Archive for the 'Reaching Out' Category

17
Oct
10

Refuse to Do Nothing

This Saturday, hundreds of people from First Church will be heading out into the River Valley to touch lives with the love of Jesus.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus by making sure that our faith is a loving, practical, active faith (James 2:18).  We’re calling this Servolution Saturday, but our desire is to adopt a Servolution Lifestyle.

If you are a follower of Christ, how are you demonstrating your faith?  What is the difference you’re making?  Whose life has been impacted for good because you cared and you stepped up to get involved?  It is easier to look the other way and not be bothered.  It is easier to think, “Someone else will do it.”  Let’s quit taking the easy way.

Josh Wilson, singer/songwriter, has written a song that says, “I refuse to do nothing.”  He produced the video below after experiencing Nashville’s 1000-year flood and being convicted about his involvement to help the victims.  I hope as you view this, you will be inspired to ask how you can be the hands and feet of Jesus.

How are you inspired to serve?  Where do you make a footprint for the Kingdom?

15
Oct
10

An Easy Way to Make a Difference

The focus verse for Hydrate this week is James 2:18.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Faith and works are inseparable for the true believer.  If we are the recipients of the tremendous grace of God through salvation, how can we help but want to share that grace with others?  Real salvation will result in real concern and love for others because we have experienced real love from the author of love:  God Himself!

We need to ask ourselves, “How am I expressing the love of God to those around me?”  Is there a way to make a difference in both the eternity and present  life of people with whom I have influence?  The love of Christ motivates us, the Spirit of Christ guides us to be intentional.  How will you let Him use you?

Look around you and pray for God to show you the needs of the community in which you live and the world beyond your locale.  Submit yourself to be used by God to meet these needs and open doors to share the life of Christ through the gospel.

If you want to take an easy first step of making a practical difference, click on the Blood:Water Mission link on my page and complete the activity.  The sponsoring business will make a donation to the organization which provides clean drinking water and AIDS care for people in Africa.  Let that activity then be the first step in a long list of ways you become involved in touching the world with the love of Christ and His gospel.

Celebrate!  Comment and share the ways and ministries through which you are making a difference.  I would love to hear all the ways God is at work through you.

14
Oct
10

Making Theology Practical and Applicable

Pastor and author Josh Harris has written a book entitle, Dug Down Deep, which he describes as…

…a simple introduction to basic Christian belief. One person described it as systematic theology disguised as something readable. I wrote it so that people who might not normally read theology would be able to digest it and understand how life-giving and important it is for living the Christian life.

I haven’t read the book, but the premise is intriguing.  He is even offering to give away copies to people who will use it to mentor, disciple, or share the gospel with an unbelieving friend.  Check out his website here.

The video clip gives a great synopsis.

What do you think about the importance of theology in living our daily journey as Christ followers?  How could you use a resource like this to impact someone’s life?

09
Oct
10

Next Gen Motivation Connects with Biblical Truth

Daniel Pink, noted business leader and speaker, points out that there are three basic motives for behavior.  Specifically, he speaks of motivating behavior in the business world.  Studies and observation of human behavior tell us that we are motivated by…
1.    Biological Motives – food, sleep, sex.
2.    Reward Motives – greater productivity brings greater reward.
3.    Purpose Motives – understanding that what one does has a greater purpose and contributes to a greater cause (involving ownership).

We know biblically, as well as scientifically, that biological motives are very powerful in controlling behavior.  However, when it comes to problem solving, they are not very effective beyond simply taking care of one’s biological needs.  Unmanaged, they can even become enslaving and lead to less productivity in life.

Reward, as research indicates, is effective for relatively low-level cognitive problem-solving situations.  And, actually, when creativity and innovation are needed for more complex problem solving, productivity actually decreases when reward is increased.  This is certainly counter-intuitive, but proven to be true.

However, when an individual gains an understanding of purpose behind their problem solving and are encouraged to take ownership of the overall purpose, their creativity and productivity increases.   This is even more pronounced when they are given “authority” or freedom in their activity rather than being delegated tasks.

So What?

So how does this apply to life and the church beyond the business world?  I think there is a very significant application in regard to the cultural relevance of the gospel.

Thirty-plus years ago, American culture was primarily a reward motivated culture.  If you do these tasks, you’ll receive this reward.  Do more tasks and you’ll receive more reward.

The “Next Gen” culture is not motivated merely by simple reward.  The bigger picture motivates them.  They want to know there is a cause bigger than them and want to become a part of something that will make a difference in their world.

Place that dynamic over our spiritual journey and it looks like this.

Past generations have been concerned primarily with the gospel redemption that gets a person saved so as to gain the reward of heaven.  After that, they wanted to enlist as many as they could to join them.  Great goal, but I would argue–incomplete.

This alone is not a motivator to the Next Gen’ers.  They want to know that they are changing the “here and now” of people AS WELL AS their eternity.

For the church to reach the Next Generation we must be focused on engaging and reforming the culture as a natural outcome of the redemption process of the gospel.  We can call it a means to an end, the ultimate step in the discipleship process, or just the other piece of the puzzle.  However, we label it, we know that the Bible speaks prolifically about the people of God caring about the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the broken and the forgotten.  For us to embrace the gospel of redemption, and not embrace the responsibility to bring healing and physical restoration to these, is to fail to fully embrace the gospel.  I speak not of a “social gospel” that tosses aside the message of salvation in favor of only addressing a physical or emotional need.  I do reject the notion that we only focus on bringing people face-to-face with the opportunity for salvation with no concern for their physical needs.

This is not just a Next Gen issue.  It is a biblical truth issue.  Can we possibly look at the life of Jesus and all that the Scripture teaches about caring for the needy and think that addressing social injustice is not an integral part of the gospel?  The only answer in my mind is reflected in the words of Jesus.

“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19

What are your thoughts about the connection between the gospel and social injustice?  How have you involved yourself in connecting the two?


06
Apr
10

Keeping My Judgmental Heart at Bay

It is my privilege to share a guest post today from Justin Davis, a pastor on staff with Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN.  Reading his post reminds me that the only thing that keeps my judgmental heart in check is the grace that I’ve experienced from God and those in the community of faith who love me and walk with me through the issues of life.  I hope this will be a challenge and blessing to my readers.  You can read Justin’s blog here.

Judgmental People Make Me Sad by Justin Davis

I had coffee with a good friend a few weeks ago. He knew that I had taken some hits since returning to ministry. There are people who think that I shouldn’t be in ministry because I was unfaithful. There are some that think the restoration process we went through wasn’t long enough, exhaustive enough, rigorous enough. There are people who read our blog, or watch our video or listen to me speak and make a judgment about the condition of my heart, and they don’t even know me. He was angry about it, and wanted to encourage me and let me know that he not only believed in me, but he would defend me to anyone that judged me.

He asked for my thoughts…was I mad? I wasn’t mad…surprisingly, I was sad. I just told my friend that my heart was sad. I’m sad for them because they will never experience God’s grace the way that God longs for them to. The grace that cost Jesus everything, the mercy that placed Him on a Roman cross, the love that allowed Him to die in my place, is partially lost on the judgmental heart. That makes me sad.

As I was driving back to the office, I was feeling really spiritual. I was feeling so much more holy than all of those judgmental people. I don’t have a hard heart like them. I don’t try to limit and ration the grace of God in other people’s lives, like they do. Then it hit me.

I realized that I am “those people”. So often in my life, I am the judge and the jury. I judge by someone’s appearance or marital status, or body odor or skin color. I compare myself to others spiritual life, parenting style, decision-making, financial status. I make assumptions about others purely by outward appearances. That makes me sad.  Every time I choose to judge, I rob myself of experiencing God’s grace to its fullest.

The antidote to judgmentalism is gratitude. Being thankful and undone and overwhelmed by our desperate need for grace eliminates judgmentalism in our life.

Living in the truth that Jesus is my only hope; Walking in the reality that while I may look better than you on the outside, I am just as broken and fractured on the inside. Realizing that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross…allows judgment to die in my heart.

Maybe you aren’t experiencing the grace and mercy and wonder of God like you desire because you are robbing yourself of its gift by judging others.

What do you need to be thankful for that will allow you to be less judgmental?

09
Feb
10

Come as You Are, But You Won’t Stay That Way

Jesus was a controversial figure in His day…during His earthly ministry.  He spent time around those whom the religious community considered the scum of the earth (Luke 5:29-32).  He reached out to them in love without expecting them to “clean up” before He would have anything to do with them.  This is where we get the idea for the old hymn, “Just as I am.”

I’m glad that we don’t have to get our act together before we come to Jesus.  His love and grace calls to us to come and experience His healing touch.  Contrary to some post-modern thinking, however, we don’t come to Jesus and stay the same.  It isn’t an “addition” of Jesus to our lifestyle.  He doesn’t accommodate His truth to our situation.  It is a transformation that takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Actually, it would be a cruel thing for Christ to accept us and then leave us as we are…in our sins.

I am a new creation…and I’m becoming a new creation.  It is an event (salvation) and it is a process (sanctification).  Thank God it is real!

Check out the video below “Come as You Are” by Northland Church.  Celebrate your new life as you watch.  If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, go here to find out more.

28
Jan
10

Imitation is the Sincerest Form…

A famous quote from C. C. Colton, 19th century English cleric and author, says “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  I see this most pronounced in the antics of a child.  Children love to imitate their parents.  A little girl will dress in mom’s jewelry and high heals.  A little boy will don his dad’s work boots and hat, pretending to go off to work just like dad.  As parents, we are flattered by such behavior.  We find these actions to be cute and adorable.  We, too, should be challenged to examine our lives since our little ones so closely watch and desire to imitate us.  However, my thoughts along these lines run to the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:1-2

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us* and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Imitating God?  That seems like a tall order.  What does that look like?  Well, he answers that question in verse 2…by loving like Jesus loved.

As a child of God, I want to be like my Father.  Jesus showed me how to do this because He also imitated His Father.  He did that by loving…loving sacrificially.  His sacrifice was, in turn, a fragrant offering to His Father.  This was accomplished through his loving care for people, by His speaking of the truth in love…even to the hypocritical Pharisees.  (His words for them were harsh so that they might be shaken out of their religious stupor.  For some it worked [Paul, Nicodemus], for some it didn’t.)  Jesus demonstrated His loving imitation of God by going to the need, by being more concerned with people and less concerned with comfort.  He was willing to get His hands dirty.  He ate with sinners and slept on the ground.  He claimed no place to call home, as He was truly a pilgrim (as we are called to be).  Ultimately, He gave himself as a literal sacrifice.  That is the life of love to which we are called as well.

I must ask myself, “What drives my life?”  Am I living a life of sacrificial love?  Am I more concerned with people and their needs or comfort and material things.  I’m not talking about taking a vow of poverty or moving into a commune, but I am talking about seriously evaluating my priorities and where my heart resides.  I am asking God to show me how to love more like Jesus loves.  I am also asking that He help me to see Jesus in every face I see.  When I look at people from that perspective, I will learn to love them more fully…more sacrificially.  That’s what I need.

Imitating God as His child?  Yes, that is my desire…my goal.  For “Imitation is the sincerest form of [LOVE]!”

How are you loving?  Who are you imitating?  How has God recently loved through you in a significant way?  How have you been a recipient of such love recently?




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