It’s funny how the stages of life provide new experiences, lessons, loses, and friendships. Since moving to Kentucky, Christy and I have really learned a lot about who we are as a couple as well as who we are in Christ. Sometimes it just takes a different view with different people around you to give you a different perspective.
One of these lessons came in the form of a new friend and mentor for me. We’ve known this man for over 4 years now. He can be described as one of the few people I know who talk about the Father as if He were right here, right now. With feeling.
This man teaches me things almost weekly. We get together for coffee, or chat on the phone for a little bit. I used to terrorize him by texting his flip phone constantly. He couldn’t stand to not text back, so he’d take 10 minutes to send a 1 minute text. He’s now stepped into the 21st century with his smart phone.
He said something to me one time that changed me.
No one outside my family told me this like he did.
Not only did he say it once, but over and over again. In fact, every time we get together he says it.
I remember the first time he said it. We were at a church gathering; a lunch of some sort and we were parting ways and he said, “I love you bud.” What do you do when a man says, “I love you” to another man?? In my world, you get weird followed by an awkward smile and a “thanks man.” But I surprised myself. I said it back!
The funny thing is that I knew he really meant it. He wasn’t being “all Christian,” or “holy,” or “one upping” with the pastor act. (Yes, that happens.) He meant it and was telling me so I’d know. There was no pride, no pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and he really didn’t appear to struggle in saying so. He really cares for me as a friend and was telling me.
Men aren’t very good at this, but we need to be! We terrorize each other on purpose. That’s how we say “I love you!” Women think we are awful! Sometimes when he is speaking in a group, I’ll call his cell phone just to see if he remembered to put it on silent. He quietly ignores it and later on we roll in laughter! I’ve learned a lot from this friend about simply telling someone “I love you.”
It doesn’t have to be weird, is certainly not sexual in nature, and it often comes with a hug to convey meaning. (A tight man hug, not one of those “I kinda know you and feel like I’m supposed to do this right now” hugs. The loose hug is akin to the limp handshake from a man.)
He’s opened my eyes to the fact that believers need to let others know how we feel about them. We DO love them! We appreciate the work they do for the kingdom. We value their friendship. Their opinion matters.
I’ve been trying to do better at this by telling others I love them. I have a couple in my life whom you might call “spiritual grandparents.” I practice on them. When I see them, I start with her; telling her I love her and giving her a big hug. Then I move on to him; doing the same thing.
Our Heavenly Father has given us a love for one another that surpasses every kind of love. As brothers and sisters in Him, we have a unique relationship with one another. We’ve been forgiven and granted something we could never gain on our own. We’ll be with one another for eternity, serving our King.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Show your friends in Christ you love them. Tell them you love them. Men, practice by telling your family and find a close brother in Christ to whom you can say, “you know what, I love you as a brother in the Lord.”
Yesterday Christy and I went for an early morning walk. It’s hot, humid, and we enjoy the time we share talking and getting healthy. During our walks, our conversation will range from work, to family, faith, hopes, dreams, etc.
We were having a conversation on faith when I was reminded of something Charles Brock said over the weekend. He quoted a missiologist as saying, “any faith not worth sharing, is not worth having.”
As we talked, we discussed how saddened we were for the current state of the church. There are more pretend believers than actual believers. I have more Facebook friends who profess Christ with their lips and daily posts than live their Christianity out daily.
We talked about the increasing persecution of the church within the United States that no one seems to see. (Sure, we talk about the demise of Christian values within our churches and homes, but our daily actions prove we 1). Don’t get it, or 2). Don’t really care.) This increased persecution will lead to hate crime laws against believers, the loss of tax exemption for churches and ministries, and the stripping away of our first amendment rights to evangelize and preach God’s Word among other things.
I thought of the churches in my area and how I’ve been asking pastors and church leaders these two questions:
The answers I receive are both surprising…and not. I’m surprised that most pastors and leaders are neither sharing their faith NOR are in a discipleship relationship with another. I’m surprised that these people will lament the plateauing and dying church without themselves having a Great Commission mindset. I’m surprised that they keep looking to the newest and latest box or evangelistic tool from their favorite Christian retailer or missions sending organization to “fix their church,” while just as quickly abandoning it when it does not work.
At the same time, I’m not surprised. Pastors are not sharing because they have not been mentored and taught that evangelism is a must. Pastors are not discipling because they do not know what it looks like and are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. I’m not surprised our churches are plateauing and dying. We spend more time greasing the wheel of the needy “Christian” than we do pouring into the hungry disciple. We spend more and are in our churches more than we are on the streets, businesses, and homes of the lost sharing a cup of coffee and God’s Word.
If most pastors were honest and were asked to count those in their congregation who are Great Commission Christians and truly understood the definition of that, I believe they could count them on two hands at the most, many on one hand.
As we walked, a sad thought came to mind. One that I’m reminded of from time to time, but hate to think about. The reason we are not sharing, discipling, and acting as Great Commission Christians is because we do not believe “it.” The “it” is the Gospel. “Any faith not worth sharing, is not worth having.” This is why we don’t look any different than our lost co-worker or friend. This is why people come to our churches never to return. This is why we are plateauing and dying.
Pastor, are you leading your congregation as you evangelize weekly? Christian, are you learning to disciple a new or baby Christian? Please consider using the Good News For You! booklet for an “as you go” evangelistic method. People gladly receive it. It is a complete Gospel presentation, and you can be sure they can hear the Gospel whether they read it, or by sitting down with you for a weekly Bible study.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.