Thursday, March 16, 2017

Called to be a Witness

Sitting in missions conferences all over the USA for the last two years, I've heard lots of sermons. I've met lots of people who want their loved ones saved. Yet, when the Saturday door knocking time comes, two Believers (usually the pastor and a faithful deacon) show up. Where's those folks who had such fire for reaching the lost? Where are the people who want to see their friends and loved ones saved?

Recently the Lord has been impressing on me the necessity of the urgency of the gospel and the incredible selfishness of excuses. I've mingled with others on a Sunday morning, or during the meal before the conference speaker gets up to preach, and I know I'm not alone. I've had, and heard many excuses. I get you. I'm right with you, but when we write them out, they really don't hold.

----I work at a very taxing job, and I can't use work time to witness. 
----My neighbor just scowls and complains about everything I do; I gave up trying to be nice. 
----My schedule is just too full.
----No one reads tracts anymore.

And my favorite:
----“I know missionaries and pastors are called to tell people the gospel. I’m called to just live a good Christian life, showing people what Christians are like.”  Yes, I’ve heard it too. Some are “called” by God specifically to share the gospel. Others are called to be a “lifestyle” witness. Unfortunately, this is NOT in the Bible.

Every Christian is called to share about sin, death, Christ, and the cross.

In the military, soldiers are often “volunteered” for undesirable, difficult, and even dangerous tasks. Why then, are they said to have volunteered? They didn’t ask for the mission- they were told. Well, you say, they’re in the military; that’s their job. I answer you: that’s it precisely. When they signed the dotted line for Uncle Sam, they “volunteered” for any job that they were asked to do.

This too, Christian, is your task. See, you may not have “volunteered” to speak out about Christ. Perhaps you’re shy, or afraid, or busy, or…. whatever. Yet, when you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, (as you MUST do to be saved, Romans 10:9,13) you signed the proverbial dotted line. You gave your life to Christ. It is no longer yours to do as you please. You must “please Him who has chosen [you] to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)

So, your Commanding Officer is now the Lord Christ. He didn’t say, if your personality works with it, or, if you can tell your neighbor without them being offended by it, or, if you have time to knock on doors, then preach the gospel. No, Christ said “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) “And ye shall be witnesses unto me… unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Go. Witness. This is the command to every Believer.

So, that whole “lifestyle witness” excuse is out.
What is a witness anyway? A witness is: "a testimony; one who gives evidence; one who has personal knowledge of something." Dictionary definition aside, what is a witness? A witness is someone who goes to court to testify what they know or have personally seen. Their job is to verify the words of the defendant or prosecutor so the jury can make a knowledgeable decision, hopefully based on truth.

Christian, how can you “testify” if you don’t open your mouth? A testimony is not a testimony if it is never told. A witness cannot truly be a witness if they say nothing.

Am I saying your good Christian lifestyle is unnecessary? By no means! James the apostle wrote a book to Believers to explain how to live. We DO need to live in such a way that becomes the name of Christ- that makes Him be glorified. Going back to our original example, a soldier wears a certain uniform, they have a particular lifestyle, and they have very specific rules and protocols to follow. It’s hard to mistake a military soldier.

Christians too ought to live different from the world. We ought to be ready to “give an answer to every one that asketh of you a reason of the hope that lies within you.” (1 Peter 3:15) However, this ALONE is not enough. The gospel requires urgency. People are dying every day. We cannot just pray that they will ask us about Christ before they have a fatal crash on the interstate!
Christ says “go!” Christ says “witness!”

Even if you don’t know what to say, you can read a tract to someone. You can use a wordless book- that’s what I do. You can tell someone that there is good news for them today and give them a tract or Bible verse about salvation. You can tell them what God did for you and invite them to read God’s Word with you. Whatever you do, open your mouth. Share. DON’T BE SILENT! It’s urgent! And yes, Christian, you are called to do it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Take Time to Blow Some Bubbles

Readers, we are so excited. As you can read about here, we are so grateful to God as we prepare to leave for the country of Georgia! It has been a long, almost three years. God is faithful and good, and we have learned so much of Him along the way.

However, I wanted to share something with you about the little people this time, as I haven't written about them in a while, and they are such an integral part of our lives. So, I want to encourage other moms who have toddlers on road trips - and especially missionaries on deputation or furlough - with some ideas and pictures of what we do. Jude is so much fun, and he makes friends fast. He's a great asset to sharing the gospel. He loves to "GO," in whatever context. He is very, very, VERY busy! Toddlers are a challenge in a hotel room, but, though I may feel like it some days, it is not impossible. Here are some tips and experiences, not in any particular order:

I try to have games and toys in his reach, and mine, in the car. They start out in a bucket, but no matter what I do, they end up all over the back seat. I try to swap things up every once in a while, so he doesn't always have the same toys. And, every once in a while, he gets a new toy, in this case, sunglasses. He sits between our seats, in the back (in easy reach!) so the sun can bother him when it's rising or setting in front of the windshield.
Baths. Lots of baths! We make it fun. If your toddler likes the spray feel, you can leave the shower on while they're in the tub. (Be sure to have tub plugs on hand, as most hotels don't have working ones.) Here, we couldn't play in the pool, so we brought the pool to us.
Take full advantage of the room. We are Choice Privilege members, so we get a nice hotel and very nice room when we earn enough points. Here, we had a big window seat. Talk about entertainment! Perfect for our little guy, and brother loved to watch. 2 for 1 deal!
I had enough! I needed more ideas for a rainy day in a hotel room, and I was just plain wore out! What next? A tent. The table/desk in the room just needed the blanket off the bed. All I had to do was sit in it with him. He did the play-by-play. (Another tip: office chairs make great rocking chairs in a pinch!)
  Don't forget about daddy. Yes, Michael has a ton of things to do each day: calling churches, making appointments, doing paperwork.... but he has to take breaks too. And the boys love it.
Basket ball with the laundry basket and a glow-in-the-dark balloon ball. Oh yeah! Cheap entertainment, I know. So are glow sticks at Dollar Tree.
Right now we have a four door sedan and two babies, for a month long trip. No, we don't carry a pack and play. Jude has a sleeping bag- Zachary, well, you can see. We put him where we can (yes, that's a drawer- he doesn't sit up yet). They have blankets that are always there. Beds, not so much.
Of course, Jude had to try it out...
 Don't be afraid to let your kids move around at restaurants. (Dare I write this???!!!) Yes, be the parent, and you know your kids best- don't let them be obnoxious. But if there's a door for little people, as there was at the original Chick-fil-a/Truett's Grill, by all means, let them play with it. Many times we get meals during offtimes, so the fast food or restaurant is pretty much empty. We let Jude walk around, so long as we can see him and he is behaving. He likes to push his wheeled highchair around. It lets him get his energy out. You know your kids, so do whatever you need for them; but don't buckle the belt too tightly. They've been sitting in a car for HOURS.
 Find parks and/or play places. Chick-fil-a has great play places. Sometimes a children's museum does too. Most towns have a park. Some of the churches you visit have a play area outside as well, (or a nursery with "new" toys). Get out of the room however you can do it!
 Let the toddlers be the "big kid" for a day. -Read to brother. -Help with the trash. -Pick out clothes to wear.
 Do something different! Swap up the schedule some. Eat ice cream for lunch, just because you can. Play on the bed just this once. Drink "coffee cocoa" in a big people's cup (kids' version of coffee- hot chocolate).Get a few minutes of break thanks to "Baby Einstein."
 Go for a walk. If you don't have a sidewalk, walk the hotel or church halls. Find a Walmart or mall just to cruise. Let the toddler push- he's the one with endless energy.

These are just a few ideas. Maybe some of them will work for you. Do you have ideas? Feel free to post a comment for others to read. My boys are a challenge, but they're teaching me to take the time to blow some bubbles.