Looking, Loving and Speaking

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him…” (Mark 10:21)

How often do we really look at people? In our “I have 5,450 friends on Face Book” culture, it is so easy to not look at each other. Oh, we’re quick (especially us preachers) to tell people how they should live, what they should and should not do, where they should and should not go, etc…; but do we take the time to truly look at the folks we’re talking to? In reading Mark 10, I was struck by the way Mark described Jesus’ reaction to the “rich young ruler.

The young man had come to Jesus, curious as to how one goes about gaining eternal life. The conversation was not too intense at first. Jesus tells him, “You know the commandments.” The young man replies, “I’ve kept those all of my life.” And then, instead of immediately launching into “You need to do this” or “You need to do that,” Mark tells us that Jesus looked at him. So often, we spout off spiritual prescriptions to people without taking the time to ask God to help us see them as He does. We have become a society of people who prefer surface level relationships, and very rarely take the time to go deeper. We spend hours looking into the computer screen, but have a hard time looking into each other’s eyes. Check out the progression in the verse above: Jesus looked, and then he loved.

How can we love people we don’t look at? I believe if we would slow down, pray for wisdom and discernment, and ask God to help us see people by his Spirit; we would be able to truly love them. Jesus looked at the young man in our verse, and he loved him! True spiritual insight will move us to respond from a heart of genuine love and concern, instead of a desire to hear the sound of our own voices. Like Jesus, if we would but look, and let God fill our hearts with love for those to whom we would minister, we would then be ready to meet the real need in their lives. Only those who look and love can discern what it is that a person needs to hear. Remember, Jesus looked, loved, and then spoke.

Sadly, I must confess that there have been times when I loved the sound of my own voice more than the person to whom I was speaking. I just couldn’t wait to offer my “two cents worth,” and probably what I said did more harm than good. Jesus, motivated by love for the young man in our verse, clearly saw the area of need in his life, and addressed it with laser precision. People don’t need flippant, trite, prepackaged responses; they need our attention and love. Jesus was able to be brutally honest with our young man because he loved him. He saw the man’s heart, which revealed the man’s need, and then, with love and clarity, provided the answer to his initial question.

If we really want to connect with people and truly minister to them, I think perhaps we should remember: look, love, and then speak.

Of Mice, Men, Peppermint Oil and Malls

I don’t do the “mall thing” very often. I can count on one hand the times I’ve been to a mall in the past couple of years. However, today I found myself having need of some peppermint oil, and I figured the mall would be the surest place to find some. I live out in the country, and from time to time a mouse will find his way into my home. According to my internet research, peppermint oil strategically placed in the house can serve to deter “unwelcome visitors.” So, it was off to the mall.

 Once at the mall, I simply couldn’t resist a trip to the food court. I completely justified my actions with, “Well, I’ve been doing good for nine months, I’m at the mall, what harm can a sandwich and some fries really do at this point? I’ll run it off tomorrow…blah, blah, blah.” Anyhow, as I sat at the table surrounded by hundreds of others, I felt my eyes began to burn and tears welled up. Children were riding the carousel, music and videos blared out of TVs hung high up on the walls, and the whole atmosphere was kind of like a carnival. I thought how strange I must look, sitting there eating, crying, and looking around like some kind of weirdo who just discovered that there was such a thing as malls. But I couldn’t stop.

I decided to walk a bit, and as I did; I passed a man sitting on one of the benches. He reminded me of a figure out of the old west, weathered and square-jawed. There seemed to be an inner strength within him, but what really struck me was the sadness in his eyes. We made eye contact, I gave the cordial head-nod, but he would barely look at me. I wondered what made him so sad, and felt as if I should stop and say something, but I didn’t. As families walked by laughing, and lovers lazily strolled, holding hands, oblivious to everyone else; I considered the sad “cowboy,” and my heart broke within me.

As we occupy ourselves with playing church and going about the business of religion, we have become no better than shopping malls. We do what we can to attract the people into our little “shop.” We do the coolest worship songs, have the hippest preachers, and know all the latest religious catch-phrases. And hey, if you don’t find what you need in here; there’s another shop just around the corner that may have what you’re looking for. Sadly, while we’re trying to be relevant and hold onto our little corner of the “church mall,” people are sitting right outside our doors, broken-hearted, without hope, and in need of Jesus.

Today, thinking of mice and men, peppermint oil and malls, my prayer is that we who call ourselves Christians will be done with our shopping mall mentality, come out of the carnival we call church and take Jesus to the world around us.

Kingdom Gifts (By Dr. Ray Ashmore)

(Dr. Ashmore is a dear friend and former professor of mine. He is the author of several books: Thy Kingdom Come: Just Don’t Bother Us With It, Thy Will Be Done: Recognizing Temptation and Remaining Faithful, All Things To All Men: Developing an Incarnational Ministry, Let Your Light Shine: Recovering The Biblically Prophetic Church, and On Earth As In Heaven: The Christian Family In God’s Image.)

God has given spiritual gifts to the Church in order to develop spiritual gifts in the Church. “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.’ So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7,11-13 NIV)

Please consider this: how well does the institutional pattern of “Pastor and congregation” develop the people of God for works of service? Most Christians (around 80%) just sit, soak, and sour rather than becoming functional parts of Christ’s body. I know, I know. The other gifts ceased at the close of the Canon. Really, now. Then why didn’t the pastoral gift cease as well? After all, why do we need pastors when we have the Bible? Isn’t the Bible enough? “Well,” you say, “somebody has to be in charge and lead.” Hmm. You mean Christ isn’t enough of a leader to shepherd His own people? Reminds me of the old days; that is to say, the Old Testament days, when the people of God demanded a king to rule over them, rejecting the spiritual rule of God.

So, what happened to the other leadership ministries created by Christ to develop the children of the Most High? Did they disappear? Or we’re they simply neglected, redefined, or cast off? Sam Pascoe in Jacksonville, Florida made this world famous observation: “When Christianity was in Palestine it was a fellowship. When it located to Greece it became a philosophy. When it moved to Rome it became an institution. When it spread through Europe it became a culture. And when it came to America Christianity became an enterprise.” And we know that enterprises must have CEOs, or pastors as the case may be.

As for the Reformation, the doctrines of grace were recovered, but nary a hint about a recovery of the organic Church. The reformers simply adopted the Roman Catholic pattern of “institution,” minus the bells and whistles, icons, banners, incense, etc. From Priest/Congregant to Pastor/Congregation it was the same old stuff, just dressed down. And how is this pattern justified? By developing a false doctrine that denies the continuing existence of the five-fold team ministries.

The fact is, the five-fold ministries still exist. And in fact, they are being revived (spiritual CPR) in these final days in order to recover the Church from religious institutionalism and into the Kingdom body of Christ, fulfilling Christ’s prayer in John 17. Oh, and by the way, these ministries are not “titles,” created by the pompous to exalt themselves in the eyes of men. They are ministries of Christ in the truest and most biblical sense. After all, Jesus loves us, this we know. He won’t leave us in the clutches of hirelings, but deliver us into the care of those who are truly called to represent Him in His redemptive work.

“Don’t Give Me No Lines and Keep Your Hands to Yourself”

Back in ancient Palestine, gathering around the well had been a place where it was not unusual for a future wife to be found. It was not lost upon the Jew of the day that it was at a well where Isaac’s wife –to-be (Rebekah) had been approached. So, while any self-respecting Jew of Jesus’ day normally wouldn’t publicly fraternize with a member of the opposite sex, he would have definitely avoided the “water-hole scene,” and he absolutely would not have been caught with a Samaritan woman at the popular “pick up spot.” So, it is not beyond the realm of speculation to imagine that the Samaritan woman who met a frazzled, worn out Jewish man on a hot afternoon beside  Jacob’s Well may have been thinking, “Don’t hand me no lines, and keep your hands to yourself.”

The day Jesus met the Samaritan woman, he was risking a lot. He risked being seen as unclean, flirtatious, unorthodox, and frankly, as a low life. But to our Lord, how he was perceived was not the concern. He was about the Father’s business, and doing God’s will sometimes puts you at odds with the status quo. In the Samaritan woman, Jesus met someone who believed in the scriptures (at least the first five books of the OT), expected Messiah, and had at least some knowledge of worship, yet was broken and misled. She had been drinking from a well which could never quench her thirst and needed the living water that only he could provide. And for her to get it, he had to put himself out there. She didn’t know what she thought she knew, and the only way for her to be made whole was to meet the Lord. Sound familiar?

All around us are people who need to meet Jesus, and that will only happen if we take Him to them. Too often, we are afraid of “getting dirty,” being misunderstood or loosing or reputation in the church if we are seen out amongst the “riff raff” of the world. We go to church and go through the motions all the while remaining motionless. The Bible says that Jesus had to go through Samaria. Well (no pun intended), he could have taken a much longer alternative route that would have steered him clear of those dirty Samaritans, but he had to go because that was why he had come. He came to reveal God to the world and reconcile fallen man with the Father. And Paul tells us that we have been given this same ministry of reconciliation.

“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So gowe are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”(II Corinthians 5:18-20)

Okay, now for a big DUH question. How can we reconcile people we won’t go to? Listen, if we are not moved to reach out to the world with the gospel, all of our religious experiences must be called into question. Jesus said that we would receive power TO BE HIS WITNESSES when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives, and sometimes; being a witness leads you to people and places you would not normally frequent. A true witness has to tell the truth about what he has seen no matter the cost.

You don’t have to hand people a bunch of lines, you’re not selling them a used car. You don’t have to be manipulative; just tell them what you have seen and heard regarding Jesus. And for goodness sake, don’t keep your hands to yourself. We are His hands and feet. Go, be intentional, reach out and touch those around you with the love of God.

Newtown: What in the Dickens?

“Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” (From A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)

As I have contemplated the shootings in Newtown, watched the coverage provided by the news media, listened to speeches, and read various social media posts; I have been saddened by the immediate political jockeying that has taken place on both sides of the isle and especially by so called Christian political activists. It seems that there is no shame and folks have the ability of taking a horrific event such as the one that recently occurred in Newtown, and making it all about them and their agenda. Christian, we should expect nothing less from the world, but we who are in Christ have so much more to consider.

While it is natural, during times such as this, to have questions regarding Theodicy (why there is evil in the world), as I prayed for the people of Newtown; I began to realize what the people of Newtown need most of all right now is Jesus. Theologians and philosophers have long grappled with the problem of evil, and there are various schools of thought regarding this issue. I dare say the debate will continue ‘til kingdom come, but there is one thing I do know for sure. God can bring good out of even the most difficult circumstances. And he will accomplish this through Jesus.

In the pericope above from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Mrs. Cratchitt had asked her husband how their crippled Tiny Tim had behaved at church, to which he replied, “As good as gold, and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.” As I read this, I began to think that the disposition of Tiny Tim, a child who suffered greatly, should be our own. “God, somehow, through all of this suffering, let people be moved to think about You.”

Christian, as we struggle to comprehend what has happened in Newtown, let us resist the temptation to use it as a platform for our own personal political ideologies, and pray instead that in the midst of such senseless brutality and suffering, that the One who offered his life willingly upon a cross, enduring the most heinous example of human depravity may be brought to bear in the hearts and minds of the families of Newtown. Let us pray that God’s Spirit will show the community of Newtown the reality of the One who said, “ I AM the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

Friends, where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds all the more. True comfort, true healing, true restoration is to be found in Jesus and it is He who can minister to the brokenhearted people of Newtown and the nation.

Motivated By Joy

“And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”

If you talk to folks about ministry, you find that there are a variety of motivations which people refer to as the reasons why they do what they do. We speak of equipping the saints, transforming our communities, saving souls, etc…, but we don’t often hear someone say, “Serving makes my joy complete!” Now don’t get me wrong, equipping, transforming, and saving are all legitimate motives for ministry, and each can be justified biblically; however, I think John provides us with an all too often overlooked motive for ministry when he refers to “joy being made complete.”

In 1 John 1:1-3, John  told his readers that he had found the meaning of life in Jesus. He described the way Jesus is life itself, how he has always been in relationship with the Father, and how through him, we have now been invited to partake in the very life and communion of God. I don’t know about you, but those facts alone are enough to make me pretty joyful. However, in 1 John 1:4, John tells us that while he is indeed enjoying life in Christ; he can’t keep it to himself. In fact, he tells us that in order to keep the joy he is experiencing in Christ continually being filled to the brim; he has to share with others.

John tells his readers that he writes so that “χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη,” or that the “joy of us might be complete.” (Reading it in the Greek always reminds me of how Yoda talks.)  The “complete” part is in what is called the perfect tense and passive voice, and this is really cool. John is saying that while he has experienced this joy in the past, when he shares it with others; God causes his joy to overflow and remain full up. Christian, are you joyful today? If not, maybe it’s because you aren’t ministering to others. I’ll just go ahead and say it; there is a direct correlation between your personal joy and ministering to others.

We are not to keep the life we have found in Jesus to ourselves! So many Christians have the mindset that says, “Whew, thank God I’ve escaped hell. Now, I’ll just try to hang on.” These dear brothers and sisters are usually cold, bitter, and lifeless, and a large part of it is due to the fact that they aren’t ministering to anyone else. Remember the story of Jesus and the woman at the well? Jesus was tired and hungry, so the disciples went off to get some food, and when they got back; apparently, Jesus was revitalized in someway. When they urged him to eat he said, “I have food you don’t know about. My food is to do the will of the Father.” Ministry!

Do you need personal “revival”? Are you in a present state of overflowing joy? Well, don’t just sit there; get busy! Share the life you have in Jesus with those around you, and not only will they be changed; your joy will be made complete.

True Ministry

Back in January I published a series on ministry, and it still weighs so heavy on my heart. I believe we have such a misconception as to what true ministry is and exactly who is called to do it.  I decided to condense the previous posts into this one, and I pray it speaks to your heart.

We find that in Ephesians 4 the bible tells us that Jesus gave gifts to the church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers for the equipping of the saints (that’s you if you are in Christ) for the work of the ministry (your Bible may say work of service or something similar). So really, the job of the “vocational minister” is to equip the saints to do ministry. We need to move away from this “clergy/laity mentality” and understand that all who are in Christ are called to do the work of ministry. Ministry is something all believers are to do.

Okay, so what does it mean to be equipped?  Well if you study the word translated equip you find that the word refers to that which has been restored to its original condition, is being made fit or being made complete. The root word was used as a medical term used for setting bones! Secular Greek also used it to refer to the furnishing a house. Paul’s use in the context of the Body, the Church, pictures the complete furnishing of the believer so that he/she might be made ready to fulfill their purpose in the body of Christ where they have been placed by God’s Spirit. This equipping denotes the “net-mending” process the fishermen would utilize, equipping the net to catch the fish. The Greek word denotes not so much an adding something that is lacking, but rather a straightening out. We have handed all ministry over to the “professionals” when in reality, it is the job of the “professional” to equip the saints to do ministry themselves!

But, what is true ministry? True, ministry may be manifested in many different forms. I have to be real careful when I try defining what real ministry is or is not. (Didn’t Jesus talk about giving someone water in his name?) What is it that Jesus is calling you to do? How does authentic ministry really look? We have a lot of mistaken ideas about ministry. Can I tell you that doing good deeds in and of itself is not ministry? (I Corinthians 13:3)  We must not mistake doing good things for ministry. Does not the world have programs to feed the poor and clothe the naked? Can I tell you that prophesying, casting out demons and things like that can be accomplished and it still not be true ministry? (Matthew 7:21-23)

There’s a story in the Bible that most of us have heard about which provides wonderful insight into how true ministry works, i.e., the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Let me break it down for you like this:

I. The Lord knows what he wants to accomplish through you. John 6:6 says that Jesus knew what He was going to do that day he fed the 5,000. He had asked Phillip how they would feed the people, but, He already knew what He was going to do. Jesus may bring you into a situation where you cannot possibly meet the need in and of yourself. Like the disciples you look out and say, “Lord, we need to send these folks away so they can get something to eat…” and He replies, “No, you feed them.” You look around and it seems impossible. The need is too great, but He knows what he’s going to do.

You may say, “Lord these people knew they were gonna need food, they should have brought some. I don’t have anything to give them.” But, He knows what he’s gonna do. You see, part of equipping Phillip,and the rest of the disciples (and you and me) was to deliberately put them (us) in a situation in which they (we) are insufficient within ourselves to minister. BUT HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO!!

This feeding of the 5,000 would glorify Jesus and show the crowd who he was. That’s what you are called to do, show those he brings to you who he is. You may not be called to stand behind a pulpit, travel on a missions trip, write books, or make cds; but you most definitely are called to show others who Jesus is. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that “you are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand for you to walk in.”  The first thing I want you to see about ministry is that the Lord is in control and He already knows what He wants to do through you. And oh yeah, don’t be surprised if it seems impossible.

II. The “face” of ministry. What do the ministers look like? The Body of Christ works together, no one part is greater than the other. As we have discussed, Jesus had brought them all into a situation in which He already knew what He was going to do; but, his disciples didn’t. They saw the great need and figured the best thing to do was send everybody away to fend for themselves. Keep in mind that Jesus is the ultimate shepherd/pastor, so, can’t you see that He was “equipping” (like your ministers are supposed to do)?) them?  The disciples had nothing to offer, but it was one of the disciples (Andrew) who brought the little boy whom Jesus would use to the forefront.

In ministry, Jesus may use you to be a coordinator. You may not be the one who directly meets the need, but you may be one who the Spirit of God uses to coordinate. Like the disciples, you may think you have nothing to give, but, God has a plan. How many people have not been ministered to because God’s plan didn’t look how we thought it should? Andrew (another disciple), who was a coordinator in this instance, becomes aware of the boy who had the loaves and fish, but still doubts that such a little bit could accomplish anything. How many times have you felt like sharing, giving, or saying something, but, felt like it wouldn’t amount to anything?

III. The Little boy and his lunch.  When Andrew became aware of the boy and his lunch, despite his doubts; he told the Lord. And Jesus said, “Bring it to me.” Now let me ask you, do you think that the little boy was really the only one who had sense enough to bring food or was he the only one who was willing to surrender his? We don’t know for sure, but it made me think how that sometimes we are so concerned with my growth, my relationship with the Lord (which is good), but we forget that its not all about us. In the Old Testament, when the land was being allotted, and the 2 ½ tribes opted to stay on the east side of the Jordan; they still had to send their warriors to help their brothers obtain their inheritance. Are you so focused on you and yours that you have forgotten that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who need you to minister to them, much less a world that is dying and going to hell?

Anyhow, back to the little boy; we don’t know who he was, his name, or anything. He’s the kid with the food. We see in this that true ministry is not intended to make us celebrities. We 21st century Western Christians may have said, “I can’t believe Jesus didn’t even mention my name. They should at least name a grassy slope after me. I’m keeping my stuff they should’ve known better. This little bit wouldn’t do any good.” Jesus took the boy’s lunch, gave thanks, then broke the loaves and had the food distributed among the people. We may hand the Lord something that looks good, appears to be whole and worthy of use, but, he must first break it so he can use it to feed people. So often, we are impressed with our “loaf of bread” and we don’t want Jesus to break it. “Jesus, you’ve messed up my loaf!” My gifts were so pretty. What was wrong with it the way it was? You could’ve just passed it around whole like a never ending loaf of bread.” Can I go further? It is we ourselves who must be broken. In the 1st century that word serve we talked about earlier was considered offensive and degrading by the Greeks. To the Greeks the development of ones own personality was the highest aim. To serve another was menial and common. (Sounds like us huh?) We must come to the understanding that service is not something that a lesser person does to someone greater; no, it is the lifestyle of a disciple. You are called to minister. You are called to serve. That pride and selfishness which is prevalent among us must be broken so that what God has given us may be used to bring others to Christ. Our American “I’m supposed to be a celebrity” mentality has to be broken. I once heard of a sign that hung over a kitchen sink which read “Ministry performed here three times a day.”

Conclusion:  True ministry points to and flows from Jesus. Jesus used a little boy to give the disciples something to distribute among the people. It all came from Jesus’ hand; that’s how true ministry works. Maybe you’re the little boy, nameless and faceless, or maybe you’re like the disciples, seen and used to distribute the food. It doesn’t matter; it’s all from Jesus and for His glory. Will you come and give yourself and what you have to Him. Will accept your role whether it be known or unknown? Will you come and surrender yourselves and your gifts? Will you allow Him to break you and your “loaf,” and distribute it as he sees fit? True ministry is not a result of some high-profile, superstar preacher, but rather; it is an equipped, surrendered Body of Christ that works of ministry are to be performed that the Lord will use to meet the needs of those around them. I’ll close with one final thought: Pastor, your people are not to be a burden, nor a distraction which hinders you from fulfilling the vision God has placed within you. No, they are the very ones who will accomplish the task. Equip the saints. As they work, shop, go to school, etc…; they will transform the community in which they live one heart at a time.


The Test of Success

“But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.” (II Chronicles 32: 31)

We know as believers that God has promised to never leave or forsake us. I mean, his very Spirit indwells us, so we should realize he is with us always. However, I wonder if sometimes, like he did with Hezekiah, God doesn’t “leave us to ourselves” so that we might be tested, refined, and so that what is truly in our hearts might be revealed.

There are times when we are enjoying such intimate fellowship with the Lord that we feel as if we could almost reach out and touch him. Our prayer lives are kicking, and I mean we hit the hallway on our knees and slide into our prayer closet, right on up into the presence of the Lord with no problem. Everyday Holy Spirit shows us something awesome from the Bible, and we are experiencing victory after victory.

That’s how it had been for Hezekiah. He had been a good King, and had experienced God’s blessings. The Lord had healed him of a life threatening illness and his fame had spread far and wide. Then, right there in the midst of all the great things going on; a situation arose that revealed that there were still some things in Hezekiah’s heart that were not pleasing to the Lord. The thing I want you to see is that the Lord didn’t test Hezekiah during the hard times. It wasn’t during his sickness or when invading armies were threatening Israel, but rather right after he had been healed and news of the miracle had spread.

We tend to equate God’s testing and refining with suffering, valleys, and dark times; however, there are times when the Lord may use success to reveal what is in our hearts. What is in your heart when you hear people say, “Man, the Lord sure is using you.”? Are you still giving God all the glory for his presence in your life or have you come to think that somehow you deserve it all? Sometimes, in the midst of all that God does in our lives, we assume that we must have “arrived.” We forget that we are only men, who but for the grace of God are capable of the most horrendous sin. Like Hezekiah, it may be success and not hardship that reveals what is truly in our hearts. I am reminded of the words of Paul found in the book of Galatians, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Gender, Race, and Pentecost: The World Has Moved On (By Jonathan Martin)

Normally I don’t do a lot of “re-posts,” but I read something today that I just had to share. An article written by Jonathan Martin, entitled “Gender, Race and Pentecost: The World Has Moved On” made quite a bit of sense, and like I said; I wanted to pass it on. I understand that Jonathan and I actually have mutual friends, but we’ve never met.  In fact,  years ago, Jonathan and the “Renovatus” fellowship actually utilized some space on our campus, at “The Creek,” (http://www.briarcreekchurch.org/ ) but that was a little before my time. Anyway, I have a close friend who has always spoken very highly of Jonathan, always commenting on how much he enjoys reading what Jonathan has to say, and today; I read Jonathan’s latest blog.  Once I was able to get past my jealousy of all the hair Jonathan has, I knew I had to share his thoughts with those who interact with NLI. (Thanks Mike)


Show & Tell

Maybe it is especially so here in America, but so often, when talking to others about what they believe God has called them to; it is usually something grandiose. Perhaps it is our culture, but it seems we all have illusions of grandeur, some type of ministry involving a large international stage, CD’s, fortune and fame- all for Jesus of course. Yet when Paul was writing what were among his last words to Timothy, he simply told him, “… and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2)

In a success driven culture in which even the church has adopted the “if it aint big it aint God” mentality, it would seem that we have forgotten that perhaps the greatest thing we can hope to do is to simply teach others what it means to follow Jesus. You know, Timothy was Paul’s protégée, and you would think as the “heir apparent” he was being groomed to be the next big thing. But, when you read the letters Paul wrote to young Timothy, you find that over and over again, his resounding admonition to Timothy was, “Just teach them the truth!” (Oh, there’s also the bit about enduring hardship and suffering as well.) Sadly, we spend so much time dreaming of that “big ministry” God has called us to that we neglect teaching the people we spend time with each week what it means to truly walk with the Lord. We tell the Lord, “Give me nations!” And he asks, “What about the people I’ve already given you? Will you make them my disciples?”

Here’s the deal: Abide in Jesus, learn what it means to walk with him, and then; teach others what you’ve learned.

“A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.”