Thursday, September 29, 2005

Don’t force it… get a bigger hammer!

For many years I thought I could bring someone to Christ by twisting arms and pestering. “After all” I thought, “The guy who got me to church, bugged me for weeks until I finally gave in.” True, but I finally gave in to get him to stop bugging me and it didn’t last very long. It took a tragedy in my life to get me to really start looking for Jesus and men in the church willing to listen and befriend me in order for me to stay.

Jesus, as I have discovered, never forced anyone to follow him. In fact, he simply said “Come follow me” and start walking. You either followed, or you didn’t. He didn’t’ stop his conversations at discussions of the weather or start them by saying “hey, I go to this great church”. He ate with tax collectors and spent time in the homes of sinners. He built friendships that lasted and relationships that he knew would carry his followers through even the most difficult of times. He served the friends he made and loved them into the Kingdom.

After he washed his disciples feet he said "Do you understand what I have done for you?" … 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:12-17). In teaching us this lesson, Jesus did not go and wash the feet of strangers. Instead, he washed the feet of his friends.

What does all this mean? Simply put, I have discovered that I am much more use to Jesus if I do what he did. So, I don’t go knocking on doors to invite people to church anymore. Don’t get me wrong, if you like to knock on doors more power to you. But I choose to build friendships with everyone I can as I go through my day. I invite them to eat at my house and meet my family and we go to eat with them and get to know their household. We build friendships with people who don’t go to church and wait patiently for God to provide the opportunity to share our faith. As Paul said “make the most of every opportunity.” (Col 4:5b). He didn’t say “make every opportunity” only make the most of the opportunities the Lord provides. So, if you’re like me and have been looking for that bigger hammer, stop; don’t force it. Let God be God and just make the most of every opportunity and “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt…” (Col 4:6a). It’s only through patience, humility and love that the people we meet can be brought to the Lord.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Learning to love

Learning to love is sometimes the hardest thing of all. This lesson was written by my wife some years ago to help a friend who was struggling with just that. It helps me when I go over it. Perhaps it will help you too.

In order to have effective, productive and rewarding relationships, in ANY relationship, we must learn from the One who created relationships:


He creates us in His image (Gen. 1:26) to be relationship-oriented and therefore is also the perfector of relationships.
What do we need to do first?


From God:

1 John 4: 16 GOD IS LOVE
We can’t love without Him, for He IS love
1 John 4: 10 We don’t know how to love without Him.
We can only love because HE loved us first.
We get love from GOD to be able to love others.
HE is THE only source.

Psalm 139 (esp. vs. 1-4, 13-16) God made us as we are, with the strengths and weaknesses that we have. He knows our weaknesses and loves us just the same. He also had a plan to use those weaknesses to glorify Himself. It is because we have weaknesses that God can show his strength in our lives. Therefore we must love ourselves the way He made us, or we are fighting against Him.

So then, we need to respond to that depth of love:

Mark 12: 28-31 The MOST important thing is to love GOD (in return) with EVERYTHING that you are; and secondly most important…love yourself and others


John 14:15, 19, 21, 23, 24 & John 15: 9-10 In order to love God (in return), we must know how to obey Him

1 John 5: 1-5 His commands are not a burden. They were issued to protect us

Where and how do we learn to obey Him?

1) His Word.

1 Timothy 3: 16-17 The Bible is useful for EVERY good work…loving GOD and others

John 1: 1-2 Jesus = the Word; the Word = GOD; How to learn about God and what He wants? From Him!!

2) His people who have been trained and taught

Matt 28: 18-20 We ALL need to be specifically taught to be disciples; no one just knows or is; from the Word and their lives, others need to teach what they’ve been taught

Monday, September 12, 2005

Where, When, What, Why – God’s plan for me

Why is it that I was born in the United States, in freedom and with a chance to know God, while others were born in third world countries with little chance for freedom and state sponsored religion that does not follow Christ?

Why do I get to live in San Diego?

How come I was born in this time, and not earlier or later?

What is God’s plan for me?

I asked myself these questions the other day and determined to search the scriptures for the answers. Here’s what I found in Genesis Chapter 2.

1. God has been placing people in the right place, at the right time since the beginning. (Genesis 2:4-8) Notice in verse 7 that God formed the man from the dust of the ground. And in verse 8 God planted the garden and then PUT the man in it. The man was created somewhere else, not in the garden. Then, once God had established the place where Adam was to live he took the man and put him there.

Later in verse 15, scripture says that …”God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”. Adam had a reason for living!

The Hebrew word used in these scriptures for “Put” is “Siym”. It means “to set, put, establish, plant, set down” and so on. The various shades of meaning are as follows: (1) to place something or someone in a location. (2) to appoint a person to a position. (3) to establish a new relationship. (4) to assign something to someone. (5) to set aside something or someone for special purposes.

When God made Adam, he had a plan in mind. He establish a time and place for him to live, a job for him to do that had a special purpose and established a new relationship with him in the process.

Like Adam, God had a plan for me from the beginning (Jeremiah 29:11). He established a time and place for me to live (Acts 17:26). He gave me a job to do that has a special purpose (John 13:34-35, Matthew 28:18-20, John 21:15-18, etc.) and through Christ, God has established a new relationship with me in the process (Ephesians 1:5).

God also loved Adam and cherished their relationship. So much so that when He saw that Adam was lonely he gave him a helper. You can read about it in verses 20b-23. Today, God has given me my wife and children and before that, he gave me my friends in the Kingdom.

God enjoyed seeing Adam do his job just as he enjoys watching me do his will. In verses 19-20a God creates the animals, brings them to Adam, then quietly sits back and watches Adam give them names. God could have given them names without Adam's help, but instead he let Adam do it (as any father would) and simply enjoyed watching his child. Today, through Christ, God has given me a Garden to live in, to work it and care for it. He brings his sheep to me, some lost and some not. Then he sits quietly, with joy in his heart and watches me gather them up and put His name on them. What greater blessing could there be?

What does God think about you?

You know, at the end of a hard day when everything has gone wrong and people have treated me badly it's easy to feel like a failure. It's easy to think bad thing about myself, to feel unloved and unappreciated. What helps me most during those times is to remember that God's opinion is the only one that truly matters. So what is God's opinion of me and you anyway? Let's take a look at the scriptures and fine out.

What if I said that you are special? That you are different than other people?

Exodus 31:13
"Say to the Israelites, 'You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

Leviticus 20:8
Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

Leviticus 20:26
You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord , am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own

1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Deuteronomy 7:6
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

Would you believe me if I said that you are loved?

1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Romans 8: 38
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What if I said your life has meaning?

Romans 8:17
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

1 Peter 4:10
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 1:4
John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits 5 before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 6 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

How about if I told you that you had a future and it's a bright one?

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

John 14:2
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

How would you feel if I said that you are needed?

Matthew 28:18
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Mark 6:34
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

2 Corinthians 5:14-20
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

Would you beleave me if I told you that God has your back?

Romans 8:31
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?

Do you believe you have something to share/say/give?

2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Matthew 5:14
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Judges 5:31
"So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength."

Isaiah 60:3
Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Acts 13:47
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."

Ephesians 5:8
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

You are very important to God and he loves you. If you ever come to doubt it, just open the Bible and you'll find the truth again.