Getting in Position!

Have you ever had an experience in which you felt like you were in the right place at the right time to make an impact?

I like to call times like that being in position.  There are times in which your specific skills, talents, gifts, availability, passions, etc. line up perfectly for a task or need at hand.  You’re in position!

Let me tell you of one of those times in my life…

In Position 1: William

I’m part of a group that prepares hot dogs for folks who live and hang out in a local park.  The purpose of this activity is missional: we want to build relationships with people — love them, feed them, and begin to point them to Jesus.

On one such occasion a friend and me were walking around the park inviting people to come have hot dogs with us.  We invited a man named William and he accepted.  Usually in these situations people have stuff to gather up before they can come over to our location.  William, however, had all of his stuff in a backpack he was wearing, so he fell in behind us as we made our way back to the grill.

On the way I learned that William had a deep interest in early Christian history.  This was perfect for me since I’ve spent much of my adult life learning about early Christian history and the cultural milieu out of which the Church emerged.  William and I ended up chatting for almost an hour.  He asked about other “Gospels” other than the four in the Bible.  He had questions about the Gnostics and their role (or lack thereof) in influencing Paul.  We chatted for quite a while about the formation of the canon of the New Testament as well.

Our conversation was deep and wide-ranging.  William told me that he had read every book on religion that the local library had…and it showed!  He was knowledgeable!  He and I were not able to agree on every point but we left the conversation with newly-found respect for one another!

I felt especially “in position” to have this conversation with William!

In Position 2: Alan

William went in for another hot dog and as he did so I heard how loud and distracting my friend Alan was being.  Alan was quite intoxicated and was saying things like: “I am death,” “I am darkness,” and “I want to die and take the world with me.”  Needless to say, Alan was freaking everyone out, me included!  However, I had just been reading Sentness: Six Postures of Missional Christians by Kim Hammond and Darren Cronshaw and in it the authors urge missional Christians to be shock-proof.  There’s nothing quite as off-putting (and judgmental!) as showing visible signs of shock at the decisions of people who do not yet know Jesus.

So, I tried my best to be calm and I prayed.  I asked God to give me wisdom and guidance.  Then I began to ask Alan questions about what he was saying.  I was poking and prodding, trying to enter his world.  He asked me at one point if I was making fun of him and I said, “No!  I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on with you.”

After a few minutes of this I realized that getting beyond his intoxicated haze was next to impossible.  So, I asked Alan if I could pray for him.  He said he didn’t want me to because all prayer is fake.  I then said, “Well, let me pray and we’ll see.”

Again I asked God to give me guidance and I put my hand on the back of Alan’s neck.  I began to pray for him.  I prayed for him to have clarity and for him to find peace.  Then I prayed for Satan to leave him alone.  Now you really need to understand that this is really, really, really out of character for me!  I almost never pray this way.  But I felt led by the Spirit to do so…so I did.

Almost immediately Alan’s body relaxed.  He stopped cursing and resisting the prayer.  In fact, he crumpled into my chest and I just hugged him and prayed for him.  When I finished praying, he and I sat on the ground and chatted for a bit.  He told me how alone he felt, how helpless he was, and how frustrated he was.  He asked me for my phone number, so I wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it in his wallet.

Alan hasn’t called yet and he may never call.

But God put me in position to be there for him in the same way that God has put people in position to be there for me.

So What?

What’s the point of telling this story.  Please don’t take this as bragging or boasting.  I was really just the right guy in the right place, thanks to the leading of the Spirit.

Instead I want to leave you with some questions: When’s the last time you felt in position to be used by God?  Is it time to answer the call to be on mission with God?  Is it time to find out what position God can put you in so you can best be used?

Testify: John 1.29-34


Statue of John the Baptist in Prague near St. Vitrus Cathedral.
How can we be like John and testify about Jesus?


I really love the word “testify.”  I’m not sure when this love developed or why exactly.  Growing up “testify” only seemed to be used in legal dramas on TV and in church.  So, maybe that’s where my love comes from — I’ve always like TV shows about lawyers (Boston Legal anyone?) and I’ve been going to church since nine months before I was born.

Another reason why I like the word is that it’s what John, one of my favorite people in the Bible, is always doing.  A great example of this is found in John 1.29-34:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

Before Jesus comes on the scene (in John 1.19-28), what does John do?  Testify!  Then, in the passage quoted above, when John sees Jesus and baptizes him, what does he do?  Testify!  And in virtually every other appearance of John in the Fourth Gospel, what does he do?  Testify!

Pointing to Jesus

You may have noticed that paintings and statutes of John almost always have him pointing.  And he’s not just pointing at nothing or at something different each time.  Instead, he’s always pointing to Jesus.  Painters and sculptors must have read their Bibles because that’s a great visual depiction of what he does with his words in the pages of the Gospels.

We see this very clearly in John 1.29-34.  John sees Jesus and screams out that Jesus is the Lamb of God.  John says that his whole purpose has been to reveal Jesus, to point to him so that others can see.  Then he says that not only does he want to draw attention to Jesus, he wants to testify about him correctly: Jesus is the Chosen One, the Messiah.

So What?

Why does what some guy named John did a long time ago matter?  Well, to me, it matters for lots of reasons, but there’s one that really stands out: John can serve as an example for us today.

John testified about Jesus, so what should we do? Testify too!

But how?

  1. With Our Words: Don’t be lured into the “preach with your life” trap.  We are called to use our words to testify about Jesus.  Does that mean we shouldn’t focus on how our lives testify to Jesus too?  Of course not!  But we must be willing to use our words!
  2. With Our Attitudes: One of the chief characteristics of John was his humility.  He was really popular and his ministry was growing and growing.  People knew who he was.  He was a regional celebrity.  He could have tried to capitalize on this fame.  Instead he used it to point people to Jesus, to testify about Jesus.  That’s humility!
  3. With Our Actions: Yes, we should preach with our lives too!  How we live matters and how we go about our days can strongly testify about Jesus.  But the challenge here is to be intentional about testifying with our actions.  In our natural state we’re tempted to be selfish and point people toward how cool we are.  But when we are intentionally putting effort into testifying about Jesus with our actions, we’re less likely to be less selfish.


What do you like about John the Baptist?  How do you think we should testify about Jesus?  Let me know in the comments below!