Posts Tagged ‘Influence’

“Wow, that was a very powerful message, what a Godly person they are.” We have probably said this in referring to a speaker we heard at a conference or some other meeting. But we may be mistaken. It may have been a powerful message but if we know the person only by acquaintance, we don’t know if their life represents what they just said.

Consider 1 Samuel 16:7 “I don’t look at the same stuff you do-the image, the voice, the perfect teeth. I look at the inside stuff, and I’m not talking about the lining of his designer jacket: I’m talking about character.” The Word on the Street

Or take Matthew 23:27 where Jesus speaks about religious types. “…people look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” The Message

There really is no power without the reality in our life. We really should only speak to people when the evidence is in our life. Someone told me a long time ago “never speak an inch beyond your experience” and I constantly remind myself of that. Not only do we have to examine our life but keep it in mind when we read a “great” book or listen to a great message. If you listen to a great speaker, see if you can get coffee or lunch and listen and ask good questions. If you read a book you may not have that opportunity, but you can make sure you speak only what is in your life.

If you are discipling someone, make sure you allow that person to see you not just in the Bible study but on the basketball court, painting someone’s house, with some non-believers…in other words, in real life. They will have the opportunity to validate your words. If someone is discipling you, make sure to see them in some real situations.

Everything we do must have a point. If there is no point, life is emptied of its exhilaration. That rush of anticipation of what might come next is thrown away and life becomes a cheap imitation. This is lived out every day in every country, in every city and on every street. It has pervaded our lives and is beyond measure.

Paul addressed this masterful deception our enemy has saturated our cultures with and nowhere is it more widespread than in the American culture. In 2 Corinthians 10:12 the gauntlet is thrown down by Paul. Paul is issuing a challenge to each one of us every day. This is a  “dog eat dog” world now, as it was then. The world doesn’t fight fair. We also try everything to fit in by comparing, grading and competing. We have targeted audiences that we must be accepted into regardless of what compromise we must make or injury we might cause someone else.

As followers of Jesus we have been trusted by God to let the world see that Jesus isn’t a word of explanation used by people at athletic events or when we just feel we have been hammered by someone. Jesus stood out in His culture and when we try to fit in, the people we have the opportunity to influence have just been robbed from seeing the real Jesus.

People are really looking for someone to be real and take a genuine interest in them. Ask God to show you how to live in such a way that people will be curious and ask you why you’re not like their other friends.

We’ve heard it so many times that it hardly matters anymore. We know that when we became a follower of Jesus it was supposed to be different. Life as we know it was going to look different but as we looked around at others who said they also were following Jesus, we noticed there was not really much difference in their attitudes, perspectives and lifestyles than our neighbors who know the names of almost every bar tender in town.

The playbook says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that our old categories of what matters are completely different, our lifestyle of extravagance, our insatiable desires for the upgrades of everything, conversations and about everything else are to be checked out by the new coach. If there is no noticeable difference in how we live other than getting up at a different hour to head to the spiritual zone for a challenge that we have concluded is neat but impossible to live up to, no one is going to ask us to help them figure out life and faith. 

We can watch the “how to follow Jesus” training videos from the couch and think we are really up to speed on this but by the next day we are back with the same attitudes, culturally flavored desires, and left wondering if any of it is real. We may have been “genetically modified” which does not get at what Paul is telling us.

If we are living completely different, we experience a freedom from the chains that have imprisoned us and everyone we know. We need to decide today if we are going to live with the understanding of God being in control or really live

SuperLambBanana3

SuperLambBanana3 (Photo credit: Haversack)

that way. Oh, also check out James 1:22-25 on the subject.

Success

Success (Photo credit: aloshbennett)

I imagine you have said it yourself or your kids have said it one too many times. You are only 30 minutes in the trip that is going to take several hours and you or they ask “are we there yet?” Our questions and thinking always reflect what we believe is important or how we are putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

A church (which is made up of a bunch of people) is successful not when you can’t find a seat, or the new building is now completed or the number of programs has exceeded the number of days in a typical month. The criteria for evaluating success should not be how many but rather what kind. Are people learning how to be real (honest) with each other, involved in consistently sharing life together, and is their life arousing curiosity from those who intersect their life?

People all over the world are looking for people who will be up front with them, genuinely care about spending time with them and who are figuring out how to eliminate the attractive and myriad distractions that choke the life out of them.

The Thessalonians were impacting people all over the place. They had become the daily headlines in the newspapers. If it were today, word of their changed lives would have gone viral on the internet. Twitter wouldn’t have had enough room to list all of the tweets about how they were focused on what really mattered. Check out 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Get some coffee or a beer with someone this week and talk about this.

It’s possible to have many encouraging and  challenging conversations with someone. But after you leave the coffee shop, other than listening and talking about important and not too important things that do show you care, what are the real tests that prove you love them? It’s too easy to say “see you next week” and head off not only in different directions but in different aspects of life that really expose the desperate need for up close love.

What’s going on in their family or your family that if exposed would provide an opportunity for more sacrificial love than the talk over coffee? When someone asks you a tough question is it easier to deflect the question or only share part of the answer? That does not get love out of the starting blocks. Or what about if they ask if you could do them a favor? And after they tell you the favor, you realize you’re late for whatever and have to leave.

One stormy and rainy night I got a call from a guy I had helped in personal discipleship and he wondered if I could come and get him, his wife and kid and tow them back into town. I quickly said yes and then he told me where he was. His truck broke down 140 miles away in the middle of nowhere. It really was near the middle of Wyoming. I had a choice that would either tell him love has limits or it is this real.

If you dare, memorize John 15:12-14 and Romans 16:3 and 4. But don’t stop there. Get in your truck and go tow someone in from wherever. Bring them some coffee and dinner.

5 1/2 hours after the phone call I received, I finally got to bed and my relationship with this man became like a brother. And just seeing the face of his wife and little girl when I arrived made the trip worth it.

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a ...

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a stormy night in Quebec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What comes to your mind when you think of these words? Interesting, strange, trapped might be a few. What about alternative reality? Are these guys real and is there really a hotel like this? Without getting too “out there” with this just consider that most people live in a reality that defines life in a way from which there is no escape, is very repetitive, is hard to make sense of, and usually ends in depressing conclusions that frustrate the fire out of them.

What does this have to do with Jesus? In a word-everything. The deal is however, he has decided to let you and I live and reveal an alternative reality to people trapped in mindless trivia issues that never go anywhere. 

When we live lives where we genuinely care, extend grace without condition, raise curiosity by going the second mile, love them when we know they have differing views about gun issues than us…(you can add to this), they realize we live according to an alternative reality that really does offer freedom from everything that traps them every day. Anyway, they are really more concerned about life before death than after it.

Think through Matthew 5:38-48; 2 Corinthians 10:12; Colossians 4:5 & 6 and 1 Thess. 1:2-9 and see how you can communicate this life to them. By the way if they only see this in you, they might conclude you are just an exception. But if they see this in several of us, they are going to want it. This really is church.

Oh, No! It's Devo

Oh, No! It’s Devo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)