Thursday, April 26, 2007


WNBS Recap
April 25, 2007

Compassion is a characteristic that the world needs to see in Christians. Many people might consider themselves compassionate whether they are Christian or not, but Christian compassion should look different from compassion the rest of the world expresses. Often, however, Christians express a form of compassion that is not unique to followers of Christ. Instead, they express compassion that is familiar to everyone.

Here are 3 Problem Characteristics of Compassion from Christians: How it looks just like the world.
1. Compassion without Answers: This is compassion that never expresses hope that can be found in a situation. This is compassion that never meets the greatest need of the one who is suffering, and that greatest need in their life is hope in Jesus.

2. Compassion over Responsibility: This is compassion that overlooks and excuses sin. This type of compassion says "they've suffered enough, why should they be reminded that their actions brought this suffering into their life." Through excusing sin, the compassionate Christian loses the opportunity to present the truth, hope and healing power of forgiveness.

3. Compassionless Rebuke: This is a lack of compassion for the reason that the one who is suffering "got what they deserved." Compassionless rebuke does not show compassion because the person's actions do not warrant compassion. This lack of compassion forfeits the opportunity to again present the hope and healing of forgiveness.

So, what is the starting point of compassion? Romans 12:15 tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." This is the starting point. Weeping with those who are weeping. Showing sympathy and bearing the suffering along with others. During this starting point, crying, hugging, and praying may be all that you need to do to show compassion to someone. As time goes on, however, Christian compassion moves into a different stage. For Christians this second stage of compassion, beyond the "weep with those who weep" must look different from the world. We see great examples of true compassion in the character of Christ and God.

3 Prized Characteristics of Compassion from Christians: How true compassion stands out.

1. Compassionate Hope: John 11:17-29-in the midst of the grief that Martha is feeling over the death of her brother, Jesus reminds her of the hope of life eternal. He may have been tellling her the miracle he was about to perform, but Martha still found hope in the fact that her brother would rise again, even if just spiritually. In the midst of suffering and crisis, we have the opportunity to present the hope of eternity through Jesus. This hope truly is the ONLY answer to grief and sorrow.

2. Compassionate Teaching: John 8:1-11-as the woman caught in adultery is about to pay for her crime with her life, Jesus teaches the crowd three things: He is perfect, we are all sinners, and forgiveness is available for everyone no matter how bad the sin may seem. Even though Jesus offered the woman forgiveness, he did not overlook or excuse her sin. He pointed it out to her in saying "go and sin no more." His revealing her sin was in a gentle and compassionate way, not in the heartless and unforgiving way that the pharisees approached her.

3. Compassionate Forgiveness: Jonah 3:1-4:4-in this familiar story we see both sides of the coin. Jonah preaches the truth and coming destruction to the people of Ninevah but does not want to see them forgiven. He wants to see them "get what they deserve." God, however, in his lovingkindess, patience, and compassion, forgives them of all the wrong, relents, and allows them an opportunity to put their lives right. No matter what others think of someone's deserving of forgiveness, we must show compassion that forgives.

A lot of times you just won't know how exactly to respond with compassion until you find yourself in the situation. You have to trust the Spirit to guide you in each specific case, but it doesn't hurt to think about and prepare for specific examples.

How would you respond if a teenage friend told you they were pregnant, had an STD, or were thinking about suicide?

How would you respond if a friend of yours was physically or sexually abused?

How would you respond if your neighbor's house burned down or their dad died in a car wreck?

How would you respond if your best friends parents were getting divorced, or she lost her job, or wasn't accepted to the college she wanted to go to?

There are all kinds of situations that require compassion. You compassion towards others will either show them nothing new or it will show them hope. If you are a Chrstian that is not compassionate, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to share truth and hope. We have more to offer people in the midst of their suffering that anyone else has.

But you have to be willing to get in at the starting point...weep with those who weep!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Foundational Characteristics

WNBS Recap
April 18, 2007

See if you can guess who is represented by these characteristics. The answers will be at the bottom of the blog:

1. Knows how to handle leather. Carries a big stick. Play in the grass and dirt all summer. Hopes they have a job in October. Favorite snack is a mouthful of sunflower seeds.

2. Goes to every house in town on a weekly basis. Would be happy to have a poor sense of smell. Sometimes finds an unexpected treasure. Most people prepare for his arrival the night before he comes.

3. Lives life a mile high. Prefers his peanuts in a small bag. All his work clothes have stripes. Whe he speaks, everyone listens.

4. Knows not ot put all of his eggs in one basket. A typical morning involves a "squeeze & pull". Is a plant manager. Favorite color is "John Deere Green".

5. Is always setting a trap. Lives an up, down, and side to side existence. Everyone answers to him. Hates small numbers. Heads out for at least a 300 hour cruise.

Characteristics are what define people. If you want to be recognized as a part of a particular group, you need to have the characteristics of that group. It is not different with Christianity. There are certain characteristics that should be associated with Christians, and certain characteristics that should not. The problem we run in to is that many times, the characteristics the world sees in Christian lives are no different from the characteristics in their own lives. Christian relationships often look just like worldly relationships. A Christian's attitudes are no different from worldly attitudes. A Christian's actions reflect worldly attitudes. And a Christian's speech often has nothing of Christ in it.

How do you want to be defined as a Christian? Do you want to be defined as someone who is religious but no different from the rest of us? Do you want to be defined as someone who is all talk and no action? Do you want to be defined as hypocritical, ignorant, or deceived? How can we change our world's perspective of the characteristics of Christianity?

The change starts with our relationships. We most often do our imitating of God (or anti-imitating of God) within our relationships. The world will see our characteristics in our husband/wife, parent/child, employer/employee relationships and in our friendships. Jesus reminds us in John 13:34-35 that people will know we are his disciples by our love for each other and the characteristics of our relationships. For the world to correctly define Christianity, our relationships must look different from the world.

The change continues in our attitudes and actions. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that our attitudes (heart) define our actions (flowing forth of life). If we have attitudes of pride, greed, anger, revenge and lust, then our actions are going to follow. True characteristics of Chrstianity, however, are counter-cultural. For the world to correctly define Christianity, our attitudes and actions must be counter-cultural.

Finally, there must be change through our speech. When Peter denied Christ (Matthew 26:69-75) he was confronted and exposed as a follower of Christ by the way that he talked. Are we to take this to mean that his accent gave him away, or something deeper than that. I believe it was more than his accent that gave him away, but his actual speech...what he said. Why? Because look how he responds to the accusation. He changes his speech to cursing. Our speech, if it is full of salt and light, will be obviously different to the world. For the world to correctly define Christianity, they must hear it in our speech.

What would people think if I told them you were a Jesus Freak? Would they say, "no way! He acts just like us!" Would they think, "whatever, he leaves us alone. We don't care what he is as long as it doesn't change who he is." Or, would they say, "Of course. There's obviously something different about them. So that's what it is!"

Our characteristics define who we are and who we belong to. Are you defining Christianity properly by your relationships, attitudes, actions, and speech?

Here are the answers!
1. Baseball player
2. Garbage man
3. Pilot
4. Farmer
5. Crab Boat Captain

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Remember Spring Retreat

Well, the Grow Up! Spring Retreat has come and gone, but hopefully what God taught you during the weekend has not been discarded from your life. I know God taught us all something as we studied through the whole book of Ephesians during the weekend.

I would love to know what your favorite part of the weekend was, what God specifically taught you, what made the biggest impact on your life from the weekend, what your biggest "Ah-Ha" moment was, or just why you are glad that you went. Please comment to this post to let everyone know what God did during the weekend!

Here are some pictures from the trip.

Man Party I