May 12, 2012

Dear Friends,

One of my all time favorite online videos is this classic from Youth Pastor Mark. If you’ve never watched it, it’s worth the click.I thought about the fictional “Pastor Mark” and his perpetual enthusiasm when I met Vince Parker. Vince was my tour guide a few years ago when I had a chance to tour the Hobby Lobby headquarters in Oklahoma City. Vince was in his early 40’s, and you could tell he loved his job. He radiated excitement about the company where he had worked for more than a decade.

So, halfway through the tour I said to Vince “This is going to seem like a weird question, but have you ever been, or did you ever think about, being a youth pastor?” I explained that his energy and passion reminded me of guys I had known in youth ministry.

Vince smiled real big and told me “The two people who influenced my life the most were my dad and my youth pastor. Growing up, I always knew that’s what I wanted to be.”

After he graduated from college, Vince filled out his application for seminary, got his letters of reference ready, and was ready to drop the package in the mail when he sensed God saying “no.”

So Vince stayed in his home town and took a job at Old Navy where he worked his way up to eventually become a store manager. But his dream – his desire – to be a youth pastor never left him.

One day he was telling a friend about how he had always thought he was going to be a youth pastor and the friend laughed at him and said “Vince, think about it – you’ve got 150 young people who work for you whose lives you can impact every day. Most of them don’t go to church. You’re a youth pastor right now!”

Vince told me “that changed my entire perspective on my job. I still wanted to be the best store manager in the company, but I began to develop a shepherd’s heart for the 150 people who worked for me.”

He eventually took the job at Hobby Lobby, but he kept his perspective on how to live out his faith at work and love his co-workers. He was living life on mission.

In Colossians 4, we’re told that we are to “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians4:5-6).

I see four things in these two verses.

First, there is a presupposition that you and I will be interacting with people who are outside the church about the gospel. That presupposition is founded on the commission Jesus gave to His disciples when He sent us into all the world to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

That raises a few questions. Like when was the last time you had a conversation of any kind with someone who is not a believer? At work? In the neighborhood? In any setting? Or when was the last time you had a conversation about anything spiritual with someone who is not a believer?

If it’s been a while, why? And what are some things you could be doing right now to bump that number up?

I shared this a few weeks ago, but I’ve found it to be one of the simplest, easiest and least obnoxious ways to open the door for a spiritual conversation. It’s as easy as asking someone “How can I pray for you?” Or saying to a co-worker “I don’t know if you ever go to church, but if you’re ever interested, I’d love to have you check out our church.”

These verses tell us that when we have conversations about spiritual matters with people outside the church, we should be wise. That means we should be wise about what we say, how we say it and when we bring it up. Ask someone to tell you their story. Get to know them. And if they ask you for your story, make sure you tell them about the time in your life when the spiritual lights came on and you surrendered your life to Jesus.

And along with being wise, this passage tells us to be gracious. That means more than be polite. It means don’t be self-righteous. It means don’t be surprised if your friends have opinions that are different than yours. Don’t be shocked when you learn about some of their choices. Don’t judge them. Give them grace.

But give them grace with some salt on it.

Think about questions could you ask someone that might make them thirsty to hear more about your faith. This passage tells us to be intentional and to be ready for these kinds of conversations. Think ahead about what you might say and how you might say it.

Colossians 4:5-6 is for all of us. All of us are called to engage with outsiders with wisdom and grace as we tell them about the hope that is within us.

G. Campbell Morgan said that to call someone an evangelical who is not evangelistic is a contradiction. “Every Christian,” Charles Spurgeon said, “is either a missionary or an imposter.” Martin Luther that if a person has faith, that person cannot be restrained. “He betrays himself,” Luther said. “He breaks out. He confesses and teaches this gospel to the people at the risk of life itself.”

Let’s be about the Lord’s work. Be wise. Be gracious. But be intentional. Be like Vince Parker. Wherever you are, be on mission.

PARKING LOT PICNICS – JUNE 2, 9, 16, 23 – come join us!

As you know, we’ve started making big plans for next month. Four very special Wednesday evenings when we’re planning to all get together in our parking lot.

Our goal for these evenings is two fold.

First, we want to reconnect. After a year of social distancing and “online church,” we’re hoping these parking lot picnics will give us a chance to be together and spend time together.

And second, we want to invite others in. That’s why we’re spreading the word about these evenings in the neighborhoods up and down David O’ Dodd. We’re hoping a food truck or two, some free hot dogs and a couple of bounce houses might attract some neighbors. We’re also hoping you’ll bring friends you know.

Please be praying with me for each of these evenings – for the weather, all the logistics, for our neighbors to feel welcome, and for God to use these events.

GUN LAP – Staying in the Race with Purpose – 6.04.21

Speaking of getting together, we have a summer book study planned for what I’m affectionately referring to as our “men of a certain age” (I’m part of that group).

Starting Friday, June 4, at 10:00am we’ll be meeting each week during the summer to go through a new book by Robert Wolgemuth called Gun Lap (if you don’t know what a “gun lap” is, find someone who ran track in high school and ask them to fill you in).

Here are the details about the Gun Lap study. And guys, if you know any other “men of a certain age” who you’d like to invite to join the group, feel free.

The first half of John 10 is filled with a whole cast of characters. There are sheep. Hired hands. Gatekeepers. Thieves and robbers. Strangers. And of course, there is the central character – the Good Shepherd. We’ll continue this week to explore what Jesus was communicating when He identified Himself as our Good Shepherd.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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