"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, August 17, 2012

PBJ's & POPSICLES

Matthew 4:19 (NIV 1984)  " 'Come, follow me,'  Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.'  At once they left their nets and followed him.' "


"Do you know about God?  Have you ever been baptized?" my eight-year-old asked our lunch guest.  

His out-of-nowhere questions drew my attention away from the barking dog and onto his cheerful face.  He bravely continued, "Do you know how much God loves you?  Did you know Jesus died on the cross for our sin and if we accept Him as Lord we get to go to heaven when we die?"

Wow!  I knew our family discussions and prayer about witnessing to our new neighbor boy were recent, but I never anticipated the boldness my son would have when our friend joined us for peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and popsicles last Saturday for lunch.

I quietly listened and fought back tears as my son led the conversation.  His childlike heart knew the importance of this discussion.  His confidence while communicating the Gospel was clear and matter-of-fact.  He wasn't aggressive, he just shared from his heart.  He knew that his new five week friendship with his friend would be ending as his buddy was scheduled to move this week.     

Christ brought this boy into our lives.  

His shiny silver teeth, wiry hair, bright blue eyes and southern twang stole our hearts from the beginning.  His story is rough and his baggage is heart-breaking. We invited him to church each week and VBS, but he insisted on not coming to either.  Instead, he just wanted to play.  So, each day he came to play, we loved on him, and each night our family would pray.  

People come into our lives and sometimes go as quickly as they enter.  This is a bittersweet pill to swallow especially when roots grow deep.  Our friends' recent move reminds me of another move.  

One year ago today we packed up life and limbs and headed North to serve in a new ministry in Washington.  This move has been difficult yet rewarding; draining yet filling; exhausting yet exhilarating; refining yet refreshing.  

This story reminds me of God's greater purpose in moving us up here.  We knew His fingerprints were all over our transplant but this happening last weekend gently touched my heart to see God's work, not only in my own life, but in the lives of my children.  His use of them for His Kingdom unfolded before my eyes.

Wherever we are, wherever we live, wherever we work, wherever we shop, wherever He moves us, however old we are, we are His instruments of righteousness to bring healing to a sin infected world.

In Matthew chapter four Jesus calls his first disciples, who were fishermen, to be His followers.  Fishing was a common trade in the first century.  Christ uses this familiarity to teach them a new way to fish, new kinds of fish to catch and a new purpose in reeling them in.  

The disciples new fishing trade wasn't just their livelihood for physical provision.  Rather, it became real life to others and their spiritual provision.

When Christ told these fisherman to come and follow Him, He also communicated what His purpose was for coming.  He came to seek and save the lost.  Christ's goal was to lead people to the Captain of the boat; the Master Fisherman.

Christ's instructions are clear:  Coming and following Him includes evangelism.  Jesus says, "I will make you . . ."  Christ will transform and prepare us into harvesters of hearts.  He appoints us to execute such a task.

Here are some fisherman facts:
  1. They know what kind of fish they are fishing for (salmon, steel head, trout, sturgeon etc.).
  2. They know what kind of rod, reel and line to use (based on # 1).
  3. They know what kind of bait to use (based on # 1).
  4. They know where to fish (based on # 1 -salt water vs. fresh water).
  5. They have appropriate skill and technique in reeling the fish in.
As fishers of men, we too, need to implement the basics when we reach out to others.  Recognizing those God brings into our life and understanding the tools with which to minister to them is necessary.

Opportune moments may slip through our fingers.  We can get distracted by life and our agenda that we forget the big picture.  Sometimes we aren't prepared or purposeful in our approach.  Often we neglect to comprehend the other person's shoes.  Other times we complicate the Gospel or we fear sharing Christ.  

As I grow in my faith I am becoming more bold in my witness. But honestly, there are times when I don't speak up when I should.  Or, I feel prompted to share Christ but I cower instead.  I realize my fear is based on what people will think of me. But, when I boil it down, it doesn't really matter what others think, only what He thinks.

Relationships are important to build; I agree.  But, at some point we must move past our concerns and be motivated by our love for the lost to actually share the Gospel message.

We are undeniably responsible to share Christ's redeeming work with others. The people we lock eyes with everyday matter to God.  He bought them with His blood.  He brings them into our lives for a purpose.  These souls He deeply loves.  These people need Him.  

After our lunch guest left I shared how proud I was of my son for taking the initiative to tell his friend about Christ.  His witness humbled me.  My son taught me the importance of remembering my love for the lost and to be courageous for Christ.

May the seeds of friendship and laughter remain in this boys' heart.  May the message of Jesus take root in his life.  May we all take to heart the truth of Christ and boldly share His love with others, even while visiting over peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and popsicles.


Heart Work:
Think of one person who needs to hear your testimony.  Schedule a time to meet with them and share about God's work in your life.

Ask God to give you courage and boldness (as the apostles did) to fearlessly make known the gospel of Jesus.

Reflect on this statement: "Wherever we are, wherever we live, wherever we work, wherever He moves us, we are His instruments of righteousness to bring healing to a sin infected world."

Heart Exam:
How do you daily represent Christ?   How can you speak boldly for Christ this week?  How does this story impact you?

What hinders you from speaking the truth and/or sharing your faith in God?

What are you fishing with?  Who are you fishing for?  Who are the people God has brought into your life?

Heart Transforming Word:
Isaiah 66:19 (NIV) "I will send some of those who survive to the nations ..... to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations."

Matthew 10:32-33  "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

Matthew 10:38 "Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Mark 8:29 " ' But what about you?' Jesus asked, 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'You are the Christ.' "

Acts 4:29 "Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness."

Acts 5:42 "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."

Romans 15:19b-20a "So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.  It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known."

Romans 6:13  "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness."

Colossians 4:3-4 "And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should."

2 Timothy 4:17 "But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it."

Copyright 2012 by Hester Christensen.  All rights reserved.