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An Infographic about Evangelism (credit goes to Randy Newman)

In his book Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, Randy Newman got me thinking about evangelism in a new way. I tried putting it into an infographic; let me know if it’s helpful.

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How does the gospel change everything?

For the past few months, I’ve mostly been stumped when trying to articulate what I mean by this claim: the gospel changes everything. In my head and heart, there is no better or more comprehensive way to describe why the Jesus makes so much sense to me and why living with Him energizes and motivates me.

I first heard this claim while a member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, but they certainly didn’t coin it. However, in a newsletter article titled ” Covenant Renewal and Redeemer’s DNA,” Tim Keller does a good job of getting me closer to understanding what it means for the gospel to change everything.

Series: #4 Using the Lord’s Prayer to Pray — “Hallowed be thy Name”

The next segment of the Lord’s Prayer — “hallowed by they name” — is easy for me, in my selfishness, to pass by quickly. Yet, in placing this prayer here, Jesus is reminding us that life isn’t about us–it’s about God. If you look at the scope of the cosmos or even at the age of our planet (regardless of what age you subscribe to), you’ll see that our 70-ish years of existence here alongside 6 billion or so other living souls is not even a blink of an eye! Yet, the beauty of the gospel is that God invites us into the bigger story — the story about Him and His love. That’s why this is such a beautiful part of the prayer — it reminds us of what our lives need to be about in order for them to be life at all.

Series: #3 Using the Lord’s Prayer to Pray — “Who Art in Heaven”

The phrase “Who art in heaven” reminds us how far God is above us. It brings to mind this passage from Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts (55:8-9).

When we pray, we are approaching our Father, but we’re also approaching our Maker. We’re approaching someone who, as much as we like to think of Him as being like us, is actually unimaginably higher than us. His sense of everything–justice, love, mercy, forgiveness, life, death, creativity, art, history, literature–is all infinitely higher than ours.

And so, in this second segment of the Lord’s Prayer, we’re given a joyful humility.

Series: #2 Using the Lord’s Prayer to Pray — “Our Father”

The first two words of the Lord’s prayer remind me of two rich truths:

“Our” reminds me that I am not a Christian in a vacuum. I am part of a family of believers. This prompts me to remember others in my prayers.

“Father” reminds me of the gospel–that, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, I am able to refer to the Almighty God by the same name His Son uses. And it’s not just any name: that God is my Father changes everything about my life. I am an adopted son, and that means I no longer need to fear for my security or seek unreliable sources of affirmation. From God, I am constantly secure and constantly affirmed. My identity no longer rests in what I do, but in what Christ has done.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the riches of these two words in the Lord’s Prayer, but I hope these brief thoughts give some clarity on how rich this prayer is as a template.

Series: #1 Using the Lord’s Prayer

I grew up going to Catholic mass, so the Lord’s Prayer (or the “Our Father”; see the prayer in Matthew 6:5-15) was one of the first non-musical pieces of writing that I memorized growing up. Yet, for most of my life, this was nothing more than something we recited in unison during the mass with our hands joined. I liked the hand-joining, and I still do think it makes sense (the first word of the prayer is “Our”).

But the Lord’s Prayer has become a rich source of personal connection to God for me, largely due to Stephen Smallman’s book The Walk: Steps for New and Renewed Followers of Jesus. In the book, Smallman walks believers new and old through some of the basics of our faith–I commend the book to you for personal or group study.

Now, back to the Lord’s Prayer. I think when Jesus gave us this prayer, He gave us a template for guiding us during times of prayer, and it’s a template that, like the gospel, we don’t outgrow.

I believe that each segment of the Lord’s prayer is useful for guiding us in our times of prayer. In this series, I’d like to explore that idea.

The Premise of Tim Keller’s latest book, King’s Cross

As I flipped back through the marked-up pages of my copy of King’s Cross, by Tim Keller, I found one passage that described the Gospel and it’s relevance in an appropriately all-encompassing manner. In describing what King’s Cross is about, Keller pointed to

“the historical Christian premise that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the central event of cosmic and human history as well as the central organizing principle of our own lives. Said another way, the whole story of the world–and of how we fit into it–is most clearly understood through a careful, direct look at the story of Jesus. My purpose here is to show, through his words and actions, how beautifully his life makes sense of ours” (p. x).

Some notes:

  • “historical Christian premise” — this isn’t a new idea; the all-encompassing nature of Jesus is not ground-breaking
  • “the central event of cosmic and human history” — the proportion of what Jesus did isn’t limited to my personal life or even the whole of human history; the entire universe resounds with Jesus Christ’s sacrifice
  • “the central organizing principle” — I believe Keller is here referring to the Gospel; though, in good fashion, he does not refer to it as “the Gospel” until he has explained, in a later chapter, what that word means. It is refreshing to hear it described in a way that would be intelligible to outsiders. I might say a hundred times, “The Gospel changes everything,” and not one of those times would that make sense to someone who has a different meaning attached to the word Gospel. Communicating in various ways is a strength worth investing in