Tell Me The Stories of Jesus
No doubt William H. Parker, the writer of this great hymn, intended for us to hear and repeat stories of our Savior of his time here on earth. We do this in church, in Bible study and the stories never get old. Miracles, healing, parables, sermons, talks with the disciples are all part of the rich history and tradition of the Christian religion. It is The Greatest Story Ever Told. But there is another Jesus story that is there for the telling.
When Jesus returned after the Resurrection, he remained with the disciples for 40 days before he ascended into heaven. He did not leave his followers empty handed, rather He left them with the Holy Spirit. "But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." John 14:26. Why? So that they could carry on His work, tell His story. But it wasn’t just His stories but their own stories made possible by their belief and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Last month I attended a family reunion. The average age was somewhere north of 60. There was much discussion on how we could reach the younger generation who seemed to have something better to do than attend reunions. We talked about mailings, visits to historic family sites and using the Internet. One of the few members of the younger crowd stopped texting long enough to say, "we want to hear stories." What an idea. Connect the generations through stories.
"All of us who love God and follow Jesus have something to write about or speak about or sing about". The Upper Room, April 29, 2015. You don’t have to be a street preacher to tell it right. Peter said, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.." I Peter 3:15. Pastor Chuck Swindoll says: "The skeptic may deny our doctrine or attack our church, but he cannot honestly ignore the fact that our life has been changed by Jesus." Pastor Bill Hybels encouraged his congregation to get their story down to 45 seconds. It doesn’t need to be a deep, theological statement or one loaded with pithy sound bites. Here’s an example from his church. "For years, I felt empty inside. I had a hole that I needed to fill, so I searched for things that could fill that hole: a new house, children, friends, new clothes, a new job ... My emptiness would be filled for a short time, but I never found the 'it' that kept the hole filled. One day I heard a message about having a relationship with Jesus. Once I understood, accepted, and grew in my relationship with him, my emptiness was finally filled - for good. Today, I am no longer searching for things to fill my life." (You could say that's the "hole" truth).
What’s your story? If you don't have one about what Jesus has done for you, that’s OK. Just think about it. Work on it, pray about it. Then you could try it out on someone. Pick an easy target: the pastor, for example, or maybe a church member. Remember, try to keep it down to 45 seconds or say, one minute, since we talk a little slower down South.
From the Pastor
The Merry Month of May gives us opportunities to both learn and to share our faith. We do this in weekly Bible Study, Sunday School, Worship Service, Fellowship Dinners, and personal interaction with others. It is important to understand the terminology of our faith, just as one has to the learn the terminology of a specific vocation or occupation. When we gain this knowledge we are more comfortable in our faith walk, and more confident in our ability to learn and share with others. The focus this month is on clarifying Ascension Sunday and Pentecost; apostle and disciple. Two of the important Sundays we celebrate In the Christian Calendar are: May 17th - Ascension Sunday and May 24th - Pentecost Sunday. Many times we use two words as though they have the same meaning: apostle and disciple.
The word "apostle" is the English transliteration of a Greek word meaning "one who is sent out." An apostle is a personal messenger or envoy, commissioned to transmit the message or otherwise carry out the instructions of the commissioning agent.
In the New Testament Gospels, the term is commonly associated with the special inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, chosen and commissioned by him to accompany him during his ministry, to receive his teachings and observe his actions, and to follow his instructions. Thus, they are uniquely qualified both to authenticate his message and to carry on his work through the ministry of the church. (Achtemeier, Paul J., Editor. Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, 1996).
"Disciple" is translated from Greek for "learner." This person may be an apprentice or pupil attached to a teacher or movement; one whose allegiance is to the instructions and commitments of the teacher or movement. Most New Testament references to “disciple” designate “followers” of Jesus, often a large group including both his closest associates (the Twelve) and a larger number who followed with varying positive response. (Achtemeier).
All Christians are disciples, but not all Christians are apostles. Missionaries are both disciples and apostles, as they are literally “sent out” to preach and teach the Word of God. We disciples are followers of Jesus, yet, few of us are true apostles.
We will celebrate Ascension Sunday on May 17th. The Ascension of Jesus commemorates the Resurrected Jesus being taken up to heaven in His resurrected body, in the presence of eleven of His disciples, occurring 40 days – on a Thursday - after the Resurrection. The Gospels of Luke 24: 50-51 and Mark 16:19 give two brief descriptions of the Ascension of Jesus. A more detailed account of Jesus’ bodily Ascension into the clouds is given in Acts 1: 9-11. The Ascension is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection. (Wikipedia)
We will celebrate Pentecost on Sunday, May 24th. Pentecost or “the fiftieth day” is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. In the Christian liturgical year, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles as described in Acts 2: 1-31. Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians as the “Birthday of the Church.” (Wikipedia)
As we continue in our study of the Holy Word of God, may we have a better understanding of our Christian faith.