Monday, November 30, 2009

Got Fishin’ Flexibility?

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there." ~Acts 17:17


You can learn to fish! And you can learn to flex as you go fishing ...just like a fishing pole!


If you are a Christian, you will hopefully not go after idols like blind world-lings do ..seen (physical) or unseen idols. You will instead want to be a good witness for Jesus no matter the location or the circumstances where He leads you.. and no matter how the situations may change or vary.


Paul was just such a witness. And like Paul, we too have got to be ready in season and out give a viable reason to people for why we believe what we believe, even if things don't turn out as we would have them.  


The apostle Paul didn't so much have a "Come hear me" attitude, but he did have an "I'll go wisely tell them" attitude and that's exactly what he did with the Good News over and over again. He let the Spirit close doors, open doors and day by day lead him in all this. Do you? You can!


I love how accessible Paul was. I love how he went to where the people were ..not merely to speak, but to listen, to learn ..and so that he could with sincerity, engage people. I just love how Paul had back-bone—a no-compromise commitment along with deep convictions from the Spirit. He wasn't perfect; sure he was quirky to the max, but I love how he proved to be flexible and zealous in personal evangelism like when he was dealing with those in Athens.


It started with Him and the Word in the synagogue of the Jews for three Sabbath days. That was his custom.


Yes, Paul was prayerful and therefore he could adapt and flex to the situation without inappropriately going beyond what was written. It was always a great day when Paul ministered using Scripture because he really felt an inner burden for people.


In Athens he cared for those spiritually poor elitists who were literally ignorant of the truth, but instead of recognizing their condition.. they were feeling quite smug like they knew so much more. Ya gotta go check out this story in Acts 17.


And some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were pretty curious about Paul. After they quibbled a bit among themselves asking, "What does this babbler want to say?" (verse 18), Paul was actually invited to come address the locals. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be asked to speak to these up-and-outer cognoscenti dudes.. these upper-crust-ers of the Athenian intelligentsia and of so-called higher learning so to speak.


No matter what Paul felt like inside, it wasn't about him or about all that inner warm n fuzzy fickle stuff. It was about what God wanted to freely give them because of what Jesus did on the cross to pay for their ininquities and wrongs!


They probably had invited him to speak sensing that he wasn't some kind of puffed-up arrogant type, as so many gruff religious people can so easily become.


Still trying to figure Paul out, some people mumbled, "'He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,' because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, 'May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?'" (See verse 19).


Do people today want to know about doctrine? Not so much for the most part, but we all should take interest in sound doctrine and how to apply it! But "puttin' on the speakers hat" if you will ..and his down-to-business goin' to meetin' face, Paul was excited to address these valuable people. And that's exactly what he gladly did!


Didn't waste any time! Why should he? If the fish are nibbling, why go off to study about bait, lures or species.. or the inner child or nature of the fish?


Just drop a line and set the hook when they hit. Chuck some krill, some sardines or old cheese overboard, watch the school flock and then use if net if you can! The more real intake the better.


Yeah, it didn't take Paul long at all to start out.. he didn't need to go on some hyper-spiritual quake n bake n shake, week-long fasting retreat to make sure this was really from the Lord. Hey, a retreat ain't bad per se when the time is right for such, but that's my point. He didn't have much time. There's a time to pray and there's a time to prayerfully act!


Thank God that He, through a prayer-n-share love relationship, had already made Paul in-tune with the Lord's missionary heartbeat n will. So Paul seized the opportunity for God ..not for self.. he just jumped on it and, yup.. quickly adapted his approach, his tone, his tempo, his tact and thought processes to be fitting for his hearer's sake.


Was he leaning on the Spirit enough? Time'll eventually tell. We can see one day in heaven.


You and I certainly need to lean on the Spirit's enabling!


It was a wonderful opportunity huh, one that makes ya wanna whole-heartedly feel like worshipping Jesus 'til you drop over on your side for sheer exhaustion!


Hey, we too have got to get off our blessed pew-warming posteriors and out the door to where the fishin' be good! Sure, if we want to obey and find people to "Friend" for Christ. Do we have all the time in the world? Aren't we livin' in the last days?


I know one thing for sure.. you and I are indeed living in our last days. It's time for the Church to jump in the hammer-lane with this Mandate!


Be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share. —1 Timothy 6:18


Love is giving for the world's needs, love is sharing as the Spirit leads,
Love is caring when the world cries, love is compassion with Christlike eyes.


How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? —Romans 10:14


What's my point with this old witnessing story?


Well, it's this. If you think it's time to play with tools n time n lives n church for playin's sake. You're wrong. If you feel like the Great Commission and the Great Commandment is merely for the paid professionals to carry out. You're dead wrong! It's for you and for me and for everyone who is about to get on board.. cuz a lot of paid professionals simply aren't riding this train to glory!


Fishermen use different kinds of bait for different kinds of fish. There is indeed a time to study! There is a time to pray for those we'll catch too.


The Gospel is already relevant—it's not to be taught in some boring, monotone or joyless manner! It's thrilling to serve Jesus Christ! What greater cause is there?


But when you go fishing for men, women, boys and girls to speak (instead of for dogs and cats and fish and monkeys and all kinds of endangered animals—and I do feel love all those creatures some too), you also must use different kinds of bait that really attracts these people in a righteous kind of way. Ask God what to use! You want to be a straightforward, consistent example.. and offer something that people will clearly understand; something they will be able to relate to. Sure; that's how you came to know the beauty of Jesus. 


We find the primo-example of this type of effective fishin' in the Gospel of John chapters 3 and 4, as Jesus.. like a sharp-shooter ..presented the Gospel Message to two very treasured individuals. Not like a shot-gunner—*B O O M*—but more like a non-reckless well-seasoned guy down to business did Christ connect with a very religious teacher of the law and also with an immoral licentious woman. Absolutely, Nick at night was someone's innocent little boy at one time and she was someone's precious little daughter to protect.


With Nick, Jesus got right to it saying, "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:3, nlt).


In other words, Hey.. check it out. Bottom-line your current birthday with all the balloon, horns, streamers etc or how ever you celebrate it.. just won't cut it with your Maker. You need a new one from the One who got you birthed the first time! Your classy n yet very cold looking synagogues, your elaborate robes, your incense and candles, your hyper-rigid religious attitude along with the high-brow hoch- nasig religious views.. they just won't gain you any brownie-points with the God you teach about. You need to wake up on every level to the reality of eternity and what's really at stake here! And Nicodemus, you need to do it quickly cuz you ain't getting any younger ..if you know what I mean buddy.


Now of course Jesus didn't use any flippant slang like I do, but you get the picture of how he cut to the chase. You remember how Christ tenderly with fierce holiness spoke to that beat-down n bummed-out woman at the well. Man, she erroneously had a man's-the-answer-problem. She over and over again, tried to quench her deep inner thirst for love with guys who merely feigned or failed at the kind of intimacy and personality that she really longed for ..and could only be found with Jesus the Christ.


Have you looked to find true faithfulness and fulfillment in relationships with men or with women, or now-a-days with either ..or with whatever? Stop it. Quit listening to all the voices in the fashion-forward-world, you know from the New York or Hollywood media that are singing and shouting at you about what you must have. Quit wasting your time.


Jesus understood the woman at the well. He knew her real needs and He appealed to her inner longings in the right way. He spoke of a strong living water to quaff-down that would radically satisfy her. It will you as well.. if you'll simply come to Christ right now.


You and I have broken God's holy laws (admit it, I will too), but Jesus Christ was a flexible compassionate Fisher of men, of women—of all kinds of people! It was for the Gospel's sake. And you wanna hear it huh?


Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and... rose again the third day. —1 Corinthians 15:3-4


Listen, Jesus wants to catch you here and now you are, where you are ..if you are willing to repent and be changed by Him. What do you have to lose? Nada! Null! Zippo!


And then Christ wants to make you a part of the Solution for this sin-cursed-planet-of-wayward-n-wicked-folk rather than part of the problem (peeps merely in the way and hindering others..) as so many have wittingly and unwittingly become. Jesus always adapted short of sin ..yup, did it totally right for every person and that's exactly what we need to do as well! You can learn this!


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