Archive for January, 2012
Jesus said some hard hitting things at times In Matthew 7 he said “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.
Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
Grapes and figs are clearly good, thorns, and thistles we need to avoid. What thorns and thistles have I seen in my own life and the life of
Jesus’ church today?
(Out of step with God)
All of them can be identified and overcome through the practice of invitation
Fear is the emotion of the future the inability to predict what is going to happen next. The reason many people
say that they don’t invite their family and friends to something they love is fear. They can’t be sure what the reponse
of their friend or family member is going to be so they decide not to invite
Perhaps we can learn from Lord Baden Powell who made famous two words Be Prepared. The meaning of the motto
is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out
and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise. In the twelve steps of
becoming an inviting church step seven is practice the question “would you like to come to church with me?”
Perhaps we also need to practice the potential responses as well and then we would really be prepared.
You rarely regret the things you do, you regret the things you don’t do so by being prepared we can
overcome our fear and have less regrets.
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
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
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”
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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