Friday, April 18, 2014

City Notes | Sharing + Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism Part 1 of 3

Sully Notes 7: Books in 25 minutes or less

Sully Notes are more than a book review. They are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read. 
Emmaus City Church Sully Notes Part 7 Worcester MA Gospel Soma Acts 29
This week's Notes begin with Part 1 of Carl Medearis' Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism. This book made me laugh and wonder and consider and pause. I didn't necessarily agree with Carl on some of his statements, but the most important thing is I delighted in Jesus more while reading his book. It's a quick, curious, and thought-provoking read that helped me get some fresh perspective on how to talk about the One who is my Creator, Lord, Savior, Redeemer and King with other people who think He is none of the above. Plus, Carl has seen people begin to follow Jesus I've never connected with; he's a very gifted evangelist and he inspired me to continue to share Jesus more. My notes don't contain the amazing stories he tells, so don't settle for what's written below. Read the book and enjoy Jesus again who He is and everything He has powerfully done for you and others. He is the gift of God that leads to abundant, eternal life in the here and now.

Speaking of Jesus | City Notes Part 1 of 3

Chapter 1 | What's Missing in This Gospel?

Paul once wrote, ‘When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling’ (1 Cor. 2:1-3) … the passage Paul wrote to the Corinthians burrowed down into my soul and cemented itself there. It would be some time before that verse became the center of my life. + pgs. 30-31

Chapter 2 | Unfair Advantage

I do have some thoughts how Jesus might deal with terrorists because He had two with Him in His inner circle of friends. A Zealot and a tax collector. A political insurgent and an economic terrorizer of the common folk. What He did with these two was bring them in as confidants. As students. Disciples. And made them apostles of the early faith. It actually seems to me that the worse someone was, the more Jesus liked them. He didn't just have 'mercy' in the way we think of it, as a sweet, sappy, lovey-dovey sort of thing. It was mercy with a bite. Mercy that led people out of where they were into a new place. This is what Jesus did with the worst of His day. He was really only hard on one type of folkspeople like us ... people like me. Hypocrites and such. + pg. 36
We know the Creator. We’re friends with the King. We know where truth is found and its name. We know what brings life and what gives life and where eternal life resides. It’s not fair. While others are explaining and defending various ‘isms’ and ‘ologies,’ we’re simply pointing people to our friend. The One who uncovers and disarms. The beginning and the end of the story. + pg. 38

Chapter 3 | Owning Christianity

We don’t have to defend Jesus. We don’t even have to explain Him. All we have to do is point with our fingers, like the blind man in the book of John, and say, ‘There is Jesus. All I know is that He touched me, and where I was once blind, now I see.’ + pgs. 47-48

The gospel is not a what. It is not a how. The gospel is a Who. The gospel is literally the good news of Jesus. Jesus is the gospel. … E. Stanley Jones continues this thought in his book The Christ of the Indian Road: ‘The sheer storm and stress of things had driven me to a place that I could hold. Then I saw that there is where I should have been all the time. I saw that the gospel lies in the person of Jesus, that he himself is the Good News, that my one task was to live and to present him. My task was simplified. + pgs. 49, 55

The kingdom of Jesus has somehow become a religion of the mind rather than a spiritual response of the heart. We focus on psychological compliance rather than spiritual dependence upon the teachings of Jesus and the guidance of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. ... What if we were to take Jesus at His word – ‘I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself’ (John 12:32 NKJV)? What if our complicated explanations are wrong, not because they are incorrect, but because they do not constitute the person of Jesus? … Jesus Christ is the gospel. He is the truth. He is the point. He embodies all of the salvation/redemption/forgiveness/freedom stuff Himself, and because He is a personality, He does not require doctrinal mastery to connect with an individual. ... The power of Jesus’ life and death come from His existence as the exact representation of His Father. + pgs. 54-56, 61

Chapter 4 | In or Out

When we focus on ideology, we’re not touching thirsty hearts. Thirsty people don’t want to memorize theology any more than they want to learn a new language. ... When we point at the boundary, we’re trying to define it. But if Jesus is lifted up, He draws people to Himself. ... If we were to look at Jesus, in the totality of His love and determination, we would realize we are not required to make ourselves His followers by force of reason. We would realize He came to us in our poverty of mind and heart. It is our job to follow Jesus ... refusing to know anything else but the crucified and resurrected Jesus.– pg. 67

Jesus collided with two fishermen, and their lives were changed. In fact, the world was changed. ... That’s because Jesus is, in Himself, the gospel. Once He makes contact, our hearts struggle within us, and we, like Peter and Andrew, have to choose to follow or not. Jesus says, ‘I am the way.’ ... (But) We don’t trust Jesus with our salvation. ... We’re insecure about our salvation, and we try to cement ourselves into security by surrounding ourselves with all the right stuff. ... Remember, Jesus is the Way, and He started by saying, ‘Follow Me.’ + pgs. 70-71

I often have to force myself to come back to the straightforward resolution of Paul: to simply know nothing else but Jesus. I know the one place I can’t go wrong is the place where Jesus is. I can be weak, sinful, foolish, and even rebellious. I can fail others, ruin ministries, fumble my work, and still, I cannot go wrong when I stand with fear and trembling, knowing only Jesus Christ. + pg. 71

We all suffer beneath the weight of sin. (But) Understanding the doctrine of forgiveness does not deliver us from sin. Jesus does. Our Western logic, our reason, our ‘right thinking’ cannot deliver us from evil (apart from Jesus). … Jesus announced that He was present for those who needed Him, as a physician for the ill and wounded ... My job, no – my joy comes from sharing the good news of Jesus with people. I point to Him, and He does all the heaving thinking. I don’t have to convince anybody of anything. I let Jesus run His kingdom. + pgs. 71-75, 76

Here are links to the previous City Notes books:

Next post: City Notes | Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism Part 2 of 3

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan
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