The 3-Circle Life Conservation Training Video

At Sunday’s night’s prayer meeting I demonstrated how to use the 3-Circle Life Conservation to make a Gospel presentation.  Here’s a link to a more in-depth training video that will help you more effectively share the Gospel.

https://vimeo.com/97258323

There will also be a 3-Circle Conversation training this weekend (Saturday, Nov 11th) at Southeastern Seminary here in Wake Forest for anyone interested in learning more about how to effectively witness and disciple using the 3-Circles Conversation tool.  Follow this link to learn more details about the training:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gospel-conversations-training-tickets-39249647753

I’m praying for the opportunities the Lord is going to provide us all to share our faith in the coming weeks.

Blessings,

Rob Craig

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NW’s Roots!

This past Sunday, Oct 22nd, I spoke on the Protestant Reformation in our morning services. I recommended this resource to our congregation — “Freedom Movement” by Michael Reeves. It is a delightful, short, free read (as a pdf) that you can download from this site:

In addition, you might also want to check out these helpful resources on our Protestant roots as well:

These are little 5 minute videos on church history.  October has been focusing on Martin Luther:

And this is a very helpful summary of the 5 solas by Tim Chester:

The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

The month of October marks the 500th anniversary of a key event that effectively launched the Protestant Reformation.  Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Catholic church in Wittenburg, Germany on October, 31, 1517.  If you’d like to meet some of the leaders of that movement and hear their stories (you can actually listen to these articles read aloud!), Desiring God ministries has put together 31 very brief biographies of key reformers who have shaped our faith and our world.
You can read (or listen) to them here:
Enjoy!

Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?

With the latest tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas come many questions, some our own and some from our friends.  I ran across this helpful article by pastor and author Lee Strobel that may be of help to you or to those you are engaging who are trying to make sense out of such great sorrow in our world alongside the presence of a good God.

Be steadfast.  We are right to trust in the greater goodness of God even when the world seems to have gone mad all around us.

Ps. 23.4

Larry

Hurricane Harvey – How to Help

We have just witnessed what might become the worst natural disaster in American history in Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of parts of Texas and surrounding states. Rescue efforts continue as flooding has destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and displaced the families that live in them. We live in an era where we can learn so much about the far away disaster and yet feel so helpless to offer relief. Here are a few ways to support those who are hurting and those who are helping.

Give

Southern Baptist relief was on its way before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has sent supplies to the hardest hit areas. To add financial support to NAMB’s work visit:

You’ll find a secure place to give on that page.

At the state level, North Carolina Baptists on Mission (NCBM) has mobilized their mobile kitchens, shower units, laundry units, bunk units, generators and will be providing 30,000 meals a day to feed those affected by Harvey. If you’d like to support the  NCBM work you can make a contribution. Please make your checks payable to …

  • N.C. Baptist Men/Baptists On Mission
  • Designated for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief

Mail to … 

NCBM, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
P.O. Box 1107
Cary, NC 27512

You can also give online towards this work at …

http://baptistsonmission.org/Missions/By-Type/Disaster-Relief/Hurricane-Harvey/Donations

Go

Volunteers will be needed to help. If you’re interested in going to Texas to help with the relief work, you can visit www.baptistsonmission.org/hurricaneharvey to learn more about the needs and sign up to volunteer.

Pray

This is not the last option, but rather an important, necessary option. Take some time to pray for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this storm. Pray for all those who have volunteered to go and serve. Pray for their safety as they minister and witness in these hard hit areas. Pray for the witness of ALL the churches in those affected areas; pray that in this darkest hour of human pain, that God’s love would shine forth to all those who are hurting. Your prayers matter. As you pray, ask the Lord to show you how you might respond. I’m sure that He will show you and prompt you for how you might help.

If you have other ideas for how the Church might respond and help with the relief effort, please email or call me at robc@northwake.com or 919-556-1546 (ext. 506).

For the Lord,
Rob Craig

Summer Lovin’: Basics of Daily Devotions for Teens (and others!)

I L-O-V-E summer. Even though I am not in school anymore, summer still smells like freedom to me! Summer meant replacing my school books with the pool, the ocean, the rivers, and the woods of South Georgia! (We didn’t have any of that “year round school” stuff back in the day!) My birthday is right in the middle of summer. (Watermelon and homemade ice cream anyone?!) During college, summers meant that my long-distance lady-friend (now wife) and I lived in the same town for a few weeks. Years later, we were married in summer… and our first child was born just last summer.

And yet, none of these are my sweetest summer memories. During the long sunsets of summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school, I learned to meet with God. That summer, my whole life changed. I stayed up late crying out to God in distress and confusion. I learned to be honest with Him. I learned to sit with a Bible and listen to the ancient words that God spoke to His ancient people…and to me.

This summer, could you make memories with God? Could you use the long days and late mornings (if you are out of school) to deepen your most important friendship?

Wondering how to do that?

Well, if you want to do a devotion together in person this summer, let me know and I’ll be happy to show you how I do devotions! Alternatively, keep reading this post, and I’ll invite you back into my summer days, onto my porch and into my prayer closet, and give you a picture of how I learned to spend time with Jesus.

  1. Attention: Commit to a particular time and (un-distracting) place. (Psalm 119:37) If spending time with God is a priority, you will have to…well, prioritize it. Choose a time when you’re generally free: morning, evening, afternoon, whatever… and make a regular appointment with God. If people ask you to do something during that time, tell them you already have an appointment! (It’s not lying.) Find a place where you can give your attention to God and His Word. Psychologist William James defined attention as “withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.” In other words, you can’t meaningfully connect with God’s word and text your friends and check your Snapchat and browse Instagram and play with your sister and do your chores and sleep and binge-watch Netflix all at once. Sorry. Can’t be done. You will have to withdraw from some things in order to give your attention to other things. My advice is to leave the phone behind and take a paper Bible. (Or stone tablet or lambskin scroll or something that has no ability to digi-magically distract you. Embrace the digital withdrawal.)
  2. Prayer: Start by being brutally honest with God. (Psalm 62:8) If you don’t feel like spending time with God, just tell Him upfront. If you are upset or struggling with something, go ahead and get it out on the table. If some issue or situation is on your mind and you keep thinking about it, talk to God about it. God wants to meet with the real you, not the cleaned-up, churchified version of you. (Pick almost any Psalm and you’ll find prayers from guys who were brutally honest with God… they’ll almost make you blush and wonder if it’s ok to say that to God!) It’s ok to confess sin, or give thanks, or worship, or weep, or just feel “normal”. Start where you are. (It’s even alright if your mind wanders at this point, just talk with God about your mental wanderings!)
  3. Word: Humbly listen to a passage of Scripture. (Isaiah 66:2) Reading through a specific book of the Bible has always been the best way for me to understand the Bible. Since our church is focusing on the theme of “Jesus is Greater”, maybe read one of the gospels and see Jesus in action? Maybe read and re-read the book of Hebrews as our church studies it together?

Reading the Bible is NOT like reading an instruction manual for Ikea furniture assembly. Reading the Bible is seeing God for who He is… and this should melt our hearts in love for Him as we see His winsomeness, His strength, His wisdom, His justice, His passion, His death-embracing love.

How do you read and understand what God is saying in a passage? Don’t over complicate it. Read a chapter or even just a paragraph each day. Ask for God’s help in comprehending the point of the passage.  Two questions that can always be asked of any passage is “what does this passage teach me about the nature and character of God” and “how should this passage change me?” Asking these questions leads to the fourth and last step of your time with God.

4. Journal: React and act upon what you’ve read. (James 1:22-23) After you’ve poured your heart out to God and then filled it up with His Word, (steps 1-3) prepare to let God “work on you” for the rest of the day. I do this by just writing a bit in a journal. (I’ve kept short journal entries ever since that summer before my junior year, and I now have over 10 years of my conversations with God, so I can look back and see God’s faithfulness to stubborn old me!) Writing something based on the passage that I just read helps me to focus. Sometimes I just re-write a verse or two that was particularly meaningful. Sometimes I write out my emotional reaction to the passage, even if it involves simple questions or admissions of failure or cries for help. Sometimes I write out an action step that I need to take in response to the passage. (What should I stop doing? What should I start doing?) Basically I’m just talking to God in response to what He just told me through the Bible. Writing it down keeps me focused. Talking/praying out loud can help too!

What does this summer hold in store for you? I hope you’ll discover what I did as a teenager… a God who can be known, because He’s revealed Himself to us in His Word. And I hope that you’ll fall in love this summer. Not with a boy or girl or even summer itself, but with the Lord who created summers and watermelons and waves. Every ounce of joy and fun you experience this summer is but a drop from His finger.

Lord,

Help us…help me believe Psalm 16:11…that in Your presence there is fullness of joy.

Help us seek you and find you!

Amen.

Just the Facts Christianity

There is a catchphrase from 1950’s television that I have always related to…“Just the facts, ma’am.” This was the phrase regularly uttered by Sgt. Joe Friday while conducting interviews during police investigations on the show Dragnet. As an ex-accountant whose left-brain is regularly in charge, I default to logic, analysis, structure and organization. So I can connect with a guy who helps people get straight to the facts. Just tell me the important information that I need to know so that I can be as productive as possible. After all, this is efficient and does not waste anyone’s time.

Well, by default, I applied this mindset to my spiritual disciplines when I became a believer. Even that phrase “spiritual disciplines” was attractive to me! Discipline, order, structure…Yes! (If you can’t tell, I am grunting like Tim the Tool Man Taylor from the TV show Home Improvement at this point)! I scheduled my “quiet time,” planned how much I would read each day, determined how much time I would spend praying (20 minutes should do) and organized my prayer time around the key aspects of the Lord’s prayer. The tithe was simple to me…10%. Now it was not easy because my disposable income decreased, but it was simple because there was a percentage to apply to my salary (I now understand that giving under the new covenant is not a set percentage). Nevertheless, my “just the facts” mentality seemed to really help me establish what, from all external purposes, appeared to be a meaningful and vibrant devotional life.

It was not until later that I began to notice the weaknesses and, to be honest, the dangers of that approach to pursuing God. I began to notice that my view of His satisfaction with me had a direct correlation with these structures and goals I had set. For example: if I did not read the Bible or pray the full 20 minutes one day, I felt as though God was disappointed. On the other hand, if I had an extended time in the Word and prayer, God was overjoyed with me. Also, my time with Him was more of an intellectual pursuit. It was mostly about knowing more about Him instead of knowing Him more. In many ways, my relationship with God was a checklist that I could cross off like we do a grocery list or a To-Do list at work.

I also began to run into passages like “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:44-46) and “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). These passages and many others began to redirect my perspective on pursuing God. I had been treating the spiritual disciplines as the goal instead of the means to the goal of enjoying my God. Reading the Bible, prayer, giving, etc. were supposed to be conduits, pipelines if you will, to God. He was the One I was ultimately after, not the ability to check things off some list.

So I began to make some changes. The first step may seem minor, but I stopped calling them spiritual disciplines and began calling them spiritual delights. I needed to shift my mindset from duty to delight. My desire was to delight in God. I also began shifting my focus from simply knowing about God to knowing God. I figured if my wife wants me to know her and not just know about her, then God would probably want that as well. Larry Trotter calls this the difference between transformational and informational reading of the Word. I wanted my time to transform me not just increase my Bible IQ. To help my left-brainedness (if that is even a word), I began to pray almost every morning, before I got out of bed, that I would find my ultimate delight in God and that He would give me faith to do so. I pray the same thing for my immediate family as well. It takes just a couple of minutes and it orients my mind for the day. I also gave myself more freedom and flexibility on how I spent my time in the Word. It was okay if I did not read through the Bible in a year. Slowing down and studying shorter portions of Scripture was helpful. I even introduced other people into my times with God…saints who have walked faithfully with God and written their experiences and insights into Scripture. I will read good, Bible-saturated books now as part of my devotional life. Basically, I allowed myself to do anything that aided in my pursuit of delighting in God. Those things that helped me find my supreme affection in Him.

So even though I am naturally bent towards the “Just the facts, ma’am” approach, I have found that it is not the best approach to my relationship with God. He desires to give me more than information. He desires to give me Himself. He longs to enjoy my company. And for me to enjoy His company, I must enjoy Him. My spiritual delights are simply the means by which I enter His presence where the fullness of joy is found.

Delighting in Christ,

Jake


I have read several good books that have helped me along the way. A few are:

  1. Desiring God by John Piper
  2. Simply Jesus by Joseph M. Stowel
  3. Rejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves
  4. The Dangerous Duty of Delight by John Piper
  5. Chasing Infinity by Mark Liederbach
  6. Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves.