Nick Poindexter

My style's like a chemical spill

Tag: Acts

Do You Understand What You Are Reading?

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
-Acts 8:26-31 (NIV)

One of the things I love about the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is its simplicity. It’s an account of a Christian witnessing. And since modern-day Christians often make evangelism more difficult than it should be, maybe we should take notice.

Philip did 3 straightforward things… He obeyed the Spirit (approached the chariot), found common ground (noticed he was reading Isaiah), and asked a fitting question (“Do you understand what you are reading?”).

You might be thinking, “That’s it?” Yeah, really. That’s it! Witnessing isn’t that complex. Follow me here…

First of all, Philip was obedient. God said, “Go.” Philip went. End of story. When obedience is commonplace in a Christian’s life, opportunities for evangelism are obvious. They’re all around. You can’t help but notice them. Everywhere you turn, there’s a chance to share staring you in the face.

Secondly, Philip was alert. Knowing he was on mission, Philip’s radar was up. And he wasn’t just looking for a convert either… He was looking for someone to invest in. So we too should be attentive for things we have in common with others. Search for unforced ways to connect to those God has placed in your path. Show a genuine interest in other people and you’ll be surprised how many similarities you’ll find.

And last, Philip was normal. He didn’t have to transform into “Evangelism Mode” and start talking and acting in ways that were out of character for him. His first words to the Ethiopian weren’t some unnatural, out-of-left-field “If you died today” spiel. Instead, he engaged the man in conversation by asking a sincere, relevant question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” And guess what? The Ethiopian was actually interested in what Philip had to say. Imagine that!

Let’s be honest… Philip was calm, cool and collected, the exact opposite of most Christians who are pressed into the same situation. Why? It’s simple… Evangelism wasn’t a part of Philip’s life. It was his life! As much as we try, Christians can’t separate the two. It’s not a switch we can flip on or off.

But that’s why it starts with obedience. The more experience you have, the more at ease you will be. And the more at ease you are, the more witnessing becomes an instinctual, effortless part of your life.

So let’s follow Philip’s example. Sharing the gospel is really not as complicated as we make it out to be.

Be obedient. Be alert. And please, be normal.

Shipwrecks And Snakebites

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god.
-Acts 28:3-6 (NLT)

Imagine this scenario: You give up everything and follow the call of God with your life. It has even reached the point that you are imprisoned for your obedience. While being transferred to your trial, your boat runs ashore and your are left shipwrecked on a tiny island. That’s where we catch up with Paul here in Acts 28.

But, believe it or not, it gets worse. Once arriving on the island of Malta, Paul is bitten on the hand by a snake. The natives assume he’s a murder and he’s getting what he deserves. However, the bite doesn’t hurt Paul, so the people then decide that he’s a god instead.

Think of what happened to Paul in less than a 24-hour window: Shipwrecked on an remote island. Bitten by a venomous snake. Accused of being a murderer and a god. And it all happens while being faithful to God! I would say that’s enough to constitute a “bad day.” Honestly, that’s enough to question if what you’re doing is sincerely the will of God. I’m sure that thought crossed Paul’s mind.

A lot of people are at that exact moment in their life right now. Everything is falling apart. Things that are out of your control are controlling you. All your plans are unsuccessful. There are questions, doubts and fears. You feel like a living example of Murphy’s Law… Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. But Paul’s story didn’t end there, and thankfully neither does ours today.

Because of his new-found “god” status, Paul is taken to meet the chief official of the island. Paul is able to pray and heal the man’s sick father, along with others on the island. And as a way of saying “thank you,” the islanders give them enough supplies to complete their trip to Rome. Amazing!

If Paul’s boat doesn’t sink, he doesn’t end up off-course in Malta and he doesn’t get bitten by a snake. If Paul doesn’t get bitten by a snake, the people don’t mistake him for a god and he doesn’t get to meet the chief official. And if Paul doesn’t meet the chief official, the sick aren’t healed, supplies aren’t received, Paul doesn’t reach Rome, and God isn’t glorified.

When everything you thought was right is blowing up in your face… Hang in there. Sometimes failed plans are the best plans. God can use any circumstance to accomplish his purposes.

Even shipwrecks and snakebites.

Upside Down

And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
-Acts 17:6-7 (ESV)

The story as we know it of Jason, a somewhat obscure, yet important New Testament character, is encapsulated in Acts 17. He was a believer who housed Paul and Silas while they were on their missionary journey in the city of Thessalonica. But the success of the two men ruffled some feathers, so Jason was drug from his home and accused before the local authorities. And he was given a very telling charge: Jason had given shelter to “men who have turned the world upside down.”

But in realty, Paul and Silas were simply restoring the world to the way it was supposed to be. They weren’t turning the world upside down… They were turning it right-side up once again. That’s a reputation to be proud of!

If you are faithful to your mission to spread the news of Christ, whether it is as the evangelist (Paul/Silas) or the aide (Jason), you can expect opposition as well. Count on it. You might be told that you are out of your mind… Someone may critize you of thinking backwards… They may even say you have it all upside down.

But that’s a price worth paying, because you will also be in the company of Jesus. As someone who advocated for the weak over the strong, the servant over the powerful, and the poor over the rich, he was accused of the exact same thing.

Paul and Silas were just getting it started. Thousands of years later, the mission remains the same. The world is still desperately in need of the radical ideas and life-changing power of our Savior.

So don’t hesitate any longer. Either start sharing the message of Christ or support those who are already are.

It’s our turn to flip the upside down world right-side up.

Call Me A Christian

It was in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
-Acts 11:26 (MSG)

The church in Antioch is booming. Both Jews and Gentiles are becoming believers left and right. Barnabas visits the city and is encouraged. He later comes back with Saul, and they remain in Antioch for a year teaching to as many as will listen.

With all that was going on, I guess someone decided they ought to have a name. These disciples needed an identity all of their own. So people there started calling them “Christians”.

The term “Christian” is only in the Bible a handful of times, but I have never paid attention to the significance of its first mentioning in Antioch. Notice that the disciples didn’t brainstorm to come up with some edgy, catchy ministry name. Instead, others just called them what they were — Christ-like people, or Christians.

It’s kind of like a nickname. You don’t just give yourself a nickname. Other people give you a nickname based on things you do and who you are.

I identify myself as a Christian all the time. It’s my religious affiliation. It’s my faith. It’s my life. It’s who I am. Or so I say.

If people started studying my life, I can’t help but wonder what nickname I would end up with. Would I come away with such a flattering title like the disciples in Antioch?

It’s sad to think, but if I got the name I deserved, would others call me a Christian?

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