Introduction and Explanation
Beginning - Having Critical Conversations
Recognition - How Did I Get Here?
Solutions - How Do I Get There?
Resolutions - Why Is It So Important to Stay Where I'm Supposed to Be?
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Introduction and Explanation
One of our founding leaders once said, "a large part of our ministry is saving the saved.” Twenty years later, I am fully understanding the depth and width of what turns out to be a very prophetic observation. The term saving the saved is just that - a term used to describe "lost sheep or lost souls" who have lost their way and now find themselves floundering and being devoured by life - either knowingly or unknowingly. Who are these 'lost sheep’? As I said, they are the believers who know the way but have somehow lost their will and love for living that way. Believing in Jesus, but no longer following Jesus. That is the simple version of saving the saved, but you and I understand the explanations and circumstances for the many lost souls who find themselves empty of spiritual joy and genuine passion for following Jesus are much more complex, crippling and culturally connected. Here are a few that we need to address together over the next five weeks.
· Circumstances and Difficulty of Life - Too Much, Too Often, Too Busy, Too Hard
· Cultural Crisis of Faith - The Collateral Damage of Two Generations of Faith-less and Faith-last
· Willful Act of Rebellion - Angry at God, Waiting on God, Confused by God, So I'm not Gonna' Do it By God
Regardless of where these souls identify - the reality is that either by life circumstance or by life choice they have lost their way and need to be claimed, loved and corrected. This is the center of contention for saving the saved, or simply put - rescuing the perishing.
A second reality exists for these souls as well - and it is the single hope and truth within the delicate process of saving the saved. Here it is... Though many find themselves distanced, damaged and estranged from faith, family, church, and even from themselves - though they more often than not seem lost to us - they are not lost to God. He knows who they are, where they are and has cleared the way for them to find their faith, fire, and fellowship in Him.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
At times, the lost souls seem helpless, apathetic, disinterested or even resistant and resentful. That is because they have lost their way - but God has not lost them, God is faithful. What must become evident is our shared calling and ministry to reach in love and teach in love - praying in love until they have found their way back to spiritual health well-being.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The implications and clarity of this call to ministry and truth is not only compelling, but overpowering - in the best way. The questions that surround this ministry are not only obvious but fair.
Are they lost and know they are lost? Seeking somehow to rekindle and ignite the fire of their faith, to rediscover their missing passion for following Jesus, and their love for the very God who saved them?
Are they lost and just simply content with abusing and misusing the grace of a God whom they know loves them and has paid a great price to reveal that love to them while forever continuing to make a place for them at His table?
Are they completely overwhelmed and overcome with the life draining drama of “Too Much, Too Often, Too Busy, Too Hard”?
Has the crippling confusion of a toxic cultural that redefines faith, family and worship, incentivizes identity politics and correctness, exploits opioid an oblivion, naturalizes gender neutrality, and kills its post birth babies finally shaken and shattered their hope and faith in God?
I believe this is the time to reach out and start the difficult conversations with anyone who feels they are trending or drifting away from the very things they have believed in. These are extremely healthy conversations for the church of Jesus to have with its believers. But, more than just talk is needed - it is time to save the saved. Over the next five weeks let's have that conversation without fear, failure or push-back. Join me at Reunion, to do just that!