to the Word of God”.

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Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Three)

Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Three)

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 17 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 16, "How Do We Evangelize? - Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus (Part Two).".

I hear the Lord saying to us, “Enough, already!!! How long will you waver between two opinions? If God is God, serve God if this is not pleasing to you, serve another. For those who choose Me, please stand with holy hands lifted. Your families are dying, your marriages are dying, your friends are dying, and your nation is dying. Live holy so that your lifestyle testifies of Jesus Christ. It’s time to evangelize and save the lost!” - Word From The Lord

The second practical key of evangelism is to Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus. Today is a continuation from yesterday.

4.) God requires us to live holy. As Christians we need to get serious about living lives of holiness before God. His presence will only dwell in clean vessels. Who are we that God would choose to place His Holy Spirit in us? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? Let’s do inventory and make sure that our temples are cleansed and kept holy for the presence of God.

Psalm 8:4 (NASB) – “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV) – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Kings 18:21 (NIV) – “Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing.”

1 Timothy 2:8 (NLT) “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;”

Matthew 7:21-23 (NAS) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

5.) The Holy Spirit helps us to live holy. Living lives of purity in today’s society is seen as unpopular and virtually impossible in the flesh. However, the HOLY SPIRIT Himself is living inside of us! The Holy Spirit will help us to live holy, to the degree that we chose to obey His promptings in our lifestyle decisions. We have a free will so it’s up to us to personally listen to the Spirit’s voice. We must choose His ways moment by moment.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) – “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Joshua 24:14 (NASB) – "If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Are you ready to live holy? Do not let your past sins or short comings stop you from evangelizing. The good news is God is merciful! Jesus paid the price for our sins with His powerful blood. He promises to forgive us and restore His children to purity. Repent, be cleansed, receive His forgiveness and get going with the Father’s business!

Isaiah 1:18 (NASB) - "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.

1 John 1:9 (NASB) – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Today, Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus! Next, we will discuss the third practical key to evangelizing; Be concise: Know the Gospel & keep it simple

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How Do We Evangelize? - Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus.

holy

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 15 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 14, "How Do We Evangelize? - Pray: Be led by The Holy Spirit".

The second practical key on how to evangelize is to Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus.

I hear the Lord saying to us, “Enough, already!!! How long will you waver between two opinions? If God is God, serve God if this is not pleasing to you, serve another. For those who choose Me, please stand with holy hands lifted. Your families are dying, your marriages are dying, your friends are dying, and your nation is dying. Live holy so that your lifestyle testifies of Jesus Christ. It’s time to evangelize and save the lost!” - Word From The Lord

As Christians, the world is watching our every move. If we truly want to evangelize to others, we have to be aware of this fact and monitor how we live. Our lives must be an example of Christ so that we do not blow our testimony. The last thing you want is to try to tell someone about Christ and then be exposed as a hypocrite like the Seven sons of Sceva!

Acts 19:13-17(NLT) - “A group of Jews was traveling from town to town casting out evil spirits. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus in their incantation, saying, “I command you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, to come out!” Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.

Living a lifestyle that testifies of Jesus is vital to establishing credibility when evangelizing. As true Christians, we must live a life of holiness if we are seeking to win the lost to a Holy God.

Have you ever heard the foolish saying of “do as I say, and not as I do”? Perhaps you have even said it to someone. To some, this may sound like a wise manner to give direction and instructions. However, the truth is, people will do what you do, not what you say. It is difficult to obey someone whose verbal instructions contradict what they model.

A good teacher, trainer, or coach will demonstrate what is right to achieve the desired results as opposed to leaving it up to their follower’s interpretation. If leaders consistently model the desired standard, they will easily earn the respect and credibility of their followers. If they only talk about the desired standard, but model what is contrary to achieving the desired results, they lose all credibility. In the same way, our lifestyle must testify of Jesus Christ in order to maintain our credibility in evangelism.

What does the scripture have to say about holiness? Jesus instructed us to live holy; Apostle Paul exhorted us to live holy; Christians are told to model holiness to others; God requires us to live holy; and the Holy Spirit helps us to live holy.

1.) Jesus instructed us to live holy. Not only did He tell us to be holy, but he demonstrated holiness by His lifestyle. He is a Holy God and modeled holy living when He walked as a man on the earth.

1 Peter 13-17 (NKJV) – “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;”

2.) The Apostle Paul exhorted us to live holy. Paul exhorted believers to follow his example as he followed Christ. The fact is, Paul would not have the credibility to urge anyone to follow his example, if he did not live a life modeled after Christ. If you review his life, you will find that after his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul became known as someone whose life was fully “sold out” to Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV) – “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 2:1 (NIV) – “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Additionally, the scriptures tell Christians to model holiness to others; God requires us to live holy; and the Holy Spirit helps us to live holy. We will explore each of these points next in this series.

Today, let's pray and thank God for speaking to all of us about holiness through His Word! Tomorrow, we will continue our discussion on this practical key to evangelism; "Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus."

We will continue from here tomorrow.
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One: Our Mission Unites Us

Date - Sunday, October 4th, 2015

The Body Church,

3015 Rainbow Dr,

Suite #142,

Building #3009,

Decatur, GA 30034

1 Corinthians 12:12(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Sundays

10:00 AM - Worship With Prayer

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How Do We Evangelize? - Pray: Be led by The Holy Spirit

How Do We Evangelize? - Pray: Be led by The Holy Spirit

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 14 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 13, "How Do We Evangelize?".

Over the next few weeks we will spend time reviewing a few practical keys to effective evangelism. The first practical key is "Pray: Be led by the Holy Spirit." One of the first things we need to do is pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us when evangelizing. The Holy Spirit is always speaking and He is eager to help us. If we invite the Holy Spirit to direct us to whom to speak, what to say, and where to go, we will never be disappointed. He knows who is ready to receive The Gospel, where they are, and when is the proper time to present it to them.

John 6:44(NKJV) - No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

When we pray, the Holy Spirit will lead us to WHO we should share The Gospel with. Jesus is the one who draws people to Himself. Without Him drawing us, we would not have been willing to come to the cross on our own. He has promised that if He is lifted up from the earth, people would be drawn to Him. Every person may not be open to hearing The Gospel at exactly the same moment. Really?...so how can you know who to approach? 🙂

John 12:32 (NLT) – “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to led you to who He wants you to minister to. The Holy Spirit knows who Jesus is drawing to Himself at any given time. Therefore, it is important for us to pray and depend on the Holy Spirit to show us who to approach with the message of The Gospel or a prophetic word.

When we pray, the Holy Spirit will lead us in WHAT we should say when sharing The Gospel. As previously stated, the Holy Spirit is always speaking and is desiring to move in the earth. He loves people and longs for them to hear God's voice through prophecy. The prophetic is such a precious and vital gift to the Body of Christ because it has the ability to change the entire trajectory of a person's life.Therefore, praying and seeking to hear the Holy Spirit concerning what to say when sharing The Gospel with unbelievers is paramount to effective evangelism. Revelation 19:10 reminds us that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

1 Corinthians 14:24-25 (NLT) – “But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”
Revelation 19:10 (NASB) "Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

When we pray, the Holy Spirit will lead us to WHERE we should go to share The Gospel. The Holy Spirit knows all things, including where we should go to share the gospel. For one it may be a mission field across the Atlantic Ocean, for another it may a mission field on a mountain top, and yet another it may a mission field in their neighborhood or workplace. Wherever you are seeking to go to share The Gospel, pray first. Hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and go only at the sound of His voice.

The Holy Spirit knows where He desires to send you and what you will encounter along the way. Trust in His leading and depend on His divine direction. Paul and Silas depended on the Holy Spirit’s leading for where to go and share The Gospel. There were several times when they had intentions of ministering in one region, but were diverted to another place by the divine intervention of The Holy Spirit.

Acts 16:4-10 (NLT) – “Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day. Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia. Then coming, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia,but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there”.

Prayer is vital to the success of evangelism. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us through the entire process. He will direct our steps by showing us who to approach, what to say to them, and where to go when we ask. Today, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you as you share The Gospel! You will not be disappointed if you obey the Spirit's voice.

Hebrews 3:15 (ESV) "As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

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How Do We Evangelize?

evangelize

Written By: Dr. Angel

Welcome to Part 13 of our current blog series; "Evangelism". Click here for Part 12, "Why Don't We Evangelize? - We Are Afraid of Persecution".

Romans 10:13-15(NKJV) - For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

For the past few weeks, we have answered the questions of why do we evangelize and why don’t we evangelize? So far, I hope that this blog series has shed some light on the Do’s and Dont's of evangelism in light of the scriptures. If you need a review or to get caught up, you can access the first twelve articles in this Evangelism series using the link at the beginning of today's blog.

Mark 16:14 (NIV) - “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Jesus has given us the mandate to “Go”. Hence, each of us is called to fulfill “The Great Commission”. In response, has your heart said YES but your mind asked HOW? If so, this blog is for you!

As previously established, there are many opinions and motives for why Christians choose to evangelize. As well as, the many excuses or obstacles preventing Christians from evangelizing. As we move forward in our series of exploring the Dos, Don’ts, How’s and When’s of evangelism, we will now discuss; How do we evangelize?

Perhaps you feel you would evangelize more if you simply knew what to do. Over the next few weeks we will spend time reviewing a few practical keys on how to evangelize. I have identified seven keys that may help us to more effectively share our faith. Let’s prayerfully review these seven keys for evangelizing, in light of the scriptures.

These keys include:

1. Pray: Be led by the Holy Spirit

2. Live Holy: Let your lifestyle testify of Jesus

3. Be Concise: Know the Gospel & keep it simple

4. Sola Scriptura: Stick to the Word of God

5. Be Relevant: Connect with people where they are

6. Be Personal: Share YOUR testimony

7. Stay Focused: Avoid theological debates.

Get ready! I know God will speak to us and give us wisdom along this journey. Tomorrow, we will discuss our first principle of evangelism; "Pray: Be led by the Holy Spirit."

James 1:5 (NIV) - “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

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