connection

Four Emotional Ways to Connect to Those That are Disconnected From God (Part 2 of 2)

Four Emotional Ways to Connect to Those that Are Disconnected From God

Ever notice that great, action-packed movies seem to always have a key character tumble into a terrifying fall?

Maybe the main character is a woman running from a bad guy on the edge of a skyscraper’s rooftop.

Her high heel breaks, we watch her ankle wobble……. She slips….. and……. falls.

As she is plummeting to the earth in the grip of gravity’s merciless hold- we gasp and hope for rescue.

We don’t want her separated from life; her friends, family, purpose and place in her story.

If you are a Christian you walk with Jesus and experience the nearness of God.

Jesus is the inside of God.

Jesus is the intimacy of God.

Jesus is the God who came near to connect with you personally.

Jesus is the redemptive embrace of God.

The redemptive embrace of God is to be shared to de-shatter the dark distances so near to us.

All followers connected into Jesus have a missionary mentality.

Everyone that is not “into Jesus” is still separated from God.

Why?

In the beginning of time our first parents turned from God and selfishly took forbidden fruit.

The irony is that this tight-fisted taking and connection with a piece of creation, instead of their Creator, caused disconnection and death.

The theologians call this the original “Fall.”

Jesus parachuted into our predicament, took our penalty for offending God and connected us by grace back into intimate friendship with God for eternity.

Those of us that trust this are reconnected with God forever.

And it is so good and rich and wonderful that we just can’t keep this eternal embrace to ourselves!

We get concerned about the real disconnect outsiders of the kingdom have with Jesus.

What are four ways we can connect to others that are disconnected to God?

First, identify with their frightening fall.

What are they going through right now that displays the disconnection that they have with God, others, creation and their own soul?

A falling person is often grasping at anything to give them a sense of connection.

Are they addicted to something?

A substance or routine or relationship can often give a temporary sense of connection and distract our friends from the reality of their fallen condition.

Share a story in your own life about a current sin where you struggle to trust God for everything.

Don’t just spill the beans about your sin.  Turn the conversation to Christ and how he pardons and forgives and reconnects you to sanity again.

Second, identify with their hopes and dreams.

I love to ask people “What is something you are REALLY looking forward to in the next three months?”

When you are experiencing the accepting nearness and embrace of Jesus, you can actually get interested in the hopes and dreams of others.

People feel loved when you repel into their hearts with a curious question about their dreams.

Listen to what they look forward to.

Do they mention a trip to a far-away place?  A time of upcoming intimacy with family, like a family reunion? 

After they reveal a dream, go ahead and share a dream that you have.  

We were made for eternity and we love to look into the distant future at good things that we hope will come true.

When the time is right, share your hopes of a new heaven and new earth where all that is wrong will be put right again by a God who cares.

Third, identify with their anger.

Did this surprise you?

Our anger unsheathes our deepest loves.

I often like to connect with youth by asking them what really ticks them off about their world.

When they rant and scream, I learn about what they love deeply.

After you understand a person’s deepest loves, you can reveal Christ, your deepest love.

You can share about His anger at the world that He refused to ignore, but instead came to save.

Fourth, identify with their “basement” joys.

What do I mean by basement joys?

The basement is down in the depths of a home. 

Don’t identify with the froth and fizz and trivial happy moments in their life.

That is a good place to begin, but try to connect with the things that bring them deep pleasure.

After you hear their joys, share a way Jesus brings you joy.

You might mention prayer and the intimacy it arouses with the living God.

Why have a missionary mentality where you are trying to connect the disconnected to God?

Because our friends are surrounded by technology offering two-dimensional screens to connect them with their world.

They touch the glass, look at the glass and yearn for a hammer to break the glass so that true connection can happen.

How about trying to identify with a friend today in a “three-dimensional way” as you sit with them face to face and connect with their falls, dreams, angers and joys?

They might just get a taste of the nearness of God through you.

And just like in a great action movie, the falling woman will be caught by a hand that connects and rescues.

How about reaching out that hand in the direction of a disconnected friend?

Howard Cole
Senior Pastor
Metro North Church

Wanna Feel Close to God Even When He Feels Far.....Far..........Away? (Part 1 of 2)

Ever since the shattering brick of sin crashed our world, the sweet song of shalom (the Hebrews called this wholeness or all-embracive closeness to the creation and creator) has become a moan of separation and painful distance. 

Sorry for being such a downer.

Some of you want to remain insulated from fragmented reality inside of the thin bubble of your distractions and fragile defenses.

So do I. 

It’s comfy inside our bubbles of make-believe wholeness.

We construct artificial nearness through evaporating embraces (usually through the misuse of substances, stuff and sex) instead of experiencing solid nearness with God.

I spend so much energy manipulating and manufacturing in my little world so that it feels like a hug rather than hell.

Don’t you?

Don’t despair!

God buried a treasured line from an ancient lyric (Psalm 145:18) to act as a pin to pierce and pop our pretending related to the world being made whole (shalom) by our own efforts.

Let’s read the lyric, and in this post simply swim in the embrace and nearness of God.  

In the next post we will emerge from the near embrace of God and have a conversation covering four specific ways to connect to those that are far away from—disconnected from God.  

Here is the lyric:  ESV Psalm 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Two sections of this song will disclose the closeness of God:  

Here is the first:  “The Lord is near to all who call on him.”

Calling on God is the lever that brings God near.

This reminds me of a story.

Have you ever used a call bell in a hospital?

Before I became a pastor I spent many years answering call bells as a nurse.

As I sat at the nurse’s station trying to decipher the difficult handwriting of a doctor, the moans of the sick ricocheted down the halls.

Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  Ding.  

A steady ring would ding and ding to call me to the bedside

Listen to the lyric again:

The Lord is near to all who call on Him.

Distance is destroyed by the simple calling out to God.

He is near--As near as a nurse holding your hand, ready to hear your concern.

Are you like me?

I rarely call on God.

And I wonder why God feels so far, far away.

My patients over the years would often call because of pain.

Pain pounded on them and in them and they could not stop it or control it or placate it.

They pushed that call bell to experience the presence of another.

I would enter their pain with my presence (and if they were lucky a syringe of pain-eradicating happy juice).

God does this with us.  

He comes near when we call and enters our pain with his presence to bring shalom.

Secondly, calling on God is to be continuous not sporadic.

All of us are to call on him in truth.

What does that mean?  “In truth.”

A Jewish person would use this phrase if something was to be done over and over and over and over again.

It does not mean truth instead of a lie.  

Instead “in truth” means continuous and constant rather than sporadic or occasional.

The phrase was used of an artist’s hand that continuously and steadily painted with precision and patience.

Do you call out to God in this way?

I sure don’t.

I usually call out when the going gets tough.  When my self-manufactured, manipulated bubbles burst and I want a solution.

We were made for so much more than an episodic embrace by our good God.

We can and must call on Him constantly to discuss every detail.

When we call, he cozies up to us like a dad with his little daughter or son and soaks in our every word.

Call out to Him today.

Then call out to him in the middle of the day and at night and tomorrow.

I can already sense His nearness.

Gotta go.  I want to luxuriate in the nearness of God by calling out to Him.

Don’t you?

Howard Cole
Senior Pastor
Metro North Church