Key Outreach Tips …

I remind myself I need to be in a place in my life where helping someone has to override my sense of being uncomfortable.  It’s all about their need for God’s love versus my need to stay in my comfort zone. 

Life in the Kingdom is really about learning to live life continually aware of God’s presence and what’s happening around you.  Every believer should practice awareness and practice noticing the unnoticeable; then respond.  I’m glad God has graciously been training, me, given me the eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that seeks to understand.  I’m working on responding acting on what I see, hear, or sense.

It’s hard to see something you are not looking for.

One summer, Pattie and I headed out to the Fraze, an open-air amphitheater near our home, for Blues Fest.  Some great bands were playing and we were enjoying the time together.  When we arrived we decided to buy some BBQ.  We checked every vendor to see what they were serving and finally came to the last booth.  As I walked up I noticed the lady serving.  I suddenly had an impression I should encourage her.  Specifically I should tell her, “Your future is going to be greater than your past.  As I was pondering just how to navigate and communicate the impression I noticed she had a few tattoos.  Then I noticed she was wearing an arrest monitor on her ankle.  The impression now made sense.

I payed for my food and then said, “You might think this strange but sometimes Jesus gives me encouraging words for people.  I have an encouraging word for you.  Your future is going to be greater than your past.

I gently held her arm as I spoke and continued speaking to her about her life.  I spoke into her destiny.  I told her how Jesus could change her life,  wash away her past and propel her into her future.  I then invited the Holy Spirit to come and touch her life.

She looked up at me and said, “You are making me cry.”

I replied, “Jesus is here. He can change your life just like he changed mine.  I then briefly told her how I was a heavy drug user 35 years ago and Jesus had changed my life.

She paused and stated, “You have no idea how much I needed this today.  Thank you.”

We grabbed our BBQ, moved past the growing line behind us and walked to a patio to eat.  Pattie asked me to explain how I knew what to say and how I processed it all.  It’s not rocket science but it does take practice, and a willingness to respond and to experiment.

Here is what I told her:

I practice noticing and attempt to live life from an awareness perspective.  

I seek to notice what’s going on around me and I seek to be aware of what’s happening from a heaven to earth perspective.  I am the earth where His will wants to be done.  

Often when speaking to groups of believers I ask them to place a hand on their heart and to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done as in heaven, in this earth.”  At the end of declaring the prayer I then ask them to pat their chest and say, “This earth.  We are the earth where the Kingdom comes from heaven to us…earth. Kingdom Life then flows from us to others.

I attempt to listen to God prompts, those small impressions or thoughts which may seem to be like my own but are not.  

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” (John 10:27, NAS

Sometimes what I hear is His voice.  I experiment and practice listening.  I’m learning which is His voice and which is my voice.  I learn by responding to what I think I hear.  Many times I discover it is indeed His prompting, His voice.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts.  For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 8:34, NAS)

I seek to respond to what I see, hear, or sense and take risks.

Faith is spelled RISK.  Really faith is spelled obedience.  Taking the risk is the hardest step.  I remind myself I need to be in a place in my life where helping someone has to override my sense of being uncomfortable.  It’s all about their need for God’s love versus my need to stay in my comfort zone.

More often than not, when I take a risk and respond to His whisper a person is encouraged, healed, and nudged closer to Jesus.  Sometimes they are ushered into the Kingdom.

One day I went to the gym.  When I arrived I noticed a beautiful African American woman who had two half sleeve tattoos on her arms.  They were amazing.  The flowers and stems were as beautiful as the woman.  

As I pondered, I sensed I should tell her she had sown many good things in her life.  Also I felt I needed to tell her she was a fruit bearing person and she just needed a little time and patience because good fruit was going to emerge from the things she had sown.  So I took a risk and went up and said, “I sometimes get encouraging words for people.  I have one for you.”  So I told her what I sensed.  When I finished she stated, “You touched my heart. I could cry.”  I commented, “Encouraging words are good aren’t they?  She smiled and I went back to my routine.  

I ask God to direct my steps.

Psalm 139 is an amazing psalm.  He knows everything about me.  He knows my thoughts, my words, when I rise up, when I go to work, when I come home.  In spite of what He knows about me He chooses to lay His hand on my head and to bless me.  It’s a humble knowledge where I experience the beyond the beyond.  

Where I go, He goes.

In Him we live and move and have our being. ” (Acts 17:28 NIV)

Often I arrive at the right place at the right time for the right person.  I was driving home one night and had an impression to go to Hancock’s fabrics to pick up some outdoor material for my 96 VW Cabrio convertible top.  I popped in and purchased the material.  

As I was leaving I thought about going next door to buy some Sushi.  The next impression didn’t make sense, I was not to go buy Sushi but go directly to my car.  So I walked out the door headed directly to my car.  At that moment I saw my ex-personal assistant get out of her car and begin walking toward me.  I said, “Hi! It’s great to see you. 

The conversation was a God set up.  I found out she was having her second child and she had almost died having the first.  I prayed for her and her new child to be.  We had a great talk and she left.  

My next impression, “You can go buy sushi now.”

Right time right place for the right person.  I later found out she had a healthy baby and she went through the delivery with no problems.

I like what one person prays every morning. Each new day he tells Jesus he is open for business.  If he hears God’s whisper, he then decides to have the guts to respond.  When he responds, people are often touched by God’s love and grace.

A Dream

I had an interesting dream. In the dream I was sharing how Jesus healed and spoke to people today. I told the leaders who were gathered several current Jesus is alive today stories. At the end of the dream they all asked me for chapter and verse. In the dream I cupped my hands over my mouth and declared, “Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!

Jesus was / is the most friendly open-hearted person on the planet.  He lived His life noticing people and situations then acting on what He saw or heard from His Father.  

Our adventure begins when we see like He sees, hear like He hears, and respond like He responds.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36, NIV)

Practice:

  • Begin to view life through an awareness lens.
  • Take a few minutes. Look around.
  • What do you notice?
  • What do you see, sense, or hear?
  • This week practice awareness.
  • Begin to respond to what you hear, sense or see. Take Risks

My friend, Doug Pollock, Athletes In Action Evangelism director, has written the book God Space which explains the ethos behind creating God space.  It is a must read for everyone who wants to communicate the Good News in such a way it can be heard.

Begin from where you are with what you have.

    Question: How much power do we need before we go?
    I’m all for more power of the Spirit and believe me, I pray almost every day to be empowered. However, I have been around long enough to know I have to be willing to begin to take steps of risk, steps of faith now, in this present time, in order to enter into the power of the Holy Spirit. 


    I’ve learned I often have to be faithful in the small things, and take small steps, before the greater is realized.
   

   Beginning in the natural often helps us to move toward releasing the supernatural. It’s bringing heaven to earth, as we reach out to people of our earth—our sphere of influence. 

    The power often comes when I’m living life, facing great need, and I sense my lack. It is in the very awareness of my lack, that propels me to reach out for more of His power. However, my lack of power does not keep me from reaching out and encouraging the people in sphere of influence.
    

     If I feel weak and small, I still push through my weakness and smallness. I still serve, I still love, and I still pray and declare.
    

     Sometimes I feel / I sense no power when I pray for people, yet amazing things happen.
    One lady recently came up to our group and said, “When Steve prayed for me I received not one job but two jobs. I was so grateful he took the time and listened to me and prayed for me. I just wanted to thank you all for being out here caring and serving us.” I wanted to say, “Woman. I who am speaking to you am he.” I remember praying with no fire-works, no great surge of assurance…I simply prayed.


    What was the power? Yes, there was an answered prayer. She received two jobs not one. However, this was not the only act of power she noticed. 


     “I was so grateful he took the time, and listened, and prayed for me.” The power, she defined was taking time, listening and praying. What did she notice? The power of love and care in action.
     Her excitement and her gratefulness encouraged me to keep on loving, keep going, keep serving, and to keep praying.
    

     Whether I’m aware of His power or not, good stuff still really does happen.

    The truth, as in most spiritual exercises, reaching others for Jesus begins as a spiritual discipline. A passion for outreach is often developed through our consistent practice. As we practice, outward focused-ness becomes a lifestyle.


    I often say, “You cannot begin to care, unless you first become aware. How do you become aware? By being out there.” 


    Study the great revivalists and healers of the past and present. Many began to serve, go, pray, heal, and reach people long before they had it all together or had received a greater measure of the Holy Spirit.


    Some of our hero’s of faith saw hundreds healed and hundreds come to Jesus long before their power encounter. Yes, the power, and their experience with the Holy Spirit propelled them further ahead, and yes, more people were brought near to the Kingdom, but they, just like everyone else,
had to begin from where they were with what they had, as they leaned in for more. 

Everyone, has to decide to begin with what they have, from where they are.

 
    Bethel Church, in Redding, California is an example of a great church which has consistently served and actively loved their community over many years. Their city is changing, and they are leading many people to Jesus. Why?     
     They are passionately in love with Jesus and seek to honor His Presence as a lifestyle. 

     They encourage people to release what they have received into the lives of the people of their community, in their sphere of influence. 

     They have been actively going, serving, praying and loving the people of their community for many, many years. They, like everyone else, had to decide to begin to go from where they were, with what they had.

The early disciples traveled with Jesus for three years before the Holy Spirit fell upon them.
    Before the day of Pentecost, they were involved in healing the sick, casting out demons, and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God effectively. Well, sometimes not so effectively.
    

     When the Spirit’s power came, they reached more and more people, and undoubtedly had greater success. Jesus knew this would happen and this is the reason He told the disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. However, the waiting for power did not nullify what they had experienced before their empowering. They began from where they were with what they had.

    We exist first and foremost to love Jesus, and to know and experience the presence of the Father’s love. We then learn to love what He loves. He has love for His world.
    We exist for His pleasure, for His Kingdom, and for the people of our world.
    As we are getting it together, we need to realize for whom we are getting it together—the people who are away from God’s presence. This is the will of the Father.
    
    The Church exists to reach our world.
    It exists to be a place where people can be added and discipled. The Church is where new believers learn to love and worship Jesus and where they learn to use their gifts to serve others. It’s where they can become conscious of His divine purpose. It’s where they receive power as they join others to reach out to their world.
    The Church exists to be a blessing to the Father, and to be a source of His love and power for His world. 

Excerpt from Go. Sow.