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The good Bible teaching that occurs in many churches is not enough to equip Christ following congregants to interact effectively with the world. In fact, I believe that some pastors are unconsciously hindering their flocks, and are, as a result, “ill-equipping” them for the work of ministry.
I recently heard a tremendous quote, and I will try to paraphrase. The speaker spoke of the American Church and said, “We are a subculture of a sub culture. We read each other’s book, we sing each other’s songs, and we scratch each other’s backs”.
I completely agree that the Body of Christ is a sub culture, and that each movement or denomination is a further sub culture, and finally, that each individual church within a movement or denomination is a sub, sub, sub culture. There is nothing wrong with that…to a point.
Each culture and sub culture has its own language. The lack of awareness that we (the Church) have regarding our sub, sub culture language is the thing that concerns me. What do we sound like to the world?
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John 1:6, 7 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
“There was a man sent from God…”- God chooses people to do His work. Be looking & listening about how God wants to send you.
“…whose name was John.” – God uses specific people. When we think of God using people, we think abstractly about “someone out there”. Make it about you being available to be used of God.
“This man came…”- John was sent, and he came. He responded. Respond. It’s not enough to ask to be used, or acknowledge that you believe God is calling you. You must respond.
“…for a witness, to bear witness of the Light…”. John’s job wasn’t to end slavery in the Roman empire. It wasn’t to reform Judaism. He was sent to bear witness. To speak about that which he knew. He was called to point people to Jesus. Whatever other “call” a Christian may have, every one of has been called to speak about that which we know to be true re. Jesus.
“…that all through him might believe.”- This is the greatest thing that can happen. Every other result of our lives is secondary in eternal significance. The church isn’t called to end abortion, “re-Christianize” America, win elections, or stop gay marriage. Whatever good social, ethical and spiritual goals we may support, they are all secondary to people believing in Jesus.
“There was a (wo)man, sent from God, whose name was_________.
Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples. (Matthew 28:19)
A failure of the Church and Christians is that sometimes we ask the World to come to us, and we neglect to go to them. Don’t misunderstand me: I very much encourage Believers to ask Unbelievers to attend church, or other church events. I think that that is great, and that it should be happening, but there is more to reaching the world than just that.
The Church needs to be out in the community, rubbing shoulders with people in their world. It happens very naturally. We have the same barber for years, we see the same grocer for decades, we see the same parents at school functions. We don’t have to develop a plan about how to interact with people who don’t know Jesus; we already are interacting with them. We need to love them, and as the opportunity avails itself, we need to speak to them about Jesus. We need to be praying, and we need to be ready.
Something our church has discovered is that we best intersect with Unbelievers when we are where they want to be. Over the years, we have done concerts in the park, etc. The response has always been minimal. In Napa Valley, there are scores of fun and interesting things to do. It is difficult to compete with the entertainment and recreational opportunities here in the Valley.
Our biggest and best interaction with the unbelieving world is our Halloween Outreach called “Light Of Life Festival”. On Halloween, young families are very much looking for something safe and fun for their kids to do. We have sponsored this outreach for many years, and we have met hundreds who would never enter our church doors. We offer fun for the kids, Christian literature, and a verbal message about why we do the event. The community hears about Jesus, and they gladly come to us.
Today is another chapter in reaching the community by being in the community. We are marching, but not on City Hall. We are not marching against something today, but we are marching with fellows Napans in the 4th of July Parade. We have three classic cars entered, we will wear American flag t-shirts, and hand out candy, refrigerator magnets with church information, and invitations to our sports VBS. We will wave and hand out American flags, and we will meet many people today that we don’t normally see.
We will gather where unbelievers want to be, and we will meet them on their turf, and we will share Jesus.
May I encourage you to find ways to meet with people who don’t know Jesus by entering into their world. Pick up trash in a city clean up. Build a float to celebrate a worthy cause. Help fill sand bags when the river is rising, and help those facing danger.
We know that all these causes are lesser causes, and that the Kingdom of which are citizens will outlast all these things.
But someone has rightly said that, “The only thing you can take to heaven is people”.
Get out of the house and meet some people. Pray for your barber, your grocer, the crosswalk attendant. Meet them at civic events, spend time with folks who don’t know Jesus. Jesus said that we are to be salt and light. Get out of the saltshaker, and let your light shine.
Most of us don’t like being disagreed with. All of us resent an unjust accusations, especially when they comes as we are trying to do good.
Jesus sought to heal a paralytic man, and was accused of blasphemy. Jesus was trying to enhance a man’s life. Blasphemy was punishable by stoning. The two positions couldn’t be further apart, but notice Jesus’ desire to win his accusers to Himself.
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A Funny Image, That's All
Life in Jesus continues to be amazing to me. I spoke at a political rally today. It’s not my normal gig.
The rally was billed as a Prayer Rally for those in favor of Propositions 4 & 8.
Prop 4 deals with the issue of teenage girls being able to have an abortion without parental consent. Prop 8 is the effort to define traditional marriage as being between one man and one woman.
I am really glad that I spoke at this rally. I would have been glad to just be there, but the added responsibility of being one of the speakers put an extra twist on things.
I’ll write briefly here on my experience, since it is Saturday night, and I need to be studying for Sunday morning. The location was the lawn of a local High School, on the corner of the busiest intersection in Napa. About 100+- protesters were already there when I arrived, marching in a circle around the area where the rally was being held. They were loud, a few were disrespectful, and they were carrying signs and balloons. When I saw the balloons, I asked myself, “How bad can this get? They’re not carrying weapons, only signs and balloons. This isn’t Tienanmen Square, and things will be fine.” I was right. There was nothing more than loud voices, honking horns, chanting, and one megaphone.
I’ll post some other aspects of my experience tomorrow. Below is a copy of what I sought to communicate to the folks that were there. I didn’t exactly stick to my notes, as I was distracted by one protester, but I got to share the important points. By the way, the main group of protesters left before I spoke. I would have preferred them to be there, but that’s O.K. Maybe I am ADD or something, and it’s better that they were gone…I dunno…
Here’s a copy of my notes…keep in mind that they were written as a reference for me…not as a literary piece.
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Las Sierras de San Francisco
Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
The Bible says that “there is no temptation except that which is common to man”. (1 Corinthians 10:13) My interpretation of that is this: we all struggle with the same basic issues. The details may be different, but the root issues are the same.
One of the things that we struggle with is self worth. Is my life making a difference?
Let me share with you how the Lord ministered to me through this verse during my time in Baja Sur. A little background information is needed. Read more »