Ministry We Need (Abridge-ment of The Reformed Pastor) Richard Baxter
“How to Win Friends and
Influence People” - For Jesus!
Part Three of Six
James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of
the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23. For if any be a
hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural
face in a glass:24. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway
forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law
of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer
of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Presidents and Prophets
Everyone needs to experience the risen Jesus! All deserve the opportunity to accept him or reject him! For the time is almost upon us when "every knee must bow," whether the persons who own the knees are ready or not! And those of us who have been changed by Him can hardly keep quiet about what He has done for us.
President Bush is a Methodist who is never afraid to give his testimony. But unlike many other presidents who profess religion, Bush’s words seem not to be mere lip service, but heart-felt. Part of his testimony includes these words:
“I had always been a religious person, had regularly attended church, even taught Sunday school and served as an altar boy. But that weekend (when Billy Graham was in our home), my faith took on a new meaning. It was the beginning of a new walk where I would recommit my heart to Jesus Christ. I was humbled to learn that God sent His Son to die for a sinner like me.”
Before President Bush, President Clinton, who is hardly known as an evangelical, confessed to ABC News in 1994 that he considered himself a person who has
“sinned, ... sought forgiveness, searched for redemption, and is struggling to grow and to find the guidance of God in this job. I do not believe I could do my job as president, much less continue to grow as a person, in the absence of my faith in God.”
President Clinton, no matter how we judge his character or morals, did something many pew-bound believers would never do, i.e. give a public testimony to his faith. Has Jesus’ path crossed yours? Made a difference? Have you told anyone? Clinton told the whole world. How many have you told? ...
Well then, how are our people supposed to live if we don’t share life? We want someone to go out, but we can’t send Billy Graham next door to share our stories. We’re like the rich man in hell: we’d rather pay someone to do it than do it ourselves: pay the preacher, pay the poor missionary, pay for air-time, pay for cassette tapes, but get a good bargain. But the eternal destinies of those we care for are at stake, and “they must hear the word of life only we can share; for people need the Lord.” James told us:
James 1:22-24 But be doers of the word and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24. for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.
Who are we? Have we forgotten? We are children of Yahweh, the creator of the universe, bought and paid for by the blood of the kindest man who ever lived; and we’re here on a mission for him. The mirror we appear in is the perfect law of Yahweh, which he placed there through a miracle of conversion to save us. James says,
25. Those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act--they will be blessed in their doing.
It's easy to speak for Jesus if we know who we are in Jesus; we’re not what see in the mirror. We look like the old person, dress like the old boy, but we certainly know inside that we’re changed. And we’re so glad that whether we can “talk good” or not, we still “gotta tell somebody!”
PRAYER: We believe in you, dear Jesus, for you have made the suffering of humanity your suffering. You came to establish a kingdom of the poor and humble. Today we sing to you, because you are alive, you have saved us, and you have made us free. Help us to be agents of your name in our community. Amen.
Drug Abuser Converted
"How might we be hearers and doers?" Methods of sharing faith are diverse, some are offensive; others involve a poor understanding. But if we will stick to doing good deeds and sharing our stories in the name of Jesus, Yahweh's grace will break through every single time. Let me tell you – if you step out, you may stumble, but you’ll never fail.
Let me give you a perfect example faith sharing. A man came to me and offered me a little ministry gift. I thanked him then we began talking. The man told me he had been hopelessly addicted to a dangerous drug. He tried every way to get free, but he couldn't. In desperation, he dropped to his knees in prayer and dedicated the rest of his life to serve Jesus. He also asked Jesus to deliver him from his addiction. Jesus met him in his prayer and miraculously took away the craving. He was healed that very day fifteen years before and hasn't used the drug since. I was touched by his willingness to share his experience and give the glory to Jesus. And though his speech was plain and unsophisticated, his story was powerful!
Let’s look at his testimony piece-by-piece; he
(1) did a good deed,
(2) shared his story and
(3) named his Savior.
Doing the Deed
A great way to break ice is to do something nice. That’s charity. We learned all about charity the last time. Remember the definition? “Charity (or love or agape) lives in order to die to self to care for another, spend for another, giving itself away for the sake of the beloved.”
The man gave me a gift; he committed an act of charity. It was hard for me to learn to accept charity. By not accepting charity, we steal a heavenly blessing from a cheerful giver. If someone has refused your gift, you know how it hurts. Jesus himself gave money and other things regularly to those he loved, and he also accepted charity. Jesus asked for favors too, like, “Lady, give me a drink.” Doing a good deed or asking a favor is a perfect way to open a heart to your story.
Sharing the Story
The ex-drug addict then shared his story – how he had become free of drug addiction. This is the second aspect of faith sharing: tell your story.
We used to call it “witnessing”; now we call it “faith sharing.” Dr. Morris of The World Methodist Evangelism Institute coined the term and wrote a very popular book by the same title: “Faith Sharing.” This series of messages is based on that book. Why do we need a new term for “witnessing”? Because “witnessing” has come to be known as cornering somebody then beating them with Bible passages or condemning them before they have heard the truth. Dr. Morris defines “faith sharing” this way: “spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven by word and deed, then waiting in respectful humility and working with expectant hope.” I really like that. It takes the pressure off entirely.
What faith sharing does not mean is “to make converts.” Nobody can do that but Yahweh. What we as faith sharers can do is to share the stories of our encounters with Jesus, as did the shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem. These first faith sharers were lowly, poor, uneducated Bedouins who, when they beheld the child, “noised it abroad what they had seen to whoever would listen.” If Bedouins can share their stories, so can we! We have our stories too! They’re good stories.
One day a lady criticized Dwight Moody to his face for his pushy witnessing. Moody's reply was, "I agree with you. I don't like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?" The lady replied, "I don't do it." Moody told her, "Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it." We share our stories in our own ways, whatever they are, out of our love for our Savior and our concern for lost friends and family! Then we wait with expectancy.
Naming the Name
Yet there’s more. The name of Yahshua (Jesus) of Nazareth is named and glory for your story given him,
for there is salvation in no one else since there is no other name under heaven by which we may be saved! (Acts 4:12)
For it is
in the name of Jesus all might bend a knee, all in heavenly places, and on earth, even under the earth; also, every tongue might profess that Yahshua Messiah is the Master to the glory of Yahweh Father. (Philippians 2:10-11, literal translation)
Remember that the ex-drug addict gave Jesus full credit and confessed his name without shame.
Sharing our stories are edifying; doing our deeds make the world a better place; but conversion can't result from our storytelling unless we name the name! And that name is __________. People out there are not ashamed to name that name as a curse! Are we ashamed to name him as a blessing? You’re not ashamed of him, are you? Of course not. But if you are, you may just not be fully converted yet. But you will learn that it is only through the name of Yahshua (Jesus) that a child of Satan may be reborn as a child of Yahweh and live in him eternally. Pray for boldness!
One Final Ingredient - Issuing the Invitation
There is yet a fourth requirement to complete our sharing: an invitation. If the ex-drug addict thought I didn't know the Father, he might have said, "Friend, Jesus healed me and he can heal you. All you have to do is ask him to in prayer. Let’s pray." That's all it takes for an invitation. If that’s too bold a move, you may ask your friend to sit with you in church. You may hand him a tape. No harassing, no arguments, no embarrassment, no hellfire. The Holy Spirit will see to it; and if you ask someone to come, hold her to it! Remind her of it! Pick her up! Pray with her. Read a prayer out of a book. It’s not hard to do.
Practice makes perfect. Rehearse your testimony in your mind. Rehearse your invitation or prayer a few times. The mind is the best place to practice. Just sit and think; let the Spirit show you who is yours, who is receptive. Then play it all out in your mind. See Jesus there, too, because he’ll be with you when you act out your rehearsal. Do you think I just have natural ability to come in here and play this Piano day after day? (The writer is a church musician.) No! When you’re not here, I rehearse, though I rehearse mostly in my mind. And you can too – you can invite and pray with others.
Father Yahweh Will Do the Rest
At this point, you have given Yahweh’s grace every opportunity to break through that hard shell to begin the process of conversion. You do your part and the Holy Spirit will do his. I want to end by telling you about one of the most powerful cases of faith sharing I’ve ever heard. As I relate it, listen for the deed, the story, the name and the invitation:
Arthur was released from prison at age 53. He had spent 42 years behind bars, beginning at age 11. 24 years were in solitary. Seventeen months were on death row. He started a prison riot, broke a guard's arm, another's collarbone and killed a sheriff. He stole 40 pounds of cyanide and tried to poison the entire prison staff. Afterward, he spent 31 months at Devil's Island in a 5x7 cell, chained by the neck.
In Leavenworth, a preacher came and brought his 14-year-old son, Tim. As he followed his father down the row of cells, Tim stopped before Arthur's cell, smiled and winked at him. That's all it took. Arthur called the boy back and began to curse him, calling him every filthy name ever invented. The boy broke down in tears but he stood his ground. When the barrage was over, Tim told Arthur, "I love you and Jesus loves you." Arthur said later, "That was the first time in my life anyone ever told me that."
Arthur began receiving letters from Tim. Tim would share stories of what Jesus was doing in his life. He told Arthur that he was praying for him. This letter writing went on for seven years. He wore Arthur down. The Holy Spirit broke in through all those layers of depravity, violence and hatred. Arthur said, "Every letter was stained with the boy’s tears. I couldn't take it anymore. I fell on my knees and came to Jesus." Arthur was later released from prison to live as a witness to the courage of one boy, sharing his story of the converting power and infinite patience of the Savior.
The impressive character here is not the convict, but the teenager! Tim was both on his knees and living in expectation of the convict's eventual conversion. And then it finally happened. The act of faith sharing is the easy part, but the praying and the waiting is powerful spiritual work. It may take you some time, but it’s the Father's business to take your resources and make conversions out of them.
What's Under There?
I'm sure we'd be more dedicated to faith sharing if we could see people as Jesus must see them. For he doesn't only see what a person does or is, he also sees what a person might become. Jesus sees not only the actualities, but also the possibilities. Jesus might say, "If only my children would tell others of me, I could help so many more find their true identity and fulfill their true destiny."
Here’s an old story every preacher who ever lived knows, but it’s a perfect match for how Yahweh sees each person: Michelangelo was chiseling away at a huge shapeless piece of marble. Someone asked him what he was doing. He replied, "I am releasing the angel imprisoned in this marble." Isn’t that a nice thought? Let us likewise put forth the effort to release captive angels by
Doing the Deed, Sharing the Story, Naming the Name, and Issuing the Invitation.
And you can do it if you’ll only resolve to do it. And you’ll succeed with the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit. Amein.
 Adapted from Faith-sharing by George Morris / Eddie Fox and first preached July 24, 1994, updated November 3, 1997, May 15, 2003.
 U.S. News and World Report April 4, 1994.
 UMBOW, p. 511.
 Quote from Dwight Small (paraphrased).