The latest issue of Lutheran Life is in the mail to subscribers and is also available online. This issue includes an article about Rev. John Roth, new Estero Church Planter, “Wisdom from the Season of Epiphany,” news of the move of the District Office, Milestone Celebration at Lutheran Church of Nassau, an update on the LISA Training Program, a report from the LCEF Fall Conference, and regional reports from around the District. Watch for it in your mail!
Archive for category: News & Announcements
The latest issue of Lutheran Life is in the mail to subscribers and is also available online. This issue includes updates regarding the 2012 Educators Conference, a report on Mission: Haiti, Mission Moments from Rev. Doug Kallesen, a report from LCEF, and regional reports from around the District. Watch for it in your mail!
Walton Unanimously Endorsed for Second Term in Realigned District
Delegates to the 31st Regular Convention of the Florida-Georgia District — meeting in Lake Mary, FL, June 22-24 under the theme Stewards of God’s Grace: Empowered by the Word — by acclamation returned President Gregory S. Walton to office……
Revitalizing Congregations to Connect People to Jesus
Many thanks to all who made the 31st Triennial Florida-Georgia District Convention such a wonderful success. It was a bit intimidating going into the convention never having really experienced it from the “podium” perspective. I had no idea of all the details that go into the planning and implementation of this event……
Convention Photo Booth
Compulsion makes rockets fly into the sky and outer space. Compulsion also carries us forward enthusiastically when we believe strongly in something. We want to tell everyone. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves! When we get a new car, find a great deal, we often find it difficult not to tell everyone we know. I remember even telling people I did not know when I thought I had found a great deal. I couldn’t help myself, I wanted everyone to know. My friends you and I have a good deal, in fact a great deal from God; in Jesus our sins are forgiven and we are called sons and daughters of Almighty God. We are promised everlasting life in heaven with Jesus. We should be like Peter shouting it from the mountain tops but today we live in a society that tries to silence us telling us not to talk about politics or religion.
Peter and John were eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry, His crucifixion and also saw the resurrected Redeemer. He was alive! Now a miracle of healing had also been performed in the Name of Jesus and Peter and John were jailed and told not to teach the people about this Jesus or His resurrection. Peter replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Oh, I pray for such a stirring of the Holy Spirit in our churches that each of us would be so bold as to speak out publically about Jesus and His resurrection. I pray for a people, myself included, that we would say with Peter, “how can I NOT speak about Jesus!”
As contemporary Christians we need to pray to the Lord that He would “restore unto us the joy of our salvation,” and we also need to be “joyous about our joy.” (Ps. 51:12) Finally, we also need to pray God the Holy Spirit would prepare us to “always be ready to give an account of the hope that is in us.” 1 Peter 3:15b.
Do you know in detail the hope that is in you? I find it easier to give examples of my hope in God as told in the stories of my life. In a workshop setting I will have everyone write down the events of their life from their early life to present highlighting them on a graph and asking them to graph where their relationship with God was at this same time. I then have the participants tell their story and how their journey with Jesus has gone. In a witness setting these stories can then be used to share the “hope that is in us.”
In telling my story I inject Christ into it, giving God credit and glory appropriately throughout the story. People can see the benefit Jesus has brought to my life, how He has answered prayer, helped, and given me strength. Usually such stories allow them to respond and for further ministry and witnessing to occur. It might mean asking, can I pray for you, could we talk again in a few days, would you like to meet my pastor or go to church with me? It might be an invitation to a small group or event that could further the opportunity to deepen the relationship, especially between them and Jesus. Remember you are not witnessing alone, God the Holy Spirit is mightily at work!
Let me know how your witnessing is going! Share your own witnessing tips.
Rev. Doug Kallesen
It’s more about what you ask them than what you tell them! I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been told, “it’s so hard to share my faith in Jesus, I just wouldn’t know what to say,” then I say simply ask some very strategic and powerful questions. Many people are spiritually paralyzed when it comes to sharing their faith in Jesus. I share this witnessing tip especially for those of you who know exactly what I mean. Perhaps we could all learn from Jesus Himself the importance of asking questions. Questions are easier to ask and don’t require of you a degree in bible competency. Let me illustrate, at the well in John 4 Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink. It was this one comment that opened up an entire witnessing conversation between Jesus and the woman. In fact an entire town came to see and hear Jesus because of this one question!
Questions are powerful. They are long lasting and have impact much after the person asking the question has left the room. A question remains alive and demands, of the hearer, answer me. Jesus asks for water. He made Himself in need of her help. She was a woman, He was a man and He was a Jew and she knew what most Jews thought of Samaritans. With this one little question, “can you give me a drink?” Jesus knocks down all these barriers and allows for a further conversation to develop. I have found that asking people for their help many times will open a door for a witness. It certainly allows for a deeper conversation to occur. Jesus then said to the woman, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is who asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” Here Jesus couples the original question with a short comment that further wetted her appetite. She wanted the water Jesus spoke of. She wanted what He had. What is it in the other person’s life that they are “thirsting,” for?
I have used questions in a variety of scenarios to elicit deeper conversation and dialogue about Jesus. I recall sitting with someone who was at the hospital with a dying loved one, his name was Ron and his wife, Lori, had adult leukemia. She was a real trooper, she had tried everything modern medicine could give her and still death came. Her husband Ron, a “not yet believer,” was present through all of it. We went through some real highs and lows together. I remember visiting almost daily in the hospital and after the funeral Ron and I had another visit. He said, you know how you asked me if I wanted to have a peace that surpasses all human understanding?
I said, yeah Ron I do that was when Lori was in the hospital several months ago, before she had the bone marrow biopsy. “Yeah, that question stayed with me and I must have tried to answer It a thousand times Pastor and all I keep seeing is Lori and how strong she was, how much at peace she was with living or dying. I want that peace!” He was hungry for Christ’s peace. I ended up marrying Ron and his new wife over a year later and joyously I also had the privilege of conducting Ron’s funeral, it was for a Christian man who had come to know the One who alone gives such a peace that surpasses all human understanding. Perhaps this story will show you the power of using questions in your Christian witness.
I walked out the door of my office to find that Luis, the courtesy driver from the car dealer had arrived. He was on the phone and signaled one minute. As he got off the phone he said, “oh that was the social worker calling about supervised visits for my ex-wife with the children.” After showing concern I asked a couple of questions and found that Luis used a lot of God talk so I asked him on Orange Blossom Trail to tell me about Jesus. It was informative as I listened I heard of a man who had a love of Jesus but did not know Him as Savior. He said, “Jesus is our model, He shows us what we must do in order to be saved.” I asked him what he must do and he said, “we must do good works and follow all ten “amendments,” (yes he said, “amendments.”) I asked him if he was good enough to go to heaven and he admitted if Jesus were to come now that he would certainly go to hell.
I did not want this conversation between Luis and me to end here but let me pause to say, I bet you know someone who is just like Luis. How sad it is they feel as though they somehow have to make themselves good enough to get in when you and I know Jesus has already paid the entire price and has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven. My friends the bible is clear, all of us have sinned and gone astray none of us are righteous no not even one Paul says in Romans. The wages of sin is death and we are reminded of this daily as we face our own mortality that will one day occur.
I must tell you that my conversation with Luis is a work in progress, we have not yet arrived but he will continue to be in my prayers and I will look for other opportunities to connect with him. I want him to know that Jesus is more than a model, he is his Messiah and his Savior. I did ask him if we could be good enough by simply following Jesus as a model then why did Jesus have to die? I shared with him that God loved him so much that Jesus came to pay the price, the ultimate price – His life! “The blood of Christ cleanses us from all sins.” 1 John 1:7 I want you my readers to know I saw my role as a seed sower not Savior or faith giver! I entrusted the work of conversion to the Holy Spirit and I thought it would be good for us to have a conversation here in this article about faith sharing.
I learned that we must always be ready to share the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15 b). I first learned this as a newspaper boy in Iowa. I do this sharing because of the love of Christ that is alive within me. I don’t have to manufacture anything here, I just need to connect my story of His story in my life to their life. Simply put – be a witness, tell what Jesus means to me. I also needed to listen to his story and this is where I usually begin -listening. Let them talk you listen! Many times I probe around with a few questions that demonstrate care and concern for them and give me knowledge of areas in their life that Christ connections must be made. After hearing their story they are almost always ready to hear and listen to my story, the hope that is within me. Out of such natural, spontaneous conversations of grace God will step in and give you the words necessary. We need not make faith sharing more difficult than it is though it is life changing for both parties.
Rev. Doug Kallesen
Executive Director of Outreach FL-GA District