29 Ways to Share Jesus with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Hear it

I am a Christian. I love Jesus, and am greatly thankful for the salvation He has given me. I want others to have that same experience with God, to find purpose in life, and peace and joy today and for the future. The reality is that some people do not want to hear about church or Jesus.

It is quite difficult to share Jesus with people who do not know Jesus and have clearly indicated that they do not want to know Jesus. All of us associate with people who do not yet know Jesus.

How do we share Jesus with them when they have already said they don’t want anything to do with Him or with church?

I think this is an especially difficult reality for those living in smaller rural towns. You know people, and you know their families. People know you and your family. You may have grown up with many of them and went to school with them. They know you are part of a church, and you know they are not. It seems that there is no way to help them see they need Jesus because they have clearly told you they want no part of that.

Some say they don’t come to church because it is too hard with kids. Others say they tried church and didn’t like it, or they were hurt by it, or “they are all hypocrites there.” So inviting them to church seems like an impossible and useless endeavor.

Ok, then. If we are to be faithful to share Jesus “as we go into all the world,” as we go on with life and all of its activities, what can we do to reach them with the good news of great joy? Let me share a bunch of ideas that can all be part of sharing Jesus with unbelievers. These will all lie on a spectrum between no interest in Jesus, to asking how they can become a Christian.

  1. Pray for at least 3 people you know who do not know Jesus.
  2. Invite your unbelieving friends into your home for a meal. And just do what you normally do, pray for the meal, have your conversations, enjoy time together.
  3. Remember their special days. Wish them Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, etc. Maybe even get them a gift for Christmas.
  4. Be a good friend.
  5. Tell them you are praying for them. This might work best when they are facing a difficult issue in their life. Maybe pray for them right there if the situation is right.
  6. Bake cookies and share them. While I was driving truck, my coworkers sure enjoyed days when I brought cookies my wife baked and left them in the breakroom. If you don’t bake, buy your coworkers a dozen or two of donuts or bring in coffee.
  7. Give them a hand. If you are good with mechanics, offer to help whey they are having car trouble. If you are good with construction, help them out when they are building a deck. If they are sick, take them supper. Use your experience and skills to help your friends.
  8. Share your stuff. Lend your ladder, or pizza pan, or air compressor. Let them borrow your truck if they don’t have one.
  9. Do something for them. Take their stuff to the landfill when you take yours.
  10. Include them in a party or get-together you are having. This is good when you are already having a bunch of church people over. They get to see that everyone is normal – hopefully. And then your friends can pray with you for this unbelieving friend.
  11. Workout together. I did this for quite a while with one unbelieving friend who was checking out our church. I got to baptize him later.
  12. Read the Bible together. Some people are interested in the Bible, even if not in church. One member of my small group shared that her neighbor came over weekly to read the Bible together. You can help them understand what things mean.
  13. Host a backyard BBQ. Invite them to join your family.
  14. Offer to house sit for them when they go away for summer vacation.
  15. Share rides back and forth to work.
  16. Give them a book on a prominent Christian. They may be interested in reading about a certain athlete who did well on the field, oh, and happens to be a Christian.
  17. At Easter, invite them to watch the latest Easter movie with you.
  18. Ask questions. Don’t be a pest, and don’t be a reporter, but be interested in the other person’s life.
  19. Share a hobby. If you find out you are both interested in chuckwagon races, plan to go together.
  20. Share an answer to prayer with them. People can’t argue with something that you experienced. They may not be interested, but they can’t say you didn’t have that experience. You prayed and God answered in a way you felt was just for you.
  21. Give them a Bible on a special occasion. For example, when their child graduates, gift them a Bible for Graduates.
  22. Share your testimony. This doesn’t have to happen all at once, but share bits of your story when it fits in conversations you have over the years. Tell them your experience with God. Tell them how that has helped you in life.
  23. Invite them to church for special occasions. Christmas Eve or Easter might be good times to invite them. Or if a child is getting baptized, invite them to the celebration. They may come to celebrate with you even in they are not interested in Jesus or church. Who knows what God might say to them in that church service?
  24. Ask what they believe. Invite them to tell you how they view life. This may make them question what they truly believe, and maybe start them searching.
  25. Tell them about a good sale. If you found a good deal somewhere, let them know, or even ask them if they would like you to pick something up for them too.
  26. Speak of Jesus and church naturally. It’s amazing what sometimes gets talked about at work, or after a game. Some conversations may naturally lead you to make a comment about something that happened at church, or what you read in the Bible about Jesus.
  27. Say Grace. Sometimes we hesitate to pray for our meal when we are at work or out with friends. Don’t make a scene, but just quietly do what you would normally do.
  28. Invite them to go with you on a missions trip. This might be a little tricky, but if it is more of a hands-on serving trip, rather than an evangelistic trip, it might be quite okay to have an unbeliever join you.
  29. Go hunting together – whether for a moose, or for that perfect pair of shoes for your daughter’s graduation.

I hope you get the point. If you truly want to win someone to Christ, you need to be a friend. This is not about seeing certain people as a project but just becoming friends with people you are in contact with already.

You may think some of the suggestions in the list are really just about being a good friend and not really about outreach, but that is exactly the point. You need to be intentional, in making friends and being a good friend. The idea is to find ways to be friends, and then talk with them about Jesus as you already do with the friends you already have. We can pray for them regularly, asking God to draw them and work in their lives. It may take years, and then when it happens, it will be so exciting!

Keep looking up

Andy

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience.

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. I hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading too.


ATOMIC HABITS – by James Clear

James Clear has written a well-researched and scientifically backed book on how small habits can lead to big changes. By “Atomic” he means small, like atoms. Small changes can have great affect over time. The book breaks down how habits are formed and how new ones can be created or old ones overcome. James gives a number of examples that help to make sense of what he is teaching.

I especially like how he ties our habits to our identity. Deciding it would be good if I would run occasionally is very different than calling yourself a runner. If you are a runner, then you run. If you are trying to make a habit of running because I need to lose weight you will not have the same impetus as if you were identifying as a runner in the first place.

Want to overcome bad habits? Want to start new beneficial ones? Then this book will be a great help!!

Keep reading

Andy

Who Do You Want to Become?

Who are you? I mean, if friends were to describe you, what words and phrases would they mention?

As we transition into a new year, we are often asked about our resolutions. I prefer setting goals rather than making resolutions.

Some of us might want to rethink goals just a bit. I tend to set goals to accomplish something. For example, I want to read the whole Bible this year, using the Chronological reading plan that puts things in the order they probably happened. I also want to finish writing a book. But should I be setting some different goals?

How about goals that affect who we are? Should we be setting some goals in areas that would impact who we are, what our personality is, or how we face life?

If you want to be seen as a generous person, you could make your goal to be more generous this year. However, vague goals like that are less effective than those with more specific or concrete descriptors. Maybe we could write a list of what a “generous person” is like or what they do and how they interact with others. Perhaps you view generosity as being freer with your resources and time, for example, such as lending your tools or giving food to the food bank. Or your focus could be on buying meaningful things for people you care about or inviting more people to your home for a meal. You could do some research and find a worthwhile cause to support, financially or by volunteering, being generous with money and generous with your time. You might choose to lend your books to a friend after you read them. It’s your goal, so make it yours. You could consider reading some books or taking a course on generosity.

If being generous doesn’t resonate with you, consider a few other character goals. Think about your own life and moments of personal frustration or struggle to identify where you might want to focus your personal growth.

1. Do you want to be more forgiving? You realize you are quick to judge, quick to get angry and offended, and slow to forgive. You want to forgive more freely. Then set a character goal of becoming more forgiving.

2. You might desire to be more patient. You struggle with having to wait for anything. You could set a goal to deliberately always take the longest line in the grocery store, or when buying gas. You could find ways of thinking about other things while waiting. You could memorize scripture…so every time you wait in line you bring up the verses you are learning and go over them. Now the slow line becomes productive for you, and you are being more patient.

3. Would you like to be more creative? You could read books and take courses. You could find ways of trying new things that require creativity. Maybe you schedule in some “day-dreaming” into your day so that you can focus on your creativity.

4. Maybe you want to be more at peace and worry less. You could memorize scripture verses on not worrying. You could pray, even ask others to pray with you, that God would help you have peace in your life.

5. Maybe you want to be more considerate of other people. This is one I have to work on. I have set a goal for me to connect with at least two people who are not in my immediate family or part of the church. Personally, I want to text or visit or connect in a meaningful way with others that are outside of my immediate thought process. These are people I care about, but they may not realize it because I rarely connect with them.

I’m sure that if you ask yourself: “What is one area in my life where I would like to improve?” you will quickly come up with an answer.

Now, before we leave this, I want to suggest that some of these self-improvement goals may need some outside help. Maybe you connect with a coach, or book a few sessions with a counselor. Maybe you meet with your pastor, or a good friend. And you ask for others to speak into your life and help you think of how to improve in your area you want to grow in.

I’m thinking that a number of us probably have people in our life who are really good at the area we want to improve. At least for me, my lack shows up when I see others who are doing so well in this area. My wife is one who is great at noticing others and connecting and loving – and that is why I recognize I have some improving to do. Take time to talk with those in your life who exemplify the area you want to work on. Maybe you are doing well in an area they want to work on and you can help each other.

I encourage you to set some risk-taking goals for the year: tasks to complete as well as areas of personal character growth. Put a plan into place, to learn and grow in these areas.

I wish you all the best for 2022. May it be a life-changing year for you!!

Keep looking up!

Andy

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


BAPTIZED IN THE SPIRIT – by Randy Clark

I enjoyed this book for a couple of reasons:

  1. I am growing and learning in my relationship with the Holy Spirit and this book brought some goo foundations to that learning.
  2. Randy Clark does a good job of explaining the historical understandings of different denominations and theological traditions.
  3. Randy does a great job walking through the many historical revivals where the Spirit showed up in power – with similar displays of God’s power as many are experiencing today when the Spirit shows up.

If you are looking to grow in knowledge and experience of the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, this book is a great foundation to that. It helps you to see that some of the unusual experiences of recent revivals are not that unusual when compared to previous outbreaks of the Spirit. And it helps give a balanced understanding of what we might expect if we are filled or baptized with the Spirit.

This book leaves you longing for more of the Spirit – His presence and His power.

Goodbye 2021 – Some of my Remarkable Wins!

As I look back I am incredibly grateful for the great God that we serve. Here are a few of my highlights of 2021:

1. We were able to buy a house after having to rent for a few years! God did some amazing miracles to work out the finances and get us a great house and a reasonable price.

2. I got a new job. I get to, once again, work in the areas I am passionate about and gifted in. God arranged for me to start as a Transition Pastor at Valleyview Alliance Church, Valleyview, Alberta. I am enjoying the process of preparing this great church family for their next pastor.

3. I started a new business. I was able to get some training on becoming a church consultant and read a lot on coaching. That, coupled with my 30 or so years of pastoral ministry, prepared me to begin Elevate Coaching & Consulting, with the purpose of “helping you achieve your God-given dreams”. I am primarily working with pastors and church leaders, as most of my experience has been in that field. And being a Transition Pastor fits into this as I help Valleyview Alliance Church work toward their God-given dreams.

And another great year with this amazing lady! Thanks Lynnette! I love you more every day!

I love to read, and did much of that this past year, focusing in on reading about the Holy Spirit and his filling and power in the last few months of 2021.

I was able to have a number of great conversations with pastors and church leaders, and had the opportunity to encourage them.

I hope you can look back on the past year and remember some great answers to prayer, and some remarkable wins and accomplishments. Hopefully your positives overwhelm your negatives, and that you can look back over the year with a grateful heart and thankfulness to God.

Goodbye 2021!

Happy New Year

Keep looking up!

Andy

*Please share some of your wins and positive experiences with me in the comment section.

Embrace the New Year With Purpose

The New Year always brings questions about resolutions. “What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Do you have New Year’s Resolutions?” In a New York Post article, Shireen Khalil (Dec. 21, 2018) wrote, “Research conducted by Strava, the social network for athletes, has discovered that Saturday, Jan. 12, is the fateful day of New Year’s resolutions.” This was based on analyzing 31 million global online activities.

I still like the idea of marking January 1st as a new start. Make it a day where you both, look back and look ahead. Celebrate your past year, then look ahead to what is next. Instead of resolutions that often don’t make it to the end of the month, make January 1, or shortly thereafter, a day when you set goals. Resolutions can be broken quickly, and then your resolve disappears with it. Goals, instead, give you something to strive for. Instead of saying you won’t eat any apple fritters from Tim Hortons for the next year, set a goal of losing weight. If you happen to have a fritter, you would have broken your resolution, but you haven’t ruined your goal. Just consider it an infrequent event that has not destroyed your whole goal. You still have the rest of the year to keep working on it.

Goals help you to live with purpose. So what do you want to do on purpose this year?

I want to continue to grow in my relationship with God. If I make a resolution to read my Bible every day, as soon as I miss one day, I have broken that resolution and broken resolutions usually makes us quit pursuing what we were going to do. A goal to read the Bible in a year encourages me to just pick up my Bible again the next day, even if I happen to miss one.

SET A FEW GOALS

What goals would help you live your life with purpose? What are some things that will enhance your life and the lives of others around you? People often suggest setting goals in areas of personal health, or social connections, or something regarding your career or further education. If you want to accomplish a certain project – building your own canoe, or writing a book – then set that as a goal. You might want to set goals in your spiritual life. If there is something you have been struggling with and you want to overcome, design a goal around that. Don’t be afraid to set a goal that may seem out of reach, Identify sub-goals that help you get there, like planning to meet with a counselor at least three times this year to work on that habit I want to break. Choose goals that help you become who you want to be, who you believe God wants you to be.

Do not set ridiculous goals. If you weigh 350 pounds, and are struggling doing stairs, it may not be a good idea to set a goal of climbing Everest this year. But you could set that as a goal in a few years! Set a realistic goal for this year that will help you to move toward the bigger goal. Set a goal of working out regularly at a gym, and another of losing a certain amount of weight. Maybe a third goal would be to start putting aside the necessary money that trip might cost. Set a goal of getting as informed about Everest and mountain climbing as you can – maybe read a book along that theme every month.

Set goals that are realistic, but also a little risky. Maybe you can’t climb Everest this year, but you can plan on doing a 10 K run. It will give you a goal to work towards that will help you tackle Everest later.

If what you want to achieve is too big for one year, then set the timeline 2-3 years from now. Then set short-term goals for this year that will move you toward that goal.

WRITE THEM DOWN

Thinking about goals is one thing. Writing them down is a completely different thing. Writing them down means you have thought about it enough to actually verbalize it, on paper at least. Feel free to do some rough drafts. Write down things you would like to do or experience or accomplish. You may have to weed them out a bit to get down to about five goals to work on for the year. One tool that has been a great help to me is the Full Focus Planner. Look it up at FullFocusPlanner.com. It helps you plan goals for the year, and then breaks them down into quarters, three months at a time. Each quarter you write down goals that will move you toward the larger goal. And then it even helps you break it down more to work on the goals weekly. It has been a huge help to me.

Writing them down gives you something to refer back to. Post them somewhere that you will see them every day. Put them in you journal, or day planner, on your phone or the fridge, or all of these. When you see what you wrote down, you remind yourself regularly what you are working towards. You are now beginning to live your life with purpose.

SHARE THEM

Often, we need others to help us in life. The same is true when it comes to setting goals and working towards them. Share them with someone you think will encourage you in them. If you have a goal of working out at the gym regularly, you would do better to share that with a friend who is doing the same thing, rather than a friend who thinks a workout is carrying in the groceries from the car. If your goal is to write a book, share this goal with someone who thinks you can do it, and who will encourage you to do it. Sharing a goal, speaking it out loud, helps reinforce your determination to do it. Sharing it with someone who will hold you accountable to it, reinforces your goals again.

With some goals, you may even ask someone to check in with you regularly to see how you are doing. Maybe you have a friend who you can encourage toward their goal as they encourage you towards yours.

You might consider getting a coach who can help you toward certain goals. Maybe a trainer at the gym, or a life coach who can help you think through what is holding you back. Maybe you are hoping to improve your leadership or pastoral abilities as you pastor a church. Let me make a shameless plug here for Elevate Coaching & Consulting, and invite you to reach out to me for some coaching to help you live your life with purpose.

REMOVE DISTRACTIONS

Writing down your goals and sharing your goals with a friend are powerful steps to help you reach your goals. Yet sometimes there are too many other things that distract us from living with purpose as we planned.

Remove distractions. If you have goals regarding health, you may do well to remove the unhealthy items from your cupboard. If you have a goal of reading your Bible every day, you may want to get up thirty minutes earlier than everyone in your house so you can focus without others demanding your attention. You may need to remove certain events or activities from your schedule to make time for the purposeful steps you are taking. For example, you might quit your bowling league to make time to work out at the gym. You know what might distract you. You will figure out how to remove those things.

I encourage you to take some time to set some goals in the next week so you can live your life with purpose.

Keep looking up,

Andy

The Space In Between

We spend a lot of time waiting. We wait at traffic lights. We wait at the doctor’s office. There is waiting from when you first ooh and aah over the ultrasound pictures until the baby arrives. I love ordering books on line, but then have to wait two weeks or more to receive them.

Some waiting is so accepted by us that we pretty much ignore it. Waiting at a traffic light raises my stress way more than waiting for a book to arrive. Some waiting consumes our every thought; think of a soon-to-be mom who spends the nine months preparing for the new arrival.

Sometimes we wait for God to work. A few years ago I went through a time of waiting on God. Both my wife and I were convinced that God had told us to wait. I was in between ministry positions and had no way of rushing the process of what was next for us. I sent many resumes to a number of different ministry opportunities. No ministry positions came my way, but then again, God had said wait.

King Saul Didn’t Wait

That “time in between” one thing or another, that time of waiting on God is important. We can’t rush when God wants us to wait. I am reminded of King Saul in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 13: 8-9 we read:

            Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Samuel was the priest. Saul was the king. The king was not to offer sacrifices, but he felt he had waited long enough, and he was worried because all of his men were leaving. He had to do something, didn’t he?

Then Samuel arrives just as King Saul is finishing the sacrifice. He chastises the king, “what have you done?”

And this is what happens to Saul as a result of not waiting: 13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Saul was tired of waiting. The in between time was making him nervous. He decided to act, and God punished him for it.

The Disciples Waited

There are times that God wants us to wait, so wait we should.

In Acts 1: 4-5 we read what Jesus told the disciples just before he left this earth after his resurrection: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

So, the disciples waited. For ten days. Waiting, and praying. And then something incredible happened as the promised Holy Spirit showed up. Acts 2 describes tongues of fire and a roaring sound like a mighty wind, as well as those present speaking in languages they had not known before.

There was great benefit in waiting as they received the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would be his replacement for them.

Faithful Waiting

There are other examples in scripture, and in our own lives, where we have been in the in between time. Sometimes we know there is something else, something better, coming. Other times we are just hoping for something better. In the meantime, we wait. In the waiting, our number one purpose is to remain faithful to God.

Maybe you are waiting for a new job or a new ministry position. You are convinced that you need to move on from where you are. Maybe you have even resigned. As you look for the next position, you are getting impatient. It seems like God is too slow. I want to encourage you to be patient, and wait faithfully for God to work.

Maybe you are waiting for something you think you deserve and it is just not happening. Maybe you are wishing you were married. You long for someone to live the rest of your life with. Remain faithful to God in the waiting. Do not look for a shortcut that will ruin your future. Continue to honor him and trust him to provide for you.

Maybe you are a parent who is longing for the return of a prodigal. You have a child who decided they wanted to live their own life, and to deliberately live it opposite to what you taught him or her. And now you wait, and pray, and try to trust God to bring that wayward child back.

Continue to faithfully wait. Trust God. Pray for your child regularly. If you have an opportunity to connect with a visit or even an email or card, do what you can, and trust God to continue to work as you love this child and long for them to return to you and to God.

Waiting is often really hard. Like Saul, we look for shortcuts. But remember how drastically that one mistake affected Saul and his family forever. God had wanted to make a kingly line through him, now that was done and God moved on to another, to David.

Be faithful to God in the waiting. Trust that he truly has the best in mind for you. That waiting time God had us go through a few years ago were not the easiest. We relied on God in a way we hadn’t for quite a while. He provided encouragement along the way. And then he began showing us that he was shifting us into a new type of ministry. The waiting was necessary to readjust my heart, to show me that I needed to go in a different direction than I had ever considered. He has blessed in numerous ways as we have come out of these years of waiting.

Remain faithful during the in between time.

Keep looking up

Andy

Enjoy a Fresh Start Everyday

I am usually the first person up in the morning at my house. I am often one of the first people up in my neighborhood. There is something special about the beginning of a new day. The “early bird gets the worm” they say. Many successful leaders are up by 5 or 6 am, to start their morning routine. More important than rising early, is the fresh start that each new day brings.

Every sunrise you an opportunity to start your day over. This is not reliving the same day like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. We get to start over by starting at the beginning of another day. It is a fresh slate. There is something really freeing about a not-yet-lived day. You haven’t made any mistakes yet.

A Sin-free Day

Some of us may need the following prayer: “Dear Lord, so far today, I am doing alright. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent. I have not whined and complained. But I am getting out of bed soon, and I will really need your help.”

Each new day is a day when we have not yet sinned. You know the things that happened yesterday, but today you get to start over. You know where you failed, and you know what you need to improve. If you want to, you can make a renewed effort to avoid the sins of yesterday. If you have repented and confessed the sins of yesterday, God has forgiven you. You have the privilege of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to make it a day that honours God.

If there is a “sin that so easily entangles” you, you can make a concerted effort to avoid it. “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Begin your day with prayer, maybe one with a little more sincerity than the one above. Talk with your heavenly Father about your desire to be holy as he is holy. Take deliberate steps to remove anything, or stay away from anything or anyone that tempts you to sin.

A Discouragement-free Day

Some days are much harder than others. Sometimes we have more of those difficult days than we would like. There are days we wish we could forget. The benefit of a new day is no one has said anything bad to you yet. Nothing has happened to discourage you. So far, nothing has gone wrong. Oh, some of us are quick to come up with potential problems, but they have not yet happened. So don’t bring on trouble that is not yours.

I like how Jesus teaches about worry in Matthew 6:34: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Or we could say, don’t worry about today, since you haven’t lived it yet. Leave yesterday’s troubles to yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. And focus on the moment and the start of a fresh, worry-free day.

So far you have nothing to feel guilty about. You haven’t brought on discouragement by falling short of a goal you had or a standard you wanted to meet. At the start of the day, you are free to enjoy a clean slate.

Maybe yesterday was not a good day. You gave in to temptations. You had things go wrong. Someone was mad at you. We could think of all kinds of things that made yesterday bad. Okay. Get up again, try again. It’s a new day. Yes, you messed up terribly yesterday. Yes, life threw everything at you that it could yesterday. Get up with a renewed spirit, a renewed energy. I like that God has given us seven restarts each week.

Daily Rituals

Start your day with good, daily rituals. Do the things you know will help you start on the right foot. This is one of the reasons I get up earlier than everyone else. I do not like missing my rituals because if I don’t do them first thing, I will not do them later in the day. I actually have some evening rituals that set up my morning rituals.

I lay out my clothes for the next day so that I will not wake up my wife by turning on the light or digging through drawers looking for matching socks.

As soon as I’m showered and dressed, I sit down in my big chair in the living room. I reach for my Bible and journal. I start with prayer journaling a conversation with God, which then leads to my daily Bible reading, and a prayerful response to what God is saying to me. Next, I open my daily planner to review how I did with yesterday’s goals and set the goals for today. Mondays I set goals for the week.

These rituals help me to start the day with the things I believe are important to me. You can develop your own rituals that work for you. Getting up early helps ensure I will do what I think is important.

Fresh Orders

One of my morning rituals is to plan the day. I do not approach this lightly. After spending time with God in prayer and Bible reading first, I want to make sure these are not my goals, but fresh orders from God for the day. Sometimes there are things that come up in my time with God that it seems God is telling me what he wants me to do this day.

Getting up early to pray is following the example of Jesus. “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went to an isolated place to pray” (Mark 1:35). If Jesus needed to check in with the Father first thing in the morning, then that is probably not a bad idea for me.

Not only does each new day mean nothing bad has happened yet, it also means nothing good has happened yet. So I want to plan I will avoid sin and discouragement, and I also want to plan to do good and right. As I check in with my Father I get some idea of what I need to do this day.

You may not like to get up early. You don’t have to. But I want to encourage you to cherish each new day as a fresh start and an opportunity to check in with the Master for fresh orders for the day.

It’s a new day. Treasure the opportunity to start with a clean slate. May God help you fill in the day with wonderful moments where you see God at work in and through you.

Enjoy a fresh start every day.

Keep looking up

Andy

Clarify Your God-Given Dreams

I believe God has certain roles He wants each of us to fill in this world. If Jesus is our Lord, we have surrendered our life to Him. This means that all we do is out of a desire to honor him. God has certain things He wants each of us to do.

Many of us have read the directives from Jesus to all believers to: “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37 & 39). Every believer is also challenged: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28: 19-20). We might even look at verses like 1 Corinthians 10: 31, which tells us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

These are some of the general duties of all who love Jesus and want to live for God.

There are also examples where God called individuals in the Bible to do certain things or go to certain places.

God told Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12: 1-3).

God told Jeremiah the prophet,

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.

On the other hand, there are times when God specifically told someone not to do a certain thing. God told Balaam in Numbers 22: 12, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” And God said to King David, “You must not build a Temple to honour my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.” (1 Chronicles 28: 3).

I think that God is asking each of us to do certain things as well, beyond the general directives He has given to all believers. He gives us dreams for our lives, for our families, for our community and nation, for our church or our work.

What dreams has God given to you? Is it possible that God has a certain plan He has been revealing to you over time? It probably has to do with who you are as a person. God has given you certain gifts and talents and skills which you have learned over time. God has placed you in a certain community and among a specific group of people.

You live in a specific neighbourhood and country. Maybe you have recognized a need somewhere. An experience opened your eyes to the need in a personal way, and you just can’t shake the feeling that God wants you to do something about it. You love God and want to obey him, and you are trying to discern what God is actually asking you to do.

What dreams has God given to you? Is it possible that God has a certain plan He has been revealing to you over time? It probably has to do with who you are as a person. God has given you certain gifts and talents and skills which you have learned over time. God has placed you in a certain community and among a specific group of people. You live in a specific neighbourhood and country. Maybe you have recognized a need somewhere. An experience opened your eyes to the need in a personal way, and you just can’t shake the feeling that God wants you to do something about it. You love God and want to obey him, and you are trying to discern what God is actually asking you to do.

If you are struggling with what God is really wanting you to do, can I suggest a few options you might consider as you try to determine God’s dreams for you?

First, pray. As a Christian you are probably already praying. Don’t quit. Keep on asking God for clarity. Ask him to speak to you directly in some way. I believe that God still speaks, if we only listen. Pray as if you are in a real conversation with God. This means you present your requests and concerns, and expect him to reply. Listen to what He is saying. You might do well to invite a few close friends to pray with you.

Second, read scripture. One way God speaks is through His Word. Spend time reading and meditating on scripture. Use scripture in your prayers, and watch for what God may be saying directly to you through scripture.

Third, invite the wise counsel of trusted advisors. Proverbs 20:18: “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.” There is value in asking the advice of others. Hopefully you have some wise and godly older men or women you can call on.

Fourth, research. Find out all you can about what you believe God is calling you to. Are others doing similar things? See if you can pick their brain about it. Find out what the real needs are in the areas of concern you believe God is placing on your heart.

Fifth, trust God’s wisdom. God’s Word tells us in James 5:1, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” God says that if we ask for wisdom, we should just ask and we will get it. Begin to move ahead in the direction your God-given dreams are leading. It’s okay if you aren’t clear on exactly what it will look like, but begin to move and allow God to refine your direction as you trust in His wisdom. I have had to make small course corrections along the way as God continues to direct.

I believe that God puts certain dreams on each of our hearts. Some of us have them clearly articulated while others may not and are instead faithfully doing what they can to love God and love people.

Each of us can figure out exactly where we fit, where the person we are with our gifts and skills and even our unique idiosyncrasies, can serve the needs God has place on our hearts. I hope you can find a way to never feel like a square peg in a round hole again.

Keep looking up

Andy Wiebe

Prayer Journaling Helps Me Hear God Better

There is a longing deep within me to be in continued close communication with God. Yet I am never satisfied, there always feels like there should be more. I want to be able to talk with God, not just to God. I want to be able to have the wisdom God offers the praying individual in the book of James. I want to know when He says yes or no to a decision I am about to make. Too often I have seesawed back and forth between yes and no even when facing decisions that were not life changing.

A few years ago, I was able to take in a “Hearing God” seminar out of Southland Church in Steinback, Manitoba. After a couple of months of weekly teaching, I was feeling much more clarity in my conversations with God.

The Hearing God seminar focuses on teaching you how to prayer journal, how to write out a conversation with God. This has helped me make decisions, both small and large, with more confidence. Since practicing prayer journaling almost daily for the last couple of years, Lynnette and I have made moves with confidence that seemed strange to others. We have heard God speaking as we moved to new places, bought a house again after years of renting, began a new ministry, and even in our daily decisions.

The seminar teaches you to write down your question for God. You can even put your initial down (A for Andy), then ask your question. Then on the next line put “G” for God, and write what you believe God is saying. Check the example below.

A: God, what do you want to say to me this morning?

G: …

As you listen, you can expect God to speak. Sometimes it takes a little time to get clarity, but I believe what the seminar teaches: God wants to speak to his children. This format helps me have more of a dialog with God. I actually wait and expect him to speak. I don’t just keep rattling on with my desires and concerns, but actually stop to hear God speak. The next step is to write what you think God is saying and evaluate it later. Don’t take actions unless you have confirmed that you heard correctly.

There is no scripture that says you need to journal when talking with God. Some people may even call it a fad. Maybe, but it is a fad that I am benefiting from. I hear God speak to me more than I ever have before. The act of writing helps me to slow down and listen.

Some people like to go back over their journals from time to time to see what God has been saying and how he has worked in your life. This is a great way to spark your thanksgiving as you celebrate how you have seen God answer and work. I don’t often go back over my journals, but love how it helps me focus in the moment.

In the church where I was taught the Hearing God seminar, prayer journaling was commonplace. It was part of their church culture. The pastor often referred to his own journaling experience in his sermons, and encouraged church member to write in their journals as they heard God speak during the service.

Church prayer times were connected to the prayer journal too. Those attending prayer meetings were encouraged to bring their journals and there were times of personal journaling on certain topics and then sharing what people believed God had said.

One concern with prayer journaling is that some people may speak something as from God or with his authority, but they may have not heard clearly. What you believe God is saying to you must always line up with scripture. If it does not, then either you are not hearing God, or you just need to wait on him for more clarity. Be cautious about saying, “God said…” when referring to your prayer journal. I would preface what I believed God had said with something like: “I believe God is saying…”, or “It seems God is saying…” This gives opportunity for others, maybe leadership, to speak into or confirm or clarify what you believe God is saying. If you believe God is saying something to the congregation as a whole, then others will usually confirm that they are hearing God say something similar. Be willing to test your words from God with scripture, or the input of other believers.

You want to hear God speak. God wants to speak to you. Take time to slow down when you pray and expect Him to speak. Why not try journaling?

This is a tool that could help deepen your prayer life, so why not try it? If it is a meaningless exercise for you after trying it for a while, then go back to what works better for you. If you miss a day or two, just pick back up where you left off the next time you come back to the journal.

Keep looking up

Andy Wiebe

www.elevatecoaching-consulting.com