Story/Thought: At Peace

Short Story

Short StoryIn the distance, Jane heard sirens and gunfire. While her body trembled sometimes at the noise, she wasn’t terrified. Her daddy was taking care of her.

One day at the playground someone said something very mean to Jane. The words stung. But then she smiled. Her daddy loved her.

Another time Jane messed up badly and broke a glass dish. She felt terrible—and so very clumsy. But her heart rested when she remembered that even so, her daddy still loved her.

At night, Jane curled up in bed and slept contentedly. She had no cause to fear. Her daddy was still awake.

She was at peace in her daddy’s care.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Psalm 121 (KJV)

God doesn’t promise everything will go our way or we won’t suffer (in fact, He warns we will have tribulations—John 16:33)—but He does promise to watch over us night and day, working all things for good (Romans 8:28). And despite how confident we are sometimes that we know what is best, God truly knows what is best—He sees eternity’s grand picture—and He is in charge of everything. We can be at peace in Him.

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Evangelism Is Good…But I Just Can’t Do It

I was blessed to be brought up hearing about Jesus and to find forgiveness in Him at an early age. I was active in serving within the church. Yet at the same time, I could count on one hand the people I’d shared the gospel with—and then, it had been quite poorly.

It’s not that I didn’t want to share—I did. Only I was scared. What if I said the wrong thing and turned someone off? What if they asked a question I couldn’t handle? Besides, I didn’t even have opportunities to share, did I? Naturally reserved as I was, I was hardly the kind of girl to approach a stranger.

Several years ago, though, God began convicting my heart in this area.

One time while out with friends, one of the people in the group stopped and shared the gospel with a homeless man—a man I had walked right by. That interaction got me thinking. Perhaps I had more opportunities than I thought.

Later, I attended the funeral for a man who actively shared the gospel. Each person who came was given a gospel of John to give away. That gospel burned a whole in my pocket for months. I simply couldn’t figure out how to give it away.

I began asking God to show me how to share Him and absorbing the resources He sent. I collected tracts, watched videos, and read books. I watched countless YouTube videos from Ray Comfort (LivingWaters.com). As I prayed more for the lost around me, my heart grew heavier for their salvation. But I still couldn’t bring myself to actually hand out a tract or start a conversation.

I eventually got invited to join a group that was going to a local mall to witness. I started the evening so scared I was convinced the ground would open up and swallow me, but then I got to watch the kind of amazing conversations we were able to have with complete strangers. I wish I could describe the joy of watching the Lord work in someone’s heart as I shared—I couldn’t believe I’d let fear keep me from the incredible privilege of proclaiming the Good News.

Now, many years and hundreds of gospel conversations later, I continue to be amazed at the divine appointments God has, and at how evangelism blesses me, reminding me of God’s salvation, and driving me to my knees and His Word.

As I look back, there are two key truths that helped me—and they are truths I have to keep going back to. The first is the reality of eternity. One analogy that Ray Comfort shared really got to me: that of a burning building. If a building was on fire, I wouldn’t worry about whether I was interrupting someone or if I said it the right way or if they thought I was crazy; I would tell people the building was on fire! Did I not believe that those around me were in even greater danger? A famous atheist put it well: “How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”[1]

The second truth is that evangelism isn’t about me. A good deal of my fear and nervousness comes when I fall into thinking I have to have it figured out or get it right. Yet evangelism is about the message, not the messenger.

If you’ve not yet experienced the joy of sharing Jesus with someone, I hope you won’t wait to begin! Evangelism is a huge privilege God offers to each one of His children.


First published in the Immanuel Bible Church Women’s Ministry Newsletter; reprinted with permission.

[1] Penn Jillette, “A Gift of a Bible,” video, 3:00-3:38, July 8, 2010, https://youtu.be/6md638smQd8

Short Story: Super Busy…on Sandcastles

Short Story

Short StoryEmma was busy–very busy. Her little mind raced with all the things she needed to get done on her sandcastle city. To her, getting her castle just right seemed to be the most important thing in the world.

Little did Emma dream that soon the ocean would sweep away all her work. She was stressing about something temporal and fleeting, and letting it rob her of really enjoying her day at the beach. Why, she practically ignored her father and those around her in her obsession with her sand creations, not realizing that she was ignoring the important for the unimportant.

*******

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:17 (KJV)

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:27 (KJV)

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14 (KJV)

 

Story: I Forgot

Jared stared up and down the street with wide eyes. Where was he? What was he doing? More importantly, who was he?

He couldn’t remember the answer to any of those questions. He looked around him and saw a crowded street with people hustling around. I must need to hustle somewhere, he thought to himself. With that, he joined the crowd, hurrying somewhere, anywhere.

Jared felt his stomach growl. He was so hungry! He noticed some boys digging through trash cans looking for bread, so he joined them.

Several days passed this way. Until one day Jared bumped into Luke.

Jared recognized Luke, and with the recognition came a flood of other memories—memories that increased as Luke began speaking.

“Jared, whatever are you doing? You were sent out here to praise the King, serve Him, and share the King’s invitation with others, but you seem to be wandering around aimlessly. What’s going on?”

The truth came flooding back to Jared’s mind. The King—His banquet. He remembered now. The King had found him when he was a helpless beggar guilty of the death sentence for his crimes. The King had paid his fine and adopted him. Now Jared had been given a task to do during his short time left among the streets before the King returned to take him home forever. How could he have forgotten all of that? “I…I forgot,” Jared muttered.

“I can see that,” Luke’s reply was filled with gracious understanding. “I’ve forgotten before too. Amnesia seems to be one of our biggest enemies. Say, you look half starved—did you forget about the King’s food too?”

The King’s food! Oh, he had forgotten that too! The King had promised to send him daily food from the castle. But Jared had been eating from the trash cans instead.

Luke read his answer on Jared’s face. “I see you forgot. Well, let’s go get you some decent food right now. And next time, don’t forget to read the note the King gave you that reminds you of all these things…and let’s remind one another regularly, shall we?”

Jared nodded. He didn’t want to waste any more time in forgetfulness!

“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:” 2 Peter 3:1-2

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:11

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13

Thought: Avoiding Spiritual Forgetfulness

When I have something I need to remember, I do whatever it takes—sticky notes, lists, cell phone notices, timers, etc.—to remind myself of it. Without reminders, I could end up forgetting something important by getting caught up in a trivial pursuit!

We need reminders because we forget. And if we need reminders for earthly things, how much more do we need reminders of heavenly things?

We know God loves us. We know He’s in charge. We know this earth is temporary. We know He finished the work for our salvation. But it’s way too easy to forget these truths in how we live.

Take a look at your spiritual memory prompts. Do you have habits in place to remind you of God’s truths when you forget? Are you in His Word regularly? Have you surrounded yourself with other believers who will remind you of the truth when you stray?

Story: A Mixed-Up Army

Jake had never seen such a mixed-up army before. They were in the middle of a battle, with bullets flying all around. Yet the soldiers all seemed more concerned with what their fellow soldiers thought of them than they did of the war!

“I pressed my uniform this morning,” one was explaining proudly to his fellow soldier. Blood was gushing from a bullet wound in his leg, but the soldier was wearing a brave face. He didn’t want anyone to know he had gotten hurt. He wanted to look like a good soldier.

Another soldier, obviously a seasoned one, responded by sharing in pride about some of the battles he’d lived through and the things he knew. When another soldier joined them and began sharing proudly too, Jake decided he’d had enough.

“This is ridiculous, you guys!” he exclaimed. “We’re all in a battle, not a competition.” Without another word, he tore off his jacket and began using it to bandage the one soldier’s leg.

The other soldiers hung their head as each remembered they’d nothing really to be proud about. Their commander had led them to victory. He’d given them a position to serve and to fight the good fight. It wasn’t about them at all. There was a battle to be fought, not a competition to be won. They slowly turned, shoulder to shoulder, and reengaged in the battle, encouraging and helping their fellow soldiers.

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:12

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16

Thought: I Can’t

“God helps those who help themselves”—or so the saying goes. Yet God’s Word tells us God helps the humble (James 4:6), the sick (Mark 2:17), and the meek (Psalm 147:6). God helps those who realize they can’t help themselves.

At the same time, the Bible certainly doesn’t tell us to curl up in defeat or do nothing. We’re urged to seek the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:11), obey His Word (James 1:25, Hebrews 3:15), and repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). We do need to “help ourselves” in the sense of acknowledging our inability, running to the One who can help us, and obeying what He’s told us to do in His Word, knowing that ultimately, we’re helpless without Him.

Do you feel as if you can’t go on? As if your heart is breaking? Are you out of strength? Be honest before God about it—He knows anyway.

And be honest with others too. We all need help fighting this battle called life. It’s warfare, not a competition for the most-put-together-Christian prize. Wars are messy and tough. But our Captain has already won the victory and given us the tools to walk in that victory, such as prayer, praise, and repentance. He is able to do what we are not–don’t let anything keep you from running to Him.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 4:6

“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17

“The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.” Psalm 147:6

The Gospel – Needed Everyday

I had failed once again, despite trying so hard to get it right. Discouragement and condemnation banged on the doors and windows of my heart. You’re a failure, they whispered. You’re hopeless.

True…but that doesn’t need to end in discouragement or condemnation. Unlike in other religions, in which man has to make himself worthy of God, the Bible teaches us that all of us are indeed hopeless apart from Him. Jesus didn’t come because we were 90% of the way there and just needed the little difference made up—He came because we had no hope.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” Ephesians 2:12

And, if we have come to God through Jesus, then on the cross Jesus claimed all our unrighteousness as His own (was made sin for us) and declared all His righteousness ours.

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” 1 Corinthians 1:30

Wow. The gift of Christ’s righteousness is a truth we can’t hear often enough.

I once heard someone say something along the lines that Satan reminds us of our sin to beat us up, but God reminds us of it so we can run to Christ. We need the gospel everyday. Everyday we can live the same way we were saved—by turning from ourselves and to Jesus, admitting we have nothing and clinging to His righteousness.

When you see a fresh glimpse into the depth of your sin, don’t let it lead to looking at yourself more. Instead, let it make you run back to Jesus and rejoice again in His gift of forgiveness and righteousness. Repent of your sin, but don’t be surprised by it. God isn’t.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

Thought: Hidden Bows

Big bows, little bows–everywhere I look, I see another hidden bow. My mom had some extra bows left over from an event, so she has used them to decorate our home.

The bows have gotten us both to thinking about hidden gifts–specifically, how the Lord often has hidden gifts for us in the different situations we face. The Israelites certainly didn’t want to end up in the desert–yet God gave them manna and water there. No doubt Paul and Silas didn’t have prison on their wish list–yet God used their imprisonment to bring salvation to the jailor and his household and to show His glory.

Recently, I got a cold that canceled my plans for several days. Yet I found many “hidden bows” along the way. The cold forced me to have a chance to rest, pray, and regroup. It was really a blessing in disguise.

God’s thoughts and plans are higher than our own.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Sometimes we can’t see how His plans are best–and won’t in this lifetime–but God sees a much bigger picture than we do. There’s no need for us to worry, fear, or try to figure it all out. Instead, we can choose to give thanks and find, like Paul and Silas, that even a prison can become an instrument for good.

Thought: Taking Time to Listen

Life gets busy–especially in today’s society, and especially this time of year. A few weeks back, I took on a temporary part-time position and discovered that my days suddenly got very, very full.

I was being stretched. I was out in the world a lot, being inundated with secular music and messages on every hand. If ever I needed time in God’s Word, it was then.

Yet what happened? The busyness resulted in shortened Bible times. I didn’t mean to shorten them, it just happened, ever so subtly. And ever so subtly, I was feeling worn-out and discouraged, and I was no longer taking advantage of opportunities to share the Lord or serve those around me. Now wonder! I was like an athlete running a race who, rather than eating and drinking extra to combat the energy he was expending, instead ate and drank less than usual!

Dear reader, I know this is a busy of year, with a lot going on. But the busier life gets, the more we need time in God’s Word. How will we be able to listen to His voice, to encourage those around us with His truths, and to share Him with the lost if we are not filling ourselves with His Word–if we are not taking time to listen to His truth?

“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.” Psalm 119:130,131

But how do we find time? The answer to that may be different for each one of us. I know it’s been different for me at different points in life. Just as we make time to eat, though, we can make the time for God’s Word, as it is just as vital as a good meal. At the same time, just because you don’t have time for a Thanksgiving feast in God’s Word, don’t miss out on having a spiritual dinner! One way or another, spend time with your Heavenly Father, seeking His thoughts and truths from His Word–His precious love letter to you.

With a Whole Heart

The different moods music can convey never cease to amaze me. Music can be happy, woeful, eager, mournful, exhilarating–the list could go on. Each piece, when played with feeling and a full heart, conveys emotion and meaning.

Yet I have found that those same pieces can also sound like empty noise. There have been days when I’ve mechanically hit notes with my thoughts and mind a thousand miles away. At those times, my music lacks life–and I miss out on the joy of really playing.

In Ecclesiastes, the Bible urges us to do whatever we undertake with all our might. We’re to play each moment–each task the Lord brings–with our whole heart as unto Him, rather than merely mechanically making it through the “notes” of life.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:10

It’s very easy to miss out on the joy of playing full heartedly–to fail to enter fully into whatever the Lord brings. Perhaps our minds begin to worry or fear about the future. Perhaps we begin to think about what people think rather than simply playing the music the Lord has given us. Perhaps we allow discontent with the “song” before us to creep in and waste the moments wishing we could play something else.

Life is too short to waste–let’s not miss out on enjoying and playing with a full heart the music God has given us today.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” Colossians 3:23