THE WAY YOU LOOK

Studies show that the average person says 15,000 words each day; we do a TON of talking. And because of that, we give a lot of attention to which words we use. Are they politically correct? Are they mean? Uplifting? Smart? This list could go on forever, but you get the point. Our concern for words could never be more prevalent than when we consider sharing our faith with someone not familiar with Jesus. How many times have you worried you wouldn’t know what to say to a difficult question? How many times have you worried they’d respond negatively to what you say? It can be debilitating, can’t it?

I was wrestling with this very question recently when I came across an interesting incident involving Peter in Acts. “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer — at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple later called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John” (Acts 3:1-4, NIV).

I love that Peter and John didn’t begin with words. Eventually they start talking and go on to heal this man, but the start of it all is a look. Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, says they “looked straight at him.” The New Living Translation says they “looked at him intently.” And yet another translation, the English Standard Version, says Peter “directed his gaze at him.” Eye contact. That was step one in this interaction. Looking at someone on purpose, with intent, making sure that person understands — before you say anything — that they are the center of your attention.

Here’s why I think that’s important: because being treated with such focus and attention is such a rare thing in our day and age. How we look at people as we walk down the street, or check out at the store, or sit next to them at a traffic light really matters. It says more than words ever can.

Can you imagine what it was like to have Peter look at you intently? I wonder what it would have been like to have Jesus look straight at you. What’s it like for other people when you look straight at them? Is it anything like what this man felt? His conversation with Peter ended in healing and an understanding of who Jesus of Nazareth was. Can people see that in your eyes? Can they see your eyes at all? Or are you too busy to look intently?

Peter didn’t have money to give this man — but he did have something of even more valuable. And you know what Peter’s first words were according to the ESV? “Look at us.” Maybe what your eyes say carries a little more weight than what your mouth says. This week, show people Jesus by the way you look.


JP

After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.

A FISHER OF MEN

I’ve never been fishing but I don’t think I would be a fan. For starters, large bodies of water scare me because of what’s lurking in them. Second, fish are scaly and weird-looking and the thought of eating one grosses me out. Third, it requires a lot of waiting and doing nothing, which I am not so keen on. Even the thought of fishing with a net, which requires no waiting and almost assures that you’ll get something, is still not appealing.

I am obviously no fisherman, yet I am called to be a fisher of men. On Sunday Josh preached about how Jesus fished with a drag net which catches everything in its path. What fascinated me was that no one can fish with a drag net alone, as it requires two people to hold opposite ends.  Hearing that just reinforced the importance of being a part of a church community – not just sitting through Sundays, but to really be connected to other believers.

When I first started coming to Immanuel, I had a hunger for God.  Then I became a fish caught up in the net my friend had casted over me. Although for some time before that point I was a believer who tried to walk with God alone, it wasn’t until after I got connected with a small group and people actively seeking God that I realized what I was missing out on.  When you are connected with other believers you benefit from each other.  Small groups help keep each other accountable, support one another in our faith, and encourage and help each other to become more like Christ.  When one falls others are there to pick them up. In community we help each other to see more clearly who God is and what He’s doing in our lives. One of the greatest things I love about the church is seeing godly character lived out in others, seeing what it looks like to be a fisher of men.

I hate to admit it but I think it’s true of most of us – we’re most likely to sin when we are not walking with other believers.  Living for Christ is not easy and cannot be done alone.  When you are in fellowship with others trying to do the same, it makes life a little less heavy.   Because of the connections I’ve made, I am walking closer to God than ever before. I am not saying my walk is perfect because it’s certainly not.  I struggle and fall all the time and I know I need to work on being a net.  Thankfully God has provided in His Kingdom living, breathing examples of what being a net looks like so I can strive to do the same.


(null).jpg

Katrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and oldest of her siblings, Grace and JP.  She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing. She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day. She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.