Thursday, April 3, 2014

Empty Handed...

I have discovered what I believe to be one of the greatest lies of the enemy when it comes to building the kingdom.  We're convinced that it flows from what we have to offer, and let's face it we have SO much.  The gospel is not subsistent living, it's banquet faire.  What do I mean?  The gospel is bountiful.  We go with this gospel... knowing we have something wonderful to offer humanity.  And yet I wonder....

One of the greatest examples of evangelism in scripture is found in John 4 where Jesus confronts the woman at the well with her need.  Actually that's not quite true.  It's really the story of where a woman confronts Jesus with HIS need.  She is the one with the resource to gather water, not he.  If truth be told, Jesus is the one in need of help.  He has no cup, no bucket, no way of lifting water from that deep well. It was within his grasp, but not.

We often read this story and notice her need, skipping over his.  And it's true, she is hurting.  She's come to the well at high noon.  She's alone....she's in need of God's great salvation.  Yet I find myself wondering about Jesus need.  He was thirsty, and instead of ignoring his need he asks for the woman's help.  I think Jesus understood something that we in the church have often forgotten.

We often think the way to go about doing evangelism; the way to go about meeting people's needs is to meet their need... And while that seems to make sense that's not how we see the conversation in John 4 unfold.  He begins from a position of need. He is thirsty and instead of suggesting he's not, he admits his lack...  What is going on here?

It got me thinking about those words of Jesus when he commissioned the 72. He sent them out saying "take NOTHING for the journey...."  Think about how that would put them in an incredibly vulnerable position as they entered a village they'd never visited before.

It got me to thinking about the words of Paul where he, speaking of Christ, says... "Who being in very nature God... made himself NOTHING..."  When you contemplate the incarnation... can you think of a more helpless way to enter our world?  Why enter in such a helpless way?

For whatever reason we've arrived at the conclusion that effective evangelism occurs best when we enter the fray equipped, certainly NOT empty handed.  Yet I find myself wondering... what would happen if we'd enter people's lives like Jesus entered our world... as he entered the life of that woman at the well.  I wonder, what might take place.

What do you think?



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Glimpses of Spring...

I know it's only January... but something is changing.  The other day I could feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulder as I walked into town.  You could almost sense spring seeking to burst out.   Don't get me wrong I've read the long range forecasts suggesting that February could be quite cold; that winter could once again take hold, but still something is changing.  You see regardless of how cold it might get in the days and weeks that follow... spring is coming.  Nothing will stop its life from bursting forth.  Personally I can't wait.

Glimpses of Spring!
As I mentioned there are signs everywhere....

Just the other morning I noticed the signs of life pushing their way through the soil in our front and back gardens.  Tulips, daffodils and crocuses reaching for the sky.  I realise snow could still cover them, but I also know that eventually they'll fill our garden with their beautiful blooms.

I say all this... and then I wake this morning to discover that winter almost in response to my hopeful words is saying NOT SO FAST.... the wind, the rain, the cold remind me that while spring will come, it won't come easily.

I think ministry is very much like this... there are times when you feel nothing is happening, where it appears all your efforts make no difference whatsoever.  Then there are those days where you're caught off guard by the appearing of a shoot, a sign of something.

I remember Reuben Welch, in one of the many classes I took from him at Point Loma saying... "when nothing is happening something is happening, because God is always working."  I like that and hold on to it, but to be honest I really love the signs of spring, don't you?