Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Evangelism

What is God Doing?

The past few weeks since our problems began with the Toronto District School Board have been pretty hectic. On top of all the usual work that needs to be done in the life of a church, Paul McDonald and I have been busy appealing the decision, speaking out about the issue as God gives opportunity, praying, and searching for a new meeting place for our congregation.

There’s a very real sense in which someone could ask with all of this, ‘Why?’ In the middle of all of this, the question of ‘What is God doing here?’ is pressing.

Perhaps the coolest thing through all of this situation is that we have never had opportunity to doubt, even for a moment, that God is at work. For the sake of God’s glory, today and tomorrow I want to highlight a few ways we’ve seen God at work lately. Today I’ll write about the ways we’ve seen God working through the troubles with the TDSB. Tomorrow I’ll write about how we’ve seen God work despite the situation.

What is God Doing Through This Situation?

An Unexpected Audience

When the situation first broke and I knew we would need to end our relationship with the school one of my first thoughts was to approach the caretaker who has served us at our school. I wanted him to be informed and to know that we still love him and are not leaving because of anything he’s done.

When I went in to speak with him I actually ended up meeting the school’s other caretaker. Over the course of the conversation it came out that he had actually been listening to some of our church’s sermons online! How amazing is that? Just because our church had been meeting in that particular school that particular caretaker was moved to go online and hear the preaching of God’s word!

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One Idea and One Resource for Evangelism

What if I told you that you could help us in the work of evangelizing our community? And what if I told you that it wouldn’t take a huge time commitment, cost you any money, or even necessitate you moving away from your desk at work? What if I told you there was a way you could be encouraged to evangelism and equipped for evangelism from the seat that you’re in right now?

I have both an idea and a resource that I would like to offer you.
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75 Sundays

January 16, 2011 was a monumental day for us at Grace Fellowship Church. It was our first Sunday together officially holding a Sunday worship service. As of this past Sunday, June 17, 2012, we have met on 75 Sundays now.  I simply cannot believe how gracious God has been to us.

Here are some of my reflections.

God clearly loves his church …

He must. He continues to build it. We have seen slow, but steady growth through the entire time. And almost every person that comes has a story that makes me think, ‘Wow, God must be in this.’ We’ve had young people, single people, married people, young families, middle-aged people, and even retired people, from all different races join us. God is building this church as only he can.

I can’t describe or quantify what God has done or what we have felt in planting this church other than saying that we have sensed the divine smile every step of the way. Even when we’ve had to do hard things. And it’s not that we’ve done everything right; it’s just because he loves his church and he wants to prove it over and over.
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Good News for Toronto!

Some of you may remember that a while ago Paul McDonald was authoring a blog called ‘Good News for Toronto’. Well, I have some good news: Paul has begun blogging again!

His blog is devoted to experiences, questions, reflections, and thoughts on evangelism in the city of Toronto. It is an excellent resource and an excellent read. He has already written two posts this week. Here is an excerpt from the first:

Whatever happened to that evangelism blog? Wasn’t it called Good News for Toronto … or something like that? It was, it still is; in fact, it has been resurrected!

My last post was in May of 2010 (yikes! … it was  year of Sabbath rest!). Lots has happened since. Caleb was born (Dec 4, 2010) – Georgie and I love him so much!!! Praise be to God for such kindness to us! I served as Pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church for a year! And well … lots of other stuff too.

Something really cool just happened a couple of weeks ago. My dear brothers and sisters at the Grace Fellowship Church plant in Don Mills hired me to help in the work of establishing the Church! Georgie and I have long standing friendships with many of them so we are very humbled to receive this mercy – this opportunity to walk in the works that God has prepared for us here (Eph 2.10).

Read more…

I highly recommend you adding Paul’s blog to your RSS feed.

Joy Invites Others In

Chasing Fish

Maybe it’s just because I’m a very simple man, but I find it astounding how much there is to be learned just from watching children. Just today I overheard my four year old rejoicing with her mother that she had completed her writing assignment for her ‘reading lesson.’ Stacey was excited with her, but that wasn’t enough. I heard the overjoyed little voice: ‘Can I go show Daddy?’ She received approval from her mother and came bounding up the stairs to my office.

That made me think. Why did she want to come show me? What did she stand to gain by showing me her lines of k’s, f’s, h’s, and m’s repeated over and over? She came to me because she was full of joy and wanted me share in it and to rejoice with her. There is something intuitive about joy that even a four year old understands: joy is never more wonderful than when shared. There’s something overflowing about true joy that compels us to invite others to join with us in our joy.

Which again made me think. Why am I so slow to evangelize? Why does it seem so forced? Why does corporate worship sometimes seem like a chore? Biblically speaking, I think it’s because I am not consistently finding my fullest joy in my God. If I was, my natural impulse would be to speak of it and to invite others to join in my joy.

Isn’t this what we see in Psalm 34?

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!

Do you see it? He calls on others to join in his joy! Then he testifies to how he found his joy:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

There it is! I sought the Lord, I cried to him, and he has heard me, answered me, protected me, kept me! He is good! And then again is a call to participate:

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!

And then the pattern repeats through the Psalm. What David is getting at there is the principle my four year old daughter showed me this morning. When we find true delight for our souls in something, we impulsively call on others to join in our joy.

So if I’m finding that evangelism seems a burden and worship seems a chore, perhaps I don’t need to think first about technique. Perhaps my first question should be, ‘Am I delighting in God? Is my joy really in him?’ Then I need to read the word, preach the gospel to my own heart, remind myself of how he has heard this poor man when I have cried to him.

If I am faithful to find my joy in him, I will speak to others, because joy invites others in. And do you know what? That kind of authentic overflow might just be the most effective technique out there for stirring the hearts of others.

Conversations That Count

I’m excited about what God is doing in our city, in particular, in some of the local churches in our city. Below is the info for an event being hosted by Grace Toronto and run by the Ezra Institute (which is run out of Westminster Chapel). The event is coming up on Saturday, May 29 and will help us learn how to engage people in conversations and relationships that go beyond the weather and sports and get to the more meaningful matters of life.

If you, like me, would like to learn how to better love and share the gospel with your neighbour, then this is a great event for you to consider attending!

The Heir Apparent to Challies.com?

Good News for TorontoOkay, so maybe he’s not quite at Challies status yet, but Paul McDonald continues to faithfully blog his adventures in summer evangelism. It’s been quite an encouragement to read along!

If you haven’t checked it out yet or haven’t looked in a while, make sure you go look at Good News for Toronto.

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