Author Archives: bryanbair

loving the “how” over the “Who”…

methods

Isn’t it ironic how we can take simple words/ letters and reorganize their structure/ order and end up with something so different.  As I wrote the title of this blog, “how” and “Who” is one of those examples.  The implications of which word we choose to love/define us are life changing.

Most people that claim faith in Jesus upon initial response would say it’s about the “Who”.  However, is this what our lives echo by actions?  Sadly enough, I believe we often times subconsciously embrace the “how” because we mistaken it’s identity for the “Who”.   In a sense we can all have a  form of spiritual “dyslexia”, getting our letters/priorities out of order, and not even know it unless we diagnose it by our symptoms.

Below are just a few measurement tools/ questions I use as reminders/ litmus test in order to keep my “Who’s” Who’s and my “hows” hows.

1.)  What sustains/ defines me?

This is really an “identity” question.  As a believer in Jesus, it is imperative that I understand the truth that God loves me because of Himself and not because of me.  God loved me when I was unlovable and did not love Him in return.  The Scriptures clearly communicate that “while we (me) were still sinners Christ died for us.”  We so often times skim over this core truth, when in essence it is the heart of the gospel, that an all sufficient God would choose to love an insufficient creation.  Simply put, God does not save/ rescue us because of what we do (our works), but because of who He is.  Our salvation is accomplished/ incapsulated within God Himself, through Jesus.  Jesus is why God sustains and defines us as His.

2.)  Is my “how” secondary to the “Who”?

All I have to offer God and this world originates from God, not me.  John 15 explains this in great detail from a horticultural angle.  If God is the source of anything beneficial in this life then I better not stray from Him.  When my time with Jesus personally does not match my time externally lived out in “what” I do in “ministry”, I run a great risk of withering and dying and leading people to follow me.  (See point 1)  We must always be in close communion with God by the feasting/ taking in of Scriptures and by intimate communication through prayer. This can be accomplished through large times and brief moments.  In prayer I especially try to maintain often and constant conversation in my spirit with God.  (yes, I do hear voices in my head 🙂 ).

3.)  Does my “how” match the “Who”?

“Are the methods I use God honoring?”, is another way of saying this.  I often teach and remind myself that God does not need me to accomplish His plan.  He chooses to use me as vessel for His glory.  God does not need unholy/ungodly methods in order to accomplish His plan.  The only way I will know this is by being a studious student of the Word/ Scriptures.  Although, the newest methods may not be spelled out in the Bible, God’s heart is.  Our “how” must match the “heart” of God.

4.)  Does my definition of successes match “His” success?

When I get pumped/excited about what I am doing I can often times become intoxicated/drunk by methods.  What do we know about drunk people?…They don’t think clearly, vision is impaired, and they do things that are contrary to the core of who they are.  Our tendency to become infatuated with our “how” is tied to our sin desire to be “self sufficient”.   As much as we want to point towards God we still have a nature within in us that wants to take the role of God.

What or who is elevated by my success?

5.)  Do I love my “how” over my “Who”? 

We all love our own creative abilities, especially when we birth new things.  This can occur in a secular line of work and also occur in ministry.  We often times receive praise, awards, monetary advances, placement, position, and the list goes on.  God has gifted us with His creative ability.  The danger is when our heart begins to love what we do over who we love.  It is an easy trap to fall into because we can see the results of our efforts with our eyes.  Others can see them as well.  Our efforts take on the facade of supporting our needs, our families, our hobbies…

However, what if God wanted to change how He uses you?  Would you be willing?  Would you be willing to leave all that “you” have created?  All that you labored for?  Could you sacrifice your “how/methods”?

When I struggle with answering this question I know I am getting close to loving what I do more than Who I love.

Below is quote from Andy Stanley from his book “7 effective principles of ministry”.  I believe he captures well what can happen in our lives/ ministries if we are not careful.  It also provides a perfect segway to my final thought.

“Individuals have been allowed to build their identity around a program, not a mission. It is normal for leaders to take pride in what they create. But it can become an unhealthy situation if leaders hold on to what they create too tightly. When individuals tie their identity to a program they’ve created, they lose the objectivity that is necessary to evaluate its effectiveness. And so mainstream denominations and conventional churches collectively pour millions of dollars annually into programs that should have been buried a decade ago. There is a very fuzzy line between building your personal significance around a program and attaching your heart to a mission. Programs need to change; a mission can last a lifetime. When leaders give their heart to a mission, they hold whatever they create with open hands. Why? Because the value of a program is linked to how well it helps accomplish the mission. And a good leader is always more passionate about the mission than about the program.”

6.)  Is “how” I am doing it accomplishing the mission of “Who” it is for?

God exists and has redeemed us for His glory/purpose.  However, we must be careful here that we do not confuse our purpose with God’s purpose.  God’s purpose is to be glorified and worshipped.  His purpose defines our purpose, not vice versa.  God does not exist for us, we exist for Him.  Our purpose is to worship the one true God and to lead others to do the same.  This effort is often times referred to as “mission”.    The mission simply put is to Make Disciples.  One author was once quoted as saying “one day the mission will cease to exist”.  When this age is over there will no longer be a mission but only worship of God in all His glory and splendor.

Is what  we are doing accomplishing the mission?

The following is what I use to determine this in my life (family, friends, vocation):

REACH–  Is what I am doing reaching people that do not know Jesus

BAPTISM–  Is what I am doing producing fruit of people placing faith in Jesus

ENCOURAGE–  Is what I am doing encouraging other believers to love Jesus more

EQUIP–  Is what I am doing equipping believers to be secure in their love for Jesus, enough to defend it.

MOBILIZE–  Is what I am doing motivating believers to externally do what matches their internal change.

LEADERS–  Is what I am doing producing leaders that are not dependent on me, but on Jesus, to the point they are making disciples on their own.

However, I must offer a warning…

Our natural nature/ tendencies will try to justify what we are doing and marginalize those areas that we are not.  If we are truly making disciples all areas must be present.

Let us all love the WHO over the how…

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hospice church…DNR.

decaying church

Guessing the title of this blog may have caught your attention.  Being up front, this blog has nothing to do with churches at hospice sites…I know, sorry.  However, I do want to stimulate some thought about about what these terms represent and how they may apply to the church.

Over the past few years I have had some dear loved ones (grandparents specifically) pass away, but before they met Jesus they went to a place called “hospice”.  Hospice, if not familiar with it, is basically a service/ place offered for those who are dying that nothing more can really be done.  In essence, the individual is to weak, to sick, to old, etc. to sustain any type of cure.  The potential cure would kill the patient.  As a pastor, when you hear the words, “hospice has been contacted”, you know that there is nothing else to be done.

Another medical term usually combined with the above described condition is DNRDO NOT RESUSCITATE.  

DO NOT REVIVE or BRING BACK TO LIFE

This secondary label is given to patients not out of cruelty or lack of concern, but out of the understanding that nothing else can be done and by reviving, loved ones are only delaying the inevitable while dragging out suffering.

In a very sad, but very real sense, this describes the current state of many churches in North America.  Churches that at one time were alive, active, purposeful, loving…but through a turn of events, age, sickness, unhealthy lives… have entered into a “hospice” state.

Here is a stark truth…some churches need to die with a DNR being placed on them, as they are actually working against the reason why they exist.

BUT THERE IS HOPE…

Different than people (as we will all die as a result of the curse of sin)…

CHURCHES DON’T HAVE TO DIE!!!

If churches that find themselves with death knocking at the door will Repent, Be Faithful, Be Obedient, Be Prayerful and Be Lead by the Spirit there is hope for the future.

If there is one thing we know about God, it is His ability to take dead, lifeless people and bring them to life!  I believe He can do that with many churches as well.

Current Church Landscape…

As you may have seen by recent polls/ stats the established evangelical church (facilities) in North America is on the decline and has actually been doing so for quite sometime.  Even with current trends in church planting (new church starts),  the number of church closures is higher than that of starts.  (see following article for stats: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html).  To some this is greatly discouraging, but to others there is a sense of opportunity to reach more w/ the gospel.

2013 resembles more of the spiritual landscape of the early CHURCH than ever before.

Here lies the bigger, more important question for churches that fall into this “hospice” category…

Will those churches (maybe your church) have REVIVE (revival) after it’s name OR will it have DNR?

How we understand what the church is and why it exists will determine the future.

BACK to the NUMBERS…

So what does all this mean?  Below are few questions/ thoughts I think we should ponder on.

1.)  What is the church?

The word church is highly misused and misunderstood in todays’ society from it’s original intent.  The church is made up of believers in Jesus Christ.  It is not an address, location, or building.  A church can consist of handful of believers to thousands that gather together.  However, the church is often represented by a building (church building) because that is where believers meet…no believers there, no church, just a building.  The church is a living, alive spiritual organism.  The church was established, is sustained, and is lead by Jesus (God Himself).  The church is referenced as the “bride” of Christ, indicating His deep interest and love for her.

2.)  Why does the church exist?

The church exist for the glory of God.  The church exist to worship God.  One of the primary ways in which the church accomplishes this purpose is by making disciples (followers of Jesus).  John Piper in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad, discusses how the church makes disciples through missions, however missions is not the purpose of church, WORSHIP is.

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more”

The church exist to worship and glorify God.

3.)  Why are we just now noticing the decline?

Osterich in the sand…

There are many different answers to this question, with fingers being pointed at many different sources/ people.  Here are a few that I think could be on that long, long list:

–  Leaders & members chose to see what we wanted

–  Admittance of decline is to admit something deeper is wrong

–  Pride/ Arrogance

–  Self sufficiency

–  Money is running out or already ran out

4.)  Is God’s plan failing?

You may struggle even asking this question and that is OK, but I know many that are wondering…

NO…I repeat, NO…God is NOT failing and neither is His plan.  God is self sustained and is self sufficient.  He does not need us to accomplish His plan, however He chooses to use us by the redemptive power of His Spirit.  That is the amazing, beautiful thing about the church!!!  I believe that God desires for His church to reach North America and the world at large with the gospel and to do so effectively.  God has not called us to a failing mission!!!  He is redeeming people every day, bring the dead to life!!!

So what if you are not seeing that happen in your life or in your church?  The answers to these few questions may give you some insight.  I constantly ask these questions to myself.:

–  Why do you exist?

–  Does how you live your life support your answer?

–  Why does your church exist?

–  Does how your church function (what it does, not what it says), support why it supposedly exists?

–  Are unbelievers being reached with the gospel through the efforts of your church? (in specific measurable ways)

–  Do I really on my strength and methods more than my obedience, humbleness, and admittance that I can do nothing apart from Christ?

–  Do I trust God to fulfill His plan?

5.)  Why are so many churches failing?

Wow…loaded question (can hear the ammo being loaded).  Short and sweet, churches often die because they elevate something above the glory of God and their primary function…to make disciples.  What churches choose to elevate, causing their demise is a long list, but here might be a few:

* members over those needing to be reached

* methods/ models.  (Andy Stanley explains this element well in his recent book, Deep and Wide, by saying that churches often value their “methods over the mission”.)  People like “how” they do church over “why”.

* control.  People like to control (or at least think so) that which is God’s

* people’s opinion over God’s guidance outlined in Scripture

6.)  The cons to churches closing…

Before I lay out a few thoughts here, let me preface this section by saying I understand some churches close because of uncontrollable circumstances (the main business leaves town, churches move to different facilities, etc), but for our discussions sake I am referencing those places that didn’t have to die.

When a church closes it’s doors it is a sad day.  A place once filled with worship, life change, intentionality ceases to exist.  Vacant churches are reminders and discouragement for many believers.  Rotting churches are fuel for those that are antagonistic towards Christianity and the gospel.  These empty shells are a harsh reminder of the reality that when God’s people waiver from Him and His heart they cease to be a light house in a community.  Closed churches were poor representations of Christ.

7.)  The pros to churches closing…

When unhealthy churches close vacant real estate is opened for healthy churches to start at that location.  Also, when a church closes it’s doors an incorrect representation of what the church should be is removed, actually being better for a community.  That’s right, you read correctly…a church that does not function as Jesus intended it to can actually be more a detriment/ harm to it’s surrounding neighbors than a help.  In addition, when a church closes an opportunity for “church mergers” exist.  A church merger is when a healthy purposeful church absorbs a dying church under it’s structure and leadership…the one ceases to exist while the other expands it’s ministries/ reach.

Wrap it up…

Some of what I have said, may sound harsh, hard to swallow, and even mean…but it’s reality.  Churches through out the ages have come and gone, many of which disappearing because they forgot why they existed and ultimately because they left their “first love” (Revelation, Ephesus).

What we have to answer by our visions, our models, our systems and our actions is whether we will be churches that have titles/ labels after our names saying:

HOSPICE CHURCH, DNR

OR

REVIVED CHURCH, FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.


my 7 year olds God questions…

DSC_5252-WM

The other day I was enjoying morning breakfast w/ my family, but especially w/ my son Gabriel.  My son and I speak often of God, Jesus, church, the world around us, and of course all the stuff in between.  If there is one thing I love about my son, it is how his mind works and that he is always thinking about something…even if it appears by his crazy behavior there is nothing going on upstairs.

I have always encouraged my kids to be questioners, to ask “why”, to look for answers.  This is not always easy as a parent because of course they ask, probe, and question you ultimately…of course always done so with respect (…yea right…)

Before I move on and talk about his question I think there is a good point to be made here about faith.  Some live under a fear that it is wrong or unacceptable for us to question God…not so much His authority, but more so to ask “why” things are a certain way or happen the way they do.  Some would have us believe that if we question it indicates doubt. However, I disagree.  I believe that God has created us in His image and because of that we are naturally inclined to be questioners and seekers of the truth.  Some of the deepest areas of my faith development stem from asking questions.  By doing so, and many times no one having the answers, it propelled me to dig deeper, and deeper…and you guessed it deeper.

Back to breakfast.

So, here were my sons question(s) for the morning:

Why did God create Lucifer when He knew he would rebel?

Why did God create Adam and Eve when He knew they would sin?

(It’s ok for us to admit we have the same questions…)

Of course, it was fairly early and I was still waiting for the coffee to kick in…so I can say my response was slow at best. However, I think there are a few things to point out as a parent and as people in general, that we can all be reminded off, which were my answers to my son.

Here we go:

1.)  We are not God…

God has the ability to understand, foresee, plan, love, etc. in ways that are beyond us.

God is infinite, I am finite.

God is sovereign, I am subject.

God is for the glory of Himself, I am created for His glory

2.)  God loves us…

Because of God’s choice to love, show mercy & grace, & provide faith to believe in Him we escape the consequence of sin.  In an amazing way God can conquer and overcome our rebellion by providing resolution/ rescue  by offering Himself in our place.

3.)  Angels are not humans…

God created angels as heavenly host servant beings.  He did not create them like man.  Man was created in the image of God, being God’s most prized/ elevated creation.  Man can repent and experience restoration, angels can not.  Also, angels do not become humans and mankind does not become angels (even though popular modern day spiritual thinking would like to think so)

4.)  Evil existed pre-mankind…

The rebellion of Lucifer (and his followers) occurred before the fall/ sin of Adam and Eve.  There is debate of wether or not evil and sin can be equated as the same, especially dealing w/ angelic beings vs. the human race.  What we know is that the evil of angels was not what contaminated the human race.  Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God is what set sin into motion.  Obviously, the  evil and rebelliousness of Satan is what offered the temptation to Eve in the Garden of Eden, but evil/ temptation in itself does not equate to sin.  Evil temptation acted upon is what is ungodly.

5.) (possibly the most important)  I don’t know…but I TRUST…

That’s right, you read correctly…”I don’t know” was one of my answers to my son.  It’s ok for him to realize and understand that even his father (me) is not Jesus, has sin, and yes…is limited.  After giving all of the above partial answers, ultimately I had to tell him the truth, that is I don’t completely understand all the ways, ins and outs, complete mind of God.  I hope to ask God many questions when I meet Him face to face, however I am guessing a lot of my questions may not matter then, we shall see.

It is important for our kids to know that we can trust what do not fully understand.

You may find the urge to argue with that truth, however if you will pause and be humble for a moment, much of the natural/ scientific/ engineering realm you do not understand.  No man understands to the fullest every subject matter.  If I can admit this about the created order then I can most definitely do so with the heavenly order.

I want my son to know and see that his dad trust Jesus, because He has never failed Him and never fail.  I do not want him to believe in Jesus/ God because he can answer all the questions.

We run a grave danger of missing our creator when our limitedness trumps His limitless…and mystery.

Until his next question, we will love Jesus, talk often about Him, follow Him and trust that He is in control even when we can’t understand.


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


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