We will post blogs here from time to time that are designed to encourage all of us to reach out to our friends, neighbors, and relatives that don't yet know Jesus. We do hope you enjoy these contributions. All of them were written by the author of this Web site, John Emanuelson, with one exception that is noted below.
God was in the Air
When we went to the movies in the early 1940’s the newsreels were always played first. They detailed the successes the ally forces were having in France, Italy, and the Philippines, among many other locales. Then in the 1950’s foreign cars came in, and some of us enjoyed enlightening first-time rides in the Volkswagen Bug. God was in the air then. For those of us that were not yet Christians He was the one that showed us how to be honest, to stop telling even little lies, and the recipient of our prayers that we offered, perhaps infrequently.
Later on, some people with loud voices and even passion wanted to get God out. Just out! No matter where He was He needed to be vacated. In the 1960’s our schools were one of the first places that were attacked, which strategically was a good choice when you think about it, and then in the following decade a lot of babies started to be aborted. Praying in public was included along the way, because it may have offended a stray unbeliever in the back row. Of course, we all know the influence that cake decorations have in wedding ceremonies, so some bakers were taken to court because they refused to put two figurines of the same gender on a cake that celebrated the participants in a same-sex marriage.
As of a few weeks ago in Chicago this year three hundred and fifty five people have been shot and killed on the streets. More than fifty people were shot and killed in Chicago in August of 2018 alone. This year in Chicago a person has been shot every two hours and forty nine minutes, and a person has been killed every
fifteen hours and three minutes.
Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago and a very prominent member of the left side of the political spectrum because of his former position in the Obama administration. The following is paraphrased from his recent comments on Fox News when he was discussing the problems he is confronted with in Chicago . . . Kids need a moral structure. They need to develop character, self respect, a value system, and a moral compass that knows right from wrong and good from bad. Even the mayor of Chicago recognizes we need God!
I worked as a headhunter, a recruiter, for more than twenty five years in Silicon Valley. Prior to that I was a Cubmaster and Pack Leader for my two sons, and at one time I was in charge of all the coaches and referees participating in a soccer league of over fifteen hundred players. I’ve had to get people to do things a lot, so here’s a way that might help to get God back to the schools, the bakeries, and everywhere else we live . . .
I was recently given the opportunity to find some people that would volunteer to be mentors to disadvantaged students in a local high school. I first thought it would be easy, because I knew twenty people that I thought would do this. I sent out a blanket email to everyone in that group, but only one person responded. I recognized the problem, talked to our senior pastor, he helped produce a list of about fifteen people that his staff members thought would be interested in the project, I called each of them on the phone, and I only had a couple of declines!
I’m old, my knees don’t work like they used to, and a few days ago a woman drove into the parking space next to mine at Costco when she saw I was starting to load my purchases into my car from one of those electric carts. She asked if she could help me, I said yes, she did, and then she got back in her car and left!
The point: I’ve noticed that when attention is directed to only one person at a time to volunteer, participate, or accede to a request, the probability of success is very high. When a person confronts a group at the same time the probability of success is lower.
A pastor standing up in front of his or her church to say, “Reach out to your friends, neighbors, and relatives, tell them you’re a Christian, tell them about Jesus, and then invite them to church,” I don’t think is likely to gain much participation, because it seems people frequently hide in the plurality of others around them.
But if each of us were to accept the responsibility to speak with one friend, one neighbor, and one relative at a time and to just invite them to church, and if each pastor will implore the people of their church, one at a time, to reach out, and if you will ask each of your Christian friends to do the same, I think we’ll need to add lots of new services on Saturday nights and to move many of our churches into larger facilities. I believe we will not even imagine, ever, the abundant fruit of our work.
This is Outreach
Last weekend my wife, Diane, and I went to Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast. There's a great beach there, an excellent bakery, some interesting shops, and a couple of restaurants that we like. One is Mo's that specializes in seafood, as you probably know, and their clam strips and clam chowder were wonderful. The only problem we encountered was the number of people that were there. Lots and lots of cars parking all over the place, pedestrians clogging the crosswalks, and lines to get into anything and everything.
I noticed something interesting on the beach. The groups there of two to perhaps six people all set up their little encampments approximately eighteen and one half feet from the people around them. There were no restrictions or posted limits on how close to each other they were to get, but everyone obviously knew what to do. It was like early in the morning a Marshall had placed markers where each group was to sit. Weird, huh? It occurred to me that when we won't get within eighteen and one-half feet of other people it's no wonder that we have trouble reaching out to people around us so that we can tell them about Jesus Christ. Do we perhaps do this at home, too?
When we were leaving the bakery I had to get down a few steps from the patio area to the sidewalk, and this very nice man offered to help me. I managed to do it by myself (I use a walker now), but I offered my standard greeting to the man, "I'll bet you go to church, too." He replied, thoughtfully, "No, but I used to." It turned out that both he and his wife left their church because of the loud music that the younger people prefer. We chatted about that a bit, and Diane was able to offer the name of an excellent Foursquare Church in Beaverton, the man's hometown. I chipped in a story about Randy Remington, the outstanding Senior Pastor there, and the man seemed interested in our recommendation. Perhaps he'll return to church.
Yep! That's Outreach, everybody. If that sounds simple to you, well, it is simple. You agree?
Several years ago my wife and I were temporarily staying in a large apartment house complex in southwest Portland, very near Beaverton. It's a heavily wooded area with many trees, and we were inundated with thousands of maple tree seeds, perhaps even millions of them. They're the two-inch ones with the football-shaped seed and an off-center flag. They were all over the roads, perhaps six or eight deep at the curbsides, piling up in all of the grassy areas, and one day when the wind was stronger than usual there were so many seeds flying about in the air that it reminded me of a snowstorm.
I wondered why God would produce so many seeds from each of the trees. Seems kind of wasteful, doesn't it? There are probably enough of them to produce a thousand trees on the ground just around one tree, and all of the seeds in the streets will just die there, producing nothing.
Of course, when a seed drops from its tree we don't know where it's going to land, do we? Perhaps it will land on an automobile or a teenager's bicycle and be driven to a fertile area miles away. Ten years or so from now it will be dropping its own seeds each spring. Perhaps over time it will even produce a majestic grove of sturdy maple trees far away from us.
But I think God wants all of us to do the work of outreach in the same way that He's designed the production and distribution of these seeds. I certainly see a parallel there. We're to make hundreds of contacts about God, asking strangers if they go to church, inviting lots of people to church services, loving those around us, bringing up the name of Jesus during the transactions, giving God the credit when things are good, acknowledging that God will fix things that are going bad, and explaining that in His fatherly way He teaches us something new in the process. It's just like the snowstorm I mentioned. We certainly don't know which of our invitations to church or loving acts of kindness will produce a brand new believer, nor are we responsible for that.
The key though seems to be in the abundance.
We recently had a special outdoor service at our church, which is called Summit View in Vancouver, Washington. About 1,200 of us gathered in a field next to our main building, the weather was cooperative, and the terrific message was on unity in our body. We have a wonderful new pastor with a lot of enthusiasm. He’s powerful. We had lots of baptisms for which we raucously cheered each time the person came up out of the water. (Does your church do that? Seems like a new thing to do.) We even had one of those drone airplanes taking pictures. Tables were set up for lunch in an area behind us, and the food trucks were already in place and at work.
I was sitting on the end of an aisle, and off to my left was a parking area, which was confined on two sides by a string of large wooden poles laying down on the ground. They were fat ones like those used by telephone companies. One of the poles became not only a plaything for a boy that was only about 2 feet tall, but it was also a challenge that told me something about this little athlete. I call him Little Bernie.
The boy had his church clothes on . . . black pants, white dress shirt, but no shoes or socks. At first he crawled on his hands and knees up and back the length of the pole, but he probably knew walking across the log was more of a challenge and certainly more fun. So he tried that. At first he walked slowly, taking steps only several inches long, and he held his arms out, just like a professional on a tightrope. His face showed his determination and desire for success. His first falls were not too serious, but then he hit his head on the parking area.
That’s when I learned something important about this little cherub, because each time he got up and got back up on the log.
For all of us that are starting to reach out to our friends and relatives and tell them about how much Jesus loves them, we’ll be scared, we’ll feel unqualified, and we’ll need a drink of water or possibly something stronger. We’ll make mistakes, we won’t follow up a question with another question so that the conversation will continue, and sometimes we’ll wish we never started the conversation.
But each time it gets easier, and it starts to feel good, too. And then, BLAM! Somebody really responds, and we have this feeling of being at least 3 inches off the floor. They accept an invitation to come to church on Sunday, they agree to come with us to see the pastor of your church next Tuesday, or they just favorably respond to our questions and comments. That’s because we kept trying. We kept reaching. Just like Bernie.
And the feeling is incomparable.
A Great Story
It started with a twelve year dream of Dr. Ken Hutcherson, founding Pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington. He desired to see all children from the Foster Care system adopted into loving families. Dr. Hutcherson said, "We took $20,000 cash just as Jesus did with minas in the parable of Luke, and had it at the church meeting in May of 1998. I spoke from the Book of Matthew on talents and told the congregation, 'Everyone here is going to get cash from us today'."
A total of $16,000 was dispersed to the 1,500-1,600 in attendance, and the parable of multiplying talents was explored. By the end of the service the congregation knew what was expected. Everyone ranging in age from 5 to 17 was given a crisp $5 bill. Those 18 and older were given a $10 bill. "We want you to keep this money for 6 months, mix it with your God-given talent, and we're going to take it up on Jesus' birthday as we celebrate in December," Hutcherson concluded.
"Just as it happened in scripture though, some people pooled their money to invest it, some buried it, and some saved it. But the majority took that seed money and invested it in different, creative ways.
There were so many creative ways that people participating in this challenge used. One mother wanted to involve her children, knowing they would learn more by doing than by example. Her seven year old daughter gave manicures for $1 ea, her four year old son drew portraits of people for a quarter (he even included a goatee for no extra charge!). Another group banded together and wrote “Amazing Recipes that Stir the Heart & Soul,” a spiral bound cookbook showcasing favorite family recipes while addressing spiritual needs in practical ways.
By adding God-given talents to seed money for six months, the initial amount increased in excess of 1,750% or 17.5 times, for a total of $280,000 collected. Those funds provided the start-up money for Antioch Adoptions. Now, 19 years later, we’re radically changing the face of adoption as we continue to remove barriers, whatever they may be, and make adoption a land easily traversed by both adoptive and birth-parents for the sake of children in need.
(The above is a reprint from the Web page of Antioch Bible Church)
Headhunters, people that are also known as recruiters, are typically ranked down around used car salespeople because of their sometimes shameful ethics and dishonesty. That is, they tell lies to customers, strangers, people they know, even their mothers. I am a headhunter, so I know this.
I called a church today up here in Oregon to see if I could get them to hire me to find them an Outreach Pastor, because I knew they didn’t have one. I did know they needed one, but I also acknowledged that they might not know that yet. A receptionist answered the phone, and when I told her I wanted to speak to the church’s Senior Pastor she immediately asked me my name, why I wanted to speak to the pastor, and then she put me on hold. Hold lasted a long time there, I thought. I know about hold, too, because I’ve been there a lot.
When she returned to tell me the Senior Pastor had no interest in talking to me, her tone had changed. I knew that because I can hear stuff like that from people. Remember, I’ve worked on the phone as a headhunter for more than twenty five years. So, you can believe me when I say tones change.
She was haughty! She was the Queen of Reception over all she could see. She ruled well beyond her desk and chair. Haughty is perhaps hard to define, but, believe me, she was haughty. You’re supposed to act just a little bored in order to be haughty. A little impatience is good, too. There’s perhaps a little gasp, maybe a tongue click. Indeed, haughty is easy to spot after twenty five years on the telephone.
What troubled me was why is someone that is working in God’s house acting haughty? Has she been so abused that she needs a headhunter’s telephone call to restore her self-respect? Was she denied care and devotion by a father that worked years ago as a headhunter?
As you probably know, I’m nuts about something called outreach. It’s reaching out to those that don’t yet know Jesus Christ. It’s such a joy. It’s boundless and thrilling. You walk up off the floor sometimes after you’ve reached out. You do! I think always being thoughtful, caring, warm, and loving will show people what Christians are like. It’s easier to talk with them about Christ when we do that, too.
Remember the Miracles!
When you’re sharing the news of Jesus Christ with someone, and you’ve told them that He loves and specially cares for them, you need not feel you have to be a Bible scholar to go forward, because you have miracles to use.
God created the earth, and you can say that. Then point out to the person that they could be standing, or actually clinging, to the earth even though they’re upside down. That is, if the earth’s rotation is such that day, they could be at the bottom of the world, not the top, as it appears. Ask your compatriot about that.
Then there’s the miracle of conception and reproduction. The man delivers his seed to the mother, her egg receives it, and nine months later a baby is born. The baby will talk, burp, walk, drool, laugh, and love in a comparatively short period of time. Give him a few years and that same baby will think, remember, make stuff, smile, and love some more. Wow, huh?
Seeds play an important part in how our food grows, too. It’s miraculous enough that a pepper seed, small enough to go unnoticed, can grow into a plant that’s way taller than any of us. But they wouldn’t get very far without our colossal weather system that brings the sun, the wind, the rain, the night, the snow, and the bees that stir things up just like they’re supposed to. More miracles? Right!
Planes fly because of a curious configuration of their wings. Do you want to guess who set that up?
Finally, although not everyone will agree that this stands with all of these other miracles, there’s chocolate. Chocolate has only been revealed to a selected group of very special people who understand that without chocolate there’s no life. I hope you understand.
So, there’s just a few of our miracles.
All you have to say then is that God did all this, He loves the person in front of you, and you can tell them that God, His Son, and someone called the Holy Spirit wants to walk with them and forgive them and outrageously love them . . . every day.