On the Road to Emmaus, Pt. 2

If you haven’t already, check out On the Road to Emmaus, Pt. 1 first…

OK, I admit it. I am old. Sometimes, I just don’t get all of the hype about social media. Do I really want to see your pictures from high school? Do I have to hear about all of the cute things your new puppy did today? I’m overwhelmed by all of this information. I just can’t listen to it all.

But that’s not the point of social media – my desire to hear or see your story. Social media thrives because it is desperately important for post-moderns to tell their stories. The purpose of social media is to show and tell, to celebrate, to bear witness – to prove I am alive. In the cold and depersonalized world of digital interfacing, telling their story is the way post-moderns prove to the world they are alive.

This need to tell their story – to be seen and heard – is the reason the second lesson on the Emmaus road is so important for us to learn.

Here’s the second lesson: Jesus listened.

– He asked Cleopas and his friend what was going on and then, Jesus listened.
– He validated their grief and questions by giving full attention to their story.

Post moderns need to tell their story. They need people to listen, to really pay attention. That’s why, in reaching out to post moderns, the most important thing you can give them is your undivided attention.

– Listen. Hear their stories.
– Know where they have been, their dreams and disappointments.

Only then – when you know them and when, because you know them, you love them – only then can you tell them the story of Jesus.

We live in an attention deficient world. You have no idea how lonely that world can be when you think no one is listening. Turn off your phone, pour a cup of coffee, look at them and listen. Don’t judge. Don’t interrupt…just listen. In time, they will return the favor. Then you can speak. But only then.

Today’s assignment: Practice paying attention.

Look around your office. Listen to your teenager at home. Read their Facebook pages. Look at the pictures. Follow them on Twitter. Sit down over coffee and just listen. Hear their questions and their joy.

Who needs to tell their story? Who’s trying to get some attention? In the name of God, be sure they get it.

I’ll be back with Lesson 3 from the Emmaus Road.

On the Road to Emmaus, Pt. 1

I began working with emerging adults when I was asked to lead a Bible study by several young adults in my church. I had known most of them since they were children, so I agreed to help them get it started. Famous last words! That little Bible study developed into the ministry we call Kairos. It’s now about 1500 young adults and students. I haven’t missed many Tuesday nights with them for the past seven years. While I am not sure how well I have done teaching them, I can tell you they have done a good job of teaching me.

The one area in which I am learning the most is in evangelism. Every Christian is called to share their faith, but in this postmodern setting, we must do it in a very different way. What surprises me is that it’s not a new way; in fact, it’s ancient. What I have learned on Tuesday nights lines up almost exactly with what I see Jesus doing on the road to Emmaus. (See Luke 24:13-35.)

Over the next few blogs, I will be expanding on some of the lessons I am learning from spending time with Jesus on the road to Emmaus and spending time with emerging adults on Tuesday nights.

Here is the first lesson: Evangelism is relational.

This was true for Jesus then, and it’s true for us now. Unless you know a person and their journey, they will not listen to you. Notice what Jesus did on the road to Emmaus:

– Jesus joined Cleopas and his friend on their journey.
– He didn’t worry about their destination. Jesus just walked with them.
– He didn’t demand that they turn around, or change directions. He walked with them.

I am impressed that Jesus didn’t seem to be in a hurry. He was content to walk in their company.

In working with post-moderns, we have to be intentionally comfortable in establishing relationships. We should know their names, where they have been and where they want to go—all of this before we take the risk of speaking.

In our attention-deficient culture, the most important gift you can give someone is your unhurried focus—your company. Walk with them. Listen. In time, as happened with Jesus and His friends as they walked, they will want to hear your story.

Every good lesson has a quiz. Here’s today’s:

– Who are you walking with?
– Who has God placed you alongside – at the office, the gym, the Starbucks you visit every morning?
– Look around where you live, work and play. Who is crossing your path daily? Might you be a companion on their journey?

Work on answering those questions. I’ll be back with Lesson 2.

Truth Worth Telling

The following is a guest blog from Michael Boggs. Learn more about Michael at the end of the post.

I’m not much of a blogger. In fact, there are so many people writing blogs now, I feel there are enough “opinions” going around for everybody. Facebook status updates and tweets tell us everything from what a person ate for lunch today to how tired someone is from a long week. 1000-word musings rant on why this world is going to “you know where” in a hand basket. I get bored with all the information. Overloaded. Numb. That’s why I’ve come to appreciate Truth that’s worth telling. Worth hearing. Worth living. And I can only think of one book that contains that kind of truth. Truth that is powerful, encouraging, challenging, and loving. That truth is only found in the Word of God.

I long to hear the Truth, the truth of God. The truth told by His people, His children. The scriptures lived out in world that’s listening more to the lives we live than the words we say. I’m not sure I can even live up to the standard the scriptures set for all of us that try to communicate the Gospel, but I will try. And only with the grace-filled help of a loving Father will I succeed.

Matthew 3 tells us about the baptism of Jesus. This is one of the most profound and powerful scriptures I’ve ever read. Here it is: Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

I’ve read this passage of scripture at least a couple hundred times, and it increases in power every time I read it. Why? Because you have a Father who’s willing to tell the whole world, literally, about His love for His Son and how pleased He is with Him. It’s the beauty of a perfect relationship. Here are a couple of observations that I’ve read and want to pass along to you.

Theologians argue that this is Jesus’ point of identity—the moment when Jesus knew who He was and was ready to accomplish His mission or purpose. The basis for that argument is immediately after hearing God the Father say, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased,” Jesus is led into the wilderness by the Spirit, tempted by the enemy, and then walks out to begin His public ministry. That’s right. Until then we have no record of Jesus performing any miracles. No casting out demons. No healing the sick. No proclamations that He was the Son. The Promised One. The Savior. Which brings me to one of my first conclusions:

Identity should always precede purpose.

Who we are should fuel what we do. Not the other way around. If your purpose fuels who you are, then who you are will constantly change depending on what you do. It sets up a dangerous mentality of “I am what I do.” My friends, we are far more than what we do. Those of us who are believers are God’s children. His beloved. His chosen. His. We are first and foremost HIS. Everything we do is fueled or powered by our relationship with God and who He says we are. Jesus most certainly lived this way as even in his last breath Jesus says, “Father, into Your hands I commit my Spirit.” From beginning to end, Jesus was God’s Son. Loved and pleasing to His Father.

Side note: I realize some of us don’t do well with the father analogy. If you’re reading this and you’re having difficulty relating to a loving, caring and truth-filled Father, I am sorry. Surely God will redeem the brokenness of that relationship either on this side or the other, but I will remind you that you can be more than your Father’s mistakes. You can be the change in your family. And honestly, you need to be the change in your family. Your spouse, your kids and your friends will become better for it. You will become better for it. It’s hard but press in and press on. Okay back to the story.

My second conclusion is this:

Believe who God says You are.

Listen to what the scripture tells us in Isaiah 43:1:

But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

Then in verse 3 and 4 it says:

For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.

There is that statement again: I love you. There is so much power in those words! A long time seminary professor said, “After all my studies, after all my spiritual pursuits, the truth that is hardest for me to understand is found in a child’s song:”

Jesus loves me. This I know.

Even if we spent all day, every day trying to discover the Father’s love for us, we would not even scratch the surface of his affection. And to quote one of my favorite hymns, “In Christ Alone”, there will never be anything that can “pluck us from His hands“. Romans 8:37-39 says:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I wonder: if we allowed ourselves the privilege of believing theses scriptures and not just hearing them, what would happen to our families, our churches, our places of work. Is it possible that God would use His Word to transform us (Romans 12:2) and then transform the world? Yes. You and I need to be the change in this world. To live like we’re loved beyond measure. To be confident in our identity as a child of God and pursue His heart in this world with the time that we have. That’s’ the truth.

So maybe I’m not a blogger but I am God’s son. His beloved. His. And that’s truth worth telling!

Hear it, believe it, and live.

Michael Boggs is the Worship Leader of Kairos. A former member of the Dove-award nominated band FFH, Michael now pursues a solo career. In addition to leading Kairos worship every Tuesday night, he continues to keep a rigorous, solo-touring schedule performing and leading worship over 120 dates a year. Michael has also lent his songwriting ability to other artists that garnered him multiple Top 10 singles as well as a featured song in the major motion picture release “Facing the Giants”.

His first solo project, More Than Moved,  was released October 19, 2010.

Read more of Michael’s writing on his blog or follow him on Twitter.

The Change You Need Might Be You

All of us seem to praying about something. Given the chance, each of us would take a minute to describe a situation that, with just a little help from God, would be so much better, or at least easier.

We pray for better relationships, for better jobs, for more money. We want something to change. But here is the catch: we never seem to think that we might be the change God wants to bring to the situation. We usually assume that it is something else or someone else that should change.

But what if…

• What if God wanted to give you a new marriage by giving your wife a new husband?
• What if God wanted to give you a new job by giving your boss a new employee?
• What if God wanted to give riches—more than you could carry—just not the kind you can buy with money?

Mathematicians tell us that if you change one part of the equation, you have changed its outcome. So, if God changes you or me, hasn’t He changed our circumstances?

We all are praying for change, but few of think that we might be the change God desires.

What about you? What would change for you if YOU were the change God wanted to bring to your circumstances?