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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

As our heart changes, our focus changes ..

from things to people

from fear to faith

from the past to the present need

from our agenda to His agenda

from complaining to prayer

Why we need it?

A significant number of those claiming to be born again Christians are confused about John 14:6 –‘I am the way the truth and the life’

37% of white evangelicals believe many religions lead to heaven

11% of believed our actions could get us to heaven

Biblical response? Afflict the comfortable: I Timothy 4:2 – ‘Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.’

People are admitting to struggling in life:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – January 16, 2009: The number of Americans who say their lives are a struggle climbed steeply last year from less than half the population to nearly six in 10 people, a vast Gallup poll showed Friday.

"In January of 2008, 49 percent of Americans were thriving, 47 percent struggling and four percent were suffering. In November and December, 38 percent were thriving, 58 percent struggling and four percent suffering,"

Biblical response? Comfort the afflicted: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.’

Justice is often partial:

Deut. 16:18-19: ‘Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality.’ – Leaders are not to distort justice, not be partial in justice but to judge with ‘righteous judgment’

Biblical response Vote according to biblical truth and pray for our leaders

Vote for those who represent Biblical views A significant portion of young 20-40 year old born again believers voted in the 2008 election according to the hallmarks of their particular generation. (see below)

Pray for our leaders. I Timothy 2:1-6a – ‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men’

Biblical response – heed the word while avoiding judgment of ones intent

Matthew 7:1-5: ‘"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." ‘

The issue: Tolerance versus righteous judgment: judging ourselves / seeing wrong and speaking out. The warning someone said is avoid having a bitter, hypercritical, faultfinding spirit.

Am I right but not righteous? Will Christians continue to criticize President Obama but not work to get the gospel out?

The creators of the Hard Truth video that we use at Gateway – the Center for Bio-ethical reform, ask this question:

What will bring an end to legal abortion?

A Constitutional Amendment?

Nominating Pro-Life Justices?

Making Abortion Unthinkable?

They select # 3 as I would and I’d also add that the only way to make it unthinkable involves reaching the HEART, not just the mind or the emotions.

Gap between Christians of various ages

Baby Boomer - a person who was born during the demographic Post-World War II baby boom. Seventy-six million American children were born between 1946 and 1959. (They are the 49 to 63 year olds around us) They distrust institutions (in the '60s they wore "Question Authority" buttons).

They are shaped by the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution and Watergate. They grew up in good economic times and are considered self-indulgent and desirous of instant gratification.

The age wave theory suggests an impending economic slowdown when the boomers start retiring during 2007-2009. Some experts expect the worst consumer recession, since 1980, to occur when aging boomers start retiring, adding to rising unemployment, decline in house values, and declining stock prices.

Why is this important? Leadership Forum puts it this way..

"The call, of course, is for change of a most dramatic and threatening kind. We need to rediscover how to be at home with the publicans and sinners (assuming that we do know a few of these, which is unlikely for those heavily involved in church programs).

Instead of knowing what we are against, we need to know what we are for and say it with grace, common sense and conviction."

Biblical response – GO into a lost world: Matthew 28:19-20 –

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you’

We need to recognize that much of what we are doing has little meaning for people turned on by material acquisition and addicted to the fulfillment of personal agendas. It is crucial that we be seen by the wider community to be in fellowship with our brothers and sisters of the faith who carry a different denominational tag.

I believe Gateway reflects that fellowship while working to maintain a Biblical standard.

Generation X – Busters - 48 million people ages 38-49 born between 1960 and 1973 – (They are the 36 to 49 year olds around us) A materialistic and image conscious age gave way to overtones of cynicism, satire and outright mocking against things held dear to the previous generations.

They feel influenced and changed by the social problems they see as their inheritance: racial strife, homelessness, divorce, AIDS, fractured families and federal deficits. They are multicultural and very comfortable with technology.

President Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961.

Our president is a part of Generation X.

Knowing this may help us pray for him.

Why is this important? (thoughts from ministry magazine)

Generation X'ers view lifestyle choices - 7 of 10 redefine how they decide what is right and wrong- absolutes. Their compass decision-making is friendships and experiences.

They literally determine right and wrong based upon what seems fair, right and true in light of their perceived loyalty to peers.

Earning access to their hearts and minds means that you have to understand each person's unique background, identity and doubts.

Biblical response - ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9

Generation Y - 76 million people born between 1974-1980 (They are the 29 to 35 year olds around us) called the the Millenial Generation or the "Trophy Generation", or "Trophy Kids," a term that reflects the trend in competitive sports (as well as many other aspects of life) where "no one loses" and everyone gets a "Thanks for Participating" trophy. (It’s all about ME)

Why is this important?

Generation Y has been described as directionless, lacking in community ties and meaningful participation in communal life.

There is no easy answer to reaching these people

Novel methods are required to reach them

The kinetic and the audio-visual will catch the attention of these people - (Power point, dancing, etc.)

A warning to those whom God calls to directly engage "Gen Y" is to avoid novelty at the expense of the Word

Biblical response – I Corinthians 9:19-24 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.

To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."

Relative to church attendance and participation:

62% of those who left would consider returning.

41% would return if someone invited them.

30% would consider returning if it would make a difference to the church.

50% would return if they felt it would bring them closer to God.

1/3 would return if it would fill the spiritual/emotional void in their lives.

64% would prefer to return to the same denomination if they couldn’t go to the same church.

How do we impact these generations? A combination of approaches..

Preach the Word – keep the focus

Allow for change of methods without change of message

Go out of our comfort zone

Avoid condemning

Pray instead of criticize

Confront instead of complain

Adapt to those we are trying to reach, while not mimicking them

James 1:27 –‘ Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

How are you doing in this?

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