How do we build intentional relationships with people?—By overcoming our fear of being rejected!

One of the most significant barriers in building meaningful and intentional relationships with people who need Jesus is the fear of being rejected. Fear paralyses us when we want to say our first hello, extend ourselves to form a friendship, communicate on a deeper level and build trust to bring the relationship closer.

 

Rejection stings, and as humans, it is natural for us to shy away from things that will bring emotional or physical pain. Due to this, many people develop a fear of rejection. I can relate to this as I grew up lacking self-confidence and was severely shy. I can say that I have missed out most of my school years because of the dread of being rejected!

 

How can you step past this fear and into meaningful relationships? Avoid awkward silences by being chatty to start a conversation. Don’t know what to chat about? Before the conversation starts, think of a few questions you could ask. This will almost always lead to a good conversation.

 

Try to find people with common interests—join a local sports team, book club, or volunteer with other parents in your children’s school, creative group, 4WD group or even camping groups. If the idea of joining a group is not applicable in your current situation, strike up a conversation with someone in a public place: a coffee shop, restaurant, library, park, in a plane or a taxi. Again, use questions to start these conversations. Your next God appointment might just be sitting beside you at the train station! I say this because we have known three families in our life group whom my husband and I have met as total strangers inside the train and on the train station itself on separate occasions!

 

We have to accept the fact that not everyone will be interested or ready to form a friendship with us or to receive the gospel. It might be tempting to think that we should have kept quiet rather than shared the truth. Rejection should not retract our devotion to Jesus and our commitment to the Great Commission. No relationship is more precious, none more important than our relationship with the Lord! In the same way, there is no life as fulfilling as when you have lived for his purpose!

 

Remember the rejection Jesus experienced during his lifetime, on the cross and his sacrifice up to this day. He was rejected by the Jews, by the Pharisees, his hometown, and by HIS FRIENDS who pledged they loved him and would never leave him! Ultimately, Christ suffered tremendous rejection when his own Father, turned his face away from him on the cross. We serve a Saviour who suffered in the flesh for our sake. Though he did not sin, he bore our sins so that we might be saved. Remember that because of what Jesus has done for us, we will never face the rejection of God again (1 Samuel 12:22).

 

Capturing this in my mind makes me cringe to think that I am even concerned or bitter when I receive rejection in my quest of building redemptive relationships. I encourage you, the next time you are rejected, to take time to consider the most unfathomable painful rejection our Lord received!

 

“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:16 With this in mind, do not take rejection personally, because it is never about you!

Valentine’s Day Blog

I went to a conservative Bible College in the prairies of Alberta, Canada, where the only day we were permitted to romantically pursue a woman was on Valentines Day.  And even then, only if the lucky girl had a paper heart on her lapel, which meant to others that she had not been ‘taken’.

 

So on Valentines morning I walked into the cafeteria and who do you think is there at the door but the woman of my dreams.

 

Of course, in good Valentine fashion I begin my best romantic wooing.  I was expecting a study date resulting from my laborious endeavour, that’s how it played out it my mind as I was crafting my pursuit the night before.  But she says, “you’re not supposed to pursue me, I’m not wearing a heart.”  I responded quickly, “Darlin you’ve always had my heart.”

Isn’t it so beautiful, almost romantically so, that God always has and will continue to pursue us personally even when we don’t respond to His love & desire for relationship.  Or maybe you’re not yet aware that He is pursuing you?  And do you know why He is so fervently pursuing you?  Because you have His heart! Read his words to you slowly and take them in:

I can never forget you!  I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Is. 49:16

I have demonstrated my love for you. Rom. 5:8

And we, as followers of Jesus who bear the image of Christ, should we not pursue relationships with seekers with the same fervency and patience that God pursued us?   

How do we build intentional relationships with people?—Prioritise personal time with them in your schedule

 

There is a big difference between what is important and what is important to me. I may know that it is important to get up in time to read God’s word and pray about my day, but that doesn’t mean that getting up for God is important to me. In fact, the gap (between what you know is important and what is important to you) is the basis for much of the guilt that you carry around. This is true for your life as witness for Jesus.

 

When you look at Jesus’ life, you see that he was crazy busy with the demands of ministry to people. Yet it was important to him to spend time with “sinners”. He was committed to it, even when the religious people around him criticised him for it. He knew that “It is not the well that need a doctor but the sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

 

You know that following Jesus means building relationships with secular people who see the world so differently from you. But the thought of that makes you a little uncomfortable. So, while you know it is important to spend time with those people, you realise that it is not important to you. Or put another way, it so easily gets squeezed out by the many other things that clamour for your time.

 

Here’s an important principle for putting the truly important things into your life: if they don’t end up on your calendar they will probably not happen. Truly important things are usually not urgent things, and the urgent things get all your attention. So when you recognise that one of God’s biggest purposes for you here on earth is to be his witness in the lives of people who don’t know him, block out time on your calendar to spend with those people. It’s the only way that what is important will become important to you.

 

Set aside an evening next week to invite someone over for dinner who doesn’t yet know the Lord. Put it into your calendar. If someone asks you to do something with them then, let them know you already have something in your calendar (even if you have not yet spoken with your non-Christian friend about dinner).

 

If you want this habit of spending personal time with people who need Christ to become a part of your life, then you have to start by scheduling it as a priority. As you watch God start to use you to journey with that person to faith in him, you will find that what is important is becoming important to you!

New Year’s blog

One of the great things about the world God has placed us in is the natural cycles of life that allow for new beginnings and the resetting of our focus onto the important things!

 

I love the cycle of day and night, and how no matter how stressful today might be, I know that tonight I will sleep and tomorrow wake up to a new day, ready to face it in a new way.

 

The cycle of the seasons of the year also bring new perspectives and focus. The business world has changed the terminology to Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4, and these provide markers for setting goals and measuring how we are doing each quarter of the year.

 

And the turning from one year to the next at New Year’s provides one of the most significant opportunities for us as individuals to look at our lives and mark what we want to focus on in the coming year. Each New Year my wife Lois leads our family in choosing a word-for-the-year, a word that represents one area we want to focus on and grow in during the coming year. It’s always a meaningful time when we sit around the dinner table and share our words.

 

So this New Year I invite you to choose a word-for-the-year that represents how you most want to grow as a witness for Jesus this year. Here are a few suggestions for you to choose from, with a brief thought after each word:

 

Sentness – Learn to approach every encounter with every person in every day of your life with a sense that God is sending you into that encounter, that conversation, to represent him.

 

Relationship – Recognise that if you are going to help people find Jesus, you will need to actively build meaningful friendships with people that don’t know Jesus, rather than only spending time with your Christian friends.

 

Prayer – Specifically, prayer for people who don’t yet know the Lord. Learn to pray regularly, by name, for people in your life who need Jesus.

 

Questions – Learn the habit of asking questions to start spiritual conversations, rather than making statements. People react to statements, but interact with questions.

 

Gospel – Learn a super simple way of sharing the gospel with people so that you are ready to share it when the opportunity comes up. It’s too late to work on it when the time has come.

 

Ministry mindset – Change your whole way approaching your interactions with people so that you don’t evaluate the time you spent with someone by how it made you feel, but by how you ministered to them.

 

When you have chosen your witnessing word-for-the-year, write it down somewhere, along with the little description I have give here. Then spend some time in prayer, with your pen in hand, and ask God to help you come up with some specific things you can do to grow in that area. Talk to the people close to you and get their thoughts on this too. Write down what you come up with and then put that piece of paper somewhere that you will see it often throughout the coming year.

 

Doing this will help you grow in one of the most important areas of your life!

 

Why the gospel is relevant in today’s age?—Christian life stands out as so different!

I have never seen a time like this, where people all over the world are getting sick, anxious, confused, filled with uncertainties, and the economic growth is declining as the effect of the pandemic. As COVID-19 escalates around the globe, fear lingers even quicker than the virus itself! Empty shelves and crowded checkouts in grocery stores provide visual representations of the panic surrounding the spread of COVID 19..Social media photos of empty streets, shuttered shops and restaurants, reduced public transit service, closed borders and issuance of “stay-at-home” order to control the outbreak are the government officials’ response to address this public health emergency.

 

Why the Gospel is relevant today?

 

The Gospel is relevant because Christian life stands out as so different!

 

While my newsfeed and group chats are full of real-time panic-inducing news articles and updates about Corona Virus, you can easily spot on Christians, who view things differently. I know someone who is currently busy acquiring some supplies from other compassionate people and delivering them personally to disadvantaged people. You will see her optimism and how she responds in love about every given situation. You would always see her pointing people to the unshakeable hope we have in Christ. My colleague mentioned a senior band who call themselves, Ambassadors for Christ. They usually perform in daycare and age care, but since the outbreak, they started to spread the message of hope by singing in their garage.

 

As God’s people, our hope is not in anything that belongs to this world or even in our physical health, because we are looking from our lens of faith knowing who God is and who we are in him. Our confidence lies not on our own situation, but in the nearness of Christ. His perfect peace dwells in our hearts as we TRULY trust in him. We are called to be like a “lighthouse in the darkness” and, “a city set on a hill” that “cannot be hidden.” How does that practically look like? As it says in “Galatians 5:6b, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”. REAL FAITH LOOKS LIKE LOVE—BEING GRATEFUL AND GENEROUS amid everything that is happening. We are grateful that even the fear of death cannot separate us from his great love (Romans 8:35-39), and we are generous, because we genuinely care for others. We recognise that even difficult circumstances such as this are opportunities to be a witness for Jesus!

 

As Wayne Alcorn, National President of Australian Christian Churches said, “God’s plan for the planet is the church. His caring force in the earth are people like you and me…Maybe this is the time, in the midst of all these darkness and fear and terror, for you and I, to do what scriptures tells us to do, rise and shine. There’s a wonderful verse, it says, “Rise and shine for your light has come.” (Isaiah 60:1a) Perhaps, this is the greatest moment for the church, despite the terrible times we are in. Just because people are socially isolated, it doesn’t mean that they have to be lonely. Maybe you and I can pick up a phone, maybe we could facetime somebody, maybe there’s a neighbor that needs their lawn mowed, maybe there’s somebody that needs you and I to go and get some groceries or help them with some of the basic needs of life, you probably know a friend whose lost their job, maybe there’s some practical, simple way that you can show tangible expression of the love of God. This really is, a very difficult time for humanity, but in the midst of it, God’s got people like you, He’s got people like me, let’s rise and shine and let’s show the world, that in all of these, God is still real, God is still love, and he will show them his love through people like us.”