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EFAC Australia

Essentials

As an evangelist I am always on the lookout for useful tools to helpfully explain the gospel. But there are some that just make me cringe! In a recent catalogue there was the "Eternity is Forever Pen”:

'The ultimate carry anywhere evangelism tool! Pull out the spring-loaded hidden sheet printed with the Evangecube images to 'Simply Share Jesus' with anyone, anywhere. This incredible pen, starts with a 'wow' and ends with a gospel presentation.'

I can't even begin to describe my horror that people would think this was a good idea. BUT I can understand WHY they produced it. The designers recognise that telling the gospel should be a joyful priority for Christians, and that most people can't do it in any coherent way. So they have a meeting and someone says, "I know!!! We'll make a pen with a scroll out gospel presentation and then Christians will just be able to explain it."

Let me offer something else. I've had the opportunity to tell people the gospel hundreds of times, and so I developed my own gospel diagram. The idea is that I can explain the gospel in under a minute (see Bill Hybels', Just Walk Across the Room) and I just need a serviette and a pen.

One of the trade-offs of living this close to shrubbery and paddocks and endless stretches of rough-hewn bushland is that you settle for bad coffee. The spectrum of what constitutes 'adequate arabica' becomes embarrassingly broad, when it once was unswervingly narrow (read: I used to live on Lygon Street, inner city Melbourne).

And so the thought of converting such baristas and/or café owners (those ones who touted their substandard wares) was not unproblematic. Did I have the requisite patience, and more to the point did my tastebuds have the requisite stamina, to withstand the onslaught? Would I be able to look a non-Christian friend in the eye again, when he'd clearly conflated the quality of the gospel with the quality of coffee I'd just bought him? Could I debase myself by chugging down litres of bad coffee, all in the name of Christ? Surely St. Paul's “libation” in Philippians 2:17 meant something else? And these were just the reasons not to evangelise.

One way to open ourselves afresh to the word of grace.
Read books on spiritual formation and you will be hard pressed to find any that list listening to the preaching of God's Word as a first-order spiritual discipline. It may be mentioned under the broader category of reading and studying the Bible. But listening to preaching deserves attention of its own.
This was clearly a crucial dimension of the early church's life-"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). Certainly the leaders of the Reformation felt that way. They placed primary attention on public teaching and preaching. Karl Barth, writing to the well-educated West, regarded the proclamation of the Word as one of the three fundamental ways that people experience the life-changing Word of God.
In addition to biblical and theological aspects, we might consider some practical aspects of preaching-particularly expository preaching, preaching that strives to convey the meaning of biblical truth-that can help us see it as a vital spiritual discipline that humbly grounds us in the work and Word of God:

You might not have come across the term 'multi-level marketing', but you have certainly had it inflicted on you. The term specifically refers to business structures where the seller is compensated not just for the sales they make, but the sales that your contacts make too - the 'downstream effects'. This will be familiar to most people through networks like Amway or Tupperware, where people involved try to both sell their products to friends and convince them to become sellers, too. Multi-level marketing has been challenged, both morally and legally, for the way in which may sometimes be used to exploit small operators to generate profit. My own concern however, and the focus of this article, is not so much the 'multi-level' aspect as the 'marketing' strategies employed, particularly the implicit concept of using existing social networks to drive sales.

Does this sound familiar to you? Have you heard any of these lines recently?

Reflections on John 13:1-17
The episode recorded in John 13 of Jesus' washing the disciples feet is usually seen as an example of servant leadership. Of course it serves this purpose well, as Jesus says: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15). However, there is more to be gained from this footwashing exercise of servant leadership.
The setting of Jesus' actions is the upper room on the night he was betrayed. John introduces the scene with Jesus' reflection upon going to the cross. With a deliberate echo of the words of the Prologue (“he came unto his own, but his own received him not - but to all who did receive him, who believed on his name, he gave power to become children of God”), Jesus prepares to return to his Father, “having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (13:1). Thus the immediate context is the death of Jesus and the application of that death to his disciples.

The editor caught up with the new chair of EFAC Vic/Tas Phil Meulman earlier in the year to chat about his experience of accident recovery. Here's an edited interview transcript:

Phil, tell our readers what happened to you…
Last August (2008) was an ordinary month for me as an Anglican Minister. A day with preparation and meetings in various places in the city of Knox and then a meeting at St. Paul's Cathedral. I was running late - how odd for an Anglican minister to be running late! Rushing to cross the road I stepped out and suddenly saw a motorcycle accelerating rapidly towards me.

In that split-second moment I'm not sure what I decided to do - retreat or run? Whichever it was, I slipped and fell. I tried to get up but it was too late. The bike hit me with full force in my pelvis and back. Face down on Flinders street, I thought I was winded but could get up. The reality was that I could not move an inch.

Leviti­cus used to be the first book that Jewish chil­dren stud­ied in the syna­gogue. In the mod­ern Church it tends to be the last part of the Bible any­one looks at seri­ously. … “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self” (Lev. 19:18) is the only memo­ra­ble maxim in what is to many an other­wise dull book. In prac­tice then, though not of course in the­ory, Leviti­cus is treated as though it does not really belong to the canon of sacred Scrip­ture.
So opens the land­mark com­men­tary by Gordon Wen­ham. My quest is to get books like Leviti­cus back on the agenda. This article is an oppor­tu­nity for me to offer you a quick refresher of its con­tents and rele­vance. And the pend­ing sea­son of Lent is one of many good oppor­tu­ni­ties when you might do the same for believ­ers around you, espe­cially in min­is­try con­texts which seek a formal, dis­tinc­tive series for the sea­son.
What follows is purely to stir up your theo­logi­cal enthu­si­asm and to set your crea­tive juices flowing. The sug­ges­tions will work well as a ser­mon series, but could easily be adapted for per­sonal devo­tions or group Bible studies or youth reflec­tions. (I'm yet to trial it as a chil­dren's pro­gram!)

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