Jul20MonJuly 20, 2015
Sharon spoke at the Guelph Vineyard and I wanted to share her thoughts so this blog is dedicated to that.
Sharon refers to herself as a ‘recovering Baptist’ as she struggles with works, performance and striving as it relates to the Christian life and because anything has the potential to become legalistic in our lives.
She shared three simple but profound points. Fill Us, Use Us, Show Us
- FILL US!
Before we can reach out to our neighbours, let’s consider how vitally important it is for the Holy Spirit to be at the center.
We had a neighbor back in the day named Selma* who Sharon tried to reach out to and share her faith with. She didn’t know the Holy Spirit in an intimate way at that time and she relied on her own abilities and knowledge to witness to her. When Selma eventually became a believer, she asked Sharon, “Why didn’t you tell me?”???
The lesson to be learned is this.
- The Holy Spirit convicts of sin John 16:8
- The Holy Spirit DRAWS people. John 15:26 The Greek word here for ‘draws’ means to ‘DRAG’. It is the same word that is used in John 21:6 when referring to a heavy net full of fish being dragged to shore! So just ponder that for a moment. It is the Holy Spirit’s work and Holy Spirit literally drags us to Christ…awesome truth! He does the work.
- Holy Spirit gives us authority and power and even the words we need when we need them. Matthew 10:19
God’s timing is perfect. It is amazing to know that He sets up the divine appointments and leads and directs when we listen for His voice and seek to obey Him! Our motto at Church at the Manor is simple. LOVE and SERVE. We don’t debate and we trust in the Holy Spirit to work and He never fails us.
Pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
This past Sunday I (Jack) had the opportunity to just sit with one man who was completely distraught over the loss of a relationship for 5 years. He normally just comes down for lunch and then leaves. A simple question just to ask how he was doing led into the complete undoing of his heart. As I listened, Holy Spirit led the conversation to the place where I was able to place my hand on his shoulder and pray that the Father would heal his pain and wrap His loving arms around him. There was incredible receptivity and I really sensed the Spirit leading during this time.
- USE US!
In the book the Art of Neighboring, the story is told of a group of 20 pastors in the Denver area who met with the mayor to ask the question, “How can we as churches best work together to serve our city?” The mayor shared that the majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbours!
One pastor in the meeting was rather embarrassed because what the mayor in reality was saying was that it would be great if their congregations could just live out the second part of the great commandment to love our neighbour as ourselves – it is actually a command from Jesus. Matthew 22:37-40
“Solutions for our society are NOT found in government, police or schools or in getting more people to go to church. The solution is within us”
After one year at the Manor we have seen this first hand. We have seen doctors hand out prescription after prescription, judges whose hands are tied, people who KNOW the system and the loopholes, frustrated parole officers.
We have seen breakthrough because of caring relationships, people who are just willing to SHOW up and be there for those who attend our services. We are so excited to see some of them getting real rehabilitation through the intensive ministry of Teen Challenge, we have seen a mother reunited with her children and a new home, a new family (believers in Jesus) who care to meet with her and encourage her in her new journey.
Don’t get hung up on getting people into your church. Jesus didn’t say to build nice church buildings and have great programs and Bible studies and then they will come. Jesus said GO!
Most people that we’ve met are open to talking about God and open to a relationship with Him. They may not be ready to step foot into a traditional church. An interesting point to note though is that when they do accept Jesus into their life they eventually want to experience deeper teaching, fellowship with believers and are hungry for more. The Holy Spirit will take care of this process.
We are in way over our heads at the Manor. It’s great to be in a situation where we desperately need God’s Spirit!! We need to step out in His power and ask Him to use you. It is SO GOOD!
- SHOW US!
God, show us how valuable people are! WE need to ignore what we see in the physical as we meet oru neighbours. Don’t draw conclusions or make assumptions. Reach out and ask God to see them through His eyes.
Why would Levi, the tax collector, leave everything behind when Jesus said, ‘follow me’? Matthew 9:9-13 A few thoughts.
Jesus accepts him and loves him just as he is.
Levi feels wanted and needed. Jesus has a plan for him despite his past.
Jesus engaged him in conversation even though he was despised and hated.
“Let’s be honest. The fact that the Pharisees question Jesus’s attendance indicates that this party was likely not a “Mountain Dew and pizza” kind of party. This, for sure wasn’t a Sunday afternoon church potluck. This was a party where people were having a lot of fun.”…When was the last time you were accused of doing something like this? Has your character ever been questioned you ate or drank with sketchy people?” from The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon
Here’s the amazing teacher, prophet, miracle worker inviting Levi into a relationship. To ‘follow me’ means to ‘walk the same road’ It is to enter the teacher/ student relationship, master/pupil.
How bizarre for Levi, how exciting!
Jesus doesn’t care about how others look at or value a person. He loves the outcasts and unloved.
One older man who comes every Sunday for lunch at the very least is very bitter towards God, He is angry and has been abused by a trusted religious leader. He refers to God like Santa or the tooth fairy. He shares “I admire your faith, but I still don’t believe in God” and the response Sharon gave is that’s ok, but I know that God loves you and has a plan for your life. As that was shared, his tears began to flow.S
Another man with a tough exterior who now is a follower of Jesus shared how he used to hate Christians because all they did was quote Scripture at him. He shared how we were different and just showed him love. The first time Sharon saw him she told him that she saw a spirit of compassion in him and that he had the gift of mercy. At that time, he said, “lady you don’t know me, I could throw you in a ditch” to which she replied that is not who you are though. Over the course of the year we have known him he is living out who God called him to be, a man with a heart of compassion for others. He also has been prophesied over as a “loose cannon in God’s gun”!
Here’s Jesus. He didn’t come to polish the righteous, he came to rescue sinners. See your neighbours through God’s eyes. They are loved, valuable and uniquely made. They have purpose and destiny.
*names have been changed for privacy