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A HEART TO MELT FEARS (EVAN. #3)

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.

home-alone

“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.

rundisplaying-20-images-for-person-running-away-clipart-qqv58w-clipart

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?

perfect-love-casts-out-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.

WHY?

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.”

rabbitholejune-22-2012-17-56-48-nmlkjhgfDON’T RUN FROM YOUR CHRISTIAN ROOMMATE TO CLASS AND LOOK FOR A CHRISTIAN WITH WHOM TO SIT.

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.

thinking-light-bulb-clip-art-sketch-ideaIt seemed perfect. So, I put this header at the top of a sheet and bravely numbered it to twelve,

the perfect size for a small group!

Beginner’s Bible Study

Get to Know the Jesus of the Bible!

  1. Dee Brestin____________
  2. _____________________
  3. _____________________
  4. _____________________
  5. _____________________
  6. _____________________
  7. _____________________
  8. _____________________
  9. _____________________
  10. ____________________
  11. ____________________
  12. ____________________

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.

 

SUNDAY:

     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:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6OYmmMicsA

    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?

reconciliation     5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

        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)

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu9NRx8UGdQ

6. Notes or comments on the above?

Saturday:

7. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

 

 


   

 

 

 

 

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180 comments

  1. An amazing intro to this week’s study…Let me consider others’ needs rather than my own. My fears to share have blocked me from loving others.
    I want to get past the fear of someone reacting like Elaine and get to know  what keeps  them from  Jesus.
    Your story of joining the bridge group and getting to know them is an encouragement, Dee. It is so out of my comfort zone to talk to strangers about my faith, but it is what Jesus models for us. I want to be his ambassador and love : to have a heart for the lost.

    1. Shirley – though I haven’t been able to participate as much the past few weeks, I have read through the entries as best I can.  Your sharing on this subject of evangelism has been SO tender.  I feel like I’m watching an amazing love and zeal just bursting out of you …..as though it’s been pent up too long!  🙂  I find myself grinning from ear to ear as I read your words here….and TRULY taking heart from you for my own world of beloved unbelievers!  Thank you Shirley!  

      1. Shirley,  I very much want to echo Jackie’s response to you.    I also haven’t been participating as much as usual (hope my life will allow me to get back into it).  I have been following from afar, and have been so impressed by your tenderness and love.

  2. 1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    Dee, your life is so fascinating in how the Lord has gifted you! Those early days before you started writing your own Bible studies and books, He led you to gather a group of women together to study. I smile when I think of that ONE lonely signature next to yours, and how the Lord has MULTIPLIED that number so that we cannot even count the numbers of women you have reached now through your books, studies, speaking, this blog, prison ministry, new church plant, pickle ball and seeker coffees in your home. Wow. I also resonate with coming out of our Christian rabbit hole. It’s funny, but just this week I was reflecting on my early days as a new Christian, and how in the same way a woman can fit into the “suburban mom” role, complete with minivan, how I had this idea in my mind of what I was supposed to “look like” as a Christian: going to church, going to Bible study, teaching Sunday school, dressing a certain way, and basically, being in a little Christian cocoon. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but I’ve been listening to a series by Chip Ingram called Breakthrough, and there was one message that he talked about that, and that “breakthrough” is not about being in our little Christian bubble and we’ll find only a Christian doctor and dentist and go to church not just on Sunday mornings but seven days a week and we’ll even use Christian floss and brush our teeth with toothpaste made by Christians! (He was exaggerating, obviously, to make a point!) On the other hand, it can be a little discouraging to feel you are mostly surrounded by people who do not share your faith, as well as lonely.
     
    It’s interesting that the emotion that both you and Ron felt was losing control. Perhaps that is our idol of power/control that instinctively feels threatened by Jesus, because to admit that He is who He says He is means that it can’t be my life, my way, my time, my job, my, my, my….. Chip Ingram spoke to this, too, when he said that we want Jesus to save us and we want to go to heaven AND…..my way my life my time my thoughts my family my job my money….. Even as a Christian, I still feel the rebellious tug of the “MY”.
    And, this stood out too: the equations of all the great things we can say and do, but MINUS love, it equals zero. That’s what Paul said, too.

      1. Sounds like Susan is getting “published” Without even trying!!  Whoop, whoop!!  Smiles….?….love your constant humility Dee, in the way you incorporate blog sisters voices into your writing…lovely.

    1. This entire entry exemplifies why I keep on coming back. Susan this answer is so insightful and beautiful.

    2. Susan–so many great points here. I really like Chip Ingram too, when I can hear him–love this about the “bubble”–but eek, a little too uncomfortably convicting for me ; )

  3. 2. What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?
     
    I really don’t remember anyone ever witnessing to me. I didn’t grow up going to church and didn’t really know any Christians. So, I would say it was the love of God Himself. When I was fourteen and volunteering at a nursing home, one of the volunteer directors gave me a birthday card on which she wrote, “Jesus loves you, you are special in His sight!” I had never heard that before. I began to attend Mass with my husband while we were dating. I began to feel drawn to be a part of God’s family. After we were married, I wanted to join the church and at the end of several months of instruction, attended a retreat where the speaker told us to imagine that we saw Jesus standing waiting for us to come to Him, and she said, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; He wants you to come to Him” and she quoted the verse about “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…” He was so real to me and I knew in my heart I had done bad things but I ran to Him in my mind and can’t explain it, but it wasn’t me imagining the scenario but I ran to Him and He put His arms around me and I began to weep. I remember I had really long hair and I hid my face because I was crying. I can’t explain the relief I felt.
     
    The other week, watching the Tim Keller video on the woman at the well, he said something about how Jesus knew everything about the Samaritan woman’s past and her sin but He offered her the living water anyway, and I identified with that and traced it back to that day. He knew everything about me and all that I had done and yet, He offered me His love and forgiveness. When I think back on how God pursued me, He pursued me with the message of His love.

    1. Susan……this is so very compelling.   “….it was the love of God Himself'”     That is honestly not a testimony I hear very often.  Usually people do point to other human vessels of that love, but you being wooed and responding to the simple message that Jesus loves you, is so very, very precious.  

  4. 1.    What stands out to you from the above and why?
    “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”.
    “To have what we have and hide it under the bushel is a sin.”
    “You must enter the world of non-believers just as Jesus enter our world. Be incarnational.”
     
     
    Lord, today, I pray for a heart for the whole person and not for a scalp for my belt. I pray that what I have in you I will not hide but share. To love as Jesus loves and to let go of my fears and enter the world of the unbelieving. Give me wisdom how to enter. Thank you for giving me another opportunity and for forgiving me for the lost ones because I was afraid or did not know what to do. You will be with me/us. I do not have to have the answers. I just need to obey. And to you be the glory.

    1. Bing – a big piece of what resonated with you was also what moved me deeply.  🙂  I still remember “lost opportunities” from 25 years ago….and I prayed your lovely prayer with rejoicing just now.  His mercies are new every morning and He has continued to give me amazing opportunities to share …..thanks for the great reminders of His forgiveness and His constant loyalty to us come what may!  And those new opportunities WILL continue to come!!  🙂  

    2. oh Bing, I so love your heart, and share your prayer: “Thank you for giving me another opportunity and for forgiving me for the lost ones because I was afraid or did not know what to do. You will be with me”

  5.  1. What stands out to you from the above and why?     The importance of relationships.  I so often feel guilty because I often don’t even feel compelled to put my faith into words and I certainly don’t feel comfortable doing it, with those who aren’t obviously interested.  But stories like yours, show more and more how relationships have to be the foundation.   
     
    These lessons on friendship evangelism are so timely for me.  Our church starts an ALPHA course this afternoon and my husband and I are hosting a group.  So much unknown on so many levels.  This is the first ministry together that my husband and I have done in years…as far as something organized and planned.     On a personal level, something is ‘in the wind’…..with someone in my close family.   The wind of the Spirit I believe.  I am seeing changes and pieces of the puzzle coming together.  I might write more later,  but suffice it to say:  a decades long prayer seems to be showing some answers causing me to have a bit of anxiousness and a lot of wonder at His ways!     
     
     
         2.What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?    Love played every part.   It was the nurturing love of my parents, who had been loved into God’s family;  my mom through both of her parents’ example and my dad through his own mother’s faith and prayers but also the love of a neighbor and friend.   My parents raised me with knowing the love of Jesus.  They didn’t do it perfectly.  But they did do it lovingly.   And God’s grace was seen and felt.  God grace drew me to Himself and as I grew and got older, I saw loving examples of Christ’s character in many others along the way.  

      1. We are in an Evangelical Covenant Church  (as of a year and a half ago).   The lead pastor’s heart beats so close to ours in matters of social justice and teaching the whole gospel.  But there are many, many reasons why we feel so at home there.  The outpouring of blessing on my life and the affirmation of HIs work in my heart  in the past 16 months has been so amazing and clear to me.  I am still in awe of the answers to prayer I’ve seen.    I just typed a note to a friend and told her that a few years ago, I was at such a low point, not at all seeing how our church ‘conundrum’ could be solved and feeling like the return of my loved ones to the Lord wasn’t anywhere on the radar.   But once we saw such a big answer on the church issue, in leading us to this body…..I have seen several breakthroughs with our adult kids too.   I could write a book here……but I won’t.  🙂   Maybe more another time.  
        But, I also want to say, that another huge turning point was participating on  this blog and learning from you, Dee…and all the women here.  When I was at my lowest, this ministry buoyed me beyond what I could ask or imagine.   I see a three step progression here.  God led me to this blog…….and then to a church that truly fits and ministers to us…..and now I am seeing ‘the wind of the Spirit’ at work in our family in ways I hadn’t seen for years and years.   Thanks be to God.  

    1. oh Wanda!  “Love played every part.”  Precious.  As you spoke of your parents and other family members and their love I was replaying my own history and was deeply moved.  It just felt like your words were bringing 1 Corinthians 13 before me!  My dad was always a soft and tender man, but with my mom especially I saw the transformation Christ’s love brought into her life……initially in her walk with Christ there was incredible zeal….but day by day He softened her SO with His love.  She never lost her zeal to see souls come into relationship with Christ….but oh, how exponentially her tender compassions grew through the years!  I can SO relate to your words here:  “My parents raised me with knowing the love of Jesus.  They didn’t do it perfectly.  But they did do it lovingly.”  I surely see you doing the same with your own dear children my friend!  Amen.  

  6. I so loved Dee’s zeal for Jesus and I am sure He loves it too and might have smiled when she did her Bible study sign up. That cracked me up for I have done stuff like that too. 🙂 I love how He quickened her and that He had a spot saved for her in the Bridge Club, and then the leader’s response-lol! 🙂 🙂  WOW how wonderful it was to hear how God’s love in Dee drew them to Him. I like that she said we love them-heart soul and spirit-not merely as a project to “get saved” and then put a notch on our belt. I like that she loved them and then if they gave indication they were open to hear she raised her sail and caught His wind! 

      1. Did I tell you about the time I facilitated my first study? The ladies were notorious for taking up too much time with requests and then when we prayed we were way over our time so I brought one of those stove timers that tick and then the bell rings loudly when it is done. 🙂 I set it for 15 minutes. It was tick tick ticking away as the ladies gave their requests and then when we prayed everyone was in a hurry for they knew that loud bell could go off any time. I realized as we were praying it was a huge mistake. lol! 🙂 🙂 Oh my. Shirley and Nanette might remember that one. 

        1. oh, oh, oh!!!!  I won’t quickly forget the picture of the ticking timer during prayer time!!!  Hysterically funny while at the same time so instructive……just an aside on group prayer…..I lOVED the model we used in Moms in Touch years ago (their name has changed and I’m blanking on what it is now….).  We NEVER took “prayer requests”, we simply began to pray our requests together and others would join in and dovetail on our prayers.  We also used the Scriptures as a springboard and it was something special.  Over the many years since I have used this model in several other studies…..not always, but it can be very freeing to pray together in that way……

        2. Oh Rebecca I am still laughing at how you wrote this description of the ticking timer for the prayer. You described a picture I can so see:) The things we learn along the way. I would love to see the list of what Rebecca Pippert found did not work well that she spoke of in the video in regards to evangelism.  

  7. 2.What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?
    I had encountered Christians in my past who stayed away from me for they were afraid of me. I was pretty rebellious. I believed rules were meant to be broken though my favorite movie growing up was Jesus of Nazareth. I believe God used that movie to introduce me to Him and soften my heart. In my 20’s I saw Jesus in my brother. My brother used to be sarcastic and mean to me so God got my attention when he started being nicer. What clenched it for me was when my brother was being mean and then right after held my hand and asked me to forgive him. He attracted me to Jesus. I connected that with him reading his Bible and I “saw” a changed life-not just morally but the change was Jesus’ Love in him. I knew it was God and I knew He was real and I wanted to know Him. 

      1. His intervention in my life was pretty dramatic. My best friend who was with me prior to knowing Christ was blown away by the change and was drawn to Him and He became real to her too and she got on her knees and gave her life to him. She says, one moment Beckie was in a rock star outfit with torn hose getting drunk and sleeping with whoever to being modest covering herself up with a Bible in her hand talking about Him with light in her eyes. Not only did He cover me in His Love and Righteousness, He saved me from sure destruction had i continued down the path I was on. I try not to think about my past and where I might be without Him now because it is painful-and I can’t imagine Him not being inside me-Well I am unable to imagine it because He is inside me Hallelujah!! 🙂 

        1. We are so blessed to get to know the ‘new Beckie!’   And having known you for a few years now, I can see I surely can’t imagine the old one.  Thanks for sharing this Rebecca!  

  8.  1. What stands out to you from the above and why?    Elaine’s response to “evangelical.”  It reminded me of when I moved and switched from an Evangelical Free Church to a Presbyterian Church.  I hadn’t realized how much more open people would be when I talked about church or invited them to church.  Labels made a huge difference in peoples’ fear and/or skepticism.  But another difference was that I was less immersed in church activities because I was back in school.  I had a good mixture of friends who were churched and unchurched after I moved.
     
         2.What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?   I would say that at home, love was the driving force.  At church, it probably was more fear and guilt, though there always was a thread of love.   Hmmm…if I wouldn’t have had that strong foundation of love at home, I wonder …   I do know people who have left the church altogether because they felt ostracized as adolescents — experienced more fear and guilt than love.

      1. Dee, I recall from that panel discussion from last week (headed by Tim Keller) that you normally always have to reach a point in the relationship where it gets uncomfortable (just like when you were wanting your sister who shared Christ with you to leave!) and must be wiling to “sacrifice” the relationship and after that there is often a turning point.  Maybe your friendship with this woman has just reached that point early?  I know God will use all that you do to reach others with His love.  Maybe this woman who ran 😀  is just around the corner from being receptive?  

        1. Mary-I think this is really insightful: ” Maybe your friendship with this woman has just reached that point early?” I really think that is often my problem as well–I am impatient and rush to get to the “meat”, instead of developing the relationship further first. 

      2. ….and one of the big Baptist denominations is now called  ‘Converge’.     I have mixed feelings about some name changes (even though I already spoke in favor of them in another comment).   I guess it’s like so many ‘gray areas’.   We must seek the Lord and weigh all that is involved.   I don’t think churches should hide who they are……but I agree that names can carry such burdens with them.    (I struggle with Christian schools still using the mascot name,  ‘Crusaders’…..as is the case where my son teaches.  🙁  )  

      3. Dee, oops — it looks like I started a rabbit trail.  I think the Free Methodist & various versions of Presbyterian & Lutheran have opened doors by their titles.  I didn’t realize that CMA didn’t use its name anymore.  As a long-time “churched” person, I prefer the denominational labels to the one word names: sort of a truth in advertising perspective.  I like knowing what I am getting myself into 😉   At first, I associated the one word names and Community churches with inter- or non-denominational; well, that’s obviously not accurate.  Now, it’s sometimes difficult to figure out denomination (or more accurately, doctrine) from the websites.  But I certainly understand why the name changes have been made, especially in some locations; in other locations, the purpose seems simply to get on the bandwagon or confuse people about the real identity of the church!
        I really do like to know if I am going to an uber-Arminian or uber-Reformed church before I get in the door.  Although I can see that it is smart to change the names of some organizations, somehow I expect changes in substance to go along with name changes.  Orgs do a good job of marketing title changes, but I want to know what, if anything, else has changed in the transition.  

    1. I so get this Renee.    The name ‘evangelical’ has been twisted so much in the media and by people who represent it that I personally, have a very hard time identifying with it.  Sad, because I totally am an evangelical in the gospel sense…..which is the true meaning.  But the meaning has sadly changed.  Just like the word, ‘awesome’.  There is hardly anyone who uses ‘awesome’ in it’s true meaning, but I still hear it (and am annoyed by it)  multiple times a day.  It used to be such a great descriptor of God and the divine!  Now it’s used to describe any and every thing. 
      Anyway…..even though our church now is officially Evangelical Covenant……It feels freeing to be able to say  _______  Covenant : the town name and the name of our local body.   Our previous E. Free church changed it’s unofficial name to include just the name of the church and ‘free’ and dropped the Evangelical from it’s commonly used title many years ago. The change did make it a lot easier to say.  At the time, I didn’t really appreciate the change as I saw it all a part of the marketing approach they were taking.  But as things have become more and more dicey with ‘evangelicals’……I see why,  unfortunately…..it’s nice to stay away from that descriptor.  

      1. Yeah, the word “evangelical,” as used in public — multiple liberal and conservative denominations and worse — the evangelical voting bloc — has become almost meaningless.  Yet, there is a thread of accuracy in some of it.  So confusing.

  9. 1.  What stood out to you from the above and why?
     
    “When we are convinced of Jesus’ love, it drives out our fears…..”   and the illustration of 1 John 4:18!  Yes, yes!  Even though I had walked with Jesus for well over 2 decades, three years ago was the biggest upheaval and the most incredible reformation of my love and trust in Him.  Out of the ashes of my deepest season of grief and my shattering of confidence in my God came, well, HE came to me.  I found myself at HIs feet saying, along with Job (Thank you God, for Job!!)….”…I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…..I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes….”.  His love simply overwhelmed me and my life changed.  Old fears just aren’t the same.  I trust Him more than I thought possible.  Oh, how TRUE it is that He comes to us with “healing in his wings”.  Though I may grieve some of my children’s choices or the hardships that have befallen them or even the very real possiblilty that I may be called to lose them in this life…..it’s a “cleaner” grief that still encompasses His peace.  I have come to see that there is NOTHING IN ME that explains this except this:  “I am crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Galatians 2:20).  HOW can I believe this and NOT share this life of Christ with those He brings my way??  How I love your words of admonition here Dee:  “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…….”  And this:  “we love as Jesus did – the whole person: heart,mind, body and soul.”  
     
    This idea you bring to us Dee of loving the “whole person”…..I began to ask the Lord to bring me people to share the gospel with in a more intentional way these past few years….and I also began to ask HIm to show me how I could SERVE them.  Oh my.  With someone in my life right now, this has meant on numerous occasions going to her house (an hour from mine), picking up her dog and taking him to the vet and back home (long story, but she adopted one of my foster dogs requiring ear surgery, etc…..) It always takes an entire afternoon, but God has clearly connected me with her through BOTH the horse business and the dog business!  She has begun opening up to me about her life, with tears…and even asking about my “churchgoing “…….AND….just last week she told me that she is soon moving ONLY 15 minutes from me…..and literally under 5 minutes from my church!!  I truly think that God is moving in K’s life!!  With or without me, but what a JOY it is to be in the mix of what He is working!!  We all have so many stories I know…..He is just such an AWESOME God!!!  

    1. Jackie, so interesting the way God brings those who need Him into your life through your dog business! I will pray for “K”!

  10. 2.  What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?
     
    I have to steal Wanda’s great line and say “Love played every part!”.  Because I saw my parents come to Christ when I was about 10 years old, I clearly remember the “before and after”…..and the LOVE transformation was dramatic and deep!  But SO many others too….when I walked in rebellion and left my marriage when I was in my early 20’s (I was not a believer yet…..), there was a young pastor and his wife – Dave and Jan -they reached out to me with unbelievable compassion and LOVE….and they are in my life to this day!!  🙂  My young aunt Geri, who had braved my mom’s (her sister) wrath to share the gospel with her after her conversion, stayed tenaciously in my life and in my corner almost like no one else and who discipled me faithfully  until her death a decade after my mom’s (oh what a loss)……and others as well ….my dear, dear friend Lois from college……the list just goes on and on.  These people just REFUSED to drop out of my life or give up on me!!  I am teary eyed and heart melted to sit here remembering……oh Jesus, how You have loved me.  And how You loved me through these ordinary, extraordinary PEOPLE!!  People so in love with You and so filled with Your Spirit that they could not help but “spill over” with love to me!!  Thank you, thank you.  

  11. I love hearing more of your story, Jackie.  It has encouraged me time and time again, because God’s hand is so clearly seen in retrospect.    And I know that there are many, many, many for whom you have been that steadfast person who just won’t give up on them either!  
    So good to be back here…..but I am TRYING to keep my comments shorter.  Oh boy.  Not easy for me.  

    1. as I hope you know Wanda, I feel like happy dancing for your return to the study!!  And  I just looked at my answer to question 3 and thought “TOO long!!!!”…..I so get this not being easy to keep the comments short!  

  12. 1. What stood out….I am so woefully deficient when it comes to showing love to women.  I am not a womean’s woman.  I don’t like to shop, don’t do make up, purses, shoes, or fuss with hair.  It is hard for me to find a way to relate outside of God.  And I’ve blown it so many times.  I start to get close to someone and then either say the wrong thing or fail to meet some unspoken expectation of theirs, and the friendship drops.  I admit to being discouraged.
     
    2. What part did love play in bringing me to Christ?  As some others have said, I have no face or name, and it was more the love of God Himself working on me over several years.

    1. oh Mary – word for word I am just like you in that I “don’t like to shop, don’t do make up, purses, shoes, or fuss with hair.”  I do love being a woman for sure…but I am NOT “girlie, girlie” and never have been!  🙂  And I am finding that we have kindred spirits out there too!!  Then again, some of my dearest friends seem to manage all of those things and even ENJOY them!!  As we pray for one another here we find that friendship issues and longings are often a part of the puzzle that others here struggle with as well and wish were different and maybe “freer”……and I am adding you to my journal prayer page for those here who express that desire to not be so discouraged in friendships.  And within the body of Christ we SHOULD be able to relate simply in our common life in the Lord too.  That secure relationship in Christ is a beautiful place to begin true friendship…..praying it will be so for you Mary.  

      1. Thank you so much, I appreciate your prayers.  Friendship is a hard thing, even inside the circle of believers.  But it is doubly so with inbelievers.  And that is where I really need to grow.

  13.   1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
     
    The analogy of a rabbit sticking his head out of the hole.   It is so easy to live that way and not even realize it.  I have been in study groups where we were asked to think of specific individuals who are non-Christians to whom we could witness about Jesus in the coming week.   There have been times when I have been hard-put to come up with names of non-Christians in my life.   I can relate to Susan‘s comments about having a “Christian doctor” and a “Christian dentist,” etc.  It is sort of a strange tension — we are warned not to be conformed to the world, and that can lead to our avoiding the world, and avoiding non-Christians in the process.   
     
    Dee,  I really felt for you when you only had one person sign up for Bible Study.  I have experienced similar resistance when I have tried to lead people into a new level of faith — and they just didn’t “lead!”  It is sooo deflating!   However,  like your experience, I have seen later success when making an approach from a different direction –never by bridge but other seemingly mundane ways. 🙂       Last week I did listen to the entire video of the panel discussion even though I didn’t post, and I really appreciated Rebecca Pippert’s suggestion about asking a person about themselves, and then asking them a thought provoking question that would cause them to examine or reflect on their faith status.  
     
    Also was struck by the equations.   I have been very familiar with the scripture that refers to being a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal without love.  However, I am not sure I ever considered that love is a necessary part of evangelism — and it clearly is needed!
     
         2.What part did love play in bringing you to Christ?
     
    My loving mother for sure loved me when she began to lead me toward God and Jesus, teaching me to pray at about age 4.   I wasn’t analyzing it as I went along in life, as other people must have loved me and helped lift me to the next level in my faith (for example, a youth sponsor with whom I still communicate by emails and FB, and she is about 88 years old now)  However, the “main event” in my faith I feel happened to me on a morning watch at church camp and did not involve any other human. I felt God just reached out to me in a far greater way and I was emotionally overcome.  

      1. ….and I agree.   The equations were thought provoking. We read it all our life.  But seeing it in bold red letters so clearly confirms the meaning of it.  The past weekend because of ‘the winds of change’ which appear to be happening in a family member’s life….I have been so drawn back to Brennan Manning and The Ragamuffin Gospel.  And Rich Mullins.  It all comes down to knowing we are loved.  By God and by His children.   Last night at ALPHA our leader led us in two songs:  Amazing Grace and Jesus Loves Me.  Heart melting.  

  14. I read the intro to this blog but haven’t commented. Then I saw this on Ann Voskamp’s  weekend post and had to post it here. It is one suggestion about how to begin make contact with neighbours you do not know. 
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDpHjRWbLvc

  15. Good video, Diane.  I struggle with loving my neighbors.  They are college kids – I live a few blocks from a university.  I live in the midst of Party Town.  Young kids away from home and drinking and carousing until all hours of the morning.  Their trash blows into my neat yard.  I’m in my 50’s, a single mom of adopted children, and have to work and homeschool.  So exhausted all the time, and then have to deal with my wild young neighbors.  I want to see them with His eyes, and love them with His heart.  Too much for my own feeble strength.  I need His love to flow through me when I have none.  Thank you, ladies, for your fellowship and encouragement. 

    1. What a place you are in, Miriam.   The phrase ‘beauty from ashes’ comes to my mind.   Your home and heart and purpose are like a beacon.  But Oh……I feel in my heart, how hard it must be to feel God’s peace and love when around you, the lifestyle is so different.  Bless you for all you do!  

  16. What stood out to me was when your sister was sharing with you and you felt like you were losing control and wanted to run. I guess I never felt that so it is an interesting reaction to consider some may feel, and you said Ron did too. I also have standing out to me the MINUS LOVE = ZILCH. 
    My sister went to the Hillsong movie with me the other night. I reached out to her that I was visiting down her way yesterday and she never got back to me. May just be the enemy trying to mess with my thoughts but I hope I did. Not scare her:( There are some pretty big things in her life that she just may be. My lack of spending time with her is making me think of the MINUS love = ZILCH. We do the best that we can being a distance away but I would like to see her more. Having lost 3 sisters already  and 2 being when we were older one in her 20’s and one in her 40’s I always felt I wished I had spent more time with them. 

  17. Dee perfect love does cast out all fear but what was it in your life situation that got you beyond the feeling of losing control?

    1. Liz-GREAT question.

  18. 3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
            A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5? 
     
    A mind like Jesus.
     
            B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?
     
    He gave up His “status.” He became a lowly servant; a human.
     
            C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?
     
    He was exalted; all would bow to Him.
     
            D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?
     
    I may have to give up being worried about what people think of me. What is “looks” like.

  19. Hope to come back later, but just jumping on quickly this morning to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR JACKIE!!! You truly are such an incredible GIFT, shining with His truth, love, mercy. So thankful for the example you are to me. Praying His blessings overwhelm you today especially!
     

    1. and you, Lizzy, are so dear.  thank you.  🙂  

      1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jackie!!! 😀

      2. Happy birthday Jackie! I hope you had a great day!!

    2. Happy Birthday, Jackie!!

    3. Happy birthday, Jackie. Hope you have had a lovely day whether the sun shines or not! It was lovely to meet you this summer.

      1. Happy Birthday Jackie. I am glad I jumped on tonight. Hope your year ahead brings you all the closer to your loving Savior and you get to see the Spirit move in your loved ones lives.

  20. 3.  Read Philippians 2:5-11.
     
    A.  What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?       The humility of Christ.  I love the wording here:  “have this mind”….”which is yours”.  The idea of having the humility of Christ is hopeless….except that He Himself has given us Himself!!  Mind boggling!!!
     
    B.  What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to vs. 6-8?
     
    Jesus never for a moment ceased being God.  However….he “emptied himself” and gave up the untold priveleges that were His as He took on the form of a servant by being born, living and dying on the cross.  As we inch closer to the season of Advent, just to think of this all powerful God coming in human form as a baby – entirely and completely dependent upon ordinary, poor humans…..we cannot comprehend the cost.  We can but worship Him.  
     
    C.  How did God honor him according to verses 9-11?
     
    Oh, how my heart thrills to read these words!  One day we will see this, experience this…..every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father!!  God has “highly exalted him” and “bestowed on him the name that is above every name.”  Right now, in this moment, this gloomy Maryland Monday…..this is TRUE!!  In the future?  This truth will be revealed for every single human being who has ever lived…..that Jesus Christ is King of all….Lord of all!!  Amen!  Come quickly Lord Jesus!!!
     
    D.  What might you have to give up so that you can enter the world of unbelievers?
     
    The verses just prior to this section are instructive and an arrow to my heart….verses 3&4 say “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”   Really?  “NOTHING”….”from selfish ambition”???????   That just nails it and puts every moment of every day in perspective…..my work, my family relationships….everything!  I have to give up selfish ambition (my thought life reveals this is not always the case!!!).  Looking to the interests of others….consistently, not just “sometimes”???  
    This past Friday night my husband and I attended a party hosted by one of the most ambitious young horsewomen we know…..my FIRST thought was not looking to the interests of others, but GROANING at the thought of all of the young guns of the business and the selfish ambition pouring out everywhere!!  We do have long standing ties with J, the host, and she repeatedly asked us to be there…..so away we went.  The Lord had smitten my heart at any rate and I actually went with anticipation, knowing that Jesus wanted us there….even if it ended up to be the most uncomfortable night of my life!!  Though there was an abundance of preening and boasting…..I also had three separate conversations that blew me away!  I came away that night shaken anew by the brokenness of young people that lurks just beneath the the glitter, the bravado.  Lord, forgive me for my judgemental heart.  Forgive me my selfishness, my natural and strong tendency to cocoon away and live for my own little comforts.  Open my heart wide with the very same compassion that You, Jesus, showed us in the gospels.  I’m so far from where I long to be with You…..but You are faithful.  My days and moments are SO very different than what they were when I was standing in the shoes of the very young people who I judged on Friday night.  I needed a Rescuer, a Redeemer, a Deliverer……and you came to me.  I lift up those in my life and the lives of my sisters here  who so need You.  Come to them.  Convict them of their sin, Redeem them and bring them LIFE.  In your Name above every Name I pray.  Amen.  

    1. Jackie thank you for your honesty and answer to D. I can so relate about selfish ambition. I am really beginning to believe when my selfish ambition starts popping up it is a something I need to start to do some serious battle with. I want to be so alert to it as I know the enemy wants me to feed it and keep me away from the interests of others and reaching out.

  21. 4.  Read 2 Corinthinians 5: 11-15.
     
    A.  What should be our motive in reaching out, in being incarnational, according to verses 11 and 14?
     
    Well, I just can’t answer this question without being forthright and admitting that I don’t use the word “incarnational” in reference to myself or to the church.  I reserve the term for Christ.  Knowing that great Christian minds such as John Stott expound very persuasively on this makes me quake in my boots to differ, but it’s just where I fall…..I searched for an article on the Gospel Coalition site that might better explain what my thoughts are……and lo and behold, there’s a wonderful one there:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-incarnation-is-about-a-person-not-a-mission     I just see the incarnation as historically in the church referring to what is called the Hypostatic Union, or Christ’s divine and human nature and the mystery of it all.  Also…..Christ condescends to humans in his incarnation – while we are, as D.A. Carson says so well, “we are all just beggars showing other beggars where bread is.”  (both of these thoughts come from the article I reference here).  
     
    Other than the term “incarnational” (which I admit, I’m SO drawn to…..)…..I simply LOVE all of your thoughts here Dee, as you nudge us gently and persistently out of our own comfort zones and into the world of unbelievers…..and here in vs. 11&14 we find our motives to be both “the fear of the Lord” and “the love of Christ”, terms that at first look contradictory but actually marry so well!  🙂  

    1. Thanks for sharing this Jackie.   I had the first thought initially too, when I read about being incarnational…..and I thought too….’but how can I question John Stott??! ‘   I’m glad you shared a link and some thoughts for clarity.  I’ve just never heard the word used in any other way but ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ and that portion of John 1 is one of my top ten most moving scripture passages, so I don’t think I could expand my own use of the term either.   But I do appreciate hearing more and understanding more of what Stott is saying.  Whew.  So much to learn.  So little time!   🙂     
      YOU are thinking awfully hard on your BIRTHDAY!!!  (no surprise there but I hope you have lots of refreshment and relaxation too!!  

  22. 3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.   Love this passage.  It started running through my mind last night when I glanced ahead.  Great opportunity to refresh memory.
            A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?   Whoa, I decided to look this up rather than just spit it out.  I obviously didn’t memorize this in the ESV.  ESV = “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…”  This implies more than individual mindsets;  this translation adds the community of believers, oneness in the MIND of Christ, to the picture. 
            B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?  Would it be weird to say that he gave up power and status? and maybe privilege and control?  He also gave up life itself.  He gave up royalty for servanthood; gave up glory to become humiliated.
            C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?  God not only “exalted” Him, but He “highly exalted” Him.  Because of the “every knee should bow,” I used to think of this passage as future tense.  But it looks to be inextricable from right now and having His mind among ourselves (hard to explain).
            D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?  aaagghhh, this question would have been easier if I had read the previous verses more superficially.  I’d be letting myself off the hook if I referred to giving up health or wealth.  What is hardest for me to give up is my PRIDE.  And this is true whether entering into a world of believers or nonbelievers (especially when people start flaunting degrees or knowledge that may or may not be too impressive; I usually keep my mouth shut, but inside I get competitive).  I guess my final answer is I have to give up equality. That kicks me in the gut, because even though I often don’t have equality in external circumstances, I sorta claim that “pedigree” inside.  To give up equality among people, I have to go back to SoS and know my identity in Jesus — or I’d self destruct.
     

  23. 3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
            A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5? That of Christ
            B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?  Equality with God (and all the benefits of that position)
            C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?  By giving Him a name above every name, at which every knee will one day bow.
            D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?  The ease of remaining in my own comfort zone.  The self-centeredness that bacons me to invest in pursuits of no eternal value, rather than in reading souls for Christ.
    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? The fear of the Lord and the love of Christ
           B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think? I do, but I think I must not have as much love of Christ as I need because if I did it seems like I would be more faithful in pursuing the lost.  Why not is a hard one….I’m not sure.  I have Him in me and I spend time in His Word daily and in prayer and yet clearly I don’t love Him as I should.  I need to pray more faithfully for Him to put that love of Him in my heart.  I frequently do, but not daily.
    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!  I struggle with this sometimes as well.  In fact, when others say, “don’t just become friends with them to bring them to Christ…”  I’m often thinking “why else would I???”  I mean, a non-Christian is never going to be one of my dearest confidants because the #1 most important thing in my life (my relationship with God) is not even in their lives at all, so I would never seek out a close friendship with them like the kind I have with other Believers with whom I share my heart (like here.)  I could be someone like that for them (and have been/am) but it is not mutual.  So, again, when it is stated that we don’t want the relationship with a non-Christian to look as though our only motive is for them to get saved… well, it kind of is my only motive!  I have been pondering this and wondering if maybe another motive should be just reaching out to them with a friendship, so that they can experience the love of Christ in this life, even if they never accept Him?  At least they will have had a glimpse of His love?  
       C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13? That he was “beside himself” for God.
           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?   Well, because my life is not supposed to be lived for me, but for Him who died on my behalf, so that I might live.  This is the hardest thing…putting me to death in order that Christ may truly, fully live in me.  

  24. So what honestly stood out was that the Beauty that you are ever felt “not pretty enough”. But oh, how I know that feeling. And I remember my own version of a similar story in college, trying to start a Bible study for those “out there” and ending up with just my sweet roommate and me. I do have a list of “failed” evangelism attempts.Maybe it made me gun-shy, a bit. In high school,I got my Ryrie Study Bible, and I wrote out all the tenets of Christian theology and gave it to the most blatant atheist in school. Not too effective. Newly married at 22, I tried a similar tactic on our Jewish older neighbor, this time with much more conversing back and forth, but no harvest.
    I did learn better “techniques” but still, I tend to live in a bubble. Dee might as well have put a big picture of ME in place of that rabbit! And yet, I have found Him luring me further and further out of my comfy hole lately. The light outside is warm and life-giving. 
     
    Loved the story of signing up for bridge. The key to me was that you said “I’m willing to enter in to your world, before I ask you to come into mine”. There was a gracious surrender, a giving up of your comfort, for the sake of respecting theirs. 
     
    What convicted me most: “To have what we have and keep it under a bushel is sin”
     
    I do think too, the more I see how desperately I need forgiveness every hour, the less judging I become, the more I realize I am not all that different than “them”. God’s just been “unfair in my favor” and I’ve been overflowed with grace. Enough to share. 

    1. I do think too, the more I see how desperately I need forgiveness every hour, the less judging I become, the more I realize I am not all that different than “them”. God’s just been “unfair in my favor” and I’ve been overflowed with grace. Enough to share. 
      Oh lizzy, how I love you! The older I get the less and less judgmental I become. When I was 20 I had all the answers. When I was in my thirties I thought I had things pretty much figured out and if everyone would just do things my way everything would be great ! and now in my forties with adult children and teenagers I realize I don’t have anything figured out other than that Jesus is all I really need to have figured out. My daughter is going to homecoming with a young man who has chosen a homosexual lifestyle. There was a time in my life that I would have completely flipped out about that. But now I realize that her being friends with him is the best testimony we can give.
      I’m afraid I have let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction. I feel very comfortable helping people who already know Jesus walk with him in freedom and grace, or encouraging young moms, or helping my friends who struggle with life….. but I feel very uncomfortable with sharing Jesus with unbelievers. I think I’m pretty good at the loving them part but I’m not very good at the sharing Jesus with them Part.

      1. oh Cyndi–I think the being “pretty good at the loving them part” IS “the sharing Jesus with them part”!  I am certain that any unbeliever in your path feels a love so non-judgmental and welcoming, it can only be planting multiple seeds that will one day reap a harvest. I really do believe that. You’re loving them. Just like Jesus. You inspire me!

        1. You’re very kind Lizzie. It’s been very long hard summer and a crazy fall. Honestly right now I can’t even imagine having the time to evangelize. I’m struggling to Just Breathe. It’s good to be reminded that this is a season and that if I live this season out with Jesus he will redeem it and give me an easier season….hopefully soon 🙂

  25. 3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
            A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?   I felt compelled by the earlier verses because they set the stage for having the mindset of Jesus….as Paul states how we are to interact with others in the church (the hard part)….’be of the same mind,  one in spirit and purpose, have humility, consider others better than yourself, do nothing selfishly….and that all comes from being united in Christ and finding encouragement there.  That’s what leads us to find tenderness, compassion and fellowship in the spirit.  And Paul says this is all what makes his joy complete.   Wow.  so much in the first four verses.  And after all that,  then….we are challenged to have the attitude that Jesus had……
            B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?  Even though he was truthfully equal to God always,  he gave up the manifestation of that equality; the honor, the notoriety, the prestige, the accolades….the royal treatment, the power….anything that would have/should have come with being God Himself.  And even more than that, he gave up the kind of life even a ‘normal’ human would/should have had.  He was hunted down, mocked, beaten, and executed as well as living a life with little source of human comfort or ease.  
            C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?  He raised him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above all other names….guaranteeing that one day every knee would bow to him and every tongue would confess that HE IS LORD and that HE IS GOD.  
        

  26.    D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?     Oddly enough,  I’m going through some of this right now.  And I say ‘oddly’ because it’s not all that often that I feel like I could relate to actually doing something that asks something of me.  I usually just feel guilty for not doing enough.  But right now, we have a ‘homeless’ man living with us. .  He’s not homeless in the sense of being destitute and he tries to be absolutely as non invasive as possible…usually just sleeps here and is gone all day,  but he just left a terrible relationship and living situation (which was abusive and he should not have stayed so long.  My husband has been mentoring him for quite awhile)  and he put all of his stuff in storage…..parked a couple of vehicles in our yard, and has been staying with us for 3 weeks….but as of 4 days ago is out of state on a job, where his boss pays for housing.  So he has work…but it’s not always consistent.   So what have I given up?  Well…..privacy to some degree.  And predictability….to be sure.  And a room of our house, which I was ready to use for another purpose.  There’s really two stories here because we’ve had family staying with us too….so we really don’t have any rooms left.   My emotions about this have been all over the map.  It’s caused stress and I’d say that was mostly about the timing.  We had an unusually busy summer but also one where I have felt I have given and given and the week he moved in, was truly the first week, I was ready to get back to the predictable, quiet lifestyle that I love!  So……I know that I have found this challenging.  I get my mind all resolved.  And it goes well for awhile and then I get anxious and have all kinds of worries and fears….like  “Is there going to be an end to this?”  ….”how is he ever going to find housing?”  (He’s been trying, but it hasn’t gone well nor fast….and he works out of state at sporadic times, so he can’t stay consistently on task of searching)  and  ‘he can’t be here still when the holiday season comes”…….and a lot more.   On the flip side, he was all set to go to our ALPHA group which I really think would be good…..but then he got called to this out of state job.  He may be able to join us from time to time.     
     
    And there’s another thing happening at our home tomorrow night that pushed me way out of my comfort zone too, for the sake of being open to a lot of people who are not in ‘my personal circle’ but connected to a family member.  (not spelling this out purposely….but we are hosting a large event on our property and that kind of stuff always stresses me more than many)  That too came at a hard time.  We are going with close friends for a 3 day get away in 2 days and I have so much to do to get ready and then ‘bam’…..I feel compelled to provide space for this event.   
    Giving up my privacy, my comfort, my ‘space’ for things that aren’t of my choosing are almost always the things that stress me most. If I make the decision…..’Let’s host a foreign exchange student” for example….I fly into high gear and am ready to leave my privacy and comfort behind.  But if someone approaches me and the details just aren’t predictable or the timing is hard, I stress.  A lot. And I end up saying stuff I wish I hadn’t.    And I don’t want to be like this.  But I feel like it is hard wired into me to worry about a ton of details when random people are coming to my home/yard/space.  (fairly small house, dirt road….so there is always, always lots of dust and I can’t win that battle,  clutter is inevitable with both my husband and I though he is oblivious to a lot of the ‘messy’ things that drive me crazy….and on and on. It just never seems good enough to me and I somehow seem to feel ‘justified’ in my worry.)  
     
     So ironically, right now…..I am involved in a few situations of giving things up.  But I am honestly struggling with having consistently ‘the attitude of Christ Jesus’.   In spurts, I feel I am trusting and giving it to Him…..and then I grab it all back again and selfishness rears it’s ugly head once more.  🙁  
    OK….that was a long answer.  Getting back to short responses for the rest!  

    1. Wanda, in the time you’ve been on the blog, I do see a pattern – you are consistently giving of yourself to others. I read about all of your serving/giving and I feel worn-out! Praying that your “event” goes smoothly at your home!

    2. Wanda – I’m just so delighted and excited to read your entry here this morning!!  You have painted a PERFECT picture of the kind of poured out, giving, sacrificial life that the Lord calls us to!  I felt like I was standing right in your shoes when you said “I was ready to get back to the predictable, quiet lifestyle I love!”. ….oh my friend….upon turning 60 yesterday I surely have been reflecting on life in so many ways….somehow I really did have the fantasy when I was younger that these years would be just exactly what your words said ….predictable, quiet…now WHERE did I ever get that notion???  🙂    Oh, how I laughed when you spoke about your fairly small house, dirt road, dust and clutter!!  My house is small and we have a gravel driveway…..out in the middle of acres and acres of fields….WINDY….yes, DUST!!  AND dog hair!!  🙂  As for what you call “clutter”?  I have to say that you post a lot of photos on FB….and often we can see the rooms of your home in the background of course….and ALWAYS I feel this nostalgic “pull”.  The first word that always comes to mind is “homey”.  Truly, what can be better than a homey home???  🙂  And oh – your flowers and trees and plants!  The Lord has surely placed you RIGHT where He wants you to be…..and my heart sings to see you gathering others in to share His warmth.  What stands out to me though….the Lord’s faithfulness in your life to keep you growing!  He doesn’t let you stagnate, but keeps on molding and shaping….and as you have said…..you have seen His winds of the Spirit blowing more and more along the way!  Amen.  

      1. I often think of Corrie Ten Boom and her life well into her years on this earth. I too want to be a Tramp for the Lord with the word retirement not being in my vocabulary. We have Heaven to look forward to for eternity.

        1. AMEN LIZ!!  

        2. Liz.…..words from and about Corrie always find a place in my heart..  (We named our oldest daughter after her.)   Always challenging and convicting to hear her words when you know what lies behind them.  Thanks for that good reminder. 
          and Jackie…..I chuckled when I read your thoughts about turning 60 and thinking life would be quiet and predictable.  I was saying those exact things mid-50’s……and now it seems that they will keep repeating!         (As you know, I’m just a year behind you)  🙂   I think I caught the biggest glimpse of this when a seasoned grandmother shared with me her serious concerns over her grandson…..who is the same age as my younger son.   They had been friends in childhood but his family had moved away and they were now teens and I was asking how he was doing.   It was a landmark moment for me to realize that we never find that ‘easy sailing’ spot, free from concern for our loved ones.  We just find peace in the midst of it.  

      2. Jackie…..once again you have gone above and beyond to encourage.  Thank you so much.  Your words and Susan’s   are buoying me as I begin my day.  
        I can’t wait to share more about the ‘winds of change’ because it is nothing less that God’s stirring in the hearts of ones I hold dearest.  Even this morning, I heard something else that confirms He is moving!  
         
        That is what I need to truly focus on and let it really compel and humble me.   

  27. 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? 
     
    The fear of God and the love of Christ should be our motivation.
     
           B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think? 
     
    Well, if the bible says I need to do this then I suppose I should, right? The verses also say I will be judged accordingly (Verse 10).
     
    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!
     
    Regarding this thought…..I don’t always “like” my students, but I do think they deserve to know Jesus, so I try to show Him to them at all costs. 

  28.        C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?
     
    Basically, it says they (we) do it for God. We are to use them as an example when evangelizing to those who are concerned with the outward and not the inward appearance.
     
           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?
     
    He died for us! Not sure about how to “use.” Need to think about this. It could definitely be awkward.
     

    1. I will admit that I had to look up the word incarnational, and appreciated Jackie’s thoughts above. I suppose I would agree that it should be reserved for Christ, however I can see how it could be used for us too; spreading the Word of God, as Christ did, by using our physical bodies to move from person to person specifically to talk about Him. Still trying to envision how I could use this in a discussion.

  29. 3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
            A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5? His mindset which is ours in Christ Jesus. His mindset is not of pomp and pride but of humility, confidence in God, and LOVE.
     
            B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?
    He emptied himself. He became human. He gave up his splendor-for he could have come down in all his splendor but He put on flesh. While He was God He was human too. 
     
        C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?
    God highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him the name above all names so that every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord-every one on Earth, below Earth, in heaven.
           
    D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?
    Firstly, my pride! I think as I rest more in His love He helps me to die to myself and love others. It helps to remember 1 Corinthians 2:1-16. 🙂 For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. GLORY!  I also love how Paul opens it: And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
     
    My time is HIS and He will shape my encounters with unbelievers. This helps me to remember HE opens hearts and eyes as He did me. He will open the eyes and hearts of those I encounter but I need to make time for them and conversations. I can’t expect them to rip off their blinders and understand for I didn’t until He opened mine-only He can do that. I had nothing to do with Him rescuing me. He helps me to Love for He has made me confident of His Love for He pursued me in my ignorance, my foolishness, my blindness and breathed His life into me-He gave me LIFE and wrapped me in His righteousness. He still pursues me in my folly and pride to shape me! I deserve Hell-truly I see only glimpses of my wicked heart and He sees it all yet loves me.  I don’t deserve Him but He has given me His righteousness. We/I shake my head at unbelievers because I forget that I too was once blind, but He didn’t shake his head at us-no, for while we were yet sinners CHRIST died for us. I’m so glad!

    1. Rebecca, don’t we need to be constantly reminded of our condition before we came to Jesus! I once have the privilege to hear Joe Stowell speak, and he said how we are when we come to the Cross – naked, exposed, poor. All of those “blue ribbons” we held onto we realized were worthless. Then, very subtly, we begin to paste those blue ribbons of our accomplishments back on, and then we look down on others. How soon we forget our true condition.

      1. Susan-I LOVE THIS….LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. Yes, naked, exposed poor..then we paste the blue ribbons back on and we look down on others and forget our true condition..oh this is so good. 

      2. Susan this is so good. I find the more I share my testimony the less chance I have of putting that blue ribbon on:) perhaps that is why we are meant to be sharing!!!!Perhaps others may not have a past as sinful as mine but we all have something we can share. I want to humble myself to lift Him up.

      3. Agreeing with the others, Susan.  This is a visual that sticks.  Thanks for sharing.  

        1. Wanda, I used to listen to Joe Stowell on his radio program, “Proclaim”, and always loved his messages. I remember that day, many years ago, going to church and it was a surprise that he was there and he gave the message that day. He is so good at making practical applications from God’s Word to real life. I have never forgotten that metaphor he used.

      4. Susan, your Joe Stowell story reminds me of Max Lucado’s children’s story of the Wimmicks and the stickers. The story is called “You Are Special”.
         
        Basically, these little wooden characters (somewhat like Pinnochio) get obsessed with giving each other stickers. They gave star stickers for good deeds or good looks or other things, but they also gave gray dot stickers for those with rough wood or chipped paint and they look downed their noses at them.  God loves us without the stickers and wants our true self to shine. All that matters is what God think and He thinks we are special. 
         
        Here is a little quote by the maker to the main character: “The stickers only stick if you let them. The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.”

        1. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THAT CHILDREN’S BOOK!!!!  Have it myself and have bought tones of copies for others!! 😀

        2. 🙂 I LOVE your caps, Mary e. Such enthusiasm makes me smile! It is a REALLY GOOD book!!

        3. Diane, I remember Mary and a few others here sharing about that book a while back. This summer, my 16 year old daughter and I went on a little overnight trip together, to mark a special occasion, and I got her that book and we read it together. I agree, it’s a wonderful story! I love all of his books!

        4. I have a friend who gave me that book and a bunch of star and Dot stickers. She was calling me on the fact that I am such a people pleaser and was looking for stars. It is a wonderful reminder to me that I need to go to my loving amazing creator for my self-worth and not to the opinions of others.

    2. Lately,  what has been sticking with me is Jesus encounter with the woman at the well. I don’t know why but it is sticking with me. I can’t shake it. keller is so right when he talks about traveling from your head to your affections in response to Him.  I think that is what He is doing in me with this passage. It is like that passage reinforced The Song of Songs-the highest song!  that He knows everything about me-every sinful and awful thought- yet loves me to the moon and through my many trials right now is crafting my fruit in the vineyard to bloom a beautiful fragrance..I surely don’t see His beauty in me yet for I have BIG weeds to pull and that is sticky and painful with each trial in my life- that is how I feel right now so what timing He has in opening my eyes to a deeper layer in His encounter with the woman at the well. Nothing better than trusting His love for me and tasting it while at the same time enduring Him peeling off more scales. 

      1. correction: not my fruit but HIS. 😉  

  30. 3. Read Philippians 2:5-11
     
    A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?
     
    We are to have the mindset, or attitude, of Jesus. I have found that my attitude, or mindset, can be harder to control or change than my outward behavior. I can be doing the right thing, the things that win the approval of others, but inside my attitude is lousy!
     
    B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?
     
    Jesus is God and has always existed, being in nature and very essence of His being, God. It’s almost like He was the vastness of the ocean and became a single drop confined in a small pail. He gave up His equal status as part of the Trinity and placed Himself under the authority of the Father and He gave up all of His privileges as God. He gave up being the King of Kings to become a humble servant of all.
     
    C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?
     
    God exalted Jesus, giving Him the highest place of honor and made it that His name is the name above every name. Every knee shall bow before King Jesus one day and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.
     
    D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?
     
    Wow, it’s a long list: my pride and my being judgmental, and that can be ever so subtle as I can pride myself that I am NOT judgmental of unbelievers and their lifestyles. My unforgiving spirit and keeping my distance from an unbeliever who has hurt me; in other words, washing my hands of them and calling it by a nice name of keeping boundaries. Being inwardly critical of them. My selfishness and self-centeredness. My time. My comfort. My need to talk so that I can listen. My wanting to be served instead of serving. My need for approval.

  31. 4B.   Do you have these motives?  (the fear of the Lord and the love of Christ).  
     
    Motives.  Oh boy.  These words from Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) were burned into my brain in my youth:  “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”.  And yet….I believe down to my toes that there is a NEW heart,  a NEW spirit God himself has put within me (Ezekiel 36:26).  And then there’s Romans 7, where Paul at the end of the chapter talks about the great conflict within himself between serving the law of God and the law of sin…..ugh.  And then there is 1 Corinthians 3 10-14 about the day revealing what sort of work I have done.  Some days I think that maybe MOST of my “work” will be burned up in that day….for I OFTEN have mixed motives and heart resistance to His call on my life.  Then again, He calls me to repentance and I continue on obeying joyfully and with love in my heart for Him.  ??  I am a mixed bag.  But I do love Him.  I do fear Him.  And I am learning, fitful step by fitful step, to trust HIM with my heart, my motives, my walk.  I lean on this:  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Phil. 1:6).  

    1. Oh, Jackie, what a way you describe about your motives. And how well I relate to that.
      The heart is deceitful…Yes, but He is at work and the work He has begun will be brought to completion! Praise God.
      I know that battle and am desiring to have more of him and less of me. It must be fought daily.

    2. “I lean on this:  “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Phil. 1:6).  ”
      Oh Jackie, me to!!!!!  I love that verse and my hope is in the Lord because there is nothing in me that can conjure this stuff (love, good works) up!  He still has a lot of completing to do in me.  I’m resting in His capable hands.
      Love this song, sung by Steve Green, about that very verse! 
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oGxnVvx2AQ

        1. Thanks for the reminder to keep lifting Mary in prayer. I do not have Facebook to know of any updates. So glad to see you here Mary. You are an inspiration.

  32. 2. What part did love play in bringing you to Jesus?
    First was the love of Jesus! I learned the song, Jesus Loves Me, and fell in love as a small child. My earthly daddy was taken from me at 9 months of age so I never had a memory of him except from the stories. I longed for the love of my heavenly Daddy..
    Then there was the love of my mother who loved Jesus. Also I had a Sunday School teacher who showed me his love.
    Especially important was the love of a co-worker. As a young adult I became rebellious and went my own way and that drifting became very dangerous. When I had left my marriage and was far from home with 2 young daughters, my wonderful friend, Meda, invited me to church, picked us up and was a mentor as I turned back to my first love of Jesus.
    Love is the key!

    1. Shirley how hard that must have been not knowing your father. What an opportunity to long for your heavenly daddy. Thanks for sharing:)

    2. Oh Shirley, just reading this….how hard it must’ve been to not have known your earthly dad! And, if you’ve ever listened to Charles Stanley (pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA) he has shared so poignantly in many of his messages about just the same thing. His father died when Charles was 9 months old, so he had no memory of his father.

  33. DEE just repeating a question I had earlier that got lost in the posts. Perfect love does cast out all fear. I am curious of what is was in your life that helped cast out your fear of losing control when your sister shared?

      1. That’s a great clarification…and we still fear loss of control at times, as we give up heart idols!  And we see His perfect love at work in that, casting out fear as we find Him more than worthy of our trust.

      2. I think often the one thing we’re more afraid of losing than control is being loved…. don’t you think love is the only thing that we desire more than control. And for many who have been hurt deeply control Trumps love because they can’t trust it.

        1. Yes I do!

        2. Cindy  I am so praying for someone I think was hurt deeply and the control is trumping the love because he cannot trust it. I think there are many out there.

      3. Dee thank you for sharing this it really helped me better understand. I will remember ” as the truth came to me the fear of not knowing Him became greater than the fear of  losing control” 
        I had my experience of someone loving me when I was first in Mary Kay. My director openly shared her faith and about Jesus at our meetings and she also demonstrated His love to me. At the same time I stared a daily devotional book for business women and at the end it had a read the Bible thru in a year. I loved the book so I decided to do this reading program and it was truly reading Gods Word  and his love for us me that changed my life while all at the same time other things were being orchestrated by others brought in my path watering and sowing. I stand in Awe of it all. 
        I do remember the resistance I first felt when she did some sharing at meetings as I was a “church goer” at the time. I share that often with people especially kids that I was brought up to go to church and went every week for most of my life but never had a relationship until I was 33.

  34. 3D.  What might I have to give up?  My comfort, ease, control.  I say it and I know it, but I don’t understand what that really looks like.
     
    4b.  My motives- I am like Karen, not having a wealth of energy.  I feel I have to plan somewhat.  While I can try and go with interruptions, I can’t plan to pursue a lot of things with unbelievers, seems like it would be too much in terms of my marriage and commitment to work and church.  That sounds so self seeking and shallow.  Argh.  If I really wanted to, I’d find a way.
    c.  Paul’s critics.  Life Application Bible notes say false teachers are more concerned about themselves than Christ, and should be avoided.  Ouch.
    d.  How does this apply?   I should spend my life pleasing Jesus.  Is evangelism the only thing that pleases Him?  Is there no other way to bring Him pleasure?
     
     

  35.  5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
            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? That from now on we should not recognize anyone according to the flesh (the amplified translation says “by the world’s standards”)
            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!  The Spirit of Christ changes everything, awakening us to real life, rather than the counterfeit one, offered by the enemy, in the flesh.  It is so hard to see a dramatic difference in the life of a person who was saved at age 5 (as I was) but my mom said she noticed that I immediately had so much compassion for others, would come home from school crying because of seeing another kid being picked on, and my Spiritual gift (the one which comes out the highest on tests) is mercy/compassion.  But I think the “making all things new” is also a process.  Changes happen immediately at salvation, but also on-gonig changing takes place over the course of your life in Christ.  There is always more of self to die to, more awakening to real life.  I get sickened and saddened by how much self there still is in me, honestly.  Paul, of course, still struggled with sin on a daily basis as well, talking in Roman’s 7: 19-21 about his ongoing struggle of not doing the good he wishes to do, and instead doing the very thing he does not want to do.  But I guess I also see the “all things new” in that I can chose to live in a place of GRACE and REST.  I can chose to take a sabbath.  One line I loved from the movie The Insanity of God is, “Only those who are free can chose to take a sabbath.”  The person speaking was talking about the tremendous celebration that the Israelites had when they were able to observe their first Sabbath, after they were freed from enslavement to the Egyptians.  As salves, they did not have any rights, not even the right to take a Sabbath.  When you are free, you can chose to rest.  Non-Christians can’t experience that rest.  Jesus is our Sabbath rest.  (I’m not explaining it very well…you’ll have to get the movie! :D)  Tonight I’m trying to tell myself “stop analyzing everything in your life and just REST in His finished work!” 
                  C. What ministry has God entrusted to us according to verse 19?   The ministry of reconciliation.  We get to tell others how they can find REST, experiencing a restored relationship with God, not on the basis of human effort, but on the basis of His mercy!
            D. What mindset should we have when we love and share with unbelievers according to verse 20?  We should appeal to them as though God, Himself were making the appeal, that they be reconciled.  
            E. Explain the gospel message using verses 20-21.  God wanted a relationship with us so badly that He entered the world in human flesh, through His Son, Jesus, to make that relationship possible, by satisfying the punishment for sin (death) on our behalf.  We can find life (abundant and eternal) in Him, simply by accepting His payment for our sin (acknowledging we have sin, and accepting His gift to us, cancelled debt.)
     

    1. Mary, you have explained this so clearly. I did not see The Insanity of God, but I like what you have said about the sabbath.
      Letting go of the religion of works and accepting the grace of God is my (our) rest!

      1. I’m glad it made sense to someone, Shirley! =)

  36.  
    5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
            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?
     
    Wow! is all I can say…I think it means that we no longer care about our looks or our outside appearance; it’s all about the inside. This is such a revelation to me that I am really trying to injest it’s meaning fully. I’m going to “park” here for awhile I think.
     
    Since I am a dancer of 46 years now, body has been a huge part of my being. Dancers can’t be too fat or thin you see, or they can’t dance well, or don’t look appealing to the audience. I have struggled all my life with my body being what I thought it should be. Couple that with our ridiculous societal views of how women should look, and the recipe makes me loathe myself and want to be a woman of the Renaissance! I would SO fit in back then! I now solely dance in church, or church related places, that I feel my dance has actually matured over time; no longer am I the flitting ballerina, but I dance witn purpose; to explain the bible, show the love of Christ, to help others know God, etc. I have recently put on more weight (it’s been a rough year and I take medicine that helps me gain weight), after losing and being exactly what I wanted. Very discouraging. My dance partner says there are all body types and that I can convey the message no matter what size I am. I agree on the outside, but I am still feeling the same on the inside. So, this scripture enlightens me! People need to see my inside and they will see Christ. Hmmmmm….thinking hard about this.

    1. Laura – this is such a beautiful entry, I really cannot even find words.  When you say “I am really trying to injest it’s meaning fully.” I immediately thought of Scripture that speaks of this process!  Jeremiah 15;16 for instance:  “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”  And, oh, when you say: “I dance with purpose; to explain the Bible, show the love of Christ, to help others know God…”  He has given you an evangelistic heart dear Laura!!  Joy, joy!!

    2. Laura, I think you’ve experienced what Tim Keller said in one of his messages, that a verse became “radioactive” to you! I do believe that we women are affected to one degree or another by what the world says about true beauty. It’s all around us and hard to escape. And it’s all so deceptive. I still remember you leading us in Ashland….I could watch your moves and copy them, but you were “dancing with purpose; to explain the bible, show the love of Christ, to help others know God….” It flowed from the inside of you.

    3. Laura I had the honor of coming to your church and watching you dance and you certainly do dance with purpose for Him. Nothing more beautiful than that. I also feel the more He becomes real inside of us the more that comes out regardless of our outer appearance. You are beautiful inside and out. I knew a girl who danced ballet in NYC and the need for having to be thin did a number on her. The Lord can bring healing as our identity in Him is what matters and not what the world says it should be.
       

  37. 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?
     
    Our motive should be “a solemn fear of the Lord” (Living Bible) and it should not be for our own benefit, to make ourselves look good, but to bring glory to Him and because we are controlled by the love of Jesus.
     
    B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?
     
    I really resonate with Jackie’s answer to this one! My motives….all over the place. As a new Christian, I thought I had all the right answers and would argue….oh. That surely doesn’t line up with Paul’s motives. If I don’t have these motives I think it is because of self-righteousness and pride. And wanting the approval of others. It doesn’t work if I’m just trying to paste on what I’m supposed to be doing. In other words, trying so hard to bear the fruit but not focusing primarily on my relationship with Him, getting filled-up with His love for me so that it naturally overflows to others.

  38. I was just struck with the insight I found in the answer to these following  2 questions. Dee, you have a way of asking intuitively that cuts to the core. The Holy Spirit’s nudges.
    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?
                                    Fear of the Lord and love of Christ 
           B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?
     
                                    My motives can be skewed because rather than the above motive, I have these: fear of man and love of self. I need to share Christ from a position of already being loved by Him instead of a position of obligation and legalism.

  39. 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?
    Our reverence and awe of Him..His Love controls us for He didn’t die just for me but for all.
     
           B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?
    They are there deep inside by His Spirit but my flesh can get in the way and it is because of my idolatry which makes me forget. What helps is for me to ask myself why this person is getting on my nerves-why don’t I like them and how do I really see them and why? Most often the answers expose my dark heart.
    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! I Do feel the same way-often! It isn’t just my neighbors but others I know. There is one in particular that I really need to get on my knees for and not necessarily her heart but mine toward her!
           C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?
    That his hope is that they will boast about his heart (he uses the word “us” ) for if we are zealous it is for God and if we Love it is Him for His love controls us.
           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?
    15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 
    Wow..this is challenging and something I haven’t seen before. This could apply to me right now in dying to myself living for Him. For my sake He died and was raised. His Love compells me to die to myself like I mentioned above in regard to me not liking some of the people God has put around me..for my sake He died and was raised and I died with Him and was raised a new creation. He put His Holy Spirit in me..and so GLORY He will empower me to die to myself for others and so I am praying He would help me this morning-today to die to myself for my life is not my own-I have been bought with a price-and that price-oh.
     

  40. Well, here’s an update:  I’m still stuck on the Phil. passage, especially the part about the collective you; i.e., have the mind of Christ Jesus among yourselves.  I’ve been pondering (or more accurately, the topic has been flitting in and out of my mind) how the attitude of humility among believers impacts evangelism.  The passage seems to emphasize the relational nature of evangelism, through interactions within as well as outside of the Church.  I had been used to thinking about this from an individualistic perspective — so I talked with someone about it, though not for very long.  Mostly, he just emphasized how our individualistic culture has impacted our reading of Scripture.

     My biggest challenge is that when I am tired or sick, I prefer being alone; it takes extra energy to be around people and even accepting invitations has been challenging.  WELL, this past week, I INITIATED social interactions twice, once was simply a group of people walking to an event on campus for a couple of hours.  The other was something that lasted over a day and involved a little more “real” conversation.  Now I am exhausted! And I’d like to crawl back into my cave and sleep.  But it has been good to get a taste of taking those basic steps to strengthen relationships.  It has been a good reminder that I am comfortable reaching out, and this helps me better know how to pray and be sensitive to others around me.  For me, the hard part is being more explicit in sharing Christ.

    1. Renee – I LOVE your Philippians pondering and feel like you are “seeing” something there that is crucial.  That whole “collective you” thing is something the Lord has been drilling down deep into my life over the past few years – but I had not quite looked at the evangelism piece that you are bringing before us.  You speak of “humility among believers” and humility has been a recurring theme in my prayers for those I am in company with in the church, in my small group, Bible studies, etc.  I am just so excited to read your words here!!!  Years ago we used the word synergy a lot.  It began to lose it’s potency for sure.  Still, synergy defines to me what the Holy Spirit does between believers as we study the Word, pray through it and share together!!  There is just such LIFE in the body of Christ!!!

      1. Synergy! Yes 🙂

    2. Renee I am excited about your steps to initiate reaching out. I so pray the Lord will bless you back and that the time you feel exhausted and the need to crawl back in the cave would even go away. I pray a fresh wind and fresh fire in your spirit that will amaze You. You sacrificed for others. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!

      1. Renee I was thinking this morning. We actually do need to crawl away to be alone with our father after being out in the world. I know that is a necessary thing. I just cannot stay there. My prayer is that my alone time is pursuing Him more preparing me to go back out into the world.

        1. Liz, That’s a helpful way to put it.  Sometimes I am more beaten up and might need more time in the cave with my Father in order to be prepared to go back into the world.  

        2. Renee yes I apologize as sometimes I come out with things that are not helpful and I felt quickened on how I worded what I did the night before and I agree with Jackie Synergy!!!! We are all walking this out together.

  41.  3. Read Philippians 2:5-11.
     
            A. What mindset are we to have according to verse 5?
     
    We are to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.  Jesus’ mindset is one of love, compassion, understanding, humility, sacrifice, and service.
     
            B. What did Jesus give up in order to enter our world according to verses 6-8?
     
    He gave up any privileges connected with Him being the Son of God. He gave up Heaven (at least for awhile).   He gave up protection and became vulnerable (human).  Eventually it cost Him His life!
     
            C. How did God honor Him according to verses 9-11?
      
    God exalted Jesus to the highest place, and gave Him a name above every name.   
     
            D. What might you have to give up so you can enter into the world of unbelievers?
     
    I have to give up my time, my pampered lifestyle, perhaps some friends and family (if they do not understand).   Definitely have to give up my idols of comfort, control, and approval.  
     
    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?
     
    Our motive should be love for those who need to know Jesus, who are in need if His saving grace.   We should aim to empty ourselves for others in the way Christ emptied Himself for us. We should no longer be concerned with pleasing ourselves, but we should spend our lives pleasing Christ.    
     
           B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?
     
    Only sporadically!    Only when I can stay focused on Christ (which is not very often, I fear).When I forget for awhile about Jesus’ sacrifice for me and how much He loves me, then I forget my calling to love others.   I can be so distracted by my schedule and the activities of daily living that I convince myself that I “don’t have time right now” to spend loving those I am standing by now.   

    1. Deanna, your answer to 4.B. is very honest and convicting me, too. This is so true: “When I forget for awhile about Jesus’ sacrifice for me and how much He loves me, then I forget my calling to love others.” And, the part about “I don’t have time right now”….

    2. Yes, Deanna, I also am touched by your answers.
      How selfish I become with my time and my “pampered” lifestyle and the idols of comfort, control and approval…
       

  42. What must I give up to enter into a world of unbelievers? Well I am in the world of unbelievers full throttle every day in my work in real estate. But to take it one step further to enter the world of unbelievers and to be sharing Jesus I need to let go of my pride, my concern of my reputation which I am SO SICK of trying to protect my reputation. It all stems back to pride. I have made incredible growth and as I had shared earlier the more I humble myself and let go of the pride the happier I am becoming. I also have to let go of selfish ambition. The more I see that much of this is spiritual warfare the more I am ready to ask the Lord to help me win these battles. 

    1. I came up with one more ( probably many more) thing I need to give up and that is my tendency to be impatient. LOVE is PATIENT. 

  43. 5. 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 specific
     
    Anyone in Christ is a ” new creation.” I am so much better than I used to be in so many ways. I am not perfect; I still struggle with showing my husband the love he desires, however, I stop and think before I act now; will I hurt this person with my words? Would God have me do this or be that?  I give more grace.  I think I am starting to resemble my mother to a certain extent in  some ways.  She was lovely, and probably the most Christian woman I’ve ever known. I pray, a lot!  I feel like I have an open dialogue with Jesus all day long. 
     
     
     
    C. What ministry has God entrusted to us according to verse 19? 
     
     We are to spread the message of reconciliation. I looked up the word and it said to bring harmony, peace to others. Reading the amplified bible, we bring others into harmony with Him.
     

  44. C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?
     
    About being zealous, Paul says that if he acts crazy, it is for the sake of God. I think he’s saying that he doesn’t care about getting man’s approval, but he will do anything and go to any lengths for God. He says that some take pride in what is seen, instead of taking pride in what is in a person’s heart. I admit I’m having trouble understanding this passage. I read on down to verse 16, which says, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” I think his message for them is that they will see people through a different set of eyes? For example, there was a time when Jesus was regarded from a worldly standpoint: where is He from, who are His parents, what is his background, his status, where did He get all of His knowledge and wisdom from when He’s just a common son of a carpenter….
    In the same way, Paul just wants the people to hear his heart, his message, his being an ambassador for Jesus, instead of looking at him and scrutinizing him by the world’s standards.
     
     

  45. 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!
     
    Of course, Karen is not alone in her feelings of not always loving her neighbors.  Last winter  my next-door neighbor whom I was very close to moved away and new neighbors moved in.  Soon they put up a fence because they have a little Yorkshire.  When the fence was up, I looked over there and gasped – our air-conditioner condenser was fenced into their yard, as was our external faucet – and I couldn’t get to our office window to wash it on the outside.   At first I thought they had made a terrible mistake with the location of the fence, and I wasn’t pleased to say the least :). However, soon it became evident that our builder had made a big mistake in placing all of those items.   The problem was neither our new neighbors’ fault nor ours.   Unfortunately the builder was not willing to own his mistake, and that left us to settle all of these issues ourselves. We had the condenser and the faucet moved.  Our neighbor promises to give us a legal easement concerning being able to come over and wash the window or have maintenance done on that side of the house.  I will be honest:    I wasn’t very concerned for my neighbors’ souls during this period 🙂   However, now I am.  The husband works 12 hours a day 7 days a week  – no chance to attend worship.   He had surgery recently and has been off work for six weeks, and his wife’s mother is in critical condition.    So now I find myself loving them and concerned for them.   
     
           C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?
     
    Evidently Paul had been accused of being “out of his mind.”    He says that if that is true, he is out of his mind for God.    He also warns of those who judge by outward appearance, when what is important is the condition of the heart.  His accusers were concerned about things of this world, but Paul and his companions were concerned about things of heaven.   
     
           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?
     
    Paul knew that Jesus, out of His great love, had sacrificed His life for their sakes.  Jesus had not acted out of his own self-interest, but Jesus had died for all.   Paul felt that the love of Jesus “compels” him to preach and share the gospel.    Yes, this is a huge reminder to all of us that we too should be compelled to share the gospel because of the love of Jesus and how we are filled with that love.  
     

    1. Deanna, how well this situation has been handled with your neighbors. I remember your sharing about this and now you have a way to show your love for them as they are dealing with these issues.
      I am always amazed how God has brought people into my life as neighbors and sometimes I can be  Christ’s ambassador, though not always…

    2. Deanna – like Shirley, I too remember when you first told of this quandary several months ago….so sweet to hear of how thorny issues have come to a resolution.  And that you are experiencing a growing love for your neighbors in their troubles.  I love your honesty about your neighbors’ souls not being your top issue initially!  Yet even if that WOULD have been at the forefront of your mind, the fence issue still would have had to be addressed!  And so here we all are…..Dee pressing us to keep our eyes wide open and ask the Lord to help us see the fields of need in our lives.  Even though you might have felt slow to wake to it, undoubtedly the Lord was preparing you to be a neighbor who loves in the hard times through the foundation of working through a troublesome situation.  🙂  I chuckle to think of God’s creativity in allowing that fence to be built where it was in the first place!!  It’s a delightful story ….that isn’t finished yet~!

  46. 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?
    v. 11 fear of God, v 14. love of Christ, and another one in v 18:  God gave us the ministry of reconciliation
     
     B. Do you have these motives? If not, why not, do you think?   Sometimes, definitely not always.  I think I do get the sense of duty.  v. 14:  “For the love of Christ controls us” — I think this is bigger than “go out and love people.” The love of Christ compels me when and because I “get” and accept his love for me, when I let Him break through the barriers and defenses and love me, when he gets into those areas of shame and restores me. That is, I can’t be compelled by His love to love others unless I am knowing the breadth and depth of His love in the present. This is so much more than once upon a time, past tense thing; it’s a continuous ongoing, love relationship with Jesus. That’s when I am compelled.
     
    C. Paul was criticized for his appearance and for being too zealous. What did he say about this in verses 12 and 13?  Those verses are challenging! Paul seems to be saying that he’s really not crazy, but that what might seems crazy is due to passion/love for God, and when he makes sense, it is because he loves the Corinthians and really wants them to understand.
     
    D. Verse 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?  
    it’s clear motivation.  Recognizing the extent of his love for me motivates me to give up (whatever) to live for him, introduce others to Him.  V. 17 affirms that it’s not a matter of deciding to act differently; it’s living out who He has made me, the transformation He has done in me.  Ok, I guess I am jumping ahead 🙂   I need to look at all these verses at once because it is too intimidating to think of deciding to give up everything as Jesus did

    1. Renee,
      Your answer to B really resonstes with  me.  It is a continuous and ongoing, daily, hourly depending on Him to continue His work  in me.   We are works in process. Clay in his hands….

  47. 5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
     
            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?
     
    Paul says that he no longer regards anyone from a worldly point of view, but instead tries to see them as a new creation in Christ.   
     
            B.  What does the Spirit of Christ do for those who receive Him, according to verse 17?  
     
    The Holy Spirit makes us into a new creation.    I like the description my Life Application Bible gives:  “We are not reformed, rehabilitated, or reeducated – we are re-created, living in vital union with Christ.”     
     
     How has He made you a new creation — share a couple of specifics!
     
    I’m not sure I can tell you that this began immediately upon my baptism, but sometime I entered into a relationship with Christ, so that I go around talking with Him off and on all day.  I do find myself thinking at times “Wonder what the Lord thinks about that?” (particularly current events, like right now with the election going on)   I really do long to see things from His perspective.   
     
     
     
          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!
     
    I have never personally been involved in war, but I can imagine how it would bear upon one’s mind and conscience.   How wonderful it must be then to experience the freedom of becoming a new creation in Christ!
     
            C. What ministry has God entrusted to us according to verse 19?
     
    He has committed us with the message of reconciliation (of people to God through Christ’s sacrifice) and we are empowered to be His ambassadors.
     
            D. What mindset should we have when we love and share with unbelievers according to verse 20?
     
    We should have the mindset of God working through us, that we are merely relaying to others God’s message concerning the gospel of Christ.  
     
            E. Explain the gospel message using verses 20-21.
     
    God had made Christ to have no sin, but he took on our sins, so we could become righteous through Him.   We have been reconciled to God through Christ’s sacrifice.  The gospel message is to implore others to also accept this same reconciliation and righteousness.  

  48. 5a.  Quit looking at people from the worlds perspective, but choose to see them as God does.  I’ve had this at work, with a really difficult patient no one wants to deal with, and suddenly realizing ‘this is a lost lamb that Jesus died for’.
    b.  How has the Spirit made me new?  The first thing He did was give me an assurance of His love, where previously I had none.  Then over time, He healed the mental and emotional fractures in me that led me to be suicidal.
    c.  God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation and restoring the world to Himself.  So many times my motive for wanting reconciliation is to then have freedom from consequences.  And for me it also means trying to please Him in ways that I am comfortable with. Sigh.
     
    6.  Becky Pippert – God is relational, both radically loving and radically different  Re-discover the irresistible Jesus, who doesn’t run away from those who suffer with addictions and disorders, but leads people to the God who heals and saves.
     
    7.  Take away- I have a dual sense of excitement and discouragement.  When my kids were little, I would try so hard to be a good Mom and play with them.  But I was like a dyslexic being told to read War and Peace.  I just couldn’t do it.  This is still my reaction to being told to evangelize.  That is why my cry in an earlier post.  Yet I want to love unbelievers and share my faith with them.  I guess today my discouragement is winning out.  When I proof read this entry, I see that perhaps the Lord uses me in a different way, but I do want so much to be able to enter the world most of you seem to be in.

    1. Mary – when you speak of dealing with a difficult patient and seeing them as a lost lamb that Jesus died for….well, that is HUGE.  In that I see the very compassion of Christ and seeing a wounded soul with His eyes rather than an obstacle to be overcome.  Precious.  

  49. 6. Notes and comments?
    I took down several notes, but will share one thing that resonated with what my approach has mostly been. She mentioned someone saying most college students (Christians) look for other Believers to connect with and that is who they hang out with, rather than reaching out to the lost (though it was said in a much more amusing way than how i’m stating it here.) That was exactly what my friends and I did in nursing school, to an extent, though we did care about the lost and when the lost sought us out, we welcomed them and share with them.  I’ve always felt like sharing the gospel should somehow just come out of natural relationships, not contrived and yet if I do not live with intentionality with regard to pursuing the lost, I am afraid a large harvest may be missed.  It’s not that those whose names are recorded in the book of life won’t eventually get saved anyway, but I’ll miss out on being part of that process, and that is a privilege.  This is why this current blog study is exactly what I have been praying for!  Learning a technique for connecting with the lost that I have never picked up on.  I figured it should all just be natural ability that God gives you, but now I’m thinking it is partly that and partly a learned skill for how to connect with people where they are, inquiring about their passions, what makes them tick, and then the God conversation does come more naturally.  Perhaps for some people it is an ability they are “born with” at conversion, but for most of us it probably involves some learned skills.

  50. 7.  Take away
    Reaching the lost does not always happen “naturally” it requires an intentional pursuit.  At the same time, the pursuit should not just be a contrived situation in which the only goal is to “get them saved” because even if they never accept Him, we can be the vessel through which they may at least get a glimpse of His love.

    1. oh Mary!  my take away from your take away :  the crucial difference between intentional pursuit and contrived situations!  Your distinction is extremely helpful to my thinking……and yes, being a vessel of His love….eyes wide open for those opportune moments!  

    2. Mary E.,
      Amen to your take-away.