I’m so pumped for this series that starts this Sunday, August 5, at Canton Christian Church! If you live in the Canton area, we would love for you to join us.
I’m so pumped for this series that starts this Sunday, August 5, at Canton Christian Church! If you live in the Canton area, we would love for you to join us.
I love Paul’s letter to the Romans. I find myself going back to it over and over again in my personal quiet times. There is just something about it that resonates with me. Recently, as I was reading, a thought stuck out to me, and I realized it is exactly why I do what I do. Before I get lost in that, let’s look at the section of Romans that I was reading through. Paul is making his plea for his fellow Israelites to come to faith in Christ. To be saved through the blood of Jesus. He wants to see them accept who Jesus is. Romans 10:11-13 reads;
11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame, 12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (CSB)
Paul is telling us that there is no distinction between Jews and everyone else, which is great news for us. Salvation through Jesus Christ is open to all! And that was a hard lesson for those of Jewish backgrounds to accept. But Paul continues his argument, and it is the next few verses that really stuck out to me. Romans 10:14-17 reads;
14 How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. 16 But not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. (CSB)
That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I write here on Thoughts from a Crosseyed Jesus Freak. That’s why I teach Sunday school, Bible study on Sunday evenings, and youth group for the teens on Wednesday evenings. That’s why I preach!
This world needs Jesus. He is the only thing that can heal the brokenness of this world. Jesus is our only hope! And the world needs to hear about Him. Like Paul says, how can they call on Him if they haven’t believed? And how can they believe without hearing? And how can they hear without a preacher? God called me to preach His word. I didn’t choose this life. I accepted His call. And I don’t take that lightly.
There is nothing special about me. I’m an imperfect human being that tries his best to follow the call of God on his life. I’m not writing this post as a “look at me”. I’m writing this to remind us all that this world needs Jesus. He is our only hope. This world is broken and dying, and only in Jesus Christ, and His redemption of us on the cross, do we stand any chance.
So, if you are someone that Christ has called to preach His word, stand strong! And let me just say this. If you are a Christ follower, you have a story to tell. You might not be called to preach full time, but you can tell others about Jesus. You can show them that faith in Christ is the only way to navigate this world.
There is nothing special about the people who preach Christ. It is their message that is special. It is their message that is important. It is the gospel…the salvation offered to those that might give their lives to follow Jesus. That’s why I do what I do. Honestly, I could care less if anyone knows my name. It is my desire to step out of the way and let Jesus shine through me.
Every Sunday, those that lead our service where I serve gather to pray just before our worship service begins. It’s a practice that I started because I wanted us all to have our minds focused on God and glorifying Him. Part of my prayer is the same every time. “God, help us to lead well. Help us to step out of our own way, and let You shine through us. May it be your words that are heard this morning, and not ours. May everything we do this morning be for your glory”.
In other words, my prayer is always, “Help me to not make this about me. This is about You God, and You alone.” This world needs Jesus. There is no doubt about that to me. So, let me ask this. What are you doing to spread His word to those you come in contact with? Preachers, remember that it is not about us. It’s about pointing others to Him!
I wrote a bit of a teaser for it yesterday, but as promised, I want to tell you about Guadalupe Christian Camp’s upcoming “Defending the Faith Conference”. This is the first annual apologetics conference that the camp is going to be hosting on July 29-31, and I would absolutely love for you to join us. Let me get some housekeeping issues out of the way. If you are interested, make your plans now, because there are only a few days left for the early bird rate of $45 per person. After July 3, the price goes up to $55 per person. All you need to do to register is to contact David Shaw at email@example.com, letting him know how many will be joining your party. Then you pay when you get to the camp on Saturday.
So let me pose a question. “How do you stand up for truth in a world gone mad?!” That’s exactly the question that we are going to be trying to walk through during the main sessions and the Q&A times throughout the event. And that is one of the most important and relevant questions that we as Christ followers need to answer in our own lives. We have to be ready to give a defense of our faith at a moments notice. That doesn’t mean that we have to have all the answers. That would be impossible. But we need to be prepared. In fact, Paul challenges Timothy with that specifically. In II Timothy 4:2-4, Paul writes the following to Timothy;
2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. 4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Verses 3 and 4 sound like Paul was looking directly into our time. There is no absolute truth anymore, according to the society we live in. There are many ways to God, and the fact that Christianity claims to be the only way to God is insensitive…or at least that’s what the world around us is screaming at the top of its lungs. All paths lead to God. Well, if you are a Christ follower, then you know that that is not what Jesus taught. Jesus made a very bold claim in John 14:6-7. He said;
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Like I said, that is a bold claim. But Jesus backed that claim up by going to the cross and God raising Him from the dead. We have to stand firm. We have to be bold. We know the truth: Jesus is the only way to God. But we have to speak that truth in love. That’s what we are going to be discussing in this inaugural event held at Guadalupe Christian Camp. I, along with three other area preachers, will be presenting on a variety of different topics. Stephen B, a Christian comedian will also be there on Saturday night presenting his comedy routine. This promises to be a great weekend, and we would love to have you join us. The camp is located at 56 Christian Camp Road, Carlsbad, NM 88220, about an hour outside of Carlsbad.
Let’s come together, and answer the question. “How do you stand up for truth in a world gone mad?!”
I normally don’t do this, but I’m asking publicly for prayer this morning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for prayer on my behalf anytime, but I just don’t ask for it (maybe I should do that more anyway). But today is a little different. Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the day my dad died. I was fifteen at the time, so that means I’ve spent over half of my life without him now.
It’s always a hard day. This year, however, is a little different only because this is the first year that I will actually be preaching on this anniversary. I love preaching, and I know that my dad would be proud of me being in ministry. My mom told me after I had accepted the call into ministry that my dad always said he thought I would be a minister (I had no idea he thought that).
Preaching is one of those things, though, that I need to be as clear headed as I can be. Not because my sermon depends on me. But I need to be able to step out of the way and allow God’s message to be what is heard.
I’m sitting here in my office as I do my final prep time. There is a little less than two hours from the start of our worship service, which means I have a little over two hours before I will be preaching. The closer I get to that time, it seems the more I think about my dad. So, I am asking you to join with me in prayer that I will be able to focus this morning, step out of the way, and let God’s message shine through.
As I type this, TobyMac’s song, “Steal My Show” come to mind. That’s what I want to happen every time I preach or teach. It’s not about me. It’s about letting God shine through what He allows me to do. If you aren’t familiar with the song, the chorus is as follows:
If You wanna steal my show, I’ll sit back and watch You go
If You got somethin’ to say, go on and take it away
Need You to steal my show, can’t wait to watch You go
So take it away
Thank you for your prayers, and let’s all ask God to steal our show!
As I woke up one morning this week, the news flashed across my iPhone screen about another potential terrorist attack, this time in London, England. As I type these words, five have been confirmed dead, including one police officer. There are at least 20 injured. The person responsible for the attack is thought to have acted alone, and is also dead. We see this all too often anymore. Every time we turn around it seems some kind of violence is happening in our world, rather it be nation against nation, terrorism, or individuals against each other. There is no doubt about the fact that we live in a dark world. I’m not sure if it is actually getting darker, or if it’s just because the world is so connected through technology and we hear more about what is going on. But there is no doubt that we live in a dark and dying world.
Just here in Carlsbad, we are reminded almost daily how dark and broken our world is. We see a city that has the potential for a bright future, but we also see a city with a bad drug and alcohol abuse problem. In the past few weeks, friends of mine have lost close friends suddenly. There are many other things I could type, but I think I’ve made my point. This world seems to be lost in darkness.
There is light, however, we just have to where to look for it. When we see the void in our lives because of the darkness, we try to fill it. That’s why drug and alcohol abuse are so prevalent. That’s why there is so much violence in this world. But, like I said, there is a light. There is something to fill that void that we feel in our lives. That light is Jesus Christ. We’re in the middle of a sermon series here at Central called “I AM Jesus: Who Jesus Claims to Be”. In this series we are looking at what is called the “Seven I Am Statements” that Jesus makes in the book of John. One of those statements that He makes is “I Am the Light of the World”.
There is so much packed into this one statement that we actually took two weeks looking at it. Jesus actually makes the statement twice, once in John 8 and then again in John 9. The setting for these claims are related, but there is enough difference in them to take them one at a time in our sermons. In John 8, the setting is the Temple. Specifically the Court of the Women, in front of the collection areas for the offering, probably early during the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus is teaching in the courtyard, and as usual, a big crowd has gathered to hear Him. This setting is important, because on the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Courtyard of the Women is illuminated with four giant candelabras.
It is said that the Temple would be aglow from all over Jerusalem during this ceremony. It is likely either during this time, or the next day, when it is still fresh on everyone’s mind that Jesus made His first “I Am the Light of the World” statement. In John 8:12, Jesus is recorded as saying;
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Think about that. Jesus is saying, possibly with the backdrop of the Temple being illuminated in a great way, that He is the light of the world. Not the Temple. Not the Pharisees who made it almost impossible to follow God, not even Moses or Abraham. He is the light of the world.
As impressive as the Temple had to be illuminated the way it was, Jesus is saying, “I shine a light in the darkness of this world, and only through Me can you see”.
After this conversation that eventually ended with the Teachers of the Law picking up stones in an attempt to stone Him, Jesus is with just His twelve disciples. They come across a man that had been blind from birth and the disciples ask Jesus if it was because of the man’s sin or his parents’ sin that he was blind (The Jews, at this time, believed that one could sin in the womb, and therefore thought that this man could have caused his affliction. I don’t have time to go into too much detail with this now though). This led to Jesus making His second “I am the light of the world” statement. This time around, it was just the twelve disciples and the man Jesus was getting ready to heal that was present for the statement. John 9:1-5 records the event this way;
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Jesus continues and heals the man, however, this is done on the Sabbath and that gets the Pharisees all in a twist again. They cannot understand how someone “from God” would “clearly” break the Sabbath. But you see, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He was continuing His teaching from the Temple from the previous chapter. He used the physical blindness of the man he healed to lead in to a discussion on what He considered an even bigger issue; Spiritual blindness.
He’s basically saying to the Pharisees, and to us, that we are spiritually blind. But through Him we can receive our sight. Jesus knows the darkness that is in the world, but He has the cure. In His own words, He is the light of the world. The Pharisees bring in the man healed of blindness and question him. They are not satisfied with his answers, and eventually kick him out. That’s when Jesus enters the picture again. John 9:35-41 records the rest of the story;
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
There is no question what Jesus is claiming here. He is claiming to be the Messiah. He is claiming to be the Son of God. And He is claiming that only through Him can we truly see in this dark and dying world. That is because He is the light of the world. That is because only through Him do we have a relationship with God the Father. You want to fill the void of this life? You want to see clearly in the darkness? John, continuing the thought of Jesus as light in this world, writes in I John 1:5-7;
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
There is so much on my mind right now as I sit in my office getting ready for our Sunday services. First, I’m tired. I don’t know why, but I just feel worn out this morning. Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t make any coffee today. Do I have everything ready that is under my control? Did I put enough prayer, thought, and time into my sermon this week? How many people will be here this morning? Will that semi truck that keeps parking in our lot without permission be back next week (fortunately he pulled out of the parking lot about a half hour ago)? Is this new series that we’re starting today, and leading all the way up to Easter, connect with our people? Are all the families that I know of that are hurting in one way or another finding comfort in the arms of Jesus, or are they trying to do it on their own? Have I done enough or could I be doing more? Am I enough?
Am I enough?
That’s a lot to have floating around in your brain, especially just an hour or so before you are going to preach. With that much on my mind, it’s hard to be clear headed and focused on faithfully preaching the Word. This doesn’t happen every Sunday, but it happens more often than I would like to admit. It would be nice if I could come into my preaching duties completely clear-headed, focusing on God and God alone as I preach His word. That’s the goal. That’s the way it should be. But in my brokenness as a flawed human being, I let those worries above creep into my mind. And realizing that, it puts even more worry on my mind because I realize how much I truly resist relying on God’s all sufficient power.
I realize how much I truly resist relying on God’s all sufficient power.
I’ve mentioned on here before how much I listen to music when I am in the office. This morning is just like the rest. My Pandora station is playing, and there has been a great mix of worship music pumping through my speakers. Most of the time, music goes to the back of my mind, meaning I don’t always focus on what is actually playing. That was the case for most of the morning as all the questions and worries above were just rolling around almost uncontrollably. That is until songs like “This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong Worship, “My Victory (Feat. Crowder)” by Passion, “Your Grace is Enough” by Matt Maher, an “How He Loves” by the David Crowder Band came on.
These songs helped me focus in like normal, but I was paying attention to the lyrics as well. I know all these songs by heart, and found myself singing along. And something clicked. I remembered that in Jesus, I am enough. I can rely on Him and His grace. Through the relationship I have with Jesus and my belief in Him as my Savior, I am free. All those questions and concerns listed above may or may not go the way that I want them, but God is the One that is in control. It’s not up to me anyway.
It’s not up to me anyway.
We don’t know what Paul’s so-called “Thorn in the Flesh” was, but it could be that it was something like the concerns and worries that I listed above. Maybe not, but I think the response that Paul received when he pleaded to have the thorn removed can be applied to us today. II Corinthians 12:1-10 is where Paul records this event in his life. Here’s what he wrote to the church in Corinth;
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I don’t have all the answers to my questions above. And I may never see the answers to all the questions above. But I realize that it’s not all up to me anyway. I feel inadequate as a minister on many occasions because I always feel like I could do more or do better. Or I could find a way to bring more people to the church. This morning, I was reminded, however, that I am just called to do the best I can do, and be faithful to God and His call in my life. So, let me echo the words of Paul. First, the response he received is a great comfort to me. “My grace is sufficient to you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
I am just called to do the best I can do, and be faithful to God and His call in my life.
That has always been my prayer. To glorify God. His grace is sufficient because His power is shown through my weakness, meaning that anything I accomplish in ministry is through His power anyway. Paul goes on writing about boasting in his weakness because Christ’s power rests on him in those times. In his weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties, he can delight. That is the opposite of human nature, but then again, so is just about everything in trying to follow Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. That doesn’t make sense to most of us. But we have to remember that we live on God’s power and grace, not our own.
There was a simple question asked on a page that I follow on Facebook in the past few days. It’s a page that is mostly for preachers, but anyone in ministry or leadership of a local church is welcome. The question came from a youth minister who was getting ready to preach in the main service at his church for the next couple of weeks due to the main preacher being out of town. Let me just use his words.
“I am a youth pastor and I’m filling the pulpit the next 2 weeks while my SP is on vacation. I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to be formally evaluated on my delivery. If anyone has a form/survey they use to evaluate you speakers I would love to see it.”
I’m going to leave names out of this, but that is a very good question. It seems to me that this gentleman is genuinely trying to improve his preaching skills by having others evaluate him. Then he’ll take the information that they give him, and can make changes to his delivery, preparation, and anything else that he finds that he needs work on. This is the sign of a person truly wanting to better themselves for the kingdom of God and I applaud him.
There was some good advice given in the comments as well. Evaluation sheets were purposed, either content, delivery, or a combination of both. Someone suggested videoing the sermon so that the person asking the question could actually self-evaluate by watching himself later. All of these are great suggestions and can be beneficial to all of us who are trying to improve (which should be any of us in ministry).
“Let God be the one to evaluate!”
Then came the last comment. Actually I was expecting it, but hoping that it wouldn’t show up. Someone suggested, “Let God be the one to evaluate!” I’m sure this person was well-meaning. At least I hope they were. But they have missed the whole purpose of the question. Yes, God can and will evaluate, but we won’t necessarily get that feedback. It just seems to me like it ties into the statement that we hear all to often; Only God can judge me (I wrote about that here). In this sense, it seems that the person making this suggestion that only God can evaluate our sermon or teaching time, and no one else that is listening to us should have any bearing on if/how we try to improve.
Think about that? If we are preaching or teaching, God has given us a call to faithful preach His word. Yes, we need to handle that call with respect, and stay faithful. But one of the ways we need to stay faithful is by trying to improve how we put lessons together, and how we deliver them. How can we do that if we aren’t evaluating them ourselves and asking others what we did well and what we may need to improve on?
You can ask my wife, almost always, after our Sunday morning service is over, I ask her if my sermon made sense. And sometimes I even ask about particular parts of my sermon if I get a sense that maybe it didn’t come across the way I think it did. I don’t have the luxury of videoing my sermons each week, but I do record the audio. I don’t go back and listen to them as often as I should (just something about hearing a recording of my own voice), but I have them at my disposal to listen to, and critique myself.
How can we do that if we aren’t evaluating them ourselves and asking others what we did well and what we may need to improve on?
“Let God be the one to evaluate!” Again, there is value in that. What the person is getting at, I hope, is that God is the one that we need to stay faithful to. In that sense, I agree. But I also think that God allows others to speak into our lives, and into our teaching/preaching. Constructive criticism is something that we should all value. Don’t be afraid to let people give you some constructive criticism in your preaching. Think about it. We are charged with handling the Word of God and presenting it to others. If we don’t evaluate the way we do that, and let others speak into it as well, we can get way off course. Stay faithful, preach the Word, and continue to improve.
We are charged with handling the Word of God and presenting it to others.
Need help to improve your preaching or leadership skills? Go over to RookiePreacher.com and check out their resources!
We just finished a six-week sermon series at Central Christian today called Life on Mission. This may have just been my favorite series that we have done to this point, and it has completely given me a new perspective in how we should be striving to live this Christian journey that we are on.
There was a thought that I presented today which is critical in how we live our lives as Christ followers. It was straight from Tim Harlow’s book, Life on Mission, and it is something that we all need to understand for our own lives. You see, our human nature gets in the way and we often try to do things on our own, instead of learning to trust and wait on God. This even creeps into our lives when we are trying to share Jesus with others. We think that we can save them. In reality, however, if it depends on us, we’re in trouble.
Only God can change a human heart.
Only God can change a human heart. In other words, it’s not really up to us in the end. We are to partner with God on this life on mission, but it is only through His power that we are successful. So how do we partner with God in this mission? We pray. We develop a prayer life where we are consistently praying for individuals that we know of that do not know Jesus yet. And we don’t give up when we think we aren’t seeing results.
Harlow told a story in the book about a lady that prayed daily for 40 years that her husband would accept Jesus. It would have been easy to give up after praying daily for someone for that long, but she didn’t. And after 40 years of prayer, her husband accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and was baptized. Wow! But what happens if she had given up after 35 or even 39 years?
The problem we face today is that we don’t always see God’s timing. We want things done the way we see fit, and in our timing, but that’s just not reality. God sees the whole picture, so sometimes He answers those prayers in ways that we don’t see coming. Maybe, just maybe, when that happens our faith weakens sometimes.
The question was brought up today about strengthening our faith. How do we strengthen our faith in God? How do we develop a prayer life that we can honestly say that we “pray continually” like I Thessalonians 5 tells us to? Without going into a lot of detail, there are a few things that I think we can do to strengthen our prayer lives and our faith at the same time.
First, we just need to pray. How do we strengthen our prayer lives? We pray.
First, we just need to pray. How do we strengthen our prayer lives? We pray. Often. It needs to get to the point where we we might not even realize that we have started praying over a situation, yet we are. Prayer needs to become second nature and a habit in our lives. And the only way that that happens is by doing it more and more. Trust me, I know that that is much easier said than done, but it is something that we can all attempt to improve.
Second, we need to be grounded in the Word of God.
Second, we need to be grounded in the Word of God. We need to be studying scripture on our own and with other people. If we aren’t connected to scripture on a daily basis, then it is going to be hard for our faith to be strong. You want to strengthen your faith? Study and meditate on the Bible. That’s a great place to start.
Finally, don’t try to do all of this on your own.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, don’t try to do all of this on your own. Get connected to a community of Christ followers that are willing to walk beside of you and help you make prayer and Bible study a bigger part of your life. Not only do you need to have others in your life that are more mature in their faith to help you grow, you need to be investing in others that haven’t been at it as long as you have. There is a principle that works here; you never learn more than when you are trying to teach someone else.
We are made to live in community with each other. How do we strengthen our faith and our prayer lives? Getting connected to a group of Christ followers and making sure that we are staying connected to Jesus through prayer and Bible study. We can live this life on mission, but we have to keep our priorities straight. We are not going to save anyone. Only God can change a human heart!
I’ve written about it a few times in the last couple of weeks because it is something that is completely changing the way I look at the world. It’s something that I’ve actually known for a long time, but my perspective is changing. In other words, it is becoming more real to me than ever before. Instead of just “head knowledge”, I am starting to see real world application for my own life…and it’s a game changer.
I’m talking about our current sermon series that we are going through at Central Christian Church. I wrote yesterday in part about the idea that you never learn more than when you are actively trying to teach something to someone (read that here). And that is what is happening to me right now. We are going through this series that I pray will be a game changer in the lives of our faith family, but it is definitely changing me. It’s called Life on Mission (based off of the book Life on Mission by Tim Harlow) and you can check out recordings of this series here if you’d like.
The basics of the series up to this point is this; if you are a Christ follower, you have a mission of sharing Jesus with others, that should be done by building relationships with new people (having a meal with someone new is a great start), finding a way to serve those people (because you truly care about them and they are not just a project to you), and then, once you’ve built that relationship, start sharing your story of how Jesus has impacted your life. That’s where we’ve gone so far with two more sermons to wrap it up.
I want to try to live out what I have been teaching/preaching, and am actively trying to figure out ways to start getting to know people in my neighborhood that might not know Jesus yet. As a preacher, I am generally around Christians for the most part, so I have to put effort into finding non-Christians to interact with.
I did something yesterday that reminded me that I already have the beginnings of friendships/relationships with people outside of my normal sphere of influence that I didn’t even think about. I got a tattoo to help represent what I am all about and what I call myself. You realize my nickname on here; Crosseyed Jesus Freak. Well, I finally got “Jesus Freak” tattooed on me. Actually, I am surprised that I didn’t get this one earlier. “Jesus Freak” by dc Talk has had a huge impact on my life and how I want to show my faith to the world, so it is a natural idea to me to have it in my tattoo collection.
Here is the chorus of the song, and why it means so much to me:
What will people think
When they hear that I’m a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it’s true
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain’t no disguising the truth
The truth for me is that I love God with all of my heart. There may be days that I don’t live up to that, but Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. And because of that, you can label me whatever you would like. I don’t care what other people think of me in the sense that I try to follow Jesus. Now what that doesn’t mean is that I am just going out there trying to ram Jesus down other people’s throats. That isn’t what Jesus would want. Again it is about building relationships and then presenting how Jesus has changed your life, not standing on the street corner yelling at people.
So why the color scheme that you see in the picture? That’s another reference to the song itself. Here’s another part of the song:
I saw a man with tat on his big fat belly
It wiggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
‘Cause I had to match the rhythm
Of his belly with my head
“Jesus Saves” is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
He stood on a box in the middle of the city
And claimed he had a dream
The reference of the “typical tattoo green” led me to want the green color scheme. When I told the tattoo artist about it, he came up with the idea to do the black outline and then start with the dark green (typical, old-school tattoo color) and fade it into the bright green on top. That sounded awesome to me, and we went with it.
Enough about the actual tattoo. And if you don’t agree with getting tattoos, that’s great. We don’t have to agree on it because it is a personal decision in my opinion. But the reason I am writing about this experience is it ties in with Life on Mission. You see, this isn’t the first one I’ve gotten from Robby. He did my 1-1-Six tattoo that I got a little over a year ago, and a former apprentice of his did an ichthus (Jesus fish) and cross for me a few months ago as well.
In other words, I have started building a relationship with Robby. He grew up with a Catholic background, but I think he would tell you straight up that he is not a Christian. There is always loud rock, hip hop, or a combination of both pumping through his shop. It’s filled with profanity. In fact, when I sat down in the chair yesterday, he looked at me and apologized for the music and I reminded him that it wasn’t an issue for me.
Do I like the music? Not particularly. Does the profanity match what I consider to be good language? Absolutely not. But like I explained to Robby the first time, and reminded him last night, I don’t expect him to follow Christian morals when he doesn’t claim to be a Christ follower. If I did that, and caused tension as a result, I would never get the chance to meaningfully present Jesus to Robby at some point. He knows what my life is all about, but we aren’t to the point where I can really present Jesus in that meaningful way yet. I don’t want to do anything at this point to cause that to never be an option.
So we talked music, movies, and other general entertainment as he worked, just continuing to get to know each other a little bit. Do we have a lot of the same interests? I wouldn’t say a lot, but we have some bands in common (he actually knows of Skillet and some other Christian groups). We’ve gotten to the point that he values me as a repeat customer (in fact, he gave me a great deal on this piece), and we respect each other.
Through all of this, I’ve been able to just get to know someone that is very different than I am, and different than most people that I get to interact with on a regular basis. I pray that one day I am able to share my complete story with Robby, showing him what Jesus has done in my life, and that he sees what a life with Jesus could actually be in his own.
My point, however, is this. Do you know people that are a lot different than you? I’m sure we all can think of someone. Do you just immediately write them off (judge them because they are different), or do you look for ways to get to know them, build a relationship with them? There is a lot of arguing and tension in the world today. If you are a Christ follower, how can you live on mission and share Christ if you are constantly arguing with those that don’t know Him yet? Like I said to Robby last night, just because I don’t agree with or like something that someone else does doesn’t mean that I can’t be civil with them. In fact, it doesn’t even mean that I can’t build a friendship with them.
Paul writes in Romans 12 that if possible, when it depends on us, we are to live at peace with everyone. You can read the full text here. What are you doing to actively live on mission?