Am I Making Disciples?

Oh, guys. I just listened to an AMAZING message by Francis Chan. It’s the kind of message that makes you want to jump up the second it’s over, and change your whole life and live for Jesus twenty thousand times more than what you already are.

If you want to listen to it, go here and scroll down through all of the messages until you get to the one called “Love God Love People”. And then listen to it. Right away. And then come change the world with me?

There were so many things he said that challenged me, but the part where he asked, “Are you making a disciple?” really got me. Because that’s what it’s all about, right?

As we prepare to leave camp, Ben and I have lots of talks about what we dream for the future. In our whole married life, we have never been without a ministry. And now we’re taking everything we’ve learned, and all that God’s done for us, and we’re bringing it with us “into the real world”, and that’s just so exciting…and so scary. I’m scared I’ll settle into “normal life” and forget everything, and I don’t want to. I don’t want to care about all the materialistic junk that can suck a person in so fast.

I just want to care about people.

But that won’t be Ben’s “official” job anymore. Now we’ll just do it for fun! Well, it’s always been fun. But now it’s for real. Ben says he just wants to get together with a bunch of young men and disciple them. Sounds good! I’m going to start praying for God to send me some girls! I’m really excited to see what God’s going to do with us and in us and through us.

I know that doesn’t always look dramatic and exciting. Sometimes it’s just the boring, everyday stuff, done with the right heart. But I’m really hoping and praying that He’ll send some cool opportunities our way.

Because life is fast, as Francis Chan says, and I want to do something that really matters before the end. It’s all about loving God, and loving people, and I have so much to learn about both those things.

Showing You the Way

I taught my last Counselor-in-training session yesterday. It has been great, and I’ve loved it.

I’ve heard that the one teaching is the one who learns the most. I think it’s true.There is one truth that has come out over and over again for me over these last few days, as I’ve taught about prayer, reading God’s word, sanctification, and loving others. The truth is that I get out what I put in. If I love God’s Word, it will show. If I spend time talking with my Father in private, it will show in public. If He is making me new every day, it will show.

If I don’t do those things, I’ve got nothing to show.

And I think that showing is the very best way to be a witness. Live a love for Jesus in a way that is true, and that can’t be contained, and He will take care of the rest.

I was reminded of something Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz:

I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

 

My Confused Thoughts on Being “Not of This World”

Back when I was in junior high, my youth group got these fantastic matching T-shirts, made in true early-90’s style. They were white, with multi-colored neon graphics, announcing the name of our youth group on the front, and had a large picture and a portion of verse on the back: “Not of this world” (can’t remember the reference).

I wore that shirt for years, and those words stuck in my mind. Not of this world.

I’ve often wondered what it actually looks like in real life, to be “not of this world.”

This world is very confusing. It would be easier if things were always black and white, but there are a lot of gray areas, and it feels as though all gray areas are being thoroughly explored, and what used to be black and white is not anymore.

How do I live a loving, glorifying-to-God kind of life? When do I stand up for truth, and when do I step back to allow people the free-will to make their own choices?

How do I love a lost world without loving it too much and getting sucked in to the mess? How do I wade through the mess, when lots of the time, I feel like I’m a mess myself?

How do I share a message of hope and peace with people who are lost, when it’s judgmental to see them as lost? And how do I share answers to searching people’s questions without sounding like I think I have all the answers, because I definitely don’t?

There are so many big issues going on around us, and so much of the time, I feel like I’ve got an opinion, but I don’t have a clue what to do with it. Sometimes I have no idea if my opinion is even a good opinion.

I recently came across this blog post about same-sex marriage, and found it very interesting, especially this quote at the end:

God does not need me to defend marriage. He does not need me to block other people’s decisions. He does not need me to wade into a culture war or gang up on a minority or sow seeds of discord and fear. He does not need me to defend Him, my understanding of His best or even my way of doing life. I have much to learn.

Oh, I have so much to learn too.

(If you do happen to check out the article, I’ll just say that I don’t agree with absolutely everything, but she has a lot of good stuff to say, and she did get me thinking.)

Some people would think that God and marriage, among other things, need defending – that we’re not truly following Him if we don’t defend Him. But when does defending just become arguing or attacking? What is the difference? Can I “defend” by the way I live out my faith? Does that count?

It’s as though witnessing has become something where we try to force others to live by our moral standards, and somehow hope that along the way, they will “become Christians” by osmosis.

Why in the world would someone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus want to live by the same moral standards as someone who knows Him deeply and intimately? There should be a radical, obvious difference between the two.

I’m frustrated with my need for more control than just demonstrating that difference. I’m frustrated with my judgmental spirit. I’m frustrated with my discomfort around anyone who doesn’t make the same moral choices that I do.

I’m frustrated with my lack of ability to just love, regardless of what kind of choices a person makes, or what kind of lifestyle they live.

I’m frustrated with my desire to “block other people’s decisions”, and calling it “standing up for the truth”. Is there a good way to stand up for the truth without bulldozing over people, forgetting to see them as people?

And yet it feels like loving others enough to give them freedom to choose is seen as being complacent, wishy-washy, “anything goes”.

Another quote from the same blog post asked this question:

What is the Christian response here? (When Brian and I were talking about it last night, I posed that question and he laughed in my face. “You mean, what’s A Christian response. That’s the whole point of the unity/disunity thing: there is no one Christian response to anything. Ever.“)

What is my Christian response going to be?

So I look at my 500+ words I’ve typed as I’ve sat here wondering, and I ask myself what it all means. What do I want to do in this world that I am not of? I want to become a shining light of love. I want to love Jesus so much that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know all the answers, so much that other people can see Him in me. I want to love Him so much that in the end, what matters most is that I’ll be with Him, and all the confusion and mess of this world will melt away. Is that a cop-out?

I hope, really, really hope, that if I keep my gaze on Jesus, that as I go through each day, I will learn to naturally make good, loving, godly choices. That people will pass through my gaze on Jesus, and loving them will become one and the same as loving Jesus.

I really don’t know how to do this whole thing right. I keep praying and reading and learning, and hopefully I’ll always be a work in progress.

There. Those are my rambling thoughts.

Anyone else ever feel like it’s a confusing mess to get through? Share your wisdom with me…

My Thoughts on Witnessing – Part Two

I was on Facebook the other day when I came across this quote by the wise and wonderful Jordan Loewen:

Evangelism shouldn’t be simply “telling” people about God, as if he’s some how missing from their world, but rather, It should be finding where God is already at work in their lives and making them aware of it.

That summed up a lot of what I’ve been thinking about recently. Just a little while ago, I had an amazing conversation with a friend about a really incredible, life-changing experience that she had recently gone through. She was glowing, inspired, and very animated as she told me all about what had happened.

I’ve been wanting to find opportunities to talk with her about Jesus, so as I half-listened to her story, the other half of me was scheming, “How can I somehow bring this whole thing around to being about her need for God??”

But you know what? I realized just as quickly that instead of being excited for her, and truly just listening to what she was telling me, I was coming up with an agenda. I wanted to fit her experience into my framework for how to experience God.

Who says she needs MY framework? Who says she’s only experiencing God if she’s aware of it? Who says that her experience is only powerful and life-changing if I add my “Christian two cents” to it? And why did I assume that God is missing from her world, when in reality, I could see God all over her experience?

At some point, I really hope and pray that she does become aware of God, but I started to sense that this particular conversation was not the time for that, yet.

I realized that I needed to ditch the agenda, and start praying. I prayed that the wonder of her experience wouldn’t die, but that the Holy Spirit would keep pursuing her through it. I prayed that it would lead her to ask questions. I prayed that it would open up an awareness inside of her for the things of God, and that she would recognize Him working, as He is already.

I believe that God is already doing something in her life. I don’t exactly know how to go about “making her aware of it”, as Jordan said, but I’m praying, and every time I get together with her, I’m hoping that God will show me what He’s doing, so that I can join Him. I’m praying that He’ll give me the right words, at the right time, when she’s ready to hear them.

I want to stop making God so small that I think He needs to work within my framework.  I want to stop thinking that His hand in people’s lives will look the same way (my way??) each time.

I want to look for Him, not my idea of Him, in the lives of other people. I want to be open-minded and sensitive enough that I can recognize what He’s doing. He’s got some pretty amazing ways of becoming real to people. I never want to squash or hinder that. I think I have in the past.

Here’s to better attempts in the future! Less talking, much more listening…