Jul 9, 2012

The Gospel for the Middle – A Synchroblog

The following exercise is from the synchroblog at http://frankviola.org/2012/07/09/gospelforthemiddle
Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.
One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.
Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.
Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.
Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.
Recently Fielding asked this question:
When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)
Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.
Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.
Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?
Praying Medic's response:

Bill Johnson once said, “There’s nothing more boring than church, and nothing more exciting than God.” Bill wasn’t church bashing when he said this. He was observing that when it comes to capturing the imagination of man, church services pale in comparison to the person of God. If I have a choice, I don’t want to turn people on to church, I want to turn them on to a Jesus who can touch them with his love and compassion and capture their heart, like He did mine.

If I were Fielding’s cousin, the next time I visited, I’d introduce them to a personal God who interacts with them in their daily lives.

Most people have dreams. But most are unaware that their dreams are messages from God. He's already speaking to people. What they need is someone to reveal what He's saying. I would spend a few hours discussing the dreams they’ve had and decode the hidden messages Papa has been sending and perhaps teach them how to interpret their own dreams.

Most people have aches and pains. If my cousins have any, I'd spend time praying with them to be healed. Afterward, if they’re interested, I’d teach them how to heal others by the power of the Holy Spirit. Healing is another way that the reality of Jesus becomes personal to us.

On an average call, I spend about 10 minutes in my ambulance with a patient. In those ten minutes, I have a lot of work to do, but I try to reserve a few minutes to introduce them to the presence of God. I invite Him to bring His presence into the ambulance and touch them.

Everyone experiences God's presence in a different way. Some report feeling an unusual sense of peace come over them. Some feel tingling, others report a floating sensation or a lightness of their being. But nearly all of them feel God touch them in a personal way.

Most people who aren’t committed followers of Christ haven’t experienced Him in a way that’s personal. I think our time is best spent introducing them to the Jesus they’ve never known. Once people meet Him and experience the reality of His love and compassion, they usually develop a desire to know him in a greater way. All we do is provide an opportunity for them to meet.

One way that I’ve found to capture the imagination of kids is to show them how to stick pennies to the wall by the power of the Holy Spirit. Once His presence is in the room, it’s pretty easy. One day I taught my daughter how to do it. Later that day she taught her brother. That weekend my son and his friends spent hours sticking quarters to the ceiling and learned about a personal God who is interested in the things they’re interested in.

So there you have it. I'd like thank Frank Viola for the opportunity to participate in my first synchroblog.

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