I wrote a few weeks ago about why we sometimes avoid talking about God. I listed several things that I thought hinder us. I want to focus much of my attention over the next weeks on how we CAN talk about Jesus with anyone in a way that makes sense.

Here's my first set of thoughts on that:

1. Learn to retell the stories Jesus told. We call them "parables." They're simply stories that encourage the heart. Learn 4 or 5 of them well and learn how to retell them naturally and in the context of your present life. I'm going to be doing a series of videos on this to show you what I mean.

2. Tell stories about the life of Jesus. Not what he said, but what he did. I will sometimes start with "...that reminds me of the time Jesus saw a blind man on the side of the road and...."

3. Know the teachings of Jesus and learn how to relate them to everyday life. For instance - "Have you ever been tired? Well, of course you have. I'm worn out right now from my recent trip. You's so interesting how Jesus said that he came to give tired people rest. Not sure how that works, but I know I could use some of that now..."

4. Tell the stories of Jesus touching someone else's life that you know. Don't always tell your own story - that feels too personal. Tell someone else's. Like this: "I was just with a friend of mine the other day - and he told me the most incredible thing that happened. I can hardly believe it...."

A great tool of teaching is not to TELL someone the thing you want them to know, but explain how that thing happened to someone else or was told by another person to someone else. In other words, give people the space to agree or disagree without feeling cornered. This by itself will change how you share your faith and how people respond.



I've been surprised over the last weeks how much fear has been expressed by numerous friends about the possibility of Obama getting elected. Now he has been. What to do with all that lingering fear floating around?

I've been dealing with this for years - after I speak - nearly every time...a few people come up to me and say something like "nice talk about Jesus and Muslims, but..." The "but" they insert is typically followed by something about Muslims being scary and that we need to fight the terrrorists.

Fear is a powerful motivator. There's been plenty of that in this election. Of course, no one says "be afraid." Wouldn't sound godly. It's called "Wisdom." "Responsibility." Or just "be aware."

I just finished reading Romans 12. It says "don't repay evil with evil." "Don't take revenge." "Love your enemies."

It's pretty clear that only God is to be feared. If we're afraid of someone, it becomes impossible to love them.

Regardless of who you voted for, now is the time to drive out any remaining fear with love. Three thoughts on how we might do this:

1. Only say positive things about Obama and where this nation might be headed. Don't say anything negative. Nothing. Not to anyone. Sounds simple, but it's not easy.

2. Do not read any emails that breed fear. If you find yourself angry or fearful after reading an email, know that that email is not of God. Delete and do not forward.

3. Learn something positive about whoever or whatever it is that you're afraid of. It might take a bit of work, but find out all the good things about that person or thing.

Do this and you will live in freedom. We need to be people of hope, faith and love. And the greatest of these is love.


Reasons we avoid talking about God

Why is it so hard to share with people that which is most precious to
us - our faith? And why is it so easy to talk with about sports or the
weather with almost anyone we meet? These questions have bothered me
for years - because it's hard for me too....

Here are some reasons why I think we find it difficult to share what's
most important to us - next week, I share what we can do about it.

It's hard to talk about God with our neighbors and friends because:

1. It is such a serious topic, we don't want to mess it up.

2. We've tried it, and it didn't "work" so we don't want to go
there again.

3. Things of faith are not what we're thinking about every
moment, so it's not what comes out of our mouths most naturally.

4. We haven't shared Jesus with people very much and so we just
don't know what to say.

5. We've got used to letting the "professionals" do that. Our
pastor or our church talks about God, the Bible and faith so we don't
need to.

There are other reasons, but let's discuss these. Think about it. Add
to the list. And we'll talk more next week.


Welcome to Good Thoughts

Jesus himself was a master at that. He called his 12 closest friends to be with him on a mountain in Matthew chapter 5, but by the end of that talk, he had a huge crowd (look at the end of chapter 7). He was speaking the deepest and most intimate truths to his 12 closest friends in the midst of the crowds.

I find that I, too often, want to change my message. Nuance it differently for different audiences. Sometimes this may be appropriate. But what if I could be the same man everywhere? Have the same message with anyone? What if I was – like Jesus – a man who lives these thoughts:

*Bring and live life
*Encouragement not condemnation
*Relationships matter
*Religion isn’t the answer
*Love the poor, serve the hurting
*The towel (of foot washing fame) is greater than the sword
*God invites people in
*God’s parties are for all. Only the religious keep people out

I think all of us need that. The smallest group of our closest friends as well as the crowds we don’t know. This is the message of Jesus’ Kingdom.