Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mission Possible: Part V "Big Bellies!"

Let's get candid here. I'm going to tell you the truth.
Do you know you have a big belly?
More than just a 'bit of a pot', but a really large girth, and your ready to burst!

As a follower and a disciple of Jesus Christ, your belly is made to be big. God designed us to be holding tanks and reservoirs of Him. Full to overflowing. Ready to burst and to be spilled out.

John 7:38; "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

I have been talking about living a missional life in these last few blogs. Living in such a way that the people around you, who don't know Jesus, can come to know Him because they know you! They can have a taste of the living water, and begin to see what they are missing!

Too many Christians I know have few, if any, friends that are not believers. They surround themselves with people who believe and look exactly like them. They are content to keep the living water flowing back and forth within their select group. I'm not saying this is wrong, but I am saying that we are missing the whole purpose of Christ, if all we do is keep the water to ourselves.

This is not what Jesus did. It is not how the Apostle Paul made an impact in every region he journeyed in.

Jesus was known for "being a friend of sinners"; prostitutes, tax collectors, corrupt businessmen, Samaritans, and people discarded from the religious circles of the day like the lame, the lepers, the demonized.
Jesus could of kept his time on earth limited to hanging out the the disciples. Enjoying his teaching time with them every day for three years; teaching, talking, praying, training. But he didn't do that! Instead, He sought people out and entered into their lives.

It's just too easy, safe, and frankly selfish, for us to water ourselves and each other and let those who don't know the Living Water, remain thirsty. That is NOT why we are filled to overflowing! The very idea of "overflow" illustrates water that cannot be contained. It fills us up yes, and then it spills out, and it spreads to those around us.

Look, we've spent enough time on ourselves haven't we? Aren't you full enough yet?

For years, and in many contexts of both traditional and simple church circles, I have heard the phrase; "We aren't ready yet!"
WHAT?
We have been reading book after book, blog after blog, going to conferences year after year, getting prayer, ministry, words of "whatever" for years! Isn't it time for us to stop spending "our riches" on ourselves and spend it upon those who ARE really empty?

Jesus said, to the disciples gathered around him who were amazed that He had been speaking with a Samaritan woman; "Lift up your eyes and LOOK on the fields, that they are white (ready) for harvest." John 4:35. He was demonstrating how to look beyond their little group, and to see "what the Father was doing" in reaching the unreached. Jesus stayed in the village of Samaritans for two days and the bible says that "many more believed". This was a new concept to the disciples, who were content with a message for and the fellowship with, those they were familiar with.

It's time to step out folks. Into the great adventure of missional living.

God has the plan. He knows where He is leading us in touching the lives of people not familiar to us.
God takes what He has placed within us, and empowers it. He takes what is in the natural and makes it super natural. He waits on us to make the first move in faith, and then He adds the impact. The power, the affect.

For example; my husband can really hit a baseball. In fact, at one time he was on the Minnesota Twins farm team being coached to the big leagues. Hitting a baseball over a fence was fairly natural to him, but it was all in his own strength and ability. However, if there was a "rear wind" as he got to the plate, he hit a home run every single time!
That is how it is for us. We step up to the plate, bat in hand, and swing at the pitch, knowing that the Spirit of God is our back wind, empowering our natural ability to supernatural home runs! The good news is that we ALL make the team. No one is benched, unless you bench yourself!

Okay, let's talk practicality. Make the discussion more than just my ramblings. How can you live missionally in the practicality of your daily life with those who don't know Jesus yet?

What ya got?

Are you good with budgets and managing money? Help someone you know who needs to learn and manage their money better.
Are you good at construction, plumbing, electrical, etc.? Do you know how many men and some women, who would love a mentor/teacher to help them with a household project that they are intimated by because they don't know how to do it? You be the one willing to come alongside to teach them.
Cars? Can you fix and teach some basics? Motorcycle rider? Can you invite some neighbor you've seen on a motorcycle to a ride and lunch one day and get to know them?
Are you a good dad or mom? There are so many young men, women, and couples don't have true fathering/mothering and someone helping them be fathers/mother themselves.
Can you cook? How about teaching a young couple some great recipes and doing them together building a relationship? Have a neighborhood cooking party to share recipes.
Like kids? Know any young couples who can't afford a night out and a babysitter? Offer to be the babysitter sometime.
Are you an encourager? An optimistic person with coaching gifts? Find out the dreams and hopes of a neighbor or co-worker and make yourself their greatest encourager and supporter.
Like to BBQ, do campfires, and roast marshmallows? Make it a regular event and fun for all! Make your house the fun house on the block!
Are you good at parties? How about giving a birthday party for a neighbor or their kids. Go all out on the decorations and make them feel special and celebrated! Or a wedding, baby or housewarming shower?
Do you like eating out? How about taking some folks out that can't afford it or even buy them a couple gift certificates as encouragement for their marriage, birthday, life, new job, etc.?
Do you like shopping? How about taking a elderly person or someone without transportation around shopping? You'd be surprised how many older folks live around you and don't have much money for food. Their cupboards are often quite empty.
Do you listen well and like to hear stories? Older folks have great stories, are often isolated in their homes and are quite open to a new relationship.
Do you have a car to drive people without transportation to doctor appointments, job interviews, errands etc.?
Been down to a state job search site recently? It's a place loaded with people to help write resumes, practice job interviews, drive to interviews, and encourage.
Do you like cross cultural venues? Lot's of refugees live in every area of the country. Plenty of folks who are living isolated and lonely lives. Legals and not, does it really matter? Help them learn English, understand papers that come in the mail. Be an advocate for them in a new culture and help them navigate it. Help them set up their households.
Like to vacation? Ever think of taking someone who can't afford it or isn't in your Christian club?
Love Christmas? How about going out and buying the "whole celebration" of a tree, ornaments, food, decorations and gifts for a family you know is struggling this year financially, and you could bring Jesus to them this Christmas?

Look around you. Use what skills, gifts and knowledge you have. Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Serve. Build relationships. Love authentically. Be there and be accessible.

The people around us are not a project, but are instead are an offer of a relationship. In our culture, we're not so good at relationships. We want the quick, the uncommitted, the 'no strings' and 'no cost' kind of outreach into people's lives. But we can change.

We can touch people in every context of our lives if we choose to do so. We can be to those around us the fragrance of Christ and a light in dark place. In closing, I'll tell you a story from my own life that illustrates this.

I had built a friendship with an Iranian family that came as refugees. They spoke no English, and knew only a few distant relatives living here. I helped them learn English, set up a home, get enrolled in schools and find jobs. We spent time together, eating, shopping, doing a lot of pantomime (which works as a great language bridge) and building a friendship. I had a number of opportunities to pray for them, and share about my faith and the differences with their own (Baha'i). One day, I was invited to a party in the Iranian community and my friends took me around and made introductions. They were speaking Farsi, and I eventually asked them after about the fifth introduction; "How are you introducing me? It sounds different than a regular introduction of my name?" (by this time I was learning basic Farsi). My friend replied that she was introducing me as; "the one who shines like the moon in a dark place".



8 comments:

  1. if you listen to the Father, He will tell you what to do. He does care about the things that you care about. one day a patient of mine's dog got hurt and i felt so bad it was limping around for a week, the next we it was really on my heart to pray for it and it was healed. i really like dogs, and i guess the Father does to. I was really encouraged to see that the Father moved. I have had other oppertunities to pray for other patients, it is funny to see their faces when you ask if you can pray for them and it is even better to see the joy on their face when the Father moves. what a benifit to reap. joe

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  2. Hi Katie - thanks for this great post! I love how you take "What ya got?" as your starting point for missional living.

    I think a lot of people would respond that one thing they don't got is time. We all have the same 24 hours of course, so "no time" is really about priorities & lifestyle. Can you share some of how you've dealt with that challenge, or helped others to deal with it?

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  3. Tim, that's a great topic for the next blog post! Thanks!

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  4. Translated as: "Everyone who passes through must leave behind the trace! The message is not unfair to you! "

    Thank you Caitlyn, and you are so correct. The message of Jesus is not just for us and we are called to communicate that! Thank you for your comment! Blessings!

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  5. "He sought people out and entered into their lives." I loved your entire blog, but especially this part.

    Jesus Christ was not one to go through a store and not notice people. He sought them out to see if they would receive Him, the word, the life, the truth, the light. Would we be the same that not one person we are close to in the store is not affected by our genuine peace, joy, and love?

    If we are living the life people will be drawn to us in many ways. There are so many weak Christians who need encouragement, uplifting, and discipling let alone all those who do not know Christ! We need to seek out both the weak Christians as well as those who don't know Christ.

    I have found the best way is to really listen to people; the tone they use when speaking and body language to see if they are having a rough or good time. Then to ask kind, but probing questions that come to the heart of matters as Christ did. People really appreciate having a new insight into something that is troubling them.

    Also, LISTEN! This is the most important key. So many Christians want to talk, talk, talk at unbelievers. But you know what they truly desire? Someone to listen and care about them more than just a person to convert. By being a real friend to them you win them to Christ, because Christ didn't try to win them to Him but was their friend. Many lonely people out there waiting for someone just to really listen, for a God to really listen. Be the one to listen and care.

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  6. Great exhortations Kaley! I know those around you feel listened to and valued, and you are communicating their worth and value in actions which speak louder than any words you could use. May the Lord enlarge your field, for you are a faithful farmer in the Kingdom!!!

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