My world got rocked last week when my buddy Bruce Cucchiara was senselessly murdered in New Orleans. Wow … this one hurts. Bruce and I met every Wednesday at his office with a group of spiritual investigators who were kicking the tires of the faith to see if the claims of Christ were true. Bruce concluded Jesus was who He said He was and his entire life was radically changed by amazing grace. Bruce had a Saul-to-Paul kind of transformation and he wanted all to know God in a personal way. Bruce is already missed. At the memorial service I shared four of Bruce’s Spiritual “aha” discoveries:
#1 Life Is Short, Hell Is Hot and Eternity Is Long – Bruce understood the brevity of life. It is motivating when the reality sinks in that we will live a whole lot longer on the other side than on this side.
#2 Dead Men Can’t Throw Life Preservers – Bruce understood that Christianity stands or falls upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The evidence for the resurrection was so overwhelming that Bruce was compelled to follow this One who conquered death and offers life … even eternal life.
#3 God Doesn’t Grade on the Curve – Word out on the street is that human beings in-full or in-part are responsible to save themselves. Bruce was shocked to discover the Bible doesn’t teach one gets to Heaven by good works. He discovered the GRACE plan as opposed to the human achievement plan. The JESUS plus nothing plan.
#4 Intellectual Ascent To Jesus Is Not Enough – Bruce discovered it wasn’t enough to know a few facts about Jesus. One has to make a faith decision to trust Jesus alone for salvation and the gift of eternal life. Bruce made that decision. For him, to live is Christ and to die was gain.
This week showed me once again that life is fragile and the issues of heaven and hell hang in the balance. Decisions about death need to be made in life. Like Bruce, I want all my friends, family and this world to have peace with God and have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. GRACE ADVENTURES is committed to ASKING QUESTIONS, EXPLORING ANSWERS and EQUIPPING ADULTS.
New Training and Resources
This past month I received a week of training from SEARCH MINISTRY. Larry Moody and his staff provided cutting-edge equipping and have graciously allowed me to use their excellent training and outreach materials for ministry in New Orleans. The following activities and presentations are now available to help people find honest answers to tough questions and investigate the claims of Jesus.
The Open Forum is a gathering of friends for the purpose of interacting on significant life and God issues. Normally, it takes place in a home or a convenient daytime location for business and professional people and lasts for four weeks where the guests enjoy eating, meeting each other, laughing and sharing their thoughts. There is an authentic, stimulating discussion about basic life issues, not a Bible study, lecture series, or theological debate. The objective is to create a safe atmosphere where people can examine their philosophy of life. Many people have never carefully evaluated their beliefs or been able to have open dialogue with others on the subject. The Open Forum provides a comfortable environment for just this kind of meaningful interaction. And since the Forum is “open,” you pick the topics of conversation! If you are interested in attending or hosting an Open Forum, please call Michael Sprague at 985 502 4265.
To help friends get started with God, we often begin with the Foundations study. Foundations is a study intended for small groups or one-on-one discipleship. Chapters include:
· How to Begin a Relationship with God
· How to Grow in your Relationship with God
· How to Communicate with God through Prayer
· How to Listen to God through Bible Reading and Study
· How to Tell Others about our Relationship to God
The Big Questions Class
This is a 12-week course dedicated to directly answering Christianity’s toughest criticisms – Is there a God? Is the Bible reliable? Is Jesus the Son of God? Will God judge those who have never heard about Christ? Why are there so many hypocrites? Why the innocent suffer? Do miracles really occur? Isn’t Christianity just a psychological crutch? What does it mean to believe? Can anyone be sure of heaven? How good do you have to be to get to heaven? Isn’t going to heaven by faith too simple?
Heart for the Harvest
There are many people today who would like to know God in a personal way. Unfortunately there are few that are able to help their friends know God. This seminar trains people how they can talk with their friends about having a relationship with God in a very real and relevant way.
In today’s hectic world, people need a place where others know more about them than just their name. Small groups are a place where you can build meaningful friendships with others, while learning more about God and yourself.
A small group is a gathering of 5-20 people who meet on a regular basis, with the common purpose of discovering and growing in their spiritual walk with God. If you are interested in joining a small group, let me know.
Praise and Prayer Requests
· Give thanks for men who are taking up their cross and following Jesus.
· Pray for speaking opportunities this month with the Rotary Club, Dental Group, Heart for the Harvest Seminar and a wedding.
· Pray for the establishment of a key new small group with community leaders.
· Thanks for an abundance of open doors of ministry in this community. God’s floodgates are open and people are thirsty. People are more interested in spiritual things than we think.
· Pray for boldness, wisdom and spiritual sensitivity. Spiritual skepticism is on the rise. Nearly one in four Americans under thirty now describe their religion as “atheist,” “agnostic,” or “nothing in particular.
· Pray for Donna as well as Jonathan and Patricia.
· Pray that I practice John 15:5 for apart from God I can do nothing of real value.
Betting the Farm on God,