Proverbs in Light of the Cross; Winning Souls

I am writing tonight from  the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30.
Let those who have been trained for service now take their places quickly in the Lord’s work. House-to-house laborers are needed. The Lord calls for decided efforts to be put forth in places where the people know nothing of the truth. Singing and prayer and Bible readings are needed in the homes of the people. Now, just now, is the time to obey the commission, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Those who do this work must have a ready knowledge of the Scriptures. “It is written” is to be their weapon of defense.
God has given us light on His Word that we may give it to our fellow men. The truth spoken by Christ will reach hearts. A “Thus saith the Lord” will fall upon the ear with power, and fruit will appear wherever honest service is done.
The Lord calls for action. . . . Should we neglect to take advantage of this time, we should miss a great opportunity for letting light from God’s Word shine forth. The trumpet is to give a certain sound.
Say to the people: “Know for yourselves of the doctrine.” Let not your lips utter a sentence of doubt. Do not come before the people with an uncertain sound. Know what is truth and proclaim truth. Christ’s teaching was always positive in its nature. Never, never utter sentiments of doubt. Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ.
Christ’s divinity is to be steadfastly maintained. When the Saviour asked His disciples the question, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16). Said Christ, “Upon this rock,” not on Peter, but on the Son of God, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (verse 18).
Great is the mystery of godliness. There are mysteries in the life of Christ that are to be believed, even though they cannot be explained.–Ellen White in a Letter 65, Feb. 13, 1905, to A. T. Jones, a prominent minister. 

You can study more about proverbs here.

What’s So Different About a New Believer’s Sabbath School Class?

I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area, where my New Believers Sabbath School class loves to have class at parks near the beach sometimes.

I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area, where my New Believers Sabbath School class loves to have class at parks near the beach sometimes.

 The Sabbath school should be one of the greatest instrumentalities, and the most effectual, in bringing souls to Christ.-Ellen White, Counsels on Sabbath School Works, Page 10

A few seasoned Adventists think of Sabbath School as a place where they like to “spar” and debate with their fellow seasoned Adventist friends about the 144,000 being a symbolic or literal number, or whether Jesus came with a prelapsarian nature or postlapsarian nature. Surprisingly enough, that is not the purpose of Sabbath School. The purpose of Sabbath school is to introduce people to Jesus who do not know Him.

While the worship service is orientated for believers, the Sabbath School is designed for evangelism. There were no Sabbath Schools as such in Bible times. Seventh-day Adventists got the idea for Sabbath School from the protestant Sunday Schools which began in Great Britain in the 1780’s as a way to teach poor children to read and learn the Bible.*  As the Bible Worker for the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, I lead out in our New Believer’s Sabbath School class. The sole purpose of this class is to lead new believer’s or seekers to Jesus.

What Makes a New Believer’s SS Class Different From All The Rest?

1. Curriculum: While we have at times used the regular SS quarterly, when it is based on themes for evangelism, we mostly use lessons to help introduce people to Jesus and basic Bible teachings. our class has enjoyed the In Light of the Cross Study Guides, which are also available with the New Living Translation and inSpanish. These lessons present our basic Bible teachings in the light of the cross, and avoid legalism while preserving Bible standards. I have heard from other churches in Florida as well as a few around the world telling me these lessons have been greatly appreciated in their classes for new believers. I developed the New Living Translation edition, when I realized how many of my immigrant Bible students were having trouble reading English, let alone 17th century English. We have also used the Growth Group Dialogues by Pastor Denis Sand.

2. Setting: While Sabbath Schools are not found in the Bible home churches are. We try to give our classroom a home feeling, with comfortable chairs or couches. We sit in a circle, which encourages members to feel comfortable sharing questions related to the study. When you sit in rows with the speaker up front, it makes people feel like they are in the worship service, and should not talk or ask questions. I have visited churches where the Sabbath School was is the sanctuary, and I left feeling like I heard two sermons and had no Sabbath School.

3. Conversation: We begin each class with the members sharing one high, which is something good that happened that week, and one low, which is something not so good that happened that week. Or we just ask for praise reports and prayer requests. I have assigned a member to write down the prayer requests and e-mail them to the class in the middle of the week to remind us to keep praying for them. At one time we had a praise team leader who led out in a couple of songs before our study time, but they left us to start their own young adult class which is growing by leaps and bounds. Often times we will use ice breaker questions to lead into the study. This does not detract from the study time. People learn more from a study when they feel like they are a part of it, and have invested themselves into the lesson. Conversation time is important to the study. Jesus did not learn about His interests while He was lecturing them, but rather while He was visiting with them. Earlier this year I was holding a prophecy seminar, which was basically a lecture. I invited my prophecy seminar members to join a Bible study growth group I was starting, and am I glad I did! The prophecy members mentioned how much better we were all getting to know and understand each other in the Bible study group. That never would have happened in the prophecy class where I lecture, and yet it’s very important to understand people’s backgrounds and ways of thinking when discussing something as crucial as Prophecy. So now you can see why conversation time is so important in a new believer’s Sabbath School class. So what happens when a new believer becomes a seasoned believer? We have a spiritual gifts Sabbath school class where the teacher gives my new members an invite when they are not so new anymore. This helps them find where they are best orientated to serve in the church. I like the teacher of the next class inviting them instead of me, as I could never ask someone to leave my class. I love them too much and of course we always remain friends! Now some take the invite, others, after baptism go looking for a new class on their own. Still others remain in my class as mentors and even co-facilitators. I think it is important to keep some seasoned members in my new believer’s class to help mentor the new ones.

4. Social: The new believer’s class is a family. We study together, pray together, and socialize together. The New Believer’s class is for all ages. We have socials where teens and senior citizens are playing games together and forming friendships that flow over into Bible study. One week, when I was preaching elsewhere and no adults would volunteer to teach the class, I had a middle school girl lead out. When I came back the next week, I found out that she had brought muffins for everyone and led out in a tremendous Bible study presentation. Suddenly I was not the most popular teacher anymore as she could teach and bake! Outside of class we go to classical concerts together, ball games and enjoy lunches and get togethers in each others homes.

If your church does not already have a class for new believers or seekers, you may ask God if He wants you to start one. Why not talk to your pastor and Sabbath School superintendent about it today? But remember, all Sabbath Schools are intended to be used to win souls for Jesus. Are you making sure your class is seeker friendly and winning souls for Jesus?

*http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/asktheexpert/whendidsundayschoolstart.html

Twenty Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Bible Work

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While I became a literature evangelist in 1990, it just occurred to me, that it has now been 20 years since I first became a Bible Worker in the Owasso-Claremore district of the Oklahoma Seventh-day Adventist Conference in 1993. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and through the baptisteries since then, and over time I would like to share some of my experiences over the last twenty years. Tonight, I would like to begin with a list of twenty things I have learned in twenty years of Bible Work. Please enjoy.

Twenty Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years

 1. Don’t take it personally when people love you. That’s right when they love you. After leaving a district in Oklahoma, I went to work in a three church district in the Fort Worth-West Texas area. Everyone loved and supported me so much I started thinking I was a good Bible Worker. Fact is I was very inexperienced and was making mistakes left and right. After a few years I finally woke up and realized, these people don’t love me because I am good Bible Worker, they love me because they are kindhearted loving people. They were so good they could love anybody. Even me.  Lesson learned: Just because people love you, it doesn’t mean you are good.

2. Ask people if they like to read out loud before you ask them to read a Bible verse. You would not believe how many adults can’t read well or at all. Don’t embarrass them.

3. Don’t assume people know where the books of the Bible are. You may know where to find Main Street in your hometown, but that’s because you grew up there.

4. Try to keep your Bible Studies just under an hour. Even less for kids and teens. Leave them wanting more, instead of just wanting you to leave. If they keep asking questions, that’s fine. You can stay longer.

5. Don’t send people on a guilt trip for missing or cancelling a Bible study. When they call and say “we are just too tired” tell them to get plenty of rest, have a good week and you will see them next week.

6. Be flexible. I am a Bible Worker. That means I teach the Bible and encourage my Bible students to search the Scriptures and do their lessons. At the same time I have learned that I also have to be prepared to not give a Bible study. A while back I was studying with a lady who would meet me after work and talk about her work problems, before I would finally stop her and begin the study. One week we met and I decided I was just going to listen and not say a word until she quit talking. About an hour later she stopped talking. I had a prayer and she went home happy. Another time I was studying with a married couple who had toddlers and a lot of stress. After several weeks of studies, I told them the next week when I came by, instead of having a Bible Study I would be taking them out to eat at the local Mexican Restaurant, nothing fancy. They got grandma to babysit and when I picked them up they were all dressed up like we were going someplace ritzy. I don’t know how long it had been since they had a night out, but it turned out to mean more to them than I imagined.

7. Ask your Bible students to do three or four lessons a week, so maybe they will do at least one.

8. Be very punctual and dependable with your appointments, but if you have an appointment tonight with someone who has already stood you up three times in a row, and someone else calls and says they have free tickets to tonight’s game, go to the game. Odds are your appointment was going to fall through anyway. Nothing I hate more than turning down an invite so I can keep an appointment with someone who is going to stand me up. Of course don’t stand them up. Call and reschedule.

9. In the past, a new Bible study student would call and talk my ear off while my dinner grew cold, about his theory of UFOs and Martian invasions. I don’t let that happen anymore. I finally realize the difference between people God has put in my path, and people Satan has put in my path just to distract me from the people God has put in my path.

10. If a woman calls you at 12:30 in the morning, and says, “I would not have called this late, but I just drove by your place, and saw your lights on,” be sure you keep your distance from this woman.

11. Don’t take money from a woman who takes you out to eat, and then tries to slip you $100.00 for gas for your car and ministry. Believe me.  It’s not really for gas or your ministry. I found that out when she called me at 12:30 in the morning when she “just happened to be passing by my place.”  Dodged that bullet. Thank you Jesus!

12. I know you are not going to believe me, but I am going to tell you anyway because it’s the truth. Whenever someone mails in a Bible Study request card, do not call them! Just show up at their house. You will never get an initial Bible study appointment from calling them first. Never. I have been doing this 20 years and I swear it never works! You can call and ask if they want Bible studies, and then just tell them you will drop them by sometime, but if you try to set up an initial visit over the phone it will never work! Never! Let me guess, you are still going to call aren’t you? Okay, don’t be surprised if 20 years later it has never worked.

13. When you get a request for Bible studies 100 miles away, just mail the request to a church in that area. However, if they are 15 miles or so away, go see them yourself, even if it is just outside your area. Don’t mail the card to the church in that area. I hate to say it, but odds are nothing is going to happen with it. Do it yourself so you know it’s been done. If the people are interested and you get a study going, and decide it’s too far away for you to drive, invite someone from that church in the actual area to come with you a couple times, and then they take over the study.

14. Don’t let people send you on guilt trips for not doing tasks they should be doing. You don’t have to do everything that the church needs done. I bet other people go to your church besides just you, so why are you doing all the work? Because no one else will do it? That doesn’t make it your problem. You are not the Savior of the world, so don’t let people lay that responsibility on you.

15. Jesus is your pastor. The first thing I noticed working in a three church district was, I was always where the Lead pastor was not. I felt like I did not have a pastor, until an elderly mentor pointed out to me that psalms 23:1 says the Lord is my pastor. (Shepherd in English, Pastor in Spanish. Same thing.) When Samuel died in the middle of David’s crisis with Saul, David wondered who was going to help him now. In psalms 121 he declared God would be His helper.

16. Write down where you preach each sermon. It’s so embarrassing to preach the same sermon twice in the same church.

17. Be leery of the church member who keeps boasting all the time about being vegan. Like the car salesman who keeps talking about the nice stereo, hoping you will like the stereo so much, that you won’t notice the car has no tires, so the member boasting about their diet is hoping to divert your attention so you won’t notice their porn addiction.

18. Don’t waste so much time trying to make other people interested in the Bible, that you neglect the people who already are interested.

19. Whenever you enter a home, unless you are sure the entire family knows you are there, try to sit with your back to the hallway. Just trust me on this.

20. A good night’s sleep will solve most of your problems. A lot of the things that worry you are not even worth worrying about. They are just little distractions trying to get your mind off the big picture and greater purpose of your ministry. Instead of obsessing over things, keep busy and play a little golf to keep things balanced. The more balanced your routine the less you will find yourself obsessing over things.