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Engaging the Culture in Winsome Ways (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2022 6:00 am

Engaging the Culture in Winsome Ways (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 19, 2022 6:00 am

In this conversation, Philip Yancey describes how you can be a bridge to the Gospel in a culture that’s thirsty for the Good News. Tune in to hear how three types of Christians in particular – pilgrims, activists, and artists – can serve as conduits of God’s grace. (Part 2 of 2)

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Truly, some good news. Realize that God cares about me but God loves me that I can conduct with regard of universal God created this planet that's Philip Yancey with a really important reminder that the gospel is truly good news to those who are hurting. Philip joins us again today on Focus on the Family in your hostess focus Pres. and Dr. Jim Daly on John felt John last time we shared a powerful conversation. I was able to record with Philip Yancey.

If you missed part one. Make sure to get the CD or download or find the video on YouTube that I'm thankful for Philip's insights on how we present the good news to a watching world in the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus told his followers. Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. That's right out of Matthew 516 if you're a believer you're called to be a faithful witness to the hope you found in Christ. And today, Philip will offer you help as you seek to share God's love and went some way, and as we mentioned last time Philip's book.

That is the foundation for the conversation is called vanishing grace.

Whatever happened to the good news filled has a fascinating perspective. He spent years researching and writing about how Christians can be salt and light and live authentically and I do hope that you will get in touch with us for a copy of this great book. Call 800 the letter a and the word family or click the link in the episode notes and Jim, here's how you began part two of your conversation with Philippines and develop it's great to have you back for day to thank you so pleasure. It's a great conversation to go deep quickly, but you know pain often draws us toward God. It seems again counterintuitive. Why would the Lord you suffering but certainly Paul and others talked about that what what suffering produces hope, faith, etc. and for me it's been my life's experiences a little boy who went through a lot of trauma orphaned at a young age and the foster care. Someone will ask me occasionally. You know, if you had to go through all that again and be where you're at with the Lord, would you do it again. I absolutely so that context.

Address that because you've written a lot about it suffering leading to deeper relationship with God.

Does it have to be that way. I think of a phrase from CS Lewis and I'm always very hesitant to ever disagree with anything. CS Lewis, but he used the phrase called pain. The megaphone of God is that God whispers to us in our good times but he shouts to us in our bad times and I understand what he saying that I would phrase it a little differently because when I hear that megaphone of God. I think of football coach on the sideline yelling at people do 50 push-ups go 5 miles I had that code and I don't see God up there saying all I'm going to teach him a lesson. I meant to make them suffer and then they'll turn to me.

I just don't see that you could talk about why I would just change that phrase little bit and say that pain is is the hearing aid actually is something we can control we can neither turn away from God.

Well, if it's godlike that I'll never trust him that I got again or we can turn up the volume and listen. What could I learn from this experience, which is what you did. Philip, one of the big debates that we have no those that excel in the material universe right you can be in conversations.

I think you are even a book club that had this kind of diversity in if I could call it that, but people that are accomplishing may go to the Ivy League. I met a man who is the chair of religion and philosophy at the University had me come speak their talked about being a Christian. One time he went to Princeton Divinity school and he said I read too much and I lost my faith and I think that context, you know how how do we speak in a world that trust so much in the material world and when it comes to faith.

It's like mass beyond what I want to deal with.

I don't know about those things. And frankly, right now I don't care about those things that seems to be one of the battles good. I'm sure like your book club. There great people there.

They just don't know the Lord don't really have an interesting I would get in conversations with people in my book club and asked them okay your member of Amnesty International you care about human rights light. Why do you care about human rights well because everybody does this actually everybody doesn't their dictators in the world who don't care about human rights. The reason I care about human rights is because I believe everybody was created in the image of God and that's foundational I can't stop that what you care about the environment well because the earth is in trouble. Okay, that's true and I care about the environment because I believe God created the earth. It's part of his artistry and it exposes sometimes people just have these assumptions of what's good and what's not good and as you know you travel the world. Not everybody shares those assumptions you have to have a basis for the reason and if you peel back Western civilization. The things that we value human rights in education and art and beauty in the things came out of the church that came out of Christians saying these are what God is like. So therefore as sub creators were going to demonstrate that right. I mean, these are the attributes that we see in the character of God right right. At least how it's recorded in the Scripture, and I think it's pretty accurate you spent years rediscovering as you said in the book of the good news, good news of Christ describe what happened. What does that journey entail to rediscover well. I grew up in a church that was very biblical. They thought, but they came away with some different conclusions than that I had to work through later. This was in the South in Atlanta area.

Back when the civil rights movement was just getting underway and my church was racist. We actually had these cards and if a person of color tried to enter the church. They were given this card that said basically we know you're not a true worshiper of God you just a troublemaker you're not welcome here. You're not allowed here. You want to know more about Jesus call this number is in your lifetime is in my letter that's absolutely true, why would of been in the late 19th. It seems like something that might've occurred. A century or two ago when was the last century. It was 1950 59 or so when I realize what that what the church. It taught me about racism is wrong. There was a crisis of faith for me because I thought with the wrong about race.

Maybe the wrong about the Bible. Maybe the wrong about Jesus and it it forced me to go and investigate for myself and for a while there I was deconstructing my faith, can believe anymore Kimberly, listen more, and in fortunately, just as a as a writer, I've been able over the years to pick up these things one by one the Jesus I never knew what is Jesus prayer does it work. What is grace. It didn't feel much grace growing out what is it and spend my life kind of going to the Bible going to people I trust, and in reconstructing my faith yeah and you know I think one of the difficulties felt as we often were trying to project perfection when were imperfect, even in this life is Christians I'm ever talking to one naysayer and he said will you just a bunch of hypocrites. I said actually you're right because we can't live it perfectly that we were going to have blind spots and then were going to have spots we know are not doing well and spiritually and were not living it out the way we need to.

It's called the sanctification process enough not to be the same.

Hopefully 20 years from now that we are today working to be better deeper in Christ living it better and he seemed to appreciate that and that's one of the promises were, you know, we try to be perfect in the sight of people rather than broken.

I love that line. I'm I am a hypocrite. You're absolutely right and back to the phrase we mentioned earlier, holier than thou right.

That's the same thing. There's really only one standard and less holier than thou pointing to the heavens. That's our standard. Jesus would be perfect and his disciples a dog to do that and that's the point. Yeah you're right so do you have a fallback peers of Baalbek's grace and there's forgiveness because none of us can make it on her own merits and by the way, that's what makes it the good news is that you have to earn it and it's like we flip it on its ear and we tell people that you gotta be. Gotta behave right then you get it. That's not what Jesus said you made a trip to Kazakhstan. You may be the only other person I know I visited because it is more like 93. For me, but that same area. What happened to you that reminded you that the gospel is the good I went to speak to a group of people who are staff members and volunteers for crew used became campus Crusade and these are all Christians. They were all Christians obviously and there had all been raised before there was any likely church in Kazakhstan. They were raised under rigid communism. They were taught. There's nothing beyond this life. There is no God atheism.

If you if you believe in God, you're a fool in your also be penalized in our society can't go to university are going to be cut out that strata Scripture, but they say you can be called before Christ's answer so I would say will tell me your story. What happened now you're working for crew. So what happened and it's almost like they had memorized descriptors.

Everyone told the same story. This is what we we were true believers in communism and yet we looked around us and we found out that we were miserable and it wasn't true, and our parents were alcoholics and my father would beat us, and we were. This is a cold place and we had no reason to live. And then somebody came up to us on a university campus and said did you know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

We've all heard the four spiritual laws in the United States and you just kinda say oh yeah okay there's a little formula for you. They never heard this stuff is new and they would something. There is a God, God loves me.

Would you like to hear more yard like to hear more, and I heard this again and again Amanda became almost a joke at knew exactly what they're going to say next that these were people I got to know and trust, and they weren't using the script. They were just on what happened. I grew up. Under this regime. I found out I was wrong in the gospel truly sounded like good news to realize that God cares about me that God loves me that I can connect with the God of the universe. The God who created this planet yeah you fill in the book you discovered three types I think is a comment that a friend of yours made to you but you discover three types of Christians that outsiders respect the mouse a lot of outsiders don't like many Christians, but there are three categories of people who there little more open to who are effective artists, pilgrims and activists the start with activists. If I care about the environment. If I care about civil rights. If I care about some of these things and I do it because of my Christian convictions and somebody else who cares about those things has to stop and think will why do I care about these things, you know I am. I am representing what God cares about by my activism so they can go back to the civil rights movement. Most of them was a moral crusade, and most of the people leaving it were clergyman from John Lewis to Luther King Junior, Ralph Abernathy know that the church led that right yet abolitionists writer predominately could anything artists I like to lecture the church on a patent. These artists are hard to work with creative good looks like they look funny and address money and in their there they don't do well on committees but artists can get across profound eternal truths better than pastors than theologians because they sneak up in ways that they go directly to the heart, and I told the story of artists who do that well 11*a mission because were here in Colorado. One of the great artists of our day is a man named Michael Fujimori Japanese is an artist. Japanese-American is an artist incredibly talented once he was. He was called to do the White House Christmas card menus is up at that level.

But he does abstractly expression is a minimum and an old Japanese form and had the 20th anniversary of Columbine just down the road.

Here the shootings that killed whole bunch of people in Canada started the whole awareness of mass shootings in the United States in school shootings the 20th anniversary was a sober event in Moscow came as an artist and he showed us this craft called consumer key Japanese word where they take these old pottery things that are broken into like a bowl that's broken into four or five pieces in the glue them back together using solid gold as the seams and they create these beautiful things out of what had been thrown away and picked out of a trashcan and eat. He gave that as an illustration for the terrible tragedy at Columbine and yet out of that these beautiful things have happened in what people had feared, is kind of a somber message turned into almost a celebration that that redemption can come even out of the pain that like like Columbine. We heard from survivors who heard from families with her from the principles and art can do that hearken express something that other people can't one grab the heart, absolutely. And in the last category of pilgrims and we've been talking about that gem that we don't we don't win people by saying I got something and you don't Nana Nana has really something we when people by saying I'm just like you and I found something that satisfied deeply in my soul and if you have ever experienced anything like this. If you ever experience confusion, pain, whatever. I know a place to go. I know the gospel is really good news. Give it a try and if you start with that, I've got something and you don't I'm going to help you as a dozen or so to restart him just like you. I know what you're going through and here's something that I found that really helped me in that context, what I've seen interacting with people that would oppose a Christian worldview is that when you meet with them. Talk with them and they realize your you're not the caricature of what what they created. You know that you can laugh with them. You can simply relate with them. There is something in there that when people sincerely feel that you care about them. I would say love them. It's almost in our spiritual DNA. We can't resist that even as a crusty human thing something begins to crack in your soul which I think is what how we cooperate with the Holy Spirit going back to yesterday's comment, but you don't have to go out of your way to be hated and then where it is a badge. Try this went out of your way to look for that kind of loving grace that actually cracks that crusty soul in them can allow the Holy Spirit to do that great work in someone's heart. Be a shock to people. Wow, I didn't expect Christians to behave that widening specter Christians say that God loved me whatever my dear I you have in fact in the book you have a story of a skeptic. I think her name was Gina Welch and she began visiting a church and described an outsiders point of view. What was her story. Yeah, she was an Ivy League person, PhD, is a sociology experiment started going to Thomas Rd., Baptist Church, where Jerry Falwell senior at the time was faster and she was just trying to figure out what are these evangelicals and maybe write a thesis about it and to her surprise, she found that she was she was just cared for sheet of the word compassion gem come pass Io comes from to feel with and she found that people had compassion toward her that she would look forward on going to go on an sentiment of unit Sunday school group again and they know some of what I've been going through in the care and and they draw it out so she doesn't talk about. I became a Christian because of this experience which she she talks about the way her perspective change she thought these were going to be these these right wing uptight hillbilly types and instead she found other human beings, much like me and they care about me and they have a community that they can bring their honest struggles to every week. It was that it was a shock for her and I think we need much more that kind of cross-fertilization from both directions right in her direction. It was the liberal who had these preconceptions about what an evangelical was an and we need our own perspectives changed as you've talked about and explained well in the reality is that she lands in a different church.

She might've had those presuppositions reinforce what we were absolutely a minute really came down to the leadership of that particular church and in what they were expressing with the people expressed in that regard. Philip. This caught my attention. Years ago when I stepped into the role as president focus, but it dawned on me. We have this.

I think nonessential battle going between what I call orthodoxy north of prexy. So the orthodoxy is speaking God's truth and you know were communications ministry.

So we that's what we try to we try to express God's truth and have programs like this one to talk about the love of God as well.

But you know his grace is truth, the whole theme of what we talked about and then there's ortho prexy which is the doing of the word and I think at least in Western culture.

Maybe that's one of the great failures from early Christianity that we are wonderful at speaking truth but have become a bit lazy. If I can use that word at expressing the ortho prexy of the gospel actually rolling up your sleeves getting involved. One of the things that we started here was a foster adoption program is born out of my heart, being a foster child. I always felt like if the church were on the right things. There shouldn't be hundred thousand kids in the foster care system waiting for adoption right and it's a tough road.

Believe me-we have fostered 15 children. It's not an easy task and not everybody's cut out for. I get that. But if you look at hundred thousand kids out of the 400,000 that are in the foster program and there's 300/300,000 churches. That's one child every three churches. Can we get that done. I mean, and talk about changing the brand of Christianity in America and I'd love to see that New York Times headline that says Christian church wipes out waiting fostered her adoption was when they change things. It would there's a theologian from Croatia.

You may know the name Miroslav Wolf met every okay. I think he teaches at Yale now and he said to he said as civilization changes and grows less and less friendly to Christianity we have to change our approach and I'm kind of putting words in his mouth or what you said in the old days. Billy Graham could go to any stadium in the United States fill that stadium with people and needs, and if there is a the Bible says and people would come forward and right respond city truck.

Try that now there are very few evangelists preachers who could fill a stadium anywhere in the United States and if you stand up and say the Bible says, people say well so I do not believe the Bible you know the Bhagavad-Gita says something else.

Who knows what's true society has changed that much in our lifetimes, so he said the best way I know to get across. The gospel is what he calls hands to heart to head you reach out with your hands. Acts of mercy exactly what you're saying.

Foster program feeding the hungry, responding in a refugee crisis like Afghanistan was hands. You reach out with acts of mercy that affects people's hearts like you do this, why do you care about me. Oh well. Here's why and finally get to the head. We just start with the head. Here's what you should believe things have changed.

Reach out with your hands versus affects the heart and they're open to that, had knowledge, so true in the book you mention a British skeptic Matthew Paris, who pointed out the benefits of Christian evangelism in South Africa. I mean, again, he wasn't a Christian. But when he looked at it what'd he say yeah he he grew up in South Africa. I think he might've been on a missionaries kid, but he strayed far from the faith and calls himself an atheist.

Now, but in it was in the Guardian newspaper. He wrote an article and said I gotta admit that aid programs alone don't solve the problems in Africa. People who just cannot toss bags of rice out of a helicopter, something that the Christians who are there really care and they express that care. So with their own hands they hand out bowls of rice and that such a different thing than say the UN.

You know just coming in and doing a job to to distribute food and eat.

He said that is not enough to convert me, but I gotta say there's a huge difference in someone reaching out with her hands with acts of mercy. It's it's just it's different.

Well the idea I think it explained that faith has made an impact. It's what makes the biggest impact in Africa why that's true. So many Vanessa nonbeliever saying that as an unbeliever sitting in this statistic I've heard, Jim is in today this day while were sitting here 30,000 people will become Christians in Africa today. Unlike in America happens everyday. That's the difference. Rent it seems like the Spirit is at work in especially Third World country.

I was asked to speak with. I was right in the century change the year 2000 and so I was speaking at this place and I went back and got a review church history to see what it happened in the last 2000 years and cursor movement started in the Middle East, but most of the places that Paul visited wrote his letters to their no churches left there there all bulldozed in Turkey right there and listen controller is they're all gone then and then it went to Europe and it was there for about a thousand years and think started changing and then it jumped over to the United States and we were and still are the center of global outreach for the faith. But the really exciting part of the faith is in places like the Philippines in the underground church in China and Africa and I I came up with this revelation that God moves not God in Louisiana but picks up his bag and moves pleasing use of inabilities. They went to Europe in the northern United States and North America and then now is all over the place and in the real active parts are in in a lot of most challenging places in the world and I I concluded that God goes worries wanted and the more prosperous and stable of society gets think of Europe.

Think of the United States now then people say well I could be watching football on television on Sunday and I have to go to church. I could be doing. I could be just accumulating more more.

Why should I care about poor people in the world right we don't really need him much. I mean it a try.

I don't mean I that goes pretty well here that's what we say we do and and God never forces himself never twist arms just says I'll find somebody who does need me in the accident months, etc. so this is been so good. Thank you for being with me. I appreciate it been a pleasure to discuss these things women solve them all along the way think is a great two-part conversation you had with Philip Yancey and for the listeners.

A reminder that were here for you to help in your spiritual journey. If this is the first time you're hearing about the gospel, the good news. Or maybe you are rediscovering that message as Philip did get in touch with us. Our website has a free booklet you can download it's called coming home and it really is a nice readable summary of the gospel and you can find the link to that in the episode notes and were ever you're at your spiritual journey. We encourage you to get a copy of Phillips great book, vanishing grace, consider making a monthly pledge or one-time gift to Focus on the Family when you partner with us in ministry together will send you Phillip's book as our way of saying thank you donates and get your copy of vanishing grace.

Whatever happened to the good news when you call 800-232-6459 or stop by the episode notes for the link you plan to join us next time. As we offering courage and wisdom for parents of teenagers, they are going to be greatly influenced by our model more than anything we say on so they turned out to be like million this particular area not only to be changing going apologize for my past life on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team here. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back again help you and your family thrive in Christ, I'm here asking people how they can give and I don't know maybe love give and get love that it's also possible that the charitable gift annuity you get a secure source and fixed income and charitable tax decks and giving a charitable gift annuity to Focus on the Family help family thrive for generations to come. Find out more good and as planned giving,

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