ENSURE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

Here are five ways to ensure your Gospel message is understood so the enemy can’t snatch “the message of eternal life” from the minds and hearts of your hearers. This message applies equally to when you are speaking to a group or just one person.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.” Matthew 13:19

1. Don’t focus on what you’re teaching, focus on what they’re learning.  Instead of being consumed with getting your message across, get feedback to ensure they are engaged. You’re not successful when you get through your outline, you’re successful when they understand the message, and sometimes those are two different things.

2. Don’t give the answer before they’ve asked the question.  Utilise the first few minutes of your message to engage with your audience, throw out strategic questions, to get people thinking. To get them asking the right questions, only then will your answers be meaningful. The goal is to get people wanting to know the answer to the right questions.

3. Tell better stories and use testimonies. There’s a reason Jesus told so many stories. We’re wired for stories. If your message has all the facts but no compelling stories, you’re in danger of teaching for knowledge, not understanding. Stories help complex and deep truths penetrate the outer shell of our minds. Share your testimony, testimonies are powerful. It will be the linchpin of your message.

4. Create environments that foster an atmosphere for deeper learning.  People need to feel welcomed, loved, accepted, comfortable in the physical environment you’re teaching in. Foster an atmosphere where people are open to deeper learning. Your reputation must be one of integrity.

5. Check the fruit. The easiest way to check whether you’re teaching for knowledge or understanding is to check the fruit. Are they following through with what you’re asking them to do? Are they living it out? If there’s no long-term fruit in your audience, you’re teaching for knowledge. Jesus himself said that when you teach for understanding, “this is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”  (Matthew 13:23).

NICK WITNESSING IN PRISON

What amazing ministry God has given Nick Vujicic, the man with no arms and legs. He has brought more people into God’s Kingdom than many denominations.

Watch and be encouraged and hopefully challenged about what God’s call is on your life, particularly in these last days when persecution will intensify for those that stand up for God and His values.

CHALLENGED BY ISIS BRUTALITY: SYRIAN MUSLIMS FIND JESUS

Syrian Christians have shared how they converted from Islam to Christianity after witnessing the brutality of Islamic extremist groups like ISIS, who carried out barbaric acts in the name of Allah.

Members of the recently-established Church of the Brethren in Kobani  — the first local Christian place of worship for decades — shared with NBC News how Christianity appealed to them after living under Sharia law.

‘Christianity was the religion I was searching for’ said Farhad Jasim. Farhad, 23, who works as a mechanic, converted to Christianity late last year. He told NBC he was jailed by ISIS for six months in early 2016 after the militants discovered he didn’t know the basics of Islam. During his time in captivity, he was tortured and forced to read the Quran.

“After I witnessed their brutality with my own eyes, I started to be sceptical about my belief,” Jasim said.

After hearing about the Church of the Brethren, which opened in September and is part of a denomination that dates back to 18th-century Germany, Jasim decided to visit: “It didn’t take me long to discover that Christianity was the religion I was searching for,” he said.

Jasim told the outlet his family has rejected him because of his newfound faith and expressed hope that one day, his loved ones will not only forgive him but embrace Christianity, too.

“If ISIS represents Islam, I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore,” he said. “Their God is not my God.”

Firas, a 47-year-old farmer, told NBC he converted to Christianity after living under ISIS for two years. He recalled how militants would terrorise anyone who didn’t adhere to their particular brand of Islam.

“I saw men and young teenagers being whipped on the streets because they were caught smoking. I saw dead bodies of young men being thrown from high buildings for being gay,” Firas said. “This was their Islam.”

“If heaven is made for ISIS and their belief, I would choose hell for myself instead of being again with them in the same place, even if it’s paradise,” he added.

While ISIS was driven out of the city, located along the Syrian-Turkish border, over four years ago, converting to Christianity remains taboo  — and even dangerous — in the Muslim-majority region. Persecution watchdog Open Doors notes that even in more secure parts of Syria, Christians who have converted from Islam face pressure and discrimination from their communities. Kobani is home to about 300 Christians, according to estimates.

Omar, 38, who serves as church administrator, said that even before ISIS overtook the region, it was strictly forbidden to change religion from Islam to Christianity. But under ISIS, converting to Christianity “wasn’t even imaginable,” he said, adding: “ISIS would kill you immediately.”

“Most of the brothers here converted or come to church as a result of what ISIS did to them and to their families,” he said. “No one is forced to convert. Our weapon is prayer, the spreading of the spirit of love, brotherhood and tolerance.”

The story of Farhad reminds me of the Muslim taxi driver I met recently when I took a taxi from my home to Sydney, (Australia) airport.

When I got into the taxi, I noticed that the mandatory photo, driver’s name and taxi registration number was not on the front windscreen. A proverbial “red flag” went up and I felt led by the Lord to ask the driver his name. The way I said it was “my name is Ron, what is yours?” It was obvious from his response, he did not want to tell me. I persisted and he eventually blurted out. “it’s Mohammed and I am ashamed to be a Muslim.”

Woops! “Why is that Mohammed?” I said. He asked me if I had seen this picture. He could not get the image out of his mind and the thought that Allah would want these 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded because they would not renounce Jesus. I felt led to respond with, “You know what Mohammed, God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbour as our self.” I then put my hand on his shoulder and said, “God calls me to love you Mohammed”. Well, I almost didn’t get to the airport. Mohamed cried out “That’s it! That’s it! and we almost mounted the footpath. It was like the light went on for Mohammed, this is the God I want to serve. When we got to the airport, Mohammed did not want me to go so I gave him my business card and told him to contact me when he was next in the area where I live.

How many other Muslims must be wrestling with the same issues about a god of death, definitely not a god of love.

JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH

Another video from Torben that will encourage you as to what God is doing to build His church. Listen to the testimonies of three young people who were sent out as Jesus sent His disciples with no money, no two pairs of shoes. They were to be dependent upon God as provider, and their instruction was to find a person of peace in the town who would invite them into their home. Who is the person of peace – one whom the Holy Spirit is already at work in their life. Jesus told them to stay in that at home and bless them and train them. The stories are powerful and an inspiration for us all to do likewise.

CHRISTIANS TO RECLAIM MARDI GRAS ORIGINS

Sydney Easter Parade and Family Day director Ben Irawan said from this year, the parade would brand itself as a “mardi gras for Christians”. Report in the Weekend Australian March 2nd, 2018.

Any move to get Christians out into the community to share the GOOD NEWS of Easter – JESUS IS RISEN and HE IS COMING BACK TO RULE & REIGN should be applauded and supported.

Ben said, “they expect 10,000 people to march and dance through the city on Easter Monday and they were out to reclaim the Christian origins of the celebration. We don’t want to oppose or contend with the gay mardi gras, but I want Christians to be able to celebrate and take some ownership of what was originally a Christian feast day before lent,” he said.

The Sydney Easter Parade will push to reclaim the Christian origins of mardi gras.

This Sunday March 4th, about 15,000 people are expected to take part in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary and is expected to draw more than 300,000 spectators.

Mardi gras, or “Fat Tuesday” traces is origins to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From there, it followed France to its colonies, and became most famous in New Orleans, first as an elegant society ball and then as the colourful, voodoo-infused parade of today.

Mr Irawan said the Easter mardi gras was open to Christians of all denominations, as well as non-Christians who wanted a fun and colourful family day out.

“We have giant inflatables, things like Noah’s ark and letters spelling ‘HOPE’ 4m high,” he said. We have marching bands, dancers, colourful costumes. So it really is a mardi gras already, but we want to make the connection more strongly.”

Mr Irawan, a marketing and events expert, is also the pastor of Life Centre International church in Sydney and Wollongong, as well as senior strategy adviser in NSW for Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives.

 

THE MAN BEHIND MR. ETERNITY!

The Australian evangelist John G. Ridley was a purpose-driven communicator and a painter of word-pictures whose pen was mighty, because of the sword of the spirit. He was not one to shy away from confronting his hearers with the truth of their eternal life and challenging their hearts to trust his everlasting Lord. He sowed faithfulness to the message of salvation here on earth and reaped fruitfulness in the ministry and service for time and eternity.

And speaking of eternity, God used his preaching to influence Arthur Stace (Mr. Eternity) to go out and write the word Eternity on the streets of Sydney and beyond.

Image result for picture of Eternity on Sydney Harbour bridge
Here is a little of what happened. It was a Sunday night November 14th at the Burton Street Baptist Tabernacle, Darlinghurst, Sydney, where John was preaching his now famous message  “The Echoes of Eternity”. 

The veteran evangelist stood with the power of scripture in his hand and the love of Christ in his heart and stressed the word Eternity. He pointed out how the Echoes of Eternity are heard not only in Creation and the Christian but also in The Cross .
Then suddenly, laying his prepared notes aside and seemingly in an impromptu fashion, the highly disciplined soldier-like preacher, raised his loud voice and cried: “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity.” 

Arthur Stace converted  to Christ at the  St Barnabas Church, Broadway in Sydney a few years before, was one of many in the large congregation that God-ordained night. “Eternity went ringing through my brain” was Stace’s statement” and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and outside the church, I bent down right there and wrote it…. The funny thing is that before I wrote it, I could hardly write my own name. I had no schooling, and I couldn’t have spelt  for a hundred quid. But it came out smoothly, in a beautiful copperplate script. I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t.”

Arthur knew this was God’s task for him and rain or shine he faithfully went out six nights a week to write Eternity on the streets of Sydney until  the very night God took Arthur home. God powerfully used Arthur’s faithfulness to impact the lives of many for Jesus Christ.