Dave Ambrose: YOUR STORY, MY STORY, GOD'S STORY
Dave Ambrose is the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at BridgeWay Community Church near Indianapolis, Indiana.
Melody and I feel so grateful to be back in Ohio near friends and family. We're excited about what God's doing at our church (www.heartlandcommunity.org) and can't wait to see what he has in store for the future. We're learning many new things every week here and God is meeting us every step of the way. It feels great to be living moment by moment trusting Jesus to show us what's next!
I'm constantly reminded of how important it is to spend time in silence and solitude. Unfortunately this is completely counter-cultural in our day and age. Everyone (including myself at times) seems to constantly be on the run. We are a society addicted to speed and efficiency. Simply being quiet and listening to God seems incredibly difficult to wrap our minds around. Practicing Sabbath means we are out of control and God is in control. We are now on His timetable. What an incredibly freeing experience if I could genuinely give myself to it instead of getting sucked back into the worries of this life. The more I think about it, the more I've come to believe that my personal Spiritual Formation Plan revolves around the 5 S's: 1. Silence 2. Solitude 3. Sabbath 4. Study 5. Simplicity God, please give me the perseverance to see it through on a daily basis when my mind consistently wants to wander back to busy-ness and efficiency. God, give me the strength I need to pursue what's most important...
A friend I was meeting with last week said something that intrigued me. He said, "The Church is great at answering questions nobody is asking." This really got me thinking. In the New Testament book of 1 Peter it says: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." Notice anything special about this verse? "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you..." And yet I've personally seen many Christians offering answers when no one is asking anything. What would it look like if we waited until people actually started asking us questions? What if we let our lives speak for themselves? What if we weren't more concerned about other people's spirituality than they were about themselves? How could this change our approach to sharing our faith? What if we used a little more "gentleness" and "respect"? I just wonder how this would change things...
Yesterday I had the privilege of taking my son Tyler and his friend Andy to the Good Sam Holiday Give-A-Way at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds. It was so awesome to see so many people using their gifts to serve Jesus and other people. On the way over, I pulled out my bible and read from Mark 10 where Jesus is telling his disciples that true leadership is Servant Leadership. The way to the top is at the bottom. Jesus came to serve others and give up his life as a ransom for many. Please remind me of this today God. Mother Theresa once said, "The only real success is faithfulness." I love those words! God give me the strength and courage to live them out by serving people with your love today.
Yesterday I was giving the message in church and I referenced Jesus Christ as "the best way to God" and received quite a bit of feedback. Most people were simply inquisitive and wanted to know why I chose that phrase. Others I'm sure we're bothered by it and wondered why I hadn't used the phrase, "the only way to God" when speaking about Jesus. Here's my rationale behind why I specifically choose to use the phrase "the best way"...
First of all, personally, Jesus has proven Himself to be the best way for me to experience God. He has never let me down. I trust Him with every fiber of my being and do my best to place my confidence in Jesus Christ for every decision I make on a daily basis.
However, after recent conversations with people who definitely do not self-identify as Christ-followers, I've found that when I choose to talk with them about Jesus Christ as "the only way to God", it tends to shut down the conversation altogether. My hope is to share my faith in Christ with them. I've found it easier to have these conversations if I listen well and choose my terms wisely.
But some would say, "Jesus said of Himself, 'I am the way, and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me' (New Testament, John 14:6). If this "exclusive" phrase is good enough for Jesus, why isn't it good enough for us today?" While I certainly agree that Jesus Christ is the only way to experience a relationship with God, I also believe our methodology of sharing the Good News of Christ must continually change and adjust with our culture. I believe our current American Culture is turned off and tuned out to most Christian "conversations" these days, mainly because they are not "conversations" at all, they are one-sided monologues where Christians spout their thoughts and opinions and are quick to tell everyone "what the Bible says" instead of listening and trying to understand first and foremost so we can begin a genuine conversation with those who don't share our faith.
I wonder what would happen if we really worked at becoming better listeners, chose our terms wisely and admitted that we really don't know it all. I think it could be the beginning of a beautiful conversation...
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