Monday, May 11, 2009

How Do I Start My Calling?

Continuing his "The Call" series with "Going", Johnson Bowie opens with an experience he had 2 years ago. He went to Discover Mills by himself to have lunch. When he walked into the food court, he had this sense that he had to talk to someone. "There goes Satan again...trying to trick me into being like Jesus and sharing my faith" (funny line he often uses). He sat down trying to eat his food while God continued to bug him. So, he started wandering around the food court and he spotted someone who was also by himself. As he walked up, he noticed the guy had a uniform on. He was approaching the "runway" but then he realized the landing wasn't going to be perfect, he pulled away at the last minute and rounded for landing number 3 (he'd already made 2 passes). "I had the conversation all planned out in my mind." But as he approached again, he then saw the guy's nametag and his name was Mike. "Crap, it just blew my whole first line and I had to pull away for landing number 4!" So he once again approached and, this time, Johnson was able to say "Hey" and sit down with Mike. "This is going to sound weird, but can I pray for you?" Mike answered "Sure", so Johnson began to pray for him. He laid out a basic prayer for Mike and his life, his friends and prayed that he would come to know Jesus. "That was it... I just walked away... and that was the perfect example of how NOT to evangelize"

Reminding us that our calling is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, who then goes out to make other disciples of Jesus, Johnson points out that Paul says we have a "high calling" in Jesus. Matthew 28:16-20 states our "Great Commission" which tells us to GO and make disciples of men. At the core of this commission, Johnson reviews from his first message, is dying to ourselves every day. When temptation pops up, we have to root ourselves in trying to make our lives look more like His.

"We're going to be focused this week on the first word of the Great Commission; GO." We can't actually produce disciples if we don't GO. There's the Matthew 28 verse , but in addition, we also have 4 secondary Great Commission texts in the Bible.

Mark 16:15 - (Jesus) said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation."

Luke 24:46-48 - (Jesus) told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

John 20:21 - Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."

Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Jesus is saying "Go" and tell people what you hear, what you experience, what you see and what you feel. There was a whole expectation thing that was expected from the original disciples. Their Great Commission was to share about Jesus.

"I just want to identify with you for a minute...we're really good at taking really simple things and making them complex...but here's our (simple) message:

Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. He died and was buried. He rose again.

That's it! But we get all hung up on all the stuff in between.

There's another misperception that we often have as Christians. Here's how we read Matthew 28; "Invite people to church so they can hear a preacher talk about how to make disciples on the earth." That's not us going out into the world! It's just us huddling up. "I think Jesus probably took the disciples up on a mountain and told the them it's not just about their local communities." Jesus knows that we don't like getting out of our comfort zones. He knows we like to stay where it's safe. But we've gotten so lazy that our highest fulfillment of the Great Commission is inviting someone to church. A church was never meant to be a creator of disciples. Ephesians 4:12 explains the church's purposed, "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up". Matthew 28 is OUR calling, NOT the church's.

"This isn't like some sleezy pyramid scheme." I'll make two disciples and then they'll each make two more disciples and then they'll make disciples and then maybe we can try to get them all to tythe. "That'd be awesome if it was! No, I'm just kidding." (I enjoy Johnson's humor.) It doesn't work like this where we're pushing product. This isn't something we have to be ashamed of. "I gave up the cool thing a long time ago. I gave it up when I bought a home and started the gardening thing." If we can share about our family, why can't we share about the King of the universe? What's really important in this life?

What we believe is that Adam and Eve came into the world and sinned. It got worse and then Jesus was God who came down to earth. He lived with us and experienced life with us and then He died for us. In doing so, He gave us the Good News by preparing a way that we could be connected to Him through eternity in heaven. Every other religion talks about ways to earn our way into heaven, but Jesus brought the good news that He saves us.

In a dark world we hold the light! Johnson asks for all the lights in the room to be turned off and then, in a funny way, demonstrates the different ways that we see light in the dark. Our calling is to shine bright, but many of us hide our light. "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Now, has that ever really happened? People see us and really do think "Praise Jesus"? What happens is that we decide to be followers of Jesus but then we shy away from our purpose outside of our church community.

"Lower the drawbridge!...We let the drawbridge down and then three people from our community group charge out, grab somebody and then rush back in..Whooo, almost got polluted by the world... so glad I have my bible study group to keep me clean."

Matthew 9:36 says,

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

The reason we don't spread the Word is because we don't really care. If we really believed what we hear, we would run to our call! If this is a problem, we have to pray that God would give us His compassion and His heart.

One of Johnson's first exposures to evangelism was in college at UGA. "It was down in the Student Center...there was this street preacher...think of a street preacher; this guy was's the first words I hear coming out of his mouth...if random girls walked by, he would say "Whhhooorrrressss"...this was his evagelism!!...he'd mash them into the dirt and then try to tell them that Jesus loved them...trying to artificially create conviction in them....we only see this in the bible from the Pharisees." But isn't that what we do in our hearts? Sometimes we sit back like sportscasters and judge the action of others.

We love John 3:16, but many times there's a disconnect because we think that this is just a verse for Christians. But John 3:17 says, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." That's why so many people flocked to Jesus; because He didn't come to condemn the world like the religious leaders, He came to offer people hope. He didn't just stand at a distance. Aren't you glad Jesus didn't do that with you? Are we willing to do the same thing with others?

"I'm a pastor, Okay? If you ever want to go to an unevangelistic work environment, work in the church!... I live in the Christian bubble". Every once in a while Johnson will go into a bar and watch UFC. "I love UFC." But this is one of the places where Johnson says he feels like he needs to pray for a heart of compassion; to reach those in the bar who may need to know about Christ.
When you're on a mission, it's not hard to talk about our mission. "I'm going to give you a list of questions that you should ask people if you want to talk to others about Christ".

1) Do you have any kind of spiritual beliefs?

2) Who is Jesus to you?
3) Do you think there's a heaven and a hell?
4) If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell and why?
5) If what you believe were not true would you wat to know?

Another way people sometimes share the gospel is by using the "Romans Road" key verses, whish is basically salvation in a nutshell.

Romans 3:23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 10:9 - That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

An often overlooked and underestimated way of sharing the love of Christ is through service. In Acts, the Jewish widows are being served food while the Greek widows are not. The apostles had this epiphany that they should serve the Greek widows as well. As it turned out, Acts 6:7 happened right after this. Whatever the disciples demonstrated by serving the women, it triggered the growth of the church by nearly 3,000 people! Never underestimate the impact of service. Johnson learned about a couple of other things that people have done to further the Kingdom.

1. Some have taken food to the hospital knowing there are a lot of lonely people in the hospital.
2. Some just handed Cokes out on the sidewalk.

Johnson stops here and explains how a family responded when Cokes were handed out. This led to them coming to the church and then eventually the father making a decision to follow Christ. This man made the decision of spending eternity in heaven because of a can of coke! In summary, Johnson encourages each to think about how we can create disciples from right where we are.

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