Thursday, February 27, 2014

Time spent listening

I have been sharing with you principles I have gleaned from Michael Frost’s book, “The Five Habits of Highly Missional People”. This week the focus is on habit #3: I will spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.

The Holy Spirit is our companion, our source of strength, and our indispensable source of wisdom. He guides us into truth, illuminates God’s truth to us, prays for us with groans when words can’t be expressed and sustains us through life’s journeys.

And yet many of us are so busy, so active and always on the go that we never listen to His promptings. It is as if we do all the talking and never truly listen to His voice.

So here is what I want to encourage you to do to develop the habit of listening for the Spirit’s voice:

First, set aside a designated time. Don’t try to connect with God on the run. Just once a week – set aside some time. (If you want to do this more than once a week, be my guest!) You need to stop, get quiet, and listen.

Second, eliminate distractions. Avoid intrusions of sights, smells, tastes and sounds. Find a quiet room, a comfortable position in a chair, close your eyes and let God speak to you.

Third, let His love for you give you peace and comfort. Abide in His presence. Listening for God is one of the highest forms of prayer. Let Him into your life to reveal what He wants to reveal to you.

Fourth, follow His promptings. He might bring to your mind the name or the face of a person you are to bless or eat with (the first two habits). He might convict you of a sin, encourage you in your faithfulness, remind you of something you should of said to someone, reward you with love, joy, peace, faithfulness, goodness, self-control or any other fruit of the Spirit.

So, sometime this week…STOP, GET QUIET and COMMUNE with God. Enjoy!
Listening with you,
P.S. Our partners from Mexico will be joining me on the platform this Sunday as we discover how to reach out to our friends with the Gospel! See you at 9:00 or 10:30am!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Habit #3

We are looking at five habits to foster in our lives that in turn shape our missional outlook. By missional I mean all that we do and say that alerts others to the reign of God.

In the last Freshly Bru’d we mentioned habit #1 – I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched. (By the way, let me know how this worked for you last week!)This week our focus is on habit #2 – I will eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched.

Eating has been a central Christian practice since the beginning of the church. Remember, the communion service centered around a love feast. Eating missionally is a way to express love to all.

This habit of eating with three people each week doesn’t need to add a great deal to your already busy schedule. Most of us eat at least three times a day - that’s 21 meals a week. I’m simply asking that you bring another person to your table for three of those.

The meal could be elaborate or it could be a cup of coffee and a donut. Just sit across a table from three people each week and talk. When you eat together you share stories, hopes, fears, and disappointments. People open up to each other. It gives you an opportunity to open up to them and share your faith in Jesus.

Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford in their book Right Here Right Now state: “If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger, neighbor, or poor person into their home for a meal once a week, we would change the world by eating!” Missional hospitality is a tremendous opportunity to extend the Kingdom of God.

So, I’m asking that you invite three people to share at your table, at least one of whom is not a church-goer. What you’ll find happening is that people will reciprocate your hospitality - you’ll start getting return invitations and when that happens you’ve got some serious missional traction.

Be a blessing this week,
P.S. To encourage you with your life’s mission and how to live it out, join us this Sunday at 9:00 or 10:30am. This is a communion service that will encourage your heart.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Highly Missional People, part 2

Last week I introduced you to a book entitled “The Five Habits of Highly Missional People” by Michael Frost. He mentions that our actions can help shape our faith and he challenges his readers to take on five habits which I mentioned last week. This week, I want to highlight the first habit which is the habit of blessing; I will bless three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched.

The etymology of the term bless is “to add strength to another’s arm.” Therefore, to bless another is to build them up, to fill them with encouragement for them to increase in strength and prosperity.

So what does it mean to add strength to another’s arm? Anything that relieves their burden in life. Anything that helps them breathe more easily. Anything that lifts their spirit or alleviates the distress. It can be a small thing or a large thing.

Frost suggests three forms of blessing another. First, words of affirmation – send a note, write an email, text them something encouraging. Someone said, “A word of encouragement is like oxygen to the soul.” Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from another’s perspective. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Second, acts of kindness. Who doesn’t feel blessed when someone does them a favor or provides some kind of practical support? We just finished a series on generosity and asked people to demonstrate acts of kindness and then to tell me about it. Even though the series is over, demonstrating acts of kindness is not. Please continue to send me your stories.

Third, gifts. A gift of love can show the recipient that they are known, cared for, and valued. Is there a single mom who would appreciate a food basket? Or someone down in their luck that would appreciate a meal, or a special gift? You get the idea.

Make the habit of blessing others an ongoing habit in your life...starting today.
Be a blessing,
P.S. Ever question your purpose in life? Ever ask yourself “What drives my life" or "What am I here for"? For encouragement and answers don’t miss the new series starting this Sunday called “It’s My Life.” Join us at 9:00am or 10:30am!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Some Habits are very Good

Whenever I come across something I am reading that touches my life, I want to make sure that I pass it on to my friends. Recently, I came across an eBook entitled “The 5 Habits of Highly Missional People” by Michael Frost. I will list the 5 habits he writes about in this Freshly Bru’d but will feature each one in the weeks to come.
These habits are to unite us together as believers but also propel us into the lives of others. As we practice these habits they will re-energize and replenish us, and connect us more deeply to Jesus.
The Apostle James said it like this, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:18)
It is far more Biblical to see action as a powerful expression of the person who makes that action. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung once said, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Let’s take that idea and apply it to our faith. Faith is not just a belief system, it is a habit. And the habits we will unfold from Michael Frost’s book in the next 5 Freshly Bru’d issues will vitalize our faith if we put them into practice.
Here are the habits:
#1. Bless – I will bless three people each week, at least one of whom is unchurched.
#2. Eat – I will eat with three people this week, at least one of whom is unchurched.
#3. Listen – I will spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.
#4. Learn – I will spend at least one period of the week learning Christ.
#5. Sent – I will journal throughout the week all the ways I alerted others to the universal reign of God through Christ.

Next week we will look at habit #1 in more detail and depth.
P.S. If you want to be challenged down to your socks, come and listen to Greg Stier, speaker for Dare 2 Share Ministries who will be at First Free this Sunday. This is a great opportunity to invite your unchurched friends – Sunday morning at 9:00am or 10:30am!