Gospel of Matthew

Changing the Conversation (Please read this!)

people of the presence

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By Norm Cannada

When I think of the First Century church, my mind immediately jumps to the story in Acts 2 where the church — about 120 men and women at the time — are gathered together in one place focused on the resurrection of Jesus and the call to tell others.  The Holy Spirit takes control of the meeting and God comes forth in a mighty way.  I imagine people from the city peering into the windows, trying to get a glimpse of what was happening.

No one is peering in the windows in the church today, and they haven’t for a long time.   Most people in my inner city community in Charleston, WV are not just unchurched —they don’t give the church any thought. They say they do not believe the church has anything relevant to say to them.
In many homes throughout America, the name “Jesus” is not heard in a typical week unless someone hits themselves with a hammer or stumps their toe.  We are raising a generation of children who have little or no knowledge of who Jesus is and how much He loves them.
It is my heart to see Christians work to “Change the Conversation” with the people we see in our communities.  There are many ways to share the love of Jesus in everyday life.  One of my favorite ministries is as simple as eating out in a restaurant.  I learned from conversations with waiters and waitresses that the one shift people do not like to work is the Sunday lunch shift.  They say the people are rude and do not tip well.  When I first heard that, it broke my heart.
I was especially sensitive to this because I had seen the effects of Christians who were rude to waiters and waitresses.  We had a team of volunteers come to West Virginia from North Carolina for a long weekend of ministry.  After a busy day, the team went out to a local restaurant.  The service was not very good and one woman on the mission team began complaining about the waitress to the management.  Her complaints eventually led to the waitress being fired.  Before the team left, the woman who had complained went to the waitress and continued to complain, saying the waitress did not do her job well.  She then pulled out one of my business cards and, instead of a tip, handed it to her and said, “you need to talk to this man.  You need to change.”
It turned out the waitress lived just blocks from my house and she came to see me the next day.  But, she didn’t want my help.  She was angry and hurt.  Nothing I said to her then, or in the years to come, could convince her that I, or anyone else, cared about her.  The damage was already done.
So, we began praying for waiters and waitresses to let them know God loves them, making sure that we act in a way that matched our words.  Anytime anyone went out to eat, they were to order their meal and then say to the waiter or waitress, “We are going to pray over our meal.  Is there anything we can pray for you about?  They were also to be friendly, tip well and not complain about anything.  I reminded people they were not there for the service.  They were there to serve the Lord.

This simple act has changed lives.  Yes, some said they didn’t have any prayer needs, but often the requests led to a good exchange about faith.  I have also seen wait staff sit down at the table, share needs and ask if we would pray right then in their presence.
On December 7, 2010, 10 churches participated in a “Change the Conversation” event.  People from the 10 churches were assigned to eat at one of six Mexican restaurants in the area.  They were asked to do three things — ask the waiter or waitress for prayer needs and pray for them by name, be friendly and tip well (at least 20 percent).  There was a tip given to the kitchen staff and another tip was given to the waiter or waitress.  Each group of people was given specially made Christmas Cards, written in Spanish, to give along with the tip.  The cards explained the reason for Christmas and offered the name and phone number of the man who led the Hispanic ministry.  By the end of the night, our Hispanic Ministry leader had received a call from a man who was overwhelmed by the love of the people who prayed for him.  They met the next day.

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About the Author:
Norm Cannada has worked as a newspaper editor and writer as well as an inner cty pastor and church planter.   He lives in Charleston, WV.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

Time to get out of the boat – By Maria Egilsson

Matthew 14:22-36… the boat was buffeted by waves.. “It’s a ghost,” they cried out in fear”Lord, if it’s you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter got out of the boat heedless of the waves and walked on the water toward Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

love hope faith

On a stormy sea your boat does sail.
The wind is strong and your ship does fail.
The waves are high and the storm is long.
You don’t think that you can last for long.
You’ve tried your best to no avail
As strength is gone and hope is frail.
When you think that life is through
It is then He comes to rescue you.
You are not sure of what you see,
Is it a ghost that calls to thee?
The thrashing waves obscure your view
But you are sure He has called to you.
You take a step out of the boat
And faith in Him keeps you afloat.
But all at once the wind does blow
And your feet begin to slow;
Sinking in the briny flow.
He lifts you up and calms the sea.
Only you He does rebuke.
What is this? Your heart does ache.
Peter, He is readying you

For a task which He calls you to.
This is His training ground for you.

God calls each of us to a very personal walk with Him. He will deepen the call that He has put within your soul. He will test you and prove you before He will use you further. There will come a time though when He is ready to enlarge that which you have already been proven faithful in. Then comes your time of testing, just like it was for Peter. God wants to do something new; something that you may sense in your spirit but you are not quite aware of the details yet or if this really is God nudging you to step out of your “boat”. Just like Peter was unsure at first, not recognizing who was coming towards him on the water. It is wise to make sure it is Him by asking, like Peter did, “Lord, is it You?. Then, if you are sure it is Him, step out of that boat no matter what you see around you. Your faith may be unsteady because you have never walked this way before but He is with you and He will steady you. His plan He will make known to you more clearly as you begin to walk this new journey with Him.

 

About the Author: To know Maria Egilsson is to know someone who is passionate about issues women face, their relationship with themselves, with God and the world around them. Maria can be contacted through her blog at http://thewoman2woman.blogspot.ca/ Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com CHRISTIAN WRITER

The Power of Touch – By Don Pedal

How many of us have really thought about the power of human touch?
The Bible gives us many examples of Jesus’ healing touch. He touched the leper and healed him immediately. Leprosy was, then, a fatal disease with no known cure and was highly contagious. If a man had leprosy, he was banished from his home and community and had to live among other lepers until he died. As the leper cried out to Him for healing, Jesus approached him, touched him and healed him immediately. ( Matt. 8:3 )
We have the time when Jesus visited Peters’ house. Peters’ mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever. Jesus touched her hand and the fever left her instantly. ( Matt. 8:15 )
As Jesus and the disciples were passing by, a woman who had been hemorrhaging for years approached Him from behind and touched the hem of His garment. She had faith that just touching His garment would heal her. She also was healed.
We might be tempted to think, yes, but He was Jesus and, as God, He had the power to heal.
We might also think, I know that certain persons were given the power to heal by the Holy Spirit but that is not one He gave me.
Can we so easily dismiss the power of human touch? It is often unrecognized as a healing power or underestimated.
Years ago, at the graveside service of my father, I was sitting and quietly grieving. Deeply withdrawn, I suddenly felt a hand from behind me gently rest on my shoulder. No words were spoken but I will never forget the comfort I experienced knowing that someone shared my grief.
What are some of the ways that touch can make a difference?
Sometimes visiting the sick is an opportunity to show that you care by just being there, holding their hand or touching their shoulder. Words are not always necessary to show your empathy, just your quiet presence. We might just drop by to visit a troubled friend and share a cup of coffee. A warm handshake, an arm around the shoulder or a hug can mean a lot. There is something healing about relaxed conversation around the kitchen table.

Just what do we mean when we say empathy?
Some people feel that empathy is simply feeling sorry for someone else. We tell them we will pray for them and then go our way.
Empathy is defined as the projection of our own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better. It is our ability to share another person’s emotions, thoughts and feelings.
We often do not realize that there are really three persons present — our friend, the Lord Jesus and ourselves. We know He is present because the Bible tells us that when two or more are gathered in His name, He is present also. ( Matt. 18:20 )  We must always be aware that the third person, Jesus, is the real healing power. We are simply a channel of God’s love to those afflicted. Understanding this frees us to rely on His power to heal. We also know that our prayers will not go unheard or unanswered. God does not always heal instantly. Delay does not mean He has not heard us. He may choose to heal through normal medical treatment, a process that can take time. He may choose not to heal telling us His grace is sufficient for us as He did Paul. Also, remember, ” We have not because we ask not”.
Empathy is important because people do not care about how much you know until they know how much you care. We must show that we care about them as a human being and not some project or obligation. We need to build trust and mutual respect and that takes time.
I learned this lesson one Christmas Day serving at a local Rescue Mission for the homeless. After serving the food, I sat down at one of the tables. The men were very courteous and friendly but I sensed a quiet reserve. Later I talked to a member of the Mission and I mentioned the feeling I had. It was then I learned a lesson in empathy I never forgot. She said, “They appreciate your being here but they know you will leave and they may never see you again”. Empathy takes time and a genuine focus on another person’s needs.

We may become aware of the need around us and decide to think about it. It soon fades from us as new ideas emerge which we will think about. We do have good intentions. Remember that good intentions are only dreams until acted upon.
Do you have a problem with good intentions?  Look around you! ” The harvest is white but the workers are few”. ( Matt. 9:37 ) Your world is full of opportunities to minister to those in your personal sphere of influence. What makes the difference is your decision to think about it or act.
Make your decision RIGHT NOW!
Do not think about it ACT!

As a senior citizen, I am dedicated to serving the Lord through sharing my experiences and insights with other believers. My primary focus is upon being a disciple of Jesus and, in being one, I can help others to find their spiritual way also.
This article is original and not copywrited

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>