Remember the guy I told you about way back on December 10 in part one of this blog series? You know, the guy I met for coffee to coach a bit on how to get stuff out of God’s word? Well, I had a short conversation with him the other day after one of our Sunday gatherings. We were standing in the aisle talking and, with tears in his eyes, he exclaimed how grateful he was to God for taking the time to meet with me all those weeks ago. He said he held on for dear life to the one word I told him to never forget: consistency. And ever since then, he has faithfully put into practice what I showed him in that brief, 45-minute meeting.
Today will be the final entry of this blog series. And I sincerely hope that you, too, will consider putting into practice the pointers I’ve written about the last several weeks. Now before we move on, please read my most recent entry if you haven’t yet. (Even if you have read it, consider going back to quickly review it.)
Seriously. Go back and read the last entry.
Before moving on, promise me that you read my most recent entry.
Last chance. Did you read it?
Okay, if you read the entry before this one, you’re ready to move on. Last week, we used Galatians 1:1-2 to learn to think about what the Scriptures are saying. Today is step 2: applying what we learn to our own lives. Step one is interpretation. Step two is application. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get busy for the next couple of minutes:
“1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:”
- Who is Paul? When I asked one guy this question, he said, “Paul persecuted the church.” After he said this, I didn’t try to fill in all the blanks, overwhelming him with an exhaustive chronology of Paul’s life. This was a fine start, so we proceeded to the next part of the verse after he wrote down his answer…
- What is an apostle? He replied, “One of Jesus’ disciples.” (Again, this answer is somewhat lacking, but that’s okay. I’m not trying to turn these people into theologians right off the bat.) I followed his answer with a question: “So if Paul was formerly a persecutor of the church and became a disciple of Jesus, what does that tell you about God? About you and me?” His response was beautiful. “That God is forgiving. That he can save anyone - including me, regardless of people’s past.” Yes, yes, yes, my brother!
- In the New Testament, Paul said that he was chosen to be an apostle by God and not by men. Why do you think he makes the distinction that he was not in the ministry because of the will of people, but of God? (I know, I’m “leading the witness” here. But sometimes we need training wheels.) One woman astutely answered, “Because Paul wasn’t a people-pleaser. He only cared about pleasing God.” So how does that relate to you, I asked her? “Well, I shouldn’t get hung up on what people think about me. I should live for God’s glory no matter what people think.” Nailed it.
- Often, when Paul would sign his letters, he would say that the letter also came from his traveling ministry team. Yet it was he alone whom the Holy Spirit inspired to write his letters. Why do you think Paul included his friends in his salutations? What is the significance of the fact that even the mighty apostle Paul ministered and practiced his faith with others? (I know, I’m leading again. But most people, I think, would run through this phrase without thinking much about it.) Her answer was awesome! “Because we’re not supposed to be in this alone. Even Paul was accountable.” Brilliant! Yes!
- What is the church? “The church is God’s people,” one person said to me. “Are you part of the church?” I asked her. “Yes, of course I am.” “Then, Paul’s words are for you, as well, right? That means God wants to speak to you, right?” “Yes. I guess I’ve never thought about it that way. This was written to me, too.” Yes! God’s word is his gift to you! Isn’t God good?” “Yes, he is.” “So if God’s word is a gift, do you think that maybe you should read it every day?” “Absolutely!” she said.
Almost every single person I have coached through this simple exercise smiles and weeps when I tell them “you just got something out of God’s word.” They are blown away. Then I ask, “Do you think you can do this on your own from now on?” And each of them responds without hesitation, “Yes. Absolutely.”
What’s crazy is that every person I have coached so far grew up in the church. And a lifetime of attending weekly gatherings couldn’t do what 45-minutes over a cup of coffee could.