Author Archives: bryanbair

homeless man…a sandwich…$10…and the gospel.

homeless

Had the privilege this past week to visit the Dallas Ft. Worth area and spend a few days w/ some amazing folks.  However, my trip started a little differently than I expected…

This year my wife and I decided to head out to TX a day early and enjoy some down time and of course some good ole’ Texas BBQ!  Our day started off early driving to the airport, going through security and of course the flight out.  I mention the flight because to say it mildly, my wife does not like to fly… especially being prego.  It is exhausting for her so by the time we made it to the hotel we were ready for lunch.  We decided to join another couple and started off on our 6 block trek to the BBQ place.

A block into our journey was when God presented me w/ an opportunity…

A homeless man, Chuckee was his name, approached me and you know what for…money.  The reason he gave was because he was hungry…

Here lies the choice, the opportunity… to love or not love moment… seconds to decide… potential eternity to impact.

I chose to love, but to do so wisely…let me share.

1st:  I chose to listen…

I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to listen to him.  God does not always do that w/ everyone I walk by.  I can not fully explain why, but I know He wanted me to stop.

I also know that God wants to use me to meet the needs of others.  Many have said it, “God has blessed me so that I may be a blessing to others.”

I know much of the Scripture leads us to meet the needs of those that are in need.

2nd:  I chose to obey…(which truly is an indicator that we “really” heard)

There it was, a choice to be made.  I chose to put into practice that which I knew to be “true”.

LOVE PEOPLE

3rd:  I chose to not give him money…but meet his professed need and to reveal the greater need.

Chuckee said he was hungry, so I said to him, “we are going up to get BBQ, I would love to buy you a sandwich if you are willing to walk with me.”  Chuckee agreed and we were on our way…

Along our walk I talked to him about life…you know, the typical things you and I do (were more similar than you think).  I asked him where he was from, how long he had been in TX, about his family, where he stayed, etc.  In turn, he asked me questions as well.

As our conversation grew, he asked me what I did…which is always the “oh boy, here we go moment”.  I told him I was a pastor and the conversation stalled for a few seconds and then he said, “I’m not really religious so I really don’t know much about that stuff”, which I promptly replied, “I don’t either”…yes, he laughed.  I told him my story about not growing up in a Christian home and he said, “well ain’t that kind of ironic”… I said, “now that you mention it, I guess it is”.  From that point on I told the man that God can meet us where ever we are, whoever we are, whatever we have done and then explained the gospel.  This was his reply,

“because you have shown me kindness I will listen to what you have to say…”

About that time we were nearing the restaurant and he said, “I don’t want to be rude, but do you mind if I get mine to go?”, which I replied “absolutely, but you are more than welcome to eat with us.”

Once inside, my wife and our friends got a table and I stood at the bar with him.  I asked the ladies if I could make an order and they kindly asked what we wanted.  They offered sandwiches or platters, which Chuckee replied, “whatever is the cheapest”, which I replied, “no man, you get what you want”.  This went on for minutes until he was all ordered up with drink and the works.  I paid and Chuckee said over and over again, “thank you”.  Then he said these words…

“most people just walk by me as I don’t exist…I know I’m nobody…”

This is where, I cut him off and reminded him of the gospel and that there is a God that thinks he is way more than a nobody.  I asked him if I could pray for him and he said, “I would love it if you would…”  An amazing hush fell over the bar as I prayed for a man that I did not know 15 min before and probably will never meet again this side of heaven…it was a amazing time of worship.

I wish I could say “Chuckee placed faith in Jesus”, but I can’t.

However here is what I do know:

–  I chose to “be” what I profess I “am”

–  I chose to view a person through the lens of Jesus

–  I chose to love by kindness demonstrated

–  I chose to offer a man the only hope of the world, the gospel

–  I chose to overcome my selfish desires, “hunger, tiredness, selfishness, etc” by the power of the Spirit that is within me

–  Chuckee clearly heard the gospel and how faith in Christ makes us right before God

–  I don’t save people, God does.  He convicts, reveals, draws and saves, I don’t.

–  My privilege (some would say “job”) is to present the hope that is within me

–  I trust God to do what will bring Himself glory

–  I am surrounded by people, which means I am surrounded by opportunities to present the hope that is within me, Christ!

You see, for $10, 20min, and a BBQ sandwich God trusted me to tell a man the hope of the world…

money well spent if you ask me…

What/ who has God trusted you with?

I hear a little change in your pocket and time still left on the clock…


Master Plan…

Architect 3

I recently went on vacation w/ my family to what is often referenced as the most happy/magical place on earth…you guessed it Disney World (guess it depends on how you define happy…I consider a trip to the dentist maybe more pleasurable… well, maybe it’s not that bad 🙂 …).  Time w/ the family is always a blessing, but “fast pace, expensive, hot, exhausting, etc”  I think would categorize that place better for me…

However, with all my personal thoughts/ preferences aside there is one thing that is undeniable about a visit to Disney…it SCREAMS “vision” and “master plan”.  I put those terms together because they are dependent on one another and I believe that if you have  the first, you must have the later in order to accomplish it.

To have vision is to see something/ someone the way it/ they could be before it is actual reality.  

A master plan is the process/ steps/ system(s) that enable the vision to be accomplished.

Master plans are not accomplished all at once or in a short period of time.  If they were, then the vision obviously would not be very grand.  They are implemented in incremental steps and each step builds upon the previous moving in the direction of accomplishing the vision.  They are also not able to be accomplished with only a few individuals.  The number of people required in order to accomplish a vision is also an indicator of how large it is.

In addition, master plans are adaptable and should be changed when needs warrant them.

What many of us fail to see however, is that a “vision” is usually built upon previous visions that were not original to us, our generation, or our personal drives.  The current vision that we hold has been built upon some else’s.  This requires humbleness to accept, but also an understanding and embracement of responsibility.

While personal visions are good and I encourage all of us to have them, there is a grander vision I want us to recognize.  As a believer in Christ, God has given us the “ultimate vision, encapsulated within the “Great Commandment” and the “Great Commission”, which is embodied in Christ, original to God, which He is.

The gospel drives, directs, and gives us the “grand vision”, which leads us to love God and love people in order that they may also believe in Christ.

Our personal visions should be built upon the “grand vision”

Here is the tough question: Do we view “our vision” separate from God’s?

They are homogenous if we allow them to be…

What really is key for us that are leaders is how we will flesh out that “grand vision” into our specific spheres of influence and personal visions.

Back to Disney…

As I walked around Disney and thought of vision and master plans, I wondered… would Walt have envisioned all that Disney is now or did he set a vision in motion that could be handed off to another generation that would continue to be accomplished?   The master plan is constantly fluid while being fueled by the solidified clear vision.  I am sure that he envisioned some of the future, but no man can do that completely.

I ask myself, what do I “vision” in order to accomplish “THE vision”?  How will it be acheived?  Who will be needed to achieve it?

What is your vision for your life and what is the master plan in how it will be accomplished?  How does it accomplish the grander vision?  How we answer these questions will determine our course…


Gospel spoiler…???!!!

man-walking-away

Sitting in my office writing summer camp curriculum and decided to take a break…especially since God revealed something to me…which is always a good thing. As I write camp curriculum I always do so in six main sessions, but I don’t just write off the cuff. I organize and systematically present my content so it can be understood, followed along with, built upon, and relatable. There is a start, a middle, and an end. If I didn’t do this students would be confused, lost, not connecting and the list goes on. Yeah, there are some that might figure it out, but they would be the minority. Then I had this laid upon my thoughts…

HAVE I SPOILED THE GOSPEL BY HOW I TELL THE STORY?!

NOW…before you start chucking bricks and coming up w/ self motivated defense answers, hear me out. Obviously, our efforts can never take the place or the power of the Holy Spirit’s work in peoples lives. The Holy Spirit is a portion of the triune God and God is God alone. I am not. (check that one off the list) However, has God asked me to proclaim the Gospel?

UUMMMM???? YEAH…

Let me break it down this way. I want you to come up with a person, family member, friend, pastor that has articulated the Gospel or even scripture for that matter, that it stuck with you. Got it? Hold onto that for a sec.

Now I want you to think of someone…that tried to, but you don’t remember squat on what they said. Got it…well maybe not, HA…you get the idea.

What was so different between these two? You might answer things like, you weren’t paying attention to one of them (fault is yours), their breath was horrible (fault is theirs 🙂 ), or something along those lines. Again, we are not discounting the work of the Holy Spirit.

BUT I THINK THERE IS MORE TO IT…

Now, many of you will have heard, read, or thought it’s about “style” or “presentation” and I will not argue with either of those…again, not discounting Holy Spirit (keeping you chuckers at bay). Preparation and delivery are absolutely important, if not, why do we do them? We study, we practice, we attend seminars, we go to classes, we attend trainings, and the list goes on. By our mere actions we recognize the importance of these two things. Overlooked maybe…I think there is still one more area where many of us blow it when sharing the Gospel.

WE FAIL TO TELL THE STORY.

BUT I TOLD THEM ABOUT THE BIBLE…

BUT I TOLD THEM ABOUT MY CHURCH…

BUT I TOLD THEM ABOUT JESUS…

YES, YES, YES, THOSE ARE NEEDED, BUT…

DID YOU CONNECT THE DOTS OF THE STORY?

Imagine I sit down with you to read a book. (You are thinking…”am I interested in the subject matter?”) To be safe, let’s say the book is about something you love or maybe your life. I can tell the story because FIRST…I have a relationship with you and I know you. I know what you like. I know the big details and the small ones. I know the chapters that many don’t see.

Granted, there are some that just want to hear a good story and will listen, but most will not unless it is something they want to listen to.

Second…where did you start? Did you start with, “…and they lived happily ever after.” Did you start with the pinnacle moment in the book, not building up to it?

OR…maybe you started in the beginning, but then decided to skip a few chapters to speed things up.

Does your listener know who the characters are? Do they know what it’s about? Have you made it a “really good” story by your listeners seeing themselves in it?

Are they in need of rescue? Are they needing to rescue others?

Third…have you invited them to be a part of the adventure…writing new chapters in this amazing story?

Those of us who have placed faith in Christ have the grandest story to tell that has ever been told!!! The Script has already been provided for us, with our lives being a part of it!!! Will we read it, love it, live it, TELL it???!!!

HOW WE TELL “THE STORY” DETERMINES MUCH OF WHO WILL LISTEN

TO IT AND RECEIVE IT.

#gospelspoiler?


Encountering those that need grace…

Pregnant-Woman-Torso

Met a young girl the other day (approximately 16 in age) and immediately noticed she was expecting. No, not expecting a car or anything of trivial value, but EXPECTING in the big sense…a child. Teen parenting in our country is an epidemic. I use the word epidemic because it is widespread, it is not really desired by most, and it is an infectious recent culture shift due to sexual interaction outside of marriage.

Now before you quit reading, know that this is not what this blog is about…so hang in there.

This blog is really about “brokenness” and our response to it. We live in a culture/ country which is similar to all cultures since the beginning of time. They are all made up of people, but not just any people, broken people, each w/ issues, handicaps, and struggles. The Bible uses the term “sin” to describe this condition. Yeah, sorry to burst your bubble…you are one of those people.

Teen pregnancy outside of marriage is just one manifestation of this brokenness. It tends to attract more attention because of it’s outward visibility, long term repercussions, tole on society, etc., but in the grand scheme it is just one version of the broken story…our stories.

Here is where the gospel shines, that an “unbroken/ sinless” God would desire to show grace to a broken/ sinful people in order to have community with them…with us. However, this must be fully understood in order to experience it. Grace is offered, but also must be utilized. In order to receive the remedy for our brokeness, Faith (trust) in Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection (coming back from the dead) must be in place to receive and experience this “amazing grace”. A transaction must occur. Our broken lives traded for forgiveness and restoration.

God makes provision, He offers it, but it must be received/ embraced in order to experience it.

Now back to our story… How we respond to other’s brokeness is an indication of wether or not we have experienced God’s provision for our own personal sin. I could have shunned this young teen mom, as previous generations did…I could have celebrated, acting as all was fine and it was no big deal…or I could look into her eyes and see the fear/regret/tiredness/questions…ultimately BROKENNESS, and offer her hope, help, & grace. I chose to respond with grace. I chose to love. That my friends pairs flesh w/ the gospel.

God calls us to “love our neighbors as ourselves”, so what does that look like? Here is the answer:

DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO OFFER YOU GRACE?

Obviously, the answer is a resounding YES.

If we desire to receive grace we will also demonstrate/ offer grace.

Here lies the danger…someone that does not believe they need grace does not offer it. Jesus used a story to capture this concept in Matthew 9:10-13;

“And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

There are those that are well and offer what Jesus offers, grace…there are those that think they are well/ clean, but deny others grace and offer judgement instead…and finally there are those that are sick/ broken, desperately needing to be made well/ experience the grace that Jesus Christ offers.

What will you offer? #yourmove


Importance of communication…it leads to godliness.

Studying through Ephesians as I continue to move through our series “God’s Plan, Our Response”.  Some thoughts on communication…

 

Eph 4:25-30

Communication in the body (yep believers we are talking about here, not unbelievers) is absolutely essential. And not just any type of communication, but “direct” and “frank”, not deceitful, hidden, implied communication. We are to speak with one another in love, but also speak as if we speak to ourselves, to the point, “we are members of one of another.” Communication draws us close, provides intimacy, sharpens one another, helps spur us on to godly living, and much more.

Vs 25: Falsehood- Stop lying the “lie”. Stop lying to one another.
Vs 26/27: It’s ok to be angry w/ one another, but don’t let it destroy “relationship”, it is called “bitterness”, “lack of trust”, “slander”. Communicate, point out wrong, reconcile through the greater way, LOVE. Get to it quick, because differences/strife plus time and “lack of communication” leads to separation.
Vs 28: Be upfront w/ each other, directly communicate to each other when “sin” is seen or hurt is inflicted. How will a thief know not to steal if no one loves them enough to be frank w/ them and then lead them in godliness.
Vs 29: Let what we say be for building up others or remain silent. The word here implies “rottenness”. If what we say spreads rot it should not be said. This encompasses filthy joking/ conversations, but also slander and gossip. Sometimes the best form of communication is to remain silent when not God honoring.
Vs 30– What we say and our actions should not be contrary to the Spirit/ God that is within us.

 

Commentary excerpts this morning:

Vs 25: ” “Falsehood” all that belongs to “deceitful scheming” (v. 14) and “deceitful desires” (v. 22) is to be left behind. It has no place in the community of Christ. Because our Lord is himself the truth, his body must reflect the truth. Because each member belongs to the rest, the fellowship of the church will be marked by a refreshing openness. Any kind of deception is a sin against the Spirit. “Speak truthfully to his neighbor” recalls Zechariah 8:16. Paul has meta (with) instead of pros (to), stressing the need for mutual frankness.”

Vs 29: “Anything that injures others and sparks dissension is covered by the expression, “corrupting talk”. ”

Vs 30: “Any kind of careless, unbecoming talk pains the Spirit, since it is incompatible with the holiness he conveys to those who belong to Christ. The moving anthropomorphism implicit in “grieve,” combined with the full-length title “the Holy Spirit of God,” serves to underline the gravity of the prohibition.”

 

— Lucky for each of us, God handles us w/ grace when our actions run loose, our conversations turn sour, our communication skills are not up to par. Let us lead each other to become more like Him who is perfect and is able to perfect all of us who are not.

 

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Eph 4:15-16


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