Friday, February 1, 2008

God, Love, People...

Today, I write this email from an overwhelmed heart. I have been back down in New Orleans for a little over three weeks and God has been here working on me in so many ways, challenging me to go to new places and do new things. There are many but today I want to share just one and hope you will be encouraged and challenge in the same way I have been.

God has been burdening me recently for lost people. As a Christian and future minister I do not share my faith enough. To be really honest I don’t do it all. I’m scared and terrified of failing, what people will say, rejection. There are tons of excuses that I give. And while I spent time giving them, people in America are dying and going to hell. I have the answer and the way, but I am keeping it to myself. I got it (my salvation) because someone shared it with me. But I’m not willing to do the same for the people living here in New Orleans. It’s not that I don’t believe that Jesus wants to and can save people, for me it’s simply a faith issue. I don’t trust God enough when he says that He is going with me. If I were to begin to share, God promises to be with me & guide me.

My week of thinking and conviction started on Monday night when I attend a volunteer meeting for a gathering called “HimnI” that I help out with here in the city. ( Greg Wilton, one of the leaders and communicators for this ministry shared a song with us. I got a copy from him that night and have not taken it out of the player yet. The story and message of this song will rock your world.

The song is by John Mark McMillan. ( Several years ago John had this friend named Steven. One night at a prayer meeting Steven prayed a prayer in which he told God, “If it would shake the youth of the nation, I'd give my life. I would give it (my life) today.” That night he died in a car accident. From this John wrote the song “How He Loves,” as a way of trying to help fulfill Steven’s commitment and conviction to shake and reach the lost youth of America. The song is about what it might have been like the first time Steven met Jesus, his Savior for the first time.

Following are two links, I hope you will check them out. They are really powerful!
To “How He Loves” Video w/ John Mark McMillan’s explanation behind the song

To “How He Loves” Video w/ pictures of people from the world. (substitute in faces from your town and work)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this song, and message that comes from it this week. From this I think we can see that God is faithful. He answered the first part of Steven’s prayer (even though Steven died, that was his prayer. Seems weird but it’s true.) And God is moving things toward and working to answer the second part of it…shaking the hearts of the youth of this nation. For me I try to think further than just the youth of this nation to all the people of this nation. God loves America in the sense that he wants all people to come to knowledge of him in which they receive salvation for their sins and are redeemed.

Steve offered a sacrifice for something he believed in, he literally died for it. I think God has issued the same call to all believers; unfortunately we don’t like to think of that too much. In both Matthew 10:37-39 and Luke 14:26-27 Jesus tells his disciples that those that love their life lose it and those that deny themselves find life--die to themselves and their selfish desires. Being a follower of Christ means that we have to figuratively sacrifice ourselves daily and follow wherever and to whoever Jesus leads.

This past week God has continually revealed this to me throughout the day, many times. Wednesday in a class I am taking on personal evangelism. (Isn’t God funny sometimes? My heart is burden and I’m taking a class in which we are talking about sharing our faith. There’s another picture of God’s Faithfulness.) My teacher said that the fear of failure is the #1 reason people don’t share their faith. But the fact that Christians forget is that if go and share we don’t fail, ever. Even if the person doesn’t pray to receive Christ. We fail only if we don’t go. To not go at all, to not share at all is to be unfaithful, this means that we fail God. Thinking on that fact for a minute will rock you world and change your feeling toward sharing your faith. At least it did for me.

Related to this issue, David Crowder also wrote a chorus which says, (paraphrasing here)
“I’m just trying to make you sing from inside where you believe.
Like it’s something that you mean…like it means everything to you.
That this is for real.”

In conclusion, let me ask you a question. How do you “sing” with your life? Is your heart broken for the lost people in your city, workplace, school, home, wherever else you do life at? There are a line that is referenced a ton of time in the Gospels which says, “Jesus saw the people and had compassion on them.” What goes on in your heart when you see people? Being a follower of Jesus means that we love the things he loves.

I don’t have this mastered, but I am working on it and journeying with Jesus. I pray and hope that God will lay it on your heart to pursue the same.

“Oh, How He Loves Us
Oh, How He Loves Us
Oh, How He Loves Us”
--“How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan

He Loves Us and Wants Us to Love Others,


Mattthew Howe said...

I have to confess that I've had the same fear for a while. I know what I should do...but I've been too afraid. Matt, thanks for sharing, it's been an encouragement to me! The song is a strong testiment to what God is doing and what he will do when we trust him! God bless you as seek to follow God!

Rob Wilton said...

love all of the thoughts. i am pumped that you are part of the church and mission in New Orleans. keep doin what your doin!

Edmund said...

powerful song, inspiring insights from this blog. Glad we got to hang out a little more than usual this week. I think I like the deep side of the brick more than the angry side. hah.