On the afternoon of Monday, December 3, I went to Walmart. My objective was to conduct an un-scientific survey of what people thought about the man known as Jesus Immanuel Christ. I intended to stand outside the front doors (as long as I didn’t get kicked off the property) and approach people as they came in and out.
My strategy? Walk up and ask, “Do you have one minute for three questions?” After I did so, to give them a Calvary invite card for our Sunday service.
Do you believe there was a guy named Jesus who came into the world?
Who do you think he was?
Why do you think he came?
As I pulled into the parking lot, I realized immediately I needed to adjust my strategy: the salvation army bell ringers had already staked out the entrances. However, I quickly noted that the parking lot was (to my surprise, but hey, I never go shopping because I have an amazing wife) really busy, and there were a lot of people leaving and returning to their cars. So I decided I would just approach people in the lot and ask my questions.
I learned quite a bit over the next hour.
It was easier than I thought it was going to be. I had it in my mind that people might just be a little crabby having someone interrupt their simple goal of getting in and out of Walmart. I thought my success of talking with folks might be pretty low. But over that next hour, only four people declined hearing my questions.
The other thing I learned is that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity surrounding us every single day. Only one person in that next hour answered my questions in such a way that I thought she was a disciple of Jesus. Most people, even though they said they believed there was a guy named Jesus who came into the world, said they had no idea who he was or why he came.
Think about that—no idea.
I found myself near the end of that time, standing in a parking lot, thinking of the words of Jesus, “The fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35). And I was given the grace to see a Walmart parking lot through his eyes. And while, in one sense, it made me sad so many people didn’t have an answer to my questions, it also gave me great hope that quite simply telling people who Jesus is and why he came—and that’s a simple exercise, family—will substantially help people take one step closer to the right in knowing Jesus, and coming out of darkness, and into light.
If you’d like to hear more about my time in the Walmart parking lot talking with folks in our community about Jesus, but more importantly, why he came, I encourage you to listen to the first sermon in our Jesus Came Christmas sermon series, “Jesus Came for Sinners.” You can find it here.
And please join us for the next two Sundays of the series, as well as on Monday, December 24th, at 4pm for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.
I had a class on preaching once, many years ago, from a pastor and a professor. And here is what he argued was the key question the preacher must ask of every text of Scripture:
2 Corinthians and The Whole Story
The reason that we began the Whole Story sermon series in January of last year was for the simple reason that we wanted to inspire you to read the Bible.
In the unsearchable counsel of God's will for the world, he has so designed that salvation will come through the church, that body of people gathered by the power of his Holy Spirit.
Why Should I Read The Bible?
Most days I love waking up, coffeeing up, praying up, and then gobbling up the Bible. But not every day. I’m just like you in that. I need reminding about why the Bible — God’s Whole Story — is an important part of my day, for every other part of my day.
One of the dangers of reading the stories of those followers of Jesus that we find in the Bible is we can treat them as if they are almost super-human.
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Whole Story
On Sunday, January 7th, we will begin a year and a half exploration of the whole story of the whole Bible...
1 Corinthians (part two)
This last Sunday in our Gathering, we studied the book of 1 Corinthians together. The week of preparation leading up to that moment in the pulpit was deeply encouraging, as I sat at the feet of Paul, and watched him apply the reality of Jesus and the fullness of the Good News to four main issues in the lives of Christians in the church at Corinth. I discovered that each issue was a case study in the application of the good news to the very practical matters of our lives.