Thursday, September 16, 2010

Here's Your Opportunity to Witness, What Would You Say?

I have a online friend, I'll call him Marshall for the sake of anonymity. He has been struggling with this whole "God" thing. My suspicion is that he has had some bad religious experiences. I'd like to say get over yourself and join the club, but how would that change his mind and heart?

It is pretty common in pop-culture to believe in god, but deny the whole Christian/Jesus Christ thing. And honestly, I wish it was that easy - just believe in God. I remember when I cane to believe in God, I didn't know who it was, I just knew I was different. I remember singing Amazing Grace and I couldn't hold back the tears. I honestly don't know what happens when the human spirit is infused with the Spirit of God. The Bible uses terms like "seal of the Spirit," and "hearts filled with joy"; stuff like that. None of them explain what regeneration really is... oh and what it feels like.

If you go to an evangelical church, you might hear "testimonies" of how folks came to Jesus. It's a very personal path. I read some very compelling books in my early Christian years. One of my favorites is The God Smuggler by Brother Andrew. If you like testimonies, HERE are some that I found online.

My friend, however; is concerned that he would somehow have to become "bad enough" to truly find God. He feels that he is a pretty good person, and the fact that he is not in jail testifies to that fact. I was different, I had a lot of trouble in life, and when the time for Jesus came, I had exhausted all other options.

Jesus, now he was pretty cool. He hung out with sinners - one guy was a religious politician names Nicodemus. Judas, he was thief who stole a couple of grand. If they had income taxes back then, he probably would have cheated on them too. Then there was the woman at the well, all she did was get married 5 times and move in with her boyfriend. The woman taken in adultery, she slept with some religious politician. Zacchaeus, now he was a corrupt tax collector skimming a little for himself - and so was the Apostle Matthew. The others were fisherman; probably reciting limericks about the "man from Nantucket", as they cast their nets. Oh and the list gets worse, Mary Magdalene was a hooker someone said.

Did you notice the folks that Jesus was the most angry with the religious folks of his day?

Personally, I am tried of religion - and I recently wrote a blog with some reasons why you would not want to be called a Christian. I wonder if it would be easier for my friend to see the real Jesus, if there wasn't so much stupid religion around; leading others astray?

I think about the handful I folks that I have led to the Lord. Some times, those folks were witness to something amazing that God was doing. One had just seen demons cast out by the team I was on in Brazil. Another, God healed her back from an injury she sustained in a car wreck. There was an ice cream vendor in Brasilia City Square - I just traded him a few Reis for the opportunity to pray for him.

One of my favorites was at a young adults group that I did. The host parents had a foster child for a few days. The kids went around the room and shared how they knew God was real. They struggled for words to express spiritual things... finally one of the kids said this: "I know that God is real because I didn't care about life really. Then one day I felt loved." I looked across that room, and the foster child was in tears. She received Jesus right there - and the then power of God came into the room. She fell fro the chair to the floor and wept for a long time.

I don't know what to tell Marshall, should he go to a meeting, pray, read the Bible - what should he do? If I could afford to go there, I'd leave right now.

Here's your chance Christians, here is a guy who is interested in God. He'll be reading be reading this, so don't get all religious, but tell him what you think God would want him to hear.


Marietjie said...

There is something so awesome about having an intimate personal relationship with God, that you would not want to miss. It does not matter if your life up to now was pretty good or pretty rotten, God has a place for everyone in His economy. He also has a purpose and a plan for each life and when we co-operate with Him our good become better, our bad becomes good but most of all our life becomes His and His life becomes ours.
God gave Jesus to die in our place, for all the sin and the sinners. What make one a sinner is not only the bad things we do but also unbelieve and the good things we do in our own power. Only what originates from God has any worth. He even gives us the faith to believe in Him if we just ask.
It makes me think of the man who was a great painter who was contracted to re-paint a church in one of these little New England towns. He went out every day just as the sun came up around 4am and did not leave until it was to dark to see around 9pm. He labored for weeks. Scraping the old paint off till it was just wood, then caulking between the boards and finally giving it two primar coats of paint and finally the top coat. He painstakingly painted every window, careful not to paint he glass. He even did the belltower for which he had to come up with a inventive scaffolding.
After he was done, he took a picture to send to the people who hired him. He received this reply: Great Job. The building looks great. The wreckers will be there to level it next week. The church we would like you to paint is on the next street.

Tony C said...

Marshall, the fact that you are searching is an innate trait in every human being. God made us to fellowship with so only naturally do we feel a void when we don't invite Him in our daily lives.

Brother, I've been there. I spent several years seeking God, several more running from Him, and now the past 8 trying my best to serve Him. Only the last 8 have been filled with the Godly Joy spoken of by David. I capitalize Joy because it is truly extraordinary only with God.

My best advice for you would be find someone you enjoy talking to and spending time with who has this Joy and start asking questions...hard questions. Soul-searching questions. After all, we are talking eternal life or death here.

Coming to accept Christ and the Love of God isn't about Hell though. My Joy and love for God comes from who He is and accepting by faith the Grace He has extended to me despite my disobedience...not about a fear of going to Hell.

Please feel free to email me if you have questions or if you want to chat on the phone, I'll gladly send you my number.

photogr said...

Smile and be filled with joy. God loves you just as you are. All He ask of you is to love Him back and let Him into your life so that He can guide you in your walk with Him.

Just as you walk along the beach surf alone and all you see is your own foot prints, fear not He is always close by waiting for you to accept Him in your life. All it takes is three simple words "Lord I surrender"

Steve B Kelly said...

I would want your friend to know that meeting Jesus changed and continues to change my life. I had suffered from depression on and off, then had an encounter with the presence of God that broke it off and release a joy and peace in my heart that I was longing for but did not know where to find. Even now I can feel the fire of his presence burning inside of me (I know God is with me).

I would say that it starts with a choice. I grew up in church but at 18 had enough church to last me a life time. The problem was my life started to go down the toilet. I decided to pick up the Bible and read the stories of Jesus for myself.

I then made a choice, I was going to follow Him. I had always believed he died for me to take away my sin. But it went from head knowledge to heart experience.

If you want the stories for yourself. And invite him to come into your life ask Him to forgive you of your past and give you the new life he has for you. You will feel his presence, joy and peace. Then Enjoy and learn about him and spend time with him day to day.

Steve Kelly (I hope not too many typos)

eaglegirl said...

Marshall since you are a reader of David’s blogs undoubtedly you have heard the best of theological reasoning as to why the Bible is true. And if the Bible is true than so is Jesus. And on and on.
This is a different kind of response from the others.
Once my husband and I were on a long car ride with a young woman. She had many questions about Christianity. My husband could answer all the intellectual questions and I came more from an emotional and experiential view point.
So, after a while I asked her if she wanted to ask Christ to be her personal Savior and she said no. We had answered all the questions she had, but it was not enough. So, what was missing? Why did she say no?
I believe the reason was that she did not want to give up her life style. She did not want to give up living with her boyfriend.
We don’t have to be perfect to be saved. There is an old hymn that is called “Just as I am”, it speaks of coming to Jesus just as we are. There were things that changed in my life after I was saved, but nothing I regret changing or felt forced to change. God will not force anything on you.
So, if there is something that you feel you have to give up, don’t let that stop you. God accepts you just as you are and once we know Him and learn of Him, yes we do make some changes if we chose to.
I feel like saying, ‘come on Marshall cut the c**p’ (but that does not sound too Christian) Oops. And no, I won’t scare you with one of those ‘well, what if you walk outside and get hit by a bus or a piano falls on your head”? Hmmm, but that can happen you know.
Marshall, you’d really better be careful now because you have all these people praying for you! Don't worry it's a good thing.
We need a little touch of humor to this serious topic.

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