Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Paul, A Barnabas, and a Timothy

I can picture my favorite professor in seminary whom we nicknamed, Prof, saying "Gentleman, every one of you always needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy in your life." Little did I realize at the time how true that statement really is.

Every one of us needs a Paul - someone who is mature in the faith investing in our lives. Someone who is teaching us the ins and outs of living the Christian faith.

We also need a Barnabas - someone who constantly encourages us and stands by us through the failures, hardships, and difficulties of the Christian experience.

And, of course, we need a Timothy - someone we are investing in and helping develop their Christian walk.

God has always provided each of these three kinds of people in my life since I was in grade school. But I talk with a lot of you who haven't been as fortunate. Ask most people, "Who is your Paul? Who is your Barnabas? Who is your Timothy?" You get blank stares and many claim they just don't know where to start.

Here's how you start: First, pray that God would bring these kinds of people into your life. Second, cultivate these qualities in yourself. To have a Paul, become like Paul - mature in your faith. To have a Barnabas, be an encourager. To have a Timothy, be faithful, be available and be teachable. Third, get involved in First Free's Five Years of Focus. Become part of our disciples making disciples ministry. Help us train the next generation and pass the baton to them. Ask someone to be a Paul to you and serve our community together. If you need additional help, call me.

Who is your Paul? Whom are you a Paul to?
Who is your Barnabas? To whom are you a Barnabas?
Who is your Timothy? Who can become a Timothy to you?


P.S. Ever wrestle with what God's will is for you? Does God's will seem mystical to you? Need some help with decisions in your life? Come to the 9:00 or 10:30am service this Sunday as we address some of these things. Oh, and bring a friend with you.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An "engaging" challenge

Recently, I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit through my preparation of the sermons on Sunday morning. The early church had leaders like Paul and Barnabas who knew how to create opportunities to talk about Jesus rather than creating conflict. They were very good at engaging the culture of their day.
Many Christians like myself know that it is important to engage those in the culture around us with the message of the Cross, but we don't know to start. It seems a little intimidating to hang out with those who aren't followers of Jesus and it's just more comfortable to do things with our Christian friends - it feels safer just to stay in our "holy huddles".

The Apostle John wrote "greater is He who is in you, than he (Satan) who is in the world." We need to recognize that the power of God is greater than the power of the enemy. Let's all begin, if we haven't already, to overcome the commitment to do nothing and start engaging our culture. Below are eight things I am striving to do to accomplish this. Why not join me and fulfill our calling to be lights to our world?
  1. Start conversations - with your neighbors, the person you're in line with at the grocery store, your waitress, your barista - just start talking to people.
  2. Hang out with people who enjoy the same things you do - book clubs, sport leagues, PTA, service organization, etc.
  3. Volunteer somewhere - local school, sports team, Matt Talbot kitchen, Lincoln Pregnancy Crisis Center, Friendship Home, adoption agency, People City Mission, City Impact, etc.
  4. Tell stories - about your life, your faith, etc.
  5. Pray with others - if someone has an issue, stop and pray with them - even unbelievers will appreciate this.
  6. Invite others to join you - engage the culture with another Christian friend.
  7. Get to know your community by asking questions - What matters to people? What frustrates them? What do you love? What would you like to change? Listen and ask questions.
  8. Address the physical and spiritual needs around you - just meet needs.

Start small - do one thing this week. You just have to start somewhere.

P.S. You won't want to miss this Sunday, April 21st! The pop-rock band, Everfound, will be with us for Sunday morning worship and again at 6:30pm for a concert at the church. The band consists of 4 Russian brothers who credit their passion for music to their Christian faith. See you there!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What is the mission?

God is at work in the world, and He wants you to join Him. This is what we call mission. Mission is your service to unbelievers in the world. Ministry is your service to believers in the Body of Christ. God created you to accomplish both. Your mission gives your life meaning. What is this mission?
Jesus said "Go to the people of all nations and make them disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them everything I have told you."
That's your mission and that's my mission. We all have the same mission and this mission is mandatory, not optional! You may be unaware but the truth is that God holds you responsible for the unbelievers around you. This mission is not given just to Pastors but to every follower of Christ. In fact, the word "mission" comes from the Latin word for "sending". We are all sent out into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ.
What a privilege we have to work with God and represent Him to our sphere of influence. Not only does this mission have eternal significance for us but it impacts the eternal destiny of others. The magnitude of living out your mission will last forever.
If your neighbor, coworker, or friend had cancer or AIDs and you knew the cure, it would be criminal to withhold that lifesaving information. Even worse would be to keep secret the way to forgiveness, purpose, peace and eternal life. May we never forget how hopeless and lost people are without Jesus.
May I encourage you and you encourage me to be urgent about our mission. The clock is ticking down on your life mission, so don't delay another day. Get started on your mission of reaching out to others now! We have all of eternity to celebrate with those we've brought to Jesus, but we have only our lifetime in which to reach them. Invest your life in unbelievers now.
Right now.
God bless,