Wednesday, June 20, 2012



Living in Newport Beach, California, a place I have dubbed the "holy coast" area of the United States, it's easy to forget how needy some people really are. We live in such gorgeous surroundings, one of the most beautiful parts of the world. From the very first day we moved here it was clear that we had to make it our goal to expose our children to other parts of the world-to give them a wider perspective on the rest of the world. In other words, it was important to communicate to them that this is not how it is all over the world. So, we did our best to expose our kids to as many other cultures as possible as they grew up in paradise. This not only taught them that there are lots of needy people around the world, but it also gave them a sense of gratefulness that they possess today.
Over the years the many travels to see how the rest of the world lives have also taught us to look around, even in paradise, for the needy right here at home. Although the needs around the world are much more intense than they are here, there are so many real needs here in Orange County and growing by the day in this economic scene. Locally we do all we can do to support the Orange County Food Bank, one of the finest charities ever!

Every month we also feed the homeless who gather at a local church facility. It's a different kind of serving. There are no food lines. The people gather, are seated and then they are served a wonderful meal. We sing together, celebrate any birthdays and I share something about Jesus and His teachings with them. The rewards of serving the homeless in this way are enormous. This brings me to SECRET #67: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by meeting the needs of the needy.

You see, when you do your best to meet the needs of the needy, you are doing something that is at the heart and core of Jesus and His message to the world. This act of service will have a most definite impact on the world; it will demonstrate Jesus to the world. Jesus taught this when He said: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25)

Here the sacrificial love message of Jesus is spread by being aware of Jesus' heart and that Jesus can be found in those in need in our world-the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and those in prison. Jesus also spoke directly to those who didn't notice Jesus in the midst of the needy. "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'" When we are aware of the poor and needy around us, we are demonstrating the heart of Jesus in our world. Jesus always sought them out and so should we. And when we do, the attractiveness of the sacrificial love of Jesus shines through.

NOTE two things here: FIRST-Those in need are at the heart of God-hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned. Human nature is to take care of those who can do something for us. Therefore, we look to treat those who are important from an earthly perspective-the athlete, the musician, the highly positioned person in society. BUT Jesus points us in another direction entirely!

SECOND-Ministering to the needy is in fact ministering to Jesus, Himself. So, if you want to find and interact with Jesus, He is right there in the midst of those in need.

Do you want to see Jesus? Serve those in need in your world. And, when you serve the needy, the love message of Jesus will shine through. This is SECRET #67: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by meeting the needs of the needy.



Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are My disciples." (John 13:34-35) There is something so attractive about a group of people-a family, a fellowship-where they love one another that stands out. It's a badge of distinction that Jesus says will get the world's attention. You will not be known by peculiar rites or habits; not by a peculiar form of dress or manner of speech; not by peculiar do's and don'ts, like the Pharisees or the scribes, but by deep, genuine, and tender affection for one another. This is SECRET #66: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by loving one another.
Each of the disciples had signed on to loving Jesus, but not loving one another. I mean, a few fishermen loving their nemesis, the tax gatherer or the political radical, the zealot, or the disciple who had a question mark for a brain-always doubting and questioning? Jesus wasn't suggesting it, but commanding that they, in the midst of their great diversity, must learn to love one another. Now, how can you love one another without spending more quality time together than sitting beside one another in a spectator-driven religious service or by greeting one another after the announcements for 15 seconds? It takes time to learn to love one another, so take the time!

The Kingdom principles are practiced anywhere and everywhere, because it's a movement. BUT how is the Kingdom practiced? The Kingdom is practiced by participation in a community of followers of Jesus. We are to live our lives in relationship with Jesus and in fellowship with one another.

Practicing the presence of the Kingdom requires fellowship. The term fellowship is widely known, but even more widely misunderstood. It's more than a pot-luck dinner. It's not a room called the "fellowship" hall. It's more than a group of friends watching football or hunting together. The fellowship may be the most important concept you will ever learn. However, this concept is not just to be learned; it must be lived! I call this kind of fellowship a verb. This kind of healthy fellowship is held together by the proactive expression of love for one another.

Jesus' strategic approach to spreading His Good News message throughout the world never involved "putting up another church", but practicing their relationship with Jesus and with one another in the Kingdom. This is what the fellowship is all about!

The fellowship operates on the principle of attraction, not promotion. This goes against the grain of most every religious program in our world. The fellowship is not an organization, an institution or a denomination. Fellowship is a verb that, when properly activated, has the power to change the world-one person at a time! In order to use the fellowship as a verb you must learn the fellowship principle of loving one another.

The primary term for fellowship in the New Testament is koinonia. The word has the idea of communion or sharing in common with another. It's the perfect word to describe the relationship we are to have with God and with one another-a partnership. This partnership is to be entered into-to join one's self to a friend or friends in order to become a sharer. The designated partners within the fellowship include Jesus, Jesus' followers and you. The fellowship is with God Himself and with His people.

Jesus introduced an entirely new dynamic into the teaching process. Let's call it "table fellowship". Instead of one person teaching a class, Jesus spent lots of significant time around the table with food. The gospel of Luke records ten meals with Jesus. Eight of them are eaten in the flow of Jesus' ministry activity and two are eaten with the disciples after the resurrection. In other words, Jesus uses fellowship around the table to bring everyone together and to demonstrate Kingdom living at its simple, tangible best-all wrapped around learning to love one another.

As these many meals with Jesus are examined closely, it's helpful to pay special attention to the settings. The settings vary from the homes of the highly religious to special friends and even in two tax-collector homes. Most of the time Jesus is invited and in the case of Zacheus Jesus invited Himself to lunch at Zach's place. The guest list is always fascinating-priests, sinners, prostitutes and a variety of broken people and those who are looking for that special touch from Jesus.

The simple program of Jesus for changing the whole world is to make each person He touches magnetic enough with love to draw others to love God and to love one another. This transformation happens within the relational community of a few. Are you in that kind of relationship? SECRET #66: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by loving one another.