Monday, June 12, 2006

The Jesus Habits: Reaching Out

The Jesus Habits are all about this idea: “All you need to get started is to know you need to get started.” Also known as ‘the road less traveled’. Most of the Jesus Habits are simple, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy.

Today we conclude the Jesus Habits series with an appropriate message,

Love has arms that reach out-always. We have made evangelism a program rather than a natural point of connection with people. Jesus simply asks us to engage in “ordinary attempts”. An OA is simply what it sounds like: something simple and not necessarily complete, but which puts another brick in the bridge between the “lost” person and Christ. Ordinary attempts inform us that evangelism is a process, and that any one of us may play a small part in the journey of another through a countless variety of creative and natural points of connection. God calls on us to be obedient rather than successful, so our responsibility is to be Christ with others through the questions, encouragement, spiritual conversations, service, attention, covert prayers, overt prayers, listening, or other simple approaches we offer to them.

"What the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world." Unknown author (circa AD 130)

Love doesn’t sound so dangerous until you’ve tried it. Paul Wadell

“God has created a world in which we are the ones who care for one another. To put it another way, God cares for us through one another.” James Bryan Smith

Jesus himself said that he has come to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

God has put a need for us; he’s built it right into who we are, to be passionate about something. If you’re not passionate about the right things, though, you’ll be passionate about the wrong things. If you’re not passionate about the main thing, you’ll be passionate about the minor things. When we’re not passionate about right things we slide in to cynicism.

“A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word” Ralph Waldo Emerson

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.” Sidney J. Harris

“Cynicism is a buffer against commitment…and leads to despair” Jim Wallis

Damage Control: How to Stop Making Jesus Look Bad

WJDD – “What Jesus Didn’t Do.” He didn’t get cynical, except maybe with religious folks. Usually he was too busy, though, seeking out the lost and trying to keep the main thing the main thing.

In our country, we love to keep score. In evangelism, the only score we keep is “who gets the kill.” We tend to disregard the Lord’s teaching that some plant, some nurture and some harvest. We are a nation of harvester zealots

Evangelism is simply taking a person as far as he/she wants to go with Jesus. Never push. Take people as far as they want to go instead of as far as they need to go.

Phil Yancey story: as a hardheaded, rebellious, crusty, cynical & impenetrable college student (his own words), Phil would go handing out tracts on a local campus. Only he’d separate from the group, go watch TV, then come back and give fake reports of what happened while witnessing. “That’s the kind of person I was. I didn’t give a rip.” Phil Yancey

Then one day while they’re praying before heading out, Yancey is touched by God and prays aloud in the group, “ God, you know that I’m here, and I don’t care if all those university students go to hell. I don’t even care if I go to hell.” The room grew very quiet, as you can well imagine. Yancey’s heart was softened.

If this is dull, then what, in heaven’s name, is worthy to be called exciting? Dorothy Sayers

Indeed, this whole series, focusing on our spiritual formation that we might be more like Jesus in our character, is not for ourselves; it’s for others!

Christian spiritual formation is the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others. M. Robert Mulholland

A spiritually formed person loves God and loves others. That’s the reason for reaching out.
You must put feet to your prayers. Same with telling others about our reason for hope.

It all begins with our grasping what God’s grace is. God already loves you and I the way we are. But Jesus keeps putting the ideal, the bar of what’s good, higher and higher, so high that no one can say, “I can meet those ideals.” And then he takes the bar of grace and pushes it so low that nobody can say, “I don’t qualify.” All we have to do is say, “I can’t make it,” and we experience grace. That’s what God wants.

In Mississippi Burning, Gene Hackman makes a racist comment followed by, “everybody’s got to be better than somebody.”

I’m better than nobody. You can’t prove yourself by measuring up-the standards are too high. But you and I can step over the bar of grace when I realize it’s low enough for the likes of us to cross.

Jerry Falwell had a heart attack not that long ago. Falwell is a fundamentalist preacher that often rages against homosexuality. Well Falwell was close to death when a gay paramedic responded to the 911 call and revived him three times! To a lot of gays, Falwell is public enemy number one. That thought probably crossed the paramedics mind. Falwell was later quoted as saying, “I will not anymore use the homosexual as the whipping boy.” He’s still persuaded that homosexuality is a sin, but he’s showing grace to gays because grace was shown to him!

Falwell was evangelized! Only when you’re down and out does grace begin to mean
something to you.

When we’re around Jesus, you think, “I want to be near Him; and I think He wants me to be near Him.” There’s something in Jesus that brings to the surface the buried sense that you’re not as good as you’re projecting you are, but it doesn’t make you feel bad in a way that you want to get away from Him. Somehow you want to get closer to Him. Reaching out is simply helping people see and understand this.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

There was a prostitute in Chicago who was selling her little girl to support her drug habit. The woman was filled with self-hatred. A social worker asked her, “Have you ever thought of going to church?” to which she replied, “Why go there? I already feel bad enough about myself.”

In our reaching out we’re not condoning sinful, destructive human behaviors. Instead we’re sharing God’s grace in a such a way that others are drawn to change, and we’re drawn to change, because we feel less lonely-we’re getting a taste of what we all really want: LOVE!

Do we come to Jesus exposed, honest, with open hands? Broken? That’s all we really have-open hands. We need His love to heal us, transform us, and move us to share that message with others.

Matthew 28:19-20
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15
And then he told them, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.

Luke 24:47
It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: `There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.'

John 20:21
Again he said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you."

Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

We learn best when we proactively and deliberately observe to learn. If we’re open to learning and expect to learn from Jesus and his Habits, that kind of attitude, that learning posture, will proactively and deliberately change us and God will meet us in that.

Last week we had a pool of water in our sand box because the kids had left the box open in the big rains. Just before supper the kids were out there, and when we called them in to eat, they were covered in mud and sand from head to toe!

We had to eat & then get going to soccer for 2 of them. I had a strong feeling of lambasting them, which was just hovering below the surface, but God whispered, ‘no’. I whisked them upstairs and had a great time getting them all clean for supper and what was to follow. They were genuinely sorry for the mess. We laughed and splashed in the bathtub.

God’s favorite thing to do is to clean us up; not that He likes us to get dirty, but the only time we let Him hold us is when we say, ‘I blew it! I blew it!’ He loves to clean us up.

Isn’t that a great message to share with others?

Many people who would never attach the label "Christian" to themselves are actually in the process of moving through the crowd closer to Jesus"

Wherever God puts you, wherever those people are in relation to Him, all He asks is for us to help enable them to take one step closer to Christ. Sometimes we demolish obstacles, like Kenny, Bryan & Mike & others did at the clothing store awhile back. Other times we engage in spiritually meaningful conversations and at still other times we show God’s love in practical ways, like buying somebody’s drink at Tim Horton’s when they discover they have no money with them.

Jesus didn’t come to preach Christianity, he came to redeem humanity.

A spiritual person is surprised THEY are here.
A religious person is surprised YOU are here.

I know some of you have taken people into your house in reaching out. Some have had countless number of children at their house for years on end, kind of like block parents; the list could go on.

Danny’s statement, “CoHo is small but all about stories. Stories of change.”

Where has God placed you to reach out?

Who is He asking you to put your arms around?

Colossians 4:2-6
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.


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