Since Crossway made it free for Kindle, I’ve been browsing through Randy Newman’s book, Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Your Family Members, Your Close Friends, and Others You Know Well. This is an incredibly important topic as I have come to find it harder to share the gospel with family members as it is with an unknown person in my community. I imagine this is true for most if not all Christians.
In the conclusion of his introductory chapter, Newman provides four steps for sharing the gospel with your family. I though they were very thoughtful and practical. Check them out.
1. If you don’t already have one, develop a system for prayer for your family. Perhaps you can set aside a section in a prayer journal.
2. Begin your prayers for your family with thanksgiving. This may be more difficult for some people than others. Regardless of your family’s well-being, thank God for the family you have and all the accompanying benefits you can identify.
3. You may need to include prayers of confession as well–confession of your lack of love for your family, your idolatry of control in trying to change them, your reliance on your ability to convict them of their sin instead of trusting the Holy Spirit to do that, your coldheartedness, haughtiness, and self-righteousness, etc. Ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light of truth on your darkness of sin.
4. If you haven’t already done so, “come out of the closet” as a Christian to your family. Pray for gentle words and a gracious demeanor mixed with bold confidence. . . . Aim for your announcement to be informational rather than evangelistic. You can trust God to open evangelistic doors later.
#3 nailed me.
One thing I might add, especially if you have a large family: look for opportunities in the course of the day when it is not so hectic where you might be able to enjoy a sustained conversation with a family member who is not a Christian. In a large group setting, conversations tend to stay on a superficial level, but if you can get alone with one or two family members for 10-15 minutes or longer, you will have a greater opportunity of magnetizing the conversation to the gospel and how Jesus has changed, and is changing your life.
I was a young, immature 18 year-old kid fresh out of the house in my first year of college when I walked into my hometown pet store to meet a whimpering puppy who I would take home with me. That puppy would spend the next 14 years of my life with me, numbering every year of my adulthood life, and this morning she was laid to rest.
The crazy thing about Hershey is that I have more memories of her than I do of just about any person in my life. She was with me in the formative years of college life, sat next to me as I struggled through the many deep, deep valleys, and was in more ways that I can imagine a gift from God. In the 14 years of her life, she lived with every member of my family, including my brother while a student at University of Alabama, my grandparents in their dying days to serve as a companion when they were too weak to get out of the house, and my parents who littered their refrigerator door with dozens and dozens of pictures of her. Almost everyone who came into my life over the past 14 years knew and loved her, but none more than my own family.
One funny story about Hershey has to do with when we moved down here to Cape Coral. While in Louisville, I really got into photography, so I took tons of photos of Hershey (see below for examples), and I posted them on my Flickr page. Since these photos were public, anyone could view them not only on Flickr but on any image search engine. One of Hershey’s photos went viral and became one of the most popular searched photos for a Pomeranian. So when we moved to Cape Coral, we needed to find a new dog groomer. When we entered the store to pick up Hershey, lo and behold here was an 8×10 print out of her on the wall of the store! One might think this was because they wanted customers to think she was one of their clients (when she lived in Louisville), and then she actually became one! But if you’re asking me, they probably posted it because she was that famous.
Hershey had an unusual personality for a Pomeranian. In her early years, she was quite stingy with my pillow, and when I would demand for more she would make up for that by resting her back on my head. Upon entering the house, she would run laps around the living room in absolute glee that made me feel like the most important person in the world. She wasn’t a dog who could do many tricks (largely my fault), but she made up for that in the way she loved. If Hershey had the ability to talk, she would be able to tell you more about my life than any other person (except my wife). But I guess that’s what makes dogs such good companions. They don’t talk, they just listen. And they make us laugh and feel loved.
I honestly could not have asked for a better dog and companion for the past 14 years of my life. Thank you Lord for providing a great companion and friend to love me and my family.
Starting this Sunday, Grace will be spending the next 12 weeks on Gospel-Centered Family by Tim Chester and Ed Moll. I was really looking forward to teaching it, but after meeting with my fellow pastors, I am transitioning to focus more on leadership development and growing our church family in the areas of gospel, community, and mission. A couple of weeks ago, I took some time to jot down some ways that the functional centrality of the gospel in the family impacts the church.
1. Discipline in the home facilitates gospel mission.
When parents are intentional and consistent in shepherding the hearts of their children and applying appropriate formative and corrective discipline to their lives, they are freed up to communicate the gospel to others and even have their children join them in the process. However, undisciplined children often sideline parents seeking to live on mission because of their unruly behavior (maintenance). When the gospel is not functioning in the home, it becomes very difficult to put it only display in the community. In anything you do, discipline brings freedom, and in the case with children, parents who are skillful in raising their children will likely be more engaged and effective on mission together.
Aiden had his first shot at the neighborhood swings, and needless to say, he loved it. I’ve had some sweet moments with the boys this week, and I pray that I will always have front-row seats to watch them grow up.
My heart has been heavy all week with the passing of Michael Spencer. I’m glad he is with Jesus. Please continue to pray for his wife Denise, his children, and those whom he ministered to in Oneida, KY.
For those heading to 2010 Together for the Gospel in Louisville, I look forward to (re)connecting with many of you. The Band of Bloggers gathering is ready to go with over 2,400 books ready to be given away, but more importantly spending time with a couple hundred gospel-centered folk discussing a very important topic (Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity). I’m looking forward to a great time next week.
Grace and peace.
I suppose I’m not the only who is experiencing crazy moments this time of the year. Lots going on. The photos above are from a much-needed family outing to Miromar Outlets. My wife loved getting good deals kiddos. Nolan loved it because they had monster water fountains everywhere. I loved it because I got to race the two-seater stroller around on a gorgeous afternoon.
Yesterday morning, my wife and I took our 10-month-old son to the hospital to have tubes put into his ears. He has had ear infections since mid-January, and over the course of the past three months fluid has continued to develop and worsen in his little ears. From the testimony of others we are hopeful that this procedure will cause a dramatic difference in his health and sleep (and our sleep as well!).
Another exciting first was big brother’s first spend-the-night as a result of the early procedure. From what I was told, Nolan was walking around the Ascol house, calling out “Oh Pastor Tom!” in his high pitched voice. Nolan is still working that John Deere tractor around the house like a man on a mission. The only thing that seems to be stopping him is the battery life and occasional shrub action.
The 2010 Band of Bloggers is right around the corner, and next week I will be revealing all the little goodies each attender will be receiving. There is still room, though it is filling up fast. I will go ahead and say it here first that each person will walk away with over $200 in books/resources. But shhh, that’s our little secret. Register now!
On the Grace front, we are voting on the continued development of our community group emphasis by providing more structure for sharing life together and learning to live as missionaries in our own communities. Over the past five months, we have seen considerable growth in attendance (50% increase) and are working heard to develop a more effective process for assimilation and follow-up of those who are being engaged with the gospel. Please pray for us if you think about it.
There’s so much more random stuff to mention, but it’ll have to wait for another week. May the grace of God abound to you through the triumphant work of Jesus on the cross and in your heart.
Man, it has been probably a year or more since I have done a POTW. As much as I love photography, it has been one of those things that gets laid aside when you have these two little ones by your side. For those who do not know, I usually give a little personal update in my POTW posts. And as far as photos go, the majority of them will be coming from my iPhone, so the picture quality will not be great.
Thank you, all, for joining me in prayer for Aiden. I’ve created a photo set for Aiden on Flickr where I’ll be posting pictures of him in the future. Here are some I’ve posted thus far.
On Monday of this week, I set out to catch a sunset only to see the sun play hide-and-seek behind the clouds, so I went over to the Cape Coral Marina to see what I could capture (the goal was to come up with potential postcard pics). The pics above are from that brief photog excursion.
On to other news, we have finally decided on the name for our second son (due in less than five weeks!). His name is Aiden Clark. The middle name comes from my wife’s dad whose middle name is Clark, and Aiden comes from A.W. Tozer (his full name is Aiden Wilson). Early in my theological journey, God used the writings of Tozer to impact my thinking on a God-centered trajectory and to live dangerously for the glory of God. Aiden means “little fire” and perhaps comes from the first person to have that name–St. Aidan of Lindisfarne. St. Aidan lived in the 7th century and was known for his passion to plant churches and excellency in theological education. St. Aidan is credited as being the first missionary to the English-speaking world. I pray that God would fan this “little fire” and make him a great missionary theologian for the cause of Jesus Christ!
On the church front, things have been going rather well. Grace is planting a church about 30 minutes east of Cape Coral, and I have spent the last six weeks working with the core group and launch team as we are working through a study on Acts developed by Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church (which is excellent!). I am also continuing a series focusing on Matthew 10 (Sending of Our Savior) this Sunday night, dealing with the relationship of prayer to the mission. By the way, if you have not checked out the spiritual warfare sermon series Tom Ascol has been preaching, you need to check it out.
The 2009 Band of Bloggers registration is officially closed. We have 215 registered, and I’m excited to be able to give over 2,000 books away due to the generosity of several publishers. The theme is Servants & Stewards based off of 1 Cor. 4:1. The Gospel Coalition has been super helpful in working with me in attempting to put this event together. Those who come will not be disappointed.
Finally, I have created a YouTube channel for the family since I recently made this purchase. About the size of my iPhone, I am able to capture HD video, transfer, edit, and upload in less than 30 minutes. I can’t wait to see what this little gadget can do. A little confession though: I am having serious reservations of posting video clips with me talking to my son in a high-pitched voice. Until I start sounding more manly, you will not hear a peep from me.