Tag Archives: evangelism

What it Really Means to be a Contagious Christian

Last Sunday I attended a new church with my parents and family friend. They showed a video of a new study they are starting called “Becoming a Contagious Christian.” The video had about five individuals telling about their misconceptions of the meaning of “evangelism” and why it was so scary for them to practice.

Toward the end of the video the five people each told how this study on contagious Christianity had changed their view of evangelism and made them more attractive to those who are yet to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. After church my family had brunch together and discussed our thoughts on sharing our faith with others. Some of us were scared and intimidated and others felt they had found ways to share that were right for them.

As I pondered the topic, I thought of those in my life that practice contagious Christianity. I was reminded of a coworker who posts scriptures on her office bulletin board, a friend who writes heartfelt letters of love and encouragement, my dad who uses his talents to serve others and his church, my pastor who made it his mission to overwhelm our city with love through service, and a mentor that, even after retiring from teaching, invited former students over for tea parties.

The key to being contagious is radically loving, doing something so selfless that people ask why, and being the one that others look to for inspiration. Most of all, contagious Christianity pulls, it beckons, it draws others in to the love of Christ rather than the punishment of sin. Yes, hell is a very real thing, but the message of salvation is a much stronger conduit.

In a world full of failed relationships, broken families, abuse and violence, we cannot expect the message of eternal punishment to change lives. Many people feel they are already living in hell. The one thing people do respond to is transformation and hope for a pain-free eternity.

There’s a reason why Christmas stories like that of “A Christmas Carol” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” are still so widely popular. They are testaments of spiritual transformation. Your testimony, your faith story is the most powerful tool you hold in becoming contagious when you share it with a little TLC.

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Dirty Feet = Sleepless Nights

Why does Jesus instruct the disciples to shake the dust off their feet when met with those who do not welcome them or listen to the Gospel? How many times have you given someone advice they didn’t follow or tried to reason with someone who is irrational or shared the Gospel with someone only for them to reject it? Our lives are full of situations and people we cannot control. What are we to do to keep it from destroying our peace?

Several years ago a man from Louisiana came to teach the staff where I work how to improve customer service. I must say, his metaphors weren’t really relatable for a room full of Bay Area urbanites, but one thing I will never forget him saying, partially because it was so absolutely unexpected, was “don’t wrestle a pig.” His statement was supposed to address a difficult customer. What happens when you wrestle a pig? Well, I’ve seen my niece do it. She was trying to catch the pig, so she got in the pen, approached the pig slowly, bent down, and wow, did that pig ever take off as fast as he could go. So my niece did what any young farmer would do, she tried to corner the pig. It turns out this pig was too small to corner because he ran right between her legs. Seeing my niece’s frustration, my sister got in the pen to help. Well, that just made things more complicated. When she finally did catch the pig, she could only hold on to him long enough to take a photo, and then the pig was off again, the whole time squealing as loud as he could.

Perhaps trying to convince someone of the truth when they’ve already made up their mind or decided they don’t care, is like wrestling a pig. It’s no use! You just get your feet dirty. Maybe that’s why Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust off their feet when they’ve met someone who doesn’t welcome them or listen to the Gospel message.

Jesus knew that if the disciples tried to control the person or town they were trying to influence, they would only push them further away and cause themselves more pain. That’s why this is mentioned several times in the New Testament, three of which are in Matthew 10, Mark 6, and Luke 9. If you’re like me, you even lose sleep over a disagreement, misunderstanding, or situation you can’t control even if you have tried time and time again to reconcile. We cannot always agree on everything, and just because we wish we could all get along doesn’t mean we actually do get along. Even Jesus didn’t get along with everyone, and we know he was sinless. Sometimes getting along is the worst thing you can do because sometimes the right thing to do stirs up controversy. Sometimes the right thing to say is too hard for the other person to hear.

Those are the instances when we must press on and shake the dust off our feet because, as your mother always said, it’s simply not healthy to go to bed with dirty feet. It’s simply not worth giving up our peace.

Faith and Realistic Expectations

At one time or another every Christian and non-Christian is told something to the effect of, “My life was horrible until I found God.” That is like music to the struggling non-believer’s ears, and it results in many turning to God for a way out of a horrible life. Let’s face it! Being a believer is a beautiful thing, but life is not all roses when you give your life to the Lord. God challenges our thoughts, our actions, our will, and in turn it can lead to confusion, resentment, and power struggle.

Perhaps what people are trying to say when they say their life was horrible until they found God, is that their purpose and destiny have changed. Let’s look at the life of Jesus for example. Jesus was born in a barn, out of wedlock to a young, traveling couple. Later in life he was teased, ridiculed, beaten, forced to carry the cross (the equivalent of an electric chair), hung on that cross, alone and left to die by his own Father. Do you still think life is all rosy after you give your life to God? If you do, you are in for a big surprise.

I believe those that turn away from their faith, usually do so because their faith is challenged by a major trial in life. What if, while standing in that baptismal pool, your pastor said, “Do you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and accept any suffering and persecution that is guaranteed to come with that decision?” Would you still be baptized?

Consider this. Imagine you have no honest married friends or family. They’ve all told you only positive things about marriage, claiming they’ve never wished they weren’t married. When you walked down the aisle you would be completely clueless as to what you were getting yourself into. In the same way the church could be much more realistic in their approach to evangelism and conversion. Instead of counting only the good feelings that come from being a Christ-follower, perhaps we should warn against all the human disappointment there can be even in the midst of divine appointment.

When we surrender to God often something totally unexpected happens, and as it was discussed at my Bible Study last night, unexpected is usually not fun for the power-struggle of the human will.  We all think we are in control until we surrender.

One thing is guaranteed. When we surrender to God, His will is done.                                            “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9

I can speak from my own experience that the good outweighs the bad, because looking at my life in reverse, I see how God used the “bad”, the trials, the mistakes, the hardships for a positive purpose.

No Algorithm for Love

Streamlined, that’s pretty much the way I like things at work. I like to perform a task efficiently, and I expect others to adopt the same efficient process or I adopt theirs if it’s more efficient. The point of being streamlined is for everyone doing a particular task to achieve the same result in the least amount of time, at least those are my thoughts.

Evangelism and discipleship is a bit different. No two people came to know Christ in exactly the same way, and yet it doesn’t stop Christians from developing a new algorithm to convert people. It seems kind of silly. I’ve been wrestling with this idea of strategizing for Jesus since last Sunday, and I can’t say I’ve come to terms with it just yet. In the great commission Jesus went to his disciples and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  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 28:18-20). Jesus didn’t say do this, not that, in groups of 3, not 4, and meet once a week, every week for 5 weeks. Jesus didn’t say that because he knew that what was going to work for Jake Smith may not work for Mary Jones.

I am in no way saying that you shouldn’t adopt a way of evangelizing and discipling people, but don’t limit yourself to one method. Your method should be love, and love in its purest form given from the blood of Jesus. If you are befriending non-Christians for the purpose of converting them because you want to or because your pastor told you to, they are going to see right through that. And if for some reason they don’t recognize it right away, they will surely realize it when you stop calling once they are converted.

My advice would be to not worry about your method, the algorithm to use. Don’t waste your time considering exactly what you will do to convert a person or a group of people, just start your day in prayer and studying scripture. When you pray ask God to allow you to see people through His eyes. As you become more aware of those around you, you will start to develop friendships. If you are truly walking with the Lord, you’ve already evangelized just by dialoguing with them. “What?” You might say, “You didn’t share the gospel.” Wait for it…

When these new friends become less new (or maybe still new) they will catch you off guard and ask you, “Why are you so happy?” Now, for Christ’s sake, open your mouth and share the gospel, and share it like you really, truly believe it. Share it with the Holy Spirit in you, not some algorithm.

Jesus’ love, hope and peace, they speak for themselves, but every once in a while we get to share the why…

When Curiosity Strikes

When curiosity strikes we have the opportunity to share. Today, while working with one of the volunteers, she, out of the blue, asked, “What is Easter? I mean, I see all the bunnies and eggs, but why do people celebrate it?” Oh boy! I think many of us, including myself, tend to assume that everyone in the U.S. knows why we celebrate Easter and Christmas, but it’s just not true. There are many people, especially those of other cultures or faiths that don’t know the true meaning of Easter.

After she asked this I perked up. Okay, I gotta get ready to shine! I want to really tell it the way God would want me to, so I explained that the bunnies and the eggs don’t really have anything to do with the true meaning of Easter. It involves something much more mysterious, much more exciting. Easter celebrates the resurrection, the rising from the dead, of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is also part of the three-part God. He was sent here as a final sacrifice for forgiveness of the sins of everyone. In the past people had to individually kill and burn/sacrifice flawless, first born animals to atone for their sins, but not anymore. That is why Jesus died, and that is why Good Friday is celebrated. It is good because that is when our sins were forgiven. The resurrection was to fulfill a prophesy. He said He would rise and He did, proving His love and integrity.

She looked amazed, “Wow, I thought it was all about eggs and bunnies!” Suddenly we had not just shared a task of updating the grief resource list, but we had shared the gospel. What a privilege to see her face light up as she heard it for the first time.

Oh merciful Father, I thank you for the grace you show me each day. Thank you for sending your Son to die on that cross, and thank you for rising again, not only to fulfill a prophesy, but to give me hope for new life, a spiritual resurrection of my own. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that we are forgiven and free. Sometimes we remember it in our mind but not in our spirit. Help us to be reassured and comforted, and to speak your truth even in the midst of fear and doubt and frustration. When we are weak, you make us strong. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thanking the Sowers

I’m sure that many who read this can immediately think of at least one person who guided them toward God when they were a child, but some do not have that person. A couple weeks ago I attended a Sunday school teacher meeting that was led by our very wise and inspirational director Marlin. She started the meeting by quizzing us. In the end she revealed her quiz was a tool to help us reflect on what an important role we play in the lives of the children at our church and to recognize that the mark we leave is much more memorable than what team has won the most World Series. As I sat there reflecting on those who shined God’s light on my life, I was touched to the point of tears.

I reflected on my past teachers, both at church and in school, on my mentors, friends, and family members who showed me the way to salvation. So often we forget to thank those who molded us into the Christ ambassadors we are today. What an honor it is to stand side by side with my fellow Sunday school teachers knowing that when little Micah or Anny are in their thirties they might remember what little piece of God I shared with them. You see, you may not get to see the seed you sowed grow into a sky-scraping redwood, but you do get the satisfaction of knowing that you planted that seed and it has a better chance of growing just being in the soil.

This season of Thanksgiving I have tried to take the opportunity to thank those who have sowed the Chelsea seed. They did not just throw me into the soil of the gospel to let me roll around in it on my own. They joyfully got their hands dirty along with me, sharing all they knew of God’s love, forgiveness, salvation, all of God’s character. Because they did that, even though I have had times of wandering, I always come back to where they led me…to the foot of Jesus.

Thank you to the woman who came to my house when I was only a child to teach my mom about the Bible. You planted a seed that has nourished my family ever since. I am forever grateful.

Please leave your notes of thanksgiving to the people in your life who planted a seed of faith in your heart. I’d love to hear (or read) your notes of thanks.

No Portion Control Needed

Ever wish for a healthy indulgence that is fat free, calorie free, allergen free, full of nutrients, and makes your heart yearn for more? Well, that does not just exist in your wildest foodie dreams, its existence is as real as you and I, and its benefits are far better than you can ever fathom. There is one thing you must do, however, before partaking in this delicious treat. You must give up all other cravings for which you get the munchies because it requires your whole plate. This dream food cannot coexist with any other items on your plate, but if you give up all your other snacks this treat promises to completely satisfy.

Are you ready to accept this challenge? The treat I speak of is God. God is made up of the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit who are all one God. He loves you unconditionally from the beginning of time, before your birth parents ever met. Although you were created by Him he allows you to live with freewill, but unlike any of His other creations He gives you the opportunity to return to Him so He can adopt you into His family.

Here are some scriptures that will make your mouth water for more:

  • [The judgements of the Lord are] Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:10B
  • As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. Psalm 42:1
  • Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35
  •  But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They *said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. Matthew 14:16-21

I encourage you to turn from all the habits, strongholds, temptations. Repent (ask for forgiveness and tell God you will turn from them) of those areas where you have fallen short (sinned). If you need help ask God, wise counsel (a more mature believer), a prayer group. They will all help you overcome. It also helps to memorize scripture that relate to what you are struggling with. When your spiritual plate is cleared off, you’ve let go of all of that, I promise you will experience something far greater than any of those things. God will even give you a taste before you can get your plate clean.  Welcome to indulgence where everything nourishes and tastes so sweet.

For more on the character of God watch this Youtube video. “That’s My King” by Dr. S.M. Lockridge.

Uploaded to Youtube on Jul 22, 2008. Visuals set to the audio of the famous sermon “Seven Way King” (aka That’s My King) as spoken by Dr. S.M. Lockridge. The audio is slightly edited for a better flow in the video. The music in the background was performed live by the GCC band while the video played on the screens. It then led directly into the worship song “Here is Our King” (To see the performance in it’s entirety go here: gccwired.com/mediaplayer/playeropener.as­p?id=478 )Created entirely using After Effects with footage from the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. The video took 30 hours to create plus around 6 hours of rendering. The final After Effects project file totaled well over 600 layers.