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Intimacy with God

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  1. Intimacy with God
  2. Community with Insiders
  3. Influence with Outsiders

                                                     

3 Things We Must Do:

            Choose between trying to keep people and trying to reach people.

            Prioritize relevance over tradition.

            Celebrate Changed Lives.

Why Are We So Passionate About This?

  • We believe everybody will live forever somewhere.
  • We believe Jesus made an exclusive claim that that the only way to God/Heaven is through Him.
  • We believe that God will honor your freedom.  He will not force you.
  • So we believe we should do everything we can to persuade you to give your life to Jesus, so you can have a relationship with God and spend forever in heaven.

"On Mission"
Mike Slaughter

Matthew 4:18-20
18: As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
19: "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
20: At once they left their nets and followed him.

  When you travel to Europe, you begin to see the symptoms of the hole in the world. Two weeks ago, we did a conference for German church leaders. Approximately two percent of people in Germany attend church. I am talking about the western world, not about the eastern world. What's happening in America that is mirroring Europe scares me. Church attendance here has decreased about ten percent in the last ten years.


Europe has many incredible cathedrals; we visited a few. You could spend a whole day in just one of these cathedrals. These massive cathedrals each could hold thousands of people and are all over Europe. They tend to be some of the largest structures in the city, in some of the largest cities in the world. Some are even a thousand years old or older. Yet today, in the average cathedral, there may be 30 people who gather on a weekend.
The failure has been the primary two economic systems, communism and capitalism, that have been dominant in the twentieth century. Both operate from the false premise that the path to meaning and the basis of reality are found through the material. Both communism and capitalism are wrong in their basic premise. The core of reality is spiritual. There is a hole in the world because those of us in the church have gone to sleep. Those of us in the church have failed to answer Jesus' call in our life.
The next two weeks we are going to seriously look at Jesus' call upon each of us to give our lives to serve God's mission. We are going to ask everyone in this community of believers to make a commitment to serve in one specific area for one full year. We will make that commitment by the end of next week.

Matthew 4:18-20
18: As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
19: "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
20: At once they left their nets and followed him.

Listen to the call of Jesus. Matthew 4:18-22: As he walked by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. (They were ordinary people, they weren't professional religious folk. They had regular jobs.) He said to them, follow me and I will make you fish for people. Immediately, they left their nets and followed him. (I love the word "immediately." They didn't say, "Maybe next year, we are busy right now.") As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately, they left their boat and their father and they followed Jesus.

I. God Wants Your Life Experience
God needs your life experience. There is a hole in the soul of the world. Everyone in this room has a particular life experience that God needs in order to win the world for his purpose. It's no accident that in this particular situation he was seeking people that understood the commerce of fishing. Fishing can be an incredibly frustrating experience. So many times we have gone on vacation to a lake and I have said, "Let's find the fishing tackle that we haven't had out in four or five years." I am excited about what a great fishing lake this is. Someone I know was there just last week and brought home a picture of a huge fish, but I can fish for half a day and not get one bite! If you think you can just go out and catch a fish you are in for a disappointment. There is an art to true fishing. I have been out with Bruce, who is a great fisherman. He can haul out three huge bass, and I don't even get a bite! There is a difference; he understands the art of fishing. There is a time of day to go fishing, even a certain temperature to go fishing. I called Bruce once and said, "Okay, Bruce. Jonathan is home and I have the night off. Let's go fishing." He said, "You can't go fishing tonight, it's 98 degrees!" Fish won't bite when it's 98 degrees. The water is too warm. Even more, it's about bait, lures, and knowing which to use when, clarity of the water and where to cast the line.
It is the same with attracting people. If you don't know what you are doing, you are going to chase people away. God calls people based on their life experience and individual gift mix. Everybody has a life experience and particular gift mix that God needs for the revolution of the Kingdom of God on planet Earth. Everyone! God called people in the Bible like David. He was chosen because of his experience as a shepherd. As a shepherd, he learned many things that he would need to lead God's people. He learned to be a warrior and an expert in the use of the sling as a weapon as he protected his sheep. He learned to be a leader. God needed his gift mix and his life experience. God chose Moses because of his education in Egyptian culture. Scripture says that Moses was instructed in all of the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds. He would be powerful in leading people in an Egyptian culture because he was educated in that system.
I just spent the last week-and-a-half in the Czech Republic with Tom and Elaine Sampley from our church. This is an amazing story. Tom and Elaine are 60 years old!! They sat in this congregation and heard the call of God in their lives. They got up and went for preparation and at age 54 left for the Czech Republic. At age 54 most people are thinking about something else, like polishing the boat. They didn't know the language; they had no support. They moved into an apartment in a village where no one knew them. They began to reach out through the "Common Grounds Coffee Shop" where they teach English. They have camps, music lessons and craft sessions. It is incredible what they have done in the last six years. Elaine has an incredible gift of artistic creativity. God has used her gift to create their beautiful little coffee shop. It is housed in an 1805 farmhouse. Everything in their little village is kind of gray and old - left over from the communist era which left most things virtually unchanged since Nazi Germany. Elaine has created a beautiful little spot on the square that is warm and colorful and draws people in. Tom, with all of his entrepreneurial spirit, has put together a very effective outreach through classes and activities. It is amazing that some of the largest churches in the Czech Republic have 30 people attending, yet Tom can get 200 atheists to go away on a family campout for a week to hear Christian teaching! He was a realtor from Tipp City, yet God needed the life experience they had to reach the Czech people.

II. God Wants Your Passion
Not only does God need your life experience, God needs your passion. What are you most passionate about? Think about it. What makes your heart sing? What could drag you out of bed at two o'clock in the morning? Most Christians I know are living disciplined lives. They get up every day, they are faithful, they go to work, they produce, they make the grade, but they are not passionate. Most Christian people I know are disciplined, but not passionate, and God needs your passion!
Last Friday after I finished my last lecture, a young Czech teenager by the name of Adam, who is 16 years old, came up to ask a question. He said, "Mike, all week long you have been talking to us about realizing our dreams and getting in touch with our passions. Little kids, when they are five, have all kinds of silly dreams, like being a cowboy or an astronaut. That is not really significant." I asked Adam, "What is your greatest passion?" He said, "I want to do something for God in my life." Now that is passion. Not just what you get up and do, but that which is going to live beyond you and makes a difference in the world.
Tom brings Christian bands over from America. They do secular music that the Czech people would have heard, but they also work in a few Christian songs and share their testimonies. Last week he had a "disco night" in the basement of an old Communist hotel, in a dance club the Communists built. We had been working all day. Tom started meetings at 7:15 that morning, and now it was after 11:00 at night. Tom and I were sitting in the back of the room at a table and he had a big smile on his face. He pulled a harmonica out of his pocket and started playing. I said, "What are you doing?" No one could hear him because the band was so loud. He said, "Oh, I bought four of these last year in different keys. At age 60 I should be able to play some kind of musical instrument." Here he is, this ordinary guy from Ginghamsburg Church, 60 years old, working all day and then pulling a harmonica out late at night at this dance club he has created for all of these atheists who are hearing the gospel. I said to him, "Tom, I can't believe it. You have a lot of friends sitting at home tonight and all they're thinking about is getting their boat polished for the weekend." God needs your passion! Here is what it all comes down to - Jesus can either be a part of your life, or Jesus can be your life. That is passion. Jesus needs your life experience and your passion.

Acts 18:3, 4, 8
3: and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.
4: Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
8: Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.

Most of you will never leave your jobs. One of the best-known people in the Bible, Paul, never went into full-time ministry. Paul earned his living as a tentmaker. Paul went to Corinth and hooked up with a Jewish couple named Aquila and Priscilla. Acts 18:3 says: Because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they worked together. By trade they were tentmakers. (Paul never left his job, but his job was not his passion.) Acts 18:4 Every Sabbath he would argue in the synagogues and would try to convince Jews and Greeks that Jesus was, in fact, the Son of God. Acts 18:8 Crispus, the official of the synagogue became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household, and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized. God needs your passion, but most of you will never leave your jobs!
What amazes me is that the fishermen who Jesus called were so passionate that the mark of their trade became synonymous with the Christian faith. What do you see on the bumper stickers of cars that make you realize they are Christians? The fish <>< symbol. When we saw that in Europe, we knew they really were Christians! We know these disciples never left their jobs because when Jesus was resurrected he found these same disciples back at work, fishing! They became so passionate in their jobs for Jesus Christ that the mark of their profession became the symbol of our faith. God needs your passion!

Matthew 4:20-22
20: At once they left their nets and followed him.
21: Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them,
22: and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

III. God Wants Your Commitment
Having been to Europe, I became very aware of what America will become if the church does not wake up and answer God's call. Not only does God need your passion, God needs your commitment. God doesn't need your intentions. You might say, "Next year I'll get around to it." How long have we been saying that? God needs our actions. In Matthew 4:20-22, when Jesus called these professional people, they immediately left their nets and followed him. When you hear the call of God in your life, you only have two choices - obey or disobey. Procrastination is the same as disobedience. God needs your commitment.

I have two recommended action steps. First: Make a commitment to serve in an area of need. My life experience enables me to teach, so I went on a mission trip to teach. When I was a freshman in college, my home church asked me to come and help out with the youth group. I didn't know anything about working with kids; I just went to help out, to serve in an area of need. Through serving, I was connected to my passion. By serving in an area of need, I discovered my life call and my spiritual gifts. Everyone has spiritual gifts that you discover when you are actively serving in an area of need.
The second action step: Make a commitment to go on a mission experience in the next 12 months. Last summer I said to this church that I wanted everyone in the church to go on a mission experience somewhere in the world in the next four years. Carolyn and I made a commitment to both Germany and the Czech Republic. When we got back, Carolyn said that next time we will take the entire family. Our family needs this because of the change it produces in lives. It will make you a world Christian. We are going to take our son-in-law, our daughter and our son on a mission experience with us next year because we need world Christians. Make a commitment in the next 12 twelve months to go on a mission trip somewhere. It will impact your life greatly.
Mike: Noel, would you join me on stage and tell us about your most recent mission experience? Where did you go?
Noel: My most recent mission experience was with you, Mike, to the Czech Republic.
Mike: How did it impact you?
Noel: It reminded me so much of what being On Mission is all about. Every single day, wherever we are, we are on a mission. There are people all around us we need to pray for and we need to share with. It's all about Jesus. I think the thing that impacted me the most was when we actually gave the gospel message of Jesus. Just to see that Jesus is the One who changes people. He is the only One that can make a difference in lives. It reminded me that every single day here, anywhere we place our feet, we are on a mission.
Mike: You had kids that were raised mostly in atheist homes. Amazingly, through your relationship and energy, they responded to you, even with a language barrier.
Noel: That's right, they did. It wasn't me though, it was Jesus. Whenever people look at me, I don't want them to see me; I want them to see Him.
Mike: We couldn't believe it - Noel didn't speak the language, but the kids could understand her! The last day of camp, the kids got up in front of all their parents and sang. What did they sing?
Noel: They sang He's a Big, Big God.
Mike: It was so exciting to see the parents (many who are atheists) clap and applaud as their children were singing He's a Big, Big God to them. Noel, in what area do you serve here at Ginghamsburg Church?
Noel: I am on the children's ministry staff.
Mike: People of the church, get and keep your children very active in ministry. And I pray that everyone finds a place of service. I know every time the Lord calls and we hear his voice, the devil says, "You can wait, you don't have to do it now." Noel, would you pray for all of us as we are preparing to make a commitment, to step out and help fill that hole in the world tonight?
Noel: God, we thank You so much for this incredible day and the times that we can come together. God, I thank You that it is no accident that each of us is here today. I pray You will speak to each person so that they will know their call and that their place is precious and needed! I pray they will not be afraid, that they will step up to the plate and not put it off. I thank You for what You are doing in this community and how You want to use us. We are strategically placed to take Your message to a world that is dying. Time is short and there's no time to waste. I pray we will come together as Your body and clearly represent You. Help us to do our very best work and give our all for You. You are our life, You are our hope, You are the reason we live. We thank You that we are so blessed to live in a country where we can worship You freely. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Mike: Take active steps to be On Mission. What God can do with peoples' passion is incredible! Amen.

Copyright © 2003 Ginghamsburg Church. All rights reserved.

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