ON THE SIDELINES AT PICKLEBALL,
I HAD THIS CONVERSATION WITH A WOMAN.
Elaine: “What’s new with you, Dee?”
Me: “Well, I’m part of a group that is just starting a new church
— and that’s been exciting.”
Elaine: “What kind of a church?”
Me: “We call it ‘The Orchard,’ but it’s an Evangelical Free Church.”
In response, Elaine looked a lot like this.
“Evangelical?” she said. “You mean you push your religion on people?”
She took me by surprise.
When I recovered, I said:
“Oh no — not religion! But we do talk about how Jesus has changed our lives.”
Elaine was quiet, then seemed relieved when called to play pickleball, and ran.
I’m praying for another chance to talk to Elaine, to see if she has been hurt by those whom were insensitive. I want to hear what is keeping her from Christ.
Driving home, “Elaine’s” reaction made me remember how I felt when my sister Sally came to tell me Jesus had changed her life.
I WANTED MY BIBLE QUOTING SISTER TO GO HOME.
I FELT I WAS LOSING CONTROL.
I WAS UNDER CONVICTION.
I WAS UNCOMFORTABLE.
RECENTLY MY FRIEND RON TOLD ME THAT THE FIRST TIME
HE CAME TO MY HOME FOR DINNER, HE WAS “SCARED TO DEATH,”
THOUGH HE CERTAINLY DIDN’T SEEM TO BE.
HE WAS BOLD AND BLUSTERY.
BUT INSIDE HE WAS AFRAID.
WHEN I ASKED HIM WHY, HE SAID,
“I FELT I WAS LOSING CONTROL.”
SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION TO OVERCOMING FEAR?
WHEN WE ARE CONVINCED OF JESUS LOVE, IT DRIVES OUT OUR FEARS. LIKEWISE, WHEN UNBELIEVERS ARE CONVINCED OF OUR LOVE,
THEY MELT AND OPEN.
HOW DO WE SHOW THEM A HEART OF LOVE?
WE, LIKE JESUS, MUST BECOME “INCARNATIONAL.”
HE LEFT HIS FATHER TO COME AND DWELL WITH US.
HE LOVED US ENOUGH TO ENTER INTO OUR WORLD.
JOHN STOTT, IN TALKING TO CHRISTIANS AT A SECULAR UNIVERSITY,
URGED THEM TO BECOME INCARNATIONAL BY ENTERING INTO THE WORLD OF THE UNBELIEVERS AT THE UNIVERSITY.
DON’T BE LIKE “THE RABBIT WHO STICKS HIS HEAD OUT OF THE HOLE.”
DON’T RUN TO THE CAFETERIA AND LOOK FOR THE CHRISTIANS.
YOU MUST GET OUT OF YOUR HOLE.
YOU MUST ENTER INTO THE WORLD OF NON-CHRISTIANS
AS JESUS ENTERED INTO OUR WORLD.
I LEARNED THIS AS A YOUNG BELIEVER — THE HARD WAY.
I was a fairly new Christian, eager for others to find the joy that I had found. Steve was beginning his residency in orthopedic surgery in Akron, Ohio. The wives were invited to a welcoming coffee. A large group of young, seemingly confident women moved about the lawn sipping iced tea with lemon slices in their shorts and sundresses. I’ve always been a little uncomfortable in settings like this, feeling not pretty or sophisticated enough… Yet God had put such love in my heart, I resisted the urge to flee.
The pretty president, a confident extroverted redhead, stood up and, with empathy, relayed the loneliness she felt when she moved to Akron so that her husband could do a surgery residency. “I’m not going to kid you — your husband isn’t going to be around a lot. So we need each other.” She wanted to give us opportunities to develop friendships with each other through their interest groups like tennis, bridge, political action, arts and crafts… And, she added, if any of us wanted to spearhead another interest group, we should just come up and put the name of our interest group on the top of a sheet so interested women could sign up.
the perfect size for a small group!
Beginner’s Bible Study
Get to Know the Jesus of the Bible!
- Dee Brestin____________
At the end of the coffee, I ran back to see the signatures. 17 for tennis. 15 for bridge. 27 for arts and crafts. And yes, you guessed it. There was one other signature besides mine for Bible study — and she was a seasoned Christian. Driving home I felt defeated, judgmental, thinking I tried Lord — but these are just a bunch of worldly doctors’ wives — uninterested in spiritual things.
I had forgotten the fear I felt when my sister visited. But the Spirit convicted me. Would I have signed up for a Bible study like that, offered by a stranger, before I knew Christ? NO WAY. Recently I heard a local pastor, Ed House, turn the love chapter into algebraic equations.
Speaking in tongues of men + tongues of angels MINUS love = ZILCH.
Prophetic powers + Understanding All Mysteries + Mountain-moving faith MINUS love = ZILCH.
I had to back-up, repent, and start over. I had not signed up for any other interest group, but now I called and asked if it was too late to sign up for bridge. I laugh now to remember Lee’s response. “You are an answer to prayer — we are short one player!” I spent the next year getting to know and love the women. Some might say that was manipulative, but I disagree. We need to love no matter their response. Eventually, if we sense interest, we must tell them about Jesus. To have what we have and keep it under a bushel is sin. It is as if we had a cure for cancer but only fluffed the patient’s pillows and let him die without knowing about the cure. We love them for them, not for a scalp for our belt, but we love as Jesus did — the whole person: heart, mind, body, and soul.
A year later seven signed up for the beginner’s study, and each year it multiplied. Many came to Christ over the next three years and many began their own studies once their husbands moved and began practicing medicine in other cities.
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2.What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY
Prepare your heart with this:
3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?
B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?
C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?
D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?
4. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-15
A. What should be our motive in reaching out, in being incarnational, according to verses 11 and 14?
B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?
Karen, a new participant, honestly shared often she doesn’t even like her neighbors. I would love more input for that — for often we feel the same way!
C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?
D. Verses 15 is golden, and one I often use when sharing the gospel. What does it say and how could this apply to you
right now in being incarnational and loving others into the Kingdom?
A. People were judging Paul on the basis of his appearance, “his flesh,” instead of the Spirit within him. He realizes he once
did the same with Christ and His followers. What does he say in verse 16?
B. What does the Spirit of Christ do for those who receive Him, according to verse 17? How has He made you a new
creation — share a couple of specifics!
This is one of the most exciting aspects of evangelism. I marvel, for example, at watching Ron, a Viet Nam Vet, who,
like so many men who fought in that terrible war, had anger problems. Yet Christ has made him a new creation. He says
when he walks his dogs in the woods he often falls to his knees in gratitude at the change in his heart!
C. What ministry has God entrusted to us according to verse 19?
D. What mindset should we have when we love and share with unbelievers according to verse 20?
E. Explain the gospel message using verses 20-21.
THURSDAY-FRIDAY: REBECCA PIPPERT (Short and excellent video)
6. Notes or comments on the above?
7. What is your take-a-way and why?