See And Hear For Yourself

Die to selfSo when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:40-42

The other day I put up the video of Monty Williams (NBA Continue reading

7 Reasons You Can Relax About Evangelism

Relax by amanda tipton-CC

7 Reasons You Can Relax About Evangelism

(Read John 4:31-42.) In our last post from the book of John we learned about how Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations. I don’t know about you but whenever this topic comes up, the topic of evangelism, I start feeling pretty awkward. But while we can’t ignore Jesus’ command to evangelize, we don’t have to stress about it. In today’s post we’ll look at seven reasons why we can relax while evangelizing. Continue reading

The Woman At The Well (And The Man Who Left Church)

Community by Alex Luyckx-CC

Community

The Woman At The Well

(Read John 4:1-9) So when Jesus gets word, that the Pharisees got word, about how Jesus is now baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist, he Continue reading

Love Like Jesus — Living Water and the Fluid Life: John 4:40

time management Love Like JesusContent for this article was taken from the new book Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus). For more articles included in the book go to Love Like Jesus Book. Love Like Jesus is due to be published in 2018.

 

 

…when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. John 4:40

How Jesus Loved People Continue reading

Love Like Jesus — Focus and Flow: John 4:31-34

How to Love Like Jesus — Where’s Your Focus?

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

John 4:31-34

How Jesus Loved People

Jesus just finished a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. A conversation filled with grace, and love, and truth. His conversation was so gracious and persuasive, that Samaritan woman wound up getting the townspeople together with Jesus for two days. (If you want to gain insight into why Jesus’ conversation was so successful, see previous How to Love Like Jesus post: Grace and Truth)

A two day meeting with the whole town — this was a golden opportunity for Christ to share the words of eternal life with people. What we’re witnessing here is how Jesus’ focus on saving souls took priority above his appetite for food for his flesh.

How to Love Like Jesus – Focus

A number of years ago, my great grandfather Jess went for a walk in the Oregon wilderness. He was in his early nineties at the time. Now it wasn’t like he had to go far to find the wilderness. The log cabin where we were gathered that day is right there, near the Siskiyou National Forest. So he simply left the cabin to go for a walk. No big deal, right?

Well, great-grandfather Jess became lost.

It was quite a scene. My family and I searched all over that mountain. We searched for him well past dark, but without success. It was nerve racking to think about this ninety-something year old patriarch, alone in the forest over night. The next day Search and Rescue came out in force. They had airplanes flying over, ATV’s driving all over the mountain, a bunch of volunteer hikers. It was a huge deal.

Sometime after noon, they found great-grandfather Jess. After he was re-hydrated and had gained his strength back, he explained what happened. What happened was, he happened upon a buck who was in the rut and courting a doe. He became so engrossed in watching this courtship, that he followed them all the way to the top of a ridge line, without giving a single thought to how long he’d been gone, or food, or water — or his whereabouts. The guy was in his nineties! How does that happen?

Well it happens when we focus.

When Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” I believe, he was talking about this phenomena of focus and flow. He had such inspiration from the Holy Spirit, He was in such a flow, he didn’t give a thought to food or anything else. Presented with this opportunity to engage with the Samaritan townspeople, His only focus was on doing the will of Him who sent Jesus, and to finish His work.

It’s similar to what happens when you’re absorbed in your writing project, or your photo editing project, or your music project — fruit producing activities. Or, even, perhaps, when you’re engrossed in non-fruit producing activities, like playing Eve Online, or Minecraft, or reading the book The Hunger Games. You’re so focused, so absorbed, so engrossed — you forget to eat, physical food. Your food is your work (I use the term loosely when referring to video games and reading).

Your food, is your focus.

Your food is your flow.

So then, to love like Jesus, what must we do?

You know, Jesus once asked, ““Why do you call me Lord, and then not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) This is a scripture seldom quoted, yet there it is, truth, staring me in the face. Oh God have mercy on me! I hope I never fall into this category. And I hope you never do either.

To love like Jesus, we must do what Jesus tells us. We must focus on what He focused on, which was of course, loving God, saving souls, and loving people. So we find ourselves in this awkward position, you and I, where we have to ask, “What am I known for?” Because Jesus said his disciples would be known for their love. (John 13:35) And, “What am I doing to reconcile people to God? What am I doing to point people to Christ?”

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus said. And the will and the work of him who sent Jesus, was for Jesus to express the love of God to people, which results in saved souls. Jesus loved in a way that reconciled people to God.

That’s what He did for two days with the Samaritans.

That’s what He did His whole ministry.

That’s what He did on the cross.

That’s how He loved people.

And that’s how He wants you and I to love people too.

 

NOTES:

For more on the topic of evangelism, I highly recommend the blog post A Heart for Evangelism by Klaus Brune.

Love Like Jesus — Grace and Truth: John 4:9-26

grace and truth love like Jesus John 4

Read John 4:9-26.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

John 4:17-18



How Jesus Loved People:

He showed grace. We’ve already examined previously, how just by engaging her to begin with, Jesus showed love and grace to this Samaritan woman at the well. We also touched on how his request for her to give Him a drink was a way to further engage her, and a way to further express love for her. (see previous How to Love Like Jesus posts: Don’t Care and Ask for Help)

So what Jesus is doing here, is He’s building a foundation of love and grace.

Throughout the story He continues building this foundation by revealing Himself to her through conversation about the living water and the Messiah.

Then He shared truth. After, and only after, Jesus builds this foundation of love and grace, do we see Jesus begin to share truth. And even then, we see Him sandwich the first dose of truth between two gracious statements. When she tells Jesus, “I have no husband.” Jesus, rather than railing on her for her past sins of promiscuity, says, “You are right when you say you have no husband.” He then shares His knowledge of her promiscuous lifestyle, followed up by, “What you have just said is quite true.”

He goes on to share with her the truth about Samaritan worship, and the kind of worshippers God seeks, those who worship in Spirit and truth. And He reveals the truth about His identity. Ultimately Jesus shows love to this woman by declaring Himself to her. Speaking of Messiah, Jesus says,

“I, the one speaking to you–I am he.”

 

How to Love Like Jesus:

A twenty-something I know shared a conversation he had with a good lawyer. Right about now some of you are saying to yourselves, the word good and the word lawyer don’t belong in the same sentence. But this one happens to be a friend of mine, and although good lawyers are a rarity, he really does exist. He’s a skilled lawyer, and beyond that he’s a good person. He has a heart for the underdog, and he strives to do his best for every client. This good lawyer friend of mine said something during the conversation that really surprised me, he said,

The best lawyers are not those who love to win an argument.

When I heard this from the twenty-something, I thought to myself, “I know this can’t be true — because I’ve seen all the lawyer TV shows: Matlock, Boston Legal, Law and Order… Those guys always win the argument. And they seem to relish the courtroom confrontation.

But my friend says the best don’t take pleasure in winning the debate. He says the best are outcome oriented. He says the best don’t look for ways to win the argument, they look for ways to reach the best possible result. At the end of the discussion he made this statement:

“Never confuse pride with principle.”

I had to think about that. How many times did I believe I was standing on principle, when in reality, what I was after was victory and conquest, so I could feed my pride. And this was nearly always at the expense of outcome, and very often at the expense of the relationship.

Contrast that with what we see in our story, which is how unmistakable Jesus’ love is. It’s unmistakable to the reader, and most importantly, it’s unmistakable to the Samaritan woman. And look at the result! She left that conversation to gather up and bring the townspeople to Jesus, and she did it because she knew Jesus loved her. Yes, the truth was shared, but only in the context of Jesus’ love.

So here’s how you and I can love people like Jesus. When you’re sharing truth, it’s essential your love for the person you’re talking with be unmistakable. Unmistakable to you, to any observers, and most importantly to the person you’re sharing with. When you’re sharing truth, the person you’re talking with has to know you love them. When you’re sharing truth, you have to do so with a heart filled with Christ’s love.

Just as soon as your inner jail house lawyer begins to rise up, the outcome you’re looking for goes out the window!

Of course Jesus was a master at sharing truth in love. We’ll see him share this way over and over and over.

You and I have to recognize, while Jesus was a master at this, you and I may not be. (see John 1:20) In fact, I know I am definitely not a master at sharing truth in love. I’m a work in progress, or maybe even a piece of work, depending on the day.

Keeping all of this in mind, if you’re tempted to share truth with someone, and you begin to feel God’s love leaving your heart, you’re better off not sharing at all.

If you begin to feel God’s love leaving your heart, just keep your mouth closed.

If you begin to feel God’s love leaving your heart, consider walking away.

Because if you choose to share without love, it’s likely you’ll only cause that person to become further entrenched in their current position.

But if you share in unmistakable love, you give the Holy Spirit the best possible chance to reach that person.

So build a foundation of grace and love, first. And share truth, only when your love for the person you’re sharing with is unmistakable.

Jesus did.

You can too.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1

 

[Image via waterdotorg – Creative Commons]

Love Like Jesus — Don’t Care: John 4:9

Photo by Kelly Credit: Creative Commons

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

John 4:9

How Jesus Loved People:

Jesus didn’t care, and He still doesn’t. Women were not well regarded in the culture Jesus lived in. Neither were Samaritans. And here we see Jesus engaging a person who was both. But Jesus doesn’t care about that. Though the people around him had a low regard for women, and an outright hatred of Samaritans, Jesus didn’t care. Without regard for her gender, or her religion, or her heritage, Jesus engaged the Samaritan woman at the well. He did so to share grace, and truth, and to offer the words of eternal life.

How to Love Like Jesus:

You know, when I was a little kid, growing up in Chicago, my dad used to take me over to his friend Waverly Carter’s house. While they visited I used to play with his kids. I had a blast. Not until I was an adult did it ever occur to me I was playing with kids who were African-American. (see Matthew 18:3)

Cultural boundaries evaporated before Jesus’ love. And they should for me and you as well. The guy who belongs to the other political party, or the awkward loner at work, or the obese neighbor nobody talks to, or the obnoxious teenager, or the atheist, or the person whose lifestyle you disagree with, it doesn’t matter what category you perceive them to belong to: love them. Love them, because Jesus loves them. In fact He loves that person every bit as much as He loves you. He loves that person so much, He died for that person.

And just as Jesus died, you and I are to die, to our own judgments and criticisms. It’s not our job to judge. Judging is God’s job. It’s our job to love. You and I are the body of Christ. We’re His arms, and His hands — and His mouth (Lord, help me). You and I are to be used by God to love people, without regard for whatever perceptions we may have concerning social boundaries.

So love with eyes that are blind to perceived boundaries.

Even as Jesus died, die for the person who’s different than you are.

Die to your own inclinations to judge or criticize.

Love like a child loves, without regard for differences.

Jesus did.

And He still does.

(For more on this topic see: SEEK AND SAVE by Bethany English and I Wish Every Church Said What This Church Says by Jon Acuff)

Love Like Jesus — Ask for Help: John 4:2

Love Like Jesus Ask for Help

Photo Credit: Egan Snow, Creative Commons

…in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

John 4:2


How Jesus Loved People:

Here we see, Jesus didn’t baptize people, He had His disciples do it. And in verse 7, of this same chapter, Jesus asks the Samaritan woman to give Him a drink. Then in verse 8 we see, Jesus sent His disciples to buy food. (John 4:1-8)

Jesus gave (and continues to give) people the opportunity to participate in what He’s doing.


How to love like Jesus:

I don’t know about you but I’m a perfectionist personality. One of the most counterintuitive things, for me, I’ve ever had to learn is to ask for help. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) “If I’m to love others as myself,” I think, “if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t I want things to be done for me?”

The answer to this question is a definite, “sometimes.” The problem with always doing things myself is, I deny people the opportunity to grow. Jesus not only loved his disciples by sharing great truths with them, and by setting a perfect example, He also loved them by giving them opportunity to learn by doing. He gave them responsibility. He gave them opportunity to love people by doing for them. In my experience, the greatest growth I’ve seen in people occurs when they’re given responsibility, sometimes even a little before they’re ready for it. Most of the most fruitful people I know, can point back to a time when they felt like they were in over their heads.

2) I often believe I can do it better myself, so I do.

Kathy and I built a house once (and I hope to never have to do it again). In the beginning I thought I’d contribute in all kinds of ways. I thought I’d paint, hang insulation, pull electrical wires, do the finish work, clean-up, build the deck, do the landscaping, the list went on and on. It didn’t take long before I figured out, if I were to do all these things, the house would be finished around the same time the Cubs win the World Series (I’m a Cubs fan — yea, I know, I’m a glutton for disappointment). So I had to take a big swallow and ask for help. I asked for help from family, from friends, and of course much of the help came from subcontractors.

Building a house, among other experiences, taught me to keep in mind five of the most important words ever spoken by John the Baptist: “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:19-20) Because I’m not the Christ, because you’re not the Christ, we can’t do it all! Even though it’s possible we might do a better job than most people around us in the short term, in the long term, we can accomplish more when we engage the participation of others.

Now obviously there’s a danger here. If we ask for help from others with a selfish motivation, we’re asking amiss. But, if our heart is truly to love people, by giving them opportunity to grow by doing, then we’re loving like Jesus. We’re providing people with a chance to grow and more fruit will come to bear as well.

The motivation for it is a fine line I know, but asking people for help, with the right heart, is one of the most loving things we can do.

Jesus did it.

You can too.

Love Like Jesus — Diet, Exercise, and Rest. Really?: John 4:5-8

So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

John 4:5-8


How Jesus Loved People:

Jesus took care of Himself.

What’s that? You’re asking, Jesus took care of Himself? So what? What does that have to do with loving people?

That’s a great question.

Here, in this passage of scripture, we see Jesus, the Son of God, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, taking care of Himself. He’s just finished exercising if you will, as He walked to the town of Sychar. He’s about to take in fluids, as He asked for a drink of water. He’s mindful of His diet, as He sent His disciples to buy food. And He’s resting, seated by the well. (Colossians 1:15)

It is a rather curious thing, isn’t it?


How to Love Like Jesus:

Maybe you’re like me and you feel like taking care of yourself is selfish. If you are you might be interested in this story.

When I was in my 40s, I wasn’t living like Jesus. I wasn’t taking time to go for a walk through Samaria. I didn’t have time to walk or exercise. I wasn’t taking time to ask anyone to refresh me with water. I didn’t send anyone to buy food, I only had time for fast food, my diet was terrible. I wasn’t taking time to sit down by the well, I wasn’t resting.

I was a high energy guy who didn’t have time for such things. I was in constant motion. I took on extra responsibility at the fire department, I signed up as an elder at my church, I hosted a home church group, I taught a men’s bible study on leadership once a week, I built a house and contracted it myself, my wife and I started a vacation rental business, I went to school for my Bachelors in Fire Administration, I started writing a book.

I was charging hard. I figured, hey, diet, exercise, rest, I’ll take care of all that after I’m dead.

Well — that very nearly happened. One night after a Fire Administration class in Portland, I was crossing the street to go to the Lloyd’s Center Mall. Suddenly I found it hard to breathe. I honestly thought I walked into a hazardous materials cloud of some kind. The only problem with that theory was, nobody else around me was having a problem.

Next thing I know, ka-boom, I’m in the hospital for a double by-pass operation.

God decided to take me down a notch.

Turns out it was a very big notch. Gone was all that energy I had. Some days I felt completely exhausted by 10 in the morning. But do you think I changed my approach to life? Nope. I took a promotion at work. I continued to sign up for classes for my Bachelors degree. I bought another vacation rental. I continued my involvement at church. I finished my book.

Needless to say, things didn’t work out very well. Without any gas in the tank I had trouble just functioning, let alone performing at a high level. I fell into a depression, which of course made things even worse. I struggled in every area of my life: spiritual, work, family, all of it.

I wonder how things might have been different had I taken care of myself.

Jesus didn’t live like I did. Jesus, the Power of God and the radiance of God’s glory, walked. (1 Corinthians 1:24, Hebrews 1:3) He took fluids. He ate. He rested. Jesus made sure He was in good condition to love people.

It’s true, it is selfish to rest, relax, and maintain yourself — when resting, relaxing, and maintaining are your end goals.

But taking care of yourself so you can do more for the Lord, so you can love Him more, so you can love people more fully, so you can become a sharper instrument to be used, by Him, for His purposes…

THAT’S NOT SELFISH.

You and I might think we’ll bear more fruit for God by keeping our gas pedal to the floor, but that’s a trap. When I’m too busy, or too tired, or too sedentary, or burned out, I don’t do well loving people.

My guess is, you don’t either.

Take care of yourself, so you can love people better.

Jesus did.