The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
How Can I Make My Family Get Saved?

cjlaroza asked you:
It’s difficult when you’re the only christian in your family. Sometimes, I share them my faith about Jesus. They’re listening but I feel like it’s not enough. God knows that it’s one of the most important things for me - the salvation of my family. Is it a sin to want that from God? Is it a sin to feel guilty about your salvation because you see your loved ones with their ruined lives and you can’t just do anything?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey sis,

Why would it be a sin to want your family to get saved?  I can tell you that, if it’s a sin, then God himself is a great big sinner.  Check it:

“The Lord doesn’t want anyone to be destroyed. Instead, he wants all people to turn away from their sins.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIRV)

Now, you know, of course, that God does not – and cannot – sin.  So, no, it isn’t a sin to want your family to be saved. 

Let’s look at your second question.

You asked if it was a sin to feel guilty about your salvation.  If you’ll permit me, let me ask a slightly different question: Is it OK to grieve when you see people hurting and refusing to change?

Sure it is.  Just look at Jesus. 

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he felt deep concern for them. They were beaten down and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  (Matthew 9:36, NIRV)

That sounds a lot like Jesus experiencing grief over other peoples’ unnecessary suffering.

But, sis, I sense – and tell me if I’m wrong – that, maybe, there’s something else going on here.  That, just maybe, you feel like it’s your responsibility to get your family saved.  And that, if you just want it enough, it’ll happen. 

For what it’s worth, I totally understand.  When we’re dealing with people we love, and seeing them go through terrible – and avoidable – difficulties, we want more than anything to find the right words to make them stop it and just get right with Jesus already.

But that isn’t how life works. 

As I bet you know, God alone does the saving.  And it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of sin.  All you and I can do is try and plant some good seed.

The way we do that is by living a life that other people would want to have.  If you can dig it, I bet your family members already know that you want them to get saved.  Someday, they may reach a point where they’re ready to make a decision about them and Jesus.  In the meantime, I bet that part of what they’re wondering is: what does a “Christian life” actually look like?

So, show them a life defined by joy.  Show them a life ruled by peace, and purpose.  Show them a courage and compassion and faithfulness befitting a daughter of the King.  In other words, show them a life worth wanting.

You can do that.  Of course, it will require you to focus a bit more on you-and-God, and a bit less on them-and-God.  But the truth is, God was patient in bringing you to the point of salvation, and he has that same patience and love for them as well.

He’s got them, and he’s got you.  Give yourself permission to relax and focus on working things out between you and the Lord.  As you do that, you’ll be providing the greatest 24-7 evangelical presentation the world has ever seen.

What *IS* a “Man of God”?

Anonymous asked:
What does it mean to be a man of God? And how can i prepare to be that?

Jed replied:

My brother, this is a fantastic question.  Let me answer your first question today, and we’ll take a look at part 2 tomorrow.

Depending on the circles you travel in, you may not hear the phrase “man of God” very often.  It sounds kinda Old-Testament-y, and, for a lot of suburban Christians, might come off as not-terribly-relevant to modern life.

And that makes sense.  In a typical church, you have the Pastor, and maybe some Deacons or Elders, and then the normal folks in the pews.  So, what else is there?

Glad you asked.

If you got in your car and drove to Cook County Jail here in Chicago, went through security, got frisked, and sat down behind bars with a high-ranking gang leader, and asked him this question, here is what he would tell you:

“A man of God is somebody who makes sacrifices so he can be a representative from Jesus to us, to bring us a good word about The Lord.”

Now, that gang leader would be right.  (And, no kidding, this is what he’d tell you.)  But, I think we need to unpack what he means, because there are some unfamiliar concepts here.

First, let’s talk sacrifices.  A sacrifice is where you give up having something good, so that somebody else can have something good, instead of you.

The ultimate example of a sacrifice is Jesus on the Cross.  Jesus gave up his life, so that you and I could have life.

Now, you can sacrifice all kinds of things.  Money, time, comfort, safety.  But, we should be clear that there’s a difference between a gift and a sacrifice.  A gift is just that – a lil something you hand off to somebody else.  A sacrifice is something that costs you.  This is what Jesus is pointing to in the story of the Widow’s mite.  (See Luke 21:1-4.)

So, when a wealthy church cuts a check once a year for $50 to the local food bank, that’s a gift.  But when a young man volunteers every week at a Friday night jail chapel service, instead of going out with his friends, that’s a sacrifice.

Next, a man of God is a representative.  He’s an ambassador.  And that means that a man of God pushes himself to be the right kind of person for the mission.

When you send an ambassador to a foreign country, they are expected to learn the language, the culture, the customs, and the values of the place where they work.  They are meant to represent the interests of their home country in a foreign land by learning how to speak to the needs and concerns of their foreign friends.

So it is here.  A man of God does not “proclaim truth” and let the chips fall where they may.  No, a man of God is called to a particular situation, and becomes invested in the lives of the people in that situation.  He is a servant to those people, and makes sacrifices to see their needs met.  And, when he has earned the trust and respect of those people, he expresses God’s heart towards them in a way that makes sense given their culture and values and history and language.

In short, a man of God does whatever it takes to help a particular group of people step willingly, knowingly, and eagerly into a relationship with Jesus.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV)

How Do I Show My Friend Christ’s Love?

mamaleh6994 asked you:
Hey, bro! I have a question for you about college roommates. There’s this girl I’ve been talking to, and I think we might be a good fit. The thing is, she’s not a Christian. She told me that the last Christian she talked about rooming with defriended her on facebook when she said that she wasn’t one. Ridiculous, right? I know she’s not interested in becoming a Christian right now, but if we do room together, do you have any advice for showing her what Christ’s love really is?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey my friend,

I love this question, and I think you’re already 90% of the way there.  You asked how to show her what Christ’s love is like, and that showing aspect is the key.

You can talk a big game, but unless your actions back it up, it won’t matter.  But, for a sister like you, love-in-action ain’t hard to do.  So, here are some ideas:

- Listen.  I know it’s simple, but let her talk.  Give her a safe, welcoming space to share her hopes, fears, concerns, dreams, etc.  Just listen.  Very few people have somebody in their life that actually listens to them.  Be that for your friend.  (It will also make more direct ministry way easier later on.)

- Take her seriously.  One of the things that really turns people off about a lot of “Christians” is that they don’t take the views of their non-Christian friends seriously.  Whatever she believes, it matters to her.  So treat it – and her – with respect.  That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but you can certainly show respect and deference.  Which you should do.

- Serve her.  When she gets sick, make soup and get some cold medicine for her.  When her boyfriend breaks things off with her, you pick up the ice cream and tissues.  When her car breaks down, you pick her up.

- Be yourself.  My non-Christian friends know that I love Jesus.  And they know that my life revolves around that.  And they also know that I’m a real – and normal – dude that digs video games, cheeseburgers, and that we can just hang and it’s cool.  Be the kind of person your roommate would want to hangout with.  In other words, be yourself.

Let me know how it goes and how I can be praying.  Your friend is lucky to have you.

How Do I Get Started Ministering To People?

wholeness-n-holiness asked you:
Hey, just listened to a Say That podcast and heard that you guys do prison ministry and stuff. I’m a new college grad who is about to start Front Line work at a secular homeless shelter, dealing with families, addicts, the mentally ill, ex-cons… pretty much some of the most broken, down-and-out people out there. I know I have a lot to learn, but I want to show the love of God so much. Any general advice about how to best serve in this kind of mission field?

Jed Brewer replied:

Hey Kayla!

Great question! 

First, for those of you who don’t know, I’m a part of a podcast called Say That, where, each week, Unka Glen, Lee Younger, Matt King, and myself talk through spiritual questions submitted by folks on Tumblr, Twitter, etc.  You can listen to it for free on iTunes here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/say-that/id445249151

Now, then, general advice about serving the least-of-these.  I’d encourage you to look at four ideas to start.

1) What is ministry?

Ministry means removing the obstacles that are keeping people from God and the life he has for them.  The Bible says that God is in the process of drawing all men to himself (John 12:32).  That means our job as ministers of the Gospel is simply to help people get unstuck, so God can continue to draw them closer to him.

An example: Joe is stuck in his spiritual life because he believes God doesn’t want him due to his past mistakes.  Ministry consists of helping Joe deal with his regret, guilt, and (false) sense of condemnation so he can move past this untrue belief.

2) Ministry starts by listening!

When you meet Joe, the only way to find out that he is tangled up in guilt is to listen to him.  Ask Joe how he’s doing, and let him talk.  Ask him to tell you his story, and then just listen.  The more you listen, the less you’ll have to talk.

3) Earn the right to be heard.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.  Period.  In order to get Joe unstuck, you’re going to have to tell him he’s wrong about the things he currently believes.  You need to earn the right to say that.  Otherwise, punches get thrown.  The way to earn that right is to demonstrate love for Joe through your words, attitude, and action.  Tell Joe that you love him.  Present Joe with an attitude of love.  Be a part of meeting his physical needs.  Only then are you in a place to have something to say.

4) It isn’t enough to be right.

Once you’ve earned the right for Joe to listen to you, you have to put some serious brain power into figuring out both what he needs to hear, and a way in which he will be able and willing to hear it.  If you say, “Joe, the Bible says there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, so, your guilt is a lie.  There!  All fixed!”,  it will not work very well.  You are right in what you’re saying, but you aren’t breaking it down into something Joe is prepared to receive.  As ministers, we have to be more than right. 

By contrast, if you say, “Joe, I know you feel a lot of shame and regret over things you’ve done.  That makes sense.  I totally get it.  And it feels like, to move forward, we’d have to pretend those things never happened, when we know that they did.  But, what if God isn’t suggesting we pretend the past didn’t happen?  What if God is saying, ‘Yes, you did do bad things, and they were wrong.  But, today, I want to pay your tab, so that, even though bad stuff happened, it just isn’t on you anymore.  And I want to do that ‘cause I love you.’  What would you think of that?”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

Kayla, I’m so pumped for the work you’re going to do.  Our crew here in Chicago has your back, and we’re lifting you up in prayer.  Go get ‘em!

How Do I Convince People To Become Christians?

Anonymous asked:

A lot of the times when I try to minister to unbelievers, they pull out the “What proof do you have that Christianity is the right one? Every other religion in the world claims to have proof that they are correct.” I trust in God because I feel His presence daily, but people respond to this by saying, “What about people of other religions? They feel the same thing.” I just don’t know how to respond to this.

Jed Brewer replied:

Anon, do you know I don’t ever debate anyone about anything?  I don’t argue with people about Jesus or Christianity, ever. Know why?

‘Cause it doesn’t work.

In the long history of the world, I don’t know that much of anyone has ever been debated into believing in Jesus.

And while we’re spinning our wheels quoting Descartes’ Ontological Argument for the Existence of God, there are loads of people who are lost and hurting and ready to embrace the truth of Jesus Christ right now today, and they are not getting ministered to, because our time’s being wasted trying to refute Richard Dawkins.

Let’s not do that anymore.

Here is a ministry strategy that works every time, without fail.  Wherever you are – school, work, etc – find the outcasts.  Find the people who are rejected and forgotten.  Find what Jesus referred to as “the least of these.”  And then, serve them.

That kid at school that no one likes?  Go sit down by him and just talk.  You don’t even need to talk about anything spiritual.  Just get to know him.  Be a friend to him.

That guy at your job who’s going through a messy divorce and looks like he’s been run over by a truck?  Tell him it’s double-bacon-cheeseburger-o’clock, and you’re buying.  Give him a safe place to vent.  (He needs it, I promise.)

These conversations will eventually turn to something spiritual, and, when they do, you’re in the exact right place to say, “Well, bro, I don’t know much, but I do know that Jesus loves you.”  And that person will be ready to receive that from you, because you’ve earned the right to be heard in their life.  You’ve earned that right by demonstrating that you love them.

And then, two crazy things will happen.  One, you will watch peoples’ lives change, and you will realize that you love doing ministry.  It isn’t this scary, awkward, bizarre intellectual shouting match.  No, it’s seeing people who don’t know that they’re loved, and fixing that.  It’s getting to play a part in God turning a suffering human being’s whole world upside down.  It’s watching people be set free.

The second thing that will happen is that you will begin to have credibility.  If you’re making sacrifices of time, money, comfort, safety, etc to serve people who everyone else has forgotten and rejected, people notice.  And those non-Christians that you’ve been arguing with?  They will have respect for what you’re doing.  That doesn’t mean that they’ll want to stop reading Sam Harris and start going to church.  But when they look at you, they’ll see a dude who practices what he preaches, a dude who lives out what he claims to believe.  If you ask non-Christians what a Christian is supposed to be doing, they will almost universally tell you that Christians are supposed to be helping the poor and the hurting.  And they are right.

By you showing that you are, in fact, that kind of Christian, you’re earning a spot in their life.  When they’re ready to talk, for real, about this Jesus thing, they know that you are the guy they want to talk to.

And you should know that that day will come.  No one’s life is immune from sorrow.  Houses burn, markets collapse, jobs disappear, and people pass away.  When those things happen, Ayn Rand and Daniel Dennett don’t have any words of comfort.  But you do.  And, on that day, they will find you.

So, no, my friend, don’t bother with the arguments.  Instead, find the lost, hurting, rejected, poor, disenfranchised, abused, neglected, and abandoned. Serve them in love.  The rest will follow.