Avoid One and Done

I have discovered a proliferation of door to door sales people here in Washington as compared to rural Minnesota where I lived for 44 years. I’ve had people come by trying to sell me home security services, pest control and lawn services. I listen to their sales pitch but I tell them that I am not going to buy anything now but rather I want to do my own research. I want to get to know their company and what they are selling. I want to trust them before I make an investment. They usually don’t like this response as they want the sale now.

The same mentality is often seen among Christians. One presents the Gospel to someone and then wants to see the fruits of their efforts now. They want to make an instant “sale” and then move on; feeling good that their numbers are going up. This tactic, though, is rarely effective in the long term, especially for the one “buying the product”. One and done evangelism is often more damaging to the one being evangelized. It’s like selling someone a whatchamacallit without an owners manual.

Instead, we need to spend time with people and develop relationships with them.  We can’t have a “one and done” mentality. We need to invest in people, provide for any needs, be a guide and help them along the way as they grow in Christ. When you look at the early church in Acts, the apostles spent time in the towns in which they planted churches. They didn’t just preach and go. They weren’t one and done evangelists. They invested in people.

Door to door ministry can be effective, but only if a relationship eventually ensues. Leading people to Christ can be a time consuming thing but it is important work as we are called and commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples…”. Spend time with people and live out your faith. Show them Christ’s love through your words and deeds. Be a “little Jesus” to them. Walk with them and when the opportunity presents itself, tell them about Jesus. Basically, earn the right to be heard.

So all you door to door sales people, don’t expect me to buy what you’re selling until I get to know you. Make an investment in me and earn my trust. Not practical for you, I know, but for you, Christian, it is. It’s what Jesus and the apostles did. Follow him and walk AS Jesus did and don’t be a one and done evangelist.

The Pastor -|—

Making Disciples

As a church, what are you about?

A church strategy that focuses on getting people to come to you through flashy programs, big events, creative gimmicks or high energy worship technology misses the point of being the church. Jesus never said, “Go therefore and make members of all nations…“. Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make DISCIPLES of all nations…“.  The work of the church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thus create Jesus-followers or better yet, those to walk/live/talk/act AS Jesus would. It is a command to live out loud in such a way that people see Jesus in you and thus give glory to God. The work of the church is “out there”, not in the safety of your four walls.

If, as a church, though, you are only focused on bringing in more people so you can cover your budget, you are nothing more than community-minded club. Following Jesus is not a club but a way of life. Following Jesus is messy. Following Jesus is joy in the midst of a messed up, sin-filled world.

As a church, ask yourself this question:
If we evangelize someone; sharing the Good News of Jesus with them, and they come to believe, will we still rejoice if they choose to worship elsewhere?

Think about that. If your answer is no then some soul searching needs to be done.
Why do you exist?
Who are you trying to glorify, yourself or God?
What’s more important, building your kingdom (building) or God’s Kingdom?

Sure, more than likely, if you help lead someone to Jesus, they will come and worship where you worship, but they may not. If they choose someplace else, then still praise God. Praise God they are part of the flock. Praise God they are worshiping him. Praise God that there is another disciple out there ready to do battle with the forces of evil. Praise God.

As I said, following Jesus is messy work but if you are unwilling to get messy, then you will miss the joy that is discipleship. Get out of your neat, safe and comfortable buildings. Hit the messy, dirt road; kicking up some dust along the way and getting dirty; knowing that you are already washed clean through the Holy Spirit.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
[Matthew 28:19-20]

Let’s get messy.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon thoughts ~ John 11:1-41

In John chapter 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He hears that Lazarus is sick and then waits four days. Had he left earlier, Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying, but Jesus waits that God may be glorified. Upon arriving, Jesus meets Martha and then Mary ~ “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Upon asking where they have laid him, they say, “Come and see”. At this we have one of the most famous verses in the Bible, probably because of it’s brevity.

“Jesus wept”

Question: Why did Jesus weep?

Jesus is the Son of God
Jesus can raise the dead
Jesus seemed to know that his delay would end in the dead of Lazarus
Jesus knows what he can do

So, why did Jesus weep?

I contend that Jesus is not weeping over the death of Lazarus but rather over the hopeless weeping that the others are doing. Do Mary and Martha not know Jesus well enough to know that he can raise Lazarus?

So Jesus raises Lazarus. He walks out of the tomb and he tells the people to unbind him. Word then begins to spread, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders. When you see people in hopeless despair, how do you show them Jesus? How do you show them that there is hope? How do you help people move from tears of despair to tears of Joy?

Just some thoughts. What say you?

The Pastor -|—

Don’t be a Jerk

I saw a Facebook post recently that said:

“Sometimes the best evangelism is simply telling people you’re a Christian and then not being a complete jerk.”

There is some truth to that but it definitely does not go far enough in today’s world. There are way too many people who claim to be a Christian but do not follow Jesus (which doesn’t make sense to me). For some, “Christian” is just a title to be used when it suits them but when opposition comes the title is abandoned. Then there are people who claim the title “Christian” but under a new and “relevant” definition. It’s like a Twitter post I saw recently,

“Saying you’re a new kind of Christian with a new kind of Christianity is basically saying you’re an old kind of heretic.” [Burk Parsons]

To “simply” say you’re a Christian doesn’t tell me much now days, which is kind of sad. “Christian” used to mean something but now it is just a watered down title. So now what? Well, you can’t simply tell people you are a Christian and then not be a complete jerk. In today’s world, Jesus-following Christians need to confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead. That is salvation and that is the message that needs to be proclaimed.
Jesus is Lord.
Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus died for you.
Jesus was raised for you.
Through faith, when you confess your sins, you are forgiven.

So don’t “simply” stop at Christian, but confess with your mouth what you believe in your heart…and THEN don’t be a complete jerk.

The Pastor -|—

THE “Warning Siren”

That was an ominous sound.

I was standing outside my home, here NW Washington earlier today, listening to the lahar siren test. It’s something that happens here on the first Monday of the month. It was very reminiscent of living in Minnesota where we had monthly tornado siren drills (during tornado season).

But this was different, because it was a powerful reminder of where I live.

You see, I live in the Orting Valley (just outside of Puyallup, WA) about 50 miles from Mount Rainier. It’s a beautiful mountain, or shall I say, an active volcano. I have read that it’s been classified as the most dangerous volcano in the continental 48 states but yet I rarely think about it as I admire it’s beauty; ominously towering over Orting. With a Minnesota tornado you can at least take cover in you home and hope for the best.

But not so with a volcano eruption here.

If and when Mount Rainier erupts, we can’t just take cover in our home, we will need to head out of town as fast as we can and get to high ground. I’ve been told we would have about 50 minutes to get to high ground from Orting. Sounds like plenty of time, but not when you consider that everyone and their dog will be trying to get out. Scary when one thinks about it, but even scarier, it won’t be long until the sound of that lahar siren recedes out of my mind and with it the warning as I go back to admiring a beautiful mountain.

But you, Christian, do you remember that there is a more powerful “warning” being sounded. I say “warning” but it is actually Gospel for those who believe. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:44 (ESV) Jesus is coming and this “warning siren” is not a test. It’s sounding now, we just don’t know when Jesus will arrive.

But this doesn’t have to be scary. Mount Rainier can be scary, but Jesus is life. His return means the establishment of his kingdom here on this earth. Jesus’ return means the end of sin and death and the power of Satan. Jesus’ return means peace and joy forever more. The warning siren being sounded is the Gospel so do not fear. But, the warning siren also means that Christians cannot be complacent. If I hear the lahar siren sounding and my neighbor does not, I am going to make sure they know about it.

But what about THE “warning”?

You have heard the siren; it’s sounding, but are you telling people the Good News? Don’t let people get hit by an unexpected blast of destruction because you have “better things to do”. Get out there and proclaim the Gospel; that people may live with anxious anticipation of the return of their Lord. Don’t get so caught up in the beauty of the Lord that you miss what his return means for those who are not ready. Don’t let the sound of the Gospel recede into the white noise of your life. Hear the Gospel as a “warning”/reminder for you to be ready but also for YOU to say something to somebody. Besides, if Jesus is Good News (and he is) then why stay silent?

Jesus is coming. You may have more than 50 minutes or you my have less that 5 seconds. We just don’t know, so sound the alarm and help your neighbors get to know Jesus.

May God be glorified forever and ever. Amen

The Pastor -|—

Send Me

You have sent me out
to make disciples

of ALL nations.

You have sent me out
to lead people to You.

ALL people.

You have sent me out
to proclaim forgiveness

of ALL sins.

You have sent me out.

But I am judgmental
I am sinful
I am weak
I don’t know it all

Why, oh God, why,
have you sent me?
Certainly there are others more qualified.
Certainly there are others more faithful.
Certainly there are others who are smarter.
Certainly there has to be someone else.

But yet You have sent me.

Oh God,
lead me,
forgive me,
empower me,
gift me.

 For you sent me unqualified,
but,
only You can qualify me.
So in the name of Jesus
send me qualified in Your eyes,
so the eyes of others can see you.

Who shall You send?

Send me!

The Pastor -|—

Seed Sowing in Satan’s Face

In reading the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20, I am quickly reminded that the call and the joy of the Christian is to sow the Word of God. The joy comes from the fact we are sinners but that God offers forgiveness of our sins by His grace through Jesus Christ. And through this forgiveness, we have the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

This is the Gospel.
This is the Good News.
This is AMAZING news!

And yet, we often see evangelism as a chore or as something to do later if we have time or something reserved for a certain committee or (and this is my favorite) it is something reserved strictly for the pastor.

Maybe this inattention to evangelism comes from the fact that, more times than not, you get beaten up when you try to seed sow. Maybe someone strongly rejects your Gospel presentation. Maybe someone tells you to keep your faith to yourself. Maybe someone argues with you to the point of exhaustion. Maybe you have been shot down too many times to count and you’re just plain tired of getting hurt or embarrassed. Whatever the case, it serves as a reminder that Satan is hard at work. Whenever you are sharing your faith or trying to present the Gospel or stand up for what you believe, Satan is right there to make life difficult. And he should because the Gospel threatens Satan.

But we must keep seed sowing.
We must keep spreading the Gospel.
We must keep telling people that there is hope.
We must keep showing people Jesus.

For when we stop, Satan wins and thus he laughs.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, seed sowing is hard but look at the bright side. If seed sowing is difficult and it feels like you are being resisted every step of the way, then maybe you’re doing something right. In that case, keep on going in the strength of the Lord and mock Satan knowing that Jesus stands with you and that Satan can not possibly win.

And that is cause to laugh in Satan’s face and praise be to God always and forever!

The Pastor -|—