It’s a love issue

“Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” Matthew 4: 18-20 (Message))

Essentially this is what Jesus was saying to them with His call to them, “I understand your preoccupation with catching fish. But hear me, fellas, and hear me well. If you’ll trust me and follow me, if you’ll try to understand who I am and what I’m up to in this world, then you’ll also let me make you fishers of men. And believe me, this is infinitely more significant an endeavor than merely catching fish!”  This is where the real adventure in following me is found.

Now understand that Jesus was not knocking the fishing business, any more than He would have knocked the construction business from which He and Joseph had made a living. There’s nothing wrong with those occupations, or the food business, the travel business, the insurance business, or the real estate business. They’re all fine. But no earthly enterprise is as important as the business of bringing lost people to the cross of Christ. ‘This should be central to the lives of all of His followers, regardless of what they do for a career.

Those who choose to follow Christ will eventually come to the conclusion that there’s nothing more important than reaching people. And when they do, their values will change forever. They’ll be seized by the realization that every other earthly activity pales in comparison with helping an individual man, woman, boy, or girl come into a saving, liberating, life-changing relationship with the God of the universe.

And once they understand that the most important business in the world is the people saving business, watch out! They’re going to live differently, pray differently, love differently, work differently, give differently, and serve differently, because they’ll be preoccupied with people and their eternal needs. They’ll become consumed with how they can be more effective fishers of men.

Only a few will actually leave their nets and abandon their profession. Not many will make ministry their career. The vast majority of Christians are asked to function within their present occupation, but with a whole new mindset, one that reflects God’s perspective on the eternal importance of people.

Like me, I’ll bet you’re thankful the disciples chose to major in the people saving business rather than the fishing business. The only remaining question is what will you do? How will you invest your life?

Let me implore you, for your own benefit and for the sake of your lost friends, if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength: get in the people saving business.  Say to God each day, “Today, let me do more than merely catch fish. Help me do more than just sell a product. Inspire me to go beyond providing a service. Enable me to touch a human life. Work through me to reach a man or a woman for you. I want to be in the people business.”

We sometimes reason within ourselves, “I just don’t know enough to help someone come to Christ. If I just had more training and knowledge of the Bible and basic evangelism principles then I would be able to be a real fisher of men.”

(Leonard Sweet in Soul Tsunami) “Our problem in evangelism is not a lack of training. The problem in evangelism is that we don’t love enough. Do you need training to talk about your grandchildren? You love them so much you can’t stop spreading the good news and new pictures with everyone who will listen. Do you need to attend workshops to talk about your hobby? Your collection of Beanie Babies or Barbie Dolls is always on the tip of your tongue, ready to come tripping off at the drop of a hint of interest.

Evangelism doesn’t require training. Evangelism requires love. Lack of evangelism means lack of love.”

Louis Pasteur, the pioneer of immunology, lived at a time when thousands of people died each year of rabies. Pasteur had worked for years on a vaccine. Just as he was about to begin experimenting on himself, a nine-year-old, Joseph Meister, was bitten by a rabid dog. The boy’s mother begged Pasteur to experiment on her son. Pasteur injected Joseph for ten days, and the boy lived.

Decades later, of all the things Pasteur could have had etched on his headstone, he asked for three words: JOSEPH MEISTER LIVED.

Our greatest legacy and the greatest part of this entire life adventure, will be those who live eternally because we decided and devoted our life to the same mission Christ had. We loved lost people because Jesus did and nothing in life is more important to us than helping them discover a growing adventure with God through Jesus.    Too many eternities are riding on us for even one of us to succumb to a life of self-centered apathy.              




The Head-Body Principle

One day Jesus was passing through one of the wealthiest and most influential towns of His day when he ran up with one of the original members of the society of short people.

The town happened to be Jericho and this particular individual happened to be a man named Zachaeus. Not only was he short but he was also very wealthy. But he was not happy. And he was determined to see Jesus and was not going to let anything stop him.

So he ran ahead of the crowd that had gathered along the street to greet Jesus as He passed and climbed up a Sycamore fig tree. As Jesus passed by the tree He looked up in the tree and called out, “Zachaeus.”

Can you imagine how you would have felt at that moment if you were in his sandals? There are hundreds and even thousands of people around and Jesus singles you out.

On top of that, Zachaeus is not a real popular guy. He’s wealthy but he is hated by most everyone. He had been dishonest and even criminal in his extortion of money from common people. And to hear this one, reported to be the Messiah, call out his name above everyone else probably made him feel about five inches tall instead of five feet tall.

Jesus continues, “Zachaeus, I want to go to your house today.” He couldn’t believe his ears. No doubt he was shocked.

But more than he, the people were shocked. They couldn’t believe their ears. This one who claims to be the Son of God is going to the house of a “sinner.” It was just beyond their comprehension.

As a result of Jesus taking time to eat with a sinner, Zachaeus became a believer. He was converted. And as a result of meeting the master he made an announcement.

(Lk. 19:8) “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Then Jesus responded with, “Today salvation has come to this house.” But Jesus wasn’t finished. He used this occasion to announce, not just to Zachaeus, not just to the crowd, but to the world, why He even came to earth. He said, “The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”

All of a sudden it made sense why He was eating with sinners. That’s why he came in the first place. In fact, on another occasion he explained his ministry mission with the words, (Mark 2:17) “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Now think about this for a minute. Jesus primary purpose for coming to earth was to seek and save the lost. The Bible also says about Jesus, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Eph. 1:22-23 Take note of those two words; “head, body.” The head is Christ the Body is His church.

Then in another place the Bible records, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Col. 1:18 Again there is “head, body” which refers to Christ and the Church.

So what we have here is the head/ body principle. Listen closely so you don’t miss it. What tells my body what to do? Does my body pursue one direction and my head another? Aren’t we all together on what we do?

The head/body principle is that what the head does the body does. The objective of the body is the same as that of the head. Isn’t that simple to understand? It’s simple enough for a child to understand.  What the head wants and desires the body wants and desires also. What the head does the body does. They are together on what they desire and do.

So Christ is the head and we, the church, are His Body. If His mission was to seek and save lost people, what do you suppose is the mission of the church?  Is it not the same? Don’t the head and body have the same mission?

But our mission is the same as Jesus’ was, seek and lead lost people to salvation. That’s the main thing. And the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. It’s true that Christ alone can save the world but Christ cannot save the world alone. He accomplishes it through those who answer his call to follow Him by pursuing the mission of seeking and saving lost people.

What are you currently doing to help lost people connect with Jesus? Anything?

How to love God in a single word

One day a Pharisee approached Jesus with a question that we all desire the answer to. He asked, “What is the most important commandment.”  In this question he was asking, “Of all the commandments which one do we need to make sure we don’t miss?” You see there were 1,613 commands.  That’s a lot of commands.  Jesus took these 1,613 and He narrowed it down to an absolute focus and He replied. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Matt 22:37-39)

He said, the most important thing in life for us to do is love God with all our heart and soul and mind, in other words, with all our being. Everything else in life pales in comparison to loving God.

How do you do that? What does that mean? How is that fleshed out in real life?

The answer in a single word, OBEDIENCE.

Scripture speaks;

“But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 6

So, this is what it all comes down to. This is the bottom line. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is ground zero. If you say you love God your life should be consumed with the asking and answering of two questions: 1. Where in my life am I failing to obey God? 2. Where in my life am I disobeying God. And then get busy at once obeying.

Of course the excuse we often offer is, “But there is so much about what God says and wants that I just don’t know. I might be disobeying or failing to obey and I just don’t know it. There is so much of the Bible that I am not familiar with.”

The answer to that is very simple, “Begin by obeying the parts you already know. Then, as you come to discover more of God’s will, obey it as well. Begin where you are.”

So, Jesus has a question for you, “Do you truly love me?” (John 21:16)  

How much do you have to hate someone to…

I found this page from Hell Is Real by Brian Jones to be especially powerful.

“Love compels us. Love drives us. Love causes us to risk friendships, business partnerships and whatever else stands in the way to help people come to a saving relationship with Jesus.

Common sense tells us that if I truly believe that people who die without Christ will spend not just one year, or 150 years, 150,000 years, or 150 trillion years, but an eternity in hell, this would be a game changer. I would completely upend my life in the pursuit of changing the course of every person I met. Everything about me would change—the way I spend my time, the way I spend my money, my career choices, activities my kids get involved in, my priorities, my daily schedule, everything. If my life truly reflected what I say I believe, everything about my life would change.

The need to evangelize is so self evident that even people who aren’t Christians realize it. Comedian and spiritual skeptic, Penn Jillette posed a question that I think every Christian must answer.

‘I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe there is a heaven and a hell and people could be going to hell…and you think it’s not worth telling them because it would make it socially awkward…how much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them about it?’

Too much is riding on this for even one person to succumb to a life of self-centered apathy.”

What do you think?

NVCC Celebrates Seven Years

October 2, 2011 marked the seventh anniversary of New Venture Christian Church. The celebration included exalted worship, baby dedication, video of the first seven years, the introduction of deaf worship, a tremendous message (since I delivered it) a fellowship meal and stories of how New Venture has affected lives for eternity.

Here are the links, one to the first seven year video and the other taken by one of our worshipers from his worship perspective.