Say hello to this month’s Guest Blogger! It’s the second part of Doug’s letter, this one on everyday Christian living. Read the first part here. If you like what you read, be sure to hop over to his blog and let him know how much you enjoyed reading this.
# 1 The sacred/secular myth
All of us (if we are spiritually alive) are God’s ambassadors to the world- period. As I understand the scriptures, all of us are in full time service. Some of us may be pastor/ teachers, some of us may be lawyers ;-) (justice by the way is very close to the heart of God) and some of us may be swinging a hammer for the Glory of God, but this sacred/secular distinction is a crock.
When I read the scriptures and hear Peter telling me ” but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people…” He’s talking about the priesthood of all believers. and when Paul says ” whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” and , present your bodies as living sacrifices,….which is your spiritual worship,” that isn’t just written to those who are in “full time” ministry.
#2 Effective ministry
I have come to the conclusion after reading a multitude of books on discipleship, attending and teaching classes on evangelism that Loving people without pretense is 95 % of effective ministry…know the correct verses to quote is the other 5%. I do not like it when I sense someone is reaching out to me with ulterior motives..so I refuse to do that to the people in my life.
I call it having a “scalp mentality” In the days of the wild wild west in America, the goal of the the native Americans was to see how many “scalps” they could collect. If I sense a pastor (or anyone for that matter) is looking to add me as a notch on his belt then I am not interested in what he is pushing…if they are not interested in me as a person..then who needs to feel used?
Evangelism is a process…it is not just “harvesting” (getting someone saved) It is also tilling the soil (building bridges and relationships into their life) , planting spiritual seeds, watering spiritual seeds and sometimes harvesting . When we pressure people into making a premature “decision” it’s like trying to induce a woman to go into labor before she’s full term.
I believe we are more credible when we are willing to admit we don’t always have it all together. If I’m struggling with some life issue..I will not pretend I have it all together…I remember at one point, where we were beside ourselves as parents as our kids began hitting the teen years- I told this guy who was not a believer, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Would you believe that actually made me more credible in his eyes?
Don’t get me started on Christians wearing masks :-) When I am around people who always have this fake smile pasted on their face they give me the creeps.
I believe all of us are capable of committing all sorts of evil. If someone says to themselves…”I would never do such and such” then I believe the devil has already greased their slide. If King David, a man after God’s own heart, took another man’s wife and eventually had him killed, then you and I are also capable of anything.
– I’ve had several, mostly in the form of good authors. Some of the mentors/ books that have the biggest impact on my life include: Charles Swindol. Dropping Your Guard, Strike the Original Match, Corrie Ten Boom, Brother Andrew and Wilkerson (The Cross and The Switchblade) all tell stories from their lives about how God is as active today as he was in the book of Acts. A. W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God impacted me deeply and finally Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church where he articulates what real spiritual maturity looks like. Spiritual maturity is not just cramming my head full of Bible Trivia. Knowledge (while key) is only one sliver of spiritual maturity. The last thing many Christians need to be in is another “Bible Study” or workshop- we need an outlet for the wealth of truth we already know…or we become like the dead sea, always taking in but no overflow, and we wonder why we are spiritually stagnant.
#7 People skills-
You’d think with as much space the Bible devotes to getting along with people Christians would be masters at knowing how to relate to people, how we speak, honor,and love…but that is often not the case. A book (thoroughly rooted in scripture) that helped me in this area is the book by Dale Carnigee “How To Win Friends and Influence People” I can just see the eye rolls (if someone other than yourself ever reads this letter) -especially the more hard core “Bible only” crowd who will only read the Bible..they won’t pick up any other book because according to that school of thought, the bible has everything we need if we just read it.” To them I would ask…how many non-believing friends do you have in your life- or have you burnt all your relationship bridges by now and see this as being persecuted for righteousness sake? Try telling that to Christ on the day of judgment when he asks you why you had such little impact on your culture.
We are in it for the long haul. I’m not a runner, but I know enough to know, if a person expects to make it to the end of the course, they better pace themselves, that means to me, “burning out for the Glory of God” and burning the candle @ both ends of my life for ministry is just plain stupid. Jesus took time to go to weddings, dinners in peoples homes, quiet times by himself to keep his bearings. A caring Christian can very easily fall into the trap of being a work-a-haulic in the name of dying to self…Our ministry can then become just another way we think we can earn God’s approval and living in the flesh.
I regularly take naps (now) w/o guilt, host live musical events as a way of reaching others, blog, tend an apple orchard, run a bed and breakfast and a plethora of other things to give my life balance. I can assure you, I see way more spiritual fruitfulness now in my life than I ever did when I darkened the door of my local church 4 times a week and was too burnt out to reach out to other people…just my humble opinion ;-)
#9 The Gospel
The word gospel, as I’m sure you know literally means good news. I believe as I am in relationship with God, then his life is flowing through me. The Gospel is not just “Hell insurance”….the gospel is Jesus Christ living his life through me….just as in the Old testament when the presence of God came down and inhabited the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later Solomon’s temple…now that same presence , in theory anyway dwells in this cracked pot, these earthen vessels of you and I.
#10 Sense of humor/and joy
A Christian who evidences a sense of humor and joy is a rarity, and such a powerful tool in the hands of God in drawing people unto himself. Ask yourself- How many truly joyful Christians do you know? Why are they so rare? When I read the accounts of Jesus and how normal non religious types wanted to be around him, I get the sense he was a fun to be around…who had trouble with that? the religious leaders. Who did he have conflicts with? the religious leaders
It is possible to maintain and cultivate a sense of humor in the midst of a broken world. @ one point in our family, when all hell was breaking loose again, I was standing in the Dr’s office as the Dr suggested another one of our kids should be on zoloft. (it’s an anti-depressant) I started laughing- it was either that or go crazy…I asked if it was possible to get a volume discount :-)
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