Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tomorrow

I just finished preparing the message for tomorrow. Seriously. I don't think I've ever spent so many hours on one message and felt like I had so little to say. I'll continue to pray, but after being up til 3 last night on it, I don't think I can make more changes. Father, use that platform tomorrow as you wish. Let your Word speak through me and let us see the future of Bent Tree as you would direct.

21 comments:

sekondstory said...

So how did it go?

Johnny T said...

Maybe it's still going.

Wendy said...

our last service isn't over until 7:30, so he still isn't home, but he did a great job.

texnartist said...

Steve,

I goto Bent Tree and I sat through your message tonight. I have a few questions for you. May I be so bold as to simply say the reason so many Christians don't act like Christians is because they are not Christians. Sir there are tares among the wheat. I am offended that we suggest the one true and living God is incapable of changing lives from the inside out. That is really what we are saying when we try and rally the troops to "act" more Christian. "Restore the trust?" You are kidding right. How about intorducing people to Christ and watch happens when people are soundly saved and watch the sparks fly when people come face to face with the transfoming power of Christ. Tell me to introduce my seeker friends to our message in a non-threating way. Is our message threating? Is Hell threating?

Please sir, examine this message that the link is attached to...

I long to take you to lunch once you have seen it.

http://www.livingwaters.com/learn/hellsbestkeptsecret.htm

Thank you,

Cody

deersnake said...

If I hadn't said it enough by now, today was awesome.

IMO the church has struggled and continues to struggle with Acts 15:19 ("It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.").

Growing up around Christians I saw a lot of judgmentalism & self-righteousness and I still see it today. I have a gay friend and I'm embarassed to say that I'm afraid to invite her to church - and not because I'm embarassed by my friend.

Where I think some churches have missed Martin Luther's point many years after the Reformation, I think many churches are missing the point of what it means to be a Christian - love. There's a song that's popular today that has some lyrics that go something like - "Christ sacrifised too much for us to pick and choose who should come...."

Right on and rock on. I could have listened to another hour this morning. Not bad for a country boy from Tennessee - you're not going to fool anyone anymore with that ruse.

And this only touches on part of it. I'll save the rest for lunch or something so nobody else has to listen to me ramble on.

texnartist said...

I want to be careful with my above post. I need to clarify my "restore the trust" you have to be kidding statement.

Your double chasm illustration was troubling to me. Salvation is of the Lord, to suggest that I need to do anything in any way so that God is free to save some one deeply concerns me.

I can be faithful to my responsibility and tell the world about, sin, judgement, God's justice, God's wrath, and God's Love but to suggest anything other than that scares me. I need to do works in my community and bridge the first chasm to free God up to bridge the second???????

In your sermon you had just talked about Jews claiming that man had to be circumcised plus Jesus to be saved.

You at the end of your sermon said I have to "restore the trust" and cross the first chasm so God can cross the second.

Steve said...

Texnartist,

Of course I don't believe I have to do something so that God can save someone. My point is that I may have to demonstrate genuine love so that they will even give me an opportunity to speak. Most are tired of listening and simply slam the door. Sure, we could argue that they are then making their choice, but I think there's room for truth being "seasoned with salt."

Steve said...

Cody,
I enjoyed the video and pretty well agree with the whole thing although. David Brainerd used a very similar approach with Native americans in the 1700's. He would sometimes go for weeks preaching judgment before he would finally present the gospel. My only caveat (and I think you agree from what you said) is in remembering that their salvation doesn't depend on how clever my argument is or how skilled I am--it depends on the spirit of God both drawing them and closing the deal.

texnartist said...

If someone was in a burning house would you try and coax them out? Or would you yell at them, and if necessary run in and grab them.

Would you be interested in joining us next weekend in the west end, for some open air preaching and handing out some gospel tracks?

texnartist said...

I agree with your statement.

Salvation is of the Lord.

The part that I struggle with is the stony ground converts who think that they are saved but are not. The ones from Matt 7:21 who call upon the name of the Lord and do not enter.

Anyway is the narrow way harder than the broad way to enter?

How about using "by all means so that I may save a few"

Sat 7PM - 10PM West End

No matter what you decide...thanks for clairifying your points from the sermon.

Steve said...

Cody,

I'm tempted, but I won't be able to join you Saturday. I saw some guys in Fort Worth recently who were doing a great job though.

texnartist said...

What did you think about them? Well if you change your mind, you know where to find us.

PS. The double chasm illustration no matter how good the intention needs to go in the trash.

texnartist said...

Take this vision brother.

You standing at the white throne of judgement. Jesus on the Throne, behind him thousands of people who's faces you recognize because they sat under your teaching. In unison they point at you and say. "You never told us that we were lost." You watch as one by one they are cast into hell. Jesus looks into your eyes and says is this the part where I am supposed to say, "well done you good and faithful servant?"

You tell me is that possible? Is it possible to preach anoteher gospel? water the Gospel down in such a way as not to offend our seekers and never tell them the truth?

I strongly encourage you to spend some time on the street with some lost people, who are not in your small groups, who you never get to talk to so you can see the impact of the , "God is Love Only" message. People don't understand his justice and think that because God is only Love, that a loving God would never cast them into hell.

Steve said...

Cody,

I'm not exactly sure why you so quickly label me as a heretic--one who preaches another gospel that lacks God's real justice. I wouldn't waste my time being a pastor if I didn't think the lost were facing judgment.
I'm also not sure why you assume that I "never get to talk to" lost people because I don't travel with you to the West End on the weekends. It might surprise you to learn that lost people are found in many places and I am engaged with them weekly, even though we are at a stage of life where it is very difficult.

If street preaching is the only way to expose people to the gospel, then you might as well give up on me--I do not believe it and won't be convinced and I doubt I could persuade you otherwise as well. If that somehow places us on different teams, then that is unfortunate--I admire your passion.

But,if you want to actually get to know me over lunch and correct some assumptions, then I'm open. It's spruitt at the church's site.org.

sekondstory said...

Steve, you just keep on doing what your doing, I've seen God use you in amazing ways!

Maybe you should explain you have been known to slaughter stuffed lambs to illustrate your point when teaching. :)

Matthew Pascal said...

Cody,

I'd like to comment on a few things going on here. Although I wasn't at Bent Tree this past weekend, and didn't get to here Steve teach, I do want to add some things to this comment thread regarding the "preaching of the Gospel," and furthermore what the Gospel actually is.

I've been living and working among Muslims in the Arab World for the past several years. Upon my arrival into the Arab World I went through what some would call a crisis, trying to figure out what the Gospel actually is, and how much baggage I was bringing into my understanding of Gospel Truth due to my North American cultural upbringing. To keep this somewhat concise, I will give a few short examples of what I have learnt about our presentation of the Gospel to unbelievers.

1. We must always seek to adapt and contextulize the Gospel to our respondant people group, and minimize the amount of unnecessary cultural "christianese" that we often times use that causes major offense to those in which we are seeking to share the Gospel with.

We need look no further then the Apostle Paul to see how this should work. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 lays out Paul's principles and clearly defines what the Bible teaches about contextualizion of the Gospel. Paul's eternal orientation and single-minded focus on seeing the lost saved shaped his methods in how he presented the Gospel. Here are a few quick examples of this:

1. In Acts 16 Paul invited Timothy to join him in his ministry to the Jews. However, before their departure Paul took Timothy and personally circumsized him in order to avoid potentially offending the Jews. (This is because Timothy was born of a mixed marriage - his mother was a Jewish believer and his father a Greek.) So Cody, you have mentioned several times in your comments that we should never do things out of fear of offending nonbelievers. I disagree, and believe that we should seek to minimize how much offense we may cause, and this example of how Paul saught to minimize offending those to whom he was preaching the Gospel is a fine example.

2. Paul went even futher then this in Acts 21:26 when he participated in a Jewish Nazarite vow which included vows that involved the offering of sacrifices. He participated in this as a way to culturally identify himself with those whom he was seeking to present the Gospel to.

3. And yet another example of how Paul used things from his respondent people groups culture to present the Gospel and open up doors for Gospel presentation in non-offensive ways would be his sermon at the Areopagis (Acts 17). In his sermon he quoted from two pagan Greek poets (Aratus and Epimenides) as a way to build a bridge and use cultural elements that these Greek pagans understood as a way to present the Gospel to them.

In looking at these fairly striking examples (and I would encourage you to look at them much more closely) I believe that we can see that adapting the Gospel to our culture, in ways that are less offensive to them, is actually what the Gospel is all about.

God is love. His heart breaks every time someone dies who doesn't know Him and enters into eternity seperated from Him. He desires for us to reach out to the lost, and that is what we are called to do. And we should always strive to do this in ways that will be the most effective. Is our goal to offend? If we have a martyrs complex, then yes this probably is our goal. However, if we truly seek the heart of God and encompass His love and compassion for the lost then I do not think offending people would rank any where close to presenting a loving God to people in a way in which they can understand.

Peace to you brother as you share with unbelievers!

f1rststory said...

matthew...you couldn't have put it better!

Cody...I have known steve for many years and believe he is right on. I have seen him share with "people on the street" and people in church who aren't Christians. i have known him to be one who truly loves people and has a deep concern for those who don;t know Christ. I think your judgement vision about steve is ridiculuos. i encourage you to actually follow through on the lunch thing and learn who steve is and what he stands for. Of course there is only one Gospel. Of course if people don't believe they will go to Hell and of course it is our responsibility as followers of Christ to help unbelievers understand why they will go to Hell. This in no way negates the fact that relationships must first be built in order to reach people more effectively to multiply the Kingdom.

AmberShea said...

Cody, I don't desire to offend or attack you but I just wanted to share this statement with you.
I have heard and I believe that "the message of the Gospel is both incredibly beautiful and incredibly offensive." The gospel is already offensive so I don't think we should attempt to be offensive in sharing it.
I believe that it is our job as followers of Christ to offer the beautiful gospel in an accepting, loving, Christ-like way. I think that the offensive message of Christ needs to be wrapped in a loving presentation. and By "presentation" I mean living in such a way that you are reflecting Christ in every aspect of your life, especially your relationships. Words are so cheap. I don’t think you can share the gospel if the person you are sharing it with cannot see you living it. If you can build a relationship with someone in the time it takes to hand them a piece of paper, and if you can truly know someone ~the things they have been through; the heart of that person~ just by handing them a tract then I am extremely impressed. Guilt and Fear will never truly win someone for Christ.
I have been walking in a relationship with Christ since my freshman year of high school, I would have never understood the concept of Grace if it weren’t for Steve’s teaching in my high school youth group. I am 18 years old and I am attempting to live boldly for Christ. If someone told me that I had to be offensive to truly impact my Non-Christian friends, I would laugh and show them proof that isn’t true. Oh the gospel is Beautiful! Please don’t shove it down someone throat. Christ didn’t – he lived it.

texnartist said...

Please read the posts in the Anchored section.

I have spoken to Steve, we are meeting for lunch.

texnartist said...

AMBERSHA -

Please listen to the below link. This is an Amazing TRUE story.

http://www.livingwaters.com/listen.shtml

All the way at the bottom on the left - listen to the message titled I got off on George Street.

You would be shocked at who has been saved with a Gospel tract.

Kreider said...

Steve, Now that I know that this is the way you hear love, I need to post more!! I listened to the message. Thanks for sending the cd. Be encouraged. You did a nice job. I loved the use of James.

On another front, I know there are people who are saved through "confrontation evangelism." May God bless their efforts. I think, however, that such tactics turn off a lot of people to the gospel. I think there is something to the "they will know we are Christians by our love" thing. Yea, I know, there is the need to warn people about the judgment that they are facing. Yea, I've listened to Hell's Secret and I love it. In fact, I think Comfort is exactly right that most evangelistic techniques today focus on the wrong thing, making life good here and now. We need a parachute because the plane is going to crash!

God bless you for your commitment to him and your proclamation of truth. I'm grateful for you.