43 years ago on Friday I was in a service in a small town in Saskatchewan, the Canadian province where I live
I want to share with you something the Lord has been speaking to me about…
There are two scriptures that have been speaking to me over and over again recently
And the focus of the scriptures is “passion”
Or, how to energize your life so you live it ‘alive’ for the Lord – up, excited, engaged
But first, a video that I discovered this past week…
So I was in a local church recently and it was a traditional church where they read three Scripture passages in the service. An Old Testament passage, a New Testament passage, and a Psalm. Then the pastor is to teach on the verses as he brings the message for the day. The Scripture is always amazing – always! This time, in my humble opinion, the preacher spoke poorly and said little to nothing. But, God can speak regardless. A verse among the many that were read really stood out and jumped off the page at me. Yes, I follow along in my own Bible.
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
The Passion Version: “Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”
I have been mulling that verse over for the last three days – since Sunday morning. Regardless of the situation God can speak and He did.
Think about it … We have the hope of the world living inside us. The most pressing crisis at hand is that there are people who are lost without Jesus and thus live without hope. They are prisoners to their sin, searching for answers, lonely, hurting, confused. Some are suicidal, thinking there is no way out of the situation they’re in currently. Many need healing spiritually, physically, and relationally. The message of the cross is lifesaving, and I am convinced beyond any doubt that the best life anyone could possibly live is one that serves God and obeys His Word. This includes sharing His Word with others that they too may have hope.
My passion is to see this current generation of believers become so compelled by the love of Christ that we cannot help but try to persuade our fellow man that He died for all. I want to see the modern-day church more closely resemble the early church, which was fearless and singularly focused on spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom – to the degree that the early disciples were accused of turning the world upside down by those who opposed them (Acts 17:6). With all my heart I believe that same boldness can be mustered in the church today to transform the world for Jesus!
For those loved ones and family members and all of your acquaintances, hearing the gospel is a matter of life and death. Paul explained unequivocally in Ephesians 2:1-3 that without Christ, we are dead in our transgressions and deserving of God’s wrath. That’s bad news – a tragic reality for everyone on this planet who has not put their faith in Jesus Christ. Now let me show you what Paul wrote in the very next few verses, because it is unfathomably good news:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV)
Paul also explained this same idea more simply: But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
We have been saved by the excessive love, mercy, and grace of God. And since it exceeds us, we should not keep it to ourselves. The greatest assignment we have been given by Almighty God is to grab hold of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of us – which is sharing the gospel with others before they enter into eternity.
Our God wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all people” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
Through His extravagant grace, your heavenly Father has made a way for all who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to have everlasting life. To live with hope. Even the difficult coworker or the classmate who uses sarcasm or humour to mask his or her pain. The friend who seems to have it all together and is disinterested in “that Jesus stuff.” The businessman consumed with chasing the next deal. The problematic teenager who won’t listen. The grumpy cashier at the grocery store. The homeless person on the street begging for spare change. Yes, even the family member who seems to do everything in his or her power to flee from the things of God.
Everywhere you go, people need Jesus! And, the hope that He brings into their life. They need answers. They need the truth that can bring that hope to light. They need a solution to life’s greatest burdens.
Yet many people have never heard a clear and simple explanation of how forgiveness and redemption take place through faith in Christ alone. They live without hope. They are hopeless!
It is our obligation to tell them the good news. Paul left no room for debate when he wrote, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 NLT)
When we truly examine what the Bible says about evangelism, I believe we will find that becoming a messenger who brings the good news is a compelling call. I think we will discover that this calling is so wonderful, so fulfilling, that it is quite irresistible. It’s almost as though we have no choice but to preach and share the gospel.
“For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).
No one is out of God’s reach, and He uses Christ followers like you to carry His message of truth that brings hope. What an incredible honour! Starting today, may you look around and truly see those around you, asking the Lord of the Harvest for the courage and the opportunity to share the good news and the hope that Christ brings with them.
We are called to “make disciples in every nation.” That means we are to “seek and save the lost” as Jesus did. The key to success in this endeavour is prayer.
The beautiful thing about prayer is that it can break down any obstacle, open any door, and change any circumstance. When you are *compelled to tell others about Jesus, prayer is the key God has given you to unlock the doors of opportunity and to allow you to walk right into your divine appointment.
- “compels” is a Bible word that Paul uses to describe how he felt and what he understood about the task of telling others about Jesus. It means to be “pushed out” and propelled into the world of non-believers absolutely needing to share the good news of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (NIV)
This truth regarding prayer is exemplified in the life of John Hyde, the son of a Presbyterian minister, who moved to China in 1892. At that time he was only one of five known Christian missionaries in a region consisting of nearly one million non-Christians. Physically challenged through partial deafness, John Hyde soon realized something that was stronger than his weakness: The power of prayer.
After many years of very little success and very few conversions to Christ, John Hyde began to pray what many thought to be an impossible request: “God, give me one soul today.” Because of his dismal beginnings as a missionary, this prayer seemed to be asking for the entire world. But he just wanted to lead one soul to Jesus Christ every day. All throughout the year, he kept track, and at the end of 1908, he had in fact led over four hundred people to Christ.
That was just the beginning for John Hyde.
In 1909, he prayed that God would give him two souls every single day. Not only did he ask God to double his efforts, but John Hyde also doubled his prayer time. Again, at the end of that year, his figures showed some eight hundred people who had accepted Jesus as their Saviour. By 1910, John Hyde’s commitment to prayer and his reputation earned him his nickname “Praying John Hyde.” His fervent prayer became known throughout the Christian community worldwide.
“Give me souls, O God, or I die! God, give me souls!”
In 1910, he once again asked God for double: four souls a day. Nothing less. God was once again faithful to answer his prayer, and over 1,600 people came to salvation during that year!
A few years later, John Hyde died. The medical examiner discovered something truly amazing. His heart had literally shifted in his chest cavity, moving from the left side of his body to the right. There was no logical medical explanation for this phenomenon. However, many believed this was partially due to the intense burden for prayer that was laid upon his heart.
The life of “Praying John Hyde” is more than just a good story; it is a true-life example of the spiritual effectiveness that is released when prayer is combined with the leading of the Holy Spirit. John Hyde translated his burden for the lost into commitment, time, prayer, and a daily reliance on God’s faithfulness. Each and every morning you and I can adopt his same passionate plea, “God, give me souls!” And watch and see what God will do.
I am on holidays. During the holiday I have had an opportunity to visit a local church and attend Sunday morning service. I have attended a Bible study in a denominational church, the same church as the Sunday assembly. And, I have visited with several who would call themselves believers but don’t attend any church regularly. Today I had the opportunity to visit a middle-aged man who is an atheist becoming such after many years of attending local churches with his family. It has been interesting to say the least.
As I attended the local church I realized that they are based on an Old Testament model. They are unaware of the priesthood of all believers and expect and allow the priest to do all the ministry. It is a passive form of church where the people come, sit, absorb, and then go home. Transformation seldom happens. In the case of a decent teacher in the pulpit the people do go home informed. Not the case this past Sunday where I attended. The priest is not a good communicator nor a decent Bible teacher.
The people I have spoken to one-on-one are leaders in the church. They know things need to change, that the church is not alive, nor is it attracting new comers let along new believers. But, to get them to move on making some changes or even a basic change … Not happening. Passive. Even though they agree with what I am saying about the need for change; change will not be happening any time soon if ever.
The man in his early 40’s that I spoke with today once attended church with his parents and siblings. But, currently is not attending anywhere and does not plan to. He did not express any interest in being a believer, a true believer, and attending a local fellowship of believers on a regular basis. He could use the support and encouragement of a local church but his experience in a number of local churches has taught him that what he needs will not be found in the local church. He was looking elsewhere. Now he has just given up and is living without hope.
Tomorrow I meet with the pastor of a non-denominational church that meets in the same building as the denominational church I attended on Sunday. His is a born again, baptized in the Holy Spirit, local assembly that is very alive and active. He is a good teacher and always has a good word for people when teaching and when meeting with them one-on-one. I have enjoyed our limited contact in the past and look forward to coffee tomorrow and growing the relationship some. He is offering new life to people and giving people hope as found only in Jesus Christ.
The contrast in the two churches meeting in the same building cannot be missed. Life – death. Light – darkness. Hope – despair. Growth – decline. Relationship – religion.
My last morning here, Wednesday, I will be attending the Bible study of the first church mentioned. I was a participant last week at the weekly gathering of men from a number of churches in the same denomination. This week I am attending again before heading to the airport to fly home. I have been invited to lead the two hour study. It will, to say the least, be somewhat interesting. I think it will be fun and I am believing that the Holy Spirit will do a great work in the hearts of every man attending and that life and light will be imparted to all those with open hearts.
We are discussing motivation. We are either driven by eternal motivations or by worldly motivations. We have looked at the worldly motivations…
1> Money or financial rewards
3> The desire to affect change and influence
Your motivation is the reason why you do what you do. It’s the thing, person, feeling, or goal that drives you to act. Whatever you are living for.
We have looked at worldly motivations – temporary motivations that distract mankind from the truth. Even as Christians we may fool ourselves into believing that making money or being liked is more important than sharing the gospel. Success, notoriety, and influence can call to us like sirens, pulling us into their unfulfilling whirlpools. Clever deception masquerades as authenticity, and temptation abounds.
We live in a day and age when sound doctrine is being replaced with self-serving ideas that are devoid of spiritual truth. Churches across the world are dying because they no longer accurately preach and teach God’s Word. It is quite possible that we have arrived at the dreadful hour Paul warned his disciple Timothy about. A time”when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Paul also predicted that there would be terrible times in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, he wrote,
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Does that sound familiar to you? To love oneself is humanism. To love money is materialism. To love pleasure is hedonism. All three are major motivators in the world today.
The truth is that we are to be motivated by the eternal. God is eternal and He offers eternity to us through Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16). His living words are the only words of eternal life (John 6:68; Hebrews 4:12).
All other religions began with people asking, “How can we get to God?” That’s a very good question. And in the attempt to find an answer, many different people came up with their own moral systems. They said in essence, “Let’s do these things to get to God. And if we do enough of these good things, we’ll get to heaven.” (Or, in New Age thinking, ‘find peace within ourselves.’)
In Christianity, God looks down from heaven and wants to redeem mankind. So He left heaven and came to this earth in the form of a baby to bring salvation to the earth. His name was Jesus. He lived thirty-three years and never committed a sin. Then He died on a cross as atonement for our sins so we could have eternal life. No other man in the history of the world has ever done such a thing for humanity.
There is no substitute for Jesus’s love. Every other attempt falls devastatingly short because it will have zero ability to change our hearts, cure our sin, or impact our eternal destiny. Christ’s love is our true motivation, and it propels us toward greater feats than we ever thought possible. We will share His truth with the world so that as many people as possible can have a personal relationship with God and spend eternity with Him in heaven.
That’s what being compelled to tell is all about! It’s a passion that will get us out of bed in the morning better than any alarm clock, deadline, or sales goal. It’ll help us endure pain, sorrow, and hardship in order to tell others about the best thing that has ever happened to us.
Our main mission – and thus our only motivation – is to tell others about Christ. The risen Lord is the only cure for what’s ailing this world. He is the only One who can fill the empty space in our hearts. In a world filled with counterfeits and substitutions, people need to know:
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You and I know firsthand what it’s like to have held the wrong motivations in life, because we were rescued from them on the day we were saved and born again. I don’t know your story personally, but my guess is that you have pursued false religions and New Age theologies, entertainment and celebrities, sex and ungodly relationships, health and wealth, work, or selfish gain before you gave your life to the Lord. You now have a new cause in Christ. You can tell people where you’ve been and how God delivered you. You can declare, as David did in Psalm 40:2:
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
Each day before you get out of bed in the morning – before your feet even touch the floor – pray and thank God for saving you and for all His blessings. Then say, “God, use me today. Show me how I can be a vessel for You and Your Kingdom today. You are my portion, my life, and my motivation.” If you start each day with this sincere prayer, it will serve as a powerful reminder of what drives and compels you – what motivates you – and I guarantee that God will open your eyes to new opportunities to be a light for Him and to make an impact for eternity.
What motivates you in your daily living? What drives you to get out of bed and go forward for another day and then another day and then another? Scores of people are motivated by fame, money, power, and pleasure. In fact, these motivations have become a $10 billion industry with folks eagerly handing over their time and money for self-help books, on-line courses, and motivational seminars. We want to know the secret to becoming a one-minute manager and a millionaire next door. We want to enjoy a shorter work week and the sculpt our bodies in ten days so we can master the art of attraction. We’ll research, pour over countless quotes from historical figures, and analyze the habits of successful people in order to distill the truths of what truly compels us.
Your motivation is the reason why you do what you do. It’s the thing, person, feeling, or goal that drives you to act. It’s whatever you’re living for.
To put it simply, we’re either driven by eternal motivations or by worldly motivations.
One example of worldly motivation would be money or financial reward. Employees work hard for the promise of raises, incentives, and bonuses. Professional athletes work tirelessly for large contracts and signing bonuses. Sales teams rally together to achieve the best sales in their region and win their all-expenses paid trips to costal destinations. Money is a powerful motivator, albeit a temporary one. After all, as Proverbs 23:5 says, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
For some money means nothing, but success and accomplishment are everything. Parents will make big financial sacrifices in order to prepare their child to become the next president, CEO, or neurosurgeon. A college student will practically live in the library in order to make the dean’s list. Musicians may practice until their fingers are bloody for a standing ovation. Success feels good. Like the other motivations, it can be quite seductive – making us feel important, even ‘better than’ others. Success leads us to believe we have done something worthwhile wth our lives. But again, it is only a temporary motivator.
Another popular worldly motivation is the desire to affect change and influence. Every year millions of people from around the world give to causes larger than themselves, wanting to make a difference. Church mission outreaches to indigenous people groups, marathons for medical research, disaster relief teams, the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, and many more organizations draw volunteers from all walks of life, all of them hoping to show that their lives mean something.
The desire to make a positive change on this planet is a good thing, and there are many important causes to rally behind. But if that becomes our main focus, or we seek to obtain meaning and significance in our charitable work, we miss an incomparable opportunity to make a spiritual and an eternal difference in the lives of others.
Temporary motivations distract mankind from the truth. Even as Christians we may fool ourselves into believing that making money or being liked is more important than preaching or sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom. Success, notoriety, and influence can call to us like sirens, pulling is into their unfulfilling whirlpools. Clever deception masquerades as authenticity, and temptation abounds.
We live in a day and age when sound doctrine is being replaced with self-serving ideas that are devoid of spiritual truth and life. Churches across the world are dying because they no longer accurately preach and teach God’s Word. It is quite possible that we have arrived at the dreadful hour Paul warned his disciple Timothy about. A time “when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
Paul also predicted that there would be terrible times in the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:2-5, he wrote:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”
Does any of this sound familiar to you? To love oneself is humanism. To love money is materialism. To love pleasure is hedonism. All three are major motivators in the world today.
As believers and disciples of Jesus we must not allow these worldly motivators dictate how we live our lives. So what should be our motivation as Christians?
- The answer next time…
We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined… 1> A good mentor is a worthy example 2> A good mentor is available 3> A good mentor has proven experience 4> A good mentor possesses wisdom 5> A good mentor provides friendship and support
6> A good mentor is a coach who makes a difference in people’s lives
A major theme in my life is the desire to add value to people and make a difference in their lives. One of the ways this happens is in a mentoring relationship (see yesterday’s blog – “Christians Can’t Be Passive). A mentor can be a great encourager when the person they are mentoring is wanting to grow and develop in the Christian faith and in their calling. In other words, they are not passive but are willing to invest time, effort, and even money to move forward in their knowledge, understanding, and application of biblical principles. To mature as a believer and minister.
In our world today we often substitute other words for “mentor.” The most familiar and common is the word “coach.” A coach is someone who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be. The key is ‘they want to be.” Otherwise, as I mentioned yesterday it just ends up in frustration… like pushing a parked car with the brakes on uphill by yourself. Not interested.
In an article called, “A Coach By Any Other Namer” Kevin Hall describes what it means to be a coach. He writes,
- In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.
- In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone further down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.
- In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light – a guru takes someone from darkness into the light.
- In Tibet, a “lama” is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest ranking leader.
- In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro de cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.
- In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates back to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.
- In England, a “guide” is one who know and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course.
- In Greece,. A “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer’s Mentor was a protective and supportive counsellor.
All these words describe the same role: One who goes before and shows the way. No matter what word you use to describe them, coaches make a difference in others’ lives. They help them grow. They improve their potential. They increase their productivity. They are essential to helping people effect positive change.
Andy Stanley in “The Next Generation Leader” states, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. We all do better when someone is watching and evaluating … Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”
In my opinion, good mentors share five common characteristics. They…
- Care for the people they coach
- Observe their attitudes, behaviour, and performance
- Align them with their strengths for peak performance
- Communicate and give feedback about their performance
- Help them to improve their lives and performance
Please note that the first letter of each characteristic spells “coach”
The process of growing with the help of a mentor usually follows this pattern: It begins with awareness. You realize that you need help and that following yourself is not a viable option for effective personal growth. When a person comes to that realization, one of two things can happen. The first is that the person’s pride swells up and he cannot bring himself to ask another person for advice. This is a common reaction. However, to keep from looking ignorant, they almost always ensure their own ignorance.
The other reaction to awareness is to humble yourself and say, “I need your help.” That decision not only leads to greater knowledge, but it also often develops maturity. It reinforces that people need one another [- not just when they are young and starting out, but their entire lives.
Chuck Swindoll in “The Finishing Touch” states…
“Nobody is a whole chain. Each one is a link. But take away one link and the chain is broken.
Nobody is a whole team. Each one is a player. But take away one player and the game is forfeited.
Nobody is a whole orchestra. Each one is a musician. But take away one musician and the symphony is incomplete…
You guessed it. We need each other. You need someone and someone needs you. Isolated islands we’re not.
To make this thing called life work, we gotta lean and support. And relate and respond. And give and take. And confess and forgive. And reach out and embrace. And release and rely…
Since none of us is a whole, independent, self-sufficient, super-capable, all-powerful hotshot, let’s quit acting like we are. Life’s lonely enough without our playing that silly role.
The game’s over. Let’s link up.”
We are looking at how to be wise when looking for and choosing a mentor. So far we have examined…
1> A good mentor is a worthy example 2> A good mentor is available 3> A good mentor has proven experience
4> A good mentor possesses wisdom
There’s a well-known story of an expert who was called by a company to look at their manufacturing system. It had broken and everything was at a standstill. When the expert arrived, he carried nothing but a little black bag.
Silently he walked around the equipment for a few minutes and then stopped. As he focused on one specific area of the equipment, he pulled a small hammer out of his bag and he tapped it gently. Suddenly everything began running again, and he quietly left.
The next day he send a bill that made the manager go ballistic. It was for $1000! Quickly the manager e-mailed the expert and wrote, “I will not pay this outrageous bill without it being itemized and explained.” Soon he received an invoice with the following words:
For the tapping on equipment with hammer – $1 For knowing where to tap – $999
That is the value of wisdom. Mentors with wisdom often show us where to tap. Their understanding, experience, and knowledge help us to solve problems that we would have a hard time handling on our own.
One of my mentors (I read everything he ever wrote) when asked why highly successful people often sabotaged their lives and hurt their careers said, “Never confuse the giftedness of a person with the person. Their gifts allow them to do amazing things but the person may be flawed, which will eventually cause harm.” That bit of wisdom about a person’s character has helped me immeasurably. First, it helped me to better understand how to work with talented people and to help them develop. Second, it has been a caution to me personally. I know that having talent in a given area never exempts me from neglecting discipline or character issues. We’re all just one step away from stupid.
Wise people often use just a few words to help us learn and develop. They open our eyes to worlds we might not have otherwise seen without their help. They help us navigate difficult situations. They help us to see opportunities we would otherwise miss. They make us wiser than our years and experience.
5> A good mentor provides friendship and support
The first question most followers ask of a mentor is, “Do you care for me?” The reason for this question is obvious. Who wants to be guided by a person who isn’t interested in them? Selfish people will assist you only insofar as it advances their own agenda. Good mentors provide friendship and support, unselfishly working to help you reach your potential. Their mind-set is well expressed by business coach and author James Vuocolo, who says, “Great things happen whenever we stop seeing ourselves as God’s gift to others, and begin seeing others as God’s gift to us.”
If the person who offers to mentor you doesn’t really support you and offer you friendship, then the relationship will always fall short of your expectations. Knowledge without support is sterile. Advice without friendship feels cold. Candour without care is harsh. However, when you are being helped by someone who cares for you it is emotionally satisfying. Growth comes from both the head and the heart. Only supportive people are willing to share both with you.
More next time…