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To be or not to be, that is the question

The Lord’s Prayer says Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be left waiting for us in our graves
or whether it should be ours here and now on earth.
To be or not to be a disciple right now, that is the question

Invitation and Cultivating the Fruits of the Spirit

Finally, Galatians chapter 6 verses 7—10 read, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction;
the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up

As a man thinks so is he says Proverbs
the thought Jesus left us with was Go and make disciples
the act of invitation is a blossom of that thought
and its fruit are acceptance and rejection.
Through both acceptance and rejection we can cultivate the fruits of the spirit
love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, meekness, faithfulness, self-control and kindness.
But through rejection we can cultivate other fruit
hate, apathy, impatience, discouragement, shame, jealousy,
blame, unworthiness, perfectionism and conflict avoidance.

Let us not weary of inviting for if we do not give up we will reap a harvest

Invitational Kindness and the Extra Mile

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, kindness.

It has hard to think that people not going to church might be afraid of even coming up the path of a church building. But many people who have been invited, and subsequently stay tell the same story over and over again. All they needed was an invitation, and perhaps for someone to walk in with them and show them the ropes. Invitation can be an incredible act of kindness. Kindness is such a rare quality these days that when someone is kind, it has a good chance of making the news!

We remember Jesus’ acts of kindness, in healing, in casting out demons, but sometimes we can fail to see the ordinary acts of kindness in that he invited people to follow him. Jesus said that he was the way the truth and the life. Therefore what better act of kindness could there be than to be invited into the way the truth and the life?

The Greek word for “kind” is chrestos. Part of its meaning makes it clear that biblical kindness involves action. “Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18, New Living Translation).
Action includes some kind of self-sacrifice and therefore generosity on our part, especially of our time.

In my Seminars throughout the world one reason we don’t invite our friends is because we are afraid our invitational kindness might be thrown back in our face. This stops us in our tracks and we stopping inviting our friends. The idea that we might have to sacrifice what others think about us in order to be kind is where the rubber hits the road with the fruit of kindness. Continued Invitational kindness helps us to go the extra mile. There is never a traffic jam on the extra mile
Invitation is an act of kindness, now

“May the loving kindness of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ bless you”

Invitational Goodness and Henry Thoreau

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, goodness.

The first place in the Old Testament where something is called good is Genesis 1. As God spoke into existence each phase of creation, He saw that it was good. I believe the point here involves expected function. God’s creation did what He intended it to do. It accomplished its purpose. It met His expectations. And that is one of the basic ideas of the goodness the Spirit wants to manifest in our lives.
It is good when we invite our friends into a relationship with God, why because it meets the expectations of our Sovereign God. After all Jesus said Go and make disciples.
I have found today rather than being good we live in the church comfort zone we settle for so little. All our purpose is a place to live, phone, television, a car, income, and two holidays a year. We lack neither overwhelming desperation or the incredible force of inspiration. There is no burning need, no burning desire. The comfort zone seems to affect our hearing. The more comfortable we are the more oblivious we become to the sound of the ticking clock. We have apparently all the time we need. Henry Thoreau an American Philosopher of the 19th Century said “Oh God, to reach the point of death only to realize you have never lived.”
Let your invitational efforts and results give cause to those who will one day gather to pass judgement on your existence to speak only the simple phrase……
Well done good and faithful servant

Invitational Joy and Will Smith

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the Spirit, joy. When Christians invite their friends to something that they love, and their friends accept the invitation, they use the phrase that it was a lovely surprise. It is almost as if the acceptance is completely unexpected. In many cases Christian mothers have prayed for their children, Christian friends have prayed for their friends for ages, and to see their pray answered brings joy.
When we are in alignment with how our Sovereign God has made us, there are amazing sweet spots in life. I believe invitation is one of those areas that is so ordained by God that we do feel utter joy when our invitation is accepted but this is also true of being a disciple and following God’s path for our lives Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happiness journeys towards joy and happiness. Personally I think joy comes when we unlock the God-given potential in our lives and invitation is one way to experience the fruit of joy.

Invitational Self-Control and Winston Churchill

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, self-control. The meaning of Self-Control in Scripture in Galatians is “the mastery of one’s desires and impulses.”

Invitation reveals that the vast majority of the church currently lacks self-control. Our microwave oven culture where we can have our food within a couple of minutes, is a symptom of a deeper malaise where we want instant results now. In invitation we can experience rejection. How we respond to this shows whether self-control is being produced. For the person with self-control receiving a no to one’s invitation does not put them off asking again, or asking another person. For the person without self-control a negative response is a devastating blow which they will not put themselves through again.

One might contrast today’s church with the early church. The early church were persecuted, beaten, imprisoned, driven from their homes, stoned, and killed yet they kept on inviting people to take part in the Way. Today one person says no to us and we are never going to invite again!

Winston Churchill said “success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” In the same way invitation gives the Christian the opportunity of experiencing rejections and through them see the fruit of self-control emerge.

Invitational Faithfulness and GK Chesterton

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, faithfulness or trustworthiness. “I am not going to church it’s full of hypocrites” says the occasional person when confronted with the opportunity of being invited to church. Hypocrisy is a practical inconsistency in applying one’s supposed values. In many churches around the world I have encountered Churchianity rather than Christianity. GK Chesterton said “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried.” It seems invitation reveals hypocrisy but can lead us to faithfulness and trustworthiness

Once we are faced with invitation as a possible act of worship, we question what are we inviting people to? Are we being faithful to the commands of Jesus? The faithfulness to go and make disciples, becomes apparent in the way that we act, not just what we say. For faithfulness to emerge the Christian needs to Study, Practice and Teach. Invitation is the practice, study is the fascination and hunger for relationship with God and teach, is the explanation of our practice and study. When we take our Christian lives seriously through the simple step of invitation by studying, practising and teaching, we will find the fruit of faithfulness and trustworthiness emerging.

Invitational Meekness or Standing in the Gap

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, meekness. The Meek person I would describe as “The teachable prophet.” Moses would be the best example today he faced his Pharoah but he knew his own limitations. Meekness is power under control.
Invitation reveals the opposite of meekness in control of the church, which I believe is the sin of pride. “Well it must be God’s will that we are not growing”, is often a cover up for an inflated sense of one’s own importance. Meekness is missing today, it should be seen in being teachable or childlike in our fascination with mission
Invitation teaches us to stand in the gap between the church, and those God has called outside of the church. In that gap the meek person honestly discovers their issues. I have discovered within me unworthiness, perfectionism, controlling, teritorialism, blame, failure expectation, conflict avoidance, and jealousy. The meek person identifies their failings but crucially knows their God is able. We do feel afraid at times to invite but we overcome our fear and we find
Whatever you lack, He has
Whatever you need, He can supply
Whatever obstacle you encounter, God within you, and about you can overcome it
Invitation introduces his church and his un-churched people to the wonderful fruit of meekness

Invitational Peace and Nelson Mandela

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, peace. One of the most frequently written about concepts in Scripture is fear and the advice to not be afraid. Some people say there is at least one do not be afraid for every day of the year.
Doesn’t that seem like overkill to you? Surely we can’t be afraid in the third millenium. I have found speaking to thousands of church leaders and lay people that the very item stopping invitation is a fear of rejection. Invitation does not create it, it merely reveals that which is already there. Feeling or fearing rejection strikes at the heart of our self-identity. We are in conflict as to who we are. Are we uniquely and fatally flawed or are we sons and daughters of the living God? Someone said “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict” So in the Seminars we overcome fear of rejection by doing the thing we fear. It is amazing how fear soon is defeated to be replaced by faith.

It was Nelson Mandela who said “We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be?? You are a child of God.  Your playing small does NOT serve the world.  We were born to manifest the Glory of God that is within us, ALL of us.  And as we let our Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others and creates more peace. Why not try invitation it can lead to peace

Invitational Love and JFK

Invitation helps the Christian develop one of the fruits of the spirit, love. As I have travelled around the world I have discovered that many churches focus on worship. I mockingly call them *can’t we just worship churches?” They are demonstrating to the best of their awareness the first commandment to love the lord our God with all our being.  But the second commandment  of course is linked and that is to love your neighbour as you love yourself. These are the two greatest commandments.
Jesus invites us to love ourselves, and love our neighbour and then you will not be far away from the kingdom. Jesus was asked once “Master what leads to greatness?” and Jesus replied “find a way to serve the many”.  Now one way of serving the many, is inviting our neighbours to love the lord our God with all our being through a simple invitation to something you love.
John F Kennedy found another way to say what it means to serve, “Don’t ask what the country or people can do for you, ask what you can do for your country/people”
Through invitation some of us will directly and indirectly impact the lives of dozens of people, Some of us will directly and indirectly impact the lives of hundreds of people. And some of you if you wish will directly and indirectly impact the lives of thousands of people
If Jesus linked loving the Lord our God and loving our neighbour, perhaps invitation is the simpliest way of developing our love for ourselves, our neighbour and our God.