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How many of you went to church or youth group the first time because someone invited you?

On Thursday night our guest speaker at church, Georgian Banov shared about how he became a Christian – he kept on being invited round to peoples houses for meals and they would talk to him about Jesus and after about 2 months he said yes to going along to church with them.

My own story is that I was invited to church by a friend in class who had never talked to me about God or youth group or anything before, she just turned to me and said do you wanna come to youth group.   I said yes.  Because God had been at work in my life way before then to draw me to him.

But sometimes we forget this.  We forget the power of invitation.  We forget about how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  We forget that God uses us to share the gospel and to invite people to church.

We get busy with life and family and work and doing, and we forget that Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save the lost.  His priority mission was one of rescue.

It’s great to come to church and get blessed and encouraged and to connect and to be inspired…. But one of the most important functions and designs of the church is to reach out to those who are lost, hurting, broken.   This is OUR mission.

As the children of God we are His representatives here on earth.  We are called to seek and save the lost – just as Jesus did.

Now sometimes we can put this into the too hard basket, or we think it’s something that only the evangelists can do, or the pastors, or we don’t quite know what to say or how to do it.

The great thing is that God gives us all the tools to step out – because He has given us the Holy Spirit which empowers us to be His witness.  All we need to do is say YES to be used by God and to then step out and do it!

This week, think about who you can invite to church.  Think about who you can reach out to…. then just do it!

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The other week I had a dream I knew was from God.  Last night I shared about it with my youth at HKC as they were main characters in it.

In my dream a whole bunch of us were in a massive hotel.  It had many floors and elevators and stairs.  We were in a room with huge glass windows and glass French doors that showed us the rest of the hotel.  It had a library and big tv and comfy sofas.  While we were hanging out the hotel hallways started to fill with people.  Some were faces I knew and some were strangers.  Then there was a noise.  We looked out the windows to the outside and into the hallways and the hotel was been taken over by daleks.

The Daleks were going round saying EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE and zapping people.  We moved the couches and shelves over the doors and barricaded ourselves in the big safe room.  But we realized that the people in the halls were in danger and at opportune moments we would pull the couches back and then rush into the halls warning people and getting them to come into the big safe room with us.  In the big room they could read and rest or watch a movie.  More and more people joined us and then more and more people were going into the hallways and up the stairs and rescuing people.

RESCUED PEOPLE RESCUE PEOPLE

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Cor 5:19-21

Being a rescuer starts from the inside out.  It starts with making rescuing a priority.  It starts with aligning our heart and goals and identity with His heart, His goals and His identity.

It starts with knowing that our mission is to know God and make Him known, that “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10.  Like really knowing.

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FirstAid

Earlier this month our Kids church pastor and I did a first aid course.  After doing the course we feel empowered and ready to save lives and leap buildings in a single bound.  We did the CPR training – 30 to 2 no matter who, to the beat of staying alive, which sounds much better than to the beat of another one bites the dust.  We bandaged head wounds, knife wounds and a range of broken bones and amputations.   I only killed Jen once in our practice scenarios.  Of course the key to first aid is blankets – do you know how many times we had to use a blanket to complete our assessments and save our patients.  Many times.  But seriously, the key to first aid is knowing what to do in an emergency situation and having some pre-prepared responses that kick in when needed.

After having a conversation with someone the other day I realized that there are parallels between first aid and evangelism.  The key to feeling empowered to step into an emergency first aid situation is as I said, that knowledge of what to do and some pre-prepared responses that guide you through a situation.   I feel confident that if I came across an incident, that because of the first aid training that I would feel competent to step in.  I even dreamed about it the other night!   I did however think it was odd that kylo ren was the ambulance driver….  Welcome to my world….

The key to feeling empowered to step into an evangelistic situation also involves knowing what to do and how to use those skills.   Our confidence comes from being trained and equipped to step in when the opportunity presents itself.

God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness.  It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.

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God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness.  It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.

God has qualified and empowered each one of us to do this momentous task.  It should be done every day in every conversation in every opportunity.  It’s not something we turn off or turn on.  We don’t clock in or clock out. We ARE witnesses.  24/7.  We ARE the light of the world, unhidden and shinning bright. God often uses small matches to light up great torches, no matter how small you feel in this world, He has something big in store for you and will use you in amazing ways.

I know for myself that the key to being a witness and a light is to say YES.  One small word changes my intentionality level and willingness to be used by God.  One small word.  YES.

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When we say YES to extraordinary things can happen.  Our willingness to say YES opens the doors for God to bring people.  Saying YES can be the hinge that will change our lives, and the lives of those that we have God conversations with.

  1. Recognizes & Responds

When we say YES To God we recognize that it is His will, not our will.  He is God and He sees all and knows all.  He can lead us to the desert because He knows who we will meet there.  He can take us to unfamiliar “places” because everything is on His radar and map.   Saying YES acknowledges that He is Lord and that we are not.

YES is our response to God’s love and grace.  Obedience isn’t to win salvation or “pay it back” because it is a free gift from God, but when we love Him we want to live to please Him.

1 John 2:3–6  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

 

John 14:15 puts it even more black and white.  “If you love me, keep my commands.”

 

If we say we love God and yet are not prepared to talk to other people about Him, and are not prepared to step out as God leads… then what does that say about our faith????

 

 

 

  1. Responsibility

God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.  God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that all who believe in Him will not die but have eternal life. And God uses you and me as ambassadors, as representatives, to proclaim this good news.

God’s plan is to rescue the world and the very agents of change to proclaim the gospel is you and me.

Rescued people. People who have experienced grace for real.

We have a responsibility as ministers of reconciliation – as ambassadors for Christ.

Todd White, awesome evangelist, says he isn’t a professional evangelist, he is just a full time Christian.  When we make evangelism a task instead of a lifestyle we relegate it to the to-do list, or the maybe-do list.   We put our evangelist hat on when it suits us instead of living all the time on the ready, in the role, ambassadors representing Jesus everyday, in every way.

It is our responsibility as believers to “Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you.”

Pray that God would set up scenarios which would give you the chance to invite someone to church and share your story with them. Don’t be reactive, be proactive and ASK God specifically for these moments.

 

 

  1. Results

I am more convinced now than ever before that someone who says “yes” to God in big ways and in small ways is a world changer and an eternity changer.

Sometimes the world seems so big and the commission to tell all the world about Jesus can seem quite daunting. But I have personally experienced the wonder of simply being obedient to whatever is right in front of me and it is enough.

My job is obedience. God’s job is results.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Isaiah 55:10-11 says “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud,

That it may give seed to the sower

And bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
When we have God conversation with someone we are planting seeds, watering seeds and sending forth the Word of God.

Don’t you love the iconic spray and walk away add.  30 Seconds, spray, walk away.

In the same way we have a conversation, we pray, and then we walk away.  The results belong to God and just as the 30 seconds solution works on the lichen and moss, dissolving it, so the words of God and the Holy Spirit works in people’s hearts dissolving barriers against the gospel.

So often though don’t we put the pressure on ourselves to not only plant the seed, water all the other seeds, weed the patch, apply fertilizer and harvest the crops….   The results are Gods.  God may lead you to pray with the person or to take them to the next level but the results are His.

 

 

  1. Refocus

Peter talked last week about how we are being conformed into the image of santa, I mean Jesus, the perfect evangelist, the perfect apostle, the perfect teacher, the perfect prophet, the perfect pastor.  We are all being transformed to be more like Jesus.

This transformation process is the journey of refocusing on what is really important.

Seek first the kingdom of God.

“The Enemy is trying to get you off assignment. He wants to distract you with something that God is not emphasizing in your life so that you will miss what God wants to teach you in that moment. Make no mistake: God is trying to grow you exactly where you are.”  Banning Liebsher

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.” —James 4:7-8 MSG Focus

Life is more than breathing and so often everything can become focused on me me me unless we surrender to a constant process of refocusing.

Refocus on what is important to God.  People.  Lost people.  Jesus said His mission was to seek and save the lost.

Refocus on how God sees people.  Do we see people as unreachable, in the too hard basket, or that they’ve got it all together?

Having the heart and lifestyle of an evangelist means that you will begin to look at the people in your life differently. Every person in your life is created in the image of God, and Jesus commands every one of them to follow Him. God has placed these people in your life so that you will do everything that you can to influence them. Following Jesus means that you will be teaching other people to follow Jesus.

God sees people as children He loves and died for and did everything to rescue them.  When we refocus and allow God to soften our hearts for people we align ourselves with his heart.  It is often the hardness of OUR hearts that is the barrier to people getting saved than it is the hardness of their own heart…

Being completely honest, list a few reasons why you’ve avoided inviting your friends to church. Then pray over each one of them – that God would give you compassion and courage instead of focusing on yourself.  Ask God to change your perspective about those who don’t have a relationship with Him: ask Him to open your eyes to the reality that their soul CRAVES Him.

 

  1. Rejoice

When we say YES to God we get to be part of the redemption process.  “Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person.” He wants to partner with us – that rescued people would rescue people.  That we who feel the effects of grace and love, who have experienced salvation for real, would then get to go and tell other people about it.   There is incredible joy in being used by God.  There is nothing better than a conversation with someone that becomes a spiritual conversation.  Heaven throws a party when one person gives their lives to Jesus.  That is rejoicing.

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As I pause to help others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  A person pursuing obedience is able to pause and touch those that He says need our time, in spite of busy schedules.  The obedience soul redefines who she is through God’s eyes and any hesitation to do what He asks fades way. // Lysa Terkeurst

 

Whether I’m writing an encouraging note to a discouraged friend or lending a helping hand to a mother who is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of her life, I’ve discovered its so simple to bring the light of God into the midst of our everyday world.  It is in the small acts of life that He can be reflected so beautifully – taking a meal to a new mother, welcoming a new neighbour with an invitation for dinner, or even just smiling at strangers as we pass them on the street.  as i pause to help others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  // Lysa Terkeurst //

 

“Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person.”  // Lysa Terkeurst

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God has made us ALL to be witnesses – not just the people people, or the extroverts or the youth or the whatever, but all of us.   If you are a born again Holy Spirit filled believer in Jesus Christ then the bible says that you are filled with power to be a witness.

Sometimes we need a reminder as to what that means and to how that can look in our real life, and a reminder about how passionate God is about this.  God is passionate about the lost and the prodigals.

 

Now we can know that in theory.  We can know the nice bible verses and have a mental agreement that yes, God loves Lost… people.

But how do we embrace and engage the wonder of evangelism and make it real in our lives.

What does it look like for your life?  For your context?

 

Who do we invite?

How are we invite someone?

Why are we inviting them?

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“I know how hard it is to talk about Jesus. It’s the most awkward conversation you’ll ever have. If you even say the whole Gospel out loud right now, it sounds like the craziest thing you’ve ever heard. But the Gospel isn’t some “speech’” you unload on people and then “leave it in God’s hands.” Blasting people with theology is like serving icing for dessert.

Evangelism is your whole life, it’s sharing your home, it’s enduring patiently, it’s being a human being, it’s availability, it’s sharing Jesus through who you are; not perfectly, but passionately. Yes, invite them to church and to that revival and talk about your faith and your testimony, but once you dare to go there, just know you might be rejected immediately, a lot, and aggressively. Except secretly they can’t deny there must be something to it, because you’re not just a billboard: you’re an overflow of a barely containable supernatural miracle.” – J S Park

 

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Recently I got to watch a clip of a 12 year old boy give a speech in the Auckland speech finals.   His sister died in the Elim cannoning tragedy in 2008.  His speech was on legacy and the challenge to his audience was  What are you doing to leave a legacy?  He challenged us to make our lives count.

Life is more than breathing.  It’s more than minecraft (shock), more than our friends, more than today.

You may think, yeah I’ll think about that when I’m 21, when I’m a grown up, when I’ve got a job.  But today matters.  Today counts.  Today you are creating your legacy.

The greatest legacy we can leave is lives changed eternally.  To see His Kingdom Come.

DL Moody, a famous old dead guy who was a famous preacher and revivalist said ““The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”

 

“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man or woman fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that person.”

 

That is the challenge that I throw down to each of you, to myself.   To know God and make Him known.

So how do we make that real in our lives?

 

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home.  Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them,  four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat.  They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves,  “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”

Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts?  Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?  So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said,  “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”  Mark 2:1-12

 

In this passage we see four men with radical faith, who created a legacy and made a difference.  They heard Jesus was in town and knew that Jesus was the answer their friend needed.   This was their one chance, their moment.

Their friend was paralysed.  He could not walk or move.  He could not get to Jesus himself.  He needed the deliberate intentional choices and actions of his friends to get Him to Jesus.

 

Who are you bringing?

 

Who are the paralysed people in your life?  They may not be confined to a wheel chair unable to walk or move, but there may be other areas that they stuck and paralysed in.  Loneliness.  Fear.  Rejection.  Depression.   Sin.

The paralyzed man had his whole life radically changed.  He could walk and run and dance for the first time.  And more importantly, his sins were forgiven.  His eternity was changed.   He knew that God loved him, rescued him and that God was real and amazing.  Heaven collided with earth.  It was more than just a story, it was more than just a good idea.  God did something so real and irrefutable, so big and spectacular that it blew the limitations that people had around God.

There is so much more possibility than we have seen before because Jesus is more amazing than we can dare, ask or imagine.  So lets dare, ask and imagine great things and see God exceed those things.

In my own story, before going to youth group I was paralyzed.  Just like that man.  I was stuck in the blackness of my life.  I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing.  I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life.

On the first night I was at youth group they sung a song – Don’t you know that I love you, don’t you know that my plans for you are good.  Look and see I’ve engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

When God saved me it was like I walked for the first time.  In fact, at the end of the meeting I went outside and did cartwells and couldn’t stop moving and talking and expressing the crazy happiness I felt on the inside!

I believe that as we bring people to Jesus we’re going to see people get up and walk for the first time.  We’re going to see the mess of people’s lives collide with the majesty of God’s grace.  We’re going to see people set free and discover that they are created on purpose by a very real on purpose God.  You are going to see the amazing things that God can do through someone that says YES.  Someone who is consecrated and goes hard out to see His Kingdom come.

 

The people who know their God shall be strong and do exploits.  Dan 11:32

 

 

** this is my message at Collision Youth Camp

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