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Sign September 2009 Edition


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SHAPE 12 steps to a spirit empowered witness Page 3 ___________________

SOCIETY interpret my bumper sticker –s p i r i t u a l i t y a n d th e s e a r c h f o r s o m e t h i n g m o r e Page 5 ___________________

STRATEGY treasure hunts –- good bad and better Page 8 ___________________

STORY god makes a dream come true Page 9 ___________________

STUCK making a case for the miraculous Page 11 ___________________

STUDY p o w e r e v a n g e l i s m / / L o r d s a v e u s f r o m y o u r f o l l o we r s Page 13 ___________________

SEARCH w i m b e r ’ s s t o r y / / d i s n e y e n c o u n t e r / / g r e a t e s t m ir a c l e Page 14 ___________________

SERVE alpha // evangelism seminar + more Page 15


From the Editors Desk Well, another month rolls by, and September is nearly over. Seasons change, and thankfully so too has the look of SIGN! Up front, I want to express a huge THANKYOU to Bec Edmonds who as come on team as the desktop editor. I trust that this edition will excite both your mind and your eyes! If you’ve been working through the past two editions, then you should have a pretty clear idea of what evangelism is, and how to go about sharing the good news. But if that’s all you’ve got, then you’re still sadly lacking. For the story we share is not primarily about us and our actions. Instead, it’s about a passionate God who is wooing a wayward world back to Himself through the sweet song of His Spirit. We don’t have what it takes to make this vision a reality. But if we jump on board with what God’s doing, anything is possible. As God pointed out to despondent Zerubbabel—who was overwhelmed by the size of the task to rebuild the temple when all work had stalled—“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit!” says the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 4:6). This is the same Spirit who brought order out of chaos brooding over the primeval waters at creation (Genesis 1:2). This is the same Spirit who gave life to dead bones, and resurrected Christ to glory (Ezekiel 37:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15). And this is the same Spirit who lives in me (Romans 8:11)! Amazing! But exactly what does it mean to be a Spirit Empowered Witness? That’s our theme for this edition of SIGN. Let’s explore together.

Dave Benson


SHAPE {something pithy to shape our understanding of evangelism, mission, and the gospel}

12 Steps to a Spirit Empowered Witness I’d like to start a twelve-step recovery program for evangelistically-challenged Christians. “Hi, my name is Dave—and I’m a coward.” Of course, the group would lovingly echo, “Hi Dave!” And then we could start being brutally honest about our fears. . . . “I get embarrassed speaking up when I’m out of step with what others think. I don’t want to be labeled a religious nut, so it’s easier to stay silent. I have my own doubts, so what if they ask a question I can’t answer? God’s given me this impossible task to reach everyone, but I don’t have what it takes. How do I even know where to start? I don’t want to stuff up and make God look bad. All this evangelism stuff seems like irrelevant, empty words to my friends who are dealing with huge problems. Besides which, I’m afraid of going alone.” Now, you know your own heart. These are some honest confessions from my corner to start the ball rolling. (Admitting my problems might just give you freedom to admit your own!) But it’s not the excuses I want to focus on—to tell you to suck it up and face your fears. Not at all. You see, I think there are some pretty genuine fears when it comes to pointing people to Jesus. It’s not easy building bridges to carry the gospel over in reaching a post-Christian society.

I’ll take my cue from steps one and eleven for the real point I’m making: Step 1: I admit that I’m powerless to overcome my problems—I’m unable to build bridges in my strength alone. But … Step 11: God—who is infinitely greater than me—can make it happen. I’ll keep close contact with Him, asking for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out. Here’s the point: this humanly impossible mission requires divine empowerment and direction. And to speak of divine empowerment is to speak of being a “Spirit Empowered Witness.” (In which case, this article is step 12 of my recovery program … one struggler to another sharing the path to freedom and empowerment.) Forgive me for the following Scripture dump and run, but I really believe that most Christians—myself included— have become immobilized in our witness by some patently false beliefs. And the answer to our fears is not a new evangelism strategy. The answer is, however, a dynamic connection with the mysterious third person of the God-head: the Holy Spirit. For you to really get it, it might take some reframing. So, check out the following passages for yourself,1 renew your mind, follow Jesus’ lead, and step out in God’s power.

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Or, you could just read all of Acts! It is, after all, less about the Acts of the Apostles and more about the Acts of the Holy Spirit. As John Wimber points out in Power Evangelism (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1986, pp. xx, 16, 31, 3435, 118, and 191-92), the proclamation and then demonstration of the Kingdom in signs and wonders through the Spirit—i.e., “power evangelism”—was the catalyst for fulfilling the great commission.


Who knows, maybe pointing people to Jesus isn’t as scary as it currently feels? Feel like the task is too big and you don’t have the power? Read Matthew 28:18-20; John 15:26-27; 20:21-22; Acts 1:8; 5:12-14; Colossians 1:9-11. Unsure where to start and you’re lacking in initiative? Read Luke 6:12; John 5:19-20; Acts 8:26-40; 16:6-10; Romans 15:17-21. Don’t have the right words and you’re tongue tied? Read Mark 13:9-11; John 16:12-15; Acts 2:1-41; 6:8-10; 10:34-48; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Lacking in courage to face the ridicule and you’re afraid of rejection? Read Acts 4:1-31; Ephesians 3:7-21; 2 Timothy 1:7-12.

So being a Spirit empowered witness begins with a simple question: “God, who is it you want me to love right now?”3 Look around. Wait on the Holy Spirit for leading.4 And then join Him with words and deeds that lovingly lead that person back home to God. Any time, any place, the Holy Spirit has a mission for you . . . even while you’re out doing the groceries! Love might be letting the rushed looking gent jump in front of you in the queue. It might be paying for a mum’s groceries. It might be speaking a word of encouragement. Or—like I heard someone share recently—it might be following a word of knowledge to pray for someone’s allergies. Just be open. Always be prepared to proclaim the gospel, but wait on the Spirit that you might jump on board with what He’s doing, and in His presence love with real power. God bless as this month you recognize your inadequacy, reconnect with divine power, and lovingly build bridges to reach people desperate for some good news that leads to life.

Tired of too many words and you want to see genuine conviction and changed lives? Read Isaiah 11:2-4; Luke 4:14-19; John 3:3-8; 6:44, 63; 16:8; Acts 8:3-8; 1 Thessalonians 1:5. This is God’s mission, and He invites us to join Him as we go together to help heal a hurting world. But for this mission, He empowers us, He directs us, He emboldens us, He goes before us, and He promises to work through common clay pots like us as the carrier of His treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). And all this is the work of the Holy Spirit. But if all of this seems a bit technical, and the Holy Spirit seems a bit ethereal, let me bring it back down to the basics. The Holy Spirit is perhaps best understood as “divine love leading us home.”2 God is about community—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit unite in an eternal dance of love. And God is about reconciliation— the Spirit is divine love leading all people back home to connection with God. He wants us to join the dance (John 17:20-23; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; 1 John 4:7-12).

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Thanks Ps. John Robertson for some sterling suggestions on this point.

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2

This expression comes from the late, great theologian Stanley Grenz.

As Wimber pointed out, “There is something very simple, almost childlike, about power evangelism. God gives impressions, and we act on them. If He does not speak to us, then we wait—something difficult for action-oriented Western people to do” (Power Evangelism, p. 155).


S o c i e t y watching culture for connection points that bridge to the gospel You can tell a lot about a society by the bumper stickers on cars. There are bumper stickers for everything, covering our political preference (“be nice to America or we’ll bring democracy to your country”), life philosophy (“enjoy life, this is not a dress rehearsal”), and even our driving habits (“horn broke; watch for finger”). But for our purposes, what do bumper stickers say about the spiritual climate? For one thing, institutional religion ain’t so hot right now. Here’s a sample: “religion: you can’t start a war without it”; “religion ruled the dark ages”; “Lord, save us from your followers”; “last time we mixed politics with religion, people got burned at the stake.” I guess ridicule is the modern way to motivate the devout to repent from past sins and missteps. In a related shift, exclusive is out, and inclusive is in. As I almost slam into the suddenly braking car in front, I get a close look at their conviction that “God is too big for any one religion.” Generally we gloss over the particulars of contradictory claims, but the catch-cry is for a universal embrace: “believe in love and peace”; “live in peace and harmony”; “practice respect”; “tolerance: believe in it.” Each of these stickers would make Robert Langdon (Dan Brown’s resident cryptologist) a happy man, drawing on symbols ancient and new:

While religion is on the outer, science is still making headway, especially with the rise of “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. We’ve all seen Darwin’s legged fish swallowing the Christian Ixthus.5 Another sticker informs onlookers that “truth is my religion.” If you missed their drift, then perhaps the following sticker makes the point with more force:

Now, to be sure, there is some not-so-subtle tension between belief and non-belief: “science flies you to the moon; religion flies you into buildings.” And I could comment on movements such as pluralism and secularism which underlie bumper sticker slogans. But, there’s a new batch of bumper stickers appearing on our car boots that challenge even the hardened atheists. Most commonly found on chick-cars and hybrid vehicles—the kind where pyramids hang where fluffy dice once ruled—welcome to the world of New Age Bumper Stickers. You know the kind. There are the “Green” variety— “walk gently on mother earth”; “my church is the woods”; “God is nature.”

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For those who find the Christian symbol kind of’ fishy, here’s the low-down: the Greek word for fish is “Ixthus,” which was used by the early church as an acronym for the fisher of men, “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour” (Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter). During persecution in the first couple of centuries, a Christian could draw half a fish in the dirt when meeting a stranger—if the stranger completed the fish, then they were family in Christ, and they could talk freely without fear.


But the main kind of New Age Bumper Stickers represent a resurgent pagan spirituality: “Magic Happens!”; “Angelpowered vehicle”; “Goddess in training”; “my other car is a broom”; “caution: I brake for fairies.” Strangely, for such a tolerant, inclusive spirituality, there is no shortage of attitude: “my Goddess gave birth to your God.” Perhaps my favorite is “give me that old time religion,” with purple Old English type face, accompanied by a pentagram.

We’re in the 21st century, right, so what’s going on here? As a keen observer of culture, these sticker clad cars are crying out to me, “Please interpret my bumper sticker!” As we consider the role of the Spirit in our witness for this edition of SIGN, the rise of eclectic spirituality is worth exploring. In seeking to understand our culture, three interpretive keys come to mind.6 First, there has been a growing shift from the scientific to the spiritual. We definitely aren’t post-science . . . we rely on technology too much to revert to a pre-modern approach to life. That said, the modern dream—here thinking of the period roughly between the late 1700s and the mid/late 1900s—of a science-driven utopia suppressing all superstition has not happened. Human rationality unaided by supernatural revelation was supposed to fill in all the gaps in knowledge and usher in a peace-filled world. Yet, if anything, knowledge has further fragmented, and any claim to simply and objectively seeing the world the way it really is appears arrogant and simplistic—how could limited and biased humans ever truly know anything?

Besides which, science is a-moral—the same rationality that put man on the moon also designed weapons of mass destruction, genetic modification, and wasted billions on particle colliders while half the earth’s population starved. Science can tell us why the planets move, but it can’t tell us why we should move on the planet. We need something beyond the material world to animate our lives with meaning. Sadly, the Church has often been identified with this institutionalized emphasis, so in the search for spiritual experience and power; many people have bypassed Christianity to find their own sense of “something more.” Perhaps this explains why I found an atheistic university student named Spring struggling her way through Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth—it was recommended by Oprah, after all!—not getting how she could just visualize her problems away, but desperately hoping Tolle might make sense of her otherwise ordinary existence. We also see this shift in the type of stories drawing huge crowds, whether Harry Potter or Twilight. We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves—a destiny, a calling, and a challenge. A second interpretive key, then, is that more people are open to the supernatural. Just take a walk around the local market and you’ll find psychic readings, Wicca workshops, and spiritual healing. More people today read their horoscopes than the Bible. Take our youth and young adults, for instance. Nearly 40 percent of Generation Y believe in miracles, 56 percent in life after death, 44 percent in angels, and 35 percent in demons. Definite belief in “New Age” phenomena is also significant, including fortune-telling (21 percent), communication with the dead (23 percent), astrology (25 percent), and reincarnation (31 percent).7 Almost double these percentages “maybe” believe in these phenomena. Simply asking “Are you interested in spiritual things?” often leads to a deeper dialogue than it did a decade ago.

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Beyond what I address here, it’s worth us reflecting on how the Church’s attitude to women, and to nature, have played a part in the rise of feminism and environmentalism. Frequently our orthopraxy—in this case, liberating women and caring for God’s creation—fall short of our orthodoxy.

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All of the following data is from Michael Mason, Andrew Singleton, and Ruth Webber, The Spirit of Generation Y: Young People's Spirituality in a Changing Australia (Mulgrave, Australia: John Garratt Publishing, 2007).


A third interpretive key is that while “mysticism” seems to be in, it is generally consumeristic and therapeutic rather than a search for ultimate truth. In our age of shopping malls and telemarketing, it seems that all of life is reducible to buying, consuming, and spectating. Spirituality is less about giving than getting. In Australia, roughly 20 percent of Generation Y are identified with “New Age” spirituality. But even here, commitment levels are low: only 10 percent of youth regularly engage in New Age practices—yoga, meditation, tarot cards— and fewer than 4 percent are serious spiritual seekers. Faced with ever expanding choices, they are commitment-phobic, always waiting for the “new thing” to replace an obsolescent option in the hope that this will perfectly fulfill their desires. Some commentators have assumed that this new interest in spirituality should naturally translate into openness to Christ. Perhaps, though I doubt it. Many New Agers have been burned by the Church, and are suspicious of Christianity as an oppressive, anti-women institution.

correlated with anxiety, depression, and delusional ideation. It is possible to lose our life in the process of saving ourselves. Not only is there little (if any) evidence to support the rationality of these beliefs, it seems that doit-yourself-spirituality simply swaps the “perceived tyranny of institutionalized religion for the tyranny of self.”9 All options are not equal, after all. A significant barrier to dismantle is the perception that Christianity is an un-spiritual religious club looking to control rather than empower participants. So, to the bridge: Imagine a church where all the senses are engaged in passionate worship; where we confidently connect with all types of people even at New Age festivals; and where our God-given prayers and prophecies demonstrate God’s superior power to transform someone’s life—and you’re in tune with what animated the ancient church and (God-willing) will make our post-Christian culture sit up and take notice.10 And for this to happen, perhaps you will agree that our highest priority is that of being a Spirit-empowered witness.

At a deeper level, though, it is questionable whether a self-centered spirituality focused on my upward questing for satisfaction on my terms, is compatible with the downward “work of God which speaks of His grace and judgment.”8 God’s authority and the call to submit and be transformed are sticking points for those merely wanting techniques to control their world. Putting all this together, how should we respond to the spirituality suggested by our bumper sticker culture? If we’re seeking to cross the cultural divide, then there are things we need to commend and challenge as we set about removing barriers and building bridges. We could commend New Agers for recognizing that life is about more than matter—we have a soul, so their quest for “life to the full” is rightly directed toward the supernatural. But this leads to a challenge over how satisfying and true are their eclectic beliefs—the latest research indicates that New Age spirituality is strongly 8

David F. Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 161.

God bless as you interpret our society’s bumper stickers as a search for transcendence, and in turn point people to Jesus.

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R. L. Aird, “Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health and Social Behavior: A Longitudinal Study” (Unpublished Ph.D. diss., School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, 2007), 205, 220. 10

I’ve now come across two churches which run stalls at New Age festivals under thinly-veiled banners such as “Christocentric Light,” offering prayer, prophecy, and healing for any who come. From all reports, the love and power experienced have drawn a disproportionate number of seekers to these stalls over any other. In the marketplace of multiple spiritualities, we shouldn’t be afraid of what John Wimber calls “power encounters.”


STRATEGY {offering a practical idea to reach those outside the church}

So how do we go about being a Spirit-empowered witness? In his book, The Ultimate Treasure Hunt, Kevin Dedmon bases an entire evangelism strategy on the gospel stories where Jesus uses a “word of knowledge” as a bridge to and confirmation of his message—like with Nathanael and the Samaritan woman (John 1:43-51; 4:630). Let me give you a little run down of the book. . . . People are the treasure God is seeking. A treasure hunt is where believers pray for clues (words of knowledge) based around a location, items of clothing, and certain life situations (events, sicknesses, etc). Forming a treasure map from this list of clues, the believers set out to find their treasure, show them the map, pray for their needs (physical, emotional and spiritual), and seek to share the gospel. Having gathered a whole bunch of testimonies from KBC goers who have embarked on these treasure hunts, the strategy can be incredibly exciting and effective—an awesome challenge both to the faith of the “hunter” and to the “treasure” being sought! Some groups found their treasure, and had an incredible opportunity to share and embody the message of the gospel (Luke 4:18-19). Other groups weren’t quite as successful in deciphering their clues, but in the course of searching were able to find other opportunities to share. All in all, whilst Dedmon’s book has a few askew comments, the strategy bears incredible fruit as it encourages reliance on the Holy Spirit’s leading, values people as God’s treasure, and evidences the supernatural. But, can we tweak it a little to make it more holistic?

The Great Commission is to make disciples in our going (Matt 28:18-20), and so evangelism should take place as the constant and spontaneous overflow of a worshipping community. Like many other strategies, The Ultimate Treasure Hunt treats evangelism like an event that requires planning, rather than a spontaneous happening as seems to more be the case with Jesus’ encounters. Rather than resolve ourselves to getting clues only for a set time and place, we should seek to be Spiritempowered in our regular lives, having encounters whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit prompts us. Moreover, to limit Spirit-empowered evangelism to receiving words of knowledge misses the beautiful diversity through which the Holy Spirit reveals God’s love and message (conscience, coincidence, Scripture, miracles, creation, revelation)—all of these work together! Treasure hunts also tend to major on spiritual encounters without a solid context of commitment. In a culture sold on spirituality and experience, our message should present the winsomeness of Jesus’ love in the context of decision—“repent and believe.” In our previous editions of SIGN, we have been laying out our message—Jesus’ role in the big story of God’s redemptive plan and our need to personally connect with it. . . . So where do we go from here? Every strategy has its place, but I’m tempted to always think bigger! Let’s take treasure hunts into the everyday experience, letting our experience of God’s presence and leading overflow into encounters with people we meet every day! Encounters simply come through being sensitive enough to listen for God’s leading, willing enough to be inconvenienced in our plans and bold enough to act upon what God speaks! Jesus’ promise overshadows us, and “anyone who has faith in me ... will do greater things than these” (John 14:12).


Story.. {recalling a time you got to point someone to Jesus, or how you came to follow Christ}

This month, Leanne Correll shares her story of a God-given dream coming true. As you read, it’s good to check your heart: Are you open to God’s promptings? What is He saying? And are you stepping out in faith? Remember, God can do infinitely more than could ever hope or dream according to the power of His Spirit within (Ephesians 3:20). Read on and dream big …

for our evening choral concert. As I was walking through the mall to the train, I saw other people dressed in their choir outfits heading to the concert venue. I panicked and realized I got the timing all wrong, but then I looked in the reflection of a shop window and saw I was already dressed in my choir uniform.” The dream was pretty simple for me to interpret. God had a venue for me on the north side and He has more wealth than I have ever expected. The choir concert was a symbol that I didn’t think I was ready for this gig, but my reflection showed that I was.

**** In 2006, life was pretty tough. I barely had enough money to live off but I was surviving on my own. My private piano studio was picking up but, my Kindermusik studio hadn’t grown at all in 18 months. I had high hopes for this business—a huge Kindermusik studio with 200 children enrolled and heaps of families coming to my privately owned premises and café. I had faith in God that he had given me this dream for a reason: I wanted to share the gospel with people. But I seemed to be going nowhere . . . not fast, but slowly.

I remember quite well that the following weekend I told my mother about this dream and that I expected it to happen in about 2 years time. Two weeks later, one of my Kindermusik student’s mothers (also a Kindermusik teacher) invited me back to her house for morning tea.

On the 12 April 2006, I had a dream. It was a little longer than this but these are the important bits: “I was staying at a lady’s house—she was a mixture of my mother or my piano teacher from high school. She said to me that I could teach from her house on the north side. I thought it odd that this person would own property as neither my mother nor piano teacher had any properties of their own. Then I saw myself in the city. I had planned my afternoon so I had enough time to go home (Kenmore), change into my choir uniform, and get back to the city

As she got the food organized, she asked me whether I had noticed the shops we drove past on the way. I said I had. She said she owned them and did I want to teach Kindermusik out of them? My mind suddenly moved in slow motion, just like at the movies! A woman—a mother and Kindermusik teacher—was offering me shops on the north side. I didn’t expect this was going to happen for another couple of years and I wasn’t ready,


but I immediately shot out my hand and said, “It’s a deal. I’ll take it!” That evening, I had bible study at my house. Karen Stone and I talked for a while after everyone had left—as usual. I told her of the events of my day and how amazing God was to have shown me it all in a dream beforehand. She said that was interesting because she and her mother had been looking for a shop to teach art classes out of. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and immediately asked her to go into business with me. Within a week we had formed a partnership, which today is called Flying Fox Studios.

Flying Fox Studios’ third birthday will be in October 2009 and has grown beyond my wildest expectations. We have more than 300 students come every week for kinder-music, art, piano, saxophone, violin, or construction classes, and we have a toy store that complements our tuition. So how does this fit into an evangelism magazine? My heart is to share the gospel with people and help them to know Christ. He is the reason I get up in the morning. I have not had many opportunities to really talk about Him with my clients and I pray that God will show me more and more how to bring his love into people’s lives. But, I know I am doing exactly what God has asked me to do with my life. He has made it obvious through many dreams, signs, situations, and people that Flying Fox Studios and Kindermusik is His plan for my life. He has made a way for me to get out into the community and be His hands and feet to people who are lost—middle class mums and children in my own backyard. www.flyingfoxstudios.com

He is the reason I get up in the morning.


STUCK {some apologetic helps for responding to tough questions people are asking}

search the Scriptures diligently as our guide (Acts 17:11). Although there are a number of big name scholars who argue for Cessationism, the biblical case is vague at best and the weight of evidence in both Scripture and present experience seems to suggest that these gifts are still in operation today.11

This month Dan Paterson is believing for a miracle—and here’s why . . . **** Having had a little more focus in this edition on New Age spirituality and the role of the supernatural in the Christian life, one of the major sticking points that some people struggle with is Christianity’s claim that miracles can and do happen. Depending on which generation you belong to, most of us have grown up with the driving force of modernity drilled into us—we only believe in what we can observe and test with our senses. The natural world is all there is. There is a perfectly natural and rational explanation for everything, implying that anything supernatural is irrational. If we’re honest, this sort of skepticism has probably brought most of us to question some of the things the Bible teaches, so it’s no wonder people have a problem with believing in miracles. If that’s the case, what are some responses that can help people over this hurdle? Let me first offer a quick response to our Christian brothers and sisters who believe that although miracles are possible, the miraculous gifts have ceased for today (Cessationism). We agree that God at least can work miracles today. Whilst we celebrate theological freedom in these open-handed issues, we encourage believers to

But what about those who struggle with the idea that miracles are even possible, such as agnostics, atheists, and pantheists? When dialoguing with skeptics, keep in mind where they are coming from. Here are a few responses that you can use to help them over the hurdle... Science is descriptive not prescriptive. This just means that the scientific process describes what it sees rather than prescribes what can happen. As such, miracles may differ from what we usually observe, but they don’t necessarily contradict the “laws” of nature. God is supernatural (outside nature). As the one who created natural laws it is perfectly rational to say that he can suspend or alter them. C.S. Lewis puts it simply: “Admit God exists and you admit miracles may well also.” This doesn’t prove that any particular miraculous claim is historically true, but it does allow for the possibility of miracles as real events. Rather than rule out miracles and God a priori (before the fact), we should test the historical data to see what makes the best sense of all the evidence. This opens up a good opportunity to segue into the evidence for the resurrection, the foundation of our gospel as Paul

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To assist your own exploration on these matters, check out Wayne Grudem (editor), Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views (Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996). Additionally, concerning the validity of contemporary prophecy, see Dave Benson’s essay “Word and Spirit: An Assessment of Theological Objections to Post-Apostolic Prophecy” (http://www.mediafire.com/?idyer0jirky).


explains in 1 Corinthians 15. (Lee Strobel’s, The Case for Christ is helpful at this point.) Miracles lie at the heart of our message (John 20:31). Without miracles there is no creation, divine revelation, incarnation, virgin birth, conversion, sanctification, healings, resurrection, ascension, or second coming— basically no Bible and no good news. As we see more and more fascination with the supernatural through movies and television shows, we need to be getting more familiar with these responses so we can break down some of the barriers that block our culture from giving Christ a fair hearing, and through the message of the gospel bring the reality of the supernatural into the right light.12

Miracles lie at the heart of our message (John 20:31). Without miracles there is no creation, divine revelation, incarnation, virgin birth, conversion, sanctification, healings, resurrection, ascension, or second coming—basically no Bible and no good news. ●

Want more? Download detailed responses to the question of miracles from http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=66cd4904 8597e1bdab1eab3e9fa335cae85c4c2c4d5c8dcd. This share folder includes the mp3 of a Logos talk entitled “Transcendence: thoughts on the miraculous” (http://www.mediafire.com/?0gwmzn24mzx), and Dan’s notes from his talk on Miracles and Christianity (http://www.mediafire.com/?mulz2zdzncd).

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For more helpful books, check out Miracles by C.S. Lewis; The Reason for God by Tim Keller (chapter 6); and I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek (chapter 8).


Study {suggested reading to be equipped}

John Wimber, Power Evangelism (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1992).

Dan Merchant, Lord, Save Us from Your Followers: Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America? (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008).

The late John Wimber is perhaps best known for establishing Vineyard Churches, but his greatest legacy is arguably his call for all Christians to be Spirit-empowered witnesses. To this end, Power Evangelism is a must-read. It has sold millions of copies and in 2006 was named by Christianity Today as one of the 50 most significant Christian books to be published in the last 50 years. I won’t give too much away here, but if you’ve heard people talk about power encounters and divine appointments then you’ve already tasted Wimber’s approach. I’m not a Pentecostal like Wimber, but what I really appreciated about his book was the balanced theology framed around the Kingdom of God. He gives a straightforward account, without the hype, of the Biblical basis for evangelism in the power of the Spirit, and parallels the spread of Christianity with signs and wonders. Wimber confronts the common western worldviews that keep us from embracing the supernatural, even as he points us to a more holistic method of discipleship following Christ’s modeling. Do yourself a favor and read this book.13

Okay, this book has very little to do with being a Spiritempowered witness. But, following on from the SOCIETY article, I’m sure you’ll find Mr. Merchant a worthy social commentator. This book traces Dan’s daring search for some meaningful dialogue with a sound-bite culture. Basically, he dons a bumper sticker jumpsuit to conduct street interviews, en route to humorous, insightful, and challenging observations about what Jesus is really calling us to be, do, and say in the post-Christian west. I bought this book at an airport Newsagent in Los Angeles, just to pass the time. I certainly wasn’t expecting something so engaging, real, and relevant. It’s a much lighter read, but no less important for engaging our world. (As a side-note and leading into web-sites to search, check out http://lordsaveusthemovie.com/. The book has been turned into a documentary, which looks like a great conversation starter.)

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I’ll review the following book in an upcoming edition of SIGN, but it’s timely to draw your attention to Robert E. Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1972). In chapter four entitled “Impartation,” (pp. 65-72), Coleman considers the impartation of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ disciples as prerequisite to being sent out for their evangelistic mission in the world. This classic treatment is conservative, yet no less radical than Wimber’s call to power evangelism.

[Please note well that, as with all books we review, we are not necessarily endorsing everything the author says. I’m recommending this book more as a conversation starter than as a theologically solid critique of culture. Merchant raises many issues we need to consider, even as his construction of Christianity is—in my opinion—a rather nebulous mix of love and well-wishes lacking a solid gospel message. That said, there’s still lots here to learn, so read with discretion and respond as God leads.]


SEARCH {evangelism related web-links to explore}

It’s always better to know something about an author’s story before you take in their teaching. So, cozy up on the couch and take a good half hour as you listen to John Wimber’s journey—from drug-using agnostic to a raw Christian, and finally transformation into a Spirit-empowered witness. This link takes you to the first of his eight part “Personal Pilgrimage.” Wimber’s down to earth style and self-effacing humor make this a great watch that will remind you of God’s goodness— that He can reach any person, even the friends and family who seem far from faith. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqT6sjY8RqQ>

What could it look like if this summer you took a trip to the local theme park, and followed the Holy Spirit’s leading to literally “heal the sick who are there and tell them ‘the Kingdom of God is near you’” (Luke 10:9)? Wonder no more! This link takes you to the first of a four part encounter as some youth saw just that. On a trip to Disneyland in June 2009, they stepped out in faith and saw miraculous results that opened the way for sharing the gospel. Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfWYQIMRzqk

The greatest miracle of the Holy Spirit is taking a person who is dead in their sins, and breathing life to make them a new creation in Christ, filled with the presence of God. But it’s easy to get discouraged as we point people to Jesus, as sometimes the ground is hard and few respond. Perhaps this site will help. It shows “real time” salvations happening all over the world with live streaming footage of people experiencing the miracle of conversion. Let’s pray that we increasingly see this right in our own backyard. <http://godrev.jesus.net/joy-in-heaven/>


SERVE {opportunities to grow in your witness through participation and/or training}

No shortage of opportunities this edition of SIGN. Some are generic, thus good for our growing readership beyond Kenmore Baptist Church in Brisbane. Obviously, though, most are local. Keep sending me opportunities you know of to serve, so we can train you up and send you out to effectively point people to Jesus. (1) I know this is terribly short notice, but this Saturday 26th September is a whole day beach trip to Caloundra with International Students from the local universities, connected with our church through “Speaking English with Aussies.” As you get out there to show them a taste of Australia, there are few better and more natural opportunities to start a dialogue on what matters most. God-willing, the conversations you start may lead to sharing the good news with an interested inquirer. Ideally we would love dozens more Aussie volunteers than have presently signed up. If you’re interested, contact Max King (familyofkings@bigpond.com) or Ps. Thong Ng (thong.ng@kbc.org.au). If you know an international student who might be interested, we'll meet at 9am at the Indooroopilly Shopping Centre Bus Station, or Foundation College at Spring Hill. Transport and lunch are provided (fish and chips). We'll return by 5pm. Please bring swimmers (bathing suit), towel, hat, sunscreen, sports equipment, etc. The cost is $15, and RSVP is essential, so contact us as soon as you can at tasteofaustralia@kbc.org.au, or call 3378 3595.

(2) Also connected with the international students— though open to any one interested aged 18 through 30— Dave Farrell is starting an Alpha course to introduce those willing to search to the Christian faith. It runs for seven weeks, starting on the 4th October. The main training to help lead has already happened, but if you are keen to be involved—whether in facilitating, or cooking lunches for participants—or want to connect in a friend to the course itself, then contact Dave (0432 768 500; dtfazz@hotmail.com).

(3) A few of us under the banner of KBC have already registered for a half day seminar on Effective Evangelism, featuring Australian evangelist John North. The seminar is on Tuesday 13th October 9am-1pm at Pine River Salvation Army Corps, 27-29 Lawnton Pocket Rd., Qld (North Brisbane). If you’re interested, you need to rsvp by Friday 9th October. (And if you mention KBC, you can get in for half price, sweet at only $10!) Register with Nola (0402 209 546; nola@afci.com.au). Car pooling is available from Indooroopilly Central shops, outside Retravision, at 7:15am sharp, returning by 2pm that same day. Email glenda.condon@kbc.org.au if you want to share a ride. It looks well worth it, so hope to see you there.


(4) Come mid November, literally 70,000 students will converge on key beaches around Australia for Schoolies Week. Full of adrenalin, hopes, fears, and alcohol, for many teens their adventure in unmonitored “freedom” will result in regret and tragedy. Yet you have an opportunity to make a difference—even to speak into their lives at this critical moment. Check out http://www.redfrogs.com.au/hotelchaplaincy/ and see if you’re up for Red Frogs in 2009.

(5) Last edition I plugged the LOGOS team (http://www.kbc.org.au/news/logos-team-caughtout/#more-724) presenting a talk entitled “Caught Out: Quick Answers to Tough Questions,” addressing the biggest sticking points to believing in, and following Jesus. Well, it’s all over rover! Thankfully we’ve uploaded not just the sermon, but also a discussion guide and ten short videos addressing all the questions. You can use these in a small group setting to get better equipped explaining Christianity to your friends, or even send them a link to the you-tube clips addressing questions they’re asking. Check out http://logos.kbc.org.au/blog/resources/logostalks/caught-out/.

Final Thoughts.. Well another bumper edition of SIGN leaves our minds and hopefully implants something fresh in yours. With a new editor on board, I’ll hand over to Bec Edmonds to have the last word… To wrap up this edition, I want to encourage you to be bold, be known for what you stand for, rather then what you stand against. Be confident, that what the bible promises you is true; Christ is always with you when you talk to people. Why not take a risk, and put yourself out there to talk about faith? Look for opportunities to bless people and to share wisdom with them. Being willing to talk to people about your faith, and share the love of Christ, does take strength – but we have been left with the Holy Spirit to empower, strengthen and lead us. I learned recently of the following story which I hope

inspires you— it reminds me that each day I have so much freedom to experience and share what's brought me life. When others have paid such a great price, how can I not embrace the challenge and point people to Jesus? --------The kindling was piled high around the stake on which William Tyndale would be put to death. Just as the match was about to be struck, the executioner approached Tyndale from behind and strangled him to death with a chain. Would you think this was an act of kindness? Tyndale was an English Roman Catholic priest whose passion was to see the Bible translated into the language of the people, however he was at odds with both the Catholic Church and King Henry VIII, who believed that only the priests should have access to Scripture. When Tyndale was warned by a Catholic priest to forget about his endeavor, he answered "I will make it possible for a boy behind the plow to know more Scripture than you do." At the threat of death, he fled England and lived secretly in Europe, until he was betrayed by a friend, and imprisoned in Belgium, before being burned at the stake. If you visit the spot where he died, you will be told that as an act of kindness Tyndale was strangled to spare him from the flames. Yet this isn’t true… It was not unusual that when a great reformer, such as Tyndale – one of many martyrs for Christ – were set alight, that they would preach, pray, and sing so passionately, that many were saved before the witness was silenced by death! That is why Tyndale was strangled to death. Not to keep him from pain, but to keep people from hearing the Gospel. In fact, Tyndale's last words were, "Lord, open the King of England's eyes." This prayer was granted and Henry VIII ended up ordering the Bible to be translated into the language of the people. Tyndale's translation was the one they used to do this! -----


Tyndale died so you and I could have the words of life. Talk about reckless, selfless love! Man that grips me. Do I care that much?

is in Jesus Christ. It's an excellent opportunity to get your friends along, so check out the promo materials and share it around.

I encourage you to read the book of Acts, even just a chapter a day. Following the story of Paul is amazing! (I’m still finishing it). He truly was a Spirit-led, spirit empowered witness. Looking back through the story, there several parts that stand out to me;

Also, the Hope Foundation is putting on a High Tea at the Princess Theatre to raise funds and awareness and launch the new Hope on the Streets van. Check out www.hopefoundation.org.au and the promo video on the website for more info.

In Acts 18:9, the Lord appeared to Paul and told him “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Do not be silent for I am with you.” Paul, just like Tyndale, had every opportunity to quit travelling around preaching the gospel, being beaten, thrown in and out of jail, and in the end being murdered by an insane ruler…yet, on the shore of Ephesus, Acts 20:24, as he is saying goodbye to the church there knowing that he was not going to see these people again, and that his death was coming, he says that his life would not be worth living if he didn’t finish the work of the Lord.

We trust that this edition of Sign has given you some meaty material to muse over, challenging and encouraging you in your walk with Christ, to better share Him with those around you.

You and I all have different parts – some of us are mothers, fathers; some are teachers, accountants, builders, train drivers, or farmers. But in Christ, we are all his disciples. It’s our job wherever – whoever we are— to point people to Jesus, for He is the only Way to forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and everlasting life. Evangelism is not a specialty job for a Pastor! We are all empowered by His spirit to witness. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells all his disciples - including us – “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." The end of that verse blows me away; He is with us, till the end of this age. What an incredible promise. He is with you when you speak his message… Before I sign off, I want to give a plug for a couple of events coming up in Brisbane. Firstly, Break Free: (Check out the website www.breakfreebrisbane.com, and also "Break Free Promo" on YouTube.com.) The event exists to direct people to the freedom that

Sign will now be bi-monthly, which will help us keep up the quality, and you find time to read, digest and employ! The next edition of Sign ties in with that major Christmas event we call the Incarnation. It's about following Jesus to cross every boundary and reach every person, especially through the gift of friendship. So, send us your thoughts, stories, and ideas for any of the different sections of Sign, so we can share the love! (We'll need your contributions by the middle of October.)" To give you a head start . . . What different groups of people do you mix with—work, social, study, hobby, wherever? Do you really know these people--their hopes, fears, experiences, and beliefs? What boundaries have you crossed to truly connect? And how's your balance of time Christian insiders and outsiders going--when's the last time you spontaneously caught up with a friend outside the church? What's your common ground to build on? ... You get the idea! So get writing!" Bec Edmonds

May you point many people to Jesus, empowered by the Spirit of love. Make the most of every opportunity, giving glory to our Father above.


SIGN e-mag_September09  

Published by Kenmore Baptist Church (Brisbane, Australia), SIGN is a monthly e-magazine geared to helping Christians point people to Jesus i...

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