Cold Calling Jesus

We did a year’s worth of catching up over breakfast last week, my wonderful friend and I, while she was in Michigan for a brief visit.

“It’s been kind of a tough year,” she said, as we placed our orders.

Her son-in-law had been caught in an affair and her daughter, of course, booted him.

He then ended the affair, sought counseling and joined an accountability group.

Hurt, disgusted and betrayed though they were, the family decided to go the rocky route of redemption.

Because redemption is what Jesus is all about.

So the father of my friend’s young grandchildren was welcomed back home – welcomed into the guestroom, that is.

Until trust is rebuilt.

Later our conversation turned to other things.  I mentioned that I had seen the series of Facebook posts she had written on the Ten Commandments.

“I see people all the time who need Jesus,” she explained, “but I never know how to broach the subject. So I thought I would try sharing Him through Facebook posts. Not that I’m Facebook friends with any of them.”

There’s the rub.

The pulpit puts a lot of pressure on evangelicals to tell others about Jesus.

cold calling Jesus

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Tanner*

But cold calling Jesus doesn’t get many sales.

Think about it.  When was the last time someone cold-called while you were making dinner and you bought what they were selling right there over the phone or through your storm door?

Me? Never. I just get annoyed.

When did someone start telling you about Buddha out of the blue because they noticed you could use his philosophies and you immediately converted from Christianity to Buddhism?

Probably never.

You probably just smiled and nodded and said, “If Buddha works for you….”

Jesus didn’t tell us to cold call.  He didn’t even tell us to tell others about Him exactly.

He told us to teach others what He taught us.

After breakfast we went for a short walk along the lake and then drove back to my house just in time for her to hurry off to a lunch date.

As we were getting out of my car I said, “You know, friend, you actually tell people about Jesus all the time. Your whole life tells people about Him (it really does). You just told whoever was eavesdropping at the restaurant that loving Jesus means choosing forgiveness and working toward redemption. Who knows? Perhaps someone in the next booth is struggling with that very thing.”

Jesus came to show us what His Father is like.

His whole life on earth was a show and tell.

Ours can be, too, my evangelical friends.

We can fulfill the great commission by just living our lives. Just living our lives showing what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are like. We can do the easy stuff – pass out some bread, pass out some fish, lend a helping hand, speak a few words of wisdom – and we can do the hard stuff – forgive, sacrifice our broken and betrayed hearts to the cause of redemption.

And one fine day we might earn the right to actually speak.

“And if you should lead out the esteemed from the unworthy you will be as my mouth.”  -LXX
“…if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman [woman].”  NIV


*Who was not out on a cold call when he buckled Jesus into his passenger seat.











Light, Revelation

Rev Sev

Bits and pieces are coming together. And that gives this clue gathering lover of the puzzle a thrill.

Two weeks ago I was studying Revelation 7 and I wondered why the tribes of Dan and Ephraim were not included among those whose foreheads were marked for preservation.

The list of tribes in Revelation 7 resembled a military census. If that’s what it was, why aren’t representatives from Dan and Ephraim being enlisted in the Lord’s army?

First I made us a table so we can all keep it straight:

rev sev jpeg

(Yes, I do know I’m a nerd.)

Then I did a little looking and found out some stuff:

As soon as the Danites captured their first city, they set up for themselves an idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses (or Manasseh, depending on the manuscript)  and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan.  (Judges 18 if you want to see for yourself.)

Two violations there:

  1. “Do not make for yourselves an idol.”
  2. God designated Aaron’s descendants, the Levites, as priests, not Moses’s. You can’t just willy-nilly ignore God and choose your own priests.

And then there is 1 Kings 12.  Two golden calves were made. One was set up in Bethel and one was set up in Dan. People came from far and wide to worship them. And if you know anything about God and Exodus and the Ten Commandments, you know how He feels about the worshiping of golden calves.

Okay now Ephraim. The reason Ephraim’s name is missing from the third column is pretty clear:

Ephraim will be laid waste
on the day of reckoning.
Among the tribes of Israel
I proclaim what is certain.

Judah’s leaders are like those
who move boundary stones.
I will pour out my wrath on them
like a flood of water.

Ephraim is oppressed,
trampled in judgment,
intent on pursuing idols. Hosea 5:9-11 [italics added]

But [Ephraim] continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. Psalm 78:9-17 [italics added]

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. Psalm 78:65-67 [italics added]

It looks like it was due to severe, persistent idol worship.

If you know anything about the history of Israel, you know that lots of tribes got into trouble at one time (or two or three or ten+) for worshiping idols, but Dan and Ephraim seemed intent upon it.

So then last week I moved on to study chapters 8 and 9.

Chapter 8 described the frightful events at the opening of the seventh seal and the sounding of the first four trumpets.

And then in chapter 9 the fifth trumpet was sounded and some truly terrifying locusts prepare for battle. Seriously, read their description. I’m thinking I’ll forget all the contemporary means of evangelizing. All the youthtastic stuff, the climbing walls (a church near me has one) and the sporting event outreaches and replace my small talk – things like, “What about those Tigers,”  – with, “What about those LOCUSTS?”

The sixth trumpet was sounded and a third of mankind was killed.

And then there it was, at the very end of chapter 9, the piece of the puzzle that joined it together, more evidence of the reason the descendants from the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not listed among those marked for preservation:

The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” [italics added].

I read ahead:  A giant earthquake is coming. The terrified survivors of it will FINALLY give glory to God.

When this BSF study of Revelation began in September, many of the women expressed trepidation over looking into this book. They feared God’s wrath against people.

But having studied the first nine chapters and read two more, I don’t see it as God’s wrath against people. I see it as His wrath against His enemy, the devil. Against the sin and evil that destroy people. (God hates the sin, loves the sinner.)

It’s like He’s rooting out the cancer of sin/evil. He cuts it out and then He uses radiation and then, on whatever is left, He uses chemo.

After He levels all his weapons against it, He succeeds in eradicating it.

Chapter 11 ends with earth in remission and then chapter 12 (okay, I read ahead three chapters ‘cuz it’s a page turner) shifts the battle from earth to the heavenly realm. To the woman and the dragon.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Now comes the really BIG battle…


Aha & Amen: Do You Speak Christianese?

Here I go, messing with the Christian status quo…

Legalese, the language of lawyers, makes everything sound so complicated.  It’s a trick, to make you think you need them, even for the simplest of tasks.

I’m pretty good at understanding legal documents, so over the years various friends and family have asked me to translate for them.  The first step is to eliminate 75% of the words – the “heretofore”s, the “to wit”s, the “aforementioned”s and the redundant phrases.

Fortunately, while looking something up today, I discovered that there is a movement to simplify the language of legal documents, so regular folks can understand them.


My face breaks out into a wry smile whenever I get into a discussion/debate with a fellow Christian (it’s almost always with a man) and, upon being challenged, he breaks out words like hermeneutics and dispensationalism and eschatology.  To intimidate me, to let me know that he is out of my league.  Except he’s not.  I know what all those words mean and I can use them with the best of ‘em.  But I don’t.

Because Jesus didn’t.

Jesus used language his hearers could understand.  He talked fishing to fishermen, farming to farmers, legalese to Pharisees.  Granted, sometimes He spoke in parables, to weed out those who had no ears to hear, but to those who did have ears, He spoke plainly and simply.

My daughter has remarked that all she has to do is sprinkle some Christian phrases into her tumblr posts and she instantly gets a ton of “notes” (likes and reblogs).  She’s tried it a few times.  I resist that temptation.

But I think it might be fun to do a little experiment:  Write a post with easily recognizable Christian phrases and then write a post that has EXACTLY THE SAME MEANING, but without the phrases.  See which one does better.  I’m guessing the former would win by a landslide.

Too often we Christians “like” anything that sounds Christian, and we are suspicious of anything that lacks the proper Christianese.

I wonder what would happen if we took it one step further:  Write a post that sounds really Christian, but is actually theological gibberish.  And then write a post that hits the theological nail squarely and brilliantly on the head, but includes absolutely no Christian jargon.

I’d be willing to bet the first post would win again.  Except that Christians don’t bet.

When you know God well – His character, His purposes, His love – you can use Him in a sentence.  You can apply your knowledge of His character, purposes and love to various situations and to the mindset and experience of a variety of people.  Because you know that it’s the concepts, character, purpose and Love that matter, not a specific set of words.

It takes more effort to really communicate who God is than it does to throw out familiar phrases.

It’s the difference between taking an essay exam versus multiple choice.  One shows that you can apply the concepts you’ve learned, the other shows that you have memorized, or at least can recognize, some phraseology.

So, my dear fellow Christian bloggers, I’m going to throw down a challenge:  Write a post that nails one of Jesus’s teachings (not Paul’s, Jesus’s) without using ANY Christian jargon.  Just explain it the way He would – straightforward and simple.

That way EVERYONE on the internet can understand it.  And perhaps say, “Aha!” or “Amen.”

P.S.  You have my permission to post a link to said post in the comments.  I’d love to read it.

Copyright 2015, Light & life