Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Gives Us Resurrection Gospel

Contact: Kathy Carlton Willis
WillisWay@aol.com; 956-642-6319

Easter Gives Us Resurrection Gospel
Former Pastor Has New Evangelistic Message
with Historical Miracle

North Brunswick, NJ (March 18, 2008)--Just as sure as Easter celebrates the risen Savior, the evangelistic message must have as its central theme, the resurrection. So often Christians get bogged down in persuading non-believers that they are sinners, and that Jesus died on the cross for their sin that they lose sight of the true focus of the Good News--the resurrection. Mark McGrath's new book, A Forgotten Gospel reminds us just how important believing in the miracle of Easter is to the conversion of a soul.

Just hearing the word "evangelism" conjures up images of Bible-toters going door-to-door spreading the Good News. Most non-believers avoid answering the door, or feel strong-armed if they do get caught in the net called "witnessing." Even most Christians become nervous at the thought of evangelism. Why? Because they have been guilted into believing they are somehow "less than" if they do not follow a specific pattern of what some call soul-winning. The thing is, the Good News sounds an awful lot like bad news, starting with, "You must acknowledge you are a sinner." This is off-putting for the one witnessing as well as the non-believer.

Today's culture presents challenges to sharing the gospel that were not present 20 to 30 years ago. Why create an antagonistic atmosphere that can be perceived as judgmental? It only shuts the door to the opportunity for future conversations.

Isn't there a better way? A Forgotten Gospel presents a pattern that ordinary Christians can use to share Christ without alienating friends, loved ones and co-workers. Author Mark McGrath studied every instance a Christ-follower shared the gospel to a non-believer in Acts, and found some common denominators. Interesting, these factors are not found in most patterns for evangelism. A Forgotten Gospel shows believers how to present the gospel using a relevant biblical pattern with a flexible, conversational approach. The old models don't hold up in today's fast-paced, post-modern society.

Building on 25 years of church-planting experience--with churches started in New York, New Jersey and Great Britain--Mark McGrath, President of McGrath Communications Group, brings a unique blend of professional communications skills training and passionate commitment to developing effective church leaders. Mark conducts evangelism training with several national Campus ministries at Rutgers University in New Jersey and has launched an updated version of both the weekend and small group evangelism seminars he developed. These seminars are available to churches across the U.S.



In A Forgotten Gospel, Mark McGrath has taken the truth of the Gospel that "everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ" and made it simple for today's contemporary world. Many others died on a cross, but none of them are alive today! Jesus Christ is the king, and he wants our friends to know Him and let Him lead their lives. McGrath gives a new, fresh and yet scriptural approach to the Gospel that makes it easy to share our faith in Christ with our friends and family and then still have meaningful conversations afterwards. Presenting his material has started to encourage my students that they too can share Jesus with the people they live with while still calling them close friends.

-Tony Yuhas
Campus Staff for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Rutgers University

Over twenty years ago we embraced the radical change Mark describes here in A Forgotten Gospel and it has completely altered both the approach to and the effect of our outreach. Because this approach coaches people to know how to engage in meaningful conversations with unbelievers, and how to keep the door open for future dialogue, the number of meaningful conversations with non-believers has increased, the level of our relationships with them has deepened, and the church is extremely confident when interacting with those outside the family of God. On top of that, the people who are now beginning to follow Jesus are coming with a genuine faith and real commitment! Whether you have a heart for evangelism or a fear of evangelism, this book is a must read.
-John Singleton
Director of LifeLine Network International

I like this! And I'll tell you why. It's clear and simple. It's positive, like the gospel. It's full of hope. It's free of religious jargon.

McGrath's desire to make the resurrection of Jesus the central aspect of our communication of the gospel to those who need it is right on! Sounds a lot like the book of Acts.

I especially appreciate his emphasis on learning to listen to others and showing real concern for them and their thoughts. His insistence on being sensitive to the voice of God is extremely important. His whole approach is well-balanced and he writes from a broad experience. Very encouraging, indeed!

-Orville Swindoll
Missionary in Argentina for 32 years. Author of several books in Spanish and English. Founder and director of two Spanish-language magazines for Christians. Fifty-seven years of Gospel ministry, and married to the same woman for over 55 years. Four children. Nineteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. Pastor of a Hispanic church in Miami, Florida.

A Very GREEN Ladies Nite Out

Our Ladies Nite Out fellowships are scheduled the 3rd Monday night of each month. Tonight, it landed on St. Patrick's Day, so I had fun promoting our very GREEN gathering.

I've been telling the ladies for a month that we were going to eat all green foods. At first they were hesitant, not sure what to bring. I made a suggestion list with sign-ups, and we had a wonderful assortment, including: chile verde with flour tortillas, stuffed bell peppers, green mashed potatoes, green deviled eggs, broccoli cheese chicken and rice, green bean casserole, cucumber salad, broccoli salad, grape salad, guacamole and chips, spinach dip and crackers, pistachio salad, lime poke cake, green iced cookies and cupcakes, Andes mint pie, Asian slaw, relish tray with all green items, and more.

My DH helped me use i-Movie and You Tube to put together a 22-minute program with video clips all put together from: The Green Hornet, The Incredible Hulk, The Green Mile, It's Not Easy Being Green sung by Kermit, Green Green Grass of Home sung by Tom Jones, Green Acres, Green Eggs and Ham with Dr. Seuss. Obviously, we had a green theme going on, and it was a blast!

Also, I invited the ladies to come dressed for the occasion, and it was fun seeing some of the green get-ups. We gave away 3 green door prizes. And I shared a brief devotional on how we can be like St. Patrick by making a difference, so that years from now, we have a legacy. What we want on our tombstone is how we should live our lives. Will people even know our names in 100 years from now? Next time we wear green for St. Patrick's Day, we can use it as an opportunity to tell others about the prayer St. Patrick prayed (or at least, is attributed to him).

I of course warned them that there are many urban legends about St. Patrick, but there is a lot of good about him as well, and we shouldn't let another denomination be the only one to use him as an example. The main thing is to determine that we want to make a difference for Christ, to pass down a heritage to the next generation, so that after we are long and gone, others will remember what we've done, not so we have fame, but so we will have fulfilled our purpose to glorify God.

We had about 8 guests with us, so that's always exciting too!

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Spy!

This past week I've had opportunity to observe people and demographics (statistics about people). What I want to report, is "I spy with my little eye..."

And it is BIGGER than a breadbox!

We traveled to Dallas this week to the Baptist General Conference of Texas orientation. There we could have sung the children's song, "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world." Not really children, but adults of all the colors of the rainbow met to discuss the resources available to us by the BGCT. Russ and I were encouraged by the diversity and refreshed by the mind-share that happened when we all sat down to share stories and ideas.

We spied another people group...this time at the airport. We traveled one of the busiest times of the year in Rio Grande Valley (near South Padre if that tells you anything). Yes. Spring Break. Every flight was full. In fact, overbooked by 10 passengers each flight. That plus Southwest Airlines being grounded on Wednesday due to flying airplanes that were not cleared to fly (some sort of noncompliance issue that was being addressed). Well, you can imagine, this created the perfect environment for unhappy people! Add to that the already drunk college guys who used colorful language and had very few goals other than satisfying their more baser desires. Helped us realize just how many are out there who are willing to sacrifice any sense of life purpose to fulfill instant gratification.

And finally, I want to leave you with those demographics. The BGCT gave us the stats for a 5-mile radius of our church. This gives us so much to pray about and to figure out ways to help our community.

In 2007:
Population: 13,274
Anglo: 7.8%
Hispanic: 88.5% (97% in the schools)
African American: 3%
Asian/Pacific Islander: .1%
Median Age: 30.3
Of adults 25+ years, 49.9% with no high school diploma, 24$% are high school graduates, 16.6% have some college, and only 9% have a college degree or higher.

Households by Income Level:
Less than $15,000, 32.4%
$15,000 to $24,999, 17%
$25,000 to $34,999, 13.1%
$35,000 to $49,999, 14.7%
$50,000 to $74,999, 12.8%
$75,000 to $99,999, 5.5%
$100,00 to $149,999, 3.2%
$150,00 and up, 1.3%

Keep in mind, those incomes are by household, not individuals. And some households are holding down 3 to 4 jobs (between husband and wife, and either an adult child or a parent living in the same house).

I spy a people who have a love for family and a strong work ethic. They are loyal and enjoy life. But there is a large section of the population who is looking for something MORE. And a lot of children and teens who are bored and scared. They align with a gang early for protection and affiliation.

We have our work cut out for us, and we're grateful for the resources available through the BGCT.

This summer we hope to offer 3 different children's weeks at the church: Vacation Bible School, Soccer Camp, and Music/Band Camp. We are looking into offering some sort of after-school tutoring program, and computer lab, as well as getting a computer program that helps equip those who want to test for their GED. We have something like nine active teachers in our church, and about five retired teachers.

One word? HOPE!

Monday, March 10, 2008

One Word Challenge

Someone challenged me to answer the following questions with just one-word answers. Maybe You'll get to know me better. Feel free to try the same quiz. I'd love to know your answers.

1. Where is your cell phone? PLUGGED
2. Your hair? MEMOREX
3. Your mother? STRONG
4. Your father? HARD-WORKING
5. Your favorite thing? LAPTOP
6. Your dream last night? NONE
7. Your favorite drink? PEPSI-MAX
8. Your dream/goal? NOW
9. The room you're in? LIVING
10. Your hobby? WORDS
11. Your fear? FAILURE
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? VICTORIOUS
13. Where were you last night? CHURCH
14. What you're not? UNSCRUPULOUS
15. Muffins? CHEESECAKE
16. One of your wish list items? WEIGHT-LOSS
17. Where you grew up? RIVERTOWN
18. The last thing you did? SPREADSHEET
19. What are you wearing? CLOTHES
20. Your TV? NOISE
21. Your pets? JOY
22. Your computer? CONVENIENT
23. Your life? COMPLEX
24. Your mood! CONTENT
25. Missing someone? GRANNY
26. Your car? RELIABLE
27. Something you're not wearing? MASK
28. Favorite store? TARGET
29. Your summer? HOT!
30. Like someone? ABSOLUTELY
31. Your favorite color? HOT PINK
32. When is the last time you laughed? TODAY
33. Last time you cried? UNSURE

Friday, March 07, 2008

To be Childlike, One Must Hold On To Memories

"...to retain our childlike openness does not mean to be childish. Only the most mature of us are able to be childlike. And to be able to be childlike involves memory; we must never forget any part of ourselves. As of this writing I am sixty-one years old in chronology. But I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, and forty-five, and. . .and. . .and. . ." — Madeleine L’Engle

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Precious Jazzy

Jazzy, my twenty-eight-month-old Boston Terrier, continues to make me smile. We have a fenced in yard separate from the door to the house, so I have to walk her out there for her bathroom trips, close the gate behind her, and come back in the house to wait for her to finish up. She cries the most pathetic cry to let me know she is ready to come back in. But as soon as she hears me open the door to come "rescue" her, she gets quiet. She doesn't cry one MOMENT longer than necessary. I know PEOPLE who would cry until rescued, rather than being content the very moment they know help is on the way. I can learn from Jazzy!

A week or so ago, we noticed our neighbors had a new dog. Jazzy sort of ignores their first dog, thinking it's sort of a big mouth. But this puppy-she love as if it where her own. She runs out to greet the dog now before taking care of other nature calls, or chasing off the birds, or whatever else dogs like to do in their own yards. The other night she heard the puppy crying, and she urgently had to go outside to check on baby-puppy to make sure it was okay. What a tender-loving doggy I own!

Yesterday I gave Jazzy a yummy chew treat (I guess they are yummy-she always begs for more--I've never personally tasted them!). I gave it to her to keep her occupied while I went away for the morning. When I returned home, she greeted me with the chew treat in her mouth and got all antsy to go out. Not bathroom antsy. She took her treat with her! I figured maybe she wanted to bury it, as dogs are wont to do. Not so. She wanted to share it with the baby-puppy across the fence. How thoughtful of her. KIND. So cute! She was dejected when she couldn't find the puppy. She decided to bring the treat back in to eat it, after abstaining at least 5 hours. I could learn a lot from her to delay gratification in life rather than wanting instant gratification.

Jazzy--the wonder dog!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hilarious Video You Have to Watch!

My friend Vonda Skelton has uploaded her video of a humorous skit called Solomon’s Beloved to YouTube! (It’s a little vignette from one of her speaking programs.) You will enjoy a good laugh and maybe even a pig snort as you chuckle! Feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family! More people need to find out about Vonda's books and ministry. This could be a way to help get the word out! And it’d be a special boost if you could leave a comment! (hint, hint)

Go check it out at:


An added bonus is that Vonda will be our featured May Tea speaker here at First Baptist Church, Raymondville, TX on May 10th and she will be doing this skit live as part of her presentation. Let me know if you want to attend!

You can learn more about Vonda at her Web site.


Also, her new book, Seeing Through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe, is now available at bookstores nationwide, at online bookstores, and at Vonda's website. Read the first chapter here: http://vondaskelton.com/Books.htm