The Ration Challenge!

Refugees
Photo: Church World Services

This week I have been taking part in the Ration Challenge. This is a program through Church World Services which raises public awareness and funds for Syrian refugees living in Jordan to give them access to food, medical care, and education as they rebuild their broken lives.

As part of the Ration Challenge me and several thousands of others around the world take a week to sign up sponsors as we eat the same exact food rations that these refugees are given. What kinds of foods are these? Not much! Here is what one week’s worth of food looks like for each individual refugee:

  • 4 pounds & 4 ounces of plain, dry, white, rice
  • 3 ounces of dried chick peas
  • One small can of kidney beans
  • 1 & 3/4 cups of plain white flour
  • 6 ounces of dried lentils
  • One tin of sardines
  • 12 ounces of cooking oil
  • Water as needed

As you can see, the bulk of the week’s food is plain white rice; the remaining items are very sparse. And that’s it. No spices, flavorings, sugar, or sauces. No coffee, tea, or juice. No fresh fruits or vegetables. Granted, members of the Ration Challenge may “earn” some of these extras dependent upon the amount of funds their sponsors have raised on their behalf, however the real-life refugees are at the mercy of local kindness when it comes to anything extra.

This is a worthy program to fulfill our commandment from Christ: “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back” (Luke 6:30, ESV).

If you are a reasonably healthy adult I ask that you also consider signing up for the Ration challenge. All the money you raise from your sponsors goes to help support Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan who have fled eight years of conflict and violence in their own country.

If you cannot join the challenge, then I ask that you sponsor me during my week of Ration Challenge by clicking on this LINK, as this will make a great difference in giving these refugees a chance to get their lives back together.

Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”

God Bless all of you!

 

Waiting…Waiting…Waiting…

Spinach

We are people.
And we simply want things done as we want them done.

And, to our frustration sometimes, God doesn’t work that way.
Of course, God’s timing is absolutely perfect, but we still want things done on our own time. And this is a lesson we learned while my son has been busy creating his micro-farm. Let me explain:

Our young adult son is autistic and has had a tough time finding a job that fits his abilities. So, earlier this year my husband and I presented him with the idea of owning a produce stand as a way of having a job. Our son is very familiar with gardening since I’ve gardened as long I can remember, and he jumped on the idea. Our landlord has plenty of yard and agreed to let us have a 40 x 40 space (our micro-farm) and I’ve been guiding our son on how to work the soil, plant, weed, etc. the whole time, and he is an exceptional worker!

However, in our impatience my husband and I wanted to help our son get this micro-farm going because we originally planned to start the produce stand in June. Of course, finances surprised us and we ended up with a start week beginning later;  in early July. The problem is that, once the seeds are in the ground there is no changing your mind and you can’t slow down the growth. So, as it turned out, the spinach plants have all begun making their seeds (as shown in the picture above), which grow into seed stalks. Once a green leafy vegetable grows a seed stalk the plant becomes bitter and/or tough, making it unusable for selling or eating. Seeing that the plants were starting to make seeds we had to harvest them that so that they weren’t wasted plants; meaning we had spinach as part of our dinner that night (so, free groceries? I guess it wasn’t such a bad thing!). And, what’s more, we are keeping an eye on the green leaf lettuces we planted at around the same time as the spinach, and we don’t think they will wait until the first weekend of July either….. we may be having a lettuce harvest sooner than we planned as well.

What does all this have to do with God’s timing?

EVERYTHING!

Me and my husband, with our human “wisdom,” apparently advised our son to plant some of his vegetable seeds too early to be useful for his produce stand, mainly because we didn’t see the financial bump in the road at the time. This means he will not have these vegetables to fill his produce table with (and who wants to visit a stand with sparse offerings?). This now requires us to travel to produce auctions to fill in the missing “pieces” so that his produce stand is full of offerings for the public. Lesson learned, next year we will plan better; however that doesn’t fix this year’s situation.

GOD, however, knows more than we do. He knows what’s up ahead and, had we His knowledge, we would have waited to plant those early seeds. Be we didn’t have His knowledge, we only had our own plans complete with all the human error involved. And when we focus on our own plans instead of looking to God for guidance we often find ourselves on the wrong end of good timing!

So, even though we learn the lesson of planning our growing season better next year, we also have the important reminder that we need to look to God for guidance in our timing, in everything we do — not just in our gardens! When we plan something and it does not turn out the way we wanted we need to remember the God knows more than us, and He is most likely “adjusting” our timing for our own benefit because we do not see the problems ahead like He does.

Proverbs 16:9  “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Let us all keep in mind that sometimes we need a little more patience as we trust in God for the right timing.

 

 

Cross vs. Crucifix

CrossCrucifix

First things first:

Cross is the representation of the wooden structure upon which Christians believe Jesus Christ was murdered.
Crucifix, on the other hand, is a cross that includes a representation of Christ’s body still attached to it.

It has been my experience that churches related to Roman Catholicism, Lutheran, Orthodox, and Episcopalian tend to use the Cross and the Crucifix, whereas Protestant churches tend to use only the Cross ( I happen to be a non-denominational Protestant). Quite frequently I hear Protestants reject the Crucifix because “That’s a dead Jesus, but my Jesus is alive!”

It always makes me cringe when I hear that. Let me explain why:

First of all, it’s just a Crucifix, it isn’t a real Jesus on a real Cross — it’s only a representation of the enormous Sacrifice He made for us, and nothing more. Secondly, Jesus wasn’t raised from the Cross, He was actually raised from the grave…. three days later. This means that there was an empty Cross with a dead Jesus in the grave for three entire days before He was raised up again. Thus, the Cross represents a dead Jesus just as much as a Crucifix does. In fact, since the whole purpose of a cross was to induce death I’m not sure how it can be seen as anything other than a representation of a dead Jesus. If one wants to represent a living Jesus, one should have a depiction of an opened tomb instead. Therefore, both Crosses and Crucifixes actually represent a dead Jesus and not a living one; neither is all that different from the other.

This should not be offensive.
It’s a Scriptural fact: Jesus Christ was required to suffer death in order to give us Salvation, there was no other way. His death is something we should keep in mind because without that event we would be forever damned!  But does keeping mindful of a dead Jesus mean that we worship a dead Jesus?

Of course not!

To begin with, one should not be worshiping a Cross or Crucifix in the first place. The Bible is very clear that we shouldn’t worship sacred pillars, poles, idols, or any other physical object. To pray or bow to the Cross or Crucifix in worship is not what a Christian is called to do. If you are doing these things then you are worshiping a dead Jesus regardless of your denomination. But merely having such an object simply to express your Christian viewpoint is not any act of worship at all. And, since it is not an act of worship, it shouldn’t be twisted to mean that you worship a dead Jesus just for the mere possession of such items. To put it another way, if you aren’t directing your worship to the Cross or Crucifix, then you aren’t worshiping a dead Jesus. Period.

Having such objects shouldn’t be a bone of contention for others — having a simple reminder of what Jesus did for you is no different than having a photograph of a dead loved one in your home as a simple reminder of that person. Just as viewing the photograph of the loved one shouldn’t be misconstrued as worship of the dead person, likewise having a Cross or Crucifix shouldn’t be misconstrued as worship of a dead Jesus.

Let’s stop being judgmental of those who prefer a Crucifix over a Cross because the argument is really twisted.

Peace, and Amen.

(Full disclosure: I originally posted this article at the CommonTruth blog , October 3, 2012)

The Bribing Church

adult birthday birthday gift box

What is a “bribing church”?

This is a church congregation in which the leadership advertises free perks as a way to attract people to come through their doors. For example,  one of the more popular bribes is that of advertising free gasoline cards to all who show up for the first service of a newly planted church. Some churches advertise special services for special days; for example one local church advertised free oil changes for all single mothers if they came to their Mother’s Day service.  In economically disadvantaged areas some churches promise free food for those who stay for the service.

Don’t get me wrong; really I’m not judging these leaders because I understand the mindset that’s driving them: “If we can get them in the door then maybe they’ll hear the message of Christ and be saved!” Although this idea can seem grand we must admit that this is a losing cause: If people are coming in mainly for what they are receiving materially, then they will stop coming when the material benefits dry up. One local church tried the gas card idea; sure, they had a phenomenal turnout on opening day but the very next week the number of attendees was drastically reduced. Simply put, the majority of the attendees weren’t there for any message, they were only there for the material gain — a gas card. This is not a genuine search for Christ.  You don’t draw real believers in by bribing them; you draw real believers in simply by showing the love of Christ in everything you do as a congregation. Period.

But what about the churches who give free gifts to visitors without advertisement; are they bribing as well? The difference between a bribe and a gift is intent: Is it an advertised gift intended to entice people to come in, or is it simply a gift given to those who already came without expecting something in return? For example, some of our local churches will give visitors a free coffee mug with the church logo on it; and this gift isn’t advertised, it’s just a token of appreciation for new visitors who happen to come in the door. This is not a bribe because people did not come in expectation of the gift.

And yet some will still ask: Does  it make a difference, as long as people are coming in the door?

Yes.
It makes a HUGE difference. Let me explain:

When the majority of your attendees are coming mainly for the material benefits then you are sowing your seeds in the wrong soil. Jesus Christ Himself told us about these individuals in His parable of the sower, in which a farmer sowed seed in a broad area. In this parable the sower cast some of the seed among thorns; and these seeds represented “those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.” (Luke 8:14-15, ESV). Such individuals are more interested in their own benefit instead of being interested in the benefits of God’s Kingdom. When you have a majority of these ones in your membership then your congregation’s spiritual health is severely weakened; there is no real loyalty to God’s Kingdom or His faithful flock because it’s foundation is actually materialism. In contrast, a strong church has a membership who’s foundation is God’s Kingdom, and so they are  invested in the giving and helping of others; a membership who is not easily “choked by the cares and riches and pleasures” in this world.

And, if ever you question whether you are drawing in a weak crowd or a strong crowd, commit to this simple test: Stop advertising the gifts, and see what happens.
If you have a membership who is strong in Christ then the lack of gifts shouldn’t change very much in terms of membership numbers.  However, if instead you find that your numbers significantly drop then you must reevaluate your methods and seek God’s guidance and wisdom on how to draw in those who are genuine, and those who are truly seeking His Kingdom.

Let not the lure of material things fool you into thinking a true congregation can be built on such things. It is better to build your congregation on the love of God and the truth of His Word.

Peace, and amen.

 

Starfish

sea landscape beach holiday
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This is a story attributed to Loren C. Eisely, and was originally called “The Star Thrower”

There was a man walking along the seashore. Up ahead he saw a young boy, meandering along the shoreline, picking up starfish and throwing them back into the sea as he found them. When the man arrived to where the boy was picking up his next starfish, the man said to the boy: “What are you doing?
The boy answered: “Sir, I’m throwing the starfish back into the water, before they die from exposure.”
The man laughed at the boy and replied: “There are thousands of beaches with thousands of stranded starfish all over the world! You are saving so few of them, your efforts are futile! What difference does saving a few starfish make?”
As the boy tossed the starfish back into the sea he responded “It makes a difference to this one.”

Just because we cannot help everyone, that is no reason for discouragement. Each individual that we can help still makes a huge difference in that individual’s life. Remember, we are not called to save the world, that was Jesus’s calling. Instead, we are called to use our abilities and gifts as God assigns us in order to help the people that He assigns to us. And, thankfully, you and me aren’t the only ones that God employs in His work; there is a whole worldful of Christians who are working to complete God’s plans in other people’s lives! And so this story of the Star Thrower is a lesson in our lives as we practice our faith: We don’t need to be absorbed with what we aren’t doing, instead we need to appreciate the good we are doing with the gifts that God gives us.

Thank you, Jesus, for the many hands worldwide to help the downtrodden!

This is the Day We Need to Pray!

praying man looking up
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Today is the first Thursday in May, the designated National Day of Prayer in the United States!

Prayer is SUCH a privilege because we as sinners, although separated from God because of our sins, are still able to speak with Him and commune with Him in prayer in spite of our fallen state! In honor of this incredible privilege I decided I should go straight to His Word and speak about the most famous passage regarding prayer: The “template” that Jesus Christ Himself gave to help us know what a prayer should be like:  (Scripture references from the New American Standard Bible)

The Lord’s Prayer: (Matthew 6:7-13)

“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
In other words, mere repetition is not the secret to results; for prayer to be answered it  must have feeling and meaning in it. 

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
“Hallowed” means to be greatly honored and respected. This is a reminder to maintain respect towards God as we pray.

10 ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
We are to pray in harmony with His Kingdom’s laws and will. Do not pray for greedy gains, harm towards others, selfish longings, etc. 

11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
It is appropriate to ask for your daily sustenance.

12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
When we pray for forgiveness we need to be sure we are likewise forgiving others.

13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]
Pray for the fortitude to resist, and seek God’s way out of the temptation

In a nutshell, Jesus told us that we must come in prayer with respect, that we need to avoid prescribed repetition, that it is fine to pray for our needs, that it is fine to seek God’s help when in need, that it is not okay to pray for things contrary to God’s Kingdom or will, and that we need to be forgiving if we expect forgiveness.

And some of you are saying: “Yeah, so?”

So……

This means that if you pray to win the mega-millions lottery, you will likely be disappointed.

If you pray for forgiveness even though you are not even trying to be forgiving of someone else, you will likely be disappointed.

If you pray for harm against someone, you will likely be disappointed.

 

Basically, when praying, we need to put our own sinful nature aside if we hope to get an answer. Of course, this is not easy since our sinful nature is with us at all times, which tends to make us selfish. This is why it is very important to keep practicing the “art” of putting away our selfishness when we pray; and God is pretty patient with us when He sees that we are sincerely trying to do this. Yes, He knows this is not easy for us, so He is loving enough to give us grace with our failures.

So, on this National Day of Prayer, find someone or something to pray about and speak it to God! He is never too busy to hear any of us and this is our single and most privileged way to directly speak with Him — so take advantage of this opportunity!

May you all be blessed in His Presence!

Victors, Not Victims!

 

photo of people doing fist bump
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The news is rife with the horror these days:

  • Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria are continuing to commit mass torture and murders of Christian believers regionwide!
  • The terrorist group, Boko Haram, also in Nigeria, have been campaigning to destroy churches and kill Christian believers in an effort to cleanse them from the land!
  • Military groups in Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) have been kidnapping, torturing, and killing Christian believers!
  • North Korean citizens face extreme torture and death if they are caught merely in possession of a Bible!
  • And, just recently, the terrorist group, Isis, laid claim to the church bombings in Sri Lanka that killed over 300 Christians and injured hundreds more!

And this horrible list goes on and on, in various parts of the world, just because believers choose to follow Christ instead of whatever the patron god of their country is.

And all this horror and sadness makes me realize something:
It may look as though Satan is winning in these countries because of all the death he is inflicting on Christ’s followers, but actually the exact opposite is happening: Satan loses a battle each time he sends a believer home to God. Once a believer has remained faithful to the death he or she gains the victory of winning the prize: An eternity of salvation, peace, and communion with God! They are unreachable for Satan, he can no longer try to break their faith or turn them from Christ now! In essence, by his own hand Satan loses a person to Christ each time he murders a believer, further weakening his campaign of destruction, individual by individual. This is why it is said that, though the battles rage on, the War is already won. 

Let that sink in for a moment.
And though we are heartbroken that these Christian victors must endure brutal treatment before their final wins, we can praise God in this storm that Satan is destroying his own kingdom in the process!

May the Living God be with these valiant soldiers for Christ as they endure the worst battle of their lives, the final testing of their faith! May we continue to pray for their strength and comfort as we also pray for their relief against these awful murders.

Come, Lord Jesus. Fill this world with YOU, and eject Satan so that he can no longer hurt Your people.

My Own Selfishness

photo of a woman sitting near a wooden door
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The selfishness of me.

I am a home health aide. And normally I work overnight shifts with my clients (who, by the way, DO NOT sleep always throughout the night). However, I also have a day client, who I see for 4 hours, twice per week, in the afternoons.

Now, let me explain this so that you understand what this means:
My overnight clients normally sleep in short bursts of times — about two hours or so —  so during the overnight they wake up, unable to go back to sleep. This means I need to keep them occupied so they don’t go wandering off, which isn’t a problem. I do whatever they want: Television shows, midnight meals, card games, conversation… whatever keeps them occupied and feeling valued (and believe me, they ARE valued, I LOVE these people!). And they are usually pleasant and go back to bed after a little while, so it isn’t a problem. And, during their sleep times I keep MYSELF occupied by working on “church stuff” (Our FB account, twitter, my upcoming lesson for the children’s club, etc.)

My afternoon lady is different.
Yes, she is a sweet lady in her 90’s who I love to pieces. She is a lady who happens to have dementia and cannot remember things from five minutes ago, and yet she goes-with-the-flow. We play cards. We watch her favorite television shows. We look at fashion magazines and critique the clothes. We even play on her Grand Piano (and truthfully, she IS a better player than I am!) She is fun, and we have fun together, and it’s great in spite of her severely limited memory!

But for several months I found myself grumbling in my head.
I was used to my overnight clients, in which I could work on my “church stuff” during their sleep time. I was used to having time to myself to do my other things, my busy things, my things that were oh-so-important. And this lady doesn’t give me that time, because it’s the middle of the day so she isn’t sleeping.

And after some half-complaints to God, He said to me:

“You want to do busy stuff, important stuff for Me… Tami, in MY eyes SHE is just as important as anything! This woman needs your companionship, your comfort, your presence. I KNOW she needs this, and I need YOU to give this to HER! You have other times in the week to work on the other stuff I need for you to do.”

I was duly chastised by God, and I fully deserved it.
I was too wrapped up in my own ideas and goals to see it before. It’s one of my weaknesses: Getting too focused on one thing to see something else that may be just as important. And yet she is, in God’s eyes, just as important as anything.

And I forgot that for too long.

You Beat the Odds!

 

food colorful sweet bear
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Yes! YOU beat the odds! You had a 1 in two-million chance, and YOU WON!

What did you win?….

First, let’s talk about HOW you won:

According to the website Infertile.com, every woman is born with an average of 2 million eggs cells in her body. During her growing years an average of 11 thousand of these die off each month until puberty. After that, for the rest of her life, approximately 1,000 eggs die each month. When she runs out of eggs her body goes into menopause.

Stay with me here: Now, we all know that these eggs are essential in making children, and a woman has very few children in her lifetime in relation to the number of eggs she carries. Each and every egg has the potential to become a child, but only a scant few of these eggs ever receive that privilege. The vast majority either die each month, or get released for a fertilization that doesn’t happen. And then, even for the eggs who do receive fertilization, there is a certain risk of ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or stillbirth.

And YOU beat all of those odds! You were one out of the two million who received the blessing of fertilization — that is like being a one of the lucky winners chosen from a city the size of Houston!

Just think on that a moment. Fertilization is a very narrow window of opportunity: A released egg is only good for fertilization for up to 24 hours before that window closes. Luckily, the other half of the process — the sperm —  can hang around for up to 5 days waiting for that window to open, but if the sperm isn’t there in time, or has hung around too long and has died waiting, then that month’s egg release is a bust. That egg will not become a child.

And you overcame all those obstacles: Your egg didn’t die off. It was one of the blessed ones to be released for fertilization and get fertilized. You survived the process of womb growth, and being born. You even survived early infancy, when babies are at risk of dying from crib death or diseases.

You. Totally. Won.

And what you won was LIFE! The greatest gift that any of us has ever been given!

We oftentimes hear about people who win millions in lottery games and how they irresponsibly squander the jackpots they receive. So many winners waste their prizes, spending it on frivolous things and useless extravagances until it’s used up and they have nothing left in the end; penniless.

And here we are. Each and every one of us, holding our own grand prize: LIFE, in spite of the odds that were against us before birth!
How are we spending our jackpots? Are we wasting our time, frittering away with irresponsible expenditures that leave us empty and poor at the end? Or are we making the most use of our prize in ways that make us full and rich in the Kingdom?

We are responsible for ourselves in the ways we use our own individual prizes of Life. And what we do with it seals our future, whether we end up spiritually rich or poor. And the Enemy wants your prize, and will do everything he can to convince you to waste it on buying into his shoddy investments.

Be wise with your jackpot. Don’t let our enemy seduce you into giving into his glittery-but-fraudulent wares, leaving you dirt poor in the end. Invest in the Lord, whose product is strong, and true, and never wears out.

Peace and blessings to all of you.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:9-10, ESV)

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20, ESV)

 

Breaking New Ground

agriculture backyard blur close up
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So it is early spring, and it is time to start getting the garden ready for the year. This year we have changed addresses and this means breaking new ground in a yard area that has never hosted a garden before. A few days ago it was a lovely 60 degrees so my son and I began the process with hand tools: An adze, a hoe, a garden fork, and a wheelbarrow (to throw the large rocks into). We figure on planting the early vegetables in April, so we’ll just dig a bit of ground day by day until April — we are planning on a rather large area. The plan was fine and dandy until the next day when the weather plummeted to the mid 30’s and then stayed there for a few days. Can’t break up frozen soil, so we waited. Finally, it got about the 50 degree mark yesterday, but it rained and rained, and is still raining today. Well, that’s not going to work either. So, looking ahead at the weather forecast we see that the weekend should be dry and warm enough to continue our project. Finally. But it’s not just a matter of turning the soil and aerating it. This soil is a sandy loam, and though it does have some rich, dark, organic matter throughout it, we will need to add some compost to boost its growing power.

Yes. We have a lot of work to do before April hits (in nine days!), so time is of the essence. We can do it, it will simply take effort and due diligence on our part. We know we cannot take any shortcuts; doing so would only result in weak plants that would wither under any kind of stress — we can’t have that. No, we have to put our backs into it, taking the extra time and care necessary in order to grow a good crop.

And as I am getting ready to go out and work the soil some more, it occurs to me that it is not much different than when we try to reach out to others about the Gospel of Christ. In most cases these people are “unbroken ground”, who never had the opportunity for the seed of truth to be planted. Just as you can’t just throw seed on top of unworked soil and expect it to flourish, neither can you throw Scriptures at people and expect them to grow in Christ.

And you may ask “Exactly what does that mean?

It means that telling the soil to grow the seed doesn’t work; instead you need to be tilling the soil. In other words, simply telling an unbeliever that “Jesus saves!” isn’t going to grow the seed, you need to dig down and give the setting for salvation that germinates the seed. For example, I personally know a pastor who lived a life of illicit sex and drugs in his younger days. One of his guy friends who was also heavily into that scene seemed to disappear for a while. My pastor friend caught up with him later and saw that his friend had completely transformed: This friend no longer lived a life of revelry and was even happier living his life in Christ. THIS was the turning point for my pastor friend: He saw this guy who was just as loose and sinful as himself make a complete turn around, living happily this way. This, my pastor friend tells me, got his attention way more than anyone who ever threw Scripture at him. This was the point when he asked his buddy about what changed him so significantly, and his friend was able to then explain the Gospel of Christ to my pastor friend. This is what changed my friend, and caused him to chase after Christ, abandoning his drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous lifestyle. He told me once that if someone had simply come at him spouting Scripture he would have just told the person to “buzz off”, but by seeing the actual example of what Christ can do in a person’s life, THAT was what germinated the seed in him.

And so we need to lay the groundwork before a seed can grow. If you are throwing Scriptures at people oftentimes that feels like a nuisance to them; they may see you as some Bible-thumping blowhard trying to recruit money-making members for their church. No, you cannot just cast seed on unworked ground and automatically expect it to grow. You need to also lead and teach by your example, give them something to actually see, so that the enemy cannot rationalize it away on them. This is the fertile soil in which a seed can grow. It is not just word, but word in tandem with action, that works.

So, I encourage everyone who is presenting the Gospel to an unbeliever to be open with  them. Of course you don’t need to go into details, but if they can see what kind of person you were before Christ came into your life and then compare it to who you are now, that lays the groundwork for the seeds of the Gospel to grow!

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 New American Standard Bible 

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.