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Changing the Conversation (Please read this!)

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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>

God Has A Mission for You

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artwork@creationswap/tombell

By Michael Okyere Asante

A shepherd boy once lived, and in him God was to accomplish his plans to deliver the world from famine. This was the boy Joseph. As early as seventeen, he was actively involved with his brothers in his father’s businessshepherding of flocks.

In dreams, God revealed His plans but these dreams seemed too true for his family to believe, and this earned him hatred, jealousy, rebuke, and a bad reputation. God had a mission for Him, and as He walked in obedience to His word, God brought Him to the peak of his mission. Joseph proclaimed, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Gen. 45:5, 8a)

God has a mission for you, and as you walk in obedience to His word, He would continue to direct your paths and reveal to you His next line of action. Obedience is key to accomplishing God’s purpose for your life. Where He leads, follow. The songwriter said, “I’d rather walk with God in the dark than walk alone on a road with signposts.”

Many times, we fear what we do not know. This is a result of lack of trust. God does not need to show you everything. He decides what and when to show you. You need to trust Him to lead you through the dark. Do not let fear prevent you from accomplishing God’s purpose for your life; you have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of boldness. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”(Prov. 3:5, 6)

As you walk with God in the light of His word, He reveals His plans concerning your life. Initially, His plans for your life may not be comprehensible, especially to your family, and to your friends. That’s why you need to be careful who you share your dreams and revelations with. You cannot afford to allow discouragement, jealousy, hatred, and rebuke to hinder your journey to achieving God’s purpose for your life. Joseph was naive in telling his dreams (Gen. 37:5-11, 20); nevertheless, God brought His plans to pass.

As you walk with God, He reveals His mind to you. Therefore, you need to maintain a consistent fellowship with Him. You should realise that the source of your strength is the Lord, and if you are cut off from this Source, you would not function nor accomplish His purpose for your life (Jn. 15:5).

Remember, God did not reveal to Joseph that through him (Joseph) He was going to save lives from famine. He only revealed to him that he would be one with authority. It was only when Joseph continued to walk faithfully with the Lord that he understood the full meaning of the dreams he had.

Just as God prepared Joseph for his mission, God has given you gifts, talents, and abilities to prepare you for your mission on earth. These are to be used to accomplish this mission. God would entrust into your care little things, and you need to be humble enough and diligent in giving good account of what He has entrusted into your care. When you are able to do that, He would lead you into the next big role of accomplishment.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Lk. 16:10-12, KJV)

Whatever role God has entrusted into your care, do it with love, diligence, and commitment. No matter how small your role is or how people look down upon your role, determine to do it with all your heart.

You may not be the one to preach or lead a prayer session, but you may be responsible for sweeping the place of worship: do it with joy. God is preparing you for something greater. You may be pastoring a very small congregation: do it with all your might; God is preparing you for something greater. Do not take lightly whatever role God has given you. Account will be required of whatever we do here on earth.

Here was Joseph, a slave in the house of Potiphar, and later a prisoner of false accusation. In these two places (Potiphar’s house and the prison), Joseph did not consider his status nor did he forget his God. He walked faithfully with God, and worked with all diligence (Gen. 39:4-5, 22-23).

He exercised his gifts of stewardship, wisdom, leadership, and dream interpretation, and this gained him favour in the sight of God and man. No role is too small to accomplish.

If you fail to accomplish that ‘little’ role God has given you, you would deny someone an opportunity to know Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Saviour. God has a mission for you; fulfil it!
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R).Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Copyright(c)2010 by Michael Okyere Asante

In reprinting, no part of this article should be altered in any form.
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Michael Asante is a young author and a youth leader, and has for the past eight years been involved in teaching, encouraging, and counselling the youth. Michael blogs at http://michaelasante.blog.com . Contact him at christianlifeblog@live.com

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