Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflections on Planting for Pentecost

It always puzzles me why we don’t focus more on Pentecost as Jesus’ followers.  I view it as the most significant day of our faith after Easter.  It is the day that the New Testament Church was born.  And, it wasn’t a baby that came weakly struggling into the world; no, the New Testament Church came with fire, literally, and with power and multiplied over 3,000 times! 

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, which was the feast of harvests.  It occurred 50 days after Passover.  Isn’t it interesting that it was a feast to celebrate the harvest and that is exactly what took place on the first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit literally entered into people.  The people were gathered to celebrate the long honored Harvest feast, but they actually became the harvest themselves as they stepped into a place of belief of Jesus as Savior and King.  Over 3,000 people were baptized that day in the Temple Square and the New Testament Church was born.
Why was the event of Pentecost necessary and important?  Up until that moment, people were given the Holy Spirit for specific assignments, but no one had the privilege of living with Holy Spirit permanently sealed within them.  King David even prayed to the Lord, “Don’t take your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps 51:11).  Jesus didn’t even receive the Holy Spirit until his baptism at age 30.  Can you imagine living our life of faith without the power to do it?

Have you ever thought about the fact that most of the four Gospels were written in the Old Testament ways?  It wasn’t until Jesus died and was resurrected and Pentecost happened that the crossover took place from the Old Testament law to the New Testament covenant.

When Jesus told his disciples in Luke 9 that he was sending them out with his power and authority to cast out demons, cure diseases, proclaim the Kingdom of God and heal the sick, they received temporary empowerment. They did see huge results in their “missions trip,” as they came back saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to your name” (Luke 10:17).  The reality, however, was that if they didn’t continue to walk with Jesus and receive his empowerment, they would quickly go back into the place of being very ordinary men doing very ordinary things.

Everything changed when Jesus breathed his last breath on the cross and said it was finished.  Everything to that second in history was preparation for that moment!  When Jesus didn’t stay in the grave but came back to life, all the rules for how to walk out the Jewish faith fell to the ground to make room for a new way of life:  the way of relationship, grace and forgiveness!
Jesus spent 40 days after he was resurrected hanging out with his disciples, and even a few hundred other people, as he prepared them for their new way of life.  He could have released Holy Spirit to his disciples before he ascended into heaven, but instead he told them to “Go and wait and pray for the gift my Father has promised.”
Why was this important?  Here’s the way that I understand it.  Jesus was a living, breathing reality of how you can live a supernatural life in a human body.  He went to the cross as a human; not as God.  He lived out perfect obedience through learning to partner with Holy Spirit as a human being. 
Listen to how Paul describes it in Philppians 2:6-8:Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form,8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”
Jesus modeled for us how we are to live.  We can’t dismiss his call to do the things that he has done, and even greater things that those (John 14), because Jesus had something separate from what we carry. No, he had the same Holy Spirit that we have; there is no difference.  Jesus taught us that when we partner with Holy Spirit, despite our human body, magnificent things happen to point to the Kingdom of God present amongst us.

However, just like the disciples, we need to be prepared to carry such a significant call.  It takes being willing to be “set apart” for times when we are able to let the demands of life become less noisy and the invitation of Jesus and his kingdom ways to become more enticing.
If Jesus had released Holy Spirit that day on the Mt of Olives before he ascended to heaven, the disciples would have missed the impact of the preparation that came with the 10 days of being gathered and waiting for the Father’s promise.

What do you think that they did during those 10 days? 

I imagine that they spent time worshipping as they had just seen the supernatural miracle of Jesus ascending  into heaven.  I think that they spent time imagining what the Father’s Promise would be like, and how it would happen.  I think that they told stories of their life with Jesus as they began to get clear about all the things he taught them that they didn’t understand even a little bit while he was on earth.  I wonder if they started sharing communion together as it was Jesus command to them to celebrate it often.  I think that many of the dots that before seemed like a random pattern began to become a clear and compelling picture of why following Jesus was the most exciting adventure on earth.

I wonder if any of them got tired of waiting and left.  I wonder if they were fearful of the unknown.  I wonder if they figured out that the promise would happen on Pentecost as faithful Jewish people literally came from all over the world to worship and sacrifice at the Temple.  Do you realize that 16 languages and locations are listed in Acts 2? In one day, the New Testament Church of Jesus became a movement that dramatically impacted the earth and continues to do the same today.

This is why Missio Lux has a call to follow the way of Jesus and the disciples like that first Pentecost.  We have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for the gift that the Father has for us this year; as we realize the tremendous way that he is moving amongst us and calling us to move.
We have developed several ways for you to wait, pray and prepare for Pentecost starting Friday, June 3.  www.missiolux.org

Even if you live out of town, come along for as much as you can do from afar.  Go to the top of a mountain or hill where you live and proclaim that your area is set apart for God’s harvest to come forth!  When you do that, you will be joining God’s kingdom people in other places who desire to see a present day Pentecost Harvest that resembles that first one over 2,000 years ago!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Day Without Water

This blog was written by Laurie Bunnel on http://www.laurieonlifestyle.blogspot.com/

A family we've known for years is what most people would consider "well off." Their lives keep them on the run and sometimes chaos ensues. The other day their teenage daughter was ready to jump in the shower and there was no water. After trying to figure out what was going on, they realized that the water bill was lost- MIA- Shoved in a pile somewhere and never paid.

Hence, a day without water.

I started thinking, maybe we all need a day without water? Like I need one more thing to do, but it seems like it has potential - if not for a great movement, at least a cool url like:

Yesterday Arok from Sudan told our Peace Seekers community about how the girls and women in his village walk 45 minutes for water. This is not like the stories our parents told us about walking sixty miles to school in the snow uphill both ways. These are real girls in a real place walking really far for really dirty water.

Its not just Arok's village. One in eight people in the world don't have access to clean drinking water. Now that our planet has 7 billion people, that is A LOT of people with no H2O. Yet for those of us that get water out of the shower when we turn it on, we don't even think about it. I spent a month being frustrated that our ice machine didn't work and I'd miss my dish washer even for a day.

Do you know how to turn off the water at your house? What would happen if we turned off the water for just one day? I know we would stink and yes certain rooms in our house would stink even more, the dishes would pile up, but really? Maybe it would make us all think. Maybe we'd be more thankful and more careful. Perhaps we'd waste less and be even more generous. Once inspired, maybe our kids will design and invent new ways of providing and cleaning water.

Now where did that water bill go?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Response to Reflection on the Person of Peace

The following is an email that I received from the reflection on the Person of Peace.  It's a great reminder about why it is more important to pray first, and to be moving in sync with how Jesus modeled evangelism.  Sometimes we can do far more harm than good when we seek to witness~ I invite you to join many others who are committing themselves to pray at 10:02 each morning for God to bring forth the Harvesters. Why 10:02?  It relates to Luke 10:02 where Jesus commands his disciples to pray for the "God to bring forth the harvesters, because the fields are ripe for harvest."

Wow, that devotional this morning was powerful to me and the best explanation I've heard in my life about evangelism.  Thank you for taking the time to write it.   Not coincidently I finished reading it at exactly 10:02 this morning!   I observed the time and thought, well why not spend some moments in focused prayer.

My prayer room is the rarely used guest room, small, mostly unfurnished now except a long low hutch upon which I will place a globe of the world, my prayer shaw I keep in a wooden box and use on occasion.  I was trying to fast every Sunday and introduce that discipline but since my move back I've not done it.  I will as the Lord leads and helps me.  the room has no windows, is quite free from distractions and I can pace around because I suppose I have a bit of ADHD and could not sit still ever.

I, too. was forced to go door to door and so painfully shy I couldn't look at people it was extremely stressful to me as a child.  I've felt compelled to "witness" to people who were not interested and embarrassed by my red face horror of having to talk to strangers.  now that I think of it, it was probably dangerous for a young child to go door to door without an adult nearby to observe. As a teenager in Alaska, I felt compelled out of my own extreme legalism to go to the airports with gospel tracks and give them to the 100s of young soldiers at the last stop before going to Vietnam.  What that got me as a fit 16 year old girl was catcalls, stares, lewd comments and older teenage men trying to prove their manhood to their buddies by treating me as an object.  I began to passionately HATE "GI's" and consider them barbaric and animal like.   

Eventually I retreated to a cabin in the woods because I love solitude and found those "witnessing" marathons extremely scarring to me.  Needless to say no one ever got converted at least not to my knowledge.   And when I went to Evergreen College, a school that pegs itself as the "Queer Capital of the World" we had a bull horn evangelist too that came out to be mocked and jeered while yelling harshly they were all going to burn in hell.   It was a pathetic demonstration of hatred on all sides.   Into this history, comes your devotional bringing some clarity.

I also related to the idle chitchat.  I have a daughter, quite estranged from God (well maybe just the religious trappings) that got a job with several very outspoken evangelicals.  I was delighted but after 2 years of hearing their tea party obsessively anti O'bama political rantings and hatred of gays (her father is gay) she left that job hating Christians, (hating is not too strong a word here)  Their idle chatter demonstrating bizarre extreme republican right politics shut down any possible opportunity a Christian could have had to model some sort of behavior that gave evidence of a supernatural life.   It was a lesson to me as well to not get embroiled in idle political debates.  Politics come and go, souls live once.

This woman's email was a great reminder to me of the different ways that we can "think we are on the right track," but later find out that our good intentions were for naught.  I hope it is helpful to those who read it!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reflections on Walking with God

Missio Lux has been privileged to have some YWAM (Youth With a Mission) Students with us for the past couple of weeks. I love being around them because their passion for Jesus is so compelling. I have a strong sense of God’s presence when I am around them.

We are nearing the end of the ministry year, so it’s always a time of year when I do a lot of reflecting on how I’ve seen God at work ; in the seasons he has taken myself and others through, as well as Missio Lux as a whole.

Yesterday I realized that God has a way of taking us through our life with him in 3 P’s: Presence, Power and Principles. The Scriptures speak of God’s presence with us from start to finish, but I particularly like the verse in Joshua 1:9 that says, Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” We can live confidently because God is present with us.

The New Testament takes this theme even deeper when we realize that God loves our presence so much that he takes us residence within us: “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Cor 1:21-22). Jesus describes this living relationship in John 15 when he states, “I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who live with me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” Think about that: God chooses to literally come and live in our bodies. He is always present with us!

The second P is Power. When Jesus was ready to return to heaven he told the disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We have been given power to live the life that Jesus taught us to live, and many times we see ourselves doing things through the Holy Spirit power that we never dreamed we could do. Life gets far more adventurous when God’s power is released through us.

Finally, the 3rd P is: Principles. The Bible is a handbook for life in how we are taught to live. Many of the principles that our lives are built on, even as Americans, come from the principles of how Jesus teaches us to live. He gave us two priorities: the Great Commandment (love God, love ourselves, love others) and the Great Commission: Go and make disciples. Out of those priorities, principles flow of justice, mercy, grace, love, and generosity, to name just a few. Jesus told us that he didn’t come to abolish the law of Moses, but to fulfill it. The 10 Commandments are the heart of the law of Moses and when we live out of their guidance, we are protected from many of the things that harm our lives if we engage them. I like to think of them as God’s boundaries put in place to protect us.

Presence, Power and Principles.

I find that we often want to separate out these three areas of our life with God as one of these areas tends to make certain groups or individuals uncomfortable. Some people get nervous if too much “presence” is present. Others get antsy as they think about principles and how by living by rules, we can get legalistic and judgmental. Others shy away from anything to do with God’s power because often it can be overwhelming and scary.

I believe, however, that we must learn to integrate all three areas into our lives. It is when we live out of the moment to moment presence of God that we are able to discern how his power is moving and to cooperate with it to see kingdom breakthrough take place. And, living with Jesus’ principles as our foundational base keeps our funnel clear so that we can experience God’s presence and move out of his power. When our lives are far from God’s principles, we will find ourselves pushing against brick walls that never seem to budge.

You may be wondering how do we practically live out the 3Ps. Good question! It comes through living a balanced life that Jesus teaches us to live. He taught us to worship his father in spirit and truth. As we worship in spirit, we are moving more intentionally in experiencing his presence which transfigures us. As we worship in truth, we are engaging his Word which helps us to understand and live out Jesus’ principles. As we center our lives on Jesus and his ways, we begin to see his power rising up in us in the most unusual of moments, because we are available to him.

Finally, life with Jesus is not meant to be lived on our own. When we experience God’s presence in community with others, it spurs us forward to want to live a life aligned with his principles. When we see God’s principles being lived out in a community, it becomes attractive to others and it grows. And, when God’s power is present, transformation and healing happen.

In the early days of the New Testament Church, the leaders John and Peter were arrested and taken before the Jewish High Priest and Council. They were challenged not to speak about Jesus anymore or to boldly move in his power. When they were released, they came back to their community and told them what had happened and the threats that were made against them. The community responded in the 3P’s: Power, Presence and Principles when they prayed, “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-32).

I hope that this will be our response to times of struggle and even persecution; as it was for these Jesus followers. It comes through an intentional decision to live daily as Jesus taught us to live through his presence, his power and his principles through Scripture. How are you balancing the 3p’s in your life?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hoops of Hope Happenings!

Friday we held the second annual Hoops of Hope Event at Pine Lake Middle School in Sammamish, WA!  This event was held to raise funds for Seeds of Hope:  our missio  whose mission is to build people who can build a village.

Sudanese Lost Boy and Leader for Seeds of Hope:  Arok Garang
Our 35 Sudanese orphans have seeds of hope planted in them every day as they get a much coveted and necessary education to take them out of a life of hopeless poverty into a life of prosperity and rebuilding.  Our dream is to see each one of them return to their village of Paliau, in Southern Sudan, where they will become the leaders of the community, becoming teachers, doctors and nurses, and governmental leaders.

Hoops was fun:  we had a halftime show with two basketball stars:  Swen Nater:  pro for LA Lakers and UCLA, and a much shorter 6th grader, Jordan McCabe, who has been on several television shows, many pro half time shows, and even the news.  But, his parents told us that they were more thrillled for Jordan to be invited to be part of Hoops, as they desire to make a difference with his supernatural basketball ability!

Pro Swen Nater and Jordan McCabe compete!

Hoops of Hope Team
Basketball Star:  Jordan McCabe

Thanks to everyone who made a difference through volunteering, fund raising, and donating! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reflections on the Kingdom of God

“How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden trees; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”  Mark 4:30-32

We’ve spent the year exploring the Tree of Life and how to live in such a way that we are reflecting the life Jesus died to give us.  We examined how important it is that a tree has a good root system that goes deep into fertile soil.  The root system of the Word and Spirit allows us to grow a healthy, thriving tree in our lives.

The trunk represents community; as we live in healthy friendships with others who share our passion to live lives patterned after Jesus, and his two priorities of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, we develop a healthy trunk that surrounds and protects the great kingdom fruit found within the leaves and branches.
Jesus tells us that the mustard seed turns into the very greatest tree in the Garden.  Our small seed of faith, when rooted in God’s soil and surrounded by his faithful people, becomes a very attractive tree that all the birds of the air want to nest within. 
Why did Jesus tell this story?  He was a master at taking that which was familiar to the people and helping them to understand spiritual concepts.  He wanted them to know through their experience what the Kingdom of God is like. 
Jesus describes the Kingdom of God as a banquet to which a wealthy landowner sends his servants to go into the alleyways and byways to find those that are most hidden to come to his party.  Missio Lux got to host one of those kingdom parties on Easter and experience the Kingdom of God in action.
It wasn’t the flashy things that happened.  It was the quiet, almost invisible, kingdom taking place that permeated the dough of God’s delicious bread.
We knew that God had something special up his sleeve when we watched the signs of the weather.  The drive to the Square was in a major downpour of rain.  I prayed out, “Lord, wouldn’t you like to have a sunny party today?”  When we parked, it was no longer a downpour, it was now just a steady drizzle.
But, the gift came at exactly 1 p.m. when we gathered to pray before we started. The sun burst out of a bunch of clouds and stayed out for the WHOLE AFTERNOON.  The Kingdom of God was present in the weather.
The kingdom of God was also present in the atmosphere on the Square.  There was a tangible sense of peace and joy.  Paul tells us in Romans 14:17 that the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy.  We experienced that peace and joy in abundance on Easter Afternoon.
As I walked around, I saw table after table of men, women and children sharing a meal together.  They were listening actively to one another and crossing a giant cultural divide to reach out in friendship and faith.
I’ve heard several stories of the guests who encouraged the hosts.  The faith of the poor and disenfranchised is often very large and can encourage those of us who live in greater day to day security through our possessions and bank accounts.  When you don’t have a large safety net, you discover that Jesus is the true safety net in life.
One man I met was named Vince. 
He literally stumbled upon the Square by accident, as he was new to Seattle and didn’t even know that we were hosting a party.  He was looking for an AA meeting, but it was Easter and they weren’t there, so he found himself in the middle of a banquet. 

He told a man named Dan that he was seeking to go to Rehab the next day and was looking for bus money.  Dan knew that God had more than bus money in mind and he brought him to meet me.  Both Dan and I listened to Vince as he described a hellish childhood and adult years that found him addicted to drugs and alcohol, as well as serving several stints in prison.  Dan and I both prayed for Vince and then we took him to the center of the party where we had a communion table. 

As the three of us took communion, the Kingdom of God was present!

The Kingdom of God was present through children who decorated Easter bags, filled them with candy and delivered them to guests at their tables.  The bags had foam stickers on them and the guests had fun putting the stickers on their clothes and their hands and faces.  They laughed at one another with their silly decorations!

The Kingdom of God was present in the set up and take down.  Mike, the man who volunteered for the servant role of loading and unloading tables, chairs, and supplies had a helper. His name was John and he wore a shirt that said “Security” on it.  John was a  security guard from heaven as he worked so hard all afternoon.  He helped Mike and as he did, he told him his story.  John is recently homeless, a new experience for himself and his wife.  They are learning how to navigate life on the streets and are new enough to it that they are developing a burden for those that live this life for many years.  A friendship was formed between Mike and John as the birds nest in the branches.

The Kingdom of God was present as I left the Square.
  I met Randy who was talking to my friend Dave.  Randy had a beautiful guitar that he pulled out on my request.  He sang one song after another as he gave testimony to how God had worked in his life. 

Randy didn’t have much in life but he shared freely what he did have:  a talent for bringing joy to others through music.

As you go through your week, be aware of the simplicity of the Kingdom.  A simple word of encouragement, a touch, or an act of kindness pleases the King of the Kingdom and fills the tree with many beautiful birds nesting in the tree’s branches.  You never know when you are may be offering kindness to angels:  “Don’t forget to offer hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without even realizing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reflections on the Tree of LIfe: Persons of Peace

Every year the city of Fremont, Washington, holds a naked bike race. The participants decorate themselves with body paint and ride their bicycles through the city. People line up to watch them go by; just like a regular hometown parade!

In all the craziness of the parade, one man comes with a message that he shouts through a bullhorn. His message is for people to turn to God and repent of their sins. Let me ask you a question: how receptive do you think that crowd is to both his message and his presentation of his message?

Not too much. My guess is that he is accomplishing the very opposite of what he desires to do: bring people into a loving relationship with God. Sadly, people like him and others who make public presentations to unreceptive crowds often do far more damage to the life giving message of Jesus than good. It not only pushes people who are further away from God, but it discourages people that follow Jesus from being witnesses.

I remember when I was in elementary school our church had us go door to door inviting people to come to VBS. I was rather shy as a child and the situation was highly mortifying to me. It didn’t help me to become a better witness to Jesus, it rather shut me down. How many of you have similar memories?

It’s often a conflicting situation for those of us who want to follow Jesus’ priorities; his two main ones being the Great Commandment: Love God, love ourselves, love others, and the Great Commission: Go into all the world and make disciples. How are we to go and make disciples when we are frozen by fear or dulled to apathy to speak out a witness to who Jesus is?

This is where it gets fun. When Jesus sent his disciples out for the first time to do ministry without his presence, he gave them clear instructions: (see Luke 9 and 10). He told them to “Tell everyone about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” He followed up with “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment. Keep it simple; you are the equipment. And no luxury inns, get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you aren’t welcomed, leave town. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and move on” (Message, Luke 9).

Apparently, their experiences were so successful that the group of 12 became a crowd of 70. Once again, Jesus was clear on the strategy for being his witnesses:
1Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge:
"What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.
3"On your way! But be careful—this is hazardous work. You're like lambs in a wolf pack.
4"Travel light. Comb and toothbrush and no extra luggage.
"Don't loiter and make small talk with everyone you meet along the way.
5-6"When you enter a home, greet the family, 'Peace.' If your greeting is received, then it's a good place to stay. But if it's not received, take it back and get out. Don't impose yourself.
7"Stay at one home, taking your meals there, for a worker deserves three square meals. Don't move from house to house, looking for the best cook in town.
8-9"When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, 'God's kingdom is right on your doorstep!' (The Message, Luke 10)

I see some pretty key directives in Jesus’ instructions. First, he sent them to areas where he intended to go. Even though Jesus didn’t physically go with them, his presence was there. The ground was ready and fertile.

This is pretty important too: he told them to pray for the harvest and the harvesters. I’ve found a simple way to follow Jesus’ directive and that is to set my phone alarm to go off at 10:02 every day. When the alarm goes off, I take a couple of minutes right where I am to pray for God to raise up harvesters. If I am with other people, I invite them to join me in the prayer. I’d like to encourage you to join myself and many others who are doing this; when we pray at the same time, we have a bigger sense of what God is doing that is beyond us. It’s really quite a thrilling thing to do!

After the ground is broken up through prayer, Jesus tells them how to travel the journey: Be careful, recognize the hazards. Be innocent but also very aware of the people around you. Travel light: like the Survivor TV show, you pretty much have the clothes on your back!

Jesus also encourages his followers to focus. He’s sent them on a mission and they are to stay focused on it and not get distracted by a bigger and better offer, casual conversation or even loitering on the way.

I find the next part of Jesus’ strategy to be very important and life changing from the way that I have often been taught or modeled how to do evangelism. Jesus told his followers to look for “The Persons of Peace.” He describes them as those who will welcome you, serve you and listen to you. They will invite you into their home and provide hospitality, all the while absorbing what you have to say.

Tell me, how different is this from the man with the bullhorn in Fremont or the canvassing of neighborhoods to invite them to join our “spiritual activities?” I find it refreshingly different. It’s a chance for us to discover, who is open to hearing about the life changing relationship with Jesus. It’s an opportunity to spend our time with those that are receptive to the message, rather than hostile.

Paul writes about the Persons of Peace in Acts 16, giving two key examples of how it can work. On Sunday, Paul and his friends went down to the riverbank where they knew some people met for prayer and asked to join them. The leader of the women gathered was Lydia, an influential woman that is described as a “worshiper of God.” In other words, her heart was already ready to receive news about Jesus. She opened her heart to Jesus and her influence spread to her friends and family.

The next thing she did would be considered scandalous in Paul’s culture. She, as a single woman, invited Paul and his male friends, to come and stay at her home. Paul ends with “and she urged us until we did.” Paul probably protested more than a little because it was culturally very taboo, but maybe he remembered Jesus’ instruction to look for the Person of Peace and to stay where they were.

Persons of Peace are simultaneous with Harvesters. Persons of Peace are usually people of influence and when they decide that Jesus’ message is good news, they tell all their friends and family about it and invite them to join in the fun. Persons of Peace are ready to hear the message, God has already prepared their spirit to receive the message and respond.

Jesus told his disciples at the beginning of chapter 10: “I am sending you to places where I intend to go.” In other words, he has already prepared the soil of their spirits to receive his message. I love this! It takes all the pressure off of me and puts it squarely where it belongs: right on Jesus. It’s all his work anyway; why not enjoy the process and make some good friends along the way?
The second story in Acts 16 finds Paul and Silas in prison. They, despite being stripp
ed and beaten with wooden rods and put in an inner dungeon with their feet in stocks, were worshipping God when all the doors of the prison fell open. The jailer woke up and went to commit suicide because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But, Paul yelled out, “Don’t do it, we are still here.”

The jailer was prepared to receive the message because he immediately asked, “What do I need to be saved?” Then he took them home, washed their wounds and shared the good news of Jesus with his household. That very night everyone in the house was baptized.

Do you see the process? They jailer asked the question, so he listened to what they had to say. They jailer served them by washing their wounds and feeding them a meal. He welcomed them by inviting them into his home, and he shared his influence with them by introducing them to his whole family.
That’s a classic Person of Peace, although I think that we all hope that we don’t have to meet them the same way that Paul and Silas did!

Jesus ends his instructions to his followers by telling them, “If they don’t listen to you, leave them.” He goes onto say, “Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me.” This is another note of reassurance. If people don’t like what we have to say, it’s not us they are rejecting, it’s Jesus. We don’t have to personalize people’s responses, and we aren’t responsible for them either.

What are you going to do to respond? I urge you to start by praying for the harvesters, or Persons of Peace. Set your alarm for 10:02 and when you pray each day, be specific. Who do you want to see God raise up? Is it a Person of Peace from a certain age group, ethnicity, city or country, or interest area? Get creative and have fun with it.

Then, open your eyes to see that the fields are ripe for harvest!