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I went for a much-needed bike ride this morning. While the bike ride was needed, it was the alone time with God that I was actually pursuing. It was such a refreshing time… emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

If you’ve ever spent much time outdoors, you know that a variety of SMELLS exist. This became very evident for me while on my ride. There were many smells, but I just want to mention two. These two smells would be “bookends” on opposite ends of the spectrum. So, what were they?

The stench of the SEWER TREATMENT PLANT and the refreshing aroma of a HONEYSUCKLE VINE. See I told you that they were complete opposites!

As I considered these contrasting odors, I began to think about and ponder the following scripture…

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

So, the reality is this… to some YOU JUST STINK… and to others YOUR LIFE IS A SWEET FRAGRANCE.

To those who are rebellious toward the drawing of God… YOU STINK. Let’s face it, the Gospel is offensive. The Gospel informs people, among other things, the following…

  • You are a sinner by nature and choice.  (Romans 3:10-18)
  • You are under the wrath of an almighty God. (Romans 1:18 ; Romans 2:5)
  • You can’t fix yourself. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  • Your best efforts to do good are more stinky than a pile of poo and filthy menstual rags.
  • You cannot know God via any other means or religions outside of Christ, everything else is damnable. (John 14:6)

 

If you are living or preaching a Gospel that’s not offending, THEN YOU ARE NOT LIVING OR PREACHING THE RIGHT GOSPEL. The results of the Gospel will always be drastic. It will either result in radical life-change or anger and even persecution towards the one who proclaims it.

However, we can’t end this post with that because the Gospel is also GOOD NEWS! It is a SWEET FRAGRANCE to those recieving it because the benefits are MANY… salvation, eternity with God, unity with Goddeepest satisfaction and joy, personal holiness, freedom from sin, and a life that brings glory to God.

So, following my bike ride… Me and God are good… I can’t say the same for how others percieve me (or my spiritual odor), but that’s okay! My pursuit is to know Jesus and make Him known today!

With that being said, DON’T try to cover or mask your odor for acceptence of those who think YOU STINK… it’s really NOT YOU THAT STINKS… that’s really the smell of THEIR OWN SIN. Keep being salt and light and continue loving and pointing them to JESUS!

In closing…

How do you smell today?

How do others smell to you?

How does your life smell to God?

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I loving hearing the stories of life-change and how God continues to transform people into His likeness! This weekend was overwhelming… so you’ll see a couple new posts this week! Saturday evening was an awesome time of testimonies at church, but it was the following Facebook post that I read yesterday that was SUPER REFRESHING! So, Here is another Terra Nova story!

Enjoy!

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This is the story of Melanie Bond…

At last night’s service Pastor Chad asked people for testimonies of what Terra Nova Church had given or shown them since we each had starting attending services there. Terra Nova has shown me that there are still wells out there offering drinks to thirsty people!

 
I don’t know if anyone who may read this post knows how it feels to be in the presence of unforgiveness… whether that be sitting in the presence of someone who hasn’t forgiven you or simply listening to other people talk about those they themselves haven’t or won’t ever forgive. It doesn’t matter which of those you have experienced… and it doesn’t matter if it’s coming from the saved or the unsaved… it all feels the same.
 
Over the last few years I have been in the presence of them all. Just a few months ago I sat with a couple of ladies, that professed to be Christians, that both expressed their thoughts on how someone who hurt another person could ever feel okay being around the person they hurt ever again. Sometime later I was reading in Psalms where David speaks of being in a dry and weary land without water to quench his thirst and it hit me… that’s exactly how it felt being in the presence of unforgiving people! No water to quench the thirst of people needing forgiveness and no forgiveness to soothe their aching, broken, and contrite hearts.
 
While standing back watching Terra Nova Church be the hands and feet of the Lord this is what I have seen. If someone is hurting, if someone is broken, if someone messes up and needs forgiveness, you the church have wrapped your arms around them and given them that drink of water that they so desperately needed to quench their thirst. I have watched Terra Nova Church be that very well, to the people who enter its doors, that Jesus spoke of when he himself met a woman there who was in much need herself of a drink of forgiveness and living water. I pray the well never goes dry!!!
 

Okay, so today when I began to browse through Facebook posts from last night I discovered that several folks in Sikeston had encountered a gentleman who was hanging out in town and apparently resembled the iconic image of Jesus. Naturally this grabbed my attention. One family had even helped put him up in a local motel, so I assumed that he just might still be in town. Thus, I decided to see if I could track him down because I had some questions.

  

Let me first say that “Jesus” is actually Neal Thompson and seems to be a super nice guy! I really do admire his boldness and his effort to point people to Jesus. Clearly, he has pointed some folks to Jesus and even created some great conversations that have people doing some self evaluation. So, I am in no way discounting that. However, here we are in Sikeston, MO and “Jesus” has come and gone… people are talking… people have questions… people have thoughts… and I’m just one of those people! This blog is going to be pretty raw, so hang with me.

  

I guess the thing that initially grabbed my attention on Facebook was that people (some who claim to know Jesus) perked up when he came to town and they were outraged that he faced opposition. After all, he was just a man who loved people and wanted to share Jesus. I quickly pointed out that there are many people in Sikeston who love Jesus and face opposition from others… we just dress like you and not “Jesus”.

 

 I finally caught up with him near the American Legion Baseball Park… below is the actual interview… 

 

Click this image to view the video!

 

Here are several thoughts;

 

For those of you in Sikeston… There really are many people who are radically sold out to Jesus who live right here! I know many of them… I have the honor of pastoring a church full of them! They long to see people come to Jesus! The truth is that I have as much, if not more, respect for them than I do the “Jesus” traveler because they risk the opinion of others everyday to be Jesus here in this city! They have chosen to develop and build relationships… to invest in friends and family… all because they desire for them to know Jesus and experience life-change! So, look around… maybe tomorrow you will see another Neal Thompson, but this time you may recognize them as someone you already know!

 

The other point I want to touch on briefly is the fact that there is a small segment of our population that perceives Christianity as “Hokey” at best. Let me be honest, most of these are what I would call a man’s man. Guys that I’ve been working hard to develop relationships with and help them understand that a relationship with Jesus is NOT a sissy thing! Not all churches or Christians resemble the unbiblical wack jobs on so called Christian television. Now image the conversations I will have trying to explain Neal to those guys who perceive the things of Christ as “Hokey”.

 

I am a firm believer in the reality that the Gospel is best delivered through relationship. Hear me, I’m not discounting the reality that God can use one time encounters, but most who receive Christ and grow in a relationship with Him do so because they are in relationship with someone that shared Jesus. From the perspective that Neal wanted to share the hope of the Gospel… He would be much more affective if he planted himself in a community and built relationships where he earned the right to share the Gospel. He clearly was not prepared to lead anyone to Jesus! He didn’t even have a Bible on him… and trust me… he didn’t have it memorized. Also, I depend on my Bible to help me become more like Jesus. The Bible should be the filter that we run everything through… He needs it to affirm that what he hears from God is really in agreement with Scripture. 1 Peter 3:15 also says, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. The true story of that hope is found in the Bible. 

Another thing that drew much conversation was the fact that a Sikeston Police Officer came to talk with Neal and interrupted our interview. We have to understand that our law enforcement agencies are here to protect us! Neal had absolutely no identification on him. For all they knew he could be here with less than pure motives. The other thing that I want to express is that I respectfully ended my interview and went on because God has called me here to Sikeston to make a difference. My actions and attitude had to be such that when God gives me the opportunity to share Jesus with that officer… I hadn’t compromised that through disrespect. My relationship with that officer was more important than a few questions for a guy who was just passing through.

 

Finally, I am in agreement with many of the things Neal said during our time together. However, my message to those who claim to know Jesus and desire to change our nation is this; We will change our city, our state, our nation, and our world one person at a time… one relationship at a time… one family at a time. We won’t really make a difference for the kingdom with boycotts, petitions, protests, or even our vote. We are called to simply love the lost and give them Jesus!

 

Be inspired, be challenged, be intrigued, but MOST importantly BE JESUS! If Neal Thompson can create a BUZZ by being Jesus… What will happen tomorrow when we all wake up ready to be Jesus to our city?

 

Again, this was just some raw thoughts. I appreciated Neal coming to Sikeston because clearly he sparked some great conversation… Now what are you gonna do with it?

It has been another amazing weekend for Terra Nova Church! Tonight I’ve really been evaluating how awesome it has been to see the folks that God is bringing to us. It’s been interesting because they simply ARE NOT asking the questions that we tend to think about in our church circles.

The list below is from Perry Noble’s Blog on March 31, 2010… I found it to be very accurate!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT saying that some of the things on this list aren’t important… I’m simply affirming that they don’t tend to be priority for those unchurched who are seeking to connect to the body of Christ.

  

10 Questions That Unchurch People ARE NOT Asking!

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#1 – “What do you do to disciple people?”  (This question is usually asked by people who want to ‘microwave” spiritually, and not understand that they themselves actually became mature in the “crock pot.”)

#2 – “Who is speaking this weekend?”  (They usually don’t care about the WHO…it’s the WHAT that matters to them.)

#3 – “Are you reformed in your theology?”  (Most of them have no idea what in the heck this means!)

#4 – “Is your church spirit filled?”

#5 – “What version of the Bible do you use?”  (Many unchurched people don’t even really know there are different versions!)

#6 – “What denomination are you affiliated with?”

#7 – “How many different activities can I sign my family up for in order to add to the insane schedule that we already have?”

#8 – “Does your pastor teach exegetically through the Scriptures?”

#9 – “Are there lots of crosses and pictures of Jesus in your church?”

#10 – “Are you guys pre trib, mid trib, post trib or partial trib?”

 

Here are the 3 questions that they ARE asking…

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#1 – “Will you just be real and authentic?”

#2 – “Will you please NOT judge me?”

#3 – “Will you show me how I can have life-change?”

This evening my family and some great new friends enjoyed dinner together at Pasta House. We had a great time chatting and sharing life together. However, I must say that I walked away very burdened.

As Heather, our waitress, brought out our dinner rolls I notice an ornate Cross tattoo just inside her wrist. This was in no way offensive to me, but I had to know… What was the significance of the Cross for Heather?

For me the Cross is redemption, forgiveness, a fresh and clean start, the reality that my Savior gave His life for me. Philippians 2:8 says, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!

I have to be honest. I expected that Heather perhaps shared the same life change that I have found in the Cross. However, that was not the case. When I asked her to share with me why the Cross tattoo… she simply said, “It looked really cool so I picked it.”

Wow! She has missed the POWER of the Cross! The instrument of death used to crucify Jesus has been reduced to… “It looked really cool.” My heart broke, but not because Heather “dissed” the Cross. I was broken because there is an entire generation out there that the Church would rather be critical of a tattoo than to be a witness that would take the opportunity to love people like Heather to the Cross.

Will you be so bold to let go of any judgmental spirit or attitudes that you are carrying today? Will you love the MANY Heather’s out there to the Cross?

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“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others,
you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and
pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

 – Matthew 7:1-3