All posts in Evangelism

A Crisis of Question

I rested at 35,000 feet. The plane was dark, quiet, and only half-full. Tom and I shared three seats. I leaned against the window. Covered with my faux-fur blanket from Costco, I was deep in thought.

Tom returned from the bathroom and leaned over. “I just looked into the mirror after a week.”

I knew what he meant. We’d travelled to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. We visited villages that could have been in a National Geographic Magazine. Half-dressed, hungry children, along with their tired mothers, peeked out of mud and stick shacks as we passed out candy, inviting them to a Christmas party. Mirrors were few and far between. It wasn’t pretty.

Intense could not begin to describe it.

Tom leaned over again. “I don’t want to be like the man in James who looked at himself in the mirror and then walked away and forgot what he looked like.” (James 1:23)

I understood that, too. I prayed that spending a week in Central America would change us forever. I know that life takes over and the urgent sometimes conquers the important and maybe we could forget. But I didn’t want to.

Here’s the trouble —I’m still not sure what I learned. I’m not sure what I shouldn’t forget.

So for the next several days, I’m going to write myself through it. It was so painful, I need to explore it, pray about it, and ask for God’s wisdom. I know that He will answer. James 1:5 states, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously an without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

So mine is not a crisis of faith because it is not me that holds on. It is God. John 10: 27, 28 states, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Romans 8: 35 states, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril, or sword?” It’s a rhetorical question since verse 38 goes on to state, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, not any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God’s got the love rope tied securely around me, but I have questions. And there was definitely a crisis. So I’m going to tell you about it, not because I think I’m smarter or even important. I haven’t written any theological books nor do I plan to.

I’m going to write about my struggles so I won’t forget. I’m going to write about it to make discoveries on my own. So maybe you can discover with me. Maybe you have some of the same questions.

Sometimes in America, I think we keep busy so we can avoid difficult questions. Or perhaps we think to question God jeopardizes our salvation. It doesn’t.

I’m not demanding any answers from God. I don’t want Him to ask me where I was when He created the world like He did to Job. Instead, I’m humbly asking questions of my Papa.

Just this morning I prayed, “Lord, I have a quarter mustard seed of faith. Please increase it. Like the man with a demon-possessed son I ask you, ‘Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.’ I even have 1/100ths of a seed of intelligence and I am asking difficult questions of you, Lord. Help me.”

And just like a Father, the Lord God will tell me what I need to know. I know that I won’t understand everything, but maybe I will understand some things better. And for what I cannot understand, my prayer is that He will give me the faith to trust.

I am weak. He is strong.

I will be transparent. I will be real.

Join me, will you?

The Treasure

Confrontation is never fun. It’s usually uncomfortable. But often, it makes a difference.

In the life of the one doing the confronting. In the life of the one being confronted. Seldom does a record of it make the pages of a book that has been a best seller for 2000 years. That is exactly what happened when the Apostle Paul confronted the Apostle Peter concerning something he did.

My pastor spoke from Galatians 2: 11-16. Story goes something like this. Peter knew that the Jewish laws were part of the old way of obeying and worshiping God. He knew that a man didn’t have to be circumcised to have a relationship with God. He knew that he had fellowship with everyone. He could eat with them, hang with them, worship with them. But Peter was intimidated when some ‘muckety-mucks’ who still held to the law came to visit. He dropped the Gentiles like a hot potato.

Paul noticed. In front of everyone, Paul tells him he’s off base. He’s wrong. The gospel isn’t about what you do or what you don’t do. It’s by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Period.

When Jesus came, He established a new way of coming to God—through His sacrificial death. Paul knew that. Peter knew that but he got a little side-tracked. Started worrying more about what other people thought than what God thought. He needed a friend to tell him he was wrong.

So when Paul corrected Peter, he corrected all of us for all time. The gospel is a treasure. Not something to be watered down. Not something to be added to.

I need to be reminded of that. I tend to want to agree with all people when they mention Christ’s name. I don’t want to rock the proverbial Christian boat. But Paul didn’t care. He knew what was important. I need to be concerned about what God thinks rather than what man thinks.

I’d like to finish todays’ blog with a verse. One we can sink our teeth into and hold onto. A verse we pass on to others. It’s Galatians 2: 16,

“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because of the works of the law no one will be justified.” (ESV)

Hold on to that treasure friend. And don’t add water.

Monday’s Musings

I huffed at level nine on the elliptical machine. The ex-NFL, personal trainer stood next to me. I continued our conversation as I breathed in and out. “It’s like this, if we were standing on Clearwater Beach and decided to see who could swim to Texas, you might get a little farther than I would, but neither of us would make it. That is the same with earning our way to heaven. No one can make it.”

“Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that if a man lusts in his heart, he’s committed that sin in God’s eyes. If he has an angry thought, he’s guilty of murder. We’re born in sin.”

Zack nodded.

“We need to be prepared. We will either meet Jesus with open arms, or we will meet Him as the righteous judge.” I wiped my face with the edge of my damp shirt. The machine-made elliptical hill grew steeper.

” Just this week my good friend from college found her 17-year-old son dead.” He looked shocked. I continued.

“I can’t imagine what that is like. As horrible as that must have been, she knew that her son was in heaven because he trusted Christ for his salvation.”

“If God is calling you, don’t put it off. You don’t know when your time on earth is up.”

Zack looked pensive. “Maybe I should spend more time talking to you while you do cardio.”

We laughed.

My gym time finished. I retrieved some information about eternal life for my new friend. I didn’t put off getting the Good News to him, because if he doesn’t believe the Good News of Jesus, he will have horrific news when he dies.

Then it will be too late.

There’s been a lot of good news-bad news lately. Within the last four weeks, I’ve been to three weddings and about the same number of funerals. I put my senior-citizen-dog down. Celebrated my birthday and remembered my dad’s birthday, even though he’s been in heaven three years now.

I just finished studying the book of Ecclesiastes. Not exactly a book that brings great comfort. It was written by the richest and wisest man that ever lived. He tried everything. And I mean everything. And he had the resources to do it. Yet, he describes almost everything as ‘futile, striving after wind.’

He does say that there are seasons to our lives and they will be mixtures of both joy and pain. Joy in the birth of a baby. Pain in sickness. Celebration at a wedding. Weeping at a funeral.

We’ve all experienced those—are experiencing those.

But his conclusion is astonishing. “The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, whether it is good or evil.” Ec. 12: 13, 14.

We never know what a day may bring. But we can count on an eternal reckoning. We can also count on the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is what we are celebrating this week. His death and resurrection. Life and death.

Be ready.

A Passion for Christ

“I’ll tell you how to be a witness for Christ! You need to be filled with the Spirit!” Mike Schadt’s voice rose with passion and conviction as he spoke. Except for a smattering of ‘Amens,’ the room was pin-drop-silent.

He read the 23rd Psalm according to couch potatoes. ‘The TV is my shepherd, I shall not want…’ Many squirmed. It’s hard to be in the world but not of it. I struggle with it everyday. He continued.

The congregation listened as Mike described how a man from Honduras became a follower of Christ. Once a voo-doo-witch doctor, he planned to execute the missionaries from SOS Ministries. When he tried, he couldn’t. The man realized that his god, Satan was no match for the One True God. The Great I Am.

The new convert lives in a mud hut, and asks God each day to keep him safe from those who would now assassinate him because he now serves The Living God.

Mike took us to the book of Acts, where time after time, Luke describes someone as being ‘filled with the spirit.’ I listened with a gut-wrenching, stomach-twisting desire to be like that. But how?

Of course, it starts with prayer. The desire. That is all the Lord needs. He knows that we are but dust. He gives us strength. He gives us wisdom. He gives us courage. He gives us opportunity. He even gives us His Words so we don’t mess it all up.

Our job is to listen and to obey. Kind of hard to hear him with the TV blaring, the microwave beeping, and the phone ringing.

At the end of his message, he asked if any would stand and show that they are committed to living a sold-out-life to Christ. Without hesitation, I stood. My husband did, too. I’m glad he did but I didn’t care if he did. I don’t know what others did around me. That was between them and God. I just knew that burning desire to make a difference. To share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

My heart’s desire is to be a light for Christ. My flesh wants to live for self. It’s a good thing that God knows we are just dust. He can do a lot with dust—take Adam and Eve, for instance.

So this pile of dust is thanking the Lord for men like Mike Schadt. God puts people like him to speak forth His Word to dusty people like you and like me.

I’m glad.

A Caring Life—People

I entered the large store promptly at 7AM as the doors opened. Checking in, I noticed the clerk I’d known for years. I knew that her mother was about the same age as mine, and recently had been ill. I’d even added her to my prayer cards.

She was busy, so I made a mental note to see her on my way out.

After I finished shopping I headed toward the door.

“How’s your mom? I’ve been praying for you.”

Jan’s face clouded at the question. “They’ve had to restrain her because she’s had so many infections. Every time she gets a little weird, which is most of the time.”

“Is it a urinary tract infection?” I knew all about those. Dad had one most of the time. Trouble was, he never had the normal symptoms of fever and pain. He went straight to ‘crazy’. He was on an antibiotic most of the time, but days after they were gone, ‘crazy’ began again.

It was frustrating. For him, for Mom, for us.

I knew Jan’s look. It was exhausted, angry, sad, and overwhelmed all wrapped up in one.

“I think God is cruel,” she stated.

My heart hurt. “God isn’t cruel, Jan.”

“Mom has no life. She is just existing. I guess God isn’t cruel, but I don’t understand why He does things.”

Join the club. I watched as Dad lost his independence, his legs, and his will to live–all within a few short years.

Rarely do I know why God does things. But I know this; He is good, He is love, He is just, He is righteous, He is incomprehensible.

Even through those difficult years, I tasted His goodness. Now, in retrospect, I’m drinking it up.

My thoughts returned to Jan. Don’t know if she knows the Lord. That’s what my prayer card is asking. That she will know Jesus. I don’t have all the answers, but I have Him. That is enough.

“I’ll keep praying for you and your mom.” She thanked me.

As I drove home, I wondered about how many Jans there are in the world. I’m glad I took the time to care.