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Christian Ambassador or Tourist?
Posted by Clare
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We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”  2 Corinthians 5:20a

Jesus was a storyteller. Stories paint a word picture for us that help us better remember an idea, event, person or teaching. The ideas in this blog have helped generations of men I’ve taught, better understand their role in the kingdom of God on earth. Consider retelling this “story” to your children or grandchildren.

The two primary tasks of an ambassador are these; to advance the interests of the country that sent him/her and conduct themselves personally in such a way as to be a credit to their country. Ambassadors know they are aliens in a foreign land, and they’re only on temporary assignment and in many cases their assigned country is dangerous.

So an ambassador from the U.S. to Switzerland for example, wakes up every morning knowing that his purpose that day and every day is to carry out the mission assigned to him, until his government recalls him. He or she serves “at the pleasure of the president.”  And, of course, there are opportunities to relax, see the sights and enjoy the culture, but those are secondary to an ambassador’s mission.

A few blocks away a tourist from the U.S. is waking up and his only reason to be in Switzerland is enjoying himself. Like the ambassador, he’s patriotic, thankful for being an American and all the rights that citizenship brings him. However, he plans his day around good food, shopping, sightseeing and in general killing time pleasantly.

So, here we have two Americans temporarily living in the same country and city, but with two completely different purposes for being there. So here’s the application for Christians.

A Christian Ambassador
The primary purpose for the life of a Christian ambassador and a true follower of Jesus is to love and serve God, and make life better for others, even at great cost to ourselves and to advance the interests of the kingdom of God. Everything else is secondary.

Before secular ambassadors are sent out, I’m told they receive extensive training and are given policy books on everything from trade to defense and they are instructed to know every policy thoroughly. Their personal opinions really don’t matter. The only latitude they’re given is in the implementation of these policies.

Similarly, Christian ambassadors must have a good working knowledge of God’s policy book, the Bible. Their goal is to know it so well that when they speak, they are confident they’re faithfully representing the policies and the interests of the kingdom of God.

A day in the life of a Christian ambassador
What might a typical day look like for a Christian ambassador? It means getting up each day intent on being good and doing good to everyone. And that involves going to the policy book often and talking to God seeking wisdom and direction from him and other ambassadors we respect, daily before you begin your mission that day.

Then perhaps your day begins with a prompting from God to say something kind to a step-father you’ve not yet grown to love – a refusal to make exaggerated claims about your company’s products or services, being kind to a new kid at school – having a cup of coffee with a neighbor who’s made some sinful choices – speaking respectfully about and to, a very controlling parent – refusing to laugh at a filthy, or racist story or join in gossiping about another person and introducing a co-worker to the Jesus you love.

On a larger scale, and often working in concert with fellow ambassadors and even non-Christians, it means that where there are unjust laws, we work to have them repealed. Where there is conflict, we attempt to be peacemakers. Where there is poverty we work with others to end it wherever and whenever we can. When we see racial injustice we speak out and act against it. When pollution threatens a stream we work to stop it and clean it up. An ambassador acts with virtue and integrity, constantly teaching their children and others to love God, love the Bible and love life – everyone’s.

A Christian ambassador is intentionally representing God himself in their world – bringing the goodness of God into ordinary life. It’s a proactive lifestyle of love so compelling and attractive that people who don’t know Jesus will be drawn to you and therefore to him.

Finally, it means living an examined life by asking questions like these; how consumed am I with my own comfort, leisure, hobbies, my social media persona and stuff? Are they really energy and resource leaks distracting me from my true mission? Like weights in a backpack, our need for these things can hinder, even cripple our effectiveness as an ambassador.  “Your God” said Martin Luther, “is whatever your heart clings to.”

Christian Tourists
There’s a deadly myth prevalent today that there are two classes of those who are truly “born again” – the serious followers of Jesus and the rest of those who call themselves Christians, but actually live more like Christian tourists. Unlike ambassadors, it’s the unspoken goal of Christian tourists to live this life for themselves and their family – preferring to be served, rather than serve.

Christian tourists may attend evangelical churches, be theologically correct, “believe in Jesus”, listen to Christian radio, serve in their church or on ministry boards, and even send their children to Christian schools. They may be forever learning about Jesus, but never fully committing themselves to a life committed to loving and serving him and others. Outside of their “religious culture” the unspoken goal of their lives is to kill time pleasantly. The question is this; “Is a Christian tourist really a Christian at all?”

Here’s the really scary part. Most of you reading this probably agree that most other Christians are tourists, but you, yourself are not. Are you sure?

Ultimately, the litmus test of a true ambassador of Christ is this: Do the people who know you best have a deeper respect for the love, wisdom, and glory of God because of what they see in your life? Are they asking you to introduce them to Jesus? Are they coming to you for advice or mentoring? Does your life make God look good?

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”  1 Peter 2:11, 12

Question: Do you think Christians who live like tourists are truly born again?

How following Jesus works in real life.

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Three Best Practices for Mentoring
Posted by Clare
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The follow is a blog written by Rick Woolworth, (Yes, those Woolworth’s!) Rick left Wall Street decades ago to promote mentoring of men.  It’s long, but well worth the read.

Mentoring becomes your true legacy. It is the greatest inheritance you can give to others. It is why you get up every day. – John Wooden

Most mentors are well-intentioned, but not intentional about growing their mentoring skills. Whether you are currently engaged in mentoring or intend to do so in the future, you can be a great mentor with impact that lasts decades. Three best practices can elevate your mentoring to a whole new level — sharing stories, mentoring the whole person, and integrating mentees into your network. 

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Anxiety – Is It A Sin?
Posted by Clare
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With the Coronavirus killing tens of thousands of people, a number of Christians have asked me if being anxious is a sin. 

Is it a sin to be anxious or worried?

The question comes up because of Jesus’ statements in Matthew 6:25 and 34;

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

So, is it a sin for Christians to worry? “Generally not,” I responded and here’s why I believe that’s true.

There are times I ought to worry or be anxious. If I’m crossing the road in busy traffic, my angst keeps me alert, vigilant to the danger. Anxiety over some business decisions have kept me from making poor choices. When I worry about the possible consequences of some sin I’m contemplating, worry, or guilt serves me well. Some anxiety is good and helpful and not a sin. In fact this type of worry may be a gift from the Holy Spirit to keep me safe, physically, or spiritually.

However, most of our anxiety isn’t of that nature. We’re generally anxious about our jobs, our finances, our children or upcoming decisions. This kind of anxiety also is not always a sin, but is quite probably an indicator of sin.

When we worry about those types of things it should tell us two things about ourselves:

What are you afraid to lose?
The first, when we worry, or are anxious it tells both us and God what we really value or are afraid to lose. Obviously, if your child has cancer, it’s no sin to have anxiety over that situation. It’s a natural reaction of a loving parent for this child. Likewise, if you’re about to lose your home in a foreclosure, or have been laid off and cannot pay your bills, that too is a very natural thing to be anxious or fearful of.

But, most of my worries are not so lofty and haven’t even happened yet. I occasionally worry about criticism, looking foolish, being over-dressed, or under-dressed. I worry about being late for meetings and looking irresponsible. I worry about what my wife will say, what my friends think and how my book will be reviewed or sell. Most of these worries tell me something about myself- they are indicators of a sin problem – most often pride, or envy.

Economists look to certain financial data to determine the health of the economy. They call that data “key economic indicators”. The data is not the source of the problem, but they indicate that there may be underlying problems. So, too with worry.

When I worry, it’s helpful for me to stop and ask the Holy Spirit, “What is wrong with me that I would be afraid?” “What’s the real reason for my anxiety?” Worry is not a sin, but for the mature Christian it’s an invaluable tool for identifying the underlying sin which may be causing the angst.

What do we believe about God?
The second thing worry tells us is about ourselves is what we believe about God. Do we really believe God will meet all our needs? (Although, he may not meet all our wants.) Do we really believe God wants our good and not our harm? (Although Satan can wreak havoc with us on occasion, even serious followers of Jesus.)

In this current crisis, it’s helpful for me to remember this truth; I cannot be content by getting what I want.  I have to adjust my life and lifestyle to whatever God provides.

That is the point of Jesus teaching in Matthew 6.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:25-33

I have to read these verses often to remind myself to “seek first the kingdom of God” and God will provide all my needs and if I thank him for what I have, many of the things I want, simply won’t matter anymore. That’s actually what it means when we use the term, “Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.” The more time we spend being like Jesus, the less time we have to worry about the little things in life that really don’t matter in the scheme of things. Trust me; I don’t have the worry thing licked yet. But at least I know what’s going on in my heart when it’s happening!

Question:  So what is the root cause of your private fears?

How following Jesus works in real life.

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Serving Good Friday Communion to Your Family in Isolation
Posted by Clare

With our families in isolation this Good Friday and Easter, and if your church is not live streaming a communion celebration, you may want to consider serving your family communion. The following is a blog I wrote five years ago, which may help you make this Good Friday all that Jesus intended.

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