Why do you do the things you do?

YOUR LIFE FOLLOWS YOUR VALUES 

Imagine you are cooking dinner tonight. What will you cook? You will choose something you like, right? You wouldn’t choose foods that you don’t like. Your choice of dinner would follow the “value” that you place on different foods.

In the same way, every choice you make in your life expresses your values. The Bible talks about this a lot. In Matthew 15:19 Jesus says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts…”  Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

That means that you can’t change your life in any meaningful way without changing the values that drive it. Do you want to start living as a witness for Jesus in your everyday relationships? Then ask what values would drive that kind of lifestyle!

If we try to live for God or change a bad habit, that choice won’t turn into reality unless the values we have are right. We may stop the habit for a little while, or start something good for a couple of weeks, but after a little while, our life again begins to follow our values.

Most of us have seen this reality in our lives. You have probably made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept for the first month or two and then you reverted to your old ways. Why? Because you were trying to change an action but all the while your were not changing. 

 

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Here’s another example. Daily time with God is so important; we know that we should be taking this time. But so many of us struggle to actually do it. Why? Well, what are our values?  Do we really value getting closer to God? Or do we place a higher value on a little more sleep, or that TV episode we have been dying to watch since the cliffhanger last week?

There is that saying “You are what you eat.” That’s true of your body but think about this principle on the spiritual level. You are what you think, aren’t you? That’s because what you think about ends up setting your values. What values are reflected in your thoughts and how are those values driving your life?

You want to learn to talk about Jesus with people you run into as you go about your life. If that is to become the way you live, then you need to change the way you think. It’s your turn to cook dinner, right? What’s in your mind as you go to the grocery store?

 

A SHIFT IN MENTALITY 

Of course, you are thinking, “What do I need to pick up for dinner?” But what if you were also thinking, “I wonder who God will bring across my path at the grocery store? How can I speak into their lives? What will God do with me there?” Can you see the shift?  All of a sudden your trip to the grocery store is not about you—it’s about the people around you! It’s about how God can use you in their lives to help them journey towards him.

That changes everything. 

If that is what you want for your life, it’s time to work on the values that will drive that way of living. Remember, your life will not change unless your values change!

 

Last thoughts 

This blog starts a series of twelve blogs, focusing in on the lifestyle priorities that will grow you into a witness for Jesus. Your life is just the expression of your values, so if these values become yours, you will not have to force yourself to live as a witness. Rather, being a witness is what will just flow from your values.

Keep this principle in mind and look for our next blog post!

 

Do worldly people want to talk about God?

One the big fears that keeps us from starting ‘God-conversations’ with people is the belief that secular people aren’t interested in God at all. But nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Non-Christians are curious about Christianity

 

One of the most surprising discoveries I have made as I have learned to live as a witness for Jesus is that people want to talk about God, that non-Christians are curious about Christianity, and that secular people have lots of spiritual thoughts.

It’s true that nobody wants the gospel shoved down their throat. The solution? Don’t do that. Never force someone into a gospel conversation. A person should never feel that the gospel is bad tasting food they are forced to eat. Rather, it should be the delicious dessert they have been waiting for!

 

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Don’t start with the gospel. Start with a question that will lead into a God-conversation. People love to interact with questions because they love to tell you what they think. And you can be sure of this: everyone has an opinion about God and spiritual truth. As they share their often misguided opinions about what Christians believe or about God, don’t shift into argument mode and try to win an argument about who is right. Remember, your goal is to open this person’s heart to God and that rarely happens through an argument (even if you win).

When you have a good God-conversation going, simply ask, “Has anyone ever clearly explained to you the Christian message about how we can have a good relationship with God?” or something similar. This leads the conversation straight to the beautiful gospel, the delicious dessert they have been waiting for all their lives.

 

Last thoughts

As I think back over the countless conversations I have had with totally secular people, almost never have I encountered someone who didn’t want to talk about spiritual things. If you are pushy, it’s true that they will resent it. But if you approach the topic with a question, people will be eager to take the conversation further. Ask a question of someone today and trust God to take it further!

10 ways to stir up your sentness

Go to school, get educated, get a job, get married, get a house, get kids, grandkids, retire. Go to work, come home, watch TV, go to sleep. Repeat!

This is the pattern that our society often tries to set for us, but Jesus came so that we would have more than just a pattern. We aren’t here to live life the way we are told to. We are here to make a difference!

Oftentimes, we get sidetracked and forget that we have a mission. Here are 10 ways to stir up your sentness – to remind yourself that you have been sent into the world, by Jesus, for a reason.

 

1. Prayer

Prayer takes the focus off you and puts it on God and other people. When we focus on God, and we try to hear his voice in prayer, he will always remind us of who we are. Children of God, ambassadors for Christ. Start each day with prayer and let God remind you of your identity and your purpose.

 

2. The Bible

By reading the Bible every day, you allow your mind to be renewed, which means that you won’t believe the lies of the enemy because you know the truth. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

The enemy will say “Your life has no purpose,” but because of the Bible, you can say “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

 

3. Journaling

Journaling helps you to notice the holy in the ordinary. Life is full of mundane moments, and it’s sometimes hard to notice what God is doing. By sitting down and writing the things that have been going on in your life, you will be able to identify how God was with you on mountain tops and in deep valleys.

This will instill in you a sense of gratitude and new energy to keep on shining a light for Jesus.

 

4. Quotes

Print some quotes, or some Bible verses and put them on the wall somewhere you can see them and let them remind you of where you have been and where you are going.

 

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5. Accountability Group

If you find that you often stay at home on Sundays instead of going to church, or that you would rather spend your money on other things rather than give to God’s work, or that you care about what people think of you so much that you compromise on who you are called to be, get an accountability group/partner.

Tell them what you struggle with and ask them to keep you accountable. By asking people to help you out you are saying: I know there is a problem, I want to fix it and I need help.

 

6. Serving

The consumer mentality of our society is infiltrating our churches. We want to be served rather than serve. We would rather sit in a church service than turn up early and set up the stage or put the chairs out.

Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

You are called to be an imitator of Christ. The more time you spend imitating Christ, the less time you will spend imitating the world. Roll up your sleeves, and get involved in serving your local church.

 

7. Movies

I remember when I first watched “Amazing Grace” which focused on William Wilberforce and his work to abolish slavery in the UK, I was deeply impacted. It made me realise that the world has a lot of problems and God’s children are here on earth to help out—to be a voice for the voiceless, to bring justice, to help the poor, feed the hungry, protect the orphans.

Good Christian movies can remind us of our purpose, of the problems that still need solving.

 

8. Time spent with Christians

Time spent with people who genuinely love Jesus and are committed to his cause can leave you energised and refreshed.

Whenever I attend church, or my connect group or hang out with my Christian friends, I always feel inspired to keep living a holy life, because Jesus is with us, active in our lives, blessing us and giving us strength when we need it.

 

9. Time spent with non-Christians.

Time spend with non-Christians is also important. You don’t want to isolate yourself and be part of a Christian bubble. Being around people who don’t know Jesus, who are hurting, who have no hope reminds you of your mission: to tell them about Jesus.

 

10. Re-evaluating.

Lastly, re-evaluating is highly important. Stopping and asking yourself “Am I living a life of integrity?” “Am I living a life pleasing to God?” “Am I helping to expand God’s Kingdom?” will always bring to the surface our values and priorities.

 

Last thoughts:

We will never be perfect at “being in the world but not of the world” but the point is to go for it anyway—to live your life with purpose, to bring glory to God and make his name famous on the earth.

Romans 12:1-2 in The Message says, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

How can I be in the world but not wordly?

What does it mean to be worldly? Here’s a definition the Oxford English Dictionary gives us:

 

“Wordly: concerned with material values or ordinary life rather than a spiritual existence.”

Here’s how the Bible describes “wordly”: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15 – 17

 

Since we are encouraged not to become worldly, how can we spend relational time with nonbelievers and not be influenced by their way of thinking and living?

 

Be intentional

 

The key is to develop a ministry mindset. If I think about my time spent with non-believers as just “hanging out” with them, I will be influenced towards worldliness—it’s inevitable. But if I am intentional about the time spent with people and pray before those times that God will use me in their lives, then when I am with them I am thinking about how to expose them to God and the influence is flowing in the right direction. This method can also help you give your kids a healthy approach to school. Pray with them each day about the kids they know and their witness to them. Then watch them be the influencers rather than the influenced.

 

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Let the Bible have the final say on things

 

There will be instances when the people you spend time with, who don’t believe in Jesus, will have different opinions than you on certain topics. These will probably be well informed, well thought out opinions which might be verbalised in an eloquent manner. It is very easy to get swayed by well informed, well thought out, well-communicated opinions. But remember that opinions are opinions. They should not have higher authority in your life than the Bible. Respect their opinion, but always go to the Bible and figure out what it says, so that when the chance comes you will be able to humbly let them know that you have a well-informed, well thought out, well-communicated TRUTH!

 

Be surrounded by a good Christian support network

 

You are called to be a worker in God’s field. This field is not a playground but a battleground. You are on a mission to take the message of his salvation and lordship into enemy territory, to win captives from the forces of darkness. To be effective in this mission, it’s important that you surround yourself with people of great wisdom, people who are friends of your destiny, people who are filled with the Holy Spirit. Their influence and support will ensure that you stay the path and keep living your life focused on Jesus.

 

Last thoughts:

Go out and spend intentional time with people who don’t know Jesus—it’s our heavenly mandate. But make sure that you also spend your time in the word, in church, in your secret place with God, and with Christian friends.

How can I urge my church to engage with non-believers?

 

As a leader of a church, the weight comes on you and your team to inspire people to move forward in their relationship with God. You want to see them living their faith outside the four walls of the church. You want them to engage with the people they have been sent to and bring them into a Christian community.

However, leading them to do exactly that takes some work and planning. This blog post aims to give you some ideas of how you can encourage people in your church to engage with non-believers.

You don’t have to be a church leader to apply these principles. As a church member, you can also influence the people you serve with—your small group, your family, and friends—to go out into the world and reach people for Jesus.

 

 

  • Do it yourself and talk about it.

 

People want leaders who act on what they speak. You can’t afford to stand a platform and encourage your congregation to be brave and speak to people about Jesus and you not do it. You will very quickly lose your credibility. Do it yourself. Set an example. Pave the way forward. Share your successes, your failures, your awkward and funny encounters. This will make you approachable and the people you lead will be encouraged by your example and vulnerability. This will also communicate to them: “If I can do it, you can do it too!”

 

  • Have believers share about doing this during church services. 

 

There is so much power in testimonies. They stir up faith. Hearing about someone coming to Jesus brings joy in the hearts of believers and encourages them to keep witnessing to people and to look forward to the day when those people come to Jesus. Keeping testimonies about believers witnessing to nonbelievers constant in your church life will keep the topic of evangelism and witnessing at the forefront of your congregation’s minds.

 

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  • Help them understand that they don’t need to share the gospel outline in their first conversation with someone.

 

The gospel is not a ‘presentation’ that you make. Rather, you want to have gospel conversations with people. Train your people in how to ask questions that can lead to meaningful conversations around God and the gospel. Encourage them that those they speak with will gradually come to a real understanding of God’s grace in the gospel over time and multiple conversations. Realising that they don’t have to force everything into one conversation and demand an on-the-spot decision helps believers to relax and enjoy the process of being a witness, trusting that God will take conversations where he wants them to go.

 

When people who attend EvangelismSHIFT grasp this principle, we often hear how they are set free from performance anxiety and how they feel encouraged to build relationships with people and allow the Holy Spirit to use them to lead people to Jesus in a way that is natural and not staged.

 

  • Help them see that people take steps towards faith in Jesus.

 

Being born again is an event that happens all at once at the moment of faith. But conversion is a journey. There is a point in time when a person begins moving towards God. Many different factors keep them taking steps along this journey until they are ready to put their trust in Christ. Our responsibility as believers, whenever we come in contact with people is to move them closer to Jesus. That’s what you need to communicate to your congregation. This will empower them to go out into their world and bring people one step closer to Jesus. It might be the final step when they commit their life to Jesus, or the first step when they first get to know a real Christian.

 

Have you found these tips useful? Which one is your favourite and why? Leave a comment down below. We would love to hear from you.