Believe in Their Value

“Jesus’ stories in Luke 15 tell us that you have never locked eyes with another human being who isn’t valuable to God.”  So say Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg in Becoming a Contagious Christian and I agree but do I always act that way?

People who jump onto the train in front of others already standing in line, take up more than one space on the bus, or nearly run me down in the parking lot don’t get me thinking, “wow…they need Jesus.”  I won’t tell you what I sometimes am thinking about them , but I can say it’s not placing them high on my value index.

We have a choice, however, with how we react to other’s actions.  Their behavior doesn’t ‘force’ us to respond in a certain way.  So here are three things we can try that just might help us think and act a little more Christlike, and which God might use to make those far from him curious about why we’re treating them differently than others.

  1. Pray for them – What if the person who speeds past and cuts you off on the highway has a sick child in the back of the car?  Would you feel a little less angry at them?  Since we rarely know what lies in the background of a person’s behavior, prayer is always a good start
  2. Step Up and Help – Letting the aggravating, pushy person behind you move ahead so they can get through the checkout line quicker might be doing them a favor they need.
  3. Don’t Judge – A judgemental attitude, in addition to usually being sin, can easily take the compassion we want to feel and replace it with resentment or anger.

What’s Next

Posted in Character Challenges | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Seven Steps

A writer starts typing furiously when an idea strikes and may never know the extent of their words on the reading public and others. Such might be the case with Howard Belben’s quote in The Mission of Jesus; the subject for today’s ‘Comments on Quotes‘ post.

“When the lost are lost, what matters most is that they should be found, and when they are found there is cause for joy in heaven.”

The quote comes in Chapter Two of his book, which deals with the approach of Jesus to the lost. There are seven things He did in relating to people, and one or more just might be something we need to add in our interactions with friends, family and acquaintances. Here are the Seven Steps!

  • He offered people His friendship
  • He started where they were
  • He listened to what they had to say
  • He sought the root of their problems
  • He took their questions seriously
  • He sometimes asked favors of them
  • He did not force Himself upon them

Which of these is easiest for you to incorporate into relationships? Which is most difficult?

Posted in Comments on Quotes, The Beneficial Belben | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear of Failure

Who hasn’t had that ‘fear in the gut’ feeling when getting ready to share their faith? Yet, we can take some reassurance from today’s quote in”How to Talk About Jesus Without Freaking Out”.

“Talking about Jesus is taking a risk–and risk, by definition, involves the chance of failure. The thing to remember is that the outcome of a discussion about Jesus is not up to you.”

“But wait”, people say. “I have to convince them or they won’t make it to heaven. ” Actually, the convincing is done by the work of the Spirit. God might use the words you speak to do that convincing or He might work in a million other ways to accomplish the same end result.

What God wants from us is clarity and accuracy. Don’t tell your friends that eating fresh watermelon or buying a new car every 5 years will get them to heaven. Share with them it’s having complete trust that Christ’s death on the cross erased everything we’ve ever done wrong in God’s eyes and because of that faith God will welcome us.

What’s Next

Posted in Encouragement Efforts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

They’re Not Listening

You have so much valuable information about your Savior to tell friends and family, but it seems like they never really listen; even after giving you the green light to share. So what can you try?

In today’s Readables post, I’m directing you to Forbes.com and an article written by Erika Andersen in April 2012. It’s title, 3 Simple Ways to Get People to Listen to You, should encourage many to give it a read, because that’s exactly what we want…people to listen to us.

But, let’s suppose you’re just too busy to read an entire article, no matter how helpful it is. Well, I’ve got the answer for you, if that describes where your at as you read this. At the bottom of her article, in 38 words, she sums up her piece and that alone could be helpful to your goal of getting more listeners.

And I wouldn’t be surprised that after you read the summary of her 3 points, you’ll want to check out the entire article.

What Else is Out There

Posted in Readables | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Salt Shaker’s – Selling or Loving

“I believe that much of our evangelism is ineffective because we depend too much upon technique and strategy. Evangelism has slipped into the sales department. I am convinced that we must look at Jesus, and the quality of life he calls us to, as a model for what to believe and how to reach out to others.” Rebecca Manley Pippert, Out of the SaltShaker

That sharing the gospel has “slipped into the sales department” is a gut grabber to me and I hope it makes you stop and think too. Do people see our approach to sharing our faith as meeting a goal, furthering our agenda, or something we’re forced to do? If any of those is the case, it’s all too likely, they’re not seeing much of Jesus in us.

Jesus had a unique edge on us since he could see a person’s heart and know what they were thinking and feeling. He could call someone out as a hypocrite, and be right, because of his knowledge of the heart. We don’t have that ability and yet, I fear, people too often are on the receiving end of a less than Christ-like example when they interact with a Christian.

If you think loving your neighbor like Christ is an easy thing to do, I strongly urge you to rethink your conclusion. Love is hard! Our culture talks about married love as a 50-50 proposition but true love seems to be better described by a 100 to Zero ratio. When one is lying in a hospital, unable to do anything for their well being or demonstrate even the smallest act of love toward their spouse, the obligation of the other partner is not reduced in the least. One hundred percent love is still expected, even though nothing is being received in return.

And it’s that same type of love we’re supposed to have toward those who are without Christ. We share without getting any thanks; our offer of help is rejected because of their preconceived idea of Christians; assistance with a problem is accepted but never acknowledged…still love must be the motivating factor and visible reaction in our response.

So how do we ramp up the love? A good place to start is with Scripture. Check out the characteristics of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13, especially verses 4-7, and pick one that you least display. Then ask God to help you develop that character trait in your life. You can even use this process to show Jesus to your friends.

Tell some people you’ve started asking God to change you in the area you selected. Ask them to record, from 1 to 10 (1 = you never display the trait; 10= you always display the trait) where they see this characteristic in your life. Then in 3-6 months ask them to go through the activity again. Also let them know that if they have any questions about your experience, you’d be willing to share with them.

If you grow in Christ likeness during this improvement phase, it’s possible they’ll see it and be curious about how the change took place. And just like that, you get a chance to share God’s mercy and power in your life…and maybe even how He could do the same for them.

What’s Next?

  1. See other Salt Shaker’s
  2. View more Comments on Quotes
  3. Take a Chance (you’ll end up somewhere within my site)
Posted in Comments on Quotes, Salt Shaker's | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Set Down the Jackhammer

Hearts that don’t know our Savior may be hardened toward the God we love and the gospel that saved us but that doesn’t mean we should haul out the jackhammers or other destructive tools of communication that can make them cringe or flee.  We need the tool of love and understanding.

The writers of Irresistible Evangelism, suggest that “instead of making risky, direct attacks on the pre-Christian hearts and trying to take them by jackhammer force, it is better and faster to take the path of low risk and high grace.  Like a well-designed road to the top of a mountain, this path spirals smoothly upward and inward.”

And that’s not all the authors have for us.  They say, and I believe, that “If we want to be good spiritual messengers, we must learn to progressively meet people’s needs in this safe and respectful order.  Our most important task is to represent Christ by finding lots and lots of little ways to connect with people’s physical, emotional/relational, directional, and spiritual needs.”

Maybe you’ve been taught or encouraged to make a dramatic entrance into another’s life and carry the gospel message boldly and proudly toward their souls.  Irresistible Evangelism suggests an alternate route…”forget the grand gestures, impersonal presentations, and once-in-a-lifetime events, and proceed lovingly with many caring touches that lead toward the heart.”

Wow…don’t think I could have said it better myself. 

Did someone wield a jackhammer of religious persuasion at you before you came to Christ?  How did it work?  What tools of Christian living have been your choice when given an opportunity to interact with others?  How were they received?

Posted in Confidence Builders, Encouragement Efforts, Grace, Loving Your Neighbor, Practical Principals | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ever Plant Anything

In Eastern Washington where I now live, planting seeds is as much a part of life, for many, as breathing.  But what about “watching for those moments where you can plant a seed in a natural sort of conversation”?

That’s the way Chris Walker, the writer behind EvangelismCoach.org, started a post titled, Take the Risk, Offer to Pray.  The encounter he goes on to tell about doesn’t end particularly well, but as he points out, we never know what God is going to do with our actions.

I’d suggest reading his article and then giving some thought to how God might want to use your prayers in the lives of family and friends, and maybe even acquaintances or total strangers.  And if evangelism scares the Bible belt right off your pants, maybe ‘just’ praying for someone could move you toward sharing the gospel.

What’s Next?

Well, you could try…

 

Posted in Articles I'd Recommend, Loving Your Neighbor, Readables | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Take a Step Back

You want your friend to take that final step toward faith but they seem so far off and you wonder if it will ever happen.  What are you to do?  Think L.P.L.T.

Michael Green, in his book, One to One, says that, regardless of where the actual step of commitment occurs, the preparation has been done “by that friend or relative through Love, Prayer, consistent Living, and gracious, appropriate Testimony”, L.P.L.T.  Let’s take a look at each one.

  • Love: This does not mean we ignore things that are harmful or wrong in our friend’s lives but how we address those issues and the way we act toward them on a day to day basis, should scream LOVE like they’ve never seen before.
  • Prayer: In reality, we don’t have any power, of our own, to move an unrepentant heart toward the cross of Christ.  But we can petition the Lord on our friend’s behalf and that is where the power lies.
  • Living: We won’t be perfect and our friends know that but they also have an idea of how Christians should act.  Perhaps, more than anything else, we need to be honest and humble with them…if we aren’t acting like Christ, apologize.
  • Testimony: When we’re loving deeply, praying regularly, and living more and more Christ like, we just may get an opportunity to share more of the gospel with them and that can be our hope and prayer.  And when you get that blessed opportunity, don’t blow it like I did.

Think L.P.L. or T. can help you?  Let me hear from you about the one you’re going to work on or check out one or more of these ideas…

  1. Seek an Almighty God
  2. Smell the Ever Green’s
  3. Build Your Confidence

 

Posted in Comments on Quotes, Ever Green's | Leave a comment

Get Ready, Get Set…

Here’s a passage some people wish couldn’t be found in Scripture…

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have .  But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

Those first three words, ‘Always be prepared’, are in the form of a command, so some want to stop reading for fear of what that preparation will lead to.  But it’s not all that difficult an instruction if you understand the context of the mandate.

I take it to mean that Christians are directed to share their faith when people ask them what makes them tick, but we don’t need a doctorate in ministry to fulfill the injunction.  Jim & Karen Covell and Victorya Michaels Rogers, in their book, “How to Talk About Jesus Without Freaking Out“, point out, and correctly I think, that “all God expects is for you to understand your own experience of God through Jesus and to be able to explain it…”

We don’t have to be scholars or have all the answers to the questions they may never ask.  We just need to understand how we became a Christian and be willing to explain it.  I touched on this topic in an earlier post, Walk Through the Door, and want to assure you, what we’re asked to do in this passage is not an overwhelmingly difficult task.

If someone asked you how you bought a house, you could offer a fairly easy explanation.  You might not understand the working of the different industries, such as construction;  lending; or real estate sales; that went into the process behind your purchase, but the basic facts would be pretty simple to relay.  The same is true of the story of your salvation.

Need More Preparation?

Still have doubts about being able to communicate your faith.  Feel free to get in touch and we can talk about it.

 

 

Posted in Encouragement Efforts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s Time to Learn a New Language

This post will likely sound strange, perhaps even heretical, coming from an evangelistic ministry, but hear me out please.  I don’t think evangelism captures the heart of God like love.  There…I’ve said it.

I wish it were different because truth be told, sharing my faith can be so much easier than loving my neighbor.  But I haven’t found Scripture to back it up.  Jesus seems to have taught that loving God and our neighbor were the two actions that met the criteria of the greatest commandment.

Does that mean evangelism is unimportant?  No!  But it means that when our evangelistic efforts aren’t rooted and fueled by love, we won’t be honoring God’s most important command to us.  Plus a loveless gospel presentation can sound harsh and uninviting to someone looking for a reason to remain far away from God.

I need His constant help to love even the lovable people in my life, let alone those that don’t fit in that group.  Yet our  message of the cross is meant as much for the unlovable as for those family and friends we care so deeply about.  Do you need help loving those around you?  Is God able to provide the help you need?

Check out what others say about the heart of God and then share with me your thoughts on this post.  Is Love all you really need?

Posted in Loving Your Neighbor | Leave a comment