Friday, June 30, 2017

It’s time to SHINE!

Did you know that people are watching YOU?  I’m serious… they really are!  I remember discovering this for myself when I got my first job as a teenager working at the mall.  The only job I could land as a 16 year old was at a fabric store.  I knew nothing about fabric, sewing, crafts, or the like, but I figured I could learn for a paycheck, right?

On my breaks and lunches I would wander across the mall snacking on food from the food court while looking for bargains.  Do you know what I noticed as I did this?  People were WATCHING me!  In the olden days, when I was a teenager, they called those kind of people… “People Watchers”. 

These special “People Watchers” would go to the mall, sit on benches, and watch people… for fun!  It was kinda creepy!  I’m from Missouri… you know… the “show me” state.  Maybe that’s why people found this SO exciting or entertaining there. 

I guess if you think about it, we are all “People Watchers” in a sense whether we realize it or not.  We watch to see if people are really going to be WHO they say they are to others, or if they are a phony.  If they call themselves a Christian, do they follow ALL of the Bible or just some of it?  Do they really love people or just say they do?  Do they have flaws like everyone else or are they perfect (which is unattainable so why even try this Christian thing if that is the case)?  You get the point… people are watching.  YOU are watching others too.  Maybe that’s why when people mess up or fail in a sense in an area of their lives we are so devastated… we are watching!

I love what Matthew 5:14-16 has to say about how we should “represent” while we are being watched by others.

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (MSG)

God’s intention for us as Christians is to SHINE… represent Him well to others.  Let His light shine through us.  When we do this, others will be drawn to God in us as a result.

Our church’s mission statement is...
“Love God, Love People, and be a Bridge connecting the two”

When we truly love God and love people the way God would have us to, our life becomes a bridge connecting lost, hurting, and broken people to God.

How can we SHINE brightly for God…

Love God.
Commit to daily spending time with God.  I try not to leave the house until God and I have spent some time together.  I need God’s heart to touch mine before I can connect with people.  If I don’t, the grouchy in me rises up and offends others.  That definitely doesn’t help me shine brightly for God. 

Choose a special time to meet with God each day so it happens.  Do what works best for you.  Find a place that works for you to meet where you won’t be interrupted.  Have a plan.  Where will you read in the Bible?  What do you want to pray for?  Make a list.  See this time with God each day as a “date”.  Look forward to it.  Talk to God like you would a friend and take time to listen too.  I think you will be surprised at what He might want to say to you.

How can we shine bright for God…

Love People.
Be Jesus with skin on for others to see.  Don’t just talk about God’s love with others, show them!  Let them see God in you without you saying a word by the way you LOVE others.  Be different.  Love unconditionally.  Don’t hold grudges.  Forgive quickly.  Let God’s love flow through you.

 People are watching.  Be who you say you are all the time.  Show God’s love every day… not just on Sundays.  How can we do that?  Think about all of the places you go often.  Do you see the same people a lot?  … at the gas station, the grocery store, the bank, the gym, the school, your workplace, etc…  You should if you are paying attention. 

When we are spending time loving on God (before we come face to face with people) and showing God’s love to others daily… eventually God will give us opportunities to help build a bridge to Him.

How can we shine bright for God…

Be a bridge connecting the two.
It all starts with us stepping out of our comfort zone to connect with others.

Think about those people you see often in your life.  I challenge you to start talking to them.  Get to know them better.  Learn their names, ask questions, and be friendly.  Remember the things they say to you and ask them about it the next time you see them.  Show them you care.  If you recognize their face, chances are you look familiar to them too.  Start “building a relationship” with them.   

Recently I found two people that I have seen a lot in “my” world.  One works at a store I frequent often for home supplies.  I noticed him at first when he started.  They seemed to have a huge turnover of employees and this guy stuck around.  Every time I went in there, he was there.  I started being friendly at checkout making small talk.  Eventually I learned his name.  Then I noticed he became one of the managers.  I congratulated him.  Eventually at some point, I will share God with Him as doors open in conversation and bridges of trust are built.  Who knows what will happen then?

The other person I connected with recently works at Bath and Body Works.  I frequent this place every few months to stockpile on wallflowers (air fresheners) to neutralize the “boy stink” in my home.  (If you need help with this, check out a previous blog post I made on tips on how to get rid of the STINK in your home here.) 

When I went there last time, I remember meeting a lady who was a new employee.  She had just moved to the area.  We talked for quite awhile.  She shared some of her story with me. I went back in recently and saw her again… or at least I thought it was her.  I brought up things she had shared with me before and asked if she was “the lady” I had talked to a few months back.  She was!  I love how God brings things to mind right when we need them.  It’s not that I remember everything or that I’m perfect.  God just helps me remember things when I need to for His purposes.  It’s awesome!

It’s time to SHINE friends.  It’s time for us to be purposeful about loving God, loving others, and building bridges for others to come to know Him.  I believe in YOU!  You can do this and it’s SO much fun! 

Ask God today to open your heart to love lost people, your eyes to see them all around you, and your ears to hear their hearts cry.  Let’s become bridge builders for Jesus today.  Who’s with me?

Living to leave a legacy,