One of the most popular Celtic bands in the world is Clannad. Their music has been featured in movies like Patriot Games and Last of the Mohicans. The lead singer with the distinctive, haunting voice is Maire Brennan. She is also the sister of another Celtic superstar, Enya. Maire has released two Christian albums, “Perfect Time” and “Whisper on the Water.” Some assumed that she released the album simply to find a new audience, others assumed she had a recent conversion. Maire tells her story in Today’s Christian Woman. She has actually been a Christian for a little over a decade. Clannad is a family group, but they are treated like rock stars and for a time Maire lived like a rock star. She gave that lifestyle up for faith and family. She has a fine Christian family. She and her husband play in their church’s worship team. While worried that some assume that since she sings Celtic music she must be a druid or a pagan, Maire has enjoyed the opportunity her music gives her to reach seekers with the message of Jesus Christ. She says people are “hungry for depth or meaning in their lives. They’re looking for ‘spirituality,’ without knowing what that means.” We are not all musicians or preachers, but we can all be Christ’s representatives in our chosen occupation.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching September/October 2003

 

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According to the book Signfica, by Irving Wallace, a man named William Phelps Eno can be called the father of traffic safety. When he was born, there were no automobiles, but Eno watched as horses gave way to carriages, which gave way to automobiles. He wrote numerous articles on traffic safety and practical traffic patterns. He even established a non-profit organization to study traffic safety. The great irony is that Phelps himself never learned to drive a car. How many churches and preachers talk about evangelism, attend seminars or write about evangelism and never really evangelize?

-Michael Shannon, Preaching January/February 2002

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Congressman and former Olympic great Jim Ryun (along with sons, Ned and Drew) has written a book entitled, Heroes Among Us. Among the fascinating character sketches is the story of C.T. Studd. Studd lived about the turn of the 20th century. He was considered a great professional cricketer and was going to inherit a large fortune. He gave up a professional sports career and gave away most of his inheritance. He gave his life to mission work in China and Africa. His health suffered, but not his commitment to bring people to Christ.

He lived out the line from his own poem, “Some want to live with in the sound of church or chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” When he died in July of 1931, his last word was, “Hallelujah.” Studd never regretting running the rescue shop.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching March/April 2003

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In Soulguide Bruce Demarest tells of Dateline NBC’s report on Boston oncologist Dr. Jerome Groopman. Dateline followed the doctor for two years as he attempted to save the lives of Gene, who suffered from AIDS and Elizabeth, who suffered from breast cancer. As the patients were treated, Dr. Groopman grew in intimacy with them. After watching them eventually lose their lives to their diseases, he concluded: “‘If you care for someone without addressing his or her soul, you’re not really caring for them'” (p. 35).

Is the same not true for the Christian who walks among the spiritually dead of this world? If we meet material and emotional needs, but never address the spiritual need, then we’re not really caring for them.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching September/October 2002

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It’s a fish story, but journalists have verified it. Jim Cone was boating on the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina when a Spanish mackerel jumped into his boat. It grazed his daughter’s head and landed in his wife’s lap. Other that a few small cuts, there were no injuries except to the fish.

Most fishermen do not expect the catch to come to them. Some in the church expect the lost to come to them. The church must go to the lost.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching January/February 2003

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In a recent article in USA Today, Rita Rubin wrote an article concerning the communication gap between physicians and patients. She writes of Barry Weiss, a professor of clinical and community medicine at the University of Arizona, who remembered a time when he consulted with a colleague about a diabetic patient. The consulting physician looked at the patients infected foot and determined it must be amputated. He said, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to deal with this with local treatments.” The patient responded, “Does that mean I’m going to have to go to Los Angeles for treatment.”

Weiss likes to remind physicians they need to speak so that the patient can understand. The same admonition could be given to people involved with evangelism. We should be careful not to speak in theological code or “church lingo” and assume the listeners can break the code.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching July/August 2003

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In the Peanuts comic strip Sally says to Linus, “I think I would be a good evangelist.”

“Why?” asks Linus.

Sally answers, “I convinced the boy who sits behind me at school that my religion is better than his.”

“How did you do that?” asks Linus.

Sally answers, “I hit him over the head with my lunch box..”

There are likely better methods you and I can use to share our faith!

-Robert Shannon, Preaching January/February 1998

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A little girl answered the phone in her house and a sales­man said, “Little girl, may I speak to your mother?” The lit­tle girl replied, “She’s busy right now.”

The salesman said, “Oh, OK, how about your father?” The little girl replied that he was busy too, so the salesman asked if she had any older brothers and sisters. She told him she had one brother and one sister. He asked to speak to one of them, but she said that they were busy too. “Wow,” the salesman observed, “everybody seems busy at your house. What are they all busy doing?”

“Shh,” she replied, “they’re all looking for me.”

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Barbara
Nicolosi used to be a nun, but became a screen writer. She was asked
to leave her order because of her desire to aggressively evangelize
through the media. She has created a special program to recruit and
mentor Christian screen writers. She has trained more than 300
writers who have worked on many of today’s popular shows, like “The
West Wing” and “E-Ring.” Christian thought ought to pervade every
aspect of public life. We can only wish Barbara and her associates
well.

_______________
J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.

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A Montreal
priest was fined $150 when city leaders said his church’s electronic
billboard, which displayed Bible messages, was a form of advertising.
The minister, Charles-Eugene Apesteguy said he just wanted to “bring
good news,” and that the messages are not advertising. Apesteguy’s
church paid $5,000 for the used billboard.

_______________
J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.

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At
a zoo in Taipei in Taiwan, a 46-year old man jumped into a den of lions and
cried out, “Jesus will save you.” According to press reports, he also
taunted the lions, “Come bite me.” One lion decided to oblige him.
Someone caught on video the scene of the lion ripping off the man’s jacket,
clawing him and then biting him in the leg. Finally, zoo workers drove off the
lion with water hoses and tranquilizer guns. Experts said that since the lions
had been fed earlier in the day they were not hungry enough to do serious damage.
While
we do not want to make sport of this obviously troubled man, we do need to note
that his evangelism efforts would have been better served in a different arena.
Evangelism and common sense do go together, especially for those who are trying
to evangelize people.

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One of the most popular Celtic bands in the world
is Clannad. Their music has been featured in movies like Patriot
Games and Last of the Mohicans.
The lead singer with the distinctive, haunting voice is Maire
Brennan. She is also the sister of another Celtic superstar, Enya.
Maire has released two Christian albums, “Perfect Time” and “Whisper
on the Water.” Some assumed that she released the album simply to
find a new audience, others assumed she had a recent conversion.

Maire tells her story in Today’s Christian Woman.
She has actually been a Christian for a little over a decade. Clannad
is a family group, but they are treated like rock stars and for a
time Maire lived like a rock star. She gave that lifestyle up for
faith and family. She has a fine Christian family. She and her
husband play in their church’s worship team. While worried that some
assume that since she sings Celtic music she must be a druid or a
pagan, Maire has enjoyed the opportunity her music gives her to reach
seekers with the message of Jesus Christ. She says people are “hungry
for depth of meaning in their lives. They’re looking for
‘spirituality,’ without knowing what that means.” We are not all
musicians or preachers, but we can all be Christ’s representatives in
our chosen occupation.
_______________

J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.

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In
a recent article in USA Today, Rita Rubin wrote an article concerning
the communication gap between physicians and patients. She writes of
Barry Weiss, a professor of clinical and community medicine at the
University of Arizona, who remembered a time when he consulted with a
colleague about a diabetic patient. The consulting physician looked
at the patients infected foot and determined it must be amputated. He
said, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to deal with this with
local treatments.” The patient responded, “Does that mean I’m going
to have to go to Los Angeles for treatment?”

Weiss
likes to remind physicians they need to speak so that the patient can
understand. The same admonition could be given to people involved
with evangelism. We should be careful not to speak in theological
code or “church lingo” and assume the listeners can break the code.

_______________

J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.

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Steve Brown recently observed, “Church becomes the place where a nice, pleasant, bland person stands in front of other nice, pleasant, bland people urging them to be nicer, more pleasant and more bland. Jesus didn’t die to create nice, pleasant, bland people. He died so that sinners would find grace and forgiveness, and, in the joy and exuberance of their discovery, would find it impossible to keep quiet about it.

“It’s worth noting that Jesus didn’t condemn bad people. He condemned stiff people. We condemn the bad ones and affirm the stiff ones. Whether it was a prostitute or a tax collector or an outcast, Jesus reached out to them. It was a motley crew of riffraff that followed Him around, and it never embarrassed Him or made Him feel uncomfortable. It still doesn’t. But He’s still angry at the stiff ones.

“One of the most radical statements Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 9. We’ve sanitized it and made it fit our institutional molds, and thus allowed it to lose its power. I’m referring to these words of His: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (vv. 12-13)

“The difference between Jesus and us is that He didn’t condemn the bad people — He loved them and understood them even though He would have been perfectly justified in condemning them. We, on the other hand, can’t condemn the bad people because we are them. Therefore, our only alternative is to tell them, as fellow beggars, where we found bread.”

(from Crosswalk.com. To read entire article go to http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/510220.html)

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Outreach is a task assigned to the church by Christ, but it’s easy to lose our sense of urgency when we lose sight of the overall picture.

I am reminded of the digging of the Panama Canal. Over a period of decades, several major attempts failed to finish the job. Finally, one effort carved through the isthmus…

How sad the worker who shoveled away without seeing the big picture. How foolish the Yankee laborer who may have been tempted to settle in am improved Panama with railroads and drained swamps and forget about the canal he had been sent to build! This sort of short-sightedness was, in part, why previous efforts failed.

And how sad the Christian who lovingly spreads good news, but without a conviction that God’s global purposes are to be accomplished.

-Steve Hawthorne, “Penetrating the Last Frontiers,” World Christian

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Through the courtesy of MovieMinistry.com, we’ll be frequently sharing illustrations from films. Here’s one from the new movie, Secondhand Lions.

The Big Idea:
You can’t reach out to people you don’t know.

Scene Setup:
Garth and Hub, two elderly brothers, scare traveling salesman away from their home as a form of entertainment. As soon as they pull up in their cars, the brothers pull out their shotguns and the firing commences. As a result, the brothers have never heard a sales pitch, until one day . . .

Scene:
After scaring away a host of salesmen, another car approaches. Hub and Garth get ready for some fun, but when the car finally stops in front of their porch, the salesman does not leap out. Instead, he cracks his car door, creeps out under their line of site, and begins to wave a white flag, yelling, “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.”

Garth observes, “He’s been here before!”

The salesman calls out, “Brothers McCann!”

Garth says, “This is no ordinary salesman.” And Hub replies, “I like me a challenge.” Hub, still aiming at the salesman, shouts, “Come out where we can see you!”

The salesman is no dummy, “Put down your guns and I’ll come out.”

Hub says, “This guy is good. I’ll cover him, you sneak around.”

Their favorite nephew, Walter, chimes in, “Why don’t you see what he’s selling?”

With the salesman still calling out from behind his car, Hub asks Walter why he should listen to the salesman? Walter replies, “What’s the good of having all that money if you’re never gonna spend it?” Garth agrees, “The kid has a point.” Hub is intrigued, but unmoved, “We’ll see what the man’s sellin’, then we shoot him.”

The salesman, temporarily relieved, starts his pitch, “Due to the unsettling nature of our previous encounters, I took it upon myself to search the world over for that perfect item that would be just right for two exuberant sportsmen such as yourselves. I do believe I found it. Viola!”

Walter asks, “What is it?”

The salesman replies, “That right there is the sport of kings. Up till now only heads of state have been able to afford a fine piece of equipment like that. And it’s so simple to operate, this child could do it.”

Walter hits the lever and launches the skeet. The salesman expertly blows it out of the sky, and continues his pitch, “Most powerful on the market, most reasonably priced, I might add.”

When Hub and Garth’s nuisance relatives complain about the machine, the brothers tell the salesman, “We’ll take it.”

Application:
It is common for those who now know the power of the Gospel to forget what it was like before they met Christ. They cannot imagine that anyone would reject what they have to offer. Like the traveling salesmen, they barge right up and start selling.

The final salesman is the effective evangelist. He is persistent – he’s been there before. He has taken the time to get to know the people he wants to reach. One thing for sure, he knows they like guns. Then he searched for the one thing he was sure would catch their attention, and uses it to open a door for dialogue. In the end he closes the sale where all before him have failed.

The Scriptures tell us to be ready in season and out of season, to make the most of our opportunities, and to have our words seasoned with salt. Paul lived out this advice when he spoke on Mars Hill and before King Agrippa. He knew something about the people to whom he spoke so that he would have the best chance of getting a hearing and winning a soul for the Kingdom. He became “all things to all men that by all means” he might “save some” (I Cor 9:22).


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In Soulguide Bruce Demarest tells of Dateline NBC’s report on Boston oncologist
Dr. Jerome Groopman. Dateline followed the doctor for two years as he attempted
to save the lives of Gene, who suffered from AIDS and Elizabeth, who suffered
from breast cancer. As the patients were treated, Dr. Groopman grew in intimacy
with them. After watching them eventually lose their lives to their diseases,
he concluded: “‘If you care for someone without addressing his or her
soul, you’re not really caring for them'” (p. 35).

Is the same not true for the Christian who walks among the spiritually dead of this
world? If we meet material and emotional needs, but never address the spiritual
need, then we’re not really caring for them.

Share This On:

According to the book Signfica, by Irving Wallace, a man named William Phelps
Eno can be called the father of traffic safety. When he was born, there were no
automobiles, but Eno watched as horses gave way to carriages, which gave way to
automobiles. He wrote numerous articles on traffic safety and practical traffic
patterns. He even established a nonprofit organization to study traffic safety.
The great irony is that Phelps himself never learned to drive a car. How many churches
and preachers talk about evangelism, attend seminars or write about evangelism
and never really evangelize?

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.

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I’m reminded of the time a fellow confronted Dwight L. Moody and criticized him
for the way he evangelized. Moody listened courteously and then asked, “How
would you do it?” Disarmed, the man mumbled that he didn’t do it.
“Well,” Moody said, “I prefer the way I do it to the way you
don’t do it.”

_____________________
Illustration by: Robert R. Kopp, Center Presbyterian Church, McMurray,
PA

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Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of western North Carolina is
an interesting phenomenon called the Brown Mountain Lights. The lights are best
seen on a hazy summer evening and have never been fully explained. Some think
it is the incandescent glow from rotting wood — a natural phenomenon called
foxfire. Other similar explanations have been given, but none has been proved.
Legend, however, takes over and there are several. One of the most interesting
is that before the Civil War a slave set out to find his owner who was lost
somewhere on the mountain. The Light is the torch he carried! Inventive as that
legend is, it does illustrate our need to look for those spiritually lost —
and to bring to them the light of life.

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In the Peanuts comic strip Sally says to Linus, “I think I would be a good
evangelist.”

“Why?” asks Linus

Sally answers, “I convinced the boy who sits behind me at school that my
religion is better than his.”

“How did you do that?” asks Linus.

Sally answers, “I hit him over the head with my lunch box.”

There are likely better methods you and I can use to share our faith!

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