Wednesday, January 1, 2014

As a Christian, A Disciple of Christ: You Have Personal Influence!


I wrote the following note three years ago
for my church
when we were exploring Personal Influence, Community Influence, and Global Influence~~~ as the church, and as individuals~ disciples of Christ. My friends there, include, as well as others from school, work and throughout life- people who have had a fantastic impression and imprint upon my life as they show their faith in a variety of ways- helping others; holding up and holding on in tragedy and hard times; keeping their beliefs in the Lord when all looks grim; seeing the beauty in others and in the earth; praying and receiving (seeing) the answers that are only attributed to God.
 I want to make the point that Christians are not to spend time only with other Christians. Jesus spent time with sinners (which Christians are, we are simply and greatly saved, forgiven individuals: redeemed and reconciled to God and being sancified, all to the glory of the Lord, when one day as soon as this life ends, we will join Him and others who have accepted and loved him, forevermore in Heaven).   
After the original asking for forgiveness and taking Christ into our hearts and lives as we have accepted Salvation, we ask God for forgiveness as we go along and have made errors. 
As Disciples of Jesus Christ, the Lord God, we are to spend good, fellowship time with the body of believers and,
more assuredly,
time and worship with Him,
while having relationships and influence with others
who may not know or have not chosen Jesus yet,
but are seekers of the Living God.
We are to spread the Good News, the Gospel, of Jesus Christ,
Who is the Son of God, the One and Only Way to
God the Father...as the Holy Spirit helps us each day!               


~~~Personal Influence~~~
 Having Jesus as my Savior and Lord means everything to me.  I ask Him to help me daily: to light my path, to guide and direct my actions, and to order my steps.  Some people begin their day after thanking Him for life with, “What can I do for You today, Lord?”  When God brings someone to my attention, I try to help in a small way, and then I always feel enriched. 
My mother’s personal influence over my sister and me, her family, in church, at work, and in the neighborhood made a great difference in my faith and walk with the Lord.  Many things that I do, I attribute to my mother.  To the day my mom passed on to be with the Lord (absent from the body, present with the Lord for true believers in Him), Jesus gave her influence in others’ lives.  Late in life, having Alzheimer’s, she would ask people as they walked by her, “Do you know Jesus?”  She would pat her chest up high near her throat and say, "Jesus!  Jesus, Jesus!" and- "Are you happy?"  One time I asked my mom for whom should we pray that day.  She said, "Let's pray for the people!"
  Years ago, Mom would give extra pillows and some bed clothes to the woman who did cleaning in our home from time-to-time; Mom gave extra food, also, when this dear woman, Mrs. Freeman, needed items. Mrs. Freeman then, in turn, passed items on to others in need!  Mom gave neighbors rides and extra money even though she was a single mom herself for half of my childhood.  It was typical of Mom, while driving in town, to see a lady walking who had heavy grocery bags, another lady walking in inclement weather, or a mother walking with her children.  Mom would always stop to offer these folks rides to get them where they were going.  It didn't matter if Mom had to be somewhere at a certain time; it was her priority to help someone in need first. These examples and now who God brings to me each day reinforce my faith and guide me day-to-day with Christ. When I look through His eyes, I see people differently.









Treating others with respect, kindness, and love goes a long way in living like our Precious Savior! "Treat others as you want to be treated." (Mark 12:30-31) This is what my mother said was The Golden Rule- it is to love your neighbor as yourself, the second greatest commandment that Jesus told the Pharisees and the other people in the crowd that day.... the first and greatest commandment is to...


30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”




Have you had a difficult day, and then someone shows you kindness by letting you get in line ahead, picks up something you dropped, or genuinely asks how your day is going? Little things can turn a person’s day completely around for the good. The cost of a smiling face or a helping hand is free, yet invaluable.

 Reaching Out to Other People~~~ in openness and genuine concern for their lives, needs, and their salvation and faith in Christ~~~Sometimes, Even When It Seems Uncomfortable

Early on in attending Community Life Church, I was driving in a neighborhood, and I had gotten off track where I was headed and was slightly lost. Driving into a cul-de-sac to turn around, I saw a large sign on a family’s house that said,“Welcome Home from Iraq, Dad!” There was a young family outside a house, and they were washing the car. As I pulled through the cul-de-sac, I heard in my mind- “Stop and give them $20 for a meal.” In my mind, I thought 'okay' and parked the car. I felt a bit silly, but I walked toward them introducing myself and said that I wanted to thank them for their sacrifice and service, and here was a small gift of thanks to go to a restaurant. They were so happy that I would thank them!  I told them about our church, Community Life Church in Shawnee, Kansas (see the note at the top of this posting to the left for more details): the great sermons focused on Jesus Christ and the Bible, our pastor and his wife, our whole team and safe kids’ environments and programs, and then I gave them our church’s card. They were interested, so I told them that they were very welcome at 10 o’clock on Sunday mornings and that I would look for them. That family graced our church for about a year or so, and I knew their children where I served in Kidzlife. I also heard that each in the family had accepted Christ as their Savior!  That was absolutely thrilling to me- and still is today.
During this past spring, I had the opportunity to overhear two women talking about how difficult it had been to find a church in the area, and they were still looking for a church to attend.  I apologized for overhearing and gave each one a church card.  One young lady, Chelsea George, eagerly took the card and promptly said that she would bring her family that Sunday.  She was so enthusiastic and excited that I believed she would really come!  That Sunday, I waited in the hallway, and, sure enough, Chelsea, Tony, and daughter Riley George arrived!  They became involved right away in community group and other activities.  They had a new baby, Rowan, not long after their arrival.  What a blessing they are to us.  (We were able as a church to see this lovely, committed couple and their darling children grow and give within the church- miss you guys!!!)
It is very easy, to find people throughout each day who are open to be asked to church!!
     Often I strike up a conversation with someone serving me lunch, and after getting the waiter’s name, it is easy to ask during the meal or at the end of it if that individual is looking for a church.  Through casual conversation, I may learn that there are children or teenagers in the family, so it is natural to talk about what is happening for youth at CLC and also easy to tell about our excellent sermons and worship services.  It is uncanny how many times people are interested!  I honestly can say that it is highly unusual for a person not to take our card. 
 There have been cashiers at gas stations or grocery stores, people in my neighborhood, friends of friends, people asking for directions, and the list continues for offering church cards or special invitations we have at CLC from time-to-time.  Although I try not to hesitate when God gives me a time to spread the Good News, I admit that I have not taken every single opportunity that God has given me and still have much to improve.  I feel very disappointed when I realize I had an opportunity with someone and did not follow-through in conversation with that individual...it makes me be more aware to speak to a person the next time.
There are times I have gone back to give a woman or man our card and an invitation to attend a Sunday service.  There was a woman standing with a sign of need for food recently, and I gave her the one-dollar bills that I had handy in my purse.  After driving away, I realized that I should have given her the card to find the church later or to call in for resources and assistance.  Before I left for church that morning, the Lord had given me the thought to keep those cards in my side pocket, but that day, uncharacteristically, I had decided to be tidy, so I put the church cards within my billfold!  I drove back to try to find the woman who had been standing with the sign, and she had already left the area, so I prayed that her needs would be met, and that she would have other opportunities to gather with God’s people.  (Now I keep in the compartment of the car handy information my husband gave me that has local food pantries and other area services/resources so it is easy to hand someone.) My conscience has been awakened lately that I need to be handing out more cards in my neighborhood- new neighbors to meet and neighbors I have known for awhile, anyone I am unsure if they are looking for a good church to grow in.
Praying with someone, visiting and just sitting together- giving of your self and showing that you truly care is oftentimes the best thing to do for someone who is lonely, sad, feels forsaken, or who has lost a loved one, as in passing on/passing away. 
This~~~is testament of the Living Word!!
     
Each of us in Christ Jesus have the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit to offer to others, and I hope that I have encouraged you today.  Our personal spheres of influence are as endless as our personalities, our walks of life, where we work, where our children go to school, where we shop or go for entertainment.  The possibilities are as endless as the unique nature of people God created each of us to be.  Jesus speaks to each of us individually; we are saved individually- and so, we speak to one person at a time!

Please read in 1 Corinthians 12 about the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+12&version=NIRV

(The writing is editted from the original of October, 2010, for my church, Community Life Church, Shawnee, Kansas, U.S.A.  You are heartily welcomed to join us at the Westglenn Theatre at 10 A.M. every Sunday morning, I-435 at the Midland Exit.   Check us out at: www.communitylifechurch.com )
 
 Should I take credit for anything good that I do?

All the glory, honor, and praise go to Christ Jesus, Who is the Lord and Savior of my life- now and forever. Any character goodness~ worshiping and loving God; helping others and loving them, and taking care of myself (which I am working upon) comes from the goodness He placed within me and the fact that I look to Him daily to make my path straight and to be pleasing in His sight. 

(I do not wish to do so, but I do make mistakes, constantly wanting to improve to be more like my Savior, Best Friend in the whole wide universe, and the Lord of my life- He is Jesus.  Is this a pressure?  Absolutely not.  I can do all things in Jesus Christ Who strengthens me ~~~Philippians 4:13~~~ and I want to do well, but He takes the pressure off, and I am at peace because of Him.) 
He showed me His Life in The Holy Bible, so I have many stories of what happened, how he behaved, what he did. He died to self for us so that we can have eternal life because He took on the cross every single thing wrong that any of us had done, were doing, and would be doing in the future. Can you imagine? The billions of human throughout history- each and all of that sin was placed upon Him by His Father so that His Son, Jesus, the only Perfect Lamb could atone for what we had done. By that, Jesus died, was buried, and arose again, then ascending into Heaven, telling us that He is preparing a very special place for those of us who love Him and believe in Him~~~ we place our lives under and with His Salvation and Lordship.
This freedom is the best mountaintop experience you can ever have and is available to every human being, no matter what.  Each person needs to be genuine and repentant and want Him in their lives for now and for always. This is The Gospel of the Bible,
The Good News,
the Message of Jesus Christ!!
In this weary-old, fallen world, He continues to show us that He is very much alive and well and in ultimate control!
He continues to show the magnificent Beauty He created when He made the universe and everything in it~ all life, including animals~ also plants, planets, space, and His most beloved, human beings, whom He has made us in His Image!~ absolutely everything was created by God~~~the Lord Jesus Himself.
How could anyone look at the incredible array of nature and life! and not feel moved to see the structure, the ingenuity, the multiplicity, the ultimate Intellect~ eons away from what man or woman or even the whole earth of folks together could create!? 
In other words, since the Lord God made me, I take no credit for any things I do in His Name for the good.
The only credit I can take is that I chose to believe in Him and to live for Him each day on a certain summer day when I was 25 years old. 
Truly, I am so thankful that I responded to Him; it was really quite a happening, and I am writing about it by the end of January. The Holy Spirit wooed me in such a powerful way that I had to respond- but I could have chosen not to accept Christ. How glad I am that I did choose Him!! 
Sometimes I fall very short, and God still loves me. Even with that, it takes His help each day to help me in my walk of faith and in my work for those I love and those He places in my life~ even those whom I see as an enemy~ or those who see me as an enemy. Fortunately, I don't see many at all that way, especially since God has put in me the great, great desire to see everyone saved.
We will talk another time about the fruit of the Spirit :)
Donna M.- Jesus blesses us so magnificently!