Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Good Questions! Reflections on questions the Master asks.

"What are you looking for?"

Buchanan, Mark. (2006). The Rest of God. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

"Prayer, before it's talking, ought to be listening. Before it's petition, it should be audition. Before it calls for eloquence, it requires attention. God speaks. We listen. Prayer's best posture is ears cupped, head tilted toward that Voice. And what does the Voice speak? More often than not, a question." p.190.
"So a key attitude of prayer is listening, and what we listen for most are God's questions. ... For this Sabbath Liturgy, find any one of the questions God or Jesus asks... Ponder it until you hear God asking you the question personally. And then ponder it until you can give an answer." p.191-192. 

Jesus communicated with His followers as a teacher, speaking in parables, and relating the Kingdom of God to examples from their everyday experiences. Jesus also taught by asking good questions. His questions drew people into His stories or challenged their cultural world views and caused them re-examine the foundations and convictions of their faith. 

My goal is to examine the questions that Jesus asks in the Gospels and personally reflect on their meaning for my life, as well as, the insights they may give toward outreach within my community. It is my hope that these Biblical questions will provide a foundation for specific questions that will help our congregations identify outreach opportunities within their communities. Furthermore, it is my desire that these questions will guide us into a deeper understanding of our mission and calling to proclaim Christ to the world, beginning in our own backyard or with our next door neighbors.

The Gospel of John
John 1:29-34 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,
John saw Jesus coming toward him the next day and said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
30 He is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘A man who comes after me was before me because he existed before I did.'
31 I didn't know who he was. However, I came to baptize with water to show him to the people of Israel.”
32 John said, “I saw the Spirit come down as a dove from heaven and stay on him.
33 I didn't know who he was. But God, who sent me to baptize with water, had told me, ‘When you see the Spirit come down and stay on someone, you'll know that person is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'
34 I have seen this and have declared that this is the Son of God.”

John was listening to the voice of God. John saw the Spirit come down on Jesus. John was watching for the sign of the Holy Spirit that would come down and reveal the Son of God. After Jesus was baptized by John, the Spirit descended on Him and John recognized that this was the One, that Jesus indeed was the Son of God.

Our time of prayer begins with a reflection on the Word of God. We read and respond to the questions that God asks of us. John had listened to God's instruction and waited for Jesus to be revealed to him, so he could in turn reveal Jesus to his followers. John was a sign post pointing out the direction to the Son of God. His followers were looking for a savoir and John pointed them to The Savior, Jesus Christ.

When these disciples started to follow Jesus, they were asked: "What are you looking for?" They answered "Teacher, where are you staying?" Jesus replied, "Come, and you will see."

John 1:35-42 (GW)

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples.
36 John saw Jesus walk by. John said, “Look! This is the Lamb of God.”
37 When the two disciples heard John say this, they followed Jesus.
38 Jesus turned around and saw them following him. He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 Jesus told them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went to see where he was staying and spent the rest of that day with him. It was about ten o'clock in the morning.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two disciples who heard John and followed Jesus.
41 Andrew at once found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).
42 Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at Simon and said, “You are Simon, son of John. Your name will be Cephas” (which means “Peter”).

What am I looking for?   Peace, rest, financial security, love, material comforts, acceptance, or work that fulfills my passion.
What am I looking for in Christ? 
Do I really know why I am following Christ?
Am I like the disciples, seeking a good leader or teacher, for the sake of their name, much like those who follow political candidates for the sake of the excitement of being involved in something greater than ourselves just for the sake of covering up our own inadequacies or insecurities.

To follow Christ is to leave everything behind and trust in Him. The disciples didn't know what they were getting in to. Jesus didn't tell them everything right away. Jesus simply answered "Come, and you will see." To follow Jesus is to start on the journey. Come along, lets see where Jesus leads us. Trust in Him. He is trustworthy. He is the Son of God.
I'm not sure I know what I'm looking for, but I am sure that it will be revealed to me as I am going, as I am walking down the road with Jesus. So my journey begins again, trusting that God will show me what He wants me to see, and redirecting my thoughts to explore those things that I should be looking for.

We may ask others "What are you looking for?"
How can we help you find it?

May we walk with you for a while?
May we engage in spiritual conversations with you?
May we be so bold as to point you to the Son of God as He has been revealed to us in God's Word?
May we explore the life of Christ together with you?

May we invite others to follow Christ's invitation, "Come, and you will see."?.

BOLD Christian Outreach Ministry is dedicated to helping others find ways to share their faith with those whom God has already placed in their lives. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 18

Sub title: The Lord rescues … He is my Savior.

I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my Savior,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the strength of my salvation,
my stronghold.
The LORD should be praised.
I called on Him, and I was saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:1-2
(God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

This is a Psalm of praise for the LORD who answers prayer! This is a record of promises kept, a reflection of gratitude, a personal journal (blog) of David the king of Israel. In this Psalm, David shares with us a personal testimony of the many ways the LORD responded to his requests for help.

In our reflection on outreach promises and on the challenge of outreach ministry in general, this Psalm provides us with hope and encouragement, because we can be certain that the LORD will redeem those who call on His name.

Just look at the list of actions that the Lord takes to rescue David from the grip of evil, death, and destruction.    
v6  He heard my voice…and my cry for help…
v9  He spread apart the heavens and came down…
v10  He rode … and he soared
v11  He made the darkness his hiding place…
v13  The LORD thundered in the heavens. The Most High made his voice …
v14  He shot his arrows and scattered them. He flashed streaks of lighting and threw them into confusion.…
v16  He reached down from high above and took hold of me. He pulled me out of the raging water.
v17  He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, because they were too strong for me.
v18  …the LORD came to my defense.

These are action words. Our God is a God of action! David knew it and David reflected on it. David gave thanks to God for being a God of action; for being active in his life.

When I try to take on too much or try to do the work of ministry on my own --- I FAIL. Big time!!
When I try to share my faith on my own --- I am crushed!
When I try to be something I’m not --- I am torn apart!

But when I am real, when I am honest, when I am humble, when I am acting in submission to God; He speaks through me.

v27  You save humble people
v28  O LORD, you light my lamp. My God turns my darkness into light.

When my message is about Jesus Christ, when I trust God to put the words into my mouth; God uses those words to bring salvation to those who hear them.

God has saved me! He has turned my darkness into light.
I will never forget how dark the darkness can be. Jesus rescued me from the darkness of my sin and has turned on the light in my life. I know that the promises of God are true because they have become true in my life.        

v30-32  God’s way is perfect! The promise of the LORD has proven to be true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in him. Who is God but the LORD? Who is a rock except our God? God arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

If you are looking for GOD, you will find him in the LORD Jesus Christ. He is the rock of Salvation. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Salvation is NOT found in any other. Jesus will take your sin away and replace it with His righteousness. He will turn your darkness into light.

If you are looking for encouragement to BOLDly share your faith, read this Psalm and follow David’s example. Take note of all of the ways God has responded to your requests for help. Thank and praise Jesus for the actions He has taken to rescue you from the traps of Satan and the darkness of sin in your life. Ask Jesus to give you the strength and words to share your testimony with others.

Remember, in your Christian outreach ministry, the LORD will work faith in those who call on Him.

(All scripture references used in this blog are taken from God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

Saturday, May 4, 2013

BOLD Christian Outreach Reflections from Psalm 17

Sub Title: The eye of God

"I have called on you because you answer me. Turn your ear toward me. Hear what I have to say. Reveal your miraculous deeds of mercy, O Savior of those who find refuge by your side from those who attack them. Guard me as if I were the pupil in your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Hide me from wicked people who violently attack me, from my enemies who surround me.

"I will see your face when I am declared innocent. When I wake up, I will be satisfied with seeing you."
Psalm 17:6-9, 15 (God’s Word, Copyright 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society,

In this psalm David goes before the LORD with a heavy heart, men are hunting him down and treating him like a criminal. He is on the run, hiding out, a fugitive with a possible bounty on his head. He has few allies that he can trust. Everywhere he turns, every encounter he makes is a risk to his safety. David finds himself surrounded by greedy people, who, for the sake of financial gain, would turn him over to his enemies (quite possibly King Saul).

Have you been there? ...caught between a rock and a hard place? ...with no-one to trust and no foreseeable way out? Or maybe you know of someone who is there; they are filled with desperation, discouragement, depression, emotionally empty, or financially ruined.

If so, then this psalm is for you and for them. There are two promises of salvation in this psalm. David prays, "I have called on you because you answer me." David's faith in God has a track record. When he was a boy herding sheep, the LORD protected him and his sheep. When David fought Goliath, the LORD gave him the victory over the giant. David is not without hope. He knows that the LORD can and will deliver him. In the LORD, his Savior, David will find rest.

The second promise relates to eternal life. David knows that his salvation is in the hands of the LORD and that he will be declared innocent by the mercy of the LORD; for those who place themselves at the LORD's mercy shall receive it. So David concludes his psalm with these words of comfort, "When I wake up, I will be satisfied with seeing you."

Paul said something similar when he stated, "Whether I live or die it is all gain." We cannot lose in Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior. With Paul and David we can boldly say, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." We have this promise, in the mercy of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, that those who call on His name shall receive forgiveness of their sins and the assurance of eternal life.    

P.S. Just a footnote to add… “Guard me as if I were the pupil in your eye.” Our eyes are important to us. We take measures to protect them. Skiers and swimmers wear water proof goggles. Carpenters and construction workers wear specialized protective glasses. A welder wears a helmet with a heavy dark glass window to protect his or her eyes from the burning bright light of the electrical welding arc. I’m sure you can think of many other examples, but the point is that, eye protection is very important for the safety of our eyes and the future of our sight. Sometimes we take our sight for granted, but to lose it could totally change the way we live out the rest of our days on the earth.

David calls on God to protect him as if he were the pupil of God’s very own eye. The request is bold. The request indicates trust and relationship, closeness, a sense of belonging to God, of being a part of His body. And that theme is picked up in the New Testament by Paul when he spoke of us being the living body of Christ, the eyes and ears, the mouth and nose, the hands and feet, all those parts that serve Christ here on earth. Jesus Christ lives in us as we live in Him. He provides for us and protects us as if we were His very own. His death and resurrection provides us with the ultimate protection against sin, death, and the devil. He values us as He would His very own eyes. That thought fills me with a great sense of peace.

As you tell others about Jesus Christ, we can be confident that He will listen to their pleas for mercy. He will forgive them and call them His own. He will treat them as He has treated us. He will value them as a member of His own body. And He will be waiting for them in heaven when they leave this world behind.

We can count on God's mercy and salvation. That is what David did! When everything else is stripped away – every material possession, everything that might give us security, meaning, or identity (all those false idols in our life), nothing is left but God's promise to be merciful and grant us salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. God rescues the broken hearted. The humble He does not despise. Those who call out to Him for mercy are saved! We can BOLDly count on this outreach promise as we share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.