Participants: Ruthie Jacobsen (Host), Bill McClendon, Tim Garrison
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000359
00:01 ¤ ¤
00:29 Hello and welcome back to Issues and Answers.
00:32 We're glad to see you. Maybe you have seen some of the other
00:37 programs where we've been talking about building bridges.
00:39 So you know what we're about. Today we want to talk about
00:46 building the bridge again but this time the power; where do
00:51 you get the power to build a bridge. It takes enormous power
00:56 to build a bridge of any kind. So today we want to talk about
01:02 that power. Of course, the power is with him, with our God, our
01:08 Father and he has told us in Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I
01:14 will answer and I'll show you great and mighty things which
01:18 you don't know about. And that's where we can go; that's our
01:23 source of power. What a wonderful God we serve. He has a
01:28 plan and a purpose and he will help you build that bridge.
01:33 My guests today are Tim Garrison and Bill McClendon.
01:37 Welcome back. Good to be here. Tim Garrison, for those of
01:42 you who may not have met him, Tim is a church planter in
01:46 Southern California. Yes that's right. And Bill McClendon is a
01:52 church planter and also a church administrator in
01:56 Oklahoma, Tulsa. You know, Bill, you have several roles in
02:01 Oklahoma, right. You're a church planter, you're a church
02:06 administrator. I have two questions for you. What is a
02:11 bridge to you in what you're doing in the kingdom business?
02:16 You used to be in financial and computer business. Now you're in
02:21 kingdom business and I don't have to ask you which one you
02:27 prefer. But what is a bridge and where in your roles do you do
02:33 most of your bridge building?
02:37 Okay, good questions. When we're talking about bridges we're
02:40 talking about building a pathway for someone to come to
02:43 Christ. You know, as we look at the gospel commission of what
02:47 Jesus calls us to do, we're to go and make disciples. But in
02:52 the world in which we live today there has to be a
02:55 relationship. There has to be an element of trust. Before I can
02:58 talk to somebody about Christ it's best if I get to know them
03:02 and we become friends or at least a relationship is
03:06 established. So when we talk about that sometimes we call it
03:09 personal evangelism, where we're building relationships with
03:12 people I'm putting myself in someone else's life. We can do
03:16 that through a number of ways of acts of kindness or just
03:21 ministry to the person, but it's always with an objective that at
03:25 some point I'm going to be able to use that relationship to
03:28 introduce them to Christ. So when you talk about where do we
03:32 do most of our bridge building - it is the life of the church.
03:35 That's what we are to do. We're the salt, we're the light and
03:39 it's talking about that affect that we have wherever we go
03:43 we're to live with such intentionality that we see
03:45 candidates for the kingdom. And before I can talk to them about
03:50 Jesus I need to become a friend.
03:52 That's right. But where do you get the incentive to do that?
03:57 Where do you get the power to do that? Where do you get the
04:03 willingness and just the open doors. Where does all that just
04:10 happen? Well any time we're doing God's
04:12 work we're relying on him to lead us and this idea of
04:17 building bridges and building relationships with people is
04:21 really doing his work. So we have the promise that if we come
04:26 into alignment with his plan. Too often times we want to do
04:30 church and Christianity and we ask God to come join us in our
04:34 agenda. But this is putting us right in the middle of his
04:38 agenda. So we pray and we believe that as we make
04:42 ourselves available to God that he will send us and direct us to
04:46 the people whose hearts are open and willing and receptive.
04:51 What has been your experience after you've prayed and asked
04:56 the Lord for open doors what happens?
04:59 Well one thing that I've found is that amazing, unique kinds of
05:04 things happen when you're open to the Lord's leading.
05:08 And when you have prayed.
05:09 And when you've prayed, exactly. In fact, prayer is essential.
05:14 Part of it is that those who are in a Christian culture and
05:19 largely have friends in a Christian community, they have
05:23 to be intentional about breaking out of that community in order
05:27 to build those bridges. And prayer becomes a dynamic by
05:31 which the Lord begins to show you ways to break out of that
05:36 comfortable community that you've been in and begin to
05:39 reach out to new people and new environments and new
05:42 situations and to break through the fear that you may have in
05:46 terms of actually doing that. Now one think I think Bill will
05:50 agree on when it comes to church plants; you have the
05:54 choice. You're in the community, you must reach out to the
05:57 community and so suddenly your whole frame of reference, your
06:01 whole attitude takes a complete change. And so it's essential
06:05 that you find ways to reach out into the community.
06:08 You're always thinking of ways to tie what you're doing to the
06:12 community. Let me give you an example. This is a simple little
06:15 thing. Every year of course we have a very nice Easter concert
06:20 and Christmas concert and we do direct mail and advertise it to
06:24 the community. And we found by just simply putting one key word
06:29 in our advertising, community, Moorpark Community Easter
06:35 Concert, Moorpark Community Christmas concert. It's like it
06:40 opens up a whole door that's inclusive. It's inclusive.
06:43 And so when people see it it's not just a particular church's
06:48 concert or performance.
06:50 Anyone in the community reading that says hey this is for me,
06:53 I'm invited. This is for me. Now that's a
06:55 simple thing but it's not always something you think about unless
06:59 you have a particular attitude or particular approach. Unless
07:03 you're asking the Lord to give you a mindset about the
07:07 community itself. And you know, when you're
07:10 praying and you're asking the Lord for ideas in prayer,
07:14 haven't you found that when you're in prayer and in the
07:18 scriptures he will lead you to texts that are encouraging.
07:21 When you might be thinking Oh I don't know if this is going to
07:26 work. Sometimes I've gone to the Lord and I've said Lord I don't
07:32 know. I'm out of ideas and I'm just kind of tired or just not
07:37 feeling very creative, the Lord himself will pick you up and
07:42 carry you. He'll remind you with texts like the one in
07:45 Deuteronomy that says not only am I with you, not only am I
07:49 using you, I'm going to make you the head and not the tail.
07:53 That's our God. You know the thread of
07:57 connecting with people is all through the Bible and so you
08:01 know our viewers I would challenge them because many
08:03 have regular Bible study and they're into the word of God
08:07 but if they pray beforehand Lord help the scripture speak
08:10 to me in ways that I can begin to break out of my comfort zone
08:14 and reach out into the community then the very words of scripture
08:17 will become the direction that God will provide them.
08:21 It's interesting to know that if there is a text that has
08:25 especially encouraged you in your Bible study he's going to
08:30 bring a friend sooner or later and you can say guess what, this
08:35 is something that I think could really be a help to you today.
08:40 You can't just give it somebody until they're ready but the Holy
08:44 Spirit will impress you at a time when they're open and
08:47 they need it. Our God is Faithful.
08:50 That's absolutely true. What happens when we've advertised
08:55 community we have a number of community families that come in
08:59 and our goal is of course to encourage them in hopes that
09:04 they come back the next week and we establish relationship with
09:08 them. There's one particular couple that came to our Easter
09:11 concert and they sure enough came back the next week and they
09:16 have been coming regularly to our group. Speaking about prayer
09:21 she came to me one day and she said you know pastor I would
09:25 to start a prayer ministry in your church and I would be
09:29 willing to start a prayer chain for those who have a prayer
09:33 need. So we have a prayer box, we have a prayer request form
09:36 and every person that puts a request in there I hand over to
09:40 this community lady who is not a baptized member of our group
09:44 but is an attending member and she then gets on the phone and
09:49 sets up a prayer chain on behalf of that person. Now that came in
09:54 as a result of us being open to community people and creating an
09:58 environment where they feel free then to exercise the gifts that
10:02 they have. That's great, that's great.
10:05 What have you seen as a result of prayer? Maybe it was an
10:11 individual or something but you could say that's an answer,
10:16 that's a direct answer?
10:20 Just a few weeks ago I had the privilege of baptizing a young
10:24 lady into our congregation and as I had the opportunity to kind
10:27 of hear the story, because there's always a story about
10:31 what God has been doing and how God has been working in that
10:34 person's life. It turns out that it was another church member
10:37 that was working in the same place and, you know, it's
10:42 an interesting thing because we encourage our people to invite
10:44 friends, family, coworkers to any and every event. As I began
10:51 to hear the story, this young man had invited this young lady
10:56 to at least 10, 12, 13 different things. And I believe the first
11:01 event was actually a small group and she came to the small
11:04 group and she enjoyed that experience and, of course, it's
11:07 a small group, this meeting, and they're talking about going to
11:10 church so she came to church. About the same time we had a
11:13 vacation Bible school and she had kids and so she came to
11:16 that. As I was talking with her about this, how is it that God
11:22 led you here she points to the invitations made by this one
11:26 church member. As I thought about it, how many times do we
11:30 invite someone one time and the almost we mark them off the
11:34 list. But if you keep an attitude of prayer you'll be
11:39 consistent. The time was right. Now it's interesting. We have
11:43 two Christians now working in that company and they're very
11:47 intentional and they're praying that God will use them to reach
11:51 other people in that area. In fact she had just recently moved
11:55 her desk so she could be a part of another group that she could
11:59 witness to. That's building bridges.
12:01 Wow, that's wonderful. And the power of prayer.
12:04 Yeah they were praying that God would use them. In fact, not
12:09 that long ago she came to me because she had a physical need
12:13 that she had been diagnosed with cancer. We had prayer and
12:17 anointed her as a body of believers and just a few weeks
12:21 ago she came back and she said the doctors are saying the
12:24 cancer is gone. So it's in every thing that you do, prayer is the
12:30 power. We had a woman that walked into
12:32 prayer meeting and she said I was just on the phone with some
12:38 body and he told me that his son-in-law is going to be coming
12:44 here to pastor and he sounded so helpful and so genuine. I asked
12:50 him are you a Christian? He said well yes I am. She said well
12:55 what church? And he told her. She has been coming. She
13:00 hasn't been baptized yet but she has changed her work so that she
13:04 can come to church and she's praying. Before she changed the
13:09 place where she was working. She was prayer walking. And she said
13:13 this is so fun and I get to talk to people and they don't
13:17 understand so I can explain to them. But she was thrilled
13:22 because she was discovering the power of prayer.
13:26 Well it's really absolutely true prayer is such an essential
13:31 ingredient. I know many people they really would like to do
13:35 this, they would like to reach out to others and they're
13:39 hesitant. They don't always know how. So they need the power of
13:44 prayer to really give them the strength to be that underlying
13:49 divine power that replaces their human hesitancy. Courage is not
13:55 the absence of fear, it's moving in spite of your fear. So you
13:59 need the courage that God can give you through prayer to step
14:04 out and take those risks.
14:07 I think prayer is a two-way street. You're talking to God
14:12 and you're listening to him through his word. And he says
14:16 I haven't given you fear. That hasn't come from me. I won't
14:21 give you a spirit of fear. I'll give you a spirit of power and
14:25 of love and of a sound mind.
14:27 You know, I prayed about being in an environment where there
14:30 were strangers, people I had never met before. Sometimes as
14:34 pastors we are particularly in an environment of other
14:37 believers and so we have to be very intentional about trying to
14:42 get outside of that. So I found myself in a courthouse full of
14:47 other potential jurors and I didn't know any of these people.
14:51 There were 200 or so of them. So several of us were called up to
14:56 actually be placed on a jury. I wasn't sure what the Lord was
15:01 doing with that but I actually got into the jury box and
15:04 generally speaking pastors are not always the ones selected as
15:09 jurors. When the judge was talking to me about some of my
15:13 feelings and ideas and so forth I said well I sort of believe
15:17 that I've been here five different times and I've always
15:20 been dismissed and I think my theory is that the defense
15:24 attorney thinks that I'll be too judgmental and the prosecution
15:29 thinks I'll be too merciful. Well they selected me to serve
15:34 on that jury. So for a week I went through this jury process
15:38 you know with my other fellow jurors and I had an opportunity
15:42 to really get close to these people. During the breaks we
15:46 would walk and talk and share and by the end of that
15:49 experience we didn't want to leave. We had bonded together.
15:52 I'm very close and good friends now with several of those jurors
15:56 So you know the Lord puts you in these situations when you're
16:01 open to them and when you ask him and pray about it. Then he
16:04 gives you the power to do what needs to be done when you're in
16:08 them. That's why prayer is so
16:09 important. I remember when I first became a Christian I was
16:13 so excited that I told everyone and you know I was probably
16:17 was pretty confrontational.
16:19 But your life had been totally changed.
16:22 That's right and I couldn't understand why everybody else
16:26 didn't want exactly what I wanted.
16:28 You want to say why haven't you gotten with it?
16:30 And a lot of my witnessing turned into arguments and turned
16:34 into other things. What I learned then that's why we pray
16:38 is that God has people who are willing and open and that's
16:42 where we want to go. We could witness to a thousand people and
16:45 it would be like witnessing to a potted plant. But God has
16:48 people whose hearts are open, he knows where they are and he
16:52 wants to bring us into contact with that individual. And when
16:55 that happens then building bridges and witnessing and
16:59 sharing our faith is a positive experience. Not that it isn't
17:03 sometimes a little scary, a little bit uncertain, but when
17:07 you see what God can do you look back and you go wow.
17:10 You just want to say how did you do that? But he makes it so
17:15 enjoyable and so rewarding.
17:17 He does and he also does give you the strength through prayer
17:20 to sometimes deal with those situations that you don't think
17:24 are so successful or maybe somebody hasn't been as
17:28 responsive. So that you don't just cower back into your home
17:31 and say well I'll never do that again, but instead you have the
17:35 strength to be determined. And the other thing is we never know
17:39 we just simply never know what will happen with that contact
17:42 that we made down the line. It may at first seem like it wasn't
17:46 especially effective but down the line it can be because we
17:50 planted that seed in that person's life.
17:52 And if there's prayer the Lord will take it and do something
17:57 with it. Yes that's right.
17:58 My husband does something that some people may think well
18:03 that's really very insignificant because you probably will never
18:09 see this person again. We travel and we eat out when we're
18:15 traveling and before we eat we'll have the blessing there in
18:20 the restaurant. So Don nearly every time will say to our
18:25 waiter or waitress, we're going to ask God to bless our food
18:29 is there something that we can pray for you. Now nearly
18:34 every single time he gets a very positive response. Sometimes
18:40 people are surprised and they'll say Hmm a I don't know. I don't
18:46 think so. But that's very, very few and far between. Usually
18:51 they'll say oh you're going to pray for me? Why I've got kids
18:56 in trouble or you know my marriage is on the rocks or
19:00 I'm working two jobs to keep things afloat.
19:04 You know that's very significant You know these servers in
19:07 restaurants, they're taken so for granted and they're often
19:11 abused by people, you know, who isn't getting their food right
19:15 or whatever. To look at them and for a moment recognize their
19:19 humanity I think is a really powerful thing. I always like to
19:24 say there are islands of humanity all around us and
19:26 every place that we intersect another human being, at the
19:30 grocery store, at the gas station, in our neighborhood
19:34 is an opportunity to touch that island of humanity.
19:38 I think by building a bridge, building a pathway to someone's
19:43 heart for the Holy Spirit to touch, you're saying I respect
19:48 you. I believe one day this bridge is
19:53 going to come into play. You know if you're going to build a
19:57 a bridge you want the bridge to be used and leaving those
20:00 bridges in place is very powerful.
20:03 Can I tell you a story, a prayer story that I just love.
20:08 This girl has become a friend of ours but at the time I first
20:12 heard the story we didn't know her. Her name is Janelle Chang.
20:17 She was 21 years old. She'd gone to Boston to take a year of
20:21 college and didn't know a soul up there. Her parents took her
20:26 from Tennessee, got her a little apartment, got her
20:28 settled in school and then at 5:30 on Sunday morning they had
20:32 to take their rented car and go back to Logan Airport and fly
20:37 back to Tennessee. Well she fell apart because it was 5:30 in the
20:42 morning, her parents were gone, it was her birthday and she was
20:46 in a strange town and she said Lord I don't even know why I
20:51 insisted on coming up here and going to school because this is
20:55 a big strange city, I don't know anything about Boston. I don't
20:58 even know what you want me to do with my life. Well you know
21:04 words are important. What we say what we hear ourselves say,
21:09 these words, they make an impact on our own thinking and on our
21:14 own mind. The more she was fussing and fuming the worse
21:19 she felt. She was crying and carrying on about how bad it was
21:25 to have your 21st birthday in a strange town and she wore
21:30 herself out with fussing and crying and storming around and
21:35 telling the Lord she didn't know what to do. She finally fell
21:41 across her little sofa and fell asleep. She had a dream and in
21:47 her dream she saw Jesus and Jesus said to her, I know your
21:52 finances are tight. But I know you have $50 that you've been
21:57 saving for some New Balance shoes. I want you to take that
22:01 money and buy a dozen long- stemmed red roses and I want
22:06 you to pray over those. Prayer is important at every step in
22:12 our life. And he said after you've prayed over these roses
22:17 I want you to take them to people who really need me and
22:22 give them a rose and then say this is a very special day in my
22:28 life and I want you to have this flower, and I want you to pray
22:33 so that I can bless them. Well in the dream she argued with the
22:38 Lord. She said that is a crazy idea. I need shoes, I need those
22:42 New Balance shoes and those are strangers; they aren't going to
22:47 want a rose from a stranger. Forget it. But in the dream the
22:52 Lord won. You know usually when you have a dream, you forget it.
22:56 When you wake up you don't remember it. But when she woke
23:01 up she remembered every detail of the dream. So when she got up
23:06 she put on her coat, walked out the door. She said Lord this
23:10 seems a little strange to me but I'm going to do it and I
23:13 have peace because this is an adventure you told me to do and
23:18 I'm going to obey you. She found the roses and she paid for them,
23:22 it took nearly all of the $50 because this was the season of
23:27 the year and they were long- stemmed gorgeous roses. But she
23:31 found people. She found a man in the gutter, literally. I mean he
23:36 was living on the street, smelled awful. He looked like he
23:40 didn't have a friend in the world. She walked up to him
23:45 a rose and she said I just want you to have this rose. It's a
23:50 very special day in my life and he looked at her, tears in his
23:55 eyes and then she said silently, Okay God, there he is bless him,
24:01 do something special in his life he really needs you. Then she
24:06 went to the subway and she found a mother that was
24:08 exhausted, several children, and they were crying. The mother
24:13 looked like things were out of control and she walked up to
24:17 her. Same little speech, gave her this and again there were
24:21 tears. She was having such a wonderful time because each time
24:26 she would say all right God, there they are, do something
24:30 special. She finally had one rose left. She got off the train
24:34 walked across the street and went to the hospital. Inside
24:39 this hospital she saw a nurse in the corridor and she said I have
24:43 a rose. Is there a patient that you think might enjoy this?
24:47 And she said Ah I don't even have to think. Come with me.
24:51 She took her down the hall to Carlos's room. She said Carlos
24:55 is 15; he's dying of a malignant brain tumor. His
25:00 family is there in the room. They don't speak English, but
25:03 there is a translator there so she can help you. So she took
25:07 her into the room, introduced her to the mother and father and
25:10 the sibling and then to the translator so that she could
25:14 walk around to the other side of Carlos's bed and she could
25:17 look him in the eyes. She patted his cheek and she said, My name
25:23 is Janelle and I have a rose for you and she put it there beside
25:29 him so he could feel that velvet petal on his cheek. Of course,
25:34 she saw a tear go down on the pillow. She went over to his
25:39 mother and gave her a hug and you know a hug is universal in
25:44 all languages. Then she just tiptoed out of the room. But she
25:48 noticed that the translator was following her out of the room
25:52 and she said how did you know about Carlos. She said I didn't
25:57 know about Carlos. Out came the whole story. I had this dream.
26:02 Jesus told me to buy these roses I had $50 I was going to use
26:06 for New Balance shoes. He told me to do this and it's been a
26:10 great experience. He told me to pray over them and he would
26:15 direct me. So that's the story. The translator said, now I have
26:20 a story for you. Last night before I left the hospital I
26:24 said Carlos, is there one thing I can do for you. We both know
26:29 you're not going to be here much longer. He said, One red rose.
26:34 And she said I forgot, I couldn't do it. It was late last
26:39 night. I came in early this morning and here you are with
26:46 this rose. And they both then were in awe at the big God who
26:52 loves us enough to send flowers.
26:55 You know Ruthie it just shows that when we reach out and when
27:00 we pray to God that we be sensitive to others that our
27:05 lives are enriched as well, even more.
27:07 But this translator had one more thing to say. She said, I come
27:11 here on weekends and during the week I'm the vice-president
27:15 of the New Balance Shoe Company. And she said, you will never buy
27:19 another pair of New Balance shoes. I want to do this for
27:24 you and for your God. God is so big and he does love us enough
27:29 to send flowers. He does, yes uh-huh.
27:32 Thank you so much for being with us today. We're out of time but
27:36 thank you Tim, thank you Bill. It has been such a joy to hear
27:40 these stories and to rejoice together about the power of
27:44 building bridges, the power of prayer. And thank you for being
27:49 with us. We'll be praying for you as you build bridges with
27:54 prayer. God bless.