Tag Archives: witness

Direction

This definition doesn’t sound very technical, but it communicates: “A first responder is someone who is trained to run toward trouble, not away from it.” Even with sophisticated training, people still have to respond appropriately.

The collapse of a 350 foot section of I-85 in Atlanta could have been tragic. 250,000 cars travel that stretch of highway every day. The billowing dark smoke raging from the fire underneath obscured the vision of startled motorists. Collisions seemed inevitable. Once the roadway began to disintegrate, vehicles could have plunged into the gap. People should have been hurt or killed. No one was.

Atlanta Fire Station #29 is located two blocks from where the calamity occurred. Fire personnel responded immediately to assess the danger. A number of them stood under the bridge to determine the extent of the damage while the fire was still gaining strength. As it was becoming certain that the intense heat would be too much for the concrete and steel structures, fire officials ordered their teams to move away … just in time. No one was hurt, no one was killed.

Above on the interstate, Georgia State troopers and Atlanta police had already halted traffic. Risking their lives as cars and trucks kept coming they prevented any possibility of injury and death by their quick action.

Col. Mark McDonough from the Georgia Department of Public Safety was one of many officials who tried to describe the scene for the public. His first words were directed to the first responders. He thanked law enforcement and fire department personnel and then he looked sky ward and thanked the Lord. No one was hurt, no one was killed.

Atlanta is in a mess and will be for months. A poster I saw months ago had a picture of that same highway crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic. The heading of the poster read: “Thinking of moving to Atlanta?” At the base was this comment: “We full.”

“Inconvenience” does not begin to describe what life will be like in a city already infamous for its traffic congestion. For small businesses in the affected area, the months ahead can spell doom.

Going forward will define direction … not just alternative routes to travel but the attitude we demonstrate. Adversity reveals character. I would love to think that we would see the best in people when difficulty comes our way. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Okay, reps. Time to show up.

What do we do now?

Election day has finally arrived. We have never encountered a political campaign like the one we have endured. Decisions about who will hold what offices nationally and locally will finally be determined. Those who have been running for the highest office in the land have certainly not brought honor and dignity to the process. Their flaws have been on vitriolic display. Their fitness for the presidency has been ruthlessly questioned.

In January, one of them will be taking the oath of office. What do we do now?

I think a sound approach is to put into practice the words Paul wrote to the Romans. The apostle who would be executed by the empire believed that believers had a responsibility to live out their faith regardless of the circumstances (see Romans 13:1-7). But more importantly, he gave a blueprint for what that faith should look like.

In Romans 12, he provided a baseline: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God for all He has done for you. Let them be living and holy sacrifices, the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (12:1,2).

He amplified his encouragement with specific actions and attitudes. It seems o me that our focus is clear. Our highest allegiance is to the One who saved us and calls us to be salt and light in this broken, dark world … and to pray persistently and work fervently so that Jesus will come again soon!

Spiritual Conversations

Why don’t we talk more about our faith? Are we too busy? Too distracted? Too uncertain? Are we afraid to open up because we don’t want to offend or jeopardize a relationship? Are we shaky on this because we don’t think we know the right things to say or the right way to say it?

Could you explain your relationship with Christ in an “elevator talk” – a 3-4 minute conversation? Do we really believe this is important?

Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and of the Global Leadership Summit, published a book in 2006 entitled Just Walk Across the Room. It contained some common-sense advice about how to have spiritual conversations with people within our circles of influence. One of his take-aways was the encouragement to live in 3-D:

  • Developing friendships
  • Discovering stories
  • Discerning appropriate next steps

Most of us know we should be concerned about the eternal destinies of family, friends, colleagues, classmates, neighbors, and others with whom we have influence. If they are to hear about the saving grace of Christ, why not hear it from us? Are we willing to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to bathe these relationships in prayer?

Right now, ask God to place on your heart someone who needs to hear the Gospel.

  • Is it a family member?
  • Is it the guy in your foursome?
  • Is it the girl on your soccer team?
  • Is it the person you see at the store often?
  • Is it the person in the next cubicle?
  • Is it the mail deliverer?
  • Is it the family who lives across the street?

I need to be better at starting spiritual conversations. I don’t have trouble talking about sports, politics, or the weather. Why don’t I have an urgency to talk about the most important Person in my life? Do you feel the same? What are we going to do about it?

Hybels began his book with a number: 10,000 … ten thousand steps. “Roughly, that‘s the distance you travel sunrise to sunset, each and every day of your life. It adds up to about 115,000 miles in a lifetime. Are you using your steps wisely? Assume the average distance across most rooms is twenty feet – about ten steps. What if ten steps – just one thousandth of your daily average – could actually impact eternity?”

It seems we better watch where we walk. Our steps might lead us to life-changing experiences. Does it make sense to you? Loving God … Connecting People … Changing Lives!

Another year, another opportunity

Happy anniversary, Wieuca! We are sixty one years old this week. For some of us, that seems ancient; for others, we remember being 61, don’t we?

What do you do when you celebrate an anniversary? Last year’s 60th event was a great experience for family and friends of Wieuca. It was great to reminisce with each other and with those who joined the reunions. We need to celebrate and honor the stories that have shaped us and guided us.

But anniversaries are not just about the past. Such occasions gives us a great opportunity to look ahead. What are the stories being written today? What stories will emerge? So …

  • What is God up to these days in our midst and are we joining Him in His work among us and in the world?
  • How do we become more missional, more purpose-driven in being the presence of Christ in this world?
  • How do we call out those in our number who have so much to give to increase our reach, grow our faith, impact our community, and accomplish our mission?
  • What does this mean to us, to me? “Loving God, Connecting People, Changing Lives”
  • What new inspirations can help us utilize our campus to greater effectiveness?
  • What new inspirations can help us get outside the walls and into the mission field beyond our campus?

People are searching. People are looking for answers. For a growing number, the church has become unnecessary, irrelevant. How do we change that story?

A man named Aaron Earls wrote an interesting article recently entitled: “Searching for a Savior: How comic book movies can point to Christ.” We have been deluged in the last few years with movies about larger-than-life action figures and there many more on the way. Why have these films created such a following? Earls writes: “One reason superhero moves have found a wide audience is because people are natural intrigued by battle between good and evil. In this super-hero obsessed culture, the church has an opportunity to point to the grand story of One who came to rescue us and defeat the enemy – but not without a little bit of drama. As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’”

No, I don’t think the answer is for us to each choose a super hero and parade around the neighborhood in a costume. I think we learn from our culture and realize that people do need meaning in their lives, that people want to hope, need to hope. We have a timeless message to share through word and deed. Our anniversary affords us another opportunity to deepen our resolve to matter in this world for the cause of Christ.

The light that won’t go out

It might have happened to you. Somebody invented a trick candle that magically relights itself. It has provided a lot of laughs, unless you’re like this guy. For his seventh birthday, his parents and sister thought it would be funny to play the candle trick on him. Sitting at the breakfast table, he watched as mom brought the cake over with just the one candle on it. Dad lit it while everyone sang. The boy leaned over and blew the candle out … he thought. Ablaze again, the candle needed another blow. And another and another. At first, he thought it was hilarious, too. After the fifth time, he had had enough.

He grabbed the candle, turned it upside down, and smashed into the cake. “Now light yourself you dumb candle!”

Candles are supposed to go out when you blow on them, right? Jesus told His followers that they were supposed to be light in the world. What happens when difficulty and adversity blow in? Does our light flicker and fade or does it regain new vitality and purpose?

Jesus never promised life would be easy, particularly if we are trying to live as a light in a dark world. Sometimes it might seem that ours is the only light around. You might not think your little bit of light makes a difference, but it does. You might show the way to someone who is stumbling in the dark. You might offer hope and insight to the one who is discouraged.

 

Hold your light a little higher. Someone needs to see your candle.

Lunchbox Evangelism

I still read “Peanuts” … I know Charles Schulz has been gone since 2000, but I still get a kick out Charlie Brown and friends. They never seem to grow old. We’ve all learned some life lessons from these eternal five year-olds.

Lucy was boasting to her brother, Linus, about her religious fervor and her potential as an evangelist. He was listening carefully as she explained:

“I could be a terrific evangelist. Do you know that kid who sits behind me at school? I convinced him that my religion was better than his religion.”

Linus asks: “How did you do that?

Lucy replies, “I hit him with my lunchbox.”

They didn’t teach that particular method in seminary, but there are variations of it around. Ramming our beliefs down somebody’s throat doesn’t have much appeal or effectiveness.

We could use a great deal more humility and respect. If our argument is so weak that we have to resort to harsh words, manipulative methods, or even violence, we must not have much of a case. Throughout history, those who have tried to drive people to their knees in fear never seem to lift people up in hope.

 

Peter wrote to believers in a time of oppression and persecution: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to give a reason for the hope that is within you. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way” (1 Peter 3:15,16).

No, not all religions are the same. No, our way to heaven is not paved by our good works. I believe in the sufficiency and uniqueness of Jesus Christ. I believe He did what no other could do to save us. I still believe the world would be much more interested in how much we care instead of how much we know.

Pray for those divine appointments to talk to the kid who sits behind you at school, the woman who works at the next desk, the guy you run into at the store. Pray for opportunities to walk the talk with humility and respect. Look for a chance to tell someone how Christ changed your life and eternal destination. Just put the lunchbox down first.